One Week from Today

Imagine, just one week from today we’ll be having a rehearsal dinner. Just one week from tomorrow, we’ll be having a wedding. Tonight Stephen comes home. Tomorrow, Carleen and our grandboys arrive…also Carl, our almost-son-in-law…and Jennifer and Melanie, who are two other bridesmaids and beloved companions of Kathy’s since earliest childhood.  Sunday Jonny comes marching home and minutes later there’s a personal shower for Kathy with some of her closest 20-something lady friends…plus Gene and Andrea and their kids. Every day thereafter will be filled with cleaning, decorating, baking, receiving relatives, and hopefully having fun. In fact, I’m going to have my first ever pedicure on Tuesday, since Kathy wants her toenails looking perfect for her honeymoon, and hey…why not go with her! With only one daughter, I want to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime momentous occasion!

Oh, and I got my  Armstrong Archives back from the printer today…all 971+ pages and 765,406 words. It looks like the American Heritage Dictionary I have sitting on my desk. If I weren’t so busy, I’d sit right down and peruse it. Hopefully, it will provide lots of entertainment for the grandkids in years to come!

Do you like “wise sayings?” I tend to collect them. Here are a few I’ve heard lately that I like a lot:

Aim for service and success will follow.
— Albert Schweitzer
One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that the cat only has nine lives.
— Mark Twain
Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.
— Lord Byron
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We must become the change we want to see.” –Mahatma Gandhi
Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.
— Albert Einstein

It’s Snowing—

Such a bad friend, I am. But, Joel’s had the flu and we’re all in hyper drive. Over the weekend, Joel started vomiting and developed a temp. of 104°.  He’s still feeling very weak and can’t concentrate on studies, although I’ve zipped out to the library and video store a few times to keep him in easy-looking materials. Today he requested some travel logues. Got one on Germany…now that will be fun! Also some science films (yes, he asked for them, I’m not in education-only mode) as well as some mysteries and classics. IF Alan ever gets home (which doesn’t usually happen before 7 pm unless he has a dinner meeting and then it’s even later…tonight’s got [happily for me]  canceled, and he just plain refused to go to the one tomorrow), we’ve got big plans for a great dinner with Mississippi Mud for dessert (now that Joel can eat again) and to watch a Dorothy Sayers’ mystery together. Prayer meeting is out for another night. 😦

Kathy and I were totally overwhelmed by the love and support of our chapel folks at her wedding shower last night. Her truck, “Buckley”, died, and my ancient (25-year-old) Merc. has no heat, so we ended up renting a minivan for her today to take all the loot (plus some of her own clothes and her favorite stuffed chair) over to Carl’s apartment. She’s starting to get everything snugged in so after the wedding she’ll be pretty much able to “be home” there. She’s planning to drive back home tonight. She’s very plucky, because the weather’s very cold and the roads are icy. Fortunately, her two closest friends from infancy days, Melanie and Jennifer, live there, so she can always stay with them if the weather gets too dangerous.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to teach on the Song of Solomon down at the mission today. For some reason, they had “Ladies’ Day” in the men’s chapel, so we had an extra 30 or so guys. Fortunately, I knew most of them from working there with our family, and they were all polite. Most even listened, although a few were slumped over chairs trying to sleep and didn’t really get roused into wakefulness. I need a little more of that “Holy Spirit fire” like my Afro-American sister pastors who preach on the other weeks! 🙂

Gotta go! Trying to clean. Ordered ribbons today for the decorations and a runner for the aisle. Planning menus and looking for deals on decorations and other supplies. Very exciting!! Got a dress yesterday out with Kathy. The one I really wanted Kathy said looked like a prom dress for an 18-year-old. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll never grow up. She helped me find a much more sedate black skirt with a pretty top. Oh, well. Guess I’ll have to find a different occasion for feeling like I’m going to a ball. Actually, Alan gets invited all the time. Guess I just need to break down and enjoy the black-tie dinners we’re supposed to attend!

Well, time to jump back into the canoe and start paddling. Nice relaxing with you on the bank for a few minutes.  Jon’s coming home Sunday and desperately needs a job. All prayers appreciated. Thanks.

In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Do you know what I most appreciate about MLKJ? That fact that he tried to stand up for what was right without hurting those who were oppressing him. I’m sorry that not everyone observes MLK Day. It is the one day of the year when we can all honor our Afro-American brothers and sisters and pay respect to a man who gave his life trying to end the terrible racial prejudice in our country.

It’s not the color of the skin but the integrity of the heart that makes a person worthy of our trust. God is love, and He challenges us to love others the way we love ourselves. I believe we should celebrate diversity in the externals and unity in our spirits! I was distressed when Obama was elected because of his liberal stance on so many policies (such as abortion), but the greatest plus in my mind is that he’s an Afro-American, and if we can honor a race of people who have been oppressed and devalued for centuries in America, I say, “Praise God for that!”

