Category Archives: Random

Happy Valentine’s Day

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“Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does.”

I Corinthians 14:1 MSG

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Mel’s Twelve Memories of Christmas

Today is December 12th. It is not a significant date for me personally, but it does remind me of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I am sure you all have heard this melody. One of my favorite versions of this song is actually an ice skating performance by Olympic medalist, Scott Hamilton. I was obviously too young to remember watching this on television, but Mom taped to VHS the 1990 Disney’s Christmas on Ice performance that year. We watched it probably every year growing up, as ice skating was a something our family enjoyed…not only watching during the Winter Olympics, but also trying our own talents on the frozen pond out in the field. Let’s just say, I never landed that “Double Triple Axel.” 😉

Pulling out the Christmas DVDs and VHS tapes last week, I found this recording. Exciting! Even better is that captions played too. I was shocked! In watching some of the performances, I got to travelling down memory lane and complied some of my favorite Christmas memories:

12. Caroling: Whether it was with the youth group (the van rides were memories in themselves), my family (we sang at the nursing home), or friends in Denver (we went around the neighborhood, to the fire station, and then sang at the town square by the lighted tree in Arvada)–singing carols and giving baskets of fruit was something I always looked forward to each year.

11. Family ski trips at Wolf Creek: It’s true–

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10. Handel’s Messiah: Last December, we attended a performance at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton. It was just the orchestra and the four soloists: a soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone. Beautiful. If you’ve never listened to the entire oratorio, I recommend it.

9. Coming home for Christmas breaks in college and on Christmas Eve (post-grad): The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” took somewhat a literal meaning.

8. Calling the grandparents: It was really sad when my hearing no longer permitted me to talk to my grandparents at the same time as my family. (I had to call separate using the internet captel.) But that won’t be the case this year!!

7. I am not sure where the tradition started, but after the Christmas Eve service, we drove around town to see Christmas lights, then came home to watch Jim Henson’s Muppet Christmas Carol. When it finished, we sang Christmas carols by the lighted tree.

6. The gingerbread candle family: When I was about 7 or 8, Mom purchased a candle making kit and we made gingerbread candles for Christmas. (You would not believe how many years the gingerbread scent lasted!) Since there were four of us sisters, we each took a different mold structure and when they were set as candles, we painted them. Best part is that Mom still has the candles and sets them out each year.

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Guess which one is mine–

5. Christmastime by Michael W. Smith: It was the most anticipated album of the season!

4. Community performance of the Nutcracker held at Adams State College: It took place every other year and was always very well done! The youngest ballerinas in training made the cutest mice…how could the Mouse King be intimidating after being associated with them?

3. Decorating my room with Marcia: Sharing a room meant sharing the fun in decorating for the holiday. When we finished, we liked to fall asleep with the Christmas lights twinkling throughout the room.

2. Dad’s French toast: Christmas brunch! Bonus, we got “cutie”-sized oranges in our stockings.

1. “The Little Drummer Boy,” Whiteheart version: 1993. Pure rock, drums…best ever.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions or memories?

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Jingle Bells [translated]

Dashing through the snow [Taking a brisk stroll]
In a one-horse open sleigh [Mel’s walker made the day]
O’er the fields we go [Down the street we roll]
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtail ring [Pushing Basho was exciting]
Making spirits bright [Passing cars saw quite the sight ]
What fun it is to ride and sing [But in doing all these things]
A sleighing song tonight! [It gives me a blog post entry to write!]

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(chorus)
Jingle bells, jingle bells, [Come on, Mel! Come on, Mel!]
Jingle all the way. [Work off all you ate on turkey day!]
Oh! what fun it is to ride [Family greatness you cannot hide]
In a one-horse open sleigh. [Is something I would say]
Jingle bells, jingle bells, [Click, click–taking pictures on a cell]
Jingle all the way; [It can turn out to be a deceptive display]
Oh! what fun it is to ride [So notice any strange appearance in Melissa’s stride]
In a one-horse open sleigh. [Rest assured she is okay] 😉

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I’m still here.

This morning was dark, rainy and grey. And the coffee had coffee grinds at the bottom of the pot. I sat at the table just sort 0f staring out the window. Even two cups of coffee wasn’t helping much in getting me awake, not that it works that instant anyway. Mornings are my favorite time of day: my typical routine usually means getting breakfast, than enjoying coffee with my morning readings. But this morning my mind was just wandering. Then I thought of something funny in terms of my cups of coffee and lack of writing blog posts this week–in a name: Cryin’ Bryan Dern.

I can’t speak for my sisters, but if someone asked me what our favorite pastime was while growing up, I would place listening to Adventures in Odyssey as the number one candidate. In the summers, we could spend hours listening to episodes on cassette tape while coloring or doing crafts; Mom would eventually tell us “One more episode then you need to go outside.” During the school year, we would listen to the episodes at 6pm over the radio. It was always when Mom was cooking dinner; when she used the hand mixer (yes, the old-school kind) it would make the radio have bad static (it already did anyway.) Buzzz…”Mom!!!!!!!” Poor Mom–even if it was an episode we had heard before, the static confusion seemed like a traumatic event and would result in this unanimous outcry.

