What I Never Thought I’d See!

This is unexpected, but not shocking.

My grandmother was born in the late 1800s and saw many things in her 98 years. She went from riding in a horse and buggy to seeing a man land on the moon. She lost loved ones to disease and wars and the only thing that was constant was her faith in God. Even though there were many times she thought the world had gone crazy, she knew God was with her.

I shake my head in disbelief at what I recently saw in the news. I can honestly say I never thought I’d see this and I wish I hadn’t. Satanic groups are opening after school programs. Why? They say they are just offering arts and crafts and games. Many other groups do the same, so why do they really want to work with children if not to indoctrinate them.

I’m a Christian, but I know people of the Jewish faith and Muslim faith are taught that Satan is evil. Why would communities allow a group that proudly uses Satan in its name be allowed to work with children?

Over the last couple years children have been told they can’t wear crosses, can’t bring Bibles to school and can’t meet for prayer in schools across America. Now they can meet in a group sponsored by Satan worshippers?

When religious statues were vandalized and torn down I waited to hear the outrage. I didn’t. When churches were vandalized and some destroyed I thought people would be furious. It could be those voices were raised and the news media didn’t care to share the distress of Christians. Now I wish all those who love the Lord will speak out against these Satanic groups whose only purpose must be to bring them to Satan.

This is not just a battle for Christians to wage, but it is a battle for all those who believe in God. Please pray for our children and our country. I know I am.

Newfangled Appliances are Noisy!

My house is filled with talking appliances!

Something is definitely wrong if I’m telling my dryer I’m coming. That’s what happens when it beeps repeatedly to tell me the clothes are dry. It obviously has no patience. My washing machine plays a little tune, and the lid pops up when it has done its job and then thankfully it sits in silence. I appreciate that.

My coffee maker tells me when the coffee is ready and when it is shutting off. My dishwasher is just plain noisy while it runs, and it lets me know when the dishes are clean. They aren’t always dry, but they are clean.

The other two kitchen appliances that feel it necessary to make noise are the refrigerator and microwave. The microwave talks about everything it’s doing. I think it has its own broadcast system. The refrigerator doesn’t talk, but its ice maker loudly announces each new load of ice it deposits into the bin. Talk about being a prima donna!

The only thing I loudly announce is dinner being ready and that is important. I am old enough to remember quiet appliances, and I must say these newfangled ones are way too chatty!

What will 2022 bring?

A picture from the past but the message is still the same.

Julius Caesar created the Julian calendar and moved the new year to January 1 from the vernal equinox. This was because the existing calendar no longer was aligned with the sun. After consulting with astronomers, he added 90 days and honored the Roman god Janus who had two faces. It was believed that Janus could look into the future and was able to examine the past. The year was 46 BC and the calendar is very close to the Gregorian calendar that Pope Gregory XIII issued in 1582 and is still used today.

It is amazing that the calendar has not changed in centuries, but we did add daylight savings which I am not a fan of. I say choose a time and stick with it! The other thing that hasn’t changed are all the joys each year holds. Births, weddings, holidays and graduations all provide opportunities for celebration. I look forward to all of these in 2022.

I have mentally been comparing leaving 2021 to taking a shower. I want to wash away all fear, nastiness, and negativity. When I am mentally clean, hope, joy and positivity will replace all negativity. I wish that for everyone. Attitude is everything and I choose to believe 2022 will be a great year full of opportunities and great blessings. I wish you all a year filled with happiness and one filled with delightful surprises. They are the best!

Christmas Nostalgia!

Christmas items awaken memories.

Unpacking the boxes filled with Christmas items is an emotional time for many. My mom had two strands of bubble lights that were glass. Mine are plastic, but when I see them I remember how she arranged them around a table and being told not to touch them. Of course I touched them and quickly pulled my hand away because they were so hot. I still enjoy watching them bubble, and they don’t burn my hand.

My grandmother made a delicious fruitcake. People make fun of fruitcake but I like it. She made it with fresh coconut. I buy Claxton every year even though I’m the only one who eats it. It’s a memory.

The Christmas quilt was bought for my daughter years ago, and I put it out every year. It’s on the bed the granddaughters sleep in and it brings Christmas into the room. I told them they could take it to their house since it belongs to their mother, but they said they like seeing it here. That makes me happy! After all it provides a memory.

Last item in the picture is sugar cookies. I can’t remember when I didn’t make sugar cookies. By the time I was in high school I was the baker who made them. My family has turned cookie decorating into a competition and watching them this past weekend was hilarious. Of course we all had a different opinion on whose was the best and that made for a very loud discussion!

