Thursday, December 31, 2009

There's no place like home..........NOT!!

We went from this:
and seeing these guys.......







to this fun. Rog won't be going anywhere for a day or two, at least till he can get a shoe on to go out and shovel snow.....

I would say I am glad to be home, but really, would you believe me?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Holidays!?!?


The "Holidays" are upon us; Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is bearing down with New Year's right behind.
I'm not sending out my Christmas letter this year, I'm not in the writing mood. I usually write about what is happening in our family and what God is teaching me. It isn't that I don't have much to write, I just don't quite know how to put a spin on it that would make it palatable for a Christmas letter. I've done my darndest to come up with some tongue in cheek, glibe way of sharing our year with you but I couldn't figure out how to do it. I checked the internet for suggestions, and I read yesterday that Christmas letters shouldn't contain bad news. And I quote:

"No one wants to hear your cancer is back, your children are divorced or in prison, your spouse is STILL unemployed, and your on welfare or foodstamps, or such."

So I'm not sending letters. Add to that postage is climbing, and it isn't taking much for me to just say forget it.

Let's just say Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year! and be done with it, shall we?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Iron that Sharpens Me

There are people in this world who, after knowing them for awhile, you realize that God has placed them here for His reasons, and you just happen to reap the benefits of His plans by knowing them.
Shiuvaun is that person for me.
Our children share birthdays, her oldest, my youngest.
Jennifer holding Nic, celebrating thier birthdays together with Audrey and Sarah.

Our girls are a week apart in age.
Audrey and Sarah.....another birthday.

We have been in each other's lives for years, and shared so much.
In so many ways we are as different as day and night, yet in the subtle, underlying ways, we are so much alike, we have wondered if we aren’t really sisters in some fashion; Oh wait, yes we are…………in the Lord.
I have written about her before during the election when people were sooo virulent in their political stance.
We differed on that and I wrote about it, and how we solved it.

I want to say though, that it is because of her and her reading and knowledge of the political playing field that I have been compelled over the last several months to research the reasons for voting the way I will. She has always been good for me when it comes to pushing me to find out for myself what I think, how I interpret information, and how it will affect my choices. She is intelligent and what I consider to be a well read, voracious reader, thus I feel she has only my best interests at heart, when she spurs me on in this fashion.

Shiuvaun and I have been through some of our hardest days in the battle over the educational welfare of our children, and during that time of “lifting rocks and finding monsters”, we hung on to each other, and took the unconventional step at the same time in the decision to home school our children.

Ours is a story that has put us on the same side in educational warfare for the sake of our children and on opposite sides when it has come to decisions of life choices, and politics, but we have found like David and Jonathan (don’t ask me who is who), that our friendship runs unbelievably deep through all of these things.
The scripture in Proverbs 27:17 comes to mind when I sit and regard the relationship we have.

As iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

The fact that we can sit and discuss these differences and continue to love each other and be there for one another is what I cherish most about our relationship. Our priorities are straight. We have placed our relationships above philosophy, politics, and distance realizing that variety is the spice of life, rulers come and go, and telephones, and email are a gift. We realize we were all created differently for a reason, trusting God to reveal it to us as we go through life. Heartache and challenges only seem to bond us closer together, for age, as it comes, seems to remove the layers of trivial issues exposing the valuable instead.

Maybe it is because we are women, maybe it is because of our differing backgrounds that we have found and latched on to each other, hanging on more tightly as time has come and gone. Whatever it is, it is a precious gift, and like most precious gifts is not tangible, nor should it ever be taken for granted.


I remind you of all this to say that her blog is up and running. She will write, she will probably make you laugh and cry, as she shares the poignant stories growing up in South Dakota. She will compel you to think, and she may even rub you the wrong way, but she will NOT allow you to get lazy or stagnate in your thinking. As she said the other day when I visited her in KC, while referring to an issue they had been battling about with the city of Independence,
“I called them at least twice a week, sometimes every day, they didn’t realize who they were dealing with………………” Yep,that is sooooooooooooo Shiuvaun.
Read her………she’s in my sidebar.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Play date!


Casie called this morning and invited me to come for a "playdate" with she and Holt. I threw on my overalls, drove over and had a WONDERFUL day!



Sometimes you just need someone to crawl up in your lap and make you realize that the snaps on your overalls are more interesting than you ever thought possible! :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Greatest Miracle


In my devotions yesterday morning, I reread the all familiar story of the paralytic whose friends took him to the roof of the home Jesus was visiting, and tore out the roof as to lower him down, directly in front of Christ that he might be healed. (See Luke 5;17-26)

The man and his friends went to receive healing. Forgiveness may not have been what they were after, they were after wholeness, and they saw wholeness in a physical sense. Jesus knew the man needed complete and total healing; physical & spiritual—he received it all.

Jesus “saw their faith”- he saw them do something considered radical to get to Him, to get their friend to Him; an act of faith. They tore the roof off of a house, for goodness sake! Something easily repaired perhaps, but their friend was not as easily repaired and required radical measures to get him to Jesus.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees seemed to miss it all. They were so hung up on the fact that Jesus said the man’s sins were forgiven that it looks as though they missed the miracle entirely.

When I read passages like this I ask myself, “Were healings of that magnitude so common place that the chief priests were immune to seeing them when they happened?” Was this miracle, a man being able to take up his bed and walk after being paralyzed, such a common everyday occurrence that they shrugged it off and chose to dwell instead on the law, or the breaking of it instead?

Maybe the Pharisees and the Sadducees saw this man as someone of no value, unclean. Maybe they considered this miracle wasted on someone like that.

Whatever their thinking, they missed not only the miracle of this man’s physical body being restored, but the healing of his spirit through his encounter with Jesus Christ. He was reborn at that moment as a new man. Someone who I am quite sure became a follower of Christ.

Do we do that as good followers of Jesus, church goers, who have sat in the pew for years? Do we focus on the law and the breaking of it more than we look at the miracle? Not only did the Pharisees and the Sadducees miss the miracle, but they missed the forgiveness of sin. They refused to accept the free gift of God—Salvation—through Jesus Christ!

Do I accept the forgiveness of sin? Or am I like the Pharisees and Sadducees and refuse to accept the fact that God forgives the sins of everyone? Do I get so hung up on the law that I miss the miracle of forgiveness?

I realize that forgiveness, God’s forgiveness, through Jesus Christ is the greatest miracle He ever performed. Forget the Red Sea, the manna, water from a rock, and axe head floating, the sun standing still. Forgiveness through Jesus Christ is the greatest miracle God ever performed on our behalf………I don’t ever want to miss it!

