REALLY BIG ANNIVERSARIES

April 17th was my parent’s anniversary. Everybody’s parents have anniversaries, so that may not sound like a big thing. But it was. And this is a really big week on the whole, being Easter and all.

But it is a big week for a lot of reasons. My parents had an really big anniversary. So, I wrote them a card. And on Sunday, Easter Sunday this year, my Mother will have a birthday, a really big birthday. But I will write about that a little later. I thought I would just start with the card. It was simple this year, because, after all…

There just aren’t many cards for a

72nd Anniversary.

Not many couples understand

What it means to commit to

Each other for seven decades and

A bit more.

Not many wives stand by their husbands

When they fail.

Not many husbands want three children,

Especially when they are so imperfect and terribly needy.

Not many couples know what it truly means to be married—not really.

They just exist—in the same house.

We want to thank you for being so much more than that.

                         For being the imperfect wife and husband,

But staying together

because you loved each other

and said you would—through sickness

and health—for better or worse—

And you’ve seen some of all of that.

Because you’ve stayed together all these years—

You got to be imperfect parents, too.

We want to thank you most of all for that.

Because as imperfect as you might have thought you were,

Here the three of us are—

loving you both with all our hearts.

You were perfect parents for us

And we love you thickly.

We three imperfect children signed the card. After all that we have been through, as a family and as individuals, I am grateful that we could.

We are blessed  to give it to our parents who are 93.

UNDONE BY GRACE

i fight pride. And I am a recovering perfectionist. Jesus has worked hard on me for the last six years and I am making SUCH progress. But every time i think I am making progress I wonder—is that pride? Ugh!

I write for our church devotional blog and this has been such a wonderful way for me to use the gift I know God has given me to share his word—wonderful because it is completely anonymous—we have no bylines. No one knows when one of my devotions is posted. But i think, sometimes, I would just like to know that it has been meaningful to someone that read it.

It’s kind of like when I post something here—does anyone read it, I think to myself? Every now and then, I will get a ‘note,’ and my heart beats a little faster. Yes. Someone read it. How does that happen? How do they find me?

Several weeks ago, after one of the church services, I was meeting with a young woman in our Care Room. She had just accepted Jesus and I was assisting her to confirm that because she wasn’t sure about what she had done. We talked about salvation and what it meant. That just never gets old and I am so grateful each and every time I get to be a part of welcoming someone home to the Family of God!

We talked about her devotional life because she had been reading her Bible. She had even used the blog and read the devotions there. “But you know what I loved the most? It was those Post It note devotions you guys did for Easter about two years ago. You remember those? I loved those! I could take them to work, paste them on my computer, the mirror in my bathroom. I used them for ages!”

I looked at her in wonder and couldn’t help saying, “I did those.” She hugged me tight and said, “Thank you sooooo much!”

At home later, I apologized to God. I said, “I’m so sorry! That was prideful wasn’t it. I should have just told her how glad I was that she had enjoyed using the Post It devotions and left it at that.” I was so mortified.

I woke up this morning conversing with God: “God, it is so hard to still be fighting pride—to know that you have given me the gift of sharing your Word through writing it. But every now and then I find myself wanting just one person to say that it meant something to them—to actually KNOW. But then I think, isn’t that pride? I am grateful, so grateful that you have given me an anonymous way to do this so that pride is absolutely taken out of it. A way that I know I am serving YOU and not myself.”
And then I got the weekly e-mail from our writing Team Connector that we receive each week. She always gives us an update of the previous month’s responses to the blog traffic. This was my response back to her after reading it.
We serve a God who is faithful, so faithful to his children! How often do we get such an immediate answer to our prayers? I am sitting here in tears. This morning, I asked for ONE person only and look what he gave me—thousands!
Most read devotional (mine on Fighting Temptation) with 2174 page views
And Facebook chats with 158 folks letting others know it meant something serious enough for confession
I am completely undone.
As writers, we pray that our words mean something to others. But when God SHOWS us what they mean because we ASK him to–WOW!
Our words and the thought we take over each and every one of them matters. We may NOT get 1,000 page views, or 100 likes, or 10 shares, or even a 10% click through rate. But if even ONE person changes the way they think about another person, starts reading scripture, looks into the eyes of Jesus just a bit deeper—even if we NEVER know about it—we have done a very, very good thing and it matters enormously to our Creator and to his Son and to the people around that person and to the next steps that person will take.
And it matters hugely to us—to each and every one of us. Because we are reading what each of us writes as well. And our stories matter to each other. 
Because we are NewSpring. And we can’t do life alone.
So I want to say this to all of you out there who write, and who post, and who think no one is reading what you post because you only have 25 followers. Keep writing. You have no idea the impact that you may be having on just ONE life—and that life may not even be one of your followers. And you may not know about the impact for two years down the road. You may NEVER know.
If you are called by God to write, the for his sake, and yours, you better write. Every now and then he will give you beautiful affirmation that it is what he has designed you to do. I missed that affirmation the first time. He gave me the ONE and I missed it. I allowed Satan to whisper “That’s pride. Don’t smile. Don’t let her know. Don’t allow her to give God’s hug to you. Don’t allow her to be your affirmation from him.” I missed it.
So, he sent me MORE THAN I COULD ASK OR IMAGINE.”
I didn’t miss it that next time.
Don’t you miss it either. Keep writing. We can’t do life alone. We need you out there.

