I miss my sister! It has been over a year and a half since I have seen her. It is surprising me to find that tears are coming to my eyes as I type that. I really miss her and her family! We are blessed in this modern age to have Skype and other ways to communicate. I can pick up the phone and call her and it is not even long distance thanks to Magic Jack. But, it is not the same. So many little things that happen throughout the day, that I might have talked to her about when we saw each other are just not things that you would call someone on the other side of the world about. Her family is living in the Philippines. There is a thirteen hour time difference. When I feel like talking she is sleeping and vice-versa.
The snow today made me realize that this is the second 'winter' they haven't gotten to see snow. The low today, where they live is 78 degrees. I look across the street and see their little white house without them in it I have missed seeing so much of my nieces and nephew growing up. There is such a big change in a young man from 11 to 13 or a girl 9-11 or 13-15. Yes, I can chat with them on facebook, but it is not the same as giving them a hug and having a face to face chat. I think I have grown to appreciate them more. I have come to appreciate the importance of developing my near family relationships. Time is pressing inexorably along. It is people that matter in God's economy not things. I need to do a better job of tending the relationships in my life. Keeping a close watch and open ear for those I love.
The Mangos are cashing in their change bottle. Over the last couple years we have thrown in our change. The bottle is now chock full and there is a need for the contents, so we are busy counting the coins. The children are looking for a long boring movie to watch while undertaking this chore. Can you believe they chose 'Pride and Prejudice'? I'm sure most of the men reading this are saying, "Of course!" Anyway, I have a CONTEST for you. Here is the question to be answered..... What is the total amount of money in the jar? The only hints I can give you are 1. There are no coins larger than a dollar. 2. The bottle weighed forty pounds when weighed this morning. 3. My husband is hoping that there is about $500 in there and he is a very good estimator.
Leave a comment if you want to be entered.
The prize will be awarded to whoever is the closest to the correct amount. In the event of a tie, I will do a random drawing.
What is the prize? A book of course. I will give the winner a choice from a selection of books from my library and they may pick the one they would like. I have a little bit of everything and I am sure that I can find something that they would like.
This contest closes at midnight on Monday, February 13th, 2012.
Our ladies Bible study has been going through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. It has been very encouraging. Our last lesson was on Nehemiah 3 and 4. Just to give you a context, the People of Israel have returned back to the Land after being in captivity. They have actually been back for quite awhile. They have rebuilt the temple, but they haven't rebuilt the walls. The walls have fallen down and they are unprotected.
Nehemiah came along and encouraged the people to rebuild the walls. As they start the local rulers get angry and start to mock them. The people of Israel pray to God and do not answer their tormentors. They just keep on working. Scripture says 'for the people had a mind to work'. What a great attitude to have.
Sanballat and Tobias, those neighboring rulers, got angrier still. They conspired to attack the Israelite and kill them. They wanted to stop the people from rebuilding the walls. First they planned an ambush, but the people of Israel heard about it and told Nehemiah. Nehemiah immediately prayed and then set up a guard. He reminded the people that God would fight for them and then he set up a schedule and had half the men stand guard while the rest kept building. It says that they had one hand for their trowel and the other for their sword. They wore their swords all the time.
This account illustrates something that I think a lot of Christians struggle with. The balance of trusting God and personal responsibility. God's servants often fail from a lack of one or the other of these elements. Yes, we need to trust God in everything, but at the same time we need to accept responsibility for the things we can do. I think there is a constant tension between these two ideas and where that balance is reached is not the same for everyone. There is no sin in setting out a guard or in wearing a sword when the enemy is determined to attack. We must ultimately have our faith in God. God can (and did in the time of Joshua) send large hailstones to kill the enemy, but at the same time he he had the army out there fighting alongside Him. We are to be co-laborers in the purposes of God. It is easy to see that we should pray for others salvation, but we should also share the gospel with them. We must pray and trust God, but on the other hand we need to step forward in faith and act on what He shows us. We must also give our Christian brothers and sisters grace if they come to a different balance point between faith and responsibility. I see this come up in many different areas.... physical health decisions, family planning, finding a spouse and even finding work. We can back ourselves into an unbiblical box if we cling to one or the other of these positions. We must not get trapped into thinking that to gird on our sword, to take action, is to show a lack of faith, and is therefore sinful. We must seek God and His plan for us and do as He directs.
