Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday pictures

There is not a photo in the world that can totally capture the joy we have been experiencing with our family and friends. Thought I'd share a few snapshots. Hope you are staying warm and well! Jeff's group is passing around a stomach bug... well 2 out of 4 have had it. Pray I do not get it when I see their girls tomorrow!

A Pileated woodpecker graced our backyard on the 26th. I was able to catch him on the still camera. I was too afraid he'd fly away if I reached for the Flip Video.

Bryon came over to play Christmas night. He and Bob had great fun exploring his new digital camera.

Elayna lost her two front teeth this season. Yes, she knows the song!

Here is a group shot at the Krohn flower show.

It is very, very difficult to get a photo of these two sitting still enough not to blur the photo. Perhaps they were appeasing the adults, knowing the presents were right behind them?

HOPEFULLY I will get a few photos of the four ladies in their PJs with their dolls in "sleeping gowns." Enjoy the holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Prisoners and Christmas

Anyone out there willing to send a Christmas card to a male prisoner? Here's the deal: never send your home address or last name. And do not use MY home address or MY last name!!!
If you want a return address you can use
Ministry Letters
ATTN: your first name
P. O. Box 282
Batavia OH 45103
I will let you know if he answers.

I have been writing two men that George Thompson asked me to write over a year or so ago. Josh Cline has a cell mate. Here is what Josh wrote:
"Gary Oliva is 61 yrs old, locked up now 14 months, is a Christian and is looking at a possible 10 yr. sentence. With all that he has gone through, much of his family has turned away and nearly all his friends. He gets no mail, no one responds when he tries to write. He served in the Navy during Vietnam. Would you be willing to slip him a Christmas greeting - or support him via mail also? If you or if you know someone who could write him every so often ... it would bring me joy knowing he is being given some hope and love. I just want to try and help him out a bit. We could be leaving here at the same time - likely into March."
If you want to write address is: Gary Olivas,311 5th Ave E., Springfield, TN 37172
So use your own good judgment and send off just one more Christmas card if you see fit!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This Winter's Evening

There will be four Grandgirls stylin' in new jammies come Sunday evening. This Grammy is tired! One will have hot pink fleece bottoms and Girls Golfing flannel top, along with an 18" doll night gown in the same flannel. Another will have shocking orange fleece bottoms with orange polka dot flannel top,along with an 18" doll night gown in the same flannel. The third will have gray fleece bottoms and pink animal print flannel top, along with a "Cabbage Patch" doll nightgown that hopefully will fit the stuffed animal she adores. And finally purple and green plaid fleece bottoms with solid green flannel top trimmed in purple flowers, along with a "Cabbage Patch" doll nightgown that hopefully will fit the stuffed animal she adores. Each sports a patch pocket on the bottoms. I already wrapped the first two before I got a photo. Someone asked for a photo today, so here you go. Of course, they will look cuter with little girls in them!!

One friend stated she had been chained to her sewing machine. It was not that intense for me, but I am tickled that the projects are completed! As this winter evening draws to a close I think my Christmas sewing is DONE, unless of course, I take up new projects next week!!!

Our night drop is forecast to down into the single digits, I pray your evening is cozy and restful. May your hoped for gift list be fulfilled in magical ways!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent 3

We had a grand time at the baby party for Rowan, Jeff and Jenny. Here are a few snapshots. Certainly none for a nice portrait! He is due January 15th! So far, everything is fine with both mother and child. Daddy (Jeff) is learning and getting excited as the weeks count down!

Today we wrapped gifts for our family celebration next Sunday. Our tree is in the basement family room as it is the only place large enough to accommodate all 10 of us when there are gifts and tree and four girls involved.

While on retreat last summer, I came across a book called "Feathers on the Wind" by Fr. Edward Hays. I could not find what the Lord was trying to show me. I did like this quote from Hildegard of Bingen: "There was once a king sitting on his throne ... It pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus I am a ... feather on the breath of God." I did not copy the quote.

While we were visiting the Smoky Mountains I tried to recall the quote when I saw a tiny feather sitting on some pine needles and I sensed the Lord telling me to let go, relax. (I kept the feather and have it yet today.)I had to go back to the Transfiguration Spirituality Center and find the book to retrieve the quote! Once back in Cincinnati, this time I borrowed the book from Transfiguration and Bob decided he wanted to read it.
Recently, after reading what I had posted on this blog, he read this portion to me entitled "Polish Boomerangs."
"The Poles invented the boomerang - no joke, I'm serious! Before the invention of the bow and arrow, somewhere around 22,000 B.C., the people of what is now Poland made boomerangs from the tusks of the great mammoths that roamed the land. The purpose of this bit of trivia is not to present the Polish people as ingenious and creative - which they are - rather, it is to awaken us.
"What once took hundreds or even thousands of years to migrate across the world now takes only a few years or even days. To be alive today REQUIRES A VIRTUE THAT ALL FIND DIFFICULT: THE CAPACITY TO CHANGE. We no longer have the luxury of a slow evolutionary embracing of new inventions or ideas.Those who resist change in their daily lives will experience a good deal of suffering and stress as the speed of progress and development continues to accelerate. If we wish to taste peace and happiness, we will have to learn the virtue of elasticity. A brief 2,000 years ago Jesus proposed that virtue with His image of new wineskins. Be rigid, like old leather wineskins, and you will be burst open by the new wine of change."
Several years ago when we began taking regular walks out of doors we began keeping feathers we found and placing them in a straw wreath. This is a photo of our second wreath!

