Apr 27, 2009

The Delany Sisters

I read an amazing book this past weekend, which I found on the sale rack at Border's for $4.95 Friday night. The title is Having Our Say by Sarah and Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth. It was published in 1993 and I understand there are two subsequent books that I need to get my hands on.

The book is a memoir of these two sisters who lived to be 104 and 109 years of age. They wrote this book when they were 101 and 103. It chronicles their personal lives as two of ten siblings growing up in the past century in America and their family's remarkable achievements in the face of lingering post emancipation discrimination. Their father was born into slavery, but ended up being the nation's first elected black Episcopal bishop, for example.

All ten of the children were high achievers and through education, became members of the small but growing black middle class. Sarah (Sadie) obtained a master's degree and became a teacher. Elizabeth (Bessie) became a dentist and had her own practice. Both never forgot their roots and spent their lives helping the underprivileged.

This book is only 200 pages, but contains a priceless oral history of our country of the 100 years following the Civil War era, and one which I doubt can be found in schoolbooks. I highly recommend it. I'm grateful for this insight. In reading this book, I have truly been gifted.

Apr 24, 2009

I've been tagged, and so have YOU!

Wanda (Moments of Mine) tagged me and so I'll do my best to play along. Anyone reading, please consider yourself tagged as well, and let me know where to find you!

8 things I'm looking forward to:

1. a little get-away with my husband the end of May

2. getting the stitches out of my arm next week
3. taking my granddaughter to see Beauty & the Beast next Friday
4. my husband finishing the wallpaper project on our 1/2 bath
5. seeing my out-of-state kids & grandkids again
6. that first summer cook-out
7. relaxing on the deck with the sun in my face
8. time with friends

8 things I did yesterday:
1. babysat two of the grandkids
2. enjoyed the swingset & the warm weather in the backyard with them
3. visited my mom
4. made my homemade sauce
5. made stuffed shells and gave some to both mom and mom-in-law
6. went to Wal-Mart early in the morning
7. appt. with financial advisor in the evening
8. laundry

8 things I wish I could do:
1. sing
2. play the piano and violin
3. be tall and thin
4. have more energy and fewer aches & pains
5. visit the Holy Land
6. visit our friends in Baton Rouge
7. go to SC more often
8. own & operate a bed & breakfast

8 shows I watch on TV
(I skipped this part as really don't watch too much)

Apr 22, 2009

Remembering my brother

April 22, 1966 was a day that affected our family in ways we may never fully understand this side of eternity. It started out as a normal school day...I was a junior in high school, and my brother Kenny was a sophomore. There were seven of us kids altogether, the rest all younger. I remember it was a pleasant spring day, and my mother was out in the backyard when I got home from school, swinging my baby sister.

It was mid afternoon, and like any normal teenager, I was relaxing and listening to the radio. A local news flash came on with a report that there had been a drowning at our local YMCA. No name was given on the air, and I wasn't particularly alarmed until, just a few moments later, there was a knock at our front door. When I answered it and saw our high school principal standing there, I thought my heart was going to stop. I immediately connected the dots, suddenly remembering my brother took a swimming class at the Y in the afternoon. Mr. Marshall asked to speak to my mother. The feeling of dread I had when I went to call her from the backyard was overwhelming, and I desperately wished I could spare her the news she was about to receive.

I don't remember much else from that day. As evening came and word got around, some friends of mine stopped by the house. I remember how upset they were, but honestly I was numb and dazed. I don't recall a thing about the rest of my siblings, or my parents. That night I fell asleep and dreamed the whole thing was a mistake and it didn't really happen.

My brother actually did not drown, though he did die in the water about a month before his 16th birthday. He was strong, and a good swimmer, but he had a physical condition that was never officially diagnosed, though it was treated as epilepsy. I can't help but wonder, 43 years later, how different things might be. When Kenny was only 2 years old, he apparently had some kind of seizure, but no other problems until he started to hit puberty.