God is walking me down some new and unfamiliar roads right now, and He is allowing me to see right before my eyes, His grace and His mercy, His compassion and His desire to restore and forgive us his children. I’m learning to see things anew, and not miss the miracle or the salvation that it brings.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What do you believe?





As I read the story at the beginning of Luke of the pronouncements of Christ’s conception and that of John the Baptist something came off the page—don’t you love it when God does that?

In Luke 1:6 it refers to Zachariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, as

“……righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances, of the Lord, blameless.”

WHOA! What a description! I cannot imagine someone so dedicated to doing all that God has commanded, and obviously being soooo good at it; blameless! Are you kidding me!?!?
But wait! On over in Luke when the story tells how the angel of the Lord appeared to Zachariah while he was performing his priestly duties, the angel struck him dumb and unable to speak---WHY?

“because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

Obviously, Zach was following all the rules, doing the stuff, and he and Liz where thought well of because of their perfect behavior and lifestyle.

This strikes me because even though they followed the law, and fulfilled the commandments they still didn’t believe the word of the Lord when it came to them; they didn’t believe that:

“with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

And Liz, even at 6 months into her pregnancy, when Mary arrived for a visit, and the baby leapt within her at the joy of the voice of his savior’s birth, questioned her part in all of this.

“But why is this granted to me, the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Following the rules, fulfilling all the orders and directions doesn’t enable you to “believe” when the time comes for you to. Even those of faith and following all the rules don’t necessarily see and believe. They may even go so far as to question God in the midst of their own miracle.

Abraham “believed God.......”; he believed God.
Believe!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where I'm at right now......

".......we probably differ on some points we once thought were absolute."

Kathy Nickerson on "Mercy Street"

Thank you Kathy

Friday, September 18, 2009

Our State Fair is a Great State Fair!

I received an invitation last week to attend the State Fair with my sister Anita to help her celebrate her birthday. The Gaither Vocal Band was performing; one of her favorites, and her husband had bought her tickets. She invited me to join her so off we went.
I used to go the State Fair almost yearly when homeschooling the kids, and we always enjoyed all the new things we got to do and see; even without kids, it did not disappoint.
We went through every building, checking out all the exhibits, artwork, the butter sculpture, and watched gifted painters paint…with spray paint!
We visited the “nursery” where the cows, sheep, pigs, alpaca’s, were all giving birth, or about to, and saw a brand new Holstein calf (still wet), and baby lambs. Did you know that a sheep can carry four lambs at once? I knew they had twins, but not quads. Unfortunately, only one of them survived, and he was the tiniest little lamb we had ever seen.
Highlights for me included getting to run a long arm quilting machine. I’ve seen them in magazines, but never had the opportunity to actually run one. Fun? You bet, and I was salivating, till I heard the price. WHOA!?!?! I’ll just keep quilting by hand, thank you.
When we went to visit the building that displayed the quilts, and domestic entries, we were probably there the longest. We strolled very slowly admiring all the beautiful quilts, wonder why some didn’t get blues, and others did. We ask aloud, how do they determine with so many beautiful quilts, which one deserves to be grand champion…….then we saw it. I wish I had taken a picture, but my camera phone wouldn’t have done it justice. It was a masterpiece, and upon close inspection realized WHY it was the Grand Champion.
The decorated cake entries were also outstanding, and to realize that all of the decorations are frosting as you stand and admire them makes you gasp. Who knew you could do that with frosting?





















We sat and watched a show of trick riders dressed like Gypsies performing many amazing stunts on the backs of some beautiful horses.

We were wondering where they were from, some foreign country perhaps? They had come to the KS state fair from Alaska; from Russia perhaps? But no, upon hearing folks talk to them after the performance we found out they came from Orlando Florida!!!
Talking a mile a minute and eating way to much junk food, we had a wonderful day, capping it off with a great concert by the Gaither Vocal Band. I love a good tenor, and they had three of the best, so it measured up to all expectations.
Anita is a retired teacher, but I had to agree with her when she stated that all 5th graders should be taken to the fair, not to the carnival, but to the fair exhibits. It is a learning experience for every age.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Trip part 2.........the delivery

My trip to Washington held wonderful times, the first being the visit to Leonard in his wonderful setting practically within a stone’s throw of Puget Sound.


When I left his house on Sat. and flew to Kenniwick, the culmination of many months of work was about to come to a wonderful conclusion.

I am the kind of person that when life seems to be spinning out of control, I usually grap for the first thing to hang onto that will give me some semblance of order back. When my sister-in-law died suddenly 21 years ago and I watched helplessly as my brother in law began life as a single father with three small children. To stay that feeling of helplessness, and sorrow, I tackled the entry way in our old school house home, texturing the walls, painting, and staining them (I was way ahead on faux finishes), all in the hopes that the uncontrolled feeling of life being altered in such a radical way would be brought under some form of control.

I’m sorry to say, I haven’t changed much in that regard in all these years. When Mother died two years ago, after three and a half years of almost daily care, I was lost. We got Miss Lily, and she has been a buddy, but I needed something productive to do, I needed to feel like I was "doing something".

My sister Alane and her husband had made Roger and I a generous gift upon Mothers passing as a thank you for the time I had spent in those years of care giving; it was greatly appreciated, and a wonderful surprise. One day while in a thrift store, I found a north woods embroidery pattern. I immediately thought of Alane and Steve’s wonderful cabin in the woods in NE Washington. I would buy the pattern and make them something as a thank you. I did buy the pattern and began the project that was the catharsis to my healing process.

As the work progressed I knew there wasn’t any way that I was going to be mailing this gift to my sister and her husband—no it had to be hand delivered and while in WA I had the joy of seeing their faces when they opened the package.







After tears and hugs, (yes we had a group hug), it was studied and gently folded and will cover them with our love every time they are at the cabin curled up in front of the fire.


My travels were purposeful, and I came home feeling healed and rested. The best kind of trip to take.

The Trip part 1.............Reconnecting

I spent 10 days traveling the state of Washington. Visiting friends and family was on the agenda, but the ultimate purpose was to reconnect with a DEAR family friend, and make a delivery.

Both went off without incident and I am so glad that I went, even though it meant leaving Rog and Lily behind.

