Thursday, May 31, 2012

Missing Big News Twenty seven years ago, F5 tornadoes hit this area on a Friday evening. As you can see from this video, they displayed power. David and I resided in Norwich, Connecticut at the time. I believe we were enjoying some fine weather, anyways in the days before twenty four hour news, internet with face book and twitter, we had not heard of the tornadoes.
I sat in church as prayers were offered for the tornado victims in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I prayed, feeling sorry, but detached. The service continued with no more thought about it.
On my arrival home, David showed me the front page of the Norwich Bulletin. A teen age girl sat holding a bunny. "Yeh, that's a cute picture," I intoned, not paying attention to why it was on the front page.
"She's in Wheatland," David insisted I look more at it.
I glanced again, indifferent. So why is a girl from Wheatland holding a rabbit on the front page of the local paper?
"Look again. She doesn't have a house behind her. It was blown away in a tornado," David was excited now.
"Oh, that Ohio and Pennsylvania!"
Wheatland's not far from West Middlesex. My mind raced as I hurriedly dialed my parents. The line was busy. Then I couldn't get through. I got nervous. The next best thing- call California. I called my sister, who had the low down on what happened because she watched the news Saturday evening and phoned home to our parents( who were fine) and her in-laws in Farrell, even closer to Wheatland.
Our families were fine. No damage. But the stories. Mom and Dad, earlier on that day had taken a trip to Valley View, the department store. The road was the path of the tornado.
The Galicia's, in a wedding reception at the Radison, thought the lights turned off for a romantic, candle lit feel.
The tornado billowed straight east toward the motel, then jigged north before the motel's roof was blown off. The path blazed through the empty area between two motels to the Tam O' Shanter golf course.
Ray's in-laws raced ahead of the tornado returning Phillip to his parents in New Brighton, PA, as Andrew had come home after his first week alive. The roads they took then were the paths of the tornadoes. One also attacked the New Brighton area.
Five years after, back in PA, I enjoyed a hot May, but the ones who lived through one of the worst weather times, noted it was hot like that when the tornado hit. Their solemness took the fun out of the sun.
I still hear stories from the Niles patients. This event is not forgotten.
I think my parents didn't call, because they were OK and it was over. I couldn't do anything about it. They shielded me a lot, I think when I lived away. I still wanted to somehow go home and help, but that wasn't plausible. I had a PA license, but I wouldn't have known the way around the hospital. We just feel so helpless at times like these. The best thing we can do is what that man in Norwich United Methodist Church did, offer up prayers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

End of May 1973

Gerri Lee and Debbie visited home often, before Debbie attended school. We relished this time. Debbie was so fun. She enjoyed playing with Sharon Hatch, when they moved into the manse next door. I loved hearing the little voices calling out, "Aunt Mollie." I often commiserated with the mothers at the little league games about not being able to tell three year olds apart. I felt so mature at twelve.
They visited the end of May. Watching the Memorial Day parade from our front porch was more fun with them. We packed up the car to go on our day trips. One day to Pymatuning, a favorite of my dad's. How can you pass up the carp in the spill way or the natural history museum? Dad couldn't and we often made the trip.
Debbie and I at Sea World
A new place to frequent was Sea World in Aurora, OH. This year when we visited, the Mike Douglas Show had camped out this week. Most likely why we took the journey. Mike Douglas is not to be confused with Michael Douglas, the actor. Mike Douglas hosted a talk show out of Philadelphia, but road shows are popular. Frankie Valli, Robert Conrad and a popular comedian at the time, that I just can't remember his name or any movie he was in to look it up. We sat under the shade watching the filming of the TV show and water skiing baby elephants. I was not happy in this picture that I had to be the boy, though.
The best of all these expeditions was being together. I loved the places we went and am grateful the experiences. Hanging out in the yard with my sister and niece or in the living room watching TV, walking to Erikson's were just as delightful. Feeling like a bigger family made me so happy I still miss those times.
Jody also graduated from high school this year. She and Dan had gone to prom. Dan wore his Marine dress blues to match Jody in her powder blue gown. I didn't go to graduation, but Mom and Dad went. I rode my bike around the church's circle, eying the cars turning into School Street.
Life is good with wonderful three year old.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

The day is hazy and hot. We were cool in the house, but it is my daughter's last Memorial Day Parade, so we rush out the door. I told my husband where I'll park and when the parade starts. I always park at the end of the parade route in Kraynak's parking lot. The service is held in Hillcrest Cemetery.
I strolled over to the entrance, scoping out shaded areas, although, I planned to visit Grandma's and Aunt June's graves. They are buried beside each other, as Uncle Dale remarried. A wedding on Saturday and a storm yesterday prevented me from putting flowers in their vase. Both birthdays are in June, so I'll get them violet or lavender flowers for that month.
I walked through the cool grass and I hear, "Aunt Mollie" Jacob came running over to me with his shades on and red wet hair slicked back. I told him, I 'll join him after I visit my grandma's grave. He shouted it back to his mother.
I stand a few minutes examining the stones. Hazel A. Evans, Beloved Mother and June V. Cairns, She Never Hurt Anyone. I note the date of June's death- the month, day and year. I wasn't quite two. I keep thinking how Bruce always told my mother his mother's grave was across from Wendy's. Wendy's has left that side of State Street years ago. I can still see it in my mind.
I am always touched at the crowd applauding the veterans as they march up the hill around the corner into the cemetery. I think how Uncle Bill always marched in the Sharon parade when he lived here. I should visit his grave today, too, in Oakwood. Yesterday, I was at Haywood, looking at Mom and Dad's, Grandpa Evans and the Lewis grandparents. The stones are off kilter and Dan is calling the monument company. The white poinsettias pass the muster, until the stones are fixed.
The sun beats down and it is hot. The band got permission to wear their polo shirts, but still had black bibs on. They sat out in the sun. After the Star Spangled Banner, one girl passed out, carried into the shade.
We found the shade and with the mild wind, the heat did not bear down on us. I think there is not a more beautiful sound than those 444 flags flapping. I'm surprised, my daughter's called to read Flander's Field. Her clear little girl voice is poignant.
We are reminded of the origins of Memorial Day, that touches me. All soldiers were honored in 1867. As the kindness is reported, it spread over the country from Mississippi and called Decoration Day. I remember it being called that.
The two buglers echoed Taps. Solemnity as I stared at the Vietnam Wall replica. Over 3000 flags had been place on graves on this hollowed ground yesterday by the Boy Scouts and some football players.
The ceremony is over with a prayer from the Gettysburg Address. A C131 flew over as we were leaving about a thousand to fifteen hundred feet above us. A majestic unplanned ending.
Our civic duty to honor the dead. Take a moment to thank God for the service men who gave their lives for our freedom.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 24, 1738- Aldersgate Day

