Thursday, July 28, 2011

That's Life!

The Bible says that it's the little foxes that spoil the vines. Well, I've had my share of "little foxes" lately in the form of irritating small (some not so small) health maladys. Back in late April, as I was looking forward to going to Tennesee to our granddaughter's wedding, I came down with a stomach upset. When it had passed, I was left with a souvenir: a fever blister. And this wasn't just a fever blister, it was the mother of all cold sores. Just as it would begin to clear up, I would bump it or otherwise dislodge the healing scab, and it would ooze and start a new build-up. On top of the old scab. Talk about disfiguring! And we were looking for a new church home at the time, meeting a lot of new people. (I didn't know whether to be relieved or sorry that I didn't know anyone and they didn't know me.)

Thankfully, my lip had healed and looked (close to) normal for the wedding trip. We were gone for nearly three weeks, fitting in time to visit other family members who lived at a distance. Unfortunately for me, most of the guest rooms were upstairs, and between that and the stairs at the church and sightseeing attractions, I overused my left knee and developed painful bursitis, which I have been dealing with all summer.

Shortly thereafter, I developed severe laryngtis and wasn't able to speak above a whisper, which was only the harbinger of two weeks of malaise from bronchitis. Next, a small cut appeared under one of my toes, which I medicated and bandaged, but instead of healing, it calloused over and stayed sore, only healing just recently.

But the crowning blow was this week, when I accidentally jabbed my eye with a mascara wand! Now I'm bleary eyed from eye drops, having worn a patch over it to match my pirate's leg knee splint!

Now my computer has multiple viruses and disabilities and is threatening to shut down at any moment. I may have to get a new one, or maybe it can be repaired like my woes. Thank God, in Heaven we'll have new bodies in good working order, and we won't need finicky computers, for knowledge will be universal and all things earthly outmoded! What a Day that will be!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Cool is That?

“The other air conditioner went out,” I greeted my husband glumly Friday as he came in to a warm house. That made both of our 220 a/cs that had quit in two days. Recently the hot water heater had to be replaced, and just last week he had repaired our garbage disposal that had stopped working. What next? Well, at least we still had a 110 room air conditioner in the bedroom to keep us cool at night.

The next day Howard announced, “I’ll call Walmart and see if I can get another small unit, at least until we can get the others fixed or replaced.” He called, but they had no air conditioners. Apparently there had been a run on them, and they said they weren’t getting anymore in. “I’ll call Blackwell,“ he said picking up the phone again. They didn’t have any, and neither did any of the other Walmart stores he contacted in neighboring towns.

“What about other hardware or appliance stores?” I suggested. Our options were a bit limited in our small town, but then he remembered Sears, who has a small retail store here, dealing mostly in lawn and garden, electronics and appliances.

“They said they have one left!” Howard announced when he hung up. And it’s at good price, too!” He was jubilant. “Thank the Lord! We’d better go get it now,” he said, grabbing his car keys. Turns out a customer from Tulsa had bought it a couple of days ago, decided it wasn’t what she wanted and returned it. That’s why they had discounted it, but it was brand new with a warranty.

We were a little undecided as to where to put it for maximum effect, but we found the perfect spot in the living room for the sleek, unobtrusive unit with a black LCD display screen and a remote control. Now the house is perfectly comfortable, with the help of a couple of fans. Yes, thank you, Lord, who supplies all our needs "according to His riches in Glory"!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Greater than all my Problems

“Howard, look at that!” I exclaimed to my husband as we were on the way to church Sunday evening, “That Time and Temperature sign says 114 degrees!” It was like an oven outside. I had heard earlier on the weather channel that it was 108, then the first bank clock showed 111. The display screen of the one we usually checked was dark, which it never was. The high temperature probably made it explode, I thought wryly.

The heat was on everyone’s mind at church and rain was no doubt in all of our prayers. Just last week, the governor of Oklahoma had requested that all the churches pray for rain. My mind was also on my irritated right eye, which I had hurt that morning. Getting ready, I had been applying a dab of mascara when the tube slipped in my fingers, causing me to jerk and jab myself in the eye with the mascara wand. It hurt fiercely, but the pain had begun to subside and we went on to church.

Looking in the car mirror to check my hair on the way, I thought my face looked pale. What had I forgotten in my distraction? “Oh, I forgot to put on blush,” I remarked aloud.

“What are we going to eat, then?” My husband asked. When I asked what he thought I said, he answered, “You said you had forgotten to put on lunch, didn’t you?” I could tell how his mind was working, but I laughed and assured him I’d think of something. He had been having recurrent earaches, so that was probably part of his hearing problem.

I was having a little trouble following along in scripture during the pastor’s evening sermon, even noting with surprise that I could see better with my left eye than my “good” right eye. My right eye had always been 20/20, but tonight it was blurred, with good reason. After church, most of the congregation had departed, with a few of us remaining just inside, when something like a sonic boom exploded, the lights went off, lightning cracked and thunder rolled. Outside, I could see splotches of rain on the walk. It was coming down in torrents on the way home.

By today, I was having intense sensitivity to light and pain in my eye, and my husband was having an earache. “We’re going to the doctor!” I pronounced. A good thing we did, too. He got medicine for an ear infection, the doctor discovered scratches on the surface of my eye (he explained that’s why the painful light sensitivity--the scratches had breached the eye’s natural light barrier).

Now I have a patch over my eye (it’s not enough to have a splint on my leg) having had painkilling solution and iodine-like substance poured into my eye, highlighting the scratches viewed under a black light. Thank God we went to the doctor and received medication, and thank God for the rain and a day of cooler temperatures yesterday. We even sat on the front porch!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Moment in Time

“Do you like this?” the friendly twelve year old asked me as she sat down beside me in church. She was pointing to the decorative bobby pin holding back her somewhat unruly hair. I told her it was cute; I could see it had some kind of ornamentation on it. Then she removed it and held it up to me for a closer look, so I put on my glasses. Oh, my! That was a skull and crossbones design!

