Psalms 119:164 "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments."
Yesterday at church, Pastor Bish gave us a seven day challenge that I decided to do this week. He quoted the verse above and said something like this: "If more people were to praise the Lord during the day instead of complain about things, this would change our entire attitude."
I felt like this would be a good thing to do this week, seeing that it is Thanksgiving week and so I said I would do the challenge. Though it is later than I planned to post this, I have still been stopping today to thank the Lord for the many things that He has blessed me with in my life.
This is going to be a different type of post because I will be adding to it each day, but my hope is that my focus will get off of the negative things around me and boost my spirit with thankfulness and praise for the goodness of the Lord.
Won't you join me in stopping seven times each day this week and thank the Lord for something good He has done in your life? (Note it is hard to find just one thing to be thankful for each time so excuse me if there are multiple praises and thanksgiving.)
Day One (Monday, Nov 20th, 2023)
7:00AM - I am thankful for a new day where His mercies are new, and for hot water for my shower.
9:30AM - I am thankful for the ability for me to go shopping and get provisions for my family. He supplies all our needs!
10:30 AM - I am thankful for a little extra $ to buy things for friends that will bless them and put a smile on their face. It really is fun to give!
2:00 PM - I am thankful for the beautiful birds that come to my bird feeders and fill the air with color and song. God really is such an amazing artist with the earth as His canvas.
4:45 PM - I am thankful for fun lights and lanterns to make my house cozy when the sun sets at 4:30 these days.
7:00 PM - I am thankful for the health that my family has had. We never had a broken bone, even though we thought that Caleb would surely be the one to do that with all his crazy antics. We never had any serious diseases, for which I am very grateful.
9:45 PM - I am thankful for my husband who I can talk to, who gives me helpful advice about tough decisions we have to make in life.
10:30 PM - I am thankful for my soft, warm bed to sleep in.
Day Two (Tuesday, Nov 21, 2023)
6:30 AM - I am thankful for warm little kitty bodies who sleep against me during the night.
8:00 AM - I am thankful for the smile (if you can call it a smile that early in the morning) on my son's face as he heads off to school with a good and positive attitude toward his school day.
9:30 AM - I am thankful for a reliable car that gets me around to do all the errands I need to do everyday.
11:30AM - I am thankful for my salvation and being raised in a Christian home.
2:30 PM - I am thankful for a cute little office where I can do my work for our business.
6:00 PM - I am thankful that none of our children had any horrible diseases, nor have we had any broken bones and our visits to the doctor were minimal.
9:30 PM - I am thankful for times when we can gather in our living room with our children and hang out and chat about different things about life, work, and just have fun.
Day Three (Wednesday, Nov 22, 2023)
7:00 AM - I am thankful for the rain to water the earth.
9:00 AM - I am thankful for days like today (before a holiday) when everything in my kitchen smells good.
12:30 PM - I am thankful for my kitties who make life very interesting with their antics.
2:30 PM - I am thankful that Grammy Gwen is doing much better after being so sick last week.
5:30 PM - I am thankful I had the energy to get everything done that I did today.
10:00 PM - I am thankful for the time I can rest because after 17,000 plus steps, I am exhausted and hurt all over.
Day Four (Thursday, Nov 23, 2023
7:00 AM - I am thankful I did not have to get up to an alarm today, though my mind woke up early and wouldn't stop thinking about the day.
I was very busy today as I prepped for our Thanksgiving meal with our guests, so I did not have specific times I stopped to thank the Lord for things. But here are a few things I am thankful for about this day:
I am thankful it was such a beautiful day outside and the sun was shining.
I am thankful my huge turkey came out nice and moist.
I am thankful that we could be a blessing to our youth pastor and his family and enjoy a meal together.
I am thankful for children who can step in and help me peel potatoes, set the table, and do other things that I just couldn't fit in.
I am thankful we had enough food for all and plenty of dessert to go around.
I am thankful that my mother-in-law did not end up in the hospital this Thanksgiving time.
Day Five (Friday, Nov 24, 2023)
7:00AM - I am thankful for a day to work with my mother-in-law and catch up with her this morning.
8:30 AM - I am thankful that I can sing and write songs
10:00AM - I am thankful for electricity and lights to see by
1:30 PM - I am thankful for the news that some hostages were released in Israel and that the temporary cease fire has given my friend some time of peace for her and her family.
3:30 PM - I am thankful for the snow that I got to see on my travels through Vermont.
4:00 PM - I am thankful for the little nap I took in the car to help me feel revived.
6:30 PM - I am thankful we reached my family's house safe and sound
Day Six (Saturday, Nov 25th, 2023)
8:00 AM - I am thankful for a new day to spend with my mom and siblings
10:30 AM - I am thankful for the crisp, clear air of the mountains
11:30 AM - I am thankful for the amazing beauty of the mountains around me
1:30 PM - I am thankful I had enough ingredients to make plenty of dessert for the party
3:30 PM - I am thankful that my sister-in-law was feeling well enough to come to our Pinkham Thanksgivng
5:00 PM - I am thankful for the kitties that surround me and make me laugh at times.
