Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Tomorrow I will be traveling with Bill, Noel and Mom to Big Spring, Texas to visit David. It's a 6 hour drive from here, so we will stay at the La Quinta Hotel tomorrow evening, and then see David on Saturday morning, Jan. 2nd. He is very pleased because January 6th is his birthday.

Galen and Sondra arrived yesterday. They moved Patti into her MidWest City home in spite of going through a blizzard in El Paso, Texas. Galen had taken the southern route from California in hopes of missing bad weather. God never promised to take away our storms, but He sure is good about going through them with us!

Tonight, Galen and Sondra and Noel with join us for an early dinner. Jason's family will come over for awhile just to say, "hi". This morning I made chili in the crock pot, and made a lemon pie. The following are my new easy recipes:

Easy Chili

Saute onions and green pepper. Add a pound of hamburger and brown. Open 3 cans of Ranch Style beans and 1 can of Hunts diced tomatoes. Add salt, pepper and chili powder as desired. Toss into a crock pot and heat.

Holiday Punch (My guests ignored the iced tea, and kept coming back to this punch. That is really something in Oklahoma!!)

Mix together: 1 liter of raspberry/lemonade Crystal Light; 1/2 liter 100% cranberry juice; 1/2 liter diet Sprite ---For more fun, add raspberry sherbet to the punch bowl.

Please have a wonderful New Year without fear and worry. The only peace that God ever promised is the peace that only He can give to each of us individually. My goal this year is to remember that happiness comes from within and it is mine to pass on to those I love.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home Today

Yesterday, I noticed that I was coughing more. But I was surprised when I started to run a temperature. It is session's end, and I was suppose to test a group of students this morning. Instead, I'm home. I had the usual flu shot, but my doctor didn't think it was necessary to get the H1N1 shot. I think I will be fine if I just take it easy today.

Last night, I was reminded of the brevity of life. My mother's best friend, Shirley, is only 66 years old. She was to have her gall bladder removed yesterday. After a few minutes into the surgery, the doctors found a mass connected to her pancreas. Mom said Shirley took it extremely well. She was her usual vivacious self and is ready to meet God at any time. Shirley's husband died last year from heart failure, and I know that she looks forward to seeing him again.

Last night, Galen called and said he was in Texas. He is moving Jim Murcray's wife to Okla. City. Sondra is driving one of the cars. I prayed for their protection. They should have arrived around midnight. I'm glad they will be here to have dinner with us on New Year's Eve.

Sofia and Selah called to thank us for their Christmas gifts. Sofia got a carousel music box that plays, "Jingle Bells". I love carousels and thought the horses were carved so delicately. I remembered how much Kirk loved music boxes when he was little, so we gave him a large snow globe that plays, "Silent Night". Inside the globe there is a lion and a lamb lying together. When Kirk called on Christmas, he and Tamra had been snowboarding in Big Bear.

Kelli has left for New York City. She will be with her friends at Fox Studios who are covering the dropping of the ball on New Year's Eve. Keri and I wish we could be there with her, and advised her what to wear. We both told her to buy a furry white jacket to wear with her red scarf! We hope that Kelli has a wonderful time because her little dog, Elfie, died on Christmas morning.

In some ways it seems that 2010 has been here for awhile. My 2010 Camry has 7,000 miles on it. I don't know what the new year will hold, but I know who holds my tomorrows, and I'm not afraid or worried at all. I will ask my God to take care of those I love and to put faith and trust in their hearts as well.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Angels Watching Over Christmas Traveling

On December 23rd, Mom came over for dinner and opening gifts. We gave her a subscription to the Shawnee Newstar because she enjoys the crossword puzzles and the obituaries. Bill gave me a gold necklace, a gift certificate for BonWorths and the book, "A Simple Christmas". It was autographed by Mike Huckabee and has a certificate of authenticity. He also gave me the one thing I asked for ----mascara by Lancome. It's my favorite and it's too expensive for me to buy for myself without feeling guilty. I gave Bill some Polo, a gift certificate for Borders and a black onyx tie tack.

On Christmas Eve, Bill woke me up at 5:30 AM and told me that we should leave soon if we were going to make it to Springfield. We picked Mom up an hour later in the pouring rain and drove ahead of the storm. We stopped once in Tulsa at the QT on I-44 for breakfast and made it to Springfield by noon. Steve's family joined us at Noel's for more gifts in the afternoon. Later, Bill and I went in search of the Taco Bell on Republic Rd. and brought food back to the house. It was still raining.

It was snowing on Christmas morning and everything was white. Mark had gotten a new waffle maker for Christmas. It flips over like the ones at the hotels. So...I made Mark some waffles for breakfast. We learned how to use it together!! Steve and Hunter came back over at noon for Christmas dinner. Forest was sick, so Regina stayed home with him. Janice had a wonderful ham dinner. I was asked to make my Key Lime pie, so I did. Of course, there was pumpkin as well. After dinner, Bill and I left for Branson. Bill wasn't feeling well, so I drove. The roads were quite good in spite of the snow. We stayed at the Radisson, but the rooms were so so. That night nothing was open, so we ate at the hotel's Noble's Pizza. Then, it was off to find the Patsy Cline and Hank Williams Show. It was in old downtown Branson. It was the funniest experience. There were only 8 of us who came to the show! The singers were great and we got to know the other people quite well during the intermission. One couple was from Pennslyvania, another from Mississippi and another from Ohio. The theater looked like a small gaudy wedding chapel in Las Vegas! It was surreal.

On Saturday, December 26th, we went to Shoney's for the breakfast buffet. It reminded me of Japan. They had salad and chicken as well as eggs and ham etc. It was freezing cold, but we decided to go to Silver Dollar City in the afternoon to use our season's pass. Again, we saw "Dickens Christmas Carol". It is so good every time!!! I love the music! We saw a show at the Silver Dollar Saloon, bought some gifts and then left. I learned that I don't take cold weather very well. From there, we went to Bandana's Bar-B-Que to warm up, but it wasn't very warm either. After we ate, we went to Denny's for hot chocolate. The waitress was so friendly and refilled our cups.

On Sunday morning, we went to First Baptist Church, Branson. It's a modern building with about 400 in attendance. There was lots of music, and the message was very technical about the star that the magi followed. I learned lots of about the star of Bethlehem and Jupitor. After church we drove to the MacDonald's on Kansas Expressway and met Noel's family and Mom. We ate quickly so that we could get on the road and back to Tecumseh before too late. The worst part of the journey was through Tulsa. We saw 7 accidents, and most of the highway was not clear until we reached junction 97. At Mom's, the snow was deep in spite of some attempt to clear her parking lot. We got stuck and Bill had to push our car out while I drove. Fortunately, our street was passable, we had power and half of our driveway was clear. I said a prayer of thanks and am glad to be home! I taught my classes this morning, and am now multi-tasking to get caught up. I'm glad my family and friends had a wonderful Christmas and all are well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

It's almost Christmas Eve! I finished my classes and will make stir fry for Mom in a few minutes. She thinks that is the greatest dish in the world for me to cook for her! She called me earlier today (during a staff meeting) and she is feeling so much better!

The mail was wonderful again! Keri and Kevin sent us a world map that is framed in cherry wood for our entry. It has pins to show where we have traveled. They have one in their entry also. It's very beautiful! We also received more Christmas cards. When Christmas is over I will miss the colored envelopes. Many of them are yellow and light up the box.

We are watching the weather carefully. I hope we can go to Springfield tomorrow morning.

Again, Have a Wonderful and Blessed Christmas with Much Love from me!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Week

I thought I was going to have the afternoons off this week, but I was wrong. I am teaching grammar after lunch for a teacher who is ill. I have the same students in the morning for verbal skills, and they seem to be happy to have me. Today, I taught the difference between "I think about..." and "I think that....." I also taught the difference between "see" "look" and "watch".

David called me on Monday evening. I was told that he can teach at SEI when he is paroled. He taught English as a foreign language for 16 years and was head of the English Dept. at a university in Mexico. Being bi-lingual will be very helpful!

After school yesterday, I took Mom grocery shopping. When we finished, she asked me to take her to pick up some diabetic test strips. The nurse on duty offered to take her blood pressure. He took the reading twice and then called her doctor immediately. Her doctor wasn't in but another doctor consented to see her. Dr. Walsh was extremely concerned that Mom was having a stroke and sent her to the lab. I asked if the doctor was going to call when the report came back. I was told not to take her home, but to wait for the lab report. The doctor thought about sending Mom to the hospital and then decided against it. Of course, Mom is very stubborn and has no intention of going to the hospital. She's resting today and taking her meds very seriously. Why? She plans to go to Springfield with us for Christmas. I think she wouldn't mind dying at Silver Dollar City during Christmas!! She loves the lights!

We plan to have Mom for dinner on Wednesday evening and then open our gifts. Then, we will drive to Springfield on Thursday morning. Hopefully, we will will arrive at Noel's for Christmas Eve. After dinner on Christmas day, Bill and I will drive to Branson and spend two nights at the Radisson Hotel. We will go to the Red Lobster tonight to celebrate our 28th anniversary. We are just learning to celebrate because we have spent so many anniversaries on a plane or in an airport during our Christmas vacations from teaching. In the past we have traveled to Singapore, Australia, Hawaii and California ON our anniversary!

More than traveling, I love my friends and family. I wish that I could be with you for Christmas! I'm so glad that we will be together in Heaven. That makes me smile!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Graduation/Faith vs. Fear/Golden Anniversary

Friday afternoon, Bill and I attended Sun's graduation in Raley Chapel at Oklahoma Baptist University. It was the most dignified graduation I have ever attended. (Having played for many high school graduations, that is saying something!) Raley Chapel is impressive with its imposing stained glass window, pipe organ and Christmas lights. Family and friends were asked to stand in honor as their graduate walked across the stage, and to hold their applause until all of the grads from that particular school had been announced. There were about 50 graduates in the Winter class. Dr. Falls, President of the Oklahoma Bapt. Conv., was the speaker. He is the first Native American to hold that position, and he is a graduate of Golden Gate Seminary. While chatting with him after the ceremony, we realized that we know a lot of the same people.

