Monday, December 21, 2009

We Three Kings

When I was a little girl, I wondered where in the world Orientarr was.  I imagined that it was in Asia somewhere, far away.  All I really knew about it was that three kings who visited the young Jesus were from there. ;-D

I was always fascinated by the story of the three kings, and could tell you that they brought gifts to Jesus of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  I knew what gold was.  I recently learned a little about frankincense, and myrrh, and the significance makes a little more sense to me now.

The magi, in search of a king, certainly would have brought Him expensive gifts to pay homage.  That explains the gold.  It was even more valuable and precious then than it is now.  It surely would have been helpful to finance the trip that Jesus, Joseph, and Mary would soon make to Egypt. It was likely a gift they would have been very pleased with.  It truly was a kingly kind of gift.

Frankincense was a costly liquid, used by the Hebrew priests in their sacrifices.  When burned it gives off a sweet aroma.  It was used in the Thank Offerings and the sweet smell was present as the people and priests gave thanks and praise to God.  Biblically we're told the sweet smell of burning incense reached the Throne Room of God and signified the prayers of His people rising to Him. It's been shown that the sense of smell is the primary sense for recollecting memories -- an aroma is more likely to make us remember something than a sight, sound, touch or taste. Today, some promising research is even being done with frankincense as a treatment for some forms of cancer and debilitating diseases.  So, as the frankincense symbolically represented a pleasing sacrifice to God, the prayers of the people ever before Him, and a calming balm, the frankincense was a priestly kind of gift.

Myrrh was commonly used back then for embalming the dead.  Not necessarily a baby shower gift most moms would delight over, I think.   Taken internally, it was used as a pain reliever, which Jesus refused when He hung on the cross.  It was most likely produced in the town of Smyrna, the location of the church mentioned in the final book of the Bible (Rev. 2:8) as the people who would suffer for their faith, but receive the Crown of Life. While it would have had a monetary value, it's primary significance here was the implication that this child would give His Life to preserve ours. The myrrh was a savior kind of gift.

We can't really know why these gifts were chosen by the magi, or if they had knowledge of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, but they probably did, being learned 'wise' men. 

Interestingly, I've read a commentary on the book of Isaiah that points out in the description of the Returning Savior (Second Coming) in chapter 60, that the gifts brought on camels from Sheba (a.k.a., the Orient) are 'gold and frankincense'. No myrrh is brought, because death and pain have been defeated.

So this Christmas, as the three kings did long ago, we can give Him gifts, too.  We can offer Him our thanks and praise; we can give of our wealth to His purposes, and we can accept the preservation of His Life as our Savior.

Have a Most Merry Christmas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

They're Cheering in Flushing NY

Having not blogged in a while, it seems appropriate that I would take this opportunity to post on such a magnimous and special day. Yes, it's our lovely daughter's birthday, but that's not to what I refer. It's also the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, but that's not the impetus for this post either.

Who among us hasn't at some time or other, with mild expletives under our breath, had to use the simple little invention called 'the plunger' to unclog a clogged toilet. I know I have. And yet, where would we be without the object of indoor plumbing? So, in case there's a few out there who didn't know it, or appreciate it, Nov. 19th is World Toilet Day.

My daughter pointed out this dubious honor of sharing her special day with her toilet, so I did a little reading up on it. The day, of course, has more merit than just giving your commode a little hug... it's to draw awareness to the 2.5 billion people who live without proper sanitation. And that is a noble reason. And so that got me blogging today.

A little bit toilet training never hurt anyone, so ponder this...
  • Archeological remains from 3000 BC Scotland reveal stone huts, with drains protruding from the walls, likely their water closets. The early roots of potty training no doubt began here.
  • Ancient Rome, famous for it's gigantic communal bathhouses, also had gigantic communal outhouses, with long bench seats. However, they only used these on 'special' occasions and usually just threw their, um... waste products... into the streets.
  • The medieval 'garderobe' was a little room in one's castle with a system of trenches that took their sewage out to the mote, as an added deterrent to trespassers.
  • Soon after, a flusher was devised with a pull handle and valve system to send water through the ceramic bowl.
  • The ingenious 'S Pipe' was introduced in the 18th century, to keep 'foul odors' at bay (yay!)
  • And, last but not least, in the late 1800's, toilet showrooms came into the marketplace, first accredited to plumber, Thomas Crapper. No kidding. He didn't invent the flushing wonder, but made it available to more people by marketing it in his storefront.
OK, that's enough in honor of modern plumbing. It was Freud, I think, that said fear of deep water stems from childhood terror of toilet training. I think it really comes from a clogged toilet!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Here We Go!!

I was verrry sleeeeeepy this morning when it was time to get up... but it was well worth it! We got to bed very late last night, ... well, early this morning... because we were at the Steeler game last night, and stayed to the exciting finish!

