Play: A Five-Minute Friday post

Hi there! I’m linking up with the Five-Minute Friday community at: http://fiveminutefriday.com/2017/07/06/link-up-play/  It’s lots of fun and helps us to work our writing muscles.

Today’s writing prompt is: PLAY

GO:

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When I saw the writing prompt play, I thought it might be an easy topic for me, as we do a lot of playing especially in the summer. Many families might do picnics, camping, trips, and the like. My husband and I love to go on our boat. We slip our boat at a marina in our town, Holland, Michigan. We also spent a week at Grand Haven last week over the Fourth of July as we almost always do. We figured out that we have boated for approximately 30 out of our 33 years of marriage. We began after we were married about two years. We found the oldest, smallest boat we could possibly find, to accommodate our very small budget. It was a 15 foot, 1968 boat. We often say we “skied the wheels off that boat” as we skied and flew around in that little boat about every night in the summer for a few years, with my husband’s siblings. Then we bought an 18 foot boat and had that for some years. We then had our first son. Somewhere in there we didn’t have a boat for a couple summers. After that we played on a 21 foot boat when our two boys were very little. Every summer we began spending a week at Grand Haven on it. Then later we continued all the water sports with a 24 foot. What fun they had growing up with tubing and knee-boarding. About 7 years ago, we moved to a 31 foot and now we are empty-nesters. The boys call this an old man’s boat. We don’t care because my husband and I are really enjoying this time in our lives. Countless good times playing on boats with family and friends on Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa.

 

STOP.

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Posted in boating, bringing up men, Family, Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, Lake Michigan, Memories, seasons, summer | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blessing

This is a Five-Minute Friday post. As most of you know, we write for five minutes, post it, and then link up on Kate’s blog here: http://fiveminutefriday.com/2017/06/29/count-your-blessings/ Today’s word is BLESSING.

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Given that I have insomnia a lot lately, I’ve found that counting my blessings when I lay down has been a great thing. I say thank you to the Lord for whatever pops into my head, and in the morning, I’m surprised how fast I fell asleep! An attitude of gratefulness really seems to calm the mind and helps to center the brain on the positive. It’s not always easy to make yourself start, but once started it’s hard to stop. I really do have so much to be thankful for. Here we are at the end of the first half of the year already, ready to begin the latter half of 2017. Can you believe that? I lay there many nights thinking what a blessed woman I am. He’s brought me through so much and will always be faithful to be who He is. My God never changes even when I do. Whatever comes my way might be challenging, but the Lord never fails to guide and support me. That’s a blessing right there!

STOP.

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Posted in Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, God, God's faithfulness, new beginnings, prayer, Renewing of your mind, summer, thankfulness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Nature Speaks

Writers are scavengers—we gather scraps and pieces together and turn them into stories.

I found these things as we did a scavenger hunt and free-write at writing group.

 

God is amazing how he gives us this beautiful world to live in. We see these kinds of common objects in nature, and sometimes they’re just there in the background and we don’t take notice of them. He creates such a huge variety of shapes, colors and textures.

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Something rough

The pine cone is rough and uneven. It reminds me how the Lord loves us even though we have bumps and ridges.

green leaf

Something green

A vibrant green leaf is full of new life and moisture. This makes me think of how we come alive with Jesus and he gives us living water and gifts.

wood chips

Something woody

Wood chips are chiseled from a big piece of wood. They bear resemblance of the tree in some ways but had to be shaped to be useful. In the playground they enable children to play each day.

smooth white stone

Something stony

The stone was smoothed by flowing water in the creek. This is like the way we are fashioned by the living waters of the Holy Spirit when he develops our gifts.

bent stick

Something crooked

A crooked stick reminds me of how we are not perfect but the Lord uses us. Even though I have my own bent and don’t look like others, I have unique characteristics and can be used for his good purposes.

crumpled yellow leaves

Something cracked

These yellow leaves are cracked and crumbling. This makes me think of how we sometimes go through a dry and parched land but God is there to revive us again.

Take notice when you’re walking outside this summer, and ask God to speak to you through nature.

Posted in beauty of nature, nature's beauty, photography, seasons, summer, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Uncle–A Memorial Day Story

We could never repay you…

I posted this story last year, and am posting it again this Memorial Day, with a few edits. Thank you to all those who have served our country like my Uncle Art.

Out of respect, I gained permission to post this story…

Many people have a story of a relative who served in a war or in the service. My hero is my Uncle Art. He is a very humble man.

But I want to honor him on this Memorial Day.

My Uncle Arthur Volkema is a veteran of WWII. There aren’t too many of them left anymore as he served very young. He’s 90 years old, his health isn’t where he would like it to be, but he still gets around. He is like a lot of veterans…they don’t want to be the center of attention and they don’t think they did anything special. They were just doing their job.

