Saturday, October 30, 2010

Our Personal "GPS"

"Is Olympia closer to us or to Portland?" Tommy asked at dinner the other night.  Without a thought I relplied, "It's closer to us.  Well, I think so anyway.  Umm, at least a little closer, I'm sure.  What do you think, Tom?"  "Yes, we're closer," he replied with confidence.

"It's one mile closer to us than it is to Portland," Samuel said.  We turned to stare at him.  

"And how do you figure that?" we asked.

"Well, the first exit to Olympia is 109, the next one is 107.  We are at Exit 212.  So Exit 107 is one mile before the halfway point from our exit to the Washington/Oregon border."  (It's been years since he's been to Olympia.  How did he remember the exit number??)

That settled it.  Now we know, once you get to Olympia, you have that distance again plus one more mile till you get to Portland.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Clean Out that Medicine Chest

Ever wonder what to do with old medications?  I'll bet you have some in a cabinet right now that you've looked at and thought, "One of these days I'm going to have to dispose of them.  But I'm not sure how or when."

Well, I've certainly had those thoughts.  So a few weeks ago I went to the police station and dropped off a bag full of half-used medicines and supplements that have been sitting around the house for a long time. I hadn't known what to do with them.  If I flushed them down the toilet I figured it wouldn't be too good for the fish (and for the people who eat the fish!); if I put them in the garbage they'd end up in a landfill and that didn't seem good either.  I had heard that pharmacies will take them, but I just never got around to checking that out.

When I learned that the Stanwood Police Station was a part of a pilot program, offering a drop-off spot for old meds, and that there were several other locations around the county that were also accepting them on a certain Saturday, I collected mine from cupboards in the bathrooms and kitchen and trotted them into town.

Police Chief Trenary was there to process my donation.  A green locked box, a little smaller than a corner mailbox, had already been filled and he was filling an additional box with the overflow.  Saturday's business was brisk; since the program began in December of 2009, they usually fill the drug box once a month.  Pretty good for a new program in a small town.

Before you empty your old medicines down the drain or into the garbage, why don't you see if there might be a similar program in your area?  If there is no such program, you might check out this website and get some pointers.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Through the Bible in a Lifetime

We saw Tom's sister Marilee recently and she shared a couple of interesting stories with us.

When she was three years old, she and her mom (Lynda) went to visit Grampa Mills, Lynda's father who pastored a church in Ottawa.  Grampa asked Lynda to preach!  She felt totally inadequate for the experience, but as a result of her message, five children gave their hearts to Jesus!  Meanwhile, little Marilee sat in the pew by herself.  At one point her mom looked down to see that Marilee had taken the New Testament out of her purse and was biting on its spine.  From the pulpit, she could do nothing about it!  A few months ago, after Mom passed away, Marilee found that same New Testament, tooth marks and all, still in Mom's purse, and now she carries it in her own.

When Marilee herself was a young mother, her innovative pastor stood one Sunday among stacks of Bibles designed to guide readers through the entire Bible in a year.  He told the congregation that he would give a Bible to anyone who would commit to read it through in a year.  She took him up on the challenge and received a Bible.  At first she read to fulfill her obligation, then to not disappoint the pastor.  Eventually she read for the joy and power of the Word.  That was over 30 years ago, and she continues to read through the Bible each year.

You might say she is still sinking her teeth into God's Word.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

I was traveling in Asia.  I'd spent time with a group in the Philippines and Hong Kong, and now I was on my own, returning to Japan to visit friends from my earlier years there.

My friend Fumiko met me at the station and took me to her home.  It was a condo she had purchased since I had last seen her.  With typical Japanese hospitality, she made me feel welcome in her home and cared for my needs.  She could see that I was having trouble staying awake -- getting myself from place to place was wearing me out.  So she opened the sliding paper door to the tatami room in the middle of her condo, pulled the futon (Japanese mattress and quilts) out of the cupboard, and made it up. I dropped into bed, the thick mattress on the cushioned tatami mat floor enveloping me, and snuggled under the beautiful, elegant covers. I fell into a deep sleep in that quiet room, and had no consciousness of time.  I can't remember a sweeter, deeper sleep at any other time of my life.  It was glorious.

