Thursday, December 31, 2009

More snow pictures from the backyard - Bert too!

Photography by: Cindy Williams

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Memory

Christmas has always been a special time for me. Lights, music, food, family, giving, receiving, food… Did I say food? Yup – it’s made me the man I am today.

This’ll be my fourth Christmas in Boise. May not be a white one this year, but it’s sure to be colder than what I grew up with in So Cal. I’m remembering a Christmas we had in L.A. when I was a kid. We were in the Big House (that’s the Craftsman-style house we lived in, not a prison), and our 30-foot-long living room had two (2!) big Christmas trees on opposite sides of the fire place. I remember thinking how cool that was because there was way more room for presents, not that any present I got in that house could ever top the one I got in our previous house – the American Flyer model train. We often had cousins (well, their parents, too) staying with us because it was warm in L.A., and they were from Denver and Kalamazoo and other places that had that white stuff we only found in the mountains.

We were warm, happy, well-fed, and overwhelmed with toys (and books and socks). I’ve come to learn that not everyone is so fortunate or blessed. Some will spend this Christmas unsure of their next meal – what or where it will be, or whether it will be at all. Parents and kids alike. Our church, like so many others, has made a special effort this year to provide gifts of toys, warm clothing, and food. It’s amazing to see how good people in terrible economic times will give, many beyond their means, to help those whose situation may be only slightly worse than their own. God bless you all!

I'm including a poem I was led to write my first Christmas in Boise.

'Twas the World After Christmas

‘Twas the world after Christmas,
And all through the earth
Miraculous changes
Were caused by this birth.

Soiled hearts find a cleaning,
And a God who’s forgiving.
The people find meaning,
And a purpose for living.

The sick find a healing,
The lost find salvation,
A life more appealing,
A whole new creation.

The prisoners are freed,
The abused are restored.
Sad victims of greed
Find joy in the Lord.

In the name of this child
People have gone
To lands dark and wild
With news of the Son.

There’ve been hospitals built
To make sick bodies whole,
And churches as well
For healing the soul.

The downtrodden and hungry
Are cared for and fed.
The cold and uneasy
Sleep in a warm bed.

And one day the whole earth
Will start over anew.
There’ll be a grand rebirth,
We’ll shout, “Hallelu!”

This baby who came
To die for our sins
Is Jesus in whose name
The new life begins.

So, rise up and rejoice
For God’s Son is with men.
Give song to your voice,
Let your feet dance again.

Hear the angels that call
Through the grief and the strife,
“Merry Christmas to all,
And to all a blessed life!”

© Neal Visser 2006

A Sunday Walk Along the Boise River

Hard to believe how fast my weeks go. I keep telling myself to walk more... You know that little thing called exercise. With the change of the weather I ride the exercise bike when the days are icky outside. Every Sunday I take myself on a hike to view one of my favorite parts of the Boise River. I've meet many interesting people along the path - last picture. One man brings his captured hawk on his walks - forth picture down. Bert says hello to all the four legged creatures. I end up petting the dogs.

The pictures you are viewing are from one of my walks along the river near Barbara Park. [In the summer this is the starting spot to float the river.] We just had a good snow fall of about five inches. One reason I like this spot is you are in the city yet, wild life can be around you. I won't forget the time a bald eagle circled my head looking for a fish. Deer are know for this area. There are cattle way over there which had Ernie the Elk visited them. They claimed he was the elk that liked city life.

We had just finished our zero temperatures for numerous days. The blurred honey bee was alive when its picture was taken. Thank goodness my friend spoke real loud before my foot squashed the little guy. The bee was on the path trying to get enough energy to fly out of the snow ruts. Unfortunately my camera doesn't do close-ups very well. Or maybe its the operator? I'm amazed this little guy stayed with us until, we put him in a safe place. Kinda like spring mixed in with winter?

Heading back to the truck it dawned on me how our lives can be very fast pace. I'll admit mine has been a whirl wind. Where we don't take the time to enjoy, be joyful, rest or take a walk. How the days seem to fly by. Unless, we take the time to harness the speed we'll miss out on the little things of life. Like seeing a honey bee in the winter.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Ever wondered what it all means? Why snow, cold, ice, fire? Why pain, joy, love, rejection, sorrow? Well, you’re not alone. More importantly, you are not alone. One of life’s purposes is to prepare us for life. A friend once told me, “God never wastes a hurt.” What you’ve been through, someone else is experiencing now. You can get them through it like you got through it.

If you’re struggling now – in distress, grief, illness, or fear – reach out, let others know. Someone in your circle has been there. And many more of us care. You matter to us – and to God.

With You In It

Even though the path ruts aim in directions not desired –
Even though the charcoal cumuli accumulate –
Even though the befriended are unusually unfriendly –
Even though the cacophony knows no quiet breaks –
Even though the rocky road is stumble-strewn –
Even though the skin of the soul bears the burn of bitter tears –
Even though the gates of heaven appear to be no gates at all –
Still the world’s a warm and pleasant place –
With you in it.

Like the fine and simple snow line on the bare branch of a tree –
Like the elegance of a single glistening snowflake –
Like the stillness of the early, darkened morning –
Like the pungent flavor of a cooling cup of coffee –
Like the comfort of some worn and welcome slippers –
Like the flickering brilliance of the candle in the corner –
Like the prayer whose answer starts before the praying –
The world’s a hyperbolic curve approaching perfect –
With you in it.