THE ROSES OF POWERSCOURT

If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, he does not ask you to put it right; he asks you to accept the light, and he will put it right.

Oswald Chambers

Evil cannot continue when light is shined on it. Confession turns on the light.

1,000 likes! Late sharing this…way over that now. Just sharing the love.

1,000 likes! Late sharing this…way over that now. Just sharing the love.

(Source: assets)

godmoves:

godmoves:

Dry Bones Dance Ministry || “Just Another Man”

This piece is illustrating the story of a girl being caught in human trafficking and how we need to do something about the sex trade industry. We need to be moved into action - reaching out, and bringing a deeper awareness to human trafficking.

In case anyone who wanted to see it missed it when I posted it last night! :)

Beautiful. I wish I could understand the words a bit better. But the dance truly says it all. So, so lovely, so sad, so…..ahhhhh

"NOAH" AND LITERARY LICENSE
Soooo—my husband and I saw the movie “Noah” last night and we spent a couple of hours during our dinner discussing it. Then we spent another couple of hours when we got home reading the Biblical version again–sort of fact checking, if you will. It was pretty interesting. We are well versed in scripture and didn’t find anything we didn’t expect to find—well, that’s not true, actually. We found a couple of things: Methuselah really WAS still alive when Noah was around (I was kind of thinking he was gone by then) and even though the Bible always lists Noah’s son’s as Shem, Ham and Jepheth—that is not the listing by AGE. So the movie got it wrong, as had we. Ham was the youngest; Japheth was the oldest.
There was a great deal of literary license taken with the movie. There is no doubt about that at all. One of the most obvious things regarded the wife issue. The Bible is clear the Noah’s sons all had wives when they went into the ark. There is mention of this at least twice and there is no mention of babies when they came out. Eight people in, all mentioned by name or station—eight people out. And Jubal Cain was not one of them, by the way!
But we had read the story again BEFORE we went to see the movie—and we STILL missed those things that we thought we were clear about—again. I have read the Bible through at least four times and twice recently.
I think there is a true lesson here. We only think we know certain things. We need to be sure before we tell the stories and share knowledge—especially with non-believers and new believers. What we say matters. We need to be sure what we are saying is accurate. Fact check!
We have to read the Bible more than once, even as Christians. It is not just a ‘one and done’ kind of thing. Let that be a lesson for all of us!
There was something for everybody in this movie, however. Beautiful scenery, some nice special effects (if you don’t like snakes, be forewarned, ala Indiana Jones…), an incredible homage to God’s instructions regarding the building of the ark About one third of it was real, not CG), some interesting ‘fantasy’ ala transformer-like creatures for the “he couldn’t have done all that building by himself” folks, some creative explanations for the skeptics on how the animals got along with the people on the voyage and the answer for where did they put the sea creatures disbelievers. And there is enough to annoy those who are strict “if it wasn’t in the scripture it shouldn’t be in the movie” critics and a good bit of Biblical detail as well, such as the animals coming to the ark (no, Noah didn’t go hunting for them) and the water coming from the ground and the sky when the floods started.
But my favorite parts were about the man himself—where we get to see the internal workings of Noah. Where we see inside a human who is struggling to see what God’s will truly is. Isn’t that where most of us who call ourselves Christ followers spend most of our most honest moments? Isn’t our deepest desire to know the will of our Creator?
For Noah, however, the realization that he was not just trying to find God’s will for himself but for God’s entire creation was almost more than he could bear—ultimately—it was. He was determined to DO this thing—no matter the cost—until he realized he couldn’t. And then he thought he had failed utterly.
Isn’t this where we find ourselves quite often? Don’t we sense, don’t we KNOW that at any given moment in our lives we have utterly failed our Creator? That no matter the effort, no matter the will, no matter the trials overcome and the sacrifices made—all OUR efforts have been fruitless and we have simply, completely, utterly—failed.
"This I cannot do" were Noah’s words to his Creator. See the movie. It was a great story.
I liked this movie much better after I thought about it than when I was looking at it and wondering why they put in it so many things that weren’t in the Biblical story. I liked it because I liked Noah. I liked it because I saw in Noah my struggle, our struggle. I am quite sure that this was not necessarily what was intended. But, it was what I came home and discovered as I thought about the movie and reread God’s word, what God gave me perhaps.
It is my prayer that folks will dig into scripture after they see the movie and find some interesting things aside from Noah’s story and keep reading. The Bible is a great read. 
But this movie really wasn’t the story of Noah. It was and always has been God’s story. And it continues through us. “This I cannot do.” But God can.
(PS So, OK. The bird in the picture isn’t a dove. I didn’t have a picture of a dove. Pictoral license, OK?)

