Friday, December 21, 2012

A Special Holiday Program


          Over the years I have attended countless school holiday programs. They are all similar, with cute children singing and being adorable. The program I attended yesterday brought tears to my eyes.
          My son Paul is a special ed teacher. I have often heard him talk about his kids, but I had never been to his school or met any of students until yesterday when I attended the Holiday Program at his school for kids with special needs.
          Walking into the gym I saw the usual holiday decorations but there was something different. Orthopedic devices were covered with shiny tensile. Kids were waiting in wheelchairs bedecked with bright garlands. Paul found us and took us to meet his kids, a group of teenagers in specially fitted wheelchairs. Paul introduced me as his mommy. The kids are mostly not able to talk, but they seemed happy and excited.
          Paul’s class was the opening act. The biggest boy was wheeled out and fitted into an orthopedic device that enabled him to stand. It was decorated to look like a pulpit. “Winter Wonderland” played on the sound system and his other students were wheeled into two rows. Then a young man all dressed up in a suit and a girl wearing a white veil were wheeled down the aisle to the pulpit. After the wedding ceremony the kids were pushed in circles and “danced” in celebration.
          The program included lots of music, lots of proud parents and lots of excited kids. It just seemed to be a little more special.
           I watched my son the teacher interact with his kids and help them accomplish something that was very big. This boy of mine is a compassionate, capable, competent teacher in a very special place. He makes me swell with pride.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wedding

I know that God does indeed answer our prayers. My daughter's beautiful wedding last Saturday is another proof for that truth.

The bride was radiant.

She had found her Prince Charming

They blended their families into a beautiful new family

My entire family is rejoicing.









Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Day


“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15

Tomorrow will finally be Election Day. I think we all have campaign fatigue and are ready for this to be over. According to the polls the country is divided and the results are far from certain. When we wake up on Wednesday half the country will be rejoicing over the outcome, and half the country will be mourning the results.

My vision for what the future of this country should be is much more closely reflected by the Democratic Party platform. I will again be voting for President Obama and the Democrats. Many of my friends and family disagree and think the other side will be better for the country. I love and respect the opinions of these folks, but I just can’t share their political views. If my team loses tomorrow I will be sad and concerned about the future. I will then have to hope that my more conservative friends will be correct in their judgment.

Whatever tomorrow’s outcome may be, I am praying that we will all be gentle with another.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friends


           
 We met Dot and Mark forty years ago. They were a young couple expecting their first baby. We were the parents of four young children. We became friends and our lives intertwined. My children became babysitters for their children. Their children became babysitters for my grandchildren. We shared our holidays. We shared our joys and we shared our sorrows. We became part of one another.

            Dot and Mark sold their house this week. They are retiring and moving to North Carolina where their youngest daughter lives. They will no longer live around the corner. They are leaving a hole in my world. I will miss them.

            Go with God my friends. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mom



Today is my mom's 107th birthday. Theses are the words I spoke at her memorial service nnine years ago. I still miss here every day.

MOM

            One of my earliest memories is standing in my crib and listening to the mourning doves outside my window. They sounded so sad. Mom told me my first sentence was during that moment when I said, "They're crying for their mommy." I knew from my infancy that the safest place to be when life was sad or painful was in my mother's arms. It was always warm and secure there. I remember many nights snuggling in her lap while she rocked me and sent all my fears away.
            I still long for the safety of her lap when life is scary and painful.
            We all must grow up and leave that safe spot, and we all did. But mom had prepared us well for life. She gave us the tools we would need to survive. We just had to follow her example of faith, love, and laughter.
            Mom's faith in God and confidence in his love were unshakable. She knew that a loving God would always be there for her. There was a purity and assurance in that faith that always guided her. Her faith was a solid rock, a safe harbor, as warm and secure as her lap was for her babies.  The last time mom spoke to me was just a year ago. She could no longer carry on a conversation, but for a moment she was there with me. We sang, "Jesus Loves Me." At the end of the song she said, "That's right, honey, He still does."
            Mom loved everybody. She loved her husband. She loved her children. She loved her grandchildren. She loved her friends.
            Oh how she loved our dad. From the moment she met him on a blind date and sat in the rumble seat of the car with him, he was her man. She devoted her life to making him happy, and she succeeded. Their love for one another was a constant thing. They demonstrated true love and marriage everyday.
            She loved my brothers and me with a fierce, protective love that knew no limits.
We all know that Dad loved me best, but mom loved us all. My brothers were the joy of her life. She was always so proud of them. I can't remember how many times we walked down the railroad tracks to watch the boys play football. She didn't want to miss a game. She thought we were all geniuses and felt sorry for everyone else because her children were perfect. We were frequently a trial to her. I clearly remember the time I stole some ice cream from the Beverly Market. I must have been about five. She was very angry with me and tied me to the clothesline with the dog's leash as a punishment. That probably would be an unacceptable punishment in today's' world, but it was very effective.
            Then came the grandchildren. They were each perfect - intelligent, beautiful, and far above average. They could do no wrong. What joy they brought to her and dad!
            Mom was blessed with a multitude of friends because she was such a good friend. And she was so funny and so much fun! Who but my mom would put on two bras, one forward and one reversed, and wear it in a fashion show as a double-breasted suit? What other 85-year-old lady put on a sweat suit and slam-dunked shots for the church basketball team? She never did take herself too seriously. Life was just too much fun.
            I can only imagine what mom is doing now. I like to think she has settled into heaven and is talking with dad and all the others who are there. She once told me that one of the things she hoped to find in heaven was banana trees. She wanted to fly from banana tree to banana tree eating all she wanted. What I do know is that this world is better because Byrtle Burrow lived here and I miss her.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Afterglow



