Stories Part 1

Due to my very active imagination, stories have always played a big part in my life. My mom read children’s’ books ‘to me  about gingerbread men, kittens and places like the farm, and “Puffs Garden Patch”.  Each night she read a chapter of a book to my brother and I; books like Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm, and Just David.  There came a time when I just couldn’t wait to see what happened next and would surreptitiously read ahead.

The library in Columbus was on the same block as our doctor.  When I was in grade school my brother fell ill with a chronic condition that required hospitalization for an extended amount of time and frequent doctor visits for a considerable amount of time.  I also was diagnosed with severe allergies to bee stings and required twice weekly injections for the first year.  I spent a lot of time down in hospital waiting rooms in the evenings, unless you were over 12, you could not go upstairs to patients rooms.  During those evening I read biographies of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.  These men became heroes to me and those books were the impetus for a life-long love of history ad historical characters.

Mom allowed me be go to the library to choose four books every two weeks.  Four books was the maximum amount allowed per check out.  I read my way through dog books, horse books, biographies.  Little Women led to all of Louisa May Alcott’s books.  I read Dr. Doolittle and his various sequels, Mary Poppins, Anne of Green Gables, The Jungle Book, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and so many more.

These stories expanded my world from the farm I  grew up on in northern Platte County to the Mississippi River to the Jungles of India.   I searched for ‘kindred spirits’ with Anne, whitewashed fences with Tom’s friends, traveled the northern trails with Silver
Chief, and wept over Black Beauty’s woes.   I was fired with the desire to write my own stories after reading Little Women and all about Meg and Jo, (author), Beth and Amy.

These are just a few of the books that entered my memory as I write here, there were many, many more.  Over the years I searched library sales, and summer street sales for these titles and added them to my ever growing library.

 

 

Reading “Dorothy Dunnett”

I  have to admit right away that I borrowed the title Reading “Dunnett” from a Facebook group that I belong to.  For fans of Dorothy Dunnett’s books it is a place to gather and read a chosen book together and discuss all the questions and observations that have plagued her readers over the years.

Dorothy Dunnett is the author of several fascinating historical fiction books.  I first checked out “The Game Of Kings” from my library  mainly because it was a fat book which was the beginning of a rather long series.  I was deep in grief at the time, and looking for escapism.  Well, I found it!  At first I didn’t know if I was reading about a hero, a villain, or something in between, however the fantastic use of language by this author kept me reading.  I finished ‘Kings’, and moved on to “Queens Play”.  I still wasn’t sure about her main character, Francis Crawford, but he was growing on me.  Even when I didn’t like how he acted, I found him endlessly fascinating.  So did many of the characters in the books, and I found out years later that many readers of DD did also.

On one of my many re-reads of the Lymond Chronicles I began to notice that she was using words that I didn’t always know the meanings of, and I thought I was pretty literate!  In fact, I found out that there was at least one word every few pages that I wasn’t always sure about. This says something about her writing ability that I was so absorbed in the plots and characters  of her novels that I didn’t even notice all those words at first.  I tried keeping a dictionary at hand to look up all the words that I wasn’t sure of, because her writing is so nuanced that literally every word matters!  However that soon gave away to just indulging in a good read.

When I got my Kindle and began reading Dorothy Dunnett on it, it was exciting to be able to record my comments and questions for future reads, and to look up obscure historical figures and events and All Those Words!

 

Christmas

I used to think I was rather trendy at Christmas, every year I would add to or make new Christmas decorations for our home.  I loved to sew, and that added all sorts of creativity. These years tho, my favorite and most treasured decorations often involve the very old, and the child-made kind.

By very old I usually mean pretty shabby as these don’t always stand the test of time very well.  But Christmas would not be Christmas if we didn’t hang or set out these precious relics of our lives.img_2701

There is the little stocking I crocheted when our boys were small, and there is one of the plastic canvas ornaments that my dad’s cousin sent us almost every year.  Oh, and there is our daughter’s cat.  She isn’t a relic, but rather a symbol of all the cats who have graced our lives. At the left hand top of the picture is the tip of the wing of a handmade glass angel that a former pastor gave to each child in the church.  Above the cat is a paper star with glitter that our daughter made long, long ago in Sunday School.  These things meld together and make up our Christmas memories today.

My mom always hung a faded  tissue paper bell between our dining room and our living room. It was one of those accordion types, that folded flat to store, and you opened up to use.  It had belonged to some grandma, and probably held good memories for her. Having  always been a lover of things past, the faded bell never bothered me, but I wish I had asked mom its history.

One thing that always remains constant in our Christmas is the nativity scene that was made for us by my sister in law years ago.  Every year we unpack and set it up, and every year we are thankful for that little Baby that God sent so long ago.  That Baby grew up to be our Savior and the means by which we will rejoin all our family members who believe in Him someday in heaven.  Thank you Jesus.

