Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Little Nostalgia

Yesterday Mike cleaned out his closet, and came across a box of nostalgia, mostly things from the kids when they were younger.  

Andrew painted this football player as a kid and gave it to his dad.  No idea why he picked the Green Bay Packers as we have never been particularly great fans.

ML:  "When I grow up I want to be a beatiful young artist."

In 1999, ML made her own "calander."  This is just one page.  She actually used it all year and checked off the days as they occurred.  As you can tell, each month was appropriately decorated.  June was very important!  Birthday month!!

And finally, this.  Probably also around 1999.  Typed out below for ease of reading.  My kids!!!

Dear Dad,

You are the best dad in the whole world!!  (Even if you are my only one.)
You have done so many things for me, that you deserve a note, and a poem:

Thank You

Thank you for when you have made my bed,
And thank you for the money that buys us bread.
Thank you for teaching me God's holy power,
Even when sometimes, you seem sour.
Thank you for spending time with me;
Instead of being a drunk, you see.
These and more, have all you done;
Especially in God's eyes, you have won!

Happy birthday!

Love, Andrew

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Camouflaged Birds

I was looking through the bird pics taken during our winter storm a couple of weeks ago, and found these two that both show well-camouflaged birds.   The snow is the final touch.  Hope the reader enjoys them!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday's Fave Five, 1/20/17

 LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Just finished this little hat at about 5:00 Thursday afternoon, to go along with another present for a dear friend who was in school with my son, and was the honoree at a baby shower last night.  I work with her mom, who is also a dear friend.  These little loom hats are fun and fast to make.

2. I am thankful for a smooth and peaceful transfer of power for our government today.  I love the pomp and elegance of an inauguration ceremony.

3. Lunch today was brought in by Mike, who was off today.  A chicken salad sandwich on toasted sourdough bread, with provolone cheese, lettuce, and tomato.  No, he didn't fix it, but he did go get it, pay for it, and deliver it.

4. This is a day over a week, but I didn't get a FFF up last week.  We spent a lovely evening with my cousin Cleve and his wife Kathleen last Thursday night.   They're on their way to Florida and stopped by.  Always nice to see them!!!

5. And finally - after our dinner out last Thursday, we went back to my folks' house for awhile.  This little video was part of the evening.  On Facebook it gained almost 2000 views.  It's really sweet and worth 30 seconds of your time.  My father and my son!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"You Will Want to Control"

One of the best pieces of advice I got as a young mother was from my dear friend, a wise woman as well as a wise mother.  She said "Don't let your little girl boss her older brother around.  Girls like to be in control, and it's not good for her to be bossy to him." 

I thought of that advice this week, when reading Janie B. Cheaney's column, "Quite Contrary," on p. 14 of World magazine, 1/21/17.  The gist of the article is about translation "kerfuffles" (great word) that have occurred over the years.  (She uses examples of Chinese to English - which brought back quite the memories of traveling there.  The example she gives is "Loveable but pitiful grass is under your foot."  The first one that I remember was reading in the Air China literature, "Our chefs come up with recipes to make your taste buds sparkle!")

Anyway - she discusses the understanding of Genesis 3:16 in the KJV - "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee," and the fact that more recent translations give a stronger interpretation of "thy desire shall be to thy husband" by saying that what it means is  essentially "You will desire to control."

Her last paragraph is so good:  "The curse on Adam and Eve affects what is central to each of them:  occupation and relationship.  Sin's desire for them is possessive and unlawful, reflected in Eve's desire for her husband.  If we women are honest, we should acknowledge how easily our yearning for relationship is twisted into manipulation - just as men must realize how natural authority slides into tyranny.  By submitting to sin's desire, our first parents locked themselves in a permanent power play that won't be solved by fairness or equal rights - only by God's desire to save us from ourselves." 

I realized early in my marriage that there were times that I attempted to manipulate my husband into various decisions, a manipulation that could be so subtle that I didn't even admit it to myself.  It took conscious effort to work out of that mindset and to be straightforward about things.  It is still a temptation at times.  

It is also easy to see how men's natural role of leadership can morph into control, and even abuse, if they do not guard against that, and if the Holy Spirit is not directing their lives.

I think that "You will desire to control" is a good explanation of "Thy desire shall be to thy husband." I would like to see that teaching to young women be more prevalent.  My good friend's instruction in that area was new thinking to me at that time.  It needs to be more commonly taught.

