Monday Fun Day: Quiz #2

Words coverFor lack of inspiration, I’ve decided to create another quiz to test your knowledge of Gannah. This time the questions all come from Book #2, Words in the Wind.

If you haven’t read it yet, shame on you! Don’t let the hokey cover art put you off. (I’m SO dissatisfied my covers! When my oldest daughter saw this one she said, “Oh, my, it’s even worse than the last one.”) The artwork is cartoony, but the content is not.

So here’s the quiz. I’ll reveal the answers sometime next year, ha ha. I hope you’ll find it fun, but you might find some of the questions a little more ambiguous than last time.

Meanwhile, have a Happy New Year!

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Saturday SitRep

reportIt’s been quite a week!

Just noticed I used this “report” image for my Thursday post. Oops! I just now changed it, but meanwhile, people might have wondered what the image had to do with the post.

We had a nice visit with our oldest daughter Emily on Monday afternoon and evening. On Tuesday, we (including Emily) went to Grandma Anderson’s house in Maple Heights for our annual Christmas celebration, where we met up with daughter Shelley Daniel and her newly-enlarged family who drove in from Virginia, arriving about 2 pm. Emily and our youngest daughter, Rustie, had to go to work the next day, but the Daniel family drove down to our place to spend a couple days with us after Christmas.

It wasn’t a white Christmas, but the snow began early the next morning, so by the time the Playing in the snow fun transferred to our house on the 26th, we had enough ground cover to play in. Unfortunately, Shelley hadn’t packed snow suits, boots, etc. because (1) those things are too bulky (we’re talking about packing for five kids here); and (2) it seldom snows much around here anyway. But they went out and played in just jeans, jackets, and tennies, then came in and warmed up with… snow cones? Anyway, we put their clothes in the dryer, toasted their shoes by the wood stove, and they were ready to go out again the next day.

They left for home Friday afternoon. It was a great visit. We enjoyed getting to know our newest grandkids a little and spending time with the original crew. Everyone was healthy and well behaved, appreciative of their gifts, and formed happy memories.

On Thursday, we enjoyed a visit with Art and his new bride, Jennie. They celebrated Christmas with her family on the 25th, then waited for the weather to clear before driving the hour to our place on the 27th. There was never one time this Christmas when we had all four kids with us at the same time, but that’s life. We were happy to see them all even if it was never all together.

I’d like to get inside Mikaiah’s mind. Born about 4 years ago in an African village, somehow separated from his parents and put in an orphanage, he was then placed with an adoptive family but lived in a foster home in the Congo for almost a year while the requisite paperwork, red tape, and payola processes were accomplished. He finally arrived at his new home in Virginia less than three months ago after flying literally halfway around the world in the care of an escort, plunging him into an alien culture surrounded by a bunch of pale-faced people who spoke a foreign language he didn’t know a word of. The things that boy’s seen and experienced in such a short time!

Uncle Art with Mikaiah in the snowHe’s happy and affectionate, playing in the snow with his new Uncle Art (Do you like snow, Mikaiah? “Yes.” Is it cold? “Yes. It’s pretty!”) and wrestling and laughing with his brothers and whining first thing in the morning, “Daddy, I want my iPhone!” (Scott upgraded to the new phone and gave Mikaiah his old one, which no longer makes calls but still has all the games and cool stuff the kids like. Avery and Bennett got iPods for Christmas from their paternal grandparents. So now the three of them are content to sit in a row pushing buttons on their devices, which, if nothing else, keeps them busy on the long drive between Virginia and Ohio.)

But the world is still a dark place. There are still 150 million orphans who won’t have new lives. There are still billions of men, women and children living in darkness and despair with no hope in the world and no personal understanding what Emmanuel means. Year Avery climbing the hillafter year at Christmas, some of my own loved ones hear the story but turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the life-transforming truth of it, preferring to remain imprisoned in their pride and self-deception.

It was a nice Christmas, yes. But, as always, I pray that one day we’ll be able to truly rejoice together in the coming of our Lord.



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Thursday’s Thoughts: Poetry

thinkerThe kids are visiting, which gives me better things to do than blog. (No offense, but it’s true.)

So I’ll take the lazy way out and send you over to my post of yesterday on Speculative Faith.

As you may have guessed, I started off parodying the classic poem, “Trees,” by Joyce Kilmer. Of course I’m not the first to do that. I recall a short verse by Ogden Nash that borrowed from it unashamedly: I think that I shall never see/A billboard lovely as a tree. Indeed, unless the billboards fall/I’ll never see a tree at all.

I looked up “Trees” before starting my poem so I could see how it was put together. I don’t think I’ve ever read it in its entirety before. It’s a lovely poem:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

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Monday’s Musings: Artist at Work

img162A seven-year-old with markers and a sheet of white paper.

A landscaper with a shovel, a truck, and a vision.

A woman decorating on a budget.

A drywall contractor texturing a ceiling.

A man with a guitar and the woman he loves.

A tool-and-die maker designing a machine tool for a specific use.

A busy mother with a hungry family but limited supplies at her disposal.

A man with a needle, inks, and a canvas of willing skin.

A gardener who revels in the smell of the earth and participation in the circle of life.

An experienced photographer with a new perspective.

A writer with a burden too weighty for words to convey.

God, when He chooses our gifts and bestows them.


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Saturday SitRep

reportIt’s December 22. But guess what? I’m ready for Christmas! Baking is done, gifts are purchased (or made) and wrapped, everything’s ready to go except Zuri’s birthday cake. I guess it would be nice if I washed the kitchen floor, too. But for all practical purposes, I’m ready.

