Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hand in Hand

"T'was the night after Christmas and all through the house, Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The presents are scattered and broken I fear, And St. Nicholas won't come again for a year," we used to sing in high school chorus as we finished the song, "The Night Before Christmas."

Well, it's the week after Christmas, and I have already lost my favorite gift: expensive leather gloves from my husband.  I am sick about it.  I'd been so careful to keep up with them on our trip, always tucking them in my purse or the inside pocket of my coat.  It really wasn't cold enough to use them in Georgia, but it was terribly cold when we got home.

I had put the gloves on as we headed out in the frigid weather to buy groceries on Saturday, replenishing our stock that I had purposely depleted before our trip ten days before. It was warm in the car, and I remember taking the gloves off, but putting them on when we got out.  I must have taken them off in the store, and, I assume, put them in my pocket or purse.  But when I wanted to wear them to church Sunday morning, they were no where to be found!

"If I lost them at the grocery store, maybe they've been turned in to Lost and Found," I said hopefully to my husband yesterday.  We needed a few things we had forgotten anyway, so we went back.  Checking out, I noticed it was my favorite checker on duty, the sweet young lady that reminded me so much of one of our beautiful granddaughters in Georgia.  She stopped her work to check a drawer of lost items, pulling out a pair of fleecy cotton gloves, then going to another register and finding a pair of men's gloves.  She said they only put money or lost cards in the office, so apparently mine hadn't been turned in.  I knew it was a long shot, anyway.  They could have been picked up in the parking lot or kept by anyone.

I hadn't expected a present from Howard, since he took  me Christmas shopping for myself early and bought me a coat, shoes and a robe.  So on Christmas morning, when our daughter handed me two packages, I opened one and found a new book she knew I'd like. I thanked her and started to open the other box in her familiar wrapping paper, when she said, "That one's from Dad."  O-oh, so that explained the suspicious activity in a store the day before when she slipped something to Howard and I thought I heard "Here's your card back."  He'd had an accomplice in surprising me.

I hadn't bought him anything, so when we passed a jewelry counter, a tray of  rings behind glass caught my eye.  Howard had lost his wedding band a couple of years ago after wearing it some 53 years.  He had placed it on a bedside table, he said, and when he thought about it days later, it was gone.  Despite an exhaustive search, it has never been found.  "Why don't you get a new wedding band?" I suggested.  He found one he loved in our price range, and he is extremely pleased with it.

"Now I feel like I'm married," he teased.  The next morning when he woke up and I heard him humming and singing snatches of a song I recognized as "Always," I said, "Do you realize that was our wedding song?"  He said he hadn't remembered.  It must have been in his subconscious, though. So even though he lost his original wedding band, and I lost my Christmas gloves, we are still banded together, hand in glove, as we welcome a new year tomorrow!



Monday, December 30, 2013

The Visit

"Mimi?" a telephone voice I couldn't place inquired.  "This is Grant!  We are in Oklahoma City and will be passing near you in an hour or two and thought we would stop by!"  Oh, our grandson and his bride of six months! We hadn't seen them since their wedding!  Of course I wanted them to stop!

Their 90-minute drive should give me enough time to get the house in order.  We had just gotten home from a Christmas trip ourselves on Friday night, then after buying groceries on Saturday we had relaxed and recuperated the rest of the day.  Today was Sunday, and after coming home from church and cooking a big meal, it was easy to ignore the suitcases still on the bed, clothes spilling over from our searching out something we needed.

Although I'd cleaned house before our trip, what with going through 10-days' mail and generally messing up in our laid-back euphoria of being home, things were in a bit of disarray.  I could just close the bedroom doors, but what if they wanted to see the house?  Jessica had never been here. I sprang into action and was soon barking orders to my husband for assistance.  While he began to hang up his clothes, I freshened up the bathroom, hanging towels and emptying the wastebasket.

Thankfully, I had done the pile of dishes in the sink accumulated from our lunch, breakfast and Saturday's snacks.  Also, thankfully, there was no church tonight, so we would be home!  Some fast picking up and straightening helped, and while Howard went to the store for snacks and soft drinks, I reinstated Christmas by searching out cords and plugging in the tiny white lights on mantel, nativity scene, little tree and photo displays.  Window candles would be inviting, so they were plugged in, too.  Just as I finished, I heard them at the door.

The television volume on the Walton's had been lowered, and the fireplace was flickering its welcome.  "Wow!" the kids exclaimed when they came into the bright warmth of the room.  "This is cozy!"  "Where is the bathroom?" was the first question on their respective lips, and I was happy to show them.

"I like this house!" Jessica said of our Craftsman bungalow and my slightly-overdone decor of mismatched pieces from a lifetime of homemaking. We had such a good visit!  Family news was discussed, laughs and pictures were shared, with general catching up and clueing our new granddaughter-in-law in on who was who in the family photos.  Grant and Pa Pa made plans for fishing when the weather warms up, so perhaps they will stop by again one of these days!

My many grandchildren are rapidly becoming adults, but we have a small crop of young ones, including little Isaac, who will be two months old in a week.  We may not be rich in this world's goods, but we are rich in loved ones and always happy to see them!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Count Your Blessings Laundry List

"Look on your back porch when you get home," our son Greg said to his dad when Howard called to tell him we had landed in Oklahoma City, to which  I laughed and said, "It's probably Pebbles." They had left for a trip earlier in the same day we got back from ours, and Greg had asked us to go by their house and get their dog to keep for them.  He'd likely brought her by the house himself, I concluded.

As soon as we got home, I went to check our enclosed back porch/laundry room.  No dog, but there sat a brand new clothes dryer! A Christmas present! Our old dryer had died not long ago and we'd been going to a convenient new laundromat that had just opened nearby. We called to thank him, but Greg said his brother Jamie shared in the surprise, so we called him, too. What thoughtful sons!

Going to the laundromat had begun to lose its novelty, although it wasn't all bad, sitting in the warm atmosphere reading magazines and getting a week's washing dried all at once.  Still, those heavy baskets of wet clothes were a chore.  I thought I wanted a clothes line, so a couple of years ago we got an outdoor umbrella dryer to use in nice weather. As much as I enjoyed hanging clothes, wash day was killing me!  I guess we're just not as young as we used to be!

We're back in reality now that Christmas is over and we are home.  It was so nice to enjoy our daughter's beautiful home with no responsibilities, being served tasty meals, going shopping, seeing a couple of new movies, and especially hanging out with the kids.  One day 16-year-old Corrin took us to her favorite place and we had the tallest milkshakes served in old-fashioned soda-fountain glasses. Other times we got a kick out of their friends being over, sprawled all over the den or lounging around after sleepovers.

Our Christmas dinner was picture perfect as daughter Amy served up a crown pork roast wearing paper frills, those cute little chef's hats, wild rice dressing, sweet potato casserole (to die for), and all the trimmings.  When we had room, we topped off the  meal with Red Velvet Cake and/or homemade chocolate bon-bons.

Still, we are glad to be home, snug in our own environment with our books, family photos and a warm hearth surrounded by dear, familiar things.  Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home, especially when there is warm, fluffy laundry to look forward to!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fear of Flying

"May I see your identification, please?" asked the check-in attendant as she was issuing our boarding passes for our return trip from Georgia. Since we had round-trip tickets, it had slipped my mind to have my driver's license handy.  I fumbled for my wallet in the depths of my purse, retrieved it and went to pull my ID from the card slot.  It wasn't there!

"Ma'am, my wife is having trouble locating her license. Will any other form of identification work?" my husband implored in his most courteous tone.  She gave us the boarding passes, but said they might not admit us through security without ID. Well, thankfully I found it before we got to security in the side pocket of my purse where I had slipped it after producing it for our flight 10 days ago. We hugged our family who had accompanied us as far as security, me holding back tears at parting after such a wonderful Christmas visit with them, not knowing when we would see them again.

Well, we saw them sooner than expected, because the agent said Howard's boarding pass was missing!  "We were just issued it!" my husband exclaimed.  We went back to where our daughter and grand kids were still standing.  I stayed with them while my frustrated spouse and our 19-year-old grandson headed the long way back to the ticket counter in the Atlanta airport.  Soon they were back saying it was there all along, the man had just overlooked it!

Relieved goodbyes were said again and we successfully passed through the security gauntlet and negotiated our way through escalators, the speeding bullet that was an airport train, and pulling cumbersome carry-ons the length of the long corridor to our gate. "You're at gate four, Mom," our daughter had said, "You won't have far to walk."  She didn't know our walk started at gate 16--a long way to 4!

"Howard, look at these tickets!" I exclaimed when I saw he was in Zone 4, seat 22 A, and I was in Zone 7, 12 E.  "We aren't sitting together!  I can't put my stuff in the overhead by myself!"  He said he would fix it, and after lengthy computer work by the desk attendant, we had new boarding passes sitting together.

What else could go wrong?  Well, nothing except my making him spill his drink, until we began to descend to a lower altitude nearing our destination.  Then all our aforementioned foibles paled in comparison when I was struck with an unbelievable excruciating pain in my head!  It felt like a knife was plunged through my skull into the right side of my head and face!  It kept getting worse!

My sinuses! I had had an allergy attack the night before and hadn't slept well. This had happened to me on a flight some thirteen years ago, and I avoided flying for the next eight years, but I'd never had it when flying since. I thought I was having a stroke, and I was terrified!  I hung on to the memory that in the previous episode it went away after we landed.  Thank God, it did this time, too, but it took awhile.

