Monday, December 22, 2008
His birth was so very stellar and other-worldly compared to his lineage that there is no comparison at all.
The “players” in the drama are
Mary & Joseph
Zacharias and Elizabeth
The wise men
Anna of Asher
Simeon of Judah
and the inn-keeper
Each had their mundane lives to live:
Mary & Joseph lived in a backwater town.
Zacharias and Elizabeth were at retirement age, having spent their whole lives in a non-
eventful and thankless job, and were childless
The shepherds were caught up in a monotonous and lonely routine.
The wise men – a few of many scholars – were wise by knowledge, but they had no real experience. They were insulated by their books.
King Herod was caught between Rome and the Jews. Not a real king, he was distrustful of everyone, and distrusted by everyone.
Anna & Simeon had spent a lifetime of waiting with only a thread of hope.
The inn-keeper was a little known businessman in a village whose only sense of importance was the claim to the birthplace of King David.
In a two-year period, each had an interesting encounter with God.
Zacharias stumbled into God’s presence.
Elizabeth and God used the same body.
The shepherds and God attended the same angelic concert.
The inn-keeper and God used the same stable to for their lambs.
The wise men and God were interested in the same star.
King Herod and God had designs on the same throne.
Anna and God inhabited the same temple waiting to give thanks and receive thanks.
Simeon and God anticipated the same Salvation for Israel.
Joseph and God had an eye for the same woman – and met in a dream to work it all out.
And Mary’s and God’s “fullness of time” occurred at the same time and in the same place.
And yet, each would have lived a life that was unknown and not-long-remembered by more than one or two others…except…
for the unseen,
cataclysmic events that were occurring
And what of your “mundane” life? And what of the worldly events happening all around you without your control? Could it be that God is doing something
and simultaneous with you?
Could I encourage you today to be an Anna or a Simeon? Could you commit yourself to waiting on God? staying in His presence? not giving up with the passing of time?
Could I encourage you to be a Mary and allow God to do impossible things with you? Could you be a Joseph and allow God to change the course of your life and future history?
Like Zacharias and Elizabeth, would you start life again at what the world considers the end and produce a greater blessing for God – and the world?
Like the shepherds, would you release your hands from this world’s busyness to bow before God in adoration?
Or like the wise men, would you allow God to re-chart your life and send you to unknown places to supply needed gifts for the King?
Today, no one thinks of these first century AD lives as mundane. Instead we wish we had been there. We dream of what it would be like to be one of them. We give God praise that each of them allowed God to invade their mundane-ness.
And we take hope and are encouraged that God is also using us in a very significant way. And He is!
“He that began a good work in you will continue it until the day of Christ.”
Have a very Merry Christmas.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
For the two Christmases we have been in Muskogee, Judy has not been able to find her Mary and Joseph picture that always graces our front porch. She was sure, sure, sure that we left it in Tulsa. (Years ago, I cut out of wood the shape of Mary and Joseph, and Judy painted it.) I was sure it was "in the garage some place", but was still to be uncovered. Sure enough, we found it this summer. So on the porch it is! Everything is on timers, both outside, and the tree on the inside. All we have to do is enjoy! Everything comes on at 5:30pm and goes off at 11:30pm. What fun! Enjoy the pictures. You can click on them to make them full screen. And have a very merry Christmas!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Happy birthday, dear Olivia Grace!!
Your devoted and totally enslaved Papa.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Oh! And did I saythat my in-laws passed through town Sunday evening. They got here in time to go to church with us in Tahlequah. We then stayed up late, and I went in to work 1.5 hours late (with permission). So this week I worked 3 days at 8.5 hours to make up the lost time. Of course, I was very pleased to have Dad and Pat drop by. It is always a pleasure to have them. They are the best people ever!
Judy has taken over a lot of my household duties. I am really sorry about that. She even baked a loaf of bread today. She is a great helpmeet.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
We enjoy our walk. It is our time to talk, to encourage one another with scripture, to plan the day (maybe even the week), and especially to see the beauty the Lord has put before us. Judy is my best friend and so much fun to walk with. Her stride is shorter, and slower, so I am always stopping to let her catch up. Of course, stopping to pick up pretty leaves, etc., doesn't help her stride any at all. But it is what makes her so intriguing to be with.