Bruce and I were the delighted beneficiaries of our daughter and son-in-law, who drove here from D.C. and treated us to the football game!! I've never been to Heinz field and I was so excited to be a part of the electric atmosphere of thousands of people, all dressed in black and gold, anticipating an evening of great football. We weren't disappointed! It was a great game, we had wonderful seats, and, the Steelers won!

I was especially thrilled to spend the time with Ash & Nate, who are die-hard fans, and who blessed us by taking us along! We joined some other friends at a tail-gate before the game, and then spent about an hour roaming the Great Hall and taking in all of the Steeler memorabilia.

Because it was an 8:20 PM kick-off, we didn't get home till well after midnight (and we all had to work today ;-/), but loved every minute of it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Psalty's Birthday Surprise

I KNOW I can't be old enough to have a 30 year old child... OK, so I am, and I do... it's not about me...

We were thrilled to be able to attend the birthday party Brad had for Leah on Sunday to celebrate her 30 years. Brad went to great lengths to delight Leah -- He knows she loves surprises, and so he arranged to have a number of surprise guests arrive (us, included). Not the least of which was Psalty, the Singing Song Book, which was a flash from her past.

Now the mommy of an infant, Leah regularly sings songs from her childhood to her baby girl, many from the Kids Praise series she loved. So, Brad bought her a CD of one of her long, lost favorites, AND he dressed up as Psalty and made a fun... and funny... guest appearance! 'Psalty' worked the crowd, read Leah a poignant and humorous 'futuristic' letter from her daughter, and he had Ashley & Nate join us via video.

Psalty's arrival was preceded by a Psalty sing-a-long led by Samantha, and surprisingly enough, all the adults present whole-heartedly joined in the singing (even the hand-motions).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our American Idol

Our family has been a big fan of Disney World for a long time... Bruce & I went there for our honeymoon many years ago, and have returned many times over the years with our girls. The live shows at all 4 theme parks have always been high on our list of favorites because of the top quality Disney always aspires to in their productions.

Our talented and musically gifted daughters would often day-dream about performing on those Disney stages, being a part of a top-notch musical production. And, this weekend, Samantha actually did!

Disney's Hollywood Studio theme park has a new stellar attraction, the American Idol Experience. In keeping with their commitment to quality, Disney incorporates fun with fantastic, and re-creates the American Idol TV show, complete with a series of auditions and studio competitions, and a grand finale show. Three judges from the music industry critique the performers, and the audience votes for their American Idol.

Samantha was among about one hundred+ people who auditioned at the Disney Hollywood Studio park early on Saturday morning, and was cast to perform in an afternoon show. Backstage, they did her hair and make-up, and gave her 10 minutes with a professional vocal coach.

She performed the song Reflection, and was chosen by the audience as the winner of that round, and went on to perform in the finale. I know that I'm her mom, but I gotta tell you that she was awesome! And, I wasn't the only one to say so... the judges gave her raving accolades, -- even the one who had the role of sarcastic 'Simon'.

All of this was incredibly fun and soul-stirring, and was topped off Saturday evening at the Grand Finale (where all the winners performed) with Sam winning the whole shebang! Every performer was talented and wonderful, and the studio audience of a thousand people plus a group watching remotely outside the theatre created an electrified atmosphere!

Samantha got a standing ovation, and a 'golden ticket' for an audition for next season's American Idol TV show. It was lots of fun to watch 'fans' come up to her after her shows, asking for her autograph, calling out encouragement and congratulations (not just Bruce & me, either!), mothers asking her to pose with their incredibly cute babies...

We were allowed to take pictures, but not videos, due to copyrights, etc. Some of the pictures I've posted here, but if you want to hear her sing, ... maybe that 'golden ticket' will land her a spot on the TV version of the American Idol experience!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Next Chapter

Wow! Words can hardly express the experience of being a part of a precious grandchild's birth!
And so the next chapter of the adventure begins.

We are so blessed be grandparents, and so proud and in awe of our daughter and son-in-law, watching them 'labor' together to bring Gabriella Faith into our world. She was born at 12:21 AM and is more darling than I can adequately describe.

A picture say a thousand words, so here are a couple....

18 Months ago, Bruce placed his daughter into Brads arms. This night, Brad placed his daughter into Bruce's...

...Aunt Sam

Aunt Ashley & Uncle Nate...

Friday, June 19, 2009

We're Expecting

I am waxing philosophical today.

I sat down at my computer this morning to do some work, and an Outlook "reminder" dialog popped up. It said, "Baby Day!".

I put that in my Outlook calendar way back in the fall when Leah first told us that they were going to have a baby, and June 19th was the projected 'due date'. After the first sonogram, it was 'revised' to June 20th. But I never changed my Outlook calendar. Mainly because baby 'due dates' are really just a projected estimate of when the baby will pop out, and life will change for all of us, and 'normal' becomes different.