"Mom, you guys are flying around the country like 20-year-olds," our son Trevor said when he called to see if we had gotten home alright.  Although I was truly thankful to be home safely, I laughed a bit ruefully and said, "I don't think I'll be flying again!"  It's not the flying that bothers me, it's the coming down!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Joy to the World

It was Christmas afternoon.  The excitement of opening gifts was past, with the special joy of seeing everyone's eyes light up and hear exclamations of delight and/or squeals of unbelief for at least one surprise or hardly-dared-to-hope-for gift.  After a hearty brunch, Howard and I were relaxing on the porch swing in the lull before dinner preparations.

The weather had at last changed from muggy, mild temperatures following the heavy rains we'd had earlier in the week.  Now the sun was bright, and although the wind was sharp, the cushions of the swing sheltered us a bit, not to mention the warmth of my husband's shoulder next to me. A sense of peace and thankfulness came over me as I thought about God's goodness and about the reason for this special time of year.

It was if God's love was shining down on the planet as the commemoration of the birth of His Son was celebrated around the world, probably the only holiday acknowledged worldwide except for Easter, which marks the culmination of Jesus's earthly life and the provision for our eternal life. In this rarefied atmosphere that comes only once a year, I reflected on the happy crush of shoppers yesterday and the children out this morning playing with new outdoor toys in the beautiful, cold sunshine.

Despite Christmas's being commercialized, Santa-tized and over-sized, the spirit of giving prevails as people reach out to others in efforts large or small, and consciously or unconsciously, follow the divine example of giving.  And that's a good thing.  St. Nicholas knew and demonstrated that.  Even the story of Santa was given as a gift by a father who wanted to inspire wonder in his child.

The term, "Merry Christmas," itself is bestowed to wish joy.  Those who say, "Happy Holidays," are  saying, perhaps inadvertently, "Happy Holy Days," the origin of the word holiday, although most holidays today are just time off from work.

Close family gatherings and warm, fuzzy feelings are soon over as guests go home and everyday routine is taken up.  But if we have Jesus, the true meaning of Christmas in our heart, the joy can abide always. The scriptures teach how we may have eternal life and Christian fellowship that our joy may be full. I John 1:1-4.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24th

What a beautiful Christmas Eve service we attended tonight!  We went with our daughter Amy's family to their church in Marietta where Dr. Mark Walker is pastor.  After several lovely Christmas carols by soloists  and responsive readings from the scriptures, he spoke about how Christmas is all about children.  After all, it began with a Baby.  Stressing the scripture where Jesus says one cannot enter the kingdom of God unless he becomes as a little child, Dr. Walker compared the trust and utter dependence of children with the way we must relate to our heavenly father.

Several children were in attendance, and the small cherubs in the pew in front of us attracted my attention as their parents tried to keep them occupied.  One miniature angel had a sippy cup with a straw that kept her enthralled as she faced backward in the pew.  A cascade of silky, blonde hair fell to the shoulders of her slightly bigger sister, making me think of our own blonde granddaughter when she was younger.  She has reached the ripe old age of seven, now, but she is still an angel.

To end the program, candles were distributed to everyone in the congregation, including the kids, who were given a battery-operated candle of their own.  Candle lighters lit the candles at the ends of the rows, then each person in turn lit the candle of the one next to him, until the whole auditorium was ablaze with light.  A picture of spreading the gospel, the light of Jesus, to the world.

When we got home, the kitchen became a confectionery as the female members of the family immersed themselves in making bon bons, otherwise known as Martha Washington balls. Granddaughter Corrin painstakingly chopped to perfection walnut and pecan meats, while Amy pointed out the advantages of using a mixer to blend the butter, powdered sugar and sweetened condensed milk over my mixing the concoction by hand.  Then Rachel got in on the act as we all rolled a hundred or so balls of it to dip in the shiny, chocolate coating.

The teenagers were good at this, but it took all hands to finish the product. Then Amy arranged them on a silver platter and set them on the screened porch to cool in the crisp night air. Judging from the responses of the samplers, they turned out to be delicious! (The dipped pretzels we made yesterday are all gone.)

Earlier I had rushed home from town to make a pot of potato soup for an early Christmas Eve dinner before we set off for the services.  I had just finished it when the others came in from shopping.  I wasn't hungry and went to get ready for church, thinking I might eat some when we got back. They all said it was good, but by the time I made it to the leftovers, they had already found their way into soup bowls held by my granddaughters who wanted a bedtime snack.  That was okay. With all the candy sampling, I wasn't hungry anyway.  Fellowship with family and the afterglow of attending church on Christmas Eve left me quite full and satisfied!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Ties that Bind

Bonding.  That's what I was doing with my granddaughters today as we dipped pretzels and peanut butter sandwich crackers into chocolate almond bark.  Last night after I retired, they helped their parents make Oreo cake balls.  This afternoon I bought the ingredients for Martha Washington dipped candy, something we used to make for holidays when my children were little.  How the price for goody makings has gone up! We spent $25 for the project!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve!  A day that will likely be spent in anticipation and preparation for the big day. In the evening, we plan to go to a Christmas Eve service with our daughter and family at their big church in the Atlanta suburbs.  I'm looking forward to it, especially since they say it is always a wonderful service.

When our children were growing up, it was our tradition to open gifts on Christmas Eve.  There was something so cozy and special about it with the house shining and the kids' eyes bright with excitement as we awaited their father's return from work, then supper, and at last opening presents. They played until they were exhausted, then fell into bed, as likely as not with a new toy or possession tucked in beside them or at least within easy reach, dreaming of what the contents of their stockings would be in the morning.

Now most of our kids' families wait until Christmas morning for the gift opening, which they find to their liking, or possibly they are following the tradition of their spouses.  That is what we will do here at our daughter's home.  Then a special breakfast will be enjoyed, followed  by preparations for Christmas dinner.

I can't believe we've been here almost a week already.  We will go home two days after Christmas and fall back into our own comfortable routine, but missing the energy and activity that comes from three teenagers in the house.  Actually, sometimes it's four, as a friend sleeps over, or sometimes only one or two if absentees are spending the night at the homes of friends.  Kids are such social creatures!   I want them here all the time so I can enjoy them, but being with their peers is high on their priority list right now.

Since we flew here, we are dependent on others for transportation, and our 16-year-old granddaughter is a willing chauffeur, as is her 19-year-old brother when he is available.  How strange!  It used to be us taking them to school, and now they are the ones carrying our purchases, closing our car doors and locating items on the shelves of stores. We will miss them!

Sister, Sister

There is never a dull moment with two beautiful teenage granddaughters around.  Only 17 months apart, they wear the same size and often share clothes with one another, be it willingly or unwillingly. The other evening Rachel, 14, after having languidly lounged around all day and pleading being too tired to join me for a walk, emerged from her room full of spunk and dressed in a cute teen outfit on the way to a birthday party.

"Oh, who's party is it? " I asked, delaying her as she scurried toward the door, to which she replied, "Well, I don't really know her name, she's my friend's cousin."  What with my hearing problem and her rapid speech, a few more indiscernible syllables were lost on me.

I didn't pay much attention to her sister Corrin's muffled phone conversations throughout the evening. Then I saw her carrying an outfit on a hanger toward the door. "What's going on?" I queried.

"I'm taking these clothes to Rachel.  She's staying the night and they're going shopping at the mall tomorrow."  I asked if that wasn't her own new outfit she had worn for a special occasion. "Yes, but she promised to have it back by 4:00 o'clock," she said generously.  Turns out Rachel didn't go to the mall until 4:00, and Corrin had a date at 4:30, when she needed the ensemble.

I was lying on the sofa napping when I noticed Corrin tossing packages around by the Christmas tree, then couldn't believe my eyes when I saw her carefully peeling loose the scotch tape and sliding out the contents of three boxes.  Finally, on the third one, I heard, "Yes!!"

"Mama said I could do this!" she said grimly.  "I'm going to wear Rachel's outfit and put it back after," she said.  Later Amy told me she allowed it when her hysterical daughter had called her at work. (Rachel called later on asking her mom if she could lend her sister's sweater to her friend.)

"They drive me crazy!" Amy said, only half joking.  As a generation removed, it was funny to me. Since there are 10 years between Amy and our daughter, Julie, there was never the fierce competition and sibling rivalry between them that these granddaughters have experienced all their lives.  Of course, there is fierce loyalty, too, as one might expect in a close-knit family.

I wondered how it all came out and was told the unsuspecting party commented when she got home, "How come it looks like less presents under the tree?"  If she only knew, I'm sure she would not have been lying so peacefully next to her sister when I looked in on them.  She may have been sleeping like a log, but what explosion will be kindled if she finds out? We may have Christmas fireworks!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Go Tell it on the Mountain

Nothing could have pleased her father more than when our daughter Amy said, "Dad, how would you like to minister at the nursing home singing and playing the guitar tomorrow?"  Howard's face lit up! We are with her family in Georgia, and this would be one of the days she is the requisite RN at a small facility here.  We hadn't brought his guitar on the plane, though, and grandson Reid had left his back at college.  "Oh, that's alright," she said, "We can borrow one from our neighbor."

And what a fulfilling time it was!  The residents were so welcoming and attentive. My engaging husband had them smiling and singing in no time.  They loved it when Amy added her lovely voice to some of the hymns.  "Praise God, Praise God, Praise God," they sang, raising their arms heavenward on the last verse of "Amazing Grace."

