O’Hare’s Got Nothin’ on Us

February 25, 2009


Sometimes it looks like a well run “airport” out on the ice.  Groups of geese and ducks coming and going all the time.

p10006631   “Okay, everybody with the tour group from Des Moines, over here.  You’ll be taking off next.”

Shall We Start a Family … or Take Judo?

February 24, 2009


jim-and-me-married-less-than-a-yearx    When we were married so young (me, 19, him, 20), a voice in our heads (it sounded alot like our parents) said to wait a couple years to start a family.  And we thought that was a pretty wise voice.

So, we used the next couple of carefree years to pursue hobbies that the voice told us we wouldn’t have time, money or energy for after we had children … like Judo classes.

  in-judo-clothesMama had us demonstrate for her and Daddy in their living room how Judo was done, but, of course, that was a little hard to do, considering Judo is all about throwing your opponent around!  So, pretty much the “entertainment” was that they got to see us in our cute (for me) and manly, of course (for him), Judo outfits — called g.e.e.s (as in McGee, not as in gee whiz).  (I kept looking at this picture and wondering what didn’t look quite right.  I think I’ve figured it out.  I think Mama’s picture caught me jumping off the floor.  It must have been one of those “Judo move” jumps!)

Didn’t we look innocent and happy?  That’s because we had no idea yet about the sleep-deprived, every-cent-spent-on-them, how-many-stitches-this-time years that lay ahead. 

But, we also didn’t know yet about the wonderful kind of love you have for your children that is like no other love in the whole world.  I thought Hubby described it well when he told teen-aged Gunny one time, “You are the only other ‘man’ in the whole world, who I pray to be a better man than I am.”

We’re glad we waited those couple years before we had children, so that we could grow up a little first.  But when the time came, raising children was the best experience we ever had … muucccch better than Judo.

The Paper Towels

February 23, 2009


The old man was gone now.  But, he left behind a mystery.  When they cleaned out his house there was a closet-full of paper towels.

 Why would one old man need all those paper towels?

 It really wasn’t a mystery to those who knew him. 

He liked to go to the grocery and just slowly push a cart up and down the isles … browsing, exchanging greetings with other customers and chatting with employees, who all recognized him as a “regular.”

 And if he didn’t need anything, he certainly didn’t feel right not buying something, so he would buy a roll of paper towels.

 The cost of a roll of paper towels … a cheap price to pay for some greetings, shared smiles and a few chats, for an old man who was a little less lonely each time he came home with another roll of paper towels.

Based on a friend’s story about her father.


Thomas the Doubter. . . my story

February 22, 2009


Today, with her permission, I’m posting a story that Liz at the bits that are too long wrote.  It’s pretty much Doubting Thomas telling his story in every-day words and emotions.  I guess part of the charm of Liz’s writing, for me, is the little bit different wording she uses, because she’s Welsh, living in Wales in the UK. 

Thomas the Doubter – my story

Let me introduce myself. My name is Thomas. Better known to the world and its mother as Doubting Thomas. And for why? I’ll tell you for why. Because of one little thing I said. One little doubt I happened to mention. And suddenly I’m known from now to eternity as the Doubter.

I wasn’t the only one. No-one else gets mentioned by name but they had their doubts too. But no, it’s just me goes down in history.

Before it all happened I was just one of the boys. Nobody special. Nobody picked out by name. I was just one of the twelve disciples. I was with Jesus from the early days, almost right from the start when he started travelling and teaching. I was there through it all. I saw the miracles. I saw the dead brought back to life, the blind man made to see, the paralysed man made to walk again. I saw him feed thousands of people from just a few fishes and a bit of bread. And there was enough left over to keep us going for days. I was there through all of that. I saw him walk on water, heal lepers, quiet a storm.

And what’s more when he wanted to go where the crowds were out to get him I was the one who said, ‘come on, we’ll have to go and die with him, we can’t let him go alone.’

And I was there when they did come for him. When the soldiers arrested him, I was there. When he was brought before the crowds, I was there; when he was crucified I was there. At the foot of his cross I wept.

It wasn’t just him dying you see. It was everything. Everything I’d hoped was going to happen, the changes, the freedom, the man who was going to change the world was being killed by it. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. How was anything going to change if he was dead? He’d given us such hopes and now they’d come crashing down.

After it was all over, we – the boys – stuck together. We didn’t know what else to do. We just sat around like dummies, wondering what had gone wrong. In the end I couldn’t stand it any more and I took myself off for a long walk over the hills to try and clear my thoughts. Then when I got back the place was in uproar. ‘What’s going on?’ I said. I couldn’t get any sense out of them. They just kept saying, ‘He’s alive! He’s alive!’ When I finally got one of them to explain to me what had happened and he told me that Jesus wasn’t dead but had been with them, I laughed. I thought they’d been drinking too much. But they kept insisting, and that’s when I said those words that have got me marked down in history as doubting Thomas, ‘I’ll believe it when I can put my finger in the holes in his hands.’

