Oct 29, 2010

The Redeemed Helper-Completer

There is a new post in the Five Aspects of Woman series in progress at my other blog,

To read the entire series, scroll back to Aug. 29, 2010 and read forward.

Oct 26, 2010

You learn something new everyday...

Tonight my hubby and I and a couple others went on a tour at an inner city ministry for children in Akron, Ohio. We are looking at a new opportunity to serve through our church and this was part of our education. While we were waiting near a stairway, a bunch of school age kids were descending the stairs...several of them singing the contemporary Christian song, "He is Mighty to Save"... and I noticed many of them appeared to be of some kind of Asian extraction. I've been around enough Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, and Filipino people that I usually can note the physical differences of those people groups...but the appearance of these children was different from any I'd seen before. They were similarly very beautiful with large dark eyes, smooth roundish faces, and medium colored skin. Not that it mattered...but I was curious...

Have you ever heard of the Karen (pronounced kah-RIN) people? Me either! Nor did I know that there is a group of about 600 of them living in Akron....and more in other various places around the United States. Sadly, there is an ethnic cleansing situation that has been going on for years in Burma and thousands of this ethnic group have been living in refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border or in Thailand, or they are living in hiding in Burma. With no end in sight to their suffering, other countries have begun accepting them for resettlement. The United States started receiving them about four years ago...and it is predicted that many thousands will settle here in the near future.

Who are the Karen anyway? I found an interesting website with lots of information. I found out the the Karen people were some of the earliest converts to Christianity in Southeast Asia, with the first (Baptist) missionaries arriving there about 200 years ago. Apparently the resettlement efforts are in large part because of the Christian missionaries that continue to serve. So many that relocate here are believers.

Here are some of the children that are being helped by the ministry we visited tonight, called Urban Vision.

Many of these children are Karen immigrants who receive after-school help from dedicated volunteers in subjects such as English, language arts, and math. They also learn about Jesus and what it means to be a Christian through mentoring and Bible quiz teams for example. The children also receive a free meal...everything is donated. While we were there tonight, they were eating hot sandwiches, salad, and we saw the Karen children also eating something they are very accustomed to, white rice with hot sauce.

So not only did we learn about a fantastic ministry going on just a few miles from our home in the suburbs, but we learned something about a people group that was news to us...and we are grateful that our country is allowing them to legally immigrate. Once again, I am humbled to see how God works in the hearts of His servants and how He cares for the needy. I never heard of the Karen ethnic group before, but God has known them from the beginning and has a plan for them.

Oct 24, 2010

Things are not always what they seem...

This past summer when hubby and I took a weekend trip to Cincinnati, we stayed at a cozy bed and breakfast. We so prefer them to hotels and have met interesting people, both proprietors and other guests joining together for breakfast. On that particular occasion there was a group of five gals who were together, and as we talked, we discovered they had never met each other before in person, but were blogging friends! They were having so much fun and I'm sure it planted a seed in my mind...

However, in my eagerness to make friends in the blogosphere, I guess I moved too quickly at one point. There was someone I admired a lot who lived way too far away to even think of meeting in person and so I thought I would send her a small gift in the mail. We had read each other's blogs for many months and I know we were like-minded on many subjects that matter. So I emailed her and asked her to send me her home address. I even told her what I was sending, and if she felt more comfortable, I could mail it to her work address. No response. The second time I asked, I was really embarrassed and felt chastised. She said she didn't feel she knew me well enough to divulge her address. I dropped it. She since has dropped out of the blog world, though we occasionally comment to each other on another social network. I don't have any hard feelings.

Of all the many, many interesting and beautiful blogs I have read and of the many ladies (and in a very few cases, gentlemen) I have "met" in the almost two years I have been blogging, there has been only one instance where I had to break off a relationship with a fellow blogger. This particular woman has very strong opinions, which in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing...but often when I would make a comment on her blog, she would would call it into question and use the forum to make an "example" of me or call into question my personal beliefs or opinions. One time she even went so far as to write a very long personal and judgmental comment on my blog's comment section that was directed to my own grown son! While she has a beautiful blog and is a talented writer, and I thought we had enough in common to share a blogging friendship, when I started losing sleep because of the anxiety this situation was causing me, I knew for my own emotional health I needed to cut it off, and I did...

