Friday, November 30, 2012


"Mom, did you see the link to the video I put on your e-mail?" my son, Jamie, asked when my phone rang last night.  I hadn't, but when I checked it wasn't there.  He attempted to send it again without success, so finally he took remote control of my computer and put the link on facebook.  He really wanted me to see this!  He said it was of 6-year-old Anne-Marie's reading comprehension skills.

I was enjoying the antics of my granddaughters as they bounced on the bed saying something, but my volume wouldn't come on, so I didn't hear a word of what they said.  I called Jamie back, and he adjusted my volume.  It seemed their mother, Tammy, was holding a white board off camera with a sentence printed on it for Anne-Marie to read.  The kindergartner peered at the words doubtfully, sounding out the letters, finally saying, "That doesn't make sense!"

By bits and pieces, I understood it was a message about Maddie, the three-year-old, being the big sister.  Anne-Marie didn't get it, and neither did I for a minute.  "How did you get to be the big sister?" Mommy asked Anne-Marie, to which she responded, "I was born first."  "How would Maddie get to be the big sister?"  She was clueless, but by this time I was yelling the news to Howard.

"I would have to have a baby, or adopt, right?" her mother coached her, "so what would I do?" 

"Adopt?" Anne-Marie answered. 

"No!  I'm going to have a baby!" Tammy said.  Their firstborn's eyes grew wide with incredulity, then she exploded into screaming, laughing and jumping on the bed. 

"Maddie, did you hear me?  We're going to get a little baby!"  Tammy told "the baby."    Maddie shook her head, and exclaimed, "No!"  burying her face against her mother.  She was held tight and comforted while they all laughed. 

What a dramatic announcement!  Leave it to Jamie for a witty way to let me know their news.  When Maddie was expected, I found out by a picture he sent of Anne-Marie wearing a t-shirt with the words, Big Sister, across the front.  Whose big sister?, I remember thinking, before I let out a cry of realization!

Monday is Jamie's birthday.  I sent him a card yesterday, but nothing I could send could compare with his birthday news!  I congratulated him and said I hoped it would be a boy.  "You deserve a boy," I said.  He assured me he knew raising a boy would be different, because he'd been around his friend's sons a lot.   "No!  You haven't raised a "Jamie!" I teased.  "You have to know what I went through!" 

Well, whether it's a little Jamie or another wonderful daughter, I am blessed to still be getting not only great-grandchildren, but grandchildren!  "The blessings of the Lord, it  maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it," Proverbs 10:22.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I've been opening presents all day!  Early Christmas?  No, just digging into decorations and finding treasures I'd forgotten about or misplaced since our move last year.  I plan to keep my decorating to a minimum, but I had to do the fireplace mantel, so I was delighted when I opened the right box containing the red felt scalloped mantel cover with the ball fringe trim.  The words, Tis the Season, are embroidered in white satin in large, graceful letters across the front.

That was the perfect backdrop for my favorite nativity set.  What a humble feeling I had unwrapping the lowly cow and mended donkey.  Not for the animals' sake, but for the humble beginning our Lord chose for His birth.  The figurines of the young parents, awed wisemen, and the shepherd boy carrying a lamb were all representative of the Christmas story. They needed illumination, though, and rather than dig through more boxes, I picked up a couple of strings of lights  at the dollar store, along with some greenery to put around the mirror.  The tiny white lights give just the right glow and highlight the faces of the delicate figures.

A big red bow over the mirror matches the one on my china cabinet.  I held my breath climbing on a stepstool to affix things out of my reach. My husband is under the weather, so aside from helping me bring things from the basement, he left me on my own. It isn't perfect, but I think the overall effect is charming.

In another box, I discovered my decorative wooden sleigh with the metal runners and curved handle. The graceful lines are reminiscent of workmanship of bygone days.  I filled it with a beribboned ornament covered in angels, and three glittery, puffed, mesh bags with drawstring ribbons, hinting of Santa's bounty. It sits upon a red chenille throw draped on the corner of a tall pub-style table with massive legs.

I put my skinny, pre-lit Christmas tree in the dining room this year.  It doesn't require further decoration, but I found a string of cranberry-colored beads that look pretty on it, as well a  roll of gold mesh ribbon that encircles it now.  Miniature-wreath picture frames unearthed today holding long ago family photos hung on the tree complete the look I wanted.  Balancing the size of the small tree is a copper tub filled with gorgeous poinsettia and holly placed on a small, rustic table beside it.

A homespun wall hanging on the back door, a quilted angel hooked over a cabinet knob, and a calico-and- plaid Santa with a yarn beard in decoupage-style paper-bag art adorns my vegetable bin.  Tomorrow I will tackle the porch.  I love to fill the garden wagon with giant pinecones, greenery, and red Christmas ribbon.  Then I will be able to think about buying Christmas gifts in preparation for the celebration of the greatest Gift of all, the swaddled Baby laid in a rude manger, who would give, that we might live.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Outdoor World

The ducks were beautiful landing on Greg's pond today when we went to feed our chickens.  I was concentrating on the ones floating and bobbing like little Mallard decoys when a great V of them swept in with wings stretched high as they touched down on the sparkling water. They were followed by a second wave of ducks, the first scattering out of sight to the far reaches of the pond. 

Howard walked down the hill to the edge of the water for a better view, but I was content to watch through the car windows on this bright, chilly afternoon. Climbing back up the grassy slope, when he got to the car my husband remarked, "I think I found a good place where we could sit and fish."  We had heard the large pond/small lake was plentifully stocked with bass. I can see fishing equipment is in our future!

The rustic, autumnal view was pulling me out of the car's confines.  "Let's walk over to the rocks," I suggested.  There were slabs and ledges of rocks behind a weathered old shed that formed a slight cliff tumbled with other boulders below.  It reminded me of  "The Big Rocks," an area behind our house where I played as a child with my siblings in eastern Oklahoma.  Jutting out of the mountain and verdant with a carpet of moss,  the rocks made a perfect playhouse, lookout tower, or dreaming spot for our childish fantasies.

