Photo Credit: www.stock.xchng
Joy Suckers first posted on this blog in early January of 2013. With the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings upon us and Christmas celebrations about to begin, it seems right to post it again.
And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid;
for behold, I bring you good news of great joy,
for today in the city of David there has been born to you a Savior who is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2: 10–11,14
Joy suckers. During the weeks before Christmas, the news was full of them.
Polio eradication workers in Pakistan killed by terrorists.
Fire fighters in Webster, New York shot when they responded to a house fire call.
Children and teachers gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“How,” the watching world asks, “could Christians rejoice over the birth of Jesus in times like these? Why did they feast and give gifts as though nothing happened?
“How indeed?” Christians wondered. “How can we celebrating light in the midst of such darkness? Shouldn’t we sit in the dark and grieve instead?” And so our guilty thoughts began, along with doubt and fear and self-loathing.
Joy suckers, all of them.
Waiting to extract every bit of gladness from the hearts of God’s people.
Eager to settle on our shoulders a mantle of gloom and sadness.
Ready to burden our hearts and bow our heads, so we succumb to dark despair.
Two thousand years ago, into a world as black as ours seems today, God sent his Son as a light in the darkness. And the joy suckers could not comprehend it.
They could not comprehend that God would allow a baby born in a manger to become a man who would be killed for doing what was right.
They could not comprehend that God would allow the healer of the sick to die at the hands of terrorists.
They could not comprehend that the Father loved the world so much, He willingly experienced the heart-wrenching death of his own Son.
But two thousand years ago, the Lord of hosts understood it all.
He understood that on Christmas Eve of 2012, the families of two fire fighters in Webster, New York would need the assurance of a God who knew what it felt like to die for doing the right thing.
He understood that on December 19, 2012 the loved ones of nine dead health workers in Pakistan would need the comfort of the Great Physician slain by an angry mob.
He understood that on December 14, 2012 the parents of twenty dead children would need a Savior who, like them, had anguished over the death of a child.
The joy suckers couldn’t comprehend such light, such love. But we, His broken children, can.
The entrance of God’s light and love into our darkness is why we feasted with our families,
why we gave and received gifts, why we joined hands and sang carols.
Joy to the World
Hark the Herald Angels Sing.
Because, when we raised our faces to His light and sang,
the darkness tried to hide.
It trembled at His voice.
How great is our God!
Will you sing with me?
photo credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net
The past week and a half have been chock full of grandma duty and other family fun. So much fun, blogging is on the back burner. Therefore, for the next few days Gravel Road will reprise popular posts from the past. Today’s post first appeared on July 20, 2012. Enjoy!
Yup, The Amazing Spiderman is making an appearance on this blog, even though superheros don’t get a lot of play along our gravel road. To be honest, the only reason Spiderman gets his due is because I was plumb out of stuff to write about.
I thought about writing an I-told-you-so post about how I predicted the drought of 2012 way back in January. But that seemed kind of evil, and I ditched the idea. My next thought was to gush about The Amazing Spiderman movie, which we went to with our daughter and son-in-law on Tuesday. The movie was good. Really, really good. But writing a review is hard work, and I wanted to keep the memory fun.
So I ditched that idea, too, and didn’t have a thing to write about until a Facebook friend of mine posted the above picture. It shows the window washers at Michael Hopkins’ Evelina Children’s Hospital in London.
I almost ditched that idea, too, since this blog is for fun stuff and DifferentDream.com is for kids with special needs stuff. But then I read the text accompanying the photo and decided it was fun enough for this blog:
Evelina Children’s Hospital was the first new children’s hospital to be built in London in more than a century. The hospital was designed with a goal of “making a hospital that didn’t feel like a hospital.” Accomplishing this required hospital designers and staff to create a patient experience that included touchpoints fostering a sense of inspiration and wonder – in addition to healing – for children throughout their stay.
