Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Viva la Difference

"Where to next?" I heard a man say as he and a couple of women were coming out of Belk's store yesterday. "Big Lots, I hope?" he went on. The ladies seemed not to hear him, heading on to another clothing store. He mumbled something, shaking his head as he trailed along behind their energetic chatter. It sounded like, "Man, I wanted to go to Big Lots!"

Sorry, Sir! When women are in shopping mode, they are oblivious to anything ese! I kind of felt sorry for him, though, being dragged along like that. As a rule, men are not shoppers, at least not in the same way women are. If they need something, like a shirt, they go into a store, select one, and buy it. Whereas we women go from store to store, comparative shopping, trying things on, or just "looking around." Rarely is that fun for men.

Of course, if it is of their interest,they can spend hours looking at say, guitars, tools, cars, boats or, in my husband's case, poring over used books. In fact, whenever we go into a museum, memorial library, antique store or even an estate sale, he stops at the first item and remains there studying it while I have quick-scanned everything and am ready to move on.

I must have developed these tendencies during the years of raising a family, when time was of the essence and it seemed I was always in a hurry. But my husband does not get in a hurry. He knows that we will be waiting for him when he is ready.

Last Sunday we had a day honoring mothers. Speakers at churches extolled their virtues, and those at our church read letters to them and/or gave testimony of memories of mother. More was planned for the evening service, and I mentally catalogued my favorite memories of Mama to share, but I was not feeling well and did not go. I did remark that morning, though, with tongue in cheek that "Before long we'll have to go through all of this again for Father's Day!"

Our son, who is a pastor, said, "Mothers Day is when we make the mothers feel good, and Father's Day is when we make the fathers feel bad." It must be that sermons are geared to concentrate on Mom's positive qualities, and are slanted toward the responsibilities of fatherhood for the men.

Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." Both are needed in God's plan, and are made to complement each other. God help those who are forming unnatural unions in the politically correct manner of today. May there always be both a Father's and a Mother's Day!

Queen for a Day

"Day lilies only last for a day," I said, as I glimpsed my granddaughter Allison coming in the door in her pajamas with a bouquet of freshly picked blooms. She nodded, smiling, as she hurried in.

It was the morning of Mother's Day. I had noticed a vase of the flowers placed thoughtfully on the table when I got up in the middle of the night, along with some handmade plaster-of-paris gifts, still damp from the mold and sticky with bright paint. A shimmering bouquet of Mylar balloons anchored on the table by a red-foiled weight bumped the ceiling.

Sure enough, the flowers had closed this morning, and she had made a dash outside to replace them before her mom saw them. I had seen the younger children, guided by their big sister, surreptitiously darting around the corner of the house wearing disposable gloves and carrying art supplies the previous evening. Mother's Day was always a big day in our son's household.

My first experience with day lilies was when we moved to Mississippi from New Orleans many years ago. There was a golden circle of them in the huge flower bed in the front yard of the country house we had bought. It was bordered by a lush stand of monkey grass, something else new to me, which later I found bore lovely purple flowers. I soon found out that the pretty blossoms of the day lily wilt overnight, usually being replaced by another fresh bloom if there is another pod on the stalk.

What a shame, I always thought, to bloom for only a day. But that is just one of the ways of nature, set in place by God, Creator of all things. In an expanded sense, that is the way of our lives. We are born, grow up, mature, and bloom for our day in the sun, so to speak. (Even a thousand years is only one day to God, the Bible says.)

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth forever," I Peter 1:24,25.

However, verse 23 says we are "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." We are told in verses 18 and 19 that we are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot or blemish, and (22)"See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."

I think that is what the children were doing with the flowers and gifts.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Not So Common Sense

"Our Mother's Day speaker at church this morning was a 90-year-old woman," I remarked at lunch with our son's family.

"Ninety years old!" exclaimed 7 year-old Joy, her eyes widening in wonder. "She must have growed big!"

"No, actually, she grew shorter," I laughed, thinking about the spunky, tiny lady. "The longer she stands, the shorter she grows," I quipped, then remembering the old riddle about the candle, I finished, "Little Miss Eticoat, In her pink petticoat, and her red nose. The longer she stands, The shorter she grows."

