Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lessons in Praise

Part of our Bible study yesterday included this story from Acts 16:22-25.

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

Here are some pertinent quotes that Ann Garnett shared in her lecture that particularly spoke to me.

When praise is the last thing that comes naturally to us, and we choose to worship Him anyway, we’ve had the privilege of genuine sacrifice of praise.
Beth Moore, To Live is Christ

It‘s all right if your praise comes out of
a life that has struggles,
a life that still falls short of the glory of God,
a life that has defeats and requires confession
and a life that slides into emotional low periods.
This is part of being human in a fallen world,
waiting for the magnificent future
God has planned for us.
31 Days of Praise

Since the death of his daughter, Maria, Steven Curtis Chapman added this 4th verse to his song, Yours. I will also include the chorus and ending stanza.

I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow

So deep and dark that I could barely breathe
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear
And questioned everything that I believe
But still even here in this great darkness
A comfort and hope come breaking through
As I can say in life or death
God we belong to you.

The glory is Yours, God

All the honor is Yours, God
The power is Yours, God
The glory is Yours, God

You're the King of Kings
And Lord of Lords

And its all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
From the stars in the sky
To the depths of the ocean floor
And its all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours

All the greatness and power, the glory and splendor and majesty
Everything is Yours
Yeah, it's all Yours
We are Yours
The glory and honor is Yours, everything is Yours

It's all Yours, God
My life is Yours, my heart is Yours
My hands and my feet are Yours
Every song that I sing
It's all Yours, all is Yours
All belongs to You
Our gifts are Yours, God
All our dreams are Yours, God
All our plans are Yours, God
The whole earth is Yours, God
Everything is Yours

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yes, I walk with a limp, but . . .

Some have wondered how well I walk after eleven and a half weeks (not that I am counting) since my attempted tandem blob jump in August (referred to as a “Double Dad” by Dr. Thomas.)

My walk is not pretty and I do have a bit of walk envy as I watch others saunter so easily about without even thinking of the motion. I have a limp, which I am trying to correct. When I am really concentrating on every step, I do okay. However, when I forget and start to hurry around, I sort of swing limp and my right hip goes up and down. The muscles on my left knee and leg are still healing and are keeping me from having a normal gait. I keep exercising and practicing. It is as if deep inside my left leg, I have a rock that does not let me bend normally. I have no pain just some achiness that is easily remedied with Ibuprofen. I am hoping to make a full recovery eventually. Occasionally I get impatient or discouraged or just plain tired so I made this list and am thankful!

  1. I cornered my cane on Saturday and have not used it since.
  2. I can go up and down stairs every other foot instead of one foot at a time without holding on to a railing.
  3. I can comfortably cross my legs—right over left or left over right.
  4. I can get down on the floor and up again without using a prop.
  5. I pitched my Handicapped Parking Placard (good through February) because I can walk and I need to walk and I am glad to walk.
  6. I am starting my morning regular walking exercise with my walking partner.
  7. My hubby sees me as capable again. He asked me to help carry the unwieldy deck furniture around the house to the garage for the winter.
  8. I am signing up to walk the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.
  9. I do not wear a platform in my shoe. My left leg is an eighth to a quarter inch shorter than my right but special shoes are not necessary.
  10. I drive “my” car again. When I was less capable, I drove “Bob’s” car because it was easier to get in and out of and I liked some of the special features.
  11. I can sleep on either side comfortably and I do not need to sleep with a pillow between my legs.

Life is good!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Proud to call her, “Mom!”

I am still glowing after spending an afternoon with my mother-in-law and some Rowell relatives. Bob and I had thought that we would be unable to attend a small gathering to celebrate Mom’s 93rd birthday. Our plans changed, so Bob and I decided early Saturday to drive a few hours away and meet and surprise the others for lunch. This dear family treated us like celebrities. They welcomed us over and over and laughed and told us how happy they were to see us. It was a genuine, warm, happy welcome.

Mom Rowell is my friend. She listens and laughs. She empathizes and prays for me. I am not aware of her ever holding a grudge against anyone. I have given her plenty of reasons to be disgusted at me through the years but she just keeps on loving me. She is a servant and a delight. She is gracious and beautiful. I am so very proud of her. She is wise and knowledgeable. She is sweet. She is kind. She is godly.

