Thursday, December 27, 2012

Family and Laughter at Christmas

This was a wild Christmas season!  I planned to have my family for dinner on Christmas Day.  However, we had a snow and ice storm watch that changed our plans.  We decided to have our dinner on Christmas Eve.  My brothers David, Galen, and John came with their wives. With Mom, Bill and myself there were 9 adults.  I cooked a ham with all the trimmings while Bill cleaned the house.  After dinner, we exchanged gifts and then went together to Mom's church (First Baptist, Tecumseh) for a candlelight service.  Bill and I sang a trio with Sherry.  Mom had requested, "Come On , Ring Those Bells".  It was a beautiful service.
Christmas Day, we didn't get much snow, but we got a thin layer of ice.  Bill and I exchanged gifts and then enjoyed staying in the rest of the day.  In addition to the pearl earrings, I received a leather Bible cover.  I had never had one before.  I gave Bill a songwriter's software program and a BattleShip game which we played.   
Last night, we went over to Mom's apartment and had dinner with my brothers and their wives (Meche, Sondra and Cathy).  Actually, we drove through and got hamburgers.  We sat and told stories of when we were growing up.  We laughed and laughed at each others stories.  I also had a revelation!  David is the second child,  I am the third child, and Galen is the fourth child. The first 4 children were raised in San Diego, and Noel, John and Roger were raised in Bakersfield.  The cultures are very different!  My last three brothers like to hunt, fish, and work on technical things.  We are all solid Christians, but our skills are different. 
Today, we are preparing for Kirk's and Kelli's family to arrive on Friday.  Keri's family will arrive on Monday for the Big New Year's Eve party.  It will be a house party for sure!  This house will be shaking with laughter.  I'm so glad my parents loved babies and didn't abort me!  
I pray that those I love will have a blessed New Year and find magic in everyday!  For those who love the Lord, I'm very sure that we will all be together someday!   Yeah!    

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Celebrating Jesus' Birthday!

Last Wednesday, I had an echocardiogram.  When I drove out of the clinic parking lot it was 10:10 a.m.  The church choir was to sing at the Expo Center at 10:00, and Bill was going to play his trumpet solo.  I was sure I was missing it, and decided to just relax and let God order my life.  When I arrived, Pastor Larry said, "You made it!".  I thought he meant that I was just in time to accompany Bill.  However, the choir started filing onto the stage.  I grabbed some music that was sitting on the keyboard, and took my place.  The president of the event had talked, and I didn't miss a thing!!

On Thursday, I volunteered at the hospital because I had gone to South Heart Hospital on Tuesday to have a nuclear stress test.  While there, I met Nick who was my technician.  I learned that his wife worked in the imaging department at St. Anthony in Shawnee.  So, on Thursday, I met his wife, Katie.  They are both really sweet young people. 

Friday, Bill took me Christmas shopping.  I decided I could use a new windbreaker.  We went to Burlington Coat Factory and I found nothing.  We drove to Sooner Mall and I found nothing.  Bill was determined to get me something, so we went to Gordon's Jeweler.  I picked out a pair of pearl earrings.  While there, we met Melanie, a sales clerk who was from Macinaw Island, Michigan.  Her grandparents own a Fudge store there.  Bill was so excited to meet someone from his neck of the woods.  He spent two summers working on that island while he was in college.  He spent the other two summers working at Interlochen Music and Arts Camp. 

From there we drove back to Shawnee.  We decided to go out to dinner for our anniversary that evening.  We enjoyed lobster, and shrimp at Red Lobster.  It was next to the Shawnee Mall, so Bill decided I should look for a windbreaker there.  No such luck!  However, we did go into the Living Word Book Store and find two books we both liked.  One is "Strong's Bible Concordance", and the other is "The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell.  It proves that Jesus was who he said he is.  The book is filled with documents that are in the Oxford Museum in England.  If a person wants intellectual evidence, it is there.  If a person's heart is not open, it doesn't matter.  Pride will send them to hell, and they will never see the magic all around them.