            I woke up this morning in the warm afterglow of a wonderful week end. Our church celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The week end was packed with different events full of friendship and reunion.

            We became part of this church only eight years ago, so many of those returning to celebrate were unknown to me. It wasn’t so much any one individual that I rejoiced in seeing as it was the outpouring of love between so many that just overwhelmed us all. The hugs, the stories, the laughter and the tears became all inclusive and swept us all along in a happy glow. The big dinner party for 200 people on Saturday evening went off almost without a hitch. The fact that a big storm blew out all electrical power an hour before the party did not diminish the joy. Our dinner was by candlelight and the room grew warm in the absence of air conditioning, but the evening was perfect.

            Sunday morning was the best part of the week end. I always enjoy our Sunday morning worship, but this Sunday was awesome. The building was packed with people, many who had traveled far to be here for the occasion. These are the people who helped to build this church into a community of God’s love. These are the people who are here now, helping to build on the vision of those builders. These are the people who are our children and will carry God’s love into the next generation. I am glad to be part of this church family.

            The music was incredible. It was majestic and glorious. We sang “Crown Him With Many Crowns” and “The Church’s One Foundation,” both of which were sung at the very first organization service of this congregation fifty years ago.  We sang well. The folk group which was an important part of the church’s life in the 70’s sang “They Will Know We Are Christian by Our Love.” They joyously reflected an important part of this church’s history. The choirs and musicians that are part of today’s church made us know that God was present in that place. The music was spine-tingling good. 

            Four ministers who have served this church participated in the service. It was interesting to see the diverse personalities who have all been so important to the life of this church. Three of these people were here before our arrival. It was interesting to meet them and try to match them with the stories I have heard about past times.

            It was a good week end. Old friends and new friends. Music that inspired. Good food. Much laughter. Stories of long ago and visions for a future. The laughter of children. Communion with the saints.

            God is good. To God be the glory.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Disney


            We have just returned from another magical week at Disney World. This time we were accompanied by our fourteen year old granddaughter and her best friend. We did all the usual Disney things. We rode the rides, saw the shows, got autographs from funny characters, and did a lot of giggling. We came home with another bunch of happy memories.
            I first went to Disneyland in California in 1955, shortly after the park opened. I was fourteen years old. Admission was $1. That just got you into the park. You had to buy a coupon book to go on the rides. There were no big thrill rides. I think the Jungle Boats were the scariest ride there, but it was a place of such amazing fun. I fell under the spell of Disney’s magic and went back more times than I can count.
             We got engaged at Disneyland while flying over London town on the Peter Pan ride. It was an evening full of sparkling romance.  We took our four small children there and watched them fall under its spell of magic.
            We moved to the east coast and did not return to Disneyland for many years. When our youngest son graduated from high school we took him and his older brother to Florida’s Disney World. Along with our teenage boys we once again fell under the spell of Disney’s magic. We began making the trip to Florida on a regular basis. Ten years ago we had a wonderful family reunion there with all of our children and grandchildren. It is such fun to see another generation discover the wonderful world of Disney. We have taken each of our grandkids when they were young teens. We have gone with just the two of us. We never seem to grow tired of the place. Our oldest granddaughter worked there for a year after she graduated from college. She wins the prize for loving Disney best..
            This trip we did something we had never done before. My husband and I each rented an ECV (electronic convenience vehicle) and rode as we went through the parks. I felt like a little old lady riding my scooter, but my feet didn’t hurt and I sure did enjoy the day more. It has been more than fifty years since I first went to Disneyland. I think it is OK to admit I am ready to ride from now on.
            We look forward to our next adventure in Disney World.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Storm With Silver Linings


