Wednesday, February 27, 2013

March to the Hodgepodge

When I was student teaching, oh so many years ago, my supervising teacher had a 'March to Spring' tradition in her classroom. On each day for the month of March, they would put up either a lion or a lamb across the top of the chalkboard, depending on the weather of the day. By the end of the month, there was a visual to confirm that March comes 'in like a lion, out like a lamb.' I was reminded of that activity as we prepare to say hello to March at the end of this week. (The week has definitely started out lion-like around here.) And while we're at it, hello Wednesday, hello Hodgepodge! As always, I am grateful to Joyce, who provides us with thought provoking questions each week. It is up to us to come up with fascinating answers. You be the judge. In any case, be sure to click on the button to visit Joyce and the others. Their answers will undoubtedly be more fascinating than mine. : )

1.  When were you last facing an ocean? Using just ONE word, describe how you felt as you faced that ocean.
I last faced the ocean in November, in Jacmel, Haiti.
It was Bervencia's first time to the beach, though she lives just a few miles away.
She was delighted.
And my word: thankful.

2. What are three sounds you hate to hear?
My alarm clock, a dentist's drill, a siren (any siren, but especially one that is accompanied by lights in my rear view mirror).

3. This question comes to you courtesy of some real life friends. Hi real life friends! When you shop for yourself, do you try everything on in the store before buying or do you buy, try on at home, and then return what you don't like or what doesn't fit?
I actually prefer skipping the trip to the store altogether, ordering online, trying on at home, and returning what I don't like via my friend UPS. So. Much. Easier.

4. February 26th is National Pistachio Day...are you a fan of the little green nut? Do you use them in cooking and baking or prefer to eat them right out of the shell?
I don't believe I have ever had a pistachio right out of the shell. My only experience with pistachios is this salad recipe that we often made for pitch-ins when I was younger. (Do you call them 'pitch-ins' or 'potlucks'? Or something else?)

5. When did you last have to compromise with someone?  Were you happy to reach the compromise or slightly irritated it was necessary?
I think compromise is a part of life. Most of us probably compromise in one way or another, every day. While there are times when compromise is hard, I think we can all learn by respecting the opinions of others when they differ from our own. I try to call it 'growth' rather than 'irritation.' : )

6.  Have you ever written a letter to an elected official? Did you get a response?
No, unless you count a contest of some sort that I did as an assignment when I was in elementary school. It was a letter to Indiana's Governor Edgar Whitcomb for which I won a copy of his book, Escape From Corregidor.

7. We 'March' into a new month at the end of this week...what's something on your March calendar guaranteed to make you smile?
This beach.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Our daughter recently posted this photo on Facebook, along with the caption, "Look where we get to park! 09.01.13 : )" It was subsequently 'liked' by 132 friends, congratulating them on their good news.
Yesterday, we did a little shopping in preparation for their first baby, our fourth grandchild. 
God is good.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Victory in Jesus!

We had a busy and blessed weekend celebrating the life of my mother-in-law, Alberta. She would have loved the whole big, loud, messy group of us, sharing laughter and tears, as we remembered the lessons she taught us. Lessons that we will continue to carry with us as we strive to live by her example.

We hosted the family gatherings at our house, and received this beautiful arrangement from the Purdue President's Council and Mitch Daniels.  My father-in-law was pleased to be remembered by the university he served for many years as a Trustee with flowers in honor of Alberta.

I think we had around 25 here for a spaghetti dinner on Friday night. I do seem to find it a bit difficult to take my usual number of photographs while hosting a large group for dinner, so the photos are few, but the memories are precious.

I did manage this one of Connor eating his Dilly Bar. Or holding it. Or maybe wearing it. :)

Saturday morning, we had brunch for around 30. The guys were busy consulting their electronic devices.

And Carol was anxious to see if Barry and Kevin would make it in for the graveside service.

Saturday was a beautiful, crisp day as we gathered at the graveside for the burial of ashes. A group of extended family sang, and prayed, and shared scripture together. Brian P. sang In the Garden to begin, and we closed with Amazing Grace. And as the pastor read words of comfort and promise from scripture, the wind blew on cue like an assurance of God's presence:
"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children--" Psalm 10:11-17
Later, we gathered back at our house for a delicious meal provided by the ladies of the church, a ministry that Alberta helped establish and worked with for many years. We probably had 50 or so sharing food and fellowship in honor of a special woman who touched our lives.