The child had recently started coming to church on her own, sometimes bringing her 11-year-old sister and little brother with her. A pudgy, sweet, pre-teen, she was very interested in the services, often making frank, guileless prayer requests for her parents, pets, or something else that concerned her. Since I have granddaughters about her age, my heart went out to her (who could resist her warm hugs, friendly shoulder pats and obvious need for affection?).

I thought of her the other day in Walmart and picked up a card of four fancy bobby pins, each decorated with a sparkling rhinestone. I found a small “Thinking of You” card in a drawer at home, enclosed them and gave them to her at church yesterday. She was elated! She promptly removed her Sunday School papers from her seat and came and sat by me. (Since my husband spends most of his time on the platform accompanying the music with his guitar, I welcomed a seat mate.)

Last night she wore the sparkling bobby pin to the evening service, telling me she had shared the other set with her sister, who was also there that night. Both wore huge, dangling earrings. “Is this a tambourine song?” she questioned, holding the instrument tentatively as we were asked to turn to “Love Lifted Me.” I had noticed the lady in front of me turning to her in a previous service, showing her how to lay the tambourine on her lap and strike it gently. I told her maybe it was at the chorus, so that’s how she played it.

Despite the girl’s wriggling and occasional distraction, I enjoyed sitting with her. Very articulate, she gave a “praise report” of repaired air conditioning that had gone out at home during our heat wave. I couldn’t help but admire her perfectly spaced sentences and dramatic pauses. Speaking would surely be one of her strengths. During the offering, she confided in a chagrined whisper that she had forgotten her tithes.

“Where was that scripture found?” she asked me at pertinent moments; I looked at the paper she’d been drawing hearts on with my initials and words like “God”, “Love”, and “Salvation” and saw that she was carefully recording the Bible references the minister read. When my husband came and resumed his seat on the other side of me, she said softly in my ear, “You’re my second parents.” She probably tells everyone that, but maybe I could parent her a little!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bon Voyage

In the early 70s, my husband went on a cruise he was awarded by the Kelvinator company for high sales in appliances. We had four young children, so I stayed home and held down the fort. Our red-haired son, Trevor, was just a baby, maybe 18 months old. This same son has just returned from his first cruise with his wife and family, including a red-haired son of his own, Bradley, and older son Kyle.

Trevor had heard Howard talk about his cruise over the years; we even had old home movies of it: jerky photos of smiling passengers in deck chairs, island shops in resort towns and lots of green mountains along the horizon as filmed from the deck of the Norwegian cruise ship Starward. Trevor must have been having a moment of nostalgia, for last night he sent us a link to the Starward. (Back then, a link would have been in a chain stored maybe in the engine room.)

It was a link to past, for sure. The ship has changed names about four times since then, being sold to other lines as companies collapsed or disbanded. When I asked Howard if he noticed any similarities between the pictures of the ship, Ecstasy, Trevor had shared and the ship he was on, he shook his head. Apparently today’s cruise vessels are a lot more glitzy, if the lights, marquees and atriums are any indication.

Trevor had said he was a little worried that his sons would be bored on a cruise, (as in his words, "they are so spoiled,” as most kids are today). But they didn’t look bored to me, as they clambered past “Do Not Climb Above Mast” signs, drank fruity drinks with little umbrellas, wound themselves through the spiral staircase of a lighthouse, viewed crocodiles or perched in odd nooks all over the ship. I think their favorite place was high on a deck with a gigantic water slide and chute which extended far below.

Now that they are back, Kyle is in Hobbs New Mexico with his ministry group. I’m sure he has a lot to tell them about his trip, and I’m sure his vistas have been expanded. We are praying that as both boys grow in life experiences and spiritual opportunities they will mature into the men of God He wants them to be, guided by a wise and caring earthly father, one who enjoys sharing a link with his dad.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


This was unreal! Could the name in the obituary notices be the same person I had brushed shoulders with so recently? It had been a scant two weeks since I had seen the name of an old friend in that column and had attended his funeral. I hadn’t known his present family, only the girl I had gone to high school with who’d been his first wife. Still, when I had greeted his daughter at the funeral, I saw who I learned later was his wife standing with the family.

This was the same name as hers! I e-mailed my friend to ask if it were the same person, but before she answered, I saw an updated obituary. The deceased was Don’s wife! She had passed away only a couple of weeks after her husband! She didn’t seem ill at his services, just a slight-built, youngish looking woman who was surrounded by her children. I wish now I had made her acquaintance, but she wasn’t with the group of people I knew, the old friends we visited with after the service.

How strange, and how sad for the so-recently bereaved family, to lose their mother so quickly after their step-father. I may not know the circumstances, but it touches a chord in my heart anyway. It also underscores how uncertain life is. None of us is promised tomorrow. Yet we live each day as if life will go on forever.

I had been looking in that column to read about services for a newborn, a grandchild of friends of ours who had been born prematurely with severe medical problems. The baby’s passing was a crushing blow to them and the young mother. Even though they had known his chances for survival would be slim, the loss was acute, nonetheless.

The Bible calls death the enemy, I Corinthians 15:26. It also gives us the promise that death will be swallowed up in victory when the redeemed rise to meet the Lord in the air (verse 51-54). Verse 55 proclaims, echoing Hosea 14:14, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

We look forward to a time when there will be no more death, and all tears will be wiped away, Revelation 21:4. Until that time, we can make sure that our passing will just be a doorway into His Presence, where life will be only beginning. Our responsibility is to trust Him as Lord and Savior. Jesus has already done the hard part.

Water Marks

“Stay hydrated. Drink deeply of the well of Living Water,” I read on the church sign we passed as we headed out on some errands. Drat! That reminded me that I had left a bottle of semi-frozen H20 I had stuck a straw in on the end table when I picked up the keys to lock up. I had, though, enjoyed a quiet time with Bible reading and prayer earlier.

Howard had wanted to go to Lowe’s to pick up a few more decorative pavers to fill in some places around his fish pond. The display was right inside the entrance of the lawn and garden department, so I was grateful we wouldn’t be out in the sun too long. “I wish I hadn’t left my water,” I said. Just then right above me I saw an igloo jug with a dispenser of paper cone cups beside it. The water was delicious!