"NOAH" AND LITERARY LICENSE

Soooo—my husband and I saw the movie “Noah” last night and we spent a couple of hours during our dinner discussing it. Then we spent another couple of hours when we got home reading the Biblical version again–sort of fact checking, if you will. It was pretty interesting. We are well versed in scripture and didn’t find anything we didn’t expect to find—well, that’s not true, actually. We found a couple of things: Methuselah really WAS still alive when Noah was around (I was kind of thinking he was gone by then) and even though the Bible always lists Noah’s son’s as Shem, Ham and Jepheth—that is not the listing by AGE. So the movie got it wrong, as had we. Ham was the youngest; Japheth was the oldest.

There was a great deal of literary license taken with the movie. There is no doubt about that at all. One of the most obvious things regarded the wife issue. The Bible is clear the Noah’s sons all had wives when they went into the ark. There is mention of this at least twice and there is no mention of babies when they came out. Eight people in, all mentioned by name or station—eight people out. And Jubal Cain was not one of them, by the way!

But we had read the story again BEFORE we went to see the movie—and we STILL missed those things that we thought we were clear about—again. I have read the Bible through at least four times and twice recently.

I think there is a true lesson here. We only think we know certain things. We need to be sure before we tell the stories and share knowledge—especially with non-believers and new believers. What we say matters. We need to be sure what we are saying is accurate. Fact check!

We have to read the Bible more than once, even as Christians. It is not just a ‘one and done’ kind of thing. Let that be a lesson for all of us!

There was something for everybody in this movie, however. Beautiful scenery, some nice special effects (if you don’t like snakes, be forewarned, ala Indiana Jones…), an incredible homage to God’s instructions regarding the building of the ark About one third of it was real, not CG), some interesting ‘fantasy’ ala transformer-like creatures for the “he couldn’t have done all that building by himself” folks, some creative explanations for the skeptics on how the animals got along with the people on the voyage and the answer for where did they put the sea creatures disbelievers. And there is enough to annoy those who are strict “if it wasn’t in the scripture it shouldn’t be in the movie” critics and a good bit of Biblical detail as well, such as the animals coming to the ark (no, Noah didn’t go hunting for them) and the water coming from the ground and the sky when the floods started.

But my favorite parts were about the man himself—where we get to see the internal workings of Noah. Where we see inside a human who is struggling to see what God’s will truly is. Isn’t that where most of us who call ourselves Christ followers spend most of our most honest moments? Isn’t our deepest desire to know the will of our Creator?

For Noah, however, the realization that he was not just trying to find God’s will for himself but for God’s entire creation was almost more than he could bear—ultimately—it was. He was determined to DO this thing—no matter the cost—until he realized he couldn’t. And then he thought he had failed utterly.

Isn’t this where we find ourselves quite often? Don’t we sense, don’t we KNOW that at any given moment in our lives we have utterly failed our Creator? That no matter the effort, no matter the will, no matter the trials overcome and the sacrifices made—all OUR efforts have been fruitless and we have simply, completely, utterly—failed.

"This I cannot do" were Noah’s words to his Creator. See the movie. It was a great story.