Why do these submerged fragments of childhood, either my own or my children's, pop into my mind? Like on Saturday when the whole family had piled into cars for an outing to take a walk at Cann Gardens. To distract the children, who had been running a little wild, our daughter-in-law organized them and adults alike to play a game of "Mother, May I?" My husband and I were watching from benches on the shady brick terrace where they played.

"Mother, may I take 3 giant steps?" one asked, to which she said, "Yes, you may." After awhile of this pattern, the game was getting a little lackluster, so I made a suggestion that had just occurred to me.

"You have to say, 'Take three giant steps,' then they have to say, 'Mother, may I?' If they forget, they have to go back to the starting line." Suddenly this added new energy to the game, if I do say so myself, as the players invariably forgot to ask permission and laughed in surprise each time they had to go back and start over.

As we were leaving the park later, one of the little girls was balking, dragging along being half-pulled by her mother. "Let her be a wheelbarrow," I heard myself saying, showing her mom how to take hold of the child's feet while her energetic daughter walked on her hands in front of her. Beth, 5, loved the activity, and her sister came running, flinging herself on the ground to be turned into a wheelbarrow, too! Thanks, Mimi!

Back to our speaker. "My husband had to get up to go to work at 4:00 a.m," she recalled, "and I would get up earlier to make his breakfast. Then I couldn't get him up!" She told how she would call and call, getting frustrated, day after day. Then one morning, reaching down and picking up his socks, she put them on his feet. "Then he got up!" she exclaimed, "So I did that every morning, and he came down to breakfast every time!"

She said later, her three boys would not get up for school, no matter how she called up the stairs to wake them. "You know what I did?" she asked, "I would go in, rub their backs, tell them how much I loved them and what fine boys they were, and say, 'Breakfast is on the table. Come and eat.' And they got up! I would do this every morning, saving myself a lot of frustration!"

"I told my friend about that," she went on, "and she said she wouldn't stoop to put a man's socks on for anything! I told her I didn't have to do it; it was an act of love, and he responded in love and went to work!"

Words of wisdom from mothers (or grandmothers), whether profound or light-hearted, are good on Mother's Day or any day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Super Heroes

I have been reading an inspirational book in which there are many stories and true accounts of people seeing angels, or realizing that an angel must have helped them and saved them from harm.

It made me think of a time when I was quite small, small enough to be sleeping in a crib (not that it was my crib, I must have just gotten into it one night). Anyway, I woke up to see a white form standing over me. Not moving or saying anything, just calmly standing there. I quickly covered my head and lay there sweating and fearful; then when I looked again, it was not there.

In retrospect, since I was probably four or five at the time, I wonder now if it had something to do with the accident that happened around that time. I got in front of our plow horses that my daddy was driving from the pasture, was run over and taken to the hospital where I spent three days. I don't remember the moment of impact, just waking up in the car and begging to be allowed to go to sleep, then waking again as a patient sometime later. It was a miracle that I recovered without long-lasting effects, but they said everybody was praying.

Perhaps an angel had been sent to check on his assignment? Or maybe I had caught a glimpse of my guardian angel, somehow visible during a time of impending danger or a time when the curtain between this life and the next is drawn back a little.

When our daughter, Julie, was sixteen, she was in a car accident and taken by ambulance to a New Orleans hospital 50 miles away for surgery. Her father and I were in the recovery room with her when she came out of surgery, along with our pastor's wife. Later, we mentioned something about it, and Julie said, "Who else was in the room with you?" We told her no one was there except the three of us. She said there were four people in the room, one standing over in the corner. We've often wondered it that was an angel, there during her time of trauma.

My husband is always saying he would like to see an angel sometime. I invariably insist that he shouldn't say that, because it might mean he's about to die! Angels seem to flit in and out of our lives when needed, not interfering with human activities unless absolutely necessary. The Bible says they are ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who will be heirs of salvation, Hebrews 1:14. Even though we don't usually see them, we can be sure they are on the job, fulfilling their duty and watching over us earthlings!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Keeping Tabs

"Hi," I greeted my daughter-in-law, Joanna, as she came in from a church board meeting last night, "The girls are all in bed, I think." I had been watching TV, and all was quiet upstairs where older granddaughter, Allison, was watching Joy, 5, and 7-year-old Beth.

