Thursday, June 14, 2012

English Can Be Difficult

English is a very difficult language to learn. I found this amongst some things and thought some of you might enjoy it, particularly those of you for whom English is not your first language. I compliment you on learning English, where often the very same word can be pronounced differently depending on context.

Same Word, Different Pronunciation:

The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
I did not object to the object.
The insurance waas invalid for the invalid.
There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
They were too close to the door to close it.
The buck does funny things when the does are present.
A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
After a number of injections my jaw got number.
Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Things That Make You Think:

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France.
Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.
We find that quicksand can work slowly; boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Opposites That Don't Attract:

People recite at a play and play at a recital;
Ship by truck and send cargo by ship;
Have noses that run and feet that smell.
A slim chance and a fat chance are the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites.
Your house can burn up as it burns down; you fill in a form by filling it out; and an alarm goes off by going on.
When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
Buick doesn't rhyme with quick.
We drive on a parkway and park on a driveway.
The English language is clearly out of whack... except what is a whack - and how do we get it IN whack?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Memories, Cardboard and An Inspiring Video

Remember when a cardboard box was your favorite thing to play with? My sister and I were overjoyed to receive a cardboard box to play with. Even better was one big enough to play IN. Cardboard boxes were boats, cars, houses, spaceships... anything we wanted them to be.




We didn’t have a lot of money, but that had nothing to do with our love for cardboard boxes. I remember one day playing with a new friend, a rich friend. She lived in a lovely, big house with beautiful things. She had her own room with lots of expensive toys. But we spent the entire afternoon rolling each other around her back yard in a cardboard box, laughing our heads off, having the time of our lives. When the box finally disintegrated beyond use, we made S’mores in her fireplace.

I had a dollhouse once. My father made it for me. He made it out of a cardboard box. He cut out windows and doors, painted shutters, put cardboard dividers for rooms, and bought tiny dolls and doll furniture to put inside. I was charmed, thrilled, overwhelmed with the delight of having a dollhouse of my very own! I thought it was the most beautiful dollhouse ever.

Another thing I remember from childhood was being entrepreneurial. My sister and I would set up a folding table in the front yard near the street. We’d arrange our toys on it and stand expectantly, waiting for customers, dreaming about the treasures we’d buy with our money. The only thing I ever sold was my Troll doll. I was unhappy with my Troll doll, because upon removing the “pearl” necklace from around her neck, I cut myself with the wire of the “necklace” and got some of the beads stuck in my nose. So I was ecstatic when our Minister, who wanted it for his granddaughter, bought it for a nickel. I never forgot the thrill of selling something and earning money for it.

When our middle son was small, he was very creative. He would often make his own toys out of paper, and he loved to make drawings by the bazillion on little pads of paper. One day, possibly inspired by my own story, he set up a table by the road to try to sell them. He sold exactly one picture, to the mailman, but possibly due to inflation he earned twice as much as I - a whole dime. He was so jazzed! He was sure his career as an artist was launched.

When I saw this charming little video about a young boy building his own arcade with the cardboard boxes in his Dad’s auto shop, memories of my own childhood, and my son’s, came back. The creativity this boy displayed, his attention to detail, his entrepreneurial spirit, was endearing. The kindness of a stranger to make a little boy’s dream come true was inspiring. I absolutely loved this video. Perhaps you will too. Click HERE to see it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Travels and Treadmills

Well, I went to Indiana to see our new Christmas grandson, and he is adorable. I got to see (and feel!) snow, and play with our toddler granddaughter and I had a great time. When I got back I had a couple of weeks of remarkable energy, and then I crashed with a vengeance. I experienced severe pain in my chest, back, left arm, jaw and even my ear felt as if someone were pinching it really, really hard, the way they did to kids in those old movies. Now I know why the kids always squealed! So another stay in the hospital, another cath, and this time they diagnosed Prinzmetal's Angina, or Coronary Artery Spasm. It basically closes down an artery with a severe spasm, slowing or stopping blood flow. It is probably due to the microvascular disease in the heart. If it does not let up quickly enough it can cause a heart attack and damage to the heart.