When I think about Heaven, I remember that blessed sleep I had at Fumiko's.  The Bible says there is no night in Heaven.  Does that mean that there will be no need to sleep?  Oh, I hope not.  In the mansion the Lord is preparing for me, perhaps He will include a tatami room and a fresh futon where I can sleep from time to time, whether I need it or not.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Soup Time!

How about a nice pot of corn chowder for dinner tonight?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bear Hug

At the farm a few weeks ago, as we were poking around, Tom found a favorite salt-and-pepper-shaker set he remembered from his childhood. We brought it home, cleaned it up and set it on our dining room table.  Aren't they cute!

The set came from Lake Louise.  In 1951, his parents left their three young children with the grandparents and enjoyed a few days vacation to Lake Louise.  As far as we know, it was the only big trip they took without the kids.  When they returned home, they set the salt-and-pepper shakers on their dining room table.

Here's the happy young couple.  Aren't they cute!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

As I See It

There are three worlds -- 
the world we live in, Disney World, and Heaven.
Tommy, age 3

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Reading, Samuel!

In honor of Samuel's 19th birthday today, I want to share with you some of our favorite books that we read as a family while the boys were growing up.  We loved to read aloud after dinner and believe it did a lot for both boys' vocabulary, exposure to ideas, and love of story, as well as providing a great family time together.  Tom and I both remember our dads reading to us and our siblings, and we wanted to do the same with our own kids.  Until they were in their early teens we read several times a week.

There were missionary stories and historical fiction that impacted us all, which I'll share another time. Of course we read the Narnia series.  And there were the Hardy Boys series, Encyclopedia Brown books and Focus on the Family's Last Chance Detectives series, all about the time that Samuel was, himself, a detective.  (For his 9th birthday, my dad printed his treasure hunt clues backwards, so that he had to use a mirror to decipher them.)

I remembered Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwood from my childhood, so we introduced it to the boys.  Mr Popper, a painter who dreams of Arctic explorations, finds himself the owner of a peck of penguins.  It's a delightful read-aloud for school age kids.

Both boys were in third grade when they began to read the Redwall series.  Field mice, foxes, badgers, rats, birds, even a wolverine, populate the world where the Redwall Abbey stands.  Very well written, these books held our attention for hours.  When the author, Brian Jaques, came to Mt Vernon, we all went to hear him and the boys had him sign copies of their books.

We happened upon The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill, a story about pushcarts and trucks in New York City in 1976.   It was satire, a new genre for us when the boys were in upper elementary, and we laughed a lot through it.  

We also listened to stories.  One of our favorites was the original Superman radio programs.  I didn't find it on Amazon, but here's the link from our library, as that's where we got it.  (One advantage to listening to a book or story is that you can listen while you eat, which you can't really do with reading!)

Happy Birthday Samuel.  May you never grow tired of reading!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Man, What a Pan!

I go to my curses cupboard (that huge corner cupboard that's under the counter where I store the pots and pans, the one where you can't get what you want from the back of the lower shelf without your top half clear inside the cupboard and you bottom half sticking out; a more clever soul than I would have installed a lazy susan) and pull out one of my two favorite pans.  They are the copper bottom, quart size Revere Ware saucepans that my parents got for a wedding gift, 62 years ago.  Of the set, I believe these two pans are the only living survivors.  The larger pans got used up long ago.

I pull out my pan and catch just a whiff of a familiar smell.  It's frozen peas from my childhood, boiling over onto the burner.  This pan was not designed to hold enough vegetables for a family of seven.

I shake the smell out of my head, and a sense of anticipation rises up in me.  I'm lying on the couch, a school girl on a sick day, basking in my mother's loving care.  She touches my warm head with her cool hand, and I lie back, at peace.  Lunch time is approaching, and I hear the little pan settle onto the formica countertop and the can opener, mounted on the side of the cupboard beside the sink, grasps hold of  a can.  I know what it is...I know what it is!  It's cream of chicken soup, and soon Mom will bring me a bowl filled with soup, bread pieces soaking in it.  Warm, soft, delicious, it goes down effortlessly.  I'm too sick to go to school, but not too sick to polish off the entire can of soup by myself!   Mom's care and cream of chicken soup -- now that's comfort!