9:00 PM - I am thankful for bedtime after a long day
Day Seven (Sunday, Nov 26th, 2023)
8:00 AM - I am thankful that it is Sunday
11:00 AM - I am thankful I got to join my brother, sister, and mother at church today.
2:00 PM - I am thankful for lunch time to help stop my growling stomach
3:30 PM - I am thankful for my husband helping pack the car so we can get on the road before any bad weather
5:30 PM - I am thankful for rest stops to take a bathroom break on the road
8:00 PM - I am thankful that our travel was smooth and we got home safely.
9:15 PM - I am thankful to be back in my own bed to sleep, with my kids and kitties close by.
This is the end of seven days of gratitude, but in no way does my gratitude and thankfulness stop here. I hope this is just the beginning of telling my Lord just how grateful I am for all He has done for me.
I'm sure we have all done it sometime in our lives...made a dinner or two that was simply one of those ones where your husband looks at you and says, "Do I really have to eat this?" I must say my husband is amazingly thoughtful though, and is careful with his words when it comes to my cooking. Over the years I have learned what he likes and what doesn't appeal to his pallette. I try to cook things specially for his taste, but back in the day when we were young and just married, I was just learning how to cook. I wanted to be a good wife. I wanted to cook healthy, low-fat meals, so I bought the no-fat cream cheese, the whole wheat pita breads, and the low-fat mozzerella. It all sounded good in the recipe I was using, but seeing those small, brownish pizzas on our plate was another thing. I took a bite. I felt like I was eating cardboard, but struggled through the rest of it. I glanced at Joe and he was eating it too, so I figured it must be okay. We had a few more left and I wanted to diligently plan ahead for the next day so I asked him, "Would you like me to pack one or two up for your lunch tomorrow?"
He looked at me with eyes of fear as he thought about having to eat more of these pizzas at work the next day. "Um, sure?" he answered.
It suddenly hit me that he was not enjoying them either. He was just eating them to please me and make me feel good. My heart sank.
"They really aren't that good, are they?"
He shook his head.
"I don't really like them, either," I told him.
I quickly stood up and carried the tray to the trash where I dumped the terrible healthy, cardboard pizzas. We were both relieved we didn't have to eat anymore of that!
We still laugh about that time now, though I must admit, I've had a few other failed dinners since then. But nothing like last night...this was completely different. And it wasn't entirely my fault. Maybe.
I had my dinners all planned out for this week, but things changed when I heard I needed to make dinner for my in-laws last night. I changed out my meal idea for the evening and opted for my meatball soup with homemade bread, which was something that could stretch for a lot of people. I have been having a hard time learning to cook for smaller groups now that my children are here and there and yon most nights, so I was excited to make a big pot of soup for a crew. I went out to the store to get my ingredients. I stood in front of the ground chicken and a thought briefly crossed my mind that the chicken didn't look as bright and fresh as it should. The date said it was good until the 21st which meant there were still six days until it expired, so I brushed the thought away. I got four of them and the other items I needed and went home.
I began making dinner early so I could get the food over to my in-laws before church that evening. I opened the first package of chicken and slight smell of something off hit my nose. Now I know that chicken always has a little smell to it, so I kept thinking that it was just the normal smell of raw meat. I opened the other packages and they didn't have as strong a smell, so I put the first one aside and made my meatballs with the other three. But something just wasn't sitting right in my spirit. There was an odd smell in the air that still seemed off. I just hoped it was the first package of meat I decided to throw away. As I rolled the meat into little balls and dropped them into my pot of boiling broth, I prayed over the meat. I know this sounds stupid, but God can change anything after a prayer of thanks, right? I prayed that there was nothing wrong with this meat and that nobody would get sick from food poisoning if they weren't good afterall. :(
As the meat cooked, I made up my bread dough and popped it into the oven to rise. My mind was not thinking clearly having been a little stressed over what was boiling on top of the stove and I didn't realize I set the oven a little hotter than I wanted to allow my bread to rise. When I took it out half an hour or so later it seemed hard and dry on the top, almost like it had been cooked a little bit. Needless to say, I pulled off the top part to reveal still soft dough underneath, so I managed to make about fifteen rolls with the good stuff. The other half of th dough ended up in the trash.
Ben came upstairs to see what was cooking for dinner. He often comes in to see what I'm making, but I think he does it to see if it passes his liking or not. He was very happy when he saw the huge pot of meatball soup cooking, so he went back down to his room to eagerly wait for dinner.
It was almost 5:00 when I decided to taste test a meatball and see if it was all right to eat. With my dairy issues, I didn't want to eat a whole one because of the parm inside it, so I took one bite and chewed it. It had a funny taste to it, but I had to prove that it wasn't just my own fear cautioning loudly in my head. I took the other half of the meatball to Joe and asked him to try it. As he chewed it I asked him, "Does it taste okay?"
He nodded, then glanced at my face in question. "I think so. Why?"
I shrugged as I began to head back in the kitchen and then I heard him shudder and say, "Ugh!"
I turned around. "Does it have a bad aftertaste?"
He was looking at me now like I had sprouted horns. "Yes!"
"Oh man, now we can't eat that soup. I wasn't sure if the meat was good from the start, but the expiration date said it was good until next Tuesday!"
"You mean you fed me bad meat? Are you trying to poison me?"