The reception was beautiful! Fifty people were invited to Sun's reception in the Geiger Center. St. Benedict's Marketplace Restaurant catered the sit-down dinner. It was my first time to see a cake with a colored photograph of Raley Chapel in the center that was edible. One half of the cake was strawberry, and the other half was chocolate. To compliment the brisket sandwiches and vegetable and fruit platters, we were offered pumpkin spice coffee or blackberry iced tea. I usually never drink coffee, but the wind was so cold that day, I tried the coffee. It was okay with sugar and cream.

Saturday, my babies called from Chicago. When they are not outside in the snow, they are enjoying Christmas music. Selah (2 yrs.) sang her latest song to me on the phone - "The sheep in the field sing, "Baaa Baaa Baby Jesus". So cute! Sofia (5 yrs.) has memorized, "Canon in D". Sofia loves the TranSiberean Orchestra! She sang the melody to me. Keri also reported that everyone thought it was cute that Sofia hummed her song while playing in her first piano recital. There is a picture of her at the piano on Keri's blog

After visiting with Mom, we listened to Max Lucado on Hour of Power on Saturday evening. His message was so on target. He pointed out that people who do not have faith have fear. Those people are so worried about what Might happen that they become bossy and controlling. They can't trust anyone else (not even God) to do it their way, and always have to be right. Of course, there is a huge difference between being concerned, and being overbearing out of fear. Max also spoke about the unprecidented numbers of people who are using mind altering drugs to mask their fear and control their behavior. It all stems from lack of faith and ultimate lack of peace.

This morning, my Bible Study Class was back together again. There were 13 members present, and 6 more came in for worship with their families. I gave everyone an oven mitt with a Christmas motif. Even the men were excited to choose one. Bill and I played a trumpet/piano duet during the offering. We played, "Angels We Have Heard on High". After the service, James and Josie Cravens celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. They both became Christians ten years ago and were among the first to be baptized in our church.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Late Mail

Today, I received another sweet Christmas card. It was mailed on December 10th. It took a week to travel interstate! Yesterday, after Bill took the trash bin to the curb for pick-up, he decided to look in our mailbox. (We generally don't look in there because all of our mail is delivered to the post office for security reasons.) He found an invitation addressed to me from our neighbor across the street. She had a Mary Kay party in November! When the neighbors moved in, I baked some cookies and tried to be friendly. They had not recipricated, so I stayed to myself. I felt so bad when I realized that she had reached out and I didn't respond! I called her yesterday and apologized profusely. She brought me a catalogue today. I don't need a thing, but I will buy something to encourage her friendship.

Bill was looking through his Christmas music for trumpet when he came across a song that I wrote while living in St. Vincent. The island was created by erupting volcanos, thus the green mountains, black beaches, and aqua water. The music has a calypso beat and was sung with guitars and drums. I can still see the children smiling and swaying to the music while they sang!

"Because It's Christmas Morn"

Sing it out in the islands, dance and clap your hands,
The time is here to celebrate, there's joy in all the land!

Because it's Christmas morn, because it's Christmas morn, because it's Christmas morn,
The day Christ Jesus was born.

Shout it out from the mountains, smile and light the tree,
The time is here to share the love God sent to you and me!

Because it's Christmas morn, because it's Christmas morn, because it's Christmas morn,
The day Christ Jesus was born.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Midweek Activities

I just returned from the post office. I enjoy this season because I get mail from people I love. However, there was one envelope that raised my blood pressure. It was an overdue phone bill for $170.00. I knew that David had called me collect from Texas, but we didn't talk that long! Then I remembered that we have our bills paid automatically, and that shouldn't have happened. Before I called to complain, I looked over the bill and realized that it wasn't our bill. It was for our nextdoor neighbor. Yikes! I took it back to the post office and apologized for opening the envelope.

Classes continue to get more interesting everyday. I mentioned earlier that I have a new student from the Ivory Coast. She's smart and very beautiful! In one of the grammar lessons, pets were mentioned. I asked her if she had any pets in her home country. She answered that her family has several German Shepherds to guard them. In response, I said that our compound was heavily guarded when we lived in Kenya, and wondered if her country was any safer. She said, "no", and added that since her father is in charge of the President's media communications, they have even more security!

I went shopping this afternoon. I bought a "Footprints" plaque for Sun's graduation from OBU this Friday. I also bought a Thomas Kinkade puzzle that shimmers for Ian's birthday on Sunday.

Mom called last night. Roger had called and said that his daughter, Jennifer, has been assigned to Japan next summer by the IMB for 10 weeks. She will be spoiled! Japan is clean, safe, high-tech, and culturally refined. It is still difficult for me to go into Wal-Mart and see all of the "junk" Americans buy. What ever happened to class and quality? Last week, I went to Hartoon's Jeweler to have one of my chains repaired. It needed a new clasp. Before they could fix it, they had to look through a magnifying glass to find the gold marking. After it was found, they told me that it has to be 14 ct. before it can stand the heat of the soldering. If it is not the real thing, they have to use other methods. (Doesn't the Bible say something about faith standing the test of fire?) My chain was fixed, and then I paid $7 for a new tiny clasp.

I have been asked to post more of my poetry. I will do that in my next blog!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Christmas Stuff

Wow, Galen! I didn't know you could write prose either. Thank you! Maybe it's time to write the music.

Speaking of music, the New Beginnings Church Choir sang, "There's Joy in this Place" this morning. It was written by O.D. Hall (Keri's minister of music at Magnolia Ave. Baptist Church in Riverside). Mom came with her friend, Shirley, and they agreed that it is one of the most beautiful ever written. Everyone was told to wear Christmas colors, but you would have thought we were in uniform because men and women alike wore red tops and black pants. I have never been more nervous about a musical. I usually play the piano and have my back to the audience, but since we have a new sound system and used a CD orchestra, I sang with the choir. I can't say how much I prayed and was extremely careful about what I ate and drank for breakfast! Fortunately, my solo was near the beginning, so once that was finished I could relax and just enjoy singing. After the musical, the church showed their appreciation with gift certificates. I think that Bill and I will be eating at Chili's Restaurant a lot!

After the musical, we talked with several of our students who had come to listen to the concert. David, our kid from Beijing had just returned from Dallas where he bought a new BMW over the weekend. Then, we took some of the boys to Braum's where Mom and Shirley were waiting for us.

Friday was a very long day! I taught my classes in the morning, and then subbed for another teacher in the afternoon. Six students from OCU in Okla. City came to observe all us teaching. All of them are TEFL teachers who plan to go back to their countries and teach English. The best part was that lunch was catered by Chicago Deli. After classes, Bill and I went to MacDonald's and drank a Mocha for an hour. We had a faculty/student Christmas party at 6 PM in Meeker and didn't want to drive all the way home first. Anne opened her home to the 35 of us who attended. Her home is always absolutely gorgeous!!! We all brought dishes to compliment the chicken/noodle cassaroles and sat at three tables. After dinner, we gathered around the tree in the livingroom and played "dirty santa". For many students, it was their first Christmas ever, and I loved watching their faces! We Americans didn't mind stealing each others gifts and our international friends soon caught on. I came away with a Braum's card, and Bill got a box of chocolates and a Christmas stocking.

Saturday, we practiced for the musical all morning and then got chores done in the afternoon. I bought lots of groceries in case of snow and ice in the future. In the evening, we watched Huckabee. He always has the neatest guests! Andy Williams sang, "Moon River" and "Christmas Song". He's in his 80's and you can tell that he's not a spring chicken, but still wonderful! Next week, Huckabee's guests will be the couple who inspired the movie, "The Blindside". What great role models they are for all of us!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Poem by me

I woke up this morning with the words of a poem going around in my head. I have written three verses, and maybe I will be inspired to write another verse soon. This is a Christmas poem for those I love who don't live near. If you have a verse to add, send it to me.

My heart doesn't know inches or miles,
It doesn't know distance,
Only your smile.

My heart doesn't know minutes or hours,
It doesn't know time,
Only love's powers.

My heart doesn't know silver or gold,
It doesn't know wealth,
Only hugs that enfold.

My heart doesn't know lots of stuff,
It doesn't know reason,
Only faith - that's enough. (I just thought of this verse while typing. Smile!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What is "Good"?

I have been on the "same page" as Galen lately. While a senior in high school, I was put in a humanities class with other students bound for college. One of the major concepts that we learned that year was to be aware of semantics - the meaning and use of words. When people do not agree on the meaning of words, there is often misunderstanding and misinformation. I have been thinking about the meaning of the word, "good". If one takes the Biblical meaning out of the word, "good" then it becomes totally man's opinion. I have learned from my encounter with many cultures that people don't agree on what is "good".

During my studies in child developement, I learned that people feel secure when their lives have boundaries. Yes, we test those boundaries and find that many of them were placed there for our protection. Do I always keep The Ten Commandments? No! Why? I am a human who sins. Does God still love me? Yes! Only pride would keep me from admitting that I am often confused and am capable of making a wrong decision. Of course, I want to do right, but I fail miserably. That doesn't make me stupid. It's a great feeling to know that God doesn't expect me to be perfect all of the time, and that He is ready to forgive me. I want my children and grandchildren to know that it's alright to be human. They are loved so very much by God. That we are loved, and not condemned is the single most difficult concept to understand because we don't want to face the fact that we are not perfect. I don't want to be enslaved and captive to my pride. What does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Fun Day

I'm going to get my hair styled in a few minutes, but decided to blog before I go. I taught my classes this morning and, as usual, learned as much as my students! My Brazilian young man told me about his father's ranch. He has 100 sheep, and 400 head of cattle. The older men herd while riding horses, but the younger ones ride their motorcycles. That sounds like fun! During our conversation, I mentioned that we have two sheepskins that we bought in New Zealand, and I would love to buy one of the black sheepskins that he talked about. His family puts them on the floor next to their beds.