And Janie B. Cheaney, once again, caused me to think, with another home run in her column.

Monday, January 16, 2017


Last Saturday, we were driving down a fairly busy road near our house, a side road to the interstate, when my husband glanced off the side of a bridge, into a marshy area, and said, startled, "What are those?!"  I didn't even see what he saw at first.  (His eye and ear have always been much better than mine.)  We turned around and drove slowly by, a couple of times.  We couldn't just stop because the road was too busy - not hugely, but almost always a car coming in the distance.  I pulled out my camera and felt fortunate to get this shot, because at that level of zoom it's hard to hold the camera still enough, without a tripod, to get a decent picture.

They are sandhill cranes, a species that does not flag on eBird as "rare" in our area (it does in the eastern part of the state), but nevertheless is unusual.  We are to the east of the easternmost flyway of this huge bird.

We saw hundreds of these birds at a wildlife refuge in Alabama a few years ago.  They are easily identified by the red on the face.  They are tall, grey birds - much more common overall than the very rare whooping cranes, just not common in our area.

A few years ago we saw a Ross's goose at the edge of the lake we live near.  I was sure that's what it was by studying the field guide, but was insistent that "They're not supposed to be here."  Mike patiently reminded me, "Ann.  They are wild birds.  They can go wherever they want to go.  They're not bound by field guides and range maps."  Well, yes, I guess he's right.

That's why sometimes rare and unusual birds hang around for weeks at a time in various places; other times, they are spotted once and that's it.  That's why the farm ponds where we love to go observing are sometimes filled with ducks and unusual birds - and other times, even in mid-winter when they should be very busy, are very quiet.  The birds aren't saying "Oh, it's January - we should be there."  They go where they want to.  They're wild.

Sometimes it would be nice to be a bird.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday's Fave Five, 12/30/16

 LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. We had a very nice Christmas in Atlanta, at my brother and sister-in-law's new townhouse.  My dad got this jacket from us.  Anyone who faithfully supported the Cubs as long as he did, deserves a jacket to proclaim the World Series victory everywhere he goes.  :-)

Mike got this mug for my mother.  He said he wanted to get it, found one on eBay, and it was a great and funny Christmas present.

2. I have really been enjoying my new recliner.  It is very, very comfortable!!  I do have to remember that leather is a little colder on the legs in the morning than cloth.  Other than that minor, easily-remedied thing, it is a great purchase.

3. Sleeping in.  I woke up at 7 this morning, got up for awhile, and then did something that is usually impossible.  I went back to bed!!!  Until 10:00 a.m.  And it was well worth the investment of time.

4. This photo.  It probably doesn't make sense to many people, but the latest craze for youngsters is flipping water bottles.  I thought it was just at our school, until a teacher friend from long ago posted this on FB.  Apparently it's going on at their school too, and is a phenomenon that is widespread.  (Probably from some movie that I have no idea about.)  Anyway - it's always obvious at school when the lunch period has lasted a little too long, because the water bottles start flipping.  The object is to flip the bottle and have it land straight up.  The other teachers tease me because my nerves are the ones to go first.  :-)  I am truly tempted to order this shirt!!

5. Finally - I can't post any pictures for security reasons.  But last night we were honored to host a pastor from China, his wife and son, and his wife's sister, who is instrumental in Christian work in their home city.  I met the sister briefly when visiting Andrew in China.  She is well known for her innovative ways of getting the gospel out in a closed country.  To have them sit around our table, tell of their salvation, and share their stories with us - The only way to describe it is to say that it was a great honor.

Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Friday's Fave Five, 12/23/16

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog

1. Christmas baking.  Accomplished yesterday and today.  I like to make small plates for neighbors and friends, and always end up taking big plates of sweets to the family gatherings.  (They're unhappy if I bring sweets, and unhappy if I don't.)  :-)

 Thumbprint cookies - a new attempt this year.  I saw on FB that my cousin made these, and it made me nostalgic.  Maybe Grandma used to make these?  I don't really remember, but decided to try them.

This is what happens (first batch) when you double all the ingredients but accidentally quadruple the butter.  Rich - rich - rich.

Fudge - always part of the Christmas plates.  Always.

And Russian teacakes - also always part of the Christmas plates.  But these three things are all I'm doing this year.  And they have to ALL be out of the house by the time of the last Christmas celebration.

