Monday, December 22, 2008

Joy, Joy, Joy

You are looking at my Christmas present. I have a brand new smile! Three years ago I received the gift of new bridges for my teeth. I lost so many teeth while I was in Mexico. I was thrilled to get the bridges. I did have the smile I wanted. Then a little over a month ago, one of my teeth broke and had to be pulled. Since I had no more anchors for the bridge, we decided to have the few remaining pulled and get an upper for me. I've been walking around for abut 6 weeks with only my two front teeth showing. Saturday morning that all changed. The last 5 teeth came out and in went my smile. I am deliriously happy. I actually cried when I saw myself. Praise the Lord that my gums haven't been painful. The best thing . . . the doctor (oral surgeon) who took care of me on Saturday was wonderful! I told him it was a miracle that he got my teeth out so fast and he said, "Not my work, not a miracle, all credit goes to the Lord". Is that cool or what?
This week is also the week of Hanukkah. This celebration of the Festival of Lights is important to all Jews. A couple of years ago, I told the history of Hanukkah as I found on the internet. It wasn't just one day out of many, but a time when the Temple was returned to the Jews after a long time of suffering and oppression. They had only enough oil to light one of the eight lights on the Menorah. However after the first night, they found they had enough to light the second and so on until the eighth day. This was a miracle wrought by God to His chosen people. I want to say Happy Hanukkah to all of you who celebrate the Festival of Lights.

I can't believe that Thursday will be Christmas already. We have invited another guest, made her stocking and purchased small gifts for her. Rob's sister may be joining us as well. She's been super depressed. Christmastime depression is all too common. We talked with her and prayed with her on Saturday. Later, a very good friend of our offered to pay for the train ticket to get her here for a week or two. Perhaps time with family will be good for her. I called with the news, but she hasn't given us her decision yet. If y'all would pray for her and for our Christmas guests, I would really appreciate it. Their names are Timothy, Dora, Tina, Shawn & Denise. It will be our great pleasure to share the Christmas Story from the gospel of Luke with them all.

Tomorrow I will be making/baking the pumpkin roll. I hope I can still find the recipe. The roll is so decadently delicious that Christmas cannot pass without me fattening up on it. Besides, it's a hit with everyone. Ham is ham and pies just pies, but that dear pumpkin roll lights up their eyes!

As always you are all in my thoughts and prayers. If I am not able to post before then, Merry Christmas to you all. I posted to my other blog Blessings by Day today as well. Drop on by . . . it's a divine appointment.
Blessings and love,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This is a story I posted in December 2005. I think it deserves repeating.

This is more of a woman’s story than a man’s, but I hope men will read it as well. When I was 15 years old and thought I knew everything, I slipped into the back seat of a butter yellow Chevy Super Sport Impala. The rest is history. With that one little action, I changed the course of my life forever. The chance to be a little girl again was gone. A life grew inside me.

How many teenage girls can say with a certainty that getting pregnant is their first option? And those that actually do . . . how many are prepared for the awesome responsibility that goes along with being a mother? I know I wasn’t prepared. No way. I was immature and irresponsible, spoiled and a few other adjectives that come to mind. Mother material isn’t one of them.

Immediately after my experience in the back seat, I was ashamed. My mother had taught me better than that. I didn’t listen. A few days later, I knew with a certainty that I was pregnant. I had to get the word to Mom and disappoint her. It was a very tearful time.

There was life inside me. Swimming around in there was a child. Wow! From the moment my flat little belly began to swell, I loved him. Unless you are a parent it’s hard to understand that kind of love. I loved my precious child enough to give him up for adoption.

But this isn’t my story. It’s her story. I can’t adequately tell it, but I’m going to try. It was a different era altogether. There weren’t any cars and people mostly walked to get where they were going. Most teenage girls were betrothed (engaged) very early. There were rituals to betrothal and young couples were never unsupervised. It was a time of innocence, I believe.

Come back with me to the road in a little town. A young girl is walking there. Possibly she is picking wild flowers or kicking stones, thinking about her betrothed. He’s a handsome man and already has a trade, so will be a good provider. She’s got her head down and she’s in sort of a dream world. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angel appears! He’s huge and glowing and she is very frightened. Her eyes widen and she trembles. One can only imagine the thoughts racing through her young mind.