I did a little more Christmas shopping. On Sunday, we took names of children who are fed daily at the Shawnee Mission. I bought a big blue ball, some trucks and some Mickey Mouse socks for one little boy. I also bought Bill a few gifts. He's very difficult to buy for because he buys everything he really wants during the year. Then, he says, "Surprise me!" I'm really excited about some of the gifts I bought for the grandkids, but I'll have to mention them later because my girls don't want to know yet, and they read this blog.

I was thinking about some of the gifts that I have received through the years that are cherished memories.....a doll that walks, a clock radio, an overnight case with red satin lining, a jewelry box with drawers and music, a gold chain with pearlsand diamonds alternated. Of course, the most important thing was the love and thought that went into each gift......not the cost!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekend Activities

Saturday evening Bill and I attended the Hanging of the Greens at Oklahoma Baptist University. It is their annual Christmas concert and time to honor the outstanding seniors of each department. Raley Chapel holds 1,000 people and was filled. The orchestra, choir and handbells were superb! The theme was Christmas through the years at OBU. My father graduated from OBU and was president of the Minister's Association. Of course, I thought of him while listening to the history. Listening to the 100 voice choir sing, "The Hallelujah Chorus" also flashed me back to Yokohama, Japan. The entire girl's high school where I taught English sang the "Hallelujah Chorus" every year in 3 part harmony. Listening to those 1,000 girls sing at the same time in the school's auditorium sounded like angels.

Sunday, my Bible study class joined the other adult class in the fellowship hall so that the choir could practice in the sanctuary at 9:30 am. We sang one song from our musical during the worship service. As I stood on the stage practicing, I realized how beautiful our church is! The sanctuary is built in the shape of a fan with the focal point being the pulpit and baptistry. The light blue decor looked especially beautiful with the bounty of red pointsettias across the stage.

Jason brought Chie Hey to church to say, "good-bye". She left today to go to Edmond to study at OCU. She has decided to be an English teacher.

Today, I taught 3 classes in the morning. I have two new students. One blond Brazilian boy who is planning to be an environmental engineer. The other is another Saudi student who plans to teach English. I heard that we have a girl from the Ivory Coast arriving Thursday. After classes, I ate a quick lunch and then headed to the University's piano practice rooms to record Christmas music. The tape will be used when our students sing.

It seems that Bill and I have spent the weekend reserving hotels. We're planning to spend Christmas in Springfield and Branson. Then, we'll go with Noel to Big Springs, Texas for New Years to see our brother, David.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving and Choir Pictures

The first picture was taken on Thanksgiving Day in my kitchen. From left to right is Kyle (Kirk's stepson) Mom (Gramma), me, Kelli and Kirk. The next pictures are choir members and Bill directing. I was taking the pictures.

Christmas Events

Friday was crazy with activity. We arrived at school by 8:30 a.m. to give session-end tests. We scored the listening and reading by machine, but still had to grade the essays. At noon, the teachers rode together in the school van to Red Lobster for our Christmas lunch. We stuffed ourselves on appetizers, salads, lobster, shrimp, and scallops. From there, I drove home to prepare for the next party.

At 6:00 p.m. 15 members of the New Beginnings choir arrived at our house for a potluck and Christmas concert practice. I made beef stroganoff and a cherry pie. Everyone brought enough food to feed the entire church! After tasting everyone's specialties, we began practice. (We sat up extra chairs in the familyroom so that everyone had a seat.) I took lots of pictures and will try to include some in this blog.

Yesterday, the Greenwalt family grew. My younger brother, John, became the proud grandfather of twin boys. The twins father, David, is a sheriff for Riverside County, CA.

This morning, I visited my mother. She had gone to a Christmas dinner given for pastor's and their wives and widows of pastors. While I was there, she received a phone call from a deacon in her church. He was inviting her Bible Study class to go to Gliori's Restaurant for a Christmas dinner paid for by her church this week! So nice! Christmas really is a time of joy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Midweek Madness

Monday evening, the New Beginnings Choir sang for the Unity Hospital Lighting Ceremony as planned. Bill and I drove our cars there directly from school. I was in awe because I didn't expect so many people. There were at least 200 spectators! The hospital overhang made the perfect shell and many people said that they thought we were a CD until they saw us singing. It was a beautiful night ---a full moon, no rain and no wind. We were also surprised to see a new nativity that had been donated. I'm just waiting for some group to rule against it. Our freedoms seem to be eroding gradually.

Yesterday morning (Tuesday), I was reminded that our best precautions are not enough to keep us safe. As I approached the MacArthur intersection to go to SGU, I saw an accident that had just happened. A flatbed truck had lost one of its haybales. It hit the hood of a compact car and rolled off. The front end of the car completely smashed. Fortunately, the people were unscathed. When Bill arrived at the college he was a little shaken. He said he realized that I had just missed being hit.

Speaking of driving, one of my students is learning to drive. That took me by surprise because women don't drive in her country. I was so proud of her!

I finished teaching, "Cinderella Man" today. The movie was a bit different from the book. My students were so touched by the story that I could hear many of them sniffling. Tomorrow is day test and I have to do grades.

I'm trying to get so much done because Friday will be just a little too much fun! At noon the teachers plan to go to Red Lobster. I love shrimp, scallops and lobster!!! That evening is the choir party and practice at our house. As Ian always says, "Life is beautiful!".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Events

Kirk and Kelli arrived on Wednesday evening as scheduled. Kirk's family stayed with Gramma and brought her over on Thursday morning. While the turkey was was roasting in the oven, they brought out the scrabble game. Gramma was delighted! After dinner, we all played Apples to Apples, then began a game of Mexican Dominoes. Gramma kept forgetting to inform us of some of her "made-up rules" which kept everyone laughing! After indulging in pumpkin pie, and applesauce cake with whipping cream, Kelli unwrapped her birthday gifts. We gave her a dainty cross necklace with a rose on it, and a stuffed penguin that sings, "I Wish I Could Fly" while it flaps its wings.

On Friday, Tamra had to fly back to LA because she had to work that evening as an ER nurse. Bill, Kelli and I went to the mall to check out some specials. Kirk called me and I told him to meet us at Taco Mayo for lunch with Kyle. At 3 pm, Noel's family arrived. I prepared a deli smoked ham dinner for 16 people. Jason (Galen's son) brought his family over to see his cousins, Kelli, Kirk, Steve and Mark. Steve's wife had to work so he had brought his boys, Hunter and Forest. I was so thankful that it was a gorgeous day and the kids could go to the park behind our house. In fact, it was so warm that several of the boys ate on the patio with the little ones.

On Saturday, Bill, Kelli and I drove over to Gramma's to say goodbye to Noel's family and then we headed to the movie, "The Blindside". Fantastic movie!!! From there, we took Kelli to Braum's. She was introduced to chicken strips with white gravy and their small hot fudge sundae. She loved it!

We learned this weekend that Kirk and Tamra will be heading a team from Cal Baptist to Manilla, Phillipines next spring; Jason's wife is having baby #3 in June; and that Kelli has been invited to New York City where a friend is covering the ball-dropping for Fox News. He is the national editor for that network. She will stay with Lorn Green who is the Religion Editor for Fox News and be given a press pass. The fellow who has invited her is the former Baptist Press Editor. We are so excited for her! (He also happens to be a bachelor!) I told her that next fall when we do our New England tour from New York, I want a free ticket to the Huckabee Show! She said that would be easy.

Kelli left to go back to Michigan this morning at 4:30 am. In spite of the early hours, I managed to teach the 17 people in Bible Study and sing for an hour with the choir after the worship service. We were preparing to sing at the Christmas Tree Lighting at Unity Hospital tomorrow evening. University Baptist' Handbells will also play. It rained today and the temperature dropped which makes it seem more like Christmas. We received some holiday mail which also puts me in the spirit!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

Wow! I have prepared for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a birthday this week. Kelli is arriving in about 30 minutes from Michigan. Kirk will arrive in about 2 hours. (He went to Tulsa to visit a college friend first.) I have bought, wrapped and labeled Christmas gifts for them to take back when they leave. Tomorrow is also Kelli's birthday, so I have prepared her gift as well.

Noel called to let us know that his family will arrive on Friday afternoon and stay until Saturday. His son Steve is driving his semi home tonight and will join us so that he can visit with Kelli and Kirk. They use to have fun together at Gramma's house in California while growing up.

There is a big turkey in the fridge, I made my heavenly jello salad, and I will make the pies tonight. Last night I baked cookies and fudge brownies for the school dinner today. We had food from Korea, China, America and Saudi Arabia...maybe Columbia. It was very interesting and delicious!

I taught full-time this week. It was a big jump for me to teach APL classes after working with my "preemies". It's so rewarding to have a conversation with advanced English speakers! Most of the students are traveling by plane for the holidays. Some are going to a Thunder game on Friday.

Last year, Mom and I spent Thanksgiving in Springfield and I was so sick! (Bill was in Singapore.) While there, it snowed and I nearly hit the backend of Noel's car. I prayed myself back to Tecumseh because Mom couldn't help me drive and I was still not feeling well. I'm praying that I can stay well and enjoy my family this year.

I'm also praying that all of the people I love will stay healthy and have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Sunday Again!

