Jun 28, 2010

prepare to believe...

That is the slogan used by The Creation Museum located in Petersburg, KY, just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. We visited there for the first time this past weekend, and it is a pretty amazing place. It is a Christian environment, and the purpose of the museum and presentations is to offer a Christian perspective on the origin of the universe and everything in it. We spent nine hours there viewing displays of everything from Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden to Noah building his ark, to dozens of fossils from all over the world and listening to several presentations.

My favorite presentations were in the Stargazers Planetarium. Through high definition digital technology, we were able to sit back in comfortable reclining chairs and view the sun, stars, moon, planets, the Milky Way and beyond!

I don't have a scientific bone in my body, but this was an interesting place to visit! I give the originators of this museum high marks for daring to present a controversial and counter-cultural viewpoint to the general public. The exhibits were of world-class quality, the environment was friendly, and the presentations were outstanding.

Here are some of our pictures:

Isaiah and some scrolls

building Noah's ark

an amazing fossil

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Hubby Bob posing with the mastadon

The beautiful grounds of the Museum, where visitors
can stroll or eat a picnic lunch...

The Museum has a nice cafe on the main floor and a snack shop on the lower level. There is also a fairly large book store/gift shop. If you are anywhere near this area, it is well worth a visit. We found everything to be state-of-the-art, clean, and well maintained. Security seemed good, employees were friendly and helpful, it is was an enjoyable and faith-building experience all the way around. Prices of admission, hours of operation, and other information is available on their web site: (www.creationmuseum.org).

Plan to spend an entire day, and prepare to believe!

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

Jun 22, 2010

because I said so...

I actually saw Christian comedienne Anita Renfroe perform this in person a couple of years ago. She is a pastor's wife, and the mom of three children. I found her to be one of those gifted people who can make you laugh and cry within the same minute. I believe this is meant to help us lighten up and laugh at ourselves-- nothing more, and nothing less. Enjoy!

Jun 19, 2010

Lessons from the strawberry patch...

Just as summer is beginning here in northeast Ohio, the strawberry fields are ripe for the picking. I've been waiting for the "perfect" day to take my grandchildren. I had hoped the crop and weather conditions would be favorable the first week of June when all four of my grands could go, but sadly we had too much rain that week. So two of them had to go back home to SC and missed out.

When we had a dry and slightly overcast and not too warm day this week, my friend Jennifer called and said she and her two boys were going to a nearby farm to pick. I didn't think twice about it, and hurriedly got the two grands I was babysitting packed in the car and off we went.

I'm actually not a farm girl, but I do like to pretend now and then. I was having such a great time being outdoors and giving my grandchildren this new experience that I began to think about what a teachable moment it could be. While we were moving slowly down the rows between the plants and filling our baskets, I asked Jennifer if she felt a little like Ruth (of the Bible) gleaning the fields. We happened to be near the edge of the strawberry field, where in ancient times, crops were left for poor people to come along and pick, allowing them dignity as well as sustenance.

The strawberry season is a very short one, lasting only a couple of weeks. Since I only picked one nice basket, I'm so tempted to try to find another day to go again. We'll see. But isn't that just like life? Life is short, even if we'd live to be 100. We really do need to live each day to the fullest and redeem whatever time we have on this earth.

Did you know that there are different varieties of strawberries and they grow to different sizes? Some people prefer large ones, but I have found the smaller ones tend to be sweeter and tastier. Strawberries also need to be handled with care. They are a fragile fruit and can be bruised or crushed easily, so care should be taken not to overfill the baskets with too much weight. Also, walk in the rows between the plants and be careful not to trample on them. I think there could be a whole sermon in here making an analogy between strawberries and friendships!

One thing I definitely did notice while we were picking: Some of the plants were full and the leaves were firm and a lucious green color. Others were dry and withering. The plants that were the healthiest looking had the best looking berries hidden under their leaves. So as I moved along, I first looked at the leaves and focused on the fruit from the healthy plants. Surely a spiritual lesson here as well!

I ended up giving away almost half of my berries. How could I not share my experience and my joy? I was fortunate to have the time to "play in the fields" and I know how blessed I have been to be on the receiving end in the past.

Strawberries are not only delicious, but did you know that a cup of fresh strawberries contains about double the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C? So if you'll excuse me now, I need to go take my vitamins!

*Thanks to Jennifer Meybaum for photos of the children.

Jun 17, 2010

Be careful little mouth, what you say...

graphic compliments of www.penniwigs.blogspot.com

The two grandkids I babysit regularly and I have been singing the children's Sunday School song, "Be careful little eyes, what you see" this week. In case you don't know it, it goes like this:

O be careful little eyes what you see

O be careful little eyes what you see

There's a Father up above

And He's looking down in love

So, be careful little eyes what you see

Then the other verses are little ears, what you hear, little feet, where you go, little hands, what you do, etc.

The Bible verse that has been on my mind a lot lately ties in. It is this one:

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

Dictionary definitions of the word "unwholesome" include "detrimental to mental, physical, or moral well-being". When I was growing up, the kids in our neighborhood used to yell these words back and forth, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Well, we all know what a lie that is, and hopefully we try not to hurt others with our words.