Perhaps the most remarkable touch point of all comes from an unexpected source: the hospital window washers. As part of their contract, Evelina requires that hospital window washers dress up as superheroes while cleaning the hospital windows. Bedridden, sick children delight in seeing Superman, Spiderman and Batman dagling just beyond the glass. The window washers report the superhero visits to Evelina are the highlight of their week.
I thought maybe the window-washers-dressed-as-superheros was urban legend. But according to Hugh Pearman’s article first published in The Sunday Times, London, on November 27, 2005, the window washers are for real. The article, “Just What the Doctors Ordered” tells the story of the vision behind Evelina’s Children’s Hospital and mentions the superhero window washers.
I think the idea of window washers at a children’s hospital dressing like superheros is way cool. The perfect medicine for a nation full of hot and thirsty people worried about a drought they’re powerless to control.This story is just what the doctor ordered. Do you agree?
Bragging about the rellies is so passe`, don’t you think? Makes the old eyes roll when somebody gets going, right?
Even so, today I’m bragging about one of my rellies, Ashley Molzen. She was mentioned Tuesday in the Young Professionals section of the Des Moines Register. Not just a little mention. An above the feature with pictures, quotes, and a story so long it had to be finished on one of the inside pages.
Why so much coverage?
Because Ashley, who is the daughter of a cousin who was a bridesmaid in our wedding, is also the librarian at the Forest Avenue branch of the Des Moines Public Library system. And in that capacity, she’s developed an innovative program called Conversations and Coffee. The program helps refugee and English-learning populations in Des Moines improve their conversational skills in their new language.
That’s pretty cool.
But don’t take my word for it. Read the article for yourself at Leading the Conversation. Be sure to read to the end where my cousin and Ashley’s aunty, Julie Roy, is quoted, too. Even though you didn’t know Ashley as a little girl, like her busting-their-buttons-with-pride family did, her story will restore your faith in the younger generation and keep your eyes from rolling when we brag about her.
Ashley Molzen, you rock!
Dear President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell, House Majority Leader Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi,
My name is Jolene Philo, and I taught elementary school for twenty-five years. I’m writing because your behavior over the past few months and years bears many similarities to what sometimes happens before parents and teachers meet to discuss concerns about a child.
At least, the initial intent of the gathering is concern for the child.
But as the appointment draws closer, the parents become more concerned with being proven right than with doing what’s right for the child. And the teacher becomes more defensive about what she’s done than with what needs to be done for the child.
Heels dig in.
Lines are drawn.
The stage is set for winners and losers.
A co-teacher once offered some wise advice about how to defuse situations like that. She said, “Just go to the meeting and listen to the parents. Then say, ‘You care about your child. I do, too. We both want the same thing. So let’s work together to accomplish what’s best for your child.’”
Over the years, I employed that strategy many times, and it always worked. Because once we stopped thinking about ourselves and started thinking about the child, we wanted to work together.
And when that happens, the child wins.
I think if the President, the Senate and House leaders and the members of both bodies in both parties would employ the same strategy, our government could function effectively again. But one of you has to be brave enough to take the focus off yourself and your re-election campaign and put it back on the people you were elected to represent. Then great things could happen. But again, one of you has to be brave enough to say, “You care about this country and its people. I do, too. So let’s work together to accomplish what’s best for our country.”
If one of you would summon up the courage and character to do that, our country wins.
My two children and their spouses win, my grandchild wins, and my former students–the young people who deserve better than the mess your political self-absorption and partisanship have created–all win.
A mom who loves her kids, her former students, and her country
Photo Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net
A few days ago one of my dearest, wackiest friends left the following message on my Facebook page:
Jolene, WHY did I not think of this before NOW? Every celebrity goes by a Hip mini abbreviated version of their name. YOU are a celebrity on so many levels and I have the perfect name for your author wing dings and speaking engagements. Take the first from your first name and the last from your last name… TA DA… Ready…… JO LO!!!! I love it!! Jo Lo … JoLo What do you think?