"This is therapeutic for me," Howard said, gesturing expansively at the peaceful scene below.  We watched a burro chasing a goat on the neighbor's property at the far side of the pond, the bucolic sounds of braying and baa-ing wafting across the water.  A lazy wisp of smoke curled from the ashes of  fallen trees and branches burned in an ongoing clean-up project by our son's family.

I was noticing the many small cedars and  evergreens that were revealed by the seasonal thinning of leaves and undergrowth.  Snuggled next to a tree trunk, growing at the edge of an old shed, or rooted firmly in the cracks of a rock, they were Christmas trees in the making.  Since my sense of smell has gone south, I had Howard pinch a lacy, green frond to release the pungent spiciness I knew was there.  He said it smelled like Christmas.

The blue of a jay flashed through the bare limbs of a giant oak, a Christmas ornament in the near-December wood.  We pulled our jackets closer and headed back to town, refreshed by nature and the non-commercial, unmaterialistic world that God gives us free of charge if we just take the time to notice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


"Wow!  We made it!" I said, as we congratulated ourselves and thanked God as our plane landed after our trip to Georgia.  We had successfully maneuvered our way through the Atlanta airport, security, lightning-speed tram/trains and a longer-than-expected flight ("Headwinds," the attendant explained).

We picked up our luggage and glanced around.  I saw a sign that said something about a shuttle, but Howard said we would catch it outside.  The north wind hit us like a sharp knife when we emerged from the revolving airport door. I was glad for my leather coat, which was too much when we boarded in the milder temperatures of the south.  We bravely headed for the shuttle shelter across the traffic lane.

We approached one bus, but it was for hotel guests.  Then Howard motioned me to follow him to a Park and Ride shuttle.  The driver helped us on, then seeing the parking ticket we had, told us it was for the south parking lot.  Puzzled, we struck out to find our car.  The ticket said it was in 1244, but where was that?  The sea of cars seemed unfamiliar.  Finally we saw the numbers 11-12 at the end of a row of automobiles.

"Can you tell me where 1244 is?" my husband asked a man near a car.  He shook his head and said this was Thrifty Car Rental, and pointed us toward the distant end of the next lot.  Pulling our luggage and braving the icy winds, we wandered in and out the rows.  I yelled at Howard to try the key pad signal, but he yelled back that  he had been doing that.  He tried again, and we heard the welcome electronic beep!

He was calling something else from several feet behind me, and I realized with alarm that he was saying he lost the parking ticket!  "The wind must have blown it out of my hand!" he shouted. It was useless to search for it in this gale.  At the exit, he explained, but the attendant was adamant that it would cost $15 per day for a lost ticket, and we had been gone a week! We expected to pay only $6!  At our (my) strong protests and Howard's diplomacy, she agreed to check with her boss and left her booth to confer with someone in the booth on the other side of us.  

Reviewing our plane ticket receipts and recalculating the charges, she came up with $9 for each of the 8 days we had been gone (our departure was at 11:00 a.m., and it was now 5 p.m., costing an extra day).  Relieved, but still upset, I asked, "Why wouldn't they let us ride the shuttle?"

"Because that's for Park and Ride!  It's only six dollars!" she said. "You are in Long Term Parking!"  O-oh!  We thought that was where we had parked!  It had been a couple of years since we used the Wichita airport and we had parked in the wrong lot!

We arrived home safely at last, and I was able to laugh about it when I told my daughter over the phone, "We are not to be trusted!"  She agreed and said she worries about us.  All I could think of was, "Headwinds."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Take-Away

"There's a Cracker Barrel!" I exclaimed to my daughter after church this morning.  She thought we would have to wait until we got closer to her home to eat there, but here was one right off the interstate near her church in Marietta.  It was busy, though, and a little smaller than most of these old country store restaurants.  We didn't mind at all, since we were in no hurry and spent the waiting time browsing the Christmas items in the store. 

This was so festive!  Since we had flown on this visit, we missed the restaurants along the road, and this one was perfect with its massive fireplace and welcoming, roaring fire.  "Look at these, Mom," Amy said, pointing to a rack of capes, sweaters, and fur-trimmed jackets. 

"This is gorgeous!" I exclaimed, pulling a red sweater-wrap from the rack. I tried it on, loved it, then reluctantly put it back.  Everything was so tempting! From irresistible things for new great-grandbabies and toys for toddlers to fleecy, plaid Christmas robes for teens.  It's a good thing they called us to eat when they did.

"Let's go wait in the car," Amy said after we had eaten, steering me to the door while my husband waited in the line at the register.  I figured she was tired, so we went out into the brisk air and settled into our seats.  Pretty soon, Howard emerged, followed by our grandson Reid, who was carrying a large gift bag.  "I think Reid has something for you and Dad," Amy smiled.  Right in the top of the bag was the red sweater!

"Merry Christmas, Mimi and Pa-Pa," Reid (who had just gotten a new job), said as Howard pulled out a coffee mug for him and a jar of country apple butter.  "It's a little early, but I just wanted to give it to you while you were here," he grinned.  We were so surpised and pleased at our thoughtful grandson!  We hadn't seen him much this week, since he'd been so busy working during the Thanksgiving holiday.

We will be going home in the morning, so we  have this afternoon to rest and reflect on an amazing week.  Not only had our kids from North Carolina and our grandson from Tulsa joined us, but our daughter from Tennessee along with her little girl, 9-year-old Mackenzie, and our new-mommy granddaughter, Bethany, with baby Jaxon, almost 3 months.  Accompanying them was 19-year-old grandson Zach, a reassuring presence on the four-hour drive.

