Monday, January 30, 2017

Hard Work and Handiwork: Growing Up Blue-collar

I come from a solid stock of blue-collar workers. Clear back to my great-great grandfather and his father who labored as blacksmiths. According to a family story, my great-great-great grandfather Abbott, from Dundee, Scotland, shod Queen Victoria's horses.

I've heard some concern from family and friends that young people are not being taught to work with their hands; they're lacking the advantage of learning a trade or a skill. Growing up, we planted and tended a garden, my dad, a welder by trade, fixed all of our cars and any other machinery around our home as did my brothers. My mom and grandma canned all kinds of veggies and fruit. My sister and I both learned to sew, cook, and clean. I love to sew. The cooking and cleaning, not so much, but I still know how when I need to.

My granddad on  my mom's side farmed, built furniture, and worked as a barber. Grandma cooked for farmhands and later worked at the hospital cafeteria. Dad's father farmed. My brothers both build and refinish furniture and they've done factory work. My sister operated a telephone switchboard. Years later she drove an escort truck across the country with her husband. My uncles owned carpentry businesses. In other words we've always worked hard and with our hands.

My brother, Ron, and I had the opportunity to attend college and graduate with degrees. Even with my B.S. in Digital Communication I still prefer hands-on work. My degree led me to a staff position at the local college. As the Library's Technical Services Manager, I'm quite content to roll in the background as a support person.

I hope anyone who has an influence on children that happens to be reading my ramblings, takes the time to teach their kids everyday skills. If you know how to fix a car or appliances, teach a young person. If you sew or do a craft, share that with a child. If you garden or farm, include your children or grandchildren. I'd hate to see the art of hard work and handiwork disappear.

If you're like me, as you teach your children, you'll learn from them at the same time. That's the blessing of passing it on.

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Light that Shines

Revelation 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

In January, grey dreary days have plagued southwest Ohio. For the most part, I'm a winter person. I love snow and the light that makes it sparkle. But so far our winter has been a drippy mess. We've had spring-like temperatures with mud. I'm not sure what coat to wear or whether I even need a coat. Mind you, I'm thankful we haven't had severe snowstorms or dangerous conditions. But a sprinkle of pretty white snow would be appreciated. Instead we're slogging through dark days with occasional sunshine.

How many times do we sludge through life in the dark? Instead of letting Jesus light shine through encouragement, hope, and joy, I let the misery of being human cast a shadow over me. Sometimes life sucks the light right out of me. But Jesus said if I am his follower, I also need to be his light. I need to care about the people around me, I'm called to show the love of Jesus, and I'm required to give. What a blessing to show Jesus' light. But do you know what is even better? Heaven! One of these days when I'm sitting at the throne of God, he will be the light. We won't need the sun. Because God is the light of heaven. I don't know about you, but I can get through these dreary winter days a little easier with the hope of heaven and the light that shines through God. Praise God for his eternal light!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Little Golden Books Turns 75 Years Old!

Do you remember The Poky Little Puppy, Saggy Baggy Elephant, Scuffy the Tugboat and Tootle, all a beloved part of my early reading experience. The Little Golden Books filled the shelves in my room. I loved listening to and reading the whimsical stories. Puff the Blue Kitten who fell in a can of blue paint, Santa's Toy Shop and Heidi.

How about the ones illustrated by Eloise Wilkin? The children she drew had such sweet, cherub-like faces.  Come Play House and Prayers for Children. I loved all of her books.

 Little Golden Books were first published in 1942, at the end of World War 2 for just twenty-five cents each. They were sold with the intent of bringing joy to the children who endured wartimes.

Now seventy-five years later they've sold over two billion books.
I like the attitude of Golden Books Editorial Director, Diane Muldrow —"Nothing takes the place of being read to."

They aren't a quarter anymore, but they are available for less than $5.00 on Amazon and in retail stores. If you haven't introduced your children to Little Golden Books, this would be a great time to share them. I have great memories of reading my Little Golden Books to my girls. They're a fun way to encourage reading.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Self-Control: It's Essential

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

January is often a time to make resolutions, set goals, and diet. In my forties I decided I was tired of being over-weight, so we bought a tread mill and went on a healthy diet. Every day I walked as I watched a show I taped on my VCR (yep-that long ago.) I fixed low-fat meals and stuck to my one treat a day, usually ice cream. In about a year I'd reached my goal weight. The self-control I imposed on myself paid off. I kept the weight off for almost six years. Then due to a change in job and some health issues, I gained weight again.

Since I'm older, the same techniques I used back then won't work now. I'm pretty happy if I just don't gain any weight. But my point is, I set my mind to accomplish my goal. And it worked. Self-control is essential when it comes to living life. I dislike the times I give in to anger, gossip, negativity or many of the other sins on this earth.