            Friday our part of the world was hit by a great big, huge enormous storm. We were expecting a thunder storm, but nothing like the one we got. We were winding down at the end of a very hot day – the temperature hit 104 degrees Friday (about 40 degrees Celsius for friends down under) – when suddenly the biggest thunder storm in my memory blew through. Trees and power poles broke like tooth picks in its fury. Electricity went out across several states.
             We went to bed hoping the power would be on by morning, but that was just wishful thinking. It is weird how we you forget how much we rely on electricity. My first problem was that in my all-electric kitchen I had no way to make coffee. I am not nice without my morning coffee. We set off for the local coffee shop to get a fix for my habit. None of the traffic signals were working, so driving was a little tricky, but most drivers were thoughtful and we all just took turns through the intersections. We were delighted to see the shopping center had power and pulled up to the coffee shop to find a line stretching down to the corner. It would take an hour to wait in that line, so we thought we would just go to McDonalds and get coffee. As we drove around town we realized that the reason for the long line was that there was nowhere else with power and nowhere else to get coffee. We waited in line.
            My coffee need taken care of we tried to figure out what to do with the day.  It was too hot to do more than a quick cleanup of our yard before we began to long for air-conditioning. We discovered that our granddaughter had power and we were welcome to crash with her.  It is strange to realize that we are old enough to have a grown-up grandchild who can shelter us from the storm. We stayed at her house until bedtime. It was a wonderful afternoon of family fun as more of the family gathered in the coolness of her house. We watched movies, played on the internet, and enjoyed an unplanned day of togetherness. Some of the family stayed there for the night but we headed home to sleep in our hot, hot house.
            Sunday we gathered at church. The electrical power had been restored to the church building. After services several of us who were still powerless gathered there and enjoyed a respite from the heat and some time to visit with friends we don’t have a chance to see often. In the late afternoon we came home to our very hot house and emptied the refrigerator. I was grateful that I had not been to store recently since everything had to be thrown away. As darkness fell we went to the shopping center, usually a pretty quiet place on Sunday evening. All of the stores and restaurants were packed with people seeking refuge from their hot, dark houses. One of my granddaughters works in a shoe store. She said it was busy all day with people trying on, but not buying shoes. We eventually came home and tried to sleep, but it was just too hot.
            Early Monday morning we heard a loud bang and then the wonderful sight of lights coming on the wonderful hum of the air-conditioner. It was a happy moment. I made coffee, smiled, and thanked the Lord for family and friends and electricity.
            My still powerless daughter and granddaughter came to share our electricity. My fourteen year old granddaughter and I sat at the kitchen table and colored together like we did when she was little. It was fun to visit and laugh with this beautiful girl of mine who is no longer a little girl. They headed home in the evening when their power was restored. A still powerless friend came over to do a load of laundry. We had a lovely visit. My still powerless older daughter and son-in-law spent the night. They just couldn’t take one more sleepless night in their much too hot house.
            There are still thousands without power. I am thankful for the many utility crews working hard to restore the power. I will try to be more appreciative of the many comforts and blessings that come with the wonder of electricity.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

51


Last year our family hosted an amazing, wonderful party to celebrate our golden wedding anniversary. We are still glowing from the love showered on us that day. This year we celebrated 51 years together and the family gave us a card and wished us happy anniversary. Fifty-one is just another anniversary, not a big party year. But fifty-one years is a reason to celebrate that we are still here, still healthy, and still in love. In honor of the day we took a holiday trip.

I've always wanted to see Falling Water, the home in the mountains of Pennsylvania designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. So we made a trip to the beautiful Laurel Highlands to visit the house. It truly is an amazing place. I would love to live in that house. It is not nearly as big as I had expected, no bigger than many suburban homes. It sits over a waterfall and blends beautifully into the woods that surround it. I believe I could sit in the great room or on one of terraces forever and just bask in the serenity and the beauty surrounding the house.

For a change of pace we visited Fort Necessity. As my daughter said, “What could say I love you better than a visit to a battle field?” Fort Necessity is the site of a battle lost by 21 year old George Washington. It was the first battle of the French-Indian war. That is a part of history I knew almost nothing about. The reenactors were very entertaining and very interesting. 
 