"No! I just needed your opinion without knowing the facts that might have changed the ending here."
And then he tells me, "Well, the air has had a bad scent in it, like bad meat for awhile now..."
I wish he would have told me that before I had made the soup!
But now I had a new problem! I still had to make dinner! I still had to feed my family plus my in-laws... Tomorrow's dinner idea came into my head. I had the ingredients for stove-top parm pasta, so I dumped the nasty meatball soup down the disposal and began making a whole new meal with different pots and pans for all the items needed. About a half an hour later Ben came back up and stood in front of the stove in confusion. I had pasta boiling in a different pot on the stove, as well as sauce and two other pots in the back. He glanced at me with a raised eyebrow.
"What happened?" He looked around the room still in obvious confusion. "Weren't you cooking meatball soup?"
I wanted to tease him about how that was yesterday and how he had missed an entire day between then and now, but I was worn out and didn't feel like teasing anyone. I just wanted dinner to be done so we could move on from this disaster.
Well, it all moved smoothly from that point, but I learned something here. Maybe a few things....first of all, if there is a check in your spirit about the meat sitting on the shelf, don't buy it. Move on to a different type or brand. Stick with your gut.
Secondly, if there is a smell in the air that doesn't sit right in your head, don't use it. Stick with your gut.
Thirdly, if there is something you want your husband to try, explain the situation and he may have some insight that can help you decide whether something is safe or not. Two noses are much better than one. ;)
Life has a really bad habit of stealing time. It quietly sneaks around, snatching away the hours one after the other like it has nothing better to do. But now it isn't just hours, it's the years that seem to be fleeting away. Let me show you what I mean:
My oldest is now married and has been happily settled down with his wife now for five months, but it was just yesterday when I was holding him in my arms for the firist time, marveling that such a tiny little human had come from me!
My second son is an adult, still living at home, but learning to make his way with his job, learning to pay bills, and trying to figure out what he should do with his life. But it was just yesterday when he had so much energy that we had to constantly tell him to sit on the couch and calm himself down, or stop breaking things! My prayer for him is to find what God wants him to do and put all his energy into that so he can live for Christ and be blessed. No matter what it is, God can guide him to that next step.
My oldest daughter is engaged, with a wedding date set for next July. She is very excited, though extremely busy as she plans all the little details she wants for the day her dad gets to walk her down that aisle. But it was just yesterday when I was holding her little hands in mine as she learned how to walk across the room, her doll-face beaming in pure joy as she stepped out into a new phase of her young life.
My fourth child, my second daughter, is learning to be a pilot. She is very adventurous, a bit like me when I was that age, but I would say a lot more daring. In another month or so she will be taking her flight test to get her small plane pilot license. But wasn't it just yesterday when Joe used to hold her up on his shoulders and pretend to fly around the house as he sung the Superman theme song?
And lastly, my fifth child. My baby boy, who is no longer a baby, but the tallest person in the house. He is the only one left to drive to school every morning, and come next January, he will be able to get his driver's permit and will be driving me to school every day. The children always wanted me to be the one to teach them to drive, but I am not sure I want to do it again. I might send him to driving school if that will help us all a little bit with the stress of it all. But wasn't it just yesterday he was driving around in his Little Tykes car in the driveway, waving to us as he went past the walkway?
The fact of how things have changed really hits me hard on nights like tonight. Now we never took our kids out trick or treating, but we created our own tradition at home, calling it "Hide from Halloween Night". I would make homemade pizza and fudge, turn all the lights out, and we'd watch a movie or two while eating pizza on a picnic blanket. The other day I asked the kid, if they wanted me to make pizza and fudge. They were all in agreement, but I keep hearing that more and more of them are going to be away doing their own thing tonight. Either working or hanging out with their friends. I grew a bit sad and asked one of them if I should even make anything special.
"Of course! It will still get eaten! We love homemade pizza and fudge!"
So, it is with a sad, but grateful heart that I move forward to make that fudge and pizza. Because, even thought they won't all be here, I still have children at home and I will cherish each moment I have them around. Because tomorrow, they might be off on their own. Thank God for memories and pictures. :) God bless you!
The play was finished, and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. I could relax as the rest of the service continued. The little K5 graduates were very cute as they walked down in their red gowns. They had no idea what was going on but were excited about the award they would each get. Their smiles were contagious, infecting the entire crowd watching them.
As the names of the students were called out, my mind wandered to the drama that had just been performed. I was so proud of my students – they had done an amazing job that night, something that I’d had plenty of doubts about in the previous weeks of practice. In fact, I had almost considered canceling the entire production because it was just not getting anywhere. I had felt as if over half my class had not even attempted to put any effort into learning their lines or listen to my directions on how to act their part on stage. I acquired many new gray hairs during the last three months, thanks to the many moments of grief and frustration I experienced over my students’ behavior. I felt like we were just not connecting.