 2. This morning I had to take Mike's truck to the tire shop to get a flat tire repaired.  Afterward, I made a stop at K-Mart.  Oh my.  All their Christmas items were at least half off; some things more.  This is how we stock the Christmas store at school, for the elementary students to buy Christmas presents early in December each year.  So I called the lady in charge, and she said yes, BUY as much as you can.  So I did!!  Here are two pics of the purchases.  For example - Those dishtowels were $6 for a pack of two.  They were half price.  So I got a dozen two-packs, will split them, which makes them $1.50 each.  We add $.50 to cover costs and provide some funds for the teachers.  These will be stored until next December, then the towels will be sold at the Christmas store for $2.00 each.  A bargain for the students, and make a little for the teachers for their classroom needs.

Blanket throws - Ribbons already around them.  $2.99 this morning!!

3. I wrote here about making a weighted blanket for my son.  Daughter-in-law put it on the bed.  And this morning I got a text:  "We both slept great!"  I really hope it helps.

4. Mike and I usually don't exchange gifts at Christmas.  We like to take a nice trip every so often, and that's plenty of gift for me.  But - it looks like I may be getting one this year.  This is for sale by some people that we know, and we've told them that we'd like it.  It's a good price, it will fit in the den really well, and - it's so comfortable I don't want to get up out of it.

5. Our children and we exchanged gifts last night.  It's so rare that the five of us all get together any more, that it was a nice treat.

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Weighted Blankets

I recently heard about weighted blankets - They are used especially for children with sensory or other processing issues such as autism, ADHD, etc.  

Recently the blankets have shown promise for use with adults.  This link is to a company that manufactures weighted blankets, and includes a very long list of symptoms/syndromes/situations that a weighted blanket helps.  There is something about being surrounded by weight that helps a person - any person - to relax.

I was especially interested in this because my son has long had to deal with various tics that have ebbed and flowed over the years.  He actually received the diagnosis of Tourette's at one time, although we hesitated to commonly use that term for several reasons.  When he was in junior high and high school, I did not want him "labeled" for a set of symptoms that ranged in intensity, never severe and sometimes nonexistent.  So I did not use the term openly.  Furthermore, the term brings to mind other very serious symptoms, most often associated with involuntary swearing, which is rare, and which my son has never experienced.  

But he has still had to deal with recurring tics from time to time.

Anyway, I decided last week to make my son a weighted blanket for Christmas.  I started with a purchased duvet cover from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  This decision did simplify the whole project, because the side and bottom seams were already completed, and it was finished at the top, turned under and hemmed, with buttons attached.  It would have been a much bigger project if I had had to do all that as well.

This was all an experiment - no pattern involved.  I sewed twelve columns in the duvet cover, five inches apart, from bottom to top, leaving a 14-inch drop on both sides. I then sewed across the bottom of the cover, about five inches up from the bottom, so that there would be a slight flap at the bottom before the weighting started.

I got crushed stone from Jo-Ann Fabrics, in 2-pound packages.  (This week that store has FOUR 50% off coupons that I was able to use on my phone, twice.  So the filler was a minimal expense. Plastic pellets would have cost a lot more, as well as would have destroyed my sewing machine needle had it come in contact with just one of those.)  Crushed stone is essentially sand, just a little more coarse.  

I calculated how many squares I would have to fill, and how much rock I planned to use.  (22 pounds, as a blanket is supposed to be between 5 and 10% of someone's body weight.)  That came out to 1.8 ounces per square.  Then I weighed a small measuring cup and figured out with a postal scale what was the volume of 1.8 ounces of crushed stone.  From there on, all I had to do was fill the cup to that point and dump it in each column.  I would fill all twelve columns, shake the stones to the bottom, and sew across the top of the pocket, using a tape measure and chalk to keep every seam approximately five inches apart.  I did this fifteen times, from the bottom of the blanket to a few inches below the button closure.  Then I double-seamed the top for further sealing of all the rock inside.

Here is the project in the works:

And here is the finished weighted blanket, spread across my dining room table:
I gave my son the blanket tonight.  We will see how well it works!!

This was a trial and error experiment.  It would have been easier had my temperamental sewing machine not acted up at first.  But it decided to settle down and cooperate, which made the project much easier to accomplish.

