Archive for December, 2012

“You deserve to burn in hell!”

So said Player A to Player B in our family game of Wizard this evening, when Player B played a card that was highly distasteful to Player A.  At first, we all stared in shock at the audacity of Player A to say such a thing, but, as Player A grinned, we all realized the truth of what had been said.  Of course, the timing of the comment, delivered with such vehemence, made it humorous, but not only was it true of Player B; it was and is true of all of us.

What a great and gracious God we have!

A man who is facing an incredible financial trial, and who, short of God doing a miracle, risks losing everything he and his family own, in order to obey God, said to me about their situation, “In a hundred years, it won’t matter at all.”  I thought, and did not say, “True, but it probably will matter next year.”

I have not had to exercise that kind of faith.

Josiah just walked through, saw the title of this post, and said, “Thank God he doesn’t give us what we deserve.”

Not only does he not give us what we deserve, he gives us way more than we do deserve.  His combo of mercy and grace is overwhelmingly, overpoweringly, incredible – literally.

It’s been a tough day emotionally for me.  Today I was reminded of my “creature-ness,” in that I am going through, and am watching my kids go through, tough situations about which it seems that I can do nothing except pray.  I was told that I’m not omnipotent, I’m not omniscient, and I’m not omnipresent.  Of course, I already knew all that, but it did hit home hard today.  My response was, “Some people get no respect, but I get no omnis.”

I am very glad to be reminded that when I am weak (and feel powerless, scared, and alone), he is strong.  And even though I do deserve to burn in hell, Jesus went there so I don’t have to.

She walks in beauty

This morning, she walked in the beauty of misty light rain/snow!  It’s enough that the shoulder (of the road, not the walker) is slushy.  A snow plow passed me twice.

I haven’t dared to look at the forecast, but maybe it’ll turn a nip colder and whatever’s coming down will morph into snow.  = )

Found a game we all like!

This is almost as difficult as preparing food that we all like.  Robertses are unique animals and we all hold our individual preferences deeply.  This afternoon, it was my turn to pick a family activity.  Since it was in the upper 20s and windy, I decided to forgo my first choice:  walking to the low water bridge and playing Poohsticks.

Instead, I sought an indoor game, and, being a person who tends (too much) to try to please others, I asked Katie for her input.  I had been thinking of possibly Wizard.  The first thing she said was that she’d play most any game except Sequence or Wizard.  Together, we then came up with a list of of other possibilities that we intended to run by Josiah.  Bear in mind that Josiah generally dislikes all card and/or board games, although he will very occasionally play bridge if twist his arm hard enough.  Arm-twisting = the provision of bridge mix.  He much prefers games played standing up, like tennis, ping-pong, pinball, or ping-pong.  He also likes ping-pong.  We offered him the following:

Rummikub (although turn-taking is too long and slow for Andrew)


Dutch Blitz

Five Crowns




National Geographic

Phase 10

He heard us out on all those and then said that Wizard (which we hadn’t even mentioned to him!) and National Geographic would be the least distasteful options.  Hmmm. . .

I went into the playroom to try to dig out National Geographic and review the rules.  While bent down under the counter in there, I spied Scattergories, so I brought them both.  It turns out that Scattergories was a winner!  I think everybody liked it pretty well, and Josiah and Katie tied for first place.  I’ll keep that one in mind for the future.

The guys against the girls

My mom and dad have been here visiting for a couple days, and we have done a lot of talking, eating (especially yummy cookies!) watching, pin-balling, and yes, playing pool.

This afternoon, while a couple members of the gang refreshed themselves in cozy slumber, Dad, Scott, Katie, and I played a best of three eight-ball tournament.  We decided it would be the guys against the girls, and our teams ended up being fairly evenly matched, possibly due to the fact that one or more of the guys was not at the very top of his game.  = )

I clearly am lacking the “physics and angle calculation” department.  My problem is that I look at a certain ball and think, “Well, I obviously need to make my cue hit on the left side of the six, to make it go to the right” (and hopefully into the pocket), but I actually have absolutely NO idea how far on the left side of the six I should aim, or even how to go about figuring out where I should aim.  Then there’s the whole issue of actually executing the appropriate shot, but since I don’t even know how to think about the appropriate shot, I’m clearly a long way from carrying it out.  My dad helpfully reminded me that the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection – a fact which I did, in fact, know – but in banking a ball off the rail, I still couldn’t come up with any approximation of where on the rail I should be aiming it!  Scott and Dad, and I guess Katie, however, just eyeball the thing and adjust their stick till it matches some magical image in their heads and fire the ball the into the pocket.  Well, most of the time.

It ended up that the guys won the first game, we girls won the second game, and we girls lost the third game.  The shot that sank the eight ball was perfectly spot on; it’s just that the cue ball was also perfectly spot on . . . into another pocket.

Good games, guys!