What should have been a quick transaction dragged on, as the girl studied the picture manual matching the rocks we selected with the ones in the book and tried to determine prices. I drank more water. A good thing I’d had the Living Water at home. My bargain-seeking husband had the clerk a little confused as he inquired about stones at the back of the store and had the manager searching and checking prices. It was hard, but I managed to curb my impatience.

“I have to get my prescription, too,” my husband announced as we left Lowe’s for Walmart. He had called it in, so I would wait in the truck with the a/c on, I decided. What’s this? He was entering through Lawn and Garden instead of the closer entrance! Irritation tried to surface, but I was glad I didn’t say anything, especially after he came out in a good mood happily telling me that he’d walked through a fine mist of water that had been set up to hydrate customers.

“Let’s stop and get some homegrown tomatoes,” I suggested. He had wanted me to cook a pot of beans and sausage, which I had left simmering on the stove, cooking them early to avoid heating up the house. We could have them for lunch with sliced tomatoes. Good! No one was in the driveway for the pull-through purchases of vegetables. But just as we were to turn in, a car from the other direction went before us. We followed behind it, with three or four cars lining up behind us.

The customer ahead of us was taking her time! Quite old, she had slowly gotten out of the car, seemingly was confused about the tomatoes she put tentatively on and off the scales, then finally painstakingly counted out coins, taking so long her driver got out to assist her, then getting many items herself. “Let’s get out and get in line,” I suggested, “before the people in the other cars do.” Howard said no, we would wait. About that time a person did get out of her car behind us and headed toward a melon display. We then quickly took our place in line behind the first customer. That didn’t keep her from squeezing in ahead of us, though!

I was surely being tested this morning! Finally concluding her purchases, the interloper was putting her wallet away when a gust of wind blew a blizzard of receipts, coupons and papers out of her purse, right past me. Despite my uncharitable thoughts, I grabbed a handful and returned them to her. Thank you, Lord, for that sip of water this morning!

A family member posted something cute on her face book status that I read later. It seemed she was shopping with a small grandson, taking some time to try on clothes. From the dressing room she could hear odd swishing noises as the little boy waited for her. After ten minutes or so, she came out and he said, “Good, I just finished my exercises.” What a sweet example of young masculine patience! Forgive me Lord, for (almost) failing my tests today, but thank You that I squeaked past with a passing grade!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Captain

Our son, Trevor, and his family had just returned from their first cruise vacation and he was telling me about it over the phone. “Mom, it was great!” he spoke enthusiastically. “We loved every minute of it. It was nice to experience something different from our usual vacations.”

I asked if anyone got seasick, and he said no, but if they had, there was a patch to wear behind the ear to prevent motion sickness. “Our cabin was small, but Jennifer and I had a king-size bed, and the boys had two bunks. The best part, was they cleaned it twice a day!”

“What did you do when you went on shore? Did you see the beaches?” I inquired.

“Oh, yes,” he said, “I got to drive a jeep behind a guide jeep, and we went all over the island. The beaches were beautiful, and we even went snorkeling. What an experience!” He went on about the crystal clear water and the varieties of fish he saw underwater. “It’s just a whole new dimension of the world,” he exclaimed.

Other favorites aboard the liner were the 24-hour food, the swimming pools and exploring the ship. They had wanted to go on a behind-the-scenes tour, but found it a little pricey. “But Mom, you wouldn’t believe what happened. On our final day, I bumped into the captain, and I asked him if it would be possible to see the bridge. He took our whole family on an incredible tour of it!”

It sounded as if they’d had a memorable trip and benefited from new perspectives. That’s the purpose of vacations, after all, to return with revitalized minds and spirits. The wonders of the blue ocean, both on it, and in it, had to bring new appreciation of the Creator. When Trevor told me about visiting the ship’s bridge and the fascinating operation of guiding the huge vessel, I couldn’t help but think of the Heavenly Father, our Captain, who is at the helm of our lives.

The ship’s captain sees the big picture, the obstacles, the planned destination and all that is planned for the passengers, not only at the end, but all along the way. Our Captain is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. While the bridge of a ship is the center of information and control, the heavenly Bridge is the mind of Christ. I Corinthians 2:16 says we have the mind of Christ. That to me means His perspective. How to do that? By renewing our minds, as it says in Romans 12:2.

While much of the control of an ocean vessel is done by computers now, and even though it is no longer massive, there is still a ship’s wheel. The mind of Christ dwarfs any computer, and His wheel directs the universe and beyond. And He has provided a Bridge to connect us to Heaven.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lily White

When we lived in Mississippi, one day I walked into the backyard and was startled to see a beautiful, tall flower growing on a slender stem where there had been no plant the day before. Later, I noticed a few more in out of the way places--in a bare spot by an old tree, a forgotten corner of the back fence, or in a shady place by the shed. I found out the spider lily-like flower is called the resurrection plant. It seems a plant comes up, having foliage early on that later dies, leaving no trace. Then much later, a tall stem shoots up overnight with the lovely bloom, thus the name.

I have a strange, giant plant that erupts in the middle of my back yard every week that reminds me of the resurrection plant. It has colorful petals of every hue ruffling in the wind, clustered around a center of dazzling white. When the petals fall off, the bare stalk with its skeletal stems reminiscent of the spider lily remains briefly, usually disappearing before nightfall and leaving no trace.

It is wash day. I hang my smaller whites in the middle of the umbrella clothes dryer, where they remind me of the center of a posy surrounded by the colorful laundry fluttering in the breeze. They are naturally fragrant from the sun and wind, their scent enhanced by the faint perfume of detergent that lingers like a flower-laden tropical breeze in the folds of the fabric.

A few hours later, I’m filling my wicker basket with layers of petals like a flower girl in a wedding. The bare lines on their umbrella ribs are collapsed by my husband, their pole telescoped and stored in the garage until next week. They leave no trace, except for a small green flip-top lid that covers the sleeve lining the hole for the post, where they will reappear next week like the resurrection plant.

The analogy is, of course, Christ’s resurrection, when he was “buried” but arose three days later when he appeared to Mary at the tomb. She had been met by angels in white garments. Before His crucifixion, Jesus had been teaching the disciples and predicting His death and resurrection. His Transfiguration, in the presence of Peter, James and John, is a glimpse of the Resurrection and the Second Coming. The Bible says in Mark 9:3, “And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller (launderer) on earth can white them.”

