When will the world end?

Well, I am writing so it is obvious that the world did not come to an end as the Mayans apparently had predicted. For various reasons, I did not have much faith in that prediction.

  1. It did not make any major news station like previous predictions had
  2. The Mayan Calendar did not take into consideration a 7 day, 12 month year and Leap Year was not known
  3. It says in the Bible that only the One, True God knows of the end.

I am sure that many people have been thinking about the Second Coming or the end of existence with all of the weather abnormalities. Also with all of the unrest in the Middle East and of course, the unrest in the lives of others that have caused horror on our own land.

As I have written before, I am a faithful and religious person but I am not an obsessive Christian. I believe that all I have has come from God and I should so my best to be kind, caring and help those that need help. I do not live my life hoping for the Coming of Christ. If that makes me a bad Christian, then I must pray every day for  forgiveness. Even with all of its problems and horrors, I actually like this earth. I like where I live. I even like the eight inches of snow that fell in blizzard conditions earlier this week.

I am selfish for my children. I want them to be able to experience the same things in life that I have experienced. They are honestly such great kids. They both have more compassion, concern about their earth and are further along in their faith walk than I was at their age. I want to see what they become as adults and how they take everything that they know and have passion for and use it to better this place we call home.

I remember when I was in high school, the world was going to be coming to an end. I was scared. I was honestly in fear of my life. I did not want my life to end when I was just a teenager. There was so much I wanted to see. There was so much I wanted to accomplish. From a shallow standpoint, I didn’t want to die before knowing what truly loving someone was like. I wanted to know what physical love was as well. I also knew that I was not going to go out and have sex just because someone said that the world was going to come to an end. So the same things that I feared I would not experience are the same things that I fear for my children. I do want my children to know what true love is about. I want then to know what it is like to love someone so deeply that they want to spend the rest of their life with them.

The world did not come to an end when I was a teenager and who knows (Okay God knows) when time on this earth will cease. But I know that I need to live my as if it were ending tomorrow. There are times when I really fail being a good person but there are days that I succeed oh so well!

Every year I hope that I become a better position, mature in my walk with God, mature in my handling tough situations. I think that I do grow a little every year. So once again, I will hope that I become a better person and do a better job acting the way I have been taught to act towards others.

As we see this Christmas season and as those of Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah, we all are reflecting on light. For us it is the light of Christ, the light of the star that told of Jesus’ birth. For the Jewish people it is the miracle of the light of the oil lasting in the lamp. I think if we all look at ourselves, we are more alike than different and I think we should be looking at how we can be civil and friendly instead of looking at our differences and thinking that it is the difference that defines us. It is not the differences but our similarities that can define us and make us great.

Whether you celebrate the light of Jesus or the Light of the Menorah, peace to you all and blessings to you and your family.

 

Growing old…appreciating life…damning life

Okay, I have to be honest; I don’t know if this writing is more about the thoughts running through my head or the wine running through my veins, but I feel compelled to write, to share, to cry, to vent or share whatever comes out of these fingers.

I am alone. I am not lonely. My family has just left a day before me for a Thanksgiving holiday. I will greet them tomorrow, after taking care of some household necessities, meeting up with our house sitter, getting our ailing dog to the vet and making sure that our dog staying home has all she needs.

I am sad. I have come to the realization that our nine and a half-year old dog is dying. We have had all the tests, had him hospitalized with the vet to try to figure out what is wrong. He is not making platelets or his body is destroying the platelets that are being made. Anyway you look at it, he is dying and I am sad. I look at him not being able to walk up the stairs in our home and I am sad. I watch him as he cannot eat his favorite snack and I am sad. While I know he is not my child, my tears are real and my pain is true.

I have read in the newspaper two things that truly disturb me; 1) Legalizing marijuana because enforcing the laws as an illegal substance is overcrowding our prisons and 2) not allowing nativities in a community.

If you have read my blog before, you know I am a Christian woman. I do not understand that a country that is more than 50% Christian can say it is illegal to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And it is not just that we should be allowed to celebrate Christmas and Easter as Christian holidays, I believe that acknowledging other faiths is okay if it means that we, as Christians, can be open about our faith. Having a Menorah does not lessen my faith as a Christian. Why do we have to be denied our faith? We should not have to sacrifice our faith just as those who are Jewish, should not have to sacrifice their faith. Why can’t we work, as a country, to be open to all, even Christians!

