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Showing posts from 2011

Who Started All This New Year's Resolution Stuff?

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With New Year's upon us, everyone is reflecting on things past, hoping for things to come, and making resolutions to improve the things they can. Why? Who started this tradition at the first of every year? Curious, I did a little research.

The first to celebrate the beginning of a new year was the Babylonians on the Vernal Equinox, March 20th (or 21st in some years), at around 2000 B.C.  Besides being the first day of spring, this date has astrological significance. At exactly 7:21 pm EDT the sun crosses over the Earth's equator. Both day and night are of equal length, thus the name, Equinox - equal night. 

It wasn't until the adoption of the solar based Julian Calendar by Rome in 46 B.C. that January 1 was designated as the first day of the new year. It remained until the Council of Taurs abolished the practice in the year 567. The counsel claimed the celebration was pagan and unchristian, and they set the new year on either December 25th, Christmas, March 1, the Annunc…

The Unexpected Christmas Gift

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This Christmas my church offered only one Christmas Eve service, at eleven pm. I am not a night owl and any event, church or party, starting later than seven pm is a challenge for me.   With an abundance of churches in our area, I began an on line search for a Christmas morning service. I found a church offering a 10:30 am service only six miles from the house. Not a bad commute. I used to drive much further than that to attend church. However, there was one little flaw in this plan. Attending services at a church other than mine meant sitting in an unfamiliar church, with an unfamiliar congregation and minister, alone, on Christmas. 
My resolve to attend wavered. After a moment of prayer, I decided it was important I attend, regardless of how odd, or sad it would make me feel. I pulled on my coat of Courage and Trust, and went.

The church parking lot was almost empty. Was the web sight wrong and there wasn't a 10:30 service? Well, there were a few other cars..... I grabbed my purse…

The Pessimist and the Optimist

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Yesterday an acquaintance received the anticipated announcement she was finally hired as a permanent employee. I was happy for her, yet felt depressed as my temp situation is unchanged, and even a little tenuous.
My husband, understanding my lack of holiday enthusiasm, encouraged me to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, believing the silly antics of the characters would at least make me laugh. They did that, and surprisingly a little more. I also received a deeper message, not at that moment, but later.

I spent the rest of the evening mulling over my employment situation and other personal issues, sarcastically telling myself, "Well Merry Christmas -  not!"

Things changed this morning. With sleep, my first cup of coffee, and a beautiful dawn, the story of the Pessimist and the Optimist came to mind. Two boys were placed in separate rooms. One filled with every imaginable toy, the other with manure. After an hour observers went to each room to see the boys'…

Oil

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Having lived over half of my expected life span, I find myself spending more time wondering about the purpose of my life. Have I discovered it?  Have I fulfilled it?  So many of my dreams and aspirations were never brought to fruition, partly due to the choices I made, partly due to circumstances beyond my control. 

I did not become the famous ballerina I aspired to be.  I had the necessary grace and talent, studied the art with private lessons from the age of five through twelve, but when I gained my full height my teacher informed me five foot five was too tall to be a ballerina.

My parents offered private art lessons as an alternative. It was love at first brush stroke.  I had talent and potential. I studied, practiced and actually dabbled with a few pieces of commissioned work, but the dream of an art career never materialized.

Before I could explore that option, osteoarthritis developed in the lower thumb joints on both of my hands from overuse. My job as an Optician had destro…

A Few of My Favorite Things

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Last week's post touched on treasures and priorities. I have reflected a great deal about the things I treasure and came to realize there are treasures and there are favorites. Things should be favorites while God, faith, and family are treasures.


So, it is alright to have favorite things such as antiques, books, vases and mementos. The picture on the right shows a few of my favorite things.

The book is the one I've mentioned in previous posts, the one my sister gave me after my third husband died. It contains Maxfield Parrish prints with the words to the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It has brought much peace and comfort during the hard moments of my life, and so it is on my list of favorites.

The vase was given to me by my husband. He knows the story behind my affinity for lilies, particularly Calla Lilies, and that was the reason behind the gift. ( See post: Lilies). It is now among my favorite things as well.

