Tag Archives: Rachael O. Phillips

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Let All the World–Including Rachael–Keep Silence

O Lord, You know that like Zechariah in the Christmas story (Luke 1), I can’t speak or sing right now. Unlike Z, I haven’t seen angels, nor is my spouse experiencing a geriatric pregnancy! Thank You that my silence stems only from a non-COVID bug. But, OMG, this Christmas, maybe I need to pause, as Zechariah did — shut up, listen, and learn?

 

For a talker, this isn’t easy!

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Lord, Isn’t This a Weird Way to Celebrate Your Birthday?

O Lord, why a fussy, tropical plant named after a politician should figure prominently in commemorating Your Advent seems a mystery. But You designed lovely, gaudy poinsettias. You also loved a party … and disliked nitpickers. So, OMG, I will celebrate You any and every way I can!  

So I bought three!

        

Classic Post: Weird Things for Which I’m Thankful

This post first appeared on November 22, 2017.

No doubt, our Creator appreciates gratitude for freedom to worship Him, for family, friends, food and shelter. But my cornucopia also bursts with weird things for which I am thankful, including:

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay.

Avocados. As a missionary kid in Mexico, I picked them up like apples under big trees. I still am a guacamole junkie. How many other fattening foods are good for me?

Shots. Immunizations don’t rank as my preferred activity, and certainly not my grandchildren’s. But because of shots’ protection, holiday hugs and kisses induce only mild winter plagues.

Black, washable pants. They love sparkly holiday tops and simple ones. They’re immune to stains and grandbaby spit. Roomy in the rear, they don’t desert me after the holidays, as many of my clothes do.

My piano. I don’t own a grand or even a baby grand. But my little Baldwin comprised our first major purchase after Hubby finished medical school. I thought we should spend his first paychecks on practical items. He insisted, “You miss having a piano.” Whenever I play, it still sings a love song.

Our baby trees, whose lanky little branches and colorful fall foliage inspire me with lavish dreams for their future.

Image by lovini from Pixabay.

Our camper. The one Hubby purchased when I was too sick to fight it. Even sitting idle, it sets us free. Already, we picture days in the green woods and s’mores around campfires on starry nights.

Gummy worms. Incredibly lifelike, they possess magical powers. When decorating a grandson’s birthday cake, they enable me to resist eating it.

Our brown sofa. Thank God, Hubby talked me out of buying a red one. Otherwise, after eight years, it would present a less-than-artistic mosaic of peanut butter, jelly, pizza, mustard and gravy stains. Because of, um, the grandchildren. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My neighbor’s yard. Raked and pristine, it gives me a goal to shoot for when I grow up.

Free chips and salsa. A highlight of dining in Mexican restaurants.

Image by Lilly Cantabile from Pixabay.

Laid-back drivers. People who drive sl-o-o-ow-ly on two-lane highways annoy me to the point I pray aloud to occupy mind and mouth. They even force me to notice the loveliness I miss when whipping by as usual.

Accelerators. Cars wouldn’t be much good without them, right?

Ditto for brakes. And headlights.

Paper towels. While living in Ecuador for two months, I missed them terribly. (Thank goodness, Ecuador did manufacture toilet paper.)

Our grandson at the beach.

Baby smiles. They always ruin a bad day.

A critic might protest, “Your list goes on forever!”

True. I never run out of weird things for which to be thankful, because my Creator never, ever stops giving.

He’s weird that way — and wonderful.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What odd reasons for gratitude pop up on your list?

Winter Outerwear: The Mayhem, The Mary Magic

If you live in Florida … why are you reading this?

To gloat? Floridians do that.

So did Aristotle Onassis, who married John F. Kennedy’s widow, Jackie. Aristotle’s logic: “Because I am a rich person … I have to tip $5 each time I check my coat. On top of that, I have to buy a very expensive coat, and it would have to be insured. Added up, without a topcoat, I save $20,000 a year.”

