Saturday, February 28, 2009

You’re 16

I just received an email from my brother, Roy, which made me chuckle and smile. He enjoyed reading my post about mom because it took him to a place in his life that he has forgotten and “it’s nice to hear it.” Also reading this blog provided him with a flashback to another time in both of our lives.

Birthdays are very important in our family and mom made sure we celebrated them (not hers, which brings another memory :-) ). When I was a teenager, I had a portable fisher price record player and a lot of 45’s. (remember those? I still have them in storage somewhere, lol) I was dating Everett and my brothers were teasing me about being 16 and have been kissed. I didn’t remember whether it was Roy or Todd, but Roy put on one of my record, “You’re 16 by Ringo Starr, and played it as a birthday present for me. Some of you may not remember the song. If you dare to listen to the lyric and watch the video of You're 16 by Ringo Starr, be prepare to laugh. My…how technology have changed over time!

I was touched that my brother would remember my 16th birthday in a special way. I also remember playing another song, but for the life of me I can’t recall the title and I’m not going out into the garage to dig out the old records at 2:09 in the morning. If it was 2:09 in the afternoon, I would be out there searching through my boxes looking for that record!

I don’t remember much else about turning 16, but that memory has been burned into my heart. The memory of plugging that record player into an outlet by the pool table/dining room window, which was turned into a kitchen later. We sat on the floor and played those records. I remember a tear or two dropped. I was truly touched.

It’s amazing how memory works and is connected in some way or another. What trigger one memory for one person usually triggers another memory for another person. There are stories, whether good or bad. They are the make up of our lives and keeps us connected.

Many people doesn’t see this side of my brother, Roy, because he keeps his feelings inside of him. But when he does something special, it is truly special. Thank you for the memory, Roy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

First Will Be Last…

Over the past year I have applied at several places for employment.  First part of the year I applied for jobs that I was educationally qualified for and the latter half of the year I applied for jobs that are minimum wages.   Last month I was hired at Casey’s.

Over the last week, the parable of the workers in the vineyard came to my heart (Matthew 20:1-16).  It is a story how the landowner went out every few hours to hire men to work in his vineyard for one denarius.  It didn’t matter whether they worked 12 hours or one hour, they all got the same rate of pay.   

The workers who worked all day for the same pay as those who worked for a partial day became envious and angry.  They felt that they were not being treated fairly and complained to the landowner.   The landowner offered each worker a rate of pay for the day and each worker had accepted the offer. 

As stated in my previous post, I was able to obtain a part-time minimum wage job at Casey’s last month.  Today I started part-time with a little higher than minimum wage with Wal-mart, which is a far cry from what I made from my previous employments.  Although my wages has decreased,  the humility, healing and  faith continue to grow in strength as I was able to spend more time in God’s Words.

When I was thinking about this parable, there were similarities.  Whether it is a white collar job or a blue collar job, we both worked about the same amount of hours per day.   Both jobs are stressful, the former has more mental stress and the latter has more physical stress.   The white collar job requires high education and the blue collar job require experiences.   Yet the more education you have, the higher rate of pay you get. 

Not always so.  As with me, my high education disqualified me for many employment because of being “over qualified”.   In this economic time, to have a job is a blessing.

The workers who worked all day for the same pay as the one who worked a couple of hours for the same rate of pay were envious.  How many times we get envious of those who gets better pay than we do?

The ones who did not accept the offer the first time around ended up wishing that they had employment and were getting hungry as well as thirsty.  They were simply not ready to accept the offer. 

As time goes by, the offer became more attractive and the workers were grateful to have employment and with such a generous wage, which they did not deserve.   They did not boast about it, they just accepted the pay. 

The Lord is also generous with his offer as well as the landowner.  Sadly, many will wait for a better offer (job) to come along.   But the offer is free, all we have to do is believe in Him.   When we believe, we will have eternal life with the Lord.  How can it get any better than this?

Although my wages has decreased from my previous employments, I have been blessed abundantly with a lesson of humility,  dependency on God, not self and an opportunity to minister to more people through my writings and my secular employments. 

