Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Murphy's Law

"I'm going to the farm to meet Greg," my husband said Saturday morning. I didn't mind, I was moving slowly and wanted to shampoo and do my hair anyway.  Also, I thought it would be a good time to make some leisurely phone calls.  I'd been wanting to talk to our daughter Amy, but there was no answer.  They all have cell phones, so I tried Shannon, her husband.  Silence.  Neither daughter picked up, either, so as a last resort, I called our grandson Reid.  When he didn't respond, I got into the tub and put a glob of shampoo on my wet hair.  Just then the phone rang.

"Mimi, did you call?" Reid queried.  I explained the scenario to him and he was clueless about his family's whereabouts.  "I'm at work," he said.  Okay.  I finished up and had donned my robe with a towel around my head when Howard came home wanting to take a shower.  (We have only one bathroom.) I would do my hair in the bedroom.  I had barely started, when I heard a thudding crash.  Workmen had been making loud noises all morning doing street repair, so I thought it was that. 

"Come and help me!" I heard from the bathroom.  Oh, no, he must have fallen! I thought, rushing down the hall.  Howard was half-sitting and half lying on the floor, tangled up in the shower curtain with the shower rod and hooks entangled, too.  He had slipped in the tub. At least he wasn't hurt!  But I couldn't get the curtain unwound because he was on part of it.  I finally freed him, and seeing he was okay, I went to answer the ringing phone.

No, it wasn't Amy, but a dear friend who had moved away a couple of months ago. I had to talk to him, so there I was, hair damp and stiff with mousse while we visited until Howard came to talk to him.  Someone with a local number I didn't recognize had been buzzing in, but I would call them back later. Turns out it was an elderly lady at church.  "The reason I let it ring so long was that I was waiting for the answering machine to pick up," she said guilelessly.

It was past noon by the time I rescued my hair and we finally got ourselves together.  I had been wanting to find a casual spring outfit to wear to our future granddaughter-in-law's shower next Saturday, so, even though it was grey and chilly, I hit several stores.  How frustrating!  Anything I liked, they didn't have in my size, or if I found pants, I couldn't match a top with them.  One outfit was a possibility, but it needed sandals, and it might rain the day of the shower (no pun intended). 

If  it turns cool, a pair of the new pastel sneakers would be nice with it, I thought.  The store didn't have any of the right color, nor did the next two stores.  I tried the clothes on at home with some sandals I hadn't worn yet, and they worked!  Now if only it won't rain on Saturday!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Running on Empty

"I just felt out of gas," was my husband's way of describing the way he felt a few days ago as a description of his loss of energy.  Since he was also dizzy and having a headache, we checked it out with the doctor.  He ordered medical tests, even an MRI, although the symptoms could have been from elevated blood sugar.

I have been  helping Howard out all week, especially with the tasks of feeding and watering the chickens.  Today we were doing the chores as usual, and I was relieved to find plenty of water in the pail from yesterday that we could use to fill the chicken waterer.  No dragging the heavy hose for me today, thank goodness.

After gathering the eggs, we were ready to go.  The beautiful morning had grown positively hot!  I opened the car doors to let the heat out and waited for Howard to get in.  He turned on the key, but the car didn't start immediately.  When another try didn't start the motor, I asked suspiciously, "Are we out of gas?"  None was registering on the console dial, and sure enough, I could see a big "E" on the indicator.

"No, we're just parked on a slope and it's not getting to the engine," he said.  "We will have to push it to a level spot."  No way could we do that in this hot sun!  Then he remembered there was a gasoline can in the garage at the top of the hill.  I volunteered to hike up after it, although after I made the trek the contents in the can felt scanty.  I sat at the wheel ready to start the engine after he poured the gas into the tank.

"What's wrong?" I asked, after several minutes.  He had the cover off the nozzle and was trying to remove the spout  from the can.  No gas was getting through the spout!Turns out it had a safety device preventing him from pouring it!  Now what!  Our road service had expired, and all our family was at work or school.  Lord, help us! I prayed.

I tried the engine again and it started!  When we leveled out, it showed 24 miles of gasoline left!  Thank you, God!  But when we got on the highway, nothing was registering.  Thankfully, we made it to the station a few miles down the road.

We had a good laugh about it with our son when he came over to pick up the little girls after school.  Oh, and we had good news to tell him.  Howard's MRI came back completely normal!  If he is out of gas now, it's because of the stricter diet regimen I have him on!

His Mysterious Ways

"Are you going to be here tonight?" the director of our Sunday night singspiration asked as I was leaving the church yesterday.  I said yes, but we might not sing, remembering my misgivings last time.  "Then read something," she suggested.  I thought about that, then on the way home I had an idea.

Our son had recently given my husband  a book of hymns with the stories of how they were written. "Howard, why don't you sing tonight and do one of the songs in the book Greg gave you, and I will read the story behind the song!"  I had already read one that we could use.

He was agreeable, and after lunch I heard him practicing on it when I went into the bedroom.  I found myself singing along absent-mindedly while I was straightening pillows on the bed.  It seemed he was singing it a little too slowly and I heard myself saying, "Do you want me to sing it with you tonight?"  He said okay,  and suggested that after two verses, I would read the story, then we would sing the two concluding verses.

The song was written by a minister of music who had doubts about the salvation of his soloist.  He said the Lord led him to write a song of invitation and have the soloist sing it.  He did, and after the message that night, the soloist was the first one in the altar and gave his heart to the Lord.  The song was Lord, I'm Coming Home, by William J. Kirkpatrick. 