We pass two beautiful ponds, beautiful houses, beautiful trees, and many nice people also out walking. Before long we will have to bundle up, or give up our walk until early spring. There is the mall, but it just isn't the same.
And here is some eye candy for you. It is one of two beautiful ponds we pass, just down the block from our house. Enjoy.
Friday, September 19, 2008
In a very stressful and terrible time of my life, Brent was born. Shortly after his birth everything in my life blew up, and the pain and experience were excruciating. But just before the blow up, Brent came. So when I think of that time, I think of Brent; so happy, so charming, so warm and accepting. God always knows how to counterbalance and overcome the terrible things of life. This year, just before the first year anniversary of the most unthinkable period of my life ever, Brent turned one. So instead of the grief, I can rejoice in the goodness of God in the land of the living. He gave me this absolutely adorable grandson.
Happy birth month, Brent!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
After she grew up and moved away, she would often call me and ask my advice about some decision she was facing. I would always answer, "Well, Stephanie, just pray about it. God will show you what to do." (She would and He always did.) But she said to me on one occasion, "You make me so mad. When I was growing up, I didn't want your advice and you gave it to me. Now I want your advice and you won't give it to me." But my greatest advice to her (and anyone) is to pray about it. God is always faithful to work it all out just right.
Here is a collage that her mother, Judy, made for her today. (Click on the picture for a bigger view.) HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STEPHANIE. My favorite red-headed daughter.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Another bonus of these pictures is the view of my mother. She has recovered so well from the effects of Parkinson's. Although she is taking medicine to control it, she had gotten down so weak, malnourished and dehydrated before they found the cause. She could hardly walk, wasn't able to get up by herself, and couldn't even turn over in bed. She is now eating well, walking well (with a cane for safety), even going up and down stairs without assistance. So nice! (Click on the picture and you will see a great smile on her face.) We are enjoying her living with us, and God is so gracious in providing everything we need for her care.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
This is going to be a busy week for us. My mother is moving in with us. At 85, she is a life-time Texan who has never inteded to live anywhere else, especially not Oklahoma. But here she comes. Judy has been busy for weeks "re-arranging" the house to get ready for the move-in. I will be going down to Dallas with my daughter Kari to close my mother's apartment and move her belongings. Mother will be released from the hospital/rehab center the day before she flies up here.
I think that once the whirlwind is over and the move-in settles down we will be happy and life will go smoothly. Others may be dubious, but I choose to be positive.
Judy is my hero in all of this. This is my mother, not hers. Of course, I would be happy to have her with me. She has nurtured me from birth. But Judy has really led the charge on this one. She saw the real need for the move, and has been working overtime (literally night an day) to get the house ready and the move done. On top of all of that, Judy has created (again) the most beautiful garden in the front yard and has totally re-landscaped the back yard. She has relocated plants and bushes and trees, dug up horrendous river cane by the roots (ugh!) and re-fashioned the flower beds. My hat is permanently off to Judy; my life, my love, my strength, my encourager, and my pusher.
Oh, and did I say that she strongly and regularly supports me in our ministry with Victory Ground Ministries: designing and printing business cards, editing my new book, and singing and sharing in the preaching.
She has managed all this work by giving up sleeping and eating. (Not really.)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Back in July, we got to keep Jeff and Stephie's children overnight while they attended a high school reunion in Tulsa. Of course, it was absolutely heavenly. They are the sweetest kids. Brent, about 10 months, was all smiles and fun. Caitlyn wanted to "whing" all the time. She does love that. So does Brent. But the thing I keep remembering is the breakfast I cooked on Saturday morning. I made cinnamon toast to go with the meal. We ate outside, and Caitlyn (3 yrs old) ate very well, but wouldn't touch the toast (guess it looked bad to her). So I said, "Caitlyn, take one bite with me (holding mine up to my mouth)." She did, and before I knew it, she had scarffed the entire piece of toast down. I wished I could have captured the moment on film. It is a great memory.
