Monthly Archives: November 2016

It is simple

As I was shopping this morning, I saw and heard so much. Some kids were holding on to their mom’s shopping cart asking “are you going to fix the pie that grandpa likes?” Another woman, leaving the register area smiled at a man at the door and said, “It’s a lot, but we really 4 turkeys to feed our clan.”

In the parking lot, middle school boys in baseball uniforms shook plastic buckets and asked for donations. Little girls in cheerleading uniforms played on the frame surrounding the shopping carts, using it like a jungle gym. 

Signs outside a church announced that a family reunion was taking place inside. I could see people walking in, carrying what looked to me like casserole dishes and thermos jugs of iced tea or lemonade. 

Signs along the road cautioned that construction workers were busy ahead. Men operating big equipment dragged dirt out of a pit while other workers watched and measured.

Football games are on the television and radio. Fans are celebrating scores and moaning about fumbled balls and missed opportunities. 

It is a very normal day. 

Let’s spend a moment and just be thankful for any “normal-ness” of our day. Let’s listen to the sounds around us. Things like:

  • A car engine starting at the first turn of the key
  • Water running in the shower
  • Ice cracking as we add water to our glass
  • Phones ringing

We don’t have to get fancy to find things for which we are grateful. All we need to do is to listen to the world around us to realize that we have so much. 

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Advertisement

She is so smart!

One of John’s groups hosts an amazing Christmas/holiday party every December. We love seeing wonderful friends there and enjoying great food and entertainment. 

Last year, the attire was “ugly sweaters.” It was hilarious to see what folks found for that night. 

This year, we are to dress reflecting our heritage. John has it easy – English or German. 

I am having a rougher time. I have a multitude of groups represented inside of my DNA. I searched the internet for a “Heinz 57” costume and only found items that are not age or body type appropriate. What to do??

So, I chatted with my mom about my predicament. Her suggestion was that I wear a simple, white dress; it sounded like she wanted me to dress like an angel. Ok, that made no sense whatsoever even if the woman birthed me and has an irrational love of her children. 

I replied to her suggestion with a sarcastic tone: “Angelic?? I don’t think so!!”

Her answer was simple, “Jill, your sign off is ‘just one of God’s kids.’  That’s what you are – a child of God. That’s your heritage.”

She is so smart. 

Love,

Jill (just one of God’a kids)

Second class?

There are lots of changes going on in our area. Commercial expansion has caused a boom in construction of new homes and that is requiring infrastructure growth. Unfortunately, the changes to our roads are coming after the other projects have begun. So, we have the perfect storm – more people trying to travel on torn up roads, competing with construction equipment and vehicles for the traffic lanes that are available. This situation is giving me lots of time to sit in my vehicle, watching dirt being from here to there and back again. 

To construct more road lanes, trees and bushes are being removed. Some of these trees are old, with massive trunks and high reaching limbs. Before the trees are removed, someone goes along the roadway, putting plastic, yellow ribbons around some of the trunks. I haven’t paid enough attention to the markings to determine if that means those trees are the ones that will be retained or if those are the ones that will be destroyed.

Then, about a week ago, I noticed plastic pink ribbons have been put on some of the tree trunks. I have no idea what that means. Maybe the crew ran out of yellow tape. Or, perhaps there is a new category. Strange. 

I understand being labeled and not sure what that label means. It doesn’t just happen to trees. 

Many years ago, I had my first cross-country first class experience. Trading in frequent flyer points, I had upgraded my coach ticket to first class and I was pumped. The aircraft was a wide body and first class had two aisles; I was in the last row, in the middle section. My seatmate and I settled in for the long flight; he seemed especially happy with sitting in first class. Not long after we got our seatbelts on and had been served our first, free, before takeoff, diet Coke, he whispered to me “this is my first time flying first class.” I laughed and shared my secret. His upgrade to first class was also free, the gift of an airline employee friend.

Neither of us knew what would happen next and so we watched carefully everything that the flight attendants did. After takeoff, they came by with “warm towels.” Now, that doesn’t sound like an exciting event except when you are traveling first class for the first time – it is wonderful! We watched the flight attendants coming down the aisle, offering each person their own warm towel. They served the people in front of us and then the people on the sections to the right and left of us. And, then the flight attendants left. With dirty and cool hands, my neighbor and I looked at each other, silently questioning what was going on. A little while later, our warm towels were delivered and we settled back.

