Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

I never met my great uncle, Russell. He died in World War II. His three brothers, including my grandfather, served as did my grandmother's brother, two of my uncles, my father in law and my father. Not to mention numerous other friends and relatives. In gratitude to them and the hundreds of other solders, sailors, airmen and marines, I offer this.

It is a  poem that has become iconic. Written by a doctor in the Canadian army after he had just treated, and then performed the funeral for, a friend and former student, it reminds us of the sacrifices of war.
In Flanders Fields 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
            Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) 

For more on the story of this poem, click here.

As you enjoy Memorial Day, remember those who serve, those who have served and those who made the Supreme Sacrifice.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Calling Dig Safe

It's one of those things that appeared to be much harder than it actually was.

When I was planning my garden and landscaping project, my husband suggested that we dig out the beds instead of doing raised beds, then use that loam to grade by the house.  I explained that that would involve calling Dig Safe, which is required whenever you disturb the soil.

I got into the project more, though and found that going up as high as I wanted to wasn't going to be practical. So I bit the bullet and made the call.

I was expecting a bureaucratic nightmare and a hefty fee. I got something altogether different.

I dialed 811, spoke to someone in under a minute, got good information. I marked the dig spot as directed, called back and had my ticket in less than 5 minutes. Then I just had to wait 72 hours so the utilities could mark where there lines and pipes were. Easy -peasy.

Guess what? It was free. Absolutely free.

So ... if you are digging, call Dig Safe.

And when you are facing something that seems complicated and difficult, remember: it might not actually be so hard.

Have a blessed day!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Encouragements: Hymn by Adoniram Judson

We have been reading a biography of Adoniram Judson and his wives with the kids. I learned to love the his story and that of his first wife, Ann Hasseltine, at the Christian Youth Conference at Ocean Park, where these pioneer missionaries are held up as vocational models of Christian life to the young people. 

Mr. Judson was remarkable as a preacher, teacher, evangelist and translator. He also wrote this beautiful baptismal hymn. 
Come, Holy Spirit, Dove divine,
On these baptismal waters shine,
And teach our hearts, in highest strain,
To praise the Lamb for sinners slain.
We love Your name, we love Your laws,
And joyfully embrace Your cause;
We love Your cross, the shame, the pain,
O Lamb of God, for sinners slain.
We sink beneath the water’s face,
And thank You for Your saving grace;
We die to sin and seek a grave
With You, beneath the yielding wave.
And as we rise with You to live,
O let the Holy Spirit give
The sealing unction from above,
The joy of life, the fire of love.

Click here to hear the music to this hymn, which was composed by H. Percy Smith and is used for other hymns as well. 

I love this hymn for it's imagery, the beauty of its language and its Christ-centeredness. What is your favorite hymn or song.

For a quick overview of the life of Judson, try this article.  The books Bless God and Take Courage by Rosalie Hall Hunt and To The Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson are recommended for further study. Or if you are a teen come to CYC and learn his story there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why Go to Camp?

Kids going to summer camp has been part of the American landscape for generations. In tough economic times, is it worth the investment? I think so!!

Scott Merrow, Resident Director of Oceanwood Camp and Conference Center, offers his thoughts. He is speaking of his own facility, but this type of experience is replicated in camps around the country.
Often, one of the difficulties we have encountered is articulating the value of the experience that takes place in our community. Over the past few months we have spent considerable time interviewing campers, groups, staff and alumni in an effort to better define the intangibles of the Oceanwood culture. It is clear to us that though our property is unique, that it is the people that make Oceanwood truly special.  The tranquil, awe-inspiring location, the proximity to the ocean, the pines that guard this place, it's all-spectacular.  
But it is the warmth of the community, the connection to God, and the culture of support, acceptance and family that keep people coming back each summer. In the year 2012, the age of the Internet and social media, the world seems to pass by so quickly, leaving us limited time to slow down and re-energize our bodies, revitalize our spirits, and reconnect with our families and our faith.  At Oceanwood, we make time for all of this - that is the difference.  We gather around campfires and sing songs together.  We sit down at the dinner table with 100 of our closest friends and share wonderful conversation during a meal.  We serve God - we volunteer, lend a hand and give of ourselves.  We love our family and friends.  We are kind.  We share stories, experiences, and laughter.  We support each other in our faith and we worship together.  We learn and discover, we gain independence, we build lasting friendships, we develop character, we experience God and nature, we grow and change and take positive risks.  We meet different types of people and become part of a true community, practicing forgiveness, compassion and acceptance.
Camps change lives - - giving children, teens, families, adults opportunities to connect with friends, each other and God while exploring their talents and learning new things. A setting that is simpler than usual and full of chances to be in nature adds to the value.

Check this out:

Monday, May 21, 2012


Where do you sing?

