Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Old Laughs!

I was going through my DropBox and found some gems!  I just had to share.  These probably won't mean much to anyone but me, but I had a great laugh looking at some of these...

This was Halloween and Andy had come up with some great masks.  We took a selfie and sent it to our kids.  I'm sure they were entertained.  (Not.)

Another Halloween years ago in Broken Arrow.  We dressed up as a hobo family.  Except David. (looking embarrassed of his hobo family--front & center in the red/white striped shirt).  

This was a family vacation in Red River or some touristy-place where they took Wild West photos.  We had so much fun doing this as a family...except David.  (Who is missing.  Do you see a trend?)

A Christmas when Zach got his first guitar and the kids got a dog they named Bow.  What a sweet dog!

This was Andy playing with an app that makes you...different.  We were having way too much fun!!
(And laughing hysterically!)

This is an old picture of me...without an app.  Oh my!  
(It's ok to laugh--I did!!)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Who Do You Think is Winning?

Jesus came as Savior
Satan came as Destroyer

Jesus loves righteousness
Satan loves sin

Jesus is Light
Satan is darkness

Jesus came to unite
Satan came to divide

Jesus came to heal
Satan came to kill

Jesus brought sight
Satan brought blindness

Jesus humbled himself
Satan exalted himself

Jesus is Love
Satan is hate

Jesus desires stillness
Satan desires busyness

Jesus is hope
Satan is hopelessness

Jesus brings peace
Satan brings chaos

Jesus provides abundance
Satan steals

Jesus offers faith
Satan offers fear

Jesus challenged religious leaders
Satan used religious leaders

Jesus prays for us
Satan accuses us

Jesus is LIFE
Satan is death

So...who do you think is winning?

God's Word says, "For whoever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith."  I John 5:4
He also told us that, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  II Chronicles 7:14
And, "For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."  Colossians 3:3

Jesus wins!
We win!!

Happy Birthday, Alexis!!

My granddaughter, Alexis Brionna, turns 14 today!  She is #2 in our lineup of 11 grandchildren.  She is the reason I started collecting so many dress-up clothes.  I had a few dresses to play with, but she would walk in our door and put on dress-up clothes and stay in them the whole time she was there.  She'd even sleep in them.  Soon, she had a favorite--she called it her "lemonade dress."  It was a Mexican flamenco dress with lemons on it--that's the one she slept in.  It was only fitting that she loved the flamenco dress--she loved to dance.

Alexis began ballet when she was about 4.  The year she was a pink lamb in Nutcracker was one of our favorites. 

She was a flower girl in Zach & Shanna's wedding.  You can imgaine how much she loved dressing up for this.  

Another year in Nutcracker.  She is definitely a ballerina--she has beautiful form and grace.

And even if she's not on stage, she's still dancing.

Something you might never know about Alexis is how much she loves animals--all animals!  She has a tender heart and would bring every animal home with her if she only had a farm to keep them on. I expect some day she will have a farm.

I think for 9 years running, Alexis has chosen to eat her birthday dinner at Kabuki.  And she's graduated to eating sushi.  

The interesting thing about Alexis is she loves to perform...but she hates attention.  The servers (and her family) were singing "Happy Birthday" to her and she tried to make the entire restaurant think her friend was the birthday girl.  One year, she just got up and went to the bathroom and stayed until the whole birthday song was over.

Alexis Brionna is a beautiful girl.  Her name means "To help, defend, strength, honor, noble, servant, ruler of the people."  I believe God has already put those things inside of Alexis and is growing her today to become a servant/ruler of the people.  She already is a great friend to people and animals--she helps them, defends them, is honorable, and trustworthy.  She is a good friend to have.  I know God has allowed things in her life which have only increased her strength and her determination to be a good friend.  She will protect her family and friends at all costs.  She will become a woman of great beauty and strength who will know how to serve others and will defend them with her life.  Because she is a great servant, she will be a beautiful leader and ruler.

I Love You!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Why is a Dad so Important?

Zach & his boys

Why is a dad so important in the life of a child?
The bottom line is:  They represent the Heavenly Father.  

David & his kids

A father who has their child's best interest at heart, who invests time in them, who builds them up and encourages them...paves the way for that child to fall in love with their Heavenly Father.  Of course, every person has a choice whether or not to follow God, but a good father at least gives them a beautiful picture to understand God's heart.

Jay & his kids

The heart of a good dad...
  • loves, Loves, LOVES his kids
  • Provides financially and materially for his children
  • Gives understanding
  • Invests time in his children
  • Is a safe place for his kids
  • Listens
  • Encourages
  • Builds up
  • Helps his kids find their own strengths and empowers them
  • Is patient
  • Gives discipline
  • Provides healthy boundaries
  • Trains his children
  • Teaches right and wrong
  • Cuddles, holds, hugs, kisses his children
  • Teaches long-lasting life lessons
  • Is faithfully committed to his kids
  • Is a good example
  • Believes the best of his children and for his children
  • Points them in the right direction
  • Blesses their child
Matt & his girls

What a beautiful inheritance a good dad is. 

