THE BIG (FROZEN) APPLE

A few months ago, it came up at a Sunday School meeting that we needed to take a fun trip.  Someone suggested New York City, and Monty was put in charge.  She soon had info out to us all detailing price, and possible itinerary, along with other details.  We mulled it over and when it came down to it…6 ladies decided to take the trip.  (Everyone I know told me not to go.  My health just does not allow me to walk for long distances.  But, since there could be…maybe…possibly…the tiniest of stubborn streaks in myself…I signed up and pledged to be among the group.)

I was elected to describe our trip and post pictures detailing our big adventure.  Could it be that’s because I’m the only one who writes a blog?  Probably.  But, I shall attempt to document our 7 days in NYC to the best of my ability.

At Dothan Airport…excited about our adventure ahead!

Monty insisted she was going to be ‘the Chief’ on this trip…I had to remind her that I was ‘the Queen’!  All in fun…Monty was definitely in charge!!!

After a short layover in ATL, we arrived to the bitter, frigid, biting winter weather!

Boarding our shuttle (after a 2 hour wait), we soon arrived at our hotel.  Checked in to lovely rooms at the Westin Times Square.  We poor starving girls then struck out to find something to eat close by.  Found a little hole in the wall pizza place…full of folks.  Figuring they must know something..we joined the line and soon were eating the most delicious pizza rolls!  Then back to the room and rest for our first full day!

 

We did have the fortunate luck of having 2 little deli/grill places right next to our hotel!  One was old and quaint…one new and modern.

Both delicious.  We visited them every morning! We found wonderful madeto order breakfasts, and delicious bagels and croissants, and hot chocolate here…

Our first play was a matinee on Sunday afternoon.

I had seen this before in Birmingham and knew it was a great play!  It tells the story of what happened before the Wizard of Oz story…how the Wicked Witches, Glenda, the Good Witch, the Tin Man, Scare Crow, and Cowardly Lion…and the flying monkeys came to be!  Such a funny play…great music…great costumes and sets!

When it was over, Terry, Joy and I took a taxi back to the motel…while Monty, Betty and Beverly chose to walk and go eat cheesecake!  World famous Junior’s Cheesecake!!!  Wouldn’t you think they would certainly bring us some?  That’s what I would do.  But no…Just no.

Next day, we began a 3 day bus tour that would drop you in several places around the area to sightsee.  We saw quite a bit!  Now, may I be perfectly honest with you here?  Well, of course I can…it’s my blog!  I cannot remember exactly what we did on which day.  I am fairly clear on everywhere we went…just maybe not in order.  But, that’s what ya get when you ask someone like me to tell a story!

*****The Empire State Building*****

This was such an amazing building so full of lovely architecture.  I had never been inside before.  There were 2 observatories closer to the top.

Monty and Joy…

 

 

Can you spot MACY”S in the above picture.  Yes, we went there, too.  But this was from the Empire State Building.

*****Battery Park*****

This is a place to catch the boats or ferry to Ellis Island to tour the Statue of Liberty.  The statue was closed and you couldn’t go in it due to repairs being made… and us Southern ladies…much as we love a good boat ride on Lake Eufaula…just didn’t cotton to the idea of getting on a ferry to go way over there in weather with a windchill of 21.  No, Ma’am, we did not.

From one of the higher buildings a nice shot of the Statue of Liberty!

 

We were all admiring these beautiful sycamore trees…Joy, Monty, Terry.

On several trees we found these lovely hearts growing into the tree.  Don’t know how or why.

A glorious statue depicting men and women and children coming to the shores of America.  So massive and so well done.

*****9-11 Memorial*****

This was a quiet, reverent place.  So hard to imagine the horror that happened here.  Lovely memorial with much to make you think.

It was by far the coldest day we were there.  We could not even speak as we waited in line!

Beverly was freezing….but so were we all!

This flag is made up of photos of all those who died on 9/11…


Where one of the pillars stood…

The huge waterfall at the entrance…notice the beautiful rainbow…

Tonja and Beverly…

The new One World Trade Center…the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere…the sixth tallest in the world…

*****Grand Central Station*****

This was so lovely.  I was amazed at the architectural features inside of a building that people only pass through going somewhere else.

Sweet Joy…

Betty and Beverly down on the floor…

Terry, Tonja, Beverly, Betty…  notice arches and moldings behind us…

Monty, Tonja, Joy, Terry…

*****Little Italy*****

We walked through Chinatown and Little Italy.  We had gotten a great recommendation of a place to eat and when we got there, it had burned down.  A young man came over and invited us to his Italian place.  He asked us where we were from and we said “Dothan”…he said he grew up in Mariana, Fla…about 25 miles away!  Small world, huh?  The food was amazing!  Great atmosphere, too!