Instead, Mr. and Mrs. Onassis probably spent cold months — and considerably more than $20,000 — where wintry mix is unknown.

If you, like me, endure cold weather and lack $500 million, you know the blessing and curse of winter outerwear.

The curse?

All Midwesterners recall being stuffed into snowsuits like sausage. Perhaps the sleep-deprived woman I called my mother, having stuffed, unstuffed (bathroom breaks), and restuffed five children into snowsuits, grabbed the wrong girl off the playground. Maybe she extracted, fed and hurried me to bed without recognizing she’d goofed.

I later endured her sweaty, August ritual of trying on winter outerwear. Buttons and zippers refused to cooperate. Tight sleeves crawled up arms.

Mom grimly calculated costs. Why couldn’t children grow wool like sheep?

As a second grader, I remember shopping for (drumroll) a rare new coat. I adored a blue parka with a hood — super-cool!

My mother’s choice: a long, old-lady coat. As school codes decreed girls wore dresses, it would have kept my legs toasty.

Mom bought the parka! She wasn’t so bad. Even if she wasn’t my real mother.

Eventually, I overcame my accidental kidnapping, acquired a job, and bought a double-breasted, navy coat. With a tam I privately tossed like Mary Tyler Moore during her TV show’s theme song, I felt like a star.

Sadly, I forgot the Mary coat in a restroom. Within minutes, it vanished.

Later, a young mother, I cherished a mauve parka with different magic. Diapers and bottles fit in kangaroo-sized pockets. Or a baby in the left one and a toddler in the right.

Only when I stuffed three little ones into snowsuits did I realize my not-real mom should have won a Purple Heart. Every venture outside included a howling smackdown with my son.

Now, he (heh-heh) wrestles his toddlers into snowsuits.

Since then, attractive coats have warmed me, but none possessed Mary magic.

Recently, Hubby took me shopping for a new coat. I almost settled for another serviceable one. Then I spotted it.

A Mary Tyler Moore coat.

With its furry hood, I’ll be super-cool when I brave Midwestern tundra.

Floridians, who never experience such enchantment, eat your hearts out.

Aristotle Onassis, you, too.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever possessed a Mary coat?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Grandma’s a Football Hypocrite

O Lord, You know I like to watch football on TV. “Get that guy!” I yell. “Crunch him!” But, OMG, watching a grandson play football? I alternate between covering my eyes in terror and, when he makes a play, doing a dance in the stands neither he nor the NFL could ever have envisioned …     

That Between-Holidays Feeling

The calendar gap spanning Halloween and Thanksgiving gives me that between-holidays feeling.

Image by Michael Shivili from Pixabay.

Many, craving Christmas, skip it.

Me? I want to slow down. With no more scary skulls, spider webs and zombies, why not continue the fun of pumpkins, cute scarecrows and gorgeous leaves?

Another cause for celebration: colder weather brings comfort food — though the official Comfort Food Day is December 5. Do holiday authorities really think I’ll wait that long for chicken and noodles?

Fortunately, this influx of calorie-rich food is accompanied by baggy sweaters, lifesavers until New Year’s resolutions ruin everything.

Not all between-holiday positives are unhealthy. Though the growing season is finished, carrots, still residing in our garden, will bless our table. Tomatoes and peppers rescued from frost glow in golden and red splendor before patio doors. Why my parents ripened garden produce on paper grocery sacks, I don’t know. But following suit recalls their love of autumn and determination not to let food go to waste.

Rescue efforts during this between season include the migration of shivering, potted plants from porches to places inside. For plant lovers like me — and my longsuffering husband — this can prove challenging:

Image by zbuhdalu from Pixabay.

Me: I can’t let this begonia freeze. It started blooming again. My zinnias. My herbs —

Husband: How many pots have you brought in?

Me: So far, only 37.

Hubby: Where will you put them? What will we do with them at Thanksgiving? You know Tate [our toddler grandson] loves plants.