Saturday, I went to the practice at the church for the Children's Christmas program.  I have been asked to play the piano with the guitars and drums.  The kids program is tonight at the church (Sunday).  After the practice, we picked up Noel and Mark and saw, "The Hobbit".  I wasn't impressed with the plot, but I loved the scenery!!  Bill and I visited "The Lord of the Rings" locations a few years ago in New Zealand.  I remember being on a mountaintop and looking down at a green meadow filled with sheep.  I thought of Psalm 23.  We brought home some of those sheepskins. 

This week as I listened to people asking, "Where is God?"  I also heard some people say, "Evil would be banished from the earth if there was a God."  And, then I heard someone say, "Maybe God should bansih me and you.  We are evil."  I am so glad that God is loving and doesn't always do things my way.  I have friends that should go to hell if they died today.  But God is patient, and gives people a chance to let Him change their hearts, and unlock their chains of pride.  I noticed that God allowed the shooter to kill innocent children, and adults who were believers.  He knew who was ready go to heaven.  The children cannot come back to their parents.  But the parents can go to their children if they choose.

I am also thankful that we have spirits in each one of us.  When I am not with those I love, I can close my eyes, and the love and friendship goes on forever!  I pray that you will find peace and music in your heart that only comes from the Heavenly Father who sent His Son to the earth so many years ago.  Can you hear the song?  You are loved!   Merry Christmas!      

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Tears and Smiles

Last weekend was very difficult for me.  I taught school for 22 years.  Five of those years, I taught first grade.  I could relate so personally when I heard of the school shootings in NewTown.  I could just imagine what those teachers were feeling!  Bill and I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya just 6 months after the embassy was bombed there.  Our school campus, Rosslyn Academy, is only 1 kilometer from the new embassy.  And, across the road are the offices for the United Nations.  Because of the proximity to these important buildings, we often had evacuation and stranger drills.  The first time I heard the siren, my heart pounded!  I lined up my 24 children and marched them across the soccer field to the line of waiting busses.  My eyes filled with tears as I realized my heavy responsibility, and I prayed!  The high school and the middle school joined us, and then the superintendent spoke over a loud speaker.  The grounds had been swept by security and there was no longer a danger.  I thanked God, and returned my children to the classroom.  Many of them were crying, and told me about their evacuation during the bombing when they were in kindergarten. 
I can't even imagine what the faculty and parents are going through in Connecticut as I think of my own grandchildren!  I did hear a father talk about his faith in God, and he encouraged the community to reach out to the shooter's family.  What an act of forgiveness!  That man will be able to go on with his life because he knows that God is in control, and that gives him peace and strength.   I believe that all of those innocent children are with God and are His angels.   I will continue to teach my children and grandchildren to trust God for everyday, and to live in His love, not in the fear of evil.  Light is more powerful than darkness!

Yesterday, our church choir sang their best musical yet! ( Chuck Edwards was not able to be there and record it for us because he is working in New York City for FEMA.)  The church has new omi-directional microphones and many people said the choir sounded like they were singing in a concert hall.  We sang, "Repeat the Sounding Joy" by Wayne Haun and Dave Clark.  It has a Branson feel, and the congregation started clapping along with several of the numbers.  At the close of the service, Bill was honored by the church.  He had worried over every detail, and God blessed his efforts.  The church was packed out, and we ran out of ham at the potluck.  There must have been 175 in attendance.    We have been asked to sing several of the numbers from the musical at the Okla. Expo Center on Wednesday morning for a Christmas party.  We are still amazed at how God has blessed us with so much talent, and we just want to give the songs back to Him!  The more we empty ourselves, the more God can pour into us!  Jesus was born so that we can have eternal life if we BELIEVE!                   

Friday, December 14, 2012

More Christmas Activities

Last night, Bill and I attended the Shawnee High School Band Concert.  Wow!  They had about 75 students in their band, so they divided them into two groups this year for the first time.I could tell that Bill missed not directing after all of his years of working with bands, orchestras and choirs.  He has offered to donate some of his time and work with the kids.  He has been substitute teaching at SHS for the past few months and is getting to know the faculty and students. 