Monday, August 04, 2008
And one about Ava:
This morning I got a call from Kari. She announced they had had an accident. While helping her mother unload the dishwasher (a task she dearly loves), Ava accidentally put too much weight on the top tray, and it broke. Kari asked how to go about getting parts to fix it. I started to tell her what I would do, then realized that she didn't have time to do all that running and fixing when her girls needed her. So I said, "Jim makes good money, call a repairman." She did.
She put Ava on the phone to say hello. She is always so bright and happy when she says, "Hi, Papa!" Today, she sounded quiet and demure. "Hi, Papa!" "Hi, Ava. Did you have an accident." "Un-huh. I broke the dishwasher." (and she broke my heart) Kari said Ava knew she was in trouble. So I encouraged her not to punish Ava when she was so happy to help, but teach her not to put all her weight on the dishwasher.
I am sure I will soon have a cute story about Caitlyn to share with you. Brent...well he is till crawling and saying nothing - the silent type.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Good news. My mother is coming to live with us at the end of August. This is very needed and we are glad that she has been able to make the decision to come here. It was a tough one, I am sure. I can't imagine giving up my home and living with someone else. But this way, she can have a better life for longer.
On a sadder note. This is the last day of July - my birth month. I will have to wait until next July which is 11 months away! Oh well, this has been a good one. I have had special visitors and special gifts and special days and special meals and special phone calls and special emails. It is much better to celebrate the whole month than just one day. AND I do have one more gift coming to me - from my dear wife. It should arrive any day.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Last Saturday, my Texas kids were here for a short visit. Stephanie presented me with a birthday gift from Kari, Jim, Stephanie and Jeff. It was a gift card to Lowes. (and a nice sized one at that). So on Monday, Judy and I went buying. We spent it all but $3. We'll get that done later. Here is what we bought in pictures. First, 3 chairs and a table for the front porch. Now we can sit on the front side of our house and watch the world go by. We eventually want wicker chairs, but this is a nice gift, and we have already enjoyed them tremendously.
Then, the piece we have wanted for a long time - a fire pit for our patio. This allows us to enjoy the backyard further into the fall and earlier in the spring. We are eager to use it, although now is not the time for a fire. While putting it together, the base/fire pan lay out on the patio. In just a short time I reached to get it and join it to the frame per instructions. I almost burned my hands when I grabbed hold of it (it is all cast iron). So no need for a fire just yet. The thermometer registers just a tad over 100 at this time - that is enough. But come cooler weather...
nd here is another view (for my kids to see). It has screened doors that open on two sides to tend the fire. It is 25" across (on both sides) and 30" tall. We were looking for a round pit, which Lowes was out of at the moment. Then we saw this one (the one Stephanie liked, or Kari) and we fell in love with it. Thanks girls, you are so sweet - you too, Jim and Jeff. Come sit by the fire, or on the front porch.
Friday, July 18, 2008
In June, one of our nephews got married! He was the cutest little boy. I always loved being around him. He was so playful and happy. He truly isn't old enough to be married - not in my mind or memory.
This month, another nephew turns 20. TWENTY! It is just almost too much to handle. The only way they can get married, or turn 20, is for me to get older. Ugh! I am having some real adjustment issues.
Lord Jesus, if you are thinking about coming back any time soon, now would be a good time.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Yesterday, the 16th, was my actual birthday, and it was great. I turned 60 - a milestone of some sort. My mother, who just turned 85 three weeks before, is here to share with us.
We started the day with a great breakfast of scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, fresh tomato wedges, homemade bread/toast, and coffee (I got the breakfast I wanted because I made it myself, including the bread!) We ate on the back patio and lingered a long time enjoying Judy's beautiful landscaped backyard. Finally, around noon we came in and I spent some time studying for teaching Bible Study at Christian Chapel in the evening. (Again, it is so wonderful that my birthday fell on Wednesday, so I got to teach the Word of God!) Mother and Judy took me to IHOP for dinner before church - I love IHOP. At church we had 3 cakes for me and my mother and all the people who have July birthdays. It is what I wanted for my birthday, to have enough cake to share with everyone else. To me the whole thing about a birthday is doing something for others. And my Sunday School teacher made me a coconut pie that is absolutely out of this world. Oh, God is sooooooo good. (The pie I only shared with my mother and Judy!)