After a lengthy service and we had gathered our things to leave, Amy asked if we would visit some of the rooms of the bedfast who couldn't come to the service.  She has become acquainted with all the patients and some have especially touched her heart.  In the hall, she greeted a man slumped in a wheelchair.  "Hi, Mr. Clemons!  Do you feel like singing today?" The old, black gentleman moaned a little, but she nudged her dad to begin.  At the first strum of the guitar, a deep, melodious sound came from Mr. Clemons as he sang the words of  "Amazing Grace."  It was we who were amazed.

"This lady likes to sing "I'll Fly Away," Amy said as we approached another room.  "She has been bedfast since she was young and injured in a car accident where her children were killed," our daughter confided.  Sure enough, when Howard began the song, this severely contorted lady opened her mouth and joined in joyfully singing the words, bright eyes sparkling in her twisted countenance.

Amy had us pray for several patients, who gladly received prayer and from whom tears often squeezed past tightly shut eyes. We couldn't help dabbing tears of our own as we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit ministering to these precious people.

Amy had told us smilingly about the different personalities of the residents, some cranky, some gossipy, some sweet, others unresponsive, or even vain (one was a noted model of days gone by who still took pride in her appearance), but all, the bossy, the critical or the demanding, needed the good news of the Saviour, news which never grows old no matter how many years one has heard it.  I love to tell the Story!    


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Airport!

Being infrequent airline passengers, we approached our beloved enemy with a little fear and trepidation yesterday, especially since we weren't accustomed to using Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City.  We normally drive to Wichita, where the airport is relatively easy to access for us, but this time our tickets to Atlanta were from Oklahoma.

The drive down was uneventful, but when the highway veered off toward the airport, the exits we had to take came thick and fast. Thank God for a GPS!  Finally we were at the airport, which seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere, compared to the congestion we'd been through.  We accidentally passed the parking lots and found ourselves in a parking garage for returned rentals.

"What now?" I asked anxiously. My grim-faced spouse didn't answer, but we saw daylight at the opposite end of the building.  Howard kept driving, and soon we were outside, circling until we came upon the parking lot entrance again.  The shuttle picked us up and deposited us at the right terminal.   We began to relax, the first part of our journey almost complete.  We made it through security and were ready for a late lunch at one of the food courts ahead.  We still had a couple of hours to spare, but we were thankful for the extra time.

The flight was unusually smooth!  The ground twinkled as city lights became strings of multi-colored Christmas-tree lights below us.  Jewel-like against the darkness of the earth, they presented a rare--for us--and beautiful sight from above.  A magazine read, a miniature bag of pretzels and a Sprite later, the announcement came on that we were descending to the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International airport.  Then came pulling unwieldy carry-ons down the long passage way.

"How far to baggage claim?" I asked an attendant.  It was several concourses ahead, then down an escalator to the high-speed trains I dreaded.  Getting on, I saw a vacant bench marked "Seniors and Disabled."  "Howard, let's sit down!  It says for seniors!" He didn't hear me, so I repeated it loudly. A smiling woman holding on to a pole said something to me which I didn't quite catch in the whooshing speed of the train.

"What?" I questioned, to which she replied, "I said, 'You both look too young to have to sit down!'" Wow! That made my day and put a spring in my step as we went to meet our kids who had just arrived themselves. We stepped into the beautiful night, thanking God for the miracle of flight!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Son to the Rescue!

Yay!  We have wheels again! Well, we did have a car to drive, but ours has been repaired, thanks to our amazing son!  After Greg and his father laboriously ruled out the fuel pump, Greg suspected something electrical was wrong.  He looked on the internet to see where the sensors were located in our car. The first one was more easily accessible than the one which turned out to be the problem. It was buried deep in the recesses of the mysterious workings of the automobile.

"Do you hear anything?" my husband asked over the phone.  When I said no, he exclaimed,  "The car started the moment I turned on the key!" He was calling from Greg's house where they had been working on the car and wanted me to hear the purr of the engine.  Praise the Lord!  Those were welcome words! Thank God for computers and smart offspring!  Our son saved us a hefty repair bill!

Some mail Howard had been looking for came yesterday, too, so it was turning out to be a good day. Things were coming together in the nick of time before we leave on our trip tomorrow. God is never late; He is always on time!

The car problem reminds me of our human make-up.  Sometimes something is amiss, and we don't know what it is.  We try this or that to make us feel better: New diet, new clothes, new possessions.  Still, there is an achy emptiness that we can't identify. It  may be a heart problem.

The electrical sensor that held the key to our engine's starting was deep within the heart of the car. We couldn't see it, but it was obvious there was loss of connection somewhere. It required a heart transplant, you might say.  God sent His Son to give us a new heart.

As the song says, "I owed a debt I could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe, I needed someone to take my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace, My Jesus paid the price that I could never pay."

Sometimes we just need a tune-up, or a reconnecting spiritually.  May we pray like David did as recorded in Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." And that is the heart of the matter!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Oatmeal Lace

"Can you make those oatmeal cookies now?" my husband asked.  Earlier, he had been perusing the cookie aisle in the grocery store, and seeing his indecisiveness, I offered to make some cookies. We had just put a round box of oats in the basket, and I knew I had butter, vanilla, and other ingredients at home.

But after the Christmas-spirit high of shopping in other stores that afternoon and fixing a hasty supper that evening, my spirits were sagging.  Baking didn't sound very appealing. Then the thought occurred to me that instead of plain old oatmeal cookies, I would try my hand at Oatmeal Lace!  I remembered eating the crispy, buttery cookie a long time ago but had been unable to find the recipe. Now I could look it up on internet!

Wow!  Three sticks of butter?  That was all I had!  Well, there was a stick of margarine I could swap out for one of the butter sticks.  Mistake!  The margarine must have made the batter too thin, because when I dropped the mixture onto the cookie sheet, even though the dollops were inches apart, they spread over the whole pan!  I was more careful on the second sheet, and although they came out too large, they were still separate cookies.

I was supposed to bake the cookies on a parchment-lined pan.  I didn't have parchment, but I figured with all the butter, they would be easy to remove with my spatula.  Wrong!  I managed to scrape most of them off, some even in a shape resembling a cookie, but most were carmelized onto the cookie sheet.  I scraped what cookies I couldn't save intact into a mound of crunchy, brown oat flakes. (Maybe they'd be good as cereal?)  Spread out on a silver tray, the lacy, golden cookies I had salvaged looked almost presentable.

Later, I took a cookie to have with a glass of milk and sat down to enjoy it when I heard a crash. The tray had slid off the baker's rack where I had absent-mindedly shoved it.  The Oatmeal Lace shattered like crystal all over the floor in a million pieces!  Howard helped me sweep it up, and it wound up in the trash can.

You'd think by now I'd know to follow the recipe!  But just as in so many things in life and like so many other people, I had decided to do my own thing.  No big deal when it comes to cookies, but there is a parallel with rules and instructions given in the Bible for living a holy (and wholesome!) life that, if violated, can cause a mess and even leave lives shattered in many cases. Only God can pick up the pieces and restore wholeness to the repentant.  Thankfully, He gives us that chance!

Friday, December 13, 2013

No Laughing Gas Matter

A few weeks ago, I began feeling an unwelcome  twinge in one of my teeth.  As it grew a little more frequent and a little more intense, I narrowed it down to a lower molar covered by a crown from a root canal that I got more than 20 years ago.  Could it be hurting?  Then it occurred to me that we will be flying next week, and if something were wrong with my tooth, I'd better check it out.

But first, I looked it up on the internet and found all kinds of terrifying scenarios: teeth exploding in mid-air, people hospitalized with blood poisoning ("If there is a crown on it, the infection has nowhere to go, so it can go to your brain," etc., etc.  I read that airlines will not even let you on if you have an abscessed tooth.  I couldn't sleep that night for worrying, besides having mild discomfort.

A visit to the dentist became paramount in my mind. Not having a dentist here, I got the name of our son's family's dentist and called first thing the next morning.  Unfortunately, they had no openings and couldn't work me in, despite my insistence. "We have one emergency slot and that has been filled," I was informed.  The receptionist did recommend the only one she knew of who took walk-ins, though.

"I'm sorry, but because of Christmas we are closed the last two weeks of December and have re-scheduled all our patients into the first two weeks, so we have no openings at all," I was told.  "If someone cancels, we'll call you."  They even suggested that I might go to an Urgent Care clinic and get an antibiotic.  That would entail paying for an office visit, so I tried one more dental office. They got me in that afternoon.

"That is not your crown,  the roots on the root canal look fine," the dentist said after viewing my x-ray.  "Ouch!" I winced as he probed further.  "That is your wisdom tooth!" he exclaimed.  It looked fine to me on the x-ray, the huge filling  practically dwarfing the tooth. "You have a cavity in the back which you can't see, and biting down on this tooth is cracking it.  It really should come out," he advised.

Well, it is never good news to lose a tooth, but in this case, it seemed the lesser of two evils, and I was elated.  My crown was intact!  He put me on antibiotics which should clear up any infection, so I was cleared to fly.  We had been so looking forward to this Christmas trip to our daughter and family in Georgia!

I was so relieved!  I had prayed, fretted, and imagined all sorts of obstacles, but the dental staff was very kind and reassuring, and now that I'd put my problems in the hands of a professional, I could relax.  I don't even mind going back in January for the extraction.  I think the Lord had a hand in it all along, using circumstances to prompt me to get help before anything worse happened.  And  if we put our lives in His hands, we won't lose our heavenly crown, either!





















































ternoon.

me in

Unwrapped!

Nothing is more frustrating for me than dealing with tape in wrapping or mailing presents! Take yesterday!  I located the tape in a drawer and attempted to attach it to a package.  The tape was stuck in a thin strip where it had ripped, and no amount of unwinding made it revert to the original width.  Throwing it aside, I decided to look further.