We had a wonderful time the last night of their visit watching a Thanksgiving video of our family,  made 15 years ago. Several of the grandchildren hadn't even been born then, and everyone was trim and young with firm jaw lines. What great memories!

Black Friday bargains lured several of the adventurous among us out at midnight on Thursday, and Friday we all piled in vehicles for a long ride into the country to explore some of the 26,000 acres of Berry College, the largest campus in the world, with its grist mill and 45 foot water wheel, plenteous deer, and stone cathedrals.

I guess I'm ready for a short nap with pleasant dreams on the flight home, but first I have to figure how to get two jars of muscadine jelly that Amy made, and a jar of apple butter on the plane tomorrow!

Friday, November 23, 2012


"Let's go to the covered bridge!" I suggested.  We were relaxing after a long breakfast and warm conversation, then the mixing, chopping and stirring of Thanksgiving dinner preparations.  Everything was in readiness now, and the gorgeous November day was beckoning us outside. We needed to sharpen our appetites for the feast ahead and for the roasting turkey that was filling the air with its delicious aroma.

"Great! I'll be right down," our son Mark said as he hurried upstairs for his shoes.  This was their first trip to his sister's house in Georgia, and we were eager to show them around.  Soon most of us were piled into two vehicles for the short ride down to the river; we rode with Mark and our daughter-in-law, Rhonda, while the younger set followed in the pickup being driven by our 18-year-old grandson, Reid.

The rustic, hand-pegged bridge built over a hundred years ago was the perfect foil for the scenic display before us: the recreated village, the country store, and the meandering road through the woods.  "This is gorgeous!" Rhonda exclaimed as we entered the bridge's dimmed interior with the shafts of sunlight coming through.  Looking down through the wide spaces in the bridge floor, she suddenly wailed, "My sunglasses!" as they slipped off her head into the swirling water below.  How unexpected! We felt bad, but she laughingly said she had lost lots of sunglasses.

Getting thirsty, we decided to drive into town, since the little store was closed where one could usually sit and enjoy  a bottle of pop.  Our guests wanted to see Cartersville, anyway, so we chatted and drove behind the kids ahead of us.  Suddenly we heard gasps and exclamations from the front seat and peered to see a pickup truck turn straight into the path of our grandchildren!  They had swerved just in time!  All in a split second the unexpected had happened and the unthinkable narrowly averted! 

"What just happened?" I exclaimed when I reached them on the phone.  They said a girl coming from the opposite direction had made a left turn right in front of them.  Our older grandson, Chase, told his mother when I handed the phone to her that, thanks to Reid's skillful driving, the accident had been avoided.  Thank You, Lord!

We went on to walk around a little of the old town district, got our drink and headed home.  As we gathered around our Thanksgiving table, we had much to thank God for, as our minister son voiced in his heartfelt prayer of thanks and blessing.  More than the bridge was covered, we realized, acknowledging the safety of God's hand. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Safe Landing

"I'm over there!  I'm over there!" I noticed a blonde girl gesturing from a seat across the aisle.  My husband and I had just located our airline seats, and I realized I was in "F," his seat instead of mine, "E," and I was trying to switch places with him in the narrow space.  I really would have preferred the window seat, but I hated for him to be squeezed in the middle.  It's a good thing, too, because the girl had seat "D" and was soon seated next to  me.

"Is this your first flight?" I asked her, after she pointed to the tray on the back of the seat and said, "What's that?"  At least in her late teens, since she was on the way to New Orleans to see her boyfriend, the girl was nervous and full of questions, since it was indeed her first flight.

"What does it feel like when we take off?" she asked.  I knew how she felt, remembering the first time I  flew on a jet.  She wanted to know how we would know when we were in the air, and I told her when we were going faster than she had ever gone on land before, we would become airborne.  I remembered the sensation of being pulled back against the seat on take-off and told her about it.

"Before you know it, we'll be in the clouds," I remarked, to which she exclaimed, "Oh, we get to see the clouds?"  She didn't see them much, though, since she donned sunglasses and said she didn't want to look out the window.  She said she would try to sleep, confiding she was on anxiety medicine as she pulled the bottle from her purse.

Just then, Howard nudged me, saying "Read this!  Read this!"  He had been absorbed in a book of scriptures called, "God's Promises," and pointed out Jude 24, 25, where I read, "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen."  I took the book and read the verses to the uneasy passenger.

"See, it says God will keep us from falling!" I said to her.  She smiled tentatively and said wistfully, "I have a Bible with me, too, but it's in my suitcase. I'm taking it to my boyfriend."   Before long, my seatmate wanted to know how it would feel when we landed, and I told her it usually was pretty smooth, but when the plane touched down she yelled, "Ow!  You didn't tell me it would be so rough!"

"Well, every landing is different," I replied, although we'd actually had a smooth one, it was just that the initial bump caught her by surprise.  As we were getting off, my husband handed her one of the little cards he'd had printed with the heading KEEP THIS, and in small print below: "Suitable for Pocket or Purse, when the pressure gets on today, pull it out and READ IT!"

It was from Deuteronomy 31:6 and says, "Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; for the Lord thy God, He it is that does go with you.  He will not fail thee nor forsake thee."  I trust the young girl will find comfort from the scripture that could guide her in finding life's Safe Landing.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Trip Trip-ups

This luggage thing was driving me crazy!  We wanted to take only one suitcase on our trip to avoid paying for a second bag, since we could take two carry-ons free.  We had returned our son's big suitcase recently so they could have it for a trip to Branson. I asked to borrow it again because it was larger than our suitcase.  "Sure, Mom, I'll bring it over for you," Greg said. 