“Greetings to you, woman of favor. The Lord is with you,” he says to her. Favor? What have I done? I’m just a simple girl, she thinks. Then the angel tells her the most unbelievable thing. She’s going to be pregnant! Even back then girls knew you had to be intimate with a man to get pregnant and she certainly hadn’t been. What’s up here?

“Me? I’m still young and a virgin! I am just betrothed. I cannot have a child!” Mary exclaims. (You knew this was about her didn’t you?) The angel explains that the Holy Spirit will overcome her and she will have the child of God. He told her not to be afraid.

Not to be afraid? They stone women who get pregnant out of wedlock! What will she say to her family . . . to Joseph? How will she do all of this by herself? I’m not sure these were her thoughts, but can you imagine trying to explain this to people? Oh, my God!

Yes, we are talking about God here aren’t we? And it’s known that Mary was faithful. How much faith? You know her response. “Do as you will unto me.”

There is no place in my mind where I can fathom this response. I probably would have run the other way. But not this girl. What did she do? Shortly thereafter, she probably walked the approximately 90 miles to see her pregnant elderly cousin. Now that’s obedience for you. It doesn’t say when she told everyone about her condition. She had great courage to do so. It turned out well. Joseph saw an angel in a dream who told him that it was okay and to marry her anyway.

I wonder how it must have felt to Mary to place her hands on her belly and know that God was growing inside of her? I know what it feels like to have life inside me, to feel the first fluttery movements, to be kicked, hiccupped and somersaulted. I know the pain of childbirth and the joy of holding my still-wet child in my arms. How much more must Mary have felt? I wonder if she worried as I did about the future of her child? Did she consider whether she was ready for this responsibility? Did she think she’d lost her girlhood? I guess we’ll never know. I kind of doubt it, though. I think if God gave her the willingness to bear the Christ child, He must have filled her with the confidence (faith) she needed to face any struggle.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us take time to remember what a miracle life is! Let’s not shortchange His life or God by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” We got the best gift of all when a teenage girl said:

“Do as you will unto me.”

Monday, December 15, 2008

Last night, Andrea called. I love when she calls. I answer and hear a very cheery "Hi, Mommy!" She's going to be 15 in March, yet she holds on to that little girl in so many of her ways. She lives with her older sister and family on top of a mountain called Dun Moodie (sp). The first thing Andrea said was . . ."it's snowing~we have about 8 inches" We talked then about school, it's finals week, and her friends. I worry about them this year because Heather and Jason have decided to build a home on his property there. So far, they have a nice warm school bus for the kids, a 5th wheel (too crazily cold) and the use of a small cabin. the foundation will probably be laid in the spring. UGH!

Heather just called. She sent this picture of Andrea and Zach. It snowed all night ~ last measurement was 17" but they are going out to measure again. That's Jason's truck next to Andrea. Don't people usually take such pictures when they go visit the snow? And they wanted me up on that mountain with them. No way. However they will now have a white Christmas. Lovely to look at, God's beauty unfolds, Oh! How they love it, For me it's too cold.

For those of you who live with snow year after year . . . I get it. It's home for you. I grew up in Southern California. The snow we see here for the most part is in higher elevations and only during ski season. It is wonderful to see the peaks shimmering with white. I don't go there anymore. Snow hurts my body.

I had another thing to post today . . . maybe later. Until then, I love you all and keep you in my prayers,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Needle Threader

I love the Christmas season! With great joy we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Right between our two small trees we have a manger scene. The other holiday stuff ~ Santa, elves, nutcrackers, etc., are among our decorations. Having an empty nest is tough for us and I usually get depressed near Christmas. This year we decorated the inside of the house to the nines. All the lights we would have put outside are in the living room. We decided to keep the cheer inside with us this time. Most of our Christmas e-cards have been scheduled and the few snail mail cards are ready to be sent.