Another roll of tape looked promising, but I could not find the end, since it was "invisible" tape and stuck fast. Despite running my finger over the smooth surface of the roll repeatedly, I could not discern where the tape began. What I needed was the desk tape dispenser I had misplaced.

I found it in the kitchen where I had set it in clearing off  my former wrapping station, the dining room table. Carrying the dispenser to the bedroom where I was working, I put it on the bed beside the gifts and Christmas paper.  When that tape failed to make a good hold, I remembered why I had stopped using it before.

But all that was nothing compared to sealing a mailing box.  The trick was to try pull plastic tape from the dispenser, cut it, and have it not reseal itself before I could grab it. The complicated cutting system had to be backward and upside down, I decided, cutting myself on the sharp edge and getting the tape stuck in a hole presumably made to hold the end. Worse yet was keeping the tape straight as I stretched it across the box.  It invariably wrinkled, then left a little tab dangling when I sealed the corners.  What a relief when I finally finished! No wonder people use gift-wrapping services and mailing centers!

I love giving gifts.  Every imperfect, lopsided package is a labor of love.  I think about the first Christmas, when Mary wrapped the first Christmas Gift in her labor of love.  The Gift was from God, given through Mary, who wrapped Him in swaddling clothes with love and tenderness in apparently primitive circumstances and surrounded by lowly animals.

I heard a man on television last night who shed light on these circumstances.  He said that the sheep the shepherds were tending in the fields nearby were sacrificial lambs, being raised in utmost care for their special purpose, intimating that the little lambs in the stable that night were not filthy, unkempt creatures, but clean, unblemished animals.

Luke 2:12, explains, "And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."  The Lamb of God! A sign the shepherds would understand, for they came and found Him. Would that more would understand and accept this Gift today!






Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Car Trouble!

Something was wrong!  The pulsating sound of car noise suddenly went silent at the stop light. "The car died!" I declared incredulously.

"No, it didn't!" my husband responded, but he turned the key just the same.  The car tried to start, but failed. We were in the middle of the main street in town on a Tuesday afternoon. Thankfully, it wasn't time for the adjacent school to be out, or the traffic might have been worse.  Only an occasional car passed us, seemingly taking no notice of our distress.

"Call Greg!" Howard instructed tersely.  We were only one street over from our son's house, but when I reached him he was across town at a farm supply store.  He promised he would be right there and drove up a few minutes later.  (We live in a small town.)

Just then a man in a pickup truck stopped beside us and asked if we needed a jump.  Howard waved him on, saying he was trying to reach roadside service.  Suddenly a strange young man was helping Greg push our car to the curb.  Leaving Howard with the disabled car, Greg offered to take me home. A little later, he and our grandson were able to push the car to their house to check it out.

Finally Howard came home driving Greg's car.  He told me our mechanically-inclined son was still trying to determine the problem, and they would work on it tomorrow.  The car had been very reliable and had never given us any trouble since we bought it new almost nine years ago.  We couldn't help but think of the many cross-country trips we have taken in it and thanked God that nothing like that had ever happened away from home!

"Who was the young man with you who helped you push the car?" I asked Greg on the drive home, to which he shrugged and said, "I have no idea. I'd never seen him before!"  I had just assumed he came with him, since I had seen no pedestrian in the area.  In the distraction of the moment, I didn't notice him leave.  He seemed to disappear as quickly as he showed up.

We are trusting God that our car will be fixed quickly and without too much expense.  We could see God's hand  in the whole ordeal, from the fact that it happened close to home on a slow-traffic afternoon near our son's house and on an absolutely beautiful day, unlike the frigid temperatures of the day before and the single digits of this morning, to last night's snow being gone from the streets in the warm sunshine, not to mention the mysterious stranger.

The Bible says in Psalm 34:19, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers them out of them all."  Praise the Lord!



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Church Social

"Are you ready to go out into the winter wonderland?" quipped my daughter-in-law as she picked me up for the church ladies' Christmas party.  Pulling my wraps more tightly around me, I admitted it was awfully cold out there.  Temperatures had huddled in the low 20's all day, and I had complained profusely every time I'd ventured outdoors.

Stepping outside, I caught my breath. Downy flakes were falling thick and fast in a curtain of snow! So that's what she meant!  Our porch light illuminated a swirling blizzard, magnified dramatically as we drove into the night.  How beautiful!  Our first snowfall, not counting the scanty dusting we'd had recently. Suddenly it felt Christmas-y and festive, adding a note of adventure to our outing!

We picked our way carefully up the church stairs through the feathery carpet spreading beneath our feet.  Inside, a sea of red and green spread out on tables met my eye, and I remembered belatedly we were to make crafts, not particularly my cup of tea. A member in a red sweater was decorating a shimmering aluminum tree where I put down the present for the gift exchange, then balanced my plate of deviled eggs and placed them on the counter.

After sampling the delicacies and chatting over the Christmas goodies, we milled through the craft supplies, admiring the examples our leader had made: Ribbon wreaths, centerpieces, and door hangers. Demonstrating by bending a clothes hanger for a base, she made it look easy, so soon I was constructing my own door hanger.  My adventures with the glue gun got me a burnt finger, but a helpful college miss deftly fastened my ornaments to the base of greenery I managed to twist through the hanger.  Topped by a (bit-lopsided) bow and hung on the knob of a display cabinet at home later, my efforts looked credible.

Games of identifying Christmas Bible characters pinned on our backs and writing as many words as possible from "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year," were fun and challenging.  The beautiful sample crafts were given as prizes for the winners of the word game, and although I was fast, younger minds outstripped me (but I know it was because I wrote longer words!).

Our evening was abbreviated a bit by uncertainties about the weather, but at least the snow was not icy, so driving conditions were manageable, if exhilarating.  As far as I know, everyone arrived at home safely, and, I am sure, cheered by the fun and fellowship, the glow of Christmas warming hearts and a winter wonderland to dream on. "Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?" Job 38:22.  Tonight we had.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Up on the Housetop

"I'm on my way to town to get a gingerbread house kit for the kids," my daughter Amy said over   phone.  "They have already made five," she went on.  Five! When I asked what they were doing with them, she said they were miniature ones for a gingerbread village.  Our 16-year-old granddaughter was home recovering from surgery, bored and depressed, so this was something she could do.

I couldn't help but think of the time about 10 years ago when I was babysitting these grandchildren, and Amy had brought along a gingerbread kit to entertain them.  Well, it looked pretty daunting to me, but after I put a chicken on to stew for supper, we opened the box and began.  How hard could it be? I'd seen one my other grandchildren had made, and it looked straight out of a story book.

The frosting (glue) seemed right, and there were slots on the special tray to hold up the sides while we worked.  Amid much finger licking and tasting, we applied the "glue" and set up the sides.

The young'uns  quickly lost interest when a neighbor child wanted them to play outside, so I carefully applied the roof sections, which I held in place for awhile for a better set.  When one side started to slide, I gently pressed on it, and the roof section split in half!  After trying various things to reinforce it, I resorted to sticking it onto a piece of cardboard.  (Under all that frosting, who would know?)

By the time the three little rosy-cheeked kiddos came in, I was ready to let them decorate it.  They carefully applied gum drops to the roof, M&Ms to the windows, and sprinkles to the pathway. Everything and everybody was getting to be a sticky mess, when one cherub announced, "The front wall caved in!"  We decided we'd call it a picture window and go on.

Then the roof slid off, was re-fastened, and under the weight of little fingers and heavy ornamentation finally collapsed, bringing the house down with it.

Maybe it was the steam from the chicken in the pot that had made the icing unable to stick, but I knew how the man who built his house upon the sand must have felt!  I haven't made a gingerbread house since, but if I do, I won't multi-task, and there will definitely be no children present!  I much prefer a house like the one built on a rock! Matthew 7:24.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

This is the Day That the Lord Has Made!

"I thought it wasn't supposed to get cold till Thursday!" I exclaimed yesterday  as we headed out the door to a grey, bone-chilling dampness that penetrated my coat and sweater. Wednesday had been unseasonably warm and beautiful.  We should have gone shopping then.  Still, it was fun to get away, despite an unexpected lunch incident.

"I wonder if there is a KFC here," I said, knowing that at home they had a Wednesday lunch special we liked.  The GPS showed one a mile or so away, but it turned out to be in a seedy part of town, not the bright, cheerful atmosphere in the upscale shopping area of Stillwater we usually enjoyed.  They did not have the special, and as we were placing our order, an overly-friendly disheveled man leaned on Howard's shoulder saying he was hungry.

"Do you know this man?" I heard my husband ask the cashier.  She shook her head, and I busied myself getting our drinks while Howard added one more order to ours.  Then he was engrossed in conversation with the man, no doubt ministering to him, I knew.  Our order came, and the stranger set his down across the room.  Suddenly he was at our table with arms outstretched to embrace us. Taken aback, I waved him off, and Howard said he would talk to him after we ate. He had said he was a diabetic and didn't have money for medicine.  Although he reeked of stale beer, my better half gave him some money, eliciting a promise that he wouldn't buy more with it.

Things got better as we found gift possibilities in a Christmas-y store, wearing ourselves out with shopping and getting an ice-cream cone for the ride home.  Once there, I was inspired to put up my nativity set after retrieving it from storage in the basement.  One thing led to another in my decorating, and I found myself exhausted with supper to prepare before getting ready for church.