But what about the rest of the verse? We are to say "only" those things that are helpful for building others up according to...what? THEIR NEEDS??? Our words are supposed to be of benefit to others.

I know I have failed many, many times in my life and have both intentionally and unintentionally disobeyed this scriptural admonition. Since I've been teaching the Sunday School song to my grandchildren, I've been thinking about what it would be like if I actually, very intentionally, tried to speak only wholesome words that would seek to build up the listener according to "their" needs.

The times when it becomes especially difficult are those when someone does or says something that I either strongly disagree with, or is hurtful to me. It's so easy to just let something fly out of my mouth (or off my keyboard!) in defense of my position or feelings. But the fact remains that as a bible-believing Christian, I must own that it is not only possible, but necessary that I need to be careful with words. Words are powerful, and they have meaning. Oh be careful little mouth what you say!

Jun 11, 2010

It's not easy being short...

I saw a headline this morning and it was the first thing I read:

"Short people at risk for heart problems"

As if we don't get enough warnings about all the things we can control in our lives such as diet, exercise, sleep...now we are supposed to worry about what we cannot do anything about.

Apparently statistics now show that if you are 5'3" or under (that would be me), you have a 50% greater chance of dying from heart trouble. "We don't want to scare short people, but perhaps they should be extra cautious about their lifestyle" said one professor, who wasn't even connected with the study.

Here are the potential reasons for the greater risk:

1) perhaps short people are poor and undernourished - Well, I'm certainly not wealthy but in comparison to most of the world I am certainly not poor or undernourished. Seems like it used to be that potential heart problems were of special concern to the "over" nourished!

2) short people may have a hormone imbalance - Oh my. The report didn't say if they were picking on women in particular, but they better watch it!

3) short people have smaller arteries and therefore are more susceptible to artery clogging and high blood pressure problems - This possible reason seemed to make the most sense, theoretically speaking, but I'll tell you, we have a lot of short people in my family's lineage, but we also have a lot of longevity.

One spokesman stated that cardiologists need to be careful at drawing conclusions that short people are more susceptible to heart problems, that it would potentially unfairly stigmatize them. This is the scary part to me. How unfair it would be for insurance companies and employers, for example, to discriminate against short people on the grounds they could possibly be at greater risk for heart problems.

Just what the world needed, another report coming out to scare people about health hazards! While I definitely think it is a good idea to use common sense and apply wisdom in trying to take care of the bodies we have been entrusted with, the fact remains that we will not live in these bodies forever! Something will wear out or fail us eventually.

I refuse to live a life of fear over something I had no control over. Yes, I am short. In fact I'm an inch shorter than what I was when I was younger! But my times are in His hands, the One who created me and determined how long I would live before I was even born. Read all about it in Psalm 139. And live each day to the fullest!

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Jun 5, 2010

a week in the life of a grandma...

Wow, it's been a whirlwind around here. Our very brave daughter-in-law, Ellie, drove up to NE Ohio from South Carolina with our two grandsons, Deacon (4) and Owen (2).

Our son, Andy, wasn't able to get away from his church responsibilities this time, but they'll be back in a month for our family reunion in July. Ellie and the kids started out late on the Friday night before Memorial Day and stopped after a couple hours and stayed overnight in a hotel. On Saturday afternoon, they caught up with us at a birthday party for my great-nephew...that was out in the country about an hour farther from our house!

My niece Ann and her hubby Adam live on a 1000 acre preserve that it owned by the State of Ohio. He is a ranger and the property just happened to have a century house on it that they are able to rent. They've done a ton of work on the property and they also cultivate a huge garden. We enjoyed a lovely sunny and warm day there visiting with family and eating all the yummy food. Happy First Birthday, Abe!

Abe had a blast opening all his birthday presents...

The back porch of the century house...my niece Ann with baby Abe, his daddy Adam, and in the front, my son, Sam. It was wonderful to be outdoors on such a perfect day, and the kids had much to keep them happy and occupied...

On Sunday after church, we took the four grands plus Ellie and Sam & Joanna out to eat lunch. Fortunately we found a kids-friendly restaurant that had a semi-private room for us to use. The kids enjoyed making their own ice-cream sundaes there. When we got home, we set up a slip 'n' slide in our backyard.

Our little next door neighbor boy, Kyle (red swim suit), is exactly Deacon's age, and so the more the merrier...Kyle's family has a tramboline which the kids also enjoyed.

I'd die if I tried this!

By Sunday night, this is what my family room looked like! My camera would break if I took a picture of the kitchen! But I was too tired to care, or even be embarrassed that two of Ellie's friends came to stay overnight...because...
early on Monday morning (Memorial Day) they were participating in a 5-K race in our town and they just needed a place to stay. Emily and Sarah were great sports about our chaos...

Joanna, Sam, Ellie and my brother Don (a 10 time marathon veteran) all ran the 5-K...it was Joanna's very first race and I was really proud of her for doing it! It was SO HOT that morning and the sun was SO BRIGHT that some of the pictures didn't come out very well...

Here comes Don...

and Sam...