One never knows how the Lord will direct someone.  Last Sunday, Howard had felt bad in church and we went to the doctor the next day.  He has been feeling better this week and was playing his guitar on the platform for the Sunday morning service yesterday, so when prayer requests were taken, I didn't ask prayer for him, but I thought I probably should have. No one else mentioned him, either. 

There was a visting pastor present in the service, and after the song service I was surprised to look up and see him on the platform kneeling in front of Howard and praying for him!  After church I asked him what prompted him to have prayer for my husband.  He said he just felt led to pray for him! His eyes grew wide when I told him Howard had been ill.  I'm glad there are people who listen when God speaks!  (Our song worked out, too, thank you Jesus!)


Saturday, April 27, 2013

That Your Joy May Be Full

I just received a beautiful wedding invitation!  The lovely script on the envelope  with our names and address gave way to another creamy envelope inside with a personalized Pawpaw and Mimi on it. Our grandson, Grant, is getting married!

Not only that, we are expecting an invitation to our granddaughter Michaela's wedding soon--two weddings in June!  (Not to mention two highschool graduations in May!) Lots of  happy family celebrations are in store as our crop of grandchildren are becoming young adults.

Jesus attended a wedding in Cana as recorded in the Bible in John 2:1.  An embarrassing event occured when they ran out of wine, giving occasion for Jesus's first miracle.  Apparently it would have seemed inhospitable in that culture and reflected badly on the family to have inadequate preparation for such a celebration.

The other night I had a puzzling dream in which I had a lot of company sitting around my table set with nice dishes and water glasses.  I turned to one of my guests and saw she was not drinking from a glass, but from something that looked like a vase!  I immediately went to find her a proper glass out of my considerable stock of glassware.

With consternation, I saw  that the first glass I picked up had a chip in it.  I went to another set and selected another glass, but it had a chip in it, too!  I went from cupboard to china cabinet to dining room hutch with the same results.  I couldn't figure it out, but it was embarrassing.  Then I noticed one of the guests was in a wedding dress.  I particularly noticed her pretty white shoes as she lifted the hem of her gown to show them to me.  (Perhaps that was because I had been looking for shoes for the upcoming weddings.)

Later, as I reflected on my dream I thought about the marriage supper of the Lamb, and how there will be no imperfections there.  Jesus is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, Ephesians 5:27.  In offering my guest a glass of water with a chip or crack, I was offering her a leaky vessel.  To offer the water of life to sinners, our own vessel must not be leaky nor our testimony drained away.  We are to be continually filled with the Spirit!

Another small envelope was tucked into Grant and Jessica's invitation, an RSVP for dinner and dancing in the evening a few hours after the ceremony and cake reception at church. Dancing?  Well, I'm sure they had dancing at the wedding Jesus attended, and what occasion is more jubilant than a wedding when joy spills over right down to your feet?  I'm not a dancer, but I'm sure I'll enjoy watching the young people in their gaiety and hilarity in the euphoria that goes with a wedding!  After all, I have a personalized invitation!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Word Fitly Spoken

My day started out on a good note when I accidentally ran across a comment made two days ago on a blog post written last fall!  For some reason I wanted to look up the post, VoilaViolas!,  I think because it's time to plant flowers.  When I got to the bottom of the page, lo and behold, there was an actual "Comment" from a perfect stranger!  Usually people don't leave comments there because it's a little complicated to post one.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to read, "You're amazing!! Makes me so happy to see Jesus in my Google search on Pansies/Voilas...He is here!! In every bit of my day...bless the Lord...and bless you!! on Voila, Violas!"   It was signed, Jesus Person. To me, it seemed like a word of encouragement from the Lord, as sometimes I wonder if writing Heartthoughts is even a benefit to anybody, although I would probably write it even if no one read it.  It was a special blessing that a fellow believer whom I had never met enjoyed and appreciated the Christian slant of my blog!

Then when I picked up my One Year Bible, I found the Old Testament reading for today was on Deborah, the prophetess, which is an amazing story of a very brave woman.  She was an ordinary woman, a housewife, that the Lord had called to be a judge and counselor.  Her courtroom was the shade of a palm tree, where as Judges 4:5 says, "...the children of Israel came up to her for judgment." 

Apparently, she also acted as military adviser, as she ordered Barak, a military general, to deploy an army of 10,000 men to defend the Israelites from harassing foes, promising to manipulate the enemy leader, Sisera, to come against them.  Furthermore, she said she would deliver him into Barak's hand.  Verse 8 contains the brave reply of Barak, "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then  I will not go." Obviously he realized God was in her.

Deborah not only went with him, but under God's direction, advised him of  the strategy to be used.  In the end, the victory was won, but as Deborah had predicted, the glory went to a woman--actually two women, Deborah and Jael, a fearless woman who drove a tent peg through Sisera's head. 

Deborah is remembered as a respected leader who listened to God and offered praise to Him ("Bless the Lord!", Judges 5:2.).  Her designation for herself was only "a mother in Israel."

I don't claim to be a prophetess, just a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  But even as Deborah had a sphere of influence, so does every woman, and it is my prayer that some word I write will be a blessing to a reader (and it is a blessing to me when I hear about it!).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Life

When our son bought property in the country last fall, the trees had already lost their leaves, so they all  had the grey, dead look of winter.  Some were obviously dead and had fallen along the banks of their pond (they made wonderful winter bonfires!), but we weren't sure how many were still alive or had been lost due to severe drought or age.

Now there is something to look forward to every morning as we drive to the farm on our "chicken chores" and are delighted at the daily change in the trees.  Some that we thought were surely dead have surprised us with a million little decorations, like ribbon bows, appearing overnight and covering the tree tops. Each tree has its own time-table. 

