Friday, November 30, 2007

Choose Life

Thursday was Thanksgiving.  We spent a lovely day at my sister's home with my family and a few friends.  We spent the night there and I got up at 0-dark-thirty and went black Friday shopping with my sister's children.  We spent the wee hours of the morning standing in line at Target.  Then standing in line at Kohl's.  I had a wonderful time.  My nephew is now 21 years old and my neice is turning 20.  I love those two children as if they are my very own.  Being able to spend those precious hours with them laughing and listening to them talk about their future plans blessed me beyond measure.  Later that morning as the three of us sat down to breakfast at my favorite place, Cracker Barrel, all I could say as I prayed before eatting was, "Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you."

We spent the better part of the day at my sister's later celebrating my neice's upcoming 20th birthday.  It was another evening with family and very enjoyable.  But then it was time to pack up the boys and our overnight bags and head home to Perry County.  It did not take long after entering our home to find that there was no water.  We weren't getting water in any way throughout the house.  Since God knew that we were going home to no water, He had arranged for us to have two large empty water jugs.  My husband was supposed to take them with him to deer camp the next morning.  Instead, he took them to our friend's home and filled them so that we had water to "flush" the toilet and use to brush our teeth and wash our faces.  While retrieving water at our friend's home, this friend shared that he might have a well-pump.  This left us feeling hopeful when we went to bed Friday night.

On Saturday morning, the men began trying to fix the pump.  Hours later, they called a professional.  It was then that we learned that our pump could not be fixed and would have to be replaced by a different kind of pump that would require the excavation of our yard to find our well.  The friend that had filled our water-jugs and come to help fix the problem then graciously offered their home.  We went there for supper and to have showers, but returned to our home to sleep.

On Sunday, we worshipped at our home church.  It was hymn sing Sunday, and we were blessed by our worship with our church family.  But returning home, my enthusiasm for pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder while boiling all our water and not being able to bathe was over.  I wanted a shower and to do our laundry.  It was then that we decided to head to my mother for however many days it would take to repair our ailing water pump.

We spent four days at my mother's.  It was touch-and-go as to getting someone to come and fix our water situation.  This week was deer season, so every plumber and excavator in Perry County, Pennsylvania was in the woods all day on Monday and Tuesday.  But on Tuesday evening, my husband arranged to meet a plumber and a back-hoe operator at our home Wednesday morning.  By 4 PM, there was water, albeit brown water, running through our pipes.

We returned to our home Thursday morning.  We had secured financing in order to pay for the necessary repairs and stopped to pick up the check on our way home from my mother's.  Once home, the water was still a light shade of brown, but after a few hours "flushing" the pipes, we now have running, clear, drinkable, batheable, flushable water.  I've never been so grateful for running water and flushing toilets in my life!

So now, you're thinking, "Great story, Lori Lynn.  And your point?"  Well, here it is.  And please bear with me because, truthfully, I'm still flushing out the meaning in my own heart.   No pun intended.   In Deuteronomy 30:19 it says ,"I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:  therefore choose life"  It seemed as this most recent trial emerged in our life this week I went from cursing to blessing from moment to moment.

Cursing:  we got home from a lovely Thanksgiving to find no water in our home  Blessing:  friends from church instantly gave us water and offered their help repairing the problem.

Cursing:  our pump could not be fixed as quickly as we had hoped  Blessing:  those same friends opened their home to us and made us feel loved and welcomed.  And then my mother so graciously let us invade her peace and quiet.

Cursing:  getting ready for church, I had to dunk my head in a bucket of cold water in order to fix my hair for church.  Blessing:  church was a wonderful worshipful experience that blessed us immensely.

Cursing:  my husband, who lives for deer season, could not go this year and it was our 11 year old son's first opportunity to hunt deer with his daddy.  Blessing:  while driving home from church, our son said, "I'm just trying to figure out why God didn't want me to go hunting this year.  But I know He has a plan!"  I don't know where that maturity came from, but I praise God for it!

Cursing:  We could not get anyone to come out to fix the pump becuase of deer-hunting season.  Blessing:  My mother suggested calling our insurance company and asking if this might be covered by our homeowner's insurance.  Since our time was not being taken by arranging workers, my husband could take a few hours and focus on coordinating information with our insurance agent.  And the repairs may be covered!

Cursing:  We already have a considerable amount of debt due to poor choices with credit cards.  We are working hard to climb out of that debt.  We had to get a loan to pay for the costly repairs to our well.  Blessing:  We had a loan that would pay for our repair.  If we had taken the same loan which was offered to us over a month before, we would not have had any financing opportunity to pay for this repair.   Even better blessing:  My father called to offer to pay for our repair.  He now knows that we have credit card debt, which is a tough pride-pill for me to swallow, but he is still offering his help.

