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!

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!

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!

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.

Our American Symbol!

Our flag represents freedom to people all around the world.

Seventeen year old Robert Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was in high school in 1958 when he submitted his design for the American flag. His design was selected by President Dwight Eisenhower and has lasted for over 50 years. Previous to this design, the design had changed 27 times.

The colors were chosen by the founding fathers of our country and each color has meaning. Red represents valor and hardiness. White stands for purity and innocence, and blue means justice and perseverance. The fifty stars represent each of the fifty states and the 13 stripes stand for the first 13 colonies.

Flag Day is a national holiday (not federal) which is celebrated on June 14. Why June 14 one might ask. It was on June 14, 1777 that the American flag was approved at the Second Continental Congress. At that time, thirteen stars were put on a blue background to represent a new constellation. I found it interesting that creating a new government was compared to creating a constellation. It must have seemed that overwhelming and grand.

Every store seems to be selling flags of all sizes in preparation for July 4. People have decorated their homes and yards with flags. I see them everywhere, and it adds to the excitement. I’m excited to be able to sit in a field and watch fireworks this year. Hope everyone is able to see friends and family this weekend and enjoy being together! Don’t forget the sparklers!

Memorial Day’s Flower

Poppies are America’s flower for remembering those who died in war.

The National American Legion voted to make the poppy the official emblem of remembrance in 1920. This followed the effort of Moina Michael who had been raising money for veterans by selling fabric made poppies. She had read John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Field in the Ladies Home Journal.

McCrae was a Canadian surgeon in northern Belgium in 1915 and was struck by the sight of red flowers blooming on war torn fields. The Germans had used chlorine gas for the first time and 87,000 Allied soldiers died or were wounded and 37,000 German soldiers were killed. He wrote a poem that was first printed in Punch magazine from the perspective of the soldiers that had died. This poem became very popular and was used at numerous memorial services. McCrae died in 1918 from meningitis and pneumonia.

Moina Michael was a college professor in Georgia, but she took a leave of absence to work with the YWCA. After reading In Flanders Field, she wrote her own poem We Shall Keep the Faith and the idea of selling fabric created poppies to help veterans was born. She then was able to convince the Georgia American Legion members to adopt the flower and the idea flourished to become the national emblem.

In Europe, a Frenchwoman named Anna Guerin supported the idea of selling poppies and began a campaign in France. The idea spread to England and other countries. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand joined the people of European countries in wearing poppies on November 11, Armistice Day.

I don’t know when I stopped seeing poppies worn on Memorial Day, but I remember them being sold and worn when I was a little girl. My poppies aren’t red, but I remember. I remember my classmates who died in Vietnam. My mother remembered those who died in WWII. Her parents remembered those who died in WWI. Will a time come when there is no war? I can only pray.

Decorating Eggs is an Ancient Custom

Wooden Easter Eggs are a Polish tradition.

Pinsanki is the Polish word for Easter eggs. It comes from the verb pisac which means to write. Beautiful carvings on wood or melted wax drawn on an egg to withstand dye was used to decorate the eggs. I had students from the Ukraine who knew women who used the wax and dye method, and they said it was a tradition in some families but not theirs. I would have loved to have seen these eggs.

I don’t know where I got my two wooden eggs, but I display them every year. I read that wooden eggs have been used at the White House Easter Egg Roll since 1981 when President Reagan and his wife offered eggs that had the signatures of famous people. They became a valued treasure. Egg rolling represents the stone being rolled away from Christ’s tomb.

Decorated eggs have been associated with spring for thousands of years and in burials. Farmers would bury them in the field to ensure fertility of their crops. Eggs also represented rebirth and Ostrich size eggs made from silver and gold have been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians. Real ostrich eggs that had been decorated were also found in tombs that were painted, and engraved. These are believed to represent the soul would be resurrected.

Early Christians dyed eggs red to represent the blood of Christ being shed on the cross. In Greece, the red eggs are used to play an egg cracking game. The tips of the eggs are tapped together and the person with the unbroken egg then tries to crack the other end of his opponent’s egg. While cracking, one person says, Christ has risen. The other responds, Indeed he has risen. The person with the unbroken egg believes he will be rewarded with good luck.

Many of us will color Easter eggs soon and will fill baskets with chocolate eggs and bunnies. Cadbury made the first chocolate egg in 1875 and they are still being made. I am a fan of Hershey’s little chocolate eggs. They fit nicely inside a plastic egg. One of these years I want to try the wax and dye method. If I do, I’ll let you know.

Lies are Revealed!

Enrico Mazzanti drew this Pinocchio.

In 1883, Carlo Collodi wrote The Adventures of Pinocchio. Walt Disney made him famous in America and many of us grew up being reminded that if we told a lie our noses might grow like Pinocchio’s did. I learned about his origin when we were in Italy because there were Pinocchios everywhere when we were in Tuscany. Collodi was from Florence, Tuscany.

Pinocchio got me thinking about how amazing it would be if our noses grew when we told a lie. I decided that would be physically impossible, but what if we got a case of hiccups, or our eyes couldn’t stop blinking. I can picture politicians’ speeches being interrupted by endless hiccups.

Some people are said to have a tell when they lie. Children frequently look down or away. I’ve heard of people who have a facial tic that is activated when they lie. I’ve never seen this, but can you imagine if everyone in Congress had that infliction?

During this season of Lent, many strive to overcome bad habits. They stop swearing, smoking, drinking, etc. Christians throughout the world use this time to do these things, but to also grow closer to God. They read the Bible in daily devotionals, and they pray more. I’ve never heard anyone say I’m going to stop lying, but it would be a good thing to do.

The stories of my childhood almost always had a lesson. Carlo Collodi taught an important lesson by creating Pinocchio.