"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mr. Geometry - Spending Treasure #4

Though I wasn’t in the mood to read any of the serious stuff, I decided to glance through the daily paper last night before I went to bed. I just wanted to peruse briefly to see if there was anything I wouldn’t want to miss. I often do that - just to catch the local stuff.  For me, the local paper is more often a way to connect with old friends and acquaintances than anything. It’s not often I find people and events of days gone by, but when I do it is such a treat. It’s simply a way to remember things the way they used to be in the town I grew up, and I like that.

I’m glad I looked through our paper on this day. Submitted under "Milestone Announcements" was a photo of my old high school geometry teacher and his wife. They had just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. I was so happy to have seen this. I had just been thinking of Mr. M. and wondering if he was still alive. I remember the exact class room he held his classes at the old high school. It is now a middle school, I believe. I remember the row I sat in, and the seat I called mine, directly across from the door. I must have been planning an escape out this door a time or two, to remember it this vividly. And I remember Mr. M. at the head of the class talking to the students as he looked out at us over his little black readers. I loved Mr. M. though I wouldn’t say he was one of the “popular” teachers in high school. He didn’t even get credit for being one of the “good” teachers; at least among the students. But he should have.

I was a whiz at algebra when I was in 9th grade. I don’t think I ever got a grade lower than 99 on my report card. I even once got a 100%. Obviously, my algebra teacher was a great teacher, too; but other than that, algebra just came easy for me. So because of my high grades in that class, I got put in the “high honors” geometry class in 10th grade. It wasn’t long before Mr. M. and I both knew I didn’t belong there. I hated geometry and I really struggled with it. I remember Mr. M. coming to me one day and saying he understood what had happened; just because I did well in Algebra didn’t mean I would do well in geometry. To Mr. M.’s credit, he told me he would work with me and help me whenever I needed it. He may have mentioned sending me to the lower level class - I don’t remember for sure – but I don't think that happened, because I’m pretty sure I sat next to the “smart girl” the rest of the year. Because of that slight memory, I think “we” (Mr. M and I) just toughed it out for the rest of the year. I ended up with grades in the low 80’s…may have hit the high 70’s one quarter, but I never failed, thanks to Mr. M.

Over the years, (It has been 40 since that 10th grade class!) I have periodically run into Mr. M.  My folks used to go to the same church he and his wife attended. And he would come into the art gallery where I worked from time to time. He always knew who I was, and he always had a little memory to relay to me. He would without fail, steadfastly try to talk me into coming back to our old church. I look at that photo today, and memories flood into tears. What a smile he has on his face! So happy he seems. That is exactly how I remember Mr. M. It may sound silly, but I’m proud of him! He is a wonderful example of a life well-lived and a job well-done and I treasure every memory I have of him. What a guy!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


I wanted to write a special Christmas wish for my blog on Christmas Day. Hopefully, what I have written will come across as that. It isn’t really about what it seems at first glance; ironically, it’s about how those that don’t yet believe, have helped us find Christmas by that which they themselves are seeking. I suppose it might seem a bit odd at this special time in the Christian’s calendar year, that I feel compelled to write about our Jewish friends. The Jewish people, through the centuries, have kept and preserved the Holy Scripture, knowing internally the importance and value. Of course by God, but through the diligence of the Jews whom God has chosen to use, we have the accuracy of the Bible intact.

The Jewish people pray every day for the coming of their Messiah. Every generation watches expectantly, knowing that this is the generation to whom their Messiah could be born. They read in Isaiah 7:14, a birth announcement, a prophecy of their Messiah Who is to come. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

They know with great detail and incredible accuracy the One for whom they are waiting. They have searched the Scripture and they know He will be a Teacher, a Healer, One sent to bind up the broken-hearted, a Redeemer sent by God. They know He is to be born in Bethlehem. They know that though He is one Who has done no wrong, He is to be crucified as a common criminal. They know He will rise again 3 days after His death.