Now my daughter wants one just for general sleeping purposes. . .But my shingle is not hung out, and will not be hung out, for making weighted blankets for the general public!

Addicts and All Of Us

I was reading a testimonial article in Christianity Today (December 2016) written by a man who became addicted to pain pills.  He writes on p. 39:

"I've realized that the word 'addict' is a particularly useful descriptor for who I have always been.  I always resonated with Paul's lament: ' I do not the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing' (Rom. 7:19)

"Some who have never experienced the furious grip of chemical dependence are tempted to split the world into 'addicts' and 'non-addicts,' morally bad and morally good.  As I've said, I did not realize how fully I had embraced this view until faced with my own opioid addiction.  Now, I realize that the world is divided between addicts who have begun to face their addictions and those who live under the illusion that they have none.

"All who have come to the point where they acknowledge their own shortcomings and realize that they cannot eliminate them through their own power have admitted that they too, in their own way, are addicts.  The addiction might be to food, shopping, status symbols, the need to be 'right,' the need to be needed, or the need to feel moral superiority over those who struggle with less 'societally acceptable' sins.

"One of the most powerful teachings the church can embrace in light of this crisis is to say 'Let the one who is not an addict cast the first stone."

I found this testimonial to dovetail well with looking at Romans 7-8.  Chapter 7 is depressing, as shown above:  I don't do what I want to do, and I do do what I don't want to do.  After that, chapter 8 is an encouragement.  And in Macarthur's commentary on Romans 1-8, he says on pp. 415-16:

"In God's eyes there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who do not belong to Him and those who do.  Put another way, there are only those who are according to the flesh and those who are according to the Spirit...

"Obviously there are degrees in both categories.  Some unsaved people exhibit high moral behavior, and, on the other hand, many saints do not mind the things of God as obediently as they should.  But every human being is completely in one spiritual state of being or the other; he either belongs to God or he does not.  Just as a person cannot be partly dead and partly alive physically, neither can he be partly dead and partly alive spiritually.  There is no middle ground.  A person is either forgiven and in the kingdom of God or unforgiven and in the kingdom of this world.  He is either a child of God or a child of Satan."

So - in other words - Christian people can struggle with addictions and still be in Christ.  They aren't cast out because in this fallen world they struggle with sin issues.

And all of us struggle with some kind of sin issues.   The passage also gives great hope when observing someone who has claimed Christ but is not living as he or she should.

A common bumper sticker, though trite, is still accurate:  Christians aren't perfect - just forgiven.  I think that the above quotations are a more in-depth explanation of that truism.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday's Fave Five, 12/16/16

LINK to Friday's Fave Five host blog 

1. LOOM KNITTING!!  I discovered this a couple of weeks ago and have really enjoyed it.  It's easy; it doesn't require many supplies; it can be done while you are watching TV or talking; it's just fun to produce something nice in a short amount of time.  I will probably make several hats over the Christmas holidays.  

2. SCHOOL IS DONE for two weeks and a day!!  I repeat:  SCHOOL IS DONE!!  That's why I can be doing a Friday's Fave Five at 1:07 on a Friday.  I am at home, in the den, relaxing.  This seeming ice-age length of a week is DONE.  Have I said it yet?  SCHOOL IS DONE!!!

3. Beautiful school program last night.  Here is a picture of the concluding song including the entire school.  At this link, you can scroll down and find a video of the concluding song (part of it).  
I posted this on our school Facebook page last night:

It's been a long day, being the last full day before Christmas, and then having the Christmas program tonight at Oakwood Christian School. But I wanted to express something yet tonight: Every year, following the Christmas program, I think, "This is why we do this!!" This is why the parents invest in this place, and why the teachers work at this place, and why we exist!! What a wonderful Christmas program.  And thank you so much to the parents who entrust their children to our school. Partnering together for the sake of the gospel! Merry Christmas!!

As tiring as this time of year is, the fatigue is a good kind!

4. Christmas stamps.  On a whim I stopped at the little for-profit post office near our house, on the way home today, and they had really nice Christmas stamps.  I am a sucker for pretty dishtowels and pretty stamps.  Got five books for Christmas cards and various things.  

And finally, 

5. My birthday!!  Yesterday was about the longest day of the week, but it was also my birthday, and it was a good day.  Very thankful for the cards, well-wishes in person, and FB greetings of the day.  It was a great day!!!

And now - for some rest and then Christmas preparation!!