Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Haven't Forgotten

It's been a rough few weeks, including a hospitalization for rectal bleeding last week. I'm recovering, slowly. Other various trials have come into our lives, so it's easy to feel overwhelmed. There are periods of discouragement, but the Lord keeps reminding me to trust Him and rejoice.

Ps 1:1-2:1
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,Nor stands in the path of sinners,Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water,That brings forth its fruit in its season,Whose leaf also shall not wither;And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
NKJV

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Response to a Pastor's Challenge--20 Years Later

Over 20 years ago, a pastor in my church challenged us to list all our reasons to give thanks. At the time, I was so bitter about being single that I couldn't think of even one blessing God had given me. Isn't that a slap in His face? In reality, He had done so much for me, but I refused to recoognize His bounty. Sad, huh? I must have grieved His heart!


So let me list some of the things (and people) I'm thankful for now. This is only a partial list, but hopefully it will bless some of you.

I'm thankful for:


My salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Left to myself, I would deserve eternity in hell, but God has graciously paid for my sin. If He'd done nothing else for me, this one blessing alone would be more than I could ever ask! That is my highest joy!


My husband, who is all I ever hoped for in a husband, only better!

My mom. She's incredible, and I praise God for all she did to make sure I was born and then make sure that I would lead a normal and full life.

My college education.


All the friends I've had from different arenas.

My wheelchair.

My headstick and computer, which open so many doors for me.

Living at a time when disabled people have so many opportunities and support systems. I am amazed that John and I, both so severely disabled, can live independently and contribute to society.

Our Personal Care Attendents.

My sister and her two daughters.

Our third floor apartment with the view of the woods. I love watching summer sunsets and the first snowfall of the season.

Living so close to Boston, where I can see so many historical sites.

The men and women who, beginning with the Boston Massacre and continuing right through this war in Iraq, sacrifice themselves for American freedom.

Food in our kitchen and clothes on our backs.

Health.

Our church, that preaches God's Word and supports a wide variety of ministry organizations and missionaries, and opens its arms to us. Both pastors make no secret of their love for me and John.

There's much more I could write, but I'm getting tired. Indeed, God has richly blessed me!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Prayer Of Our Founders

What better way to observe Thanksgiving than with my first video montage? I designed it around John's photographs of historic sites around Plymouth and Boston. May it remind all of us of the Christian principles that laid America's foundation.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Grave Digging

Yesterday was supposed to be delightful weather-wise (and it probably would have been so if that breeze hadn't blown), so John and I headed to the Quincy Historical Society to renew our efforts to find out about that Revolutionary War grave in Hancock Cemetary. I've blogged about that grave several times; my May 1 2007 post features a photograph of the broken headstone.

We explained our mission to the secretary at the Historical Society, who directed us to go back to the cemetary and find out what graves were near our guy's grave. We found the graves of Mary Everson and her infant daughter, Mary Louisa.

Mary died on September 21, 1847, at the age of 29. She was the wife of Edwin Everson (who apparently was devestated by her death, judging from the rather impassioned verse he had engraved on her headstone), and the third daughter of William and Martha Pratt of North Weymouth. Her only child, Mary Louisa, had died less than a year earlier: December 14, 1846. She had lived 10 months and 15 days. What a sad final year for her mother!

I thought our mystery grave might be Edwin's, but he would probably have been too old to have married Mary Pratt, who was born in 1813 (well after the Revolutionary War). So then I thought it could be William Pratt. Good guess, but when we returned to the Quincy Historical Society, the secretary said that the Pratts are buried elsewhere in the Cemetary.

The Adams Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, in 1929, erected a monument at the cemetary's entrance which lists the names of the Revolutionary War veterens. It seems to me, therefore, that the DAR must have placed the medalion beside the grave I'm researching. Alas, when I went to the DAR website last night, I found that the Adams Chapter no longer exists. So my next step is to contact the State Chairman.

I'm making progress!



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

John's Great-Niece

We had planned a trip to Boston today, but when I didn't really feel up to going, I suggested we call John's mom and ask her to meet us at Wendy's here in town. She said (probably with a twinkle in her eye), "I'm sorry, but I'm having lunch with my granddaughter today!"

Now, John's niece lives in another state with her husband and their almost-two-year-old daughter. When John's mom asked if they all could stop by after lunch, we were absolutely thrilled! I'm always ready to see "the baby."

This little girl won't turn two until December, but she already knows her numbers, her colors, and her animals. Here's a picture of her showing me how the bunny wiggles it's nose: Not that I would brag or anything, but she's as smart as she is cute! I am only posting this blog entry to show off this frame. Yeah, right! You bet I'm bragging! She may be John's great-niece by blood, but she's equally mine as far as my heart's concerned.

I've never been so happy to skip a trip to Boston!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trying to Keep Summer

I really hate the thought of summer ending, and being dependent on para-transit for getting around. John and I had so many splendid adventures. This definitely has been the best summer of my life.