The antique dolls are only two among a large collection, …

Treasures and Priorities

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The crash, followed by silence meant trouble.  I rushed into the kitchen and immediately saw the shattered plate on the counter. My eyes then flew to my husband. He stood by the sink running water over the fingers on his right hand.

"Are you hurt?"

"Burned my hand pretty good."

"Oh, Honey. Are you alright?"

"I'll know in a minute."

"What happened?"

"I didn't realize I'd turned the burner on under the plate and when I touched the plate, it of course burned me. I pushed the plate off the burner, but it shattered when it touched the counter."

"Were you cut?"

"No. Just burned."

I looked at the shattered plate. It was a piece of Franciscan China given to me forty years ago as a wedding present. Although that wedding ended in divorce, it had been given to me by my family and I treasured it. Since marrying Bill, pieces, mostly dinner plates, had been gradually disappearing. The set was now down to on…

Post Holiday Reflections

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The turkey is nothing but bones. Only crumbs remain from the pies. The suitcases, the air beds, and the general clutter are gone. The floors are once again open spaces where the hostess can walk unimpeded. Gone also are the giggles and screeches of grand kids, and the constant hum of a dozen different conversations. Everyone is back home, back to work and school, back to life.

However for one brief weekend we re-lived what once was, a time when family was around for every occasion, happy or sad. When only days passed between visits instead of years.

I will hold the memories of this special holiday in my heart, pulling them out during future holidays when we cannot be physically together.  

This Thanksgiving held something even more miraculous than being all together, the celebration of my parents 60th Wedding Anniversary. They were married on Thanksgiving Day, 1951.

The Turkey - A Re-Post in Honor of Thanksgiving

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We were flat broke with several more days to payday. With three kids to feed and a pantry nearly bare, things looked pretty grim. I mentioned my concern to a close friend at work.
"Remember when God paid your insurance? If He will do that, he will surely fee your family as well. Trust Him."
She then told me this story.  A flood ravaged a small community, forcing many residents onto their roofs to await rescue. One man, looked at the water already lapping against his ankles, realized he couldn't wait too much longer to be rescued. Unable to swim through the raging water, he faced certain death if he wasn't found very soon. Desperate, he cried out to God to rescue him. God promised He would.
 A rescue helicopter noticed the man on the roof, flew over and lowered a rope. The man waved them off. God was going to rescue him and he didn’t need the helicopter. The crew shook their heads at the man’s foolishness and moved off in search of other victims.
Two men came by in a …

Needs

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I've spent a great deal of my life clinging to a job, a home, financial security, husband, children, parents  -  things, and in the process expending a great amount of emotional and physical energy. I am not saying we should not care about people or things, we should. We need relationships, we need things in order to survive, but we need God more. One of my devotions mentioned a popular chain e-mail. It asked, "Suppose you're house was burning, with all of your family already safe, you have just enough time to take one item with you, what would you chose?"
As I went through a mental list of things I treasured, a new thought emerged. What if God came to the door and simply said, "Come." Would I need to say goodbye to family first? Would I tell Him, just a minute I want to grab a few things, or would I have enough faith and trust in Him to simply step out the door? I decided I could just walk away. After all if God were personally beckoning me, why would I no…

Two Masters

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No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Luke 16:13.
I understood the above passage on an intellectual level, dispassionately, objectively, yet never personally, until yesterday.

My temp position requires a staggering amount of training, and after three months I do not feel any more competent than I did after three weeks in my last position. The result, I am still making mistakes like a new-hire. To a Perfectionist/Over Achiever this is frustrating, humbling and sometimes humiliating.

Yesterday, I made an error, important, but not grievous.  With constant interruptions from the phones, I was distracted, lost focus and confused two gentlemen's names. Both names were similar:  same first name and close last name. As a consequence, I sent an important, (thank goodness not a confidential) package to the wrong address.

My supervisors were kind about the er…

Last Night, I Died

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I have had many unusual dreams, some were premonitions foretelling future events. Others have given instruction. Last night's was one of these last.