One of the heroes of the faith for me is John Wesley. His life shows the importance of the Holy Spirit in the Christian faith. He found it is not just being good, as much as he tried- Holiness Club, a mission trip to America, before he realized salvation does not come from good works.
It is interesting that John's awakening, at Aldersgate, in 1738, comes near Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost floats like Easter, as they are based on the spring equinox and full moon. May 24, 1738, John was in a Bible study, when the Holy Spirit moved with such clarity that he wrote, "I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for my salvation."
Such fire to turn people to Jesus, in coal mines and open fields. I can't hardly imagine the crowds of people gathering to hear him very early in the morning, tens of  thousands. No microphones, no large stage or praise band, or pyrotechnics, only a voice preaching salvation. He started Sunday schools so the uneducated, working class could have a chance. The Holy Spirit moved him.
Renewal could be the word for the many denominations that arose from his Methodism. Salvation Army, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Holiness, the Church of the Nazarene and a hosts of others. A strange phenomenon for a man who did not want to leave his Church of England, but bring freshness and reform to it.
So on this Pentecost Sunday so soon after Aldersgate Day, I challenge us to revive our world, the center in us. As our hearts need to be strangely warmed, may that spread to those around us. Live in Christ, listen to the Holy Spirit, declare God's Kingdom is at hand.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Living Sacrifice

I touched on sacrifice yesterday. In a sense we are to die to self, take up our cross, sacrifice. But the Bible says we are to be a living sacrifice. We climb up on the altar, maybe every day. You know why? Because we are still alive. A live sacrifice can crawl right off the altar.
How do I do this? Do I do this? Am I sacrificing myself? I am learning this year to be where I am serving God. As my work load increased and I spent less time writing, too weary to wake early to write or stay up late this winter as my body rebelled against my wishes, I felt I must put my best into nursing. Right now, my sacrifice is my time for writing.
OK, but what about me? The writing, the dream is on that altar, but did I put myself there? How was my attitude? Did I serve my patients, my superiors without complaining? Hide behind that bush, stringing those fig leaves, No, I did not have the attitude required of totally turning it all over to God.
This is a process, like training for the long race. Every day, I prayed to give myself up to God. I needed to lift up my burden of being in control, my burden of myself and take Jesus' yoke and burden. Jesus understands our weak bodies. Even in the Psalms it speaks of how God remembers we are weak, dust. He loves us, me. Maybe the most in my weakest state, because that is when He can work best through me.
As I pray for revival, I know it must begin in me. I don't have the tools to strap myself on the altar, I must stay there of my own free will. The Lord will provide what I need. In fact, He has in His own sacrifice on the cross. He is my righteousness, at which God looks.
Pentecost is celebrated tomorrow. Also Memorial Day will be honored here in the United States. Let Pentecost not be a memorial day, but a living day, that lives in your living sacrifice. Be filled with the Pentecost spirit, the Holy Spirit, that gives life and power to the living sacrifice.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another Isaac Story

An illustration of Abraham searching for a wife so Isaac will not marry one of the local women is more
Rebekah's story than Isaac's. This is one of the most romantic chapters in the Bible, Genesis 24. It should be our story as well, as God seeks us, we should be willing to respond quickly.
The servant ventures to Abraham's land of his relatives, where he left. As he stops, he prays a specific prayer for the woman to not only give him water, but offer to water the camels as well. The prayer of Abraham's servant is answered while he is still praying for the right woman to be shown to him. Rebekah displays kindness by not only giving the servant water, but watering the camels as well, as the servant requested. When she revealed her identity as Abraham's great niece, the servant immediately fell to the ground to worship God.
Rebekah eagerly told the traveler about her home. A room is ready for him with plenty of straw and food for the camels as well. The brother, Laban, ran out to invite him in. Mideastern hospitality is the best I hear.
The urgency of the matter comes forth before the servant sits down to eat. He wants them to know he is looking for a wife for his master's son. The whole Abrahamic story is told, as well as the need for a suitable wife for this rich man's son. They see the wealth and are given fine gifts. They agree to allow Rebekah to leave and marry Isaac.
The servant rests the night, but early the next morning, he chomps at the bit to get going. His mission is very successful. Rebekah's brother and mother want her to stay ten days, but the servant is compelled to return. They asked Rebekah, she is ready to go. Her destiny awaits.
When I was ready to marry David, I could hardly wait to fulfill that need to be his wife. We first planned a later date of July 31, his birthday. I thought I don't want to wait that long, we need to get started now, as soon as I graduate from nursing school, which we did, the very next day.
David worried that I would miss my family as we moved eight hours away. I had no such fears, I was clinging to my husband. A woman was to do this, actually the Bible says a man will leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. But our vows say forsaking all others. This is just not in an adultery sense, but in all sense. Just as we are not to put anything before God, our mates should come first in our lives, after God.
The eagerness of a new bride, the readiness of Rebekah, should mark the Christian's life. Marriage is the perfect metaphor of the relationship of Christ and the Church. That sacrifice is both parties giving up life, self for the other. Because of love, the immediacy of responding to the call leaves no regrets.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Laying Your Isaac Down