Here's where the philosophical part comes in... we (Bruce, Me, Ashley & Nate) have been semi-preparing for the trek to Michigan from our respective homes, hours away from the blessed event. Ashley's had a bag packed for 2 weeks now. Samantha, and Brad's mom and dad have all worked their schedules to be 'near by' and flexible. We've notified our co-workers and clients that we'll be dashing off to Michigan for the baby's birth, but don't exactly know when that is, but ... just want to give a ... 'heads up'. We don't have the car loaded, but we've been preparing, and we can be ready to leave in just a few minutes. Brad has been texting us everyday for the past week with little teasers, implying at first that the baby's coming, and then switching around to something else.

We know that God already has Gabriella's birthday written in His plan, and the timing will be perfect.

I couldn't help relate all of this excited anticipation to life, in general. I wish I could live this way all of the time, fixed on knowing that God's timing is always perfect, and that He is Good, all the time. Instead of getting caught up in my day-to-day details, my problems and trials, or my disappointments, I need to do more... expecting. More hopeful anticipating of what God is birthing in my life. More joyful awaiting for what He's got up His sleeve for me.

I know in my head that God's Plan is not stagnant. I know that He weaves the details of each moment into a tale of adventure. And yet, sometimes, ... most of the time... my thoughts and emotions get swallowed up in what's in front of me.

But this mindset of living the past few weeks in anticipation, ...getting ready to travel to Michigan to be on the scene, to meet our grandchild, knowing 'something's' coming, but not knowing when exactly... always having in the back of my mind the thought that today could be 'the day', ... it's put me in the mode of expectation.

And I like that! I like living the way I believe God wants us to live... expecting Him to actively orchestrate and surprise me... expecting good decrees from the Throne Room, and expecting the King's favor. I recognize there is a good destination, but I want to more puposefully expect that the journey can be thrilling, under the watchful eyes and mighty arm of a loving Father.

Isaiah 43:19, 48:3 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. ...then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass."

Friday, June 5, 2009

He Finally Came, And We Weren't Ready

As summer gets into full swing, I usually plop myself in my front yard and plant some pretty flowers. As I was weeding, the other day, I remembered something that happened last year, upon the occasion of my planting ritual.

Our drive is well off the main road, with only two houses on it, and so it's rare that people randomly drive up to the top of our hill. Bruce and I were both in the yard, doing some planting and mulching. And then, we heard it... at first it was distant, and then we realized it was coming up our driveway! We could hear the tinkling bell song, You Are My Sunshine, playing over and over, getting progressively louder.

It was the Ice Cream Man!!

For 25 years we'd been waiting for him. When the kids were little, they'd hear the song, and jump and squeal ... "It's the Ice Cream Man". They'd be very excited, and hopeful, but he never came up our drive. And by the time we'd grab our quarters and try to run down to the road to catch him and buy the frozen delights, he'd be gone. So the tinkling song became an empty hope.

But this day, a brave and curious man drove up our long driveway. When he saw it was just us, and we just stood there staring at him, and he realized that he'd driven up a driveway, he got very uncomfortable, and tried to sneak away.

BUT, after 25 years of waiting we couldn't allow that.
HOWEVER, we weren't ready! We didn't have any money on us to buy anything, and just sort of stood there gaping, thinking, 'He finally came, and we weren't ready!'

So, we didn't get any ice cream that day. But Bruce did stop the guy and talked to him and told him we'd been waiting 25 years for that moment. He told the fella we couldn't buy anything from him, but asked if he could pray for him about anything. ;~D

The guy speedily drove away. Hasn't been back since.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Just Want to Testify

I went to Michigan this past weekend to visit our kids there, but also to hear our daughter, Leah, preach the Sunday morning message at Church of the King. More on that later...

Saturday night, we watched the NCAA semi-final game between Michigan State and UConn. It was a good game, especially because the 'home' team (i.e., Brad & Leah's 'home') won. In the last minute of the game, Michigan State sunk a free throw to put them up by 7 points with about 45 seconds left on the clock. Brad excitedly said, 'that's the game'! But me, ever the 'cautious' one, said 'there's still a lot of time left'... I didn't want to be too optimistic, and then disappointed, if the tide suddenly turned and the Spartans lost -- remembering times this has indeed happened in these kind of high-adrenaline games.

Brad, ever the 'wise' one, tolerated my comment, but smiled, fully confident of the outcome even then.

