Thursday, July 28, 2005

around the table they sit

It has been a hot, lazy summer and the heat had been nearly unbearable until yesterday. We woke to a world refreshed by the gentle rain that fell for nearly 12 hours, brightening the green we thought was gone forever and perking around the flowers in my pots, their glorious petals saying "well, now, that's more like it!"

The grandbabies are here, all 5 of them, various heights and sizes, around the dining room table. They eat popsicles, lasagna, and ice cream sandwiches. They sing and laugh and make silly sounds to insight each other and their mothers. Theirs' is a world of pretend, of ultimate joy and unfathomable grief all rolled into one. Their days are too short and too long, all at once. The mothers compare baby feet and dimples, I see the faces of my own little ones, those big round eyes, the Campbell trademark eyebrows from Grandma Sallie, the kitty noses my genes threw into the mix.

Samuel has a book about creepy creatures and yesterday showed me the section on spiders, his face full of wonder, his questions unending. Do I look like the local arachnid expert? Jude is intrigued that Penelope is here and is his own size and is girly, something that doesn't come up often in this crowd. I sat between the two of them and gave them both shredded cheese. Penelope daintily placed one shred in her mouth at a time and smiled. Jude shoved handfuls in between laughing and making the booster chair sway. Ethan is all about potty training and that keeps him busy for much of the day. He is the spittin' image of his dad at that age, though it looks like we ordered the Cuban Sam doll this time around. And Henry, the only one in the bunch with curls, and those he most certainly has, has shot, captured, and wrapped all the rest of them in his imaginary spidey web at least a dozen times. Who needs cable when you have a live floor show?

I am so overwhelmed by God's gracious blessings to us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

new deck photos

Ben was gone for two weeks to the Summit Ministries Worldview Conference in Tennessee and so was his camera. He got home over the weekend and started shooting again so here are some recent pictures. He isn't in any of the pictures because he is behind the camera but he helped with all the foundation work before he left and the past two days has helped Clay with the railings and privacy screen. Tomorrow the railings should be finished and we can wash down the deck and if it stays dry we can stain it on Thursday. It is looking great and Clay did a fantastic job designing it and doing the work with help from Aaron, Ken, and David Price, who surprised us on Saturday with showing up to help! Thanks, guys!!!

Friday, July 22, 2005

friday's quotes of the week

"Many happy returns on the day of thy birth, may joy and gladness be given.
And may the Dear Father prepare thee on earth, for a beautiful birthday in heaven."

Mom to Mollie on this her birthday....thanks for making me a mom and being the delight of my life!

“Explain this to me. Why would anyone peel a banana, discard the peel, and wrap it in a napkin so her hands won’t get messy? I mean, does that make any sense at all?”

Mom to daughter, together lamenting a banana eater

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”

Samuel Johnson

"Any attempt to define church membership by anything other than allegiance to Jesus Christ is, quite simply, idolatrous."

N.T. Wright

"A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts."

James Madison

“The point that I wish to make is that modesty in clothing is not just about skin, shape, and shifting (as one contributor cleverly alliterated), but it is about the whole Christian and his or her representative responsibilities as ambassadors.”

Bob Bixby

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Biblical advice for bloggers

I came across this great list of suggestions for Christian bloggers from Keith and wanted to share it because I appreciated so much of what he said.

"I've been pondering what guidance the Bible has for bloggers. What does it say about how we should blog? what we should blog about? what we read in blogs? how we relate to other bloggers and comments? Here are a few exhortations with questions to ask ourselves for starters:

1. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your blog, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. (Eph 4:29)
Is what comes from our blogs wholesome? Is what we are writing helpful for building others up? Or does it tear them down?

2. Blog about others as you would have them blog about you (Lk 6:31)
The golden rule. If we blog about others, do we do it with love, respect, and integrity?