*****St. Patrick’s Cathedral*****

We got a tip before we left that we should try to get tickets to see the play, BEAUTIFUL.  So we did and it was fabulous!  It is the life story of Carole King.  She is such a prolific songwriter!  It was just joyful from start to finish!  Perhaps we enjoyed it so much because it is the music we grew up with!  Highly recommended!

Afterwards, due to all the walking we had done all day, Terry, Joy and I were too tired to take another step!  But,we started out anyway.  Don’t know whose fault it was but we finally realized we were nowhere near our hotel …we had gone quite a ways beyond.  We stopped and I’m sure we were looking quite forlorn…when a little pedi cab drove up and asked us if he could take us to our hotel.  Thank you, Lord.  We got in and he started pedaling.  Then he asked if we would like a little longer tour.  We said sure…as long as we don’t have to walk!  So he drove us all through Times Square before depositing us at the Westin!  It was so fun!

After our bus rides were over and when the busses were too late getting to a stop…Monty decided we were old enough and smart enough to tackle the NYC Subway.  And so we did.  We did quite well.  Most folks are so willing to help if you ask…and we asked a lot!  At one time, we all got through the turnstiles to the other side…except Terry.  She got hung up trying to get a ticket.  I mean really hung up!  Finally someone helped her.  Then she couldn’t get the swipe at the entrance to say GO..She swiped so many times, the machine rejected her card.  Then she had to go and get another one…and the whole dance started over!  Monty decided she would help.  Not the best idea.  Cause she got stuck betwixt and between!  Oh, we laughed.  I don’t think you are supposed to do that, Monty!

Terry made it!!!!!

***Macy’s***

Original wooden escalator…

Too tired to shop!  Can you imagine?

*****Central Park****

After playing on the turnstiles for a good 30 minutes, we were finally on our way.  We all wanted to take a horse buggy ride…but it was way expensive…so we settled for another pedicab.

Our last night, we went out to dinner…and then on to see THE LION KING.

Monty and I split this!!! Chicken pot pie!

While not everyone in our group was as excited as I was to see The Lion King….I was enthralled the whole time!  I have always wanted to see the costuming and the animal puppets.  It was amazing!  Such talented craftspeople!

*****A few street scenes*****

We all searched for ‘pennies from heaven’…Monty will treasure these!

And the day came to head home…barely got my suitcase closed…

 

Even as we left the frigid temps of NYC, we saw a promise of spring…lovely flowers breaking through at Battery Park…searching for some sunshine and warmth to grow into their glory…

We watched the skyline of NYC disappear…saw the Atlanta skyscrapers…but nothing was as beautiful as the sight of open fields and farms and green!  Look at that lovely green as we fly nearer and nearer to Dothan!

Oh what a glorious time we had!  Some of us tired a little quicker than others, but that’s OK.  We saw NYC…our friendships became stronger…and we laughed and laughed and laughed!

At Dothan Airport…home again!

As the Dothan sun sets on our grand adventure in NYC…

…we give thanks to God for safety, health, and protection.  We saw how His hands guided us along the way!  We know that the chance to enjoy this trip was a great big gift from Him.  And we are grateful!

“Every good and perfect gift comes from God.”   James 1:17

Photo Credit:  Terry Walker, Betty Cain, Beverly Haynes, David Clark, Tonja Owens

I AM RELAXING!!!

I have recently been dealing with a malady that is slowly driving me bonkers!  I don’t know if it does that to everybody who deals with this…or if it is just my own personality and quirks that is making it worse.  Anyway, let me tell you my dilemma and perhaps you can tell me if I am slowly losing the few marbles still in my possession!

I have developed a pretty severe problem of TMJD.  This is short for “Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.  It means “you hurt in front of your ear and sometimes causes headaches” according to Ms Google and Medicine Net.

I beg to differ.  When you wake up and your jaw is locked into position and you can not even open it to talk…that’s a strange feeling.  And, if you try to force it to open…you should remember there are quite a few pounds of pressure pushing against you.  They are angry and they are mean.  And, they will wait in the closed  and locked position for you to learn that if you ever wish to open your mouth in a normal way again…you are just going to have to lay back and wait till they are good and ready to move.

When they finally do choose to move again in to the motion we generally use for such things as talking and chewing…you will quickly learn that even though they are allowing you entrance to your throat again…they are not over being difficult.  You will learn you, now and forever, are at the mercy of this little joint in front of your ear.