The one I found sitting on my doorstep was not the big one, but I packed and repacked it anyway, trying to fit in the bare essentials for a week's visit to our daughter in Georgia.  We decided to buy two new carry-ons, but most of the ones in the store exceeded the dimensions I remembered reading in online information.  We finally selected two "pilot" carry-ons, although they seemed kind of dinky.  I put as many of our extra clothes in there as possible, leaving little room for toiletries and other essentials.  This would never do.

When I saw my daughter-in-law Joanna yesterday, I mentioned packing for the trip.  "Did Greg bring you the suitcase?" she asked.  When I told her yes, but it wasn't the big one, she said, "Oh, I know where it is.  I'll get it for you."  Since my husband was going by there today anyway, I asked him to see if they'd located it.

"Did you see this?" Howard called from the porch door when he came home, and I answered, "Oh, you got it," seeing a suitcase beside him.  "Look at it!  It's a new set of luggage!" he exclaimed. I couldn't believe my eyes! "Six Piece Luggage Set," the label read.  Our kids had bought it for us! "They said they were going to give it to us for Christmas, but since we needed it now, it would be an early Christmas present!", my husband explained. 

Wow!  That meant we now had eight new pieces of luggage!  The new set included both a large and medium suitcase, a carry-on and a wheeled duffel, not to mention a travel kit and laundry bag!  The carry-ons were still bigger than the dimensions I'd read, though, so we debated on using the smaller ones we'd bought.  Then I looked up the info again and found I'd made a mistake!  The measurements were for personal items, such as a purse! 

I quickly unpacked the small cases and transferred the contents to the roomy new pieces.  I still had the receipt and tags, so tomorrow we're going to return the ones we purchased. My big purse fits the size requirements for personal items, so it looks like we're all set!   Now I just have to  make sure our liquids are in 3 oz. bottles encased in a quart-size, zip-loc bag, unless we put them  in our checked luggage! 

Despite the stress and inconveniences of travel, the destination will be worth it.  We are looking forward to a blessed Thanksgiving with distant loved ones.  And God has been faithful to see us through all our hindrances and send us help along the way.  Kind of like our eternal goal, isn't it?

Time Out

And to think I almost didn't go!  I had plenty to do at home on Friday to get  ready for our trip, but my conscience smote me at the thought of missing this opportunity to share the kindergartners' Thanksgiving party.  My daughter-in-law, Joanna,  had asked if I wanted to go with her and help as she made crafts with her daughter Beth's class and brought her contribution of a turkey to their Thanksgiving feast held in their room.

As Beth passed out the turkey craft, I followed along with a card and envelope for each child.  How sweet the little faces were, looking up so innocently with many small "thank you's" voiced as they received the material.  They needed plenty of help when it was time to peel and stick the tail feathers  of the turkey they were constructing on the cards.  I had forgotten how hard it is for little hands to do what seems so simple to a grown-up.  Many turkeys had crooked tails, but that only made their efforts more endearing.

After folding their cards and attaching the colorful turkey, they were to write their names inside and a small message if they wanted to. Most of the children managed their names, and the words, "Happy Thanksgiving," were written on the board for them to copy.  But one little boy asked me, "How do you spell 'his'?"  Not understanding him, I asked him to repeat it.  "His!" he stated firmly.  When I told him, he quickly wrote, "Joel loves his Mom," at the top of his card.

I noticed one little girl looking distressed as she wriggled and peered at the board.  I looked at her paper and saw H-A-P-P-Y  T-H-A  in wobbly letters and realized she  couldn't see the rest of the word that was obscured by children signing their names on the board.  "Do you know how to make an "n?" I asked her.  She didn't, but after the letter "k," she abandoned her efforts anyway, smiling up at me as she scurried off to write her name with the other children.

My husband had come with me and was enjoying watching the children from the sidelines.  One little boy, finishing his card, turned to Howard and asked "Do you have a wife?"  Howard pointed to me, and the child offered me the card he had made.  Such thoughtfulness in one so young!  I suggested he give it to his mother, though.

"When your cards are fiinished, you may go put them in your cubbys," the teacher announced.  I was amazed to see a dark-haired little girl in a wheelchair that I hadn't noticed before wheel cheerfully and expertly past us, her eyes bright with excitement and achievement.

Other moms had brought sides of vegetables and trimmings to demonstrate a typical Thanksgiving feast for the kids.  I could see right away that I could be useful in helping fill and serve the twenty-odd plates.  I got in line with the other helpers and filled the turkey-decorated paper plates with miniscule servings of corn, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie before adding a slice of the turkey Joanna was carving.

"Just try a little of everything," the picky eaters were encouraged, amid cries of  "Ooh, what's that?" and "That's sour!" of cranberry sauce. Most of them were eating the whipped topping off the pumpkin pie with no encouragement, however.

We left with warm feelings and a widened perspective after this hour of volunteering.  The humility, dependence, and innocence of these little ones stirred new appreciation and awareness of teachers who are entrusted with their care and education on a daily basis.  From the little girl trying to copy the word, "Thanksgiving," and the can-do attitude of the brave child in the wheel chair, I learned in kindergarten attributes worthy of copying myself.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I just received my granddaughter's birthday party invitation!  It is a superhero party, and the soon-to-be-six-year-old is shown  "leaping over tall buildings in a single bound!" dressed as Super Girl in a red costume with a gold "S" emblazoned across the front and wearing gold-trimmed red boots. "How did she get that pose?" I asked her father.  She looked for all the world like she was flying past a metropolis of skyscrapers.  He answered in a word: Photoshop.  He said she was really lying on the floor!

At any rate, Anne-Marie looked adorable with the big, floppy hairbows on each side holding twin blonde "dog ears" in place as she flew. Although I can't go to her party, I can't wait to see her at Christmas!  Oh yes, her little sister posed as a flying exclamation point on the photo card in her smaller superhero outfit.  I can't wait to see her, too!