So yesterday we tried to prolong it with one of our famous Boston Adventures. We took the Red Line to Downtown Crossing. I love wheeling down the ramp that exits from the Downtown Crossing T Station. To me, it symbolizes that all of Boston awaits me, with its rich history and places begging to be explored. And as I descend from the ramp, I feel he joy of entering a world of patriots, writers and legends. It's where my imagination feels most at home!

Armed with peanuts, John and I first stopped at Boston Common on our quest to photograph squirrels. This little guy was very cooperative to pose for us, so we gladly kept feeding him. I wish we could have gotten this first pose without the chain, but it's still cute.

We're very happy with this second photo; John's pleased at getting such a terrific shot (which it is), and I'm delighted with how I edited it. The squirrel was just happy that we continued to feed him peanuts!

John was disappointed with the photo he took of Lousia May Alcott's home on the Literary Landmarks walking tour we took for my birthday, so he lead me back to Pinckney Street (this time using the street rather than the sidewalk). This time, he got a splendid photograph.

We hope to squeeze in one more adventure before winter. But if not, I praise the Lord for blessing us with such a wonderful summer. Now I'll turn back to my digital painting.



Sunday, September 30, 2007

Birthday Party with 19th Century Boston Writers

Today's my birthday, but we celebrated yesterday by taking the Literary Landmarks Walking Tour with Boston By Foot. We met our guide, Tim, in front of Borders, which faces the Old Corner Bookstore, where William D. Ticknor and James T. Fields had the publishing house that launched American Literature in the mid 19th Century. From this bookstore, Boston became known as "The Hub of the Universe."


Naturally, I can't write about every point on the tour, but I was fascinated by the Boston Athenaeum, one of the first independent libraries in the United States. In the 19th Century, it also served as an art museum, so it combines three of my great passions--Literature, History and Art. My heart definitely went pitty-pat!

But the heart of the tour settled in the Pinckney Street side of Louisburg Square, which is decidedly not wheelchair friendly. I managed it so well, however, that I can't wait to tell my neurologist how wonderfully my new dosage of Baclofen works!

First, we stopped by the home in which Henry David Thoreau spent his first two years of life. It's a far cry from Walden Pond, I suspect, making Concord another spot on my "places to visit" list. I also need to read some works by Thoreau, Whitman and Emerson this winter, since the "evil white stuff" will keep me and John out of Boston.

Following Thoreau's house, Tim nervously warned me not to get too excited. We approached the home at which, during her early twenties, Louisa May Alcott lived. The marker on the side of the house erroneously claims she lived there as a small child, which isn't so. I'm currently reading Little Women (again), so I thrilled to hear that, because it was the first book to portray the life of 19th Century American women, it has a significant place in American Literature.


I also enjoyed seeing Nathaniel Hawthorne's Boston home, and will close with that pretty image.



Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Summer was gloriously busy with more trips to Boston than I could possibly chronicle on my blog. I had some days at home when typing was effortless, so I did my best to write individual emails to friends and relatives when I could. Alas, I can't find a comfortable position for my keyboard. I've pretty much concluded that Spaulding Rehab did a poor job in the ergonomics of my wheelchair's seating system, causing my increased difficulties in both typing and driving.

But...I'll work with what God gives me, and be thankful for His provision. In studying Matthew 25:14-30 (the parable of the talents) this week, I've been challenged to capitalize on the abilities He gives me, but also comforted by the assurance that He's now giving me less typing abilities than He did when I was younger (and had wheelchairs that held my back upright). Not that my increased limitations excuse me from serving the Lord altogether! I just need to do so differently than I have in the past.


I'm not sure what my vehicle of serving Christ is, other than being the wife He wants me to be for John, but the Holy Spirit will be faithful to present opportunities. My prayer is that He'll help me recognize those opportunities.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Artist as Subject Matter



Almost a month ago, we celebrated John's birthday by wheeling from the Fenway area (of Boston) to Back Bay. In the process, we stumbled upon the Richard D Parker Memorial Victory Gardens. At the beginning of the gardens, we saw an artist painting pictures of the flowers, so we chatted a bit with him and John photographed him. I've been experimenting with the photo in my Paint Shop Pro program, so here are three treatments of the subject matter. Hope you'll enjoy the results!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fifth Anniversary in Boston

Amazing as it seems, John and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary yesterday....in Boston. We took the Commuter Rail to South Station, and wheeled through my beloved Downtown Crossing and through Quincy Market to Long Wharf. Having followed the suggestion of an online friend, we'd made reservations at Legal Seafoods.

Five years is, for us, a landmark anniversary, so we ordered lobster! The waiter cracked it for us, and we could see how succulent it was. The baked potato, cole slaw, and Boston Cream Pie framed the meal well.

After lunch, we headed across the street to the New England Aquarium. Through a series of miracles, God provided for our admission fee. What a blessing.

I liked the penguins. My alma mater, Dominican University of California, began as a Catholic college, with the Penguin as its mascot (in reference to the nuns that ran it). The habitat was very spacious, clean, and well arranged.