Many have been showing a hint of green for weeks and are now sporting small new leaves uncurling like little baby fists, while others are at different stages in their leaf budding.  The overall effect is one of many shades of green blending into a verdant sea of emerald.  It is one of my favorite things, especially when I see the lavender of a red-bud adding its pale beauty to nature's pastel pallette.

My husband has three bantum hens and a rooster in a wire pen with a nesting box of hay to collect their tiny eggs.  We noticed an egg in the nest today (they are often on the straw floor) and when we passed by the cage again, the smallest hen was sitting on the nest.  Probably just laying another egg, I thought.  But she remained on the nest the whole while we were at the farm.  Now I think she has the brooding instinct and was setting on the egg (possibly adding another to it!).  It would be unimaginably cute to see tiny baby chicks following her around!

The goose I thought was setting on a nest on a small island on the pond has disappeared.  False alarm, I guess.  She and the gander are both gone, probably to catch up with the rest of their flock heading north.  But a new possibility opened up today!  Someone wants to give us a couple of swans!  Swan Lake!  I can just see it now as they gracefully float on the scenic body of water.

Spring is such a season of renewal and new life.  I've been harboring a sweet secret that I learned a few weeks ago, but since they have announced it, I can say that we are going to be grandparents again!  Our youngest son and his wife are expecting a baby (boy, I hope) in November to add to their family of two beautiful little girls!  I am just as excited as I was when our first one was expected, 20 grandchildren ago!  We may be getting older, but there is nothing like a new baby in the family to make one feel young!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Turning Eight

What a wonderful celebration we just attended!  We had already gone to a family mini-birthday party for our 8-year-old granddaughter on Wednesday, but tonight was the camp out, weiner roast and adventure party planned to include her school friends and other friends of the family. 

The odds of it actually happening were not very high, what with wintry, wet weather the past few days.  But today, springtime returned with a benevolent sun and southern breezes.  We had really not planned to go, but when my husband heard the word, "hotdogs," he was up for it.

We drove up to a scene of remarkable beauty and rustic charm.  The "lake," the beneficiary of recent spring rains, spread wide and full in its picturesque curve, ripples lapping at the canoe silhouetted in the evening light as it was paddled, Pocahontas-like, by our daughter-in-law with her little Indian princess occupants.

Other adults sat visiting on lawn furniture and smooth stumps that circled a firepit where wieners and marshmallows would be roasted later.  We were on the verdant, grassy pasture slope of our son's farm.  A tent had been set up for the birthday campout, but first, rides on a sled pulled by the four-wheeler were enjoyed by the kids, logs of fallen trees had to be balanced on, and exploratory walks along the pond banks had to  be taken.

"Look at these logs!" I said to my husband.  They were lying in smooth repose, having lost their bark to an insect infestation.  "Look at the pattern on the wood!" I exclaimed.  The worm trails cut into their surfaces looked like some kind of ancient heiroglyphics covering the length of the logs.  They were beautiful!  I'd like to have a thin section for wall art for my living room!  My friend took a picture, and the flat image on her phone screen could have been a framed masterpiece!

We feasted our eyes on the panorama before us of horses grazing peacefully on the opposite shore, the sparkling water and the wide blue sky above  with a pale white moon riding high, ready to give its light when the golden sun sank beneath the horizon. 

By that time, we had feasted on cook-out food and were sticky from blackened marshmallows, so we headed home, wondering how long the brave ones and their chaperones would stick it out before they carried their sleeping bags into the farmhouse with four walls and a roof and a crackling fireplace as the night grew chilly.  Sleeping under the stars viewed through the mesh screens of the tent roof might prove a little premature, but at least the little braves would have been initiated into the delights of the coming season.  God surely has beautiful party venues!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Harps on the Willows

"Look, our name is on the church calendar to sing on Wednesday," I remarked to my husband recently.  (There is a special song on the program for every service at our church, and many people sing, no matter their level of talent.) Howard and I used to sing together at church when we were teenagers, but never as we grew older, except for the times I sang along with him at nursing home services.  Howard sings occasionally, and also pinch-hits as song leader when needed.  When we have our singspirations at church, I usually do readings.

But a few months ago, our name was on the list to sing for a service.  There was one appealing little song we knew, so we took the plunge and received many kind comments.  Now we might sing once a month or so, if we can find a song in my voice range, which is pretty limited.   We practiced a song for Wednesday, "Beulah Land," a touching, poignant song by Squire Parsons, (which always reminded me of my mother, whose name was Beulah).

Then last Sunday, our song service was suddenly infused with new life when a new, electrifying voice from a visitor was heard, bringing smiles and the turning of heads to identify the source of this blessing.  It turned out to be from a friendly lady who said she loved our church!  She was there again Wednesday night, and I heard the pastor say to her from the platform,  "Would you favor us with a song tonight?  We  have the Summers on the schedule, but you can sing, too!"

What? Oh, well, at least we would probably sing first, because that would be a hard act to follow, so to speak!  Not!  She sang first, and when our turn came, I half-seriously told the pastor we would take a raincheck.  "No, no, you're not going to get out of it that easily," he insisted.  I followed my husband to the platform, getting a sip from his water bottle sitting on the seat while he donned his guitar.

I was shocked as he took the microphone and said, "Well, all I know is we've gotta keep traveling on," going into a rousing rendition of "I Feel Like Traveling On," motioning for me to join him.  I shook my head and pointed to our song sheet, but that didn't deter him.  I tried to find his key and falteringly attempted to help, and finally he stopped and strummed our song.  I was still kind of numb, but we got through it, to the small gatherings' polite applause.