Then it was time for the meal. This flight offered several entre choices. The flight attendants came down the aisle and talked to those in front and to the side of us, marking down their menu selections. But, they did not ask us. My neighbor turned to me and asked “Do we get a meal even if we are on free upgrades?” I was sure that we did, but I commented that perhaps we got whatever was left after the paying customers had made their choices. I figured that “first class leftovers” might not be so bad.

Again, after a few minutes, the flight attendant came back to us and asked for our choices. It seemed that the leftover meals fit our choices. We decided that we had probably just lucked out; by this time, we were pretty sure that everyone in first class knew that we were there only because of free upgrades.

After the meal, warm, chocolate chip cookies were delivered. And, you are right, we were left out. After a bit, a flight attendant came and apologized to us. They had a new crew member who was having some challenges getting the “rhythm” down. She brought a whole tray of warm cookies and offered us as many as we wanted. The rest of the trip was a breeze.

Have you ever felt like the tree with a pink ribbon when all the others have yellow ones? Or, how about thinking that you haven’t earned the right to get warm, first class, chocolate chip cookies? 

During this next week of Thanksgiving, let’s look for the folks who don’t feel like they belong. Make being part of the group easy for them – they will love you for it.  

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

++++++++++

Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)
 

It’s gonna happen!

Last Sunday, one of the kids who comes to church with me got sick. You know what I mean, the “grab a trash basket now” kind of sick. What a joy! She looked green and I felt bad for her. But, as we walked by other people, wastebasket held high, they got a little green too!

Holidays – some year, somewhere, some time, somebody’s gonna’ puke. It’s just part of life. 

I’ll never forget one Saturday morning in December when were were kids. We were headed to our little church later that morning to practice for our “Christmas Program.” These were the days were nearly every child was required to memorize and recite a little rhyming poem about the Christmas story. Those poems were impossible for me to learn. 

I had worked on my “part” as had my siblings. Early that Saturday morning several of us piled into my folks’ bed as Mom started practicing our poems with us. (Funny that this is the only time that I remember doing this. It’s weird what sticks in our memories!)

Anyway, one of the sibs wasn’t excited about the day’s plan. One of my parents asked them “Are you feeling all right?” The answer came back, “No, my stomach hurts.” This was the beginning of the tragedy. 

The medical examination by parent of child began. Carefully touching the child’s abdomen, a question was posed, “Do you hurt here?” “No.” “Here?” “No.” And then, they went one question too far…”Here?” Yep, the rest of us kids were jumping out of the bed as fast was we could go…a flood had begun!  

Probably the most famous holiday “eruption” took place in our camper and involved my brother and me. The camper fit onto a truck. A bed section was over the cab with the rest of the camper sitting on the truck bed and extending out a little farther. The glass pane window had been removed from the back of the truck and a rubber “boot” connected the truck and camper, creating an open “window” between camper and truck. 

My brother and I were in the camper as were our other sibs. He was on the bed overhead. When we rode up there, we like to lay in our stomachs and watch the road ahead. 

I was also lying on my stomach. But, I was resting at the edge of the boot, watching the road ahead and talking with the people in the truck. 

It took only a second for my brother to turn around, stick his head out over me, shout “I’m not feeling well” and start showering my nearly waist-long hair with nastiness. I screamed, having not expected this “rain.” Our other siblings starting howling with laughter when my brother shouted, “Never mind, I’m ok now.” That was the day I learned to wash my own hair. 

Bottom line – some holiday it is going to happen. Sorry, but that is the truth. It’s called family!  

Even Jesus had a rough time from time to time with family. I love this passage from Mark (3:20-21).  “Then he (Jesus) went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.””  

Yep, his siblings were ready to call Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, crazy.

Family dynamics can be interesting. Sometimes we are puking on each other and other times we are calling each other crazy. You just can’t anticipate it. 

My advice? Try not to burn any bridges. You or someone else will mess up sometime – we all do. Grab the closet trash can, quit poking them in the stomach, learn how to wash your own hair and brush up your sense of humor!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

Little is much when God is in it!

lv-2016

This morning we started construction of our church’s live nativity (and more) presentation: “Love’s Story.”  I am so excited!!

The amazing man who had directed the event for many years found himself unable to commit to help this year.  I kept thinking about what a difference this community celebration of Jesus makes.  It impacts so very many families, children and lives.  Each year, the cooler nights and bright stars and smell of wood smoke and hot chocolate of this event, help me to focus on the season.  Basically, the Live Nativity kick-starts me into Christmas.

