Friday, November 30, 2007

Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise....

Judy and I officially began our Christmas season this morning at the breakfast table reading the Christmas story. We are going to do it just a few verses at a time and savor each part of the story. This morning we read Matthew 1:1-18, stopping at 'now the birth of Jesus was on this wise'.

A fuller Greek translation would be: 'BUT, in contrast with those mentioned above, the birth of Jesus was like this.' Those marriages and births were same-o same-o. For generations! The writer says, "On the contrary, what God is doing to to bring his son into the world is spectacular, out of the ordinary, never before experienced, etc. So, the writer is saying, you guys pay attention!!

We get into trouble expecting the ordinary with God, when from day one he has majored in the un-ordinary. Romans 12: "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Nicodemus got all confused. "How can a man re-enter his mother's womb." Ordinary thinking!!

My wish for you this Christmas is that you will have a real Christmas. I pray that you will meet unexpected people, have unexpected conversations, experience unexpected events -- all of your season to be un-ordinary. I pray that this Christmas that the birth of Jesus to you will be 'on the contrary.'

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy 4th Birthday, Olivia!!

This is Olivia Grace's 4th birthday! What a miracle she is. Beginning life at 1 lb., 7 oz. and 3 months early is quite a feat. But she pulled it off! Now she is in preschool learning and doing and enjoying life. Like her mother, she loves to make friends and talk to people. Her big brother Dylan, who was only with us about 6 days, had to rush back to heaven to search for just the right sister to send to Jim and Kari. I think he did an excellent job! Anyway, happy birthday, Olivia!

We just made a long trip together to Denver. Each time she crawled into the car (she wanted to do it herself), she always called up to me at the driver's position, "We're not ready yet, Papa!" Also, on this trip, she discovered that her Papa and her Daddy had to go to the Boys' restroom. (This was a great revelation, and she came back from the restroom to announce, "Papa, you have to go to the boys' restroom." Good to know!)

Ugh! So much to do around the house, as well as at my desk. Which to do first, second, so forth. Leaves outside, writing inside! But the whole day MUST stop until I write about my Olivia. Now the day can go on.

I love you, Olivia, more, more, more.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Welcome to the Christmas Season

Today we began the Christmas season officially. And I must say that I am worn out already. After doing some around-town errands, we took all the Christmas things down from the attic (about 8 0r 9 boxes and 5 or so big black bags). We then took on the huge task of hanging the outside lights across the front of the house, and intermittently Judy worked on the leaves. Beginning about 12:30, we finished just after dark. With our house this is not an easy task, and I must say Kari was sorely, sorely missed. Last year she was here to help us. Oh, Kari, where were you today?!! But the lights do look nice!! Maybe there will be pictures later.

Tomorrow?? I will set up the Christmas tree in the living room. Wash the windows on the outside, put the lighted garland on the front porch columns, and maybe work some more on the leaves. Oh, yes! I must clean the hot tub, too.

But here is the fun of it all: working with Judy. She is such a trooper and so much fun to work with. Gotta tell you, last year I lost my nerve on the really high peak of the house, so Judy did that part of the lights. Same thing this year. I can't believe I am telling you this. Makes me look like a woos, but only because I am. Judy gets the big trophy!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Around the World in 80 Days!

Ok, not that long and not that far! But sometimes it seemed like it. Judy and I and Kari and her girls made a trip to Denver, Colorado, pre-Thanksgiving (Friday to Tuesday) to see a niece/cousin married. Got back to Muskogee on Tuesday night late. Up and off on Wednesday morning to Dallas for Thanksgiving, home again on Saturday afternoon. Whew! I am tired.

Here are some pictures for you. Both of our girls have cars with DVD players and headphones. Suer make a trip nicer -- especially a long one. Here are our cute granddaughters watching movies and ignoring us. First are Ava and Olivia in their Chrysler Pacifica. Then Caitlyn in her Chevy Suburban. Brent has not developed an interst in the movies, as yet. But give him time.

We arrived home to NO flowers. Winter is here. Now we just have to hang on till next spring. More pictures and thought about the trips in the days to come.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I have failed to highlight our October visitors from South Africa. Every October Ron and Rina Kinnear come to our house for 10-12 days in October. This is their 2nd time in Muskogee. Here we are having breakfast on the patio. Everyone is all bundled up like it is very cold, but it was between 65 and 70 degrees! (So far the leaves hadn't started falling, so the patio looks somewhat clean. By now, the umbrella is stored in the garage, and leaves are swirling around on the patio. I pick up about 2 bags worth every other day. It looks so nice, then the next morning when I look out, my heart sags.) Back to Ron and Rina. They are so delightful to have -- always. We look forward to their coming, and hate to see them go. The first night they were here, when Judy and I crawled into bed, she said, "It's like they were never gone." How true. Good friends!