I would love to hear some of the things that evoke memories for you. Please share and Merry Christmas!

The Reason for the Season

Has baby Jesus been forgotten?

I love this simple drawing of the manger scene. It represents Christmas. There are are no Christmas trees, giant candy canes, red bows and no Santa Claus. Just baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph.

I’m a fan of Christmas Hallmark movies, but it would be nice if the people went to church on Christmas Eve. Instead they have parades, dances and concerts. Every movie has a Christmas tree lighting, a Santa, and an abundance of Christmas decorations in homes, businesses and even on the streets of the towns. However, I don’t see Nativity scenes in any of the decorations. Movie after movie has a similar theme and they all omit the birth of Jesus. Jesus is the reason for the season.

Some of the movies have miraculous events because as the characters say, Christmas is the time of miracles. The miracles in the movies can’t compare to the miracle of a shining star guiding wise men to a manger or angels telling shepherds that a child has been born and singing in celebration. When a wonderous event happens in the movie, no character thanks God. After all, he is the creator of miracles and should be given credit.

As I said, I do like watching Hallmark movies, but Jesus is never mentioned and he is Christmas, not Santa. Santa should be moved aside and Jesus be allowed to take center stage. After all, it is his birthday.

Thanksgiving Memories

Over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house we went.

My parents didn’t have a sleigh and we didn’t go through the woods, but we did cross streams and drove by woods on the way to Grandma’s. It was tradition to go to my grandparents farm on Thanksgiving. I still remember the smell of turkey and dressing and all things good when we entered the kitchen.

As an adult my children have heard me complain about having to sit at the children’s table. In truth, it was fun but it made me feel like a baby. The four granddaughters sat together while the older boy cousins ate as quickly as they could because this was hunting season and they went hunting every year after we ate. Dinner was at 1:00 and hunting must have begun at 2:00. The fields had many pheasants back then.

Hunting season in Ohio began on November 5 this year and will end on January 9. The Ohio Wild Life Division released move then 14,000 rooster pheasants on public hunting grounds for avid hunters. Hens are not allowed to be hunted. I don’t remember eating pheasant as a child, but I probably did. I do remember the pretty feathers.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. As you can see I decorate for it. Christmas decorations wait until after Thanksgiving. It was established as a day to give thanks, and each year I seem to be more aware of all the blessings I have. I hope all of you will be filled with thankfulness and enjoy this wonderful holiday.

Poe’s The Raven

Many students read The Raven and wonder what it means.

I never got tired of reading and talking to students about Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. The rhythm sells the poem and even if students didn’t understand it, they enjoyed hearing it read. To understand it, one has to understand the time period. The Raven was published in 1845.

The question asked of many writers is what was your inspiration? Some have tried to answer that on Poe’s behalf and some attribute it to the loss of his wife, Virginia, but she died two years after The Raven was published. However, Virginia died of tuberculosis and she would have been suffering from it at the time the poem was written and published. Poe could have been looking ahead to his life without his beloved wife. There was no cure for tuberculosis and one suffered an average of three years before passing.

Poe clearly believed in an afterlife and the suffering man in the poem questioned the raven about being reunited with Lenore when he passed. The raven was thought to be a messenger between the living and the dead, so this conversation was appropriate. The bird was merciless in answering Nevermore when asked if he’d “clasp a sainted maiden name Lenore” in Aidenn which is heaven.

The man asked if angels sent the bird, and if there is balm in Gilead which means relief in heaven. The raven is shouted at and called a prophet and a thing of evil, but anger did not change the raven’s answer from Nevermore.

The ending is painful because the prophetic bird’s words have been realized. Hell is spending eternity in that room with the demonic bird and never being reunited with Lenore. That is Halloween horror!

Worth Your Salt?

I grew up hearing “You are not worth your salt,” but I didn’t know where it came from.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used salt in trading for slaves. If they weren’t good workers, they weren’t worth the salt that was paid for them. Salt was so important it was sometimes used to pay Roman soldiers, and the word salary is derived from the Latin word “sal” or salt. Roman soldiers received a “salarium”. Historical records show how ancient people used salt around the world and the uses were many.

Growing up, we had one kind of salt in the cupboard and it was iodized salt. Salt became iodized in the U.S. in 1924 in order to address the goiter problem (enlarged thyroid) many people were having. It worked! I have three kinds in my cupboard but the iodized is used the most. In Europe, some salts also contain fluoride because fluoridation of water is not customary. In Germany, most of the salt sold also contains folic acid which is vitamin B. If salt in America contained vitamins, just think how healthy French fries would be!