Laying down a dream is an age old requirement it seems of God. He called Abraham back in Genesis to sacrifice the long promised son, the dream of his life. Abraham waited fifteen years for the son of the promise. He and Sarah tried to force the dream to come sooner with disaster still felt today. He finally has what God told him he would have and then as he grows very attached to the dream given to him by God, God asks him to give it back!
What? Give it back? Why does God put dreams in our hearts, then require we abandon them for Him? Because we are to have no other gods before Him.
My dream of writing has been a long one since childhood, but I only played with it. The talent given me by God helped me through many classes in all my schools, even nursing school. I loved writing, but not typing with the old typewriters. My mother often typed up all my reports, even, my mother-in-law helped me once with a paper for my community college class. I envied the ease with which these secretaries typed. So, with life, I kept my day job, became a wife and mother, caregiver to my mother and wrote copious words in volumes of journals.
A job I grew to detest did improve my keyboard skills. Finally, being able to afford a computer, knowing even what to get, encouraged the writing more. Praying over my writing, feeling God has given me stories to tell, I continue to hone my craft, the talent from God.
I started though to get obsessed with getting noticed, published, creating a platform. I spent more time reading on the glitzy ideas than writing. My job got busy, my health started to decline, life seemed to throw me one curve ball after another. I wanted the fame, but deep down, maybe not to honor God in the way I should. He wanted my all, not just a nod in His direction.
Phil Vischer in his book, Me, Myself and Bob, gives the story of his rise in Veggie Tale fame, living his dream, but he forgot God along the way. Mismanagement lost his company, but he also had to realize he really wasn't following God like at first. He felt superior to other people, like the grocery store clerk, treating her like a non person. His dream had to go, to be restored by God later. Now he has a wonderful video series, What's in the Bible? that teaches kids(and adults) what's in the Bible very clearly with puppets! Humorously, as well.
So what is your Isaac? What do you have to lay down for God to pick up, give a renewal to your life, and perspective on the dream? Give it back to God. Put Him first in your life. Let Him know you love Him with all your heart, mind, body and soul.  Lay your Isaac down.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Draw Your Chalk Circle

As I'm posting on revival this week, I want you to know it must start with me. For a long time, about seven years, I have let a bitter root grow and bind me in my soul. I could laugh, but I struggled with my life's circumstance. I wasn't happy with a husband who worked away during the week. This spread to being unhappy with everything in my life. Either I was angry or totally blah.
My tongue grew very sharp, saying words I hadn't said in years. They just came so easily to the surface as my anger grew. I lived road rage. I made gestures as I smiled in my voice on the cell phone to my superiors at work.
I hate to admit this, but sometimes, even the people I was to help, I despised. I didn't want to be bothered. I wanted to retreat into myself.
And the nagging thought continued, I'm so far from God. I'm not who I used to be. I can't perform. I have failed. I continued to hang steadfastly to my savior. I hung by a string, but it proved stronger than any stainless steel. I really had to believe Jesus always loved me, always will. His word says, He will never leave me or forsake me. He loves me with an everlasting love.
A crisis in our family this spring has miraculously brought my husband and I closer than we have been in a long time. I experienced heart palpitations, rapid heart rate and a feeling of deep fatigue. I hardly climbed the few steps in my house, then leaned against the wall as the blood surged through my body. The determination after tests was I'm anemic and surprise, have low iron. I also knew I was depressed, so hesitantly initiated Zoloft.
 All the experiences, knowledge, faith I had seemed slowly ebbing away, but they remained. I knew the promises from all those years of reading my Bible, as well as actual freshness in my faith. I knew it, but my body seemed to rebel. I surrendered every morning, especially in the shower to God's control. Yet, I continued to feel the burden of life. I didn't understand. If I believed why was my body responding so poorly to all the stress?
I have lived with stress for a very long time. My mother's cancer. My father dying way too soon. Raising children, working full time. Being a nurse. Yet, I always seemed to bounce from it. I took care of myself. Ate mostly right and enjoyed it. I walked. I prayed. I sang praises. This winter the cares seemed to attack my body.
I have opened more to God. I more freely confess my sins. Sunday morning as I prayed at home, I said, "I love You." as I haven't for a long time.
I must say one thing with all this, not only have I lost the bitter root, that I often asked to be removed, I'm also losing weight.
Revival must start with the individual. Prayer of a few can bring it about. I have drawn the chalk circle around me and asked that what is in that circle be changed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cool of the Evening

In my pleasure of Poland Forest, I do not want you to think I have lost my love of Buhl Farm Park down the street from me. Both expressions of beauty enthrall me. The wild forest, the hearty wild flowers, the green underbrush, the untamed land of a forest beckon me to explore.
Fountain in Rose Garden
The well trimmed trees, the planted roses of the Rose Garden or as it was named, the Sunken Garden, recently.All the well cared for flowers are wonderful. The evening sun throwing shadows on the expanse of manicured lawn of Buhl Farm thrills me as I stroll in the evening.
Genesis chapter three comes to mind. God walks in the Garden of Eden, in the cool of the evening. I see the light filter through the trees with golden curtains of light. Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They are hiding from God.  Did they play hide and seek before this with God as innocent children?
There are many questions about the beginning. I had heard the Garden of Eden was a very large area of land.  Was it manicured or wild or both? I wonder how long Adam and Eve played in the Garden before the serpent showed up to tempt them. I do imagine they delighted in God's visits, as He rejoiced in His creation, sweet communion. The verse of God searching for them intrigues mankind. He is on the look out for His children.
Jesus' mission on Earth was to seek and save what was lost. Over and over again, we read how He determined to talk to individuals; Matthew, a tax collector, as well as another, Zacchaeus. There are no chance encounters with the Lord.
Looks like a fairy tale

