Monday, December 30, 2013

New Pictures of Chocolate and Me

Chocolate spends a lot of time in the winter curled up in his heated bed.  This was a gift from his grandma years ago, and has been his favorite bed as he gets older.  Thanks Mom!
 Chocolate is sleeping on his blanket at the foot of my bed.  He goes in spurts where he sleeps.  Lately at night it has been on my bed, which is my favorite place to be, and my favorite place for him to be!  I just find it comforting. 
 Here is our new Christmas tree.  I look like I am choking my poor cat.  He doesn't like to be held.  He is not a camera friendly cat.  I used to have to quietly sneak up to him to take pictures, and even then he'd run away.  Now I can take pictures of him sleeping and he doesn't even wake up. 
I try to take a selfie.  I don't know why the crooked smile.  I don't see it when I look in the mirror, unless it is a corner or 3-way mirror.  Do others?  I also have a crooked neck which makes my head sit on my body crookedly.  My eyes are two different sizes.  The size gets even more different when I laugh.  Oh well, what can you do.  I am used to it and just live with it.  The last time I got upset about trying to take a selfie for a dating site, I threw my camera and broke it!  I am much better now.  "I'm not crazy.  My mother had me tested."-Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Half the Sky

Edna Adan started a maternity hospital in her home country of Somaliland to help combat genital mutilation and prevent maternal mortality.

Urmi Basu started her own organization to keep women and girls out of prostitution in the Red Light district of Kolkata, India.

Amie Kandeh advocates for women in Sierra Leone, working to seek justice for victims of abuse.

Rebecca Lolosoli is an advocate for women in Kenya and started her own women and children only village for victims of domestic abuse.

Somaly Mam was a victim of sex trafficking as a child in Cambodia, and after escape, started her own rescue and rehab organization for other women and girls trafficked in southeast Asia.

These women and more you can read about on:

Why did I write this?  I saw the documentary on PBS and have read the book twice.  I even wrote a letter to my local papers about it.  This inspired me because as a woman, I never realized how good I have it here in America at this time. 

I was never mutilated, abused, or sold into slavery.  I was educated to the best of my ability, earning a Masters degree in Education.  I was gainfully employed for some years in various occupations.  I have truly been blessed and never appreciated it.

I write this because every night I thank God I have a warm bed to sleep in, a cat at my feet to keep me company, and warm jammies to keep me cozy.  I write this because I do not know hunger, ignorance, or disease.  I was born in the richest country at a time where my rights are respected and I am considered equal.  For this I am eternally grateful, and I hope I remember this when I complain of the cold and frigid temps, complain of my bad eyesight or hearing, or complain of having to use a CPAP for my sleep apnea.

I love being a woman, and I wouldn't want it any other way. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Coming Home


The season of Advent is about Jesus coming.  First is in the past, when He came as a helpless baby to be worshipped in a manger.  Presently it is when we see Him reflected in His creation.  Future when He comes again one final time to reign for all eternity, where there will be no more tears and no more pain. 

Home is a place where one feels loved and accepted.  Where one feels a part of something bigger, a sense of belonging.  So what does Advent have to do with Home?

Where I feel most at home is where I see Jesus in His creation, when I feel Him moving in my soul.  Where I am most myself and closer to Him than ever. 

I feel this way when I am with my parents playing cards.  When I am laughing with my niece.  When my sister and I enjoy an episode of Big Bang Theory.

It is when I am holding a cat in my lap or playing with a dog.  When I feel the purr of the feline, the licks of the canine.

It is when my students learn something new in English, and I had a part in that.

It is when a family brings home a pet, and I had a part in that.

It is when I am talking with my friends at church, sharing a snack with my Bible study group.

It is when I am moved to tears during a sermon, remembering the goodness of God.  When I am singing a particularly moving worship song.

It is when I am snuggled up in my bed on a cold winter's night, with my cat at the foot.

It is when I am praying to God and reminded of His grace.

It is in remembering the Christmases of my childhood, the lights on the tree, the scents from the kitchen, the warmth of the hugs.

It is in the Christmas of now, seeing the joy in my niece's face, the contentment of my parents, the craziness of all the dogs.

It is in the simple things of life that bring me joy, peace, and purpose.  The things that last.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Memories, part 2

These are my two favorite Christmas movies.  I try to see them every year, but don't always have the time.  But they make me cry and they make me laugh, even though I have seen them a million times. 

I also love to listen to KOOL 108 (107.9 FM) for they play vintage Christmas music, like Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole.  Now these guys and more were singers.  My grandma played these records on her console, along with The Sound of Music.  My cousin and I sang and danced around the basement (our play room) the soundtrack.  Even now I can remember the words of some of the songs. 

My mom and I made spritz cookies last weekend.  We took turns wrestling with the cookie press.  She hates making them but does it for us, knowing how much we love them.  My parents worked hard to make Christmas special for us kids.  We got a tree from the lot, dad cut it just right and carefully arranged it in the tree stand.  Then mom and dad wound the colored lights and golden garland around the tree.  As the perfectionist as my dad is, the tree always looked like it was the most regal tree there ever was. 

How blessed I am to have had such great Christmas memories.  I am very thankful to my parents and grandparents who gave so much of themselves, during this time of year, and all throughout the year.  I have been greatly and deeply loved, and I am truly thankful for that. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What is beautiful?

Cheezburger is one of the that websites that I check everyday for a good laugh.  But sometimes there is something meaningful there, something that makes me cry and changes my perspective.  I encourage you to view this youtube video, and you will see what I mean.

After I saw it I cried and for the first time in my life, I felt beautiful.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Memories, part 1

 Do you remember Shiny Brite?  These were popular when I was growing up in the 70s.  You can still get them online.  I have some myself on my tree.  How about the white flocked Christmas tree?  These are a bit more difficult to find. My grandparents had one so I decided years ago to get one myself.  The picture on my blog of me and my cat includes this tree.  But my grandparents' tree looked so much better, like the one in this picture.  My tree was a mess.  Every time I touched it a flake would fall off.  Then Chocolate my cat would eat it, then throw it up later.  So much fun.  Then I got a white tree from Kmart.  Bad idea.  The tree lived up to the store's nickname I give it (Came Apart), and the lights went out.  Now I have a green tree with lights that are guaranteed to last!  At first I was a little disappointed as it wasn't white like my grandparents, but after putting my too many ornaments on it, it reminds me of my parents' tree, which also brings back memories.

I have a confession to make.  I  never took down my tree from last year.  I just couldn't bear it as the winter was too long (snowstorm in April?  please!).  So I left it up sans ornaments.  I find the lights comforting.  I just like to sit there and look at them.  I love to nap on my couch with the lights softly glowing, as they did as a child at my grandparents. 

My grandparents made the Christmases bright for us kids.  I still smell the krumkake and rosettes my Norwegian grandma made every year.  I laugh at the cheap tape and tags they used on the gifts.  The tags fell off, but my grandma always knew who had what.  Maybe the cheap tape was intentional so they could save the paper! 

When my grandparents moved from their little yellow rambler into a nursing home, I grieved the loss of no more Christmases at my grandparents.  Every Christmas I would grieve, wishing they were still here and still in their home.

But now it seems that slowly but surely, I am appreciating more the Christmases at my parents, as they are now the grandparents to my niece.  No more are the traditional Christmas cookies, but a new tradition resurrected with my niece getting older: making ornaments.

That's what Christmas is about I guess.  Creating new memories to help you move on from the pain of loss.  And being thankful for the memories in the first place.