John's favorite sea-creature is the octopus. We went up the spiral ramp as far as wheelchairs can go, and in the last tank we saw a bright orange octopus! As soon as John started taking pictures, the octopus came over to the glass, as if to greet John. In an astounded voice, one of the people working at the aquarium explained, "He almost never shows himself--you must be special!" (Of course John's special--that's why I married him five years ago.)

We left the aquarium, and explored the city a bit before returning to South Station. Since we arrived early for our train, we snacked on Chicken McNuggets and root bear at the food court for our romantic anniversary dinner!





Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Early Morning With Jesus

This morning I woke up at 3:45 a.m., and couldn't get back to sleep. A few weeks ago in Adult Sunday School, my pastor commented that he gets back to sleep in situations like that by praising God. So I thought I'd try it. After about a minute, the Holy Spirit convicted me that I wasn't really praising Him. I was using praise as a manipulative tool!

After that realization, I spent two hours in confession, prayer and praising the Lord simply because He is worthy of praise! After two hours, I knew I needed sleep, so I said "Amen" and closed my eyes. I'm tired today, but so blessed that He taught me more about not cheapening my relationship with Him.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another Experiment With Digital Art

I wanted to try a tutorial I saw a few months back using a gradient and the smudge tool in Paint Shop Pro to create a sunset. I'm rather pleased with the results. I added an oak tree that I'd drawn a couple years ago, and then reduced the brightness and increased the contrast to get a "nightfall" effect. Not great art, but I sure had fun doing it!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Just Another Day In Boston

We got on the Red Line Thursday morning, not sure where we would go. After two small misadventures at Charles MGH and Kendall stations, we decided to get off back at Downtown Crossing. We went to the Boston Commons Visitor Center, and decided to do a Freedom Trail Walking Tour (http://www.thepathtoindependance.com). While we waited for the tour to start, we chatted with the actors who portray Captain David Hawkins (who ended up being our guide) and Mary “Polly” Perry. Today, reading the web site, I learned that the young lady playing Polly is actually the 9th great-granddaughter of the woman she portrays.

Capt. Hawkins took us on a 90 minute walk, telling us all sorts of stories leading up the Revolutionary War. I became interested in James Otis, who (according to Capt. Hawkins) said, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” We also saw both the real site of the Boston Massacre and the official site-marker. I was glad he mentioned Crispus Attucks, the first African-American to die in the cause of American freedom.

I wish I could remember more of his narration, but it’s like drinking from a fire-hydrant. But I’m researching history on the Web, so the tour planted more seeds for me to cultivate. We may do it again next summer to refresh our memories.

The tour ended across the street from Fanueil Hall, so John and I then found our way to Leventhal Park, which we’d seen from the bus a few times. John loves water, so the park’s fountain has always intrigued him.

I liked the arbor near the fountain. It's very romantic. But I reminded John that Puritan law forbade a man to kiss his wife in public, as we had recently learned from Capt. Hawkins. John countered that the ordinance only applied on Sundays. Nevertheless, he confined himself to hand-holding.

As we made our way back to Downtown Crossing, John spotted a waterfall at a bank plaza. Approaching it, we could read the Preamble to the United States Constitution on the pavement leading up to it. Although I thought it was a majestic tribute to our Constitution, I couldn’t help thinking such a site would fit Philadelphia better than Boston. But when we turned to leave, we saw a small stone marker saying that on that site in 1788, the Massachusetts delegation ratified the Constitution.

We got home at 7:00 that evening, tired but very happy and proud of our country.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Letting The Lord Work In Me

I'm still working through Matthew in my daily Quiet Time, using four commentaries to study. The Lord keeps speaking through it about humility and putting Jesus first in my life. I'm in chapter 19 now, and looking at Jesus' interchange with the rich young ruler challenges me to ask myself if I'm putting my marriage or my computer time before my relationship with Him. Maybe that's a question I have to ask myself several times a day.

Lately, I'm letting Him confront me with my emotional attachment to certain foods. The Lord's using my new diet to expose some whining, self-pitying attitudes in me. I'm not enjoying low-oxalate eating because it's really hard finding high fiber foods that don't also have loads of oxalate. What's healthy for people who have never had kidney stones is bad for me. You can see a detailed outline of my diet at
http://www.branwen.com/rowan/oxalate.htm.

The web page I just cited primarily deal with low-oxalate eating in connection with female problems, but many kidney stone websites refer people to this page. People with kidney stones apply it a bit differently, however. I can, as one might expect, eat several foods in the low-oxalate group each day, and a few from the medium group. Occasionally I can have a very small portion of a high-oxalate food, like a bite of chocolate or a very small bowl of Cheerios. If I do so, however, that absolutely must be my only high-oxalate that day!

This web page's chart varies slightly from the chart my doctor gave me, so where they disagree, I go by hers. Which is good because hers lists potatoes as a low-oxalate food, and I like potatoes. But I'm really struggling with the idea of never having chili again, which is my very favorite food. That's where I'm coming to the Lord asking for a changed attitude, because I find myself feeling very resentful and rebellious.