Here is a great picture. We have lots of cardinals around our place (and other birds, as well). I have learned the cardinal whistle, and am able to bring them down to the trees near our patio. But yesterday, on my 60th birthday, this cardinal came to the peak of the roof over the kitchen. We sat there for about 10 minutes, maybe more, singing back and forth to each other, face to face. Judy finally slipped into the kitchen through the sliding door (in picture) and went around to our bedroom, got her camera and went to our back door out of the bedroom and took this picture through the glass on the door. (You can click on the picture to make it larger.) Just after she finished the picture, the bird left. He was just waiting for her to get the shot. Again, life just keeps getting better.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Judy made a fabulous apple crisp pie with the apples, which we finished last night. This morning we had some of those apples prepared in the freezer, but not enough for another pie. So I took some of them, added some blueberries, cinnamon and brown sugar, brought them to a boil in some water, then added them to our oatmeal. Oh, my! Now that was sommmme oatmeal!
Like I said, life just keeps getting better. Tomorrow, we are having some friends over. I am cooking a 6# brisket on the grill all day, then adding some corn on the cob. Is this just too good? And Judy is going to add some potato salad with it. Okay, pinch me, am I really alive? Yes!
I have such a good life, in every respect, and it's all because of Jesus.
P.S. You want to read a good, inspiring message from Bodie Thoene? Click here, it's short.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Okay, I'm not through with the '5800 block' of the last blog. I keep wondering:
- do tall people and fat people have more squares than short and skinny people? Or are they just bigger?
- if someone loses weight, do they lose squares, or do they just shrink? Same with gaining weight, do they gain more squares?
- where is the original plat for the squares? How do we know if the count starts from the top or the bottom?
- I think I am assuming correctly to say that the 5800 block is somewhere near the heart. Obviously, if it were on the leg, someone wouldn't die -- unless they hit a big artery and bled to death.
- but is the 5800 block on the front or back of the body? Or maybe under the left arm on the side?
Okay, now I think I might be through. Unless someone wants to add something I have missed. That might get me going again.
"Dominque overheard the phrase and slased downward with his quirt, striking the man who had just come to his aid on the shoulder."
Now, in case you don't catch it, "on his shoulder" should come after "striking the man". Unless you really believe that he came to the man's aid standing/sitting/jumping on his shoulder. These are not uncommon in the newspaper, but in a published book? Where was the editor that day, that this error was allowed to get through? Oh, well, none of us are perfect.
I remember one day listening to the news on my way to my office at ORU. The newsman reported that a man had been killed on North Lewis Ave. during the night. Then he said, "He was shot in the fifty-eight hundred block." For the rest of my drive I was wondering if the man's body was divided evenly into numbered blocks, and exactly where was the 5800 block. Then I began to wonder if my body was blocked out, as well. I must say I feasted on that one for most of the day. Still strikes me as funny, but I don't know in which block it strikes me.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
These beautiful roses (don't even know what kind they are) and the hibiscus together were so inviting. You should know that the hibiscus are looking at me as I come down the porch steps. What a great reception I had. The rose bush is full, with more yet to bloom. Then they go away and in a couple of weeks, a whole new crop come back.
Here are the hibiscus up close. Unlike the roses, the bloom only lasts for a day or two, but then there are always more to take their place. They are so big. I am just amazed at their size. The house down the street has blood red ones. Imagine!
On another note, yesterday I picked the apples from one of our apple trees and Judy made an apple crisp pie for dessert last night. (Note for the ladies reading this: I peeled and cut them up, she didn't have to do it all!) I didn't spray our apple trees at all this year, so I had to share the apples with bugs, worms and birds. But I still got enough for the pie, and some left over. Yum! It was so good. This made me plan to spray next year! This was our first harvesting since we have lived here.
God is so good to us!
Friday, July 04, 2008
Here is Brent with Mimi. He is 10-months old. He is so happy and peaceful, easy to take care of and be around. He is the mirror image of his dad.