An amazing story of his Navy days in WWII, is about when he was serving on the aircraft carrier “U.S.S. Bunker Hill” when it was hit by the Japanese out in the Pacific Ocean. Over three hundred sailors died, some missing, and hundreds more injured, but thankfully not my Uncle Art. He has a picture of that ship hanging in his garage with huge billows of smoke rising above it. It’s a miracle that any of them survived.

The U.S.S. Bunker Hill after it was attacked.

The U.S.S. Bunker Hill after it was attacked.

 

We have a recording of my Uncle Art when he was interviewed long ago, about that awful day in WWII. It came without warning and was gruesome. Two Japanese kamikaze planes evaded the radar and crashed into the ship.

Webster’s dictionary describes them this way: “Kamikazi–(in World War II) a Japanese aircraft loaded with explosives and making a deliberate suicidal crash on an enemy target.”

The fact was, those who were left alive had to carry on immediately. They had to do what soldiers do. They put out the fires and burial at sea had to take place for hundreds of men. They had to take the dog tags or the marked belt off each one, if it was possible, so family could be notified. The clergy-person said a few words, and by tens they were put to sea. All this while wondering if they would be attacked again.

The first and only time my Uncle was willing to be in a Memorial Day parade to be honored was in Holland, Michigan a few years ago. His entire family came along to watch and we were all so proud of him. He rode by in a car wearing his “Bunker Hill” cap and waved and smiled. Then we walked to the grave-sites of my grandparents and lots of other relatives to reminisce.

Of course my Uncle Art has always meant a lot to me personally, because he is my mom’s brother. He is also the only surviving sibling of five children. After the war, he went on to marry my Aunt who has a gentle, loving and encouraging spirit towards me and everyone who has ever met her. Uncle Art and his wife Pauline are about the sweetest, kindest couple you could ever meet. They have been like second parents to me. Being the extremely welcoming and caring people that they are, they have been so encouraging to me over the years.  My Aunt Pauline still writes hand-written letters to the “elderly” people in the nursing facility nearby their simple suburb of Chicago area. They go to church, read their bibles and pray. They brought up their three children to be wonderful Christian people and now have several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They live a quiet God-honoring life.

I’m so thankful that I got to enjoy my Uncle Art all these years.  I wouldn’t have had the cousins that I do. I wouldn’t have known him and experienced the stories he tells of the history of our family and the town he grew up in. He was the youngest brother my mom watched over. They lost their mother at a very young age too, so the family struggled.

My mom the oldest, holding her youngest sibling, Arthur. My Uncle Fred is on the left, and my Aunt Bertha is on the right.

My mom Martha, the oldest, holding her youngest sibling, Arthur. My Uncle Fred is on the left, and my Aunt Bertha is on the right.

Today, on Memorial Day, I think about my Uncle Art and the sacrifices he made for our country. If men and women wouldn’t serve our country in the military, we would not be free. I enjoy freedoms of The United States of America because of brave soldiers who have died, or served in the past or present.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you Uncle Arthur Volkema.

 

I have another Uncle, Fred, and my Grandfather, who also have stories I’d like to tell…to be continued another day.

Posted in ancestors, Ancestry, Family, God's faithfulness, Memorial Day, Memories | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Spring Glory

Hasn’t it been absolutely beautiful lately? Here’s some pictures I snapped of the beautiful trees, bushes and flowers we have enjoyed the last few weeks as Michigan comes alive. Please share Bible verses which go with these photographs. I’d love to have a collection of scriptures which speak of nature, Spring, or God’s faithfulness in giving us all this beauty, and others can enjoy the verses you share.

 

Posted in beauty of nature, Bible, God's faithfulness, God's Holy Word, nature's beauty, photography, seasons, Springtime, trees | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Aroma of Christ

On walks or bike rides, I take many pictures of trees, bushes and flowers. It never ceases to amaze me how a grand transition takes place every spring from the gray and brown, to tinges of green, and finally into the array of color we experience in late April.

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One especially beautiful flowering tree, is the pear tree. Its white explosions are bursting forth all over town. When walking downtown one day I was struck by the way the white buds shone against the sky and buildings. The blossoms seemed to inhale sunlight, exhaling in white as bright as glistening angel wings.

Then I walked under a few of them and I got a whiff of air that turned my stomach. I thought, there must be a nearby restaurant throwing out rotten food or something? When I walked back through that spot, I went up very close and took a deep sniff of a branch. It smelled completely different than I expected it would. I’ve admired these trees for so many years, but I never realized the stench they emanated.

