Wednesday, November 30, 2011

For everything there is a season...




Recently, I attended the funeral of a 22 year old girl. Her mom and I are friends. As I watch her grieve her daughter, I find myself wondering how she gets out of bed each morning, and keeps going? At the same time, I wonder when she'll be "back to normal?"


The world around her functions pretty much the same. Friends, work buddies, and even close family members expect her to bounce back to her former self...any day now. I suspect nothing could be further from the truth, but it's a nice thought to think about.


Death is so uncomfortable, especially around the holidays when everyone is giving gifts and filled with joy. It just doesn't fit my scenic Norman Rockwell picture.


Recently, I met an artist that designed a necklace, specifically for those who are grieving. It's called the mourning drop. Her dream is to have the mourning drop recognized by all, similar to the peace sign or the fish symbol. So for example, if you passed by someone in the grocery store, and noticed they were wearing a mourning drop necklace, you would know they are grieving, and show them some extra grace. Perhaps let them go ahead of you in line, or offer them a smile.

I love this concept! Don't we all need a little grace, but especially those who are hurting? Something to think about this holiday season as you are shopping for gifts, and baking cookies. Have some ideas on offering dignity to those who mourn? I'd love to hear your comments or stories...

Michelle

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Old Mother Prude


These are the guys who hunt the deer.


This is the one 
who got left behind by
the guys who 
hunt the deer.





This is the dog who urped on the carpet
next to the one who got left behind by
the guys who hunt the deer.













This is the coffee that spilled on the keyboard
which now doesn't work
when the dog urped on the carpet
next to the one who got left behind by
the guys who hunt the deer.


This is the thermostat that connects to the
furnace which refused to work for
the one who got left behind by
the guys who hunt the deer.

This is the damp wood
that smoked in the hearth
while the furnace refused to work
for the one who got left behind by
the guys who hunt the deer.











This is the hanger that needed to be assembled
(not as shown on TV)
by the one who got left behind by
the guys who hunt the deer.




This is the injury
inflicted by the hanger
that needed to be assembled
by the one who got left behind by
the guys who hunt the deer.

This is the end
since the gory clothes that got worn by 
the guys who hunt the deer
need to be washed by
the one who got left behind.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Thousand Points of Light

Each year, my husband spends hours wrestling with our tree and stringing the lights. As a lover of all things Christmas, I confess I have occasionally - and perhaps thoughtlessly - suggested that the tree could use two or three hundred more lights.

This year, just to make me happy, my kind husband decided to add a LOT more lights.

Admiring his hard work, I thanked him profusely and commented, Our tree is a thousand points of light. He quickly replied, Actually, it is more like fifteen hundred points of light!

Our living room is completely illuminated by the tree. No need for lamps.

We love it.

Just twenty-four hours after Thanksgiving, in our own neighborhood, we saw house after house trimmed with twinkling lights.

When our children were small, on Christmas Eve, we would dress them in their jamies and fill their sippy cups with lukewarm hot chocolate. Strapping them into the car we would go for a drive just to look at Christmas lights.

It seems that wherever Christmas is celebrated, lights are an important part of the festivities.

And, rightly so. John 3:19 tells us that at Christmas "Light has come into the world." Matthew 4:16 reminds us that "The people living in darkness have seen a great light."

Light does so many things for us. Without light, there would be no life. Light gives us warmth and comfort. We use light to find our way when lost. Light welcomes weary travelers home. The medical world has discovered miraculous uses for light in order to bring healing.

This December, as I admire and enjoy the glow of every Christmas light, I will try to remember that truly this is the time to celebrate the Light, Jesus. He is the Light of the world. He brings us life, warmth, comfort, guidance, welcome and healing.

I hope this Christmas Season will fill you with great joy and peace.

Kay
http://www.americangrandma.com





Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goodbye--and Hello



I'm in the dining room. At the far table. Next to the window.

Listening to Christmas music.

Happy music.

It's surreal.

Two deer munch on broken pumpkins and the last of the apples, nose among browned hydrangea flowers. Black and gray squirrels scamper around, digging holes to hide the seeds. Blue jays and chickadees flit between the feeders, and doves perch in the tree.



