Well folks, I said I just wanted to put up articles that were upbeat and positive. As you can see, it’s been awhile! But at last I have something that will warm your hearts. Thursday night we went to see a program that was in honor of our Military.
After the HEARTLAND POPS played, they gave tribute to those that served our Country. As each group was called we all clapped for them. I felt my heart swell with pride as the men/women stood tall and proud. It seemed as it progressed the clapping got louder. It was an emotional feeling to see them all. When they asked who was the oldest veteran in the audience a 92 year old woman airman stood. She looked physically fit, slim and trim.
After the program, I went over to congratulate her and saw a sparkle in her eyes and enjoyed her sense of humor as she chuckled saying she had to go up every day and fly to make sure the planes were safe for the men!
We have so many brave and dedicated soldiers! My heart aches for those that died or came home with major injuries. We know that FREEDOM ISN’T FREE and some have made the ultimate sacrifice. To those that we see we need to thank and let them know we appreciate their dedication and courage.
It is nice to know that several area restaurants are offering them a free meal for Veterans Day. They certainly deserve it! God bless them all!
What is VALENTINE’S DAY to you? Is it a beautiful card, flowers, a box of heart shaped chocolates, a dinner date or going to a formal dance? Is it romantic words whispered low? Or is it an action that shows love in an intangible way? Is it giving up something to prove your love to someone?
I have researched some ideas about Valentine’s Day. The first one that stands out is the story that in 278 A.D Emperor Claudius of Rome was furious because he wanted to have a big army but men did not want to fight for him. He decided not to allow any more marriages so that they would be devoted only to him. A priest named Valentine thought this was preposterous so he continued to marry young people in secret. He was caught and thrown into prison. Many young people came to the jail to visit him and threw flowers and notes up to his window. They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love. One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit Saint Valentine in his cell.
Later Valentine was executed by being beheaded. On the day he was to die, the priest left his friend a little note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty. He signed it, “Love from your Valentine.” This seemed strange to me, actually ‘preposterous’ is a great description! I researched further.
The explanation I discovered about this ‘legend’ was that Catholics were getting ‘caught up’ with some of the pagan rituals. The Church sought to Christianize the pagan Lupercalia Festival the Romans performed every year in the middle of February. It was a celebration of springtime and fertility (among other things) and as part of it young men would randomly draw women’s names from an urn in order to be matched with them for the following year. The Church changed the rituals to eliminate the random sexual pairings and chose a new religious symbol to be honored (St Valentine) to replace the pagan gods and animal sacrifices. So that’s it! The church wanted to change the pagan acts. This made more sense. But I questioned why the church tried to copy worldly practices? Why weren’t they the LEADERS?
Then I wondered where Chocolate entered into this picture? It was time to check back with “Google”. We always hear a lot of warnings about the dangers of the internet, but it has a lot of good information. Here’s what I found about chocolate:
“The cacao tree is thought to have originated in the Amazon. The word chocolate can be traced back 2000+ years all the way to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which meant “bitter water” and referred to an unsweetened drink the Aztecs brewed from cacao beans. There’s also evidence of an ancient alcoholic brew made by fermenting the fleshy fruit that surrounds the cacao beans in old pottery remnants from Honduras. Cacao beans were also considered by the Mayans and the Aztecs to be divine and magical, with legends attributing the origins of the tree and beans to various Gods in the heavens. Cacao beans were considered valuable and often used as currency for the ancient tribes, in addition to being incorporated into many sacred rituals.
Since chocolate was considered valuable, divine, and decadent, what better gift to give a woman? The first chocolate candies (as we know them today) were invented in the 1860s by Cadbury, who was also the first to market them in a heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day that same decade. I wonder if he knew at the time what a historic idea it would turn out to be.
So, does this link chocolate to pagan practices? Hmm. Interesting thought!
My summation is that giving a Valentine is an act of love on a horizontal level. It’s people to people. This ‘love’ is often fickle, yet there is a vertical love that comes from the Creator to the created. So whether you are happy or sad on Valentine ’s Day please realize that the vertical love is steadfast and whether you see Him or not—He is always there beside you.
Whatever label you may put on yourself, whether it’s a denomination, atheism, Islam, new age, or any other –our Creator, God, loves EVERYONE no matter whether you acknowledge Him or not. His greatest “Valentine” was showing His love to us ALL through His Son Jesus Christ taking away our sins by dying in our place. What greater love can there be?
The ball soared up towards the sky. “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” And she did. Everyone heard the “SWOOSH!” and were surprised to see how quickly she had positioned herself underneath and caught it. At that point she ran around in circles saying “Bet you can’t catch me!!!” She was right. When anyone would get close she would twist out of reach. After awhile friends would get tired of chasing her and she’d lose interest in it herself.
