Wednesday, November 25, 2009


One of my facebook friends had a status of writing one thing she is thankful for each day for a couple weeks up to Thanksgiving. I thought it was a nice idea so I did it too. It has been really fun getting to choose something each day to post. The trouble is, of course, there are way many too many things to list at just one per day. Still, it got my head to thinking that way, which is a very good thing for me. In fact, as time has gone by I have been thinking more and more each day about all that I am grateful for.

This is not a novel idea I know. I have heard for many years about how making a gratitude list can really help your attitude. The Bible constantly reminds us to give thanks, to our good. But, let's just face facts: I am a self-pity addict. Yuck. Not only that, I am negative and crabby. I am Whiney the Complainer. I see the flaws in everything, am critical to a fault. And if I'm not picking apart something outside of myself, then I become the victim of my own merciless fault-finding.

However, the Good Lord has seen fit to give me a cheerful husband, some honest friends, a good bit of Hope, and a sense of humor. And music--what a wonder, music. It can squeeze the anguish right out of me and bring me to tears of joy. What a gift from God is music!

Anyway, Thanksgiving. I didn't want to have Thanksgiving this year. I just haven't been feeling very peppy and I didn't really have the energy, mentally or physically, to deal with it--I thought. It's not how I picture Thanksgiving anyway. Not a big family gathering here; just my parents, my husband, my two younger sons, and me. I thought to myself, "well, I'll just try to lessen the stress...I'll buy stuff pre-made. Like, I'll buy pies and canned cranberries and prepared stuffing mix so I won't have much to do. Last year the food I made really wasn't very good anyway."

Well, I took my bad attitude to the store which won my business by having the most stuff I would need at the best prices, after coupons. Although I did have to waste about a half an hour in there getting my total up to the required amount to use said coupons (my idea of a part-time job.) Of course both the pies and the stuffing mix had high-fructose corn syrup (a.k.a. toxin) in them, so I decided to just make my own. However I did buy the canned cranberries containing said toxin because I had to stick at least a tiny bit to my original "de-stress" plan. At least I wouldn't have to make the cranberries. Plus my mom would be bringing the green vegetable, and I'd skip the corn--cornbread stuffing (with homemade cornbread) instead.

So today in my kitchen, dutifully preparing the cornbread and pies, I'm listening to Beethoven's violin concerto and thinking, "I just love this music; I am SO THANKFUL for music! Yes I need to remember that for tomorrow's post." And it came to me--I don't often think God is speaking directly to me--I don't hear an audible voice. But somewhere deep in my heart of hearts an idea was forming that was totally not my own.

This idea was, "I should be THANKFUL that I am having Thanksgiving here! That I have a home, that I have parents, and that they are coming! That I can honor them and serve them--that I can honor God and serve Him in this way! That I can make pies, that we have so much, that I have these two little boys, that I have my dear wonderful husband, that we will all be here to give thanks to God for all He has done for us! It is a PRIVILEGE. And I was just exactly like the Grinch who stole Christmas at that moment when his grinchy face gets that sweet smile, and his eyes tear up. When his heart changed. That's just how I felt.

This is how kind my Savior is. He shows me for sure that He is there, or rather, here. I know that God is God and I am not, for certain, because only He can change my stony heart into a heart of love and joy overflowing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ronald and Uncle Chris continued

God is love. (1John 4:8) Jesus is God. (John 1:1,Col. 1:15) So when I read the definition of love, 1 Corinthians 13, I am seeing a picture of Christ. According to this passage:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.-ICor.13:1-3

So, without Christ, every good thing I do is worthless.

Anyway, on to verse 4: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." These are characteristics of Christlikeness. Patience, kindness, contentment, humility. These are attributes which I have clearly seen in the attitudes and actions of both Ron & Chris. It is important that these qualities have been modeled to me by these men, because although they are qualities that Jesus would have, I do not have them. It is helpful to see love actually displayed through a person, revealing the possibility of such a thing for me, a glimmer of the glory of God shining through mortal man.

Ron's kindness, Chris' kindness are not the sort where you just smile and think mean thoughts about the other person. Their kindness is genuine. It reaches out and embraces the other person, giving them the benefit of the doubt. It is the willingness to be hospitable, to listen, to give you the shirt off their back, with no expect for return. These men would talk nice about people behind their back, would see precious qualities in others that most would overlook.

Patience is something that is easy to spot. I guess because it's the lack of impatience--which is so common. Ron will spend his time doing what I want, or what the kids want, never fretting over 'his' precious time, not complaining or telling anyone to hurry up or trying to push his agenda. Chris was not one to be in a hurry either. I have one fond memory when I was very young, of him pushing me on a merry-go-round. He was 'laid-back' as they say, so is Ron. Chris loved to spend time with people. One time he actually corrected me because I was being very impatient with my son, Chris, who was taking too long getting ready to go as we were running late.