Summer Sunset over Lake Julia

The Gazebo at the top of the Kite Field

The Casino

Inside the Sunken Garden
Today, Jesus is still on the trail of sinners and saints alike. Don't hide behind fig leaves of good deeds. The Church has to open to the voice of the Holy Spirit, as He calls for her in the cool of the day. Wake up to the presence of Jesus in our midst. He's always there, open our eyes.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wedding Preparations

Years ago I found a Bible study, prayer guide for the ten days between the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost. The disciples were in intense prayer for those ten days and this guide suggested the same for modern day Christians. I'd say at least for sixteen years I have been praying for revival of the Church universal with different prompts.
One I'm reading this year is Asleep in the Land of Nod. God banished Cain to the land of Nod after he killed his brother. Nod in Hebrew means wandering. It is also interesting in our language, it is a movement of the head, often times when a person is falling asleep. For me, this may often look more like whiplash in a lecture. But is the Church asleep? Many say so.
In this devotional, one day, the analogy of the Church being the Bride is used. The author, David Butt, has a vision, but the Bride is not at the altar. She is too busy doing pre-wedding chores. Is she thinking about the marriage?
I have often said today it seems the brides plan a wedding, but not a marriage. I may be a little rough there, but I wonder at all the fanciness and the high divorce rate. It seems easy to get caught up in "my day." 
I was nine days away from my wedding thirty years ago. My time was spent studying as I was also finishing up nursing school. And much frolicking with my classmates and my high school friends. I kept the planning as simple as possible. I had my wedding dress made, having fun with a lady from church, driving over to a big Joanne Fabrics in Liberty Township in January. We looked over patterns and picked out material. Being with an older lady, who had been my Sunday School teacher, also prepared me for marriage with her wisdom and common sense.
My mother's garden club made all my flower arrangements. Two of the ladies shopped with me at the old Valley View for the silk flowers. The club brought pot luck and made the bouquets and boutonnieres on our dining room table. My mother, in a wheelchair, then, was able to participate. Again, I was surrounded by older women with advice. I listened.
Grandma Evans, angry at my leaving my poor sick mother, forgot my twenty first birthday. I knew though if I gave up my plans for the future, my mother would give up living. She lived for twenty six years after our wedding. Grandma did come to my wedding.
I planned my day, but all I could think about was my life with David. Being a housekeeper, participating in fun activities and anticipating life in Connecticut with my future husband. And with my plans being simple, I enjoyed the last days with my friends and my family. I do not remember being stressed. I think Myltreda Truby was, as she had to arrange the wedding dinner with my open invitations. Maybe that was selfish. I didn't want to exclude anyone. Four hundred people signed the guest book.  A judge, a doctor, several ministers and David's old girlfriend  were some of the surprises.
All this to say besides writing this for my enjoyment of memory lane, is the Church needs to not be busy with activities, but preparing for the Bridegroom to return. She needs to enjoy her life, but also look forward to life in Heaven, the wedding feast. As David had to return from Connecticut to take me away to our home, so Jesus is returning for His Bride to take her home. How ready are you? Wake up and make sure you are ready for the Bridegroom.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

College Graduation

My brother's girl, Sarah, my godchild, graduated from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. A glorious, California day in PA. I'm serious. The sky could not have been bluer than those clear skies and as we sat in the shade, we hardly felt the 80 degree weather.
Parking was almost impossible in this little town. I hoped with it being Saturday, the police would waive the two hour parking limit. I found a spot for the minivan only two blocks away. With the weather being so fine, a stroll to the college felt great. I noted two restaurants we frequented many years ago are now a gift shop and a hair salon. The third is abandoned. The Tavern, though, is still going strong, it seems.
An orchestra played music in front of Old Main. Many people in chairs set up on the lawn. I wandered looking for my sister-in-law, Jody. I'd see a woman with shoulder length black hair, but then it wouldn't be her. I walked past their row twice and they were seated on the end I edged by. Then again, they didn't see me.
I sat by my brother, Dan, wearing a long sleeve dress shirt, but not a suit coat. Prudent for a sunny day. Sarah's best friend, Kelly, was beside me. Then Jody and the other godmother, Judy, also came, of course. And Grandpa Iannari ended the row.
I observed all the styles. The families that came to commemorate their children's milestone. Elegant dresses to sun dresses or pants like most of us. The men in suits, to dress shirts, to some young men in shorts. Grandpas, grandmas, little brothers and sisters all waiting.
Pomp and Circumstance played and played, first by the organ, then some horns, then back to the organ, as the faculty, then graduates filed to the front of Old Main. Jody ran up to get a picture of Sarah. I caught of glimpse of her, with her natural blond hair, curled. A tween boy two rows ahead, started waving at his relative. He had been sleeping before. This scene touched my heart.
The president of the college welcomed us and those relatives here in spirit, as I thought of Mom, Dad and Joanne watching the youngest granddaughter on this great day. The speeches didn't drag on. The honorary degree recipient, graduated in 1980(a senior when I was a freshman nurse with the purse), mentioned a scientist she was teaching students about and they knew him from The Big Bang Theory. Jody did as well.
I studied from where all the students hailed. Mostly very close here in Pennsylvania and Ohio. When I knew people from the college back in 1979-80, many claimed Long Island or New Jersey as their home. This year two were from Salt Lake City, UT, with the same last name, a few from New York and one from Florida.
Kelly snapped a picture of Sarah right after she got her diploma. Soon, it was on Facebook and Sarah was texting her. Oh, these modern times I love. Actions we only partially imagined are common place for the twenty-somethings.
The teaching staff lined the walkway as the new graduates exited the platform. Clapping could be heard. This reminded me of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. They mentioned the convocation they had for the freshman class here, as I witnessed the one for Katie. I thought if she had graduated from St. John's, how the temperature would have been so much hotter.
Sarah Jean Lewis
Proud parents and daughter
Old Main
Overall, this ceremony was beautiful, full of tradition and elegance. I was thankful for the fine weather, as I may not have been able to witness it, if it had to be inside. To all the graduates of 2012, I wish Godspeed and blessings.