This verse in Deuteronomy has become so poignant to me through this trial.  I could look at this trail as nothing but a curse, but I am choosing life.  I am choosing the blessing.   This Sunday, our small group will begin studying the first chapter of James.  My friend, the wife of the man who tried to help us repair our broken pump, wrote to me telling me of how inspiring James 1 has been to her as she and her husband study it in preparation for our meeting.  She wrote, "First, we must realize that there is purpose in trials.  Second, there is wisdom in trials.  Third, there is comfort in trials knowing that this life is not all there is."

So the next blessing is the blessing of the insight of Christian sisters.  I have not processed all that this life brings me and certainly not all that this last week has brought, but God continually blesses me.  And I am called by Him to claim the blessing and NOT the curse.  Our life is one of favor.  We are the blessed of the Lord.  Join me in choosing life.  Choose blessing!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday Funday Computer Lessons

Every Friday is "Friday Fun Lessons Day".  On Fridays we sometimes do a special lapbook, or take a field trip.  One Friday we spent the entire morning working on an art lesson distributed by Millers Pads and Papers.(http://www.millerpadsandpaper.com/)  But last week, I really had a fun time planning our fun lessons day, so I thought I'd share it with you.  My sons love electronics.  They would spend the entire day jumping from the XBox to the computer if I let them.  So I planned an entire day's-worth of lesson on the PC.


 


We began with math.  Both boys are working on memorizing their times tables so they were required to play Timez Attack for 15 minutes.  We have downloaded the free edition of this game and the graphics are great.  (www.bigbrainz.com)  After their game, I had them each take a timed test here:  www.mrmyers.org/Math_Mania/ttmult.html


 


For history, they played the Thanksgiving WebQuest here:  www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/feast/webquest.htm


 


I gave them some control in the area of Language Arts by telling them to pick two games in the "Word" category on www.funbrain.com/kidscenter.html


 


For the last month we have been playing a map puzzle game on the pc that we downloaded from Owl & Mouse software.  You can download it here:  http://www.yourchildlearns.com/puzzle_us.htm  We play it every day.  It is a great way to learn the locations of the states.  So for geography, we all played the puzzle game.  We each do the puzzle individually and then compare our times with each other.  And, yes, Mommy joins in the game!


 


For art, I told the boys about the splash paintings of Jackson Pollock.  I printed one of his paintings for them to see it.  Then I sent them to www.jacksonpollock.org to make one of their own splash paintings on-line.  We printed them for their art portfolios.


 


Finally we got to science.  We've been studying chemistry lately and I found an element hangman game on http://education.jlab.org/elementhangman/index.html  I told the boys to get their copies of the periodic table and play element hangman.  My youngest son did better at the game than I did!


 


And so, that was our Friday Fun Lessons Day.  We all enjoyed it, and, surprisingly, it did not take me too long to find all of the sites to fill each subject.  For my techno-boys, it was a great day to spend a morning.  Check out some of these sites, maybe you'll find something to make your lessons a fun-day too!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tea

Last year I was at a mom's meeting where a woman was talking to us about healthy nutrition, aromatherapy, and herbals.  She mentioned that she drinks herbal tea instead of water.  Many medical authorities say that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day.  This woman said that since we need that much water, why not give it a vitamin/mineral boost by making the water into herbal tea and drinking that.  Ever since then, I've had a tea jar in the refrigerator.  I have a glass gallon tea jug that has a spout at the bottom.  I make tea in that jug and place it on the top shelf of the refrigerator.  I drink from that for a few days before I need to make more.  Today's tea is blue berry/orange.  I always add 1/2 a cup of honey to sweeten it.  I get the boost from the tea, the water, and the honey.


Here's exactly what I do.  I love Celestial Seasonings teas.  I only drink decaffinated, so that does limit me on my choices.  But Celestial Seasonings has a wonderful selection for different tastes in decaff. tea.  I put anywhere from 8-12 tea bags into the bottom of my glass jar.  Then I add the 1/2 cup of honey.  I fill my tea kettle and bring it to boil on the stove.   Then I pour it over my bags and honey and stir until the honey is dissovled.  I let this sit on my kitchen counter until the water is room temperature.  This allows the tea to steep.  Then, leaving the tea bags in the water, I add a lot of ice and fill to the top with cold water.  I place this in the refrigerator and drink from it for two or three days before needing to fill it again.