You know the rest. Jesus came to us again and told me to put my fingers in his wounds. I didn’t need to. I fell to my knees and wept into his robe. I thought he was really mad at me but when I looked up he was smiling. He understood. As far as he was concerned I’d never said it, but try telling the others that.

Still it could be worse. I could be Peter. Now he really made a fool of himself. But I’d better let him tell you about that another time.

I like the way Liz’s story has Thomas expressing himself like our next door neighbor, rather than a “bibical character”.  But the part I like most is, “…but when I looked up he was smiling. He understood. As far as he was concerned I’d never said it…”    Hasn’t she painted a great verbal picture of what all Christians know and believe?  That we are all “poor miserable sinners” who doubt and sin and let God down, but as soon as we ask for forgiveness in His name, we are never denied, and our sins are forgotten and washed away in the blood of Christ.

May God help us to remember we are, in fact, poor miserable sinners, saved by grace alone.  Because only when we recognize and admit that, can we know how blessed we are that we do not have to be on an “impossible mission” to get to Heaven on our own merit!

May you have  a blessed, faith-filled Sunday.

A Manly Sign of Spring

February 21, 2009


Hubby told me this morning that he can tell Spring is coming.

I asked, how so?

He said it’s because the hair on his wrists is worn off from the cuffs of the sleeves of the sweatshirts he wears most days in the Winter.

Alert the Farmer’s Almanac.  We have another sign of seasonal change they may want to document!

(It’s snowing and we’re expecting an accumulation of 1-3 inches today.  So apparently Hubby doesn’t mean Spring is coming s.o.o.n!)

She Agreed to be Interviewed by Her Daughter (Is She Crazy?!)

February 20, 2009


I’ll leave it to you to decide who’s crazy.  My daughter for writing the following questions, or me for answering them!

You may have noticed that this “interview” thing is the “flavor of the month” going around blogs right now, and I have to say I find them interesting — when someone else does them.  But, when DD suggested she and I interview each other, I had reservations.  Sure, I knew I could come up with sweet questions for her that would put her in the best light possible (because that’s just my sweet nature! smile), but what kind of crazy, embarrassing questions would she come up with for me?! 

Well, we’ve now exchanged lists of questions and I guess these aren’t too bad.  By the way, if you would like to read the questions I gave her, and her responses, go to her blog, Chased by Children.

So, here goes, for what it’s worth.

1.  You are the youngest of five children, and younger by quite a margin.  Your closest sibling was 13 when you were born.  What’s your theory about why this was good or bad for you?

the-five-reeds-001   Easter 1948Me and “the big people” who were my siblings.

I’ve always said, I was “raised by committee” in my early years.  There was always someone supervising me, making sure I was safe and didn’t do anything wrong.  I guess that was both the good and bad of it. 

It was good because I was surrounded by love … 

 … interspersed with an occasional swat when I chased the cat and dragged him out from under the dining room table by whatever part of him I could reach. 

me-and-cat-1a  It was a little harder to corner him in the wide open spaces of the backyard, but for a short, fat kid I must have been pretty agile because I appear to be closing in on him! (It looks like we may be making eye contact here.  I wonder what he was thinking.  Any ideas?)

… and it was bad because I didn’t really have siblings — I just had alot of “big people” around.  I think it made it harder for me to raise my own children, because I didn’t have any experience with the normal sibling relationships.  And, btw, it may have been bad too that I was possibly, just a teensy bit, spoiled

2.  You lived in a boarding house (that your mother ran) when you were a small child.  Do you think that affected your view of the world?  Was the boarding house a positive or negative influence on you?

Actually “boarding house” is probably too grand a word for our situation.  In reality, to make a little extra money, Mama rented out the extra bedrooms in our big, old house, mostly to students at a near-by college — no meals (like they furnish in real “boarding houses”), just a sleeping room and sharing a bathroom with those family members who slept upstairs too. 

With a big house full of  two extremely tired and busy parents, four teenagers very busy being teenagers (with one or two drama queens in the mix), one short spoiled little kid, fun-loving Uncle Jim who lived with us for a while, an (understandably) skittish, will-jump-out-at-you-in-the-dark cat, and whatever “roomers” we currently had, it was a great atmosphere.  There was always something going on.  For me, having all those extra people around just added to the group of “big people” who babied me — all good in my view.  (btw, I always found it interesting that this is the time in my mother’s life she always said she most enjoyed, even though it was also the time when she worked the hardest.) 

It was a reality check when I was nine, my siblings had all left home,  and my parents and I moved far away from everything and everyone we knew.  That was when I quickly learned the whole world did not adore me! 

Do you think you’d like to do something similar now?  possibly with your daughter and her daughters living with you?  This is a great idea. 

 I would be open to having my daughter and her daughters live with us, but I think my daughter wouldn’t think it was such a “great idea” when I started giving her chores to do, and told her to clean her room! 

3.  When did you first realize I was different than other kids?  Was it right away or did it set in slowly like the dawning of a terrible realization?

jen-in-highchaira  I know this is a poor-quality polaroid picture, but it says so much about your personality that was demonstrated early.  I think most little babies seem kind of “poured” into their high chairs, all soft and cuddly, laying over to the side and kind of curled up in the seat.  But, if this baby doesn’t look like she’s ready for anything, including giving an inpromptu performance for the next person who walks through the door, I don’t know who does!  This shows a couple of the first things I noticed about your personality.  When you sat in your high chair, you liked to sit straight up and have your legs s.t.r.a.i.g.h.t  o.u.t.  Your whole body was “wired”, ready for action.  That told me that you were a Type A personality and would probably always have trouble just relaxing!  And also, that you were always going to be ready to entertain!

When we had the first parent/teacher conference with your first grade teacher, she said that you were definitely a leader (I don’t remember her saying “bossy”  but she may have)! 

jen-in-braids   In first grade when you first experimented with “leading.”

We hadn’t particularly noticed that leadership trait at home yet, but once we started looking for it it soon became apparent you were demonstrating it in how you were “managing” your little cousins.  Of course, your older brother, Gunny, didn’t encourage this trait in you either, because he didn’t really even like Dad and me “leading” him, so he in no way wanted you to think you could lead him!  (I imagine it made you a stronger person that you grew up in a family where everyone wanted to lead at least part of the time, even the dog!)

4.  You met my father, your husband of many decades, when you were 14 years old.  What do you think is the main reason that the two of you have had such a successful marriage?  

Actually, I was 15, but still verrrry young, when we met.  Obviously, at that age, I didn’t have a clue what traits to look for in a person to spend the rest of my life with, but I do remember being impressed right off the bat with how respectfully he spoke about his parents. 

I believe there are three reasons we have had a “successful” marriage:  We married young but we grew up for a couple years together before we had our first child, Gunny.  We share and have grown in our faith together.  We can still make each other laugh.

You really should write a book…maybe this answer can be the foreward.

I have always been intrigued by the idea of writing a book, but I don’t picture it being about marriage.  I picture writing my favorite kind of book — a mystery!

5.  Can you point to a single moment when you realized that I was your favorite child?  Was it because Gunny refused to wear shorts even in 100 degree weather?  Was it because his head is so oddly shaped? 

  our-family-in-the-seventies-002   I show this picture for two reasons — to show that Gunny did, in fact, prefer jeans to shorts when he was little, and that his head was not then, nor has it ever been, mis-shapen. 

I believe you really did think you had to compete with Gunny to be our favorite child when you were little.  But I’m sure, now that you have three daughters of your own, you understand that, truly, each of them is your “favorite” in a different way, just as it was for us with you and Gunny.

Was it because he pushed me down the stairs when I was 2?  

I’m sure Gunny would want me to say, in his defense, that there were no actual eye witnesses to the alleged push.  He always contended he was just an innocent bystander.

Was it because his taste in music was always bad (Def Leopard??)?   discuss….

When you were teenagers, he was our “rebel,” and you were our rule follower.  He liked Def Leopard, you liked Christian music.  He liked soda pop and chips, you liked milk and vegetables.   He never saw a reason he had to get home by the “exact time” of curfew, you were always home by curfew or called.

You were both interesting children to raise, but I wouldn’t have chosen any other two children in the whole world to be mine.

Thank you, daughter of mine, for asking questions that I could answer without having to reveal any deep, dark family secrets.  (I can’t remember what those are anyway!)

Love, Mom

“Thin” is Always “In” . . .

February 19, 2009


. . . but when did thin-skinned become “in”?

I fear Political Correctness has diminished the core of our long-held beliefs in what is right.  Somewhere along the line, there has been a shift in focus that I find sad.

It used to be that if someone was called to task because of something they had done wrong, not only the person who held them accountable but other authority figures in their lives  too expected and received an apology and changed behavior.  Society in general reinforced good behavior.  The one who held the offender accountable was affirmed by those around him that he had done the right thing in helping the person see the error of his ways and correct his behavior.  And the offender was truly embarrassed and chastised, but “sucked it up” and got over it, while working to correct their behavior.  And, if they had whined that they were being treated badly because their mistakes had been pointed out, they would not have gotten much sympathy.

But today  in much of society this is no longer the case.  The focus has shifted from judgment to sympathy for the person who has committed the offense and from affirmation to criticism for those who hold them accountable.

Society now makes excuses for the offender, and even looks at others around them, including the accuser, as the real problem.

I find this, in turn, shocking and sad. 

What is right and good and moral has not changed … only the way society looks at it.

Hold fast to what you know is right … and true … and moral, and teach those values to your children, because if you don’t, the world will fill the vacuum and teach them that “it’s only wrong if you don’t get away with it.”

May God give us clarity of vision to see what is right, and then the strength to do it.

The truth of the matter is, we always know the right thing to do.  The hard part is doing it.   General Norman Schwartskopf

The Tall, Skinny Genes . . .

February 18, 2009


. . .I didn’t get!

p1000296111  There are Mama’s very tall, very thin parents, always called Mom B. and Dad B. by all of us.  She was 5’10” and he was 6’4″ — verrry tall for their generation.  (To give you an idea of what generation that is, he was born in 1869.  It’s easy for me to remember that because he was born exactly 100 years before our daughter DD was born.)  

They married when he was 38 years old and she was 18.  A year later they had Mama who was their short (5’3″), medium-build, oldest daughter (Mama always said she took after her mother’s mother, who was short).  And, I am her “tallish” (5’7″) but not tall, fights-to-stay-medium-build late-life baby.  My siblings are all “normal” height and weight too.

Mama’s older half-brother, Eugene (father of the baby I talked about a few days ago), was a normal height and weight, but her younger brother and two younger sisters all got these tall, slim genes.

There’s no guarantee what genes from your ancesters you will get and which ones will “pass you over”, but I have always envied my cousins who inherited these tall, slim genes.  Apparently, when the “tall/slim gene distribution” was going on, I must have been standing behind the door, because I missed out!

But, I’ve learned to appreciate what I have — including genes.  Not only should I bloom where I’m planted, but I guess you could say I should also bloom in the “pot” I’m planted in, even if it isn’t a tall, slim one!

May we all appreciate the “pot” He gave us, and use it to the best of our ability to honor Him.  That’s all He asks.

Sometimes I Like It When They Lie To Me!

February 17, 2009


I know, I know, we aren’t supposed to lie.  So, I know that I should not encourage anyone to lie to me.  But there are a couple of exceptions I’d like to make … I actually like it that these two lied to me.

Sometimes, when I have tried on a size 14 and it was too big for me, even though it was clearly marked as a size 14, I love it that the manufacturer had stretched the truth a little (pun intended) in their sizing, and intentionally made my size 14 self at least temporarily feel like a size 12!  (When you think about it, I wonder why manufacturer’s don’t do this routinely.  I think one that did would probably see their popularity soar!)

And, yesterday, when I was driving my car and suddenly realized I had forgotten to get gas and the low fuel light had been on for a loooong time, and the needle was now laying squarely on empty, I’m glad that when Ford made my car they stretched the truth a little, and really made the well-and-truly-not-a-drop-of-fuel-left-in-tank-so-the-car-stops point somewhere below the empty mark.

Now, none of the rest of you have my permission to lie to me.  I would never want to encourage that sort of behavior in such wonderful people.

But the clothing manufacturers and Ford — I actually like it that you’ve lied to me in these cases.  Keep up the good work!

A Short Life Long Ago

February 16, 2009


This is a picture of my Uncle Gene’s son who was born in 1919.  His name was Eugene Jr. and he was the only child of Mama’s older brother Gene and his wife, Blanche.  They had married very young, I think as teenagers.  And the next year they had their baby boy.  I assume Blanche loved the baby but apparently she had no idea how to take care of him, so when he got sick, and Uncle Gene was out of town working, she didn’t do anything about it.

The story goes that Blanche had the baby out in a stroller when she saw a friend on the street who stopped to admire him.  When the older, wiser friend looked at the baby closely she told Lilly to take him home immediately and call the doctor.  Blanche did and the doctor came.  But it was too late.  Eugene Jr. died the next day of pneumonia.  He was nine months old.

Uncle Gene divorced Blanche soon after that.  He could not forgive her for their baby’s death.  Uncle Gene eventually married again, but he never had any more children.  I don’t know what happened to Blanche.

I remember this picture hanging in my grandparent’s home, but after they were gone, it was just stored … no one really wanted it. Uncle Gene had died by that time too, so there really wasn’t anyone else who would feel a connection to the baby in the picture.

But, at some point, my oldest sister saw it stored somewhere and said she wanted it.  And she now has it hanging on a wall in her home with other old family pictures.

Eugene, Jr. had a short life, with a sad ending.  But, I’m glad my sister has given this picture of him a “home” so that he isn’t totally forgotten.