The older I get, the faster time goes. Friday, I taught classes until 3 p.m. and then drove quickly to the doctor for my 3 month check-up. I had been to the lab the day before so that Dr. Smith could check my numbers. He told me that my report looked good. Then, I asked him about getting an Advance Directive which tells my family what to do about life support. I learned that the Tribe has an office for medical legal issues. I picked up my papers and was told to bring them back next week to be notarized. I will be given a card to carry at all times. Easy!

That evening, Bill and I went to Zocolo's Mexican Restaurant in Tecumseh for dinner. The Christmas lights were up and it put me in the spirit. So...on Saturday morning, we put up our Christmas tree in the family room. I love looking at the lights! Having been in Japan where Christmas is not even on the calendar due to it being a Buddhist country, I get crazy about the season!! After getting the tree up and our household chores finished, we saw the movie, "Julia/Julia. I really enjoy cooking, so I loved the movie!

As usual, we had a great Bible Study this morning! We had one new member, Jason, who is about 35 years old. We are up to 21 members in our class now. We discussed the third chapter of James. It followed what I had been thinking about lately........"Watch your mouth!" Jealousy and the attempt to control not only tears other people down, but is so unattractive. Of course, it is impossible to tame an evil tongue without the spirit of God.

I still think my church is the best on the planet! The music is outstanding. Larry Bouf sang, "Beulah Land" and had us all swaying as he sang. After a sermon on "A grateful heart" the choir practiced for an hour. Since we are using a CD accompaniment, I am singing alto. I have been talked into one of the four solos. I'm singing the second verse to "There's Joy in This Place". It's very bouncy.

On Monday, Nov. 30th, we have been asked to sing at Unity Hospital for their tree lighting ceremony. The choir was very enthusiastic about it! On December 4th, the choir is coming to our house for a potluck and a concert practice. Everyone seemed excited about that as well. There will be about 20 people coming. For the next month, I'll just clean my house every evening and make sure the fridge is stocked! Thank you Lord for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interesting Day at School

For the past few days, I have been subbing in the afternoon for a new teacher at our English school. Her daughter is autistic, and she had to find someone to care for her. Delores was so grateful for my willingness to help her out that she gave me a signed book that she and her husband have written together. The title, "A Potawatomi Word A Day". Her husband speaks the language fluently and is a Spiritualist. He performs Indian weddings, funerals and namings. He also worked with my cousin, Dr. George Godfrey at the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas.

David, one of my Chinese students, blew me away before class started. He asked if he would stay healthy if he went to church on Sunday and prayed. I didn't expect the question, but quickly told him that it wouldn't hurt. I also told him that I don't wait until Sunday to pray. David was fascinated, and asked me when I prayed. I explained that I do a lot of my praying while I'm driving and before I get out of bed. He had seen people pray before their meals and asked if that was okay. I assured him that before or after is just fine. But, the boy wasn't satisfied! He wanted to know what to say. I gave him a brief example and encouraged him to pray for people he loves as well. There were about 7 Muslim students listening to this exchange, and one of them asked me if God talks back to me. So, I explained how I feel He does this. Later in the day, David came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. (He's 6 ft.) He said, "Teacher, I prayed at lunchtime today, and I prayed for you, too." That melted my heart!

I know that people are praying for me because I almost became the meat in a "semi-sandwich" on the way to school. As I was driving north on Hwy 177 from Tecumseh to Shawnee, I saw a huge semi-truck barreling down on me from a side entrance. I checked my mirror and hoped to move into the left lane. However, there were two more semi-trucks. One of the drivers saw what was happening and I could hear him putting on his brakes to slow down quickly. I was able to squeeze into the left lane just as the truck to my right came onto the highway!!! I have no doubt that angels were watching over all of us!
The Five Love Languages

I read "The Five Love Languages" again after many years. It is fascinating to know that we show love to others according to our own needs. Many times we "blow it" because we think we are pleasing others - only to find out that we are pleasing ourselves and not the ones we care about. I was also reminded that some people are great at putting on a "show" of love for selfish agendas. After reading this book, my kids went through each member of the family and labeled them. Although we are all a mixture, some people can be labeled more obviously. After understanding the list of 5 love languages, it is important to be aware of others needs and try to meet them.

1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch

This is the time of year that I think about the people I love most. Miles separate many of us, but I wish I could communicate my love using all of the 5 love languages!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What Is Love?

This morning we received a message from Galen that his best friend, Jim Murcray died at age 59 after 26 days in ICU. Galen and Sondra spent a part of everyday in ICU with his family and was at his side when he took his last breath. I had followed Josh Murcray's emails and had begun to pray that God would take Jim home if he would no longer have quality of life. I knew that many of us were praying in concert. We all had complete confidence that God loved Jim and would do the very thing that would be best for him. Galen will officiate the memorial service at his church on Saturday. Knowing Galen, it will be a bitter/sweet time of celebration.

Last Sunday, Pastor Larry spoke on the subject of love. We were reminded that when you really love someone - you feel their pain. Love causes you to want to "fix" things for others. There are times that we just can't do anything it seems. It's those times when we cry out to God. He will have to do what we are not capable of doing. Just knowing that others care (even though they can't help me) is a comfort. In another blog I will write about the book, The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. It is so appropriate for this time of year! God, thank you for people who love me!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Made It Through the Weekend!

When we finished choir practice today, it was raining quite hard. We drove to Van's Barbeque Restaurant and enjoyed the warm atmosphere. I felt like it was the first time in several days that I was relaxed. I taught 17 members in Bible Study Class this morning and then played a violin duet with Pete during the worship service. Sue had to leave early today, and asked me to play for the invitation hymn. Two white-haired ladies were baptized, and Lin (our Chinese student) decided to become a Christian. I had been praying for her because I could visibly see the spiritual battle that she was fighting during the services. When I mentioned it to her this morning, she smiled and said it had been a huge battle due to her pride.

Yesterday, Bill and I drove to St. Gregory's at 6:30 a.m. to meet other teachers who were going to the ESL conference on the Okla. Central Univ. campus in Edmond. I hated getting up so early, but the sunrise was spectacular! It seemed that the entire eastern sky was flaming red!! We went to seminars the entire day except for a catered dinner at noon. It was good for me to be there because I had been asked me to be a presenter, and I refused because I thought you had to be great. After listening to one of the fellows, I leaned over to Tony, our director, and told him I thought I could be a speaker next year. He smiled, and nodded vigorously.

Friday, I taught six classes with only a break for lunch. I normally would not have agreed to do that, but Sandra had asked me to help her out. Her grandfather has bone cancer and she needed to take him to get a scheduled MRI. I know that when I need help, Sandra will be there for me. Besides, the classes were interesting. A Columbian boy wrote an essay about his mother. She works in his father's glass factory, and she designs stained glass for churches and private homes. He said that her favorites are of birds.

Thursday evening, we went to Pete and Lorna's to eat dinner and practice our violin duet. Lorna baked chicken breasts in cream sauce, yellow squash casserole, and made cashew salad. Pete baked a cherry pie with lattice topping. We felt honored that they wanted to cook dinner for us because Lorna is at the top of the list for a kidney transplant. She never complains or talks about it. The doctor told Pete that Lorna's kidneys would fail in 2006. It's almost 2010 and God has sustained her. She hasn't needed dialysis yet either, but she knows it's possible. Lorna trusts God in all matters and it keeps her SO sweet! She's a wonderful role model for me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Berlin Wall Destruction

It has been 20 years since the destruction of the Berlin Wall. I mentioned in an earlier blog that Bill and I visited East Berlin with my parents one year before the wall came down. Our mission was to see the birthplace of Bach in the town of Eisenach, and the castle where Martin Luther threw his inkwell at the Devil. The guards nearly tore my Dad's car apart before we were allowed to enter East Germany. It was a tense experience. We were stopped every few miles to show that we had appropriate papers. I will never forget how depressing the country was. Every car looked alike, there was little meat, no fruit, and smiles were a rare sight. The leadership of East Germany was sincerely trying to spread the wealth, and meet the needs of all of their citizens. However, the ideal didn't quite work out the way they had imagined it would. Something was wrong!

For the past year, America has experienced a steep economic downturn due to corporate greed and displays of self-centeredness. This has caused me to think about the nature of man. It seems to me that both Communism and Democracy can go miserably wrong because people are people! One can find leaders in China and North Korea who are NOT watching out for "the common man" just as you can in America. So, before we try to change the entire constitution of the U.S. and "throw the baby out with the bathwater", maybe the hearts of men need to be changed. Loving our neighbors as ourselves might be a better solution. Of course, that is very difficult if one does not believe in "the help of God."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Next Few Days

The next few days will be a blur I'm sure. For the next two days, I will teach my own classes in the mornings, then sub in the afternoons for 2 teachers. On Saturday, we all have to go to an all day conference in Edmond at OCU. Lorna has invited us to dinner on Thursday evening, so that will give me a break.

Bill just called and is going to meet me at the fitness center to swim. Last time I was there, I saw a Mustang in the parking lot. It had a 1966 plate attached to the front. That was a very good year!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday's Events

I started my new session today. I am teaching, "Cinderella Man" to 8 students from China Japan and Saudi Arabia. I also teach a young man in a private session who just came to us last session. He has a degree in computers from his country and wants to get a masters in an American university.

After class, I ate lunch with the teachers, and then drove to my mother's apartment. She had asked me to do some banking for her. When I arrived, Mom and her friend, Shirley were playing Mexican Train dominoes. They roped me into playing a few games. I actually won a round! From there I went to the post office. I noticed that the day had become cloudy and cool. However, there were purple streaks that made the sky beautiful! In spite of the turn in the weather, God gives me something to smile about!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Correction on Schedule

I just got a phone call saying that my teaching schedule for next session has been re-arranged! The school needs me to teach in the mornings (which gives me more hours). Then, I will take over the other teacher's afternoon classes when she goes on vacation.
Day Off/New Session Tomorrow/Galen's Friend

Today, SEI tested new students for ability level. I have the day off, so I have just enjoyed checking things off that have been on my list. I finished a 100 crossword puzzle book, finished polishing my wood furniture, and finished some banking business. I now have a Blue Cross/Blue Shield savings account. I had to find a person who understood what I was talking about. After some time, a woman appeared who knew I wasn't crazy, and had the account opened in a flash!