It seems that people have decided that it is easier to lower out morals than to enforce the laws we have or guide our children to lower their standards. Many may say that I am a strict parent and expect too much of my children. I will tell you, that until the day I die, I will always say that you should wait to have sex until you are married and that living together is the easy way out.

If we teach our children about commitment in a marriage and that it is not something you throw away because there are problems, we teach them to think before they act, to be sure that the decisions that they make are for the long-term. If I would have walked away from my marriage every time there was a problem, I would have been divorced by now. I love my husband, very dearly, and I would not want to be with any other man, but we have had our conflicts. That is natural. I cannot think that there are any two people who think exactly alike. That is what makes life interesting. And I am not an ultra conservative Christian, so while you might look at the above rantings as that of an ultra conservative, think again. I believe that we should teach our society to be committed and look towards the future in all: work, relationships, living and not just believe that we can just move on to the next thing when we tire of what we do or have.

BUT I think that we need to be respectful, more controlling of our thoughts and actions and realize that we should not be a society of instant gratification. What is wrong with waiting until you are a responsible adult to have sex? What is wrong with having drugs be illegal? Why is it wrong to error on the side of modesty than flamboyance?

I just don’t get it. I just have to wonder if our world is just falling apart.  As I have told friends, “It is hard to close Pandora’s box. How do we get back to a world of responsibility, of modesty, of deference, when it has all been done and accepted as normal?”

I fear for my children. I hope that in their upbringing to appreciate nice things, hard work, respect and modesty, that they are not swallowed up by the world. I hope that they can survive, be a positive influence, be a beacon of their faith and give hope to the world, that it can be a loving world.

It is funny. While I think these things, they have come to the surface because of the mortality of a dog. My thought to say, ‘just a dog’ for emphasis enters my mind, but he is so much more than ‘just a dog’. Copper, is a true dog, someone who is loyal, loving and faithful. I wish that I could be like a dog. I wish that I could be always loyal, loving and faithful. As a human, I cannot be that perfect. Oh to be a dog, for that perfection.

I don’t know if Copper is going to die in three days, three months or three years, but I know that he is better at being a dog than I am at being a person. And that makes me sad, lonely and oh so wanting to be more like a dog. Maybe that is why dog and GOD use the same letters…so close to perfection.

I will let this sit for the night. In reviewing, I believe all I wrote, and even in the light of day, wine or not, I am sure I will stand by these words. God bless my dog, for his is perfection!

(I have re-read, and stand by my words.)

Being Thankful…Always

Many think about being thankful at Thanksgiving time. I try to be thankful everyday because that is what my faith says. Whether things happen that are good or bad, I need to find something to be thankful. I learned that, many years ago, when we had an unemployed household. And I continue to learn daily.

I quit working, for pay, when our family moved to Spain. When we moved home, it was decided that I would continue to not work for pay so I could manage the home, the children, our lives, as Kent would continue to travel in the United States for his work.

Well…that was the thing, there needed to be employment. That did not happen for nine months. We were faced with financial and social strains that we could never have imagined.

All of the friends that we had in Spain were no longer available in our life. There were no more business lunches or dinners or drinks. And things had changed at home as well.

Kent would go to his office, in our home, every day but there was no connection to others. I would take our son to the bus for Kindergarten and take our daughter to pre-school and we would go to church on Wednesday and Sunday, but things were different. There was a disconnection with our life.

Life moved forward without us in the United States. The friends with whom we had socialized had met new friends and it was hard to fit us into their busy schedule. We had our son at school in one town, our daughter in pre-school in another town and our church was in a different town. It was a mess and it was getting difficult to act as if everything was okay in our home. There was a lot of stress and arguments. How could we pay our bills? How did we get to be so distant from our friends? How are we going to survive?

There did not seem to be much to be thankful. I felt my life was falling apart. But I had to find something. So I began thinking: ‘We may not have a job, but we have money to pay for insurance; if someone becomes ill we can still go to the doctor. We still have a roof over our heard. We still have food to eat. The adults may not be getting along, but we still need to be thankful that our children are happy.’ No matter what our ailments, place in life, our financial status, I can be thankful that I wake up in the morning.

In my life as a Christian, I do not always do what is proper. I don’t always pray as I should. But, I think, always give credit to The One who sees to my needs. While things were not easy for those nine months, we survived and grew stronger. It was because of my faith that I muddled through and learned and became a better person.

I P.R.A.Y.