I had a few favorite episodes, but one that stands out in my mind..that I thought of this morning…is titled, “Top This!” In the episode, there are two story lines: Courtney’s cousin comes to Odyssey to visit for a few weeks. The two cousins, who have a history of competition against each other, embark on an unintentional “race” to see who can make the most money in fundraisers for church youth camp. Losing focus on the real reason for the fundraisers, Mr. Allen helps Courtney learn to not focus on her own winning, but being humble towards her cousin and supporting her when she “wins” just by letting her win.

The second story line involves the outspoken radio host, Cryin’ Bryan Dern. The Odyssey 105 is in need of votes in order to save the station. Bryan Dern sets up this gig in which he takes over the studio and turns the Odyssey 105 into a 24-hour Polka station. As soon as the public hears about Dern “taking the Odyssey 105 station hostage,” the votes begin to pour in–even though it is all fake. It is during this time, Dern has some of the best quotes. And I thought of a few this morning that made me laugh.

Over the course of his 95 hours on the air, Dern gives away countless amounts of Polka cd’s while he starts to get annoyed with the music himself. By the end, with his coffee enthusiasm long gone (in his 25th hour on the air, he already had gone with 30 cups of coffee), Dern goes on to have a moment of silence for a caller’s sick hamster named “Binky;” thinks that Polka music needs something–like, words; and eventually gives up the whole gig altogether when he can no longer think or see straight. I am not as crazy as Dern, but for some odd reason, his question over the air in his final hours– “Whaddaya wanna do?”–somewhat reflected how I felt this week about writing blog posts.

It is not that I’ve had nothing–my week was full of typical tasks that most often I overdid myself. It is as if this “normal routine,” without any doctor appointments or major health slides, has left me with a sense of urgency: to do it all, before anything comes up again. In reality, that attitude will only last me like Bryan Dern’s 95 hours on the air, because there is no foundation if I stand on my own.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” ~Proverbs 19:21 ESV

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Praise in the Assembly

I recently stumbled across a current documentary on Hulu called, “Behind the Mask.” The series is about team mascots. It follows four guys who come from diverse levels of mascot experience and also their personal lifestyles:

Michael is in high school at Lebanon, PA. Outside academics, he is “Rooty the Cedar Tree.” He uses Rooty to support and bring school spirit for everyone…even the less attended sport events, such as the bowling team.

Jon…nicknamed Jersey–attends the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He got a scholarship to be the school’s mascot, “Hey Reb.” UNLV is a huge deal in Nevada. Hey Reb’s role is to ensure that the college atmosphere at the games is kept alive.

Chad is the mascot for a minor hockey league team. In outfit, he goes by “Tux” (the Penguin.) Chad hopes to work his way into pro-hockey mascoting. Mascots are not allowed to speak (or not supposed to anyway); Chad found a way for Tux to make squeaky noises. When he visits children’s classrooms on his side job, Tux and his squeaks are sometimes appreciated more than they are at the hockey games…it’s cute. 🙂

Finally, there is Kevin. He is Bango, the official team mascot for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks. He does some of the craziest stunt and dunks during half time shows that I have ever seen! He sometimes includes his children for holding signs to get the crowd cheering–these little bucks in costume sure win the crowd. Every mascot has the chance for injury, but personally, I think Kevin has the most chances…but it never stops him from doing the next crazy idea.

Watching this series has been interesting, mostly because I don’t pay attention to cheerleaders or mascots when attending games; I find them more annoying or a distraction rather than a crowd spirit. Proof, it was only last week that I learned “Who Dey” was the mascot for the Cincinnati Bengals. I was tired of seeing this around (what I considered a slogan), and so I used Google to find out the meaning. Yeah, I felt pretty silly. 🙂

At the end of my high school years, a guy from my class started to be our school mascot. Up until that point, we didn’t use one. I mean, after all, we were the “Pirates”–miles from actual bodies of water mass, thus, living in the sea of potato and barley fields. I always got a laugh out of that aspect. Regardless, I am not sure if our mascot officially livened our school spirit at sport events, but think he did a great job helping the crowd get into the cheers when otherwise we just sat there (yes, guilty.)

In college, we were Cougars. Being a small university, the biggest events were women and men’s basketball games. I attended both, because I had a roommate on the women’s team; everyone attends the guy’s games. The only time I saw our mascot was at the basketball games, in which the biggest stunt performed was running half way across the court, and then sliding over the other half. It was a funny sight to see–I have pictures. I never played anything more than intramural football, but I loved the sport events. My freshman year, I had roommates who played for the women’s soccer team and my sophomore year, I had roommates who played for the volleyball team; my junior year, my direct roommate was on the ladies tennis team. I tried to attended as many of their games as well–even if I felt like I was cheering alone. I was like a “mascot” for our room every year–the only non-athletic one, but I could cheer and take pictures which I enjoyed!