In the office where I am employed as a temp, there is a backroom used for shipping. I spend a great deal of time there preparing domestic and international literature shipments. In the dream I was in this room when I collapsed. 
My soul separated from the flesh, and stood looking down at the crumpled shape. "Well. I guess I'm dead. And that's okay. No more worry, or pain. I certainly don't need to be concerned about finding another job." I felt a twinge in my conscious. My family. They would be hurt. 
God spoke to me. "You are not dead. I am going to send you back."
I looked down at my body. "You know, if someone finds me and calls 911. That's going to cost money. I don't have insurance, and Bill and I are barely hanging on now. This will tip us over the financial edge."
"No one will f…

The Time of Waiting

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The word, no, is a hard one to accept, especially after pouring your heart and soul into an endeavor with the belief that honesty, loyalty, skill, and patience would matter. After being pursued, and yet still rejected - with the promise you would be kept in mind - the knife cuts even deeper.  

When the tears and initial pain finally subsided, accusation settled in. I simply wasn't good enough. My hard  hard work and diligence was not good enough. The words cut deep, leaving seeds of hatred and bitterness in the wound.

I plucked out most of these seeds through prayer, but could not completely eradicate hurt, discouragement, doubt and anxiety. These remained, winding long tendrils through my heart and mind. More prayer, and the Master Gardner began pruning away the unwanted growth. I writhed with pain under the sheers, but knowing the pruning was necessary, I did not run.

When at last the pruning was finished, and the pain subsided, I picked my self up and continued moving forward. A…

Bread Crumbs

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My life changed dramatically after my first vision, described in an earlier post, The Divine Embrace. God told me I would walk through an inferno, not as a punishment for my sins, but through the natural course of my life. I would endure great pain.

Following this revelation came horrendous, life altering events. However, He offered encouragement, consolation and guidance through dreams, premonitions and scriptural promises.

This week I have faced yet another momentous life course change, and I am unsure of which direction to take. The variables are too numerous to fathom. As before, God has provided some clues to what is His will in the matter.

Like bread crumbs, or sometimes even the more prominent rock piles hikers use, He has marked the trail.

Luke 12: 6-7  Are there not Five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet no one of them has escaped the notice of God....Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. 
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious over anything.
Luke 12: 22-28 There…

Guest Blogger, Lydia Harris, a.k.a. Grandma Tea

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Lydia is gracing us today with a glimpse of her newly released book, Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, and recounts some of her journey to becoming a published author.
Lydia Harris
Thanks for inviting me to guest blog on your site, Ceci. I’m glad to share a bit of my writing story with your readers.
Writing and Grandparenting In Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, I’ve combined my passion for grandparenting and my calling to write. My book is a Bible study for new and experienced grandparents, but it’s not your typical study. Although full of scripture, it also contains practical and creative ideas to share fun and faith with grandkids. I interviewed dozens of grandparents, so the book includes their stories and quotes as well as my twelve years of hands-on grandparenting.
The study affirms grandparents in their important role, provides tools to become FANtastic grandparents, and helps them to pass on a legacy of faith. One grandmother wrote, “Your book has challenged me to think …

Disposable

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We are a nation of disposable products, touted as modern.conveniences, and yes, they are convenient.  Who can argue that paper plates, plastic silverware, water bottles, diapers, carryout containers are so much easier than what our parents and grandparents dealt with. Yet, what price have we paid for this convenience? I am not talking about just the trash problem all this disposable conveniences have created. There is something deeper, and more troubling  in our society.  

 Corporate numbers have always dictated companies' decisions, and to some degree, justifiable. The corporations, or business, toss out the unwanted numbers like disposable conveniences, regardless of what they represent: product or people.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I owned my own business and I know the value of those numbers. If a business can't make a profit, then it can't pay its bills, including payroll. What I do have a problem with is the deception and ruthlessness some corporations and bus…

Perfection

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Our culture seeks perfection in everything. The perfect job, friend, boyfriend, spouse, car,  weight,  teeth, hair. The list goes on and on. The ads in magazines and TV tout products and services guaranteed to help us achieve this state of perfection.   
I know better than to swallow this lie. My teeth will never be perfectly white or straight. My hair will always have that little wave right in the middle of my otherwise perfectly straight coiffure, and as I age, I fall shorter and shorter of our culture's model of perfection. I am okay with that. I am also okay with imperfection in other areas as well. My husband is no longer the physical Adonis I married,burr I still love him. I forgive my friends's shortcomings, and never think of, or mention, family slights or miss-communications. None of it matters, not really, except in  my church.