In the shower? Or maybe you are in a choral group or church choir. 

Do you have the opportunity to sing spontaneously with a group? Is live music a regular part of your life?
For many people, the answer is "no" and that is true of children, too. Kids have music class which may or may not involve live music. Chorus and band, with attendant music lessons, allow some children the opportunity to sing and play, but in a directed setting. In other words, the teacher chooses the music. 

Summer camps -- at least traditional summer camps -- still give students, whatever their musical ability, the chance to engage in music. It's for the sheer  fun of it, too, not to meet educational objectives or satisfy a curriculum. 

Singing around a campfire or in the dining hall are time honored traditions at many camps. They have songs everyone learns and songs that new campers or staff bring. 

This is one great reason to send the kids to camp.

When have you sung around the campfire? What is your favorite campfire song?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday Encouragements: What Should We Praise?

Last night I went to a meeting for women and girls. The speaker was Kylie Bisutti, a former Victoria's Secret supermodel, who ended up quitting that life because it clashed with her Christian faith. Here are some links to her story, although that is not going to be my focus today.

One thing that Kylie said last night struck me. "I was being praised for sin." That praise encouraged her to keep going. After Kylie spoke, her mother answered a few questions and courageously admitted that she was one of those who praised Kylie for the wrong things she was doing. She was a believer and knew that Kylie was hurting herself, her husband and God, but she knew that the modeling life was what Kylie wanted and felt it was OK to encourage her.

Kylie's case is a dramatic one and the praise she received was extensive. Plus, she made a lot of money. Her sin -- modeling nearly naked in front of men not her husband -- is a clear one to most Christians. But her story is not entirely unique.

How often do we praise things that are sinful or that may be good in themselves but are done from wrong motives? Some possible examples:

  • Praising greed -- perhaps disguised as ambition
  • Encouraging young people to do community service so it will look good on a college application or for recognition rather than simply to help someone
  • Egging kids on to brag about what  they are good at and to be prideful in the name of raising self-esteem
  • Supporting people in "playing it safe" by blending in when they should be speaking up for God.

There are a million others.

So what should we be praising? Anything that reflects well on God and helps us live according to his purposes.

Galatians 5: 22-23 lists some things:  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Phillipians 4:8 tells us: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things"

And Hebrews 10:23-25 reminds us:

23 "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

What have you been praising lately?

This post is part of Wednesday Encouragements: A Christian Blogging Challenge

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Memories of Camp

Did you ever go to summer camp?

Did you work at one?

 Memories made in camps often hold a special place in our hearts.  Camps have changed many lives, helped children grow and provided all kinds of inspiration.

Here is one of my favorite memories of my camp experience. Although I learned a ton about both myself and God at Grotonwood, Oceanwood and, especially, CYC. (I attended CYC the longest --in fact I still go.) and I made many, many friends, too, I am not writing about that. This was just plain fun.

 I was a counselor in training at CYC which was called NEBYC at the time. Some of us staff were hanging out at the gate, as we often did after the campers were in bed a counselor remained in each cabin). After a late night snack, we decided to get "creative" with our time. We drove all our cars on to the ballfield and set them up as a used car lot, writing prices on the windows with soap. Then we, um, "borrowed" cars from the sleeping staff and added them to the lot. ( Back then, you could put a car in neutral and safely push it.) When we were done, we noticed some more cars driving in. The faculty had been out for the evening. We formed a human chain across the road to their cabins and made them drive onto the field. As soon as they stopped, we jumped on the windows and wrote prices. They laughed and laughed.  The centerpiece of the lot -- and the car with the highest sales price-- was a VW Van, selling for $9.99. Everyone knew it was John Wilbur's car. He was an older, much adored guy who taught sailing. It was fun...and the next day our sleepy selves got a quite a reaction.

It's kind of a silly memory, sure. But it's a great one to tell when you are reminiscing around a campfire. I am still friends with many of the others involved in that event. Some of us are faculty together, now, and ready to laugh at the antics of the younger folks.

 I would be very interested to read summer camp stories, even ones that seem silly.  What was good about your camp experience? What was your favorite thing about camp? What did you do for fun? What did you learn? Are you still involved with that camp? Please comment and let me know.

Monday, May 14, 2012

How I Spent Mother's Day

This Mother's Day was different.

First, of all, I wasn't home. I woke up in Ocean Park (which is my favorite place on earth). A bunch of us, from Oceanwood and CYC spent the weekend getting the facility ready for the summer camping season. Yesterday, we had a morning worship service and then cleaned up after ourselves and took leave.

My son and I had lunch at Rapid Ray's, a favorite hotdog stand. After that,we built a water diversion system that Jordan designed at the beach.