A dear family friend, Leonard Deets, moved out to Stanwood Washington three years ago to be closer to his daughter Anne, and leaving his Kansas home of 87 years. Talk about a step of faith!?!
Leonard and his wife Katherine lived across the road from my parents when we all lived in the country on the farm. He and Katherine had actually attended High School with my mother at South Haven. For the full story of the history you can read it at Nestin and Restin blogspot pt 2” by my sister Anita.
Leonard celebrated his 90th birthday last Dec. and since Mother passed away everyone encouraged me to go see him, knowing that it would be a balm to my soul; it was.
We talked, shared stories, memories, and had devotions every morning together. There are some people who God brings into your life that there is absolutely no doubt of their purpose, and Leonard’s role in my life is abundantly clear.
When Daddy died, Leonard and Katherine were the first people to come to our house. They arrived early and stayed late for many days immediately following, helping in any and every way. Of all the things I DON'T remember about those terrible days, I DO remember Katherine putting me to bed those first few nights, and sitting there with me till I fell asleep. Later when I needed a “father” to fill a void at Sunday school, or a school event, Leonard was my surrogate. I watched these two people live out their faith in front of me all my life, and when the reality of Jesus Christ became a choice, I understood it because of their example.
Leonard was instrumental in both my Dad’s and I’s salvation and other’s in my family as well. He means the world to me, and is the closest thing to my real parents I can remember. Seeing him, and spending hours talking about the father I never really knew, but only had images of was a priceless time and one that will never be duplicated in any way. Laughing about the memories of my mother in her last days, and sharing those with him and his daughter and son in law were the “medicine” that this heart needed.

Some trips are necessary and complete a circle. This was one of those trips. If I never see Leonard again in this life but have to wait till heaven for one of those kinds of “sit-down” visits, I’m satisfied…………so satisfied.

Next, “The Delivery"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Traveling........


The best kind of travel…………leaving the arms of one person you love to enter the arms of another person you love.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I'll be back..............

Summer is almost over for some. Most conversations I overhear or are even a part of turn to “school starting”.

The blog world, at least the one I read most frequently is full of it, or I should say, is empty because of it. Not many new posts, cause I’m thinkin that most people are getting ready for school, taking that end of summer vacation and just generally having that last hurrah before the demands of school schedules take over their time.

The reading it pretty thin and sporadic right now. I know I haven’t posted in several weeks. Don’t really have much to put on here. I’m not getting ready for school; I’m in the school of prayer. God has me somewhere else right now, and it isn’t in the writing mode, thus the lack of posting. Bear with me, I’ll be back.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

When Heaven touches earth


It’s Sunday afternoon, VBS is over, Nic has gone home, and after Roger and I (well he fell asleep in the recliner) watched a movie, he is out in the shop, the house is quiet, and I’m trying to find a project to work on but in the mean time I want to record some things about our VBS.

We had a great week at VBS last week. Rome with Paul and the Underground Church was our theme, and the kids learned:
1) God’s Love Is a Gift
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
2) God’s Love changes us
“Don’t copy the behavior and custom of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2)
3) God’s Love is Always with us
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:38)
4) God’s Love saves us
“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)
5) God’s Love is worth sharing
“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.” (Romans 1:16)

These were the basics of each evening’s lessons.
They would go and visit Paul and his extremely grumpy guard Brutus every evening where Paul would share the above points explaining them to the kids until grumpy Brutus ran them off. Then they would wind their way through black plastic lined hallways down the stairs into the cave of the “Underground Church”.

Here they learned what it was like to live a life for Christ under the fear of being arrested and chased by Roman Guards. Then it was on to the Roman Market place where they learned to work with leather, metal, and wood, while visiting a toga shop and cafĂ©. Every evening a drama depicting the lesson for the evening was acted out in the Market Place for the children to witness. On one evening it was a thief being shown God’s love by receiving unmerited forgiveness, or another evening it was a lady being arrested for standing up for her faith though being threatened with her very life. Fun and games ensued also, just one being chariot races that were held every evening where the kids were pulled through an obstacle course in the grass by two Family group leaders on large pieces of cardboard.
Now lest you be yawning at this point thinking that our little ones were carefully told Bible stories and made cute crafts and played fun games, think again. Brutus was so very angry that he was forced to guard Paul, that his temper flared on more than one occasion literally sending one little girl into tears, and others scurrying from the room when he would turn red in the face and scream “GET OUT!”
Another night they got to experience the fear of not knowing what might happen to someone they loved while cowering in a corner of the underground church while the soldiers were right outside the cave entrance, threatening to come in and find us. As they clung to the adults and buried their faces in our robes they were sure we had been found out.
But in the end they saw the transformation that Jesus can make in a life when on the last night when they went to visit Paul, Brutus had accepted Christ, and would no longer be working as a guard in a prison, but as a stable hand in the emperor’s stable.
Marcus who had been chased off by the Roman soldiers returned to the underground church safe and sound, but that night when they left the followers of Jesus had to leave with them; their place of worship had been found out. So in joy they departed to find another place to worship.
Our intention was not to scare the children, but our actors did such a wonderful job portraying their characters that the kids got caught up in the stories, and each night had things to share with us, and questions to ask before we even launched into our scripts for the evenings.
Complete families came to church together all week and parents followed as their children visited Paul and Brutus, the underground church and the market place. They came as families to church this morning and we all sang and worshipped together, and Brutus stood and gave his testimony about what it was like to accept Jesus.
When I have times like this I can see that heaven has touched earth, lives have been changed, and families are supported in ways they hadn’t been before. I’ve had a tough week, and yes we are tired, but the feeling in our souls and hearts is so great the weariness is worth it all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My noisy neighbors..........


By virtue of the fact I want to get the toilet picture from front and center on my blog page I am "inspired" to write a new post.
Actually I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago and intended to write about them but other things interfered.
These are my noisy neighbors. My neighbors flock of ducks and geese that graze all over the place. They stay in their own yard by virtue of the fact that I have a dog they don't like, but they are out and about all the time.
If you have ever seen than movie "Sneakers" there is a part where they are trying to help Robert Redford's character remember what he heard while being locked up in the trunk of a car to help determine where he was taken. At one point he recalls hearing something akin to a cocktail party. This of course is impossible, as he was locked in the trunk of a car while moving. However the blind guy who is a wiz at noise distinction knows exactly what he was hearing. As they get in the car and begin to retrace the trip, sure enough the noises begin to line up to what Redford remembers; the seams on the highway, the railroad tracks, crossing a bridge, then...........the cocktail party which turns out to be a huge flock of seagulls at the reservoir. Who knew that a flock of birds can sound like a cocktail party?
They can believe me. As I sit on my deck in the evening and hear them "talk" to each other as they move around the yard, I hear the conversation, and every once and awhile one of them will QUACK!QUACK!QUACK! really loud, like they are either laughing really loud above the din of conversation, or calling everyone down for getting to rowdy; either way it is actually quite comical.
I have these guys, cows that bawl when feeding time is late, and horses that get quite vocal when they are talking to the horses across the road. I don't mind any of it, actually it is comforting, sitting out on the deck drinking iced tea, reading a book, and listening to the "cocktail party" going on next door.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The "Project"...........almost done.