I liked this movie much better after I thought about it than when I was looking at it and wondering why they put in it so many things that weren’t in the Biblical story. I liked it because I liked Noah. I liked it because I saw in Noah my struggle, our struggle. I am quite sure that this was not necessarily what was intended. But, it was what I came home and discovered as I thought about the movie and reread God’s word, what God gave me perhaps.

It is my prayer that folks will dig into scripture after they see the movie and find some interesting things aside from Noah’s story and keep reading. The Bible is a great read. 

But this movie really wasn’t the story of Noah. It was and always has been God’s story. And it continues through us. “This I cannot do.” But God can.

(PS So, OK. The bird in the picture isn’t a dove. I didn’t have a picture of a dove. Pictoral license, OK?)

REMEMBERING WHEN CONTINUED

These are the last of my memories for the present. I’m sure that I will have more as time goes on. We always do, you know.

my first (and last) 45rpm record (I wasn’t allowed to buy rock and roll records. I bought it, but never got to play it. It was Fabian’s ‘Hound Dog Man’ if you are curious.)

school safety patrols. I was chosen to be one at the end of my fifth grade year. Then we moved. I was never chosen again. I was so very disappointed by that; but I never told anyone.

being the tomboy that I could be sometimes, I did enjoy dressing up on Sunday’s, that anticipation of Spring when one new outfit would be evaluated and approved and Fall, when I could count on new socks and a sweater to match, and sometimes, even a new skirt and blouse (which would NEVER stay tucked in like the other girl’s. How did they DO that?!)

watching the local McDonald’s # of hamburgers sold sign change—by hand!

"going to the movies" This was a major event that took planning worthy of an investment guru and much discussion with parents (thank goodness!) including who, what, when, where—but was well worth that investment to see how the ‘other half lived’—the clothes, locales, laughter, music, the dreams, etc. AND NO SEX…drat! (and thank goodness!)…I never knew what happened after that first kiss! (Thankfully, I figured that out later with my husband of 46 years!!)—but you could go for about $0.50-$1.00 if you wanted popcorn, a drink AND candy…

learning to drive in a Studebaker Lark

trying to build a ‘go cart’ with no instructions and no help (remember the lost skate keys? left-over wheels!)

having backyard circuses on the swing set—and a vending machine made out of our leftover refrigerator box (It was really hot in that box when I was said ‘vendor’)

climbing our own backyard fence to get to the ice cream store, and getting good at getting back over it without dropping my cone.

cigarette ads on TV.

a golden time when, as a 1st-6th grader I could walk about 1/2 mile to school without worry (And it was flat—both ways—even when it snowed!)

but there was worry. My Mother taught me a new word—loitering. It seemed I had a tendency to dawdle on the way home.

we could play in the street without getting run over.

we had time to learn instead of being disciplined all day. I do not remember anyone ever getting in trouble in school until I was in 8th grade. A girl punched the Asst. Principal. We thought she was nuts! Turned out it was accidental; there was a fight, which had also never occurred. (Never try to intervene in a fight between two girls!) 

One guy threatened to beat me up after school that year, too. I was so shocked I told him I would pray for him. I told my parents and obvious things ensued. He came to our house the next evening to apologize! And he actually meant it.

I remember all of those things, and our children know some of them also, because we wanted them to. But many are gone forever. Some because we have allowed them to be, some simply because the times have changed. And some have gone by the wayside because of technology that we have allowed into our homes and become dependent upon. Much of it has enhanced our lives as it was originally intended—some has assuredly not. Some have done both—such as TV. It has opened the door to knowledge, but it has also stolen our innocence and warped our sense of what is real.

I stopped listening to the news the week before Easter 2009. I said that I was fasting. My husband and I gave up TV altogether in May of that year. We have spent more time together, our lives have been richer, more simple, more stress free, more full, and more like “The Good Old Days” ever since. (We both miss certain things: he misses football and basket ball; I really miss HGTV and British mysteries)

I’m just saying that sometimes, you can go back—and should—at least in your memories. Sometimes, maybe most times, that is the best way of all to appreciate what we had, what we have and maybe to prevent loosing what we treasure. The only way to know is to figure out now what you don’t want to loose—and hold on to it—so it won’t just become a part of your Remembering When.

(Let me know if you have memories to share!)

neurosciencestuff:

First stem cell study of bipolar disorder yields promising results

Stem cell model shows nerve cells develop, behave and respond to lithium differently – opening doors to potential new treatments

What makes a person bipolar, prone to manic highs and deep, depressed lows? Why does bipolar disorder run so strongly in families, even though no single gene is to blame? And why is it so hard to find new treatments for a condition that affects 200 million people worldwide?