3. But in your blogs set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience... (1Pet 3:15,16)
Are we consciously allowing Jesus Christ to rule over our blogs? When people disagree with us, do we respond with gentleness and respect?

4. Each one should use whatever blog he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms (1Pet 4:10)
Are we using our blogs to serve others? To encourage, stimulate, and help others? To build them up in Christ? Or to blow our own trumpet?

5. Let us therefore make every effort to blog what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Ro 14:19)
And Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the blog of peace (Eph 4:2)
Do we make every effort to maintain peace and unity in the body of Christ? Or do we focus on what divides us? When we disagree, are we humble and gentle?

6. Accept him whose blog is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters...Let us stop blogging judgment on one another... whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. (Ro 14 1-22)
Let us be careful not to condemn ourselves by dividing the body of Christ over disputable matters, or by judging the spiritual state of our brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.

7. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - blog about such things. (Phil4:8)"

Friday, July 15, 2005

friday's quotes of the week

Heard, read, or spoken by me this week:

"Well he's a real cute fellar, now, isn't he? Why, that's just a baby. Ya know, them fellars usually come in a nest, I mean there's always more of 'em, like 15 or so in a litter. I'd keep my eyes open if I was you."

Animal control guy with possum in tow to woman with her eyes open, believe you me.

"That piece of wood up there sure looks better than the old Aldi bag did on the side of the house."

Actually heard twice in one week.

"There was that law of life. So cruel and so just that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same."

Norman Mailer

Thursday, July 14, 2005

no hospitality here

We had a most unwelcome visitor last night.

Several weeks ago Ben saw a teenage-sized possum sitting at the top of the basement stairs. With fear and trepidation, I did my laundry in the basement, but only during daylight hours would I venture to open that door. Possums are nocturnal, after all, so in case he was still there, I didn’t want to run into him and chose to sort and fold during his sleeping shift in case he was still around.

Then, a couple nights ago I thought I was hearing some sort of paper shuffling in our library but thought it was the cat. It wasn’t.

Last night Joe saw a long, thin possum tale hanging out from one of the cupboards under a bookshelf. Clay and I were gone so we hurried home where Clay donned a pair of heavy duty gloves he uses for approaching electrical wires and he picked up that possum, who was trembling, trembling even more than Joe was. That little critter is now in a tightly closed trash can waiting for the animal control man to give him a lift to his next home.

That possum dined on multiplication flash cards and an old atlas while he vacationed in my cupboard. With the heat and drought of central Illinois, I think the poor little guy was only looking for some place of refuge. At least that is my theory. What do I know of teenage possum angst? The only other option was that he thought, given the size of the deck, Clay was building an ark and the animals are now coming two by two. Which, of course, would mean that there is another possum lurking here somewhere.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

coming as a child

Henry surprised me this afternoon and came bouncing into the yard with pure joy on his face, his mom behind him with baby Jude in her arms in the sling. I was potting flowers and pulling off the dead heads of the geraniums, the glory of the flamingo pink blooms in recession for a week or so.

It was hot, 90-something, and I suggested that we put water in his wading pool. Mollie took Jude into the sanctuary of the air conditioned living room while I handed the hose to Henry and carefully positioned my chair so my toes could dangle in the water. He began to giggle and said, “Grandmama, your toes are pink,” my lovely Denise-pedicure now as faded as my flowers are, altogether wilting in the heat of a July afternoon.

Henry discovered the discarded white plastic containers from my plantings and took them into the pool, laughing as the water spilled from the holes in their bottoms. I took command of the garden hose, foolishly thinking that I could escape the idea of an impending water skirmish, a thought I could read in Henry’s eyes.

So we battled, Henry’s bucket brigade an even match for me with the hose artillery. We howled as he planned one surprise attack after another, me pretending each time that I was outraged as I sprayed him with the icy cold water from Canton Lake, water I imagine we are not supposed to be using with such frivolity in this drought. For a moment he forgot that I was the enemy and said “I love you, grandmama.”