O.K. the whole reason for the bath redo was because we got a new TOILET!!!! now that is a huge deal in the Cerretti household. When we built our house Rog wanted everyone to have their own "pot". With the addition of the shop, we even have an extra one for guests; no waiting :) If your not laughing out loud you should be.
As promised, pictures of the new pot, tile floor and vanity top. When he got ready to lay the tile, Rog wanted to know if I wanted it put down at an angle. (Like he thought he needed another challenge!?!?) Now if you know us and have seen our house we are BIG into angles; so I said, "why not?" I think he did an outstanding job, as usual. It is B-E-A-U-Tiful!

Nic's floor is done, the wallpaper up, and we will re-set "the pot" this evening with more pics to come. I really should have had some before and after shots, but how often do you actually take pictures of your bathroom?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Just what I need.........a project!

Well, I’m married to a Carpenter/Contractor, but our house needs to be shingled, new flooring, new toilet in the master bath, and the deck added to the south side of the house so the French doors we put in our bedroom a few years ago will actually lead to something other than thin air; “watch that first step” type of deal.
You know the old saying? "The cobblers children have no shoes, the mechanics car never runs, and the carpenters house is never finished." Wish I’d had know that saying about 33 years ago. :)
I digress……………..
It has started, in the process of replacing the master bath toilet, the idea of replacing carpet with tile has sprung up. Then maybe a new counter top on the vanity. While we are cutting and laying tile, why not tear up the carpet in Nics bath and put down the tile we had left over from building the house. Well, while we have the toilet pulled, I'll paper that wall and put up the border I intended to put up, oh, about 12 years ago!?!?
I’ve started running back and forth to the flooring store, bringing home samples, and trying to choose.
Mind you, I DO NOT want to redecorate my house----FAR FROM IT!!! I am perfectly happy with my dated colors, and out of style.......... um, style. But I am thrilled to be “cleaning” up some things. Rog is a whirlwind when he gets to going (one of the reasons, people love him, he is fast AND good), so when he is ready to DO something, we DO it!
The first evening we had the carpet, pad, tack strip torn out, the sinks pulled, and new formica on the counter top and the sinks back in, all between supper and bed, oh! and part of the subfloor down. Last night, we pulled both toilets (don't ask. Lets just say YUGH!), pulled the carpet, pad and tack in Nics bath, and he glued and nailed the subfloor in our bath. Today I paper, and he finishes getting the floor upstairs ready, then I am thinking that over the 4th we lay tile, and finish. I'll post pics when we are done. So in the next few days……………pray for us :) By the way, the toilets are sitting outside, one on the deck out back, and the other out front on the porch downstairs..........can you say YARD ART!!! :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Good times, good, good times..........

Well, my girl has come and gone. She spent 10 days here and as usual when someone you want around is around, they flew by.
We ate too much and chatted it up, she like to died from the humidity, but overall we had a great time.
One of Audrey's goals in coming home was to meet some of the new family members and new babies of friends. I failed to have the camera ready for the photo op's, thus only one baby captured.
Trust me when I say the other two she met were every bit as cute and sweet and she loved on them equally.
Aunt Anita and Casie came over one day and spent the greater part of the day so she got to spend some quality time bonding with Holton, and playing. He did not dissapoint as usual.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yes, we are ALL glad she is here...........

Audrey is home and is taking today to sleep and rest, as she has kept a busy schedule while here meeting all the new little ones of friends and family and lunching it up with old friends, plus being drug here and there by “the mother”.
Last night we watched a movie, and like her brother, she lays on the floor to watch television when home. Lily loves this as she is not allowed on furniture, and longs to be close. She was. Close.





When I say we are all enjoying Audrey’s visit, I mean ALL of us are enjoying Audrey’s visit. :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

A vist!!!

My girl. Comin home. Tomorrow. WOOO HOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, you could say I'm excited :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What a Dad!

This link was on a friends facebook page, and I watched it--LOVED IT and just had to share it. The inspiration behind the song makes it even more special--what a DAD!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

When you thought no one was listening.............

When you think your out there all by yourself, Lone Rider? Yeah, don't kid yourself, people see, hear, notice, and most of all God hears you! So go ahead, PRAISE HIM!!
Psst:turn down the music first :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"You should be ashamed of yourselves."

The firestorm around the Miss USA Pagent is working in Donald Trump’s favor. As usual, he is cashing in on the media hype, but I couldn’t help but grin when I heard him say to the media what so many people have wanted to say to them in so many different situations.

Trump said Carrie Prejean's comments about same-sex marriage were blown out of proportion – not because of the grand stage where her comments were made – but because of her beauty. He blamed the media for making a big deal out of the situation. (I hardly think it had anything to do with her beauty, but with her opinion differing with the media!)

"If she were a very nice looking young woman, if she were an average woman, if she were an average man, if she were a great looking man, it wouldn't have mattered, nobody would have cared because this subject has been discussed by everybody from politicians, presidents, everybody. If Carrie weren't so beautiful, this would never have come," said Trump. "Carrie is totally beautiful, and her answer, because of that, took on greater importance. Unfortunately, that's the way the press works. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

Trump also defended the answer Prejean gave at the April 19 Miss USA pageant. She was asked her view of marriage by blogger Perez Hilton. Prejean said she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

"It's the same answer the president of the United States gave," Trump said. "It's the same answer many people gave. She gave an honorable answer. She gave an answer from her heart, and I think for that she has to be commended."

"On April 19 on that stage I exercised my freedom of speech, and I was punished for doing so," said Prejean.


I found the whole thing a farce—from the pageant on down. It’s a money maker or Donald Trump wouldn’t have gotten involved, and he also wouldn’t be pointing out in interview after interview how his pageant is still on the air while Miss America has gone “ka-putz”; I believe is the way he put it.

What I also found interesting was how many news site, web sites I had to scan to finally find the actual quote.That’s right, the part where he pointed out the bias in the media, and that they should be ashamed of themselves. I finally found it on some remote TV web site. Most articles excluded that particular part of the interview.

Everyone in America knows that no matter how much “journalistic integrity” the media tries to spout, when they pull a stunt like this, which has one of their most revered shaking his finger at them, they can’t really cry foul, but they sure edit, and bury the quote so it gets lost.

There isn’t much I could find to agree with Donald Trump about, but this—yes I agree with him, the media should be ashamed of themselves—and not just for this offense.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Memories, Babies, Family, and Fun......