So, when faced with a difficult situation, consider the following steps of Nehemiah ....
1. Pray and seek God.
2. Set a guard, watch, arm yourself
3. Do what God has you to do, work
I hope this helps you. It was an encouragement to me and helped me clarify my thinking on some different issues.
( Why the picture on the top? It was supposed to give the idea of some walls needing rebuilding)
Our dear friend Donna M. invited us to come to her house to watch the Super Bowl. Four of us Mangos went over to 'watch' the game. She has a lovely television, and we have none. She also fed us a delicious soup. It was a lovely evening.
We were rooting feverishly for our favorite team, or not. Actually my DH sat and reviewed Paul's ballots and flow sheets from the debate tournament, the two days before.
Michelle sat and read a cookbook. She also lay down and took a rest, for she wasn't feeling well.
Paul sat and talked to my DH, and watched the game a bit. It was a good game to watch. We were rooting for the Giants so we were happy at its conclusion.
Here are the passionate party people! Yawn. We really had a nice time and a charming hostess. The food was good and the company pleasant. It was a nice way to spend an evening.
Can you find all five Mangos in this picture? This is our Speech and Debate team. We went to our first tournament last weekend. It was an exciting but tiring event. The leaving the house at 6 AM and not getting home until around nine, both Friday and Saturday made for some tired children AND parents.
Elizabeth performed 'The Highwayman' by Noyes in the Junior division of Poetry Interpretation.
This is how T-Bob spent his day of competition. He had a stomach flu that showed up as he finished his first speech. He made it through the speech, shook the judges hands and ran for the garbage can in the corner. He made it. He found a couch in a quiet corner, and rested and slept the rest of the day. He did climb off the couch two more times and do his speech event. It was a rough day, but he made it through manfully. Everybody heard his story, and he was quite famous, or is that infamous?
Here are two special friends. Paul and Elizabeth. We (Elizabeth and I) were following Paul through his speech events. He did Impromptu Apologetics and Biographical informative. He did a nice job.
This was our home tournament so the parents in our club and another close by one had to do all the work that it takes to have such an event. My DH and I had the job of registration assistant and hallway monitor in the old blue hallway on the second floor.
It was quite a bit like solitary confinement. Too quiet for my tastes, but somebody had to do it. My DH did take the lion's share of this duty as I had to make sure the younger children got to their events on Friday and watched some of the older children perform their speech events and debates. It is neat to see the camaraderie of the competing teams. Most of the competitors become friends through the years.
Here is Paul and his partner. They get along well and do an excellent job. They are both second year debaters.
This is Paul's last year of debate, as he ages out this year. He is really enjoying his time.
Thomas is doing debate and speech this year. He is really enjoying this activity.
All of the children in the junior event got a certificate and a bag of candy. They did get called up on stage for some recognition.
Everybody comes in and watches the final round and awards ceremony. There were over 200 competitors and 69 debating teams. It was a BIG tournament.
There were 15 students who completed sweepstakes. That means that they did three speeches. One from each of the three categories, Impromptu. Informative and and Interpretive. They all got a certificate and a bag of candy. Here is Thomas receiving his.
These are the winners of the final round. The two girls beat the young men. The young women are from our club. We were all very proud and glad. They did a great job. It was a great weekend.
Leonard Dick graduated to glory yesterday. He is a man who I have known my entire life. He had the heart of an evangelist and loved to share the gospel.
He was born and raised in Scotland. He joined the British navy during WWII. His hearing was damaged at that time from the big guns they used to shoot off the ships. He met and married his dear wife Cherry, and they raised a family of four children together. They were both saved in their early twenties while attending a Billy Graham crusade in Scotland. After finishing college he got a job in America in Milwaukee WI. There they got involved in the same church that my dear husband grew up in. This is rather remarkable as it is a small chapel. He worked for PPG (Pittsburgh Paint and Glass) as a chemist his entire career. He was a research chemist in their auto paint division. He used to point out to me the cars that had some of the finishes that he had developed.