In his short text, Titus encourages the men, women, and young people of the church to develop self-control. I can only do that through Jesus who gives me the strength. As I seek to reach my goals (no matter what they are) and stay obedient to God, I keep my eyes on the hope that I have in Jesus. With him all things are possible.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Few Quotes in Honor of Winnie the Pooh's Birthday!

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Monday, January 16, 2017

When Your Children Follow God's Path

My youngest daughter, Hannah, flew to Guatemala on Saturday with a group from Habitat for Humanity. They've traveled to Central America to build buildings and install smokeless stoves. Many of the people in the area cook over open fires in their homes. That equals an unhealthy environment. The travelers are also exploring a whole new part of our beautiful world.

When Hannah and her sisters were young I prayed for them to find the path God intended for them. I never dreamed Hannah's life would include world travel. But it has. I let go and let God and so did she. For any young mom's reading this, I want to tell you—it's not easy. Sometimes it's downright hard. On Saturday when they were flying I was a bit anxious. When I saw the message "Here safe and sound," my heart filled with relief.

Prayer and journaling are two of the best tools I've found to help me put aside the worry and entrust my children to God. This goes for grandchildren, too. I've learned to push worry aside and pray, pray, pray. That's when God brings me peace.

As a parent, we don't know where the Lord will lead our children. Encouraging them and guiding them is part of our job. Noticing their strengths and interests and giving them opportunity is a must. Letting them go to travel God's path is hard. But oh the joy I've found in each of our children's journeys. I'm proud of all of them and excited to see where the Lord continues to leads.

If you'd like to follow Hannah's adventure, she writes a blog:

Prayers are always appreciated!
I'd love to hear your thoughts, too.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Gentleness: In a World of Frustration

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Photo by Maggie Wickline Jowers

I have to ask myself—am I reactive or proactive? Do I lash out or do I reach out? There are situations that make me angry. When someone is lazy, neglectful, or mean. But even in anger, God requires me to have a gentle spirit. In a world full of mistreatment, abuse, and let me put this gently-mouthiness, it's difficult to not react with louder, angrier words and frustration.

In the verses Peter shared, gentleness and respect go hand-in-hand. I love that. It makes sense. As a follower of Jesus, he wants me to be respectful and gentle, when I share my hope in Jesus. That's not being a pushover, it's being a Christ follower. The world is full of loud angry voices. It's time we show our gentle, caring spirits to the world by loving the difficult, the frustrating, and the unlovely. Jesus loved everyone—shouldn't we? Praise God for Jesus who loves you and me!
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mom Turned 90: What a Journey!

My mom tells the story of how she traveled on a bus from southern Ohio to Washington state. "People looked out for each other then." Each driver would make sure she rode the correct bus to get where she was going. With courage and a few dollars she made the trip to see Dad, a soldier in World War 2. They were young, married parents living in a world of uncertainty.

This past weekend, that sweet young girl turned ninety-years old. Family gathered around her, sang to her, and ate cake. We celebrated the life of a woman who has seen some crazy changes in her life. By the end of the month she'll have witnessed sixteen different men sworn in as President. I'll never forget coming home from school the day John Kennedy died and mom trying to explain that to me, a first grader.

The year mom was born, Charles Lindberg made the first transatlantic flight. Many years later, she gathered with us in front of the television to watch a man land on the moon. Speaking of TV, Mom saw it change from black and white one or two stations to 100s of cable channels with a remote control.

Then there is the telephone.  Remember the party line? You had to wait for the neighbor to hang up before you could make a call. Now Mom uses a wireless phone, but even bettershe uses her iPad to keep in touch with all of us on Facebook. She wanted to keep up with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And she has a slew of them.

Mom is one of the smartest ladies I know. She reads everything. I attribute my great love of books to my mom. And yes, she's seen that change too. Hello, Kindle!

So over the course of ninety years, my mom has lived through square-shouldered jackets, Peter Pan colors, pill-box hats, bell bottoms, polyester, and spandex. I mention fashion trends because Mom was a seamstress for our family. And she's an artist who paints beauty on canvas. Did I mention she was a business woman, dealing in antiques? 

I can't imagine all that my mom has experienced in her ninety years, but speaking for my family, we're glad to be a part of the journey.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Zack's Boot

Even though I was born in the middle of summer, I'm a winter child. For as long as I can remember I've loved the cold snowy days that grace southwest Ohio after Christmas.

Those days of wondering, will a snow day be called? Will we get snowed in, or will a the snow dust across the fields like powdered sugar. 