He's blessed me, though, with a recipe website called Cooks.com. It's not a website for my type of diet (or any type of diet), but I've found a few recipes that I can adjust. Yesterday, my attendant made three twice-baked potatoes with cabbage and onion (which we'll try tonight) and a chicken-artichoke casserole. We divided it all into individual servings, and put all but tonight's potato in the freezer. Finding new recipies is an adventure, so I can praise the Lord in that activity to offset the self-pity.

Letting the Lord work in me means letting Him lead me to repentance by exposing my selfish attitudes. It's not fun, but it's more than worth it!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Associate Pastor's Wife



John took this photo of our associate pastor's wife a few years ago. In April (of this year) I started to use it as a basis for a digital painting. Just when I had it almost completed in mid-May, I accidentally merged the layers. So I had to start all over again. When our ISP went down Wednesday, I finished it. Here's the result:

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fighting a Giant

On June 27, our Internet connection ceased to function at approximately 11:45 a.m. We tried resetting our router at the Linksys website, and received a message that our settings were successful. However, when we checked the status, the “connecting” message was all we got. No complete connection occurred.

At around 12:30 p.m., after checking our computer’s connections, we called Verizon’s Tech Support. Dealing with the voice-automated menu took two attempts, as the physical disabilities both my husband and I have require us to use a speaker-phone. But finally we made contact with an agent identifying herself as Maria.

Maria first helped us check our connections a second time, and they were all in order. Next, she asked us to check our modem’s website (Westfall), which was also fine. At that point, she became aware of an outage in our area. She assured us that the problem would be resolved in three to five hours. She then reminded us of our ticket number, and told us to call back using that number if the problem wasn’t resolved.

I attempted to go online at 3:30 p.m., and again at 6:45 p.m., both times going to the Linksys website to make sure the router was reset. To my disappointment, nothing had changed. At 7:45, my husband tried connecting, but to no avail. So he attempted to place a phone call to Tech Support. After a few frustrating rounds with the voice-automated menu (during which he once again checked all connections), we got a recorded message telling us that, due to a higher-than-usual volume of calls, all agents were busy. We were advised to hang up and call back later. We assumed the outage was still in effect, and that we would certainly be able to access the Internet the next day.

At 9:30 on the following morning (June 28), my husband again tried to connect to the Internet so that he could work (he has some online businesses). Again, he was unable to connect. He called Tech Support, wove his way through the voice automated menu, and reached a recording which informed him that the problem had been resolved (which clearly was not the case) and that his ticket had been closed.

This announcement disturbed us precisely because Maria had told us to use the ticket number in the event that the problem was not corrected after the outage had ended. We still wonder why that particular ticket had been closed before we could inform Verizon that the problem indeed had not been resolved. We felt betrayed, and began to wonder if Comcast would serve us better.

About 10:00 a.m. that same morning, my husband tried to place a call to Verizon. Again, he faced the now familiar frustration with the voice-automated system, finally getting to the queue to await an agent. He asked for “other” rather than “Tech Support,” knowing that asking for Tech Support would do nothing more than lead him to the recorded message that the problem had been resolved and the ticket had been closed. At 10:15, a recording said an agent would be with him in five minutes. Shortly thereafter, he was disconnected. At this point, we began to seriously consider switching to Comcast.

Before attempting to call Verizon again, my husband once again made sure all our connections were secure and in their proper places. They were. From his wheelchair, it is quite an effort for him to make these repeated checks, but he wanted to be absolutely certain that we had not overlooked anything. He found all connections to be in order.

My husband again called Verizon Tech Support at 10:45, this time using a telephone headset to work through the voice-automated menu. Once he got an agent, who identified himself as George, he was informed once again that our ticket had been closed. He assigned us another ticket, verified our phone number, and instructed my husband to check the connections. My husband cheerfully complied. George then said that he would initiate the process of having our lines checked. He then began asking my husband to open a new window in Explorer.

At that point in the conversation, my husband realized that his telephone headset was making it difficult to hear George, so I suggested that he switch back to speaker-phone. When he did so, he was disconnected. He assured me that George had taken his phone number and would call him back to resume whatever process he had hoped to perform by asking my husband to open the second window in Explorer. After about ten minutes, however, it became evident that George would not be calling back.

So once more, my husband struggled through the voice-automated menu (this time with the speaker-phone). Due to our increasing frustration with Verizon, I cannot recall what time he placed that call; I would estimate that it was between 11:15 and 11:30 a.m. We had, by this time, been without Internet service for almost 24 hours.

After persevering through the voice-automated system, we finally reached an agent who identified herself as Girna. She explained that when our call to George had been disconnected, he promptly took the call of the next customer. We believe he was wrong in doing so, since he knew my husband was simply changing from headset to speaker-phone. We believe he should have behaved responsibly by calling us back.

Girna reiterated that our phone lines needed to be tested, and proceeded to schedule a time for Verizon technicians to come to our apartment the next day. She seemed uninterested in pursuing whatever procedure George had wanted to try when he had asked my husband to open the new window in Explorer. I am not sure why we did not press her on that point, except that she indicated that nothing further could be done until our lines were checked.