And here's Daddy Jeff. Does he ever love these two kids! He is such a good husband and dad. He really is all about leading his family. They are faithful in church, and the Lord really blesses them. I didn't mean to leave Stephanie out, but the only picture we got of her was not the best. I am sure she thanks me for making the right decision.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
She has worked diligently on it for about 10 months. And in the months to come she will be adding new features to it. But for now, it is up and running with wonderful things to discover.
Check it out! Bible Learning Lab! (There is also a link to her site at the right of this page.)
Friday, June 27, 2008
This picture is a close up of the pears. They are about golf ball size now. When ready for harvesting they will be like hard balls and larger (baseball hard balls). They are very hard and must be cooked to eat. But they make great pear honey, and we are looking forward to making some ourselves.
Another close up. In this picture, we took off as many as you see here, and maybe a few more. Judy was mowing the other day and moved a limb so she could mow under it. It came back at her and hit her. It really hurt, and she was concerned she might get a black eye. She didn't.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Here is a picture showing all of Judy so you can see how tall the flowers are from the ground up. Notice the apple above her head.
This is the arbor we built to grow our kiwi fruit on. It is the smooth skin variety, no fuzzy stuff, and is sweeter than the regular kiwi. They look more like oversized grapes. It will be another year or so before these produce. Looking up through the arbor, you see a flowering crete myrtle at the back of the yard. To the left of the arbor are some zennias and four-o-clocks. In the foreground is our Dylan statue and a small white crete myrtle. Just behind it and the sawed-off pear tree (which is soon to be cut down, ice storm ruined) is the apple tree in the above pictures. Behind the apple tree is another smaller apple tree, then our pear tree (it is loaded, notice the limbs almost touching the ground). To the right of the apple tree you see the Rose of Sharon in bloom. This is what we see every morning as we sit on the patio and eat our breakfast, read scripture and pray.
We are so blessed here. We thank God every day for His goodness and kindness to us. Just Tuesday evening, Judy's parents came in from Albuquerque on their way home to Missouri from a trip to Colorado. They left early Wed. morning. On their way out to the car, they commented about how wonderful it is to stop here and be refreshed by our beautiful house and grounds. This is the Victory Ground Manor.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
We had a good VBS. Judy taught, and I drove the bus before and after each day. Picked up a bunch of kids. I also helped in the snack-time dept. Mainly cleaning up. Any service you can do for the Lord is so rewarding. Just wiping down tables and chairs is such a joy when you know you are helping the Lord in His endeavors. I wiped with gusto, and left the place clean and ready for the next day's tornado. I even cleaned out the refrig on the last day. We had a kooaid jar that had a leaky valve. Ugh! But it was a lot of fun to take everything out and wipe and wash! Loved driving the bus and getting the kids back and forth. I always waited till I could hear the click of the seatbelt before I drove on. The kids quickly got the idea and responded beautifully.
Hey! My daughter Stephanie and her husband Jeff just returned from a week's vacation in Florida. Check out these great pictures and see my beautiful grandkids having the time of their life. Click here.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
At any rate, in my and Judy's faith walk, we have seen good, high, holy days, and days of despair and disappointment. The "trick" is (poor choice of words) to keep your eyes on Jesus and your heart continually stirred by His Word, which never fails. Things fail, people fail, God never does.
So this week I had come to a place that was either "giving up" because there was no hope of being able to pay ANY of our bills, or was total surrender to God and His will. (There is a fine line there.) I hope it was the latter. We have been busy helping in VBS at church, giving of ourselves to bless others. After dinner last night, we decided to walk in the neighbor. As we walked out of our front door, Judy noticed something stuck in the door behind the wreath. It was an envelope with $1000 in it -- all in bills, with no trace of writing. It was exactly enough to pay our bills, buy some much needed gasoline, and tithe on the gift.
Do you believe in angels? We do. We never tell anyone our needs, only God. So we can safely deduce that the money came from God, through the hands of one of his helpers.
And believe me, we are thankful. God is rarely early, but He is NEVER late, if we can be patient and trust Him. He is so faithful to us.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Caitlyn is our industrious one, always on the move, always doing something. I think she surely must sleep so soundly when she finally goes to bed, she has had a busy day -- any day. Here she is trying her best to get her napping Mimi to play with her. Judy isn't bothered, and Caitlyn isn't either. She amazes me with her energy.