It is a teacher’s job to tie heart strings with their students. To connect with their heart. Each one learns differently. Each one has something inside that makes them tick. Something that makes them come alive and blossom. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and we need to work with both. Connecting is so important. And I felt like I was not connecting with them all through the year. There were the few easy ones who did everything that was expected, but then I had the ones who either had no choice to be in my class, or they had chosen the drama elective because they preferred that option over the other elective choice. They thought it would be fun. And it was, at first. We played games to help them be comfortable with each other, games that encouraged teamwork and cooperation and working together. We did improv, which many loved, but some hated and did not want to even put any effort into trying to think of something to say. It was blah to them.
And that’s fine. Not everyone is an actor. Not everyone was made to be on the stage, front and center. Some like being in the shadows, doing all the behind-the-scenes work. Some like to work on costumes and make-up. Some like making the sets and doing all the work of moving scenes and setting up the stage. Some like writing the play and content to be dramatized. To be honest, I would have loved to find each one’s strength in these areas, but we had a small stage, a small group, and just me. Maybe it would have been better if I had five actors on the stage and the rest doing stage work, but there was not enough room to do all this. Besides, when we did a smaller production after the first half of the year, many complained they did not get the bigger part and felt like they had wasted their time. I just could not keep everyone happy. So, I gave them each a survey after we came back to school from Christmas break. What did you like about the production? What didn’t you like? How could we improve on what we did? Do you want a big part or a small part in the next play? I wanted to hear from them and connect with them. I wanted to get it right this time.
After reading all their comments, I revisited my original play script and rewrote it to fit my entire class. It took hours to do. I wanted to make sure every single one of my students had a part in this next play, and that none of them felt left out. They were all important.
I spent each class time getting my students up in front of each other, reading scripts or doing improv. I seriously watched each one, taking notes as to who could handle the heavier roles, and who needed to keep to one line. By the time I was done, I had a part for all twenty of my students. I announced my decisions to the class the week before we got started and though some groans were made, there was a lot of excitement in the room. Most of them were excited, but some had no idea how they were going to learn their lines because they claimed they had a hard time memorizing things.
Especially Billy. He looked at me with doubt in his eyes, or maybe a bit of fear and hopelessness. “I can’t memorize very well. I won’t be able to do it.”
“Oh, come on,” I said. “You have to study for tests and quizzes, don’t you? You must be able to remember some things!”
He just grimaced at me. “I don’t think you want me in the play. I won’t be able to do it.”
“You can do it and you will. You are smarter than you think.”
He just rolled his eyes as he shook that red hair of his in disagreement.
March marched on much too quickly. We only had one hour a week to practice, and I had so much to do to get ready for this play. I began gathering up props to use during practice time, but since our main stage was used as our church platform, we did not have the freedom to practice as I would have liked to. The pianos, pulpit, choir bleachers, and four chairs took up most of the area. I decided the best thing I could do was to set up the auditorium floor with the props and backdrops haphazardly hanging from chairs to give them an idea of what it would look like and where to stand. It was not an easy task. I needed to get there a half an hour early to get everything set up, so we could have the full hour for practice. I grew a bit frustrated with this but did the best that I could do with what I had.
After April break, I requested two days for practice. This play would not be presentable if I didn’t have more time to work with my students. I had told the ones with just a few lines that they needed to have them memorized after break. Not many did, but I figured we still had time and gave them some grace.
Then April flew by, and we found ourselves in May – the month when the production was scheduled to be performed. Panic set in. How were we going to get this colossal task accomplished? I mean, Billy had not even tried to memorize his few lines yet. He and the other two boys that had a special part in the play were not even listening to me as I instructed them on how to stand, how to project their voices, how to slow down when they spoke so all could understand what they were saying…it was like I was a wall. If it wasn’t for the eye rolling, I would have thought they were not hearing me. It was as if I was hurting their pride in saying that they needed to work on their acting. Which they did…that was why there were in drama class - to learn how, right? (sigh)
It often got so loud in the room that it was impossible for me to hear the students as they were acting out their parts. The other students who were not on stage often got into trouble as they sat in the audience waiting for their part. Which meant they were late on coming in on their cues. I really wanted this class to do well. I wanted each to do their part. I was trying to so hard, but they acted as if they did not care to be in my class. Maybe it wasn’t what they had thought it would be. I hated having to blow my whistle to get their attention because they didn’t even hear my voice as I tried quieting them down.
Poor Ben. He could always tell how my class went when I came out late, after having put all the props away again after practice. My face is an open book, and I can’t hide anything.
“It went that well?” he would ask sarcastically.
“Oh, Ben, I don’t know how this play is going to come to be. These kids are not easy to work with and I can’t get through to them.”
“I know, Mom, I know. I’m at school with them all day long.”
Seeing that Joe was the main sound guy at church, I had to discuss with him the idea of microphones and sound for the play.
“How many parts in the play are there? Eight?” he asked.
“No, not eight. Twenty parts.”
He looked at me in complete shock. “Twenty? Are you crazy?”
“I had to make a part for each student, even if it was a little part.”
“Oh, boy, that isn’t going to be easy. We are going to need more mics. And I need you to make an excel sheet of all the scenes with the characters who speak at each scene. Label each song as a separate part of the scene….” He went on to explain exactly how I needed to do this. More hours of work went into dividing up each scene into parts. More microphones were ordered. He spent hours getting those microphones to work together, knowing that up to ten mics would have to be on at the same time so feedback would have to be cleared up. He was at the church until midnight a few nights working on this for me. I began to be sorry that I had given out so many parts. I wondered if it would all be worth the effort when all was said and done.