Joanna headed upstairs, but a few minutes later, she spoke behind my chair, "There are no girls upstairs, and Allison's car is here."

We were puzzled as to where they could be, and then I thought of something. "I saw a picture on Facebook a few minutes ago of the girls at the fountain! Maybe they're there!" I checked it again and saw that it was posted 9 minutes ago.

Just then we heard their voices laughing and talking on the porch.

"Did you enjoy the fountain?" their mother asked.

"How did you know we were there?" the little girls questioned.

"Because Mimi saw it on Facebook!" she exclaimed. They had been walking the dog and had ended up at the brightly-lit, multicolored fountain in front of city hall. It is just a block over and a couple of blocks west, and even though it was 9 o'clock, it was just now getting dark.

"Where is it, I wanna see," the children dashed in to search my computer screen for their picture. "How did it get there?" they asked incredulously until we explained that Allison had posted it. They are used to their pictures getting on Facebook, but not that quickly!

It's like a commercial I saw recently, I think about cell phones and texting, when someone shared a bit of news and another remarked, "Oh, that was 18 seconds ago!", making it old hat.

How fast things change! Last night I was watching a movie, not more than a few years old, but when the man answered the phone, a long cord was dangling from it. Then he picked up a portable phone to finish his conversation, and it was enormous!

It seems only yesterday that we had to stop and use a pay phone on trips to keep relatives apprised of our location. And then phone cards came out, and it was a bit of a pain to put in all the numbers to record the charges.

The Bible says in Daniel 12:4, that knowledge will increase. Evidently that includes knowledge of our whereabouts, with GPS, security cameras and cell phones, not to mention Facebook, where everybody knows everybody else's business!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In Due Season

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1. Someone put those words in beautiful script with artistic shading on a Facebook post.

It reminded me of a Guideposts story I read last night by Elizabeth Sherrill. She and her husband had taken a 50th anniversary trip to France and visited sites they had gone to when they were first married. As she noticed they didn't relish the food quite the way they did then, she reflected that they were younger then.

She remembered how hungry they had been due to the fact they had biked all day, and thought longingly of the energy they had then. At the quaint restaurant where they ate, reminiscent of the early days, she considered striking up a conversation with the proprietor, but, realizing she'd forgotten most of her French, decided her memory wasn't what it used to be.

On and on, as she made comparisons, she wondered if her present season was good for anything besides looking back. Then the proprietor surprised them with a lovely spray of feathery acacia, loaded with bright flowers. She exclaimed that since it was winter, he must have grown it in a greenhouse. He shook his head and said, "Acacia blooms in every season." She called it a gift of God, making her realize the flowering of a new season was before her.

The story struck home to me, since we are about to mark our 54th anniversary. I remember poignantly the season of raising my children, a busy, happy, if sometimes chaotic and exhausting, time. Now I see them in that season. My older children are involved in weddings, babies, and career launchings of their own kids. My middle children are in the throes of educating, guiding and training with their families. And my youngest has two pre-schoolers, my "babies".

So I find myself in a new season. Less resonsibility, which is nice, and more freedom to travel (to see the kids!), and time to enjoy and appreciate the present. Taking walks with my husband, noticing nature, our cozy room, front-porch sitting ( he with his books and me with the newspaper), to name a few. Watching (and assisting) his gardening efforts, and both pursuing our interests, whether in writing, music, or ministry, thanking God for His goodness. The Bible says, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season, we will reap if we faint not,"
Galations 6:9.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Comedy of Errors

"Look what I got at the estate sale!" I said to my son, showing him the cutest little soap dish--a miniature bathtub with a disheveled housewife's head and feet sticking out of the tub.

"That's a cartoon character, you know," he smiled. I knew I'd seen her somewhere! Later I noticed the comic in the Sunday paper. That was after I'd had my own frazzled day, which started in the wee hours when my husband woke me out of a sound sleep and asked me if I'd put the roast in the oven yet. This was Sunday, and it was my turn to cook dinner.