They tell me to walk a lot. But not by myself. And not outside. So I accepted the gracious offer of a treadmill and I'm learning how to use it. I intend to have some adventures related to my new treadmill, which I will share with you later. For now I'll leave you with a picture of my young granddaughter demonstrating the proper use of a treadmill - plenty of pillows to lounge on and something good to drink! (Disclaimer: She was not allowed to play on here as a rule. This was a fluke, and she was closely supervised. The treadmill could not have come on, as there were multiple safety features and careful adults. She's not allowed near it for the most part).

Friday, March 9, 2012

WHY GOD MADE MOMS

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:
Why did God make mothers?
1.  She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2..  Mostly to clean the house.
3.  To help us out of there when we were getting born.
How did God make mothers?
1.  He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2.  Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3.  God made my mom just the same like he made me.  He just used bigger parts.
What ingredients are mothers made of?
1.  God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2.  They had to get their start from men's bones.  Then they mostly use string, I think.
Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1.  We're related.
2.  God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's mom like me.
What kind of a little girl was your mom?
1.  My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2.  I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3.  They say she used to be nice.
What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1.  His last name.
2.  She had to know his background.  Like is he a crook?  Does he get drunk on beer?
3.  Does he make at least $800 a year?  Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?
Why did your mom marry your dad?
1..  My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world.  And my mom eats a lot
2.  She got too old to do anything else with him.
3.  My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.
Who's the boss at your house?
1.  Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2.  Mom.  You can tell by room inspection.  She sees the stuff under the bed.
3.  I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.
What's the difference between moms and dads?
1.  Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2.  Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them..
3.  Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.
4.  Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.
What does your mom do in her spare time?
1.  Mothers don't do spare time.
2.  To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.
What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1.  On the inside she's already perfect.  Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2.  Diet.  You know, her hair.  I'd diet, maybe blue.
If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
1.  She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean.  I'd get rid of that.
2.  I'd make my mom smarter..  Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.
3.  I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Three Great New Books by Brand New Authors

What do a Memoir, a Homemade Soup Cookbook, and a Devotional have in common? Each are written by individuals who are writing from the heart, who really live the things they share, and therefore speak with authority things that will help you in your own life. How do I know this? Because they were all written by friends of mine! Yes, I have some incredibly talented friends. “I Love to Tell the Story,” “Kick the Can,” and “Running With The Grasshoppers” are excellent books by talented new authors and I am pleased to share them with you.

“I Love to Tell the Story” is Susan Barnett Braun’s touching, funny personal story of “growing up  blessed and Baptist in small town Indiana.” But her accounts of growing up in the church in the 1970s was so familiar that at times I felt she was writing my own memories! From the trials of singing in church programs, mean girls in Sunday School and overcoming glasses, braces and chubbiness to the joys of prizes for learning Bible verses, VBS crafts and learning to bloom in Rosebuds, Susan shows how an ordinary girl can grow to become more like Christ through a Biblical upbringing in church and family. Woven through are hymns that anchor the stories as well as Susan’s life. This book is absolutely delightful, whether you grew up in the church and wax nostalgic, or whether you didn’t and are curious about what such an upbringing entails.

“I Love to Tell the Story” can be purchased through Amazon. Paperback is $9.35, or you can purchase the book on Kindle for $2.99. Susan has another book out for Kindle as well. “Sophie, Pay Attention (Rhoda, You Too),” is available at Amazon for $2.99.

I love soup but most of the canned stuff has waaaayyy too much sodium. The lower sodium doesn’t taste all that good, though. But in Christy Ellington’s new book, “Kick the Can!” there are 16 recipes for homemade soups that are low-sodium and mouth-watering at the same time! There are even two breakfast soups. Most are also low-fat, some are suitable for vegans or vegetarians, and all use fairly common, easily acquired ingredients. Christy really knows her stuff, too. Christy, who suffers from Meniere’s Disease, has been laboring on a low-sodium blog, The Daily Dish, for years, just to share what she’s learned about low-sodium, delicious cooking. Recently she won a grant, and has put the money to good use by publishing this beautifully photographed, carefully researched, and kid-tested cookbook.

“Kick the Can!” can be purchased at Blurb, by following the link, for $15.95. This small, soup-only cookbook packs a healthy, flavorful punch.