New stem cell research published by scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School, and fueled by the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund, may help scientists find answers to these questions.

The team used skin from people with bipolar disorder to derive the first-ever stem cell lines specific to the condition. In a new paper in Translational Psychiatry, they report how they transformed the stem cells into neurons, similar to those found in the brain – and compared them to cells derived from people without bipolar disorder.

The comparison revealed very specific differences in how these neurons behave and communicate with each other, and identified striking differences in how the neurons respond to lithium, the most common treatment for bipolar disorder.

It’s the first time scientists have directly measured differences in brain cell formation and function between people with bipolar disorder and those without.

The researchers are from the Medical School’s Department of Cell & Developmental Biology and Department of Psychiatry, and U-M’s Depression Center.

Stem cells as a window on bipolar disorder

The team used a type of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs. By taking small samples of skin cells and exposing them to carefully controlled conditions, the team coaxed them to turn into stem cells that held the potential to become any type of cell. With further coaxing, the cells became neurons.

“This gives us a model that we can use to examine how cells behave as they develop into neurons. Already, we see that cells from people with bipolar disorder are different in how often they express certain genes, how they differentiate into neurons, how they communicate, and how they respond to lithium,” says Sue O’Shea, Ph.D., the experienced U-M stem cell specialist who co-led the work.

“We’re very excited about these findings. But we’re only just beginning to understand what we can do with these cells to help answer the many unanswered questions in bipolar disorder’s origins and treatment,” says Melvin McInnis, M.D., principal investigator of the Prechter Bipolar Research Fund and its programs.

“For instance, we can now envision being able to test new drug candidates in these cells, to screen possible medications proactively instead of having to discover them fortuitously.”

The research was supported by donations from the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund, the Steven M. Schwartzberg Memorial Fund, and the Joshua Judson Stern Foundation. The A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the U-M Medical School also supported the work, which was reviewed and approved by the U-M Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research Oversight committee and Institutional Review Board.

O’Shea, a professor in the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology and director of the U-M Pluripotent Stem Cell Research Lab, and McInnis, the Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression in the Department of Psychiatry, are co-senior authors of the new paper.

McInnis, who sees firsthand the impact that bipolar disorder has on patients and the frustration they and their families feel about the lack of treatment options, says the new research could take treatment of bipolar disorder into the era of personalized medicine.

Not only could stem cell research help find new treatments, it may also lead to a way to target treatment to each patient based on their specific profile – and avoid the trial-and-error approach to treatment that leaves many patients with uncontrolled symptoms.

More about the findings:

The skin samples were used to derive the 42 iPSC lines. When the team measured gene expression first in the stem cells, and then re-evaluated the cells once they had become neurons, very specific differences emerged between the cells derived from bipolar disorder patients and those without the condition.

Specifically, the bipolar neurons expressed more genes for membrane receptors and ion channels than non-bipolar cells, particularly those receptors and channels involved in the sending and receiving of calcium signals between cells.

Calcium signals are already known to be crucial to neuron development and function. So, the new findings support the idea that genetic differences expressed early during brain development may have a lot to do with the development of bipolar disorder symptoms – and other mental health conditions that arise later in life, especially in the teen and young adult years.

Meanwhile, the cells’ signaling patterns changed in different ways when the researchers introduced lithium, which many bipolar patients take to regulate their moods, but which causes side effects. In general, lithium alters the way calcium signals are sent and received – and the new cell lines will make it possible to study this effect specifically in bipolar disorder-specific cells.

Like misdirected letters and packages at the post office, the neurons made from bipolar disorder patients also differed in how they were ‘addressed’ during development for delivery to certain areas of the brain. This may have an impact on brain development, too.

The researchers also found differences in microRNA expression in bipolar cells – tiny fragments of RNA that play key roles in the “reading” of genes. This supports the emerging concept that bipolar disorder arises from a combination of genetic vulnerabilities. 

The researchers are already developing stem cell lines from other trial participants with bipolar disorder, though it takes months to derive each line and obtain mature neurons that can be studied. They will share their cell lines with other researchers via the Prechter Repository at U-M. They also hope to develop a way to use the cells to screen drugs rapidly, called an assay.