I Did Not Raise My Hands

I have always loved music, and music was a big part of my home when I was growing up in Northern Platte County.  My dad played the piano, the saw and the tenor sax.  My mom played the piano and sang.  Oh, and my dad sang also, and as I became proficient on the piano I often accompanied him.  It wasn’t unusual for mom and dad to provide special music for our church, and my dad often led the singing in our little North American Baptist Church.

So yes, I love music and I love the worship time in our church, Calvary Memorial.  Calvary is an independent Bible teaching church that we have belonged to for over 25 years, ever since we came to Gering.

In the beginning we had traditional worship with hymnals and an organ.  Gradually a guitar was added here and there, then a Clavinova, and after a long time, drums.  We have a fantastic group of people who lead us in singing modern songs that you hear on Christian radio.  I love it!

But here comes my problem.  Many times the songs we sing are very moving and inspiring.  People raise their hands in praise and adoration.  However my hands hang heavy at my sides, weighed down by Baptist decorum.  I want to raise my hands, but I can’t!  That German-Baptist-turned-NAB seriousness keeps me standing there praising God in my heart, but stiff and awkward on the outside. We were taught very specific standard of behavior in the church auditorium, and it did not include unnecessary movement in the sanctuary!  We even had a pastors wife who made us kneel down and ask for forgiveness for running in the sanctuary while our parents cleaned up after a potluck.

I am determined that this inhibition whall not rule me forever.  One of these days my hands will be bound to just lift on their own, raising up in praise and the love of our wonderful Father in heaven that grows in my heart as we worship.

Visiting Mom

IMG_3433We visited mom yesterday.  Roger and I arrived first, and found mom asleep in her recliner.  I mean really, really asleep!  We could not wake her up, yet she didn’t seem to be in distress, so we decided to just wait.  In a few minutes our son, his wife and three daughters arrived.  Despite all the chatter, activity and laughter that ensues when we get together, mom slept on.

What a difference from a few years ago!  I visit to grandma’s always meant she practically waited by the doors with open arms and a big smile.  She had a meal prepared and hoped you came to ‘stay awhile’.  Grandma always had things to show that she had sewed, and no visit was complete without a visit to the flower garden and vegetable garden.  We never left without Grandma pressing food and treats upon us.

Finally after about 30 minutes mom awoke.  Startled, she looked around at the room full of people.  After a minute she smiled.  The smile widened as she noticed the three great granddaughters.  With her limited speech capabilities, I view her smile as priceless, perhaps that’s why I love to take her great grands to visit, because she so loves to see them.

I brought a small bouquet of flowers picked from my flower garden, and she loved that also. When I brought it closer for her to see, her hand closed around the vase and she just held on.  Our hands touched, and our hearts did also.  Even though almost everything else has changed, we both still love our children, and our flowers and each other.

Week One: Chapter One ‘The Best Yes’

This Thursday I am going to a Bible study at our church.  The book  is “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst, and after reading the first three chapters I know I am going to love it!

So why am I writing about this?  Because this book has given me so many thoughts of so many stories in my life that fit with the information Lysa shares in her delightful book. From experience both in attending and leading studies, I know that one person who always shares gets pretty tiresome to the leader and others of the group.  So I usually just make little notes in the sidelines of the book and indicate the insights and stories that leap into my mind. Then at the study I chicken out from sharing.  Or I talk too much, and it doesn;t come out the way I want it to.

But this time, I decided to record them into the blog; after all it is entitled “The Life He Gave Me”, and those stories are what my life is!

The first quote (written in elegant calligraphy) that caught my heart was:

We must not confuse the command to love with the desire to please’

Ouch.  For the majority of my life I have been a major people pleaser precisely for that reason.  I believed that God wanted me to show my love for Him by making other people happy.   Never mind the fact that it isn’t usually my job to make others happy, it often isn’t even possible!  Nevertheless, I lived a boundary-less life where if someone asked me to do something, I felt I had to do it, and usually right now!  My family suffered, by temperment suffered, I suffered.  And it was never enough.

I think that certain types of people must be able to sense us ‘people pleasers’ and see that big “ask me, I can’t say no” sign that must be taped to our backs.  Because however how much we do, and how perfectly we strive to do it, it is never enough!  Before you know it, ugly things like resentment and dread and anger begin to creep in and guilt begins to reign.  Why guilt?  Because I was afraid I wasn’t showing Gods love enough.  I mean these people were never happy!  And it was all my fault.

See what a tangle grows when I let my thoughts masquarade as Gods?  God wants me to do what He has planned for me.  When I am doing it, He fills me with joy and fullfillment even in the stressful times. So when resentment shows up, I do a reality check, am I in tune with God?  Reading my Bible, praying, sharing what He has done with someone else? If not, it is time to refresh my Spirit and begin again.

Micah 6:8 (one of my favoirite verses) says

“He has made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.  It’s quite simple:  Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously.”

When I take God seriously, He seriously adds joy to my life, and enables me to do the things that I love.  I think  that is one the road to The Best Yes!