While celebrating Mom’s birthday, my brother-in-law—Paul, showed me a paper where she listed her children. She named each one. My husband, her son, died 20 years ago so I remind myself that I am an “outlaw,” with a smile of course—Mom never made me feel that way. I call Bob—my second husband, “A Rowell Outlaw Once Removed.” There listed on her paper with her children was my name. It said, “My daughter, Brenda Rowell McDonell. . .” She could just as easily have
written, “my daughter-in-law . . .” I realize that in the interest of clarity it is necessary to have modifiers that explain relationships such as “step,” “half,” “in-law,” and “adopted.” It just makes me glad that Mom doesn’t see it as important.

Is it any wonder that she is loved by so many people?

Her children arise and call her blessed! Proverbs 31:28

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Degrees of Separation

Saturday evening we ate dinner with Judy and Rich. Everyone else wore everything they brought with them to this steak cook out on a COLD California evening. Judy and Rich were in short sleeves!

Judy and Rich own a successful ServiceMaster franchise in Wasilla, Alaska and they are also salmon fishers and moose hunters. Well, truthfully, I am not sure what kind of hunters but that sounds good.

Rich is Jessica’s dad and Judy is her stepmom.

Jessica is a hairstylist and owns a beauty shop called The Beehive in Wasilla. Yes, it is true, I am not kidding. You can see how we instantly connected.

Governor Sarah Palin has been Jessica’s client since 2002.

So does that make me about three degrees away from sitting under the hair dryer with Governor Sarah Palin?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friends that lift our sights and broaden our horizons and love to laugh

What a privilege to spend a few hours on Saturday with friends, Janet and John. Our first stop was the Crystal Cathedral. This was not a place that I might have gone on my own volition but I wanted to be positive and enjoy the day. I was glad that we went! The Crystal Cathedral is truly a beautiful place. I particularly loved the sculptures—especially the smiling Jesus sculptures. The water, the flowers, the architecture, were all stunning. Rev. Schuller loves architecture and wanted everything on the campus to draw guests eyes towards the heavens. It was interesting to notice all of the vertical lines. The rosemary shrubbery was being trimmed along one long walkway and smelled wonderful.

Janet and John have decided to try to visit all of the Presidential Libraries so since we were just 10 minutes from the Nixon Library, we stopped there for a short visit. I loved looking at all of the memorabilia and it triggered a lot of memories of things that I had forgotten—and of course things that I had never known. It does seem sad that Nixon is defined by Watergate. It was interesting to see life size figures of world leaders from that time period—Golda Meir, Winston Churchill, and others. I think it was Nikita Khrushchev that was only 5 feet, 3 inches tall. We saw some gifts given to the Nixons while they were in the White House. All gifts that they received over $350 belong to the National archives. It was interesting to learn of the gifts that were given by the US to other world leaders as well. I enjoyed the period furniture and gowns worn by Pat, Tricia and Julie. We saw a piece of the Berlin wall and lots of Vietnam stories and memorabilia. I think it is an interesting pursuit to visit each presidential library and I will be much more inclined to visit others as well. Thanks Janet and John for the happy memories.

Eat your heart out. We did.

For eight of us, our Dine-In Dinner on Friday evening was at Sapphire Laguna which features global cuisine. The food was truly delicious and beautifully presented! It might be worth the trip out to Laguna Beach just to eat there.

I was happy to sit at a table right by the fireplace with my back to it because even California nights get cool. It was a very pleasant atmosphere with good company and mostly we could all hear the conversation except for the two unlucky people at the ends of the table. That is an important thing to observe since we are all at the point where we begin losing some of our senses.

All eight of us—I wouldn’t want you to think that I was the only glutton that evening—had one piece of each of these five, yes, five yummy appetizers. Can you imagine if you had asked me what I had for dinner and I repeated these items? Not likely, yet our very talented waiter rattled these off without stuttering one time. And I thought Starbucks coffees were difficult to remember—actually I still do—actually I can't.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Goat Cheese, Spiced Pecans, and Burnt Sage Butter

Malaysian Black Pepper Prawns with Woked Fried Chinese Long Beans, and Garlic Chips

Prosciutto Wrapped Mission Figs with Bleu Cheese Melt, and Aged Balsamic

Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallop with Baby Field Greens, and Warm Pancetta-Passion Fruit Dressing

Vietnamese Autumn Roll with Lemongrass Chicken, Jicama, Carrots, Egg, Vermicelli, and a Duo of Dipping Sauces

If you are more self-controlled than our entire group and can only taste a couple of appetizers when you are there, you must have the squash ravioli and the mission figs! (Pardon the less than distinctive abbreviations.) It was great getting caught up in the whole group mentality of everyone tasting each appetizer. There is much less guilt.