Down the hall, the nurses are dressing Mom in her favorite top and shampooing her hair in preparation for friends who've flown from the Netherlands. They will soon land in Traverse City and travel here to Hiland Cottage, a hospice house in Petoskey.

We thought it would be before Thanksgiving.

Then the day of.

Then the day after.

We surely did not expect her to be here today. We've been counting breaths and holding our own for days. Yesterday my sister woke me at 3 a.m., and we dozed at bedside, lulled with the sound of snores, awakened with the sound of silence. The night nurse said her final goodbye.

Maybe.

We've said many final goodbyes this last week.

To her.

To staff that have become family.

And we've said hello again.

To her.

To staff.

We're still here.

The time is not yet.

Only He knows.

And so we wait.

And watch.

And know that in His economy, there are no final goodbyes.

And we will say hello again.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mourning the Loss of my Dad

Mom's Good News...

I have a lot of friends on Facebook.

We are mourning the loss of my father, Rev. Roy Webster,  this month.  He was a Tennessee boy but ministered from 1949-1996 in the Midwest.  


My dad went home to be with his Lord and Savior last Sunday morning. He loved to go to church and last Sunday he walked into the presence of the Lord during the Sunday morning worship hour.

He told me when I was ten years old that he wanted to make it to 80 and he passed away at 81 3/4 years. God blessed him with a long life. 

He loved football and senior year his team at Clinton High School, Clinton, TN were undefeated.



He was a young WWII Vet because he joined the U.S. Army at 14 years of age. He rode on a bus from TN on a unpaved dirt road (common in 1944) all the way to TX. The army thought he was 18. He envied his older brothers serving our country and he decided to join them. 



 While some in Hollywood boast of being married 61 days, my dad was married for 61 years mid-century (August 25, 1950) mid-America (to a Michigan girl), the love of his life Gladys Windquist, he met at Owosso Bible College in Owosso, Michigan.








They were married 61 years and here they are
at their 25th wedding anniversary party in Flint,
Michigan









He never turned on a computer, but he had more friends than most of us will ever hope to have on Facebook. He never met a person that he did not like.

My dad really did love his mom (and dad), baseball (and football), and apple pie. Oh yes, and automobiles.

He loved wining the grandfather with the most grandchildren on Father’s Day for several years in a row.

And, then to know that he had 2 great-grandsons.

He spent the last decade of his life, calling and talking with members of his former churches that he was not sure of their salvation. He would present the Gospel and give them a chance once again to respond to the claims of Christ. And, he kept calling them until they trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior.


Raised in the hills of TN, he was blessed to minister in east Michigan where many southerners had come up to work in the hey day of the car industry. When he retired in 1996 from the pastorate, he wanted nothing more than to go back to his people in Tennessee. And, that is from where last Sunday morning, he went to be with the Lord, among the twiggy dogwod trees, soft biscuits with sweet honey, good old southern gospel quartet singing, and his people. Now he is singing with his much loved family members and friends who went on before him.

By daughter Cheryl Webster Moeller
http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/knoxnews/obituary.aspx?n=roy-b-webster&pid=154621497

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: An Endangered Species

If you're reading this today, then:

A) You're still languishing on the couch, shaking off the effects of a turkey coma. What you really meant to do was download an instant-watch Netflix but ended up here instead.

B) Your charge card is smoking from on-line shopping so you're taking a break by blog hopping until it cools off.

C) You did all your shopping yesterday.

If you're answer is A or B, fine. I totally understand. But C?! Come on...really? Why are stores even open on Thanksgiving?

There's a fine line between consumerism and capitalism. I'm all about free trade--just not on Thanksgiving. This holiday continually gets the shaft when stores go right from Halloween to Christmas with their displays.

Which brings me to wonder...What Would Squanto Do? I doubt he'd be out hunting up some screamin' hot deals at Old Navy. Not that he wouldn't be thankful for 75% off a pair of jeans, but the whole point of Thanksgiving is to be thankful for what we have, not for what we're going to buy.