“But who may abide the day of His coming: and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap,” Malachi 3:2. Someday the faithful will receive a white robe (Rev.3:5), having been washed in the blood of the Lamb. We shall walk with Him in white (Rev. 3:4). Maybe that’s why I like dazzling whites in my laundry!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Water Babies

“Howard, look!” I exclaimed to my husband at the pool this morning. What looked like folded money was drifting in the water. He grabbed it, and I noticed the pocket to his swimsuit was inside out. “I thought you left that in your wallet that we locked in my purse in the car!” I said unbelievingly. Apparently he hadn’t, not keeping out just a couple of dollars as I had thought.

Thank God we had seen it! When we got back to the other side of the pool, though, there was a $20 bill floating around! I promptly took the money and put it away for safekeeping. On the way home, we stopped at the bank to make a deposit. “They won’t take wet money!” I speculated. But they did. It was only slightly damp by then, like my eyes from laughing at my unpredictable husband.

I didn’t want to stay in the water too long today, because I usually feel very fatigued if we stay too long. I had told my husband that it even made me a little queasy. Today he said his stomach wasn’t feeling well, and decided it was because we had eaten not long before. This led to a discussion of the merits of not eating before going swimming.

“My mother always drilled it into us to not go swimming after we had just eaten,” Howard said. “She wouldn’t even let us take a bath after eating!” he went on. Now I was laughing again. “No, really, it made my brother sick once when he did that,” my husband said seriously. Maybe he had eaten too much and had a very full bathtub, I thought.

Supposedly the danger of eating before swimming was that it would cause stomach cramps and could possibly cause drowning. Now that has been mostly dismissed as old wives tales, although it is best to wait an hour before going swimming because the blood and oxygen needed for strength in swimming is being utilized by the digestive process.

Anyway, I will not eat before we go to the pool next time. Throwing up would be disastrous. Nor will Howard carry money in his swimsuit. This is not what the Bible means when it says to cast your bread upon the waters!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Church Moments

As church was about to start today, I tried to ignore the lady in front of me who kept turning around and gesturing and pantomiming to several of her friends. Then during greeting time, she pulled me to her and whispered in my ear, “Do you have a safety pin in your purse? Mary (not her real name) is having a problem with her skirt.”

I shook my head, knowing I didn’t have one in my purse and feeling like I was on “The Price is Right.” As the lady across the aisle seemed genuinely flustered at her wardrobe malfunction, I had second thoughts. While I didn’t have one in my purse, I had one at each shoulder covered by a bolero jacket where I had “temporarily” shortened the straps on my dress by pinching together and putting a pin in the excess length. My neckline might droop a little at one side if I removed one, but no one would likely notice with the jacket on.

I tapped the shoulder of the inquirer and said, “I have one I can spare.” She took me to Mary, who smiled with relief. She followed me to the restroom while I removed my safety pin and pinned the gap in her skirt where the tab had come off the zipper. Her long shirt covered the makeshift repair job and she was able to go up front and make her announcement about the children’s mission fundraiser.

“Thank your for the pin,” Mary said again after church.

“That’s okay,” I said, “Once I gave someone my slip.” I had, too. My husband was pastor of a small church in Mississippi, and before service one Sunday, a clueless young matron was making a spectacle of herself gaily socializing down front in a thin dress that showed she was wearing no slip, the light visibly silhouetting her long legs. I felt embarrassed for her, and when she came my way I took her aside and told her she had forgotten her slip. She seemed puzzled, but went with me to the ladies’ room where I took off the half-slip under my denim skirt and told her she could return it to me that night. She hadn’t been embarrassed in the least, and couldn’t understand my concern.

There are many old axioms, such as “A stitch in time saves nine”, and scriptures, such as “A brother is born for adversity”; but my favorite is “A friend in need is a friend indeed”. And that goes for sisters, too!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ripe Fruit

I noticed the young woman kept her eyes downcast at the vegetable stand we stopped at today where she was the cashier. When I picked out a couple of luscious-looking ripe cantaloupes and asked Howard which one he liked best, I noticed a soft spot on one. The attendant felt the melon searchingly, and it was obvious to me then that she was blind. I guided her fingers to the soft spot. “Can you use this melon if I include it with the other?” she offered. We accepted her generosity.

“Are you sightless?” my husband asked, after he handed her a $5 bill and two ones and she asked if the five was on top. She said yes, she was blind, and began telling us about a money-recognition device that was on order for her. Howard asked if we could pray for her, and he led in a prayer for restored sight. I felt the familiar involuntary tightening of my abdominal muscles as I also laid hands on her and prayed.

I read once a testimony of a woman who experienced the same thing when she prayed for the sick. She said it was a sign of the gift of healing. I have often wondered about this and definitely feel it whenever I pray for someone with the laying on of hands. I know there are physical manifestations some people experience when the anointing for healing is on them, such as heat in their hands, or oil on their fingers or palms. I have never experienced this, nor heard of anyone else with the tightened muscle sensations before, until I read it in the article in a church magazine.

Over the years, there have been a few testimonies of realized healing after my prayers, but I have never presumed to have the gift of healing. Nevertheless, when I am conscious of these physical signs, I know they are from the Holy Spirit and pray in faith believing.

I have seen the gift of healing and/or faith in my mother’s prayers. She had many instances where people were healed after she prayed for them. And one of our sons in particular is used at times in the gift of healing.

I believe that Spirit-filled Christians have access to all the spiritual gifts, and any one may be apparent at different times as needed. Perhaps that is my experience. No matter, we are assured that God answers prayer, especially when two or three are gathered together, and we are to pray and receive healing. Jesus will not offer us a stone rather than food, anymore than a caring earthly father would (Matthew 7:9-11). And He is not above including an extra cantaloupe!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Yuck! There must have been milk in the bottom of that glass, I thought as I looked at the water I had just poured. It looked cloudy! I grabbed a glass from the shelf and poured again. Same result! I had seen the gallon jug of cold water in the fridge when I came in the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door. Thirsty, I poured myself a drink. Howard must have put water in a rinsed milk jug that still had milk in it, I concluded, pouring the whole thing down the drain.

