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Smiles for a Monday

Day 27 of 31 Days of October – Roses Among The Thorn

Because some days I just need to smile, you know?

I am not a fan of the common field mouse.  He has ventured into my house on too many occasions, wrecking havoc inside my pantry.  I can fume and fuss for quite awhile as I scour and sanitize the contents and put edibles in glass and metal containers.  Expect a loud squeal if I see one of the little critters.  Just ask Sweet William.

But . . . I can change my opinion even at this age.  As I grow older I want to be open and pliable and able to look at life with fresh eyes.  I want to examine someone else’s viewpoint before I make a judgment.  Especially about something that has to do with my like and dislikes.

[Now if it has to do with my faith and God’s word, there are truths on which I will not waiver.  But we are talking about mice today, OK?]

That said, I came upon some pictures of mice that made me smile.  Yes, smile and not growl.  These small creatures have their purpose on the earth, doing what their Creator made them to do.  I can learn to respect them, even appreciate them.  And yes, smile at them.  Just don’t let them in my front door.

So even if you are not a mouse fan, I bet you can’t not smile at these faces.

mouse

28 Teeny Tiny Wild Mice – Click to see some more adorables.

For a list of the days of October, go here please.

Summertime and VBS

Having been raised in a Christian home, Vacation Bible School, aka VBS, was as normal as hot weather and watermelon in the summer time.

At VBS I was surrounded by other children who may or may not have been churched as regularly as I was.  We invited our friends and our neighbors to come.  VBS was fun, lots of fun.  It was not like grown-up church on Sundays.  It was absolutely geared for the small fry intellect.

There were penny wars between the girls and the boys.  March Madness had nothing on the excitement of this battle of the sexes.  Each group tried to bring the most pennies and the best offering for the week.  We probably robbed piggy banks, searched under couch cushions, and begged for money from mom and dad or any other relative in sight.

I learned to say the pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and the Bible.  They took their place in my memory right along with the pledge to the American flag.

The songs were kid songs, lively and rhythmic.  We could sing to the top of our voices, move and groove, make motions with our hands, and no one thought it was out of place for the church house.

But the Bible stories were the best.   My childhood memories are of flannel graph figures being put on a flannel board.  The figures depicted the Bible stories very visually and non-abstract so a child like me could understand that Jesus loved me and wanted to be my friend.

One year my craft was making a miniature flannel graph board and story figures.  After the week of VBS, I set up my board in the garage of our house and told the stories to the neighborhood children and anyone who would listen.

It was only natural that when I grew too old for VBS, I became one of the workers, one of the assorted volunteers needed to bring all the pieces together.  I’ve taught classes, worked with the music, and directed VBS.  I give my time so other children could have the same wonderful experiences I had.

The last couple of years at Little Flock, I’ve taught second graders, a bouncy, energetic group of boys and girls who are like little birds waiting to be fed the Gospel.  It has been such a privilege to share the stories of Jesus with these little ones.

In the months that followed the week of VBS, I have joyfully watched as some of the children in my class walked forward and publicly affirmed their faith in Jesus as their savior.  And I have witnessed the baptisms that followed.

I am so aware that the parents, Sunday School teachers, and those who weekly train and nurture this young lives are planting the seeds of salvation.  My part was small, just one week long.  But I rejoice that I had a small part in watering those seeds during a week of VBS.

Tomorrow, June 6, begins Vacation Bible School at Little Flock.  I anticipate hot weather, tired legs and feet, and a weary-to-the-bone exhaustion at week’s end.  If you ask me on Friday if it was worth it, I will say, “Yes, eternally worth it.”

Vacation Bible School will be held at churches all over the country this week or sometime during the summer.  Take your children.  Be part of the volunteer team.  Make a difference in the lives of children.  Do it for the kingdom’s sake.

Did you attend VBS as a child?  Feel free to leave a memory.

It’s March and time for a little fun

 

  March 2011

It is finally March.  And I want to shout “hooray!”

I start anticipating spring as soon as New Year’s Day is over.  I don’t mean to say that I just endure January and February.  I actually enjoy both months and have things I like to accomplish in those first months of the year. 

But in March I let myself feel the excitement of knowing spring will begin in less than 3 weeks.  Joy of my heart, it is my favorite season.

There are other things about March that I recently learned.  Why not share the wealth of information with you?

According to Kids-List.com, March 1st is National Pig Day.  Who would have thought that pigs have their own day.  It isn’t quite up to the status or commercialization of Secretaries Day or Grandparents Day, but it inspires some interesting thoughts.  Pigs are actually smarter than we think they are and can be taught to do many tricks or maneuvers.

You have to admit that baby piglets are just cute. I always hope to see a litter of them with their big mama sow at the Kentucky State Fair.