For the next two weeks, I will only teach in the afternoon. Then, the following 2 weeks I will teach classes in the morning as well for a teacher going to Canada on vacation. I didn't have to, but I thought the extra Christmas money would be fun to have.

Galen, emailed that his longtime friend, Jim, nearly died last Saturday night. The doctor had given him a 5 % chance of making it through the night, so Galen and Sondra stayed with the family. However, Jim is hanging on, and the doctors are watching him carefully. I know how painful this is, and I'm praying for God to comfort hearts during this time. I thought my heart would break when I lost my father and then my brother two years later. God didn't let me down. He helped me to smile again, and remember that we will be together again. I can't imagine not having that hope!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Activities

Saturday was gorgeous! I wore my summer clothes and sandals. I had been waiting for such a day so that we could barbeque the T-bone steaks that I had bought on sale. I picked up Mom, took her on a few errands and then brought her back to our house. She loved it! I also gave her the Gaither music that she had asked me to order for her. When lunch was finished, Mom listened to me practice my violin. She gets tired quickly, so Bill and I took her home and then went to Wal-Mart to do a little Christmas shopping.

During dinner, Kelli called. She has put her 2,500 sq. ft. home up for sale, and is moving into a 3 bedroom condo at the end of the month. Yeah!! She was also excited to tell us about her new position at Cornerstone University. She has been named the new Media Director (radio and television). She will continue writing for public relations, so this will stretch her talents.

I talked to Noel on Saturday. He had gone back to his office on Friday. I couldn't believe it! He said he would have a heart attack for sure if he didn't get some of the work done. (Noel analyzes the legality of accident claims and lawsuits.)

We had 15 in Bible Study class today. The lesson came from the Book of James. The question for the day was, "Does your faith grow when you are faced with the trials of life?" Most people admitted that trials do mature us. During the morning service, we honored 25 veterans. Pastor Larry preached a sobering sermon about the state of the church in America. He pointed to other nations to show how dependence on God diminishes when people put their faith in their goverment. After church, the choir (16 people) practiced for an hour for Christmas. Then, Pete and I practiced with Bill for our special next Sunday. We are both a little nervous because it will be our first time to play our violins at New Beginnings Church. I think people will be shocked because Pete is a quiet 63 year old fellow, but very talented! He was just baptized a few years ago, and is enjoying the Christian life.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sofia's Birthday/Events

Today is Sofia's 5th birthday! Sofia is very confident for her age, and a petite "singing doll". She started piano lessons this year. We love the videos of her singing in church and look forward to the pictures on the family's blog of her birthday.

As I write this, men are working on our house. They backed a big trailer into our drive that houses weatherization materials. At the moment, they are re-calking all of the windows on the outside. (I had never looked at them!) Next, they will replace old weather-stripping on the doors. Last, there is a huge machine with a long hose that comes through the house and goes into the attic. It blows extra insulation. With the promise of higher energy bills this winter, I am so grateful for this work being done! I'm also looking forward to not having to dust and vacuum so often!

Yesterday, I had planned to go swimming but had my plans changed. After classes, everyone met in the lounge to say good-bye to Frank, our student from Columbia. I was drafted to cut and serve lemon cake. I'll miss Frank. He was my private student for one hour each day. I'm sure he'll come back to the USA with his wife. He is a surgical equipment engineer and has requested Johnson and Johnson to transfer him to the States. Frank asked me for an English Bible because as a Catholic he had never had one. I was remembering that when our cruiseship made a stop in Columbia, our tour guide told us that many Columbians were converting because the Catholic Church was allowing the people to read the Bible for the first time.

Yesterday was the last day of class for Session #11. After giving back essays, Aziz asked me to explain Thanksgiving. I drew silly pictures on the whiteboard and gave a simple history of the holiday. The Saudi students were fascinated by the reason that many of the people left Holland and England. My explanation took about 10 minutes. Then, I was asked, "What's Christmas, teacher?" I wasn't prepared for the reaction when I finished. Those students have the softest hearts, and are spiritually awake! Everyone had moist eyes! One young man,who is married and has a baby, asked if his family could go to my church at Christmas. Muslims still get their heads cut off if they convert, so I let him know that they are welcome, but I'm very careful not to vocalize my beliefs without being first asked.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Report on Noel/YouTube

After teaching, swimming, and making chili for dinner, I called Janice to see how Noel was doing. I was shocked to find out that he had been given an angiogram and was sent to the operating room to have a stint put in. She told me to call again in an hour because it had been 8 hours, and the nurses were getting him out of bed for the first time. As I was watching Larry King interview Mariah Carey, the phone rang. It was Noel! He still had the effects of pain medication, but he sounded great! The bad news is that the stint will not solve the pounding of his heart. He has to go back to Mayo Clinic in the future for that. That remains a mystery.

Back to Mariah Carey ----I use to play her CDs for my high school classes in Japan. I especially love her Christmas CD. The girls would try to imitate Mariah and it was a hoot because they were quite good at it!! I would die laughing!

Yesterday, I was watching YouTube in our school's computer lab. Several students gathered around me and were fascinated. They had never heard a piano duet! The Arabic students show me videos of the "Bad Boys" in Saudi Arabia racing their BMWs in the center of town. My son, Kirk, loves filming. He made a video of Keri's life for her birthday. He loves his sisters!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This and That

Every week seems busy in different ways. The pool heater was fixed, so Bill and I went back to the fitness center this week. It felt good! While eating a ham sandwich at Subway, Bill read the calorie count on the napkin and became a believer.

Words are so important! A lady at church told me I was beautiful. I got my haircut yesterday so that she wouldn't change her mind! When people say nice things, it makes my whole week! I'm going to try to remember to compliment others more often and be sincere.

Two weeks ago, we hired a company to clean the central ducts in our home. In the process, the technician noted that we have an opening between the foundation and the intake area where dust can come in. I went to the Tribal office to see if I could hire someone to take care of the problem. Bob Carlisle recognized me and asked me to come into his office. He told me that the Tribe has money to winterize member's homes. At that point, he introduced me to the young men who are doing the work and asked if I would be interested. They are coming after school today to look at windows and doors. They will come back on Friday to blow additional insulation into the attic. I have always thought our home was well insulated, but if this will help, I'm for it! I couldn't believe that God had given us such a blessing!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What I Think

I was reflecting again! As a student at San Francisco State University, I got to know several "far-left" professors. After class, they would invite me to have coffee. (I don't like coffee, so I would have a soft drink.) I would listen to them and realized that they had good hearts. However, I had seen enough of the world by that time to know that good intentions and reality don't always mix well. And.......I found these teachers to have the most depressing lives! I had just returned to California after having been through counseling in Atlanta for 3 months and was in the process of divorce. These people were in worse condition than I was because I had hope and was excited about my future. One of my teachers was living with a boyfriend who committed suicide, and Dr. Feinstein (Lit. Professor) kept asking me to come over and make breakfast for him because he had almost burned down his kitchen! I declined. He had no spiritual beliefs, and preached socialism at every turn. He was an expert on Mark Twain and wore a gold medal to classes. He also wore a suit and tennis shoes without socks. Weird guy!

I think that our country is going to continue to become more and more socialist. I believe this because it has been predicted in the Bible. If the Bible is true, then the New World Order must continue to be shaped. Christians might be able to stave off the inevitable for awhile, but globalization has already been set in motion by Republicans and Democrats alike. God's plan will not be thwarted! Just as it was predicted that Jesus would be born and redeem man, it has been predicted that Jesus will come back again to redeem man from this earth. If you read the Bible and watch the news, the plan is unfolding year by year. The odds are in the Bible's favor at the moment. I would never bet on my eternity.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend Events

Galen reported that David has a parole hearing at 8:30 this morning. We have already prayed that the right decision will be made regarding his release. He has been very patient.

Noel had another heart episode this week. He is being monitored by St. John's Hospital and has an appointment for Tuesday morning. The chief cardiologist will be running some new tests on him. With the strength of God, Noel has been able to continue his legal job with American Insurance and lead a normal life.

Sunday was fantastic! There were 19 of our Bible Class members present. We studied James and how to control our anger. The last two Sundays have been about the evil tongue. The question was posed as to how hearing the Word of God has changed us as people. Two people said that they have learned that they can decide whether to have joy, or let other people destroy them. The morning worship was unusual. It began with the baptism. Lately, is has been adults! Then, we had popcorn testimonies. About 15 people spoke. I just sat and listened. The service ended with Communion. Sherry sang, "Paid In Full" while the elements were being passed. About 150 people stayed for the Harvest potluck. I've never seen so much food!! The choir ate first so that we could begin practice at 12:45 p.m. We practiced for an hour. We are using the accompaniment tape for the concert, but I am the practice pianist. Speaking of music, the singing in our church service is the best ever! We sang, "There Is A Fountain" and "Only Trust Him" with piano, drums, and guitars. Actually, we sing for about 10 minutes. When I stop singing and just listen, the harmony and strength of the voices gives me goose bumps! I've visited DEAD churches, and I know the difference!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More Pictures

As seen below, the seasons are changing! We have happy memories of Keri, Kevin, Sofia and Selah at the Michigan cottage this past summer. The delightful characters in costume are some of our SEI students enjoying their very first Halloween in America. The colorful trees are gracing the park behind our house. I stood on our patio and took the picture.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm so glad that October is almost over! Years ago, I heard in a faculty devotion that we would encounter more problems with the students during October because the spirit of Satan is more active. There is also a fun side to Halloween. Mission Shawnee is giving candy and jackets to children in need. After school, SEI is having a pumpkin carving contest and party. Some simply decorate with marker pens. Some teachers are dressing up. Since I have two new teachers observing my writing classes today, I'm just wearing a pumpkin necklace that lights up.