St. Anthony Hospital sent all of their employees and volunteers to the movies for Christmas.  We had a choice, and chose SkyFall - James Bond.  We went on Saturday morning.  I was impressed at how organized it was.  After asking us which movie we were going to see, they directed us to the single line at the concession stand.  We each picked up a box of popcorn and took the soda of our choice which had already been poured.  It was a great movie!  Action packed, and family friendly.

This morning, Noel came over and helped us put up my new Thomas Kinkade wreath on the livingroom wall.  It has little village structures around it and a chapel in the middle.  Batteries light up all of the windows. 

Noel was on his way to the South Heart Hospital with Mark.  I just talked to him on the phone and learned that Mark's heart monitor showed some problems.  He has an appointment next week.

Noel spends all of his time at that hospital!!  Yesterday, he went with me to have a nuclear stress test on my heart.  When I got there, it was cancelled because I had not fasted.  I was not given any instructions before hand!  I will go back next week.  The techs felt badly, and gave Noel and me vouchers for the cafe.  That was nice.  I don't know what God has in mind.  But I just have to trust Him.  (Bill taught 5th grade yesterday while I was at the hospital.) 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home for the Holidays - Sometimes!

I just returned home from the hospital where I volunteer.  During lunch,  Pastor Larry introduced me to 3 doctors who are active Christians.  One administers chemo therapy to out-patients, one is an OB-Gyn, and the other is a general surgeon.  They are all very friendly, and it shows that they are believers!  While making my rounds on the 3rd floor today, I met a young woman with COPD.  She related to me that she thought she was dying last night while in ER.  She also told me that Dr. Anderson (my friend) had seen her through her trauma, and when the patient was aware of her surroundings again, she noticed that the doctor was wearing a pin that read "JESUS".  She told her that someone could wear an Obama pin, and still not know him.  Dr. Anderson smiled and said, "I know Him as my Savior and Lord of my life."  The patient then said, "I'm in the right hospital!"

Before going to the hospital, Noel and I attended a CPN Christmas party for elders.  It was my first.  We sat with our cousins, Ruth and Laura and talked about summers past at our grandparent's house.  (Mom had a dental appointment and couldn't attend.)  The food and drink was very good, and the CPN pre-school provided entertainment.  Noel won a gift certificate to the Delta Cafe.  Before we left, we were all given a bag of gifts and an Indian ornament made from beads.  Nice!

Last night, Noel called and said that he had prepared sloppy joes and homemade banana pudding for a family in his church who had come down with the flu.  Would we come?  Since I had just given 2 piano lessons and it was getting late, I was very happy!  Mom joined us as well.  It is so good to see Noel's health improving!!  He had some rough days in the past.

In fact, Noel is feeling so much better, that his pastor asked him to preach a week ago for both services while he was on vacation.  I played the piano for the evening service because the music director's mother-in-law died during the afternoon.  I don't usually attend in the evenings, but I did it for my beloved brother.  He is a great preacher.  He is interesting, brief, and challenges Christians.  After the service, we went to Braums' and I enjoyed an eggnog cone.

The "Christian Worldview" class is now finished, and "Writing for the Media" has begun.  I'm am so glad to be finished with the 2 atheists in our class!  They were extremely rude and loved to put Christians down whenever possible.  It was challenging to stay polite and objective.  Both students made an "A" grade because their papers were written well.  It was during the discussions that they were arrogant and hateful at times to their classmates and to Bill as the teacher.  I pray that Christians will never become so intolerant as what we have experienced.  I still don't believe anyone is really an atheist, just bitter and angry at God.  Or, they don't want themselves or someone they know to be accountable.  As I've said before, I have literally traveled the world, and people of all nations are seeking God in their own way.  We were created to do so!  The Bible says that we will be judged for what we know.  I know for a fact that "true" Christians are the happiest people on the face of the earth.  I can see peace on their faces and in their eyes - even in the midst of trials.  "Religion" and a relationship with Jesus are two different things!  Some "Christians" are not Christians at all. 