Roger and I don’t take many vacations, and when we do choose to get out of town, it is usually centered on visiting family.

This past weekend we went to Branson to connect with a few of Rogers siblings and see some all important nieces and nephews, and meet some new members of the Cerretti clan.
Catching up with and about everyone, finding out the latest on their kids whereabouts and activities is always good, but I have to admit that meeting the newest members of the family was the highlight of the trip for me.




These two little guys were a delight in every sense. Sawyer, 22 months, and his younger brother Henry 4 months, stole our hearts. They made us smile, and laugh, and ohh and ahh.






















They brought back wonderful memories of when their daddy was that little, and we were much younger. Aunt Dorothy & Henry














They reminded us that the family will go on, and that time spent with little ones is precious, and special. Grandma and Sawyer





OH! We had a wonderful time! Can't you tell?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do You Pray?

Every Great Movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.....

Dwight L. Moody

Friday, April 24, 2009

life lessons and livestock........


I don’t live on a farm or ranch, but I live in the middle of farming and ranch country. My neighbors have cows, horses, chickens, ducks, turkeys, dogs, cats, and did I mention kids. It’s a grand place, with something to hold, or pet, or ride all the time and the responsibilities of “chores” is part of their daily routine.

Just yesterday as I was mowing, I looked over at their pasture with the two horses, and multiple cows, and thought to myself, “If a kid grows up handling and dealing with livestock they can probably handle just about anything else life throws at them.”

Well, today I got to be reminded what it is like to handle and deal with livestock. Mind you I was really little when we lived on the farm, but I remember walking the lane with my sister to bring the cows in to be milked every evening and feeding the baby lambs from baby bottles when their mama’s rejected them and pushing the hens off the nest to gather eggs. I have enough “farm” memories to get me through when something comes up.

As I went to let Lily out right before lunch, I noticed the neighbors cows looked a little too close to our windbreak. Upon further investigation I realized, sure enough, they were out. I called Diana, volunteered to help, and changed my shoes; we received over a half inch of rain last night on already saturated soil so I wanted shoes that were old, and could be washed.

Cows are not the brightest creatures, and as I walked up to them to direct them where I wanted them to go, they simply stood there looking at me with an expression reminiscent of “lights on, no one home?” But Oh! When they wanted to go, believe me they went enjoying the freedom and relishing the unmown green grass of the lawn and ditches. At that moment you questioned if they were really as stupid as they appeared.

We eventually got them back in the pasture, thanks to a bucket of feed, and one greedy cow who all the others thought knew something they didn’t, so they followed her.

Diana and I then proceeded to stand and chat, catching up on each other as neighbors so often do. We weren’t that far from the pole barn when we heard a racket, and checked, and sure enough, two cows had figured a way out of that pasture next to the barn. They didn’t get far when we just steered them right back in the way they came.

It was at this point Diana wondered if we shouldn’t move them to the other pasture, the one they had originally found a way out of. I herded and she held the gate and kept the rest from getting out. This is where the flash backs of walking in mud, and cow pies up to my ankles returned. For everyone knows that where the lane narrows, the “grass don’t grow”. At this point I shared this memory with her telling her I was sure that was part of the reason I never married a farmer. She understood completely.

Feeling confident that the cows were safely corralled, we decided to walk out together to get our mail. Standing at the ends of our driveway we continued to chat, and eventually headed for our houses. Almost to the shop, I heard Diana call out, “Andrea, look at my yard!” I assumed she wanted to show me the pock marks left by the hoofs, so started to walk over to access the damage. As I rounded the corner there stood the cows, out again! We both laughed, and Diana simply requested that I keep them from going into the road while she called someone to come get them and take them to pasture NOW! Something her husband was planning to do, but our afternoon of trying to keep them where they belong expedited.

I couldn’t blame them, the pasture they were in was pretty much grazed down to nothing, the new spring grass hadn’t come in thick yet, and all they had to eat was hay. They just wanted out to eat the fresh green grass and clover. As I stood there between them and the road, and watched them eat contentedly in one place the thought while mowing returned to me; the lessons learned dealing with livestock.

Animals are “dumb”, they neither speak or process thoughts. They are driven by hunger and respond out of instinct and fear. You learn to access that every time you approach them to feed them, water them, or deal with them in any way. You have to be “smarter than the animal”, as my mother always said. You wouldn’t think it would be hard, but it takes more savvy than you realize when you are in the midst of them.

Learning to control something that is a lot bigger than you, and outweighs you by a thousand pounds takes forethought and calm. As Nic puts it, you don’t want to get going too fast, or it all goes south (or in our case, north) in a hurry.

I learned as a little girl that a little mud and muck isn’t going to kill you, that remaining calm in chaos usually gets more accomplished than panic, hang on to that feed bucket or bottle, and show calm and resolve and you’ll get the job done. Some things have to be pushed out of the way, and a couple of pecks from and old hen won't cause you to lose your hand, and sometimes you have to wave your arms and shout, but learning to know when is the trick.

Flashbacks? I had a few today, but they were good ones, and I had to laugh as I walked home at last, at the hoof prints and cow pies in my yard. Experiences like today can be reminders of what you know and where you learned it and encouragement to implement those lessons again and again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sign Up!

Ever had that feeling like your missing something? Like everyone knows a secret you don’t? People are talking about things, and going places, and you don’t know where? Well I found out where “it” is.

facebook!

My kids talk about facebook. Audrey informs me of what is going on in the lives of people we know who live at other ends of the country, and we haven’t seen in years and when I question her: “HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS!?!?!” her response, “Oh, I read it on their facebook page.”

The other evening we hosted a party for the college students in our church and the sponsor was taking pictures. I asked her if she would e-mail them to me, and one of the young ladies piped up and ask, “Are you on facebook?” I said I had an e-mail account, a blog I write on, two in fact, and why did I “need” facebook?

“Oh, you would love it, Andrea!” she replied with this enormous grin on her face. I figured there was something behind that grin, and I was intrigued to find out.

Well, let me just say, “WOW!!!”

When you sign up it checks out your e-mail address list, and automatically brings up anyone listed in your e-mail who has a Facebook page. Let’s just say that was just about everyone. Then when you go to their page, and find other people you know, you can “ask” them to be your friend too and included in your network. Let me just say that in my entire life I never knew that I knew so many people, much less had so many friends, past and present. It is sort of amazing to see all those little squares come up of people you know, who you consider friends, and of course family, and realize that it doesn’t even include those that aren’t on facebook, i.e. example my sisters. I immediately found the page of a friend from High school, and she had pictures posted of her beautiful grandchildren that I never would have been able to see if not for, you got it, facebook.