After leaving my hometown and the church I attended for most of my life, I have been searching for another church community and have yet to …

Me? A Hypocrite?

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“My name is_______and I am a hypocrite.” Many nonbelievers think every Sunday service should start out with this announcement. They don't realize most attendees are there concentrating on their own transgressions, but  they aren’t as vocal as the ones that cry out “Do this and don’t do that” and then turn around and don’t do that and do this. Shall we say Bad Press?

 I counted myself as among the repentant until one of my devotions cut through my pat perceptions and sent a dagger right into my heart. It accused me of being a hypocrite.

I wanted to shout, "No, not me! Surely you don't mean me!" But, I couldn't. 
The devotion that so cruelly pierced my heart was titled 9/ll and Learning to Forgive by Msgr. Stephen J. Rosetti in Living Faith. Forgive? I had on numerous occasions and I felt smug. I forgave my cranky neighbor, my annoying coworker, and the abusive spouse, but when Msgr. Rosetti pointed out I needed to include the terrorists of 9/ll, my heart stopped. M…

Special Post: Interview with My Friend, Sylvia Stewart, Author of the Newly Released Novel, Kondi's Quest

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Hello.  I’m happy to be with you today.  Do you have your coffee or tea cup at hand?
My name is Sylvia Stewart.  I’ve served as a missionary in Africa for almost 32 years.  We loved the 21 years we spent in Malawi, East Africa.  Malawians became dear to our hearts, and Malawian children are as sweet as kids from any other country.  They had a special place in my heart.
We went on to spend another 11 years in Ethiopia.  I felt drawn by the children there as easily as I was toward Malawian children.  Long before I left Africa to retire, I wanted to leave a written legacy for Africa’s children.  Later, my grandchildren came into the picture and my book is dedicated to them and the children of Africa.
My pre-teens’ novel, Kondi’s Quest, has just released.  The main character is a composite of many girls I knew in Malawi.  Kondi’s Quest will introduce you to Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa.  It will also give you a glimpse into an African culture as well as provide a fascinating story of Kon…

I Get It

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The epiphany occurred at a red light. My thoughts were whirling around several concerns, my temporary job and pressure from family to put my needs above my conscious. A month had passed since I began my temporary position, and I was still training.  Two more months and the assignment would end and I'd be back job hunting. It seemed like a waste of time and energy for both the company and myself.

My family pointed out the company would not hesitate to make any adjustments necessary to ensure greater profits - at my expense. Why shouldn't I consider my needs first? I was not under contract, and could leave with only the customary two week notice. Sounds like a simple choice, except  two weeks would not be enough to train a replacement. Would that be ethical? I oscillated between the desire to ensure my future employment, and doing what my conscious told me to.

The epiphany occurred when I realized I didn't have to make that decision. I could let God decide. I know that sound…

In Honor of the Men and Women of Law Enforcement

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My husband, now retired, served as a peace officer for thirty-five years. We have often talked about his career and the perception the general public has of officers. In summation, he gave me this poem. I  think it says it all. I dedicate this post to all the men and women, past and present, who have, and are, serving in law enforcement: 

The Final Inspection
The policeman stood and faced his God which must always come to pass,  he hoped his boots were shinning just as brightly as his badge.
"Step forward now policeman, how shall I deal with you? Have you always turned the other cheek, to my Church have you been true?
The policeman squared his shoulders, and said, "No, Lord. I guess I ain't,  because those who carry badges  can't always be a saint. 
I've had to work most Sundays and at times my talk was rough and sometimes I've been violent because the streets are awful rough.
But I never took a penny that was not mine to keep, Though I worked a lot of overtime when the bills jus…