Henry found one of the plastic tigers from his zoo animal collection in the yard and placed it at the top of the water slide. I kept shooting the water so fast that the tiger would literally fly down the slide, each time Henry squealing with the sort of delight only a 3 year old can squeal. We laughed and splashed until the pool was completely full and I turned the water off. Then we rested, Henry pretending to dive for the tiger who kept slipping to the bottom of the plastic lagoon while I wondered about this business of being three.

My earliest memories of life are from the time I was three. I can remember as if it were yesterday riding my tricycle around the bricked terrace on the side of my parent’s home. I remember my dad working in his garage, late into the night, building beautifully crafted cabinets, the smell of wood overcoming me as I drifted off to sleep in the make-shift cot he fashioned for me from an old cardboard box. He would carry me in to bed and I can remember waking in that pleasant sleep-fog, knowing how much he loved me that he let me stay with him when other little ones my age were in their own beds.

Like Henry, I was blessed with having two parents who loved me. I, too, had a grandma who played with me, who was available, who treasured me. Sometimes life was hard and difficult to understand but in the big picture of my being, I knew I was valued and loved.

Every once in a while, it hits me that I am now a grown-up. Should that really be the case, since I am on the other side of the half-century mark, the L’Oreal bottle one of my nearest and dearest friends? Should I ever feel small and insignificant and in need of the reassurance that comes with immaturity?

I felt small tonight as I read e-mail from the homeschool group in my town. I have a friend I have known for many years. She is an old-timer homeschooler, too, and her husband is dying of cancer. The recent update says that he has less than a couple weeks to live. I had that familiar wave hit me again, that I am now the grown-up, being forced to deal with those things that I cannot understand. I could not sleep tonight, praying for Joy and her girls still at home. I prayed for the boys, all with their own families, some living far away. As you read here, please pray for this dear family as well.

I learned a long time ago not to ask “why?” It is a question that cannot be answered this side of heaven. But I do know that God’s plans for us are never for evil but are for our good. I read this passage today by puritan pastor William Bridge:

“Sometimes God permits this cloud to arise upon the peace and comforts of His people, that He may train them up unto more perfection. Comfort is the children’s milk. You may observe, therefore, that the weaker Christian has sometimes more lively, sensible comforts than the stronger Christian has. Why? Because this inward joy and peace and comfort is that milk and sweet honey, whereby they are drawn off from the pleasures and sweetness of the world; and as these comforts do wean us from the world’s comforts, so we have need to be weaned again from these weaners. This God does sometimes by the restraining of them, and so we grow up unto more perfection.” from A Lifitng Up for the Downcast ~ Banner of Truth.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

deck update

The first crucial supports are leveled and in place. Since the elevations are so varied, this had to be done perfectly.

Clay adds support braces so Babar can break dance on the deck when it is done.

The trusses are now placed 16" apart across the top of the beams.

Mountain Dew, of course.

Aaron and Ken make sure supports are properly placed against the house.

Henry helps his dad.

Clay makes another lumber run.

Joe gets into the act.

Tree is boxed in. Aaron says Frank Lloyd Wright would be proud.

Testing it out.
Stay tuned.

Friday, July 08, 2005

friday's quote of the week

"I think they will be able to see the deck from a satellite."

Husband and deck builder to wife


Clay is using the laser level with the help of his assistants.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

the pouring of the concrete

Allan Jackson, our construction guy and not the country singer, poured concrete yesterday. The cement mixer had trouble navigating the back yard but eventually they were able to fill 30 holes with concrete and Allan mounted brackets in the top and leveled them. Our son, Sam, worked with Allan for a couple summers when he was in high school and now it is fun to see Allan here with his own son working alongside him.

