Saturday, April 18, 2009

"I'm your density"

Seventeen years ago today I pledged to spend a lifetime with my sweetheart... my best friend... my 'crush'... my destiny...

(I can't even say that without remembering George McFly, adoringly declaring to his crush, Lorraine, "I'm your density"!)

Amid the craziness of the day, one of my sweet daughters brought us a gift and card she had made. This is what it said:

Dear Mom and Dad,
Happy Anniversary!
I hope it is a great one!

17 years of generosity,
17 years of admiration,
17 years of fighting,
17 years of hanging up the phone in fury,
17 years of love.
I love you!

Song of Soloman 2:2 "Like a lily among thorns is my darling among maidens."

I'm glad to see that she has a realistic picture of love... has a realistic portrait of faithfulness...has a security born from knowing that her parents really did mean the "until death us do part" part... has a common shared experience that demonstrates that difficulties-dealt-with don't mean death to a marriage, but actually strengthen it... that "fighting" - having a disagreement and then working through it all with honesty and grace and forgiveness and mutual forbearance and respect - is a sign of a healthy marriage...

We went to a "communication for couples" seminar a couple of weeks ago. One of the things we heard - and truly believe - is the message that, "Absence of conflict is not the sign of a healthy marriage. Working through conflict is the sign of a healthy marriage."

And I would go so far as to say that it is the sign of a healthy anything... a healthy friendship, a healthy family, a healthy church, a healthy individual....

So, here's to 17 years of love, indeed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Little Bells and Morning Pillows

I am increasingly becoming aware of what probably should have been a self-evident fact long before I reached 42 years of age, and that is this: that whatever I just listened to, or experienced, or dwelt on before I go to bed for the evening, will remain on my mind, making its mark - for good or ill - even as I drift off to sleep.

"Sleep is a time when the brain rehearses recently-learned material," says James D. Walsh, Ph.D., director of St. Luke's Hospital's Sleep Medicine and Research Center.*

So, with that in mind, we are going to try to listen to and review our Scripture memory verses and catechism memory songs just before going to sleep at night. I recently read somewhere (though I can't remember where) that your brain will repeat/rehearse the last thing it heard before going to sleep something like 3-5 times, even after you have actually fallen asleep. Imagine!

In that same vein, I also just became aware of some free, non-copyrighted, public domain children's devotional books available online. They are materials written by hymn-writer Frances Ridley Havergal. She was a 19th century English religious poet and hymn writer.

Little Pillows, or Good-night Thoughts for the Little Ones, is a classic collection of one-month's worth of brief bedtime devotions for children. Author Carol Brandt tells us that, "In Little Pillows Frances' intent was to give children biblical truth to think about as they went to sleep. Each truth was to be like a little pillow - something comforting and supportive to rest upon during the night. She teaches through vivid word pictures that bring everyday images to a child's mind, thus linking the spiritual to the child's world. This is child evangelism as it should be: plain, simple, truthful, without manipulation or deceit."

There is a companion volume of morning devotions called Morning Bells. At the beginning of this second book, also written "with Aunt Fanny's love" for her nieces Sybil and Helena, Frances herself wrote: "But in the morning we want something to arouse us, and to help us to go brightly and bravely through the day. So here are "Morning Bells" to waken up your little hearts, and to remind them that we must not only rest in Jesus, but walk in Him. If the motto of Little Pillows might be 'Come to Jesus,' the motto of Morning Bells might be 'Follow Jesus.'"

You are free to copy them, print them, or share them in any ways you like as long as you do not do so for any profit or material gain. Should you prefer it, they are also available for purchase through many online distributors, including this one.

* See complete article about sleep's improving memory and learning.

Ink-on-Laundry, Logs-in-Eyes, and Other Unwanted Stuff

Upon the removal of a load of clothes from the dryer a few mornings ago, I discovered that there was ink all over many of the items from a pen that had been left in the pocket of one of my family members when he placed his pants in the laundry basket.

Let's skip the discussion about whether this was primarily a failure of said individual who owns the pocket (and the pen), or a failure of the chief laundress in the home who does his laundry. I am mindful of two things which lead me to do so.