To which I responded:
It is perfect. Especially since so many people already confuse me with J. Lo!
As in, “Excuse me, are you J. Lo? Can I have your autograph.” Because me and Jenn look so much alike. Which you probably already noticed. Which is why the idea came to you:)
To which he responded:
Yes, there is an uncanny resemblance between you and J Lo!!!! You must check your geneology I have a feeling you two are distant cousins!!!
To which I responded:
Hmm, my steely-eyed German and Scandinavian ancestors never mentioned hot, Latin blood. Maybe the Irish side of the family learned to tango.
All of which has me wondering if my ancestors, who I’ve always considered more dour than dancers, tangoed with those of Latin descent. Perhaps, dear readers, your observations can put an end to my wild speculation.
So, here’s J Lo:
and here’s JoLo:
Click “Like” if you think we look enough alike to be related.
Yesterday was one of those days when this old gray mare knew her memory ain’t what it used it be. The epic memory failure began when I discovered I’d purchased the wrong kind of puff pastry for the new dish on the supper menu.
What to do?
Thanks to improvisation techniques honed by many years of practice, the meal was saved. Hiram liked the new dish so much, he said it deserved to be photographed and put on the blog, improvisations and all. But the camera was missing.
Nowhere to be found.
Eventually, I realized I must have forgotten it at last week’s family reunion. So, no picture of last night’s yummy meal. And the evening was spent sending a series of emails to cousins trying to locate the camera. (Janet, if you read this, check your email and reply asap!)
This morning I remembered the iPad.
Why hadn’t it come to mind last night? But no worries! I could use it to photograph the left overs. Except by then, the leftovers were gone. Hiram had taken them to work.
That’s when I knew my memory ain’t what it uses to be. So I was very pleased to discover the article 10 Ways We Get Smarter As We Age at the Time website. Those of you who share my age bracket will appreciate them, I’m sure.
- Your hemispheres sync up. That sounds awfully high tech, doesn’t it?
- Your brain never stops growing. So, should we worry about exploding heads?
- Your reasoning and problem-solving skills get sharper. Sharper than what?
- You can focus on the upside. That’s why this list is showcased today.
- Your people skills are constantly improving. Compared to what?
- Your priorities become clearer. What’s for dinner and where’s the bathroom?
- You’re always adding to your knowledge and abilities. Though you’ll constantly forget where you put them.
- You can see the big picture. In that case, new glasses may be in order.
- You gain control of your emotions. Then why did a cardinal singing make me cry the other day?
- You become an instant expert, even in new situations. Since we’re instant experts, this expert recommendation is that you copy the list, tie it around your neck so you don’t forget where it is, and read it daily as a reminder of how smart you are.
Photo credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net
Photo Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net
Our cousins across the pond held a big party last week to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their monarch. Queen Elizabeth. The media was full of the event. Factoids about the queen’s life were everywhere.
But one important fact escaped the media circus. My mother considers Her Royal Majesty as a constant entities in her life. So this weekend, I did a little pictorial research to see why Mom regards HRM as almost a friend. What I discovered confirms a suspicion I have long held. Though Queen Elizabeth was raised in the lap of luxury in an English palace and my mother was raised in poverty on a Minnesota farm during the Great Depression, the two women led parallel lives. Here are a few pictures to prove the point:
Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in the 1930s
Mom (right) with her sister Ruth during the 1930s
Princess Elizabeth in the 1940s
Mom in the 1940s
The Queen at the 60th Anniversary Celebration wearing fancy hat
Mom at family celebration wearing fancy elf hat
Sends shivers down the spine, doesn’t it?
So I’m praying that some Tuesday in the future, when Mom and I go out for lunch together, she will be at the center of a huge, fawning media circus. ‘Cause in my eyes, her life is every bit as remarkable as Queen Elizabeth’s, and I’d like the world to know it.