“Running With The Grasshoppers” is a 298-page Devotional suited for Christians, men or women, who desire to grow bolder, and to stand firm, in their walk with Christ. Written by R. Mark Webb, a man who lives a Christian life as well as writes about it, “Running With The Grasshoppers” is divided in to chapters that share a Bible story, expound upon it, and then list thought-provoking questions. The questions can be used for personal reflection, or in a class setting to spark discussion. Through Bible stories of ordinary people, “Running With Grasshoppers” inspires us to realize we have an extraordinary God.

“Running With The Grasshoppers” can be purchased in ebook form for Kindle from Amazon for $8.49, or in paperback or hardcover at Xulon Press for $16.99 and $26.99 respectively.

If you want to be inspired and challenged to grow more like Christ, eat healthier, more delicious and wholesome foods, and stand firm in your walk with God, “I Love to Tell the Story,” “Kick the Can!” and “Running With The Grasshoppers” are just the books to help, while entertaining at the same time. To check them out further or purchase them, follow the built-in links.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

There and Back Again

Yesterday was spent at the beach on Sanibel Island. What a gorgeous day! Hit 80 degrees, sunny with a gentle breeze, puffy white clouds, and the company of my favorite person - my husband. Everyone was taking advantage of the beautiful day. At one point I counted 19 boats: Speedboats and fishing boats, boats of every size and description, and one ethereal sailboat. There were parasailers, too, and kayakers. The smell of the salt spray, the warmth of the sun and coolness of the breeze, the beauty, were all so peaceful and relaxing.

Tomorrow I'm flying up to Indiana. Gonna be cold, might snow. I'll have grandbabies to play with and a whole new type of beauty to absorb in the landscape around me. Life is good!

The title There and Back Again seems descriptive of what I'm doing. But it also reminds me of how much I am looking forward to the film coming out at the end of the year, around Christmastime 2012 - The Hobbit!!! I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings films, and I read the trilogy, but The Hobbit has always been my favorite. My uncle introduced me to Bilbo Baggins when I was 13 years old; he sent me the book, wrapped in a soft, rainbow-hued paper and accompanied by a lovely little drawing he did of the circular door of the hobbit house. I was transported in to another world! I can't wait to see what the film is like and fervently hope I will not be disappointed.

What are you looking forward to this year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wow, What a Week!!! Welcome to our Christmas Grandson

I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas celebration! I think ours was above and beyond this year! We had a lovely Christmas Eve at my sister's house, for a brunch. That evening we had our church service for Christmas Eve. Sunday, Christmas morning, we were getting ready to leave for church when the phone rang, and our son was telling us he and his wife were on the way to the hospital to have the baby! We went to church and in the afternoon we had a family party, and the day was interspersed with phone calls from my son in Indiana. A little before 2 o'clock we got the news that we had a Christmas Grandson!

Our little Timothy Michael was 9 lbs and 21 1/4" long, so Anna has a baby brother now. In January I am going up for a couple of weeks to meet the little fellow.

The rest of Christmas was special and fun, and I got spoiled by my family, as usual, which of course I love. Then the next day was my husband's birthday and he was actually off work for it, so we had a nice day together.

Yesterday, we celebrated our 33 wedding anniversary! Well, we didn't really get to do very much yet, but it was still special. Actually, the weekend before Christmas, he took me downtown to Fort Myers' historical River District, and we strolled around listening to the street musicians, enjoying the architecture, browsing in the lovely little art galleries, shops and boutiques, and he bought me a really lovely purse. Then we went to lunch. And this weekend we plan dinner and a movie. But the best part is just the privilege of being married to this wonderful man for 33 years! He's my best friend, and the smartest, handsomest, kindest, funniest, most romantic and thoughtful man I've ever met.

The cold I had turned out to be a lot worse than I had anticipated, so I spent nights sitting up in a chair, coughing my brains out, so that wasn't much fun, and I've had laryngitis so I couldn't talk to anyone, which I couldn't do anyway, or eat, without coughing... but I definitely think the good stuff outweighed the bad this past week. Here's a picture to prove it!

Monday, December 19, 2011

White Christmas, Florida Style!

I'm dreaming of a white Florida Christmas
Down at the beach, that would be swell,
Where white sand glistens,
And children listen
To hear the ocean in a shell...

Hey, what can I say, it's a beautiful day in Florida! I do have a cold - but it's not a Christmas cold, oh no. Must just be a Winter Holiday Cold. Nothing that a trip to the beach won't cure. Wish you all were here!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Blessed Jesus Christ on the Holy Day of Christmas

I am puzzled by people who believe they can celebrate Christmas without celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. I can't help thinking how I'd feel if my family decided to celebrate my birthday while excluding me from the festivities.

