Thursday, June 26, 2008

“The Strife is o’er the battle done;
Now is the Victor’s triumph won;
Now be the Song of Praise begun.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 12:15PM, Gloria finally and victoriously won her battle against cancer for good!! By God’s grace she defeated it and crushed it at the center, thus entering eternal life with her Savior, Jesus. “Oh death where is your sting?”

Hats off to Gloria!

The words above (and the picture and caption) accompanied an announcement of Aunt Gloria's passing. We cannot physically attend the visitation and memorial service, but our hearts and prayers are with her family and other loved ones as precious moments are shared and Gloria's life is celebrated this weekend.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Last night Greg called his uncle Art who's dear, sweet wife is dying. Aunt Gloria. Isn't that a precious name? It's a fitting name for a precious lady.

Marrying into the family, I've come to know this wonderful couple through their visits to the midwest from the west coast. Each time they've visited, I've not only heard great recollections of bringing up four rambunctious boys, but there is always something current to relish as well. Art and Gloria have a way of making life BIG as they share themselves with you and simply celebrate life. They are two of the most alive people I know. Even in Aunt Gloria's last days she is more alive in my mind than I sometimes think I will ever be.

Uncle Art gave a glimpse into what was going on in their home on Sunday evening. Art and Gloria's four sons have gathered from near and far and are with their mom and dad. Uncle Art said they are having a holy time together, praying, singing and simply being with Gloria. I can picture this family of happy, boisterous (and big) men gently loving their wife and mother as she rests in the peace of that kind of love and the faith that she will soon be seeing Jesus.

Our thoughts are with our uncle and cousins and others of Art's and Gloria's loved ones, as we pray for their heavy hearts and with Gloria as we pray for her physical and emotional comfort in her last days or hours here on this earth -- only the Lord knows how long she'll be.

Losing a loved one who knows Jesus as Savior is a heartache - to be sure, but it is not a bitter one. This family has been given a gift and they are cherishing it. They have been given precious last moments with their dear wife and mother who'll soon be waiting to embrace them in eternity.

Far away from that holy gathering I am contemplating the gift that I have been given too. My gift is that my life has been touched by this wonderful, sweet, funny and loving lady.

We love you, Aunt Gloria.

Gloria and Marcene (2007)
Gloria regales us with her hilarious story of a recent shopping escapade.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Choosing Simplicity

I came across this excerpt from Choosing Simplicity (p. 25):

“Living simply is not about rejecting the material comforts in life. However, it does involve unburdening our lives, living more lightly with fewer distractions—whether they are material things, activities, or relationships. It means letting go of anything that interferes with a high quality of life”.

This strikes a chord as I sift through endless piles of STUFF this week. I think I need to get me a copy of this book!

Monday, June 9, 2008

The mind of a man plans his way,

but the Lord directs his steps. - Proverbs 16:9

A change in perspective -- by The Soggy Blogger

As a homeschooling family of 15 years, we had decided we had accumulated far too much STUFF so I've been dejunking this spring getting ready for a whopper of a garage sale.

Here is just a sampling of what I've been collecting -- um, okay.... let's just call it what it is - hoarding. And this is just part of it all):

Lest you think, "This isn't so bad," keep in mind....I didn't take pictures of what wasn't neat.
'Nuff said.

As the date of the garage sale drew near Ben announced he wanted to sell refreshments. Great! An opportunity to learn some business principles. He figured the cost versus the profits and in the end, he concluded it would be fun to do a refreshment stand anyway. So Friday afternoon Ben made brownies, cookies and rice crispy treats.

Greg and I put the finishing touches on the garage sale (i.e. we made sure everything had a place and a price-tag). We are neat garage sellers, too:

See anything you want?

We'd heard there was a chance of scattered showers the next day. But hey! What's a little rain to a serious garage sailor? (Bad pun intended.) We shrugged it off and hoped for sunshine.

As we left our beautifully arranged stuff tucked neatly in our dry garage, we went to bed while visions of money (to buy more STUFF, no doubt) danced in our heads.

z z z z z z z z z

Thunderstorms rattled the house through the night and I woke up around 5:00 a.m. and groaned to see that the street in front of the house was flooded. I think I grumbled to Greg, "No one is even going to be able to make it across the moat in front of our house and into our driveway!" Keep in mind, we've had the street "flood" during heavy rains before, and since Greg wasn't worried, I decided to crawl back into bed and get some more shut-eye.

About 7:00 a.m. I got up for real and plodded down to the kitchen. "WOW! Look at all that water in the back yard!" But again...we've had a lot of rain before, so I didn't get too excited - yet, but I was beginning to think the garage sale might not happen.

I decided to check our downstairs. We have a half-basement family room with french doors that open out onto a cement patio area. This area sometimes accumulates a bit of standing water in a heavy rain, and remembering once before it had gotten dangerously close to the doors I called out for Greg to come take a look.

By the time he got down there, I noticed that the carpet was a slightly darker shade of gray along the doorway. "It's coming in!" I yelled. Then I noticed that the carpet was wet all along that wall. It was wicking in fast. We called the boys to get up and help us move bookshelves and desks from that side of the room. We pulled everything away from that outside wall and then we sat down to take a deep breath thinking of the disaster our precious bookshelves had escaped.

Then we noticed that what was previously just wet-looking had turned into a puddle. "Quick! Get these bookshelves unloaded and carry everything upstairs!" We spent a frantic half hour (at least) doing just that. And since Joel had boots on, he was enlisted to go outside and place bags of water softener salt along the outside of the door. What a sport.

Then we sat down to catch our breath again (and to apologize for all the yelling that had just gone on - yes, ours....not the boys'). Beginning to see the humor in it all, the guys started to laugh and made a list of all the videos we could watch while we waited this baby out. They came up with:

The Longest Day (June 6th)
The Poseidon Adventure
A River Runs Through It.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
The Sea Hawks
Treasure Island
Mysterious Island
Run Silent, Run Deep
The Hunt for Red October

And anything with Claude Rains.....

I decided to check out the downstairs room again. "Get down here, everybody! The water is making it's way to the other end of the room!" The salt bags weren't helping much at all. So once again, we worked frantically to carry the remaining books, and bookshelves, upstairs to higher ground. The only things we couldn't manage to get up the stairs were a large computer table, a sleeper sofa (that has seen many, many better days) and a recliner.

At this point, we crashed and decided there wasn't much else that could be done but to wait it out. I mean, it had to stop raining sometime, right? I decided to humor myself and take some pictures.

It wasn't very funny:

Up until last weekend, we had thought this floor outlet was pretty clever. After it bubbled and sizzled, we began to wonder just why we thought it was a good idea. (BTW, the electricity was turned off at this point.)

Greg tried squeegy-ing water from the carpet into the laundry room where there is a floor drain. Can't you almost hear the water sloshing?

The rain did finally begin to subside and we ventured outside to take a peek.
Yes, that is blue sky you see reflected in the pool of mud on our back patio.

The lowest corner of our back yard. By late afternoon it was already starting to recede.

Our shed remained flooded for the better part of Sunday.

And believe it or not....about mid afternoon on Saturday we decided to open up the garage door and have at it. We made a whopping $7.50 -- with Ben making the majority of that selling brownies (and that $7.50 included a 2-dollar tip!) We've got some pretty nice neighbors, don't you think?

Sunday afternoon, our good friends, Mark and his son, Danny came by to help in whatever way they could. The guys pulled out the larger pieces of furniture we hadn't been able to remove the day before and then ripped up the saturated carpet and pad:

Nathan, who is SO glad to be home from college, hauled wet carpet and pads out to the street.

Ben and Joel took turns vacuuming with a shop vac while Mark squeegeed.

How do you like that 60's linoleum? Ben wants to leave it so he can roller blade on it. I know retro is in, but I'm not sure I can live with this.

Dan and Joel also worked hard pulling out the wooden carpet strips and baseboards. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of Dan working up a sweat! What great workers they all were.

After a second trip to Walmart for me (to buy a couple mop heads this time) the floor got a good mopping and while we waited for the floor to dry, we enjoyed some well-earned sub sandwiches. Finally, the guys carried back downstairs (onto a dry floor) the bookshelves and many boxes of books we had lugged upstairs the day before -- so we wouldn't be tripping over them in the coming weeks while we figure out what we're going to do to give this room a face lift.

A contractor (and friend) came by today to give us an estimate and a time frame for getting this room into shape. It will be at least three weeks before we can get squeezed into their schedule.

The silver lining is that we have time to contemplate what we want to do with this room.
And to contemplate that we were among the luckier ones. Many suffered much worse damage than we did -- just blocks from our home. Some lost homes and automobiles and at least two persons are missing as a result of the flood waters in this sleepy little town last weekend.

We're also contemplating how much larger our garage sale is going to be once we're done clearing through everything that we're realizing hasn't really been all that worth saving for the past 10 years. (That's how long we've lived in this house).
It's interesting how something like this changes one's perspective about material things.
This change of perspective is a good thing.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sermons We See

by Edgar Guest

I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear.

And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.

And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.

And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.
One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.

Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to every one is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.