Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas 1964 and Now

 My dad and I 1964.  See the little jumper I am wearing?

This is Mother and I.  She made the sweet jumper for me, I so remember how she painstakingly made the applique by hand and I was so, so fascinated by the process.  My mother is very meticulous in everything she does.  She along with Daddy were very artistic.  See the icicles on the tree?  I decorate with icicles now on our tree too, I so love to achieve that old fashioned look, it reminds me of the 40s when our country had a healthy fear of God.


A Dream

Yes, I'm still missing my dad this Christmas season, knowing he's not on this side any longer, no more chance of things being the way they were supposed to be.  I must say though, our youngest daughter Rebecca had a dream last week.

Rebecca tells me she hadn't even had Grandpa on her mind either much lately..But in this dream he walked past our kitchen sink window and through the back screened porch and stood at the glass door looking at her smiling sweetly.   She tells me he was radiant and looked wonderful, the dream was very vivid and clear, much more than real life.  Daddy  had somewhat of a light and mist surrounding him and wore a light grey sport coat with a light blue shirt underneath.

Light blue is a sign of Heaven, a sign of Eternity.  A nice jacket or coat is a sign that they are a new person.


A book I am reading now is To Live Again by Catherine Marshall, the wife of the late Peter Marshall.  

 I recommend this book for anyone who has lost loved ones.  There is a chapter in the book entitled:  Is There Life After Death?  Fascinating.  If you are not familiar with the late Peter Marshall, once chaplain of the United States Senate or his wife, Catherine Marshall, you may enjoy reading of him.  I have a book of Peter Marshall's sermons and it is so excellent.....Just soooo excellent.   There is also a very good movie of his life entitled:   A Man Called Peter

Peter Marshall was a Christian pastor and passed away suddenly in 1949 leaving Catherine and their little boy. 


Do you have special Christmas memories? 

One of mine is when I was around seven years of age....Every year, St. Paul's Catholic church (a very modern Catholic church by the way, very Christ centered at the time)   would have the children choose a new toy to bring for a poor child.   We would walk up the aisle of the church to The Little Drummer Boy music with our gifts.  At the altar was Father Connnally, now Father Connally was very special to me, he had the looks of a Bing Crosby crossed with Montgomery Clift.  He cared for me and my mom and we knew it.  My heart was broken when he was moved to another parish back then.   Think:  The Bells of St. Mary's old movie.  (worth seeing by the way).  

Every year my mother and I would go on a serious trek to find the most beautiful baby doll we could find.  It was an exciting thing, oh so exciting!   I remember the fragrance of the fresh packaging and the baby doll..It was a cross between sweet talcum and a delightful new (sounds strange) but what I thought was a neat, delicious intoxicating synthetic type smell.

It was great.  I would think of a little girl who did not have any toys and who would be holding this beautiful, beautiful baby doll soon.  The Holy Spirit was so very near to me in those times...  Be near me Lord Jesus I ask thee to stay...Close by me forever and love me I pray....Bless all the dear children in thy tender care and stay by my cradle til morning is nigh.....

I remember one of those Christmases, that Christmas I was seven, my mother once again had made me a beautifully simple double-knit  kelly-green jumper, it had a bib front with criss-cross strap back and the A-line skirt.  I wore a white turtleneck with it and white tights.  My dark hair touched down long almost to the waist of my skirt...  My mother would brush it very neatly and pull it back with a simple white hairband or brown tortoise shell color clip.   Very.  Neat.  Neat in the true sense. : )  I think I may have had a pretty Christmas tree pin on the front strap my mother particularly placed there too.   Soooooo my mother.  : )

After the service, the magic of bringing my beautiful doll and placing it around the altar with other gifts with Father Connally and seeing his smiling face, I had such an inner Peace and Joy.  The Holy Spirit was so evident in my heart and Jesus was so there, just so there.   God is with us.

Mother and I went to Daddy's gas station there on the bay.  My father owned a Gulf gas station on the water for boats, on one side facing the bay on a pier and the other side on land was for cars.   Mother and I sat in the gas station lobby, much like the one you may see in the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" when Clarence rescues George. There was a line of wicker chairs along the wall for patrons and friends.   The sky was dark and grey and the bay was beautiful....It was Christmas time.  Daddy was happy, Mother was happy and we were at Peace that Sunday.  Mother would share with Daddy about the Christmas time service at St. Paul's.  I remember sitting in the wicker chair and enjoying a chocolate little cake, I think it might of been some kind of Hostess cake.  I loved the dark chocolate icing and cake but not so much the filling. : )

Now?   I still have joy in those things

The Forest Babies

I still love choosing pretty babies for little girls who may not have one...  Now I'm a big girl and a middle-aged mommy myself, I'm a little more settled now so I can choose more than one.  *big smile*   Our oldest daughter, Lea attends a church that has programs for families who are having a hard time...Thus, I have a nice time enjoying shopping for little children who don't have much.  You see, I've been there.  I remember wrapping my old toys for my children because we didn't have the money to buy new ones.  It was painful.