Or what if people started saying that they wanted to have parades and picnics and fireworks on the 4th of July while denying that the celebration had anything to do with America winning our independence? After all, that was a long time ago. Some people don't even really believe it was all that important, anyway; and what if people from Great Britain got offended by the implication that we won a war against them?

I understand that some people like all of the perks of Christmas without giving any thought to the Host; but is that any reason to hijack it from those of us who celebrate for the Original Reason? No other religious holiday has to contend with people trying to steal it away!

So Merry Christmas to all, but to all those who don't believe in the reason for it, please stop stealing our Holy Day away from us just because you only like the trappings and not the Source of all the Joy that Christmas brings to the world. A Creche is a much more accurate representation of Christmas than a Frosty Snowman or even a Santa Claus.

This is not a just a winter holiday. There are, as people love to point out, lots of holidays in the winter. But each of the others gets to be called by its actual name and be celebrated by those of the faith that it originates with, using the symbols they find meaningful. Christmas is special, but that's because it celebrates the God of Creation becoming flesh and dwelling amongst us. It is filled with joy, hope, love and goodwill; but if you remove the reason for all of those good things, you will be left with a hollow shell of greed, discontentment and over-indulgence. Christmas is first and foremost a religious Holy Day. Without the birth of Jesus Christ, there simply is no Christmas.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The First Day of the Rest of My LIfe

Good morning! It is my 51st Birthday today. This has been a "heart-wrenching" year, har har, and I wasn't entirely sure I'd be celebrating this birthday here on earth. So I'm kind of delighted today, and I feel like I'm putting the past year's health problems behind me, ready to move forward and get myself healthy and well.

I haven't been doing a lot of writing, instead concentrating on building up my strength and trying to wean myself off the essential naps of recovery, but stories and articles are beginning to flood my thoughts once again and soon I will begin writing them down.

I had a wonderful dream last night, so I'll close with that for the time being. I dreamed that my step-father invented another one of his delightful toys, like the stilts he built for me when I was young. In the dream, he'd taken a fuzzy bedroom slipper and attached one of those Magic Mover discs that they use to glide furniture across the floor. The slipper then worked like a skateboard, and I spent the evening zooming and zipping around inside an old apartment building, with concrete walkways, tile and terrazo floors and staircases up and down - I had so much fun, and woke up grinning and exhilarated. A great way to start the first day of the rest of my life!

Here's a picture of my stilts

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! Here Are Some Funnies For You

 Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog friends! I will post the sestina directions another time. For now I want to share some funnies about kids someone sent me. Kind of oldies but goodies, hope you enjoy!

WHY WE LOVE KIDS

*I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, "Mom! That lady isn't wearing a seat belt!"

*My son Zachary, 4, came screaming out of the bathroom to tell me he'd dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. So I fished it out and threw it in the garbage. Zachary stood there thinking for a moment, then ran to my bathroom and came out with my toothbrush. He held it up and said with a charming little smile, "We better throw this one out too then, 'cause it fell in the toilet a few days ago.

*On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, "The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents."

*A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup to come out of the jar. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her 4-year-old daughter to answer the phone. "It's the minister, Mommy," the child said to her mother. Then she added, "Mommy can't come to the phone to talk to you right now. She's hitting the bottle."

*A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, "What's the matter haven't you ever seen a little boy before?"

*POLICE # 1 While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, "Are you a cop?" "Yes," I answered and continued writing the report. "My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?" "Yes, that's right," I told her. "Well, then," she said as she extended her foot toward me, "would you please tie my shoe?"

*POLICE # 2 It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake, was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me. "Is that a dog you got back there?" he asked. "It sure is," I replied. Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van. Finally he said, "What'd he do?"

*ELDERLY While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my 4-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs. One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, "The tooth fairy will never believe this!"

*DRESS-UP A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, "Daddy, you shouldn't wear that suit." "And why not, darling?" "You know that it always gives you a headache the next morning."

*SCHOOL A little girl had just finished her first week of school. "I'm just wasting my time," she said to her mother. "I can't read, I can't write and they won't let me talk!"