While I determined to learn more about blogging etiquette, I also determined that I needed to "be myself" and see where it would lead me. I have been far too blessed by beautiful people in the blogosphere to give up because of a few negative experiences. The blog world has been such a gift to me, fulfilling not only a desire to write, but opening up the possibility of friendships and learning about the lives of so many and from so many different places around the country and even the world. I have been blessed, humored, encouraged, inspired, humbled, and awed by my blogger friends. I am so grateful for this media which doesn't cost me anything except my time, and I know I can "visit" people any time of the day or night.

Some bloggers are more up front than others about the area of the country where they live, and such is the case with Rebecca over at lifeandgodliness . One time when my hubby and I took a day trip to Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio, I realized we were not all that far from where Rebecca lives, and in a strange way I found myself thinking about her and feeling close to her the whole day long. As we continued to develop our blogger friendship, I knew that I wanted to meet her in person and not only that, I felt our hubbys would also have a lot of common ground.

The BIG DAY was this past Saturday! The four of us met at a great restaurant and so enjoyed each other's company. It was everything I had dreamed it could be and even more! Rebecca and I were absolutely giddy, not knowing where to start with our conversations, yet spending several hours without a break in them! I'm still flying pretty high from the whole experience. When we were about to part, Rebecca said that I was just like she had imagined. She asked me if she was what I had thought. I told her I thought she would be a lot taller...perhaps because in my mind I do see her as one who stands tall above many others in the blog world...with her kindness, her gentleness, her words of wisdom, her many interests, and desire to love and serve God in her everyday life. What I didn't get a chance to tell her was that I found she is much more outgoing and warm in her personality than I had imagined. For some reason I had the impression she was more reserved and my one fear in meeting up in person was that I would come across as too overwhelming and perhaps offend her. (Think Italian)

I am blessed beyond words at the joy I feel in my heart to have met in person a sweet blogger friend who I also know will be an eternal friend. The greatest thing that Rebecca and I and our hubbys share in common is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the designer of friendships in the first place.

Here we are after enjoying a delicious meal and great conversation at The Barn in Archbold, OH

My hubby Bob (left) and Rebecca's hubby Gary were great sports to share our time together!

"A friend loves at all times" ~ Proverbs 17:17

Oct 22, 2010

Dear Dad...

Mary Campbell Cave, Gorge Metropolitan Park,
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
One of my dad's paintings that I like to look at in the fall.

I don't have the emotional energy or the time to write all that is in my heart today, the 87th anniversary of the birth of an amazing man, my dad. While his spirit is safe with God, his body rests over at Oakwood Cemetery, awaiting that promised and inevitable glorious day of resurrection. His temporary loss in my life has left a vacancy that no one else can fill and I miss him every single day. It's been 2 1/2 years and while the pain of loss is always there, it has become "softer" with time as memories become sweeter.

One of the last pictures of me with my dad...

My dad made me feel loved and special from day one, yet he had room in his heart and an amazing capacity to make all six of the other kids feel the same way.

Dad didn't always have an easy life, but he lived a good life. All 84 years. Devoted son, faithful husband, proud father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, beloved sibling, trusted friend, lover of God. He was respected by everyone who knew him. How many people can leave this earth with that legacy?

The only known picture of my dad's entire family of origin...
he is on the far left, and the year was 1934.

Some of the things my dad liked that still make us chuckle: the color red, black wrought iron, stamps, keys, coins, thrift shopping, repurposing curb finds; gingersnaps and black licorice, dippy eggs, spaghetti, painting, books, history, and anything "family"; covered bridges, lighthouses, barns, flea markets, crossword puzzles and the daily newspaper; passing out napkins at the table, wearing dress shirts, cuff-links and ties; sight-seeing, telling jokes, decorating the house for Christmas, playing (and always winning) Trivial Pursuit, making banners, and signing his name on everything.

Some of the things he disliked: surprise parties, unexpected spicey food, lights left on when no one was home, telemarketers, wasted food, canning, feeling like he was cheated, lied to, unappreciated or misunderstood.

Dad always liked this photo of himself, and so do I.