And so, John and I took on the task of directing this year’s production.  The project is huge. The risks are real.  The list of reasons that it might all go wrong is long.  And then as we watch, God sends His children.

  • People began planning costumes before they were asked.
  • When I said we didn’t have the resources for one event element, a volunteer offered equipment and labor. 
  • Someone else knew how to get PSAs to the right folks.
  • Another looked at worn out signs and knew exactly what to do.
  • When I worried about a lighting challenge, a friend offered an easy and beautiful solution.
  • New ideas were accepted and welcomed.
  • Old stuff has been reclaimed and is being refreshed. 
  • Everyone accepted our phone calls requesting their help and advice.

And, this morning, the posts to form the wall around the village went up.  The plan that was in my head is now anchored in the ground. 

It is a little daunting when I stupidly think that we have “too much to do.”  In reality, there are people who are ready to help when they know that God is in the event – seeds will be planted and, we are praying, a harvest will result.  Freedom is when we see a task as an opportunity; when we acknowledge that if God directs us to do something that He will equip and guide us through it.

I’m pumped!!

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

p.s.  Want to come to our event??   We would love to have you join us.  December 2, 3 and 4.  6-8pm.  3475 Pine Forest Road, Cantonment, FL. 

++++++++++++++

Enjoy an old song:  Little is Much When God Is In It!

 

Supermoons

I love this picture. We took it during our walk last evening. As we looked at the sky, John said “God is quite the artist.” Tonight and tomorrow we will have a “supermoon” – another amazing example of God’s artistry. 

This full moon will be not only the brightest and closest super moon of 2016 but also the largest since 1948. If you are like me on most days, you are getting this information after this supermoon is over.

But, no worries. There will be another supermoon on December 13th this year. 

It is rare that I get a second chance so soon after I have missed out on something. You know what I mean. I should have spoken up when that happened. Or, I should have quit talking when that happened. Or, I should have picked up that check. 

This time we get a second chance. If we missed the supermoon tonight and tomorrow – we should do what we can to take advantage of the opportunity next month. Plan a party for the 13th now.

That’s the best way to look at a missed opportunity – get that second chance on the calendar as soon as you can.

Thanksgiving is only a week and a half away. What will you do before the holiday to take advantage of a second chance that God is giving you?  

Check out our picture again. God is a great artist. He creates sights and events and opportunities we can never imagine. We need to do what He wants us to do to “gather together.”

Just a thought. 

Love,

Jill (just in of God’s kids)

++++++

You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.  (Nehemiah 9:6)

Try it, you might like it!

She surprised me with her offer across the restaurant table. “Would you like to try a pepper from my garden?” A few minutes before we had been talking about growing peppers and the wonderful flavor of fresh vegetables. 

She opened her purse and pulled out a ziplock bag. The bag contained 6 or 7 small, dark red peppers. She opened the bag and held it out to me. I thanked her and took a pepper. As I bit into it, she grabbed my hand and said quickly, “Watch out for the seeds!!” I braced myself for what could have been a “challenging” situation. But, it was ok. The pepper was a sharp and sweet and I had accidentally missed the seeds. It was exciting (peppers can be dangerous) and fun. 

It reminded me of the visit we made to the “World of Coke” display in Atlanta. We had the three granddaughters with us and we were having a fun day. The display lets you sample more than 100 different Coke beverage products. The girls decided that they were going to taste every one of the flavors. From what seemed to be caffeine and sugar induced behavior by them later in the afternoon, we were pretty sure that they accomplished their goal!

As John and I were tasting flavors no longer offered in the U.S., the girls urged us to try one particular sample. I tried it – it was horrible! I immediately started coughing and looking for the closest water fountain as they girls asked, “Wasn’t that awful?!?!” The next time they suggested a sample, I made sure to watch them drink it first!

I have to admit that I will never forget the Coke tasting experience. What is that phrase? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger? Actually, it was a great time together and makes a wonderful story. 

Have you tried anything new lately? Why not? So many restaurant menus are huge but we keep ordering the same thing. There are lots of folks in our church or place of work or school but we keep talking to the same people. The library is full of books…well, I am sure that you understand my point. 

The next time you have the chance, why not try something new or do something different? And, while you are at it, why not invite a friend or family member to go with you? Groups can give us courage and support. And, if it turns out to be horrible, you’ve got a great story to tell!