On the first Saturday they were here, Judy's uncle and aunt celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary just south of Springfield, Mo. So we made a day of it and took Ron and Rina with us. It was a great day. We met up with some of Judy's family in Springfield, and had time to visit Bass Pro. Ron and Rina had never experienced anything like it (for those of you who have been there). It was a little hard to get them out of there and on to the celebration, but we did.

As you can see in the above picture, we were with Judy's sister Sue, her sister Terrie and two of Terrie's children, Dallas and Emily; and of course, Judy's Dad and Mom, Dallas and Pat. Ron took the picture. I had blogged earlier about her uncle's and aunt's celebration. (See Saturday, October 13 in my blog archives to the right.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Colossians tells us to "let the peace of God rule in our hearts." And the song has been going around and around in me, "He is my peace Who has broken down every wall." I can get really peaceful just looking at the beautiful pictures I took in the Bahamas this year. Judy's sister and husband, Bob & Sue, have twice provided us the opportunity of great peace in nature. The last time was in April when we sailed with them for a week in the Bahamas. These are some of those really peaceful pictures. As beautiful as these beaches, just remember that God loves you even more! But also know that as the beaches and clouds are constantly changing, so is your life constantly changing -- by his design. So just let his peace rule while the changes are happening.

Note the name of Bob and Sue's boat, Refuge. And it truly was for us. Whether sailing or in harbor, it was alway a reminder of God's great care and provision for us. We can just lay back in his love, take refuge in his care.

I know it is hard to believe that such beautiful places exist, but they do. We have been there, but I am still awed by its beauty just in pictures. The sounds are just as real to me as the picture is. Amazing that just this picture remembrance can cause such peace. So can Christ give us peace just by resting in his Word and allowing the words of the page to paint a beautiful picture in us of his great peace.

You can't imagine the thrill of slicing through the water with no sound but the wind in the sails!! It seemed like we were flying over the water, but we were only doing 6 knots. (I was on the front of the boat taking this picture of Judy, Sue and Bob.

Every night the sunset was always a little different, never quite the same. The natives would blow a conch (pronounced konk) shell at sunset to draw your attention to its beauty. As no two sunsets are alike, no two people are alike, and God treats each of us differently according to how he has made us. So just think, everything in your life is tailor made by the God who made you, just for you and him to enjoy together. Be blessed!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yesterday I blogged about my grandchildren. Today I am speaking of Dylan James, our first grandchild, who is keeping my dad and Judy's mom company in heaven. It is hard to think that he would have been 5 years old now - just at that place where we could have started doing things together and having lots and lots of fun. The pictures here are of our Dylan statue in our back yard. He is facing the patio, so whenever we look out or go out, we see him looking back at us. There were two rose bushes planted in his memory, one on either side of him. However, one of them didn't make it through the winter. I guess it wanted to bloom where Dylan is. The other one, however, has bloomed throughout the summer. This picture was taken today, Nov. 10th, and there is still one beautiful red rose on it.

Every time we look at Dylan, he is looking up at us with a whimsical smile, as if to say, "I know something that you don't." After he went to heaven, Kari said, "I am so afraid that we will forget him." I told her she needn't worry, I never would. I look out and enjoy his presence, and sometimes even shed a tear or two. It would have been fun.... But someday, it will be great!
Blessings, Dylan, I love you, too.

Friday, November 09, 2007

It's Papa-time tonight. I just love the pictures of my grandchildren that show up on Kari's and Stephanie's blogs. If you don't check their blogs from time to time, I want to show some of the pictures they post. One is of Caitlyn and little Brent. Caitlyn calls him her "little sister". But then when you ask her her name, she says "me." Check the link to the right for Stephanie's blog to see the cutest pictures of her sleeping with Cali, the dog. She gets up in the night, goes downstairs and snuggles up with Cali. Aren't kids amazing?

The other picture is Olivia and Ava in their cute costumes. Kari worked to help Olivia learn a little joke to tell as she went trick-or-treating. (Knock, knock. Who's there? Boo. Boo who? I didn't mean to make you cry.) Last Monday she sang the song from "Dancing with the Stars" when we spoke on the phone. I resisted the temptation to show the picture of Ava with lipstick all over her face. (You can follow the link to the right for Kari's blog.) After she smeared her face good, then she was unhappy. She can't stand to be messy. Imagine! And where did she get that little trait, anyway?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Today, I am highlighting Judy's art work. Before Brent was born in September, Judy made a special trip to Stephanie's to paint a mural on Brent's and Caitlyn's bedroom walls. The one in Brent's room is a hunting scene (of course) with their two labs, Chauncey and Cali. Notice the frog jumping off the rock and the geese in the sky. Caitlyn's is daisies and butterflies. This artistry was at the request of Stephanie. She has always had very definite ideas of what she wants in her house, and I think this was a good choice. Judy did expert work. Just wanted you to see it.

