A Blast from the Past

A cousin my age forwarded these pictures. I am sorry I don’t know the source, but they brought back so many happy memories, and I thought they might for you too (if you were born back in the 50′s or so…) For those of you who are younger, the question posed was: Do you know what these pictures are all about?-8How I loved the fresh smell of curtains and sheets drying on the clothesline! I used to enjoy trying to help my mom hang out the clothes every Monday (the laundry day for all respectable house wives back in the 1950′s). -15Used by my brother in his cap gun to scare the dickens out of…well, me for one! -9What’s the relationship between tin foil and that thing on the right?? My mom won our first TV on a talk show in Chicago in 1954 when I was four. Really hot stuff in our little neighborhood of Purdue University instructors and their families! Of course, the reception was often terrible because TV was new for the middle class, but if you wrapped the antennae in tin foil and pointed it just right, it helped clear up the reception…at least a little. -3My very favorite TV show…totally melted my heart! How I wished for a dog of my own!! Lassie ran for 19 seasons—one of the longest running series ever! -13One of the favorite games from the 50′s. I got revenge on my brother (accidentally) for his previous terrorist tactics with his cap gun, because the constant noise of dropping and scooping up the jacks grated on his nerves while he was trying to study. (He was 7 years my senior.) -5Of course, noise was always an issue in a household with five lively kids. Everybody wanted their turn playing their music on the old phonograph! -7     As girls, we all used to roll our hair in curlers and dry them with one of these. -18  I still have a couple of these indestructible ice cube makers. They actually work! -4        Looks just like my typing class. In 1964, “computer classes” didn’t exist! -14I got my first job in 1965 working at the lunch counter in Woolworth’s. Although it was a staple of American life for almost 100 years, it went defunct in 1997. Today’s counterpart might be something like Walmart. -6Is it possible that young people don’t recognize this? It’s a roll of film for an old-style camera, although digital cameras have totally taken over the market in the past 15 years with their better resolution, storage, and processing options. -12Because my dad was a college professor, we lived in cities and had to buy our milk from the stores by 1955. However, Alan enjoyed milk delivery until 1970, and it was a daily joy for me the summer I lived in Scotland (1972). I still think the best milk is unhomogenized with an inch or two of cream on top!-17Know the relationship between a pen and this thingamabob? Audio cassette tapes were used for recording until the early 1980′s. I used to tape record stories for my kids so they could listen to them again and again. Unfortunately, toddlers liked to go on covert search and destroy missions, pulling the tapes out of the cassettes. The tip of a pen was the perfect instrument for rewinding the tape unless it had become hopelessly stretched, crinkled, and broken (which was all too common). :( -16This last prize, a “ride-for-one-penny-horse,” might look like an antique to you unless you live in GR and shop at Meijer, where—I am delighted to say—you can still ride a rocking horse for just one shiny penny! My kids grew up riding “Sandy,” and there are always kids clamoring to ride “Sandy” even in 2014!

Times change and life changes. Some of the changes I love (like the advancements in technology), and some I grieve (like the loss of daily delivery of fresh creamery milk). The older I get, the more I appreciate some of the old classics that never seem to change: great books, great natural wonders, and even great deals (like a penny ride for tots). Got a minute to share a blast from your past, either an old classic or a favorite change?

“I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6).

South Korea Cherry Blossom Festival

IMG_5278It’s spring time in South Korea, IMG_4375and Seoul is bursting into bloom! National Gallery Building WalkOne of the most beautiful walks is by the National Gallery Building in downtownFlower RainSeoul, which is lined with 1,400 cherry trees and is raining flowers now. :) MountainsideHowever, the mountainsides are also full of cherry blossoms, Soyuson Mt. 1and there are opportunities for nature walks in ever so many places!Alan and me with Grace and kidsAlan and I have been visiting with Michael’s family, IMG_5302and when I get back home, I’m sure I’ll do a series on our adventures, Mike and Judahbut if you don’t hear much from me for a little while, Soyuson Mt. 2just know it’s because I’m lost in wonder at God’s springtime beauty…Sharing Popsciclesand—of course—sharing lots of good times with our kids, Girls with Octopuslearning about the culture (this is from a shopping trip), Ice Cream Conesand trying new treats. Pizza Party(Alan says I travel with my camera, but he travels with his fork. :) )Magnolias At any rate, no matter where I go, I’m inspired by what an awesome world Seoul TowerGod’s created! I love the creativity of man, Judah. Cotton candybut only God knows how to create a man! IMG_5263Man can make beautiful palaces and gardens, Cross. Cherry FestivalBut only God can make beautiful hearts and souls!