Kirk wrote that his church is having a "Hallowed Be Thy Name" concert with 5 rock bands. The church is in California. One of the bands is named, "Scare the Hell Out of Em"

Keri called. She has been feeling sick with this baby. The last time she felt bad and layed down, Sofia pulled up her little chair, sang some songs and read her a book. So sweet! Selah got on the phone and sang, "Jesus Loves Me". The words were clear, and she was in tune. I was surprised because she just had her 2nd birthday!!

Tonight, Bill and I will be taking dinner to Mom. I will stay and play games with her and Bill will come home to work on his new class, "Technology of Media".

I had better get to my classes. I really don't like having other teachers watching me because the students get shy and don't discuss as well. I've prayed over it, so we'll just have some fun!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nice Mail Today

In spite of the beauty of the season, sometimes fall makes me feel meloncholy when the shadows grow longer and the wind feels cool. However, today the sun was shining brightly and I got some nice mail. In the midst of brown envelopes, Keri sent me pictures of herself next to the Dead Sea in Israel. She looked beautiful! She also sent pics of Sofia and Selah. Sofia will be 5 years old soon. I sent her pink jeans with a matching jean jacket.

I also received an email from a former student in Japan. Kaori Iida was in the High School English Club and reminded me that I taught them the song, "In His Time". Kaori is in college now. I feel humble that she remembered me and took the time to write.

God answered our prayers. Kelli's divorce was final today, and she had to go to court to fight for complete custody of Hannah and Caleb. Anyone who knows Kelli, knows that she is a sweet quiet person who is on the shy side. She told me that before heading to court, 12 year old Hannah noticed tears in Kelli's eyes. She put her arms around her mother and said, "Mom, remember what you always tell me, "Give it to God!" It didn't take the judge long to give Kelli complete custody of the children. I called Gramma to tell her the news. She sighed, and said, I am so relieved! God will take care of our sweet little Kelli!"

Monday, October 26, 2009

What a Sunday!

Sunday was cool and cloudy. However, the trees are putting on the biggest show this year. I don't remember them being so brightly colored. Perhaps it is because we have had more rain than usual, and we haven't had our Indian summer.

There were 17 in Bible Study Class. Four members were absent, and one new member joined. I continue to be amazed at the transparency of the class. One fellow spoke up and said that he was a negative person, but wanted to be around positive people. He asked us not to reject him! I assured him that it would not happen in our class. The comment didn't seem to follow the lesson for the day, but it met his need. Our lesson was about the trial of Jesus. The focus was on the fact that Jesus became silent. He knew when to speak and when to be quiet. We don't always have wisdom in that regard.

Pastor Larry spoke from his heart as he always does. He talked about the demonic spirits that inhabit our community. As a chaplain at Unity Hospital he has been asked to subdue demon possessed people because they exhibit extra strength. He told us the signs to look for in people who are troubled by demons. They have low voices, have unpredictable tempers and often have gastric problems. These demons cause people to have extreme depression and anger. There is hope for these people in Christ! Our church is having a Street Party next month. Free haircuts, oil changes, car washes, etc. will be given to anyone who comes in need. We will give food and jackets also.

After church, we went to Abuelita's for lunch with Sun and Masashi (a Japanese business student at St. Greg's Univ. ) Sun shared that she will stay at OBU after graduation and study media technology. It will enhance her degree in Sports Journalism.

Bill and I bought a large pumpkin from the United Methodist' and Bill carved it. It sits on our front porch and greets our visitors with a smile. Fall is so beautiful!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


One is with Noel and Janice at the Delta Cafe on their 35th wedding anniversary; One is with Kelli after church. The other is at the PowWow with Kelli, Hannah and Caleb. It was the year to honor the Bergeron family (my mother's maiden name is Bergeron. She is French/American Indian).

Friday, October 23, 2009

A beautiful poem sent to us by Dan Ursom
(Our neighbor in Manistee, Michigan who loves flowers.)

GOD'S Rosebud

It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of God's design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I...
GOD opens this flower so easily
But in my hands they die.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud
This flower of God's design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

So I'll trust in God for leading
Each moment of my day,
I will look to God for guidance
In each step of the way.

The path that lies before me,
Only my Lord knows.
I'll trust God to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose.
Friday Morning

Yeah! It's Friday! It's casual day at school which means I put on my jeans, London sweatshirt and my Reeboks. Everyday is extremely interesting! Yesterday, I was teaching the meaning of the phrase, "to be in shock". When I asked my students if they had ever experienced something traumatic which left them in shock, one young man raised his hand. I asked him if he would like to share. He nodded, and then told the class about watching a beheading several times in Saudi Arabia. I asked if this was common, and if the public was required to be in attendance. Students nodded in the affirmative all around the room. Then, a student asked me if I was afraid to die. Of course, that opened the door for me to express my faith. I'm afraid of pain, but not death.

I also learned that Saudi boys get their first cars and learn to drive when they are 10 years old. When I asked if that was a bit dangerous, I was told that driving is very safe in their country because there are no women drivers. That made me laugh! I also learned that the three cars of choice in Saudi Arabia are 1. Toyota 2. Ford 3. GMC/Jeep

We had an international dinner at St. Gregory's yesterday. This weekend, the students will go to the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa. Our former director, Desiree, lives in Tulsa now while her husband is in medical school. She wants us to visit her.

Afterschool today, we are having the duct system in our house cleaned and sanitized. That should take care of the dust problem. I don't think the ducts have been cleaned since the house was built!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Galen's Best Friend

Yesterday, Galen's best friend, Jim Murcray, had emergency colon surgery. Galen and Jim went to college together and have pastored in California since that time. Patty, Jim's wife, taught school with Sondra until her retirement recently. The doctor has given Jim a 50/50 chance for survival. He is 59 years old. Galen asked that we pray. I know how much Galen is hurting emotionally at this time. It is such a comfort to know that in times like these we have a God who knows what is going on and loves us. If God chooses death for Jim, Galen knows without a doubt that death is not the end ----only the beginning. Recently, Bailey Hill had dinner in our home. Yes, he cried when he talked about losing his wife, Berthena, but there was still joy in his face. He talked about the peace he had that was unexplainable. When I'm feeling sad and don't know how to handle losing friends, I'm so glad I have God to hold me in His arms!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thoughts on Aging

This morning I looked out my kitchen window and saw the remnants of Hurricane Rick blowing through our neighborhood. Orange and yellow leaves were floating to the ground. I was reminded that fall is here and summer has gone. It caused me to reflect on my life. I am in the fall of my life, but I am NOT old. I have worked in two nursing homes as recreation director (Del Rosa in San Bernardino, CA and San Francisco Nursing Facility in downtown San Francisco). I have looked back on those experiences and asked myself what made the difference in the patients that I came to know well. In most cases, it was the family that made a difference in the attitudes and spirits of the people. Some spouses and children were so condescending. They made the patient feel stupid and old. I have to admit that it would upset me to hear spouses make such remarks as, "Didn't you hear me??" "Didn't you see that??" "How many times do I have to tell you ....." and on and on. On the other hand, there were families who would just smile and be helpful. They knew that you don't have to be "old" to have a physical problem.

I notice that I tend to look right through people's physical appearances, and focus on their personalities. I appreciate the people in my life who see me as the same person I was 20 or 30 years ago. I love it when my family tells me how young I look. I hope that I have more wisdom now and have learned a few things along the way. My mother and her friends have taught me that the purpose of life is to love God and show Him by serving others. That keeps them young! St. Paul wrote that his body was getting older, but his spirit was getting younger each day. A young spirit will show on one's face.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Goal for the Week

I realized how much I appreciate looking at other people's pictures on their blogs! I'm going to try to put some pictures on my blog this week. Friends, don't hold your breath, it may take me a few days to do it. I have never been photogenic like other people, but it's time to be brave and go public. Smile! I really do thank you all for sending your pictures. It keeps us close!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Perspective Is Often Based On One's Limited Experience

This weekend I was talking to my daughter, Kelli on the phone. She shared with me that she had been chatting with her friend, Chris. Chris is a Stanford Univ. graduate and is a pilot for Delta Airlines. Kelli attended a military ball with Chris in high school. Oh, did I forget to say that Chris is black! That is not unusual if you grew up in California where people of all nationalities live side by side, and go to church and school together. My family is colorblind when it comes to people without a doubt. I am writing because I recently heard two former presidents say that people who disagree with President Obama must be racists. When I heard those remarks I immediately credited them to where those men were raised. If you are from the deep South, you might think those thoughts. However, there are millions of people who have close friends of color and do not agree with Obama's policies. In fact, there are many Black people who are not far left in their politics. I'm glad God will judge me as to whether I am racist or not.

Where you are raised may also influence your thinking about Christianity and faith. I was raised in California where the majority of my friends were Catholic, Jewish or nothing. Baptist churches were few and far between. I think the closest one to my church may have been 7-10 miles. It was not popular to be a Christian. I never thought that being a follower of Christ was in the culture, a part of the government or mandated by the community. Being a Christian was something you considered very seriously. When I moved to Oklahoma, I was amazed at all of the churches, and the culture. There were a lot of unspoken rules in the community that I didn't agree with. I have never considered myself as "regligious". I have a relationship with God that no church or community can mandate. I choose that relationship for myself, and how I will manifest it. The Holy Spirit will communicate to me what the Bible says , not a denomination or preacher, or the culture in which I live. Christians in the South need to rethink how they are ruining the cause of Christ and the church He intended.
Weekend Activities

I cleaned the house and ran to the grocery store while Bill worked on his on-line class Saturday morning. I figured out why he is working so hard. We are going to the Bahamas next March! He doesn't want to touch our retirement money until he reaches 62 years old. My dream vacation is New England, but I don't want to go there until next fall. Roger and Julie just got back from a cruise to Alaska. They loved it! I'm not in a hurry to go there because we flew over the ice flows several times going to Japan. I must say, they were absolutely breathtaking! My granddaughter, Selah, has the same color eyes!