Andy & his kids

It's also something which can be passed to each succeeding generation.  And if you haven't had that kind of legacy--you can change all of that starting now!  I bless you Daddies!!  You are so needed in this generation.  You don't have to be a birth father to bless others--my brother, Gary, has invested himself in all of his nieces and nephews.  Just find a child who needs a father's influence and begin making life-changing deposits in their lives.

Gary & some of his nephews

Pick up the mantle of "Father" and be a good representative of the Heavenly Father.  You are so needed.

To all of the great dad's in my life....

In loving memory of my great dad!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Atomic Fire Ball Ant Killing Potion

The summer my mom babysat my cousins, Sharon & Steve, was one of the best summers of my life!  Sharon and my brother, Bob, were close to the same age and Steve was close to my age.  So everything we did, we did together.

We lived on Darby St. and since it was a fairly new neighborhood, our grass wasn't growing well.  Plus, we were at the end of the block and had two large fields on two different sides of our house so we had all of the creatures of those fields.  That meant we had several large ant mounds on one side of our house.  And it became our solemn duty that summer to kill the ants.  Mom obliged us with what we needed to kill the ants because: A. It kept us out of her hair and B. She wanted the ants gone.

We started with a pail of water.  We poured it into the largest ant hole and the ants only walked faster.  It didn't really seem to faze them.  So we went and got the garden hose and stuck the nozzle down into the hole and turned the water on full blast!  We were sure we had them...and it seemed to work.  But the next day, ants were roaming determinedly all over that hill again.  But we were even more determined than those tiny creatures.  And we just knew we could create the perfect formula to kill the ants.  I don't know if Sharon or Bob had done a science experiment at school, but someone knew all about the magic powers of vinegar and soda.  We asked mom for those ingredients and I stood in amazement seeing that dynamic reaction for the first time.  This was it!  This was going to kill those ants.  But by the time we got to the ant hill, the fizz was gone and we weren't too sure it was going to work.  The ants only seemed to look at us quizzically.  So then we knew we had to get the potion to the mound before the fizz was gone.  Bob carried the formula and began mixing it right by the ants--while the rest of us were fighting the ants off our shoes and legs.  It went down the hole while it was fizzing!!  This had to work!  But it didn't.  We'd already spent hours and days trying to kill those stubborn ants.

The next day, as we were walking to the "little store," we were trying to figure out what we were missing in our ant killing potion.  We knew we were close.  As we stood trying to figure out what to buy with our nickels, someone spied the ATOMIC FIRE BALLS!  This was going to be the missing piece of our potion--we just knew it!  Someone (not me) spent their nickel on the fire balls and we went home to get my dad's hammer to smash them up into a powder.  First, we put the atomic fire ball powder in the bottom of the bowl and then we added the vinegar and mixed it together.  Then came the soda.  It was MAGIC!  We all stood and cheered over the reddish fizz which came forth.  THIS WAS IT!  We'd created the perfect ant killing potion.  We poured it over the ant mound and stood back and watched.  There was no movement....for about two minutes. But soon ants were crawling all over that hill again.  We moved to a patch of grass and sat down in defeat.

I think mom must have told my dad (after he'd asked why his hammer had red powder all over it) about our trials of ant killing.  So my dad took ten steps into the garage and grabbed a gas can and went to each ant mound and poured gas into the ant holes.  That was the end of the ants.

Isn't that just like us?  I think God delights in letting us bring solutions to our problems.  He's instilled gifts and creativity in us to reason and discover.  But when we come to the end of what we can do, He's ready for us.  He tells us to, "Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened."  Matthew 7:7.  And just like my dad had the perfect solution, so does God.  When our solutions aren't the answer, His are.

I'll never forget that summer.  We had so much fun with Sharon & Steve!  We didn't find the perfect ant killing potion--but then, we weren't allowed to play with gasoline either.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Bra Factory Dumpster

I grew up in this house until I was in the 6th grade.  Oh the memories there!  As I drove down Darby Street tonight with my mom, I was struck with some of those memories.  We moved into this house when it was brand new.  The whole street was new and we were blessed with great neighbors.  Our house was at the end of the street and to the west was a big field.

This field.
But instead of this small building in the back center of the photo, there stood a large complex which housed a bra factory.  I don't even remember the name of the factory--we just always called it the bra factory.  They actually made bras there.  I have no recollection how we came upon the amazing discovery that the bra factory dumpster held some fascinating treasures, but what a great find!  I remember climbing into that dumpster and finding huge rolls of lace of every width, full cards of snaps and hooks, bolts of fabric (literally), large cones of thread and mammoth spools of elastic.  Why would they throw this stuff away?  It was good stuff!!  I took as much as my 10-year-old arms could carry home to my mom, a seamstress, and we oohed and aahed over the wealth which came from the bra factory dumpster.  That wasn't my only trip to dumpster dive.  It became a regular habit--we even began to figure out the prime time for the best finds.  And if my mom was running low on something, she might even send me to dig around.  Looking back, it's weird that there was never any "trash" in the dumpster--it was always large quantities of bra-making textiles.  I thought the workers must be really wasteful.  But there was that one time when I scratched my hand on a rusty sharp ridge on the dumpster causing it to bleed profusely.  With my quick thinking, I just grabbed a piece of fabric and made a tourniquet.  Seriously.