But first, Thanksgiving!  We are set to fly to Georgia next week to be with our daughter's family for the celebration.  Their kids are teenagers, now, but as sweet as when they were "my" babies as I took care of them while their mother worked as a nurse.  Also, there is a possibility we will get to see our newest great-grandbaby if plans work out that they can meet us there!

I have been trying to figure out how to get clothes for my husband and me into one suitcase to avoid extra luggage fees. I looked at the airline information  online, and read that bag size is limited to 50 pounds and 62" linear inches, including height, width, and length. Anything bigger will cost extra.

Those words jumped out at me last night as we read scripture verses in church concerning God's love for us.  "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."  Ephesians 3:17-19. 

One notation I read said that being rooted meant like a tree, and grounded is like a building on a strong foundation.  When we lived in New Orleans, it was common to hear the clank and thud of pilings being driven into the ground as deep foundations for the tall buildings there.  Due to the soil structure, there were no real skyscrapers, but  I heard that pilings had to be driven as far down as the building was high for greatest stability.

Parental love is deep, as is love for grandchildren, but it cannot be compared to the depths of God's love, which goes beyond our understanding.  That goes deeper and higher than Anne-Marie's skyscrapers and describes the love of our real Super Hero, Jesus!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pecking Order

"One of those hens is giving the guinea a bad time," my husband observed as he fed his flock.  "I saw it pecking at it when it was trying to get a drink."  Just because it was different!  We had removed the rooster because he made a target out of the little bird (besides which he dominated the hens, scattering their feathers and leaving bare places on their wings).

Feeling sorry for the rooster after he had caged him elsewhere, Howard let him out to fend for himself.  We arrived to feed one day and found the dog had the rooster by the throat!  The dog had escaped his pen, was secured, and the rooster put back in his cage to recuperate from a considerable mauling.  Then the chanticleer went missing after he was freed by his soft-hearted master once again.

"Did you let the rooster out?" our son asked the other day.  I told him yes, but now we couldn't find him.  "We found it dead down by the pond," he informed me.  "Looked like something had gotten hold of it.  There wasn't much left."  Oh! We knew it wasn't the dog, because he was still enclosed.  Evidently some predator.  I had seen a hawk circling once, and no doubt there is other wild life around.

The animal world is so primitive and vicious.  The survival of the fittest is the rule in nature, and not much different in civilization where there is jealousy, one upmanship and competition in everything from politics to relationships.  Churches aren't exempt, either.  My theology-student son (well, I have two), pointed out recently that it isn't enough to be in relationship with God, but also in relationship "...with those God has put out there for us, including pastors, prophets, teachers, evangelists or even brothers and sisters in the Lord."

He went on to say that when we refuse to receive from a particular minister, we are diminishing God's blessings on our lives. That struck home to me, because sometimes my spirit wants to resist what someone says just because their personality does not resonate with me.  If I think they are talking down to me, when it may just be their way of over-simplifying everything, or when I disagree with their method of presentation or time-consuming explanations, I am probably blocking valuable input.  I have begun to pray that God will remove this hindrance in me, and I have found that He has!  I invariably end up learning something valuable or spiritually enlightening if I just let down my defenses! I have had to examine my feelings to find if there is intolerance lurking, or maybe even jealousy!  

I like word games, and playing Words With Friends is a pleasant diversion for me, except when I get frustrated at the letters I get.  Awhile ago, every great word I wanted to make was discarded for lack of one essential letter!  I clicked off that particular on-going game and went to one with another opponent.  Wow!  On this board, everything fell into place!  It just depended on the letters given to me!  It occured to me that that is like life, or our Christian walk.  We all have our particular abilities or gifts from God, and it doesn't pay to be dissatisifed and envy or resent what someone else has!  Let's not be like the animals in their food chain or the fowls in their pecking order!  After all, if the little guinea, who is gifted in flight, can rise above it to the highest roost, why can't we?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Politically Correct

"How do you like this cold weather?" I asked my 90-year-young friend as I sat down in church Sunday morning. 

"Are you wearing boots?" she responded, peering at my feet, then stuck out her foot to show me she was wearing them, too.  Then she scooted closer to me to tell  me something.

"My great-granddaughter is getting married," she confided.  "And you should see the shoes she and her mother are wearing!"  Measuring about 3 inches with her thumb and forefinger, she exclaimed, "They are this high!"  I was properly impressed, and she explained, "I asked my granddaughter, 'How do you walk in them?' and she had me put my hand inside, and the soles were this thick!" Platforms! I have not bought any yet, but I did try on a pair one day, and they are surprisingly comfortable! 

When my savvy friend mentioned wedding shoes,  I thought she was going to say her granddaughter was planning  to wear tennis shoes down the aisle (as in the movie, Father of the Bride).  That made me think of my daughter wearing "Jellies," a novelty in the '80s, beneath her wedding gown!

Women's shoe styles are always changing.  From torturous high heels of ancient times, to the high-button shoes of the 1800s to today's toning shoes, flip-flops, or leg-strap sandals, it seems we are always presented with ways to make our feet fashionable, if sometimes uncomfortable.

Shoes for men, on the other hand, have always been sensible and serviceable, not to mention comfortable.  In recent years, sandals for men have become commonplace.  My husband put on a pair with socks yesterday, even though it is November!

Footwear in ancient times was often sandals, at least in biblical settings.  Jesus wore sandals.  John the Baptist, in prophecying of Jesus, said in the gospels that he was unworthy to loose the strap of the sandal of the One coming after him.  Dusty roads and sandy soil made the practice of offering a basin of water to visitors a courtesy that they could refresh and cleanse their feet upon entering a residence. Not to do so was an insult, as Jesus indicated in Luke 7:44:

"And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman?  I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head."

The purpose of high heels is to elevate, to set off, and to make the wearer more noticeable and seen in a flattering light.  The word, platform, is descriptive of the position given the wearer of platform shoes.  She is suddenly endowed with importance.  Jesus's "platform" was the lowly sandal.  From it, he changed the world.  May His platform be our platform today!