As she was preparing to terminate the conversation, we asked if we could be connected with Customer Services. Both my husband and I were extremely dissatisfied with Verizon’s poor handling of our situation, and we wanted to voice our grievances. She replied that Verizon has no Customer Service department (a statement that disturbed me), but that she could connect us to Billings. We waited for fifteen to twenty minutes for the call to be transferred before we gave up. By now, I had definitely decided that we needed to switch to Comcast, and my husband was almost ready to agree with me.

Between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m., my husband and I made two calls to Comcast, asking a variety of questions. We appreciated its touch tone menu, and the promptness of getting through to service agents. Already, the difference between them and Verizon was refreshing! We learned that Comcast’s Tech Support staff are all regional to the United States, in contrast to Verizon’s Tech Support members who are outsourced to Pakistan and Mexico. Finally, we decided to change ISPs.

At about 2:15 pm., my husband called Verizon to cancel our account, the voice-automated menu offered several options under reasons for closing the account, including “frustrations and concerns with technical support.” When my husband selected that option, he was transferred to Tech Support (which we did not want). We hung up and called yet again, saying “other” when the Cancellation menu asked for reasons for cancellation. We were on hold for almost fifteen minutes before an agent called Tim finally took our call.

Tim said that, because we had dropped our service to the lowest priced package in December of 2006, he could not waive the $78 penalty for early cancellation. Ordinarily, we would not contest such a penalty, but we strongly believe Verizon breached its agreement by mishandling our situation at every point. We asked to speak to someone who could negotiate with us on that point, to which he replied that there was nobody. (From that remark, I must infer that he has no supervisor.) He said that, since we’d only made two calls, we could not consider Verizon to be culpable. (Of course, we made many more calls than two; most did not go through due to Verizon’s voice-automated system and Maria’s premature closing of our first ticket.) Reluctantly, we agreed to his terms, stipulating that we intend to dispute the penalty fee later. We then called Comcast to switch to both their DSL and their phone service.

We do not want any further dealings with Verizon, and I am writing this narrative for the sole purpose of pointing out the many faults of its Tech Support system. I do, however, expect a written apology for the entire incident, as well as a waiver of the $78 penalty. Nothing other than these two things will satisfy me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bunker Hill

John and I, as of yesterday, have now visited every wheelchair accessible point on the Freedom Trail. Yesterday we went to Bunker Hill Monument, which is built on Breed's Hill in Charlestown, where the battle actually took place (Bunker Hill is about half a mile away, but the Patriots referred to both as Bunker Hill).

On June 17, 1775, the Patriots learned that the British planned to take Charlestown, Dorchester Heights and Roxbury in one campaign. Overnight (much to the amazement of the British), the Patriots built a redoubt. The British advanced, but under the famous order, "Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes," the Americans held their fire until the third advance. Since their artillery was limited, every shot had to count!

Technically, the British won this battle, but they suffered enough losses to convince George Washington and others in Philadelphia that the Americans really were capable of successfully fighting against Britain.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sad

All our robins are gone. We saw some crows yesterday, so we suspect they got our babies. Very sad.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Babies Are Hatching!





If you look carefully, you'll see Mama Robin feeding her baby! Actually, two babies have hatched now, but our personal care attendant could only capture one on camera today. We're thrilled to have this robin family outside our window!


The Lord's timing in having this nest outside our window astounds me. My kidney stone 's analysis showed that I need a low oxalate diet, such as the one I found at http://www.branwen.com/rowan/oxalate.htm. If you'll look at it, you'll see that it's a difficult diet, especially in regard to getting enough fiber. Many of my favorite foods (chocolate, chili, black tea, yellow squash, green peppers) are high in oxalate, so I'm grieving a bit over not having those foods.


So I believe the Lord sent this robin family to remind me that He governs all life, and that there's always a reason to have joy. I'm taking tremendous joy in these robins, and I hope all these updates give my readers joy too!


Matt 6:25-3425 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. NKJV

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Bird Update

John took this photo of Mama Robin a few days ago. Last night I played with some photo editing techniques, such as cropping, clarifying, and using the Sharpen Tool just on the bird to make the most of the picture. I'd created the Lattice Arch frame about a year ago, so I applied it and put Mama Robin's name over the arch.

This morning, Mama's behavior has changed. Sometimes, she'll get off her eggs, peck at them, or stand on the edge of the nest and look in. We're pretty certain this means the first egg is ready to hatch! Hopefully I can post pictures of baby birds within the next week.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Old Ironsides

In celebration of my recovery from tearing my lip on my Hoyer lift, as well as my recovery from kidney stones, John and I headed into Boston yesterday, and made our way to the Charleston Navy Yard to visit the U.S.S. Constitution. Although the top deck is wheelchair accessible, the high tide raised the ship so that the boarding ramp was too steep for my comfort. So one of the seamen, Ray, stayed on shore to tell us about the ship’s history.

President George Washington first commissioned this ship in 1794. Officially, it’s still commissioned today, largely because school children from all over the United States collected pennies during the 1930’s to preserve her. The government now recognizes her as the people’s ship (not the government’s ship), but by keeping her commissioned, the Navy can assume responsibility for preserving her.