They have kept their genealogy accurate and safe, knowing their Messiah is to be “the Son of David” - born of the line of David. Because of the diligence in their preserving God’s message, and of course by God’s plan, we are able to see that Joseph was from the Line of David, through King Solomon; and Mary was from the lineage of David’s other son, Nathan.

There is only One that has fulfilled each of the prophecies given to us in the Bible, the prophetic picture of a Savior and King. But Isaiah 53:3 also tells us that He will be rejected by His own.

Today we celebrate the birth of a Child. It took 2000 years - from Abraham to the birth of this Baby - to prepare a people to welcome Him. More than 2000 years after His birth, Christians still celebrate in awe and wonder. He is Emanuel – God is with us; an extremely comforting thought as we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas, but it is only the beginning of the incredible story.

Really, what I wanted to say in my Christmas message this year, is that Christmas is not just for those that have received a Savior; Christmas is for those that are longing for a Savior….for those of the Jewish faith; for those of a false faith; and for those with no faith at all. He was born to die, that man might live. Christmas is about God becoming Man – The Lamb that was slain - a pure, holy Sacrifice that we do not deserve. Christmas is in fact, about the Cross, and there is not a better time to accept His gift.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Unknown Author - Translated from Latin to English by John M. Neale in 1851

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.
Merry Christmas!!

Genesis 3:15; Deut 18:15; Micah 5:2
Isaiah 7:14 ; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 22:22
Zech. 9:9; Zech 11: 12; Zech. 12:10
Psalm 2:7 ; Psalm 16:10 ; Psalm 22: 7-8; Psalm 22: 14-19
Psalm 34:20; Psalm 35:19; Psalm 69:21; Psalm 110; Psalm 68:18
Isaiah 53

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thoughtful Surprises

Last week as Matt and his dad were preparing to leave for an event that didn’t include moms, I got a phone call from a friend. “I have an extra ticket to the Nutcracker Ballet in Spokane,” she said. My friend became ill and can’t use it. Would you like it?”

Oh boy, I thought. This was quite a surprise! I wondered if she knew I had wanted to go to this ballet for some time. “Yes!” I told her without reservation. “It is so nice of you to think of me!” This could not have been better timing. The guys were going to be gone on that evening, and I would most likely not have accepted had they been home.

When I got off the phone and told Matt about it, I could tell he was very happy for me. “Well, she said she would call me tomorrow to let me know for sure. We should pray her friend gets well.”

The next day, we were outside cleaning Skeeter’s stall when the phone call came. Her friend was still not feeling well and would have to relinquish her ticket. I hate being happy to someone else’s demise; and honestly, I would have been thrilled if she had gotten better and been able to use the ticket herself, but that was not the case…so “happy” (with some reservation) works.

When we got done with our chores, I went in to the house to decide what I should wear. Matt was still outside finishing up some work and I could see him from the window. Pretty soon, my phone rang; it was Matt. “Can you tell Dad to come out here?” he asked. “Sure,” I said, not thinking too much about it. Next thing I knew they were both coming back into the house, and I saw Matt go to the Christmas stockings hanging on the fireplace.

“There’s nothing in there yet,” I told him. I thought he was checking to see if he had any gifts, yet. To my surprise he pulled something out, and with a smile on his face he handed me a small wrapped package.

“We thought you could use this, today,” he said.

“But it isn’t Christmas, yet!” I argued.

“Well I want you to have a new dress to go to the ballet tonight, Mom. It’s a gift certificate.”

I could not have been more surprised! I didn’t argue anymore. I saw the thoughtfulness in his heart and it moved me to tears. I could not have been more proud of my son. This was a gift certificate that he bought with his own money for my Christmas present, but he understood the need of the moment. He had asked his dad, and his dad agreed and gave permission to give it to me early. This isn’t the first time my son has done something like that for me. I will have to write about the Alan Jackson tickets sometime. OH MY!!

This was looking like it was going to turn out to be a pretty special day. So I rushed to town to spend my gift and still be back in time to get ready for the ballet. I had no problem finding a dress and even bought some earrings, as well.