One snow day lives in my memory like it was yesterday. Our family lived in an old, cold farmhouse with a perfect sledding hill in the pasture. Because we lived on a main highway, my girls' friends made it to our house, even though they couldn't get to school. The kids who lived next door walked over. And they had a blast riding sleds down the hill. 

I was in the kitchen making hot chocolate, because that's what we always did, when one of the sledders (can't remember which one) said Zack's boot got stuck in the snow. 

Zack was the youngest of the bunch and quite distressed, probably because his foot was freezing. Like any caring adult would do, I geared up in my warmest coat and gloves and hiked over the hill to see what was going on. 

And there it was, a hole in the snow that had sucked this poor kids boot right off his foot. By the way, he waited in the house for me so his foot could thaw. After I checked out the situation, I thought "No problem, I'll just reach in and pull it out."

I sat on my knees and reached in the hole, filled with ice and snow and located the boot. I grabbed a hold of the edge and tugged. That hole pulled back. It sucked the boot down further. What was going on?

The more I jerked, the deeper it went, as my hands turned to popsicles. I pulled off my gloves and rubbed my hands  together to regain some warmth. Then plunged in again, barehanded and won the tug of war. Finally, his boot was free.

We carried the victorious prize to the house and dried it out best we could. Zack was one happy little guy. He sipped his hot chocolate with a smile.

I miss those days sometimes. The house full of everybody's kids. And I'm thankful we were the home they felt comfortable in. Some of the kids still keep in touch. They've friended me on Facebook so I get to see their adult lives, their children growing up, their professions and ambitions.

The snow brought fun times and great memories. I still love the snow.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Faithfulness: A Lesson from the Dog

2 Thessalonians 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

Several years ago, when Tater was still an exuberant young dog, he caused me to take a trip to the emergency room. I had hooked him up to take him for a walk and before I could follow him out the door, he bolted and ran me straight into the door jam. I met the jam head on, stumbled out the doorway and passed out in the back yard. In a few minutes I came to. My glasses were flung behind me, pain screamed from my broken nose, and my dear dog stood over me wondering what had just happened. Long story short—Tim took me to the emergency room for a few stitches. A few years later, I tripped over this same dog and injured both knees. Eventually leading to knee surgery and replacement. By now you may be wondering why I still love this dog. One simple reason, he's faithful. He loves me more than I understand, and I love him right back. He's a nervous Nelly sometimes and drives me crazy when he jumps and barks when I get home. But he's my dog.

That must be how God looks at me. "She's my child." Otherwise why would he be faithful to me, a messy life-liver who gets sick, makes mistakes, gets scared, acts anxious, and sometimes wants to give up. That's the thing about God, he loves me anyway. He remains faithful and protects me from evil because I sure can't protect myself. He gives me strength when I'm about to let loose of the proverbial knot at the end of the rope. I'm thankful that no matter what happens, God remains faithful. He's the same no matter what. And I know without doubt that I will remain faithful to him. 
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Fiction Book Review: For the Record by Regina Jennings

Fiction Book Review: For the Record by Regina Jennings
Book Description:
Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle's newspaper. Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she's ever had comes riding into town.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn't want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge. Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands. He needs to make clear that he's the law in this town--and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes.

The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies' pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he's definitely fictional. And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know. But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero--and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.

My Review:
I love Betsy Huckabee. She's spunky, intelligent and out to get her story. And Joel Puckett is handsome, brave, and out to get the bad guy. The two of them make for a great story full of fun, adventure, and maybe some love. If you enjoy stories set on the frontier, think Hallmark's Then Calls the Heart, you'll enjoy For the Record. Picture a town full of interesting characters living out life together, even when they don't agree. I received this book free from Bethany House.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Children's Book Review: God Made You Nose to Toes by Leslie Parrot, Illustrated by Estelle Corke

Book Description:
Help little ones understand that God created each part of their bodies so they can enjoy life and everything in it. In this delightful padded cover board book by well-known author and family therapist Leslie Parrott, children can follow along with Toucan––with a great big nose––as he helps them learn God loves each one of them completely.

My Review:
God Made You Nose to Toes is a delightful book created to teach children how God made them. I like this book because the author makes it fun as she highlights the parts of the body children learn about at a young age. I think kids will like the toucan who shows up on each page and the humor sprinkled throughout the book. The illustrations are fun and colorful, too. This is a great tool to teach children how much God loves them.

Children's Book Review: I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug! by Caroline B. Cooney, Illustrated by Tim Warnes

Book Description:
I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug.

Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep.

My Review:
I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug! is a sweet book that children will love. My two year old granddaughter and I read it together. She listened and giggled and smiled at the endearing ending. I've read many of Caroline B. Cooney's books for young adults and enjoyed them. She's done a fantastic job on her first picture book. This is a perfect bedtime book to read with little ones.