I chose this picture because it is a picture of Caitlyn on the run (for her that is quite normal). Notice her hair flying to the side as she makes a curve around the kiwi arbor. I think she is in a hurry to catch up with Ava, her pal for the weekend. The yard is just too big with way too much to do. A girl just has no time to take life easy.
Don't you just love this picture of Brent? Not only his expression, but the light play on his face. He is in that intent staring time, trying his best to figure everything out. But there is just too much to understand. Oh, Brent, it doesn't get any better later on in life. But keep trying, you are just too cute when you do.
As I said in an earlier blog, this was Brent's first time to stand at the "measuring wall". I am sure he doesn't know what is going on, but I thought it was a fun picture to get (Judy took the picture). He is still so pliable with all of us. Wonder if that will last?
Here is Olivia going down the slide. Judy and I worked so hard getting that slide ready. This was left in a pile by the former owners. We had to work on it to fix it up, then figure out where to put it. The kids had so much fun running up into the upper yard and coming down the slide to the lower yard. That rock wall was a lifesaver for a place for the slide. Olivia got brave enough to go down, and really liked it.
And Olivia at the "measuring wall." Being the oldest of the kids, she knew what was going on and just what to do. Brent will soon get the idea, but it wasn't too long ago that Olivia didn't know. Doesn't she look so sweet and patient? Well, she is. She and Brent get the awards for patience.
And finally, a group picture of Kari's bunch on the front porch with Papa. When Stephie's kids come back up in July, I want one with them. Poor Kari and Olivia were feeling pretty ragged with their respiratory problems, but they came out to sit with Papa.
So let's see, that's 4 pictures of each set of kids. I guess that is fair. Hope you enjoyed the pictures (it is Father's Day weekend, you know).
Saturday, June 07, 2008
These are some traditional pictures. Papa always has to give the girls a ride in the wagon. One day we went around the backyard (above picture). The girls had picked up some pears and apples that had fallen from the trees (I hope without help) and were carrying them in the wagon. Amazing how much fun a wagon ride can be. (You can click on any picture to make it bigger.)
One day we took a front yard ride. Olivia didn't go because she was just too sick. Caitlyn kept asking, "Where are we going?" Just before this picture was taken, I told them we were going to church tomorrow. Oh, how they screamed and laughed and shouted, "We're going to church!" That is the reaction papa wanted from his darlings. (Notice the rest of the family on the porch.)
Notice just up past the arbor, you will see Caitlyn and Ava playing. These two cousins really bonded while together (one from St. Louis and one from Dallas). Olivia was too sick, but these girls played all day every day from sunup till past dark. They swung and went down the slide and dug in the garden and rolled, etc. It was fun to see them together. It was good to see the bonding.
Here the girls are with Brent in the music room. Stephanie is playing the piano and the girls are dancing joyously with maracas in their hands. As long as Stephie played the girls danced. What joy, what noise, what a show!
Here we are measuring Ava. Everytime the kids all get together, we measure them by marking on the edge of the door between the music room and the kitchen. We put their height and age and date. This time we added their weight. Of course, that wall will never get painted. By now the girls pretty much expect to be measured, and they know how to work with us to get it done. It is a fun time. This was Brent's first time.
After the girls left for home, Judy's parents came through to spend a day with us on their way home to Missouri from Guymon, OK. Pat had attended a high school reunion in Guymon. Here we are having breakfast on the patio. We did that on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Judy and I do that every day, unless it is raining. It is a lovely place and a lovely time together. We eat and laugh and visit, then Dad reads the day's devotional and we pray together. It just doesn't get any better. I made homemade blueberry whole wheat pancakes and scrambled eggs. What a treat!
On Tuesday, after breakfast, Dad and Pat were off to Missouri. These are the goingest people you ever saw in your life. Dad is a robust 86 years old, and keeps the rest of the family gasping trying to keep up with him. Dad & Pat hardly ever sit still. No mosquitos or chiggers ever touch them because they move too fast. But they are a true joy of our lives. We love it when they come! We are blessed, and May was a blessed month.