Friday, May 18, 2012

May Love

Mom loved May. She married in this month. She had two babies in this month. Gerri Lee and I were close with June and April birthdays. Mom thought our neighbors, the retired couple, returned to Pennsylvania too soon. The Boal's made the trip back in April and she always said she would wait until May.
My cousin, Bruce, was born the beginning of May, the fourth, I believe. When he was born to my mom's little sister, Mom walked to the neighbor's, Thelma Leslie. This name was always said like one word. I hardly remember her, but she lived in the Italianate red brick home, like Garret's, only down Main Street. She had huge lilac bushes and with permission, Mom picked a bouquet to take up to Aunt June.
We took our best vacations in the spring of the year. There is a freshness with May days, the promise of summer, but not the humidity as much. I remember running around, thinking this is perfect. I glanced at the thermometer reading 72 on Garret's porch.
May is when Erickson's opened. We strolled there every night for ice cream. The day lingers until almost nine. That was hard when I was in kindergarten with a bed time of eight. I laid in bed watching the setting sun, feeling punished, waiting for school to be over.
I came in almost every evening with grass stains, dirty feet, smeared sweaty face and tousled blond hair. I had to either soak in the tub or just get a good sponge bath scrubbing. Maybe a half hour of TV before the torture of laying in bed.
Mom's love of May is in me as well. Yet lately, I really like June with the ripe green that is soothing. September is beginning to find favor with me, as well. The key is clear blue skies and comfortable temperatures.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I have been down for a while. My spark to write had dimmed. I thought, "What am I doing? Am I fooling myself?" My page views dwindled. I felt I was going to repeat myself, that I was getting boring.
Last week, I received business cards that someone ordered, but my daughter and husband denied they did. I couldn't remember if I filled something out on line. They're from Vista Print, so they are free, but still a person took the time to give them my details. Is this creepy? Maybe a little. I believe in a God who blesses His children.
I believe I wrote about the story when Katie was at a crucial point in writing her first novel, she needed a lap top for the ease. Our old computer broke. She felt defeated. One snowy afternoon, FedEx showed up with lap top and printer in her name, leaving it on our door. Again, who was the mystery benefactor? We looked to the sky and thanked God.
Last night, I handed out my cards to the prayer meeting members. I was met with excitement that I was a writer. Genuine smiles warmed my soul.
With the decreased numbers, I reasoned, well, I am writing to family and friends. This is like a letter daily to them. To my family, preserving history, sharing our faith, and with friends reminiscing of a simpler time. I hear positive feed back. I take people to a far off place of memory.
I want to always lift Jesus up to be honored and praised. I will acknowledge short comings, fall backs, sins to be blunt. Jesus, though, always saves if I repent.
I want to mention my parents' anniversary. Today, a wonderful May day, they married seventy years ago. As you know they are in Heaven. I think how Jesus changed their lives, grabbed a hold of them and redirected a course of sin in a family. Strong marriages after my mother's parents' divorce. Moderate to no drinking after alcoholic grandparents and even Dad drinking in the Army, losing a whole paycheck one time. Love is our legacy.
To read what I wrote about my parents' courtship and wedding, read my post on December 7, 2011 "Pearl Harbor"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Field Day

For four years in the Oakview Elementary School, I participated in Field Day. This was near the last days of school, after achievement tests, end of year tests and textbooks handed in to the teacher. Our class rooms competed against each other with sack races, relay races and the big tug of war, with a thick twined rope.
The day usually was hot, spent all day outside. I believe we even had a picnic lunch and I know we had the frozen school sundaes that we only got on special occasions. Vanilla ice cream with either strawberry or chocolate syrup in a plastic cup and paper lid proved a hard decision.
Miss Erb's class was the tug of war champion of the school, at least they had been the year before I started in third grade. Everyone gathered to cheer or boo us. The fourth graders who had been in Miss Erb's class the year before yelled right beside us to not lose this tournament. They loomed so big next to us. Would we let them down?
In the heat with sweat, we pulled against the other teams. Feet gained some ground, then lost an inch. Mouths opened that we could do it, "Pull, pull." The grass proved slippery. More skidding. Rope burned my hand, but I couldn't let go, not with those kids believing in us. 
Finally, the rope eased and we dragged the other classes to the ground. We kept the title for Miss Erb. Red, stinging hands all around, but smiles overcame the pain. Back slapping from those fourth graders and cheers.
I wonder if they have tug of war anymore? Probably not called that, I'm sure. We bounded that day that followed us through to fourth grade and cheering on the next class.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Evenings

