The Gift I Haven’t Received Yet


It has been over 5 years since my oldest brother Tom passed away. About a year after his passing, my elder sister announced to the family that she wanted to start a new Christmas tradition. She had had his Bible for a whole year. This was the Bible that our former pastor, Derrald Hilderbrand, had given to Tom as a gift before he left to attend Apostolic Bible Institute. I went to the same college at the same time as Tom and also received a Bible from our pastor, which I still have. 

Anyhow, my sister thought it would be a nice idea to have a different family member receive Tom’s Bible as a Christmas gift for a year, and then pass it on to a different family member the following Christmas. Last year my daughter had the Bible, and she decided she was going to pass it on to her cousin Nick in Wisconsin. Since I don’t know when it will be my turn to receive it, and we live in the same house, I asked her if I could look through it before she sent it off. I couldn’t resist taking a few pics.


This Bible is a KJV Cambridge Wide Margin-perfect for adding notes, which Tom did.


I really enjoyed perusing his Bible, looking at passages he had underlined and reading through some of his notes. I’m glad my brother was into the Word, and although I still miss him, I would not want him back on this earth. Now he is with the Word, and one day, whether by way of the Lord’s coming or the grave, I look forward to seeing him again.

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The Burnt Offering of Thanksgiving

I just wanted to share a memory of our most comical Thanksgiving which took place almost 9 years ago. My sister is actually making the stuffing again this year. We’ll see if history repeats itself.

Write At Home

“Did you take this out of the fireplace?”

“It tastes like you crushed some Virginia Slims in it.”

Jennifer just ran to the bathroom to spit it out.

These were just a few of the reactions to the burnt stuffing my sister brought over to my house on Thanksgiving.  Have you ever cooked something that just really bombed?  Such was the case with Kiki’s stuffing. (Kiki is my sister Karen’s nickname.) However, this Thanksgiving tragedy quickly turned into comedy.  All day long we cracked jokes about this smoky sidedish.  My brother-in-law(Kiki’s husband) assured us that he was going to chuck the whole pot out the window as they drove over a particular bridge on their way home.  You might think we’re weird, but this really created a great Thanksgiving memory that none of us present will ever forget.  Everything else my sister made was wonderful. She cooked a moist turkey with delicious…

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San Antonio Trip(Part 1)

This past week, our family was blessed to be able to go to San Antonio Texas for the purposes of

-attending Jen’s graduation from ICAT(Institute of Conservative Apostolic Theology)

-being with my hubby/Jen and Paul’s dad as he taught a theological seminar

-celebrating anniversary services with Alamo City Apostolic Church in San Antonio, Texas

I have some pictures(although they are not very good)that I hope to share soon. I tried posting some of them, but was having difficulties, first on my laptop, then on my phone. (There is a part of me that feels like screaming right now.) I’m afraid I’m somewhat of a technological dingbat, and will need to enlist the help of my son.

Stayed tuned for more…………………………………..hopefully soon!

Update-Through a rigorous distance learning program(my son instructing me through texts), I now can post some pictures.

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Jennifer is giving her graduation speech. I’m so proud of her. She worked hard on her capstone project. It about done her in, but bless her heart, she finished it!

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This is Dr.(Brother)Shane Milazzo addressing and admonishing the graduates and all who were present to “dig deeper”. He did an excellent job.

 

 

Jen and Paul are standing with Sister Garcia. We were honored to stay at the beautiful home of Brother and Sister Garcia, and I hope to share more about this wonderful couple in a future post.img_3234

 

Time is running short for me now, but I just want to say, “Congratulations, Jen!” I am proud of your accomplishments and so thankful to God for the fine, young lady you have become.

Bob’s Bug Jar

Happy Birthday to my middle brother, Bob! It’s hard to believe that my younger brother is 49. In honor of your birthday and for memories sake, I want to share the article you wrote many years ago about our childhood time in the chicken coop. Although I’ve read this many times, it never ceases to bring tears to my eyes. I thank God for our family!

 

The Bug Jar

When I was a kid, not yet old enough to be enrolled in any science classes, I used to conduct experiments of my own.  One of my favorites was the Bug Jar Experiment.  It consisted of three states:  In Stage One, I would obtain an empty mayonnaise jar and collect as many different kinds of bugs I could find-spiders, worms, ladybugs, tiny red and giant black ants, bees, a centipede (if I was lucky), an occasional wasp, those roly-poly bugs that no one knew the real name for, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, anything that creeped, crawled or disgusted my sisters was fair game.  In Stage Two, I would shake the jar vigorously.  In Stage Three, my favorite, I would watch delightedly as the imprisoned insects bit, stung and generally destroyed each other.  Ironically (and justly, I suppose), when I got to be a bit older, the tables turned, and I experienced the bug jar for myself.