Then it hit me. That had been lemonade! He was looking for a half-gallon container last night to mix some in, and I had told him to get a two-quart pitcher from the cabinet! He must have used a water jug, instead. As soon as I could, I told him what happened, which didn’t make him too happy. Thankfully, he had another can of the frozen condensed drink and quickly made another batch.

I don’t like surprises (except the good kind), and life had been full of surprises lately. My son, Greg, announced nonchalantly the other day that he and Joanna were leaving for vacation on Monday. To my surprised look, he said he thought he’d told me. They’d been planning it for months, he said. With his next words, I understood why he hadn’t mentioned it. “We’re flying to Las Vegas, then from there we’re taking a motorcycle to the Grand Canyon.” What? Alarm shot through me, and I began a campaign to dissuade him from the bike part.

It wasn’t enough that our youngest, Jamie, has been in Japan for the past two weeks, keeping me in suspense as news of earthquakes rattled my peace of mind! Son Trevor’s family is cruising the Caribbean, which sounds safe enough, but just thinking about another set of three of our grandchildren going respectively to Panama City Beach in Florida; Destin, Florida; and Savannah, Georgia, all with friends or church, yet without their parents, keeps me sending up prayers.

They say growing old is not for sissies, and I’m finding that trying to keep tabs on my scattered brood is not for sissies or the faint of heart, either. Thank God, that He is an ever present help in time of need, and a Friend who sticks closer than a brother,--a great solace to a concerned mother and grandmother. His refreshing Presence turns the lemon of worry into a sweet glass of lemonade!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


“Until the time that his word came; the word of the Lord tried him.” Psalms 105:19. In his childhood, Joseph had been granted wonderful dreams from God that promised promotion and greatness. Relating these dreams to his family, Genesis 37:5-11, only served to antagonize them and alienate Joseph. Subsequently sold into slavery and separated from his people, it would be some 20 years before Joseph saw his beloved father again, this time as prime minister of Egypt.

God had used the interim years for Joseph’s character development to fit him for the important task He had planned for him, that of preserving God’s people to ultimately bring forth his Son, Jesus Christ, in a plan of salvation for the world. How Joseph must have held on to those dreams during his years of servitude and disgrace! There is no reference to any evidence that Joseph ever gave up on God. But even he could not have imagined the power that he would someday wield, as he remained faithful in unimaginable circumstances.

We heard a sermon on that last night, and I couldn’t help but think how long it sometimes takes for us to realize the dream that God has put into our heart. My husband knew as a youth that he was called to preach the gospel, and although he didn’t broadcast it, it was obvious to nearly everyone that Howard had a call on his life. Plunging into work and life as a young man, he spent more than 20 years in “Egypt”, pouring his youth and strength into a business that he now mostly looks back on as dungeon labor. Through it all, though, he held on to God and remained faithful in his heart. Then a strange set of circumstances that God used for his glory set Howard free to pursue his calling.

God has plans for our lives; the Bible says that he plans to give us a hope and a future. Most people feel in their hearts that there is something special they are to do, but it may take a lifetime to culminate in fulfillment. In reading a book about a missionary called by God at an early age, I am amazed at the trials, and yes, small victories, that he experienced. Each time of testing seemed so hard, but he never doubted he was in God’s will.

I spent 35 adult years raising my children, then 10 more helping with my grandchildren. It is only in the last few years that I have spent time in pursuing and developing my writing, even though the seed was planted many years ago in a college class when I received encouragement from my instructor. I let my gift lie dormant many years, occasionally reviving it in this or that pursuit. But now when I see two books from me lying on my coffee table, I am amazed and awed. No, they’re not world-shaking volumes, just a reassurance to me that God is faithful and that the words of Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and callings of God are without repentance,” still ring true; and the words of Jeremiah 29:11, that assure us God knows His thoughts of us, are still trustworthy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Showers of Blessing

Where am I? As they say, what a difference a day makes! For weeks we have been suffering in oppressive heat, but last night clouds gathered with lightning and thunder rumbling during the night, and today, it’s like we’re in a resort! Blue sky, low humidity and pleasant breezes equal porch-sitting weather. I remarked to my husband the other day that we never sit on the porch swing anymore, but it was a perfect spot to read the mail awhile ago.

I had my first “water therapy” this morning, and what an exhilarating experience it was to be in the cooling depths of a spacious, beautiful swimming pool, buoyantly supported by the water as my husband and I paced effortlessly back and forth across it. Here we were, holding hands with irrepressible smiles that came unbidden while the water worked its magic on our sore muscles. At first, we had the pool virtually to ourselves, with only a mom and grandmother with two tots gently splashing.

Later, a small cluster of children arrived, one cannon balling in near me and giving me a splash. Tomorrow, we’re going earlier when only older people will be there, while kids sleep late vacation hours. I was shocked when I got out and felt the heavier weight of gravity pulling me down. Unaccustomed as I was to “swimming”, I wasn’t used to the difference of the water holding me up and how it felt poolside. It reminded me of how one could stride great, bouncy strides on the moon, but on earth, not so much.

Our spirits and bodies refreshed, we had a leisurely lunch out before coming home. It is amazing how the rain has brightened everything up; even dead brown lawns have a hint of green about them, the flowers have perked up and colors are more intense. I particularly love seeing tall stands of giant sunflowers scattered around town. One planting must have had three dozen of the bobbing brown heads encircled with their yellow, scalloped collars peeking over a tall board fence. They hadn’t seemed affected by the heat, but now even our wilting roses and periwinkles are fresh and bright again.

No wonder God’s greatest sign of blessing to His people of old was that he would send rain upon the earth. It’s no different today; water is precious, whether in an eight-ounce glass, or tons of it in swimming water!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rx for Mom

“I want you to go to the pool and exercise your leg several times a week,” the doctor said. Yeah, sure, I thought. I don’t even own a swimsuit. “Nothing strenuous, just walk across the pool and let the water support the muscles in your knee,” he explained, then continued, “Don’t do laps or anything.” Who, me? I told him he wouldn’t get that from me!