Mr. Dick and his family have been a part of my whole life. When I was a young child, he shared a devotional time at a Sunday evening meeting back when our church was so small that it met in homes. God used that message to touch my heart and I talked to my Mom that night and asked the Lord Jesus to save me from my sin. I will always be grateful to God for bringing Mr. Dick into our lives for that reason.
Len Dick was also an avid gardener. He knew so much about planting vegetables and flowers. He was always willing to share his knowledge with the rest of us. Gardening was a year round hobby for him. He was always building his soil and tilling and planning. I am privileged to have been given a good amount of the rich soil from his gardens when they had to sell the house and take down all his raised beds to plant grass. I know my gardening beds are all the better for it.
Mr. Dick also was an avid fisherman. He loved to go to Canada or Florida and fish. He knew a lot about that as well. He was a real fisher of men. He was so faithful to the Gideon Bible ministry for many many years. He would take the Testaments to schools, hotels and even to the intake center for the military to give the young men and women a Bible.
The last few years have been very challenging for Len and Cherry. There were many financial struggles as his mind slipped slowly away. It was so hard for Cherry and the rest of us to see this once proud man humbled. He bore it cheerfully. For much of the time he was still able to function at church and share in the ministry there as he was able to do the things that he always had done for quite awhile. He remembered our names and always greeted us. He loved to be with the people of God.
We will always miss him. He was a faithful man who persevered to the end. I know he is happy now. Until we meet again!
We had the last of our winter birthdays in January when Paul turned 19 years old. It was a wonderful weekend as we had friends visiting us from VA.
Kate and Dreama went to Amish Country and enjoyed the yummy menu that Paul selected for his birthday meals. It was all delicious and a lot of fun.
Elizabeth never minds when homemade ice cream is requested by the birthday person.
Our southern friends still had thin blood and weren't use to the cooler temperatures, even in the house. We loaned them extra layers to wear.
Kate wanted to do some sledding. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and we had some snow. This is Michelle and Kate going down the hill. T-Bob is trudging up the hill in the background.
Our friend Kate loved the sledding, although her asthma did NOT appreciate the cold dry air.
The girls made quite a few trips up and down the hill before we decided to take our southern friends home and warm them up again.
The one thing I had promised Dreama was that I would show her our lake. They thought it was great. We only were able to stay a few minutes. The steps were too icy and snowy to go down to the shore. It was a lovely day, a fun weekend and a great visit. We hope they can come again.
The Mango Men like to build ramps out of snow to take their sleds down. They put the ramp at the bottom of the steep hill to maximize their air. Paul is standing there with the shovel to do any needed repair work after the ramp is used. Thomas is getting out of the way, and T-Bob is coming down the hill.
T-Bob hits the ramp.
Up the ramp!
Then he lands it.
I love watching my guys play together. They have such a good time sledding! I also am thankful for my new camera that can take pictures so fast as to catch the whole scene.
Merry Christmas ans a Happy New Year Dear Friends!
I am going to update the blog for the fall and holiday season. I tried to download the pictures in chronological order, but that was a fail! Thanks for being patient with me and now see what has been going on in our lives. Fasten your seat belts we are going to move fast!!!
I love snow on Christmas lights. This is a house that is close to our home that really does a bang up job with their lights.
Some of the children and I went over to admire them when we had a spontaneous snow storm. Why do I use the term spontaneous? Well, the rest of the area only had a scant one inch of snow, but the cloud parked over our town and deposited about 7 inches of beautiful snow.
We did have a green Christmas this year. We had to select and fetch our tree in deep puddles and a lot of mud. Do you know how hard it is to get eight people to agree that we had found the 'perfect' tree? Well, this tree may not have had the perfect tree, but it was at least acceptable.
Elizabeth enjoyed her seventh birthday! She is growing up into a fine young lady. She enjoys helping out in the kitchen and has learned to love reading. She is getting a grasp on multiplication and doing very well with her homeschooling. She is a lot of fun. She will be doing the poem 'The Highwayman" for her poetic Interpretation for tournament. She has it memorized, we just need to polish her presentation.