©2009 Neal Visser

Friday, December 11, 2009

Short stories of love

A four-year-old child, whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman, who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old Gentleman's' yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.

When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy just said, 'Nothing, I just Helped him cry.'


Teacher Debbie Moon's first graders were
discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the
picture had a different hair color than the other members. One
of her students suggested that he was adopted.

A little girl said, 'I know all about Adoption, I was adopted.'

'What does it mean to be adopted?', asked another child.

'It means', said the girl, 'that you grew
in your mommy's heart instead of her tummy!'


On my way home one day, I stopped to
watch a Little League base ball game that was being
played in a park near my home. As I sat down behind the bench on
the first-base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was

'We're behind 14 to nothing,' he answered With a smile.

'Really,' I said. 'I have to say you don't look very discouraged.'

'Discouraged?', the boy asked with a Puzzled look on his face...

'Why should we be discouraged? We haven't Been up to bat yet.'


Whenever I'm disappointed with my spot
in life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott.

Jamie was trying out for a part in the school play. His mother told me that he'd set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen.

On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. 'Guess what,
Mom,' he shouted, and then said those words that will remain a
lesson to me....

'I've been chosen to clap and cheer.'


An eye witness account from New York City , on a cold day in December,some years ago: A little boy, about 10-years-old, was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering With cold.

A lady approached the young boy and said, 'My, but you're in such deep thought staring in that window!'

'I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,'was the boy's reply.

The lady took him by the hand, went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water
and a towel. He quickly brought them to her.

She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with the towel.

By this time, the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes.

She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, 'No doubt, you will be more comfortable now.'

As she turned to go, the astonished kid caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face, with tears in his eyes, asked her.

'Are you God's wife?'

Monday, December 7, 2009

I was frustrated with Twitter until: He walked in.

A year ago is when my friend told me that I needed to Twitter, my prolonged silence got her to become very chatty about the website and its' uses. After several seconds of silence clipped by my reply was; "You've got to be kidding me."

She then informed me that anyone being anyone is doing the Twitter. At that time in my life I was working on writing a book and busy creating handcrafted items to help keep the needy, homeless and terminally ill warm. With all that on my plate who has time to play the 140 character game?

Like everyone else I set-up an account and after a couple of months I figured this was a waste of my time. Months later came back to the Twitter account; nothing all that fantastic or earth shattering happened until: he walked in. Chris Voss.

"Chris Voss is a Twitter / Social Media Consultant, owner of Strategix One Consulting"

Chris has his own show....

Being me, I had to see what all the fuss was about. To my relief Chris's videos were easy to follow. All of his blog posts are content worthy. I enjoy his professional manner mixed with humor.

Here are just two examples of our growth:

Through one of Chris's videos; his advice about had us grow from a ranking of 98/100 to 10/100 in just a couple of months. During the same time period with we are #1 in Boise and #2 in Idaho.

I could on and on with all of Chris's videos and how they have helped us grow at Twitter. But better yet just give his blog a try. What do have to lose?

One more thing before I let you go; Chris is a man of his word.Thank you, Chris for taking the time to help us here at Teaching Hands.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The darndest things GrandChildren say.

1. She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup, under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter, as she'd done many times before. After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, "But Gramma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!" I will probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye....

2. My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday. He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 62. My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he asked, "Did you start at 1?"

3. After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with a trembling voice, "Who was THAT?"

4. A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: "We used to skate outside on a pond I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods." The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, "I sure wish I'd gotten to know you sooner!"

5. My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, "Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?" I mentally polished my halo and I said, "No, how are we alike?'' "You're both old," he replied.

6. A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather's word processor. She told him she was writing a story. "What's it about?" he asked. "I don't know," she replied. "I can't read."

7. I didn't know if my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I would point out something and ask what color it was. She would tell me and was always correct. It was fun for me, so I continued. At last, she headed for the door, saying, "Grandma, I think you should try to figure out some of these, yourself!"

8. When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, "It's no use Grandpa.. Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights."

9. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, "I'm not sure." "Look in your underwear, Grandpa," he advised, "mine says I'm 4 to 6."

10. A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, "Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today." The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool "That's interesting," she said, "how do you make babies?" "It's simple," replied the girl. "You just change 'y' to 'i' and add 'es'."

11. Children's Logic: "Give me a sentence about a public servant," said a teacher. The small boy wrote: "The fireman came down the ladder pregnant." The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. "Don't you know what pregnant means?" she asked. "Sure," said the young boy confidently. 'It means carrying a child."

12. A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog's duties. "They use him to keep crowds back," said one child. "No," said another. "He's just for good luck." A third child brought the argument to a close."They use the dogs," she said firmly, "to find the fire hydrants."

13. A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. "Oh," he said, "she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her.. Then, when we're done having her visit, we take her back to the airport."

14. Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things, but I don't get to see him enough to get as smart as him!

15. My Grandparents are funny, when they bend over; you hear gas leaks, and they blame their dog.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This is what Christmas is all about...

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard.

"Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."

I was really upset then.

Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the old, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand.I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt."

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

Don't be too busy today. Share this inspiring message. God bless you!
Stay safe, stay smart, stay low, but most of all pray for our men and women overseas. Sincerely,

Charles T. Cabaniss
Captain Rock Hill PD
135th FBI NA
120 E. Black St.
Rock Hill, S.C. 29730
Happiness is not "getting what you want" ..
but is "wanting what you got".