Tiny little thing.  Think you could certainly yank that little piece into submission., huh?  Well, friends…don’t even try.  And, I tell you this becauseI did try.  I got some steroids at the doctor’s office…and by day 4, it was better.  It was sore for a few days and then it got slowly better and I thought to myself, “Tonja, you have just bypassed a big mess.  Luckily this went away.  You must be living right.”  And, I did not have much trouble…just an occasional twinge for the next 7 or 8 months.  However toward the beginning of fall last year, it began to tell me it was having anger issues again and I had best get ready because it was on its way back!  And, it was.  I went through Thanksgiving and Christmas eating a little soft food on one side of my mouth…almost breaking into tears when I would have to yawn.  My whole side of my face hurt…even up into the temples.  I was even having full blown migraines.  I finally called my dentist and they sent me to an orthodontist who works a dedicated program of help for this condition and the pain it truly causes.

I immediately set up an appointment and quickly made my first visit.  Super nice…everyone.  Extremely knowledgeable and interested in making my pain go away.  It so pays to go to a specialist when you have varying health issues…they know things about specific issues that other doctors may not know just because that is their area of expertise.

Well, they tested me…hooked me up to computers, x rayed me, gave me a thorough explanation of what was happening to me.  I thought it was all in my jaw…but it was involving my face, neck, shoulders and upper back as well.  I signed up for all they were selling.  I was in pain and I wanted out.  And, so they began.  I wear a splint over my teeth at all times…have extensive physical therapy, ultrasound therapy and laser therapy.  Whew!  A lot to throw at ya all at once, huh?  They also explained to me that it could go away for a while, but each time it came back it would be a little worse.

First thing of all was the worst thing of all.  Now you all know I don’t exaggerate!!!!!, but they had to make impressions of my bite.  Top and bottom.  You ever had that?  I have…and I hate it every time!  They get this tray designed to fit a horses mouth…

…and fill this hollowed out tray with the most gosh awful chalky smelling, thicker than toothpaste, goop.  They they expect you to open your little human mouth wide enough to fit that trough in there and bite down. I don’t know if they even think about the fact that you could ingest some of this devil goop down your throat, but rather play soothing music so you can relax and smile inside.   I didn’t…smile inside.  They took out the bottom one.  I survived.

And, here they come with the top one.  But, they didn’t have it smoothed down and neat like this…so right there where the curve is in the round of the tray…there was a little glob of goop sticking straight up.  And when it went into my mouth and suctioned around my teeth…that little blob was just touching that place in your mouth where the gag reflex is!  Oh. I Thought. I Was.GoingTo. Die….right there is that lovely little reclining bed in the little room with the dimmed lights.  I clinched my hands, I clenched my arms to my body. I clenched my butt cheeks.  I was trying to get through this because I knew it was the end.  They started wiggling and wrestling with that thing trying to remove the suction and pull it out of my mouth.  YES!!! they did it.  They inspected it.  And, then came the most dreaded words I had heard up till then…, “We’ve got to do that top one again.”  One of the f assistants caught me as I tried to ease out the door and make a run for it.  And, they did it again.  This time no little glob on top…I told em to make it smooth.  And, I willingly went back into the lion’s den and did it again!

They finished.  I left.  Stopped and bought the biggest glass of sweet tea McD’s offered and washed that experience out of my head…and mouth!  I made it!    I talked to myself all the way home.  “This is going to be fine, Tonja.  They know what to do to get you better.  No more impressions!  The worst part is over.”  They could now make me a splint for my mouth that would fix my bite and strongly urge those teeth into cooperation and make those muscles behave and let me live my life and eat steak again.

So, I’ve been to therapy sessions for 5 weeks.    A good majority of the pain is better.  But there are still issues with the ear and the headaches.  The girls there are so kind and caring and they go out of their way to make things pleasant…except for the impressions.  I kid…maybe I don’t.   On the fourth week, the doctor seemed to think perhaps I needed some different kind of splint that coerced more of my teeth to get involved with this program and make me well.  “Cool!” I thought.  “I’ve already had impressions, so there’s not that to do again.  Thank you, sweet Jesus!”.  They kept my splint and I figured they would just fix it and give it back.  And, I started on my merry way to the therapy room.  It is about an hour massage and though it is painful at times, I can tell it is working what needs to be working and it is very relaxing.  Three girls have worked with me and they are the tops.

But, one of them …and I won’t call any names here….they are all just so lovely.   But she really did try to pull a fast one.  I was headed to the therapy room and she slyly said, “Mrs Tonja, come right over here first, we need to…” and then I faded away, because it looked as if her mouth was making the words ***do more impressions***.  And, I knew that was not in the plans I had made for me that day. I stopped and looked at this sweet dear young lady and thought…surely she is mixed up bad.  I already have done impressions.  She beckoned me closer.  And, I caught a whiff of devils goop mixed with chalk.  She was actually holding it in her hands and smiling at me all sweetly like.  “Just sit right here and we’ll get his taken care of and get on with your therapy.”  I sat…I reclined and we did the bottom one.  OK…done.  Then the top.  I told her about smoothing it down. ( Cause even though she does this every single day, I had a better way she should know of!)  She put in the top one and I clenched and shook and shivered and through all that, I heard her voice coming through saying,” Relax your lower jaw, Mrs. Tonja.”  I thought I was.  “Mrs. Tonja RELAX your jaw. “ For the life of me, I could not get my lower jaw to do anything but what it darn well pleased.  I pulled on it…she was trying to get the goop out and I pulled my jaw and moved it and she said “RELAX it.” Well, You could have hit me with a hammer, but my jaw was not in an obedient mood…and I could not help it.  The TMJD devil got in there and just would not turn loose.  She laughed and said “come on and relax.” UH UH!  was not happening!   All I could think of was that this tray was going to be cemented to my teeth and I would have to have it chiseled  off and who knows what else and HOW COULD I RELAX?  I still don’t know how she got that horse trough out of my mouth , but she did.  I was really trying to relax my jaw as best as I could, but it was just one strong force after another!  Ask her…she’ll tell you she was ready to slap me!  Not really! 

So, I am this far in treatment and don’t know what the next step will be.  I can hear the bones moving against each other…which is an unnerving sound at best.  At least it’s not crackling like crumbling up paper anymore.  Don’t know where the next steps will lead me…possibly even surgery.  But, I’m committed to this program.  It makes so much sense and is quite logical from my  limited medical knowledge.  I will follow it through!

As long as there are no more impressions!!!!  Thanks sweet girls for serving me with your kindness and mercy!

I added some information here, because I am at heart a teacher.  I love to convey knowledge.  I never knew TMJD was this involved.  This is just a short synopsis, but I urge you that if you are having trouble in any of these areas to perhaps consider this help.  I am not a doctor, so I can make no claims except what it is doing for me.  And, the caring and consideration of the staff involved is tops.  If you should perhaps want to know the name of this doctor, I would be happy to share it with you privately.  He is local, but I did not ask permission to use his name.

                                     INFO ON TMJD

The temporomandibular joint is more commonly referred to as the TMJ joint, but what is TMJ? This joint is actually located at the base of the skull in front of the ear structure and connects the lower jaw (mandible) with the upper jaw (maxilla). Unlike most joints located in the body, the TMJ is unique in its structure, composed of a rounded protrusion of the mandible that sits against an indentation in the skull, and a disc-like structure made of a soft bone called cartilage found in between the two bones (articular disc).

These three parts of the TMJ are held together by ligaments originating from different parts of the head and neck to support the jaw and guide its movements. Several muscles are connected to those ligaments, and many aid in the motion of the lower jaw.

How Does it Work?

The TMJ works in two ways to open your mouth: The first way is like a hinge to simply open and close the mouth, just like a hinge on a door. The second way is a sliding motion called translation, wherein your lower jaw moves down and forward. This motion helps the TMJ to move backward and forward and from side to side for actions such as eating, yawning and singing – some of the most common.

What Can Happen to the TMJ?

Like any other joint in the body, the TMJ can be fractured, swell and become sore, causing limited movement of the lower jaw and pain radiating to the head and neck area. A fracture to the actual articular disc is rare, but it can be displaced, causing severe pain and swelling. Unlike other joints such as knees and hips, arthritis of the TMJ is very rare, and hard to treat with anti-inflammatory drugs alone.

You can find loads more info on google to familiarize your self with this condition.

 

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BLESSINGS

 

I had a doctors appointment early one morning last week and I left before I ate breakfast…not a wise decision.  So after spending an hour and a half at the doctor’s office, I was hurting, sore and hungry.  I had one errand to run before heading home to make good use of the heating pad.  I glanced toward Loyless Doughnuts, as I passed by that way and saw that the sign said OPEN!  It took a few seconds to register that I had finally driven by when they were not closed.  “I’m going back,” I said out loud.  One of those doughnuts would surely help my feelings!  I wove my way around the streets and ended up back at Loyless.  As I pulled up to the window…my heart sank.  Right there on a sign in the window…it said NO CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS…CASH ONLY.