Then one Sunday night when I was 12 and Kenny was 11, I was babysitting all my siblings while our parents were out for a couple of hours. I found Kenny passed out on the bathroom floor. That was the beginning of almost five years of our family being thrown into a turmoil that we had never known before. Kenny started having frequent seizures, and my parents took him from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what was going on. Many different drugs were tried, but nothing seemed to help and many seemed to cause personality problems, like aggressiveness, or withdrawal.

From a selfish, teenage perspective, this was all an embarrassment. We never knew when our brother was going to pass out, or what kind of mood he was going to be in. Family dynamics definitely changed and, at least from my point of view, I felt unsettled and a lot less secure in my home life.

I can't imagine what it must be like to lose a child. Especially a teenager. When you lose a teenager, you never have a chance to get past the rough years of angst and immaturity and enjoy your children as adults. I'm sure my parents' last memories of Kenny were of frustration, fear, expensive medical bills, and unresolved conflict. That has got to hurt.

My mom wasn't able to talk to me about Kenny for the next 35 years. Then we happened to be together on the anniversary of his death that year and suddenly she said, "It must have been hard on you kids. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you." It's true, as I often wondered why the pictures came down and no words were spoken about him. But now, as a mom and grandma, I can only imagine the pain was just too great.

The years have had a way of softening the pain of the past. Every once in a while, my mom can now tell some cute story that she remembers or something funny Kenny said when he was little. I know my own perspective is totally changed. I've often wished I could talk to him, tell him he was loved, and just be nice to him.
I know he must have loved me too. One terrible incident I'll never forget was the day when we were having some serious sibling rivalry. He was at the bottom of some steps by our side door, and I was working it the kitchen. He said something that must have really made me mad, and I flung the rolling pin I was holding. Unfortunately he ducked and the thing hit him in the head and cracked it open, sending him to the emergency room for stitches. He told our mother he fell down the steps and never implicated me. And I've never been able to 'fess up until now. The incident remained our secret and went to the grave with him.

I've missed Kenny, I really have. I've missed knowing what he would be like as an adult. I've wished he could have known me too, once I got past being a selfish teenage big sister. I've missed my kids not knowing him. Whenever I look at our family pictures I know there is someone missing.

I haven't forgotten you, Kenny. Someday we'll get to catch up and the tears will all be wiped away. In the meantime I know you are safe with the Lord.

Apr 17, 2009

Life's little interruptions

This past week has been full of those little life interruptions that seem to keep coming at you and you just need to respond almost without thinking. You just do what you need to do.

Long ago I realized there are many things that happen in life that I may not have chosen, but just the same, things that I need to handle just because of who I am, and embrace the day for what it is. Busier than planned days. Sick days. Helping others days. Days "off" that turned into "days on". Filling commitments days. Non-stop, exhausting days, frustrating days. The kind of days that make you want to scream when someone innocently asks you, "do you work?" like the young girl at the doctor's office the other day. (I did try to answer, but my mouth felt like it was full of sticky peanut butter and nothing coherent would come out). Somehow "I babysit my grandchildren" didn't seem like the answer she was expecting, (or could appreciate) as we were trying to find a day to schedule some minor surgery and a follow up appointment.

Not only my days, but my NIGHTS have been interruped this week. Cold medicine does that to me...keeps me awake. During one of the crazy days this week, the thought had run through my mind that I needed to do something for my soul. But there was just no time or energy left to read, meditate or even think.

But God took care of me anyway, and in a really sweet way. I layed there in bed one night awake for several hours and just let some favorite old hymns wash through my sleepy brain. Over and over the words rolled, and my heart took hold of the truth of them. I felt very safe, loved, and covered. Even refreshed, without sleep!

"The Lord is my shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me, I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in fresh, tender green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life, my self; He leads me in the paths of righteousness, uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but for His name's sake. Yes, though I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod to protect and Your staff to guide, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my brimming cup runs over. Surely only goodness, mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord and His presence shall be my dwelling place." Psalm 23, Amp.