In the mornings, I often read a few Psalms. I find them encouraging and a great reminder to start my day with praise even when I don’t have the energy or mind-set. They are not a “mascot;” God surely doesn’t need those, nor cheerleaders. But the psalmist often write that they will proclaim God’s name, steadfast love, and goodness in or to the assembly. They never wore a mask, but sometimes their meditation was all night long…in solitude and remembrance. At other times, they were not quiet about their love for the Lord. They didn’t just say it–they shouted it, made music and even in their times of mourning…they made known that God was their strength and salvation.

I find when I am around other individuals who live in this way–proclaiming God’s faithfulness, steadfast love and goodness both through the good and bad times–whether in speech or just living their lives in testimony of it, that it becomes a contagious attitude. It reminds me to keep my focus on doing the same.

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The Secret Ingredient

During last weeks PT session, my physical therapist and I made small talk as she was helping me get into my new ankle braces (more to come on that story). I told her that my only weekend plans was to attend the Taming of the Shrew play with my sister at Cedarville University. (The play was AMAZING!) Because I had nothing else, she invited me to join her and her husband for the annual Sauerkraut Festival in Waynesville.

http://www.sauerkrautfestival.com/

They have attended for a few years in a row and she proceeded to tell me all about the different things they have there at the booths and the food. When she mentioned that they put sauerkraut in desserts too, I gave an “ew” remark but was assured you don’t taste it, it just adds moisture. Like a secret ingredient. I am not a sauerkraut fan, but decided it would be fun to tag along and experience the festival for myself.

Around these parts, every town has a few festivals special only to that town. For Cedarville it is Cedarfest held at Labor Day. The Chamber of Commerce writes:

Cedarfest is an annual Labor Day Weekend festival in Cedarville, Ohio; the “Home of Labor Day”. Cedarfest has something for everyone in the home of the Father of Labor Day.

http://www.cedarvillechamber.com/

It is a really fun-filled weekend. We attended different events last year–my favorite was the pancake breakfast served at the fire station. 🙂 Anyway, Yellow Springs holds the Art on the Lawn Festival and an annual Street Fair every October. Young’s Dairy holds different events in the summer and in Springfield (also during Labor Day weekend), they have an annual “Fair at the New Boston” festival, in which you take a step back into time. There are countless others–if you attended them all, your summer weekends would always be booked. But I think these traditions are fun and they provide opportunities for vendors to share their home-made products with people and it is a social time.

Yesterday was no different, except this was by far the LARGEST festival I have ever seen! Wow…crowded! It reminded me of back in the days where the markets were on the lower section of the city or right outside the city walls…full of vendors selling their meats, baskets or fabrics, with live chickens clucking around. 🙂 There were no live chickens in Waynesville, but the street was still a sight to see.

Although she was not there as a PT–it was kind of like hanging out with an aunt/uncle–I felt more confident with her being there as we took the walker I just bought Friday and it was my first time using it; she showed me the proper ways to get on the curb and such. I am so thankful that I had the walker, because it was not only great for balance as we weaved our way through mass amounts of people, but the seat also came in handy when we ate lunch and for the souvenir bags of homemade goodies.

The town was set up like a driving street. You walked in one direction on the right lane and the other direction in the left lane…traffic jams were ultimately inevitable. The main street of vendor booths was a mile long. We started on the side in which you climb the hill…so by the time we reached the other side and turned around, we were walking downhill. (Another time I was thankful for the walker!) We took our time…mostly “window shopping” but every once in a while stopping in a booth to look around at the products or test taste the food. We tried the sauerkraut salsa at one booth…my tongue felt like it was on fire! Thankfully, there was a booth from WI not too far down, so the delicious cheeses set that problem straight.

We had sauerkraut pizza for lunch and it actually was really good. If I was served the pizza at a restaurant without knowing what the added toppings were under the cheese, I would never think to say “sauerkraut” as an addition. They look like onions anyway. But this pizza was good–also had sausage and green peppers too. Towards the end of our two mile excursion, we stopped at a booth that had desserts (sauerkraut: secret ingredient). Among the options, I bought a brownie, a slice of pie, and a whoopee pie. Still seems strange, but the brownie reminded me of German Chocolate cake and I had the pie this morning at breakfast with coffee. I liked it better than the brownie.

Yesterday was a fun day. I am glad I went and glad I had my walker to help me as I really pushed myself physically in all that walking. By the time I came home, my body was ready to just sit; so I did. Even after a good nights sleep, my body today was feeling the effect of yesterday’s exercise–my body was just slower moving today. It took me all afternoon to get papers organized out of my file box for a meeting tomorrow; my hands were not cooperative. Then it took me over a half hour just to change the sheets on my bed–by the end, I was breathing like I had just ran a 5k.

My strength is not found in the cups of coffee every morning, nor in the stability of my walker–but by God’s goodness. His strength is no secret ingredient…it is the ingredient to my life and the reason I live through another day.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord (x2)

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won’t grow weary

You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles 

“Everlasting God.” Chris Tomlin.

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Ending my fabulous weekend…

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Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.

Psalm 147:1

More to come…

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