Sunday, November 25, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

My brothers and I.  We are older in this picture then we are in the story I share below.

    My Dad built the house where I grew up in Mahopac, NY.  The property was directly across the street from the Bailey Mansion, of the Barnum and Bailey Circus.  The land had once been part of that estate.   Rumor had it that a beloved circus elephant had been buried somewhere on one of the pieces that had been sold off.  My brother's and I looked, but we never found it.  Dad set the foundation up against an old stone structure that had been used for storing ice.   Because of this the downstairs was larger than the house.  Half of it was finished, had windows, and was at ground level.  That was the kids playroom.  The other half was under ground without windows and had the ice house attached.  The ice house didn’t have windows either.  Needless to say it was very dark and because it was largely underground felt damp and cool in the summer.  In the first part of the basement were the furnace, the water pipes, and the laundry.  Dad used the ice house for storage and as a workshop.
     One hot day my brother’s and I were playing in the dark basement.  We were pretending to be cowboys camping out under the stars.  We had bedded down the horses and sat down together to tell stories when we heard an other worldly voice.  “OOOOO.  Hellllooooo!”  The voice echoed against the stone walls.
     Our eyes must have been huge as we frantically asked each other, “Did you say that?  Did you hear that? and Who was that?”  We held each others hands tightly looking around our small circle.
     The voice came again,  “Hellllooooo, down there.  Are you being good?”
     We squeaked out a frightened “Yes!  Yes!”  I admit that I was probably the first to take off running.  I burst through the basement door, ran across the family room, and flew up the stairs.  My brother’s hot on my heels.  Mom was not in the kitchen.  We ran up the next flight of stairs and found my Mom in the bathroom cleaning the bathtub.  The three of us burst in yelling about hearing a voice in the basement.  Mom looked amused, but listened to our frantic descriptions of the voice.   “It was a ghost,” one brother asserted.  I was the oldest and the thinker in the group.  “No.  A ghost wouldn’t care if we were being good.  It had to be an angel!”  My reasoning went something like this.   Angels come from heaven - up to our down.  They watch over us.  Then they tell God if we are being good.
     My brothers squashed that idea.  What angel says, “OOOOOOO?”  Reluctantly, I admitted that they did have a point.
     My mother looked more and more amused as we carried on about the voice which became even scarier the more we thought about it.  When the three of us refused to leave the very crowded bathroom, Mom confessed that it was she who had called down to us.
     Mom pointed out a hole between the tile and the bathtub where the calking had come out.  She could hear us talking and playing in the basement.  The noise we were making must have traveled along the water pipes and then was amplified by the porcelain of the tub.  Mom could hear us, although the voices were somewhat distorted.  We were skeptical, but eventually Mom convinced us to go back down to the basement and she called again to us.  We spent the rest of the day sending messages back and forth from the bathroom to the basement.
     Have you ever wished to hear a voice from heaven?  I know that I have.  But God talks to us everyday.  Throughout the Bible are many examples of ways that God has spoken to His people.  God has used a burning bush, a flood, a donkey, angels, dreams, prophets,  a still small voice, and the cry of an infant born in a manger.  Our relationship with God is a two-way communication where we can express our love through worship, our desires through supplication, and our fears through prayer.  God rejoices over us with singing and whispers back words of love.  He paints glorious sunsets each evening and designs every snowflake that falls.  He sets the stars in the skies and knows the number of hairs on our head.  
     As we move into this very busy season where so much calls for our time and attention, let us not forget that Christmas is a celebration of the very Word of God made flesh.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders.  The Lord is over many waters.  The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.  ~Psalm 29:4-5
     Jesus invites us in Revelation 3:20:
 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
     Jesus wants you to hear His voice today.

Updated:  This post was featured by KarriReiser at:  My Life's A Treasure!  Visit My Life's A Treasure to see some wonderful posts!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Incredible Edible Turkeys

     Our family has made these festive turkeys for the last few years on Thanksgiving Day after I get the turkey in the oven.   We use them as place "cards" at the table for dinner.  Everyone creates one to sit on their bread plate.  The adults enjoy the gooey fun as much as the kids.
      They are all over the blogosphere, but I  first saw this idea in a second grade classroom at my school.  The kids absolutely loved making them.