Then the pastor announced his sermon title, "Bitter is Bad, but Best is Better."  He took his text from Hebrews 12:14-15, which says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."  I agreed with all the points of his sermon, yet my embarrassment on the platform kept plaguing my thoughts. 

I  managed to not say anything in reproach to my husband on the way home, but I think he noticed I was pretty quiet.  All night, less-than-charitable thoughts toward him surfaced, despite the sermon on bitterness we had heard.  I remembered the time we had gotten up to sing and he impulsively skipped a verse, leaving me floundering. I would never sing with him again! I vowed.

Well, my husband was extra nice the next day, taking me to lunch and shopping.  How could I stay mad?  He was probably just as rattled as I was.  I might have to amend my decision to add, "at least not for very long time!"

The Gift

"What can I send you for your birthday?" I asked my daughter, Amy.  For the past few years, trips to Georgia had coincided with her birthday and I was able to hand deliver a present, usually something I thought would look pretty in her house.  But this year, I had no clue.  I thought of a gift card, but she would as likely as not use it on her kids.

"Oh, nothing, Mom," she said placatingly.  "Birthdays at my age just come and go."  Well, that would never do!  I had bought her a card days ago, but I couldn't think of anything to send.  Then I remembered a book I had enjoyed and looked all over the house for it.  She was sure to like that.  It was no where to be found.  Besides, it was quite bedraggled, so I was resigned to sending just the card.

Then it hit me!  I could order the book online and have it sent directly!  I looked it up and placed the order.  For a fee, they would guarantee two-day delivery, but her birthday was still four days away, so I chose the standard shipping speed.  I sent her card immediately, telling her to watch for the book that was coming.

The next day I got a text on my phone that my order was on the carrier.  Yesterday morning a text advised me it had been shipped.  Yesterday afternoon I was surprised to read that it had been delivered!  I tried to call Amy to tell her to check her mailbox, but I couldn't reach her.  Finally I got her on the phone last night to explain the situation and ask if she had gotten the package yet.

"Why, thank you, Mom," she said in surprise.  "We haven't checked the mail, but I'll send Corrin to the mailbox right now!"   She said they were sitting on the porch swing, barefoot on a beautiful, warm late afternoon.

"Are you kidding?  You mean it's still daylight there?" I exclaimed.  "It's frigid here, cloudy, windy and disagreeable!  I had to wear my wool winter coat shopping today!"  She laughed and said Corrin was on her way back from the road, trying to act as if nothing came.  She called her to hurry, and soon had the box in her hand.

"Oh, I love it!" Amy exclaimed.  "I'd been wanting something to read tonight, with Shannon out umpiring a baseball game," she said.  "Now it seems like my birthday!" 

The book got there before the card, which would probably not come until her actual birthday!  Well, better early than late, I thought, as I hung up on a warm note of satisfaction.  The book was Two from Gallilee, The story of Mary and Joseph, a new copy of an old book with the story that never grows old!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

To a Thousand Generations

I always suspected our 7-month-old great-grandson was a genius, but now I know it!  He called me today!  My phone rang and I recognized my daughter's number.  It stopped ringing before I could get it, so I called her back.  "Did you call?" I asked her.  She laughed and told me her grandbaby was playing with the phone and pushing numbers!  Okay, so it was an accident, but still pretty amazing. 

A week or so ago the phone rang, and I said hello to who I thought would be my son.  There was only silence for a minute, then a bright little voice said, "Hi, Mimi!"  It was my 6-year-old granddaughter, Anne-Marie.  She was calling from the back seat of their mini-van from a phone she had been playing with, when, recognizing "Mom and Dad" on her father's contact list, she called us!  She called again last week, and this time Pa-Pa answered and enjoyed her sparkling conversation.

All joking aside, we do consider little Jaxon, the 7-month-old, a miracle baby.  His mother wasn't expected to carry him and was put on bed rest for what was supposed to  be the duration of the pregnancy.  Then it was discovered he was implanted in a heart-shaped womb!  He grew in one side of it, making the pregnancy an iffy situation, with close monitoring of his progress by the doctor on weekly office visits.

Insufficient amniotic fluid resulted in an at-risk baby, who proved everyone wrong by being a little trooper. By a what could only be called a miracle, a life-threatening condition was detected and treated when he was scheduled to go home from the hospital.  Despite all his obstacles, he is robust, happy and brilliant.  He was waving bye-bye at a couple of  months and is learning new tricks every day to the delight of his family.

God is full of miracles.  Just a couple of weeks ago a member of our congregation had brain surgery.  Three days later, she was back at church!  She was showing off her stitches up the back of her head at the next service!  This woman was always skin and bones, like the  worst anorexic imaginable.  But now the doctors have fixed a congenital abnormality and she is able to eat and is gaining weight!  She said she is blessed to be alive; if circumstances hadn't intervened so that the problem was discovered, she says she would have been dead!  She gives the glory to God!

We had a dramatic answer to prayer in our family last Sunday, and our daughter related to me she had had an amazing answer to an urgent prayer she had prayed.  God is so good!  And our grandchildren are so grand!  Anne-Marie is even studying French!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Let Your Light So Shine

"The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them that sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up," Matthew 4:16.  This was a prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 fulfilled by Jesus when he preached and taught from Capernaum, "which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim," Matthew 4:13.

Our pastor was preaching from this Sunday, emphasizing that, although there is much darkness in the world, we as Christians are called to bring light into that darkness.  My husband was thinking of that at our Bible study tonight, and he gave this illustration:

"I had placed  a "For Sale" sign on a piece of property, and two men came to talk to  me about it," Howard said.  "They were a little rough looking, and one of them held a can of beer in his hand," he went on.  "At one point the man started to use some bad language, then he caught himself and put his hand over his mouth."  Howard said he hadn't said anything to them about his faith, but he could tell they sensed something different about him, that he was a Christian.