In the fall of 1974, my family had to give up a spacious, three-bedroom home with a big backyard to move into a chicken coop turned recreation room, but to us Home.  The edifice boasted a 15 x 30 foot span; no bigger than our former living room; a mere bug jar,  if you will.  We went into the venture expecting the worst.  Rather than tearing the family apart, however, being thrown into very close quarters under less than ideal conditions actually strengthened our relationships.

We called our new abode “the closet”, because to us, it seemed just about the size of a rich person’s wardrobe.  There was no room for complaining though (literally!).  After all, it was far from the gang-ridden neighborhood we had left behind; it was close to good schools; it was clean, it was much easier on my Mom’s filing clerk salary, and it came furnished with the best hand-me-down furniture that pity could buy.  So Mom told the six of us kids to make the best of it.  We were a Brady Bunch of sorts, with three girls and three boys ranging in age from five to fifteen, but no Alice to do the housework.  Also, we came in two generations:  The “big kids” were each born a year apart, and after a gap of five years came us “babies”, also born one year apart.

Peeking through the battered screen door after we had settled in, our curious neighbors beheld a new concept in interior design:  An afghan-covered couch next to the stove, an army cot bordered by our giant, prehistoric, dust-laden television set, a dining table surrounded by bunk beds.  You see, “the closet” had no rooms.  A tiny bathroom in the northwest corner, with a carpeted sliding door, provided the only privacy in the place.

This was new to us, and at first, we absorbed our living arrangements haltingly and delicately, like couples in a pre-arranged marriage.  Inevitably though, the fighting began.  Some of the most heated battles were waged over bathroom privileges.  Finally, we came up with a “calling” system to schedule bath times.  Cries of “First bath!”  “Second bath!”  “Third bath!” and so on were commonly shouted out in the waking hours, but only led to more arguments as calls were contested and challenged later.

Once while Mom was “using the facilities”, Johnny and I broke into a wrestling match right outside the bathroom door.  One thing led to another, and at the height of our struggle, we lost our balance, slammed into the bathroom door, knocked it off its hinges, and fell clinging to each other and the door onto the bathroom floor.  Mom screamed, powerless to chase us from her seated position, while we scrambled to fix the door and scurry away.

More often though, we were forced to depend on each other, to work together to overcome obstacles imposed upon us by our lack.  Laundry and kitchen duties had to be split and shared by all.  Providing enough food for six hungry, growing children was a constant struggle for my mom.  I remember times when ketchup packets and a hunk of government-issued cheese were the only things left in the fridge.  Whether we liked it or not, we had to share.  Though it was a small area, our home was heated by an aging, rusted space heater, located near the door.  On cold wintry mornings before school, while waiting for the bathroom to free up, the rest of us huddled together in front of the heater, wrapped in blankets, shivering in anticipation of the metallic clicking sound that signaled the release of a fresh blast of hot air.  That nondescript old heater became a great equalizer, bringing us together, if momentarily, to share warmth and exchange conversation at the start of the day.

Because we had no rooms of our own, we had no secrets; what one went through, we all experienced.  One dark night, returning home from work, Tom unknowingly rolled over a skunk with his bike.  When he got home, we immediately smelled the stench, except Tom, of course.  Strangely enough, the skunk encounter provided a bonding experience as we each offered creative, often ridiculous solutions for getting rid of the smell.

Then there was Mike Mester, a gangling youth from a neighboring community, who spotted my oldest sister Karen at a roller rink and immediately fell for her.  Not knowing her name or anything about her, he somehow tracked her down to our humble dwelling place.  He knocked on the front door; my mom answered.  He inquired after this mystery girl he had met at the roller rink.  Immediately, five more heads appeared at the door, checking out the tall stranger, while one head disappeared quickly into the bathroom hiding.  Mike instantly formed the impression that this was going to be a package deal, and he was right.  We couldn’t help but cheer and jeer from the sidelines as Mike and Karen embarked upon each new phase of their sometimes stormy but long-lasting relationship.

A flood of memories stirs in me when I think back to those bug jar days.  I remember us “babies” clinging to each other in the bottom bunk in fear and joy, begging Tom in the top bunk to be the “werewolf” again.  I remember Carol sharing with us her dark and searching poetry and inspiring me to try some of my own.  I remember the generational gap closing as Tom treated his kid brothers to pizza and bowling or Karen and Carol fixed Annie’s hair.  And why is it I recall the neighbor kids, with their nice houses and families of their own, always wanting to spend the night at our place?