The year 2010 has taught Bob and I repeatedly that we must stay flexible, and like Macrina said, "we must pray not to CONGEAL." In memory of Elizabeth Edwards I thank her for the quote she taught me in her book "Resilient." "AND WHEN THE WIND DOES NOT BLOW MY WAY, I WILL ADJUST MY SAILS."
Happy Advent 3 - stay flexible, adjust your sails and go forth in joy! Let God blow upon you and like that tiny feather be borne along by His power.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Adonai Advent 2

Last evening I went to the Sisters of Charity Convent on the FAR western side of town to hear one of my favorite authors, Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB. What a great little time-out for this Grammy! Even got to spend the night. I left the sewing and the wrapping and the lists to hear her lead us in a "condensed" retreat/meditation covering the "O! antiphons"...which are names for God taken from Isaiah's prophecies. O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Dawning Light, O Servant King of the Nations, O Emmanuel. She told us to pick our favorite from among the list and immediately my soul soared with the name Adonai, bringing to mind the song by Avalon.

"One single drop of rain
Your salty tear became blue ocean
One tiny grain of sand turning in your hand
A world in motion
You're out beyond the furthest Morning Star
Close enough to hold me in Your arms

"Adonai, I lift up my heart and I cry
My Adonai
You are the Maker of each moment
Father of my hope and freedom
Oh, my Adonai

"One timid faithful knock
Resounds upon the Rock of Ages
One trembling heart and soul
Becomes a servant bold and courageous
You call across the mountains and the seas
I answer from the deepest part of me

"Adonai, I lift up my heart and I cry
My Adonai
You are the Maker of each moment
Father of my hope and freedom
Oh, my Adonai

"From age to age you reign in Majesty
And today You're making miracles in me

"Adonai, I lift up my heart and I cry
My Adonai
You are the Maker of each moment
Father of my hope and freedom
My Adonai"

Woven in with her teaching Macrina introduced us to several chants and at one point had us walk around the sanctuary singing and worshiping. She warned us that we are not to fear sickness and death, for those come to everyone. We are to fear becoming rigid. She said, "You know, the people who you know will never do anything unexpected." My favorite chant of hers goes
"O, ever-changing God, protect us from congealing (She said, "like Jell-o!")
Ever flowing, ever flowing,
Ever flowing, ever flowing.
Til we flow into a Sacred Stream,
Til we flow into that Eternal Drink
Which is You."
So use this moment to draw near to our Ever-flowing God. Praise Him with your favorite name or attribute. Rest as we await His coming. Macrina reminded us "We await the One we already possess."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent 2 Love That Will Not Let Me Go

For years this hymn would come up in my soul, then I was compelled at a Joyce Meyer conference to find out where it was coming from. Well, it turns out I learned it from a Haven of Rest record album! Looking on You-tube, this was the best version I could find. So if you think singing in the shower is just for kicks, listen to this! If this is not your favorite version, check it out on You-tube and tell me what one speaks to you most clearly!
The lyrics are:
1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

2. O light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Be certain among the many things on the To-Do list this season to rest your weary soul in God and give Him back the life you owe! You will be better for the effort! He promises.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Turning My Heart from Distractions to Him

This time of year there are traditions and distractions galore. Yet, we are called to be waiting for the Lord. I also like to remember that I am called to wait ON the Lord as His maid servant. I can only focus upon Him when I choose to make Him the object of my love and attention, my purpose and my eternal goal. This video, though often carrying titles in another language, helps me remember why we celebrate the fact that Christ was born and God is now among us.

I love the internet! My favorite instrumental CD for Christmas music was worn out. I went on-line and bought a brand new copy for less than I originally paid and have it here to worship with.
Keep your eyes upon the One Who is like no other!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Last Sunday evening we attended the healing service at St. Tim's. During the service there was a delightful time to re-collect ourselves before the Lord. Advent is the season of waiting for God. As I read last night, not just the childhood God of Baby Jesus, be the adult God who has promised to always be with us. I found three themes for my prayers, one friend awaiting biopsy results, one friend waiting to see the doctor and my own chronic illness symptoms that wear me down at times.
While sitting quietly I heard this poem:

Cancer and its cohorts
Come marching down the road
In step crunching the gravel
Grinding at the souls of God’s people.

As XXX awaits his test results,
As XXX prepares for his doctor appointment and biopsy

And the angels of the Lord
Stand in the road
Swords of fire and light
Drawn at God’s command
Shielding His children from despair
By the Blood of the Lamb
And the Presence of God
Shouting refrains of
“Hope in the Lord!”
“Trust in the Rock of your salvation.”

The laying on of hands and time for silent prayer and resting before the Lord were terrific!
Monday morning the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was rolling through my soul. I listened to several recordings of it as I continued to lift my two friends in prayer.

I sent the poem I heard along to both men. One was told he does not need a biopsy and is being treated with medication. One had test results positive for cancer. His surgery is scheduled for late December. His spirits seem good and he continues to focus upon walking with Christ.

My symptoms are rather like riding ocean waves: wild one day and calm the next. Through it all, God keeps us and encourages us to walk with Him. Invite Him into everything. He is just waiting for your invitation. Are you waiting for Him?