But patience and kindness are not just mindless qualities bestowed equally on every situation. I have a horrible temper. Over the years Ron has put up with me and my moodiness to his credit. However, his patience and kindness toward me in no way condone my wrongdoings, rather, they make me the more ashamed of my apparent lack of maturity. But he doesn't hold it against me. It brings to mind this verse: "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" Rom. 2:4 Here again, Ron showing me a picture of what God's love is like, what Christ is like. And truly, my temperament has gotten a lot better, to the glory of God.

Uncle Chris, too, was extremely patient with me. I know that I disappointed him by not visiting, when it would have been so easy to do so. I can't imagine how I would have felt being there alone as he was. He had asked me to write down some music for him. I tried to once and it was very difficult for me. I just don't know enough to do it right. But at the end of his life he had something he had composed in his mind that he really wanted written down; he asked me to come and try to write it down for him. I never did. So that's how it was between us. I was not good about my half of the relationship. But he was always patient and forgiving, and I see the mistreatment which was hurled at Christ on the cross.

So, I have only skimmed patience and kindness, save the rest for later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Uncle Chris and Ronald: part two

In the Bible there are what are known as types of Christ. For instance, Noah's ark was a type of Christ, in that, all in the world would perish unless they were found in that ark. Jacob had a vision of a ladder or staircase to heaven while he was in the desert which Jesus later described as Himself: "you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." John 1:51 There are many more of these but I just wanted to get the idea across of what a type is. Particularly a type of Christ.

It is an illustration of the One you can't quite see, to help you understand, or recognize Him when He comes. Also to know more about Him, His characteristics, in a larger and more beautiful way. The whole world is full of illustrations of the beauty of Christ. Here is another one Jesus gave, "unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24.

Here is my point, which you can probably already guess. Both my Uncle Chris and Ronald have been to me like examples of Christ in my life. I don't know why I chose to mention them together but here it is.

Both of these men have known some pretty bad things about me. Maybe Ron more than Chris, but let's not forget how I abandoned Chris--the one thing he ever asked me not to do. And yet, they have both loved me, unconditionally. They have both shown extreme patience, with me and others. When Ron was little he spent a lot of time in hospitals; Chris spent the end of his life in them. I don't know if this produced some of the strength of character I see in Ronald. I know it was a test for Chris; it was difficult. They are both men who have known something I don't; they have known about suffering. Jesus was "a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering" Isaiah 53:3.

There is much more to say about this. I will continue at another time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ronald: part one

My husband doesn't want me to write about him in my blog, but I have to write about what's on my heart. After all, that's what my blog is about. Ronald is my husband. We were married almost 25 years ago. I never dreamed I would marry a man like him, as I didn't ever imagine a man like him might exist. I couldn't have dreamed him up. He is a man who now is so close to my own soul that, as the Bible says, we are really one person. I can tell you from experience what the saying 'my better half' actually means.

When I first met Ron, I thought he was very mysterious. He still is. He is not like me, talking all the time, he is quiet. He listens. He is thoughtful and slow to speak. The Bible says this is wise. He has a strange way with animals. When we were dating I noticed this. If we went to the zoo the lions and other creatures would look straight at him. I thought it was weird but cool.

He knew about everything I didn't. He knew a lot of advanced math and science and had read a lot of fiction and stuff I have no patience for. He would tell me the story of "The Hobbit" and I would fall asleep. He was very kind, and his friends were kind. He is still this way. He has some odd friends; peculiar acquaintances. He never gravitates toward people because of their "usefulness."

Ron is so unbelievably giving. He works day in and day out, never even asks to see his paycheck. After working all day long, he sits down and plays games with our little boys. He helps me with the dishes. He puts the kids down for bed and reads them stories. He gets up with them early on Saturday mornings and together they make pancakes.

He never complains. He actually likes doing these things. He is so completely unselfish compared to me. I mean, I know that he is imperfect of course. He has faults. But, he is just so much more caring and loving than I am; it just is a constant wonderment to me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Uncle Chris: part one

My Uncle Chris had multiple sclerosis. He died in October of 1995. I know this date because of two reasons, one good, one bad. The good reason I can remember the year is because it was the year in which I decided to make Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. The bad reason I can remember the month is because I had not been to see him since July. It was a horrible realization, when my dad called and told me Chris had died, that I had not been to see him in the state-run nursing home for almost three months. The reasons for this were many and stupid. But mostly, I simply hated going there. Just because I didn't know what to say or how to act.

Chris wasn't just my uncle, he was my favorite. We had a very special relationship for a couple of reasons. Chris had been divorced and lived with my Grandma Lou, as he was in need of some assistance. They lived in the same town as my parents and me. They both worked at the family business with my dad, until Lou retired, and until Chris was unable. So I saw them both frequently. Chris was a gifted musician. I loved to hear him play piano; it literally brought me to tears. Even as he got sicker and made mistakes in his playing, his heart and soul came through so beautifully. I really can't explain it. Maybe this is why I love Murray Perahia's playing so much. It somewhat reminds me of Chris'.