The week of the actual production arrived. The stage was cleared off and I had the go ahead to get it set up with everything I needed for the backdrops. All three major scenes were set up and I finally could work with my class on exact places for their parts. I put tape down so they would know where to stand. We worked on our songs over and over again, and I made a big poster board of each verse so they could read them from where they stood. We were ready physically, but I wasn’t so sure they were mentally ready to perform.
He still didn’t know his lines and he and his two friends were not happy with their parts.
One of them asked me, “Why do we have to die in the play?”
“Because you are one of the reasons that the main character has to do what he does. You are very important to the story line and without you the story has no meaning.”
“But we don’t want to die! Can’t we just be props on the stage, like a rock or a tree or something? We don’t want to die!”
I liked their enthusiasm. They had come a long way from the first weeks of practice, but they still needed to understand their parts were vital to the story. I wasn’t going to change anything at this point. We had already lost one of the students from my class, so we were down to 19 parts at this point. One of the other girls had picked up the lines from the one who had left so that had been an easy fix. I was not going to change anything else to please the few kids who didn’t like their part. It was going to be as planned, no questions asked.
Two days before the play we had a dress rehearsal. The other classes came in to watch and the practice went okay. Even Billy did his lines amazingly well, not even using the little book I gave him with cheat notes in it. That was a huge shock to me. He kept looking at me for approval. When practice was finished he asked, “Did I do good? How was I that time?”
“Billy, you did awesome! You really surprised me by remembering all your lines!”
He just smiled at me with that look of his as he went on his way.
We had a problem with the sound during the practices though. The mics were not cooperating and the poor students working the sound booth didn’t know how to fix the problem. After work Joe had to spend more time getting the sound just right so we could hear the characters talking, and not just feedback. The other practices went okay, but I was not feeling like it could be their best. I put the matter into the Lord’s hands.
I said, “Lord, You are the One Who gave me this story. It is not about me and the students, but about glorifying You and lifting up Your Name and what You did for us on the cross. Please work out all the details, all the sound issues, and help the students to do their best when up on that stage Thursday night…”
And He did. Though it was not perfect, and Billy did forget one line, the entire play was amazing, and I was so proud of my students. They came through and showed me that they could do it. That they had been listening and learning from me.
But best of all was the moment when Billy came up to me at the end of the service.
“Good job,” he said to me. “Can I shake your hand?”
“Oh, well, sure! You did great tonight, Billy,” I said as he shook my hand.
His friend, who was standing next to him, held out his hand too. I shook his hand too and then Billy surprised me.
“Can I give you a hug?” His eyes spoke volumes as he looked at me.
I felt tears come to mine as I nodded and gave him a hug. Suddenly, every little tear, feeling of frustration, and gray hair was worth it all for that moment of connection. I had made a difference in his life and that was all I could think about the rest of the evening. Billy had learned something very valuable, but so had I. It’s not about what we do, but the why we do it. For the sake of the children. Because it is how God wants to connect with us. Heart to heart.
Here you go, Mom! This story is for you! :)
So, this little guy somehow got his tail completely wrapped around a branch on my weeping cherry tree yesterday. It was tied like a knot and he wasn't going anywhere. All the wood chips on the ground and the bark- free limb was clear evidence he had been trying for awhile. I grabbed a glove and worked at freeing his tail to no avail. It was too tight! So, Susy grabbed my tree clippers and we clipped the branch on either side of him. With one big leap he was free and the piece of wood fell to the ground. I was happy to see him go, but sad he didn't even say thank you.
It was gusting loudly oustide my window the other morning and sleep was impossible. Forever traumatized by the Indiana storm of 2002, wind has struck a panic chord in me every time it goes above 25 mph. I lay in bed listening as the gusts grew stronger. I begged God to wrap His arms around our home and protect us. Trees surround our property and I often wonder how many storms they can endure before cracking and breaking inside. Is this the storm that is going to finally break the weakened tree and bring down even the tallest, strongest looking one?
Then something hit the house. It did not sound like something large but it was enough to get me out of bed to take a look out the window. I noticed a few small limbs on the ground, some even stuck straight into the ground from the force of their fall, but nothing too large to be concerned about. I gave a little sigh. Everything looked okay.
Suddenly I heard the loud crack. My eyes went to the woods just beyond the stream and I watched a massive tree break in the middle and come down safely in the woods between our house and the neighbor's. My heart thumped for a minute as the thud of the tree hitting the ground echoed in my head. "What if's" began to form in my mind but God stopped me. He simply whispered to me, "I brought that tree down for you. Simply so you can see that I am in control and I am taking care of you."
Tears came to my eyes. God had gotten me out of bed just so He could show me that He had us under His wing. He was there taking care of us.
Oh my heart and the peace that flooded my soul.
And it was because of a tree.
I must admit that this year has been a hard one, but in reality, ever since 2020 it has been a challenge with all the new changes to life. 2020 was the Covid year, when the whole world seemed to go topsy-turvy and threw us for a loop. Then along came 2021 (twenty-twenty won) when we were still in a bleary-eyed state of uncertainty and were wading through the mess, feeling like 2020 had beaten us.