But today it's poached eggs I want.  I didn't have too many sick days as a kid, but on such a day, when everyone else had left for school or work and I was the lone child at home I would sometimes get treated to poached eggs -- two perfectly shaped, firm but not hard eggs on a piece of milk toast.  Someone once asked me how long to cook the eggs.  "Until the toast pops up" was all I knew to tell her.  She was suspicious, but I knew my answer to be accurate.

No one in my family has developed a love for poached eggs.  But I still get out my Revere Ware and crack my egg into the nearly-boiling water, cook it until the bread pops up, pour on a little milk, add the egg, and savor one of my favorite childhood memories.

The little pans don't sit quite flat, and there's only one lid between them.  The copper is dull, the stainless steel no longer shines.  Mom has suggested that I throw them away.  Why would I want to do that?

If we should ever have a house fire, I intend to crawl into the curses cupboard and save my favorite pans.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just Be Yourself

Sometimes I need to be reminded to just be myself, and I found these words from St Francis de Sales, 17th century Bishop of Geneva, to be an encouragement.  Maybe you will too.

If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master's presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord's presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

“Have patience to walk with short steps until you have wings to fly.”

“Be who you are and be that well.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Life as Paradox

Last week I included some of the paradoxes I am learning to accept as a parent.  On Sunday Pastor Pat reminded us that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we live a paradox.  Here are the examples he gave:

-We are earth-bound and all that means, yet we are seated with Christ in Heaven.
-We live in an old creation, yet we are previews of the new creation.
-We endure hardship, yet we experience God-filled moments.
-We are losing our lives, yet we are finding them in Christ.

The Apostle Peter said we are aliens and strangers in the world (1 Peter 2:11), and in John 17 Jesus says His followers are in the world but not of it.  Pastor Pat says ours is the Geography of Grace, we're living in the World.  We are bound to experience great paradox as we live with these two fundamentally different ways of viewing life.

Here's what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11, from The Message:
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best!

And one day we'll enter His presence, where glory -- not paradox -- awaits us!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Trip to Odyssey

When Focus on the Family began airing their kids radio program, Adventures in Odyssey, I was a newlywed.  I think my husband wondered about me, but I loved listening to it!  When the boys came along, we listened along.  I still listen when I get a chance.

So when Samuel said that he'd like to go to Focus on the Family when we were in Colorado Springs on Saturday, I was happy to accommodate him.

We enjoyed browsing the bookstore, but we spent most of our time in the Visitor's Center, where we traveled down the streets of Odyssey, met some of the community folk (saw cut-outs of them, and matched the characters to the actors who portray them), stepped into Narnia through a wardrobe, visited the sites of some of the Odyssey episodes, and went to Whit's End Soda Shoppe!  What did we order?  The speciality, of course -- a Wodfamchocsod.  Huh?  That's a shortcut for "World Famous Chocolate Soda," and was it ever yummy!

Hey, Eugene, four hands?!

Friday, October 15, 2010

To the Friends I Haven't Met Yet

Recently I added a feature to the blog that allows me to see statistics -- how much traffic I have, which are the most read posts, where the readers are from, that kind of thing.  I was just looking at the stats and see that there are people from around the world who visit this blog.

This week there have been people from Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America dropping by Three Minutes to Nine!  How you found the blog, I really don't know, but I'm glad you did.  I'd like to welcome all of you.  I invite you to take a moment to introduce yourself by sending a note.  You can address it to  I'd love to have a chance to meet you and say hello.

My wish for each of my readers, wherever you live and what ever the circumstances of your life, is that you would experience the fullness of life that comes from walking with Jesus.  The older I get, the more I come to find Him to be sufficient for all my needs.  The world disappoints; Jesus satisfies!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Forever Changed

I'm off again, this time to Colorado to pick Samuel up at the ranch where he's been for the past few weeks.  He says he hasn't shaved since he got there -- bet he looks like a grizzly bear! -- but that he'll shave before I arrive.  Who cares!  I'm just looking forward to seeing him again!