If I were a farmer, maybe I’d give my pigs an extra corn cob or two, or even a nice scratch behind their ears.  The Kids-List site recommends parents read books with their children about pigs or make a pig mask or study pigs.  Any of those ideas would get children to think and be creative.  What about watching Charlotte’s Web and cheer for Wilbur?

Myself, I think National Pig Day just sounds like a day to pig out on something. Hmm, I’m starting to get a bit hungry.  Anyone for a ham and cheese sandwich or maybe a BLT? 

I hope I brought a smile to your face.  Laughter is good medicine.  Feel free to leave a comment and bring a smile to my face.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

Remember the blog from a few of days ago, Christmas fun – December 8? I wrote about Elyse searching on-line for the perfect Christmas tree. Well, I found it! It was just like she saw it on Walmart.com. There is was at Wal-Mart dot Preston Highway. I spied it in the Christmas section, soon-to-be garden center when New Year’s Day comes and goes.

It was sitting on the corner display with a price tag in my range. It was a bit narrow and small enough to fit in and later be stored in our house. I bagged it in my bas-kart and called Elyse. “Guess what?” I said. We giggled together as I told her about the tree and anticipated how we would soon decorate it.

When I arrived home and unloaded the car of all the things I’d bought (why can I not get out of Wal-Mart without spending $100 plus?), my sweet William started unpacking the tree from its box. I saw its colored lights and was disappointed. I was expecting clear white lights, and I began wondering if this was the tree I wanted at all. 

But Bill was excited, as excited as I can remember him being about a Christmas tree. He was like a little boy again, transported by memories to his boyhood days when the family tree was filled with large colored light bulbs. Perhaps you can remember them, too. The bulbs were huge in comparison to the tiny lights we use today.

Bill reminisced and talked about happy Christmases past as we unfolded and fluffed the tree. I was no longer disappointed in the colored lights. It was well worth not getting my first choice just to see Bill’s delight.

The next day, the grandchildren came to the house. I carried down boxes of ornaments. There are the vintage ones, saved from my childhood, fragile and losing some of their color. Then there’s the collection of plastic bells my dad bought the year after his little girl (me!) broke too many of the glass ornaments. There are ornaments from Bill’s and my first Christmas together, and the yearly ornaments bought as our son, Travis, grew up. Some ornaments were gifts from other people and provoked a sweet memory. The grandchildren had fun hanging them as I told stories of each one.

Better late than never, our tree is finally decorated.  I remember Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas when he said, “I never thought it was such a bad little tree.  It’s not bad at all, really.  Maybe it just needs a little love.” 

Love makes everything better, doesn’t it? 

Christmas fun – December 8

After an early morning appointment, I went to Little Flock to help set up chairs, music stands, and lights for the orchestra.  The music department and media are gearing up for the annual  Christmas Choir concert.  This year’s “Gloria” promises to be glorious.  I can’t wait to hear the drum line march in and play during “The Little Drummer Boy.”

Afterward, I picked up the three grandchildren to help me with a little Christmas decorating.  Pulling the multiple boxes from their storage area, I was amazed again at how much there is.  The children and I looked at some of the items and remembered them from years before.  I told them the story of the ceramic carolers I painted before I was married and the small village their daddy gave me to go with the carolers when he was old enough to buy a gift himself.  They carefully placed them on the piano.

Celeste found one small box and exclaimed, “The Snow Man Tea Set!  I love the Snow Man Tea Set.”  She took it immediately and set it up in their room.  Later, Celeste took a thow-away box and created a stable.  She set up a manger scene in it.    

Ethan pretended to be a puppy, dressed up like an egyptian sheik, then became Robin Hood with a mask I made him from an old Christmas card.

Elyse got on line to search for a Christmas tree for our house.  No, I don’t have a tall tree this year for all the beautiful ornaments I’ve collected through the years.  But Elyse and I are still looking for the perfect one.

All of us decorated the Jesus tree.  Only two feet tall, it holds small ornaments like a lamb wrapped in a red ribbon, a star, a heart, a tiny Bible, a cross, and other things that remind us of Jesus and tell his life’s story.

We took a break with hot Tazo Apple Red tea steeped in a pretty new green teapot given to me by one of my piano students.

I unpacked the Candy Cane mugs my mother gave me the last Christmas she was with us.  The children already know that story.  The mugs are treasures to me, and I think of her when I look at them.  It just isn’t Christmas until those mugs are hung on the little rack and sitting on the kitchen counter.

After the children left, there were boxes and greenery strewn about.  Dishes needed washing.  Stuff was in stacks here and there.  The house was rather a shambles.  I had to rush off to church for work, piano lessons, and choir practice.  No time to pick up and put things in order.