Apr 14, 2009

For Deb...

Here is a closer picture of my china. It is called "Carnival" by Ranmaru, made in Japan probably in the '70's. Nothing particularly valuable. My mother-in-law bought eight place settings at an estate sale for $50! And I really love it because it has my favorite colors, blue & yellow. I've never had real china before, so I'm really enjoying using it as often as I can. I've tried scouring the consignment shops for more pieces but haven't had any luck. I can get some at Replacements.com but hate to pay the money! But I'd like to have 12 place settings, so I might buy more. Thanks for the compliments...

the perfectionist confesses again...

I had the Easter dinner table all set the night before, beautifully I think, with my second hand china that my mother-in-law bought me from an estate sale, and the silver plated tableware I recently picked up at a consignment shop. The tablecloth came from an Am-Vet resale shop years ago, and the cloth napkins I found at a discount store, 8 for $1.99! I've had the glasses for over 30 years, also a gift from my in-laws.

I am thoroughly ashamed to say that two days after Easter, the dirty dishes are still stacked up on my kitchen counter. I came down with a head cold on Saturday and I just have not had the energy to finish the job! (maybe today?)

So again, after all the effort to put my best self forward, I have to admit I'm not so perfect afterall. Look at it as part of my healing process! And pray the mistress of this domain will get her act together soon!

Apr 13, 2009

My Southern Gents

Deacon Andrew, age 3, and Owen Anthony, 15 months, in their Easter attire, which their mommy put together for them. It's just not fair to have to live 9 hours away from them. Ok, so I've gotten to see them 3 times in the last 5 months. But that is definitely NOT enough! I'm hoping we can have a nice long visit soon. They are just growing up too fast!

Apr 12, 2009

Grandma fun on Easter Day

Here's the "Asian" side of the family--the two grandkids that I babysit 4 days a week. Elylah is 3 and Ethan is almost 5 months.

Elylah inherited this beautiful dress from my cousin's daughter, Samantha,I arranged my first Easter egg hunt as a grandma.

Here's Jonathan, age 5, whose grandmas live out of state...

with his brother, Benjamin, 3

Hunting eggs with Elylah in our front yard.

We had spotted the Easter bunny the day before...but had to quietly take his picture through a dirty window!

As we enjoyed our friends whose families live in Pennsylvania and NY, another family in South Carolina got to enjoy the rest of my family. Hopefully they'll send me some Easter pictures soon so I can post them.

Apr 10, 2009

An often missed Good Friday story...

I've often wondered why this Good Friday account found in Matthew's Gospel is rarely, if ever, talked about:

"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, 'Truly this was the Son of God!' " Matthew 27:50-54 ESV

Perhaps it is because apparently through the centuries there have been many interpretations of these verses, called signs, and their significance. All three of these signs (the curtain of the temple torn in two from top to bottom, the earthquake and opening of tombs, and the resurrection of some saints) appear to have happened at the three o'clock hour on Good Friday, at precisely the moment when Jesus gave up his spirit. We've all heard reference to the first two in sermons and hymns, but how often have we heard about the saints who were raised from the dead, many of them?

For one thing, I think we don't want to entertain the thought that some dead saints were raised before Christ was raised. Scripture does seem to indicate that they did not appear to many in Jerusalem until after Christ's resurrection, but it seems quite clear that they came out of their tombs at the same time the other signs occurred, namely, at the time of Christ's death.

What a mysterious event! Can we even dare to imagine this sight, people who had died and were buried in tombs, coming back to life and making appearances to many people?

We do not know where they were from 3 o'clock on Good Friday until sometime after Christ's resurrection on Sunday morning. But they did not appear to many until then. Likewise, we do not know where Christ was during the moments in between his bodily appearances after his resurrection. But we know that he did appear at least 10 times, and to hundreds of people.