Monday, November 12, 2012

You Are Not Invisible

"Where is the safety patrol man?" I questioned, when we didn't see him sitting in his lawn chair on the corner.  Then we saw him across the street sitting in his truck facing the school.  (It was quite cold today, so I couldn't blame him, though on our way back we saw that he had gotten out of the truck to help the children.)  I guess he saw us coming in his rear view mirror, because he stuck out his arm in his customary elbow-jointed wave as we made our after-school jaunt to pick up our grandkids.

It was an everyday event  that he would somberly raise his arm like a wooden-figure-on-a-string toy to wave to us.  I'm sure he recognized us by the novelty license plate on our front bumper that proclaims, "GOD IS GREATER THAN ANY PROBLEM I HAVE," that we bought a few years ago in Tennessee.  Even viewing it backwards in a mirror, he knew what it said.

For the first few months of school, I walked up to collect the girls from the lines formed behind their teachers as they waited for us.  Later my routine progressed to my walking halfway up, when I would see Kate tug her teacher's sweater and point to me, and  the teacher would nod and release her.  Kate would  grab her sister's hand from the kindergarten line and race past me to the car.

Now, before we even park, the teachers recognize our car (the tag?) and the children come running before I can even open the car door.  I forget about the tag, then when someone treats us with easy familiarity I remember why.

During the summer we often went to Sonic, and once after a couple weeks absence,  one of the carhops came up and said, "Where have you guys been?  We missed you!"   They were all unusually friendly, even though I felt anonymous.  Obviously, they noticed us, or at least our license plate!  One girl said, "Two junior deluxe burgers, one substitute mustard for mayo, two senior teas, one sweet and one unsweet?", reciting our usual menu!

Today while we were having lunch at Wendy's, I saw an older couple come in and noticed the backs of their jackets were embroidered with something like "Pickers and Grinners, Fiddle and Guitar Music," obviously a group they belonged to.   When Howard went up to order something extra, he struck up a conversation with them as they stood in line. 

"Are they musicians?" I asked when he came back to the table.  They were, evidently having a lot in common with my husband. They spoke to us when we were leaving, iniviting us to the Senior Center where they have a regular Tuesday night jam session.  Before long, we realized we knew some of the same people and were soon conversing like long-lost friends!

Many things identify us, including slogans, statements, and affiliations we embrace.  But our most important identification observable to others is our lifestyle.  "Even a child is known by his doings," the Bible says in Proverbs 20:11.  There is an old saying, "Reputation is what others think about you, but character is who you really are."  Another way of saying it is, "People may date you for your personality, but they marry you for your character."  Paul says in II Corinthians 3:2 that believers are epistles known and read by all men.  If our identification is in Christ, people will know it by our actions and we won't need a sign!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Warm Fuzzies

"SEASON'S GREETINGS," the large, shimmering sign at the park read.  It couldn't be!  Thanksgiving is still almost two weeks away!  And with today's warm temperatures, the display looked particularly out of place, unless this were Christmas in Florida or Hawaii.  The fluffy, plastic fronds outlining  the letters in red glowed almost orange in the sun, giving the greeting a garish, Halloween look.  I suppose the city decorating committee wants to make sure everything is up by Thanksgiving, though, and is getting an early start.

I confess I haven't given much thought to Christmas shopping yet, especially since most of our grandchildren have advanced out of my gift-giving range, older teens with jobs or young marrieds with families of their own. But there are still a few under ten and young teens.  Truthfully, though, with kids' expensive tastes and preferences, it's more fun just to shop for the pre-schoolers.I'm sure I will get in the holiday spirit when we leave for our Thanksgiving trip to Atlanta in just 10 days! All that new shopping territory to explore is bound to jump-start my gift-giving genes! 

I did get the November birthday package mailed  to our turning-six granddaughter today. Hopefully, she will like her princess pajamas.  Still on their hanger, they had hung on a rack brightening  my room for nearly a week before I sent them, and I was surprised when  I felt a pang of absence when the cheery little garments were gone. I miss the warm feeling I got just by looking at them. That will be nothing compared to what I will feel hugging the warm little body wearing them when they are here for Christmas!

Plans by her father for a glitzy, hotel-reunion-Christmas in Dallas were scrapped when I painted a picture of a homey, simple Christmas in Oklahoma.  "If it snows, we can let the kids go sledding at Greg's farm," I persuaded, "there are lots of slopes and hilly areas there."  I talked about bonfires, the big, cast iron woodburning stove in their fireplace, and the geese that are said to gather on the sizeable pond.  I forgot to mention the shooting range in the pasture that his brother has arranged.  Talk of homecooked feasts and cozy board games  may have helped win him over, too. 

I can't wait!!  Maybe it's not too soon for Season's Greetings at the park after all!

Friday, November 9, 2012


I am amazed at how God works things out, even the smallest things. I had impulsively invited our pastors  over for supper the other night, and I was busily getting ready for them this morning when I happened to see a voice mail I had missed on the phone.  "Aunt Thelma, I was wondering if you could meet me and my dad for lunch today," my niece's voice asked, calling from Wichita.  We had tried to meet last week, but her dad had had an emergency hospital stay ending with his getting a heart stent.  He must be doing well!  I checked with my husband, and he said we could make it.

It would take them at least and hour and a half to get here, and it was now going on eleven.  We would meet them at the restaurant at 12:30.  That would still give us plenty of time to get back and complete my dinner preparations. Hurriedly finishing in the kitchen, I put a  frozen pie in to bake for the 45 minutes it would take. I had just started to get dressed to go out, when the phone rang.  "Patty wants to come, too, so we will leave when she gets to my house," my niece, Judy said of her sister.