Here we are coming to the end of 2022 (twenty-twenty two on repeat). The storms and hardships have been far more than some could take. You know that saying we have for the month of March? Depending on how the weather is the first week determines whether it goes in like a lion or like a lamb. Well, 2022 definitely came in like a lion and did not stop charging. The tough times have worn us down, possibly even weakening some of us deep inside where we can't see. Disappointments in plans; death of loved ones; sick pets we had to say goodbye to; family issues; sickness and diseases; financial difficulties as inflation went up; news of people you trusted who let you down; you name it, hardships all around. It's a rough world we live in. The devil is walking around the world like a lion seeking those whom he may devour. He wants to take our peace away so that we run to worldly means of escape. He wants us to forget about the Lamb, the One we are waiting for as the year comes to an end.
But the Lamb HAS come.
And it was because of a tree.
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlemhem, the town that raised sheep for the temple sacrifices. Jesus was a Lamb pure and holy - the Son of God. He was the only One able to lay His life down for the entire world. He was born to die.
On the old rugged tree.
A tree that brought peace.
Like that tree I watched fall to the ground yesterday.
As I wrote this blog, it all became clear how it all tied together and made the event of yesterday that much more special. God once again reached down and gave me a "kiss from heaven" showing me how much He loves me. And I'm at peace as I see the Light at the end of the tunnel of 2022. God is in control and whatever comes in 2023 I know He will be right beside me, giving me the strength to deal with whatever comes my way. He is always there, taking care of us as we continue to strive to live for Him. Amen!
Happy New Year to you all! :)
"I hope something good happens to you today."
I could not stop staring at the little words on the window of the side of the car beside me as I waited at the stoplight. It was as if the message was just for me, speaking a little whisper of hope after a terrible morning, the third day of literally a "yucky" week all around. I did not know how much more I could take of any more bad news, sickness, and other things just filling my life with craziness. The tears had poured down in anger and frustration, leaving my eyes a red mess, but I didn't care anymore. I just wanted God to step in and give me peace again. I just wanted a little kiss from heaven to know that He was still there, holding my right hand just like He promised.
That's when I saw the little sign. As I read it over and over again, a little spark of hope lit inside me. I prayed, "Please Lord, I really would like something good to happen to me today. Please Lord, I really need it." There had to still be good out there and the truth was, God was still good even though life seemed anything but good at the moment.
The lunch hour was long and my patience was thin. A little beep on my phone signaled someone had messaged me. I had a minute to stop between putting nuggets and warm-ups into the warmer for students' lunches so I checked my phone. It was from my friend in Israel, my old pen pal I had not heard from in a while. She wrote me a long message of how she was doing and all that God was doing in her life. She reminded me that God had not changed and He was still good. We could hold onto His promises and trust Him to do great things just like He did in the past. He will continue to do the same for us now. It was a message of hope and encouragement, something that made the little flame of hope inside me grow a little stronger.
Joe was home with a stomach bug and we had church that night so I decided Chinese sounded good to me. It was while I was eating I thought that I should go downstairs and find a large envelope for something I needed to bring to church with me. It was an odd thought but after dinner I went down and was sorting through the shelves when I stumbled upon something that I really needed to see - it was some old files from years ago that I had been searching for to help with some of the "issues" at hand. Again, the little flame of hope began to burn brighter and it was like God said to me, "See, I am still here, holding your hand. I heard your prayers and I am watching out for you. Child, you are mine and I will always be here beside you." That little folder set the flame ablaze again.
When I got up today I had a song in my heart. I felt the flame of hope burning once again. The morning didn't seem so terrible though things have not really changed, but God's got this. And He showed me, through the littlest things, that something good did happen to me that day - little whispers of love from heaven were given to me reassuring me that because I am His child I can trust in Him.
Hello! I am so glad you stopped by to visit me today. I created this specific blog to encourage you and help give you some peace and comfort through music. Music is very powerful. What you listen to can affect you in so many ways, both good and bad. What you need today is to fill your mind with lots of good and peaceful thoughts, and know that God is still good - He is always there, holding our hand. So, check out a few of the links below and find some of my favorite songs that always bring comfort to my heart:
That's What Grace is For
I Need Thee, Lord
He Is There
Know He Cares
Middle of My Storm
He Already Sees the Rainbow
The I of the Storm
When I Can't Speak
You Are Good
Redeemer of the Rain
God is Good
Go Down Again
There is Hope
Even in the Valley
My beautiful, fluffy, flame-point little boy.
He had been easy to name, just a few days after he was born that November morning. His little ears and nose had stayed pink while his brother's and sisters' ears and noses had turned a dark brown. We didn't know if he was a boy at the time but it seemed fitting to me no matter what he was. The name Pinky had been a family name over the years, seeing that my maiden name was Pinkham. My dad had been called Pink by my grandmother as he grew up, and my brother had been called Pinky by his friends during high school so I liked the idea of carrying on the family name.
The kittens' soft little mews melted my heart as I watched them learn to find their feet and stumble around inside the closet where their mother had made her cozy nest. Their sweet little faces would peer up at me when I would pop my head in to see how they were doing, even though they still couldn't see since their eyes were closed. We did lose one of them shortly after they had been born and I wanted to make sure the others were doing okay since I didn't want to lose another one.