In the interest of healthy eating, I thought I would show you the salad that we enjoyed. For the salad course, we were more restrained and had a half portion of Rocket & Heirloom Tomato Salad with Avocado, Abbaye de Bel’loc, Sweet Onion, and Citronade.

As for the main entrée, Bob and I shared Pan-seared Beef Tenderloin & Lobster Ravioli with Creamed Spinach, Wild Mushroom Ragout, and Chervil Butter.

Yes, and we did not skip dessert which nobody, by the way, shared! I love a group that has its priorities straight. Bob had Trio of Crème Brulee with White Espresso, Chai Latte, and Orange-Chocolate. I loved the Almond “Joy” Amaretto Chocolate Sauce, with Coconut Ice Cream.

Thanks, SM, for this lovely and delicious experience!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A deep breath of fresh/salty air

Breathe in, breathe out, relax.

ServiceMaster provided a nice few days of relaxation at Dana Point, CA. I cannot resist posting a few vacation views.

These are not dolphins. They appeared like silhouettes on the ocean because of the surfers' wet suits.

The pelicans are much more fun to watch while they are swooping and diving but too hard to photograph. I also enjoyed watching various terns running around on their long skinny legs.

Can you tell that I missed our grandchildren and thought about them? I would have enjoyed having them with us at the ocean?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Digging for gold

Beekeeping is a humbling hobby. There is a college study course to become a Master Beekeeper. However, that title is pretty much of a misnomer. It seems pretty impossible to master beekeeping. There is just not a recipe that works. It is a lifetime internship of trial and error and a bit of honey. Sometimes a bit more honey than other times. This year during honey harvest, we encountered a new problem. We had honey that crystallized in the comb. My, oh my, try extracting that! The hot uncapping knife is a lethal weapon on any good day with perfect honey supers. Even our experienced uncappers have a few marks from this year’s brutal task.

Our main crew

Our cheerful helpers deserve the highest praise for the efforts of this weekend. Kevin and Nancy did all of the uncapping. Their hands will probably recover in a couple of weeks. Actually, they did much more than the uncapping. There is always work to do—scraping and cleaning and pressing. They worked double time all of the time.

Because we were working with some crystallized honey, the filters needed constant attention and cleaning. Kent showed incredible fortitude in sticking with this nasty sticky project for many hours on Saturday and again some on Sunday afternoon! We were so proud of him. He was a great encouragement. Not only that, he often cleaned out the cappings presser and did some scrubbing on the supers as well. It was a tough, yukky, tedious workday! Kent showed maturity beyond his years.

Jessica bottled and bottled and bottled honey—more than 300 pounds—seldom taking a break. She never lost her concentration and there were very few drips. Sometimes she even sang as she worked! What a privilege to have her on our team!

Bob and Kevin put the supers with crystallized honey on the back deck for the bees to work. The bees are excited to help. It is such fun to watch them! Within a few days the frames will be nice and clean.

And then my hubby—the overseer, encourager, extractor operator—on his feet, up and down a stepstool, for two whole days, doing all kinds of jobs. I am praying that he has a great sleep tonight with no leg cramps!

Bob is embracing the sweat.

More crew arrive.

Steven was otherwise occupied during part of the day being the goalie on his winning soccer team.

David will be 11 years old tomorrow and made cupcakes for all of us to enjoy. Susan, Morgan, Hale, Seamus and Kathi all came to celebrate with us. It is always fun for us to see the cousins together.

Yay—we are done harvesting honey! The garage is clean again. We have boxes of delicious bottled backyard honey—in four or five different sizes, fresh, and ready for sale. However, if we add in any labor costs, it is totally unaffordable.

This is newly bottled comb honey.

We are all a good kind of exhausted.
We will feel better in the morning!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Way worse than just a glow. . .

When I get home from physical therapy anymore, I need a shower. I have a darling little 100 pound therapist, Deb, that loves to sweat. Sweating, according to Little Deb, means that you are challenging your body— that you have had a good workout. Little Deb says it feels good. Little Deb probably also gets a “high” from running which has never been my experience.

I have always had an aversion to sweat and not just because of the work involved although that may have something to do with it. But it is more than that—some women that I know, love to lie out in the sun to get a tan. I last less than five minutes in the sun, not because of fear of skin cancer but because I don’t like to sweat.