     You need the following ingredients:
  • double stuff Oreo cookies - 2 per turkey
  • a small Reese's Peanut Butter Cup
  • candy corn (It looks better with traditional orange, yellow, and white candy corn.  Last year we ended up with green and red.)  
  • a chocolate kiss
  • orange frosting and/or white frosting
  • a small tube of black gel frosting
     First carefully separate an Oreo.  Press 5 candy corns point down into the creme on one side of the Oreo.  Add some frosting for extra sticking power.  We used orange frosting for this.  Re-attach the side of the cookie.  
     Lay the second Oreo flat of the table.  This will be your base.  Frost the bottom of the first Oreo opposite the candy corn.  Stand it up on the base.  You may want to add more frosting, if it doesn't stand up.  We added a peanut butter cup for the turkey's belly propped up on two candy corn feet.
     The chocolate kiss becomes the turkey face.  Frost the flat side of the kiss and put it on top of the peanut butter cup.  Your turkey is really taking shape now.  Add two eyes.  We used a drop of white frosting and a tiny dot of black for the pupils.
     If you wanted to, you could add two more candy corns for wings.  We didn't, because,  there is a whole lot of sugar in one place already.
     So cute.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

New York Public Library

"Libraries are the memory of humankind, irreplaceable repositories of documents of human thought and action." ~ The New York Public Library
     Have you ever wondered what the inside of the New York Public Library looks like?  It is amazing!  The photos do not even begin to do it justice.
     The Rose Main Reading Room.
A gorgeous ceiling mural.
     Artwork and murals everywhere.
     Lanterns, woodwork, sculptures, and beautiful marble.

A Gutenberg Bible.
     What book are you reading?  I just finished Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn and started Matched by Ally Condle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Welcome to Hogwarts!

    It's not every day a boy turns eleven.  Today was Connor's birthday.  My son has been a fan of Harry Potter since my husband paid him $5.00 to read the first book at the end of first grade.   He has been reading like crazy ever since.

    So it was no surprise when Connor, just like Harry before him, received an invitation to Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on his eleventh birthday.  Connor's invitation arrived by Owl Post in our mailbox on the Monday holiday when no post office mail was to be delivered.  The owl who delivered it left one of her very own feathers.

Source for Coat of Arms
            The invitation was signed by Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall herself!

    The supply list and the required Course Books for first year students was included.  
     There was also a list of miscellaneous equipment that every young wizarding student needs!
Source TrainTicket
     Connor had a train ticket for the Hogwarts Express.  He was cautioned to arrive at the Kings Cross Station inconspicuously.  He should arrive by port key linked to a local stop sign, muggle transportation,  or to hook up the living room fireplace to the floo network.
     Everything was placed in a scrapbook.  Other pages had quotes from the Harry Potter books by Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasely.  A listing of useful spells completed the scrapbook.
     It was fun to put this together for our favorite Harry Potter fan.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Voice of Hope

Gutenberg Bible, located at the New York City Public Library

    As a Resource Room teacher, I spend much of my time helping children learn to read.  Some children have difficulty learning the letter/sound code.  Others have broken the code but don’t have any idea what they read.  The words slip out of their minds.  One of the techniques that I teach to build their comprehension is to help the words create sensory images.  Your five senses are touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.  I want my students to be able to create such a vivid picture in their minds that they can walk around in it and make observations as though it were a movie set.  Because we are individuals, with different life experiences and different talents, our images will not be exactly the same, but they should have the important things in common.
     With that brief reading lesson in mind, I’d like to take a look at a passage of Old Testament scripture that Jesus quotes in Luke as He begins His ministry.  Picture this in your mind.
     Jesus steps to the front of a crowded Nazarene synagogue on the Sabbath.  He unrolls a scroll from Isaiah.  Can you picture Him placing His finger gently on the words and then looking up at His audience?  As He reads His voice swells and He looks from individual to individual.  He wants them to recognize their reality and pair it with the hope that God has for them.  Jesus reads this:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.   He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Italics are mine.)  Isaiah 61:1-11
     The audience for this text is  afflicted, brokenhearted people.  They are captives.  They are in prisons of their own making.  They are mourning.  They have experienced devastation.  Some are more broken than whole.  They are people like us.   Some of us are brokenhearted, mourning the loss of a loved one.  Some of us have not heard words of praise and our spirit is faint and weary.  Our minds are clouded with worry about an illness.  Poverty has come knocking.  We look too often at the images that can easily drown us.  But Jesus points to Gods reality.  God wants us to focus on the images of hope, reconciliation, deliverance, and healing.  Things are not as they seem.
     Jesus stood among the people in the synagogue and He stands with us.  He speaks of good news, gladness, and praise.  He can comfort those who mourn, because He broke the power of death. Jesus steps into our failures and disappointments and helps us to see the hand of God.  So I would like to finish the scripture from Isaiah 61.
... to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--  to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the lord for the display of His splendor.
     Jesus comes among us and clothes us in garments of praise and salvation.  No matter our condition, God wraps us in the cloak of integrity, wholeness, and holiness.  A gift of love.  A gift given to each of us, to be received with joy.
     Let's finish the movie in our minds.  Then Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.  The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him and He began by saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wherever You Are

     As a parent and elementary teacher, I get to enjoy children's books every day.  Wherever You Are is a warm and wonderful children's book by author/illustrator Nancy Tillman.  The simple message repeated on each of the beautifully illustrated pages is "You are loved."