This "letting go" thing that parents have to do, it's not so easy. It's just one of a thousand things that you don't really understand when you start out.  You learn that you're going to be parents, and you get all starry-eyed and dreamy, imagining your idyllic life with this amazing child, your child, and what good parents you will be.  And then the baby arrives, after hours of unimaginable pain, and there you are, traumatized and sweaty -- both of you -- holding this tiny, squalling person who has just left all the comforts of the womb and is totally dependent upon you to meet his needs.

You are now a parent, and for the rest of your life nothing will ever go quite like you'd imagined.

Nothing about parenting has been particularly easy, nor according to my fluffy, substance-less dreams, but it has been the sweetest, hardest, most consuming, awe-filled experience of my life.  These boys of ours, these mysterious, marvelous boys, have changed me.  I have had to accept paradoxes.  For example, I have become more aware of my desperate need for God, yet have learned to be more self-confident.  I have had to learn to advocate for my kids, being both forceful and gracious.  My boys don't always want to do things the way I would, so I am learning to hold firm to the essentials and give lots of room for personal preference.

I could never have imagined the life I have, nor would I have picked it out of a list of possible scenarios. But, praise the Lord, He didn't give me that opportunity.  It was God's idea, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Word Wizzards

Tom's mom had saved these poems in the back of a photo album that we brought back from the farm last week.  Here are the poets and their poems.

Snake in Summer

With me have you tried
to abide?
Along my side,
Hiss, hiss.
Slither left,
slither right.
Live under rocks.
Eat rats,
mouse-meat meals
down at the place of your heels
for me to eat.
Crawl, crawl.
Let your young sprawl
if you have baby snakes,
like I.

Tommy, age 7


Air is here,
Air is there,
Air is everywhere.
And the bubble gum has air,
And it makes it pop.
Pop goes the weasel!

Samuel, age 6

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

At God's Mercy

Our discussion on confession in the Seekers Service at church yesterday led me to look at the John Wesley Covenant Service found in the back of our hymnal.  I was struck by The Prayer of Supplication, which is a part of the Covenant Service, the prayer of one who recognizes his or her utter dependence upon God.  It echoes a conversation between Jesus and the Peter in John 6. Many of Jesus' followers have turned from  him because of his difficult teachings and he has just asked the Twelve, "You do not want to leave too, do you?"  Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God (verses 68,69).  So right, Peter!  If not Jesus, then who else? Where else? What else?

John Wesley Covenant Service
Prayer of Supplication

Lord Jesus, here I am, a lost creature, an enemy to God, under His wrath and curse.  Wilt Thou, Lord, undertake for me, reconcile me to God, and save my soul?  Do not, Lord, refuse me, for if Thou refuse me, to whom then shall I go?

If I had come in my own name, Thou mightest well have put me back; but since I come as the command of the Father, reject me not.  Lord, help me.  Lord, save me.

I come, Lord.  I believe, Lord.  I throw myself upon Thy grace and mercy.  I cast myself upon Thy blood.  Do not refuse me.  I have not wither else to go.  Here I will stay.  On Thee I will trust, and rest and venture myself.  On Thee I lay my hope for pardon, for life, for salvation.  If I perish, I perish on Thy shoulders.  If I sink, I sink in Thy vessel.  If I die, I die at Thy door.  Bid me not go away, for I will not go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hymn of the Month -- Majesty!

by Jack Hayford

Majesty, worship his majesty;
Unto Jesus be all glory, honor, and praise.

Majesty, kingdom authority,
Flow from his throne unto his own, his anthem raise.
So exalt, lift up on high the name of Jesus.
Magnify, come glorify Christ Jesus, the King.
Majesty, worship his majesty,
Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings. 

You can read the story of how Pastor Hayford wrote the song here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Silly Saturday

I came across this old photo today and believe it's Tommy 
I have to thank for turning it into a Wanted poster. 