Pretty awesome…I’ve got shopping, “dress up” and a night out with the girls. And this all in one day! My guys are having fun on an adventure of their own; so, it’s all with out guilt! Well almost…if only the young lady hadn’t been sick!

As for the ballet – it was A-mazing! And the time with the girls, very special, indeed - they’re pretty thoughtful, too!  I'm feeling very blessed and a lot like Christmas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Afternoon at Our House!

I was typing out a letter to someone I correspond with on political matters when we lost our electricity this afternoon. Actually, I had just sent the email to this unfortunate gentleman. He actually seems to be a very nice man, though I have never met him. Somehow he added me to his email list, and when he sends out a letter to his list, I almost never agree, and thus feel obligated to tell him my perspective. My email was a rather long one and honestly, I almost wish we would have lost power, before I hit send.

But in regard to the electricity, I always kind of like it when we loose our power. It slows everything down, makes us rethink our plans and revert to more old fashioned, healthier living. Instead of TV, computers, and radio, we dig for candles, bring in firewood and contemplate menu plans if it seems like it will be off for awhile. Today, I kind of had a feeling it would be a while.

It was a relatively clear day, with the sun trying to sneak through foggy clouds and it was actually quite calm, after last night’s strong winds. Really, there was no apparent reason for it to go out. So, I called the electric company to find out what was going on. Six thousand homes in our area had been affected the message said. A feed from the larger electric company into our electric system had been damaged, or needed work, or some such nonsense. I don’t listen very well on things I don’t understand. The only thing I knew is there was no time frame given, and the problem sounded difficult enough that I thought it might be awhile before it was fixed.

So we settled in. I read my book while there was still daylight, and Matt finished up his school work with daylight moving into candlelight. Sam was home today, so he made a fire and we all waited to see how long it would be. As it started to get dark, we lit more candles and decided we should play a game. We set up the card table in front of the fire and Matt chose a game from the closet. Really it is a shame we don’t do this more often and that it takes something like the electricity going out to motivate us that direction. We often play games at my folks or when there are other family members around, but when it is just the three of us, we just don’t seem to do it like we did when Matt was little.

It was about 3 or 4 hours that the power was out today, I guess. Just enough time to make me late in cooking dinner, but giving me plenty of time to beat Matt and Sam in the game we played by candlelight in front of the fire. It was a lovely afternoon. When the lights came back on, we ignored them and finished the game before blowing out the candles and before Matt went out to feed his horse, while I started dinner.
With dinner now behind us, this evening finds Matt playing Flight Simulator on his laptop, Sam playing Solitaire on the desktop, and me blogging while waiting to see if my political email pal will counter…I yi yi!!…but it is winter after all, and at least the fire is still crackling in the back ground.

Oh boy! Bingo!..There’s my buddy with his response to my email. He really is a faithful gentleman.  ;-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wreaths Across Our Corner of America

Today, we attended the ceremony for the “Wreaths Across America Foundation”. Our local Civil Air Patrol has spent the past 3 months selling wreaths to the community for this event. December 11, was the day scheduled across the nation to lay the wreaths.

This is a nation wide program started in 1996 by one man, Morrill Worchester of Harrington, Maine. As a child he had observed an elderly woman placing a wreath on a veteran’s grave at Christmas time. It had a profound impact on him that stayed with him for a lifetime. When he took over the family business, Worchester Wreath Company, he founded the program that fulfilled his desire as a youth: to place a wreath on the grave of every fallen soldier in America. It was to become an extension of the wreaths laid at Arlington National Cemetery. His expectations were surpassed, as wreaths are now not only laid throughout America, but also in military camps in foreign lands where our soldiers have fallen.

It was a short, but moving ceremony. After colors were presented and 7 ceremonial wreaths were laid representing each of the military branches, the cadets went to work laying the wreaths through out the cemetery. The general public was also invited to help lay the wreaths. There were a few veterans and a few family members of the cadets that helped lay the wreaths.