It was about three weeks or so later when I started to notice something strange. I began to find little Pinky in odd places around the bedroom, far away from the nest of other kittens. They were not quite old enough to stray that far from "home" but I figured he might be the more adventurous type who wanted to see what the big world was about. I always quickly scooped him up, placing him back with the other ones. His mother, Kia, always licked him vigorously, but later on I would find him under the bed or dresser again. I grew concerned because it appeared that he was not eating. He seemed to be getting weaker by the day. I tried giving him a bottle but he refused to drink it. I decided to take him to the vet to see what was going on. They found him very dehydrated so they gave him a hydration treatment to help give him a boost. They also said he had an odd sickness that attacked his nervous system and it was affecting his brain and his ability to walk. They weren't sure if he was going to make it but they gave me a little tube of high protein gel that I could feed him, if he would take it.
He had reached a a scary point and was close to the brink of death. I was determined to do whatever I needed to do to help this little guy survive. With the extra hydration in his body, he began to feel hungry again. It did not take him long to discover that he liked the protein gel and he would quickly lick it off my hand looking for more. He also started taking a bottle and every two hours I faithfully fed him milk and gave him the gel as much as I could in between. After he had eaten I would set him either in a basket where he would curl up in a blanket or sometimes I placed him back in his nest with his brothers and sisters and he would cuddle with them. Kia never let him stay long though and it broke my heart to see her reject him. I did everything in my power to be his surrogate mother and be there when he needed me.
There was one last scary morning when I woke up to find him turning in circles near the closet door. I thought it was the end. Tears streamed down my face as I got down on my hands and knees beside him.
"Oh, Pinky," I said. "Be strong! Don't give up! Keep fighting. I want you to live!"
And live he did.
It was a very exciting day when we decided that we would keep him. Our older cat, Tiger, had not been doing very well and we knew he did not have much more time on this earth. Plus I had worked so hard to bring Pinky from the brink of death that we needed to keep him. I had connected with his heart and did not like the idea of having him leave our home. And besides, how could we sell him to someone knowing the issues he had? The lack of nourishment had caused him to lose some brain cells and he was not totally normal. He was our special kitty now. So, that night, after Joe and I had discussed the idea of keeping Pinky, Joe announced to the kids who were all tucked into bed, " We are going to keep Pinky! He gets to stay with us!"
I can still hear the cheers of excitement from the children as their feet thundered down the hall as they ran to hug Pinky in happy delight. They didn't care that he was different. He was our kitty and they loved him.
Pinky lived a great life. He was so beautiful, with those big sky blue eyes and his long, white soft-like-ermine fur. He became quite attached to Caleb, who loved carrying him around his neck like a little lamb. I am totally convinced that Pinky had some ragdoll in him because the things he let Caleb do to him confounded my mind. And if Pinky did not like something, he would complain and get mad but it only took a minute for his brain to reset and suddenly all was right in the world for him again.
Kia, his mother, was a bit confused as to why her son was still around though. She had tried over and over again to kick him out of the nest because of his sickness, yet he was still here. Even when the other healthy ones were gone, Pinky still remained in her territory. She often hissed at him, letting him know she didn't want anything to do with him, but there were times when I would find him curled up with his mother, and with Maysie, our much older cat who lived in the house too.
Some people did not like Pinky though, especially as he grew older. Like I said, he did have some strange things about him, like his love of soft pillows. It was a bit awkward at times but there were times when he was really sweet. He always slept at my feet every night and I loved seeing his little face peering out the front door when I would drive into the driveway.
Pinky was also popular at school during Caleb's high school years. The little mew that Pinky always made became a common call among the high schoolers and he was even mentioned in the valedictorian's speech during graduation. Pinky had become famous!
It was during the last year that I noticed Pinky was seeming to lose weight. He had always been thin, and oftentimes he struggled with his food, eating his dry food with his head cocked to the side as he tried to chew the hard pieces. He loved to eat the meat I was cooking during dinner, sitting near my feet so he could get some cooked chicken or hamburger that I would drop for him to snack on. He was my kitchen buddy and I enjoyed his company.
I took him for his yearly vet visit and they informed me that he had the start of kidney failure. I got a very disturbing feeling inside me that day, and I had a feeling that this would be the last time I would take him to the vet. It made me very sad to think about. They said to put him on a special cat food diet, low in phosphorous and high in protein. I tried to get him to eat it but he much preferred real meat over that canned stuff. I didn't blame him. Real meat was much better in my opinion.
I noticed that he stopped coming into the kitchen. He wasn't coming in at all anymore for any food. He did have water dishes all over the house and he constantly ran from one to the other, lapping up the water over the course of the day. He always walked away with a little drip on his chin which we called Pinky's drip lip. It was a rare thing to see his chin dry. He often cried, deep throated Siamese cries as he sat over his water. We could not figure out why he was crying and it would wrench my heart every night I heard it. I tried giving him fresh water, making it go as high in the bowl as it possibly could. As time wore on the cries grew weaker as he grew weaker. I grew desperate. He had to eat something! I tried giving him tuna water, which he sampled but didn't take much. I wanted him to fight. I wanted him to live like he had when he was a kitten. He was only twelve so he had more time, didn't he?