Salt has been used in religious ceremonies, as a preservative, and has medicinal uses. The Bible makes 30 references to salt, and it was used as offerings and for purification. Salt was used in baptisms and in burials as an act of purification and giving salt as an offering to God was a common Hebrew practice. Ancient Egyptians and Native American used salt as a preservative and boiling brine was practiced in many countries. Being able to preserve fish with salt saved the lives of many colonists in America. Much is written about the medicinal uses of salt and gargling with salt water to treat sore throats and cancer sores was a common practice in my house growing up. Epsom salts is recommended for aching feet and muscles, and bubble baths are sold that contain Epsom salt to enhance relaxation. Salt is available and inexpensive today and is used in many countries like the people of ancient times.

I read so much about salt I can’t even begin to share all of it, but here are a few interesting things I learned: there are 12 different types of salts for cooking, constipation can be treated by drinking Epsom salt dissolved in water and the Erie Canal was referred to as “the ditch salt built” because salt was the main product transported and the salt tax paid for half of the construction cost.

The next time you reach for a salty chip, you might look at it with a little more interest. I know I now have more respect for salt.

America’s History is filled with Goodness!

America was dedicated to God in 1607.

One hundred and five settlers arrived at Cape Henry, Virginia in 1607. They brought with them a seven foot, heavy wooden cross from England on a very small boat. Pastor Robert Hunt declared that the gospel would go forth throughout this land and to the whole world. The settlers moved to what became Jamestown and established the first permanent English colony. They gathered three times a day at the center of town to pray and dedicated America to God. They prayed that for generations to come America would be a country where God’s work was fulfilled. America’s history is filled with many who worked to make this a country where God’s presence was felt and his love for his children was seen. One of these people was Anna Gardner. She was born into a Quaker family in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1816. Anna was raised in the Quaker belief that all men and women are equal. She became a teacher, writer, and abolitionist.

In 1841, Anna held an antislavery meeting where Frederick Douglas spoke. When she was a child, her father had helped save a runaway slave and his family from slave catchers and she never forgot. Anna worked tirelessly against slavery and for women’s rights. After the Civil War ended, she taught in Freemen’s schools in North Carolina and South Carolina.

In the late 1870’s, Anna turned her attention to women’s rights and spoke out on this injustice. Many of her former students were now teaching in the Freemen’s schools and she felt the need to address another inequality issue. Anna died at the age of 85 and was remembered as a servant of God who fought for equal treatment for all his children.

The Quakers were instrumental in establishing and running the underground railroad. According to National Geographic, 100,00 slaves found freedom via the underground railroad between 1810 and 1850. The Quakers were considered the first to actively help slaves escape, but many others joined them in order to accomplish this large number.

There are many people throughout America’s history who remembered that America was dedicated to God by the first settlers. We have come a long way in accomplishing this, but have farther to go. I think it’s important to remember all the good that has been achieved and the people who carried the load. Maybe remembering the acts of faithful people in the past will inspire us today.

First Day of School Traditions!

IT’S BACK TO SCHOOL ACROSS THE WORLD!

Handmade or purchased cones are given to children starting first grade in Germany and Austria. They are called schuletuete which means school bag. School supplies are in the cone along with sweets. I made mine with two favorite things…MMs and crayons. When I was in Germany many years ago, I saw them in the stores and was told they were filled with mostly candy.

In Russia, the first day of school is called Day of Knowledge. Children bring flowers to their teachers which I think is a wonderful idea. Students are given bright colored balloons in return. Children receive gifts of sweets and pencils from their parents.

Parents of children entering first grade in Kazakhstan often host a feast in celebration. The feast often includes lamb and sweets. The child is asked to recite seven generations of grandfathers. I found this to be one of the most unusual traditions.

Children in Italy wear work smocks on the first day of school and the boys’ smocks are blue checked and the girls’ are pink checked for kindergarteners. First graders and older wear dark blue smocks and they are frequently personalized.

Holland parents transport the little first graders to school on the first day in cargo bikes. It looks like it sounds. A large box sits between two wheels. It looks like a fun way to go to school.

Many of us have our own first day traditions that frequently begins with pictures. I also made a special dinner and dessert for my children. I remember chocolate chip cookies being made the most often. I hope all of our children and grandchildren will have a school year they not only learn but enjoy.