The first is something I remember from Dead Right - a short educational film with a clever-pun title which they showed back in my 1980's junior high health class - which made the noteworthy point that you could be "right" and still be "dead." (In the case of said educational film, it was by stepping out in front of a moving car while insisting on your prerogative to be in the pedestrian crosswalk.)

The second reason I skip the "blame discussion" is that I am learning - slowly and painfully and incompletely and probably far too late in life - that it is equally as dangerous as stepping out into the crosswalk in front of a moving car, to consider one's self "more right" than another... any other... in this case, the "offender" who left the pen in his pocket.

So, philosophical musings regarding "rightness" and "blame" mercifully laid aside, the fact remains that I was still the one handling the resultant ink mess.

Following is a detailed discussion of how I treated each of the three items that were worth trying to get the ink out of. (By this I mean that they were not sleep clothes or undergarments, which I decided not to try to treat due to the sheer number of items affected.)

All three of these items are now completely clean and clear of ink.

I soaked all of them over two nights in a solution of warm water and OxiClean. (I put a couple of scoops in a sinkful of water, so this was a pretty strong solution.) One of the stains I also doused with Goo Gone before soaking it in the OxiClean. Another I treated with hairspray before soaking it. The third (the least-stained one) I simply put in the OxiClean solution with the other two.

All three, washed today in warm water with the other light-colored clothes, are completely ink-free.

I remember once, years ago, trying to help a bachelor friend who had called me with a query about how to launder an antique quilt (made by his grandmother) which he had accidentally stained with ink. This was pre-Internet days (yes, I'm that old), and I looked in a book I owned entitled How to Clean Practically Anything. (This is a terribly useless book, by the way, not even worth the $.01 you can get it for on Amazon.) The hairspray they suggested using as a stain-remover for ink was terribly ineffective, and my friend grieved both the loss of his grandmother's quilt and the failure of his homemaker-type friend to help him.

Now, twenty years too late for my friend's quilt, I've found something that works to remove ink. I have put the information out there for any of you who may ever need it for some unfortunate laundry disaster in your own home.

Oh, and by the way, if the "unfortunate laundry disaster" you encounter should involve fresh strawberry stains (think strawberry picking with a two-year-old who is eating more than she's putting in her bucket), you can get them out in a jiffy by pouring boiling (yes, boiling) water through the garment from the backside of the stain. I first tried this tip from my friend Cheri with great skepticism, as I had erroneously heard years earlier that hot water would "set any stain." It has not failed once over the past fifteen years of strawberry picking-and-eating.

I have yet to try the laundry tip my friend Gloria sent me (mostly because I can't find a store near me that sells the nifty spray bottle she mentioned she'd bought), but I'm always happy to hear of - and to pass on - things that worked.

Happy laundering!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Hoping and assuredly believing..."

Among the various and sundry undergraduate and graduate studies I have enjoyed or endured, there was an entire semester class on the person and the works of William Shakespeare taken at the College of William and Mary.

Never once was there even the suggestion that Shakespeare might have been a Christian. Common references in his works to Roman Catholic or Protestant ideas (such as purgatory, heaven, and hell) were dismissed as a writer's patronizing nods to the prevailing cultural sentiments of his day.

Bearing in mind that - just as people say all sorts of spiritual things about their loved one's faith (relatively imperceptible during life but now declared decisively upon their death), people also often adapt all sorts of spiritual perceptions of themselves when their thoughts turn to the impending reality of their own deaths - I offer the following surprising declaration from William Shakespeare in his last will and testament:

"I commend my soul into the hands of God, my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing, through only the merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting."
- William Shakespeare, (1564-1616)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sharing Recipes

Today, in response to the fact that there were two recipes which folks were asking me for, and one recipe which I was wanting to get from my sister, I created a new Blog. If you are interested in yummy food, you might want to check it out. Let me know if you ever want to join the community of recipe-posters. It is certainly easier than repeatedly sharing those more-popular, most-requested recipes individually!

Nods to Johanna's small group, which has a similar site of its own and from whom I shamelessly swiped the idea.

Happy cooking!