Lately, Little Deb has been having me “warm up” on the elliptical machine. Not only that, but she is increasing exponentially the resistance. She wants me to do a little self talk as I enter PT. I need to be telling myself, “I will embrace the sweat.” Hmmm.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Regarding lots of bees, a wasp, a spider, and a good man

Bob is ready big time to extract precious backyard honey. He has been working on this for many weeks whenever he has a spare hour. I have been of no help. Well actually I did help a little bit. I drove to pick up jars for bottling on Tuesday. It was about a five hour round trip on a beautiful sunny day and I enjoyed the Wisconsin scenery. I also washed the jars, box by box in the dishwasher and carried them out to the garage to be ready for bottling. However, that is pretty much a pittance of effort compared to Bob.

Let me set the stage for this bee story. After many days of labor the honey is pulled. It is stacked to avoid getting wax moths. The dehumidifier is running and lights are kept on above the honey day and night—also to keep wax moths away. There is a thermometer on the stacks to keep the temperature perfect and it is checked regularly. The garage is empty of any bees. The equipment is sterilized. We have been keeping the cars outside to avoid contaminating the garage as much as possible. Bob did a lengthy search looking for a good material to use to filter the honey even going by himself to a fabric store to see what he could find. This is really just the beginning—there is tons more and each detail takes hours of work.

Thursday, four grandchildren had the day off from school while teachers attended a convention. Since Mama Patti was working, it was my privilege to have the children come here for the day. Mama Patti is always very prompt, I opened the garage door for the children at 8:30 and within two minutes the children were in my kitchen. Then I can’t really explain what happened. I know the importance of closing the garage door immediately but the children are fun and interesting and it is not hard to distract me for much lesser reasons. We played a card game and talked. At about 10:30 a.m. I remembered the garage door and jumped up (as fast as I could move with my trusty walker) to close it.

Now I have been loosely connected with beekeeping since I married Bob. I am familiar with more bee information and experience that most people would ever care to know. I am aware that each of our hives has around 40,000 to 60,000 honey bees. When I don my bee suit, and pretend to help Bob, I might see hundreds of bees but most are busy and involved and I am not that conscious of huge numbers of bees. I have even been with my hubby when he went to get some swarms. But all of the bees hang together mostly in a group and there is really nothing overwhelming about that situation. It just isn’t that big of deal. However, Thursday, when I opened the garage door, I saw all 80,000 to 120,000 bees in the garage at one time. It was a bee party! I had personally invited them to rob the supers full of honey by leaving the garage door open. They were buzzing all over as happy as could bee. Bob says it is called a feeding frenzy.

I closed the garage door and called hubby in a panic. However, he was thousands of miles away on business. It did feel better confessing over the phone rather than in person—face to face—I think.

So needless to say, I spent the next many hours doing my best to guide the bees, with a broom, home to their hives and to keep them from entering the garage again. It was challenging. I waited until the garage doors or windows were full of bees trying to get back to their hives to deposit honey and then I would open the garage door and shoo them out and close the door as quickly as possible to keep other bees from entering. It helped when the weather got a little cooler in the afternoon as well. These pictures nowhere near do justice to the amount of bees that were in our garage. I didn’t think to get my camera—initially.

During all of this time the children were great! They did not show a trace of bee fright. In fact, I offered them ways to avoid the garage altogether but all four walked through the garage a couple of times. Now, this I know, and I told the children, and they believed: “These bees are so full of honey and they have an utter gold mine at their disposal so they are not interested at all in us.” I brushed a couple of bees off of Jessica’s beautiful golden reddish hair, just in case they were confused but none of us were stung by a bee.

However, later in the afternoon, the children went to the park to play for a little and Steven was promptly stung by a mean, good-for-nothing wasp on the playground slide. After that, I hope it got caught in a spider web. Steven knows bees—has studied them up close and personal and so he knew that it was not a honey bee. We dug out the baking soda and water and ice packet immediately so I am hoping that it did not swell too much.

By the time Bob got home, the garage looked better and I was sure glad to see my man! I caused him lots of extra work but he never even acted irritated at me. In fact, he even chuckled a bit at my panic. After six Ibuprofen pills and a dinner with friends, I dropped into bed for maybe the best night’s sleep in eight weeks even though grieving the dashed hopes that our Chicago teams might play each other in the World Series.

Today, my hubby again spent hours in the garage and reassured me there was no harm done. He also spent some time going around the outside of our house ridding it of spider webs. Who knows, he might have destroyed one of Charlotte’s that said, “Some Man!”

Friday, October 3, 2008

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye!

Medical Walker
For Sale, Rent, Loan . . .

Any offers considered

Includes one extra set of florescent green
tennis ball floor protectors

Very cute Juxtaposie purse not included
but available for purchase. See yesterday's post.

I am in the market for a very cute, stylish cane to use for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Let me know if you have any suggestions.