But we all have our time. This week we had to make that tough decision and ask ourselves if it was Pinky's time. What was the best thing for him? I didn't want to see him suffer. He was keeping more to himself now, sitting in the middle of my winter village, looking like a small snow covered mountain, with sad, cloudy eyes. He no longer came onto our bed to sleep beside me. He no longer woke Joe up at 4 am to get him up to feed him anymore. He had grown so weak that even the slightest cough knocked him over. It was very hard to watch.
Last night, Wednesday evening, I was working downstairs at my desk when I heard a noise. It was Pinky. He had come down and tried to get up on the desk but didn't have enough strength to jump up. I lifted him up and he sat close by me as I worked. I noticed he was shivering so I placed him on my lap, with the heater close by so it would warm his cold bones. He stayed for a few minutes enjoying my company then went back on the desk and sat in a basket close by. He had a foul odor coming from him and I knew he was saying goodbye. He had come down one more time to thank me for trying my best to give him the best life that he could have. He was saying it was okay to let him go. And my heart broke.
After that, he hid in our shower and then spent the night in the cat tree, curled up in a little ball. I did not think he was going to make it to see the morning, but there he was, still hanging on to one little thread of life.
Joe took him to the vet today. Everyone had said their goodbyes last night but it was not easy for Joe to make that drive. We have lost a lot of animals over the course of our marriage, but this was by far the hardest. He was the one we had connected with from the day of his birth. As I walked around collecting all his water dishes, tears poured down my cheeks. I will miss that little boy. I'll miss seeing that little gallop of his as he ran down the hall...feeling him walk over me at 4 in the morning....seeing Caleb give him walking lessons in the living room... the list goes on. But it was time. We had done our best. He wasn't suffering anymore. And he will forever be in my heart.
When you choose to take in a pet, you are choosing to love that animal forever, no matter what oddities or strange quirks they may have. It is a sacrifice of sorts, giving up yourself to love that animal friend through better or worse. And I will continue to love our kitties that we still have but I will never forget those blue eyes and that lovely face of the beauty we called Pinky.❤
My mother-in-law saw this story in the paper today! As we sit inside watching tropical storm Henri come blowing through, it's nice to know that my son's reputation and our company is getting good reviews out there. The funny thing about reading this is the fact that I had those same thoughts cross my mind when I was recently watching a video of a nest being removed. It made me feel sad. But safety first, right?
Sadness removing hornets nest
“You have a big hornets nest on that low branch of your maple tree hanging over the driveway,” my daughter Peg reported one day last week when she came to visit. She took a picture of it with her iPhone to show me and, sure enough, the nest was almost as big as a basketball. And it had been built when nobody was aware of it. Round, light grey and papery, it was a classic example of a perfect nest of its kind, and I wished that it was in a safer place so we didn’t have to deal with it.
When my sons found out about it, they said I should have someone come and remove it because hornets are vicious and unpredictable in their instinct to protect their nest. I knew I would have to get it taken care of but that nest was really an amazing creation, a true work of art built by a colony of fierce insects wanting only a safe place to bring up their young. I shouldn’t personify a nest of hornets but when you think of a queen bee setting up housekeeping with her horde of females collecting insects, caterpillars and nectar for the drones to help feed her young, it seems almost cruel to destroy the nest. If it were higher up in the tree, it might not have presented such a problem. But any truck or van coming into the driveway would probably brush against that nest and disturb the inhabitants so an unsuspecting visitor coming along next could be badly stung. Already they were buzzing just over our heads when we went out to get the mail from our mailbox.
The only thing left to do was to get someone to take down the nest.
My fearless neighbor Shelly across the street had dealt with a nest of her own when a colony of hornets built one on a branch over her pumpkin patch. She kept getting stung every time she went out to weed. She fiercely sprayed that nest, cut it down and destroyed it all by herself. She offered to come over and take down mine but I thought she was lucky that first time and I didn’t want her to risk being badly stung by my bees.
Once again I asked Wayne Daly who takes care of my lawn and shrubs to recommend someone and he said Family Pest Control of Wallingford could do the job.
Shortly after we called them, a young man named Caleb, whose grandfather had started the business which his father now runs, showed up to deal with the bees that he confirmed were bald faced (or white faced) hornets.
He donned a full bee suit, pulled down a stepladder from on top of his truck, sprayed the nest, clipped it off with loppers, and sprayed it again once it was down. He also sprayed the area where it had hung. He said any hornets flying outside the nest would return to the spot and if the nest was gone move on or ingest the spray and die.
Because I know that hornets and wasps are also pollinators, (though not as efficient as honeybees whose bodies are furrier and carry away more pollen) I felt guilty about having that nest destroyed. If it had been on a higher branch, I would have let it stay there. But low as it was, I couldn’t risk letting anyone inadvertently disturb it and get badly stung.
My neighbor Shelly, who had watched, with interest, the whole operation from her home across the street, had one thing to say about the whole process and that was “Maybe I should get a bee suit like that!”
By Phyllis Donovan (Record Journal)