Sunday, November 23, 2014

Van Gogh's Avenue Of Poplars In Autumn



Avenue of Poplars

an unseen sun broadcasts itself
in patches
on the leafy pathway

at the head of the avenue
flanked by narrow poplar trunks
stands a quaint cottage, and

above golden treetops
blue sky transmits dreams
of an eternal autumn



“Avenue of Poplars in Autumn” 1884 oil painting by Vincent Van Gogh
poem by Lori Lipsky

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Since winter chose to arrive early and unannounced this year (something we Midwesterner’s abhor), I feel it’s my duty to offer my southern friends some winter driving tips that we in the Great White Up North have understood for weeks.



  1. As soon as possible, move at least 30 miles south of your birthplace. That way you will always be able to say, “People down here don’t know how to drive in the snow!” 
  2. When your car begins spinning violently out of control because you were that guy who knew how to drive in the snow, throw up your hands and yell, “Jesus take the wheel!” No, Jesus will not take the wheel, but you and He can share a good laugh in about 3…2…1… 
  3. By all means, get right behind a semi-truck during a snowstorm. I’m reasonably sure the driver isn’t a 20 year-old Florida kid who got his CPL license last week. 
  4. Before the Big One hits, sit in your driveway and practice snapping your moving windshield wipers from the driver’s seat. This doesn’t actually accomplish anything, but it makes you look like a real pro. 
  5. When stuck in heavy freeway traffic, implement #1 and continuously swerve over to the shoulder to make sure it’s not just the guy in front of you holding up the works. 
  6. Ice scrapers and snow brushes are for rookies. All you need is a six-inch hole wiped off your windshield for proper vision. Bonus tip: If you lean forward so that your face is right up against the windshield, you can see even more of the road. 
  7. Beat the high cost of windshield wiper fluid by stopping every two miles to grab a handful of snow and wiping off your windshield with it. 
  8. Flip your windshield wipers up while parked outside during a snowstorm. I have no idea if it does any good, but everyone else is doing it now, so I have to do it. 
  9. Buy a 4-wheel drive truck. It’s a proven fact that ice can only reduce traction on two tires at a time. 
  10. Ignore everything I say. We don’t know how to drive in the snow, either. It’s pretty much a crap shoot.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Repeat After Me - I Do NOT Hate Winter, I Do NOT Hate Winter... by Suzanne M. Brazil

Complaining about winter while living in Northern Illinois is like a mermaid complaining about being wet.  I have dreams of retiring on a tropical beach while my husband scouts land in Alaska.  We’re thinking of settling on a six-month compromise – he'll visit me at the beach in winter and I’ll venture north in summer.

I recently decided it’s all about attitude. I hereby pledge not to complain about the cold, the snow, the darkness or the ice.  We all complain about drivers – and winter drivers are the worst so that’s fair game.


Photo from voices.suntimes.com

Here are the Top Ten Things I Love About Winter in the Midwest

#10        No lawn mowing or pulling weeds
#9          Sweatpants and baggy sweaters for everyone
#8          No Mosquitos
#7          Pumpkin spice everything
#6          Hot bubble baths
#5          No guilt for staying indoors reading a book
#4          Making hot chocolate for the shovelers
#3          Moonlight peeking through bare, black branches in my backyard
#2          Holidays are coming!
#1          The soft silence of early morning, outside in the pristine blanket of the first snowfall


Forecasters predict a repeat of last year’s record-breaking weather. I better print out this list and stick it on my fridge as a reminder.

Stay warm everyone and let us know your favorite things about winter!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Them

They started so small we could hardly see
What they became happened gradually

But in time they overwhelmed
Blending together so we couldn’t tell

Hanging around our activities
They took what they needed to grow and we

took them for granted as we lived our lives
Enjoying their presence as the days went by

When suddenly they began to change
Each one was different but somehow the same

Then overnight the darkness came
The wind grew cold and then the rain

At first they danced as if with glee
To celebrate a victory

Then filling the air with a swirling sea
Of color and sound they fell at our feet – leaves.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our First Deployment

Naomi Musch

Yesterday's social media news feeds were flooded with pictures of soldiers past and present and prayers for the safety of our servicemen. I've always been thankful for those who have been willing to serve our country sacrificially along with the families who've missed them. But it has never hit me the same as it did this year, with "our" first deployment just last month.

Our youngest son Beau departed for Fort Bliss, Texas in October -- an up-north, Mid-western, snow-loving boy is off to the south, and from there he'll head to Afghanistan in December.

Beau with his wife Liz and son Aiden
I have to admit, October was a tough month, and my emotions ran the gamut. Saying farewell wasn't the same as when we've sent some of our kids off on other kinds of adventures. Knowing he is going to face imminent danger is hard, and he'll be gone for the entire first year of little Aiden's life. We'll do our best to support and encourage to Liz.

We are thankful for modern technology, the chance to keep in touch, and especially for our Savior's divine plan for Beau, knowing that God instilled this desire in him to take this path, and that he will not pass through anything without God's knowledge. Still, goodbyes were hard.

Liz and Beau

 
Little Man Aiden


Sisters Evan and Jessamyn
Brother Cade

Brother Quinn

Papa Jeff

Mom - That's Me!

We are so very proud of Beau and all our service men and women. Come home safe and soon! We'll be waiting for you!

Naomi Musch
http://www.naomimusch.com

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Watch for the Camouflage

This time of year, it's a good idea to watch yourself when you're out in the woods--especially if you're Bambi.

You see, Michigan is creeping up (not so slowly) on Firearm Deer Hunting Season (it runs from November 15-30, if you're curious), and those hunters could be anywhere.

I'm not a hunter, as much as that may (or may not) surprise you. Nobody in my or my husband's immediate family is either (that I know of, anyway). I don't know that I quite get the fascination that folks have with heading out with their gun and shooting animals.

But camouflage I get (and if you're curious, I JUST learned how to spell that word!). If you're gonna be out among wildlife, you definitely do NOT want to be noticed. I'm not sure how smart deer are, but if I'd seen some strange two-legged creature walking through the forest with a stick and my deer friend suddenly fell to the ground beside me, I'd want to avoid those "two-legged creatures" from then on.

But if you are camouflaged (like this... um... handsome guy to the left, for example), the prey have no reason to fear--or at least they don't think they do. The deer will put their guard down, and before they know it: bang bang, fall down, venison jerky.

This reminds me of the sin in our lives. Sometimes, it's pretty obvious, and all we have to do is run the other way to avoid it.

But that isn't always the case.
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
Satan, and sin, is often difficult to distinguish from the day-to-day stuff we do, and even the things that are glorifying to God. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is still wrong. Doing too much of a good thing can also be sin.

So, when things look fine, don't let your guard down. Sin is out there, disguised as fun or "not so bad" or something else equally harmless-looking. Watch for the camouflage.

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