One of the myriad of things I miss about my dad is being able to ask him just about any question and getting an instant answer. He was truly a walking encyclopedia. A few months after he died, I actually picked up the phone and started to call him to ask him some trivial thing, like I had done many times it the past.

Dad was blind in one eye from a childhood baseball injury that never got treated, and he often spilled things at the table. He also had poor hearing, which unfortunately runs in our family. For many years he was in denial about that, and it caused him to be defensive at times. Throughout our growing up years, he worked as many hours as he could get to support his large family, and there were times we wondered if he would make it home in time to get to our events. All of that, however, is forgiven, as love covers all. Love endures forever, and love is what is left when everything else passes away.

I'm seen in the reflection, taking this picture of his headstone right after it was installed.

My heart is full of love as I recall the life of the man who has been in mine longer than any other. He was there when I was born and I was there when he died. I know that I can look forward with confidence and back without regrets. I am so very blessed.

Oct 20, 2010

A NINE DAY ADVENTURE...Part Six: The Grand Finale

We wanted to do something extra special with the grandkids on our last day with them in early September. Their parents wouldn't return until suppertime, and being a Saturday, they didn't have Pre-School. So with a little help from the internet we figured out where to catch the train into the big city, Charlotte, NC. So we hopped on the LYNX Blue Line and enjoyed about a 30 minute ride...

Here we are, waiting for our train...



The kids had been there before, so they knew what to expect and were looking forward to it. We didn't have a clue, but it was beyond all expectations...

After a fun filled day, eventually it was time to go...And Deacon watches for our train...

Here it comes...

It was very state-of-the-art, and a lot of fun to ride...

And this is me at the end of the day...

But I wouldn't trade it for the world...

We had to leave to return to Ohio the next morning. It was one of the most memorable weeks of our lives!

They are all planning to come up for Thanksgiving this year...and GUESS WHAT???

Deacon and Owen are expecting a new brother or sister in March!

Oct 15, 2010

THAT was easy!

People do all sorts of things for personal therapy. I like to play in the kitchen though I don't always have a lot of free time to experiment.

Last week I made this:

but I had extra pie filling left over...

and I wasn't sure what to do with it until I remembered I had these in my cupboard...

So I put two boxes of them (30) on a cookie sheet, and filled them with the leftover pie filling...

I baked them in the oven for 15 minutes at 425℉ and then 15 minutes longer at 350℉.

After they cooled, I added a dollop of Cool-Whip on top of them...

and I am not kidding, these are REALLY GOOD!

I had made my own pie filling using the famous Libbey's recipe, but for something like this you could very easily use the canned pie filling that is already to go. I don't remember the exact price I paid for the fillo shells but I think they were on sale at around $1/box at our local discount grocery store.

So if you need a quick and tasty dessert this fall or winter, or just want to do something simple with your children or grandchildren, give it a try!

Oct 11, 2010

I am a Friend of God!

For almost a week I have had yet ANOTHER bout of allergy symptoms that were making me miserable: Itchy eyes and neck, swelling, headache, weakness, sore throat. None of the meds I tried gave me any relief. I've been dealing with this off and on since last spring, but this was the longest it lasted at one time. I had a kennalog shot a few months ago which brought some temporary relief, but this time it seemed I had even more symptoms. The sore throat part began to worry me, as that was something new. No, my hubby doesn't beat me. This is what I look like when it's at it's worst:

I had a very busy week and just could not stop to even try to take care of myself. By Sunday morning, I was having second thoughts about going to church. In fact, I got in my chair and decided I would watch our early service as it is streamed live over the internet. I hooked the speakers up and told my hubby I was going to stay home. He went upstairs to get himself ready for the second service, as he had a commitment to help with the new members class during the third hour.

As soon as I started watching the service, I was filled with a desire to "be there". We had missed being in our home church every Sunday in September because of being out of town. I hated to miss another Sunday. It was then I distinctly "heard" God say, "Go, get your healing!"

I knew I had to move fast. It is a half hour's drive and hubby was about ready to leave. I had to get dressed, comb my hair, and put some makeup on. I did it all in about 10 minutes, and we were out the door. We got there in plenty of time for the second service. Nothing unusual happened. I really can't even remember what songs we sang or what the sermon was about. (sorry Pastor Jim!)