I try to remember sixth grade, the spring. Tonight on the end of a perfect spring day, in the 70's, fluffy cloudy sky, I thought, what can I write about? I want to go back to some of the memories. One came to mind as I passed the soft ball fields at Buhl Park.
Sherry, whom I became friends with at the beginning of the school year, moved to Chestnut Street, a block down and another block to the left from my house. She lived near the Dairy Queen. Her brother, Dave, was four years older, as was their next door neighbor. The houses teamed with teenage boys, as these two were popular. Our spring evenings found us in Stonebreaker's back yard that stretched to forever, playing baseball. I did enjoy these games for fun. Girls hung out here, too.
I love the evening sun. Staying out later in the evening. This time of year, here in western Pennsylvania, the sun doesn't set till almost nine. We took advantage of that fact, since I still probably had to be in when the street lights came on.
The end of the school year with lovely warm weather kept us outside. The allure of sixteen year old boys also made baseball interesting. Sometimes even the adults joined in. An aunt of the Stonebreaker kids hit a ball or two. Everyone felt safe, because Mr. Stonebreaker was a cop.
I give those boys credit. They showed no interest in the eleven and twelve year old girls. Why should they? They had girls their own age very interested in them. It was a more innocent time.
Other times, we all sat around outside in gliders and lawn chairs, under huge pine trees. Again, adults joined us. We stayed out till the mosquitoes, big and nasty near the creek and swamp, appeared, sucking our blood. They usually waited till the first week of June and dusk. Hurried us all inside.
In the summer, usually Sherry and her sister, Lori, walked me to the corner of Haywood and watched me up the hill. I think I called my parents or they had set a time for me to come home. But I had no fears, we just kept an eye on our friends. The neighbors did, too.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Enchanting Jewell

The entrance
I had driven around the Forest. I observed the parking lots and even sat in one to chart. I read about it in the Vindicator. I longed to explore the paths as I gazed at the map at the entrance. I hoped to go in the fall with my dog, but could never excuse the time away from the family or chores at home on a day off.
Last Saturday, I decided we needed to do this and I bribed Katie and David with Chik-Fil-A, which isn't far from Poland Village. That name, alone, sounds mystical. The houses are old, many exhibiting Scotch windows. We drive past the seminary, where President McKinley studied. Modern houses have been built on this lane as well. Poland seeps small town yesterday.
We ate in the van, not knowing picnic tables were not far from this entrance. We wandered on the trails, then looked at the map, as I did want to witness the bluebell meadow. As I mentioned yesterday, the violets were magnificent. The Forest with wild trees, undergrowth and muddy paths impressed primitiveness.

Hollow Tree
We wind our way to the bluebell meadow. The river has eaten into the banks exposing cliffs of red brown dirt. A hollowed tree seemed out of a story book.
The dog kept in step with Katie, ecstatic to be with his family in all this outdoors. He loved the smells. I thought maybe he could be off leash, but he is a hound. Dogs are allowed off leash if they are well behaved. I did see some.
I think how not too far from the Forest, a four lane highway with cars rushing should be heard. We don't hear any outside sounds. Stepping back in time is how it feels.
It did remind me of England. Our second stop on our tour twenty six years ago, we stayed with a former exchange student from twenty years earlier. I had not seen Denise in those years, although she kept in touch with the family, addressing the letters to Father and Mother Lewis. Her home sat on acres of woods. Her husband showed David and I around the land. We saw bluebells then, as well as stood on a thousand year old earthen dam. Yes, built in 900.
The river

Wild flowers
The enchanted aura of the Poland Forest entices me to return. I want to go every day. I want my younger daughter to step into this magical place, too. For sharing is the only way to appreciate a memory.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I love purple flowers. My favorite to look at are violets. The best to smell, lilacs. Irises are stately. I love lavenders' color. Violets, though, warm my heart.
My grandmother and Aunt June also loved violets. Grandma had the strong stem against the black dirt in her small yard facing Hull Street. My mom said they grew so well because Grandma put her kitty litter around them. She transplanted them from somewhere and gosh, now, I don't remember.
Last week we went to Poland Forest in Ohio. A jewel I had read about in the Youngstown Vindicator, but hadn't actually explored till last week. I wanted to see the fields of bluebells, but we were a week late. Yet, the violets, in lavender and white by the creek, were those strong, long stem variety, like Grandma's. Maybe her's were from Coolspring Township near her homestead.
We drove by the Thompson farm today. It seemed to be a Mother's Day tradition. Dad drove Grandma  around, then later years, we drove my mom in that wonderful countryside. I tried to recall the family neighbor names, like North. I think their home was right next to the Coolspring Church. A big marker with that name rested in the cemetery across the road from the white country church. We drove over the creek where the men cooled off in the summer after their chores. I wonder if that is where Grandma got the violets.
The green rolling hills, the fields plowed, the black Angus cows with their calves frolicking or nursing delighted our eyes. The old home has been deteriorating for many years. I think it was painted, though, so in a way it appeared better than in past years, but still with the fancy Victorian touches covered over.  The modern houses inching farther away from Lake Latonka private community into the country side.
We had a long season with violets this year. They started with our hot stretch in March, survived the snow of April. I still glimpsed a few today at Buhl Park, hiding under the green leaves, a deep purple. Usually, they pop up at the end of April, lasting a few weeks into May. My lilacs had a poor year, because we had a mild winter. They need a cold winter for abundant blooms. I sniffed them a few times, but they were never enough to cut for a bouquet in my home. My bush grows outside my living room window allowing the fragrance to waft into my home. This year the flowers were just too faint.
This spring in Buhl Park
This I saw in November 2011

The ones in Poland Village Forest, OH

The remaining Bluebells
I'm really not sure where I'm going  with this description, except for the joy of sharing my love of these flowers. I hope you, too, enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rules and Do You Agree?