Yesterday, I decided to get the stockings ready to hang by the chimney. We have invited our guests from Thanksgiving to join us again on Christmas. We have been having fun looking for trinkets for the stockings and a couple of practical gifts for each of them. I pulled out my box of sequins and embroidery threads and set to work. I had one needle already threaded with red. I looked at all the colors and got so excited! I haven't decorated a stocking in years. Then I looked for my needle threader. It was no where to be found and I can't see the hole in the needle. Frustrated, I waited until today to go get one. Since I was going to the store anyway, I stopped at the back where they keep scissors, needles, etc. I expected to find a packet with 2 or 3 threaders. Nope. Gotta buy thread and needles to get a threader. I bought the smallest package they had . . .$2.39 for 12 rolls of crummy thread, 3 needles and 1 threader. That's a lot to pay for a little piece of aluminum with a wire attached.

Home at last, my first project was to make ribbon loops to hang a curtain over our window. I threaded my needle with the right thread at which time the needle threader broke! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I couldn't cut the ribbon ~ it was a silvery shimmery one . . . with wire on both sides. I pulled the wire . . . perfect!!! It's just the right size to fit through the eye of most needles :-) I think I'm set for life. I just need to get to thse stockings . . .

Blessings to you all . . .

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Remember . . .

I was actually going to whine today (thinking I deserved it), saw the date and changed my mind. There are so many of us who remember Pearl Harbor only through the memories of others, through photos and stories. I cannot re-tell those stories. I was thinking about the service those young men and women offered. . .

They enlisted or were drafted and they pledged to protect the U.S. and its constitution with their lives. I wonder how many of them actually thought their lives would be required? How many generations will honor them? Is it almost over because more of these veterans die every year? I certainly hope not !It's been over 60 years for Pearl Harbor Vets, but there are those of us who have heard the stories and there are veterans from each of the successive wars, popular or not, who are willing to carry Pearl Harbor's history and their own histories as long as they live.
This is a picture of the USS Arizona as it burned and sank.

And this is a photo of Hickam Field. I stood on the USS Arizona Memorial and watched as long-ago oil still bubbled from the sunken ship. The bones of the men on the ship are there in a watery grave. I was young then, but it touched my heart in a deep way ~ I was freshly married then to a Navy man and had many friends who were heading into VietNam. The Arizona's history was not lost on me.

Today, as you go about your business please take a moment to honor the heroes who gave their lives for our freedom on December 7, 1941. If you have already done so, thank you and bless you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks to you all . ..

First, I want to apologize to all of you. I promised to share my gratitude with you every day . . . and my Internet went out. I've been fighting with the cable company for days. Finally I can say I'm grateful to be back online.

It's so close to Thanksgiving that I need to get caught up quickly. It's easy to be thankful for the big stuff that happens in our lives. We look at our new car, home, appliances and such ~ easy gratitude. The small stuff is what has held me through my life . . .

. . . in the midst of my fear, anxiety, depression and sadness somewhere a voice comes to me with these words. Truth is ~ it does pass. For those who've said it to anyone . . . Thank you.

So many times words aren't enough, but a small graphic~smiley. I'm so grateful for those little nothings. You care enough when I am alone and careless.

Several times a day, Rob comes in to rub my feet for me. He has even washed them for me. There is a kindness in his touch that I can't explain.

**I must apologize again, as my Internet was just restored again. I have tried to be kind to the repair guys and all the telephone operators I've dealt with. It has been their Thanksgiving week as well. Does it count if I cry from frustration? I am at least trying to be thankful.

A homeless gal that we knew from church has been here several days in the last month. She has been by to help us with some cleaning and actually scrubbed the walls and baseboards in the hallway. Her son is also homeless, living in the local river bottom. On Monday, Rob asked them to join us for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful meal. Turkey, all the fixing's and pumpkin pie. Tina helped with the things I am unable to do. The boys each took a shower as did their mom. Rob set up cloth bags for each of them with t-shirts, pants, towels, food and a can opener. He added candy and chips, water and soda and paper towel/bath tissue. Our landlord gave each an envelope with 10 $1 bills and Rob gave some cigarettes.