The smell of the beautiful tree reminded me of how we can be sometimes. Is it possible that we are concerned about the looks of our church, our ministry, or our bodies, or the impressions others have of us? So much time is spent on our hair, what we wear, how our blogs and webpages look, the landscaping and carpet color at our church-the covers of our books. It seems so important to put a false front out there so we look like we have it all together, when maybe we are thinking and doing things that we wouldn’t want others to know.

Would I want others to know what I’m really like inside and let it show? Would they still like me? Would the thoughts and actions that flow out of me make someone want to know my Lord? I might want to look “religious” and have all my t’s crossed and i’s dotted. If I go to church each week like a good woman, give to charity, dress neatly, say the right things, or pray correctly, then people will think I’m a good Christian. Why does that matter?

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The pear tree looks beautiful but the aroma doesn’t do anyone any good. I love to look at these trees but don’t want to get close to them. You know how the smell of a pizza restaurant can draw you right inside? I’ve been reminded that I need to be a pleasing aroma of Christ to others. I need to show love, give love, and be like Jesus. If I am, then others will want to know my Jesus. It’s important that I speak with sincerity to bring life, causing others to desire to know the Lord. If I emit a negative odor by speaking about God out of pride or for my own profit, I am bringing death. What kind of odor do I put forth into the world?

Lord, please help me to be the aroma of Christ in my world each day.

Read it for yourself in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2Corinthians2:14-17&version=NIV

Posted in Aroma of Christ, beauty of nature, God's Love, Jesus, love, nature's beauty, seasons, Springtime, trees | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Last Lessons From Ebony Anne

There comes a time when dogs get old. It creeps up on you. Twelve years. My Ebony Anne has been an obedient, patient old soul. Her sleek black hair shone in the sun. She never had much time to stand still for brushing though. She was a fast learner. It never took much to house-train her, she just kind of caught on. She was polite and timid.

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She never ate anybody’s shoes when she was inside. Ebony wouldn’t bark at people she didn’t know when they came in the yard. But if someone she did know came, she sure barked to get attention. She was a shy dog. Afraid of cats. Wanted to make friends with most other animals and never dreamed of attacking them. Little dogs a fraction of her size could go after her jugular and she was surprised. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. I’ve never heard her growl. Not exactly a watch dog. When we had the boys’ cats in the house for a couple years, she stood still and the cats would be extremely ticked off. She’d look at them longingly wanting them to play and they would hiss and run away.

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Ebony was afraid of floors. Seriously would not walk on our laminate wood floor in the kitchen. I’d sit on the floor with a treat in my hand to get her to cross it, and then she would back her way out, shaking all the way. She didn’t seem to know how to relax and just walk on her pads. That could have something to do with the laundry door incident.

One time my two sons and their friend Justin coaxed her across the kitchen floor into the living room. Now she was trapped on the carpet and had to cross the kitchen floor again to get out. She began walking on the laminate and got really nervous, so she picked up speed. She slid into the laundry room door hard and fast, clonking her head. She scared herself to death and she ran out shaking into the backroom. All three of them were rolling on the floor laughing their heads off. I wasn’t home or I would have come to her rescue. Poor Ebs.

Ebony was afraid of water. Yes, a black pure-bred Lab, scared of baths. She had to be placed in a tub of water outside, leashed and held tight by a strong hand. James used to get into the kiddie pool with her to give her a bath outside. When I took her for a beach walk, she would go a couple feet into the water and then jump back out. In later years when I took her to the pet supply store for a bath she’d dig her heels in a paralyzing position, requiring two of us to accomplish a bath. She’d be shaking the whole time but also wagging her tail.2007_378

She was an anxious dog. If Ebony was in the house, she’d lay down on the floor if you were perfectly still but if you even moved your arm, she would be on alert. If you got up to do something, she’d be right there on your heels wagging her tail.

Her eyes were bright and expectant and her hair so shiny black. It seemed that she smiled at you. We laughed at how her tail would hit the wall so hard it was lethal. If you sat on the floor next to her, she couldn’t get close enough, until she was on top of you. If you rubbed her stomach, she rolled on her back expecting you to do it all day.

She liked to take walks, but never in twelve years has she gotten used to having a halti harness on. She fought it every time I walked her. When you’d pause in the slightest, she would rub her nose on the ground trying to get it off. But if you didn’t have the halti on, she would walk you, instead of the other way around. It was practically impossible to walk her without it on-you would get dragged every which way.

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How she loved those walks with the family down in the gullies. She would run ahead and explore, circle back and around and up and down the steep hills. Often she’d walk with me down the railroad tracks behind our house. Sniffing and searching, coming back to greet me and off again. She listened to me pray, cry, talk, yell, or complain. She never minded a bit. She loved people and was happy if she was included in any activity.