I immediately knew I was in trouble.  Because I didn’t want to lug my big purse around this morning, I grabbed a small bag and threw in my cards, and my phone and a lipstick.  I have my cash in a different pace than where I keep my cards.  And, I didn’t have it with me.  My luck.  I finally see them open and no money!

I remembered I had some change in a cup and grabbed it and thought I may have enough for one doughnut.  I was sifting through my change, when a man opened the window.  He asked how he could help me.  I smiled at him and said…”Well, I’m trying to see if I have enough for a doughnut!  I don’t have any other cash with me but this change!”  He laughed and said, “Not to worry.  I can give you a sample!”  He came back with one heavenly glazed doughnut and one double heavenly glazed with chocolate!  I said, “I have 75 cents here.  Let me give you that.”  “No ma’am,” he said, “this is on me today!”  I said, “You are very kind.  I hope you have a blessed day today.”  He said, “Well, I can certainly use some blessings!”  “Well, you have blessed me today and I thank you so much,” I said.

And, as I drove off, I saw him put the closed sign in the window.

I devoured those two doughnuts.  I had the plain one for my breakfast and the chocolate one for dessert!  There are none that compare!   “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”  Psalm 34:8.  Those are some mighty fine doughnuts…but if you live in Dothan…you already know that!

My spirits were lifted.  I don’t know if the blessing was for me to get the doughnuts…or for him to  have the opportunity to bless me with the doughnuts...as a sample…free of charge!!!    Because, we can not do something to bless others without the blessing rubbing off on us, too.

 

Perhaps God was thinking that when He said that we are toserve one another in love and action’.   He knew all along that if we strive to do that for others…we are going to share in the blessing ourselves!  It just rubs off on the doer as much as the receiver.

And when we read this verse…

…we see that God has already set out all these opportunities in front of us.  He prepared a place and time for us to share His love.  Oh, I fear that I have missed some of my opportunities when I was too busy or too distracted or too self involved!  I now try to look for ways to be available to do  something in His name.  And, I still fail.  How it must grieve Him that I don’t notice what He puts right in front of me.

I remember a sermon long ago where the preacher posed this question …’What are you put on this earth for?’  At the time, I was young and still had many lessons left to learn.  But, the speaker went on to answer his own question.  He said, “Your sole purpose on this earth is to serve God by serving others.”  I wrote that in big letters in my Bible and have never forgotten it.  I’ve heard it preached on many times since then, but that statement truly hit the mark that day!

I still think that is such a profound statement.  We have all been gifted with talents.   And, all He asks in return is that we use those gifts to serve one another…to be His hands on this earth.  But, serving others doesn’t even require one of those special gifts…it involves looking and seeing other people and putting ourselves in their place.

 


A few weeks ago, I was in the line at the grocery store.  Even though I went in for a few items, my cart was filled to overflowing.  The lines were long at every checkout.  So I chose one and waited.  I noticed that someone came up behind me, and I turned to see a man who had two items in his hands.  I smiled at him and said, “Please go ahead of me…I’ll take a lot longer than you.”  “Oh, no, ma’am”, he said, “I don’t mind waiting my turn.”  “Of course you don’t, but I would want someone to let me go first, if things were reversed.”  “Well, thank you, ma’am.  I am in a big hurry.”  He went on ahead, and finished and started walking away.  He stopped and came back to me and said, “It’s been a long time since someone did something kind for me.  You have made my day”  “Great,” I said, “Just pass it along to someone else.”  “I surely will, ” he said. and he walked away with a smile on his face.

Now what I did was no big deal.  I do that any time I can. He felt blessed and I felt like God was pleased.  And, I don’t know about you, but anytime I feel like God is pleased with me, I’m a happy girl!  I don’t believe we meet people by accident.  I believe that people are placed in our path for a reason…either a lesson to be learned or a blessing to be shared!

 

 

 

 

PROVING FAITH

My sweet Levi has learned many lessons at the tender age of 6.  From walking to talking to ‘going potty’, to riding a bicycle, to riding a little motorcycle, to sitting quietly in class, to diving and swimming like a fish.  He knows how to apologize, he has learned what it means to hurt someone’s feelings.  He has learned to read and he has learned try new foods (with coaxing).  He has learned to perform on a stage and he knows how to sit quietly in an adult setting (though it is very hard).  And, he has learned that he is a sinner.  That Jesus came to this earth to pay a price for us, so that we may live with him forever.  He understands what means to sin.  And, he understands forgiveness.

I say all this, to say that he has been surrounded by learning since he was born.  So has every child.  They will learn…whether we choose the lessons or not.  As it has been said, “You can be a good inspiration or a horrible example”.  But it is seen and tucked away…part of that learning process.