Saturday afternoon, it was time to veg. Bill and I saw, "G-Force". I thought it was a kid's movie, but I don't think the kids understood it. They just loved the hampsters! Just pure fun! We also ate at the new Braum's that just opened. We learned that we are getting one in Tecumseh this spring. Wow!

Sunday, I taught my Bible Study Class. I'm always in awe because God just keeps bringing new people to our class. I knew the whereabouts of 6 of our members who could not attend this week, and we still had 16 people!! The lesson concerned the topic of "Betrayal". You think that someone loves you and is your truest friend, then they drop you. People had stories to tell about that topic! The point of the lesson was that we should not let disagreement in relationships ruin a relationship. We can love without always seeing eye to eye. It is so sad to see our nation torn apart by extreme differences.

Tonight, we are going to the Delta Cafe to celebrate Noel and Janice's 35th wedding anniversary. Noel is still fighting his heart problems and we are enjoying everyday that we can be with him!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Family Matters

I have a few minutes before my guests arrive. Noel, Janice and Janice's father, Bailey are coming for a few days. They will be staying at the LaQuinta Hotel, but will have dinner with us tonight. I have chicken vegetable soup in the crockpot and cornbread in the oven. I also made two key lime pies yesterday.

David called this afternoon. I hadn't heard from him for about a month. He said the Congressman and the Parole Board are playing a game. Anyway, a new date has been set for his release next June, and he won't have any parole. Good news!

Keri called. She is expecting baby #3. We are all surprised! I told her that Kevin may not get his boy. He may get twin girls. Ha!

Kelli called. Her divorce will be final October 26th. Yeah! She is selling her home and looking for a townhome. We're looking forward to her and the kids coming for Thanksgiving which is her birthday. She's loving her writing job at Cornerstone University. I'll write more later.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Listen to My Heart

Yesterday, six young men strode into my classroom and sat down. While I was making checks in my rollbook, Fahhad said, "Teacher Marti, you are very gentle." It made my day because I felt that I had been too hard on him when he didn't do his homework. I thanked him, and then apologized for having been so stern with him the day before. I explained that I know how smart he is, and I want him to do well in my class. He looked across the room at me and said, "I know! You are like my mother. You care about me because you have a warm heart." That meant more to me than he will ever know. I began teaching Fahhad last year when he could not say anything more than "hello" in English. Sometimes my words may sound harsh, but not on purpose. I pray that my family and friends will listen to my heart. It hurts when you make speak out of love, and you are misunderstood or rejected.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Study of Afterlife Experiences

A recent poll revealed that 12 million people have experienced some kind of spiritual experience during an accident or a surgery. C.S. Lewis wrote that people yearn for "that which is possible". If we yearn for water, water is possible. If we yearn for love, love is possible. If we yearn for life after death, it is possible.

Howard Storm is a former atheist and free-thinker who relates a very negative spiritual experience he had while on vacation. While waiting for emergency surgery in a Paris hospital, he felt that he was being transported into a very dark place with hostile beings. A voice kept calling to him to cry out to God. He resisted because he didn't believe in God. After almost being torn apart by these hostile beings, he tried to remember how to pray. He relates now that he said parts of Psalm 23, parts of the Pledge of Allegiance, and whatever he could think of from his childhood experience. Howard Storm has written a book, "My Descent Into Hell". In his sixties, Howard has made a complete turn around that has influenced his wife and family greatly. I refuse to give up on those I care about who have turned their backs on God!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Session

SEI has 12 sessions each year. That enables new foreign students to start when they can, and graduate at their own pace. The goal is to ready them to enter an American university. We began a new session this week. Due to the increase in enrollment, I was drafted to teach 4 classes. I teach advanced reading and writing in the morning, and beginning reading and writing in the afternoon. Our new students are from Saudi Arabia and Japan. We also have several new teachers. Yesterday, a new teacher, Dennis Jennings, asked to sit in on my advanced class. He is Sac and Fox, and has taught at San Francisco State. I took all of my advanced English Literature courses from that institution, so I thought it ironic that I was teaching one of their professors how to teach! Smile!

Bill continues to teach at SEI full-time, and has 4 more weeks of his music on-line class in the evenings. He has been discouraged with the quality of work that he is receiving from his Grand Canyon University students. Perhaps it is a sign of the times. God is still in control and knows the plan. I'm glad I don't have to worry about the outcome! I can relax!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekend Activities

Saturday morning was cool but sunny. I trimmed the bushes under the shutters in the front of the house, and picked up broken branches in the backyard from the last storm. Bill worked on his online class until noon and then suggested we go to Abuelita's for lunch. From there, we went to Dillard's. They had a sale on Lancome cosmetics, and I love their mascara! Even if I don't look better, I feel better. Ha! After spending an hour at the mall, we drove to the Hornbeck to see, "Harry Potter". We were both very disappointed! The story was slow, and had no real ending. Nothing was resolved.

Sunday felt cold. I wore one of my pullover winter sweaters. Sixteen people sat around 3 round tables that had been pushed together in a clover shape. I always sit while teaching. The lesson was from Mark when Jesus became angry and told off the religious leaders. We were reminded that there is a problem when the messenger becomes more important than the message. Sun brought her roommate at OBU to our class. Lin is from China, and is the captain of the women's soccer team. She also sings, and wants to be in the Christmas choir.

I watched two interviews on TV this weekend. One was with Marvin Olesky, Provost of King's College in New York. He was once a card carrying Communist and atheist. He spoke of earning a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and learning the Russian language. A friend gave him a Russian New Testament and he felt challenged to read it because he had never read the Bible as a "book". He took the challenge and was changed.

The second interview was with Michael Moore. He's a very funny man! He made me die laughing! He admitted that in spite of the things he said in his documentary on "Capitalism", that capitalism has made him who he is. He owns two homes that are worth a million dollars each. One of them is in Michigan. He was laughing and said that it is very paradoxical. I felt like he was secretly saying that people will believe anything, and if he can make money off of them, so be it! I also noticed that he hasn't missed any meals lately. I think he has been sneaking some hamburgers and fries from his favorite fast food chain. I have a guy in my Bible Study class that reminds me of Michael Moore. He says things that are "off the wall" at times just to see what people will say and do. I smile because I know that he is just getting a conversaton going --he doesn't really believe what he says because his life tells me differently. A smart person knows that extremes are dangerous. We are all looking for balance. Democracy and Communism are only as beneficial as the leaders are mature and responsible. Both can be good or bad!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Can't Believe I'm Doing This!

Last night, Pete and Lorna came over for dinner. I cooked spaghetti and made banana pudding from scratch. (Gramma's recipe) After dinner, Pete and I practiced a violin duet to play in church in 2 weeks. Neither one of us have played much since high school orchestra. Bill arranged a medley of "Spirit of the Living God" and "Greater Is He That Is In Me". After about 30 minutes, it was actually sounding pretty good. I was surprised at how quickly my arm and shoulder was tiring. Could it be that I'm much older than I was in high school?? A fellow in Japan encouraged me to buy a new Suzuki violin while living in Yokohama. I'm glad he did!

I must be a sensuous person! Yesterday, a graduating student gave us long-stemmed red roses, and Lorna brought me a gorgeous plotted plant of spider mums. They look and smell so sweet! It's that time of year! I want to burn cinnamon scented candles and get a pumpkin to carve. Fall is wonderful!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bobby Walker

My life is making a circle back to me. Thirty-five years ago my family lived on the campus of Golden Gate Seminary in San Francisco. During that time, we took in a 16 year old boy named Bobby Walker. There was trouble in Bobby's home and he didn't know where to turn. In spite of having two baby girls, we made room for him. Bobby smoked, wrecked his car and in short, was a troubled teen.

Last week, Bob's wife was dying and he turned to the internet to find us. Kirk drove to San Francisco with his Dad to meet Bob. When they arrived, his wife had just passed away at 50 years old. Kirk and his Dad officiated the funeral. It was next to a swimming pool in a recreation room. Kirk called when he returned home to pass on Bobby's message. He wanted me to know that my efforts were not in vain. He has seen the hand of God in his life and is telling his friends. Bobby wanted to apologize for the trouble he caused. Kirk laughed, and told Bobby that he had prepared us for hinself. Kirk told Bobby about his drug addiction and how God had delivered him. I had just told Kirk last week to "keep building the ark" when the world around you is so discouraging. I felt that God was speaking those same words to me when I heard that Bobby had given his life to Christ! Those challenging months suddenly became worth it, and I admit, I shed a few tears.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Celebration Service for Berthena

I had just turned onto the James River Freeway when my cell phone rang. It was Noel asking me to drive to the GreenLawn Funeral Home on Battlefield in Springfield. When Mom and I arrived, there was a host of immediate family members. Berthena looked absolutely beautiful! Everyone thought so! After the viewing, we ate a light dinner and then Noel asked us to get some ice cream from Andy's. We ate it in the La Quinta Hotel where we stayed. Noel checked us in. I about flipped! He had booked a suite for each of us!! There were 3 phones and 2 TVs in each suite. (Sondra, Galen's wife, was staying with Noel and Janice.)