Still, it was doctor’s orders. I’m sensitive to most medications, and this was something natural I could do. That and continue wearing my splint for 3 more weeks, as he instructed. Like the reluctant Naaman in the Bible, who was reminded that if Elisha had required something hard of him to be healed, he would have done it, yet he was only told to dip 7 times in the river Jordan. I would consider it.

I mentioned it and my reservations on the phone to my daughter, Julie. “Mom, some of the swimsuits are much more modest now,” she told me. “They have swim shorts, skirts, and even swim leggings!” Really? Well, it might be worth a try, though I hadn’t gone swimming in years.

Then daughter Amy, from Georgia, suggested a store, one that we happen to have here. “They have lots of modest swimsuits,” she assured me. So today I got up my courage and went shopping. The store Amy mentioned said they hadn’t stocked swimsuits in five years. (This isn’t Atlanta, after all!)

I’d seen some in Walmart featured prominently near the front as I shopped for groceries recently, not giving them a second glance. So I headed there. Most weren’t suitable (no pun intended) at all, but I was pleasantly surprised to find what I remembered as designer labels on well-made suits. I even saw the swim shorts and skirts my daughter had told me about, but no leggings. I selected three and bravely headed to the dressing room to face the three-way mirror.

It was actually a close choice. I was surprised again that they all had possibilities, but I ruled out two. I tried on the third one again, a skirted one-piece with a well-covered top, and decided to get it--a designer brand and on sale, too. My husband deemed it proper, so tomorrow I’ll initiate it.

Lest I get too confident, I just have to reflect on something that happened last week when my son had handed me a package. “Mom, have you ever seen something called Blue Tooth, a phone you wear in your ear? They’re real popular,” he went on. Yes, I had seen them. “Well, that’s not what this is, but it looks like it,” he finished. I opened the package to find a Super Sonic Personal Sound Amplifier. A hearing aid! I quickly deferred to his father, who needed it more, in my opinion. Kids sure know how to make you feel old!

A Sheet to the Wind (not that kind!)

Mmm. I just made my bed with sun-dried sheets! They smell like fresh air and sunshine itself. My husband got my “umbrella dryer” installed, and today I had the novel pleasure of hanging clothes in the morning breeze (such as it was). It couldn’t have been easier! All I did was stand in one spot and effortlessly whirl the square network of lines toward me as I filled them with our laundry.

Bending down and carrying the clothes gave me exercise, the sunshine gave me my daily dose of vitamin D, and the blue skies lifted my spirits. Besides which, I saved money and helped the environment! (When the clothes were dry, we just slipped the apparatus from it’s plastic sleeve anchored in concrete, collapsed the “umbrella” and stored it in the garage until next washday. Presto change-o, no clothesline to clutter the yard!)

I read a magazine article recently by someone who said she always envied the life of Mrs. Charles Ingalls of Little House fame. Laura’s mother was always gathering eggs, cooking over a fireplace, or sewing clothes for the family. The writer recommended doing something involving manual labor for stress relief and a good night’s rest. She mentioned someone who had bought a reel-type lawn mower and derived tremendous satisfaction from pushing it at her own speed, smelling the new-mown grass, sans gasoline smells, and actually being outside in nature.

So much of what we do today is ease-oriented. Thank God for all the wonderful labor-saving devices we have, but there is something lost as time-absorbing tasks are traded for convenience. Nobody would want to chop wood for cooking, or carry water from a spring, but you have to admit, our predecessors had less stress than we do today. They weren’t bored, unappreciative, nor without skills for survival.

Our push-button technology, instant communication and fast-paced lives have us more frazzled and stressed than is good for us. Take a moment (or an hour) to do something by hand: wash the dishes, peel the potatoes and chop the vegetables, paint a picture or iron a shirt. Hand write a letter and send it by snail mail. How often does anyone get a real letter! Make a pie (crust and all) or slow-cook beans or a slow-cooking sauce.

Proverbs 5:12 says, “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” I’m pretty sure my sleep will be sweet tonight on those sweet-smelling sheets!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Family Style

The things you can find out at the doctor’s office! Not just from the doctor, but from the magazines in the waiting room! I thoroughly enjoyed my reading yesterday; I take two of the same magazines at home, but I had missed these articles on summer decorating, grilling recipes and beautiful gardening pieces. In an old Reader’s Digest, I read a very enlightening article about what pilots don’t tell you. I may never fly again! But the most thought provoking was an article in a news magazine about a strict Chinese mother known as “Tiger Mom”.

I had missed the hoopla when the book, Tiger Mom, by Amy Chua, came out earlier this year. Evidently many people, mothers in particular, were outraged at her style of mothering and the inference that American mothers were less competent. She believed in ruthlessly driving her children to reach their potential, never allowing play dates, sleepovers, participation in school plays, television, sleep-away camps, video games, or almost anything else most kids are involved in.

She did, however, make them practice musical instruments up to six hours a day, tolerate nothing less than an A, refuse or tear up a child-authored sentiment or drawing that she felt was less than first rate, call them insulting names and any number of other things that make western parents shudder. Her philosophy is to prepare them for life, and life is tough.

In her view, American parents coddle, over-protect, and indulge their children, producing offspring who make them less than proud in their ambitions and achievements, as show up in test scores and career aspirations. In this mindset, rather than assuming fragility in children, most Chinese mothers assume strength, and almost no price is too high to achieve the self-confidence and self-satisfaction that kids feel on reaching difficult goals.

No doubt much of what Chua espouses is true: we probably don’t push our kids hard enough. We are all capable of more than we achieve. Actually, guidelines for raising good kids are given throughout the Bible. “Train up a child in the way he should go…” doubtless encompasses nurturing a child’s gifts and bents. But one scripture admonishes that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, and the rod of correction will drive it far from him (Proverbs 22:15). Children of Jesus’ day went to Hebrew school and had to memorize what we know as the first five books of the Bible.

Ephesians 6:1-4 gives instructions to children and fathers alike. Children are to obey their parents in the Lord, honoring their father and mother, and fathers are to “provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

Surely children’s lives can be too structured, with sports, lessons, and practices. There has to be “down” time…time to dream, to imagine, to experiment. The answer to successful child rearing must lie somewhere in the middle, keeping the Bible as our guide. (There was a Bible in the waiting room, too, but my husband was reading it!)