Good, I thought, I think I can get the casserole made in the extra time.  I  had just finished and gotten dressed when I asked Howard to call them and check on their progress.  They were still a good half hour away.  "I guess I can't go to the country and feed the chickens," my husband mused.  Well, I could set the table, and that would be out of the way.  I removed the centerpiece, made room for it on the sideboard by moving the candle-holder to a bookcase, and put on the tablecloth.

Suddenly I said, "We could go feed the chickens now if you want, and still have time to meet them at the restaurant," voicing the thought that had just occurred to me.  He said okay, so, thinking of our impromptu guests' first impression if they came back to the house, I yanked off the cloth and replaced the fall centerpiece.  Halfway to the farm, we realized we'd forgotten the cell phone.  "I'm not going out there now," Howard said as he turned the car around.  Just then our party called saying they were just crossing the Oklahoma line, about 40 minutes away.

Howard headed toward the house, saying we had to move the truck for our dinner guests to have a parking place tonight.  "But you're going to have to help me start the truck, because the battery's down," he instructed me.  As he hooked up the jumper cables, I crawled into the driver's seat, my foot getting tangled in something on the floor.  What was a pair of his underwear doing there!  My unpredictable husband assured me they were the oldest ones in his drawer that he'd grabbed as a rag to clean the dust from his shoes that he would incur at the farm!

We got the to the restaurant first, and after a short wait our guests arrived.  What a great time we had visiting with them!   We were amazed at how good our (former) brother-in-law looked for 86 years old!  It had been nearly 50 years since we had seen him.  "Do you want to take us and show us the farm, or go to your house, or show us Cann Gardens?" my niece smiled winsomely when we were through. We took them on a quick tour of the farm (and fed the chickens), then came back to the house.  Thankfully, it was company ready.

Catching up by showing them family pictures and visiting, I noticed that the clock was going around.  At four, I put the casserole in.  Our pastors would be here at five.  I began to set the table, and my talkative husband kept the guests lingering at the door.  I sprang into action when they left, with everything in readiness.  Pastor's wife called and said they would be a little late, her husband had gotten tied up with counselling.

The dinner was a great success and, winding up a good evening of conversation in the living room, we bade our pastors good night about 8:00 o'clock.   Thank you, Lord, I thought as I embraced my pillow not long after. I fell asleep reflecting on God's faithfulness and our lovely day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mind Your Manners!

"Will that be all?" the clerk asked rather disinterestedly as I put a couple of items for my husband on the counter in the men's department of a major store.

"Well, actually, I was looking for pajamas for my granddaughter, but I couldn't find any.  I looked all over for a clerk, but I couldn't find one anywhere!" I said.

"Yeah, we're really short on help today," he replied resignedly.  That was putting it mildly!  One could go halfway around the store without seeing an employee.

"That's some attitude!" Howard said as we walked away.  Well, maybe the economy's down, I thought, but more likely they were concerned about the bottom line and cutting down on employee hours; after all this  was a Saturday with sales going on.  But it reminded me of the day I was checking out at a drugstore not long ago.  The label  on a container (I forget now what) said, 2/$5.  Well, I only wanted one.  Then I saw a sign in front of a box of chocolates that said 17 oz. box, $1.  But the box wrapper said it contained only 14 oz.

"I know these are two for five dollars," I said to the cashier, "but according to law that I read, I should be able to get one for $2.50.  And this box of candy only contains 14 ounces, not 17."  The disagreeable looking woman said loudly in her most exaggerated, uncouth voice, "WELL, CAW-LL THE LAW-W!!." I think I put the items back, on principle.

Whatever happened to courtesy and "the customer is always right," philosophy?  Just a sign of the general deterioration of manners in our society. 

Last night our pastor was preaching on love, and he mentioned courtesy and civility, which is so often absent today.  "Why is it so hard to love, and even to be civil and courteous?" he asked.  Answering his own question, he referenced a scripture in Jeremiah 17:9, which says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"  He also read John 3:19, which tells us men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

But as Christians, we are admonished in Ephesians 5:1,2, to "Be ye followers of God, as dear children; (2) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour."

I found the pjs I wanted at the next store, and even a nightie for little sister, as well.  This time, I got a friendly cashier who commented that they were cute.  I pointed to the pink pajamas and said, "This one's having a birthday, but I just had to get something for this one, too," pointing to the smaller sleepwear, to which she acknowledged with a smile,  "I know, I do that, too!"

It is so easy to walk in love when it's children that we are loving, but the challenge is to be sweet-smelling  to our fellowman!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Moments in Time

"Look, a mantis!" 7-year old Kate said as she pointed toward the top of the porch screen.

"Yes," I said, "It's a praying mantis."

"Why do they call it that?" she wanted to know.  I told her to look at its paws, folded as if praying.  "I see it now!  They are!" she exclaimed.  Then her little sister said, "Where?" then, "Oh, I see it, too!"

They had gotten bored with after-school TV shows and joined me on the front porch.  Earlier, Kate had wanted some juice, and when I poured grape juice from the large bottle in the fridge, she surprised me by saying in a conspiratory aside,  "They use this for Jesus's blood, but it really isn't!" before dashing out the door.

Soon they were rearranging decorative bowls holding fall arrangements of fake fruit and vegetables I had on the porch.  Oh, well, they weren't breakable, so I let them play.  Then they used small empty watering pots to "water" them.  I enjoyed watching their childish imaginations at work.  I had been missing my small grandchildren who live far away, and I couldn't help but realize God was helping me fill the gap by watching these newly-adopted grandchildren after school.

In a little while, PaPa wandered out and began strumming his guitar.  Then an idea struck him.  "I want to teach you a song!" he told the little girls.  Kate had wanted to sing during our last church singspiration, and all she knew was "Jesus Loves Me," on which he had accompanied her on the guitar. "You can learn this and sing it at church!" he urged enthusiastically.  He played and sang a couple of lines of "Let the Sunshine In," then had them repeat it.  Before long, they were picking it up.