This morning is the final run-through of the Christmas program that we’ll be doing at church on Sunday. This means¬† that after Sunday, I’ll put away my French horn for another year. Unless, that is, I can find an excuse to keep practicing. I’d like to do that, because I’m just now beginning to see a shadow of my former competence. Not there yet, but it’s in sight — just in time to quit. So yes, please, give me a reason to keep working on it!

Hubby and I plan to do some painting in the afternoon, and then in the evening, go to the annual family Christmas get-together at his cousin’s house in Chagrin Falls. Unless, that is, the roads are bad.

As far as my WIP is concerned, don’t ask.

But that’s okay. I plan to enjoy my family over the holidays and will get back to Gannah all in good time.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday’s Thoughts: Baby Dolls & Fruitcake

I decided to make my newest granddaughter, Zuri Grace, a baby doll for Christmas, which just happens to also be her first birthday.

While working on it, it occurred to me that I’d made dolls for my two older girls when they were little, and I made my first granddaughter one a few years ago; but I’d never made my youngest daughter a baby. What a neglectful mother! But then I remembered I made her a pig once, and she loved it. So, good! No more guilt!

Anyway, I finished the baby on Monday, and moved on to baking.

My Aunt Mildred used to make fruitcake every Christmas–the kind that gives all fruitcakes a bad name. But despite my annual exposure to that travesty, I knew there was good fruitcake in the world, because our school band used to sell it. But I never found one that could compare with the kind we sold, until several years ago when Craig found a fruitcake recipe in the break room at work and brought it home, thinking I might want to try it.

I did. At first, I thought it was impossible. No way was that little bit of batter going to cover all those fruits and nuts. No way was that mountain of stuff going to fit into those little pans. And no way could it bake for two whole hours without burning black. It was crazy. But I crammed it into the pans, pressing it in bit by bit until there was not one molecule of air space left, and I let it bake the whole two hours, resisting the urge to keep looking at it to see if it was burning.

To my surprise, the result was the best fruitcake I’d ever eaten. It’s become a new holiday tradition.

Our first Christmas after Craig learned he couldn’t eat wheat, he mourned the loss of that yummy fruitcake — until I tried making it with gluten-free flour. It’s a little different, but still good; good enough, in fact, that it’s the only fruitcake I make now. No need to make both kinds.

So I made fruitcake on Tuesday (as well as caramel corn and some cookies). Zuri’s baby doll is finished. All my gifts are purchased. Once they’re wrapped, I’ll be ready for Christmas.




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Monday’s Musings: Selective Hearing

Two or three weeks ago (or possibly more), author J. Stephen Miller asked if I’d be interested in reading and reviewing his nonfiction book, Near-Death Experiences as Evidence for the Existence of God and Heaven: A Brief Introduction in Plain Language. I suggested a trade: I’d review his book if he’d review The Story in the Stars. That is, provided he wasn’t in a big hurry, as I couldn’t say how long it would take me to read his. He said there was no time limit and agreed to the plan, so we exchanged Kindle versions, and I put his book in the third slot on my to-be-read list.

Last week, the day after I started reading it, he sent me an email with a link to his wife’s review of Stars.¬† Apparently he’d asked her to do his dirty work for him; but I guess she didn’t mind, because she gave it five stars, and he assured me she doesn’t give five stars lightly.

But that’s another subject. Back to my point:

Though I’m not getting through Mr. Miller’s book as quickly as I’d like, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ll put a review on Amazon after I’ve finally finished reading it, but this isn’t a review; just a rumination.

Throughout my musings, a line from the old Paul Simon song, “The Boxer,” has gone through my mind: Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

In his book, Mr. Miller does a good job of looking at the phenomenon from every conceivable angle and gives due consideration to the many objections. He points out that the scientists who have delved into the subject the most extensively began their research as skeptics, fully expecting to find natural, scientific causes for these people’s experiences. However, they were all forced to conclude that, whatever it was that happened to these people, it can’t be explained by anything in the physical realm.

The people who have had these experiences described sensations that were separate and distinct from any dream experience. What happened to them doesn’t match up with the symptoms of lack of oxygen or any other known brain-related phenomenon. Many of them returned knowing things they couldn’t have possibly known (relating conversations that took place after they were dead, describing in detail events that occurred while they were unconscious, talking about meeting a dead relatives whom they hadn’t known about, etc.) Each person reported that even as they went through the experience, they were amazed, because it was nothing any of them had expected. The things they saw were extremely vivid, even in the cases of people who had been born blind and had never before seen anything.

Every experience was a little different, and it was intensely personal for each; however, researchers have listed fifteen commonalities reported by all, no matter what continent they lived on, what language they spoke, or what their culture or religious background.

The subject is fascinating, and I think the author does an excellent job laying out the facts in a logical, unemotional fashion. He does not resort to sensationalism. The facts speak for themselves, however, and it doesn’t seem likely that any reasonable person could read this book (nor any other that deals with this subject in such a practical manner) and remain convinced there is no God.

Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

Even without this book, we have no excuse. Creation gives more than sufficient evidence of God’s existence. The Bible gives us that too, as well as reliable information–sufficient to stand up in a court of law if the jury were truly impartial–concerning not only His existence, but His character and attributes, what He expects of us His creation, how He has worked throughout history, and how He’ll wrap it all up at the end. This is all really important stuff, highly relevant to everyone alive.

Still, a man hears what he wants to hear…

As Jesus Himself said in Luke 16:31, long before anyone studied Near Death Experiences, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

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