When it's time to refill, I empty the bags and begin the process again.  Sometimes I will add fruit slices or a few splashes of fruit juice to the tea while steeping.  My favorites are oranges and lemons.  White grape juice is also wonderful.


This is a great way for me to get the hydration I need, but it's also enjoyable for me!  I love the taste of this tea and it's always icy cold whenever I want it!  Give it a try.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Church funnies

Over the summer we took a drive about 45 minutes north of where we live to walk an outdoor archery course with my husband and son.  My youngest does not shoot, nor do I, but Todd and my oldest son shoot archery competitively in the winter months.  In the summer they shoot outdoor courses at 3-d targets.  Friends of ours came along and we spent a lovely summer evening walking through the woods.  At the end of the course, the people who sponsored it had a bonfire blazing with hot dogs and marshmallows for anyone who was interested.  We stopped for a short while to visit the other shooters who had chosen to sit by the fire.


 


While sitting there, our friend struck-up a conversation with one of the men sitting around the fire.  Since this event was hosted by a Christian man, the subject of church arose.  Our friend asked what church the man and the woman sitting nearby attended.  One replied, "Grace Covenant"  the other replied something like, "Bread of Life"  Then, the man asked my friend what church we all attended.  My friend responded, "Eshcol Brethren in Christ."  The man said, "What's the name of your church?"  "Eshcol" our friend responded.  (Our church is located in the village of Eshcol, hence it's name)


 


The man sat staring at the fire, puzzled.  He said, "Is that in the bible?"  Our friend said, "Well, yes, it is mentioned in the bible.  It's in the old testament."


 


Again the man repeated, "Eshcol.  Eshcol?"  After a few seconds pondering he turned to us and shrugged and just said, "I don't get it!"


 


You see, many of the new churches in our area, and I'm sure in yours, have catchy little names like, "Living Waters Community Church" or "Bread of Life Community Church."  When I grew up, churches were named for the town in which they were located.  I grew up in Highspire First Church of God.  There was also a Highspire United Methodist, Highspire Luteran Church, and Highspire Church of God Anderson.  But they were all called "Highspire."  Now we attend the "Eshcol Brethren in Christ."  This man was used to the new way of naming churches and he just didn't get it when we said our church's name was Eshcol! ...funny


 


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After a trip to Hershey park we stopped at the nearby Sheetz for drinks for the drive home.  While in the parking lot, we ran into a friend from my childhood.  This boy, now man, and I had attended church camp together for years.  Later when Todd and I were first married, we all attended the same church when we lived in the Hershey area.  After exchanging heartfelt hellos with our old friend, he asked where we were all living.  Coincidentally, we are now living in the town in which he was raised which is about an hour's drive from Hershey!  He no longer lives there.  He asked where we were attending church and we told him about the little country church we've attended for the past four years.  He shared that growing up in the same town he knew all about little country churches.  Then my husband said, "Yeah, when Lori plays the offertory it's like name that tune!  She plays four notes and the offering's over!"


...funny

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why we cleaned the basement...

In a previous blog, I wrote to you about how we cleaned our basement one section at a time and now it is a beautiful wide-open space with lots of storage.  When I wrote that blog, I wrote that I would tell you another time why we had to clean the basement.


 


It all started in the middle of the night several weeks ago.   My husband was tired and went to bed early.  Within an hour of our early retiring, our dog, Rosie, started to play.  She would run up and down the hallway outside our bedroom and knock into the closed basement door while playing.  It was so noisy that it awoke my husband.  Because he was so sleepy, he was also short-tempered.  He yelled at Rosie and commanded her to lay down.  Rosie obeyed for a few minutes giving us just enough time fall back to sleep before she began to play again.  After a few hours of this, my husband did what every person does after many trials, he got whiny.  He rolled over to me and said, "OH, I don't know what to do!!!"  So I patted him on his hip and said, "It's ok, honey.  I'll take care of it."  I slipped out of bed, not bothering to put on my glasses, and stepped into our hallway to corral our errant dog.  What I was met with was something fuzzy, laying on the floor with a long tail.  The tail had no fuzz or fur.  It was skin.  Since I wasn't wearing my glasses, all I saw was fuzz and a skin-tail.  I turned on my heel, ran into our bedroom, lept onto the bed and shouted, "There is a RAT in the hall!"


 


Now, I have a history of being afraid of mice.  Our cats bring mice to us quite often since we live very rurally, and I always have the same reaction, "Get that away from me!"  I have no problem with bugs and spiders, but rodents and snakes are a HUGE problem.  My husband knows of my history with rodents, so after I yelled that there was a rat in our hallway, he assumed it was a little mouse brought in by the cats.  He sighed, loudly...quite loudly...a little over-dramatic if I must say so myself.  Anyway, he sighed and said, "I'll take care of it."