The mercy of God

God showed off today.  My folks arrived at 2:30 PM for their annual post-Christmas visit.  Our family is weird, which is no news to anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time.  We really treasure our immediate family time on Christmas day, and my parents have for many years come to visit for a couple days, usually on the day after Christmas.  Sometimes it’s more than a day after, depending on when Christmas falls, but this year, they were planning to come on Wednesday, December 26.

It snowed in Little Rock and most of northern Arkansas on the evening of December 25, and, as mentioned in an earlier post, my parents got NINE INCHES of snow! Something like 100,000 people are still without power and could be out for as long as a week.  Not a good ending to Christmas.  The snow pretty much shut down major portions of Arkansas, and my parents had to postpone their trip till the roads (at least Hwy 65) were clear.

They got here, and an hour later, it started SNOWING!!!!  Here!  In Walnut Shade!  It snowed for lightly but steadily for several hours, and in the end, we had a dusting on the ground.  Not enough to cover the grass, but enough to make footprints if you press hard.

We all witnessed it, so we can remind each other that it really did snow here on December 28.  We also shared a good meal and had a grand time exchanging gifts with Grandma and Grandpa.  God has been merciful to us today!

Biz Cazh

Between the eight to five dress code at Patrick Henry and the standard dress code at ANPAC, Josiah gets to live in business casual fairly frequently.  One might assume that this would involve a great deal of ironing, but Josiah’s work-arounds have been notable for many years.

He has learned that a totally ratty-looking (but clean) shirt or pair of pants can be made to appear tolerably presentable in a fairly short amount of time by soaking and wringing out whichever dish towel is hanging in the kitchen and throwing that, along with the desired item of apparel, into the dryer for about 20 minutes.  20 minutes is obviously not be long enough for Josiah to shower – he has requested that showering be added as an Olympic sport – but given a computer, he is well able to occupy himself while his clothes de-wrinkle themselves.

What I like most about this procedure is the term Josiah has devised for it:  “tenderizing his pants.”

So this morning, as I completed my walk and saw him airing up the rebellious left front tire of the Honda so he could drive to work, I looked at him standing there, looking dashing in his pea coat and in-progress beard, and I glanced at his pants, which did have decent creases (along with a few very light wrinkles), and I said, “Did you tenderize your pants this morning?”  To which he replied, “I did.  And I was preparing to iron them as well. . . but I decided against it.”  (big grin)

The man told the truth.  The ironing board was set up in the dining room, backwards.


Hope deferred

It makes the heart sick, you know.

It wouldn’t have mattered if there had been no snow in the forecast.  There have been many non-white Christmases.  Indeed, sad to say, there have been many, many, many, many non-white days every winter.  It wasn’t that we especially wanted snow on Christmas, although that would have been very nice.  It wasn’t even that we wanted snow at all, although we do always want snow in winter.  It was the stinking fact that we had been told by the meteorological powers that be that we could expect six to ten inches of snow on the evening of Christmas, and then the whole glorious thing had the unmitigated gall to up and move 200 miles south!

Here in balmy Walnut Shade, we had, instead of six to ten inches of glory, not so much as one measly flake or even one single flurry of snow.  It’s been a cold sunny day in the upper thirties, and all the snow that we didn’t get has now moved off to the Ohio River valley.  I lived the first ten years of my life in the Ohio River valley, and I know it snowed there back then.  I’m assuming it still does.  Sigh.

While we were having nothing to sled in, nothing to look at, nothing to play with or photograph or make ice cream with, my parents in North Little Rock got nearly nine inches of snow!  Nine inches of white beauty in a place that almost NEVER gets a decent snowfall!  When I was a kid, Little Rock had one good ice storm every year in the second week of January and maybe a dusting of snow a time or two.  Three inches would have been a rare cause for celebration, and nine inches? On Christmas?  Well, that’s the (white, frozen) stuff lifetime memories are made of!

Dad sent us some lovely pictures of his deeply buried yard and driveway.  I appreciated that, but told him that I am truly green with envy.  As I mentioned above, it’s not so much that we got no snow, as that we expected lots of snow and got no snow.  If our hopes hadn’t been pumped so high, we could not have fallen so low.

Ah, well, at least we know that when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.  I just hope that particular tree’s branches are heavily laden with snow.

Our Christmas Eve tradition

We always go caroling on Christmas Eve.  It’s a labor of love.

We make all the cookies.

We put cookies on little plates, wrap them with plastic wrap, and tie them with curly red and green ribbon.  (The worst part of the job is dealing with the plastic wrap!)

We bundle up.

We walk through the neighborhood singing, rather off-key, our limited selection of Christmas carols.

Some of the neighbors really like it, and that makes it fun and worth doing.

For those abroad who deserve details. . .

Joan and Antony next door had their porch light on and were waiting for us!  We sang, and they gave us gifts!  An adorable little sleigh made of candies and snowmen on bamboo skewers made of donuts!