All is not lost, however. I came across a ray of hope while doing a little research about this crazy shopaholic phenomenon. Even though shoppers spent $407 million on Thanksgiving Day in 2010, a recent survey put out by ConsumerSearch.com found that 87% of retailers felt they should stay closed on Thanksgiving.

And to that I add a hearty AMEN!

Now then, get out of my way. I need to hit up a few stores today.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Going Home

Today's guest post is by Sandy Ardoin. Welcome, Sandy!


Going Home



Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go back to the place in which you grew up and expect things to be as they were the last time you lived there. Places, like people, change over the years. (Yes, I’m paraphrasing.)

Unlike some of my friends, I loved the smallness of the northwestern Indiana town in which I grew up. I loved the farms, the maple trees that turned bright red in autumn, the courthouse square and the businesses that surrounded it. I loved the old four-room school named after our first president—its cloak rooms, four grades, and wooden floors. I loved the county fair, the covered bridge in the fairgrounds, and the race track around a lake that was said to be bottomless. I loved the snow even when the drifts reached the second floor. I loved…

Well, you get the picture.

We moved to North Texas at the beginning of my junior year in high school. I went from living in Mayberry to living in Metropolis. Where was the high school basketball? It had been traded for a mad obsession with football. Where were the winter snows? They had been replaced by ice. Where was my small school? It had been substituted for one with seven hundred new students.  Where were the farms? They had become pasturelands for horses and cows. (Okay, that last one was a plus for a horse lover like me.)

I’ve lived away from Indiana for forty years, but we drove through the state last November on our way to Illinois. I was shocked to see that the beautiful farmland sported thousands of wind turbines that left the impression of giant aliens invading mid-America. Because of the flat land, rows of them could be seen for miles. It was disheartening. I became lost on “new” interstates and in towns that had become extended suburbs of Chicago. Alas, many things were not the same as I remembered—until I got to my hometown.

Yes, it’s grown, too, but so much of the ambience is as I left it. It still has the small town look and flavor—the downtown square and homes that have been standing for almost a hundred years. It’s now Mayberry, twenty-first century style.

And I think that’s a good thing. My life hasn’t remained stagnant. Why should I wish that on friends I grew up with?

Yes, you can go home again. Just don’t expect it to be the same as when you left.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving


When all through the house, every creature was stirring, or whirring, or thumping and dashing.

The turkey was roasting, all snug in the pan, a bag of his juices snuggle up to his...his...what's that thingie, Mom?

Oh, yeah, wattle. Except dad cut if off.

That's okay, honey. Let's hear some more of your story.

'Kay. Let's see.

Um, like anything's gonna rhyme with wattle.

The cranberries were bubbling in orange sauce, all tingly and smashing,

And gram's got her arms bared, rolling crusts with her old soda bottle!

I count up the fillings ready for pies - there cherry and pumpkin, mincemeat

and pecan. Shoefly is gramp's favorite, but he

won't get any this year cuz he broke the seat.

Giggles.

Hey, that's pretty silly.

It rhymes, Mommy.

It sure does.

The stuffing is stinky, like Aunt Jan's creamed beans,

But jello and cherries my favorite aunt Caro brings

I sneak the sweet potatoes to my dog mister clean,

And steal Jakie’s butter roll when he pretends to sing

We all say we’re thankful for what we got

Then we gnaw on the turkey and drink cider a lot

Cleaning and football and eating more pie

Wearing aprons and pilgrim hats and laughing till we ’bout die

Grams saves the wishbone

She gives it when we go home

Oh how I love being Thankful this day



That’s very nice, honey. Why don’t you color a turkey on it and we’ll send it to Grams?

Okay, Mommy. I love you.



The tasty turkey my son got hunting a couple years ago. The bird was delicious - glad I taught my son to cook.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

In memory of my father-in-law, George Lickel

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gathering Family

Today we're starting a holiday meme over at my blog so I was going through pictures of our most memorable Thanksgiving. It's not your usual Thanksgiving Day celebration...