One of the other men at the Bible study remarked that in his work as a counselor he doesn't preach, but he does teach Christian principles. He said, "One man came to me the other day and confided, 'I went to church Sunday.'   Then he went on to say, 'When they took up an offering, my wife started to put in a couple of  dollars.  But I told her to put in $20.'  He told me the preacher had said when you give to God, He will return 100 fold.  Then he said, 'The very next day, my boss gave me new carpeting worth thousands of dollars!'"

It was obvious these two men were bringing light into the darkness.  I remembered an incident that happened to my godly mother many years ago.  She had taken a job in a large restaurant as a salad girl. She soon found out that the place was run by a boorish, rude owner who was unscrupulous and whose business was going bad.  It was nearing Thanksgiving, and one day Mama remarked to a co-worker that she had already gotten her Thanksgiving turkey.

The next day, her boss accosted her and said, "So you stole one of  my turkeys!"  My spunky red-haired mother told him she had done no such thing!  She was so insulted she took off her apron and threw it on the floor, telling him she was quitting.  He turned around to stomp off and stopped in his tracks.  All the other employees were facing him with their aprons on the floor.  They were showing support and respect for someone they knew was innocent as they stared him down.

"Oh, don't quit," he turned to Mama and said. ( If memory serves, he offerered her any turkey she wanted.)  Only then  did her coworkers pick up their aprons and go back to work.  She was a light in a dark place.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Born Free

"Look, that goose is still there!" I exclaimed to my husband when I saw it loitering at the edge of the water around the small island in the pond.  Then I peered further through the binoculars and saw one sitting in a clump of wild grass on top of the large mound of earth.

"There are two of them," I mused, then it hit me!  "She is setting on a nest of eggs, and the male is keeping watch!"  Of course!  Why else would he be lingering there so long when no other geese were in sight.  This was an interesting development in my pond observations!  Not only was it fun to see the blue heron standing majestically by, or catch sight of the turtle sunning itself, and wonder about the resident beaver, now perhaps soon I would see a parade of downy fluffs paddling after their mother!

Watching wildlife in their freedom living peacefully  in God's creation is a relaxing and  therapeutic pasttime  that leaves me refreshed and with a new perspective when we drive away.

It reminded me of something my daughter Amy said to me yesterday.  She mentioned that, in her job as a nurse, she had been interviewing a patient who had come in with another woman in preparation for outpatient surgery.  She said they seemed foreign, and she found out they were Kurdish.  "Mama, these were the most delightful women!"  she said,  "Even though one of them had had major problems and was facing surgery, they seemed so positive and happy!"

I could understand why with her next words.  "The older woman introduced the younger one as her sister.  She said, 'My mother gave me my sister when we fled our country to escape death under Sadam Hussein.'  Mama, they said they love it here!  They said they are free!  The woman said, 'I was under the sentence of death! It is so wonderful to be free!'" Amy said she had never seen people so joyous and grateful.

My daughter said it made her think, as she reflected on the fact that before she became a Christian, she, too, was under the sentence of death.  "But now I am free with a life in Christ, and that should fill me with joy!  I was ashamed of ever complaining about anything, when I have the best reason of all to be joyful and happy!"

The male goose stays near the nest to keep watch over it, especially when the female leaves it briefly to feed, although he does not stay so close as to reveal its location to predators. (That's why the male was lingering so nonchalantly in the water!)  The instinct to protect the eggs causes the female to disguise her nest with sticks and twigs when she leaves it.

Jesus is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.  He is an ever-present help in time of trouble, Psalms 46:1. From now on when I see geese flying over the pond, free as the breeze,  I will think of the freedom we have in Christ as our spirits soar with Him, at peace, but oh, so full of joy at being redeemed from the sentence of death!


Friday, April 12, 2013

How Joseph Got Marri (ed)

"Tell them about the first time you saw me," I coaxed my husband, wanting him to relate the story I had heard him tell many times in sermons.  He told how he was sitting in a car with friends before church and noticed me getting out of my dad's car and walking into the church.  To hear him tell it, he was smitten!  (It may have been the time I first saw him, when an incredibly handsome youth entered the church and I was smitten myself!)

We were in a nostalgic mood  recalling old memories as we sat in my niece's living room after coming in from a festive lunch for my sister's 84th birthday. "I'll tell you the first time I saw my husband," my sister volunteered.  She went on:  "We lived in the country, but sometimes Mama and Daddy would let me go to Grandma's in town for the weekend.

"I got acquainted with a girl next door to Grandma who invited me to a Christmas program at her church, which happened to be The Salvation Army.  'Who is that playing Joseph?' I asked my friend.  He was handsome!   She told me, then after the play, a bunch of us were gathered outside, and he talked to me.  He asked if I wanted to go to the show the next night.

"I got permission, and planned to meet him and his friend (who I thought was really cute) at the theatre." My 13-year-old sister only had a dime, enough for a child's ticket, so that is what she asked for, thinking she would already have her ticket when they bought theirs.

"'How old are you, honey?' the lady asked from the box office. "Eleven," she told her nervously.  She was handed the ticket, and turned around to see the two boys standing behind her!  "I was so embarrassed!" she remembered.

I have a dim recollection of a couple of snapshots of two bright-eyed teenagers at a camp put on by the Salvation Army, looking incredibly young as they perched on a rock in their rustic surroundings.  Their  romance must have blossomed there, because by the time I was five years old my sister's  handsome beau was a fixture at our house. 

