Starting Fresh with Hodgepodge…

1. Share one favorite moment/memory from your Christmas holiday.
 15747502_10211510518384524_8505381520756214670_nOur Nutcracker Christmas Crackers had little whistle/flutes in them and instructions to toot some Christmas songs together. It was so much fun with us laughing so much we snorted and maybe drooled a bit while trying to toot our whistles upon demand. Each whistle was numbered to created the right tone/note. Oye…it was fun!
2. What was the best thing you ate over the holidays? Was it homemade or store bought? If it was homemade did you make it?
swedishSwedish pancakes on Christmas morning are the best. 1st because Dear cooks them. 2nd because we all love them. A tradition that will not be broken.

3. What was one of the most beautiful things you saw over the holidays?

pictures65

People, people, people are the most beautiful things we saw over the holidays. A very beautiful thing was that our oldest flew to eastern Washington to help his brother and sister in law move into their new home in frigid temperatures. Our boys have a way of being able to motivate and help each other in good and tough times and it’s a beautiful thing to see and hear about.

4. What does fresh start mean to you?

Fresh Start was the name of my home cleaning business that I started in the late 80’s and early 90’s and that’s the first thing that came to mind with this question. Dear was in Pharmacy School for a mid-life change in his profession and I cleaned toilets to make money in several homes and at a medical and dental clinic. Of course I cleaned more than toilets but you get the idea. The work was so aerobic and I was so skinny.

5. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being very positive and 1 being not so great) how would you rate 2016 in terms of personal achievement and well being? Explain.

If I take my fluff out of the equation I’d give myself an 8!

van 2 035I’m still fluffy but besides that my health and outlook are good. I am not taking any medications. An IT Band Syndrome is still plaguing me even though I’m not a runner by any stretch of the imagination. Exercises to strengthen my core and take the strain off my IT band are helping. It generally takes a lot to get me down and I’m thankful for that. So…I’ll stick with an 8!

6. Every January 1st since 1976 Lake Superior University has published a list of words they’d like to see banished from the Queen’s English. Words may be banished due to misuse, overuse, or just general uselessness. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen or, if you’re like me, to find out what in the world the word or phrase even means or the context in which it’s used. There were quite a few on this year’s list I’d never heard before. Here’s the 2017 list of banished words-You, Sir-focus-Bete Noire-Town Hall Meeting-Post Truth-guesstimate-831-historic-manicured-echo chamber-on fleek-bigly-ghost-Dadbod-listicle-get your dander up-selfie drone-frankenfruit-disruption. Which word on the list would you most like to see banished in 2017? What word or phrase would you add to the list?

I’m tired of hearing about Town Hall Meetings. Another one I’d like to not hear again is “Gun Control”.

7. Large or small, light or deep, share with us one goal you have for the new year.
misc-stuff-028I got this fitbit for Christmas and I’d like to add the light goal of moving more.
My deep goal is to pray more.
 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18:
Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
I’ve got a recipe for Crock Pot Potato soup inspired from bj’s blog and Paula Deen up on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog. It was easy and satisfying. Click on over to see it.
The illustration at the top of this post is Russian and the words translate Happy New Year. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!
Linking up with Joyce at From This Side of the Pond. She provides the questions and we provide the answers.

P is for Pop!

I just returned last night from a week in Southern California. This is my dear old Pop. He is 92 years old and he is living with my sister Kathy and her family. We had lunch together on Sunday and enjoyed some story telling from him on his family’s escape out of Russia to Persia in the early 30’s and his time living in Iran before he, my mom and sister Kathy immigrated to the U.S.A. I provided dessert for our meal together which happened to be a pastry ring that looked a lot like this Bear Claw Pastry I bought from the same bakery on Saturday morning on my way to the hospital to see my BIL. Proof is in the Pudding on my re-fluffing.

The name of this bakery caught my eye because of Pondside’s name for her husband on her blog…The Great Dane!

My Pop had stood up from the table to go get more comfortable as my sister opened the box that the pastry ring came in and he looked at it and promptly sat down again saying “Oh!” He really enjoyed the pastry with soft yummy dough like my mom used to bake.

Since we are on the letter P for ABC Wednesday started by Mrs. Nesbitt and carried on by Roger and the ABC team here are a few more P’s I encountered in Southern California.

I was staying with my sister Vera in Huntington Beach and took a walk down to the beach my last morning in town where these palm trees line PCH (Pacific Coast Highway).

My BIL is still in very serious condition and I thank you for your prayers, a very powerful P word. Prayers are supporting my BIL, sister and their children as they pass through this storm. In the midst of the storm God is our Peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 (ESV)

Joys and Trials…

Our kids are getting together for a siblings weekend. This brings me joy. There are 5 hours or so of distance between Dan and Jamie and our kids that live on this side of the mountains so they are meeting about halfway.

My dear old Pop is doing pretty good. He has pain in his legs and back and is losing strength but in general his outlook has been so much better since he moved in with my sister and brother-in-law. I’m thankful for my Pop’s living arrangements and thankful for Len and Kathy who are housing him and taking care of him. Working on jigsaw puzzles help his days go by faster.

