April Foolery!

April in Ohio makes the entire month subject to unwanted surprises.

This picture was from April 21, 2021, so it wasn’t nature playing an April Fools’ Day joke. In Ohio, any day in April can reveal a joke played by nature. I remember one Good Friday in April when my children made a giant Easter Bunny from the snow. I wish nature would agree with me and not allow snow after March 1. I’m perfectly happy with it December through February, but when March arrives I want spring.

Historians aren’t sure of the origin of April’s Fools’, but some suggest it began in 1582 when the calendar was switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. It took awhile for people to hear that the new year was to begin on January 1 instead of April 1. These poor uninformed people were called April Fools.

I have never been a fan of practical jokes which are performed on April 1. I remember both as a child and as a teacher seeing signs stuck on someone’s back. These were not words of praise. There were many acts of meanness performed and it made the day miserable. What would have been nice was to see people surprising others with a compliment, a candy bar, an invitation or for me a flower.

The other problem I have with this day was the person humiliated or hurt wasn’t allowed to be upset because it was just an April Fool’s joke and that was expected on this day. They were to laugh it off. I don’t agree. There is no day that should encourage people to embarrass or harm another.

I have come to accept nature’s jokes, but I can’t accept cruel acts. Why ruin a person’s day when you could do something to make them happy?

More Miracles!

Nature’s miracles always delight me.

It always surprises me how small bulbs survive our cold winters and produce such lovely blossoms. I’m so happy the squirrels don’t dig up the crocus or daffodil bulbs; I can’t say that about my tulips. Those squirrels!

I heard from a couple people who shared their miracles after reading my last blog. One said it was a miracle her cancer was found early. Another said she thought it was a miracle the chemo worked and she is now cancer free. They both said they thank God every day. Years ago a friend told me her father’s tumor disappeared after people in his church prayed for him. He was scheduled for surgery and when he had the last scan he was told it was gone. He remained cancer free and died many years later.

Another story was someone who was in a car accident. She was pinned in the car and no one was around. Her phone just happened to land on her chest and she could reach it with her free hand and called 911. I love hearing the stories and I know there are many who ask why they haven’t received miraculous help or healing in response to their prayers. I too have asked that.

Last night we were given a beautiful rainbow. Rainbows are signs of hope and good things to come. For me it is a sign that God is watching over us. The news is so depressing that it’s difficult to watch, so seeing a rainbow is encouraging.

As spring brings reawakening plants, I’m thankful for these miracles of nature. I’m not so thankful for the sturdy weeds the stare at me proudly for surviving the winter. They are very resilient which I realize is a good quality to have in these challenging times. Look for the daily miracle and you will be uplifted!

Miracles Do Happen!

There is no such thing as an ordinary miracle.

I love reading and listening to people talk about miracles. Over the years I have heard of many. I just finished reading Sarah Bessey’s book Miracles and other Reasonable Things, and it inspired me to tell a miracle story of my own. It’s not as dramatic as Sarah’s healing, but I think people can relate to it and maybe see God’s hand in something that has happened to them.

About seventeen years ago, my husband and I were driving south from Carlisle in northern England to London after visiting friends. While at a rest stop, my wallet was stolen from my unzipped purse. It held one credit card, and both dollars and pounds. I didn’t discover this until we had driven for an hour. We had to return to the rest stop and make a police report and call to cancel my credit card.

For next four hours I prayed that my wallet would be found. When we arrived at the inn, I told my husband we needed to check the car again because I felt my wallet wasn’t lost. We did and found nothing. While carrying our bags into the inn, the proprietor asked if we were the Skinners. When we said yes she told me I had a phone call. “I have a phone call?” I asked in a stupor. It was Francis our friend in Carlisle who had received an email from my daughter. I stunned to say the least. This gets even more curious so stay with me.

I was to call the police station in Shropshire, England because they had my wallet. My daughter just happened to be at our house to feed the cat when a woman with an English accent called and told her she had found the wallet along the road while out walking and that I should call the Shropshire police. Jill immediately emailed Francis. It was amazing Francis read the email because for her checking email was a nighttime activity. She told me she had felt pushed to check it.

I called the police and was shocked to hear my credit card and money were still in the wallet. Nothing had been taken! The police would not give me the woman’s phone number, but Jill had written it down and I tried calling when we returned home. The number didn’t exist.

This would be in the category of ordinary miracle, but for me there is no such thing. Think of all the people involved in getting my wallet returned. It took a supreme being to orchestrate the timing of each person’s actions. I call it divine timing and the work of an angel. Prayer does work, and I would love for you to share your stories.

The Joy of a Blossom!

My gardenia plant has three beautiful blossoms!

Gardeners know the joy of seeing a plant bloom. Plants are similar to children in that some are more challenging than others. For me, the gardenia plant has been challenging. I have had many over the years and the longest I was able to keep one was five years. I’m hoping I’ve learned from my mistakes.

The plant that lived the longest never went outside. I made the mistake of taking the others outside in the summer. When I brought them inside for the winter, they always had insects. As I tried to kill the insects, I killed the plant. This beautiful plant did not spend the summer outside, and it sits all day in a sunny window. I also have done a better job of fertilizing it than I have in the past. If you don’t know the aroma of a gardenia, I can’t explain it because it has its own distinct scent. It smells heavenly!

Scents elicit memories and for my father-in-law it was the Philippines where he was stationed during WWII. He said gardenias grew everywhere and the air was filled with their scent. I remember I wore a gardenia corsage to my senior prom. I remember that, but I don’t remember my dress. I pressed the corsage and kept it for years.

Gardenias are evergreens, but not in Ohio. They need moisture, at least six to eight hours of light each day, and acidic fertilizer. They also like hearing how good they smell and how pretty they look. The extra pampering this plant gets is worth it.

A Day to Show Love

Sometimes we just need to hear the words.

Memories of clutching my valentine box that I spent hours on still runs through my mind. It was the day that everyone in my class was my friend because I received a card from everyone. The teachers gave us lots of time to read each one, and I hope everyone felt special at least for a little while.

Valentine’s Day brightens the month of February and many people put hearts on their front doors and in my neighborhood some even have red lights on their bushes. We all have a need to celebrate, but we don’t need a special holiday to do that. Anytime we give a compliment brightens someone’s day.

I was listening to someone talk about the gift she was giving herself this Valentine’s Day. She said she was making a list of all the things people said they liked about her, and she was writing them on a big heart. Depression this winter has been an ongoing battle and she needed to give herself a boost. I found it sad that she needed other people’s comments to put on the card because she couldn’t think of anything she liked about herself to write.

That must make God sad that we don’t say I love how special you made me. He gave us so many gifts. The gift of music, intelligence, patience, or the ability to see beauty in someone or something every day are just a few. I sent my family valentines, but I need to take time and send God one. I’ll sign it with love and gratitude.

I’m Stuck!

Life can be overwhelming.

There are times when I just feel stuck. I can’t think of anything to write, I’m preparing the same meals, and I’m doing the same things. Sound familiar? The solution for me is to find a book.

Reading a good book helps me relax which frees my creative side. It also gives me ideas. I know the saying, there’s nothing new under the sun which was adapted from the Bible verse Ecclesiastes 1:9, but there is always a way to create a new twist on an old idea.

What do I read? I read uplifting books. There are so many sad and disturbing things happening in the world that I don’t want to waste my free time on reading more of that. I also like historical novels and some romance novels. The romance novels I like fall into the Hallmark version according to my husband.

I have a cupboard full of cookbooks and most are old having been handed down by my mother. I can spend a couple hours just reading recipes. That has helped me add a few new items to our dinner menu. Breakfast for dinner was one thing I’d forgotten about. There is never a bad time to make waffles!

I feel like my little angel on some days, and I have to push myself to do things. I’m only stuck if I refuse to dig myself out. Books are great shovels and one won’t hurt his/her back lifting them. The libraries are open and it’s a nice place to go. It gets me out of the house, and I come home with an armful of pleasure.

When Less is More

There are times when a little goes a long way.

I love the snow. I love how it sparkles in the sun and how a dark night becomes light because snow has covered the ground. All the fun things one can do in the snow make it a major source of entertainment. Saying all this, a little can go a long way.

Shoveling under four inches is actually an activity I enjoy. As you can see, this has exceeded that number quite significantly. The sunshine will help some, but it’ll take a while before we can use the front door. It is so heavy it’ll take time and patience to get it shoveled.

This excess of snow made me think of other things where a little goes a long way. Seasoning food is a good example. I always regret when I overuse salt or a spice. Instead of enhancing the flavor it dominates. Eating a large serving of a rich dessert is another example. The small serving is delicious and enjoyable, but eating too much just makes me feel sick and I forget how wonderful it tasted.

Listening to speakers can also fit into the area of a little goes a long way. I’m sure everyone has listened and felt at some point they got the point five minutes ago. Yet, the speaker drones on.

One of the best examples of the saying is the following. A child cried that he wanted to go home and his father said, “but aren’t you having fun?” The child answered, “I’ve had enough fun, I just want to go home!” I can relate. The snow could have stopped at four inches.

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!