Tomorrow Clay, Aaron, and Ben will make tremendous progress as the wood has now been delivered (no camera handy when the flat bed truck and attached portable fork lift from Menard's came this morning!) so I will update with pictures in a day or two. I can already taste that fruit slush!

theology and the building of a deck

The past few weeks have been fun as we have planned this project in our backyard, first looking through deck building books and making sketches on the backs of envelopes. Clay used the auto-cad software, which can make 3-D pictures, a very cool feature, to make blueprints of both the upper and lower decks. We experimented with the placement for stairs, various level concepts, storage ideas, and permanent vs non-permanent seating ideas. From the very beginning there was one thing that was certain...the deck needed to be big.

It has been interesting to hear the reactions of our friends and the construction workers as they have been involved in this event. Everyone has an opinion but one thing they all agree on is that what we are wanting to build is big. Some of them just don't understand why.

Which brings me to theology. I am a positive-millenialist. I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and will be successful. I do not believe that I am polishing brass on a sinking ship when I work to bring an end to abortion. I am raising six children because I believe a large family is the beginning of many generations of covenant faithfulness that will bring about the success of the Gospel. I homeschool my children because I believe it is the best way to raise children who will be a testimony in this generation and they, in turn, will raise children for a future generation. And on and on the line of covenant blessing will continue, Lord-willing.

When our 4th, 5th, and 6th children were born, we heard lots of comments like "don't you know what causes that?" and "oh, I thought that would certainly be your last child!" For the most part, these statements came from people who listened to J. Vernon McGee, had half their bags packed in case they were Raptured during the evening news, and who knew more about the red heifer than they did about God's working throughout history. They shook their heads when we piled everyone in our van and took our vacations at homeschooling conferences. They made fun of my bulk shopping efforts and were incredulous when I bought 36 place settings of restaurant supply china.

In more recent years, as the grandbabies have arrived, I have added a little person charm on a bracelet for each child. I asked the lady at the jewelry store to place the charms close together. She said it would look weird, to have the charms all at one end of the chain. I then explained that I have 6 children and am hoping for at least 36 grandchildren so I will need the empty rings on the chain. She shook her head in disbelief. Then she asked "You had six children, who would wish that on anyone?" My reply was "I would, because children are a blessing."

We believe that our family will continue to grow and we will be able to enjoy family reunions in our home, the same home where my older children were taught around the dining room table and where my younger children came into this family. We look forward to many more little ones to welcome, little ones who will never know a day when they weren't part of our family or of God's family, of His covenant.

And that is why our deck will be big.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

alleged deck

We have lived in our home for 21 years. 21 years. That is a long time especially when you consider that many people move around, thousands of miles in their lifetimes and never even stay in the same state for 21 years.

Our home was built in 1896 and we are only the third owners. Not much had been done to alter the original plan of the house, though an old pantry had been gutted, waiting to be turned into a half bath, which we did, though not before I was done being pregnant so I still had to make frequent trips all the way upstairs to the bathroom. This was a bathroom with hot pink shag carpeting, I might also add. We have also kept most of the house in its original state, except for remodeling the kitchen and adding a large room on the third floor after our house fire in 1996. That is a story for another blog entry.

The most unusable part of our home, though, has been the back yard. Filled with “clinkers”, the leftover melted part of coal from a coal furnace, and hard clay soil, it has been mostly used as a place for the boys to play baseball.

Until now.

This past weekend we officially started our 2005 Gigando Deck Project. The lower deck will measure 24’ X 40’ and the upper deck will be a 16’ square. There will be plenty of room for the kids, grandkids, and visitors and will make a nice transition between the house and the yard where it is more level and grass actually grows.

Allan Jackson, our construction guy not the country singer, came on Saturday to dig and auger more than two dozen 3 ft. deep holes. He is returning tomorrow to pour the concrete that will be the anchor for the deck. Then the fun will begin as Clay, our boys, our son-in-law and a friend, Ken Kucginski, construct what will be the long-awaited Campbell family deck, aka the Kitty Hawk of decks. Ken does not think it will be done in three weeks for the annual family reunion. I hope he is wrong. I long to see babies splashing in a wading pool, Clay relaxing in a lounge chair, and friends, fruit slushes in their hands, burgers in their tummies, all having a grand time.