She’s most known for her role in the War of 1812. Britain had concluded that it couldn’t win any land battles against the Americans, but it certainly felt confident in its superiority on the high seas. At this time, England still refused to accept the Untied States as an independent nation. So when British ships encountered American ships, they would take all crew members of British descent and would impress them into His Majesty’s service.

Americans were divided about going to war against Britain. Those inland felt that the country should accept the seizure of its seamen in order to preserve trade with Britain. But, understandably, those who lived on the coastal regions didn’t want their husbands, fathers and sons taken from them. Eventually, England had taken more men than America could tolerate losing, so war had to be declared.

Ray told us about the historic Battle of Guerriere off the coast of Nova Scotia. The British had been assailing the U.S.S. Constitution for a while, but their canon balls would either bounce off the hull or embed in it, causing one British sailor to cry out that it’s sides must have been made of iron! That’s where the ship earned the nickname, “Old Ironsides.”



The Americans held their fire until they got within 200 feet of the British ship, and then fired. This strategy echoed the famous Bunker Hill strategy of “don’t fire till you see the whites of their eyes.” Ah, but that story will have to wait until later this summer, when John and I visit Bunker Hill Monument.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mexican Food...At Last!

John and I needed to run an errand in Quincy today, and we'd planned to have a steak lunch afterward to celebrate my lip feeling better. Sadly, Outback Steakhouse was closed, so we just started wheeling up Hancock Street. Finally, we saw Acapulco's Mexican Restaurant, and decided steak could wait.

Best decision we could have made! It's so far the best Mexican food I've eaten since leaving California! The staff was very accommodating, the service was breathtakingly fast, the bathroom was wheelchair accessible, and the food was very authentic. I still taste it, and I'm absolutely savoring it! What a wonderful discovery!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

New Neighbor



A robin has built her nest in the tree outside our living room window, much to our delight. She laid her eggs about a week ago, so now we're eagerly awaiting the appearance of her babies (in about two weeks. I'll post more photos soon.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Prayers

I may have passed a kidney stone Sunday night. The doctor said the remaining stones may or may not be painful; this one wasn't. I'm not too worried about all this, as he said it could take several months to finish the job. It will all happen in the Lord's time. Interestingly, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning...three hours before the pain started. I spent that time praying and letting praise songs go through my head, and I kind of think God used the time to prepare me for the pain. Isn't He good?

My lip was still in pain till yesterday. After lunch, I prayed that God would heal it, and it started improving. Dinner hurt, but afterward I felt better. I started talking and smiling again, and could even kiss John. Today I've been eating normally, which is a huge answer to prayer!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Online Friends and Unknown Soldiers

Since sometime last fall, I've been "chatting" with Darcy on Crosswalk/FaithCommunityNetwork. At some point, she'd mentioned that her daughter was going to graduate school at Harvard, so she expected to be coming up to Massachussetts to visit. Over the next few months, we started discussing the possibility of meeting while she was here.

As anyone who reads this blog would expect, we originally planned to meet this past Friday at Quincy Market and do a section of the Freedom Trail. Alas, those plans got changed by two trips to the emergency room last week (Tuesday for a severe gash on my lower lip, and Wednesday for kidney stones), plus 93 degree weather in Boston on Friday. So Saturday we met in the city of Quincy for a shorter visit.

Darcy's as fun in person as she is online. I was boring, mostly because my swollen lip made it hard for me to speak. John entertained her well, and I got to learn things about her that she hasn't shared on Crosswalk since I've met her. (Maybe she's talked about those things in threads that I don't participate in.) I've always thought highly of Darcy, but after meeting her, I admire her all the more!

After she and her daughter left to go sightseeing in Boston, John decided to buy flowers for the broken grave in Hancock Cemetary that has captured my attention. I may never know who's in that grave, but I'm grateful for the freedoms he gave me by fighting in the American Revolution. Memorial Day seemed like a good time to put flowers on his grave.



Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dry Run

We went into Boston yesterday to do a dry run before meeting an Internet friend from another state at Quincy Market next week. We started out at 11:00, but it was cold outside. I had dressed for the predicted 87 degree weather, so we didn't even leave our parking lot. So I was able to do some Bible study, finish making a birthday card, and read my email while John spent two hours lying down with his ventilator.

At 1:00 the weather was vastly improved, so we got the bus to Quincy Adams Station, and took the Red Line to Downtown Crossing. We connected to the Orange Line, which has narrower cars so I had trouble turning my chair around to get off. The elevator at the station is only big enough for one wheelchair, which posed a problem because I can't use my hands to press elevator buttons. And, of course, the intercom to call for an MBTA official didn't work. Finally, we found an offical who took me up one elevator, and then led us through a couple long corridors to a second elevator. At this point, I was an hour and a half late for my pill, which decreases my spasms and allows me to drive my chair, so I wasn't a happy camper. But we finally got up to street level.

John drove me to Quincy Market. After deliberating, we chose Greek food and ordered gyros. At 4:00, I got my 2:00 pill. The gyros were good, but not as good as the gyros we get here in our town. Still, it was good to finally eat! We then bought some mint chocolate fudge, which we really didn't need...but it's sure yummy!