     I wanted you more than you ever will know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go.  It’s high as you wish it.  It’s quick as an elf.  You’ll never outgrow stretches itself! ~Wherever You Are,  Nancy Tillman
     Along with the captivating illustrations are short phrases that encourage children to grow, to try new things, to "march to the front" of their "own parade" and assures them that no matter where they go or what they do, that they are loved.
Make a big splash!  Go out on a limb!  My love will find you.  My love can swim!  `Wherever You Are, Nancy Tillman
     I shared Wherever You Are at a recent children's church service.  The text echoes a prayer found in the New Testament.  Paul writes to the Ephesians that they might know that they are loved.
For this reason I kneel before the Father,  from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  ~Ephesians 3
     How high and wide is God’s love? As high as the son of God who was lifted on a rugged cross and as wide as His two arms outstretched.  Wherever you are, wherever you go, His love will find you.  Passionately, recklessly, infinitely.  You are loved.
     Nancy Tillman does not know me and has not in any way endorsed this post.  I just love her book.

     What other children's books echo the sincere love of God our Father to us?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

One Year Blogaversary

     One year ago today I began the Holimess  blog.   It has been a wonderful year.  When I put my first post up. I really wasn't sure there would be a second.  I just prayed that God would use this little blog as He saw fit.  Holimess is a Christian blog.  There are occasional recipes, craft projects, and children's stories, but for the most part, Holimess is about seeing God in the midst of our ordinary, everyday lives.  I wasn't sure that was the direction I would go, after all the big popular blogs are lifestyle-design-decorator type blogs, but I am beginning to recognize that He is what I write about.
     Here is an assortment of posts that stand out for me from this year.
     Opus 40, a post about Fall Camping with my family was my very first post.
     One of my favorite posts was I Believe.  That post was based on a quote by Audrey Hepburn.  "I believe in pink.  I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner...."
     Another one of my favorite posts is Return to Me which features my Dad.
     My most read post is Enchanted: Milk Glass Snack Plates.  I purchased these beautiful milk glass plates at our local Good Will.
     During the month of September, I blogged about Compassion International.
     I Wear Pink was a thirty one day series in October on my journey with Breast Cancer linked up at the Nesting Place.  I am a three year survivor.
     I'm looking forward to see where Holimess goes this year.
     Thank you my friends for making this year so special for me.  You are amazing and I am so grateful to have met you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012



   In Matthew 14, we read about a storm on the Sea of  Galilee.  After a busy day feeding a crowd with five loaves and two fish, Jesus sent His disciples across the Sea of Galilee in a boat.
We pick up the story here:
 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.  Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the water.  When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  ~Matthew 14:22-27
     The next few verses share how Peter bravely got out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus, but let’s stay with what has happened so far.
     Jesus had sent the disciples out onto open water while He stayed behind to pray.  He watched from the shore as a dark cloud shadowed the setting sun and the first ominous winds began to blow. The storm arrived, sweeping down from the mountain, churning the sea into a dangerous caldron.  Jesus saw the storm.  He saw the disciples in their fragile boat.  He watched them.  He prayed for them.
     Out in the middle of the pitch dark and storm tossed Sea of Galilee were the frightened disciples.   Mark 6 gives an account of the same situation.  Mark said that the men were straining against the storm.  They were rowing for their lives with great pain and torment of body and soul.  Rowing against the wind, fighting for every inch of headway, struggling, frightened, despairing for their lives.  They did not know that Jesus could hear their cries.  They thought He was out of reach.
     But Jesus did see and hear.  He did not watch them from a safe distance. He moved to act on their behalf.   Jesus stepped onto the water to meet them in their need.  He came, walking into the dark of night, into the howling wind, into the fury of the storm.  Emmanuel, God With Us stepping out into the raging storm for His disciples, for us.
     In storms, there are days when things go against us. Days when the waters are troubled and the wind blows hard.  We walk into the wind making no progress at all.  But in the same way that Jesus saw the disciples in their storm, He sees you and me in ours.  He knows when the wind blows against us.  He sees our struggles and disappointments.  He sees us strain at the oars.   Jesus doesn’t just watch.  When the time is right, He comes to us in the midst of the storm.
     When Jesus climbed into the boat, the winds ceased, the noise stopped, and the sea calmed.  The disciples saw that when Jesus is there, you have everything that you need.
Peace doesn't come from finding a lake with no storms.  It comes from having Jesus in the boat. ~The Me I Want To Be, John Ortberg

This post was featured at My Life's a Treasure!
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