Lucy and the little girls shared a moment on the steps.

There was jumping, and wrestling,

and gaming, and giggling.

And the big kids enjoyed some cousin time playing a rowdy and competitive late-night game of Taboo.

The Sunday afternoon Celebration of Life, was a beautiful service of worship, just as Alberta would have wanted. There was a slide show of memories as we gathered, beautiful music by choir, organist, and soloist, and the singing of hymns. Pastors gave meaningful, scriptural thoughts about Alberta and the promises of the Bible. Family members, including a great-granddaughter, two grandsons, a daughter-in-law, and a son, shared heartfelt and personal memories. I was especially proud of our son, David, who spoke from Ephesians, chapter 2, relating it to his grandma's life and challenging each of us to follow the example she set for us. (I'm his mom, and this is my blog, so I'm allowed to be extra proud of him.) They all did a wonderful job, and I know Grandma was proud.

Following the service, we gathered for a reception to greet those in attendance, share stories, and just be together as family and friends touched by the life of Alberta Stewart. I think it was just the kind of day that she wanted, as we celebrated all that God has done for us, and the promise of eternal life. As David said in his talk, "The last words of Grandma's obituary, which she wrote herself several years ago, are, 'there is absolutely Victory in Jesus'."

David, Jonathan, Jennifer, Adam, and Andrew celebrating that Victory.
David closed his talk with the following paragraph:
"I'd like to challenge everyone here to do two things in memory of Grandma. First, if you haven't already, consider asking Christ into your heart and accepting the free gift of grace God has given to each of us. And second go out and be God's workmanship. Strive to live like Grandma lived. Give, Share. Help. Pray. Love. Be an example of Jesus just as Grandma was, and show the world God's love! Amen!"

Monday, February 18, 2013

Friends Don't Let Friends Fight Cancer Alone

We celebrated Strong Women on Saturday, particularly ONE Strong Woman, my friend Ruthann. As I have posted before, she will be starting chemotherapy TODAY (prayers everyone!).

Back near the end of December, shortly after she had been diagnosed, she wrote this on her Caring Bridge site:
"Now I need to schedule a party. We need a slogan, and we should choose colors, design a tee shirt, maybe pick an official flower...what do you think, Girlfriends? I did look it up last night in the wee hours, and the official ribbon color for leiomyosarcoma is purple. I'm thinking we might just tweak that just a little bit to more of a bright pink. I told Daryl I might get a purple ribbon tattoo! (Too much? I think so!)"
Of course, that's all it took to set the wheels in motion for an afternoon of love and laughter to show support for our dear friend.

We came up with a logo:

Two, in fact (thanks Erica!).
We decorated tables,
added flowers (thanks June Ann!),
made cupcakes (thanks Darci!),

and other yummy sweets,
printed t-shirts,
and made punch. School Girl Punch or Party Girl Punch, your choice. :)

Part of the set-up team.
We also printed scarves, which we used as chair ties for party favors.
Ruthann greeted friends,
fellow teachers,
and a whole lot of special women (and a few men) who came to show support.
There was, indeed, lots of laughter.

And a great big room full of love.

The party provided Ruthann's many friends the opportunity to share their love, their faith, and their words of encouragement on a day planned especially for that purpose. Folks who might not have wanted to 'bother' her with a phone call or visit were thankful for the chance to greet her in person before her treatments begin. Our prayer is that this strong outpouring of love for her will give her strength for the fight. And we know it will be one. Cancer is a formidable opponent. But we have a Great Big God, and we are putting our Trust in Him.
The teachers at the Junior High put together a video for Ruthann. Here are Matt and Lisa introducing it.
And I had to include all of these showing Ruthann's reaction as she watched.

Followed by a hug from Matt.

They did an awesome job on the video, so be sure to take a minute (or five) to watch!

Emily and Abby checking out the welcome table. We had little cards for folks to write words of encouragement to Ruthann. We will put them on a ring, and she can take them with her to read during treatments or anytime she needs a little love. :)
The bracelets say PRAY and F.L.A.G. Yes we will!
Sweet Abby signing her name to the 'guestbook' frame.
Anderson was anxious to try his cupcake.

I think he likes it!
He also liked 'sneaking up' on Aunt Ruthann.

Abby and Emily are pretty fond of Aunt Ruthann too.
As is her F.L.A.G. team.

And all the strong women who stopped by, signed their names,

gave hugs, and shared love with a very special lady.

We love you, Ruthann!