When he joined the Navy, they got married and went to California together.  He got shipped out, and Daddy had to go get his newly-wed daughter and bring her home to Oklahoma,  even though she was a little girl no longer.  She still looks young for her age! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Changes, Changes

"We'd like two junior cones," my husband said into the drive-in speaker at a fast food stop on our way home from Wichita, "one chocolate in a cake cone and the other black walnut in a waffle cone," he specified.

"Thank you, that will be (x amount) of dollars," came the reply.  That sounded like a lot for junior cones, so  I remarked at the pay window that I didn't think junior cones cost that much.  "Oh, you wanted junior cones? I thought you wanted single dips," the attendant said.  She redid the order and we drove to the pick-up window.

"Where is everybody?" I remarked as we sat in front of the empty window.  Then a worker approached and disappeared again.  "Look, there's our order!!" I said when I spied two ice cream cones of the right color melting in a holder.  Finally a young man  came to the window and handed us a triple-dip strawberry cone.  "No, those are our cones over there!" we pointed out.  They were good, anyway, and just enough.

Sometimes things are just incongruous.  When we were driving up the road on the way there, the new-leafing trees in their misty green veils reminded me of a bride on her wedding day, dewy and tender in their freshness.  A few miles farther, the trees looked more like iced wedding cakes, frosted over and glittering in their sparkle.  Some of the delicate branches were weighted to the ground after the ice storm last night, and some were split and broken.  I couldn't believe the difference a few miles north make!

Upon arriving home, we decided to drive the few miles to the country to feed our chickens and gather the eggs.  Then Howard wanted to drive along the pond to see if it had filled more from the heavy rains yesterday.  The water was definitely higher, the sand bar completely covered and water lapping against the end of a boat tied high on the opposite bank.  "I see a turtle on that little island," I said, thinking it was the one we had often seen sunning itself  on an old tire partially submerged in the pond.

Howard couldn't see it, and I was beginning to wonder if were just a rock.  It looked round and blurry in the distance.  "Oh, I think it's the beaver!"  I exclaimed. We had heard that one made its home in a culvert on the opposite side of the lake. I grabbed the binoculars, but I couldn't be sure.  Suddenly it began to move, and I saw a long black neck protrude and realized it was only a very large goose!

Life is full of changed perceptions, misunderstandings and misconceptions.  Things are not always what they seem. They can be funny, irritating or surprising.  In our world today, only one thing is constant.  The Bible says, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever,"  Hebrews 13:8. 

James 1:17  tells us, "Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."  These we can depend on!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Giving Spirit

"It's yours if you want it."  This phrase echoes from my childhood as I heard my mother or dad answer fondly in response to my question of "Whose piece of cake  (pie, fudge, etc.) is that?" as I eagerly eyed the last piece of  dessert or treat, knowing they had probably not had a serving themselves yet.  Wow!  How could they be so generous? I remember thinking, as I helped myself to another luscious mouthful.

And it wasn't just me, any of my siblings (there were 11 of us) could ask the same loaded question and get the same reply.  It was only after I grew up and had a family of my own that I could understand their perspective.  It is more pleasurable to see your child enjoy something than to have it yourself.  (Jesus said that it is better to give than to receive!)

 Mama and Daddy had generous spirits all of their lives.  As an adult, visiting at their house, I might admire some decorative item, trinket, or dish, and Mama would say, "You can have that," sometimes giving me a whole set of dishes she had picked up at a garage sale (I was the one with a houseful of children by then), and once a set of Salad Master stainless steel pots that I still have.

In that simple, less structured time when I was growing up, we could bring home a friend to spend the night without checking with our parents first, knowing they would be welcome.  In fact, to do so would have been an insult to their hospitality. 

Something else Daddy always did (I shudder to think about it now), was to pick up hitchhikers, as often as not giving them a place to stay for the night.  He was always bringing someone home who was "down on their luck" to enjoy a home-cooked meal and even giving them room and board for a few days.  (If it sounds like the Waltons, it's because it was of that era.)

Daddy had a big heart, as did my mother, herself Tennessee born and mountain-folk friendly. In later life, they found even greater fullfilment in serving the Lord, both in church and in Daddy's vocation of spreading the Word of God across the country through Bible sales.

Our heavenly Father also has a giving heart.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to be his representative on earth.  Jesus said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father."  In His time on the planet He had created, Jesus reached out to people, especially the poor and hurting, but also to the wealthy, often miserable in their wealth and unaware of their need.

Jesus lived a joyful life (the Bible says he was anointed with joy above his fellows. Psalms 45:7),  and he wants us to have an abundant life: John 10:10, "I am come  that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."  His purpose in giving His life was that we would have eternal life in Heaven.  Like I was told as a child, "It's yours if you want it."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Heartthoughts: From Pillow to Pillar

I couldn't wait to go to bed last night.  We got new pillows!  What a difference!  Instead of two semi-collapsed pillows under my head, with my new pillow I slept on a cloud all night!  There is nothing worse than a hard pillow.

I wonder how Jacob stood it in the Bible?  The story is in Genesis 28:11-18.  The scriptures say he put stones under his head for pillows!  Apparently he was so tired from running from his brother, Esau, that he slept, but not a dreamless sleep. 

Verse 12 says, "And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."  Through the dream, God gave Jacob the wonderful message of blessings that would be upon him: The promise of His presence, the land, innumerable descendants, even extending the blessings to us and the whole earth, through Jesus who would come!

In his astonishment, Jacob proclaimed the place the house of God and the gate of Heaven.  When he arose early in the morning, he took the stone he had slept on and  set it up as a pillar, consecrating it to God and calling the place Bethel (House of God).  "And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."