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Rise Up, My Love (80): And Can it Be?!

Song of Solomon 3:6 “Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?” Solomon’s bride watched the procession advancing toward her and marveled. It is completely reasonable to think that when she first saw such a large cavalcade approaching, she was not at all sure what or who it was.  Ancient marriage customs included the groom coming for the bride at an unknown time—just as no one knows the day or hour when the Son of Man will come again and receive his own unto himself! (Matthew 24:44). She doubtless anticipated her husband’s return sometime, but she may not have expected him just then, and she may not have expected him to arrive in such splendor.  Watching the distant processional proceeding slowly up the mountainside, she might well have exclaimed, “Who is this? What is this?”

There has been more confusion over this passage than any other in the interpretation of The Song of Solomon, because it is obviously a wedding-like event.  In order to preserve both the sanctity of the lovers’ relationship, and the sanctity of marriage, many commentators try to explain away the previous sections that appear to speak of explicit sexual enjoyment. Others, knowing the futility of such attempts, suggest that the events were not recorded in chronological order, or worse—that two lovers were involved.  Subscribing to any of these theories would malign Solomon’s character (as a type of Christ) and render a spiritual interpretation of The Song of Solomon useless. Therefore, these spurious theories must be rejected for a more tenable position.

Logically, everything can be harmonized by considering the spiritual parallel.  We are “wedded” to Christ at the moment we receive him as our Savior…the moment the King brings us into his chambers (chapter 1:4).  From that time forward, we are free to know him completely and enjoy him fully. Although we are denied nothing, our growth in grace and knowledge is a gradual process, and it is not until we search for him with all our hearts and bring him into the most intimate recesses of our lives as lord and lover of our souls that we find he presents himself to us, not only as our shepherd lover, but also as our majestic king. There are many names for this: second blessing; filling with the Spirit; consecration.  It is the experience of taking in Christ not only as Savior but also as Lord and King. For some, it happens simultaneously with the new birth; for many it is a second, profoundly distinct and deeply transforming experience. It is at this point in our growth and surrender that he comes to us again and receives us unto himself, no more to live in the relatively humble but satisfying surroundings of our quiet honeymoon abode, but to partake of the king’s palatial riches and responsibilities. This is what the bride is experiencing as she watches her husband come to her again, not alone, but in the company of  his royal train!

“Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke…?”  She watches, breathless, wondering…is this friend or foe?  She sees the clouds rising…is it great clouds of dust swirling about the rampaging chariots of enemies coming out of the wilderness to destroy her while her beloved is gone?

No!  As her eyes strain to see more, she can tell that this is not an enemy attack; the clouds are not dust from swift horses’ hooves; they are majestic pillars of smoke rising in ordered calmness from burning incense. It is a glorious sight, more full of pomp and circumstance than she ever dreamed! “Above and beyond!”  All this for her? Is this her husband, coming to take her to a palace? A simple country maid?  How could Solomon have done all this for her?  How she must have blushed in wonder at such an awesome sight—such a magnificent show of his love and esteem for her, as if she were the greatest queen in the world!  How could it be? How can it be? “And can it be that I should gain/An entrance to my Savior’s blood?/Died He for me who caused such pain? For me, who Him to death pursued?/Amazing love, how can it be/ That Thou, my God, shouldest die for me?” (Charles Wesley).

The Armstrong Archives (80): Christmas Letter, 1979

Thurs., December 13, 1979 Here it is the end of 1979! I don’t think I’ve written anyone but my parents in months, so please forgive me for being so impersonal as to not even write notes, but this will give you some idea of what’s been happening with us. And, my first New Year’s resolution will be to try to improve my correspondence habits!

Alan finished medical school March 31st. He graduated with honors, right near the top of his own class at Wayne as well as in the top 10% nationally on the medical boards. He was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha (national honorary medical society), and in all we were very proud of our “daddy” (as you can see by the fact we’re bragging on him now)!

Shortly thereafter, we moved all our belonging into storage, visited our families in the Sault for a couple of weeks, and then took off for a wonderful vacation to Florida. Fortunately, the boys were good travelers, and we really enjoyed a spectacular spring…springing all the way down from southern Ohio to Miami, and it was still spring when we returned to the Sault a month later. On the way, we visited with many friends, some I hadn’t seen since college, and lots of spouses and children that our family had never met. That was my favorite treat! In Florida we built sandcastles, hunted seashells and sand dollars, caught starfish in buckets, and chased pelicans. Mostly, we just soaked up a lot of each other’s company—something we’ve never been able to do in all our boys’ short little lives! How we love being a family and having one another!