The Desires of Our Hearts

I found out several days ago that there is a new farmer’s market opening in nearby Newkirk, and local authors (later expanded to Oklahoma authors) are invited to have a book table there. It sounded enticing, but I would need some kind of shelter in the open parking lot--tent, umbrella, or something. The only thing we could come up with was to borrow an umbrella table-picnic set my son had bought three or four years ago and was now in use by his mother-in-law to hold her plants.

I thought we would try a little further, so today we set out to see what might be found at mid-summer sales on lawn furniture. The first store didn’t have what we wanted (though the swing we had bought last month could be had at a greater bargain now!). We were directed to Lowe’s, and they had beautiful market umbrellas and tables, but, even reduced, were quite pricey. Discouraged, I was considering the borrowed equipment or to just not participate.

Then I remembered something else we had been looking for, something I had wanted for my birthday, but nobody could find. An umbrella clothesline. We’d since heard that Ace Hardware had them. Sure enough, they did, and I got one! “Look, Howard,” I said as I pointed to a display on the way to the check-out, “a butterfly net!” He had been wanting a net to scoop leaves, larvae or fish from his backyard pool. I knew I used to buy butterfly nets for my children and figured it would be a cheap alternative, but neither Walmart nor anyone else had them. And here was one for $1.79! It went in our basket.

Exiting the store, I practically ran into a display in the entry. “Party Poppers,” the label on several tall cartons read, showing a picture of an easy-setup party tent! Just what I needed, but still a little expensive. Then I noticed it had been reduced by 40%! This was really turning out to be my day! That would be much better than an umbrella, so it looks like I’ll be able to participate in the book event next week after all!

I love that about God. He knows just what we need, from something as small as a butterfly net, as mundane as a lowly clothesline (I got clothespins, too, and I’m positively excited!) to something as important as a market shelter--and He often has something better in mind! Life with Him is an exciting journey that is full of surprises!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


“We’re here today to celebrate a life well lived,” the minister was saying. And to think 24 hours ago I hadn’t even known that this person from our past had died, and now we were sitting at his memorial service.

“Listen to this funeral announcement,” my husband had said over the phone calling from the store where he works. He read a familiar name from the obituary column and said, “We’re going to that tomorrow. Call the funeral home in Blackwell and find out the time of the service.”

Even though we hadn’t seen Don in maybe 15 years, and then briefly, and not for 40 years before that, our memories of him were as fresh as ever. I was just a teenager when he had come home from the Air Force with my brother. He seemed comfortable with our family and just stayed, even though he was raised elsewhere. Before we knew it, he was ingrained in our family life, attending church and dating one of my girlfriends. My boyfriend and future husband and I, along with my brother and his girl, often ran around with them on “triple dates”. They were married when she was still in high school.

With their new lives, I didn’t see them as much, and before long, I had graduated and married a year later with a life of my own. Our lives took different paths, and I didn’t see my girlfriend until a couple of years ago, after we had moved back into the area and began attending the same Bible study. The couple had been divorced by then, each having new families. I saw pictures of their children together, though, and their six strapping grandsons, now with families of their own.

Those same grandsons sat in front of us at the services today, and the familiar set of their heads marked them as part of Don’s family. Then I saw his son, and it was like looking at a young Don. Many memories were shared at the service, and I got a glimpse into the solid citizen our friend had become in his adopted home town. His witty personality was referenced, and I could just hear him again in the amusing anecdotes from his family.

He had enjoyed hunting, and bought each grandson a shotgun when they turned 10. He was an avid reader, a member of civic organizations, a loving father and stepfather who bought his stepdaughter her first banana split and gave her a kitten (though he didn’t like pets) and a bike. Described as generous and a mentor to the young, I could see all that in the person we used to know.

Especially gratifying were the remarks pertaining to his love of Scripture. He had read the Bible through twice and took much comfort in reflecting on pertinent passages in his last illness. He said he was ready to go. And he did, this time to his real “home town”.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fiasco on the Fourth

“Joanna’s at the hospital,” our son Greg announced somberly when he got off his cell phone. We had been waiting for her and the kids to show up for our cook-out.

“At the hospital!” I exclaimed in alarm. “Are they alright?” I was afraid there had been a car accident. Our daughter-in-law and our grandchildren had had an unexpected trip to Tulsa and were on their way back.

“Yes, they were looking for us!” he replied.

Oh, no! Greg had wanted his dad and me to jump in his truck and go for a quick ride to show us something. He said we would have plenty of time before the others got to our house for our 4th of July cook-out we were planning. I found I couldn’t fit my splinted leg into the space I would occupy in the middle of the pickup seat, with Howard on the outside. “We’ll just take our car,” Howard said.

Joanna explained in exasperation when she drove up. “I saw Greg’s truck sitting in front of your house, but your car was gone. We heard the dog barking inside, but we couldn’t get in.” Since she couldn’t reach us by phone, she said she had reasoned that someone had had an emergency, and Greg couldn’t get us all into the truck and we had taken the car!

Well, she got that part right, but I felt bad for having put them through that. Our little excursion had taken more time than we thought, and they had arrived sooner than expected. To make matters worse, I had gone out without my purse or phone, and in our quick departure, Greg had left his phone in his truck.

The kids were tired and a bit disgruntled, but sitting by the backyard pond while ribs sizzled on the grill soon restored everyone’s spirits. They had stopped by their house and got Allison’s cat, Sunshine; their dog, Pebbles, was already here. Their antics had us smiling soon enough, as the cat scampered up a tree or hid beneath a poolside fern, while Pebbles darted around him in friendly banter.

When the food was done, we went inside to enjoy our meal in the cool air-conditioning, topping it off with fresh peach pie and ice cream. Adam, 17, excused himself from the table a little early, as he had a pressing engagement with some pyrotechnics, and the fourth of July was a date he refused to stand up! The rest of us lingered, grateful for a safe family celebration, despite the mix-up earlier. All’s well that ends well, and we’d had a great finish!