"What time is it?" I asked, groggily. It couldn't be morning yet, I thought. He said it was about 5:00, still way to early for me to get started on my cooking. I looked at the clock and saw it was 2:00 a.m.! After a restless few hours, I started numbly to the kitchen and fumbled around with preparations for lunch. I could make it before church and keep it warm in the crock-pot.

Finding the right pan, finding my glasses to read the weight and cooking time for the meat, getting the red potatoes ready for roasting, and getting out carrots, I finally had the meal ready for the oven. I almost forgot. I wanted to make a peach cobbler for dessert. That done, there were two hours left before church. Plenty of time to eat and get ready.

Running my bath, I turned to go to the sink, stubbed my toe and grabbed a tiered corner stand. Crash! My cute soap dish! The only thing I'd really liked at the estate sale! I had put it there so it wouldn't get broken! Now a pursuit for the broom and dustpan from the basement stairwell. Shattered glass on ceramic tile would not be good.

Just as we were leaving for church, I find out half the family will not be there for lunch. We consider asking guests home to help eat the food, but decide on the fringe benefit of leftovers.

Looking at the church bulletin when I am seated in the pew, I am surprised to read there will be a luncheon following the service. I hadn't known about it! The women's director got up to explain. It seems on Friday, the ladies were scheduled to feed the patrons of the Senior's center, and had prepared several roasts, trimmings and desserts. When they brought the food to the center, another set of volunteers was already there frying fish! A mix-up! Voila! Save the food for an all-church dinner on Sunday!

Well, we couldn't go, since I had cooked and would be putting dinner on the table for my son, grandson, my husband and me. The food was delicious, and despite the mix-ups and disasters, a good Sunday was had by all! Even though I did feel a bit like the wife from the comic strip, "For Better or for Worse"!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lost and Found

Tonight at church I read a couple of articles from my new book. It was singspiration night, and readings were welcome as well. One of the stories I read was about the day last summer when I spotted a lost child at Walmart and helped her find her grandmother. I was surprised how it touched a chord in some of the listeners.

After I sat down, our facilitator said that it had reminded her of a time when she was left behind at a church convention as a child, each parent thinking she had gone with the other to meet up with friends for refreshments after the service. She had stood panic-stricken and crying, until a minister and his wife noticed her and kept tabs on her until her parents could be notified of her whereabouts.

Then an 83-year-old singer prefaced her song with remarks of the time she was lost as a six-year-old. Having been raised in relative isolation deep in the woods of the Osage hills, the shy child and her family had moved closer to town when she started school. One day during their lunch break, she had walked with her sister and other classmates to a dime store in the small town. Somehow she got separated from them and realized she didn't know where she was. Terrified at not knowing anyone, she sobbed her heart out as she walked aimlessly down the street.

Suddenly a big boy on roller skates passed by, then turned and said, "What's the matter, little girl?" Being afraid of strangers, yet desperate, she answered, "I'm lost!"

"Well, where are you trying to get to?" he asked, to which she exclaimed, "To school!"

"Just follow me,and I'll get you there," he directed, and although hesitant, she was more afraid not to go with him. She followed behind as he skated ahead, then when she spotted the school, the relieved youngster struck out running toward  the brick building that looked like a haven of safety.

"I didn't even think to thank the poor boy," the bemused lady said, shaking her head.

Well, getting left behind or separated from friends and family happens to the best of us. Even Jesus. The poignant story in the Bible gives rise to imaginative scenarios. My husband and I sang a song about one such scenario at Wednesday night church last week. It has the boy Jesus answering questions of the doctors and lawyers in a duet called "On My Father's Side."

I even wrote a story about this several years ago. In it I said that Jesus was lost. But of course, He wasn't really lost, it was His parents who lost track of Him. He knew exactly where He was, and it was about the Father's business.

Who knows? Perhaps the little girl led back to school by a boy on roller skates was actually being led by her guardian angel! God always knows where we are, and His main concern is that we not be eternally lost. That is why He sent His Son.