When I have a conversation with God, I Praise first. I thank God for all of the things that he has given me. Sometimes what I am given is not what I want but it is what I need. It is through our trials and tribulations that we grow in our faith. If things were always hunky-dory, we could not grow as a person; we would become spoiled brats, always getting our way.

Next I Repent. I ask God to forgive me for falling short of His expectations. And I fall short every day.

Thirdly, I Ask. I don’t ask for things because that is not what we need. I ask for guidance and inspiration and His patience, while I try to figure it all out.

And lastly, I Yield. To me that means that I give myself to Him to use my life as He sees fit. Does that mean that I become a Job-type character and I am inflicted with sores and poverty? Or am I blessed to no end and can take my blessings to help others? I don’t know. On any given day, I think that I could be used as either. But however I am used, I remain thankful, thankful for my loving, imperfect family and my blessed and imperfect life.

Now, after nine months of unemployment, my husband did find a job. We have not had that sort of turmoil in our home since. It was a great learning experience and through our trials, we grew as a family. I do not have all of those lessons down pat; I still make huge mistakes in my life. But I know that I can survive. When it does not seem that I can, I P.R.A.Y.

Happy Thanksgiving, every day!

It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas! A memory of Grandma Thom.

I am not a young thaang! (Sorry about the bad slang) but conversely, I am not as old as dirt. While my children are teenagers, when my grandma was my age, she had four grandchildren ages 6, 4, 3 and 1 (I am the one year old). We would be the only grandchildren she would have; as my mom’s only sibling never married. Since there were only four of us and we lived six blocks from them (six blocks is about 1/2 mile), we saw my grandparents a lot.

I loved my grandma probably more than any other relative I had/have. She made me laugh, cry, think, but mostly grow as a person. I think of her almost every day. And I definitely miss her. Even as I write this my eyes fill with tears and I think of the empty spot in my life. I know that she watches over me and sees what I have done in my life, but my children never met her. They never got to eat her Christmas cookies or learn how to separate an egg or just sit with her and share stories. You see, she has been gone 20 years this December 26th.

I have to tell you that the tears are really flowing now and I don’t know why. I thought I was finished grieving. It has been three Christmases since last I cried while singing “Silent Night” at our  Christmas Eve service. Maybe because I have never written about her; never put my grief to paper that the tears are flowing.

I have written about traditions and many of those traditions came from Grandma (and Grandpa) Thom (Thompson). Our Christmas tree went up on Christmas Eve because when my mom was growing up, the tree went up on Christmas Eve and Santa Clause decorated it. (We didn’t leave the decorating to Santa, we did that on our own). When I was older, I found out that the tree going up on Christmas Eve was all about the 12 days of Christmas because it always came down on Epiphany (Day 12).

On Christmas Day, we always had dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s. We would have the same meal: bone-in ham, creamy mashed potatoes, fluffy Jello salad, homemade Christmas Pudding (Plum pudding) and mincemeat tarts with Hard Sauce. And as my Grandma was a tried and true Methodist *, the Christmas Pudding and Hard Sauce were not made with alcohol.  Our evening meal was ham sandwiches, Ruffles Chips, cheese always homemade cookies with English Tea (English tea is made with milk and sugar).  So many memories… (* She told me, at the end of her life, that the reason she did not drink wine was that she was worried she would like it too much!)

Grandma taught me how to iron. I will never forget the low ceilinged, dark basement where she ironed. She would sit with the ironing board at a low position, the green 7-Up bottle filled with water and the sprinkler attachment on the end to sprinkle the item to be ironed. She would have the old vacuum-tubed television on, with its Rabbit Ears, watching “A Secret Storm”. We would talk about the characters on the television, or what was happening at school or any crazy thing that entered our minds.

She started me on my grandpa’s handkerchiefs. When I mastered those, I graduated up to trousers and then dress shirts. To this day, I love to iron. I always start with handkerchiefs, then I move my way to dress shirts. Do I iron that way because that is the order I learned? I don’t know but it is always how I iron. My husband likes the fact that I don’t grumble about ironing, because he does like his things nicely pressed. (And please no grumbling about my domesticity. I do these things with a smile on my face. Anyone who knows me knows that I am my own woman and not a domestic slave. I learned those things from my mom and grandma. I can “bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan…” {Enjoli commercial from the 70’/80’s})

Grandma Thom was a fabulous cook. She was an artist at Christmas. Her baking began in August because she had so much to do that she had to begin that early to get it all done. She was famous for her “Christmas Cards”. These were Santa Cookies that she made for over 30 years, some years making 750 cookies to share as the Thompson Christmas Card. There were always enough for each of the grandchildren to give to their school classmates and friends outside of school. We would place our order and she would package them up to make sure we were taken care of first. Our family was known for our Santa Cookies and, even now, those cookies are remembered.