I'm not a theologian in the strict sense of the word, but I do think that possibly the reason we don't hear about the saints that were raised from the dead is it sets up a conflict with the idea that Christ was the first to rise in a resurrection body. I'm sure there is an explanation, and maybe by next Easter I'll have it figured out! Obviously the coming back to life in bodily form for those saints is connected with the significance of the death and resurrection of the One and Only Lord who is praised forever and ever. The power of this historical event may never be fully understood this side of eternity, and I'm ok with that.

Good Friday

The Power of the Cross
Words & Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

Chorus: This, the pow’r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev’ry bitter thought,
Ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker
bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
“Finished!” the vict’ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering
I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

Final Chorus: This, the pow’r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

© 2005 Thankyou Music.

Apr 9, 2009

Mary Strom's Hot Cross Buns

This recipe came from a special friend years ago and brings back wonderful memories. I hope you will try them this weekend!

2 c. milk
2 lg. eggs
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
8 c. flour
1 pkg. yeast
2 1/2 c. plumped raisins
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

Put milk and butter together in pan and heat until hot. Mix 1/3 of the flour and all dry ingredients in large bowl. Pour hot liquid onto dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Add eggs and 2 more cups of the flour. Beat on high speed. Add the rest of the flour and the plumped rasins, and let rise until doubled. Knead and shape into buns. Put on greased cookie sheet and let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes.

To make cross: make a cone from waxed paper and fill with a confectioner's sugar frosting. Snip the tip end of the waxed paper and carefully make a cross on top of cooled bun.

Apr 8, 2009

Passover Apple Crisp

Here's a favorite recipe I like to use at this time of year. The Jewish people only use unleavened bread during Passover, to recall the haste with which they fled Egypt, leaving no time for dough to rise. It's very easy to make, and quite delicious.

5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Matzo topping:
1/c cup sugar
1/2 cup matzo meal, or 2 large matzo crackers, crumbled (what I use)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped almonds
(Combine ingredients)

In a bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and toss. Use cooking spray on a large pie dish or other baking dish and place apple mixture inside. Spread the Matzo topping over all. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees F. and bake uncovered for 45 minutes until apples are tender and topping is crisp.

Apr 7, 2009

Why celebrate Palm Sunday?

This past Sunday I got up early, bounded down the stairs and threw open the curtains. The sun was almost blinding, My heart was full of hope that spring really had arrived here in NE Ohio. I began to sing, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today..Alleluiah"

Then I stopped myself. How presumptuous of my heart to skip right over Holy Week and land smack onto Easter morning! Just because the sun made me feel good. I knew I must back up and walk through this week slowly, relearning all I possibly could of the events that led to Easter morning. How can one truly know joy unless one has also known deep sorrow? Likewise, to understand the mountaintop joy of Resurrection Sunday, one must first walk through the valley of Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday.

Several Old Testament prophesies were fulfilled on that day. Thousands were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Word had spread that Jesus had recently raised a man from the dead, and so when he rode into the city on a donkey, throngs ran out to greet him. They were sure their own deliverance from Roman domination was eminent. If this man was strong enough to raise the dead, surely he was strong enough to be their king. He was greeted with singing and shouting and palm branch waving.

However, in great contrast, when Jesus looked out over the city he cried bitterly over it. He knew full well that most people had totally missed the point of his coming to earth, and what kind of King he really was. He knew their thoughts were shallow, their expectations of an earthly and political nature, and he knew what lay ahead for them as a result.

I think the main reason I will celebrate Palm Sunday is that by orchestrating the events of the day (the gathering crowds, the commotion, fear, and hostility it caused) Jesus clearly demonstrated that he, with the Father, was in full control of the timetable of his death. He was not killed against his will, rather he layed down his life. He knew his time had come. On Palm Sunday, in essence, he was saying, "Here I am. Bring it on". For the cheerful celebrating quickly faded and the mood of the people quickly deteriorated as the week went on. Even his closest friends failed to see the implication of the day: "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"