*BIBLE A little boy opened the big family bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages. "Mama, look what I found", the boy called out." What have you got there, dear?" With astonishment in the young boy's voice, he answered, "I think it's Adam's underwear!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sestina is an Interesting Form of Poetry - Here's Mine

Girl Becomes a Woman - A Sestina

What makes me, a girl, into a woman?
Is it because I clean the house and cook,
And for beauty’s sake grow flowers in my garden?
Does it happen when I become a wife
To a man I cannot help but love?
Or not until he then makes me a mother?

I was but a girl living with my mother,
Dreaming of the day when I would be a woman.
Knowing only story book love;
Wanting just to eat but not to cook.
Leaving her to be my father’s wife,
While I sat, dreaming, in the garden.

Then my Prince came one day in to my garden;
Asked to take me from the home of my mother.
With solemn kiss and diamond ring, made me his wife.
I, the blushing bride, not yet a woman,
Learning how to clean and how to cook;
Learning most of all my own true love.

I welcomed my true love
Into my secret garden;
While delicious aromas fill the kitchen where I cook,
Delightful babies grow, filling their mother.
Girl turned bride grows up a happy woman,
Glowing with contentment of a happy wife.

My husband cherishes me, his wife,
And my trust grows together with his love.
Somewhere along the way I become a woman
Cultivated by my husband, his own garden
Bearing fruit, children I will mother,
Offspring nourished by the healthy food I cook.

So I clean and nurture, and I cook;
Bring my husband the blessings of a wife;
Raise my children in the nurture of a mother.
Surrounded by it, I produce more love
Growing rampant in my lovely garden.
Like the passion flower, I became a woman.

Feminine arts cook up a feast of love,
Inviting my husband into his wife’s garden.
Producing children, I’m a mother - I am a woman.



by Tracie Walker 6/2011
My next post will tell the form used to write this kind of poetry, and a bit of the history, so you can write your own if you like!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

All's Well on the Southern Front

I have wonderful news! At least, to me it is wonderful. I had the latest heart procedure, and the doctor said he had good news with a capital G and bad news with a little b. The good news is that I do not need a bypass after all! The stents are finally working properly, so the major arteries are clear. The bad news is that the littler arteries are blocked and that is what is causing the pain - but it won't cause a heart attack. So I am healing from the procedure and beginning to build back my strength. I am very grateful to all my dear friends who have prayed for me. Our God is gracious!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine

I have been enjoying the old hymns so much lately. 
"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Name I know, Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go," 
"I serve a risen Savior, He's in the world today, I know that He is living, whatever men may say; I see His Hand of mercy, I hear His Voice of cheer, and just the time I need Him, He's always near... He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today; He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way..." 
And so many others are old friends with a dear, familiar message. I love the old hymns because they come from a deep place of Christian maturity. I love the way they sum everything up in a few short stanzas. They tell of how I was lost until Jesus found me, how I can serve Him here and how He fills me with hope of a home in Heaven with Him for all eternity. I've been singing these hymns for most of my 50 years and they are spiritual meat that sticks to the soul. 
A philosophy you can live with is all very well, but the real test comes if you are willing to die with it. That's what I love about Jesus. He gave me a peace beyond understanding, joy that goes deeper than happiness, contentment in all circumstances, and He won the victory over death, so I have the calm assurance of a home in Heaven with Him! Perfection. Now that's a philosophy I can face life and death with.
 
 
 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here We Go Again... sort of

To my dear blogging friends,

Apparently this 3rd heart stent is not working either. I am on (more) medicine to stabilize the angina, and scheduled for another heart cath in a little over a week. At that time, a surgeon will be standing by, and bypass is extremely likely. They say I may be a candidate for some kind of bypass surgery that does not require "cracking my chest open," and I am somewhat hopeful that will be the case. But I am content to leave it in God's capable Hands. I say with Paul, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." (Philippians 4:11)
I rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, Whom I serve.
I'll visit your blogs when I can!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

“Sophie, Pay Attention (Rhoda, You Too)” Is Perfect for Your Child’s Kindle

Kindle, an e-reader, is fast becoming a favorite gift to give children, or at least to pass down to them when a newer Kindle is acquired. It encourages reading, while providing a variety of books that aren’t heavy, expensive or requiring a return trip to the library. Some versions will also read the book aloud. But now that giving Kindles to kids is all the rage, the question becomes what books to download on them. Finding books is easy, but finding books that are appropriate for your child’s age, reading level and lifestyle is another matter. And of course, the book has to hold your child’s attention! So it was with great delight that I discovered a new Kindle book especially for children that fits all the criteria: “Sophie, Pay Attention (You Too, Rhoda),” by Susan Braun, a blogging friend of mine.