We (his parents and 5 grandparents and aunts and uncles) have always tried to mirror that strong sense of faith that we all understand so well.  We have found our faith tested and seen it proven true and real time and again!  And we wish to show to our little man just how faithful God is.  We know God keeps His promises, and we want him to know that.  We know that God answers prayer, and we want him to have the joy of seeing that for himself.

And while none of his family is perfect…we all try to use those ‘teachable moments’ when they arise.  Lessons to be learned are so much easier if the teaching is done while the situation is close in mind and heart.

Now that he is in first grade, none of us ‘grands’ get as much time with him as we would like.  But life moves along and we have developed our own routine.  Every morning Levi is dropped at my house, gets dressed here, eats breakfast here, and Don or I take him to school.  Then his other grandparents pick him up from school and start his homework with him.  How I love getting to share a meal with him and pray with him and send him into the school building with an ‘I love you’ and ‘Have a great day’.  His other grandmother gets the joy of hearing all about what went on that day and all his adventures…and spelling words.

We prepare breakfast and always call Uncle Alex on the intercom and ask him to come join us.  Most times, he can’t.  But sometimes we are blessed that he can.  Such was what happened yesterday.

After breakfast, as Alex was going back to his room, and Levi was putting on his shoes:

ALEX…I enjoyed having breakfast with you this morning, Levi.

LEVI…I did too, Uncle Alex.  I’m glad you are not hurting today!

ALEX…  Well, Buddy, I am hurting today…just not as bad as usual.  Today is a ‘better’ day.

LEVI…(raising his hands in the air)  That’s what we have been asking God to do!

ALEX…And He did, Levi.  He gave me a morning to enjoy with you.  He is so good.  He always hears us when we pray.

Wow!  What an affirmation in a little boy’s mind that God was busy about answering his prayers!

Today was a little nerve wracking for me.  My health has taken a nose dive lately and I am facing 3 operations in the coming months.  It’s hard to get old and ‘wear out”!  This morning I had the first of the procedures, because this was the most urgent.  Without going into too many details, I have a kidney that is not doing what God put it in there to do.  We’ve known that it was ‘different’ for a few years, but until today, we did not know how ‘no good’ it really is.  Suffice it to say, although it may continue to reside in the place it lies…it is of no use to my body.  The only thing it could do is affect my other kidney.  You know, the one that ‘gets with the program’, the one that does its job mostly without complaining ( except for throwing a few stones at me through the years), the one that goes about its life following the rules.  If it gets too unruly, it will be tossed out…but for now…it stays.

So today my faith was tested.  I was nervous about the results we would find, as it looked on CT scan as if there was a mass on it.  However, yesterday, as I was reading or flipping through Pinterest or catching up with you on FB…Bible verses kept coming before me…“Do not be afraid”….“The Lord goes ahead of you”….“He is with you wherever you go”….“I know the plans I have for you.” ” I knit you together in your mother’s womb.”  All reminding me and encouraging me of what I knew was truth.  But, fear can override our good sense sometimes, can’t it?

Then this morning, Don and I had prayer in the waiting room…and put our trust in Him again…asking Him to guide the doctor’s hands and give him wisdom as he performed the surgery.

As I waited in my room, a dear friend texted me and began going on about some nonsense about me wearing my ‘crown’!  She made me laugh.  I sent her a ‘selfie’ of me in the bed.  She sent me funny emoticons!  What a respite that was as I waited!  I received other texts from friends who assured me they had been praying and would continue.  I was confident that I was being covered in prayer!

And, when I arrived in Pre-op…there was my friend of some 30 years waiting on me.  She is an anesthetist at the hospital and we have been in church together since our children were small.  She took my case.  She brought me warm blankets.  She gently started my IV.  She ran to the pharmacy and got me some nose spray so I could breath (darn allergies).  She reminded me that she would be there through it all.  Her kindness and gentle spirit calmed my soul.

 

It was God who led me to a doctor I had confidence in…it was God who put words of affirmation and truth in front of my eyes…it was God who arranged it for my friend to be by my side.  Perhaps you were the one who posted a Bible verse on FB yesterday, or perhaps it was you who was remembering me in your prayers.  Maybe it was you who sent me a text reminding me of your love and concern or held my hand and prayed with me.  Let no one ever tell you that doing and speaking about the Lord …about His kindness and care…His love…is ever is in vain.  I may not be able to thank you in person…but I know…and God knows.  To those of us who are Christians, God expects us to act at all times as if we were serving Him.  And, we are.  We are God’s hands.