Now, I don’t consider myself “techno savey”, but I am glad I am now “in the loop”. This morning I got to see pictures of our little great nephew Henry, featured earlier in this blog. Audrey has already warned me, “Mom, don’t get addicted to facebook!” I assured her I wouldn’t, but it is going to be soooo nice to keep up with so many people even if it is in just a quip of a comment they post about their day, and their lives. Connection, communication, what fun! I think that is what I like about the internet the most anyway.
SIGN UP!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Look who I got to spend Easter with!


This is Holton. Not the most recent pictures but some of his best But let's face it, I don't think the kid has a bad side. I talked to a friend today and gushed about my newest great-nephew and how cute and perfect he is, and she wanted to know if he was on my blog. I told her yes, but not recently. If this little face doesn't make you go AHHHH, I don't know what will.
Lest you think I show favoritism, nay! ALL of my great nieces and nephews were equally sweet, loving, content, and wonderful-I just didn't live close enough to find out first hand. I had to get this information from their unbiased grandmothers (my sisters or sisters-in-law), but I believed every word of it anyway. Holt is no different he is just closer, so thus the first hand, and emphatically unbiased report. :)
Roger and I received an invitation to come and share Easter Day with he and his Mommy and Daddy, Grandpa and Grandma, and since the weather was the worst, we went and were glad we did. His smiles made the day soooo worth while. I can't wait till he is old enough to hunt Easter Eggs.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Easter Anniversary


This weekend, Easter weekend, is the anniversary of my “salvation”. It was the Easter of my Jr. year in High School at a Lay Witness Mission at our church that the culmination of years of spiritual experiences came together for me to understand how much God loved me, and how much I loved him back, and that I wanted Him to change my life.

You see, my daddy died when I was only 7 years old. When I meet little 7 year old girls these days I am struck by how small they are, and how MUCH they love, depend on and idolize their dad’s. I’m sure I was no different.
I do remember when Daddy died that the people who came to our home to help with food, and anything else during those days immediately following his death were friends from church, neighbors and family. One of the things I heard repeatedly was “Your Daddy is in Heaven with Jesus”. He had gone somewhere else, oh yes, his body was in that box, but the part that made him my daddy was now in heaven, it had gone on ahead of me to heaven, somewhere that I was assured over and over that I could go too. Being seven years old, I believed every word of it. I began listening more intently when people talked about heaven, God and Jesus. I wanted to know more about where my Dad had gone, and who he was with, and what all that entailed.

As I grew and continued to be raised in the church, learning Bible stories in Sunday school class and participating in Christmas programs and Easter Cantata’s the true meaning of “life after death” began to solidify in my mind.

I remember at my baptism and subsequent membership into the Methodist church when I was 12 years on another Palm Sunday, I cried as I knelt at the altar and the preacher baptized me out of the baptismal fount that had a plaque on it in memory of my Dad. I understood the concept of washing and cleansing from the sins we commit, and what Jesus had done on the cross for me. The reality of a relationship with Him was beginning to make sense. By the time the Lay Witness Mission was planned for Palm Sunday of my Jr. Year of high school, and I had reached that age of impatience and growing tired of waiting on God to show me if all this “religious stuff” was really true, God knew I was ripe for the picking.

Joy unspeakable and full of glory, as the old hymn says, was mine. I hadn’t known anything like it, and I told everyone I knew; I still do when I get the chance.

So you see I view life as other followers and believers in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with the assurances and promises that were given to me as a small child. Heaven is a place, Jesus is there, the ones I love who have died before me are there, and someday, I will be there too.

Very similar to the early Christians, the hope in life after death became a reality with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The assurance that they would be reunited with him in heaven, the teacher they loved and adored, plus their brothers and sisters in that belief, was a reality for them.

Celebrating Easter every year is the marking of not only the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but my birth as one of His followers. It’s a duel celebration, twice the “Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory!”
REJOICE! HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Of Kings and Kingdoms


The state of our nation is in the worst state economically and socially since the Depression.
Reading the headlines is depressing if not overwhelming. The unemployment rate that was reported today is just a number to some people fortunate enough to still be employed but to those that are not, it is an insurmountable reality every time they fill out a job application knowing that for one job, there are hundreds if not thousands applying for that same job.
The savings rate is up, people are starting to stash away their money in any place they can find a decent interest rate, and even in places they can’t.
Wage freezes are becoming common, and if you are lucky enough to have a job where you get a regular paycheck, even if they freeze your wages with no hope of a raise, you feel lucky.

I get A LOT of e-mails from people laying the blame of our nation’s problems on a variety of different reasons. But as I was reading in the book of Samuel the other day, I was struck by the prophet’s words to the nation of Israel when they wanted a king to rule over them just like all the nations around them. They wanted to be like everyone else, they wanted to fit in, and have “someone” to run to with their troubles. They wanted government instead of God.
God was not happy, but this is one of those times that He allowed them to have what they wanted. He was laying the groundwork for Jesus to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but at this time He knew how it would turn out, he even warned them, and here is what He says to Samuel when Samuel seeks the Lord as to what to do:

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

God knew what the outcome of this decision would be, when man doesn’t rely on God, and turns to the things of man, or man himself, the outcome is seldom what they want.
So Samuel followed God’s instructions and agreed to find and anoint a king for them, but not before he tried to warn them, as God had told him to, just what having an earthly king would do.

“This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest £young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”

Interesting, even back in those days, people thought that government would solve their problems, that other men would be the solution to the dilemma’s they found themselves in. They were willing to continue on a dangerous downhill sloop even when a prophet who they had listened to, and believed, and heeded his word before, warned them. As usual, God in his mercy used Samuel to show the people that even right after they had anointed a king, who they thought would be the solution to all their problems, He was greater, and mightier, and able to do more than any mere man could do; he sent rain during a time of year that it NEVER rained.
Upon seeing this, the Bible said “the people greatly feared”, and admitted their sin in rejecting God.

“Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness: yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside: for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord, will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart, for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Our nation has rejected God in so many ways, that it sounded more than familiar to me.
We have spent our time and money on “empty things, which cannot profit or deliver”.
Our government has turned out to demand more of us than we are willing to give, and even to the point of servitude where we spend the first 5 months of the year working to earn enough just to pay our taxes. What will it take for us to “greatly fear” the Lord, and admit our sin of rejecting God, and pushing Him out of our society and our lives?

As I read Samuel I was also reminded of the scripture in Isaiah 9:6-7 where the perfect King and government will reign and be established:

"For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,
upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."