The warm, comforting meal of mashed potatoes, collard greens, pork chops and hot cornbread, coupled with the cozy house on this cold winter night tempted me to stay home.  I couldn't believe it when we walked into the church and saw it alive with kids and activity.  I had forgotten it was family night!  We could have stayed home!  Still, who could resist the animation of the children as they played their games!  I even got to assist my little granddaughter with a lesson page at one point, helping her spell out words about God's blessings.

The adults were drafted to play a mad-gab game, deciphering mixed-up letters and words.  This was fun!  I found myself energized and refreshed, not only from the game, but from the earnest words of the kids' leader as he drove home spiritual truths in a way they could understand.  Like the needy man who had tears in his eyes today when Howard told him God loves him and desires to heal him, I found my eyes misting in the knowledge of how God loves the children. I wasn't tired at all when I got home!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Seventy Times Seven

Our 4-year-old granddaughter awoke cold and wet.  Changing her sheets, her daddy remarked, "Maddie, I'm sorry you wet the bed," to which she mumbled, "That's alright, Daddy.  I forgive you."  Our son told me that is her normal response when someone says they are sorry. She may have things a little mixed up, but if only grown-ups could be that forgiving!

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother who sins against him. Seven times?  But Jesus says he must forgive him seventy times seven, obviously meaning an unlimited number of times.

We had a discussion on this in our Wednesday night Bible study recently.  Some people thought forgiveness should only be given upon repentance. Jesus does say in Luke 17:3-4 that one should forgive if another says he is sorry and stops sinning.

He even says in Mark 11:26 and Matthew 6:15 that, "If ye forgive men their trespasses, then your heavenly father will forgive you; but if ye forgive not, then neither will your father forgive you." We learn in the Lord's prayer to say, "Forgive us our trespasses (debts) as we forgive those who trespass against us."  If we expect forgiveness, it sounds as if we must forgive!

The thought was raised in Bible study that in many instances, we should forgive even though there has been no repentance, instead of keeping unforgiveness, hate and resentment in our own heart. As a pastor's wife, I once counseled a woman to forgive her ex-husband rather than hold bitterness against him forever.  She became very upset with me, saying he should only be forgiven if he asked for forgiveness.  Not only was she bitter against him, she left the church and did not come back.

There is a saying that harboring unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. I wonder if the reason Jesus can't forgive sins in this case is because the heart is too hard to receive it. (The Bible tells us to harden not our hearts.)  We know that there are some things Jesus wanted to do on this earth that he couldn't do.  The Bible says that he could not do many mighty works in his own country because of the unbelief of the people. Matthew 13:58.

Jesus says unless we become like a little child, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  One of the characteristics of children is that they are very forgiving.  May we become like them.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kid Sense

"Isaac's unbiblical cord came off last night," our 7-year-old granddaughter Anne-Marie announced over a taco supper with Thanksgiving guests tonight.  Her little brother will  be three weeks old tomorrow, Thanksgiving day.  Maddie, his 4-year-old sister, had asked if he had an "invisible cord" upon first seeing him in the hospital.

Earlier today, the children had been playing UNO with their doting Uncle Trevor from Texas. Helping her with the game, Trevor said to Maddie, "Now look at your hand to see what colors you have," referring to her cards.  Holding the cards in one hand, Maddie dutifully scrutinized the palm of the other hand, then turned it over to examine the back. Children are so dear in their misunderstandings.

Maddie's parents had been trying to teach her to identify her right and left hands.  Her father pointed out the trick of  holding the fingers of the left hand straight,  with the thumb at a right angle, making an "L," thus indicating the left hand.  Then he realized she can't read, and might not recognize the "L."  Instead of sucking her thumb, Maddie has from birth put her two middle fingers of her left hand in her mouth when tired or sleepy. They solved the problem by saying, "The one where you suck your fingers is your left hand."

Jonah 4:11 speaks about the people of Nineveh, where God said more than 120,000 people did not know their right hand from their left, possibly speaking of children or those who didn't know right from wrong.  A stubborn Jonah at last preached to the people, whose repentance saved their wicked city.  Teaching children right from wrong is a gradual process.  Yesterday in the children's section of Barnes and Noble, Anne-Marie was very careful in selecting a book.  "I don't want anything with magic in it," she said earnestly.  A difficult task, indeed!

The comment at dinner about the baby's cord set off a discussion among the younger set and had them quizzically puzzling out this mystery.  "That's how the baby gets food and air," a daddy explained, "It's their lifeline!" Soon they were talking about belly buttons, merrily singing a Veggie Tales ditty on the subject.  But  I think Maddie had it right, all along.  There is an invisible cord that connects us to our Creator, drawing us toward heaven.  That cord is Jesus Christ, without whom not anything was made.  He is our spiritual sustenance, our lifeline to God.  And that's not unbiblical!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On Second Thought

One of the things I was sorry about when our son's house sold was that the nursery Jamie had painted for their first baby with beautiful murals several years ago would likely be painted over and lost, a lovely work of art.  I knew he had done a lot of repainting to facilitate the sale, so I asked him about the nursery, which both daughters had used by then. I was surprised to hear he had left it as it was.

"The realtor told us not to cover it up unless a buyer requested it," my daughter-in-law told me. I wondered how the room bordered with the hand-lettered 23rd Psalm near the ceiling and pastoral scenes of lambs and the Good Shepherd would be received by a potential buyer.  "As it turned out, a youth pastor and his wife who were expecting a baby girl bought the house," she said.  "Our agent said the nursery may have been the deciding factor in their decision."

How wonderful!  The beautiful Psalm would still be ministering, and the Bible says His word does not return void. Tonight after an evening meal enjoyed by gathered family members in their new house, we were casting around ideas about which video we might view on their wall projection screen. Suddenly Jamie pulled out a video of an Easter play he had written and directed and in which he had also acted a couple of years ago.  I had never seen it, although I remembered it was a big success at their church.

We were amazed at the message of the play, as a self-righteous, boorish man met what seemed to be an untimely end and was given a second chance to redeem his life. The realistic acting, the humor, and the scenarios carried truths that brought reflection on our own lives.  The play carrying God's message was still effective, even after the passage of time.

Our little granddaughter, Maddie,  had surprised me yesterday by performing a cute Thanksgiving action-song she had learned at Pre-K. I had been trying to get her to do it for her uncle, our son whose family had just arrived.  She had bashfully declined, and ran on to play with her visiting cousins.   I reached out to catch her and draw her onto my lap as she scurried by, but she pulled away. Then, pausing and looking back at me, her smiling face peeking through the framework of a high table, she said playfully, "I'll sing the Thanksgiving song!"  A twinge of conscience for giving her Mimi the brush-off had stopped her in her tracks!

It's never too late to reconsider.  (The Bible says to "Consider your ways!")  Jamie has said he will not put so much effort into doing a nursery again, but with a new son in the household now, maybe he will reconsider, too!






Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Visit

I'm loving getting to spend time with my little grandchildren I don't get to see often.  It is my first time to see baby Isaac, just over two weeks old.  Always cuddled in downy blankets and the softest little footed outfits, he is utterly irresistible in his newness and perfection.  I can't get enough of him.  I held him during the entire song service at church today. Clasped against me as I stood with the congregation, the weight of his warm little body felt as light as a feather. Then muscles in my arms and chest held in their uncustomary position began to hint that I could enjoy him just as much sitting down.

He is a very discerning little boy.  Like the story of the princess and the pea, he can tell the minute his back comes into contact with his padded car seat.  He protests vigorously and loudly as we try to ignore his outrage.  His mommy is incredulous when I want to take him out.  She has a stronger resolve than I do; I wouldn't make a good mommy today, I guess--too indulgent.  I was sure he would injure himself crying so fiercely, but when the car stopped, he made a miraculous recovery and his sweet disposition returned.

In the midst of a hopping and dancing demonstration for us yesterday, our four-year-old granddaughter stopped and said worriedly of her 5-year-old boyfriend,  "I have a strange feeling! Joel tells me I'm awesome, but he never tells me I'm beautiful and cute!"  Then she resumed whirling, her red pig-tails bouncing merrily.

Today at lunch out, serious Anne-Marie, just turned seven, said knowledgeably as she studied the football game on the television left on for patrons, "Dad, I think Canada is playing Miami." Our hearts were warmed in church this morning when she surprised us, moving  past us in the pew and joining several of her friends, kneeling and draping themselves upon the steps of the platform in devout attentiveness to the worship music. She is positively angelic!

Tonight they went with their parents to dinner to celebrate the other grandfather's birthday.  We are helpless in their house, having messed up the television reception when we put the movie that our son had selected for us on pause, then couldn't operate his complicated remote system. We can't figure out the state-of-the-art microwave, either. It seems everything here is state-of-the-art. We complained that we were too hot last night, and he adjusted the thermostat before they left and we have been freezing all evening. At least I have this laptop to keep me almost as warm as thoughts of my family, for whom I can't wait to get home!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stormy Weather

I was awakened in the wee hours to the muffled sounds of a broadcasting voice.  Then, noticing the pillow next to me was vacant,  I got up expecting to find my husband asleep in front of the television.  Opening the bedroom door, I realized it was Howard in the kitchen praying, bombarding heaven for a serious need.

I lay back down to the rumbles of  distant thunder,  which were becoming loud claps as the thunderstorm grew closer. Finally the sound of  pelting rain against my window told me it was here. Settling into a steady rhythm on the roof, the rain was comforting, like the healing tears of reconciliation that come after the clash of a marital spat.

The scriptures that we had read at prayer meeting the other night came back to me.  "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools.  They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion." Psalm 84:5-6.