 

I am resting at home now…taking my pain meds…uncomfortable, but satisfied.  A trying day to, to be sure.  But a day when God once again proved to me that He is faithful!  He works in our lives when we need Him.  He works in our world…just for us…and so many times, we don’t even realize it to acknowledge it.  But, friends…this I know is true:  God is who He says He is.  God does what He says He will do.  God is always with me.  God watches my every move and sends people or words or scripture, even hymns (‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus) straight to me when I need it.

He will do the same thing for you.  Because as much as He loves and cares for and protects me…He loves and cares for and protects you just as much!   Just keep looking.  He’ll prove it to you!

 

 

 

COLLAGE

Today Levi was with me and he asked if we could make something ‘artistic’.  I told him that would be fine and asked him if he remembered how to draw the different kinds of leaves we learned in art at school last year.  He thought he did, so I got out all the supplies.

I had told him how in my last art lesson at the preschool, I had showed the children how to paint with Kool-Aid…and of course, he wanted to do that, too.  We made a run to Winn Dixie, and a side trip to Chicken Salad Chick…and came home to start our work.

First we practiced drawing leaves.  When he got some he was pleased with we started the painting.  Luckily, I’m a smart Lulu and I had put a whole king size sheet on the floor!  To paint with Kool-Aid…first you spray your picture with spray starch.  Then lightly sprinkle different colors of the powder onto the wet starch.  Using a sponge brush, brush in a downward motion in long strokes…overlapping to mix the colors.

OK…Ours did not always show the differing colors because we were pouring out of the package and we got big globs.  At school, I transferred the powder into salt shakers and it was much more controlled.  But, I did not have any extra salt shakers…so we made do.  That’s the thing about giving kids freedom in art.  They make mistakes and use their own minds to figure out a solution.  Levi thought we needed more starch, before I could say that was probably not a great idea.  And so it got a double dose of starch which turned the dry powder into a liquid.  Therefore some of his leaves are solid and that’s ok, too.  The main thing is that he was so pleased with how they looked.

Then his mind went into overdrive.  “Lulu, I want to make a big picture  like a collage and put it in a frame, but I want it to be fall things behind the leaves.”  Get that?    So, I got out my 300 sheets of scrapbook papers and he set about going through them to find the ones he thought looked like fall.  He found these 4.  I just wait to see what would come next.  He got the tape and taped all 4 together on the backside (My suggestion to turn it over).  He missed a few spots in his taping and things got a little wonky.  But, he said he would just put some green paper there like that part wasn’t fall yet.

After getting the background ready, he was ready to glue down the leaves.  I suggested he plan it out first to see how he liked it before we glued.  He did and came to the conclusion there was not enough leaves.  I asked if he wanted to make some more…but he said that he thought he would build a tree.  And he did.  Two trees actually!  We painted and cut and I ironed them all to dry them and make them lay flat.  Then he began designing again.  We quickly discovered school glue and glue sticks would not hold, so we got out the glue dots.  These worked very well.  And here you see the finished masterpiece…

 

Now he wants it framed and hung on the wall.  I’ve got to do some thinking on that part!  (He wanted to be sure his Providence logo on his shirt was in the picture, too.)

Friends, if you are able, DO ART WITH YOUR CHILDREN OR GRANDS!  The mess is well worth it.  I like the fact that Levi gets so relaxed and calm when he is creating, that we are able to talk about so many things.  For instance, When he was so delighted with the final product, I told him it was a ‘masterpiece’!  “What’s that”, he asked.  I explained it to him and then told him there was a bible verse that used that same word.

We were able to talk about how God made him and all of us just like he wanted us to be and he was just as proud of us as Levi was of his artwork!

We talked about the colors of the leaves and why they changed colors.  How God has a plan for our world and He says it will always be this way.

We discussed if we thought leaves were prettier when they were green or if we like the changing colors.  We talked about how God used so many colors in His world.  And, that led us into talking about colors of skin and how God created people with the skin he wanted them to have…and that they are all beautiful.  We talked about how different people do different things well.  God gave us all talents.  Levi said, “Like me, I am a great artist!”  And so you are, Little Man!

 

It would be near impossible for me to sit him down and  just talk through all the things we discussed that day.  He would not sit still long enough in the first place and his mind would be on too many other things.  But, art frees the mind and nourishes the soul.  It allows you to relax and let thoughts and ideas come easily to the forefront.