Last Friday evening, we had 21 people in our home for Christmas Choir potluck and practice.  I think the entire town must have enjoyed our music until about 8 p.m.  The musical rocks and everyone enjoys singing it so much!  Last Sunday, the choir sang "Come On, Ring Those Bells" to entice everyone to come back on the 16th to hear the whole enchilada.  The church has been talking about how many "powerful" singers we have this year.  There are 7 men who have outstanding voices.  It's God's choir, and He is blessing it more and more every year!!!    

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Pictures

Below, are a mixture of pictures going back to Halloween, our trip to Branson to the Lennon Sisters concert and a picture of my St. Anthony Hospital volunteer smock.  If I find more that are interesting, I'll post them as well.  While figuring out this process with our new computer gadget, I also edited some mispellings in my last blog.  Sometimes my fingers work faster than my brain! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Preparation

It seems that I never stop preparing Christmas gifts!  Yesterday, I learned that my younger brother, John, and his wife, Cathy, are driving to Oklahoma for Christmas.  Mom should be very happy!  All 6 of her kids will be here for the holidays.   Bill and I are hosting my brothers and wives, and my mother for Christmas dinner.  Later, our kids will arrive for New Year's weekend.

Tomorrow night, is our choir potluck and practice.  I spent yesterday at the grocery store.  Every year, I make sherbet and ginger ale punch.  I'll be baking a chocolate bundt cake this morning.

Last Sunday, the choir sang "Repeat the Sounding Joy" from our musical.  It is so Branson style.  We love it!   This Sunday, we will sing "Come On, Ring Those Bells".  And on the 16th, we will sing the entire musical.

Again, I enjoyed spending Tuesday morning at St. Anthony Hospital - Shawnee.  I met an American Indian lady who wanted a priest.  I told her that I had requested one, but I knew God really well.  She asked me to pray for her.  After I prayed, I began singing to her.  She had never heard, "Jesus Loves Me"  and looked into my eyes very intensely.  When I finished, she thanked me and began to cry.  I am learning every week that people don't know, or understand how much they are loved by God!  As humans, we can't comprehend divine love until we have experienced it.  Some have only known judgement, and punishment from their parents.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Bill has 2 atheists in his "Christian Worldview" class.  It is required by Gand Canyon University or they wouldn't be taking this class.  One of the students just cannot wrap his head around the idea of something existing that he can't see.  As a nursing student he will have to come to grips with that concept.  Also, he can't understand why God would send His son to die for people.  The first problem is accepting the fact that we are sinners who make mistakes, and need to be punished. You really have to humble yourself to see that.  However, the good news is that we have been forgiven.  I have a California license plate on my computer desk that reads, "NOT PERFECT - JUST FORGIVEN.

This week, Bill has started reading the Book of Revelation to me.  That use to be a difficult book to understand, but it is becoming more clear now.  It is an exciting time to be alive and watch the predictions come true!  The weather, the nuclear wars, the famines, and the dissolution of our governement......Wow!  It is absolutely the will of God that Obama be president.  We have a leader who has put fear into the hearts of the nation, and assures them that they can trust him.  People are like sheep, and will follow him off the edge of the cliff if need be.  If the economy of the United States can be flattened and everyone is depending on the government, the 666 can move right in and completely take over.  I am again reminded of my experience in East Germany before the wall was taken down.  I was not allowed to buy anything in the grocery store because I did not have a card!  (Food Stamps?)  They would not accept my East German marks.  The 666 cannot take over until the US dollar is worthless.  We now have a World Banking system, the computer is in place, English is the world language, and the UN is becoming stronger.  We don't know if 666 is a person or an organization, but we do know that it is anti-God, and that Christians will be persecuted.  I am sure, however, that Jesus will come back for his kids before He allows Israel to be destroyed.  He has protected the Jewish people since he made his promise to Abraham.  He is not a liar!  And He has a reputation to keep!      I have peace and happiness in my heart knowing that God is in control, even if my world is falling apart around me.  Thank you God for Christmas time!!