After the service, I needed to wait out the next hour while hubby did his thing with the new member class. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed for a chair in the atrium. Two ladies I know were nearby, also passing some time. I didn't feel like talking, but really had no choice.

After about half an hour, they left, and I moved to another location in front of a window where the sun was beaming in. By now my throat was raw from talking, and I felt pretty weak all over. I covered my eyes with my hand, and was looking at the floor, so that no one coming by would engage me in any conversation. That's when I saw two big black shoes walking toward my direction. I peaked up to see that it was one of our pastors. Surely he wasn't coming over to talk to me, so I just kept on staring at the floor with my hand shielding my eyes. The shoes kept coming...

I looked up and gave him a smile. He came right over to me and being a large man, knelt down on the floor beside the couch where I was sitting so he could look me in the eye. "Are you alright?" So I told him about how I'd been feeling all week long and how miserable I was. Right there he prayed for me to The Great Physician. I knew I was going to get better. I focused on the thought that I needed to exercise my faith as I remembered the words that God had whispered to me a few hours earlier.

I rested a while on Sunday afternoon, then we went to a friend's house for a simple birthday gathering. We came home, went to bed, got up, and this morning, went through our usual routine. It was exactly 24 hours after the pastor's prayer for me that I realized how good I was feeling. No sore throat, no other symptoms. I looked in the mirror at my neck, where the day before I had scratched it so hard it bled. I could see it was healing. I sent my "praise" off to the church in a quick e-mail, and then I thanked my Heavenly Father for being mindful of me.

Take five minutes to listen to this song and remind yourself that God calls you friend!

Oct 10, 2010

Helper-Completer...or...Deceived Competer?

(Note: Five Aspects of Woman Series in progress at my other blog, www.mistressofmydomain.blogspot.com Scroll back to Aug. 29 and read forward)

Oct 7, 2010

A NINE DAY ADVENTURE...Part Five: four awesome days with two awesome grandkids!

Continuing my musings about our trip to SC in early September, I'm feeling a little emotional as I remember our sweet but all too short time with two of our grands, Deacon, age 4 and Owen, age 2. While we do get to see them every couple of months, it's just not the same as if we lived nearby, and any grandparent in this situation knows exactly what I mean.

Andy and Ellie left late on Tuesday night to do their thing, and the boys were already in bed. Wednesday morning was the first day of Pre-School and so that was extra-exciting as we all got up, got dressed, got breakfast, and got them to the church. They were all smiles, and we told them we'd be back in three hours to pick them up.

I'm a firm believer that "routine" works best for children...and so we tried to have a rhythm to the four days so they would know what to expect. Deacon went to Pre-School Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings, and Owen just went on Wednesday and Friday. After we ate lunch each day, we had a rest time. The boys share a bedroom, and so each day we made it dark enough in there that we could play "I-Spy" with the flashlights I bought them. They had to stay in their beds while we played, and then after 20 minutes or so, they had to be quiet and I left the room. Each day Owen slept for about an hour or and hour and a half, and Deacon rested quietly.

Owen having a mid-afternoon snack...

Bathtime in the evening became a fun part of our routine too.

Not only did we find these cool "bathtub crayons" at the store, but also "bathtub paint" that turned the water colors.

At bedtime, we usually repeated the routine of playing "I-Spy" with the flashlights...and after the boys were asleep, we enjoyed our own quiet time, relaxing in Andy's and Ellie's beautiful family room, which they totally redid since we were here last.

On Thursday after nap-time, we ventured out to a local park, taking Calvin our grand-doggie with us...

After dinner on Thursday, we had craft time and made some great creations out of clay...

On Friday I decided we needed to do something with some of the apples we had picked earlier in the week, so we made pie...

Owen made an appearance every few minutes, but Deacon stayed right with the project and had a great time...

Finally, the pie was ready to go into the oven, and it baked while we ate supper...

it was SO GOOD!!

Next ~ a train ride to Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC for the grand finale!

(Note: Five Aspects of Woman Series in progress at my other blog, www.mistressofmydomain.blogspot.com Scroll back to Aug. 29 and read forward)