Me: Let’s hide them in our room.

Hubby: (resignedly) Gives a whole new meaning to “flower bed,” right?

Sadly, this between season doesn’t preclude yardwork. Not only should I trim perennials and compost withered annuals, but thousands of leaves wait to pounce on us. No raking deadlines are etched in stone, but this must be accomplished by Thanksgiving, right?

As should major indoor cleaning. My chaotic office — drafted as a “spare bedroom” during the holidays — couldn’t provide overnight accommodations for a visiting chihuahua. Our neglected home dictates a major cleanup. However, we have six grandsons, ages 3 to 15. Given Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings, why would anyone possessing a brain cell perform such an exercise in futility?

Wait.

I, too, have shifted to pondering the holiday season. Thoughts of cooking, shopping and wrapping cram my mind like too many ornaments on a gaudy Christmas tree.

Friends who are aliens already have completed shopping and wrapping. They’ve designed and frozen perfect cookies for Santa — plus enough for the entire state of Indiana.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

But I still sip pumpkin spice lattes when I can find them. Savor that rare, soon-to-vanish feeling of having some money.

Let’s enjoy between-holidays feelings while we can.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you in a hurry for Christmas?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Band Versus Choir

O Lord, Thank You for these special band members who give time and talent to help make their group one of the best. OMG, You know their grandma, who was never so dedicated, stuck with choirs — who never had to march.     

Classic Post: These James Whitcomb Riley Days

This post first appeared on October 11, 2017.

Photo from Pixabay by Michelle Scott.

My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Baker, read James Whitcomb Riley poems, along with other Hoosier literature, after noon recess every day.

She brought poems and stories to life in a way that made my ears and mind tingle.

However, she enforced “rest time.” We had to lay our heads on our desks while she read, an indignity that smacked of kindergarten naptime. After all, we were nine-year-olds, soon to reach double digits.

We didn’t need any dumb rest time.

Decades later, I realized that after policing a playground resembling a crash derby without cars, then facing a similar classroom scenario, she might need the break.

Not all of Riley’s poems topped my “favorites” list. Braver classmates asked Mrs. Baker to read “Little Orphant Annie.” Why did they like those repeated references to “gobble-uns” that would get us if we didn’t shape up?

I already slept with my knees near my shoulders to avoid giant spiders lurking at the foot of my bed. Adding gobble-uns to my nighttime freak-out list didn’t induce much sleep.

Even more frightening, Little Orphant Annie had to do lots of housework.

The James Whitcomb Riley poem I liked best was “When the Frost Is on the Punkin,” which celebrates autumn in Indiana. That poem tasted good, like tangy cider, and still does:

“But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.”

Steve and I harvesting our homegrown pumpkins.

However, James Whitcomb Riley never would have received an A on a grammar test. He would have been the very first down in a spelling bee.

Mrs. Baker and other teachers deluged us with homework, tests and even demerits to ensure my classmates and I spoke and wrote correctly.

Yet my teacher read us his poems almost daily.

Grown-ups never made sense.

Despite my confusion, James Whitcomb Riley’s magic sang in my head and heart. A Hoosier like me, he wrote about the land and life I knew and loved. He instilled pride into us for who we were — kids in a country school in a county where farmers helped feed a nation and the world.

Photo from Pixabay by Adina Voicu.

His poems still resonate with me, especially on a crisp, fall Indiana morning with a shimmer of silver on my lawn, and gold, russet and scarlet leaves flying in the chilly, sunny breeze. James Whitcomb Riley still reminds me of all I cherish in my native state.

Even if he didn’t know how to spell.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did your childhood teachers read to you? What was your favorite read-aloud story or poem?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Glad to Have a Brain, Period

O Lord, What a privilege to watch three brilliant, left-brain generations combine forces to build extraordinary structures. And, OMG, thank You that this right-brained grandma can abdicate, drink coffee, and enjoy.