We have dear friends through the friendship of our son Dan with their son. This son of theirs has a new wee baby boy who was born very early at just 1#7ounces. He has had such a struggle as you can only imagine. He is now 3# and is a little fighter, beating many odds thrown at him.  We rejoice for his weight gain. We pray for him without ceasing. He needs our prayers. We pray for his parents who must be exhausted with the ups and downs that come with the intense cares and concerns for their little boy. We pray for the grandparents that are doing all they can to lessen the load. We are making our requests to God.

We pray for Dan and Jamie’s little flower girl who is fighting leukemia and in intense treatments against this illness. We rejoice with every step forward made in her bodies fight against leukemia and pray for healing.

We also pray for a blogging friend’s son who is fighting disease and is in intense treatments, too.

The Lord is near, be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” ~ Philippians 4:5b-7

We pray for the firefighters and the homeowner’s in all the wild fire areas of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California. We rejoice that Dan’s friend’s home was spared. We grieve for the 3 firefighters who lost their lives in the fires near Twisp, Washington. In California the Bible Camp where I received Christ as my Savior is being threatened by a wildfire, too. We rejoice for the wonderful work that opened the door for salvation to so many who went to camp at Hume Lake.

We rejoice with my brother and his family because he has a new job after being let go from his job of over 20 years due to his company’s downsizing.

We are still in the waiting room on a new job for Dear.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 (ESV)

With everything that is going on it’s hard not to pray without ceasing. There are lots of things that I didn’t list that require prayer, too.

This weekend we are having a barbecue with our small group. We haven’t met since June so it will be good to catch up. On Sunday our church is closing it’s doors and we are headed to schools in our community to spruce them up for the new year. Community Serve Day is a great event every year that 6 local churches take part in.

What do you have planned for the weekend?

Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire ~ Hymn

SeaJack #4 006

Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer, the sublimest strains
That reach the Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death;
He enters Heav’n with prayer.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, Behold, he prays!

The saints in prayer appear as one
In word, in deed, and mind,
While with the Father and the Son
Sweet fellowship they find.

No prayer is made by man alone
The Holy Spirit pleads,
And Jesus, on th’eternal throne,
For sinners intercedes.

O Thou by whom we come to God,
The life, the truth, the way,
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray.

Words: James Montgomery, 1818.

It Is Well with My Soul

mom

It Is Well with My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought—
My sin—not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Refrain

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

Refrain

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so—it is well with my soul.

This was one of the songs my family sang in my mom’s hospital room the last couple days. We sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Trust and Obey, Bless Thou the Lord, He Lives and a couple songs in Russian, too. My mom had many ups and downs over the course of her time. The following photos show some of those ups and downs. Tonight she is home in her and my pop’s apartment on Hospice Care.

mom praisingThese photos were taken while singing It is Well with My Soul and praying over my mom.

mom watermelon

The next day my nephew Tim brought this cut up watermelon for us all to share in the hospital room and my mother really brightened up when she saw it.

mom episode

My father is always at my mom’s side. This was another down episode my mom had. She could go from alert and cheery to very difficult periods.

mom blessing

She rallied again and was so intent on my father praying a blessing on Caleb and Marie who will be getting married on August 10th. She wanted my Pop to bless them in Russian and then she spent quite a good chunk of time giving Caleb and Marie some advice and counsel. She told them that they have to forgive each other among other things.

After I left for the airport and my family was waiting for my mom to be discharged my sister shared the following:

Yesterday as we were waiting for mom’s release process we were singing hymns and people were stopping by to listen. We then received a request to sing for a patient. After we sang and prayed with one patient, a nurse asked if we could sing for yet another patient! It was such a wonderful experience to be able to minister to others in their time of need!

I am home again and thankful that I could make a quick trip to Southern California to see my mom and pop and be with them through these hard days. My siblings and I were able to talk through some decisions we have to make soon and talk with my parents about their wishes and resolving to honor those wishes. We had wonderful times of fellowship in my mom’s hospital room praying, singing, reading, laughing, sharing with family and friends. At one point we had 19 of us crammed into her small hospital room. After that the staff moved my mom to a much larger room so we could have more space. The staff at St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton were wonderful and they offered us some great hospitality even when we were clogging their halls!

Now we wait on God’s timing for my mom’s life.

Thank you for your prayers. I appreciate you all…

Moore, Oklahoma

Praying for the families who have lost loved ones in the latest devastating tornado in Oklahoma. Praying, too, for all those working tirelessly to uncover victims. I cannot imagine what those in the path of this tornado have gone through and continue to go through.
May God comfort and provide for all who have lived through this.

Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele

We are praying for all the victims of the explosions at the Boston Marathon. I can’t imagine what all these families are going through right now. Hats off to the first responders and the people of Boston who were so ready to help. May God comfort the suffering.

I’m winding down on my Milan posts and today I’ll share shots of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele which is named after the first King of the Kingdom of Italy and the oldest mall in Italy.

I didn’t go for the twirl on the Bull but I enjoyed watching others twirl on their heels.

I guess I’m not a design shopper as I didn’t feel tempted to go into any of the shops.

No shopping in the oldest galleria but I really enjoyed all the old Architecture and details in the Galleria.

The country we will be visiting with our oldest and his lovely lady is England. Josh and Laura have never been there and it will be fun exploring some old sights with them and discovering some new ones while we celebrate Dear turning 60. 2013 is fast becoming a major travel year for us between Dear’s conferences, family events, and the Mennonite Girls book launches. Praying already for God to go before us.

Psalm 121:8

The Message (MSG)

7-8 God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.