Try it – you might just like it!!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

++++++

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! (Psalm 103:1-5)

Shoes

It is Veterans Day and I love how much attention we give our Veterans. Businesses celebrate Veterans with special offers; parades are held; we openly and frequently thank our veterans. We are blessed to live in such a wonderful nation. 

My favorite Veterans Day was when John was the NROTC Professor of Navel Science at Purdue University. (This was before I had the “big” job.). We were invited to be on the reviewing stand in Lafayette, Indiana during the Veterans Day parade. 

It was really cold that dry. John was in uniform and I had on my warmest winter coat. As we arrived, the sleet started to come down and the weather continued to deteriorate throughout the morning. The reviewing “stand” was a raised landing of stairs on a public building. Everything around us was made of brick. The building behind us provided no warmth or cover. 

I was excited when we arrived and once the parade started, I smiled more and more. Early we learned that the tough task of “scoring” bands, floats, motorcycle units, etc. had been exaggerated to us. We didn’t need to do anything but smile and wave and appropriately recognize the elements of the parade, especially the American flag. 

As the weather got worse, I got more and more impressed with the displays in front of us. High school bands marched proudly. Old cars and motorcycles looked great. Horse clubs rode by, followed by a clean up crew. 

But, the most impressive units were the groups of veterans. Men and women, young and old, in uniform marched proudly. They held their heads up and stood straight. It was inspiring. And, then I looked at their shoes. 

Our shoes often tell a story. That day I saw, old, worn shoes, polished and prepared to go with the uniform. I saw arthritic ankles, swollen, pouring over the sides of shoes. I saw new, shiny shoes, bought just for the parade. On that windy, November morning there wasn’t a pair of comfortable shoes on anyone wearing a uniform. 

A friend of ours shares a story of his service in World War II. He was a young man who had much to learn. When the enemy approached their position, his unit had to move quickly. Awakened in the middle of the night, he put on his boots and headed out, leaving his socks behind. It was three days before he would be able to get another pair. And so he marched and fought and ran and served in snow covered, open fields and small towns. Today, he always has comfortable, warm socks. 

On this Veterans Day, as we say thank you let’s consider how their service required sacrificed we cannot fathom.

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

++++++

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1) 

Birds are weird.

I don’t like birds.  They aren’t like cats or dogs. Birds are weird. 

My neighbors have chickens who seem to be obsessed with me.  Until we had completed our fence, the chickens routinely visited me when I was out in the yard.  My strategy for dealing with them was to try to stay away from them and to talk to them, telling them to go home and enjoy the wonderful things there.  chicken

One day, there were probably a dozen chickens in the yard and I was trying to finish the paint job on our new shed.  I talked to the chickens as I arranged the paint cans and set up the ladder.  I finished moving tools from the shed to the back of the building, closed the door, and got to work. About 10 minutes later, I was still talking to the chickens (to let them know who was boss) when I realized that there were fewer birds talking back.  I went to the front of the shed, opened the door and found three chickens standing there.  They were looking at me as if I were a maître de and they were waiting for a table.  I started talking – fast, worked my way to the back of the room and herded them outside; I reclosed the door.  As I returned to my task, I heard a noise inside the building.  Yep, there was one more chicken waiting for an invitation to come outside.  It was irritating.

A few months later, I drove into my neighbor’s yard to deliver a package.  As I opened the car door, the chickens gathered around me.  This was a much larger group than those who like to visit our yard.  I walked to the house, chickens forming a circle around me, cackling and clucking as we walked.  My neighbor wasn’t home and so I returned to the car, lecturing the chickens about their behavior.  As I drove out, I was praying that our neighbor wasn’t home hiding behind the curtains.  I would hate for her to be recording my discussion with her chickens!

Birds are just weird!

We spent one holiday with the kids in Illinois as they were in the middle of a move.  To make things easier, John and I arranged to pick up a holiday feast from a local grocery store.  The turkey was already roasted and the side dishes prepared; everything could be popped into the oven for reheating and serving.

Because the kids were moving, we planned to eat dinner on the floor in the living room.  Our daughter-in-law had set up a buffet line on the kitchen counter and we were ready to get started eating when one of the very young girls started screaming.  She had spied the roasted turkey on the counter.  There was no way that she was going to eat that thing!! 

I looked at the bird and totally understood what she meant.  It is a little creepy. 