To not be able to read is the saddest thing of all. To me, brain injured, it is the worst disability ever. When I thought I might never be able to read again, I was bereft. When once again I could, I felt I had been given the greatest gift—again.
To be able to read is to be able to learn, travel, dream, enter worlds unknown, meet and engage with people we will never see or actually know, for a moment in time, become a part of something new and possibly quite different. But most of all, it is the ability to grasp what we have not known previously and make it a part of what we now know. It becomes ours.
To be able to read is a treasure. If you can, do it every day and try to do it not just for escape, which is of course a giddy delight, but for the expansion of your knowledge. Learn something new. It will keep you young and your brain growing. Don’t let your learning stagnate by just watching what others are doing on a mechanical device in front of you or held in your hand. Force your brain to work by looking at the written word. READ!
If you cannot read, then you won’t see this. But someone who knows you cannot, just might. They will encourage you to learn to read. There are those who love it so, they will teach you with passion. Because they know how and want so desperately for you to have this joy! Let them share, let them use their gift. Let them TEACH YOU TO READ!
I thought I had lost this gift. It terrified me. To think that I might have to sit in my home full of books, most of which I had already read—to never buy another book—to pass by a library and not go in—NO! This was unthinkable!
I was given the grace of seeing words and knowing what they meant. What a simply glorious gift. I CAN READ!

To not be able to read is the saddest thing of all. To me, brain injured, it is the worst disability ever. When I thought I might never be able to read again, I was bereft. When once again I could, I felt I had been given the greatest gift—again.

To be able to read is to be able to learn, travel, dream, enter worlds unknown, meet and engage with people we will never see or actually know, for a moment in time, become a part of something new and possibly quite different. But most of all, it is the ability to grasp what we have not known previously and make it a part of what we now know. It becomes ours.

To be able to read is a treasure. If you can, do it every day and try to do it not just for escape, which is of course a giddy delight, but for the expansion of your knowledge. Learn something new. It will keep you young and your brain growing. Don’t let your learning stagnate by just watching what others are doing on a mechanical device in front of you or held in your hand. Force your brain to work by looking at the written word. READ!

If you cannot read, then you won’t see this. But someone who knows you cannot, just might. They will encourage you to learn to read. There are those who love it so, they will teach you with passion. Because they know how and want so desperately for you to have this joy! Let them share, let them use their gift. Let them TEACH YOU TO READ!

I thought I had lost this gift. It terrified me. To think that I might have to sit in my home full of books, most of which I had already read—to never buy another book—to pass by a library and not go in—NO! This was unthinkable!

I was given the grace of seeing words and knowing what they meant. What a simply glorious gift. I CAN READ!

REMEMBERING WHEN PART TWO

A bit ago, I posted some childhood remembrances in no particular order for decade that were posted a couple of years ago. Here are some more that i thought might bring up a few of your own.

If you think of things that you would like to send me, I would love to post them for others to see. This could be the start of something…

my first transistor radio…it was truly magic!

S & H Green Stamps and pouring over the catalog to see if we had enough to get anything exciting—I remember when our pencil sharpener came in the mail—but the set of dishes was the best ever. My mother still has them (she’s will be 93 next month—those are some great dishes!

Hostess Cupcakes—I had to eat the white squiggle on top first, then try to suck the middle out next, then the chocolate icing on top, then the cake! By then, I was a royal mess! But it surely did make the thing last a long time.

we could go to drive ins and actually watch movies and have fun (mainly because Daddy was driving and my Mother was in the front seat).

coming up with decorations: Halloween costumes, first for myself, then for siblings, and my parents let me do it! Waxing leaves in the fall, Glasswax all over every window for Christmas, until I was a bit more creative. Dyed eggs and fingers and clothes and counters, etc.! Learning to cut out snowflakes and hearts and shamrocks, doilies that left tiny white dots all over the place, drawing every kind of themed everything and hanging it everywhere, not just on the fridge and don’t get me started on the glitter…

Good HumorBars and waiting for the ice cream truck to come, hoping against hope that this time, I would still have a dime, and that I could get out there in time, because I could hear the truck coming from blocks away, but I could never run fast! My favorite was peanut butter chocolate.

my first (and last) 45rpm record. I wasn’t allowed to buy rock and roll records. (I bought it, but never got to play it. “Hound Dog Man” by Fabian, just in case you were wondering).