One of the writing blogs I read is on a series about"Capitalization Rules," by Kathy Ide. She states the new rules are a writer should not capitalize the pronouns for God or Jesus. A writer may appear archaic if she does.  She also suggested the writer check with the publisher's policy. Would this be a "deal breaker" in publishing one's writing.
When I'm in this situation of being published, how will I react? Will it be a "deal breaker?" I have always capitalized the divine pronouns, always. This is what I have been taught since a small child. This is how it looked on all those memory verse cards. I believe the Bible I earned in third grade has the capitalization rule.
I noticed in the last few years that sometimes the pronouns were not capitalized. I noted the trend, but was not pleased. Now, I have to examine my thoughts on this, as well as other ideas from my childhood. Am I old fashioned or traditional? Or is this, as I feel, the right way to write? Can I continue to use the capitalization because my stories, so far, are set a century ago, when that rule was the rule?
Kathy Ides proposes the capitalization does not reflect respect, because Satan and Hitler are also capitalized. "But in the English language, capitalization is mainly used to distinguish specific things from general things." Hm, isn't the one of an only kind, Jesus, specific? Shouldn't He be set apart?
My question to you my readers is, "Does my capitalization of the pronouns for God and Jesus distract you and do you find it old fashioned or quaint?" I'm not sure I'll change how I write, but I am curious.
And the bigger question to me is, "Just because it is modern, is it right? Is it how I should change?" Or the old cliche, if everyone is jumping off the bridge does that mean you should? Listen to your mom.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bulk Trash Day

Actually this is about the eve of Bulk Trash Day. It happens twice a year in our neighborhood. People drag their big items, like couches, old entertainment centers, lamps, some appliances to the curb on a day other than garbage day. As the junk accumulates, loaded down trucks begin roaming the streets. Some aren't as heavy as others, but mattresses, chairs, pipes hang over the top.
When my children were little, we tended to not want to leave them outside and especially around the edge of the yard near the street. My husband, mostly, would hurry them inside or to the back yard. I keep singing Neil Diamond's Hot August Night, "pack up the old ladies and babies" or something like that. The rusted trucks combing the neighborhood left us uneasy, to say the least.
I hear a person can make a living doing this. People find treasures from others trash. I find myself eyeballing the piles sometimes. Maybe, just maybe, I might see something I can use. Usually though, I imagine what happened on that chair or couch. Did someone throw up or have other accidents in it? Did the owners smoke like a smoke stack? Hard to tell too much of that when it is sitting outside on a fresh spring evening.
I leave the treasure hunting to those adventuresome entrepreneurs. I don't really even like garage sales or thrift shops. My girls do. They love flea markets and the others, finding great bargains. I admire them, but for myself, I guess I'd rather do without than pick through most of these trading venues.
How about you? Do you seek treasure in others trash? Or would you rather get something new on sale? Maybe both? 
Aw, but craft sales...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Morning Light

Yesterday the morning light streamed gloriously into my house. I stood in my kitchen comparing it to the kitchen of my childhood. My window now faces north with a smaller yard and house close. The kitchen on Main Street possessed a window allowing the eastern sun to beam. In the summer, the side door opened to the fine weather in the next room. Light flooded these two rooms. I thought of coming into the kitchen with Dad sitting by the back door waiting to serve his family. Coffee, grapefruit, cereal waiting for milk to be poured set out by him.
When I was fourteen I moved into the back room. The windows also looked to the east through the huge maple. The walls painted yellow added to the brightness of the room. Sometimes I had my bed under those windows that opened like doors and other times I had my desk in that little alcove. After breakfast, I returned to that room for my morning devotions in the sunlight.
My Amish friend battles with depression. She, in their retirement home, made sure they built wall to wall windows on both sides. She has eastern windows and western windows. Light brings a sense of well being. The fresh air cross breeze lifts spirits, too.
A house without sunshine, well, is just not a home.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

More Prom Memories

Hickory High School did not have an after-prom like we did and danced till six am. We could only leave after midnight and before six if a chaperone phoned the parents for permission. The day after the kids did various things, travel to Cedar Point- a really long drive, Geauga Lake, a little closer or after my first prom, we went horseback riding.
I was a fairly experienced rider, since I first learned from Mary Ellen's prom date's grandmother, Marge Williams and then Darlene Biros took a much more in depth training with me in junior high and I was still riding her Palomino. But, I ended up having an asthmatic horse that could hardly trod the trails at the stable across from the Wilson Murder house on State Route 318 outside of Mercer. My date kept glancing behind him, wondering why I held back. I'm not holding back, I felt like screaming. This horse is going to keel over. We got to the end of the trail, heading downhill to the barn. Then the almost dead horse perked up, wheezing and running to the food. What a motivator for animals.
After the embarrassing stable experience, the four of us romped around Buhl Park. I guess we dined after, I can't recall.
The next year, another foursome, found us at Geauga Lake Amusement Park. Both boys were infatuated with the other girl, her date wanted to get engaged and she didn't. She wanted to get back together with my date. Her date didn't want to spend time with me, nor I with him. I tried to just enjoy the rides. On the way home, the girl sat in the back with me, my date sat in front of her, his head squeezed between the door and seat, holding her hand, in low tones reassuring her. Her date, stoned face, driving furiously all the way back to West Middlesex. I'm not sure if I kissed the ground when I got home, but I was glad that day was over.
Until 1970, the prom was held in the high school gym. The elementary students as a class, toured the finished project. The science department possessed a skeleton, that always became part of the scenery. Arabian nights placed him half buried in the sand. The little kids just loved that. Getting out of the classroom was a treat enough, but that skeleton thrilled everyone. The first outside proms were at the Oaktree Country Club. Eventually, they ended up at the Sheraton, with Grand March around the courtyard, outside, around the building to the ball room, where we ate a mediocre dinner that I felt bad the date paid a large amount. I think it was $15. Too much for that food. This year, the couple ticket cost $70, with which we helped .
My sister, Diane, has a great prom story, too. I keep asking her to guest blog, but she hasn't yet. So maybe tomorrow, I'll tell her story.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Friends since elementary school
Today is my first prom as a mom. Hmm, that could be a poem, if I weren't stressed about the house work. Well, guess not too stress, since I'm writing and looking forward to an cooler walk than yesterday. Who'd thought the third day of May it would be 80 degrees at ten AM?
Last Saturday, Mary Ellen and I shopped for her shoes. It felt so much like when I was her age. I had energy to keep going until we found those shoes. My first prom, I didn't have much time to look as my date asked me two weeks before the prom. He was a shy guy. I broke up with a boyfriend to go with the senior. I was a sophomore, a little self centered, I guess.
We traveled to the Southern Park Mall. Now I forget the name of the store, but long dresses were in most stores. Prom dresses weren't as elaborate in 1977. The dress was a shimmering muted green, with an open back for twelve dollars on sale. I wore black sandals. My date wore a green tux.
The two senior boys came to pick me up first before we got the other girl, who was also a senior. My mom told my dad, " You have to come see these boys, their hair is prettier than the girls." And it was. My date had black curly hair and the other boy had super blonde curls. He was attired in red and black formal wear. My hair was the longer page boy cut I wore for years.
My junior year I donned a yellow gingham dress, square neck and slightly poffy sleeves with clear plastic shoes. I still did my own hair, but with hot curlers this year. Again the boy's hair was curlier than mine. One member of the school board remarked that she liked seeing me look wholesome, compared to some of the girls' dresses. I had fun that year as my date thought he was in love with another girl and even though we had gone agreeing as friends, it still was not fun as I danced with his dad to see him kissing the other girl. I guess I was too wholesome.
Mary Ellen is going for the forties classic movie look with finger wave hair and a gold sequin dress. I'll post pictures later. She too is just going as friends with the date. She is on the prom committee. She has a blast with her friends, so I'm sure her first prom experience will be fantastic.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More on the Image of Jesus