Later she’d cuddle next to me and looking up at me with her big brown eyes, she’d say she was hungry. Since I was preoccupied reading the newspaper I paid no heed to her. Finally when her patience had run out, she’d push the paper out of my hands and repeat that she was hungry.
After eating she was her happy self again. I wondered if I should try to have her play short stop catcher in the next little league game. She liked that idea.
“ ‘member when I used to run next to Daddy when he’d bike? Wasn’t I good?”
I smiled at her enthusiasm. “Yes, you certainly were.”
“I’m so quick an’ I even can jump WAY up in the air to catch anything they’d throw at me!”
“You’re right. I’ll have to see what I can do to get you in the game next week.” It was hard not to smile at her excitement. Her eyes were wide and round with alertness.
“I may be 84, but I feel like a 12 year old.” I hugged her and agreed.” Molly, our Brittany, is a joy to have around.
I hear the bells tinkling and the laughter of young people. Children with wide eyes looking at all the bright lights do not seem to notice the crowds bustling around them. Their mouths seem to open as wide as an apple. The excitement and joy make older folk smile. Contrary to what some might think, these are the most satisfying joys of Christmas.
Granted some people think expensive gifts are necessary to show their love but this is not so. My fondest childhood memories are tramping through the woods with my older brother and sister to find the best tree, making decorations for it, listening to music and waiting with anticipation when my father shut the doors to the kitchen. After he’d ‘rattled’ around for what seemed like ages, he’d come out carrying his surprise. A variety of candy bars cut into bite size pieces and displayed in a candy dish. What a treat!!
Laughter and songs declaring what Christmas means bring real joy, not artificial or temporary satisfaction. Children’s plays usually quote that the angels said “Fear not, for we bring tidings of great joy.”
What this season should bring is the realization that Immanuel, God with Us, is the BEST gift we can receive or share with others.
Regardless of what is happening in our lives we can take comfort knowing God has promised to always be with us. The angels sang “Glory to God in the Highest!” We should focus on that thought and not get distracted with other things. This will give us real joy!
The dawn was just beginning to break and It was still quite dark as I checked “WeatherBug” on my cell phone. It looked like a big batch of rain was almost to us. I hurriedly prepared and took my umbrella and big hat. Anticipating a downpour I grabbed my rain jacket. I was determined to walk every day as the “CHIP” program had instructed. Since I’d been a Girl Scout, I was always ‘prepared’.
It was just getting light and the temperature was 73 degrees, Humidity 94% and the Dew Point was 72. I remember years ago Don Kent, our trusted weatherman in Massachusetts, had said “Once the dew point reaches 70 degrees it will be uncomfortable.” He’s right!
I had only walked a short distance and realized I should not have worn my jacket. Not wanting to waste time by turning back I tied it around my waist and proceeded at a good clip. They say you should carry weights, did this jacket count?
I watched as several squirrels chased each other around a tree and then fight over who could have the most nuts from the oak trees. Soon they would rush up to the top of a palm tree to enjoy their trophy. I saw two rabbits back to each other as if watching. I could almost hear one say ’I got your back, watch mine!’
As I proceeded, my eye caught a glimpse of a rainbow off to the right. It was raining somewhere, but not here! So much is determined by how the wind blows. A rainbow always seems to represent God smiling and it reminds me of His unfailing love and forgiveness to us.
I heard a noise and looked up. A red headed woodpecker was industriously pecking for grubs on the concrete light post. I chuckled but then thought how we are often so like him. In our stubbornness we are determine to do it ‘our way’. God has better ideas and we need to listen to His still small voice.
Some may think it’s boring to walk, but I feel there is so much to learn just by observing what is going on around us.
Ummmm! The joy of eating a fresh organic tomato that is locally grown!!! There is nothing that can compare to it! It has a delectable flavor and you don’t mind when the juice runs down your arm!
It is well worth it and is nothing like the store bought variety. Back in the 70’s we grew our own and oh how I long to go back to those days!
We all worked together. Our girls had specific chores and when the garden was ready, boy did we enjoy the fruit of our labors!
Another favorite of mine was steamed summer squash, mashed. A little butter and salt were added to make it a melt in your mouth. What a delight!
What is your favorite vegetable and memory of years gone past that you could share?
When our girls were young there was a slogan “Nothin’ Says Lovin’ like something from the Oven and Pillsbury says it Best.” I questioned “Do you really show loving by giving family something that is bad for you?” I set out to make some HOMEMADE BREAD, the “staff of life.”
This was a new adventure and I read up on all the steps. The biggest problem was getting the right water temperature. There was also the time consuming waiting for it to rise, pounding it down and kneading it, adding more flour or water to get good consistency. Then there was the whole kitchen to clean up and if it didn‘t rise the way it should the day felt wasted. I was nervous so this was a big thing. Finally I got the hang of it and loved the smell as it was cooking. This was showing “lovin’” in the best possible way! I remembered going to my Grandmother’s house and she’d give us some of her homemade bread with butter. Ummm! It was so good.