Where is your focus?  Are you focusing on what you don’t like in a job you are in?  Are you focusing on what others have and you have not?  Or is your focus on what God is doing in your life to help prepare you for what is next in the plan He has for you? 

After all, first will be last and last will be first.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cost of Everything

Have you noticed how high things cost lately? Working at Casey’s made me more aware of the cost of foods and general merchandise. First thing I noticed was the cost of a candy bar, which is 1.10 with tax. I can remember a time when I use to go to the nearby mom and pop store and buy a sack full of penny candies for a quarter (which was bout 40 years ago).

Now I see kids come to the store and not blink an eye when they buy candies and sodas with five dollars and smile. I know it would be hard for them to imagine their grandparents getting a sack full of candies for a quarter, just as it was hard for us to imagine our parents or grandparents walking 2-5 miles to school in snow up to their waist.

When I was talking to dad the other day, we were talking about when they had a hard time financially. But as a child, I could not even remember the hard times because we had food on the table, clothes on our back and shelter. Dad would hunt and fish so we would have meat on the table. We were also raised with unconditional love.

When I got married, my husband and I were able to save our money and invest in a retail business. Over the years we had everything in the world we needed financially. One of the downfall in owning a business is that it takes 24/7 of your time. My husband would remodel fixer upper homes for additional investments. All this sacrifice took away from family time. I soon went out with my friends. Over time it put a strain on our relationships and we ended up in a divorce because we were both selfish.

Jesus was not selfish when he laid down his life for you and paid the ransom for your sin. Through his life, he taught us how important relationships with the Father in Heaven is as well as how important relationships with your family and neighbors are. My husband and I did not have our priority straight. There was no balance. Although we loved each other and our sons, we thought it was more important to be comfortable in life financially.

Would you lay down your life for your family? How about for a stranger? What is the order of your priority in life? What are you sacrificing? Is what you are sacrificing building relationships or destroying relationships?

I believe many of us are having a hard time economically. Because of the hard time, we are taking inventory of our own life. Just like businesses take inventory to find out what is moving and what is not moving in the store as well as the profit and loss of the store.

From rag to riches. Then from riches to rags. What is consistent is that although I have nothing (financially), I have much, which is love.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Normally I don’t do this, but I thought it was funny and wanted to pass it along.

This has to be one of the funniest country songs ever written........

not the perfect one mind you.....

no trains, dogs, pickup trucks, jail or Divorce..........

But a great country song.....turn up your sound



There are many definition of Age due to what you are talking about. One definition is how long an organism have lived (dare a woman tell?). How about aged cheese or wine? Another is a period of time or history. The Biblical Period, the Renaissance Period, the Baroque Period, the Ice Age and so on.

Age also determines our rite of passages. When we start school, lose our first tooth, go through puberty, go to High school, when we get our driver’s license, have the right to vote, to be an adult, to buy alcohol, get senior discounts or Social Security Medicare.

In the social realm, we put much emphasis on age. When working, I encountered two men (do you notice that things happen by two?) who were talking about how old they are because of being tired and the ache and pains they have after getting off work for the night. I commented to both of them that they are not that old! They replied saying I was not near as old as they were. One said he was 40 and the other 42. Now I took that as a compliment for I am 50!

Why is age so important? In the Biblical Period, women were getting married at the age of twelve and in our culture, women are getting married in late 20s or 30s. Some never get married, but live with their significant others. Puberty age has changed over the decades. Maturity and immaturity determines if we act our chronological age. How we dress determines our age. Our cultures determines our age, what is appropriate and what is not.

What if we don’t go by age, but by experiences? Then the whole perspective changes. A child who lived a sheltered life vs. a child who lived a life for survival. A family of two parents vs. a family of one parent. A person who lived in low income family vs. a person who lived in a high income family. A person who lived a healthy life vs. a person who has been ill most of their life.

Our past experiences determines are age and maturity as well. It also defines who we are as a person. What is your story? What defines you as a person? Does age really matter in a social realm? These are questions to ponder. Age….