Yes, that's how we spent our Thanksgiving in 2005. Talk about memories!

That made me wonder what we were doing around this time the rest of the years. When the kids were little life was a little more predictable. LoL. For some strange reason.

2003
But as the kids have grown, so has life.

Last year our church had a Watoto's Children's Choir and we were privileged to host a few of the boys in our home.  It's hard to believe that just 24 hours embedded them in our hearts so firmly. These are some of my other boys. Boys of my heart... Just the other day one of my girls reminded us it's been exactly a year since they were here. Sure do miss those boys...


Yes, it's hunting season. Although none of us hunt (yet) here's another boy who I claim and count as one of mine. He's wonderful. He spent the weekend out here hunting and bagged this beauty Sunday morning.
 Needless to say, our usual Sunday morning routine was slightly altered. We're overwhelmed with deer so I'm very thankful he got this one, and hope more are harvested!


There's just something about the holiday season that reminds me of my ever-expanding family. My children and children of my heart. The holidays are all about family. And when family isn't around, we like to find others who might be alone.

So tell me, do you get to celebrate with family, or do you find and gather others who might be alone for the holidays?

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why give thanks?


In a few days our nation will set aside a day for expressing gratitude.  Many families will gather together to share laughter, tears and good food.  There will be pies, cakes and football on TV.  Shoppers will make plans for “Black Friday.”  There may be a prayer offered to give thanks.  Some families will insist each person express thanks for something before they eat.  Others will dive right in. There will also be people who wonder what reason, if any, there is for giving thanks.  


What about you?  How are you doing at finding reasons to thank God?

I’ve been thinking about the last 12 months or so.  I began by listing the really big events of the year.  The big ones for me are (1) lots of changes in my wife’s work; (2) the birth of my first blog; (3) my writing mentor CherylMoeller connected me to the fine writers here at The Barn Door; and (4) learning a great deal about writing and social media.  As I reflect on these events, I find several reasons to thank God.

I received God’s liberation from discouragement.

God has consistently unlocked these shackles of discouragement.  He sent a group of Christian brothers to read, study and pray with me.  He answered prayer.  He gave me promises from the Bible.

When I think of God’s power to set me free, I have a reason to say, “Thank you, God.”

I recognized God’s provision for our needs.

Our financial needs have increased but God keeps coming through.  Every time I feel anxiety creeping into our checkbook, the Lord finds a way to meet the need.  And he keeps giving us the means to give to others as well.  I may never have all the money I want for our family or to give to others, but the Lord makes sure I have enough.

God’s provision is another reason to say, “Thank you, God.”

I remembered God’s protection.

Almost four years ago, I went to the hospital with blood clots in my lungs and a heart attack.  Every day is a gift.  Every mile we drive without an accident is a miracle of God’s care. 
Every breath I take, every step I make is one more reason to say, “Thank you, Lord.”
Thanksgiving holidays come and go, often without much in the way of true thanks being given to God.  We gather with family, overeat and watch football, but we do not really pause to find reasons to thank God.  This year let’s do better for the Lord and for ourselves.  There are benefits to expressing thanks.

Think about the top 3-5 events of the past 12 months.  What has God done for you in and through these things?  Let’s find reasons to give Him thanks.

What blessings did God give you through them?

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

What blessings has God given you this year?

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Journey to Jackson Writers' Conference


One of the best parts of living in the upper northeast part of the Midwest is Michigan. Every place in our fair mitten state is measured by minutes or hours. For instance, I live thirty-minutes northeast of Detroit, two and a half hours east of Lansing, and roughly an hour and a half north of Jackson. It’s a great system, if you ask me. I can pinpoint my location even easier when closing in on the thumb region, north of Port Huron, or when getting close to the tip of the mitten. 

Where am I going, you probably would like to know, huh? 

Jackson. 

This weekend, several of us fueled our vehicles, arranged for carpooling, and made an average two – three hour drive to this small town in Michigan for our fall conference. 

Why?