Another reason my uncle Chris was so dear to me is that he introduced me to the Lord. I mean, he never sat me down and prayed the "sinner's prayer" with me. But at a crucial time in my life, when I was 15 or 16, he gave me a New Testament, his New Testament in fact. It had giant print because he couldn't see very well by then. I still have it, of course. I had never had a Bible before. I can remember looking all the way through it trying to find the ten commandments. Of course, they weren't in there; it was only a New Testament and they're in the Old Testament. But anyway, that's how much I knew. Chris did tell me two things to read: the book of John, and 1 Corinthians 13. These are still probably the things I should most be reading.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Today was a busy day. The kids were sick-ish and I was working on a quilt-ish, and at around 3:30 p.m. I knew it was time to come up with something for dinner. To my happy surprise I found a complete spaghetti-with-meat-sauce family dinner in the freezer, previously tupperwared by myself, leftovers from some recent oversized meal.

I am a master at defrosting--completely undaunted by the fact that underneath the meaty tomato sauce was a mass of frozen mixed noodles--spaghetti and fettuccine. I surmised the situation and simply ran a little warm water around the container, releasing the frozen block sauce down into my beloved heavy bottom 3 qt. saucepan, added an inch of water and put it on low heat.

This is boring, I know. But here's the thing: dinner was not. You see, leftover spaghetti is kind of a snore, especially for Friday night. But how bout some baked spaghetti? Oooohh, or better yet, baked spaghetti-ish! Yes, we had an -ish dish for dinner. I think you get it already, it's not exactly baked spaghetti, it's baked spaghetti-ish. You see, I actually don't even know a recipe for baked spaghetti, so, after heating the leftovers, I layered it in a baking dish with cheddar cheese and there you have it!

The -ish dish was born out of need. When you lack an ingredient(s), what else will do? I make -ish dishes all the time. Alfredo-ish, lasagna-ish, Double-Tree get it. The guys always want to know if it's an "ish" or the real thing. I don't see what that matters--it's all good. But the -ish is not limited to my cooking. No, recently I have taken up making quilt-ishes and I also now have a blog-ish. I also sing alto-ish, teach homeschool-ish, have a degree in English-ish, and play piano-ish. I paint-ish and dance-ish and every so often go on a date-ish with my husband, where we usually end up at Woodman's grocery store on our way home.

I have absolutely no idea how to quilt, or write a blog, for that matter. I guess for many things in life I just like to wing it. I'm not saying that's good or bad, just maybe my little bit of adventure in a life that is challenged mostly by monotony. Not that I mind that. Everyone's job has its hard parts, and its rewards. The rewards of mine are great.

Well, then there's also the part that I hate to read instructions --I inherited that. But yeah, welcome to my blog-ish, where you never know just how things might turn out.

Monday, November 2, 2009


There is something I love about seeing those big green overhead highway signs, something that makes me feel like I'm breaking out on the open road, going for an adventure. Usually since the road is several lanes wide, you get a big view of the sky, adding to the excitement of what's ahead on the horizon. I guess I have a lot of fond memories of going places to see people I loved via expressways, from a very early age.

Every time I see one of those signs, to this day, I think of my grandparents, Hank and Marna. I have vague memories of traveling with them up to Wisconsin, and of stopping in those touristy cheese houses. I used to have these little tiny souvenir mice with some sort of real fur and a little leather tail that I got there. I was very small, and loved my grandparents very much. I called them Hank and Marna--not Grandma and Grandpa though I don't know why. I also called my Grandma Lou by her first name. Weird.

When I was fourteen years old I ran away from home. I was riding along with some much older kids, and we were on the highway going halfway across the country. I was sick to my stomach the entire time, distressed about worrying my parents. But there were those green signs again, and somehow the sight of them gave me comfort--a feeling of security. Fortunately, we ran out of money fairly quickly and were able to get back home; gas was much cheaper then. Unlike most other things, the green signs haven't really changed.

Many many years later, married with children, my closest friend moved 900 miles away. Her kids and my kids were best friends too. We missed them terribly of course, so we did the crazy thing and decided to drive out there in our beater station wagon--"road trip!!" The beckoning green signs encouraged us on our way. It felt good to do something completely different, to throw caution to the wind and just go.

When we bought our home here, one of the things I looked for, as I always do, was the view out each window. I am very insistent on having nice views out as many windows as possible. One of the things I really love about this house is that out almost every single window is a beautiful view. We back to a park,our neighbors' homes are lovely and well kept. But we are very near a highway. It is not loud or bothersome, but let me tell you about the view out my bedroom window. There is the neighborhood skirting the parkland, but just over the tops of the houses and through the trees is a happy sight to me. A green highway sign is just visible after the leaves fall. It warms my heart. Silly, but it does.