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Perspective

Have you ever known someone for most of their life or your life and when you see them again in a different environment that person seem so different?   That happened to me not just once, but twice last night while I was working at Casey’s. 

I am a cashier and one of my job is to turn on the gas pump when someone lift the nozzle and hit start.  As pump one was initiated to start,  I noticed a small older model maroon car, but I could not see the person pumping the gas.    I went about my business and saw that the pump had finish pumping gas.  I looked up and saw a man walking about six feet tall into the door.  I was shocked to see my son, Steve, who lives in the Quad Cities.  He was only in town for a short time and came by to get gas, soda, and beef jerky (which was high priced I thought). 

Later in the evening, I looked up to greet another customer and I had to look twice!  Standing before me is my other son, Brad.  He was getting ready to go out of town and stopped to get some Dew! 

Now I have given birth to these boys and raised them.  They are adults.  But what made them look so different?  It was as if I was seeing them in a new perspective and I was.  I was seeing them as customers who happens to be my sons. 

I cannot remember a time where the boys came into my workplace as customers.  When I was a waitress or a night manager in a grocery store, they were too young to be in the store or restaurant without adult supervision.  Later I worked in social services and they were not my clients.  However, when I was an associate pastor, they did come to listen to one or two of my sermons and I saw them in a new perspective then too. 

You see, it’s not that they are different, but my role or personality changed while in a different environment.  We all wear different masks while we are wearing different hats in life.  How we act with our children is different than how we act with our parents.  How we act with our friends is different than how we act with a new acquaintance.  How we act at home is different than how we act at work. And unfortunately, for many of us,  how we act in church is different than how we act the rest of the week. 

The personality of these boys were the same as before last night, when I look at the situation closely.  What I saw in Steve is that he is a tall  big guy who loves to joke around and laugh at the small stuff.  What I saw in Brad is that he has dark eyes, a great smile and a great laugh.  In addition they both love to catch me in a “mom moment” (when I say or do something that is funny unexpectedly).  Of course there is more to them than what is said here and I am at risk of embarrassing them. (Love you both :-) )

There are many stories of people in the Bible who sees others in a different perspective because of their physical ailments, their financial status, their marital status or their social status.  Many times the way we views others is how we unconsciously view ourselves in the same situation.   Matthew 7:5 says, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” 

The next time you find yourself seeing someone or something in a different perspective, ask yourself, “what is different about me?”  Do I like what I see in me?  If not, what do I need to change?  Am I being true to myself?

As I see the boys more often in the store, I suspect that my role as a mother will come through more.  However, the “mom moments” will always be there for all to enjoy in laughter including me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine’s Day

I was sitting here wondering what to write next on this blog. Valentine’s Day continue to pop into my head. Possibly because all this week on 7th Heaven show, they are showing reruns of their valentine shows. Possibly because Valentine’s Day is on Saturday and I do not have a date (although I have to work). Possibly I do not have a loved one who I can celebrate this day with because I am single. Then I think of those who have lost loved one this past year and how difficult it must be for them as well.

As in some of the episodes of 7th Heaven, I found myself wondering who I can call so I won’t be alone. Now I realized that I was starting to have a pity party and stopped myself.

My mind shifted to, how did Valentine’s Day started? Was it by greeting card companies as many would say? What is the history behind this? That is when I look this up on Wikipedia. This is what I found.

Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14 by many people throughout the world. In the West, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines." Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards.[1] The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century Great Britain, and, in 1847, Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Massachusetts home with hand-made Valentine cards based on British models. The popularity of Valentine cards in 19th-century America was a harbinger of the future commercialization of holidays in the United States.

I also looked at Valentine and here’s what I found under the same reference.

Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy), was popular in late antiquity.[2] Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name.

The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle, (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't finish him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273.

It amazes me at times how much we take for granted is rooted back to Christian history. But why should it? After all, our country was founded and developed under Christian roots. But for the same reason as many who sees the true color of a woman’s hair when the roots show, they want to cover it up as soon as possible. Are we ashamed of our history?