The funeral was at the First Baptist Church in Nixa. It was the largest funeral I have attended. The new sanctuary doubles as a gymnasium during the week, and it was filled with people. Family and friends came from 6 different states. We all enjoyed the gospel quartet that sang with an acoustic guitar. The pastor was inspiring and reminded us that we are now writing our own funerals. We were also reminded just how thin the veil is between the spiritual world and the earth. Only those who are spiritually alive are aware. The rest have chosen to remain spiritually dead. When he asked how many had enjoyed Berthena's homemade pie. Hands went up everywhere!

Such occasions are always reunions. I talked to Larry Martindale who dated my college roommate at Cal Baptist. Larry retired from the Air Force and lives in Missouri now. I talked to Julie Hill who was a flowergirl with my Keri in Noel and Janice's wedding. She had flown in from Bakersfield, CA. I had not seen these people for 35 years. Our lives are short, but we will enjoy one anothers company in heaven forever! That makes me smile!

God was truly with me as I drove to Springfield and back home in 24 hours. The rain had stopped and I had no traffic to deal with.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rainy Monday

I will teach my grammar classes this morning and then pick Mom up for the drive to Springfield. Berthena's funeral will be on Tuesday morning at the First Baptist Church in Nixa, MO. Noel called to say that he has arranged for two rooms at the LaQuinta Hotel. Many people are flying in from California. It is raining, but I know that angels will be with me as I drive.

Saturday, was sunny and cool. Bill wanted to take a drive, so I showed him the restaurant where I had eaten with the church people last October when he was in Singapore. It is O'Dells Farm Restaurant on the highway going to Ada. Their speciality is ribs and homemade pies. It was very relaxing! We passed a horse driven wagon and watched trucks unloading pumpkins.

Sunday, was another good day. There were many people sick, but there were still 14 people in my Bible Study class. The lesson was about the cursed fig tree. I had not really understood that story before. Now, I realize that God has the power to cut off any Christian who does not produce spiritual fruit. He is merciful and gives us many chances before He unleashes His wrath. I think my tomatoe plants taught me that lesson!

We began Christmas choir practice after the service. We are singing the musical, "Joy in This Place" by O.D. Hall. I had so many flashbacks as we practiced! Bill directed this same musical in Yokohama, Japan. The Public Relations Director for the LandMark Hotel/Convention Center heard the choir perform and ask us to do it again in the hotel lobby. Wow! We were taken in the security elevator to the Emporor's private suite. There was a new baby grand for our warm-up practice. After our performance ( on a stage which had a circle of restaurants around it) we were invited to have tea with the hotel's chef. He had won awards in San Antonio's International cooking whatever? The Japanese loved the Christmas arrangements! We were so completely humbled by their response to Christian music. We pray that the people of Shawnee will be blessed by this musical as well.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'll Miss You! But I Won't Say Goodbye!

Last night, the phone rang. A broken voice on the other end said, "Aunt Marti, this is Mark. Gramma Hill is not doing so good, and Mom and Dad are at St. John's." We talked for about 10 minutes, and then I told him to call me back when he had more information. A few minutes later Noel called, but couldn't talk. He didn't have to, I knew that Berthena had passed away.

I met Berthena when I was 24 years old. Mom and Dad had moved to Wasco, California where Dad had taken a new pastorate. Bailey Hill was one of Dad's deacons, and his wife, Berthena took care of everyone! Noel fell in love with their daughter, Janice and married her. We became one big family. When Bailey and Berthena retired, they moved from California to Nixa, Missouri. It was natural for Noel and Janice to move to Springfield when Noel retired from the Navy. And then, Bill and I bought a home in Oklahoma. Everytime we visited Springfield, we enjoyed Bailey and Berthena's hospitality. We ate many delicious homecooked dinners together in their beautiful new home.

God knows everything! Steve, Noel and Janice's son, drives for Schneider Trucking but was home for the weekend. Dwayne, Janice's brother, is home from Singapore where he has been on business.

I'll be driving to Springfield with my mother for the funeral. Berthena, thank you for your love and for all of the happy times spent at your house! I will see you again. I don't have to say, "Goodbye"!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vacation Week

This has been a vacation week for me. Now, I know what retired people do. They do all of the things that have to be done again next week at a relaxed pace. I cleaned closets, organized coupons, did laundry and washed the car. My plants have quite bearing, but they are still green, so I won't pull them up just yet.

Yesterday was just fun! Mom had been so disappointed when I had to cancel her birthday party due to her pneumonia in August, so I invited her Bible Study group to my house for lunch and Mexican Dominoes. I provided Dr. Pepper and ice cream bars. They brought tacos from Taco Mayo. Those 80 plus year old ladies are sharp! They play together every week and I felt challenged to keep up with them!

This morning, the jack hammers are making their own music around our house. Bill spotted two crack lines around the door in our family room. A foundation company is here to put supports on the corner of the house. I guess this is very common as houses age, and when there has been a lot of rain. The men said that our house is in a great condition compared to some they have seen, and that we were smart to catch it while the problem is minor. Without a doubt, God led us to this house so that we can bless others. After living in condos and apartments abroad, I never want to take my home in the States for granted.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Message to My Grandchildren

Dear Caleb, Hannah, Selah, Sofia and Kyle,

You are growing up in a world that mocks faith. You will have teachers and friends who speak against God and the Bible. Remember, the opposite of faith is fear. Faith requires action, and fear will paralyze you from becoming everything that God intends you to be. We use faith everyday. I vividly remember the first time I flew on a 747 jet. I wondered how the plane could move, let alone get off the ground. I was apprehensive to say the least! After experiencing many flights, I ate my dinner, watched a movie and then went to sleep for 8 hours. I still don't really care how the plane works! I just want results!

I learned a lesson about faith when I lived in Kenya. Bill and I loved the movie, "Born Free" and wanted to visit the home where Elsa, the lion was raised. As a side trip, our driver stopped at Hell's Canyon for a short hike. I followed the Masai guide very closely. At one point there was a steep drop. We had to slide on the rocks and then jump down about 3 feet. No problem! When I landed, I realized that I was on a narrow ledge. Below me was another 7 foot drop with a river flowing through the canyon. Now what?? The guide began to crawl along the wall of the canyon until he reached a path on the other side. I was supposed to do that!! I was paralyzed with fear. I just knew that I would fall and a helicopter would have to pull out my dead body! I watched Bill make it across safely, and then it was "do or die". I prayed as I listened very carefully to everything the guide told me to do. I had to trust this guy completely! My face was toward the wall of the canyon so I could not see. I held on to the jutting rocks and put out my foot. I felt with my feet until I found the crevices, and then continued sideways ever so slowly. At last I was on flat ground again. The view was absolutely breathtaking! I would have missed it if I had not stepped out in faith and let fear dictate. Having faith gives you the courage to DO things that might otherwise seem impossible. Yes, faith requires action. In every case, Jesus asked the people in the Bible to show their faith.

Don't decide whether faith in God really works by watching and listening to other people. If you rely on your pastor, SS teacher, or Christians in general you will be very disappointed. No one but Jesus is perfect. That's the whole point! We all sin and need to be forgiven. The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. Knowing how rotten we are helps us to be humble and not judge others. Continue to love your friends who have not experienced God.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beautiful Weekend

It is Indian summer, and the weather couldn't be nicer! I have to admit that my weekend started off a bit nuts, but it kept getting better! Saturday morning, I took my mother to FireLake Grocery to cash in on a Dollar Sale. I needed to get ice cream for the students coming over in the afternoon. I wasn't prepared for the crowd! I haven't seen traffic like that since I was Christmas shopping in California. Again, I wasn't prepared for the VERY long lines! I thought that perhaps I had made a mistake in going, but everyone was so polite and everything moved quickly. After going through the express lane, I was met by Mom who told me that she was $7 short. I paid her bill and then loaded the groceries. Upon arrival at her apartment, Mom insisted that I use her walker to load the Dr. Pepper case. While pushing the walker, I hit a crack in the sidewalk which sent the cans rolling in all directions! I kept my cool, reloaded the DPs and carried them into her house. I practically ran to my car so that I could get my own ice cream home before it melted. Bill was on his way to pick up the college kids, but helped me bring in the "stuff" before leaving. It was one of those moments when I wanted to serve others, and it seemed that everything was backfiring on me.

We took the kids to Gliori's Restaurant and the whole world seemed to brighten. Ian and Phyllis are the type of people who make everyone around them feel special. We pigged out on the hot breadsticks brushed with galic butter. I tried Ian's fresh Italian creamy dressing on my salad. Yes, I have to watch my diet this week! After lunch, Bill took the students to the tennis courts behind our house and they all played. David wasn't feeling well, so I sat with him on our patio. His father has several oil companies in and around Beijing. We talked about the Chinese government, about his parents paying a $7,000 fine so that they could keep his little sister, and why they have sent him to America to study. When the others finished playing, I served banana splits and a variety of drinks around the patio table. We sat and talked until it was time to take them back.

The Bible Study group on Sunday continues to grow. I really think it is because the lessons challenge us and we spend so much time laughing. I changed the Supper Six groups for October. One group had stayed out on Saturday night until 11 p.m. grilling hamburgers and hotdogs on a farm. Sounded fun! Our lesson this week focused on the fact that to follow Christ means: 1. Self-denial 2. Serving others 3. Prepare for suffering At the end of the discussion, we all had to answer the question, "Is it worth it to follow Christ?" Faces lit up all around the room! Without exception, people said that they had gained far more than they had given up. Life on earth is very short, and we know that as Christians, we are assured of a big party in heaven. Everyone is invited. But, yes, it does require faith in Jesus Christ! I wish that I could ticket those I love into the party, but I can't.

Happy 40th Birthday, Keri! You are still so beautiful! I have heard many people say that when you walk into a room, the whole place lights up! I'm so blessed to have children of faith. You have allowed God to make your life different from the rest of the world, and wow! do you ever shine!