We lived there for almost 12-1/2 years.  And a strange thing began to happen as we made the best of it in the “closet”.  We went from being siblings and a single parent, thrown and shaken together, to being friends; lifelong friends that time, distance and circumstances have not separated.

Holy Ghost Red Eye

      Last Thursday night at the close of a powerful altar service at On Course Youth Convention, I spotted a young minister’s wife that I know. After greeting each other with a hug, she very excitedly told me that her 7 year old son had just received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. She expressed great joy that all 3 of her children now had been filled with the Spirit. After our brief exchange, her husband and children huddled together as a friend stood by to take their photo.   They all had happy smiles, but I couldn’t help noticing that all of them had red eyes. Now normally, red eye is something we don’t like to see in photos. I don’t know much about photography, so I’m not even sure why it happens. Somehow the lighting is off is what I would guess. However, this photo was different. This family had Holy Ghost red eye; a phenomenon that occurs when you have cried and prayed your guts out in an altar service.  No need for touch ups on that portrait. The shed tears that have reddened those eyes have a beautiful story to tell.

      The Best Birthday Present Ever!

       

       

       

       

       

       

      21 years ago on this day, God gave me the best birthday present ever. I gave birth to a wonderful baby girl whom we named Jennifer Elise. I’m thankful to still be enjoying this “living” gift 21 years later. Happy Birthday, Jen! I love you and am so proud of the fine young Christian lady that you have become. I know you have to work, but regardless, I hope you enjoy your special day. By the way, just in case you are wondering, Jen does not make a habit out of dressing in Medieval garb. This was a costume she was wearing for Kid’s Church. 🙂

      The Journey Is Almost Over

      A few days ago, I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I visited our county library’s website. I have a friend who will be homeschooling her kindergarten age son, and I wanted to see how many books on her booklist would be available through our library system. As I began to search for different books, my mind was flooded with a sea of memories of homeschool days gone by. I read many, many books to my children when they were little(and when they were older too), and many of the titles and pictures of bookcovers that I viewed were very familiar. Sitting there remembering how I used to spend hours putting books on hold through the website, I suddenly became choked up, and a tear came to my eye. This year will be my last of homeschool.

      I can honestly say that besides teaching my children about God, my favorite thing has always been reading out loud to them. Many years ago, I read a pamphlet written by a former homeschooled student entitled, “Hand That Rocks The Cradle.” This booklet contained an essay explaining the advantages and value of reading aloud to your children. It also gave an extensive list of quality classic children’s books along with book reviews on many of the books. Many of the books I selected to read to my children were based on this list. I have many fond memories of sitting in our living room and traveling through various historical eras and to different states, countries and regions via the simple vehicle called a book. Often I recall closing a book at the end of a chapter and announcing that I was done reading only to have one or both of the kids shout and plead for me to read more. I fully intended on it. I was just trying to gauge their interest level, and most times, I was just as interested, if not more than they were.

      Reading outloud is a very simple way to “kill two birds with one stone” as the expression goes. Actually, you can kill more than 2 birds. Reading outloud often introduced the kids to new vocabulary words. Many of the books I read were somewhat over their heads, so we would often come across new words, providing me with a natural and almost effortless way to teach new vocabulary. As I would read outloud with expression in my voice, it provided the children with a model of how to read outloud themselves. Finally, the books that were read opened up many opportunites to teach great moral lessons as the kids would ask questions about “why so and so did what” and “how could that happen?”, etc. etc.

      Every once in a while, I will give my children a little “book quiz”. I will ask them questions about identifying the person that made this quote or in what book did this event take place. They almost always will get the right answer. I was telling my daughter the other day that next to teaching the Bible, that reading aloud was my favorite part of homeschool. She was quick to say that that was her favorite part too.

      So, I may be a little older now and not able to read outloud as much as I used to, but my son who is a senior is going to hear at least 2 more books before he graduates, and during the summer at a time when we’re all together, I will probably sneak in one of our family favorites. If I get to the point where I’m desperate to read, and there are no more kids around the house, well…………………I may have to rent a little one for a few hours. 🙂

       

      Some of our favorite books

      Old Yeller

      The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

      This Present Darkness

      Piercing The Darkness

      Toliver’s Secret

      Island Of The Blue Dolphins

      The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

      Pollyanna

      Watch For Me, Wait For Me, Eula Bee

      Call It Courage

       

      What are some of your favorite books?