One thing we did as our little girls grew old enough to understand and God saw fit is we would also later go on trips to the store and buy toys for others later.  Such wonderful memories. 


Our daughter, Lea getting ready to take the little Forest-Babies on their voyage into the hands of a mommy and daddy for their little child for Christmas.  There is Coffee one of our rescue pups.  Marianna was showing a home one day and there was Coffee in a neighborhood garage, she had mange bless her heart.   Marianna brought her home, and she had and has the cutest expressions the way she wrinkles her little forehead.   So adorable.

loading ... Photo by Robert Stock

What is in the kitchen?

I'm being kind to myself this year.   I am keeping a Sarah Lee brand butter pound cake in the freezer, they are delicious and I have a bag of frozen berries if people want fruit on top.  When I was a little girl my mother also kept a Sarah Lee poundcake in the freezer.   Lea and I also purchased some quick refrigerated chocolate chip cookies to make if needed.  I also have a roll of refrigerated off brand orange rolls in the fridge to bake for deserts too for my sweet son inlaws and hubs.  They just love those orange rolls.   So tender and flakie.  I may just have one too minus the icing.  ; )

Italian pizza much like my Grandma Oddo used to make with a big salad is also on the agenda.  I buy the frozen bread dough.  One loaf per 9 x 13 pan.  We stuff it with olives and tomatoes, seasonings and drizzle olive oil over the top.   It's so good.  I may also stuff small chunks of Kerrygold brand Dublin cheese in it too.  I love-love-love Kerrygold cheese and butter.  It's from Ireland and the cows are out in the pasture, tails swishing as God wants them.  It's humane to God's creatures and that is extremely important to me.

For our new neighbor?   I bought a Panettone bread loaf for around $6.  I figured I did not have the mental energy to make anything this year so I picked that up, it's boxed pretty and tastes oh so good...I placed a bow on it.  Jem and I rode over and made our Welcome! known and I hope they enjoy their Pannetone bread with their coffee and such.  Yes indeedie.   I'm not sure they were thrilled, they didn't say all that hearty of a thank you but I think when they slice the tender moist, slightly sweet bread they will say Bellissima.   Oh such is life on unthankfulness, As my husband says, there is isn't much worse than a person being un-thankful...I bet that is how God feels too at times.  

Something funny!

Sometimes we would like to do what Snoopy does below.  *chuckle*

In the holiday seasons, it seems there are always those manipulative, nosy, nervy people who never learn it seems...  God knows all about it.  We can love at arms length and be wise.  God is Just.  He sees all and hears all too.  It's not easy sometimes but God knows.

I hope you enjoyed your visit here, I hope it's like coming over and having a cup of coffee.  Take care now, I'm enjoying thoughts from our recent nursing home visit.  Pics to come.  

I also hope everyone is doing fine and contemplating true Christmas.  Be still...Be Speechless as the Steven Curtis Chapman song says.......

God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love...the all of Christmas, which is Christ. 

-Wilda English

Have a sweet day, God's blessings to you all this Holy Season,    -Amelia in the Forest

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Theatre of my Heart. Keeping a Quiet Heart This Advent Season

The God who created, names, and numbers the stars in the heavens also numbers the hairs of my head....  He pays attention to very big things and to very small ones.  What matters to me matters to Him, and that changes my life.         -Elisabeth Elliot

A photo of my father and me from my dear mother's photo album...I say, Daddy and me.  I am missing these times long ago, oh my heart.  Many don't understand because of my father's shortcomings later in life, and therefore the grief process for me this Advent season is a difficult one, a very, very lonely one.  Death is a very permanent thing on this side of Earth.

And trust me, I've walked outside stepping down quietly off of our back screen porch hearing those airplanes or perhaps the sound of silence here in the forest and I say to the sky as a little girl would, up to my dad...Why did you do that to me?  Who knows how the Eternal on the other side works exactly, I do not pretend to know what our loved ones know or hear.  I know this, and that is that God hears. 

Many have canned answers but I do know I have seen unbelievable, many would say uncanny signs that my dad is with God, for he had time to repent in that far away hospital.  I still weep to remember seeing his poor face the last time, his teeth were worn to almost nothing and he had just a small glimmer of those once beautiful blue eyes as the light of his life on this green earth was going away.  This was the last time I was to see him, we had no idea he was dying in a hospital far away.  Previous entries tell the tale more so.

The only reason I was able to see him was an elderly distant cousin's wife found my daughter's number on the wall of his home as she felt strongly she should stop by his house to investigate what was going on since it was noticeable we were not at the far away hospital.  Unfortunately a preacher's wife turned my dad's heart against us, basically talking him into staying very far away from us after he had wanted to sell and come live near us, his family and support system.  She then took advantage, not only taking my dad's willing and deceived heart but  my  inheritance also. We don't feel he was in his complete right mind.  One day I will have to go through the process to warn others of what can happen.