Peter Marshall, the great Scotsman and pastor in the 1930's and 40's, chaplain in the Senate, crushed the view of Jesus, meek and mild. Jesus was a carpenter, with big workman hands. His disciples were fishermen, hard working men. "No pansies here" Some in his church didn't want to hear that aspect of Jesus. How could He be a common working Man?
The book I'm reading also talked about righteous anger, as we remember Jesus overturning the tables in the Temple. His anger at the Pharisees burned, but He also loved them. So how are we to speak love at times? Mark Galli suggests being nice is not nice. We need to tell people the truth.
Dad when he had been out of work for over a year, applied for Manpower jobs, a government program. I don't remember all the details, but the whole process had an ugly underbelly of political favor. My dad made the front page of the local paper as he was angry at the injustice voicing that at a public meeting. My mom was sick for a week, because Dad wasn't being nice. I was proud of Dad standing up for what is right.
I recall growing up hearing at times that if Jesus entered the modern day church, He wouldn't be welcomed. One was the idea of His hippy appearance. But His teaching is radical for the day in which He preached it as well as today. It is upside down thinking. Give up your life, so you may find it? You must hate you father and mother? Jesus uses hyperbole to make His point. He must be first and foremost in a follower's life. He cannot be an addition.
I heard a radio minute yesterday about salvation and following Jesus. The speaker confirmed it is not easy, it is impossible to live the disciplined life. That is where Jesus comes in. With God, all things are possible. His righteousness covers a believer. But it is not just saying a prayer. We are to turn from our sins, making Jesus all our life. Yeah, that is hard.
I got a e-newsletter today recommending reading John 15 every day for this month. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, apart from Him, we can do nothing. I extend the challenge to you, my readers. Let Jesus fill your life. Experience the wild ride with Him.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Do We Want a Wild Ride?

I've posted about serendipity before. The recent topic that I have been hearing more about is our view of Jesus verses who He really is. We tend to lean on the sweet, forgiving quiet Jesus, meek and mild, in the American church. But Jesus of the Bible is more than that.
I got a book from Katie for my birthday that I started to read, Jesus, Mean and Wild, by Mark Galli. He is taking a look at the gospel of Mark, the most action packed of the four gospels. In this book, he shows that following Jesus is hard, that Jesus preaches hard actions, radical ideas and fights evil. Jesus doesn't fit in a box.
This morning, Michael Card in an interview promoted his new book on this theme of the powerful Jesus in The Gospel of Passion, on Mark. I listened to Michael teaching on the storm that was demonic. Ever wonder why seasoned fishermen were afraid in a storm? He said how it shook the earth, the Greek word used. It was a storm like never encountered before. Then the next scene is the man who lived in the graveyard, filled with demons, that Jesus, unapologetic, casts into the pigs. There goes the farmers livelihood.
Some things to chew on, huh? Following Jesus is not all material blessings. He said we have to give up family sometimes, we face persecution, we may even suffer death. Yes, you're lining up now for this life, aren't you? This may not be what we hear in church. Jesus is our buddy, our best friend, our genie in the bottle to grant more than just three wishes, we sometimes come away with that idea. We don't want to hear the difficult passages.
One time I heard a preacher describe Jesus in modern terms as wearing khaki pants, polo shirt, wavy golden brown hair, just soft from a shower, sort of like the pictures we grew up seeing, only not in a white dress. The smiling Jesus, just looking at His people with love requiring no responsibility of holiness. He is not going to ask the self denial, cross bearing actions of  believers.
Another time, I heard someone else describe Jesus as in Revelation, with fire flashing from His eyes, skin like bronze, people falling at His feet. Now this is the wild, untamable God that we are to worship. He truly is the only one worthy.
The question is am I being reminded of this now to prepare me for something? Had I gotten complacent in my view of my Lord? Have we all? Do we all need to be reminded that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, He is all powerful, He is like Aslan in Chronicles of Narnia, good, but not tamed?
What do you think? Do you think in America we see Jesus as that Santa who blesses? Do we want a God who demands difficult decisions? Do we want a wild ride?