As well as taking the time to make the coconut bearded, raisin-eyed, royal icing covered cookies, she made peanut brittle, pecan brittle, divinity, 3 kinds of chip cookies, many old English favorites, popcorn balls and probably 30 other treats. She was amazing and such an inspiration. My grandpa made a Christmas Tree that would hold some of her scrumptuous gifts from the kitchen, all made with love. We looked forward to that tree appearing and were always sad when it had to be put away.  You can see that she used Spode Christmas Chinain the photo and the tree was always a short needled fir.

In January of 1992, my grandma went into exploratory surgery. I was at the hospital when the word came out that she had ovarian cancer and that it had metastasized to other parts. We were all devastated. There were many tears, but we all forged on and did the best we could for her.

As time went on, she found that the Chemo did not work and it made her feel awful and not herself. We all tried to spend as much time together as we could. In late November/early December, my sister and I went to Grandma’s home to bake. We wanted her to have those same Christmas-time smells. She was unable to be in the kitchen; she was too weak. Individually, we would go to the Living Room and spend time alone with Grandma. My sister and I both told her that she was so important to us but she needed to take care of herself and that it was not selfish to let go and be where she could be healed, where she could be whole again.

You see, she was a very faithful woman and we knew that her dying was not the end for her. She had stopped being that happy, always there for a smile and a laugh, lady. And she was a lady. She never wore pants in public, never swore or said a bad word about anyone. If she could find someone to drive her to her destination, she would. She really did not like to drive. I knew that she did not like everyone, but never a cross word left her mouth. She was the epitome of grace. She is who I want to be when my children marry and become parents.

She went into the hospital in December. I was going to my in-laws for Christmas so on Christmas Eve, I went to visit her in the hospital, as I would not able to be there on Christmas. By then, she was semi-comatose. I sat with her and talked to her and did the best I could to hold it together.

I remember her saying, “Mmmmm, good apple pie,” as I sat with her. Even at the end of her life, she was still thinking about food. She was having good thoughts, comforting thoughts. It was very hard for me, but I had to leave. I told her I loved her and walked out of her hospital room.

The doctor was there as I left, tears beginning to fill my eyes. He told me that tests showed that her kidneys were shutting down and she had very little time left. He knew I was going out-of-town and this was his way of telling me that would probably be the last time I saw her. I made it to my car and totally lost it. The tears flowed; it was that ‘I can’t catch my breath’ kind of crying. I had to sit in that cold hospital parking lot, feeling alone and so sad, until I could gain enough composure to drive to work.

I drove the mile to work and when my boss looked at me, she sent me home because she knew that I was in no position to be at work. She also knew my family, well, and knew that this was a devastating loss. This was the first time our family had had a matriarchal loss in a long time. All of the other generational losses had been at such a young age that the “matriarch” position had not been established, or so late that someone else had stepped in.

My husband and I left for Christmas, knowing that it would be hard. We survived Christmas Day but decided to leave earlier to get back home, just in case we could make it back before Grandma dies. We left on December 26th and drove to Kent’s grandmother’s home to spend the night. Almost as soon as we walked into Rubye’s home, the phone rang. She answered the phone and said the call was for me. My heart sunk. I took the phone, trying to prepare for what was going to be said. It was my dad. He had to be the bearer of bad news probably because my mom was inconsolable.

It didn’t take long for all of us to realize that my grandma was in control until the end. Christmas was her holiday. She prepared for this holiday for months. No other Christian holiday received as much time, joy and love as Christmas. While she could not control how her cancer progressed, she controlled how it would end. She was not going to die before Christmas, as we would be thinking of how sad we were instead of the anticipation of Christ’s birth. She definitely was not going to die on Christmas Day. She held on until the day after.

While I still mourn her, it was because of her death that I am who I am today. She never met my children. In 1992, I was told by my Ob/Gyn, that I would probably never have any children. Because of that, she and I had great conversations about her struggles. She would say that she could get pregnant, but being pregnant almost killed her. After my mom was born, she was told never to have another child. She went against the doctor’s orders and had my uncle. She did stop after that. I don’t think I ever would have known that if she wouldn’t have known her time on this Earth was coming to an end.