Monday, July 4, 2011


“Oh, look, Howard,” I said as I pointed out the car window. It was a beautiful rainbow! A few drops of rain had begun to fall as we left the church, and now we were surrounded by heavy, dark clouds, except for a clearing in the west where the sun was breaking through. There had evidently been rain nearby, for the wind had been blowing up a storm all evening, tantalizing us with the hopes of relief from our heat wave. An elderly lady in church had even asked that we pray for the rain to fall, which we did. And now it was forthcoming.

“It’s not just one rainbow, it’s two!” I exclaimed as another multi-colored bow shadowed one end of the first one. In the vast sky over the great plain, it was possible to see the complete rainbow from beginning to end arched against the grey cloud backdrop. The rainbow. God’s promise that a flood would never destroy the earth again. It has become a symbol of promise.

I saw a Joel Osteen sermon last night on the promises of God. It was called “Putting God in Remembrance,” based on Isaiah 43:26, which says, “Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.” Joel said that we should remind God of His promises, even stating the verses, such as, “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children,” Isaiah 54:13. Or Proverbs 31: 28, “Her children shall rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”

Pastor Osteen gave the example of his little girl, who had persuaded her father to take her to Disney World. When he agreed, she said, “You promise?” So he promised. Then every day the child reminded her daddy of that promise, until he was so weary that he finally took her on the trip. (He compared it to the unjust judge in the Bible which Jesus told of in Luke 18:2, who was wearied by a widow’s constant coming until he granted her desire.)

There are countless promises in the Bible, and of course, God remembers every one of them. It would seem that by recounting them to God, we are increasing our own faith and claiming the promises as our own. We prayed in faith believing for rain last night (unlike the story of the church who met to pray for rain and they all wore sunglasses, except for one child who brought an umbrella!). And the rain came. There was at least an inch of water in our wheelbarrow this morning, and the parched grass looks green and refreshed today, as green as the stripe in the rainbow!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

DMV Zone!

“Watch out, she’s going to run over you!” the hardware clerk warned Howard in mock fear as I tried to corral the motorized cart in Walmart today. When I surveyed the vast expanse of store space Howard wanted to cover from pharmacy to hardware, I gave in and had him get me the cart. Despite some jerky starts, I was soon sailing down the aisles with the greatest of ease! Shopping had never been like this!

I dislike shopping at Walmart because it’s so big, but especially today, when my knee was hurting under the splint. Besides the first-aid item I picked up, I had no further transactions; I was following along on “man” business behind my husband’s cart. He was looking for some hose clamps. He said something about radiator hose clamps, so first I followed him to the automotive department.

He actually wanted something bigger for his purposes, so he was directed to plumbing. Navigating there proved a little more difficult, since we reached that aisle by going down the main thoroughfare in the back. Today is July 2, and the store was so packed with shoppers pushing carts full of everything from swim paraphernalia to fix-it supplies to cook-out gear, we almost needed a traffic director. I had only a few narrow escapes.

Howard was getting a kick out of my driving. It was fun, gliding effortlessly past the intense, focused shoppers with no concerns of my own, except trying not to bump into them. I reminded him we had just seen Cars 2, last night, and he could call me Lightning McQueen. He insisted on calling me Mater, though. I liked the voice of Holly, so I wanted to be her, instead. (The so-so movie was not a good idea, since I couldn’t get comfortable and finally had to take off my splint in the dark!)

We have been trying to get fish to survive in our backyard pool, so our last stop was the aquariums. The loud “beep beep” as I backed up to get a better angle on the sharp turn announced my driving skills to one and all as I maneuvered into a side aisle while my husband discussed the merits of this or that fish with the sales associate.

At last I drove my vehicle to the check out and noticed an older man sitting on a bench watching me. “Ma’am, are you through with that?” he asked eagerly, indicating my cart. Relinquishing my ride, I said it was all his, and he gratefully clambered aboard. I knew the feeling. Walmart was so much more doable on wheels!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Now, I Get It!

“You’re slower than I am,” an elderly gentleman wearing oxygen tubes said with a sympathetic smile today at the grocery store. I haven’t gone out much wearing this splint on my leg, but today we had to have groceries. The parking lot was packed, since it is the first of the month, and most of their customers were seniors. We were told once that they are busier then since that’s when a lot of people get food stamps, government checks or paychecks.

As I was going into the store, a white-haired lady looked at my leg and said, “I remember those days!” Apparently she had gotten over whatever was wrong, so maybe I will, too. It was almost lunch time when we finished shopping, and since Howard would go to work right after we got home, he suggested we get a quick bite.

I never appreciated what handicapped or temporarily impaired people have to go through until I tried to get my unbendable knee under the table in a restaurant booth. When I sat down, the stiff splint stuck out in front of me in mid air. I could hardly make it reach to prop it on the opposite seat, and putting it in the seat of my booth was too awkward. I found that out the other day when my husband wanted to eat at a Mexican restaurant. Due to a center rod under the table I couldn’t get past, I had to cramp his space by resting my foot beside him on his seat.

Getting in and out of our small sedan is a feat in itself. Exiting the car earlier, I caught my foot, twisting my knee and almost falling. Ouch! I looked like the tin man, anyway, as I had put on my roomiest capris, which stretched tight over the splint and made it look as if I had gallon cans under there. I could sympathize anew with a woman I saw in a wheel chair in that store last winter who was wearing shorts in freezing weather. She explained she couldn’t get long pants over her cast.

I had to wear jeans shorts to the doctor’s office the other day so he could put the splint on, and I wear them around home, which is much easier, even if I do wind up with one black leg. The padding on the splint adds inches, and whether I wear it over or under jeans or slacks, my leg looks positively obese! Kind of like wearing something full to hide the fat, and ending up looking fatter than if you had worn something snug that showed your true size! I shudder to think how it will look with a dress! I guess I will find out next Sunday!

Paul said he gloried in his infirmities, because in his weakness he is strong in Christ. II Corinthians 12:5, 9,10. I may not be there yet, but I do have more empathy for the infirm, and the relative inactivity of recuperation gives me more time to reflect, pray, and appreciate His goodness. A blessing in disguise!