Some versions describe the rains as autumn rains, which is what we are experiencing tonight.  The point is, by making Baca into a spring, or well,  they turn a place of bitterness into a time of refreshment.  Looking up these verses, I noticed David's prayer in Psalm 86 and reflected that it surely agrees with the spirit of my husband's prayer.

David describes himself as poor and needy as he entreats the Lord to bow down His ear. Verse 6 says, "Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplication. (7) In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me."

The whole chapter is filled with intense proclamations of faith and devotion: "For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear they name," Psalm 86:10-11.

Morning is dawning and my husband is sleeping to the patter of rain, refreshed and reassured by his season of prayer. I write the words of verse 12, "I will praise thee, O Lord my God with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name forevermore." Amen!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

True Love

There's a new man in my life!  So far it's a long-distance relationship, but it was love at first sight when I saw him on my computer screen.  Arrangements have been made for us to meet in a few days, and my heart flutters with anticipation.  I can tell by his eyes that he is a deep thinker, and he is a dapper dresser!  Of course, there is an age difference, since he will only be two weeks old tomorrow!  My grandson, Isaac!

Two young ladies are already vying for Isaac's affections, one an articulate, beautiful blonde and the other an opinionated, red-haired charmer.  Isaac has two big sisters, 4 and 7.

I love the old poem, Cradle Song, by J. G. Holland that goes, "What is the little one thinking about? Very wonderful things, no doubt.  Unwritten history! Unfathomed mystery!"  That's what the little one's thinking about!

I never knew what his father was thinking, either, growing up so fascinated with new discoveries and ideas. He led me a merry chase, into everything and full of surprises.  Now it's his turn to raise a boy!
                   
The poem goes on, with a little rearrangement:

Who can tell what the baby thinks?
Who can follow the gossamer links?
Yet he laughs and cries, and eats and drinks,
And crows and chuckles and nods and winks.
                          ~~~
 And of course, there is Isaac's first love, his mother.
                          ~~~
What does he think of his mother's eyes...
What does he think of his mother's hair...
What of the cradle-roof that flies
Forward and backward through the air?

What does he think when her quick embrace
Presses his hand and buries his face
Deep where the heartthrobs sink and swell
With a tenderness she can never tell...

Even with all these lovely ladies in attendance, I think there is still room for a loving Mimi in little Isaac's life, and I can't wait to make his acquaintance!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

That's What I Love about Sunday

"Where did the ducks go?" I exclaimed in surprise to my husband.  I had just spotted 3 ducks at the edge of the water, then saw them go under for food or hiding, I thought.  But they never came back up!  The must have swum under water like little submarines until they were out of my sight!

We were at our son's farm on this gorgeous, autumn Sunday afternoon.  We had been watching him install a gate at the top of the pasture, reveling in the sunny weather and blue skies dotted with billowing white clouds and the  brisk air that made me zip my jacket. This vantage point gave us an elevated view of the lake at the bottom of the hill, as well as trees of the wooded areas below that spread like a blanket in their subdued tones of amber, orange and scarlet.  Their brilliance was fading a little now in mid November, but closer up, the sun still caught their colors in breath-taking splendor.

All around us the waves of prairie grass were whipping and bending in the invigorating wind. Muffled booms were coming from a shooting range at the far end of the pasture. That sound, coupled with the ducks who had recently began returning to the huge pond that curved lagoon-like farther on, created a seasonal ambience only enhanced by our frolicking grandchildren clambering up and sliding down the loose hay of a giant bale placed for the couple of cows pastured there.

We pulled ourselves away to get home in time for evening prayer meeting at the church. Driving there later, I gasped at the sudden, unexpected beauty of a  magnificent, rising moon.   The pinky-orange globe hung like a jewel in the gathering darkness.  This day had been so full  of God's wonders.

During our prayer meeting, a request was made for a five-year-old girl who woke up this morning telling her mother that she wanted to go to church.  I had talked with the visitors from the pew behind them, but I didn't know that the little girl had given her heart to the Lord in Sunday School earlier!  Hearing the good news made me reflect that God surely knows how to wrap up a Sunday!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Where is Everybody?

If anybody should have a hang-up, you would think I would.  It may sound like a joke from a stand-up comic, but my folks actually moved twice without telling me!  The first time, I was 16 and had been away on the short trip from Blackwell to Tulsa to see the Ice Capades with my boyfriend and his brother's family, spending the night in Pawhuska at my sister's house on the way home. When Howard took me home that day, the house was empty!

Like most teenagers, I hadn't been paying much attention to what was going on around home, caught up as I was in my own world.  I knew they had been talking about moving, but I didn't realize it would be then!  I hoped I would find them at a house they'd been considering, and thankfully, there they were.

The next time, I was married with two little ones, and we had decided to move to Independence, Kansas, where I would attend college and be close to Mama and Daddy and other family members. We had discussed our plans with them, packed our few belongings in our loaded car, and arrived late at night, expecting to stay with them for a few days until we got settled.  Guess what!  The house was dark, and as we could see upon closer inspection, vacant!  After checking at my brother's, we found them in an unfamiliar area of town and piled in on them (they still had three teenage boys at home).

Another time I had been gone on a school trip, and when I walked with my girlfriend to her house where someone was to meet me, the girl's mother called out to me in the dark, callously announcing, "Dale died! Your folks have gone to Pauline's house in Sapulpa."  I was stunned! Grief stricken at the news of my brother-in-law Dell's death, I got a ride to my house and of course, found no one.  I could only think to go to my newly-wed brother's apartment (turns out he was supposed to meet me, but he fell asleep) until the family was reunited, along with my grieving sister the next day.  Talk about traumatic!

Mama was not unfeeling, she was just distracted a lot and a victim of hardship.  When I was younger, my oldest married sister persuaded her to let me stay with her and attend school, which I did at least three times during my school days.  Mama had her hands full with seven boys, and I was delighted to be the center of attention at my sister's house.  They had luxuries like electricity, running water, and school supplies.  I don't remember missing my parents much, but I was always happy to return home.

I was homesick for my family my entire married life, living 500 miles away and only seeing them twice a year.  My parents loved our kids and welcomed them warmly on vacations, the stress of raising their own family behind them.  I know it says in the Bible "Would a mother forget her child?" and then, though the answer may be yes, we are told He will never forget us.  It must have hurt my mother when we were separated those times when I was little, for she was always bringing me home prematurely.  I was blessed, along with my sister, to be able to take care of Mama in her last years.  And I have a keepsake: years of letters she wrote to me when we didn't live close.  It's true.  God never forgets us!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sweet!

"Bring your favorite recipe for cookies, cake, or candy to share and we will cook together at our November ladies' meeting," the  announcement read.  Interesting! I wondered how a dozen or so women would fit into the small church kitchen and do their own thing.  Okay, I mentally went over some of the things I liked to make and decided on a simple and a bit unusual choice:  Chocolate Cheese Fudge.

Gathering all my supplies, I set out for the church a little early.  A few women were already there, some working at the counter on snack treats and one putting a peach cobbler in the oven.  I used the stove top, so there was plenty of room.  Soon someone was rolling out cookie dough on the island, and another friend came in lugging a grocery bag and carrying a pineapple.

"I've never made pineapple-upside-down-cake before, so I might need some help," the young woman sang out.  My fudge was already cooling in the fridge by then, so I offered a tip or two when she seemed uncertain.  She soon had the pineapple cut up, and I shared about melting the butter and brown sugar in the pan. An older lady arranged the pineapple slices for her, while the young woman  mixed the batter then poured it over them.

When almost everything was ready, we sat down at the table, oohing and aahing over the novelty of the selections.  One of my favorites was "bacon and eggs," made by dropping a dollop of melted almond bark onto the middle of two pretzel sticks and topping the "egg white" with a yellow M&M. Too cute and very realistic!  My daughter-in-law, who made the aforementioned treat,  also assembled little "grinches" by threading a green grape, a banana slice, and a  strawberry on a toothpick, topping it with a marshmallow for Grinch's Santa hat.

While we munched and chatted over Christmas cookies, fudge,  Oreo balls and the pies, a late-comer assembled darling little sandwich-bag cones filled with hot chocolate mix, marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles tied with a red ribbon for her appreciative audience.  Not only was the food fun and tasty, just as enjoyable was getting better acquainted with one another.  I had no idea what an entrepreneur and civic leader one of the members is, and that the grandmother in a prayer request is 90 years old, still independent and driving her own car, and had just given up her long-time prison ministry last year!

The upside-down-cake we had been waiting on came out of the oven and was presented in all its golden goodness with a blush of satisfaction by the novice baker. We left the meeting full of food, friendship, shared experiences and needs prayed over.  A recipe for satisfaction!
       

Friday, November 8, 2013

Golden Days

"I think that I shall never see...A poem as lovely as a tree," I recited to my husband as we walked in Cann Garden today. The trees were dancing today in their finest garb as the wind twirled them, sending down a shower of golden leaves like so many fluttering hankies of a fading beauty taking her last bow in a stage performance.

"Let's walk in the leaves!" I urged my husband, tugging him toward the growing crest beside the walkway. Crunch, crunch!  This was exhilarating!  We couldn't help laughing as the wind blew us along, me with the hood of my jacket pulled up and Howard holding onto his cap. We felt like school children making our way through the multicolored carpet that spread under most of the trees and spilled out onto our path.