"Write it down for her, and she will learn it," our son, who had come to pick up the girls by this time, said.  "She  reads really well."  I knew it was true.  I was always amazed by this sharp, articulate child.  She had been chosen last week to demonstrate a 2nd-grade lesson on the computer at a local technology expo, and just today she had brought home a certificate proclaiming her "Star Student of the Week" in her class.

Later, as we were gathering eggs at the farm where we had met their family, I asked 6-year-old Beth if she wanted to see how chickens sleep.  She nodded, and looked in the hen house to see the chickens perched high in rows on their roosting poles.  There is always a teaching moment with kids around.

I saw on the Facebook today that my 14-year-old granddaughter had posted a picture of her brother and herself at the tender ages of 3 and 5.  As teenagers, they get a kick out of sharing their younger pictures with  friends.  Looking at the dear little faces, my eyes misted up. I was overwhelmed by how infinitely precious children are, and indeed every individual.   What an amazing God we have, to fill our lives with people to love!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Voila! Violas!

Once in a while one of my horticulturist endeavors turns out right.  Okay, so my beautiful chrysanthemums, massed in the flower boxes with lavender blossoms surrounded by bright yellow flowers on either end  have decided, for the most part,  to turn an ugly shade of brown.  And though the pansies we tried out front have withered, I do have one bright spot.   A hanging basket of violas, like dozens of tiny pansies, greets me every morning with their cheerful, tri-color  faces of purple, yellow, and velvety brown.  Today I counted upwards of a hundred blossoms on it!

I remember when I bought the basket several weeks ago, I was a little disappointed in it.  The shopper in front of me had one that was enviably prettier, already showing blossoms, while mine had only a few pinched, tightly curled buds.  Then one day I noticed a few blooms, and upon turning it around, I could see the side facing the street and the rising sun was plentifully scattered with flowers.  I turned the back side to the sun awhile, and now a colorful array of  violas float airily, cloud like on their slender stems, bobbing merrily in the breeze!

"Consider the lilies of the field," Jesus said, "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these," Matthew 6:28, 29.  Jesus recognized the beauty of His creation.  We can't help but appreciate it, too, partly because it is so fleeting.  Jesus said today it is, then tomorrow it is cast into the oven.  I Peter 1:24 says, "For all flesh is as grass, and the glory  of man as the flower of grass.  The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away."

Evidently beauty is supposed to last for only a season, therefore it is to be cherished, (not worshipped).  I see girls and young women who are still in the flower of youth, which they take for granted, not realizing how quickly it fades away. James 4:14 asks, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

Our eyes are naturally attracted to beauty, probably because we have an innate longing for heaven where everything is perfect, orderly and beautiful.  The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:11  that God has made everything beautiful in it's time, and He has put eternity in our hearts

I know my flowers won't last past the first hard freeze, but that just makes me marvel at their beauty even more.  Besides, being in the pansy family, they will likely come back in the spring, just like a resurrection, which Christians can look forward to also when we will be in our glorious new bodies!  That will be beauty beyond compare!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sacred Trust

"Daddy, I sleeped on you when you was a doctor," my three-year-old granddaughter told her puzzled father.  Then he realized she had probably seen the picture of him in scrubs holding her as a newborn at the hospital.  Somewhere Maddie had associated the attire and the head covering he had worn as being medical garb, or in her mind, that of a doctor.

I love to hear of her funny sayings, as well as those of her big sister, soon-to-be-six-Anne-Marie.  Our son is home-schooling her, and for a kindergartener, her lessons sound a bit ambitious, kind of like the tutored children of old, schooled in literature, the arts and such.  The other day she referred to her lesson as "rosaparkstone."  She had combined Rosetta Stone and Rosa Parks.  No, she wasn't trying to understand Egyptian heiroglyphs, but she was learning French with an internet program by that name, as well as learning about the civil rights activist.  I mentioned he might be pushing her a little!

I have a heart for children, having raised six of my own, being blessed with 18 (oops, 20 with the new adoptions!) grandchildren, and now three great-grandbabies.  I guess that's why I noticed the little child wandering aimlessly near a church school when we picked up our grands at their school yesterday. "Look, Howard, that child is in the road!" I exclaimed to my husband.  He had walked in front of a car, safely, thankfully, but I could see the little boy, maybe 4, was unattended.

"Let  me out, I think he's lost!," I said as Howard slowed and I got out.  When the little boy saw me, he hurried away.  "Wait!" I called, "Do you go to school here?"  He looked  maybe old enough to be in pre-K.  He nodded, and I asked where his teacher was.  He pointed, but said, "My dad has already picked me up."  His parent was no where in sight, and the child slipped into an interior courtyard.

Just then I saw a teacher-like figure going up the outdoor stairs, and called to her. "That little boy was in the street!"  She shrugged exasperatedly and said it was an everyday occurrence.  His father picks him up, then he comes back to play with no supervision.  Well, as long as they knew about it.  I got back in the car, shaking my head.  What risky behaviour.

The Bible says children are a heritage from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3).  In other words, they are not really ours, but God's. We get to keep them for awhile, hopefully raising them with love, care, and guidance.
Our pattern for nurturing children is the heart of God. In Hosea 11:3,4, He exhibits tenderness and sensitivity when He says, "I taught Ephraim to walk, Taking them by their arms...I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love...I stooped and fed them."

Besides the expanded subjects Jamie is teaching his little girl, he is also teaching her the basics, like learning to read.  "She's reading now, Mom," he said on the phone, "She read to her Nana the other day when she was here."  I suggested that she could read to me on the phone.  "Or Skype," he said, "I'll get her on Skype and you can hear and see her read."  Rosetta Stone aside, I like the modern technology!  Especially when it connects me with my grandchildren!