 Lunch . . . and to hear some amazing women offer their experiential wisdom on the publishing industry, the writing craft, and fellowship. Our very own author, Jody Hedlund, Sharlene MacLaren, Jill Eileen Smith, and Linda Glaz. Joy Melville started our day with a devotional, reminding us that this is a ministry and we need to be diligent to set aside those things that keep us from our calling/ministry, to keep our focus on the Lord in obedience, and that in so doing He will keep us in perfect peace (Isa. 26: 3).

Right now, my heart and mind are filled with the smorgasbord of information, and I am trying to digest all the savory treats passed around by our panel of speakers. While each author sharing has a path to publication, their destinations are similar and the messages intersect at one catch-phrase: “Keep writing, don’t give up.” As an aspiring author, I was encouraged by the varied trips down publication road

As I continue to digest, I will share on my personal blog some of the highlights from this beautifully orchestrated day. Until then, it’s always a treat to gather with other writers and make connections. During these and other events like them we find we’re not alone on this journey. We glean wisdom and knowledge from seasoned writers. We may even learn that someone else has a story not all that different from our own.   

anna-karlene-jeffreyThank you to all who had a part of pulling this conference together. I’m looking forward to the next one and getting to know you better as we traverse this path together. 




Saturday, November 19, 2011

Celebrating Aviation Month

November is officially Aviation Month, but husband celebrates it everyday.
Husband and Charley at a fly-in
Life is good above the clouds
And on the ground.
With a granddaughter.
 Or a grandson.

Q4U: How do you like to travel? What do you do to relax? 


Friday, November 18, 2011

Harvest = Finish Line


Farming to say the least is “the best world to live in” and “an extremely difficult world to live in”. Working in the sunshine and fresh air, enjoying the beauty of nature along with watching your fields die from lack of rain or a rain deluge wash out a field of freshly sown seed.

This spring rain was our challenge. We had a hard time finding dry days to sow our alfalfa and plant our corn. The rains came so heavily that we would need several days for the land to dry out before our heavy equipment could farm the ground. Just as the ground was dry enough, another wave of rain swept in. We finally finished planting the corn about six weeks late.

The field was chopped and blown back onto the land. It was spoiled from sitting in the rain.
We had to chop it foo the field so the hay could grow back for the next cutting.


The rains bunched up throughout the summer and due to machinery malfunctions combined with the rain, we lost 70 acres of hay. Frustrating and wasteful.

Corn harvest this year has become a challenge. It’s like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle that is all the same color. You just keep trying and moving the piece around until you get a piece to connect. We chop corn and make silage (that is the corn and the stalk all chopped together). Because we have Harvestore silos, we can chop corn that is a bit green. In fact, that was part of the puzzle. We moved from field to field to get the greenest corn knowing we would need to save the driest for combining. So, a section of one field would be chopped and then we would move to another to find greener corn to harvest. Add in the rainy days and we had quite the dance going.



Now, we are combining (harvesting just the corn from the cob) the rest of the fields. God has blessed us with a great warm fall. We are moving again from field to field.

Because fall brings rain, we start combining the ground that would stay wet the longest after a rain. Strategically, we are planning on the rains and the fact that it will keep us from the fields; thus, let’s get the ground that holds the moisture the longest done, before we get dumped on.



We have put in several long days trying to stay ahead of the rain. For instance, Monday, by the time the equipment was readied, combining started around 8:30 AM. The guys continued until rain came on Tuesday morning at 4:00 AM.

Last night Farmer and Son #4 were in a field that had been totally knocked over by winds and rain. It was slow going. In fact, Farmer was walking along with the combine and lifting up sections of the corn and pretty much hand feeding the corn into the combine. Thankfully, the whole field wasn’t that bad.

At times I feel like this is the end of marathon for farmers. We keep going all spring, summer and into the fall. We are so close to the finish line. Long days, break downs, and bad weather all fuel short tempers and frustrations. I think we have about 100 acres left to finish.

So, the guys just keep moving forward with their eyes on the finish line. Once the corn is done, then it is catch-up time around the farm. They will stay busy with projects and by the time spring rolls around; they will be ready to have at it again.
You can follow us on a regular basis at www.randomramblingsof.com

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