 


He DID put on his glasses and stepped into the hallway.  He immediately turned back into the bedroom and closed the door.   Then he announced, "It's a 'possum."  For the past few hours, our dog had been playing with an opossum outside our bedroom door!!!  Well, my first thought was, "We have to move.  We'll wake the boys, pack a few things and go live with my mother.  I'm not living with a 'possum."


 


This was not my husband's first thought, however.  He began to get dressed and put his shoes on his feet.  He was going possum hunting.  When he returned to our hallway, the opossum was no longer there.  He returned to inform me of the possum's location and I informed him that if he did not find and erradicate the possum, he would NOT be returning to our bed!  So again, there was a long, loud sigh and he returned to the hallway.  He found the possum hiding behind our toilet.  The possum was wet from where our dog was playing with it. 


 


Todd slipped a pair of welding gloves that we keep near the fireplace onto his hands and returned to the bathroom to deal with this possum.  He managed to slide the possum into my mop-bucket and hold it down with a plunger.  Now, picture this, my husband is 6 foot-3 inches tall, weighing 300 pounds.  He's a hunter and outdoorsman, so think rugged.  He was wearing a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and...welder's gloves.  He walked out into our yard and thought, "Now what?"  It was well-past midnight, so it was very dark outside.  He was afraid that if he simply sat the bucket on the ground he would not know for sure that the opossum would be released from his prison.  So he walked to the back of our yard and threw the bucket as far away as possible while running for our door!


 


And so, crisis averted, we returned to our bedroom and a shortened night of sleep.  Why did that require us to clean the basement you ask?  ...just wait.


 


A few days later we were having a murphy's law day.  You know Murphy's Law:  Everything that can go wrong WILL go wrong.  Earlier in the day, my husband called his brother to wish him a happy birthday and got some distressing news.  Then we were moving our boys into the bedroom on the second floor.  I was boxing up toys that we no longer needed to give to good will.  As I was carrying a box down the steps, my foot landed on a lacrosse stick.  I fell down the stairs and my right foot landed at my head!  As I was sliding down the steps, my husband tried to stop my fall by grabbing the box and, instead, pushed it into my face.  I was seeing stars and my ankle was throbbing, so I was shuffled off to our bed.  While laying with my foot elevated, Todd took a call from yet another family member to learn of more distressing family news.  By early evening, we were reeling from the problems this day had presented.  We decided that our best solution would be to go to bed early.  We were only in bed a few minutes when I heard a noise at the basement steps.  I got up, thinking it was one of our cats looking for a bed-time snack, and opened the cellar door.  When I turned on the light, I saw an opossum nearly three-quarters up our steps.  He looked at me, turned around and began descending the basement steps.  Well, I'm a mother of two boys.  I have dealt with many scary situations.  I'm a confident woman who is fully in control of all her faculties...I began screaming, "Possum!  Possum!"  in a high pitch at the top of my lungs!


 


My boys, ages 10 and 9, and my husband rushed to my aid.  Actually, I think that my boys found this all to be a great adventure.  They donned clothes and protective gear.  The welding gloves were again worn, as well as various hats and helmets, a lacrosse stick (the dreaded one that cause my fall earlier that day), a softball bat and the plunger that Mr. Possum had nibbled during his flight in my mop bucket in the back yard.


 


Todd and the boys searched the basement for quite some time and could not find the possum.  They also could not find an escape or entrance route.  This is where the impetous for cleaning the basement came.  Over the next week, we moved every object in the basement.  We swept the floor, threw away many-many garbage bags full of junk, and placed all remaining objects on shelves or in plastic containers.  Our basement has never looked so clean and organized in the nine years in which we've lived here.


 


We never found the possum.  We did figure out that the critter was climbing our steps to eat the cat's food.  We have a kitty door in the door that goes from our hallway into the basement steps.  Up until the possum incident we fed the cats by placing their pan of food at the top of the basement steps each evening.  The cats would then go through the basement kitty door to eat.  Their litter box is also located at the bottom of the basement steps, so they use the kitty-door quite often.  The possum got into our hall to play with our dog, Rosie, but using the kitty door.  Each evening the possum had supper after we fed our cats!  When I discovered him climbing the steps, he was trying to get to his supper! 


 


We have not seen Mr. Possum since that fateful evening, but our basement is still a wide-open cement playground!  And all it took was one...maybe two...little possums!