In the midst of our celebrating came the awful news that both of Alan’s parents had died in a totally unexpected tragedy. We drove night and day and got home shortly before the funeral. It took a long time to even grasp reality, and it seemed like months before we thought of much else. We are so grateful for all the love and encouragement we received from all those who were aware of what was going on. It also really helped to spend about a month with Alan’s sibs and families in California; it kind of started us back on the road to the land of the living.

At the end of June we moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Alan began a three-year residency in internal medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital. At the orientation meeting, the chief resident (who’s a Christian) encouraged all the incoming interns by saying that his family had found their first year a very rewarding and positive experience. I felt a little amazed that just such a possibility might exist. Everything I had ever heard or read about what to expect during internship was totally depressing. Internship was supposed to be a tribal rites, trial-by-fire sort of affair, and I could hardly see how that would strengthen any relationship! Well, here is half over (the easier half I must confess), and I will say that our family is more loyal, unified, and in love than ever. It has taught me a lot about trusting the all-sufficient grace of the Lord. He provides for what He orders!

About July another blessing became obvious; we’re hoping for a new addition to the family around March 5th. We couldn’t be more delighted! Alan is already calling the baby “Jonathan,” although we can both see so many advantages either way that it doesn’t make a bit of difference. Aaron has plans to build a triple bunk bed so all three kids can sleep in the same room, and Michael affirms that he and Aaron are “the big guys” now…they will take care of the baby! (In more ways than one, I’m sure.)

The first few months of pregnancy generally slow me down to a survival status, but by October most of the nausea had subsided and I entered that euphoric middle period when not much seems able to make me worry! The kids and I pretty much settled into the house and society. Alan bought me a piano to while away the lonely night hours, and he build a sandbox and swing in the basement for the boys. He does work awfully long hours, usually 80-100+ per week—but we always enjoy what we can get of him…like the poster of the cat by the window: “Love understands and therefore waits.” It won’t last forever.

There’s so much more! We had a lovely “honeymoon” while Grandma babysat, and then we took the boys to Niagara Falls and Toronto on our week off in November, etc, but I must quit. Hope you appreciate the exposition on the Christmas card concerning Isaiah 9:6. We know that many of you have already trusted and believe on Christ, whom to know is “life eternal.” God bless you all!

Love, Alan, and Kathi 1378385_10151610607586863_1477307427_n

Lexophiles (For Those of Us Who Love Words and Puns)

Okay, time for some more fun:

A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.
A chicken crossing the road=poultry in motion.
A will is a dead giveaway.
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

A backward poet writes inverse.

In a democracy it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.

With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.

Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I’ll show you A-flat miner.

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.

A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France and resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.

You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.

He broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.

A calendar’s days are numbered.

A lot of money is tainted: ‘Taint yours, and ‘taint mine.

A boiled egg is hard to beat.

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

A plateau is a high form of flattery.

The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.

Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.

If you jump off a Paris bridge, you’re in Seine.

When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.

Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.

Acupuncture: a jab well done.

Marathon runners with bad shoes suffer the agony of de feet.

The roundest knight at king Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, ‘You stay here, I’ll go on a head.
 I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.
A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’
A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, ‘No change yet.’
The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.Don’t join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects.

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” This one is not a pun for lexophiles, it’s an encouragement for theophiles! :)

(I did not make these up, nor do I know who did. Apparently someone generations of friends ago found these on the internet and passed them along again and again. If you know the author or are the author, please let me know so I can credit you, ask your permission to share, link to your site or delete…whatever makes most cents to you! Thanks.)

Pulling Back the Shades

04.08.14 Pulling Back the ShadesPulling Back the Shades (just published by Moody Press) critiques romance literature and erotica (which is taking the world by storm as the fastest growing literature genre) and grapples with the issues facing untold millions of women today: What’s the attraction? Is it wrong? Once drawn in, how can one get out? If you were one of the 70 million people who bought Fifty Shades of Grey during its first year of sales, or one of the millions who’ve been curious about it or bought it since, I highly recommend the book Pulling Back the Shades. Women’s ministry leader, Dannah Gresh, and clinical psychologist, Dr. Juli Slattery, team up to offer women an explanation for the lure of erotica and solid counsel for how to get off the hook if you’ve already swallowed the bait.