Easter is in a week. The celebration of the resurrection of the Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! These days that we live in are the “birth pangs”, of the coming age of King Jesus, the perfect sovereign, and head of government. I’m going to try to be especially mindful as I approach the Easter Holiday this year that not only has He risen, but He reigns and will…..forever.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Perspective or a Miracle?

I look at things a little differently than most people. I spend quite a bit of time reading the Bible, studying it when I have questions, and marvel at the similarities that I see in things that happened centuries ago and things that are happening now.
History and archeology have proven many of the things in the Bible are true, and really happened. So when I read the Old Testament account of the miracles that God performed for the children of Israel to bring them out of Egypt I am amazed, and find it hard to imagine witnessing fire and hail falling from the same sky, or the Nile River (or any river) turning to blood. The idea that if I put blood from an unblemished lamb on my door frame, God will spare me a horrid consequence let alone part an entire sea, is still beyond me sometimes. However sometimes things do happen in our lives that if we are willing to admit and realize that from a spiritual perspective they are indeed miracles, we too can say that we have seen the Hand of God.
This past weekend was Angel Food distribution. Once again they threatened not only precipitation, but a blizzard, and ice storm. Many people contacted me on Fri. inquiring as to what was going to happen to their boxes of food if they weren’t there to pick them up; I had no idea.
The truck driver called, just as he was crossing the Texas line into Oklahoma also wondering if he DID make it to Emporia would we be able to unload the truck. I assured him that weather hadn’t stopped us yet, and we didn’t expect it to stop us this time. I promised him I’d pray for him.
When I visited with Anita Fri. morn, it had started snowing in the southern part of the state, and another friend who always drives in from the west, not an hour away, also said it had been snowing since morning. I prayed.
Sure enough, Fri. eve it began to rain. It froze on the grass, and the trees, but early Sat. morning, the rain had stopped and the pavement was dry, and when I arrived at the church, there sat our semi truck full of food.
We started unloading, and all went well, the truck driver commented that in all his driving for Angel Food, he had never had a truck unloaded so quickly; we got him on his way to Topeka, before the storm hit as he needed to get home to Missouri after that.
Distribution started, and not long into it, the sleet started, and then wet heavy snow. Car doors froze shut, the snow piled up on the slush of sleet underneath and the cars kept coming and picking up food.
By 11:00 we were done distributing with one box of food left, and it was an extra. People left and made it safely home but yes the storm was a bad one.
Wasn’t it just a weather phenomenon that the cloud didn’t really hit Emporia till Sat. morning AFTER we had unloaded the truck and the majority of the food had been picked up?
Wasn’t it just coincidence that the truck driver shared that as he drove through the heart of the storm and saw two vehicles, both with four-wheel drive, spin out right in front of him and go into the ditch, that HE DIDN’T?
Isn’t it just happenstance that EVERY box got picked up, and everyone who ordered, and even some who didn’t, received food?
I could say it was all those things, but it wasn’t.
You see, God did rain down fire and hail on Egypt, and send plagues of frogs, and locusts, and flies. He did turn the water in the Nile River to blood, and He parted the Red Sea for them to walk across on dry ground. He spared them from death through the blood of a perfect lamb smeared on their door frames. Later in the Bible He enables a little shepherd boy to kill a 9 foot man with a slingshot and a stone. The healings, deliverance from demons, resurrections from death, we call miracles.
So yes, I believe that God held back the cloud and the storm for us to distribute food to people who needed it. I believe that He heard my prayers, and many others for the safety of the driver and those that needed to come pick up. I know that He saw to it that every box that had a place to go got there.
In the Old Testament accounts of the Exodus, the explanation of the miracles and wonders of God were so that “Egypt would know there is a God in Israel and that God IS God.” I've never doubted that God is God, but it was exciting, encouraging, and awesome to witness a miracle first hand.
Next time you "witness" something strange, unexplainable, or odd, check your perspective, and marvel at "the Hand of God."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mercy Street

For those of you who read my blog with any regularity and are familiar with the Rare Rocks, and Serenity Now blogs, let me introduce you to their mother, Kathy Nickerson and her blog Mercy Street. (featured in my side bar under Favorite Blogs)
Kathy and Wendell are friends of Roger from High School.
The first time I met them I was a guest in their home not a day or two after Kathy had come home from the hospital from bringing Serenity into the world, and Felicity was but 15 months old. I remember Kathy smiled all the time, she was gracious, generous, and welcoming. Not many months later they along with another couple from H.S. drove the 5 hours for our wedding.
Every 5 years we returned to Kirksville to those reunions, always staying with or at least spending the greater part of our time with the Nickerson’s. Not until I had children of my own did the reality of what Kathy had done on that first visit, welcoming someone she didn’t know into her home just days after giving birth, sink into my thick skull. (I learned then, that guys are not real aware when it comes to certain things!!) I learned through the years of visiting and staying with Wendell and Kathy that the reality of it is that Kathy is that gracious and welcoming, going with the flow and allowing life to wash over her every time I’ve ever been around her. I KNOW that is one of the reasons I am looking forward to reading what she posts on her blog. She has a perspective on things that I have always admired. How she sees the world and the people in it are a reflection of her heart, one that I feel was touched by God long before she was even aware of it.
Just a few months ago I was in a book store, perusing the magazines. I ran across Discipleship Journal, and its counterpart Pray magazine. I purchased them both, anticipating a good read, and a hot cup of tea upon returning home. As I thumbed through the Discipleship Journal I began reading an article about finding our family history in the pages of the Bible. As I finished the article, I noticed the author’s picture at the bottom of the page with a small quip about them. I looked twice, and sure enough smiling back at me was Kathy's familiar face, having just shared with me a small part of the encouragement that she finds in being a child of God.
I am anticipating her words, and hope you will too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Living in Community


I have featured a book in my Amazon Widget call the Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris.
I have just finished this book, and know that I will be reading it again and again. I will be using it not only as a devotional but inspiration to remind me of so many things…………just one of them attending church, and being involved in the family of God.
I would go into great detail about Kathleen Norris, but I don’t want to bog down in information, the book jacket will tell you all that.

Norris, though a Protestant, went through a year of becoming an oblate in a monastery outside Lemmon South Dakota. The word “oblate” is from the Latin for “to offer,” and Jesus himself is often referred to as an “oblation” in the literature of the early church. It may well be translated as “associate”, and while that may seem to describe the relationship modern oblates have with monastic communities, it does not adequately convey the religious dimension of being an oblate. Substituting the word “associate” for “oblation” in reference to Jesus demonstrates this all too well; no longer an offering, Jesus becomes a junior partner in a law firm.