I wanted our girls to remember homemade bread so I thought I’d pass on the tradition. I’d get creative and add other wholesome ingredients like wheat germ, flax seeds, nonfat dry milk, and even sometimes a dash of brewer’s yeast along with other ingredients. Rye bread, Raisin bread, whole wheat bread, It was a challenge and I met it. I’d smile as I would recalled the story behind “Anadama bread” It was in the olden days and the husband was angry because his wife left without making bread. He kept grumbling as he’d throw all kinds of ingredients into the bowl. Molasses and corn meal were the predominant ingredients. When he finished, he called it ‘Anna-damn her’. These words were blended together to make the name of his bread. It became famous.
As the girls grew older there was less time to make start from scratch bread. Soon they were married and left home. The desire to make bread was not the same. But then they came out with Bread Machines! All you had to do was assemble the ingredients, and turn on machine. This would free me up to do other things for 4 hours and there was no mess in the kitchen. Here again the big challenge was to get the water the right temperature.
The next problem was that it tasted SO good, we’d eat too much! Since my husband was trying to lose weight, but couldn’t stop slicing more bread, I decided not to make it so often. But I still have nostalgia when I think of homemade bread! Aahhh, the simple pleasures of life.
My favorite time of the day is early in the morning when nature is just beginning to stir. With my coffee in hand, I step outside. A Cardinal greets me with “Cheer, cheer, cheer!” There is a slight breeze and the colorful red flashes from one tree to another. As I take a swallow of coffee I am chastised by the Towhee as he shouts “Drink your Tea!” Why is it I prefer coffee? Is it more filling with the milk added or am I just addicted to the caffeine?
I remember when I had my first coffee. I graduated from high school and had to commute to secretarial school. I would always get there early and had time to kill. When I got tired of scanning the greeting cards, I’d get a drink of coffee. Of course in the beginning I had so much cream it was almost like hot coffee milk. Gradually I cut back on the cream and eliminated the sugar. Guess that’s how I got ‘hooked’. It was easy to do. I thought–the same is true with beginning to smoke. I tried that once because it was the ‘in thing’ to do. They did it in the movies and it gave you something to do with your hands when you were thinking out loud. Movie stars acted poised when they did. Well, it was kind of fun and I was beginning to like it. That’s when a warning siren went off in my head. I knew all the side effects of smoking; my Dad died young. That was an easy deterrent for me. I never had any more.
The Towhee must have seen me take another drink for it called out again, “Drink your TEA!” It seemed to trill the ending to accentuate it. Tea really is better for you. When I think of tea I picture sipping it with friends as we nibble on some baked goodies and chat.
A Phoebe flies to the dead branch of a nearby tree and pleads “Feed me, feed me”.
I chuckle as I think of the way their sounds are interpreted into English. Wonder what the bird sounds are like in Spanish, German, French etc. What do they think birds are saying?
Gentle breezes begin to stir and movement in the trees catches my attention. I am reminded of the Old Hymn that says “in the rustling grass, I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere…” That’s so true.
I decide to take a walk down to the stream. As I lean on the bridge railing, I am fascinated with the way the water turns and twists when it comes to obstacles like a big branch or boulder. Am I the same? Do I go around obstacles when I feel there is a confrontation ahead? Whiz, whiz, my thoughts are interrupted by several cars going by. Why does everyone go so fast? So much is missed. I long for the carefree days of my youth. We’d make necklaces by securing together the stems of dandelions or run through fields picking wild flowers. We would pick daisies and then pluck off the pedals one at a time saying “He loves me,” then the next pedal we’d say “He loves me not.” When we’d take off the last pedal we’d know our answer. Silly wasn’t it?
Whoosh! My hair goes flying and the sand by the road stings my eyes as a big truck roars past. Oh dear, that’s the end of a peaceful morning. “Cheer, cheer, CHEER” the cardinal reminds me. Ah, yes. What a great reminder.
This is my Father’s world,
O let me ne’er forget:
That though the wrong seems oft’ so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
Just read an article about Scott McCreery that is heart-warming. The winner of American Idol has as his motto: “Please God, work, provide for your family and help others.” He is humble. When he won, his first response was “I thank the Lord. He got me here!”
Active in his church youth group, he supports a group called “I am Second.” They have a web site that reports the personal struggles many have had from celebrities to everyday people. The intent is to give hope to the lonely and the hurting and to give inspiration to the unfulfilled. It is meant to tell others how they overcame their struggles through Jesus.
It’s awesome that with all the ‘whoop-la’ of the American Idol this teenager has his priorities in the right place.