Finishing our walk, we saw that a group of people were having lunch at the gazebo.  When boys and girls started to spill out, we realized it was a school group.   As we got in the car we could see them frolicking in the leaves as the adults gathered jackets and lunch supplies.  Leaves were flying, and some of the kids were rolling in them.  "Let's make a leaf pile!" one cried. Scooping with their hands and scraping with feet, the kids soon had the beginnings of a pile.  Pulling out the drive, we could see a child emerge from under the leaf pile and another dive into it.

Joyce Kilmer's poem, Trees, goes on:

"A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
 Against the earth's sweet flowing breast

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray.

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair.

Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree."

"Look!" I called to my husband, "that squirrel has two nuts in its mouth!"  I at first couldn't make out what looked like a leaf sticking out from each side of the squirrel's mouth, but then I realized it was two pecans still in their green hulls.  The squirrel gripped the twig that joined them together as he scampered to a hiding place.

It's true!  Only God can make a tree--a place where children play, birds and animals are sustained, and writers find inspiration. In Isaiah 55:12, the prophet writes these encouraging words, "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."  My sentiments exactly!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Baby Daze

Speechless! was my response to a video I watched last night on human growth and development before birth.  I guess it caught my eye because our grandson was due to be born the next  day..  What  a marvelous God we have whose wonders are evident in the intricacies and inexplicable mysteries of our makeup so brilliantly portrayed in the video!  I went to bed with the presentation on my mind, anticipating our own miracle by morning .  I woke up several times, watching the clock for 5 a.m. when I knew our son Jamie would be taking Tammy to the hospital for her C-section.

I finally got up around six, checking the internet for messages.  I went to the expectant father's page and  saw Jamie in hospital scrubs with a solemn expression on his face.  Then I picked up a  post from Tammy saying the scheduled delivery would be at 7:30.  I read several bantering comments back and forth between Jamie and his friends for a half hour or so, then for at least an hour there was silence.  I knew he was busy.

Suddenly my phone was alive with text message announcements, which I could not retrieve, due to a malfunction of the cell phone. Then my daughter-in-law Joanna called and said Jamie asked her to call me. He was born!  Soon a picture of a plump cherub with inked feet filled my screen. It was real!  The miracle we had awaited for a long nine months was here!  Later a video of Baby Isaac showed him peering  with baby aloofness through newborn eyes as he twisted in his dad's arms, turning his head to expose a sweet spot where his kissable cheeks had hid his neck. Be still, my heart!

I was wondering how his big sisters would react, especially Maddie, who is four.  The other night I asked her over the phone if she would be a helper, handing Mommy a diaper for the baby.  She surprised me by saying of her big sister, "That would be Anne-Marie doing that!" Today her father reported that she had paid a visit to the hospital to see the baby, but after 20 minutes she stated, "Can we go home already?"

Well, Maddie may be less than thrilled with a usurper, but she will soon take it all in stride, I'm sure.  Kids are so resilient and age-predictable.  Last night our church had family night, and it was a special treat for us to see the life and energy bursting forth from the kiddos as they played the active games planned for them. We were amazed at the intensity and enthusiasm of our 7- and 8-year-old granddaughters as they participated.

When we picked them up after school today, we let them burn up some energy at the park where they climbed, played on swings and jostled school friends for a good half hour.  We ourselves had walked at Cann Gardens earlier today, rejoicing in the gorgeous autumn weather, our mood buoyed already by the good news of Isaac.  The glorious colors in the canopy of leaves all around us left me awed at such an infinite Creator, and His goodness . To us and our children's children, for all generations.   .

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Listen Up!

"How do you get the ideas for your music?" the interviewer asked the child prodigy in a television interview I was watching yesterday. The gifted eight-year-old replied that when she tries to think of something, her mind goes blank, but sometimes when she is resting in the middle of the night, the words and melodies come to her.

"Then I get up and write them down, and my parents wonder why I look so sleepy the next morning," she exclaimed with a winsome smile.

Then I read the testimony of a political news contributor from a major network of how she became an evangelical Christian. She had viewed believers with contempt and sarcasm, but one night Jesus came to her in a dream or wakeful state, she wasn't sure which.  He said, "Here I am."  She began to meet God at every corner, it seemed, and her life was changed.

Since I write a blog/devotional, I am always on the lookout for inspiration in everyday happenings. Sometimes when a few days go by and nothing clicks, something will come to me in the middle of the night.  Fragments of memories and unrelated ideas float around in my relaxed mind, begin to coalesce, and often come together in a meshing and realization of God's goodness and presence that I can share with my readers.

David says in Psalm 63:5-6, " My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."

"For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.  In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instructions," Job 33:14-16.

Many stories abound of people of eastern religions to whom Jesus has appeared in a dream.  God wants everyone to know Him and the plan of salvation.  Lately I have exclaimed over all the glorious fall colors and have recognized God in the beauty of His creation. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork," Psalm 19:1.

Romans 1:20 expounds, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."  Dreams, visions, sermons, the Bible, personal witness, the printed page,  and the internet, to name a few, are means to draw people to Christ.  Matthew 11:15: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."  Even in a dream!


 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The View from Here

The trees in the park were irresistible!  "Do you want to take a walk?" I asked my husband.  We had been out for a lunch break and I didn't feel like going home yet, especially since we ate in the car feasting on Sonic's 50 cent corn-dog special.  (They were good!)  Howard agreed, and soon we were standing in the midst of autumn's glory.

The magnificent tree that towered over the brick walkway at the entrance to Cann Gardens transported me to some golden cloud of glistening, yellow leaves resting against a backdrop of polished amber that was the shiny, leathery surface of the darker leaves.  Today had turned off clear and cool, contrasting with the soft, grey humidity of the past couple of days and the heavy rain of last evening that continued through the night.

An invigorating wind sent multi-colored swirls of dancing leaves around and before us.  A benevolent sun welcomed us as we emerged from areas of deep shade, chilly in the shadows of trees as yet unwilling to surrender their bounty to the earth's obliging lap.  The maples were an inferno, blazing red at the tops, fed by the flames of orange and yellow leaves below.  Every shade of red was evident on leaves and berries of plants like sumac, burning bush, Indian Hawthorne and other unknown bushes.

Yesterday we had driven through older neighborhoods where the best tree viewing was to be had. Gigantic generals of cottonwood proudly held sway in their saffron cloaks worn over uniforms of whitened bark.   Japanese maples stood imperialistically  aloof in their royal robes of magenta in front of the dignified quarters of their owners.  Even the more humble neighborhoods were graced with a glow of color.

"It looks like a giant paint set has been spilled over the entire landscape!" I exclaimed. Then I concluded, "God is surely the Master Painter!"  We remarked how we had enjoyed Cann Gardens in every season: the new beauty of spring, the lush beauty of summer, the grandeur of fall, and the stark loveliness of winter.  He is a God of all seasons!

Gospel Gleanings

We have been studying the parables of Jesus in Wednesday night Bible study.  It is interesting that many of the same parables are contained in Matthew, Mark and Luke, the synoptic gospels, but John does not repeat them. However, he gives one that is not in the other books, the story of the True Shepherd.

Our pastor remarked that perhaps the reason the other parables were not included in John was that the illustrations explaining the kingdom of God had already been given three times. John's gospel was given much later, the first having been Mark, followed by Matthew and then Luke.

In this parable of the Good Shepherd, Jesus stresses that he is the door of the sheep (John 10:7). Verse 1 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."

I have read that in ancient Israel, makeshift corrals were often constructed in the fields of branches or brambles, or perhaps the sheep were herded into a cave for protection. There was no gate, but the shepherd himself would lie across the opening at night to guard his flock.  He became their door.

Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."  I heard a story once about some explorers on an expedition through the jungle being led by a guide. At one point, the dense undergrowth obscured the path so badly they could no longer tell where they were going.  "How will we get out of here?" they cried, "We can't see the path!" The guide turned to them and said boldly, "I am the path!"

Up to this point, Jesus had concentrated his mission on "the lost sheep of Israel."  But in John 10:16, He brings a new element into His teachings when he said, "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." He was thinking of us!  Just as the sheep knew the shepherd's voice, and he called each one by name, across the centuries He is calling our name, and we can know His voice!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fill My Cup, Lord

Putting away my clean dishes the other morning, I couldn't help but notice how many there were.  There were the large dinner plates I had used last night to hold our fish supper from Howard's catch at the pond. I had wanted room for the salad and baked potato with the crispy pan fish. (Thank you, God, for your provision, and this bonus free meal!)

Then there were the snack bowls from the after-school treats for the grandchildren: popcorn (a big one for Pa Pa, too), and the requisite noodle bowl for the first-grader. Grandchildren are a blessing!

I had to put away several glasses, sparkling clean after use for water, tea and milk.  Two glass pitchers were there, too, one for my sweet tea and one for the unsweet my husband likes. Our thirst has to be quenched, just as our spiritual thirst is satisfied by the Water of Life.

Look at all these utensils! I thought, as I picked up a shiny ladle (from the pot of beans I had made for lunch), a large serving spoon (from taste-testing the beans as they cooked), knives from slicing tomatoes and red onions and cutting the cornbread, let alone the various silverware.  What would I do without these kitchen tools?  II Peter 1:3 says He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

There were the small, plastic mixing  bowl and the wooden spoon I had used for the cornbread. How good it tasted with butter from the butter dish I found in the drainer.  (He fills our mouth with good things.)

Then there were the pots and pans, even an oatmeal pan I had soaked. Oatmeal is our favorite breakfast, enjoyed almost every morning at our red, drop-leaf table in the kitchen (or at our wicker table on the front porch, weather permitting.)  Our bowl of oats is usually topped by strawberries and/or blue berries and bananas, with raisin toast and crisp, turkey bacon. After breakfast, Howard usually retreats to the front porch with his Bible and I to my corner to gain sustenance from the Bread of Life.