 “Sophie, Pay Attention (You Too, Rhoda)” is a charming chapter book about a little girl learning to to do what’s right. The book tells an entertaining story incorporating a Christian message, yet it manages to avoid being preachy, sugary, or inappropriate. Sophie comes across as a real little girl, with realistic problems of growing up. Through the help of the Sunday School teacher we all wish we’d had, Sophie learns about a girl in the Bible named Rhoda who struggles with the same problems Sophie has. Inspired, Sophie begins to take responsibility for herself, and finds that doing the right thing brings its own rewards.

How refreshing to encounter a stable family unit, not perfect, but supportive; children that obey their parents without bad attitudes, deceit or manipulation; parents who take the time to love and discipline their children appropriately; and teachers that teach children rather than subjects. I especially appreciated the way the girl’s faith was handled, as a natural part of her life, with Scripture being a viable way to learn and grow. All this in a delightful story, perfect for beginning readers as well as those who enjoy being read to.

This book is available on Kindle, and can be easily downloaded from Amazon, for $2.99. The book is billed as appropriate for ages 6-9, but I think younger children would really enjoy it, particularly if they have a Kindle that will read to them; and older girls of 10, 11 and 12 would love reading it as well, especially since Sophie has an older sister. I look forward to more Sophie books from Susan Braun, this talented new author of “Sophie, Pay Attention (You Too, Rhoda).”

Source: PDF version of Sophie, Pay Attention (You Too, Rhoda), provided by the author.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Caring for Caregivers: Hospital Ministry When You Are the Patient

I wanted to say that I am now answering comments with comments of my own; I know a lot of you do this, but I never have before, so I'm trying it out. I like the conversation aspect of it. Also, I wanted to share the hospital philosophy that God has shown me, so I'm sharing (below) an article I wrote about my hospital ministry when I am a patient:

“Please, Lord,” I prayed, “don’t let me so self-absorbed that I miss the people you’ve put me in here to minister to.” I was lying in the emergency room of a local hospital, after having been brought in by ambulance because of chest pain. The doctor had just been in to say they were admitting me, so I knew it was time once again for my hospital ministry.

I have been hospitalized more than the average bear, and like most people who are sick and in pain, I had sometimes felt a sort of “me against them” mentality toward the people upon whom I was completely dependent. But then one time, years ago, the Lord opened my eyes to the needs of the caregivers, and a hospital ministry was born.

Now, whenever I am hospitalized, I ask for God’s help to focus on the nurses, doctors, techs, CNA’s, and anyone else I come in contact with while a patient. I pray that God will give me the words to say to minister to these souls who spend all their days ministering to others. This has completely changed the way I feel when I am hospitalized, benefitting me as well as the people I am there to bless.

Realize that the caregivers are human beings with needs of their own

The caregivers in a hospital are not like personnel in any other business. In the course of their daily jobs, they give so much, doing things for complete strangers that absolutely humbles me, and so often they do it with aching backs and sweet smiles. They give and serve and help and assist, but who is taking care of them? I’ve found that when I focus on them and ask how they are doing, or about their family, or their feelings about their job - they look startled, and then pour out their own particular woes to a sympathetic ear.

I figure it’s the least I can do, considering all they are doing for me, and yet this is not as selfless as it sounds, because like all of the things of God that seem counterintuitive to us when we are being self centered, this strategy actually makes me feel much better. When I take my eyes off me, and fix them on Him, I stop feeling scared, miserable and like a victim whose life is out of her control. Instead, I feel almost like a missionary in a foreign land. Missionaries face danger and uncertainty, let alone inconvenience and discomfort, but they know they have a job to do in service to their Savior, and I  likewise have a job to do in my hospital ministry.

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

It is easy when I am frightened and vulnerable to only notice when someone does something wrong. The things that inconvenience me or cause me pain seem to loom large. But when I focus on ministering to the staff at the hospital, I begin to really notice the myriad things they do that also ministers to me.