After "lunch" I wandered around the vendors' stalls, and found a guidebook to the Freedom Trail. We started wheeling toward Downtown Crossing, and used the book to find the site of the Boston Massacre. Not well marked, sorry to say. It's on a traffic island. Actually, it took a while finding it. The book said it was a circle of pavement stones under the east balcony of the Old State House, so we were looking on the sidewalk directly under the balcony. We were giving up and turning to leave when I happened to glance at the traffic island...and see the circle of pavement stones!

We learned that it's faster, easier, and less stressful to wheel from Downtown Crossing to Quincy Market than to fiddle with the Orange Line, so now we have our game plan for next week. We got home just before 7:00, so I got my suppertime pill on time.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pearl Seed



Since I started studying Matthew's gospel in January, I've been beginning each session by praying, not just to properly understand whatever passage I'm studying, but for the Lord to show me how to apply the passage to my life. This week, I've been working through Matthew 13, using four different commentaries.

The chapter contains several parables, as well as the Lord's explanation of two of those parables (the sower and the tares). Both parables have challenged me to examine my relationship with the Lord. Is His seed (His word) falling on fertile soil, so that I bear the fruit of the Spirit? Am I genuine wheat, or false grain? Not popular questions for an evangelical Christian in the 21st Century to ask, but I think important questions for me to ask. The more I've prayed for insight on applying Matthew 13 to my life, the more I've believed the Lord wants me to seek Him to keep my heart soft and receptive to Him. As His word transforms me by renewing my mind, His fruit will naturally grow in my life.

The key, as I see it, lies in a pithy parable that Jesus didn't explain.

Matt 13:45-4645 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. NKJV

Jesus is my Pearl of great price! As I give all to possess Him, He indeed will make my heart tender toward His word, so that I can be a genuine stalk of wheat in His field, bearing healthy fruit that shows off His lustre! My response to Matthew 13 is not to bear fruit through my own efforts (which can't be done anyway). Instead, it's to embrace Jesus as my treasure, so that He can plant His seed in me. He, not I, will produce the fruit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Contrasting Photos




I wanted to share the photos we took at Hancock Cemetary last week. This first photo is of the grave I'm trying to learn about. Notice how it's broken in half, and the top half of the marker is propped against the bottom half. Also notice the indicator that the grave's occupant fought in the Revolutionary War. It troubles and saddenes me that someone who sacrificed so much to establish our great nation lies forgotten and neglected in this burial ground.

Directly across from this mystery grave is the tomb of Enoch Rideout. Obviously, Enoch was a wealthy man, and I'm guessing it would be fairly easy to find out about him. Maybe that will be a future project for me. But right now I'm just struck by the disparity between his tomb and the grave of my Revolutionary War hero.

Beside my war hero's grave is the grave of Mary Louisa (no last name given) who died in 1816 at the age of 10. While I'm very thankful that this little girl's memory has been preserved for almost 200 years, again I'm grieved that his memory was not.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Next Chapter

Someone from the Quincy Historical Society emailed today, saying they'll look into the Burial records fron Hancock Cemetary. I'll send them photos of the headstone, as well as of the tomb it faces, so they'll know which grave interests me. I'm very excited! I feel like I'm on the PBS show, History Detectives!

Friday, April 27, 2007

History And Mexican Food

Yesterday, we took a bus to Quincy, primarily for the purpose of eating at Fajita's and 'Ritas, which I've wanted to try for years. We got there before I was really ready to eat, so we crossed over to visit Hancock Cemetary. We've visited it before. We keep coming back to a specific gravesite in Hancock Cemetary that has captivated my attention over the past four years. The headstone is cracked in two pieces, and worn so badly that it can't be read, but beside it is a marker saying that it's the grave of someone who fought in the Revolution. So we decided to go to City Hall and see if they had any records that could tell us who's buried there.

They sent us to a Cemetary Coordinator across from the Quincy Police Station. We got almost there (we could see the cemetary where his office is located), but there was a really scarey curb-cut on the corner and absolutely no curb-cut on the other side of the crosswalk. So we turned back, and headed toward Fajita's and 'Ritas. City Hall had given us the man's phone number, so I at least felt happy that we had a lead.

We started to enter the restaurant, and the guy said they were closed. We'd tried to go there Tuesday from Milton, only to find that the bus from Mattapan to Quincy changes routes during the day, and doesn't go by the hospital. Dumb, huh? Anyway, I whined outside the restaurant for a few minutes, and finally made John go in and ask why it was closed. The guy explained that he was the only one waiting tables, and he had to clean up from the lunch crowd. His explanation prompted John to as when he'd open again. He said in about an hour.

So we went to the Adams' National Park office across the street to see if they had records of who was buried in Hancock Cemetry. They did, but only of prominent people. John noted that the guy we're looking for was probably poor, judging from the inferior qualit of granite used for his headstone. So the ranger directed us to Quincy Historical Society, a few blocks away (on the site of John Hancock's birthplace). We got there, but it was closed. However, I figured they'd have a website (which they do, and I emailed them today), so I left encouraged that we now had two leads.