Her book is a recording of not just the events that took place, and the impact on herself during that time, but a spiritual journey that exposed the idea of community to me in a whole new way, and did not lightly admonish me in my views of “community”, in regard to my local and familiar body of fellow followers of Jesus Christ.

As I read about life in a monastery I was pricked in being reminded that there is a reason for “family” in our spiritual lives, as much as there is in our physical lives.

She bases and establishes the lessons learned from this ancient culture on the very fact that the idea of this community IS ancient. (the Romans lost everything to barbarian invaders. Ironically, it is another legacy of the fall of Rome, the Benedictine Monastery, that is still going strong fifteen hundred years later.) Yet she is quick to ease the readers mind in assuring them that these are not people who are cloistered away from the world, living their own prayerful lives, blissfully unaware of what goes on outside the walls of their “community”. Quite the opposite, not only do monastery’s welcome guests, entertain visitors, but many in the order will work in prisons, hospices, as counselors, teachers, nurses, and doctors, and establish AIDS homes.

But this is not a book of facts about monasteries, this is a journal, so to speak, of someone who spent a year of her life being immersed in the ritual, and practices of a community of believers who practice that belief on a level that made her want more of Jesus, and encouraged and strengthened her trust in God.

“When a Benedictine community is deciding whether or not to accept a candidate (not referring to oblate) questions that would be primary in the business world—what this person’s credentials and skills, what will they add to the organization’s efficiency and the productivity?—are secondary, if they’re raised at all. Even the question of “acceptability,” which is so often a mask for prejudice, is muted. People are simply asked to consider whether or not this person has a monastic vocation for that particular community. The fact that you might not like the person, certainly not enough to want to live with them the rest of your life, is not supposed to be a factor. The monastic value of not judging others, of giving them the benefit of the doubt, can become extremely painful at a time like this, because once a person becomes a part of the community, they are family.”

Like any family they too have their moments, and suffer their differences:
“differences between individuals will either be adsorbed when the community gathers to act as one, or these communal activities become battlegrounds. As one monk once said to me, “Go to the dining room and to prayers, and you’ll find out how a monastery is doing.””

In between the beginning and the end of the book she shares her lessons of the Saints of the Catholic church, who they were, how and why they were named as saints, and all in the context of being moved by their love and devotion to Jesus to the point of giving their lives in some way, usually physically, for that love.
The literagy, hearing the scriptures, especially the Psalms, being read out loud, during this time brought her to a new awareness and understanding of the ceremony, and ritual that we in the modern church seem to have so easily and quickly set aside.
“The goal of a monastic life is to let oneself be changed by community ritual, ceremony, and the repetition of the psalms, until, in the words of one hymn, our lives become a psalm in praise of the glory of God’s name.”
In that bent, the monastery is a place to focus on such depth of devotion to God in a communal setting that gives evidence that there will be in heaven, “the family of God”.
In her chapter on Augustine she writes of being questioned by a college student as to why she would continue to attend church, and be surrounded by all that “hypocrisy”. Her reply and explanation of it are evidence of her “conversion” to the idea of communal life in the light of God’s love.

“The only hypocrite I have to worry about on Sunday morning is myself.” Even when I find church boring, I try to hold this in mind as a possibility: like all the other fools who have dragged themselves to church on a Sunday morning, including the pastor, I am there because I need to be reminded that love can be at the center of all things, if we will only keep it there."

She then shares a story by Pastor Cecil Williams, the pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco:

"On Easter Sunday at Glide the pastor invites people to tell their own stories during the service. One year he said, “There’s an empty tomb somewhere in this room this morning. I invite you to come forward now.” And people got up to speak of living two year with AIDS, nine months free from drugs. Then a man came forward who, Williams says had a skittish look in his eyes, “ that told me he was still in the tomb…..still tied up in the grave clothes of crack cocaine.? The Man told the congregation that the drug counseling at the church had been enough to keep him off drugs for days at a time. He admitted that he had a little crack still in his system that morning, but he said, looking around the church, “I wasn’t gonna miss this!”
A healing straight out of the gospels, in which repentance and healing happen simultaneously, as in a lightning strike, in which the desire to worship is a step from death into life, and a cause for celebration in the body of Christ, who welcomes all who seek him. BLESSED BE THOSE WHO THROW THE CHURCH DOORS OPEN WIDE.”
(emphasis mine)

This book reminded me that like the communal monastic life, the goal of the Christian walk is to allow oneself to be changed by the “family of God”, through the encounters, shared circumstances, rituals, celebrations, sorrows, and “life” to the point that we become a living testament to the God we love and worship, and our savior Jesus Christ. “….that the basis of community is not that we have all our personal needs met here, or that we find all our best friends in the monastery…….what we have to share and what we have to struggle for, and to preserve, is the shared vision of the why, why we live together. It’s a common meaning, reinforced in the scriptures, a shared vision of the coming reign of God.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More shots of Vegas.........

I thought I'd give you a little travel journal, since I'm not feeling my best today,and am voiceless, I thought I would do a little recording of memories through photos.
When we made our plans for the trip to Vegas and then on to Phoenix, Audrey, Ryan and I knew that we would be on our own for the lions share of the time in Vegas, as Rog and Nic would be occupied with "all things concrete".
The best part of the trip started at the airport in Vegas when these three walked off the plane arriving from Phoenix. WOHOO!!
I also got to relish spending the evening introducing my family to my best friend from High School, Donna Lyons Thomas and her husband Jim from Mesquite NV. BLAST!! They had us all laughing till our sides ached, and we throughly enjoyed the time, it just wasn't long enough.
The next day while Nic and Roger were learning about acid washed and decorative concrete, Ryan, Audrey and I walked down the stip to take in the sights. Here is where the architecture blows you away. Lets just say that when money is no object you can do anything in the middle of the dessert. We wandered in and out of hotels and shops, all the while I'm sure my mouth was hanging open, and looking like the little mid-western housewife I am. The Belligio was my favorite, but Audrey favored the Venetian. Below are the shots of the Belligio; Audrey is an excellent photographer and did a great job capturing the things that stood out to us the most.
These are the shots of the famous Dale Chihuly blown glass sculptures featured in and around the Billagio The Conservatory and the amazing mosiac floors in the conservatory. When we took Roger and Nic back that evening, Roger didn't know weather to look up or down, as there was so much to take in.
Another Chihuly blown glass sculpture featured in the piano lounge. About 6 ft. tall.













Next was the Venetian--Audrey's favorite, with a father who is a builder, she could appreciate so much of what we saw.

We had to have our picture taken infront of the horse fountain.......of course!

Can you say AMAZING!!!!