In Octorber the girls and I went to a camp in NC for Home-schooled teenage girls called 'Daughters of Destiny' JoAn was a counselor this year, Michelle was a camper and Elizabeth was my helper. I taught classes in Herbs and Nutrition as well as one on Building a Heritage Library. We had a great time. This picture was taken at the banquet on the last day.
These are our friends Chrissi and Steve. They have eleven children and our families really enjoy getting together and playing. The kids play soccer and Kick the can and other traditional kids games. I love watching them all play together. They returned the favor and came and visited us in December. Chrissi has her own blog at www.sewsowso.wordpress.com and you would probably enjoy her writing. She and her older girls have a business of custom sewing. Actually, they make most of Michelle's clothing for us, since she is so tall. She writes about how to do different sewing projects and technics, about their family and also Chrissi's thoughts. I love Chrissi because she is so 'real'.
Thomas loves to read on the roof whenever the weather permits. I think it is because it is so quiet out there and he doesn't get as distracted. This spot is the warmest in the early spring and late fall than any other outdoor spot. It is protected from the north and west from the wind, and it gets the morning sunshine. My children all love to be on roofs. Their daddy takes them up from the time they are little. There is no fear of heights among our children. Mommy does get a little nervous, but I try to not interfere.
This is our latest wall of books. The family room has floor to ceiling bookshelves. The upstairs hallway is lined with bookshelves, and all the bedrooms have multiple bookshelves - all full. These shelves are filling in too fast. There is no such thing as too many books, just insufficient bookshelves. We did buy three tall bookshelves when Boarders went out of business this fall, but alas, those too are almost full. I don't know where I am going to put the books I bought on Saturday from the last book sale I went to. Hmmmm. There's got to be room for another bookshelf somewhere.
We cleaned out our garden in late October and we found this melon hiding in the weeds. We cut it up and it was still sweet and good. It was a bit overripe, but still very edible. The garden is empty now except for some turnips, parsnips, red cabbage, kale and brussel sprouts. We had a good garden this year.
Michelle has been doing art classes with T-Bob and Elizabeth. This is Elizabeth's still life in pastels. I am glad that Elizabeth will help me out with this. It is not my strength, and she is quite artistic.
This infamous moment was captured by the children on the camera. Please note that it is 11/11/11 at 11:11:11. They captured it right to the second on the atomic clock. Way to go!!
Michelle made caramel apples this fall for a party. They look so yummy and good. We had to document it with a picture!
We enjoyed our traditional thanksgiving brunch at church. THis tradition has been ongoing for over 40 years! We all gather together for a big breakfast about 9:30 we eat and fellowship and then about 10:15 we gather together for a time of prayer, singing and reflection of things we are thankful for. It is always special.
My family and our friends the Morrises joined together for a big Thanksgiving dinner at our house. The little girls enjoyed mothering their babies.
Dad did his traditional job if official turkey carver. He always does a nice job.
In the very beginning of December I did the official family photo shoot. It is always a challenge to get everybody looking the same way and smiling simultaneously. There were a couple good ones. I also got the family Christmas letter written. If you would like a copy let me know and I will get it to you. JoAn decided to get about 12 inches cut off her hair. She donated it to Locks of Love. It really does still come below her shoulders, but it looks a lot shorter when it is all 'sproinged'. up.
It is hard for me to believe, but our first baby is now 21 years old! Where has the time gone? I look around our table and it seems like only a short time ago that toddlers once sat where there are now adults. I thank the Lord for His faithfulness to us in blessing us with these children.
New Years Day was again another big party at the Mangos. It was good to see our friends again. Mom and Dad enjoyed the grandchildren before they left to go spend some time in Florida. Isaiah is getting so big. He is starting to crawl all over.
These babies don't belong to our family, they are some of the children that JoAn watches in her work as a mother's helper. They came over to our house so she could watch them so their Mom and Dad could go out and have a date alone. The children ALL really enjoyed having babies around to hold and love on. I love the way even my boys really love to take care of babies. They will be good Daddies some day.
Well, that's our fall and winter wrap up. I hope you enjoyed it and feel like you are caught up on the news. I'll try and do a better job of keeping up to date.