Back home, I looked at the mess that still waited for me.  I thought about the good time we had today, the memories we had made, the food and laughter we had shared.  This mess represents a little Christmas joy.   And I am so glad for it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful country we have where a day is set aside each year to remember, to consider how blessed we are. 

From the pilgrims’ simple beginning to the present day, we are reminded that being thankful on at least one day a year is, as Martha Stewart would say, “a good thing.”

My Sweet William and I drove back our lane to the home of my cousin, Candi May, and her husband, Flavius, today.  Hors d’oeuvres were waiting.  Families began filling the house with their joyful noises.  We missed one precious relative this year, my Uncle Leo Lockard.   His death last February leaves his place forever empty.  My almost 89-year-old dad and step-mother arrived last.  The house bursts with people greeting one another, sampling the snacks, talking and laughing. 

We could barely move through the kitchen as we brought in our special food dishes.  Each one added to a bountiful buffet. 

About 1 pm, it was time for the dinner.  My dad prayed, blessed the food, and asked that we all be ready for the Lord’s second coming.  It is his theme and heart’s desire that all his family are ready for Christ’s return.

Then the real eating began.  We crowded around tables, knees bumping and elbows close so as not to jostle one another.  I wonder how we all fit together.  We are a diverse group, different personalities and different opinions.  The thing that binds us is love, family, and our devotion to each other.

The children got lots of cousin-time, eating all the sweets they could stand.  The adults got their fill and settled in for another cup of Flavius’ good, strong coffee.

The dishes were cleared, the leftovers put away for tomorrow’s Hot Browns.  We relax, talk, share, and remember.

Bill and I brought the grandchildren home with us to spend the night.  Bill began playing the guitar while Ethan accompanied him on the bongo drums.  The rhythm was contagious.  Soon Elyse and Celeste were dancing around the room. 

We wound down by cuddling on the couch and watching Kung Fu Panda, while I typed away at the next blog post.

At movies end, we brushed our teeth, and I tucked the three little/big ones  into bed, saying a prayer of thanksgiving over them.

Ethan snuggled in the downstairs bedroom, hugging his daddy’s old pot-bellied bear.  With sleepy eyes, he said, “I love Thanksgiving.”   And I agree.

Organizing

I love to organize, pull things out of a drawer or closet, toss out the unnecessary and reposition everything back in a neat, orderly fashion.  I know, I’m weird.  I’ve been this way since I can remember.  As a little girl I kept my toys, dolls, and room neat as a pin without my mother telling me to.  She used to say I was like my Aunt Dottie (Doris Marie Rayhill), a kindred spirit when it came to having things in their place.

I believe I have a natural bent toward being organized.  Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mother’s womb as I was being formed in secret, there was a strong gene, part of my DNA, that stood up and shouted, come on now, let’s get organized.  It will be fun! 

Just recently, I was trying to find something in the cabinet under the bathroom sink.  I had to pull out a few things and soon the contents of the cabinet were all out and I was organizing!  When it all gets put back, I get a rush akin to a runner finishing a race.  I start looking for a closet or drawer to go through next.

With that in mind, you might not guess I am also a pack rat.  I know, I’m weird.  I keep things that have a memory attached to it or something I think I just might need in the future (hopefully I can find it then).  The pack rat in me wars with the organizer in me.  What am I to do with all the stuff I keep keeping?  Where can I put it, out of sight, still keep it orderly, and be able to retrieve it later?  That is the dilemma.

I have determined I have too much stuff.  My stuff is taking too much of my time.  Because, of course, I have to keep finding neat, orderly places for it all.  It’s time to let go, to turn loose.  I have the urge to purge.  I’m in the mood to remove.   

Simplify!  That’s it, I need to simplify.  But wait.  I have company coming next week.  No time to pull out, to review the stuff and decide what to keep and what to discard.  I’ll just stuff it back in the closet until a more convenient time (whenever that is).

There are times the Lord speaks to me to discard the stuff that has cluttered my heart and my attention.  He has dealt with me about bitterness and unforgiveness.  I’ve had to write a letter and apologize for something I did years ago, seeking someone else’s forgiveness.  Sometimes, I want to nudge that still small Voice back into the closet of my heart and wait for a more convenient time.  After all, I have things to do and places to go.  But that Voice is insistent, tender but demanding.  I have to pay attention or my relationship with Him suffers.  It is not that He would draw away from me.  Rather, it would be me turning my heart from Him in rebellion and disobedience if I do not heed the convicting whisper of the Holy Spirit.

Organizing my life, my heart is too much work.  I need the help of a Professional.

Lord, create in me a clean heart.  You who organized the entire universe to operate in an orderly and wonderous fashion, I invite you into every room and closet of my inner-most being.  Go into the dark corners and shine Your light.  Make known to me what should be dealt with, what is displeasing to You.  Make a clean sweep so that Your glory can shine brightly to a world needing to see Jesus.