Putting away the last item, I surveyed the clean counter before I got out the eggs and skillet to start the new day, reminding myself that "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Send the Light

Today our pastor's sermon title was "Selflessness," taken from II Corinthians 4, pointing out that as, in verse 1, we all have a ministry.  It is not just for those who stand in the pulpit or hold some official position.  He stressed that we are to share ourselves and Jesus in us with others, which is what we are called to do.

"What good is it having something if you can't share it with someone?" he questioned, giving the example of his new watch that he admired so much, wanting to show it to someone who would share his joy in having it. After a short while he took the watch for granted and the novelty of having it had worn off, but the experience of sharing it would last.

For instance, he told of something that had happened the day before as he sat in a restaurant with friends.  Several older teens occupied a nearby booth, and suddenly, as if on cue, they all bolted for the door and made a speedy exit.  They had left without paying the hefty tab they had run up.  All the diners noticed it, and in their amazement, they began to talk with each other; people they didn't know suddenly became a community of shared experience.

Yesterday after failing to find any good garage sales around town, we headed to Blackwell, a few miles away, for an estate sale.  We didn't expect much, since it was past noon by then, and sure enough, there was a bare minimum of items on display: mostly trinkets, odd dishes, ribbons and stationery from an elderly woman's home.

The house itself was interesting, though, with a collector's quality kitchen range and a general feel of history about it.  The charming, genteel, octogenarian who lived there, sparkling with personality in her turquoise, harlequin-framed glasses, in conversation dropped a tidbit of interest grabbed by my husband, and they were off and running.  They knew many of the same people, names of businesses of old, and enough local trivia to keep Howard engaged the whole time I was shopping.  We left feeling as if we had known her for years!  The sale wasn't much, but the experience was priceless!

Our desire to share reminds me of Facebook.  Almost no detail of our lives, whether trivial or serious, is exempt from sharing with our "friends."  Pictures of babies, beauties, scholars or sports events are worthy of praise and comment.  People must share!

Paul was teaching us to share our faith!  Verse 6 says,  "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." This is the best news of all to share!



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Excursion

"Do you want a sandwich lunch, or something more like home cooking?" our grandson, Chase, asked Howard and me.  We were in Tulsa meeting his parents, our son Mark and wife Rhonda, while they were up from Texas to visit him, and we were all going to lunch.  Just then we passed a low, brick building and our cafe-savvy grandson said, "That place is not fancy, but their food is incredible!"  He checked with his Pa Pa, who said that sounded good to him.

On the way to the powder room  while the others were finishing their hardy selections, I heard the twang of guitars and the unmistakable sound of blue grass music coming from a side dining room.  I looked to see a dozen or so country-style musicians sitting in a semi-circle playing guitars, banjos and even a woman playing a bass violin as someone was singing a plaintive tune.  I wasted no time in telling my husband about it, since that kind of music is one of his passions.  The men-folk all headed to the room, and even though they had started to pack up their instruments, the friendly group gave their appreciative listeners a mini-concert. The restaurant was definitely the right choice!

When Chase came back to the table, he started to tell me something funny at his mother's suggestion, and then said, "Just let me read you the text."  It seems his landlord, who lives next door to him had written, "I saw someone in your yard, and he said, 'Hi!  I'm Chase's dad.'  I said, 'Oh, sure you are,' not believing him.  He said, 'Yes, Chase is my son!'  I shook my head and walked away, but then I thought, maybe it really is Chase's father!  He just didn't look that old!  I think maybe I owe your dad an apology!"

Apology!  I call that a compliment, although Mark laughed it off. With his spare frame and youthful appearance, people routinely think him 35 or 40, when he is 54!  We were having such a good time with them, especially since we were going to get the chance to see Chase's house he moved into about a year ago.  The cozy cottage in a settled, older neighborhood was charming with its beaded wainscoting, white moulding and woodwork, and tasteful furnishings.  It was as neat as a pin in its uncluttered masculine decor.

We really got a feel for the environment of our young engineer by seeing his college from which he graduated with honors four years ago, his old dorm and fraternity house and the lovely buildings on campus.  Then he took us to his office in a beautiful professional building surrounded by tall trees showering the walkways with autumn leaves.  The view was especially lovely from the plate glass window behind his desk.  We are so proud of him, and thank the Lord for the man he has become and for the godly parents who raised him!

"Behold, children are an heritage from the Lord," Psalm 127:3.   "Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the Lord...Yes, may you see your children's children," Psalm 128:4,6.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Appointment

"I may be in there for a little while," our son Greg said when his name was called in the doctor's office. "There's a snack bar on the first floor if you get hungry."  He had asked if we wanted to go along to the city for his appointment, saying we might find something interesting to do later on.

We descended to the first floor of the bone and joint medical center and saw only doors to the parking garage.  While Howard was inquiring of people getting on and off the elevator whether there was a snack bar down here, all of whom seemed clueless, I peered around a door opening to see a couple of vending machines holding drinks and snacks.  Our snack bar!  We perched on couches in a reception area and ate our snacks. "He may be back by now," my husband said after a while,  "let's go back up."
  
He pushed the elevator button for the 3rd floor, and we stepped out  into unfamiliar surroundings.  We must have looked puzzled, for the receptionist asked, "May I help you?"  I told her we didn't know where we were, explaining we were here at  the doctor with our son.  "What is the doctor's name?" she asked. We didn't know.  She asked our son's name and started to enter it into her computer, when I told her he was being treated for arthritis.  "Oh, all our arthritis patients are on the second floor!" she exclaimed.  Feeling foolish, we remembered that, although we had had to park on the 3rd level, we'd gone down to the second floor to the doctor's office.

It seemed this morning was full of the unexpected.  Our original plan was to follow the doctor visit with lunch, possibly at Bricktown, then go to a banjo museum the guys had been wanting to see. Instead, since we were close to the Capitol building, my husband and son decided to look up info on the Cherokee Strip Land Run at the History Center in the Capitol Complex.

This proved most interesting when we found material on Howard's grandfather's claim from that time. The helpful attendant produced documents including a copy of the "patent" to his land.  He explained that a patent was the certificate showing the original owner of a tract of land.  Any successive owners would hold a deed. 

I loved the look of the certificate with its formal "whereas," "whereby," and "duly consummated," words and phrases in printed script, and the handwritten, lovely penmanship that filled in the blanks. Especially profound were the parts that read, "To secure homesteads to actual settlers," and "To have and to hold...said tract...to (his grandfather) and to his heirs and assigns forever," signed by Theodore Roosevelt.

We had lunch in the Winnie Mae Cafe, a restaurant in the top of the Oklahoma Historical Center named after the airplane of Wiley Post, a replica of which filled the atrium of the soaring structure.  Our ride home was uneventful,  Howard's nostalgic reminiscences from the front seat being interrupted only once by a phone call.  He had paid a compliment to McDonald's a few days ago, and they were calling to say gift coupons of appreciation were in the mail.

What a nice, unexpected ending to our day!  Even though Grandpa George's heirs sold the homestead land, even nicer will be the expected ending of our earthly journey, when our Father brings us to our heavenly home secured for us forever,  as heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ! (Romans 8:17)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Serendipity: Happy Accident or Pleasant Surprise

"Where do you think that road is?" I asked my husband.  Our GPS wouldn't pick up the address to a garage sale we were looking for.  "Do you think you just go straight where the highway curves?"  He said he believed we should stay on the highway and find it from there.  After we had driven almost to the Kansas line (not really that far), he decided to go back to the old road.  Sure enough, there it was, just beyond the curve.

We had picked out two sales from the newspaper but  noticed one that wasn't advertised.  We stopped and found a veritable shoppers' paradise!  Well, everything I liked, but didn't need.  A great wall-decor-photo frame still in the original wrapper that I had seen in Cracker Barrel for more than I wanted to pay, but a steal here!

"Look at that mirror!" I exclaimed over a curvy wood-framed glass with decorative holes in the frame. A bargain at $3!  Several more items to my liking that I later found just the right place for at home sent me on  my way in contentment.  Now we were searching for the sale that advertised fishing gear for my husband's new passion.

"Is this the place that has fishing equipment?" Howard asked a man standing in front of a metal building.  The grinning  oldster waiting  in front nodded and motioned us in.  What a treasure trove! This man was evidently a collector!  The cavernous space was jam-packed with neatly organized fishing paraphernalia--everything from cane poles, fishing rods, and cabinets full of reels to displays and selections of  hooks, sinkers, and lines, all accompanied by folksy tales from the proprietor.  Turns out he knew Howard's cousins and families from the area that we had lost touch with years ago!

My husband even persuaded me to go fishing with him later that day and again yesterday!  I at first said I would sit in the truck and read my book, but I finally ventured down and found a seat on the edge of our son's kayak where he had pulled it ashore.  Soon Howard was handing me things to hold while he re-baited his hook or put his catch on a stringer, and I didn't see how he how got along without me! And I realized it was (almost) fun!

Being out in God's creation  in the gorgeous weather made it all worthwhile.  There is something about the country that is so peaceful and nostalgic, taking me back to my childhood when we nearly always lived in the country. The sparkling water, the floating white clouds in the impossibly blue sky, the wind rustling the dried reeds and grasses and the flash of gold and green as my fisherman pulled colorful fish through the water made me realize the benefits of fishing were not just the fish!  No wonder he liked it! And I am sure the fish will be delicious!