I bring this up because this morning, my husband (also very wise) encouraged me to read a chapter in a book he's been reading, Strengthen Yourself In The Lord, by Bill Johnson. The chapter is titled Keeping the Testimony -- Testimonies of God connect generations to His promises. Johnson reminds us that
"The testimonies of God are the tools that equip us to walk in our purpose to demonstrate what He is like through the miraculous... The Hebrew root word for "testimony" means "do again." Every record of what God has done in generations past is a promise of what He will do again in our lives, because He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He is no respecter of persons (Heb. 13:8)."
That's why God instructs His people to build altars of remembrance, to set our hope in God by remembering what He has already done in our lives to deliver, help, save, encourage, and heal us. And to know He can/will do it again. When the people didn't remember God's Words and His Works, they lost their battle, even though they were armed and dangerous. (Ps. 78: 9-11)

This is all very significant to me because I am in a 'place' right now where I need to remind myself of God's character, His nature and His promises. My mind is too prone to focus on disappointments and fears, and that drags me down. So today, I purpose to do better, and to go into my battles armed with the testimonies of God's goodness, mercy and kindness to me and my family.

Which brings me to my final testimony... This weekend, I watched our daughter, Leah, preach. She delivered a word of Truth and power, and I was so proud, yet so humbled. In the same service, I listened to our daughter, Samantha, sing words of Truth and power, and her singing gave me chills up and down my spine. And later that day, I spoke with our daughter, Ashley, who was fulfilling a mission of global importance, and I was yet again proud, and humbled.

Proud that they are our kids... and humbled by remembering and witnessing the fruit of what God has fashioned. They are His Testimonies.

Leah's message completed the sermon series, Remember, at Church of the King. They are all well worth a listen here, and they are testimonies well worth remembering.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


A few weekends ago, Bruce and I visited Church of the King in Berkley, MI, and got to experience a service in their new venue at the Southfield-Lathrop High School. It was a dynamic service and I was favorably impressed with the way the church members totally transform the school lobby and auditorium into a professional and contemporary area to gather and worship. And,... in the lobby, ...there is a wall of windows, with about 5 tall beautiful flowering hibiscus plants.

These hibiscus plants reminded me of the one Samantha gave me last Spring for Mother's Day... because the hibiscus is one of my favorites!! My plant is actually three plants, about 6 feet tall, with stems woven together, and is intended to be a house plant. When Samantha first gave it to me, it was full of gorgeous blooms!

I love my hibiscus, and because I'm not typically successful growing things, I did a google search to learn how to care for her (...yes, she is now affectionately known to me as Cynthia :-D ). One of the articles I read said it was important to replant her in a pot that would be about 30% larger than the one she came in, before she outgrew it, so she would have room to grow. Otherwise, she would become rootbound.

So what's rootbound? Rootbound is when there is no effective space for new roots to occupy. One of the first symptoms of being rootbound is, in fact, that plant growth slows despite favorable environmental conditions (light, water, fertilizer, etc)."

I sure wanted Cynthia to be healthy, and to grow, so I hustled off to Home Depot, and bought her a big new pot.

The article warned, however, that hibiscuses are very sensitive, and that this change would initially cause some trauma to Cynthia, ...and did it ever! Leaves started turning brown and dropping off dramatically, and some of the new little buds never opened, but also fell off.

I was concerned.

For months, my beloved plant went downhill. She made a half-hearted effort to bloom again, but only 3 flowers made it to fruition. Not only was she not 'growing', I feared she was dying. She was looking pretty feeble, in spite of my attempt to perk her up with string of twinkle lights.
But I have continued to water, feed, and nuture her (and even, um, talk to her). In spite of my lack of horticultural prowess, she's been hanging in there.

And this week, I finally see new growth appearing on the naked branches, and her falling leaves have drastically subsided. So I am hopeful that she's turned the corner, and is heading back to her happy place.

The hibiscus article I read said, "At times we have been amazed to see the difference in our flowers once the plants had room to grow larger root systems to provide the hibiscus with all the water and nutrients they need." That's what I'm counting on!! Go Cynthia!

So, a lesson from the plant kingdom, and maybe even the Heavenly kingdom... though up-rooting can be a bit traumatic, don't get rootbound. Stretch out, and keep blooming.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Well, the BIG weekend for Steeler fans everywhere is finally here!! The news stories on all of our local news have been headlined every day by what's going on in Tampa in preparation for the Super Bowl. Bruce has been watching REPLAYs of all of the past Steeler Super Bowls and Championship Games on the NFL Network for 2 weeks. I am ready for this game to begin.

Leah told me about this great and inspiring article on about Troy Polamalu... one of our favorites on the team! Here is a link to the article in case you missed it:

So glad that Troy had a great game in the AFC Championship!

Our daughters are ALL super Steeler fans. And... our youngest, Samantha, lives in ... TROY !

Monday, January 19, 2009

Steelers in Space

Gotta love dem Stillers!

Steeler fans are die-hard and go to great lengths to see their guys play... hope this Pittsburgh Fan got to view the game somehow... maybe by,... satellite.