Wishing you a Silly Saturday!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rainy Day Outing

It was Tuesday afternoon, and pouring rain.  We should have been packing to return home the next day, but we still wanted some photos.  Danny had shown us some wonderful places on Sunday, but the battery of our camera died shortly after we left the house.  So off we went, hoping in spite of the rain to get a few good pictures.

Our first stop was the Amish store.  We'd been there earlier and seen their huge bins of apples and retuned to get some to make applesauce for dinner.  See, it really was rainy!

We then headed up a dirt road, past our friends' house, and on toward Centerville.

Tom tells me that when he lived on the farm in 9th grade most of the roads were dirt.  On a typical day, three or four cars would pass their home.  Some days, the mailman was the only one to pass!  Not so now.  Most of the roads are paved and the number of cars (and joggers) that pass the house daily has grown considerably.

We were intent on finding the windmills that Danny had taken us to see on Sunday.  The hills of Allegany County provide a great source of wind to be harnessed, and 67 turbines are in operation there.  On Sunday these elegant white giants stood out majestically against the blue sky; on Tuesday, they all but disappeared in the rain.

An Amish neighbor also had a windmill, but it was a traditional design, commonly used for over a century as a means of drawing water from the ground to feed the livestock, irrigate the farms, and supply drinking water.  (It's the kind of windmill that Tom always wanted to convert to an electricity-producing one, like the turbines in the photo above, for home use.)

Time to head home, make that applesauce, pack, and see Jim and Laura before falling into bed.  What a great day it turned out to be, rain and all!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Parting Shot

Here's one last shot of Western New York in all its splendor as we head to Buffalo to board the plane for home.  Hope you have enjoyed the trip as much as Tom and I have.  See you back in Stanwood!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hands-on Science

Want to know which way the wind is blowing?  Employ the scientific method and do a little observation.  Here are three possible options to consider:

1.  Go outside with a plastic bag.  Hold the bag out and turn slowly in a circle until the bag begins to fill with air.  Whatever direction you're facing, that's which way the wind is blowing.

2.  Check out your neighbor's clothesline.

3.  Stand in your yard and look up at the weather vane.  Perhaps more accurate, but not nearly as fun.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fire Fighters Fry Fish for Friends and Funds

The Wiscoy-Rossburg Fire Company in Western New York is a volunteer fire department which has come up with a successful fundraiser  -- a monthly fish fry!  The first Friday of the month, October through April, plus a couple of extra Fridays in the spring, finds the fire station lined with tables piled with food.  About 750 people turn out for each fish fry.  Last Friday Tom and I went along with his brother Dan (Dr DK) to the Wiscoy Fish Fry.

Donna, a dental patient of Dr DK, was our server.  Not only did she serve us with a smile, she answered all my questions ("What kind of fish is this?" "How many people do you serve at a fish fry?" "How often do you do this?").  She also tried to convince Dan that he needs a puppy.  The puggles she breeds (cross between a pug and a beagle) would make a great office dog for his dental practice, she told him.  I agree!  (If you don't know puggles, look them up.  They're sooo cute!)

Back to the fish fry.  This all-you-can-eat event costs about $10 per person and includes deep fried haddock, fries, slaw, cottage cheese, condiments, and pieces of cake.  You can eat in or take out.  It's the hottest spot in town.

After the fish fry, we drove half a mile down the road to the Wiscoy Falls.  If you're a fisherman, maybe you've heard of the Wiscoy River.  Imagine having this in your back yard!   No bells and whistles, just another one of the beautiful spots in Western New York.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Artist and the Dentist

Tom was surprised to find this poster, saved for fifty years, among the treasures in the attic.  He made it for a school-wide poster contest when he attended North Queen Anne Elementary School in Seattle.  It may not have won the contest, but who knows what kind of impact it had on his older brother, Danny, who grew up to be a dentist. He works here in NY.  He calls himself "Dr Decay" (his initials are, after all, D.K.).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Some Great Old Finds

Old Radios.  Pooh is wearing vintage headphones.

Old trunk and suitcase

Tom's dad's childhood art books

Sleigh bells and a cow bell

Tom's mom's skates, mentioned in blog about journaling