What’s the attraction? It’s the promise of an easy solution to sexual longings. Whether the problem stems from emotional scarring due to childhood abuse, singleness, health limitations, a difficult marriage, or boredom and a heart adrift from God, the temptation to find sexual gratification without the grueling effort and discipline required to do it “right” is a huge temptation for many people… millions of people.

So, what’s wrong with erotica and porn? It’s wrong on many levels, but one that all people can identify with is this: It simply does not work. It promises sexual arousal (which it provides) and satisfaction (which it doesn’t provide). The deceptive fantasy is that immoral sexual forays have no negative consequences; people seem to do whatever they want (or not) and end up just fine. That is patently untrue. Instead of meeting a person’s longing for sexual fulfillment, sexual fantasy creates unquenchable needs and impossible demands. Reading about Mr. Perfect or looking at pictures of Miss Perfect does not connect the viewer with a real person in a love relationship. Instead, it arouses lust and delivers an addictive fix akin to the buzz of drugs: short-term satisfaction of the lust but no long-term satisfaction for the underlying longing.

What’s the longing? God created each of us with the longing to be in a forever love relationship with someone where we can experience true intimacy. Sex is intended by God to be the expression of the deepest form of human love and commitment and is a mysterious picture pointing us to the love of God for us (wherein is found the only ultimately pure and perfect love). Sex is God’s holy, sacred gift of pleasure intended only for marriage, and it creates a unique bond between the husband and wife spiritually, emotionally, physically and physiologically. Sexual arousal derived through any source other than your marriage partner damages your God-given bond and binds you to the object of your arousal in a destructive way. It breaks trust, destroys true intimacy with your spouse, increases dissatisfaction with reality and creates an insatiable desire for fantasy perfection…which—of course—doesn’t exist in or between any two people.

For those who’ve been drawn in and are experiencing the bondage of lust and addiction, how do you break free? The book recommends: 1. Get honest with yourself and others; come clean; confess to God, those you’ve injured, and a small group of trusted friends who will support you, pray for you, and hold you accountable. 2. Pray fervently for God to break the chains of your bondage and deliver you from evil. (Obviously, I’m trying to condense chapters of advice; salvation, filling your mind with good things, fellowship, etc. are all a part of healing and health.) Later in the book the authors share good counsel on how to become a spiritually fulfilled woman and live a satisfying life whether or not you’re married.

If you’ve been tempted, have succumbed to the temptation, or are feeling the heat of addiction and despair, there’s hope, and Pulling Back the Shades can help you find the path to recovery.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”   (James 1:13-15)




Meijer Garden Luncheon: Speaking in our Father Tongue


DSCN0893Do you have friends who “speak the same language?” as you do…who share common interests and are working on similar goals…DSCN0889who “just happen” to like trying the same foods sometimes DSCN0898and often find the same things delightful? DSCN0895Lisa is one of those special people in my life! We met at a Maranatha Writers’ Conference years ago, but because we have so much in common, we continue toDSCN0934 keep up our friendship. The other day we decided to meet for lunch at Meijer DSCN0906Garden while the butterflies are still blooming inside. We both love to write, but DSCN0901I think what makes our friendship so special is that we both speak “spiritualese” (as some would accuse). That’s our Father Tongue. Do you know what I mean?DSCN0929 I don’t mean our mother tongue—the language we learned to speak as children,

DSCN0902 but the language we’ve learned to speak as believers. “Shop talk.” The language that colleagues and co-workers develop…army buddies and family members. DSCN0891In fact, sharing our lives seemed even more special than strolling… and all of a sudden it was time for Lisa to pick up her daughter from school! DSCN0890Admiring the strands of rainbow-colored Chihuly glass flowers on the ceiling of the cafeteria was pleasurable enough to give our physical beauty titer a lift, DSCN0900(although I will admit that after she left I took a quick spin around the gardens). DSCN0912Physical beauty takes my breath away, DSCN0910but spiritual beauty fills up my soul.Sipping NectarA Blue Morpho sipping nectar from a purple Mandavilla delights my eyes, DSCN0919but a sister sharing her life and growth in our Father’s tongue delights my spirit.DSCN0921As exhilarating as a stroll through a beautiful garden is to me, I’ll choose conversing with a friend in our Father tongue  any day!

“And because you are sons [and daughters], God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Galatians 4:6, HSCB)