Funny . .. I am filled with deep gratitude for their presence in our home yesterday. I heard laughter and shouts about football. "taste the yams, boys . . .I made them!" Shawn, whose mother hung up on him when he called to wish her happy Thanksgiving, gave me the honor of being his grandma for the day.

I am thankful I have people who love me and who will not walk away or slam the door on me when I am at my worst. I am grateful to know in the deepest part of my heart that the Lord will never leave me nor forsake me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Thanks

First, I want to thank Chris for this graphic. Oftentimes I totally forget to give credit where credit is due. Without your help I would still be struggling to get my other graphics and photos into my blogs. Thanks, my friend.

I have a best friend who takes care of me. He loves me when I am unlovable, helps me when I am helpless and shows tenderness at every turn. Yes, of course Jesus is the answer. However the friend I described above is one I can see and touch. He's my husband Rob. Certainly your spouse is supposed to be your best friend, but that doesn't always happen. I am grateful to God for my best friend. Below is a picture of another friend . . . her name is Precious.

We got Precious a couple of years ago. I've had two black Pomeranians before. The first was Sparkle, and escapee from the Fairfield County dog shelter. The next was Teddy. Teddy lived 12 hard years in Mexico. He passed away in 2001. We had other pommies, but I just fell in love with the black ones. Precious was my chance to fall in love again. I am so thankful to have her. One of the cutest things she does is pray. Praying is serious business to her. Rob and I start our day with prayer. If Precious is outside, she will raise a huge fuss if we start without her. We can't fool her, not even if we pray in the farthest room away from her. She jumps on the couch while we sing or begin prayer and calms almost immediately. I think she is thankful as well.
I am thankful for my sister Sharon. For years our relationship was pretty terrible. I took her place as the baby of the family. She teased me a lot (I am still sensitive to teasing). I went wild in my teens/early 20's. She took care of my kids for a while. We had an uneasy peace. About 25 years ago, I promised to take my mom to see her. On that visit we realized we had a lot more stuff in common than we thought. In an instant our relationship was healed. All our dislikes disappeared like water flows over rocks downhill. I believe God intervened and gave us back to each other. Sisters are good, yes they are!
Today I am grateful for God in my life, my husband, my Precious, my sister and for you . . .

Monday, November 17, 2008


Seems like decades ago . . . when I first had a journal/blog on that other place . . . can't say the name right now or I will lose my thankfulness . . . I asked others to post on their blog or in my comments the things they were thankful for. I actually asked them to do it every day. Of course I had to make an entry every day for the month of November leading up to Thanksgiving. I loved the posts and comments. So . . . for the next 10 days, I want to talk about my thankfulness. If you'd like to join me, put a comment here or post something in your blog and leave me a link.
I have so many reasons to be thankful, but if I tell them all today, I won't have any left for my next entries. I will start with a few things.

I am grateful for my mom. She's been gone 11 years now, but a couple of nights ago I saw her in my dream. I usually don't see her face in my dreams, but I saw it this time. Mom had undying love for her 4 daughters and many grandchildren. She had faith in me when everyone else had given up. Of course I was/am the baby ~ 8 years younger than my next-oldest sister, and she spoiled me. She encouraged my creativity and my love of learning. One of my most treasured memories is when she came to my college graduation (I was 41 years old). As I crossed the stage to receive my diploma, I saw her at the back of the room crying tears of joy. I am so thankful that the Lord let me be her daughter.

I am thankful for each of my 5 husbands. Each one came into my life and loved me in their own way. I learned about myself with them. Well, I'm still learning with Rob. I grew emotionally, learned my weaknesses, gained wisdom and a strong(er) will with each marriage. I am very grateful now to have stopped marrying. (Whew!)

I'm grateful that the sun rose today and I with it. Sometimes I wonder if we know how very precious each day is. My last husband died in the space of a day. All the tomorrows we had lined up were not to be. When I waken every day, I remember that my "wild" days alone could have taken me off this earth. Really. One day 43 years ago, I gave my son up for adoption. Another day 16 1/2 years later, he found me. I have had so many days that were not all that great. There have been at least 100 times more good days than bad. I look forward to tomorrow. Because after all, if I wake up I will have at least one more day to be thankful.