Once I begin to notice what they do for me, it is easy to feel gratitude for their service. But I make a point to take it further. First, I try to say “thank you” a lot. I also praise them to their superiors if possible. Secondly, I try to offer a friendly smile. And lastly I try to remember to say and not just think the positive things I notice about them.

This time, for instance, I thanked the girl bringing the meal tray for being a bright spot in my day, and then after my meal, which included a superb soup, I wrote a note saying how delicious the soup was, and left it on the tray. When I woke one night to a vision of loveliness in the form of a beautiful young woman, I told her that she was so lovely I thought I had dreamed her. Anyone who was able to draw blood with out causing agony received special praise! Staff in a hospital are used to working with fretful, hurting people, and a little appreciation goes a long way in ministering to them.

Notice the human being, and not just their impact on you.

When I am intent on hospital ministry even though I am the patient, I try to pay attention to whomever looks tired, worried, happy, or anything I can ask about without being intrusive. That way they can tell me what they choose. The next day, when that person comes on duty, I can ask how their sick sister is doing, or whether their birthday party was as much fun as they had anticipated. Sometimes, I ask a family member to bring a little dish of mints or gum that I can offer the staff. Just little kindnesses that lets them know someone cares about them and that they don’t always have to be the servant.

Pray for the people you come in contact with.

When I am lying around in the hospital, I have extra time to pray, and the people I am ministering to are often in need of prayer. Sometimes, I tell them I am praying for them and sometimes not, as I feel led. I don’t always overtly witness, but to paraphrase St. Francis of Assisi, I try to always preach the gospel even when I don’t always use words. God leads as to who is open to more, and in our conversations I certainly talk the way I always do, which is full of references to prayer, blessings, God’s care and provision, and all the things I just naturally talk about, but I don’t force it, or expect a response from them. God knows what they need, and I ask Him to provide it. I do make sure to ask Him to let me know if He wants to provide more of an overt witness through me.

Be forgiving and merciful about mistakes.

This one can be the toughest part of a hospital ministry when I am the patient, because sometimes the mistakes cause me a great deal of pain, trouble, inconvenience or discomfort. When they have a hard time remembering to come to my room to help me get on or off a bedpan, for instance, it is very hard to be gracious. When they really hurt me putting in an i.v. or forget to give me my medicine on time, or leave me stranded without my call button in a precarious situation, fear or distress can make me forget that they are busy human beings, not malicious or lazy. This takes practice and prayer, and I’ve found the absolute best thing is to remember that my life and well being are not in their hands, but in God’s Who knows all things including my needs, and will supply them. It’s not out of line to ask Him for help and relief, or endurance, and the Savior Who died on the cross while forgiving those who put Him there gives me the grace I need to serve Him.

I never know when God will call me to my hospital ministry, but every time I am a patient, I know there is a purpose for it, and I try to be a servant of the living God, and “bloom where I’m planted.” This time, along with discovering that a major artery in my heart was 99% blocked and putting a stent in it, I also had another opportunity to engage in a hospital ministry when I was a patient.


Source: personal experience

Monday, September 19, 2011

Be Still, My Foolish Heart

My apologies for my absence recently. Unfortunately, I have a really good excuse. I began having chest pains again and on Labor Day found myself once again in an ambulance on my way to the Emergency Room. Another week in the hospital, another round of tests, including for pulmonary blood clots, another heart catheterization and once again, my heart was blocked in the same spot - so another stent; the third in the same place in six months.

Evidently my heart does not like metal stents very much. A bypass is looming, but hopefully (prayerfully) this stent will be the solution. The first time, I thought, "Whew, dodged a bullet! But now I'm fixed and all's well that end's well." Except it wasn't ended, after all. A few short months later I was back in getting a different kind of stent inside the first one. But the first one was a bare metal stent, and there was a 20% chance of restenosis - my heart had quickly formed extreme scar tissue - so they put in a drug-eluting stent. Only 5% chance of this one ever reblocking. But two months later, it did.

So now I "get it." I have an ongoing problem and they can't just fix it. They did tell me, however, that it was not my fault and that helped some. I have been doing everything I am supposed to. I actually crave vegetables now. Never saw that coming. I fix salads with spinach, radishes, carrots, celery, cucumbers, red cabbage, green cabbage, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, precisely 3 olives and sometimes a bit of chicken. That's probably more veggies in one salad than I used to eat in a year! And I like it. Very much. I don't even think of unhealthy foods as "real" food anymore. I've lost 30 pounds so far.