This is the "before shot"...wait until you see the after!

Monday, July 04, 2005


In case you are spending this very American holiday making salsa and grilling steak or chicken for fajitas, you must run out to Borders or Barnes and Nobel and pick up a copy of this delightful CD.

Music from the Chocolate Lands will certainly invite you to pick up a wire whisk or two and dance around the kitchen pretending you are in a Brazilian cafe. I have several CD's from the Putumayo collections and each one is a treasure. No John Phillips Sousa here today, no sirree.

At any rate, happy 4th, from whichever side of the border you hail!

Friday, July 01, 2005

friday's quotes of the week

Heard, read, or spoken by me this week:

"Do we have a ladder, you know the kind you stand on?"
"No, we have the other kind."

Mom and son exchange

"You can't tell me that just by watching one movie, I could learn all I need to know about teenage girls. It could never be that simple."

Son's friend to son's mom

"Constant use had not worn ragged the fabric of their friendship."

Dorothy Parker

"Of course she found it in the last place she looked. If she hadn't found it, she would still be looking."

Susannah Brown

"He made the world to be a grassy road before her wandering feet."

W.B. Yeats

on being a Toastmaster

I live in a small town. I love living in a small town. Where else can you get a haircut from the former mayor in a barbershop where they know you are coming in because you are leaving the next day for a son’s wedding down in Florida? Where else could you chat with your doctor in the aisle at the grocery store, a doctor who actually knows your name, the same doctor, by the way who sees me, my mother, my children, and my grandsons?

It is Mayberry indeed.

Last night I reveled again in my smalltownness as I handed over the presidential gavel to Pete at our local Toastmasters awards night banquet. I have loved every minute of being president, of cheering on and being cheered on by my fellow club members as we worked together to accomplish our personal and club goals. Pete, who told us he is 83 but doesn’t look a day over 72, will be our president this coming year and will bring his 25 plus years of Toastmaster experience to the job. I look forward to his leadership and can’t think of a more capable person to have in command.

I am a newcomer on this club scene. I have been a Toastmaster for only 4 years. But it has been a great 4 years. It is not only because I have completed my personal goals of CTM, ATM-Bronze, and CL awards through Toastmasters International. It is not because I have participated in speech contests and even won the highest award I could win for humorous speaking. It isn’t even because I can go somewhere and people actually have to listen to me talk. Those are the side benefits.

My last 4 years in Toastmasters have allowed me the wonderful opportunity of getting to know, often quite personally, some of the finest citizens in my community. It has given me friendships that span all ages, from 18 to 83 and then some. It has opened my eyes to a Canton that I had never known as I listen to the stories and concerns of people who have lived and worked in this community for more than 50 years. It has given me the privilege of learning, for a mere $48.00 per year, skills in public speaking and leadership that have applications far beyond the walls of Toastmaster club meetings.

People join Toastmasters for all sorts of reasons. I initially became involved because I was traveling to Atlanta to present a workshop for a conference on mercy ministries. I knew I needed to hone my speaking skills and wanted to glean from those who had done this already. Because positive, constructive criticism is part of every meeting, I knew I could trust fellow club members to help me with this project.

What I didn’t realize was that I would have mentors and coaches, about 20 of them, who listened intently for errors and corrected me when I made them, who noticed when I improved and told me so, who asked me to do the same things for them. As I heard their evaluations, both of me and of others, I learned skills in not only speaking but in listening to what people are really saying. In turn, I have become a better listener of others, not just at my club. Any successes I have had are the results of the investments each of them have made in my life. And in the whole process, I received 20 new friends!

Do you want to become a better speaker? A better listener? A better leader? Do you want 20 new friends? Find a Toastmaster’s Club. You will wonder why you waited so long!