filling my mother’s fountain pen out of the Script’s glass jar of ink. With the lid tightly closed, I had to tip the ink jar to fill the tiny well on the inside at the top, then carefully open the jar being sure to not let ink drip down the side. Then I took the top off the pen, held the beautiful gold tip over the jar (in case there was still a bit of ink left in the pen), slide my fingernail under the little gold lever on the side of the pen and pull it up (this squished the rubber reservoir inside the barrel of the pen and created a vacuum). Then I would carefully dip the tip of the pen nib into the well just far enough that the tiny hole was covered, release the lever slowly so the ink would be sucked up into the reservoir—and voila! My mother could now write her famous letters to all her friends. And she let me do this for her—and I never spilled the ink—not once. Such grace was hard to come by in my home. I was not about to loose it.

the smell of school glue and crayons and construction paper, especially on that first day of school, and the joy of beginning each new school year with those precious supplies carefully bought and placed in a new book bag that had been waiting for days. I wanted it to look as much as possible like my Daddy’s briefcase.

metal lunch boxes…I can’t remember what mine was! My sister’s was plaid, my brother’s was Roy Rogers. I suspect I had The Lone Ranger. But no one can remember. Very odd.

opening my lunch box everyday to find the wonders packed therein by my Mother, who would pack each thing in my sandwich separately so it wouldn’t get soggy.

cars without seatbelts and not knowing we needed them because they didn’t exist. No one was driving like a maniac most of the time and everyone was pretty much courteous to other drivers. Sleeping on the ledge behind the back seat on long trips.

remembering gas prices of about $0.29. A man in a uniform came to the window with a smile and a hat that looked like a policeman’s and asked how much gas we wanted while another man in a uniform and hat checked everything under the hood (a fascinating place), and sometimes, at really big stations, another man in a uniform and hat would check the air in our tires at the same time. It was a miracle to behold.

my Daddy never seeming to notice all the interesting places that we COULD have stopped when we traveled from the DC area down to SC to “see the relatives.” (These were the only trips I EVER took until my first vacation with my husband 8 years ago!)

the Weekly Reader Book Club that my Mother subscribed to. What an incredible gift to receive MY OWN BOOKS, which she would read to me/us until we could do so on our own. I still have every one of them. (“Follow My Leader” and “No Children, No Pets” were my favorites)

my first library card to the public library.

walking barefoot in the grass for the first time each summer.

our first house and the summer my Daddy painted it pink with maroon shutters. We met a lot of people that summer.

to be continued…

The Incredible Importance of FANS

bibliofilesfile, a really fun Tumblr site, just finished a really fun writing prompt wherein fourteen of us fellow Tumblarians wrote a short story that included Five Lines of dialogue but could include no others and was restricted to 2500 words or less.

Mine was selected as the Favorite. I’ve not quite gotten over that.

I write devotions for our church blog and of course I write some other things on this one. But I had never attempted fiction previous to this exercise. I’m still reeling from the response and the fact that anyone—ANYONE—actually read it.

Computers still amaze me. The way we connect with each other still amazes me. The fact that we can be instantly in touch with someone we don’t know who lives on the other side of the world still amazes me. It takes very little to amaze me. 

But then, I grew up before computers, before TV, before cell phones, before email. I still remember when stamps were 2 cents each and it took sometimes three to four days for a letter, hand written, to reach its destination.

But I grew up reading. I have loved to read since I can remember. I never remember NOT reading. I grew up with Dick and Jane and Spot and was always so glad I could see him run.

And I grew up being read to and treasuring those quiet moments at night, just before bedtime, when my mother would take up a book and turn page after page and make the world of make believe come alive for me and then my brother and then my sister.

There are children in the world who have no mothers or fathers to read to them. They grow up without worlds of fantasy and make believe. But more tragic than that, more empty than that, they grow up without the desire and the wonder and the beauty of words—of the love and the glory of being able to read—and by extension, being able to write.

Personally, I cannot imagine such a fate. It would truly be worse a fate worse than death.

PS Thank you so much all you people who read and write and love books. You are saving the world by keeping fantasy and reality linked and all of us sane in the process.

Never was I so blessed as to stand in this holy place with our tour group in a side area off the main chancel and in the quiet sing “Amazing Grace.” Most of us wanted to sing “Come Thou Fount,” but not everyone knew the words. Amazing it was to lift the hymn that says why we are all still here, however. It is all, all about Grace.

Happy St Patrick’s Day. Even if you aren’t Irish! Erin go Bragh!

(I do sooooo want to return!)