The exercise is a bit trickier, because every time this happens it sets me back to square one. I had just gotten to where I could exercise 30 minutes daily again. Now they tell me that in a few weeks, I can set the timer for 5 minutes and walk around inside my house, as long as I don't hurt and my heart rate doesn't go too high. Once I can tolerate that, I can add one minute every other day. I thought this was a major over reaction, so I tried it after one week. Turns out they were quite serious. I had chest pain for 3 days afterwards.

The medicines aren't much fun either. The slow release nitro pills gave me an excruciating headache for hours every day. But when I quit taking them I had chest pain. So I'm back on them. I chose headaches over chest pain, but this time the headaches aren't nearly so bad, so maybe I've adjusted, hallelujah!

All of this heart nonsense makes me think of my mortality. As a Christian, God has blessed me with peace, contentment and joy in this life. I love my life! But I have eternal life as well. This life is just the journey. Heaven is the destination, and the reward. I mean, really, even if you are having a great time on the ride, you still aren't sorry to arrive at Disney World, right? I am loving the journey, and I am looking forward to the destination. May God help me bloom where I'm planted, and glorify Him in whatever circumstances I find myself.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tattoo Review

A teenage girl of my acquaintance recently acquired a new tattoo. She is quite excited about it, and I can't figure out why. I know I'm over 30 and not to be trusted, but if any of these young people asked me, I could give them several good reasons to steer clear of "body art," for their own good. Ah, there's the rub. What young person wants his plans thwarted "for his own good?"

When I was young, the only people I heard of who got tattoos were Military men. The rumor was that they were often drunk when they allowed themselves to be talked in to it. Usually when someone will only do something if they are drunk, it is either a) stupid, or b) painful. Quite frankly, if it is so painful that someone who gets shot at for a living is afraid to have one, what business do I have attempting it?

But there are other reasons beside cowardice that make me reticent. I'm also cheap - and tattoos aren't! When I want to spend way too much money to have someone hurt me, I just get really sick and require medical procedures, like a sensible person. Sometimes I even get permanent scars!

Actually, permanence is behind my major reluctance to be tattooed. I  know what I use to draw on my hand in ink when I was a teenager, and I can assure you that I would be embarrassed if those things were still emblazoned on my hand to this day. What in the world would I want so badly that I'd be willing to wear it on my skin forever?

Some people have answered this question to their satisfaction. I was treated to a "tour" of firemen's tattoos once, and these men had really good reasons for every tattoo on their bodies. But these were battle-weary men, not teens. Teens are prone to growing up, and growing up changes one's likes and dislikes considerably.

There is something else these teens fail to consider. Besides growing up, the sad fact is that many of them are destined to grow, um, shall we say, out! Changes in weight can drastically change the look of a tattoo, as it does everything else. Girls in particular want to put tattoos in places that are likely to change over the years. I was told of a young lady who had a lovely little rose tattooed near her navel. Lovely, that is, until pregnancy caused the rose to bloom into a bloated, ugly blob that did not recede with a return to normal size.

So I am unlikely to ever get a tattoo. (Although my Dad waited until he had a prosthesis due to losing a leg to diabetes - he had a wonderful tattoo drawn with Sharpies that was the envy of all the rehab patients!) But if my entrepreneurial side ever kicks in, I'll be busy coming up with a way to remove tattoos thoroughly, because some day, when these young people grow up and change their minds about the body art they loved in their younger days, the real money will be in tattoo removal!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quote of the Week

"Steve Hawking claims we don't need God, because the universe can be explained entirely by the laws of physics. But apart from God, how can we make sense of the existence and properties of the laws of physics? How could such laws exist apart from a law-giver, and how could we know that they apply everywhere at all times? The Christian world view can make sense of these things.

God upholds the universe in a logical and consistent way that can be at least partly understood by the human mind. Thus, the Christian world view provides a rational foundation for science. However, Hawking is left in the embarrassing position of having no logical justification for the methods and procedures of science. He must borrow concepts (like universal laws of nature) from the Christian world view while simultaneously denying the Christian God." - Dr. Jason Lisle, Astrophysicist

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