As for all of you, I wished you a Happy Valentine’s Day. May you treat your loved ones as special on Valentine’s Day every day of the year.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Missing Mom

Yesterday marked the six month anniversary of my mom’s death. There are many times I find myself wanting to go to the phone to call her or drive over to the house to visit. When I do stop by the house to see dad, I vision her being in her chair snoozing with the television on Court TV or CSI reruns. She would wake up, look at me, and say, “What are you doing here?” or “I didn’t hear you come in.” I miss the update from her about my aunts, uncles, cousins, brother, niece or nephews.

Before her illness nine years ago, my mother was an active person. She worked at retail stores all her working life. She enjoyed learning new skills in craftsmanship, whether it was in needlework, crotchet, china painting, oil painting, sewing, quilting, refinishing furnitures or remodeling houses. There was nothing she could not do when she set her mind to it and go after the goal she set out for. In addition, she was also a perfectionist. If what she was making has one mistakes, for example, she would rip the stitches out and start over. Unlike my dad and me.

Mom and Dad had many opportunities to travel. They would save all year so they can go places on vacation the next year. We were able to visit relatives in other states; Michigan, Texas and Louisiana. Mom and Dad also traveled on their Honda Goldwing with a motorcycle group they belonged to see the country or take day trips to a restaurant or truckstop for coffee or coke.

Mom and Dad love to go camping and took four kids with them. At first, it was a tent. Then we upgraded to travel trailer as a family. Later they had a fifth wheel trailer, which they sold to my uncle Dean when mom got sick.

When I was a freshman in High School, I had tried to make their camping life miserable by refusing to participate in fishing, walking around the park, or sitting outside. I just stayed in the trailer and read books. What I really wanted was to talk on the phone or visit with my new boyfriend, Everett. We didn’t have the luxury of cell phones back then like teenagers do today. Everett did come out on his motorcyle to visit on that Labor Day weekend.

I remembered that I had an art project due on Tuesday after Labor Day. We were camping and Mom asked Dad go into town to take a Polaroid picture of our front door and bring that picture, my art pad and charcoal pencils to me. I thought she would let me go home to do the project but she had found another solution and I was not going to win. :-)

This is one of the story Mom and Dad love to bring up. Especially when I mentioned wanting to go hiking, go out to the lake, go camping or fishing. I do love nature as much as my parents, but one wouldn’t think so back then.

My brother, Todd, his family and my dad loves to go fishing in the boat every year. They would catch a lot of fish and give some away to relatives.

Dad also loves to hunt. He told me a story when mom went hunting with him because she didn’t want him to go hunting alone. Mom shot at a deer (I think). It must have bothered her, because she would not shoot at another animal again. But she would target practice with dad from time to time.

There are so many stories about mom and I hope to get them written down so the grandkids and great-grandkids can enjoy them. Mom’s stories are full of wit, wisdom, smiles, and love. Although mom has done many things, the one thing she treasured the most was family. We still miss you, mom.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Friends During Hard Times

Today I read an email requesting another post. I called a friend to get an update from his wife on his health condition and their struggle with getting government funding. Recently, I had to apply for health funding myself, for new hearing aids. In both of our cases, we had white collar jobs and insurance. Due to different reasons, we found ourselves in a place we have never been before, needing assistance.

If any of you are following my son’s blog, then you have read “That’s What Family is For”. If not, take a look: That's What Family Is For. (While you are there, go ahead and read some of his other blog. They are good! :) )

When you are struggling physically, financially, emotionally or spiritually; it is during this time when you will out who your friends are. This same friend and his wife have been there for me through many of my hard times. They listened to my story, they wept with me, they got angry with me, they prayed with me, sent encouragement cards and they even provided financial help when I needed it. Now, they need help. Although I cannot provide financial help, I can pray, listen and provide emotional support.

As I was writing this, I was reminded of a story in Job 2:11-13 NIV

“When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.

When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.

Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

These friends set out from their home, met and set off on a journey to provide comfort to a friend in need. A man who was blameless and upright. A man who feared God and shunned evil. A man whom God blessed through the work if this man’s hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land (Job :10b, NIV) A man who God allowed to be put to the test by Satan himself. But Satan was not to lay a finger on the man himself.