Ellie wouldn't let me post her running picture, even though it was REALLY cute...she was smiling and waving...so here she is with Owen at the community pancake breakfast which followed the race. The runners all got to eat for free.

Backing up just a bit, it was our job to take care of the kids while the runners had to arrive early to get registered for the race. So we opted for the nearby donut shop.

Right after the pancake breakfast, we took the kids to our small town parade...where we found Abe Lincoln riding on a fire truck!

Our town has unfortunately lost several young men in our country's current wars, and there is quite a bit of patriotism here...

One day we went to lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I watched the kids for a bit in the playroom so Ellie could have some conversation with the two great-grandmas.

One night, Deacon made our supper for us...which you can read all about here...

And then a trip to Dollar Tree was pleasing for everyone!

I sure appreciate all the effort it was for Ellie to bring the boys up for this week long visit. There was a lot of stuff I wanted to do but we couldn't because we had rain almost every day. One thing I really enjoyed was playing "I Spy" with the boys at bedtime. They got into the twin beds in the semi-dark and I sat in a chair calling out whatever "I spied". They had to find it with the flashlight without getting out of bed. Eventualy the game would be over and they would taper off to sleep, still holding their flashlights. It was a great week...and I'm a tired but very happy granny!

Jun 4, 2010

My little Italian Grandma...

I was unbelievably blessed with two awesome Grandmas. Today I will write about "Little Grandma" as she was affectionately called. I am only 5 feet tall, and she came up to about my shoulders. She was born in Sicily on June 4, 1900, which means she would be 110 years old today if she was still living. As it was, Grandma made it to to age 93 in this life, and basically living independently until her final months.

This is the only family photo which shows my grandparents with all of their children. It was taken in 1934. My dad is on the far left; next to him is his brother, Anthony, who died at age 21; next to Anthony is brother Jacob, who died at 15. The remaining six children all survived into late adulthood and four are still living today. Grandma had just turned 17 when she married Grandpa, and she had all these children before she was 34 years old.

Grandma's name was Josephine and my family lived next door to her and Grandpa until I was 11 years old. Then we moved to a bigger house, but only 3 blocks away.

Between our houses was a home made concrete path that went through my grandparents' huge garden. I was free to come and go as I pleased, and Grandma's door was never locked. But there was something sacred about their home and I think it was all the praying that went on there. Grandma was a little hard of hearing, so she didn't know how many times I would walk in her house and find her on her knees, either beside her bed, or in front of the living room couch. In later years, when she lived in a smaller house and I would drive over to visit unexpectedly, I would bang on the door but she couldn't hear me, so I would look in the window and see her just praying away while sitting in her chair.

My grandparents didn't drive, so our family always took them to church. Those were the days before seatbelts and as many as 10 of us would pile into our station wagon, the smaller ones sitting on the laps of the adults. Grandma always carried Chicklets gum in her purse, and we kids couldn't wait to get on her lap and ask for some.

I often maneuvered to get invited to Grandma's for lunch on Sundays after church, because she always had a big pot of spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove, usually with some chicken pieces in it. My grandparents always prayed both before and after their meals, and they also used little cards with scripture verses on them which were read before every meal.

Grandma may have been little in stature, but she was a no-nonsense, capable woman who raised eight children who were all born at home. She cooked, cleaned, gardened, canned, sewed, and did all the other things a homemaker did in those days. She was generous with her produce from the garden and her fruit trees through the years of the Great Depression, never turning a beggar away. She kept the household running in spite of losing two sons to diabetes within a couple of years, and without any income when my Grandpa had to go away to a sanitarium for months, suffering with TB.

When Grandma turned 90, our family had a huge birthday party for her in the church fellowship hall. Her six living children each stood up and called her blessed, sharing memories and stories. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and there are many) blessed her with music and other talents, and each one stood in line to give her a rose and a hug. There were many displays of her handwork and photographs, and a video playing of an interview my sister had with her to document some of her life.

I have not one single memory of my Grandma ever being anything but loving, kind, and hard working. Seems she always had an apron on, and her hair was always rolled up in a little bun in the back of her head. All I have to do, even now, is think of her and my eyes fill with tears. I miss her so much. When she was dying, I had a terrible time of letting her go. I remember the last time I saw her at the nursing home, the night before she passed. I knelt beside her bed, holding her soft little hand. I cried till there were no tears left, and prayed like I had seen her do so many times. The release finally came, and I thought of Proverbs 31:31,

"Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

I have no doubts that her soul entered the gates of heaven and I will see her again.

Being a grandma is one of the most precious blessings I have received in life. I've always wanted to be a grandma, even before my own kids were grown up. I just knew it would be something very special. When I think of grandparenting, this verse comes to my mind:

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him..." I Cor. 2:9 NIV

So as I remember my little Italian Grandma today, not only do I count my blessings, but I am challenged to be the best Grandma I can be to my own sweet grandchildren. I hope someday they will be able to remember me as a Godly woman who influenced them for good, because that's how I will always remember my Grandma.

Picture from Memorial Day weekend 2010. From left: Owen (2), Deacon (4), Ethan (18 months), and Elylah (4).