I know this though and am still learning more, as always, I've had disappointments in life before...God allows pain and suffering and would like for us to use the pain and suffering as the talents in the Bible, it is up to us what we do with it all.  We can share and thus be full in an emotional way, for if we stuff the feelings...Our emotions will never be whole and we cannot be whole and healing to others.  We will be missing that compassion.  We must face the suffering symbol.

A Book

   A book I have started is 'A Crazy Holy Grace, The Healing Power of Pain and Memory' by Frederick Buechner.  I really enjoy most all of the books I've read by Frederick Buechner, he's like a long lost uncle I've never met.  He lost his father when he was a little boy by suicide, the story is a poignant one.  One of his memories he has is as a little boy hiding his father's car keys under his pillow as his father sat in his room.


I can relate.  One of my early memories is of my mom and dad having an argument, I do not know why.  I do remember I was very little and my bedroom was still a pale yellow from my nursery, I had a single bed though instead of the crib at this point...My little bear lamp my dad had jig-sawed and mother made a decoupage of that little vintage bear, the light glowed.  The large rectangular plug-in heater was purring the way those old electric heaters did and the lines of fibers were that bright red orange.  Daddy, with his handsome face came and sat on my bed and put that face in his hands and just cried, and cried. I remember the silhouette in the golden room, he with his curly hair like yesterday.  I was so very helpless, not knowing how to console my father.  I still find myself moved to tears when I remember this.

I haven't finished my new Frederick Buechner book yet, but so far, it seems to be one I will read more then once. 

May we be that Christ-bearer to others.  Just as I have some of my father's natural mannerisms, the way I kick my shoes off and plop backwards on the bed to nap, or the way I hold my fork up, prongs up as to give my fork poise next to my face...that is my dad.  ...And so many other things...

May we also have characteristics of Christ in His most beautiful, loving way.   They will know we are Christians by our love.  There is also a very strong Companionship of Brokenness.   May we be part of that Companionship of Brokenness.  May we be like a tiffany lamp, broken but put together by Christ's loving hands to shine our gentle Light to others.  Let's be wise yet vulnerable.  There is a sweet freedom in that.

...And yes, we may feel alone in our vulnerability at times as not everyone is going to be part of the Companionship of Brokenness, they may seem rudely preoccupied, some may even walk away as we are quietly shocked and taken aback ...But Christ, Christ is with us.  And that?  That is all that matters.


loading ... There are so many things to be thankful for this Advent season.   

To be Quiet this Advent Season, ...and to Smile and Laugh When Needed

I have found to be quiet, even in decorating for Christmas, the Advent season, to just methodically decorate, precept upon precept, just quiet thoughts.  I'm carefully choosing music, perhaps that beautiful Bing Crosby voice.

Do you know Bing Crosby's wife lived in smalltown?  I know where the beautiful treed lot is among other very old homes still there.  I also had the pleasure of meeting their veterinarian and talking with him about Bing Crosby and all that good stuff. He tells me Bing would practice his golf swing in the front yard when visiting.  Yep, I rode on a hayride with Bing Crosby's vet!  He's an older gentleman and still gives tours dressed in historical costume.  I think that is so great.  Just last year, Marianna and I were driving to the grocery store and there he was giving a talk in his historical outfit to a group of people at a marker.

For Supper

Tonight I think I will make a very light pasta gravy, more like a tomato based soup broth with asparagus and spinach and such over pasta.   It's a very soothing supper.


I'm creating a Collette pattern, Zinnia, skirt.  I'm slow-sewing, once again, just delighting in my project, precept upon precept.  Trying on, taking in, very carefully placing the zipper.  The fabric is a darling holly berry and leaf on cream background.  Very retro.  This skirt will be worn with a black top and red velvet belt.  I was inspired by Modcloth to create this skirt for Christmas.  

loading ...

I'll close with a quote from the above book, Frederick Buechner is talking about a true friend who risked coming to him when  Buechner's daughter was close to death.  Here is what he says:

"It was a trading of lives, where he gave of himself and received from me of myself.  What a sense of peace we had.  We didn't talk about holy matters.  We didn't talk about religious things.  We didn't talk about anything much at all.  We smoked on our pipes in the woods and took walks. He was there a couple of days, but it was a blessed event, because he was willing to trade with his life.  A good and faithful servant trading with his talents." 

My dad smoked a pipe too.   Yes, along with his chapstick that myself and one of my daughter's always have he always had his pipe tucked away or in his mouth.  (A smile).

loading ... Sometimes?   We just need someone to listen,   just to sit and listen and be our friend.  I remember being my Grandpa Oddo's friend.  I would sit next to him quietly and we would watch television together.  We just quietly watched television together.  

I hope you are having a sweet Advent.  

May we allow Advent to make a mark on our heart this season.

Good evening, loves,     Amelia