Yes...I used to dumpster dive.  As I remembered back on those days and our excitement over the riches which came out of that dumpster, I was reminded of this verse :  "But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart..."  Matthew 15:18.   Most dumpsters hold nasty things and a stench assaults you before you get too close.  This dumpster was like a man-sized treasure chest and it overflowed with an abundance of valuables.  It's the same as our hearts.  Let me hear what comes out of your mouth and I can tell you the state of your heart.

You know what?  I'd dumpster dive all over again for those treasures!  And I don't even sew.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The day I knew there was meanness in the world

I grew up in a safe place.  We knew our neighbors...we rode our bikes all over town...and we knew if we did anything wrong, the news would make it home before we did.  Our parents watched Walter Cronkite on television every night to know what was going on in the world--and we trusted him to be objective and speak the truth.  We went to school and stood at our desks pledging allegiance to our flag and praying for ourselves and our country.  We even kissed our teacher goodbye as we walked out the school door each day.  Aubrey Ruff, the neighborhood grocer, knew us and patiently allowed us to choose our penny and nickel candy behind the counter.  It was an idyllic childhood in a gentle time.

But one day all of that changed.  Two young boys in our neighborhood disappeared.  They lived on our block and were only two or three years younger than me.  We were all terrified.  Apparently, they'd decided to walk to the "little store" together--down the alley where all of us kids walked every few days to choose our candy behind the counter.  Only they weren't old enough to be allowed to go alone--and they had no money.  Two mothers were panicked; one was hysterical.  The adults were organizing a neighborhood search and I just remember feeling scared.  Just as everyone was getting in cars to go look for them, the boys came walking down the alley, eating candy.  After an initial confrontation of boys vs. mothers, we learned a man had lured them into his car with the offer of candy and they'd gone with him.  We never knew if anything had happened to them but they appeared calm and happy.  One mother took her son home, hugging and weeping over him; another took her son home, paddling him all the way.

That was the first time my parents warned us that there were bad people in the world and we shouldn't trust everyone--especially if they offered us candy to get in their car.  It was a total shift of my paradigm.  What had once been happy, became scary.  Where I once looked at every adult with trust, I now couldn't.  So much has happened in my life to prove the truth of the words my parents shared with me that day.  It grieves me that my grandchildren will never know that idyllic world.  And it's scary how deeply mankind has fallen--so quickly.  I wish we didn't have to warn children about mean people in the world...but we must.

The one thing I believe we can all do to make our world better is to purposefully love others.  Oh, how God wants us to love one another!  Yes, warn your children...but show them how to love the unlovely.  Engage them in helping others--senior adults, single moms, younger siblings, or those with a different skin color.  Guide them as they come home with childhood conflicts in conflict resolution instead of fueling their anger.  Teach them to pray for others.  Take them to churches of other denominations to see how others worship and talk openly about it.  Be the example to them of gracing and forgiving others.  Speak well of our authorities.  Examine what you say on Facebook--think about the message you're giving to our young people.  Give generously.  There's so much we can do to actively FIGHT the hate!!  Let's be a part of the solution to the bigotry, hate, and evil we're seeing.   Let's love one another--even our enemies!  Maybe...especially our enemies.

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.  In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”  Matthew 5:43-48

Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Kids Built a Brick Swimming Pool

I had three pretty determined kids one summer.  They wanted a swimming pool.  And they were willing to work hard to make it happen.  I actually had no idea what they had in mind that first day--I just knew they were busily entertaining themselves outside.  I'd look out every once in awhile just to make sure they were near the apartment building we were living in at the time.  But at the end of the day, they begged me to come see what they'd done.  They were so proud!  So I followed them to the end of the complex where the apartment manager had stacked some bricks which were for an eventual barbecue patio for the apartment dwellers.  And there it was---a pile of bricks all stacked up about a foot high and probably 3x4 feet in diameter.  They'd spent the entire day building their new swimming pool.

I told them how proud I was of them!  They'd done an incredible feat.  They had imagined something in their minds and created it.  Of course, I didn't tell them it wouldn't hold water...or that it wasn't even big enough for the three of them...or that bricks would hurt your body.  They wanted to fill their pool with water, but I told them it was time for dinner and the water would have to wait until the next day.  What we didn't foresee was our apartment manager picking up each single brick and putting it back in its original place.  The kids were devastated the next morning to find their work had been undone, but they were more determined than ever.  They had their construction plan down--they knew how to build that pool even faster.  So they set to work and rebuilt their swimming pool.  And again, the next day, the bricks were stacked against the building.  This went on for a full week until my three determined kids gave up.  It wasn't that they'd discovered their pool couldn't hold water--they just couldn't stay ahead of the apartment manager who was dismantling their masterpiece.

How often do we have creative ideas and begin to work hard with great determination only to have the enemy dismantle our creation with one negative thought after another?  We put a brick down, he picks it back up...undermining our discovery,  our vision, and our value.

That brick swimming pool is one of our favorite family memories.  I'm not so sure how the apartment manager remembers it.