Taking her to the vet was a trip. She’d smell the place and didn’t want to get out of the car. I’d drag her in through the two doors, she’d cower by the scale afraid to step onto it. While in the waiting room she’d be afraid of cats and dogs much smaller than she was. When in the examination room she’d tremble by the door and the vet had to come to her.

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She was an outside dog the majority of her years. In the country, Cliff and the boys made her a doghouse which matched our house, made with the leftover tan siding. It was cute. But for some odd reason, Ebony kept chewing that siding off her insulated doghouse one by one until it was all off. Cliff would not put any new siding on. He said it was her fault. She would also get tangled around the end of the zip-line poles and sometimes we’d come home and there she was laying by the pole, unable to move. She’d wait patiently for us to come home from boating, snowmobiling, school, or the endless activities we had. Cliff wasn’t exactly in love with her and our boat was definitely a no-dog zone.

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On hot summer days, often I’d fill a kiddie pool with water and drag it out next to her doghouse. She wouldn’t go in it of course. She’d tentatively take a couple steps and drank some water, if no one was looking. When I’d spray out the garage floor, she would stand behind me or explore something out of the range of the hose. She was so afraid we would spray her. I wonder if the boys tormented her when she was young when mom wasn’t around?

She learned a couple tricks following hand commands. Ebony would sit. She would lay down but only stayed there a half second because she was so excited. Even when she was older and stayed at her second family for a couple years, the kids taught her to speak and handshake. She was always so hungry and the treats would tempt her to do about anything. When someone would throw a tennis ball with the “chuck-it” she would run and run for hours. When she thought it went down the gullies she would search for an hour until she found the tennis ball. She would not give up even if she had to go all the way down the very steep and deep gully. You could even fake her out and pretend you threw a tennis ball and she’d go searching for it. So funny.

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Often Ebony would get a ride in the car. She would lay down in the passenger side floor, and curl up her tail carefully so it wouldn’t get caught in the door. She always laid her head on the shifter to watch me. One time when I was driving along the car was suddenly making a strange noise. Turns out that Ebony put me into neutral.

When Ebony was a puppy, we began throwing a plastic water bottle or a milk jug, when we sat on the pool deck. She chased it, stumbling into or over it, she’d miss the bottle and roll, landing on her nose. We would all laugh so hard. The boys would often throw a ball from the deck or pool. She’d jump off the end of the deck with a huge leap and bring that ball to the edge of the pool. She’d want to tease and not give the ball completely back. Sometimes dropped it in the pool by accident though and then she’d have to wait until the filter made the water circulate and she could grab it again. She even pawed at the water to draw the ball back her way. One time Andrew had to haul her out of the pool because she fell in while trying to reach the ball. When the boys had friends over to play soccer on the field, she was in her glory with all those boys who came specifically to play with her.

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Sometimes Ebony would bark at night if she heard coyotes or was spooked about something. Sometimes I’d go out there in my bathrobe to try to figure out what was bothering her. She’d stop barking for a time, and then resume barking when we were trying to sleep. If any of us were outside for any reason or walking to the barn, she’d bark wanting to be part of the action.

She ate Cliff’s little Japanese maple tree one time….he’s never forgiven her for that. He never did like her much and that sealed the deal. I don’t know what got into her. She was playing outside with James once when he was a boy. She went over to the little tree and just decided it was her enemy. When James came back outside he was afraid his dad would be mad. He got some duct tape and taped the whole top half of the tree back on. It worked for a couple days until Cliff looked a little closer. Oh well, she wasn’t perfect.

Lately Ebony’s slow. In the last year we could notice it coming on. In the last few weeks she doesn’t have her voracious appetite anymore. I brought her to the vet last week and he said she wasn’t in pain. She has had achy legs and a swallowing/breathing problem of some kind. She’s losing weight. Her eyes are turning dim and cloudy, lots of gray showing through her black shiny hair. My Ebony-girl still conjures up some energy to run to meet me, wagging her tail, looking at me expectantly. She still seems to smile at me.

So cute how she hopped into Andrew’s car just yesterday, wanting to be included. I’ve never had a dog get old before. I’m not eccentric and consider her to be a daughter, but I do care for her. I’m not going to spend thousands to extend her life a little, but she’s not bad enough to be put down. I don’t like these “old dog decisions…”100_2573 (2)

It won’t be long now Ebs. Soon I won’t be able to look into your big, dark chocolate-brown eyes. You’ve been faithful and patient. You go down as an exceptional dog. I know that God loves animals because he created them, and he also let a pair of each kind go into the Arc with Noah to save them from the flood. I have to believe there’s a special section reserved for you in the skies.

Love you Ebony Anne.

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Posted in caring, Death, Ebony, Family, Grief and loss, Lake Michigan, love, Memories, pets | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments