Ashes to Ashes

February 21, 2010


From the introduction in our church bulletin at the Ash Wednesday service this week:

The first day of Lent has been called “Ash Wednesday” since the beginning of its observance in the seventh century.  The name refers to the practice of placing ashes on the forehead as a sign of sorrow and repentance. 

The sign of the cross is made with the ashes, along with the recitation of the words, “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).  Those words are part of the curse given to Adam and Eve following their fall into sin and keep us mindful of our mortality, sin, and need for a Savior. 

The placing of the ashes on my forehead is a seemingly simple outward action that causes a sometimes surprisingly deep reaction within me.  Along with the words, “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” they are a tangible reminder of my own mortality and my sin which condemns me to hell.

It is important for me to understand what a “poor miserabale sinner”  I am because in order to truly want and value the salvation Christ gives, I must first be aware that I am a sinful human being who needs saving.

The ashes on Ash Wednesday are a visual reminder of that sin and, therefore, that need.

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Terry and the Geeks

February 20, 2010


Yesterday was a “geeky” day, but I mean that in a good way.  By the end of the day there were things in our home which were noticeably better than when the day started because of “geeks”.

In the morning, the computer Geek Squad (Bryan) came and worked on my computer because I have had to “delete cookies and temporary files” almost every day for the last year.  Tiresome to say the least.  I finally got tired enough that I called for help.  So, because of Bryan’s expertise, my computer now runs great and is no longer needing daily attention to keep it from bogging down.  Thank you, Bryan.

btw, I didn’t have the virus I feared.  Instead, the problem was a weather notification thingy I had added on that had brought with it an additional add-on which confused my computer.  All unnecessary add-ons were deleted, including the weather program and its “side-kick” add-on, and my problem was solved.

Then in the afternoon, Dean and Dwayne from the home theater Geek Squad came and reconnected all the “stuff” that goes with the TV in our living room.  We had recently made some updates and additions to the “stuff” and it was making that corner of the living room look very messy.  So, we had a cabinet added to hide them.  But, of course, that necessitated disconnecting everything so that the cabinet could be installed.  So, Dean and Dwayne came to reconnect all of it and, while they were at it, they tweeked some connections on the TV in the bedroom too.  Great guys. 

Bryan, Dean and Dwayne are all great “ambassadors” for the Geek Squad.

And, by the way, I have to show you the TV cabinet I mentioned that is the handiwork of a great carpenter we know, Terry.

   Before …


That corner is a very tight space and we had always known (thought) that it was just too tight to put doors on that cabinet, but the genius carpenter, Terry, who had installed a TV cabinet in our bedroom a fews years ago that I just love, came here about a month ago, looked at this spot and said he could make  doors work!  And a few days ago he did just what he said he would do.  He installed doors (really it’s a whole cabinet that replaces the bottom shelves) in a verrry tight spot that make that corner look much nicer.

We don’t have a techno-saavy son who lives in town, like some of our friends do, who could have helped with our computer and with reconnecting all the technology that goes with the TV.  So we are thankful that there are those kind of helpers available, like the Geek Squad.

And Hubby has done some beautiful woodworking over the years, but he no longer has a workshop set up where he would even think about tackling something like this corner cabinet, so we are glad we have gotten to know Terry who does beautiful work.

We are thankful for Terry and the Geeks who added to our lives with their talents and service.

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Winter is still winter … and still has its own beauty

February 18, 2010


As I sat in the sun room yesterday working on Mama’s album, I enjoyed occasionally stopping and just looking outside at all the snow, the frozen lake and, of course, the geese coming and going.

I was working on a page from January, 1948, and it struck me that while lots of things have changed since then, our fascination with the beauty of winter hasn’t.   Mama obviously enjoyed taking pictures of snowy weather, just like I do.

   Traditional roles back then probably dictated that Jimmy, the only boy in the family, did the majority of the shoveling!

   There may have been school buses in town, but not in our neighborhood.  You walked to school, no matter what the weather.

    Little kids love to think they’re “helping”.

    And, just like now, it was fun to see how much snow we got by how deep it was on the lawn furniture!

Enjoy winter.  Summer’s coming!

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Sometimes you just see what you want to see!

February 17, 2010


    How hard can it be to see something this unique in a photo?   

Finally, I saw the “unique chimney” photo!  I had been looking for it in my photo archives off and on for months.

So, I shared it here yesterday.

But then my friend Cathy sweetly questioned if that’s really what I saw.

Yes, yes.  I was sure what I saw in the photo was the chimney.  But, just in case, I asked Hubby for confirmation.  Instead he gave me the bad news.  Cathy was right.  It was a tree in this photo, not the chimney.  But, he did confirm that he had seen it too — I wasn’t just imagining it.  And he remembered me being so excited when I finally got a picture of it — but unfortunately neither of us remember when I took it!

Sooo, back to looking through the hundreds of similar-looking Chicago cityscapes I’ve taken.  Looking for that unique chimney that isn’t that easy to see even when you are looking for it, but which is even smaller and less noticeable in a photo, apparently “hiding” among the surrounding buildings and trees.

I’m sorry that apparently I saw what I wanted to see in the picture I posted yesterday.  I’ll post the real chimney photo when I find it.

It occurs to me that finding this photo is probably going to be a little like working a jigsaw puzzle and looking for the elusive piece that blends in with all the other pieces “forever” but then seems so obvious, once you find it!

Stay tuned.

A Chimney Grows in Chicago!

February 16, 2010


Oops!  See update to this post, Sometimes you just see what you want to see!

   Not a great picture.  But then, it was taken from a speeding car (there is no option NOT to speed on the freeways in Chicago!) and then zoomed to the max so that I could show you what has become sort of a “landmark” for me when we drive through Chicago.  I first noticed this chimney about a year ago and have been trying to get a picture of it every since.

Do you see it?  The chimney in the middle of the picture?  I know you might think there is just a tree behind it, but that isn’t it!  Those are branches sticking out of the top of the chimney!

I can’t imagine (or I don’t want to imagine) a bird big enough to have hauled branches that big to the chimney to make a nest, so I wonder if it didn’t start out as just a regular bird’s nest and then, over the years, “went to seed” and has actually grown some branches of its own!  The only other scenario that I can think of is that it is on an abandoned house that has a tree growing up through its chimney!

However it happened, this unusual sight is one I always look for because it fascinates me.

Assuming it’s on an abandoned house right now, I hope that if it’s ever renovated and rented out the renovators think to clean out the chimney!  Otherwise, I can imagine a new tenant’s last words being, “I think I’ll try out the fireplace!”

I never get tired of “the show”

February 15, 2010


There are lots of big lakes within driving distance of the city where we live, so ever since my parents and I moved here when I was nine years old, I have known lots of people who had lake cottages, or even lived at a lake and drove into town each day to work.  And, even though, over the years I had been a guest at lake cottages many times, I really never saw what all the fuss was about.  Sure, it was fun for an afternoon of boating and swimming, but what was so great about spending alot of time at a lake?

Then, when Hubby and I were looking for a new home after a developer had bought our farmhouse, friends who lived on this small  lake in an addition right in town, had us over for dinner.  We loved the neighborhood (which includes two other small lakes) and we were intrigued by the fact that you could actually fish, swim and have a non-motorized boat right out your back door!  So, long story short, we ended up buying the house that was for sale second door from our friends.

And now I get it.  Yes, the activities we can do on the water (mainly done when our grandchildren are here) are fun, but for me, it is the constant entertainment right outside the window that routinely thrills me.

I know that geese are frequently considered an annoyance, but I love to watch them, along with lots of  ducks and occasional swans, loons or herons thrown in!

I’ve never considered myself a big lover of wildlife, but I have to say that I never get tired of seeing what’s going on on the lake.

I have also come to realize how hard it is to take a picture of birds in flight!  I’ve never gotten “the perfect shot” I invision — even though I’ve seen a perfect one many times, but always at a time when I didn’t have camera in hand.

Whether I ever get the perfect picture or not, I never get tired of the “show”.

Run toward the fire, not away from it!

February 14, 2010


I remember seeing actual video that was taken on 9/11  in the lobby of one of the twin towers. 

Everyone was  getting out of the building as fast as they could. 

Everyone except for the firemen — they were going into the building to try to put out the fire and save people.

I can’t imagine that there was even one of them who didn’t have to suppress a natural urge to put their own lives first, and run out of the building too.  But those brave firefighters went into the building anyway and saved many lives that day, while many of them lost their own.  They were all true heros.

Our natural instinct is to see to our own comfort first.  But that doesn’t always fit God’s plan!  I believe He wants us to be aware if there is a “fire” around us and run toward it!  The “fire” I’m talking about in this case is a crisis in someone else’s life.

I recently “talked” via e-mail to a friend who was telling me about a very emotional crisis that has been happening in her elderly parents’ life for about the last month that their long-time church family is seeming to collectively ignore.  I have no idea why that would be, but I’m guessing that their fellow Christians  “don’t know what to say”, so they are just staying away!

I’ve heard those words, “I don’t know what to say” used as a reason not to go to a wake too.  But I know, from having been on the receiving end, that the survivors don’t remember much of what is said, but they do so appreciate and are uplifted by the people who just took the time to come!

So, I’m writing this today to remind all of us, including myself, that there may be “fires” happening in lives around us that we are ignoring because it’s painful or uncomfortable for us to address what is going on — maybe because “we don’t know what to say”.   But I don’t think that is what God intends for us to do.  However awkward we feel doing it, I think He wants us to do whatever we can to comfort and uplift those around us who need it.

May we all renew our resolve to “run toward the fire, not away from it” when we see someone who is hurting.