These days, when most people do not do the hard physical work of our forefathers, sleep can be hard to come by.  Ecclesiastes 5:12 says, "The sleep of a  labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer  (allow) him to sleep." 

Mattresses have come a long way from the simple sleeping mat or pallet of times gone by (and still used in some cultures).  There is so much competition between mattress companies today that we are bombarded with ads on how to get the perfect night's sleep.  Everything from mattress toppers to sleep numbers are touted as the solution to achieving that elusive goal of restful slumber.

Perhaps a better solution would be to use a pillow to kneel on for bedside prayers, (even committing to a tithe of 10%!).  That would be the perfect sleep number!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Elysian Fields

Ah, April!  Spring has finally found us, if a few weeks late.  Today is a balmy, moist kind of day with low, grey clouds that blanket the sky in soft scallops with the hint of rain.  I really don't mind the cloudy day, because the air is warm and the breeze is gentle, except for occasional gusts from the south.  A storm may blow in tomorrow with severe weather in the forecast, followed by another cold front.  So we enjoy today as we have the past couple of nice days.

The country fields and pastures and almost every as-yet unmowed lawn is carpeted in great drifts of purple--masses of flowers known by the homely little name of henbit.  It is probably a weed, but a quite attractive one, at that.    Some people call it chickweed, mistakenly, I think, because of the  similar names.

Today before feeding our own chicks and hens, we diverged along the pasture lane past the pond to check out the waterfowl.  Several black and white wild ducks were enjoying the water, some looking  on from the sand bar, but with a quick flutter of wings they were airborne after seeing us.  There was another flutter of wings from an old tree and I looked to see a large woodpecker, also disturbed by our presence.

As it flew past us, I could see it was bigger than the other woodpeckers that inhabit the trees, its red head bright against it's black and white feathers.  Once before I had caught sight of a Woody Woodpecker type bird in our area, maybe a pileated woodpecker.  I hope I see this one again. 

It is always an event to catch sight of the huge blue heron that frequents the pond.  On occasion, his rapid flapping to escape our intrusion is followed by a second great flapping of wings as another heron, obviously a mate, soars above us. 

God has made such a beautiful world for us to enjoy.  He paints the heavens with an ever changing skyscape, lest we get bored with the same art two days in a row.  Just when it seems we can't wait another day for the new season, it arrives with all its special charms.  And spring is one of my favorites!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Mother is the Last to Know

Several weeks before Easter when I asked our son Jamie what was going on, he off-handedly said, "Well, we're having an Easter play at church."  This brought on a few questions, such as "Are you in it?"  (He was),  and "Who are you in the play?"  (An angel.)  I remembered that he had the role of Peter in a previous play, but he was very close-mouthed about his performance, so I talked to his wife Tammy who gave me rave reviews.

Then when we were at Jamie's and Tammy's house a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned that he had been busy at play practice lately.  After we got home, he again said a couple of times during our phone conversations that they were having an Easter play.  I didn't ask what it was about, assuming it was the traditional pageant, since he played an angel.

When the countdown was on and the last practice was scheduled, I asked him how it was going.  He sounded hopefully optimistic, then laughingly said a little self-consciously, "I wrote it."

"You WROTE it!" I exclaimed.  "Why didn't you tell me?"

He laughed again, and said, "I don't know."

"And I suppose you are directing it, too, as well as acting in it!"  Affirmative.

Finally, the play was over and I was curious to know how it went.  The only clues I could put together were comments to him from his Facebook friends. They used words like: Awsome; Fresh and funny; and "I love the theme of resurrection of dreams and desires."

Since my son was so self-deprecating, I questioned Tammy, and she told me what a mother's heart wanted to hear.  "Everyone loved it!" she exclaimed.  "They were laughing so hard in the funny parts; but there were serious parts, too," she said.  I could hear the note of pride in her voice when she related, "They said it was the best Easter play we've had in years!"

Jamie finally told me it was something of a blend and takeoff on It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol.  He said the main character chokes on a meatball, dies, then realizes he hasn't fulfilled his purpose, nor used his talents and abilities.  Evidently he gets a second chance, making an entertaining presentation with a serious message.

My son told me he had a message to go by the church office to pick something up the other day.  It was a gift card from the church for a steak dinner for him and his wife in appreciation of his work on the play. "The secretary said she really liked it," he admitted modestly.  Coming from him, that's saying a lot!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

To Plant a Seed

To coin a phrase, What is so rare as a day in spring?  Nice weather days this spring have been all too few, but today was one of them!   "I feel like Laura Ingalls!" I said to my son Greg, as I sat in a lawn chair and watched him till the ground for the family garden. 

The sky was a majestic blue dome over the wide, green pasture.  The hill hid any view of other farms or human activity, so it felt as if we were the only people on the spacious, sweeping prairie.  Other than caring for the chickens, my husband and I were mainly onlookers at this seasonal ritual of putting in the garden. 

"This is not monetarily profitable," observed our college grandson Adam as he watched his parents set out onions and lay strips of seeds for carrots and lettuce.  These were put into raised bed containers, but he had tilled a long row for a stand of corn. 

"That's because it's soul food," I countered, "It's good for the soul."  His parents smiled ruefully, but agreeing.  The rich, black, fresh-tilled earth was a dark contrast to the deep, bright green of the grass cut through by the tiller.  I knew it smelled wonderful, recalling the rich, earthy aroma of the furrows I walked in as a child behind Daddy's horse-drawn plow. 

"They'll always remember this," I said of their two little girls on their hands and knees, faces near the dirt, as they plucked grass clumps out of the rows.  They worked intermittently, as their attention was frequently diverted by the beckoning swing with its wide board seat that hung from a high branch of an enormous tree a little way off.