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14)

Swamped but Happy

My beloved friend, Cheryl, reminded me this morning at our chapel that I haven’t been posting lately. ‘Tis true! Kathy’s wedding is just three weeks from yesterday, and I’m spending every spare minute either working on wedding plans or trying desperately to finish the Armstrong Archives…a third of a century’s-worth of letters I wrote home to my mom about our family. I’d hoped to have it out for Christmas presents for the kids, but when that fell through, I thought maybe…just maybe…I could have it done by Kathy’s wedding. I’ve got almost 500,000 words transcribed from about 2,000+ letters and tucked neatly onto almost 1,000 single-spaced pages. As a young, aspiring writer, I heard somewhere that you should throw away your first 500,000 words. Well, I’ve now written them!

When Kathy isn’t otherwise occupied, we’ve also been working on wedding plans, and that has been entirely fun too. Kathy wants a very small wedding with basically just family and a very few, very long-time friends, with a “tea party” reception. It should be lots of fun. She bought her dress years ago but can still fit into it, so that’s great! We also went out shopping last week and found a lovely white dress with a satin sash for her to wear as a “getaway” dress. Her truck died on her way to spend the weekend with two of her bridesmaids and Carl, so we may need to be looking for another vehicle on top of everything else. At any rate, if you don’t hear much from me, please keep us in your prayers! I’m sure to re-emerge sometime after February 7 and all the festivities have subsided!

What am I learning? More than ever, I want to learn to walk in the Spirit, depending on His wisdom for everything…even in such simple matters as what I eat, and for sure in the daily round of “what next?” I want to walk in the light, as He is in the light, and to find my true pleasure in Him. Did I mention John Piper’s book, The Dangerous Duty of Delight? That’s my first book for this year. It’s wonderful. The most striking thing to me is the reminder that God calls us to delight in Him, and that—in fact—there is no conflict of interests in doing so. What brings the greatest glory to God is exactly what brings the deepest satisfaction and joy to us. It’s a win/win situation!

Rex’s Fiftieth

One of my closest friends (Cindi) had a 50th birthday for her husband over the weekend. We had so much fun surprising him, playing games (yes, even building with play dough and guessing word games), enjoying snacks, gabbing, and singing happy birthday. Probably the best part was sharing some of the things we most appreciate about Rex, who’s truly a great guy, and recounting happy memories. The interconnections are fun too! When Alan was in medical school, we used to go to Cindi’s house because her parents helped sponsor their local Christian Medical Society. Cindi was 8 years younger than we were, so I didn’t recognize her when she and Rex visited our church some 11 years ago (but 15+ years after medical school). However, I love to meet new people and try to make them feel at home, and so Rex and Cindi remembered me as part of the warmth that drew them to continue coming to the chapel. Rex and Cindi invited Chad and Meredith to the chapel some years later, who invited Laurie and Steve just a couple of years ago. Meredith’s mother held the baby shower for Cindi and Rex’s first baby, and Laurie used to be in a home schoolers group with another gal in our chapel with whom Cindi and I have a “birthday party club” (of sorts). How do you like that for interconnection, sharing, giving, and receiving love? “Cast your bread upon the waters: for you shall find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).  Amen!

In closing, I have to pass along a few of favorite jokes that seem appropriate for those of us who’ve become members of the “Nifty Fifties” set:

Too soon, we reach the age where the happy hour is a nap.

After a certain age, if you don’t wake up aching in every joint, you’ re probably dead.

Business conventions are important because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.

First Day of Work

Well, maybe not for me, but for Joel. Do you remember your first day of work? I was 15, so I had to get a worker’s permit. My first job was working at the little restaurant in our local Woolworth’s store 43 years ago! My best friend had gotten a job there because her grandma was a cook, and they were able to help me get work too. What fun! The best thing on the menu was Brenda’s grandma’s strawberry pie with whipped cream…a version of which recipe eventually drifted down to me years after “Ma” retired. Our boss, Lil, weighed over 200 pounds, and she used to tell us that she weighed so much because she picked up calories by osmosis from working with food all the time. Brenda and I always giggled over that (privately, of course), because—even though we were young—we had taken biology!

Joel’s doing his internship at Cornerstone in the public relations department, and they’re actually going to pay him, so yesterday was his first day as a “paid professional writer!”  However, even though he’s finishing his senior year in college, because he’s only 17, he also needed a worker’s permit. And, because I’d home schooled him, we had to get our paperwork filled out by the high school he would have attended. All this we discovered after he’d reported for work at 9:00 am. and been given his first assignment: to cover the “Watercooler,” a monthly newsletter for the staff.  By the time he returned home, we had about an hour and a half to get everything completed, signed, certified by Cornerstone, and back to the high school so that Joel could begin in earnest at 1:00 pm.

We flew over to the school, and I will tell you that it’s a huge, awesome, Class A school with a great reputation and a beautiful new campus. The secretary was a peach and was entirely helpful. I have nothing but good things to say about the school, so I won’t give you the name, but on the secretary’s desk in the principal’s office was a charming sign for all students who approached:

“I’m busy. You’re ugly. Have a nice day.”