The first test, Job had lost all his livestock, his servants, and his sons and daughters who were drinking and feasting at his oldest brother’s house. After Job was told of all this, he went into mourning by tearing off his robe, shaving his head, and fell to the ground. But he did not blame God for any of this wrongdoing.

Satan was not happy because Job maintained his integrity and God allowed Satan to give Job another test. God had given Satan permission, but Satan was to spare Job’s life.

This time Satan “afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (Job 2:7, NIV). Then Job took a piece of pottery and cut himself with the pottery as he sat in ashes and mourned.

His wife could not understand why Job would hang on to his integrity and not cursed God. So she went out to asked Job, “why?” Job replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) Job’s integrity remain intact as he did not blame God for this illness.

I can only imagine what some of you may be thinking at this point. If a person has lost all his assets, been afflicted with an illness like Job has and tumbled into deep despair, how could he maintain his integrity with God? God knew Job’s heart and Job knew God.

Now we come to the scripture where Job’s friends saw him from a distance and barely recognized Job due to his sores. They tore off their robes and sprinkle dust on their heads in mourning as this was their custom. Then they sat with him without saying a word. They were not afraid that they too may get sores like Job had. They were there for him and mourned with him as friends.

Therefore, when we are in trouble, we will find out who are friends are. Which friend will sit down beside us and be there with and for us. Not only friends, but family too. I give thanks to God for my friends and families who have been there for me and I am happy to be there for them as well when they need a friend, a sister, a daughter, or a mother.

The best friend of all is God/Jesus/Spirit. God knows your heart, do you know God?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Calm Before the Storm

We were busy last night at work.  A group of African American guys came in.  Right away I could tell they had good spirits about them and having way too much fun!  They were on their way home to settle down for the night so they can get up in the morning.  I asked, “To worship?”  He said, “Yes, ma’am!”  He gave me a brief gospel of this being “bad times”, but if we believe in the Lord’s coming, we will have eternal life with him.” I smiled and then  He smiled and said something I didn’t quite hear, but ended with “God Bless You!”  as he walked out the door.

For me that was the calm before the storm.  Later as I was cleaning up, I remembered that I still need to bring inside the four washer buckets.  The air was humid and warm from the snow that  had been melting all day.  After having temperatures in the teen digits with wind at night, 40 degree is warm in Illinois at this time of year and I loved it because that means spring is around the corner. 

As I was saying, I went out to get the buckets and noticed that an arching stream of water shooting from the roof around the pole where one of the bucket was hanging.  The bucket was overflowing to the ground from the water above. 

Well,  as some of you may guess where this is going, I had to get under the iced cold water from above and remove this bucket.  The bucket was heavy and trying to get it off was a struggle.  I ended up emptying 1/2 of the bucket of washer fluid and water onto the ground.  In the meantime getting baptized with iced cold water from above.  

After retrieving this bucket,  I went and got another bucket from another post and went into the store drenched from head to toe.  The look on LeaAnne’s face when she saw me was hilarious.  When I said, I got wet out there and started laughing,  she started laughing too. 

Some of you may know the story of Jesus calming the storm.  For others, the story is in Mark 4:35-41  NIV

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side."   Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.  There were also other boats with him.   A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.   He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"   They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"

It was towards the end of my shift when the episode of being nearly drowned occurred.   I went about the rest of my cleaning duty and headed for home.  I parked my car in the garage and went inside the house. I  took off my wet shoes and coat when a shi’zu came running from upstairs to greet me.  She was also letting me know that she wanted go outside to do her duty. 

As I was waiting for her to finish, I looked up to the midnight sky.   The air was still warm and damp.  There were many twinkling stars out.  It was peaceful.  At that moment I wished I had the patio table and chairs out so I could sit and enjoy the moment for awhile. 

When Keiko was ready to come inside, I noticed that I didn’t have my coat on.  Normally I freeze easily.  But tonight I was warm.  Warm from the inside out.