But, our wise kids knew what to do.  “We aren’t done getting dinner ready,” they said.  “Give us another minute.”  Granddad distracted the distraught child, while her mom put some meat on a platter, hid the turkey, and all was well. 

It’s funny, but my main source of protein (not counting peanut butter) is chicken.  Chicken as birds make me nervous; chicken as food makes me happy.

There are lots of things like that in our lives.  I love the feel of fresh sheets on the bed, but I don’t enjoy changing the bed, making those hospital corners.  I like the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz, but I am always disappointed when I see the man behind the curtain.  I like watching an athlete perform, but I don’t want to think about how hard it was for them to reach that peak physical status. 

We all have a chicken or two in our lives.  Our frustrations or fears or biases aren’t rationale.  (I have never been hurt by a chicken and a roasted turkey is delicious off the bone or off a plate.)   The sad thing is when those frustrations or fears or biases hinder our lives or the lives of others.  Why not trade in a fear for some new freedom? 

  • By being aware of our biases, we are able to change our actions and our reactions. 
  • Understanding our irrational fears and frustrations means we can edit our thoughts and our words. 
  • And, by recognizing that we have silly quirks, we are wise and loving enough to accept those of others. 

Just a thought. 

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

+++++++++

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  (Psalm 139:23-24)

 

Politics ain’t easy!

This week’s activites have started me thinking of my past political work. One of my favorite memories has to do with a state treasurer’s race. I realize that some people don’t even know that their state has a treasurer, so their vote might not be as informed as those running for the office might hope!

Anyway, the man seeking reelection to this position one particular year was participating in a parade in my home town. At that time, the convertibles used by politicians were provided by the local political party. Guess what my job was?

The higher the office, the better the car and the better your position in the parade. Governors, US Senators, and US House of Representatives members got the best cars, the ones loaned to us by car dealers. We had to find privately owned vehicles for the others. 

State Treasurer was pretty far down the line of positional rank. But, we found enough cars and we had a beauty for the treasurer and his lovely wife. There was only one problem – the floor of the back seat was rusted out. There was carpet that looked fine, but it covered a large hole. The owner of the vehicle apologized about the condition of the car and stayed close to make sure that we did not cause additional damage. 

The treasurer arrived at the parade start location. It was then that the first problem arose. Let’s pretend that his last name was Bakerer. Apparently the volunteer sign painter decided that this could not be the man’s name. The signs for the sides of the car said “Baker” – the second “er” was missing. The parade was ready to start so a quick run to an office supply store to purchase poster board, tape and a black marker was made. Let’s just say that the Bakerer’s were not happy that we did know how to spell their name. And, the signs looked weird. 

Then it was time for them to get into the convertible. They were not tall people so the “hop” from door frame to back seat (being careful to not step on the rusted out floor) was challenging. But, with a little help, the leap was completed. Now came the second problem. 

Sitting on the back of a convertible is not comfortable; you need lots of pillows or blankets as padding to cover bumpy pieces of metal. The car owner did not recall being briefed that he needed to provide the padding. Still smiling the Bakerers tried to sit on top of the mechanism and found it impossible. The owner smiled – he had some old horse blankets in the trunk. We could use those. 

Anyone who has been around horse people know that you really don’t want to be near “old horse blankets” that have been forgotten in the trunk of a car that had no back seat floor. The fabric provided padding but what discomfort they felt was forgotten as the “aroma” of the seasoned blankets warmed in the Kansas sun. The Bakerers stopped pretending to smile. 

The parade finally got started and the Bakerers were off with their owner driver. They seemed to enjoy waving at folks along the parade route. I can only imagine how many people did not recognize their name (with or without two sets of “er” ) or that the state even had a treasurer. 

The parade ended and the Bakerers were back; happy after their 90 minutes of smiling and waving. It appeared that all was forgiven. 

I didn’t even consider sneaking away until someone said that getting the short (and wide) Mrs Bakerer into the car was easy compared to the task at hand – getting her out. This leap wasn’t onto a padded back seat. The nonexistent floor was still a problem. And, any energy in her legs had been used up sitting on stinky, rough horse blankets for more than an hour. 

I carefully backed away into the crowd, trying to become invisible, as the car owner and the treasurer discussed options. Mrs Bakere looked steamed. No matter what strategy those chose, It wasn’t going to be pretty. 

The moral of this story? Politics, it isn’t as much fun as it looks!!

Love,

Jill (just one of God’s kids)

++++

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)