Attendance was not the greatest, but this is to be expected for a first time effort in our area. With a goal to sell 1083 wreaths so that one could be laid on every veteran’s grave that is buried in our two local cemeteries, the cadets sold roughly around 240 wreaths. The caretakers at the cemetery had previously marked each veteran’s grave with a green flag, in order for the grave of the vets to be easily found in the snow. I heard several cadets say it was sad to not be able to lay a wreath on every grave that had been marked. It touched me to see such caring. Nevertheless, it was a fine tribute and I’m sure it will grow each year. I was impressed by the generosity of the community in donating to such a worthy cause, and I am very proud of our cadets.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Message from Pearl Harbor - Part One

Yesterday, December 7, 2010, was the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that propelled America into World War II.

I think that’s worth mentioning. I am reading a book by David A. Witts about World War II in the Pacific theatre; so perhaps it has been on my mind a little more than it otherwise would be. It is only coincidence that I chose to read this book at this time. I woke, yesterday, wondering if there would be any news coverage about that sad day. I was pleased to see Pearl Harbor was the lead story in our local paper. I know there were a few ceremonies around town to honor those that lost their lives there. There was at least one of my friends who posted on Facebook about remembering and honoring those lives. I intended to put a post on my blog about Pearl Harbor, yesterday; but I just didn’t get that far. Once again, I took inspiration from this friend to blog about something that I knew I should, but that I had simply neglected to get done… better late than never, as the saying goes.

If we forget our history, we will repeat our history. The book I am reading, Forgotten War, Forgiven Guilt is about how the war in the Pacific Theatre was often overlooked. The author goes into great detail about events and atrocities that took place, and how it is almost impossible to find any information about the Army Air Corps, 13th Air Force. My dad was a member of the 13th Air Force, so this is somewhat personal for me and I am totally captivated by this book. I highly recommend it. I will most likely do a “book report” on Witts' story a bit later. But for today, I really just wanted to pay tribute to a generation that fought and died for what they believed. To quote the author David Witts in Forgotten War, Forgiven Guilt:
"We entered Europe’s War at times and places of our choosing. The Pacific war came to us. The December 7, 1941 headline read: “Japs Bomb Pearl Harbor.” At that moment America changed forever. Outraged, we left plows standing in the field in a rush to enlist. We lusted for revenge against an enemy that stabbed us in the back. Volunteers stood in lines to join up. Women worked in factories. Mothers planted victory gardens. Children collected tin cans. Armies first clashed in hand to hand combat 5,000 miles away on a peninsula in the Philippines called Bataan and a rock named Corregidor."
A war for America began and ended in the Pacific. When it was over, a nation rejoiced. Victory was complete. Of course there would be sadness as well when lives were lost.  My own dad, said when he was on the island of Samar and heard the news, there was no great celebration by the servicemen as one might expect, or that we see in the movies...it was simply over; they had done their job; and they wanted to go home. For our nation, a time of prosperity was ushered in. It would be Baby Boomers, Bobby Socks, and Butcher Shops....blissful living and belated appreciation.
"When the War ended, we came home, went back to school and work. We were so busy trying to make up for those four lost years, we had no inclination to talk about our experiences. Our conduct was not original. It was traditional. It was a deeply shared national experience. There was no sneaking off to Oxford. Roosevelt’s four sons served in uniform. We dropped into the Memory Hole, still married to our first wives. But now, half a century later, there is a fascination about that War, its people, their agony and their ecstasy. Today’s interest in the War comes as a surprise to those who fought it. It’s good to know some people do care, realizing who paid the butcher’s bill for the prosperity they blissfully enjoy. Now that others want to hear our stories, they come as wistful goodbyes."

For myself, I'm not sure all the current "fascination" is good. Only because I am not sure there isn't an underlying political motivation behind it.  The "fascination" is only good if those interested get an accurate accounting. And as Mr. Witts says in his book, there has been much that has not been very accurate. But that is all for another post; today I want to say thank you.

To that generation, especially those that fought and those that died; I pay tribute. Thanks for the steak, burgers and prime rib, Daddy. I promise to learn the lessons you've taught, and keep our history pure.

“There are things worse than war, and they all begin with defeat.”
~ Ernest Hemingway