The sign made me laugh, and I remembered how we used to tease in highschool. Having an “attitude” was part and parcel of survival. But, now, many years later, I realize that for many young teenagers, high school is a very frightening, painful experience. I now know that people are insecure about their looks. And, probably most kids approaching the principal’s office need help and would be afraid that people might be too busy for them.

I wonder, what message do I give others?  Do I seem “too busy?” Do I reject others and make them feel “ugly” and unwanted? And worse, do I then tell them, “Have a nice day!” after making them feel unloved and unwanted? May my life say, “I’m not too busy for you! I care about you. I think you’re precious! In fact, I love you, and God loves you! How can I help?”  Guess I have to be very intentional about thinking about other people in order to make that happen. Lord, help us truly, truly to warm and fill people instead of just saying, “Be ye warmed and filled”.

Thoughts on Time Management

Here are a few good thoughts on discipline from Brian Tracy, excerpted from his book, The Power of Discipline:

“There is perhaps no area of your life where self-discipline is more important than in the way you manage your time. Time management is a core discipline that largely determines the quality of your life. Peter Drucker says, ‘You cannot manage time; you can only manage yourself.’

“Time management is really life management, personal management, management of yourself, rather than of time or circumstances. Time is perishable; it cannot be saved. Time is irreplaceable; nothing else can replace it. Time is irretrievable; once it is gone or wasted, you can never get it back. Finally, time is indispensable, especially for accomplishment of any kind. All achievement, all results, all success requires time.” (And I will add as an editorial…at least for those of us who are mortal.)

“The fact is that you cannot save time; you can only spend it differently. You can only move your time usage from areas of low value to areas of high value. Herein lies the key to success, and the requirement for self-discipline.

“If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.” ~Napoleon Hill

When Color Looks Black and White


This picture was taken on our recent cruise to South America, near the southernmost tip of the continent. I was so taken with the fact that in a storm, color fades. I remembered being very depressed one time, and it seemed like life lost all its color. But, look at the mountains in the distance. Isn’t it beautiful to see the light and know that somewhere the sun is shining? The light was almost dazzling against the darkened sea and sky. When we are feeling down and our world is so stormy that all the color disappears, may we keep looking to the light in the hills. It’s like looking up and seeing heaven in the distance!

“I will look unto the hills, from whence cometh my strength.”

“They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”

How to Become Great

In a discussion during our ladies’ Bible study, the topic of wanting to be “better” came up. One of the women mentioned how we’re each like a child given a bowl of ice cream. A youngster given one scoop of vanilla ice cream will feel very happy unless he’s sitting in a room with many other children who have more than one scoop…or a different kind of ice cream…or various toppings. Kate said she’d learned to find contentment by keeping her eyes on her own ice cream bowl!

I like that. Are we content with the portion God has given us in life? Another issue that came up was the common desire to be greater…to do more, to be more, to “do something worth while.” Ah, I identify with that deep, deep need to be productive and useful. However, Jesus always had a way of turning our expectations upside down. He taught, “But whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister” (Matthew 20:26). Just how badly do I want to be truly great? Enough to live a sacrificial life of trying to love others as much as I love myself?

“Everyone has the power of greatness. Not for fame, but for greatness. Because greatness is determined by service.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Blessing of Giving

We’re studying the book of Daniel in our ladies’ Bible study this year, and as always, it’s a great blessing to be able to participate. One of the things that jumped out at me this morning is the fact that The Ancient of Days (God the Father) is always on his throne. Sometimes his throne is depicted as a chariot, and Beth Moore pointed out that no matter where God goes, He is still on the throne! The other wonderful thought is that all the unspeakable evil that occurs in the world will someday be judged, and that in the end all things will be made right by the great Justice of the Universe’s Supreme Court. Everything. That is a consolation indeed in the face of so much evil that goes unpunished in the present. Not that we’re to ignore evil. God calls us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We should relieve the oppressed and help those in need, but for all the flood of troubles we cannot stop…there will be a day of reckoning.

Yesterday, I read this:

You see the opportunity. You are aware. But you’re busy. ‘I need to be somewhere, doing something, otherwise I’d help.’ ‘Someone else will do it.’ ‘Someone else will pick it up.’ ‘Someone else will handle it.’ ‘It’s not my responsibility.’

There’s a better approach:
A person struggles. You help. A door needs to be open. You open it. A piece of trash is in your path. You pick it up and throw it away. A child needs some extra attention. You give it to them. A job needs to be completed. You do it. Allowing one less opportunity of service or kindness fall to the wayside due to laziness each week will add 52 acts of inspiration to your year. Push it to two a week and you add more than 100. Imagine the possibilities.”

So, after Bible study one of my friends asked if she could take me out to lunch to talk and pray, because her son had been skipping school and getting into trouble. I already had another friend who had asked to come over for tea and a time of counseling at 2:00 pm in the afternoon, and I had planned to buy the week’s groceries in between. But, I remembered what I’d read and said, “Sure! That would be great.”

I had a wonderful time. In fact, I had three wonderful times: at the Bible study, at lunch, and at tea. What an amazing God we serve that in our desire to love others, we find that we are encouraged and blessed.

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).