I realize that many think ‘I can not do this…I’m not artistic’.  But, it really is nothing more than having some materials…a safe place to explore…and lots of towels!  It about making it available and then just sitting back and watching the magic.  Levi has his own art area.  He has markers, crayons, paints, pencils, tape, glue, old magazines, stickers, colored and white paper, scissors, colored tape, popsicle sticks, stamps, inks,etc.  And, it is there for him to use anytime he wants.  He has learned from just a toddler that we always put something on the floor and he either puts on play clothes or his painting apron.  Crayola makes wonderful art supplies and almost everything we use is washable.

Just some thoughts to share with you this morning.  Our collage of fall things turned into a collage of beautiful thoughts, as well.  Thanks for listening…and please give it a try with those little ones who you love!

 

 

BANANA BREAD

I am beyond happy to be a Lulu to my sweet Levi!  We have such fun together and I love to make his wishes come true….within reason, of course.

He had stayed with me one Friday while he was sick and had to be out of school.  We rested and did a few fun things and watched some cartoons and just had a sweet day.  So, it was in this frame of mind, that I heard his latest request.

Levi, “Lulu, can you make banana bread?

Lulu…..”Yes, I have made banana bread before.  Would you like me to make you some?

Levi……”Well, yes, I would.  But, I would like you to make enough so I can take it to share with my friends at school, too.  And, the other first grade teachers too!”

Lulu…..”Well, that’s a lot of banana bread, Levi!

Levi…..”But, you can do, can’t you, Lulu?”

Lulu….”Yes, Little Man, I will do that for you.”

Levi…..”Can we make it right now?”

Lulu…..Well, first I’ll have to buy some bananas and let them get really ripe.  Then we can make it.”

And, that’s what I did.  I bought bananas and set them on the cabinet to ripen.  Every morning when he came to the house before school, he would ask if they were ready yet.  Then Suzanne bought me a big bag of bananas from school.  So we had plenty of very ripe bananas now!

Yesterday, I gathered all the supplies and made 4 loaves of banana bread!  UMMM!  It smelled so good!  I called Levi and told him I had it ready.  Since Suzanne was taking him to school today, she came by to pick it up to take to school when she went.  By the time they got here, I had cut into one loaf to make sure it was edible!  Oh!  And it was!  Suzanne loved it, Don loved it and I loved it.  Levi took a bite.  He didn’t say anything.  He put it down and went on about his business.  Strange, I thought.

Well, I wrapped it all up and got it ready for Suzanne to take.

Levi….”Thank you, Lulu.  I am going to share it with my friends tomorrow.  And the other teachers in first grade.”

When I went back inside, I saw the piece I had cut for him…uneaten.  Hmmmm.

I may or may not have eaten it…since it was already cut and all.

Later on that evening, Suzanne called me and she told me again how good the bread was.  Then she said, “But, Levi was not too fond of it.”

Lulu…..”Well, I thought he liked banana nut bread…isn’t that why he asked me to make him some?”

She asked him if he liked it and he said he liked it just a little bit.

Lulu…”Levi, why did you ask me to make it if you did not even know if you liked it?”

Levi….”Well, see…I was watching Mickey Mouse Club and Mickey and his friends were going somewhere.  So they asked Clarabelle the Cow to make them some banana bread to take with them to share with their friends!  And, I thought that was a good idea!”

Lulu…”Let me get this straight…you never tasted banana nut bread before…but since Clarabelle made some for Mickey and his friends to share…you thought I should make some for you to share.”

Levi…”Right!” ” I just thought it sounded like a nice thing to do.”

(Oh, my, does he think of his Lulu when he sees Clarabelle the Cow?   No.  Surely not!)

 

UPDATE…Today…

This morning when Levi came I asked him about the banana bread.

Levi…..It was great, Lulu.  I got to be the waiter and give it to my friends.  Then I got to take Mrs. Mann and Mrs. Mayes some…and Mrs. Jones.”

Lulu…..”What about Mrs. Brown?  

Levi…..”Well, she got her own piece!”

Lulu….”Did your friends like it?”

Levi…..Well, Cal and Winston sure did!  They wanted another piece!  But, Grayson said he did not like it.  I whispered to him, ‘That’s OK…I don’t like it either!”

And, so the banana bread story ends.  Isn’t it funny how we think we are doing things for one reason and it turns out that we did it for something entirely different?  

You never know where and when inspiration will strike.  Levi had a great idea…even if it did come from a cartoon.  He seized on that thought and applied it to his little world.  That makes me very happy.  How thoughtful it was for him to carry that idea on to the next step.  I pray his heart is always attuned to making others happy and finding ways to bless his friends. I wonder if we are as in touch when God whispers in our ear a way in which we can be a blessing!

However…before I bake anything for him again…I’ll make sure he knows what it is I’m making!