I'm not sure how to put this . . . I've been watching my state burn once again. I have cried over the losses. Just north of me in Montecito over 200 multi-million dollar homes were lost. I'm grateful I don't live there. I am so very grateful that so far, no one has died as a direct result of the fires. I am also thankful that as awful as the fires were to watch and read about, I am still human. One of God's kids, as it were. It hurts, but I am happy that I still care enough.

I'm grateful for you . . .

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Remember Television?

When I was four, my grandparents bought us a television. We were the first in our neighborhood to have one. It was a big brown (mahogany?) cabinet with both a TV and radio. That box was so fascinating to me. Most of the time, it seemed it had only a screen with an Indian head in the middle. I'm not sure what my first program was ~ it may have been Howdy Doody. The set was a little girl's delight. My mom and my 3 sisters would sit down to watch together. Because my sisters were all in school, I got to watch in the daytime. The people and others in there were my friends. I thought they lived in there. At nap time, my mother would turn off the television and close the doors. I would rest, waiting to rush back to my friends. I thought that when the set was turned off they were all in there waiting for it to be turned back on. I was quickly disappointed when they weren't there to greet me. I held on to the delusion for a while.

The place where we lived was huge to me. In our front yard were two huge palm trees. They were equidistant to the center of the house. Our entrance was a set of french doors. As we went inside, the dining room was to the right, living room to the left. Behind the dining room was the kitchen. Our bedrooms were behind the living room. A central hall led us to the bedrooms and the other kitchen door. I slept in the room with my mother, my sisters Sylvia and Sharon shared a room and Charlotte slept in a sort of sun porch way at the rear of the house. I loved Charlotte as if she were a second mother to me. I even placed my pet snails on her pillow one early morning to show my love for her. When she stopped screaming, mama had a little talk talk with me about snails in the house.

Our back yard was a veritable treasure for a little tomboy. We had fruit trees to climb, a really fun set of clotheslines for me to ruin from time to time and lots of dirt and grass to keep me wretchedly dirty. My mom kept me in overalls instead of dresses. We had a brown dog whose name I can't remember. He was my protector. He protected so much that one day he pulled me from an apricot tree in the neighbor's yard and I was hurt. I cried because mom gave the dog to the dog catcher.

Just after that, my mom found that a skunk was living under the house. I had never seen one and didn't know why she and my sisters were making such a fuss. I thought it was the cutest kitty I had ever seen . . . it was in what I now know was a trap. I thought the kitty was thirsty, so I poured some water in his cage. He sprayed me all over! Mom burned the clothes and I spent some time in a bath of tomato juice. I actually loved all the attention. I just didn't quite know what all the noise was about.

There is a lot of water that has passed under the bridge since then. I no longer believe people live inside the television. I still love the classical music that my mom played all the time. I love dogs . . . we have 4 little ones now. My sisters grew up and married by the time I was eight years old. I lived the life as a spoiled "only" child. I'm still spoiled. I haven't played with any skunks lately, although I still think they are beautiful. It's been a long time since I played in the mud or climbed a tree. I wish I could climb a tree now . . . there's always a spectacular view from the top.

As always, I think about you all and pray for you. Please say a special prayer tonight for Donna of D's Designs as she recovers from a heart attack and bypass surgery. Many blessings,

Monday, October 13, 2008

In most of Southern California, we don't get to see fall colors as they are seen in other parts of the country. Today it is dry and sunny and the Santa Ana winds are blowing. This is a dangerous time for many of us. Where there are dry grasses, weeds and old trees, the fire probability is very high.

This morning I have been tuned to a local Los Angeles station. All regular programming has been suspended as they report on fires in the San Fernando Valley, Porter Ranch, Santa Paula and one that has started somewhere in the San Bernardino area. None of these are very close to us, thank God. The closest is a little more than 17 miles away. Right now they are reporting that 10 people are stranded in their homes and ranches as they try to get their horses out. The road is closed now. Horse trailers are waiting at the entrance to the canyon to help move the 60 horses.