We went up to the top of the hill to sing for the Z family.  As we drove up (yes, Scott let us DRIVE part of it this time!), a man whom we know wearing shorts and a T-shirt was walking down the hill, and another man was up closer to the house with a high-powered flashlight shining down the hill.  The man nearer to us stopped at our car and then realized who we were.  He was carrying a gun.  We went on up and sang.  Older Mr. Z was in his bathrobe, but seemed glad to see us.  There were a bunch of kids there.

Back home, we abandoned Big Blue and set out on foot.

The I family wasn’t home.

Eva and her companion, Remmi, were very excited to see us, and she gave us hugs all around.  They will be going later to midnight mass.  She said she hopes 2o13 is a better year for everyone.  A lot more hugs and smiles.

Bill and La and Phillip were home, and they were thrilled to see us.  More hugs and smiles.  They said it wasn’t Christmas Eve till the Roberts family came caroling.  = )

The W family was gone, as were Rex and Sue.  I was really sorry to miss them.  After all they’ve been through this year, I thought they might appreciate our traditional visit, but I’m guessing they were with family and/or at their church’s service.

Steve and Shelly’s family was ready and watching for us.  Like all the neighbors, they tolerated our singing (I think the cookies makes it easier to endure – ha!), and said they were glad we came.  They gave us a gift bag that we later found contained Branson Bean coffee, a lovely wooden tree ornament, and tiny box of raspberry chocolates.  Guess who will get those?

At that point, we went home and got Big Blue.  We went to Woods, but they weren’t home.  No “O Holy Night fiasco this year, although we did practice that one for them.  We learned that if you start it tuck-your-chin low, it can actually be done.

Next stop was Tracy’s house in Rockaway.  She has been terribly sick (mostly in bed) for a week with fever up to 104.5 and sinus infection.  She’s finally on the mend, and Drea got in from CO early this AM.  She wasn’t there at the time, so we sang to Tracy, and she gave Andrew a gift – a whole pan of fudge!

We stopped at Steve and Tara’s, but they weren’t home.

On the way back, we sang for Roxanne (on the far side of the bridge), and, despite our less than stellar harmony, she was really tickled.  Her friendly dog came out , but I protected the Llama’s legs.

Then it was up to Alms, who weren’t home, then Kirk and Carol’s.  They had grandkids there and had just started opening gifts, so we kept it short.

Rex and Sue still weren’t home, so we called it a lovely evening and went home.

We have learned that we sing “Joy to the World” and “Angels We have Heard on High” pretty well.  “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” is tolerable, but “O, Come All Ye Faithful” definitely is not.  We’re also okay on “Silent Night.”

So, in summary, Antony and Joan, Bill and La, and Tracy were all grand events.  I’m glad we did it.

When we got home and thawed out, Scott unveiled his “family” gift.  It’s actually for the Rendezvous, but he says it will live here till around March.  It’s a 1970s vintage baseball-themed pinball machine!  We are pretty sure it’s really a gift to Scott.  It is quite fun, and I can see that we’d better get the propane tank filled.  Even once all the wrapping is done – which, at 10 PM on Christmas Eve it is not – I can see that the playroom will be getting a lot of use.

We have plenty of wood stacked on the hearth, so as to keep a fire going all day on Christmas.  We’re expecting some 6+ inches of SNOW starting around supper time.  The only thing we’re low on is milk, but I told the guys they can either drink it all now and go without for a few days, or ration themselves and make it last till someone wants to face the Wal-Mart crowds.  The breakfast casserole is thawing, the pineapple is cut, the dishes are washed, and tomorrow we will use only styrofoam plates!  My goal is to wash NO dishes for at least 24 straight hours.

And to all, a good night.


Done and ready to relax

I think just about everything that needs to be done prior to Christmas has been done.  Well, we still need to make cookie plates for caroling tonight, and I need to make a salad to go with our supper, and I need to cut up the pineapple, and I need to thaw the breakfast casserole, and I need to put some stuff in stockings, but other than that, I think I’m done!

I am really looking forward to a quiet day of rest and refreshing with our WHOLE family, and then in the afternoon, LET IT SNOW!!!

Like father, like son?

Last night, as we were leaving the home where our life group’s Christmas party was held, Josiah was outside playing around with one of the 13 year-old guys.  The host family’s dog was out there, too, and when Josiah grabbed the other guy’s arm, the dog went ballistic and bit him, tearing up the bottom of his jeans leg, and biting him on his thigh through the jeans and drawing blood.

It’s not nearly as massive or deep as Scott’s dog bite wound a few years ago, but I will say that the sounds produced by the Llama while his Dad and sister were playing nurse assistants to get it cleaned out were. . . impressive.

After hobbling around last night, Josiah is walking normally today, albeit wearing shorts, and we are quite sure he will live and not die and declare the works of God.  His comment concerning the dog was, “Bah, humbug!  May God have mercy on that miserable animal’s soul.”

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