We got back to Fajita's and 'Ritas. Yum! What a wonderful lunch for this homesick California Girl! To my delight, John liked it too, and wants to go back. Maybe we can get an appointment at the Quincy Historical Society, and then eat at Fajita's and 'Ritas!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Blank Canvas

I'm part of a distinct minority. Mondays are my favorite days. They're like blank canvases, full of unexplored possibilities. They feel unhurried, as if I have all the time I need to paint my week's picture. Most people see Monday as a grind--I see it as a beginning. And I wonder if my perspective is more joyful.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Virginia Tech

I can't say anything original about Monday's massacre in Blacksburg. But John MacArthur made some comments on his Grace to You radio broadcast yesterday that bear repeating.

His first interesting point was that any of us could have done what that young man did. Only the restraints of faith in God, the expectations of society, or a strong family structure cause us to reign in our passions. The Bible makes is uncomfortably clear that each of us is intrinsically sinful.

Romans 3:10-18

10 As it is written:
"There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands;There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside;They have together become unprofitable;There is none who does good, no, not one." 13 "Their throat is an open tomb;With their tongues they have practiced deceit";"The poison of asps is under their lips"; 14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." NKJV


Thankfully, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross. After rising again and ascending to heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to us. His Spirit lovingly and graciously restrains evil most of the time. Occassionally, as He did Monday, He'll lift that restraint a little, giving us a painful glimpse of who we really are apart from God's grace.

MacArthur also reminded his audience that none of us knows when we will die. Those college kids went to class Monday thinking about final exams in history and economics, not their Final Exam before the Lord of Hosts. We must prepare for that Final Exam by surrendering our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone offters salvation.

John 14:6

6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
NKJV


Jesus gives us peace in the face of unexplainable tragedy. He saves us from ourselves, and from the power of death. If you don't know this peace, contact me or call a Bible believing church in your area. Blacksberg can open us to the amazing grace that Jesus offers.

Ephesians 3:20

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, NKJV

Monday, April 9, 2007

Applied Bible Study

Studying Matthew's Gospel has really been helping me trust God for my future. I'm using five commentaries in my studies, and praying for the Holy Spirit to show me how to apply what I learn. Wow! That prayer really has been transforming my walk with the Lord! I struggled with doubt and fear a few times during recent problems securing attendant care, but not to the extent that I have in the past. Chapter 6 talks a lot about how He will provide for us, so I kept applying those Scriptures to my situation. My faith is beginning to grow as a result. I wish I'd learned the value of applied Bible Study years ago!

There are many free Bible study tools online. Crosswalk.com has an excellent selection, unless you have Biblesoft's PC Study Bible installed on your computer (that's what we have). It's so amazing to really dig in to Scripture, and apply it in proper context. I finally see real change in my life, and I think my attitude is more positive toward life. I hope readers of this blog already taking advantage of these tools. If not, I really encourage people to try it. I can honestly say I have greater joy, peace and hope than I ever had in my life since I've been studying for the express purpose of applying what I study to my life.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Most Important Point

I left my childhood church on Easter Sunday, 1974, never to return. It wasn't the dialogue sermon between the minister and the intern seminary student that turned me off to the church (actually, I thought that was a neat innovation). It wasn't even the seminary student's assumed position that the Resurrection of Jesus was merely figurative (I thought he took that postion for debate purposes only). No...I was troubled by the minister's concluding words: "It doesn't matter if the Resurrection is literal or figurative..."

1 Corintthians 15 says just the opposite. It's too long of a chapter to quote in this blog entry, but in it Paul verifies the Resurrection by claiming that over 500 people saw Jesus after His resurrection. Legally, only two or three eye-witnesses are required to establish a fact, so God left no room for doubt. Additionally, Paul points out that if Jesus did not literally rise from the dead, Christians should be pitied for wasting our time investing in eternal life. If Jesus wasn't bodily raised, no one else will be raised either.

Praise the Lord, Jesus indeed did rise from the dead! Thomas touched His nail-scarred hands, and immediately proclaimed Him "my Lord and my God!" Peter, who just three days earlier, feared persecution so much that he denied ever knowing Jesus, ended up being crucified upside down for insisting that he had seen the risen Lord. Countless other First Century believers died martyrs' deaths rather than renounce His resurrection. If Jesus rose only figuratively, why would so many people accept death for His name's sake? Clearly, they had absolutely no doubt that He had risen!

And His Resurrection is the foundation of my life now. I make daily choices, aware that one day I will stand before Him, both to give an account for my life and, ultimately, to rejoice in His presence for eternity! I can't wait!


Monday, April 2, 2007

Making Frames

Recently, I learned a new technique for creating frames in Paint Shop Pro. Using a photo John took several years ago of a church bell tower, I've made samples of some frames I made since learning this technique. I've done several others, but Blogger probably wouldn't let me put that many images in a single post. Anyway, they'll turn up in future digital paintings!




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