In the evening we sat on the big porch of our hotel and watched a beautiful sunset. We feel quite blessed to be able to celebrate fifty-one years together.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fiddler On The Roof


This week-end we went to see a production of Fiddler On The Roof at our local community theater. Great story with wonderful music. Anyone who has raised children and watched them grow up and leave home for lives of their own will identify with Tevye's struggles as his daughters make decisions that cause him to reconsider his faith and traditions. There are funny scenes that makes me laugh, “Would it spoil some grand, fantastic plan if I were a wealthy man?” There are sweet scenes that are so very true, “Sunrise, sunset.”

 Two scenes always make me cry. The second daughter is in love with a dissident who has been sent to Siberia. As she is boarding the train to join him she says says to her father, “God only know when we shall see see each other again!” Tevye replies, “We shall leave it in His hands then.” Have you ever watched your child leave home, not knowing when or if you would see him again?

The scene that is almost too painful to watch comes when his third daughter runs away and marries a man of another faith. This is more than Tevye can bear. He is torn between love for his child and the faith and traditions that hold his life together. Tradition wins and he rejects his daughter. He turns away and leaves her in tears. He says she is dead to him. This scene is heart-wrenching. I cannot imagine anything that would cause me to reject my child. I would be hurt, but I don't think there is a force strong enough to turn away from one of my children. 
 
I came out of the theater singing, “Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset, I don't remember growing older, When did they?”

My children have long ago grown-up and left the home of their childhood, but in my heart they will always be my precious little children.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Transit of Venus


When my husband the astronomer was twelve years old he put two dates on his calender, June 8, 2004 and June 5, 2012. He has mentioned these dates and their importance to me often over the last fifty plus years. These were the dates of the two times in his lifetime that he might be able to see the transit of Venus across sun. This rare astronomical event last happened in 1874 and 1882. It will next happen in 2117 and 2125. In 2004 the day was clear and he was able to see this great wonder. With welding glasses to shield his eyes, he watched the great event from our back yard. He was awe struck.

Tuesday was the day, the last time in his life that he would be able to watch this wondrous event. The transit was scheduled to begin in our area about six in the evening and be visible until sunset. The welding glasses were waiting so he could look at the sun. His schedule had been cleared for this event for sixty-two years. In the late afternoon thick clouds rolled in, obscuring the sun. The transit would happen without him being able to see it this time. Fortunately modern technology made his disappointment much smaller. He has his computer connected to a telescope in New Mexico that had a clear view of everything. He sat in front of his computer for more than three hours watching as the small dark dot that was Venus slowly moved across the face of the sun. He took pictures and made a time lapse video of it all. It really is fascinating to watch as he condensed the three hour event into one minute of viewing time. You can even see telephone wires appear across the the screen as the sun sets and Venus moves out of view.

For my husband the heavens really do declare the glory of God.
video


Monday, June 04, 2012

Where Did May Go?


It's June. Where did May go? The whole month just seems to have flown by without me noticing. I know things happened in May. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of things that went on in my life in the merry month of May.

  1. I turned 71. According to the Good Book the span of life is three score and ten. After that it's all grace. So last year was just living on grace.

  2. I read some books: “Light On Snow,” by Anita Shreve, a sweet story about love, loss, and hope.”Nothing Daunted” by Dorthy Wickenden, the true tale of two high society girls who take a job teaching in a one room school in the mountains of Colorado in 1916 -a good read. “Christianity After Religion” by Diana Butler Bass, a study of sociological trends in American Christianity. Some interesting observations, but way too many words.

  3. I went to eleven water aerobics classes and eight yoga classes.

  4. Mother's Day lunch was eaten at my granddaughter's house. A new generation is taking over.

  5. I rang bells in the bell choir and made beautiful music.

  6. The Senior Chorale put on a great concert. I love singing in that group.

  7. I planted red geraniums in the back yard and white petunias in the front yard.

  8. For the first time in my life I saw the “ring of fire” during a lunar eclipse.

  9. I listened to a friend who is going through one of life's rough spots.

  10. I learned how to make playlists on my new I-pod.

  11. I went out to lunch with friends several times.

  12. I paid the bills and balanced the checkbook.

  13. I was asked to serve as a deacon in our congregation. I start this month.

  14. My tooth broke in half. The dentist fixed it.

  15. I sat on my front porch rocker and counted my blessings. I like being retired.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day



I really do like Memorial Day. I love all the flag waving. I love the parades. I love the picnics. I love the concerts full of music that makes me proud to be an American. The ugly politics we usually hear has been replaced by words of gratitude and patriotism. I truly am grateful for this great country of ours. God bless America!

I have a small flag hanging in my window with two stars shining brightly, one for each of my family who are currently serving in our military. One star is for my grandson, the airman. 

The other star is for my son the soldier, who is safely home after four tours in Iraq.