For having no 'job' at the moment, we have been very busy with many things. The Lord is so good to us, and we are enjoying the day-to-day walk with him. We believe he is beginning to 'stir us up' on the inside, getting us ready for our new assignment.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Well, yesterday, as I said, I raked and removed leaves. Of course, today it isn't as obvious as it was when I finished yesterday. But these are the pictures to prove that I did the work.

After raking the leaves into a pile, I used my Black & Decker blower/vacuum to mulch the leaves and bag them. That is the first of many bags of leaves to finish the job. But it is enjoyable work. Not much effort, except for getting the tools out and putting them up, but the results are very satisfying.

Today, Judy is putting out winter flowers in her gardens to help out with the passing of the summer flowers.

Monday, November 05, 2007

After yesterday's shameless selling on my post, I thought I better write something less crass.

I really am enjoying my girls' blogs (see links to the right). It used to be emails and cell phones, but now we have added blogs. It is so much fun to read (almost) daily recounts of their lives. And the pictures we get are so warming. Things that the granddaughters say that are so cute, we get to 'hear' almost immediately.

I collect giraffes, and I have about 30 or so now in stand-alone, groups, pictures, etc. The other day I was visiting with Kari, Olivia and Ava on the web cam. So while I was talking, I took my giraffe that stands about 18" tall and paraded him across the web cam. The girls really thought it was neat. Just little things like that make for a really strong day.

Today, I begin the fall task of raking leaves. I have all the equipment to do the job as quickly and neatly as possible. I just don't have the equipment to get the stuff out and put it up. Oh, well, I guess that is what makes it work instead of play. Our maple in the front yard has been fun to watch. The tree is yellow now and the leaves are falling all around it. We have green, green fescue grass with yellow leaves on it. And the leaves are falling at such a rate, it looks like it is raining leaves. But as pretty as it is, I must now get out and rake. Leaves lying on top of fescue is not a good thing for the fescue. So.....

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Not much to post today, so I want to do some "selling". You will notice under My Favorite Links two new ones about Brock and Bodie Thoene books. The Thoenes have written, and are continuing to write, great historical fiction books about the plight of the Jews in WWII, the establishment of their Jewish homeland, etc. Now they are in the process of writing a series about the life of Jesus. It is absolutely wonderful stuff. I have read all of their books, and they are impossible to put down once you start. They have such wonderful insights. I am told that Brock is a master researcher, and Bodie is the writer part of the team. (Thoene is pronounced TAY-nee.)

One link leads you to their web site (Thoene Home site). Have a look around, and if you find something that is interesting, maybe go to the 2nd link (Thoene Books to buy) and order it. You really should read their series in a certain order since some of the people show up in other places in their books. Here is the basic order: Zion Covenant, Zion Chronicles, Zion Legacy, A D Chronicles. This will start you in 1939 Germany and take you to modern day Israel. It is fascinating reading, to say the least. If you really want to get with it, you could start with Shiloh Legacy and Shiloh Autumn, THEN Zion Covenant (you will see how some American boys get involved in all this). Look into the Books tab of their site and see each book written with a short synopsis.

Enjoy! And by the way, being perfectly honest, anyone who buys a book through this 2nd link affords me a 4% profit. Not much, but it does help.

End of infomercial - the first and the last.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Yea! We have gas! On Monday, because I had smelled gas in the house, I called the gas company to come and check for a gas leak. Sure enough, there was about a 2% gas presence in the house (not enough to cause an explosion, though). By law, they had to take the gas meter off until we could get a plumber out to find and fix the leak. Ugh! Wrong time for a plumber's bill.

I called Jerry, assistant pastor at the church we have been attending. He immediately began calling plumber friends he knows, and by the late afternoon found someone who could help us. Adam came by on Tuesday after work, put on a pressure test, but couldn't find a strong leak. He left the pressure on overnight, and the next morning it was way down. So on Wednesday afternoon, after repressurizing (this time to 20# instead of 15#), and crawling under the house, he discovered a leaky valve at the heater. Sorry he had to crawl under the house to no avail, but it just shows his thoroughness. He replaced the valve, repressurized, and left. This morning I called him to say the pressure had stayed up. He called ONG to come check the pressure, they did and gave us the okay. We called the gas company and they came out and hooked up the meter. Yea!!

The only difficulty we had during this 4-day period was in drying clothes. Our disherwasher can produce its own hot water, no hot water in the kitchen, but we had hot water in our bathroom, and heat in the den/master bedroom area. It is nice to have gas again.

Oh! The plumber charged us $75 for the whole time, including the valve. Praise the Lord! And a special thanks to Jerry, who not only found us a plumber (I am sure he had nothing else to do.), but called every day (during preparing for the youth halloween party at church) to check on us and see what the progress was on our adventure. The Lord has sooo blessed us!

Hats off to Jerry, a great guy and good friend!!