It makes you think. Knowing that this happens nearly every October/November, why are the grasses not cleared? Mobile homes and businesses have been destroyed, hundreds of homes are threatened and 1 man and his dog have died. Other than Mexico, I have never lived anywhere but Southern California. I was evacuated from my home because of a mountain fire. I wasn't afraid because I was so young and we didn't lose our house. My mom was frantic to protect me. I cannot possibly imagine what these families are going through. More than 1,200 have been evacuated and more have just been ordered out. It's dismal, yet I continue to have my eyes fixed on the television.

Blogger is harder for me to negotiate than my AOL blog. I haven't learned how to do things as easy as placing my signature graphic at the end of my post. I need to learn all over again. And you know . . . as some of us get older new technology is really a stumper. Before, we could add a picture or graphic anywhere we wanted to. Some of my J-Land friends have already figured this out. I really hope one of them will post some instructions for those of us who are technologically challenged.

For my friends who are following or finding this blog; I love you all and you are daily in my prayers.

Blessings, Penny

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Good Afternoon from sunny California! Rob and I had to go out to buy a new battery for the Explorer. He wouldn't believe me the other day when I told him we needed a new one. He said we just needed new connector ends for the cables. He charged the battery for a day, added water to the cells, took it out this morning for a spin. All good except when he parked it and tried to start it again. I hate always being right ;)

Yesterday it drizzled, rained, drizzled all day. Kind of unusual for this early in the year. The sun is shining again today as I write this. Oh! How I love the California coast. I tried the mountains for about 3 months earlier this year as AOL journalers will remember. It was cold and miserable for two months, almost tolerable for the next month and I left before it got hotter than hades. My daughters and family suffered up to 117 degree heat for most of the summer. Now it is cooling down again and has been raining for three days up there. UGH! I am so happy to be home.

During the the drizzle and rain yesterday, we let mom and puppies come in. They love the outside, but they are all so small that cold weather and rain could make them sick. Of course the puppies were too ignorant to get out of the rain, even when their mama barked at them to get in the dog house. Precious (mama) won't go out in the rain, drizzle or what have you until she absolutely has to go potty. The old lady (14) refuses to come inside at all, but is wise enough to stay in the dog house. I enjoyed playing with Precious and her pups. Precious always comes in for prayer. If we start without her, she cries. She sits very quietly next to me and seems to understand that this is a special time for us. We call her our "praying pup".

A couple of people have asked me about my son John Scalzi, who was our journal "guru" for some time on AOL. His latest book "Zoe's Tale" came out around the first of August. He and his wife and daughter are doing just fine. You can find him at: His adventures are there, however he may be setting up a second blog for personal entries. If so, you can find it at Whatever.

I hope to be blogging more regularly than I was at AOL. I get lazy sometimes, but since so many of us are going to be here now, I hope to suit up and show up, as it were, to this new journal. I hope that any of you that find me here will post a comment so I may find out your new home as well.

Blessings, Penny

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks

This is my first post over here at Blogger. It may take me a while to get adjusted to the new lifestyle. Right now I feel betrayed by AOL. I started journalling there in our J-Land. I pray that my old J-Land friends and I can keep up the community spirit. Many thanks to Sugar for this graphic.

I've decided to name it Growin' Old Gracelessly because that's just what I am doing. My ascent up the ladder of life (or is it down?) has been rugged. Currently my back is fractured, my hip may fracture from osteoporosis, I have polyneuropathy, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, degenerative spine disorder and chronic depression/bipolar. I'm also more than 50 lbs overweight. Get the picture? I probably won't mention it again.

My Husband Rob and I live on the central coast of California where the weather is darn near perfect. We are retired missionaries. I/we have 4 children, 15 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Little by little I may post pictures of all but our youngest daughter who is 14 and lives with her 41 year-old sister. We have 4 dogs, 3 Pomeranians (mother and 2 babies), an aging Shitzu and 2 Cockatiels.

There's so much more I want to write about, but the words are not coming. Oh! I am writing a book about my experiences as a missionary in Mexico. It's started and I have a few chapters done. Heaven knows when I will finish it.

Be blessed in the Lord today, Penny