I still love her and this writing has been very cathartic for me. Today, many tears have flown and many memories, good and sad, have been shared. I thank you for letting me share this with you and I hope that it has helped you remember someone who has had a lasting impact on your life who is no longer with you on this Earth.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas and it has nothing to do with the decorations at Target or the advertisements that are beginning to air. It has a lot to do with memories of Grandma Thom.

Written in loving memory of Jessie V. Thompson  (photo of the Thompson family)

Having a blog named “a little caffeine”, I figure I should probably talk about my coffee. Every morning I make my stovetop espresso, heat and froth the milk and add my flavoring choice of the day. Today, my choice was Gingerbread. Since my home is not in town, it just made sense to me that I have enough flavorings (sugar-free) that I can have a variety of latte’s available. I use a fabulous website, lollicupstore.com that has reasonably priced coffee flavorings. They have a good choice of sugar-free flavorings that really allows me to have flavored coffee that matches my mood for the day.

I had my flavoring figured out before I woke this morning because today was going to be a busy day. One of the many things I do is direct our church youth choir. We had taken a break last year only to come back this year revitalized. We got excited about singing. We decorated our music folders with multi-colored and patterned duct tape. We were laughing and having fun. WELL, this was our Sunday to introduce our congregation to the new look. We celebrated with a song, “Two Hands, One Heart” by Claire Cloninger and Don Moen. When we finished, the pastor grabbed my upper arm and told me how great they were, how totally awesome we were. I could feel the energy from the congregation. I had two teens that wanted to join our choir after hearing us praise God!  What a great way to start our Sunday! We sang again at the second service and it was the same feeling. The year we took off was worth it. We are a much better choir. We now have the power and energy to serve God the way we should.

After that miraculous service, I got ready for my second stint for the day; volunteering at the Camp Fontanelle corn maze. This corn maze is sponsored by Camp Fontanelle (campfontanelle.com) and helps support the United Methodist Church Camp in Nebraska. Our family is heavily involved in this camp. My husband, per the by-laws, must take a year off from being on the board of directors. Prior to this year, he was the chairman of the board. Our children have gone to this church camp since they were 3 years old.(They are now almost 17 and almost 15) I am the writer for the newsletter and am the grant writer for the camp. My husband also runs a youth hunt camp on opening rifle season for deer. This camp teaches safe hunting and is an opportunity for a youth and parent to work together and bond in this manner.

Besides what we give financially and time-wise, I felt I needed to do more in the fall. Last year, I began volunteering every Sunday during the corn maze season, about 7 weeks. I work the ticket booth and have a chance to talk up the camp and everything that the camp offers during all seasons. We have been open since September 16. Like last year, this weekend was the weekend that saw our numbers greatly increase. Today, there were over 500 paying patrons to the camp. Yesterday there was over 450 paying. If you take into consideration the people who come to the camp and take advantage of the free things going on at the camp, it is estimated that there were as many as 1100 that visited Camp Fontanelle this weekend. Not bad for being open 12 hours over the weekend. Next weekend is the big weekend. On Saturday, there is the haunted corn maze and on Sunday there is Search for Treats in the maze. It is estimated that as many as 1,000, will be there on Sunday alone.

I know that we are to take time off and rest. It is commanded by God. And while I do not want to go against God, today was a day of praising Him. It was done through music at my church and it was done through the beauty of His land in the afternoon and evening out at camp. I can’t believe that He would be angry and thinking that I was going against Him by Praising Him ALL DAY!

I am really trying to be a better person, a better Christian. I know that I don’t always think with a Christian head or a Christian heart. I am trying to be better. I think that being in a Christian community is important. Just like those of other faiths are in their own communities, I feel it is important to be around people who share a general belief. We have a mission at our church and there is a mission at Camp Fontanelle. I hope that we can do our best to meet that mission. And I guess what I like is that both missions talk about being good to all people and making people feel safe. It is important to be good to people, to all people. And if we can make someone feel safe, at least in the church or out at camp, when they can’t feel safe at home, then we have achieved a great thing.

I look forward to our choir starting new music next week to get ready for Christmas and I look forward to dressing like Tinkerbell for the corn maze next weekend. My soul is at rest because I know that what I am doing is taking me on the right path. AMEN!

Sunday, a day of rest?