We headed home and Jordan took care of supper, because everyone up at camp kept reminding him it was Mother's Day and he had to do something nice for me. My husband took us out for ice cream. Then we played Pitch Six, a game that we used to play with my late mother.

It really was a nice day and I feel very blessed to be a Mom.

How was your Mother's Day?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday Encouragements: A Solution

A few days ago I posted a rant about car keys costing $69.00 because of computer chips. I just wanted an extra key in case I got locked out again. A friend of mine made a suggestion that worked. I thought I'd pass it along.

She recommended that I ask the hardware store if they could make a key just for the door. It's only when you put the key in the ignition that the chip comes into play.

So I went to a local shop and asked. The kindly clerk wasn't sure but made a copy and sent me out to my car to try it. It worked, so he made another. I paid and went on my way.

A simple solution. Often there are such solutions to problems when we step back and take a look. God can provide a way to handle difficulties from the simplest to the most complex, if we just let Him. Sometimes it is through a friend, such as with the keys today. Other times, He leads us through our thoughts, a sermon, a song or a book. I have found it over and over again.

How about you?

Sunday, May 6, 2012


There have been a number of health problems in my family over the years. Plus, I worked in special needs education and have had many students with medical conditions assigned to my classes.

Therefore, I can give meds orally, rectally, topically, by injection, and through a PICC line. I can provide bedbaths and administer tube feedings. I know how to transfer an adult from a bed or a wheelchair via stand pivot, by using a hoyer lift or by lifting them with someone else. I can take your blood pressure. I have learned what means what on a bedside monitor. I know what to do if you have a seizure or go into anaphylactic shock.

And I can't do a tenth of what nurses do everyday.

So today, on International Nurses' Day, I salute these wonderful men and women who care for us in hospitals, nursing homes, health clinics, schools and our own houses. Without them, we would be in BIG trouble. They deserve our respect. and our gratitude.

Thank you nurses!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How much?

I want to get a few extra keys for my car, so I went down to the local hardware store to get copies.

"We can do that for you but it will be $69.00."

Say what?

Apparently, there is a computer chip in my key. If someone tries to start the car with a different key, the cars computer crashes and the car won't start.

Ummm. Well. Personally, I think this is taking security to the level of the ridiculous. I drive an everday used get from Point A to Point B type of car. I am more likely to lose my keys than to have my car stolen. Or I might lock them in the car again, like I did the other night.

Oh, I know some people need to be more careful. High end luxury and sports cars, etc. need special protection. Perhaps everyone who lives in a high-crime area, too. But I am not in those situations and I am very frustrated!!

I wonder if this computer thing can be disabled so I can just buy normal keys?

Oh, well. Just ranting.

Have a good day!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lord Jesus, Let Me Know Myself

The title of this prayer by St. Augustine of Hippo surprised me. When I first saw it, before I read the actual prayer, I was expecting it to be more focused on being true to yourself. 

Actually, though, it is all about being Christ-centered. letting Him have the throne of your heart. I am drawn to this prayer, feeling the need to be more mindful of Christ, more spiritually obedient.  I think I might tack it up in my house and pray it every day for a while. 

Perhaps it will speak to you, too.

Lord Jesus, Let Me Know Myself
Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know Thee,
And desire nothing save only Thee.
Let me hate myself and love Thee.
Let me do everything for the sake of Thee.
Let me humble myself and exalt Thee.
Let me think of nothing except Thee.
Let me die to myself and live in Thee.
Let me accept whatever happens as from Thee.
Let me banish self and follow Thee,
And ever desire to follow Thee.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in Thee,
That I may deserve to be defended by Thee.
Let me fear for myself, let me fear Thee,
And let me be among those who are chosen by Thee.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in Thee.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of Thee.
Let me cling to nothing save only to Thee,
And let me be poor because of Thee.
Look upon me, that I may love Thee.
Call me that I may see Thee,
And for ever enjoy Thee. Amen.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Slow Motion

When I teach dance... which isn't very often these days... I go one step at a time and begin by teaching the kids slowly. Later we put everything together and bring it up to tempo. It only makes sense, right.

I am currently enrolled in a School of Ministry and am working with my mentor to learn how to preach. At the next Christian Youth Conference event I need to offer a wrap - up to the scripture lesson. Basically, it will be a short sermon. So I am starting with that.

While my mentor was explaining the first steps in preparing a sermon, she asked me when I needed to preach it. "June 8."  "Oh, well imagine being a pastor and having to go through this process every week."

OK, I thought about it. I definitely can't be preaching every week at this point. But that's alright, isn't it? I'm just at the beginning of this process. Eventually, I'll learn to do the whole thing together and quickly enough. (Assuming, I land in church. I might do something else, like youth ministry.)

Anyway, what have you been learning? Are you still in slow-motion or are you up to tempo?

Have a great day!