Later, I would dawdle there, swinging gently, grasping the thick, rough rope in each hand as my husband srummed on the guitar he had magically produced from the back seat of the car.  The deep, soft grass was lush underfoot, not yet worn away by summer feet.

Soon I was tired and wanted to go home, telling my husband I might be getting sick, even thinking I sensed a slight temperature. Sick or not, one thing I know for sure, I had a case of spring fever!   

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat

I think my husband is a glutton for punishment.  He bought three baby guineas last week, and one of them has already left for guinea heaven.  In the first place, they were just hatched, so they were extremely small.  We were keeping them in a cardboard box under a lamp, but with the cold, wet, weather we have been having, I was worried about their getting chilled.

Then a few days ago, our son, who has been a little skeptical about our poultry projects, calls and tells us he has bought 75 baby chicks!  The farm store made him an offer he couldn't refuse--$1 apiece.  (Our guineas were $6.99 each.)  We saw that Greg had made a cozy place for the chicks from a round, metal stock tank with wood shavings on the floor and a heat light, all inside a farm building. 

We thought our two remaining "keets" might like it there better and stay warmer with all that downy fluff around them.  And they seem to  have adjusted well!  Frail and timid at first, they now run energetically with the golden horde, although the two of them stick together.

But horror of horrors! The other evening Greg was checking on them and found the cat behind the shed with a chick in its mouth!  Somehow it had breached the pen and got into the round stock tank, which must have seemed like the biggest bird nest it had ever seen!  With so many chicks, they are impossible to count, so there is no telling how many chicken dinners the furry feline enjoyed.

The pen has been secured and the flock has been safe the past few nights, so today Howard went to the farm store where they replaced the keet that had died, plus he bought an additional one!  (We are making sure to feed the cat plenty of food from the can.)  We put the new keets in with the mixed flock, and at first the little strangers were scared and shy, but before we knew it, one of the "old" baby guineas came over and made them welcome!  Now the four of them hang together as birds of a feather.

Hopefully, there won't be any more farm casualties!    I don't know if my husband was cut out to be a farmer or not, but I'm beginning to think I wasn't cut out to be a farmer's wife!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What's it Worth?

"Did you see my good box?" little Maddie said excitedly to her au pair who had just come back  from her week-end away, holding it up for her to see.  I had suggested Maddie show her birthday presents to her, and she picked up the first thing she saw.  Actually, it was a Minnie Mouse-shaped box with the Disney character on it that I had picked up as an afterthought as too cute to pass up, to go with the other gifts I had brought her.

Never mind that Maddie had received mounds of valuable presents, including a bicycle, play kitchen and party gifts, all of which she loved, my box was right up there on her list!  At her age, what something costs (50cents on sale), doesn't figure in the joy she gets from it. 

My husband and I were talking about "intrinsic value" the other day--the worth of something, monetary value not withstanding.  A house may bring a certain price on the real estate market, but the intrinsic value of a home that has sheltered a family and is the depository of memories is incalculable!

Just this morning Howard was saying to me, "You've got to watch this program I just saw!  It will make you realize who you are in Christ!"  He had arisen early and turned on his favorite television minister and received added insight he couldn't wait to share with me (after he got another forty winks, anyway).

It's true.  The Bible says in Matthew 16:26, "For what is a  man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  or what shall a  man give in exchange for his soul?"  The human body is made up of 54 elements, worth about $160 by some estimates, but the value of the soul, or eternal spirit, is inestimable! 

Cost of birthday trip:

New tire for car......................................$100
Gasoline for 500 mile round trip..........$150
Food.......................................................$  50
Birthday presents..................................$  20
Time with grandchildren and Maddie's expression...................................Priceless

Some say the value of something is determined by what you are willing to pay for it.  Jesus considered us so valuable that He died for us to have the gift of eternal life.  He paid it all.  All  we have to do is receive it, just as our 4-year-old granddaughter received her birthday gifts.  Jesus came all the way from heaven to deliver it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


"What?" I groaned when Howard woke me and said we had to be ready at 8:30 in the morning to go to the  Port of Houston for a boat tour! He had sat up late talking with our son Jamie on this first night of our visit and mentioned he'd like to do something like that, and it had been arranged!  Well, I was sure all would oversleep in the morning, so I wasn't too concerned.  How would we get two little ones and ourselves up, dressed and ready to leave by that time? 

"We aren't really going on a boat tour this morning, are we?" I asked Jamie as I walked sleepily into the living room when I heard him up.  When he said we were, I protested, "But it's so early!" to which he replied, "Well, you're up, aren't you?"

And to my surprise, I was, and feeling refreshed at that.  "All I have to do for the girls is put them in the car," my SAHD son said, in his masculine way of parenting.  I hurried my routine, saw him run a brush through their hair and we were on our way shortly, getting breakfast at the drive-through of Chick-Fil-A.

I was dreading an industrial-looking, unappealing waterfront, but after nearly an hour of interstate driving, wending our way through commercial and industrial areas, we at last turned off into a parklike setting with brick walkways, blooming trees with birds flitting through them and a brick-paved plaza.  Lots of people, including kids on field trips this Spring break, were gathering in front of the tour boat.  Turns out we got the last five seats on the vessel with a 50 passenger maximum.

What a pleasant surprise!  The weather was Houston-warm-and-gorgeous, and the sky was blue with fluffy white clouds.  We'd left the winter back in Oklahoma! The boat itself was very nice, with nautical wood paneled interior, comfortable padded benches and seats all around, and  wide glass windows from which we could see the narrow deck and railing around the boat where some were walking or sightseeing. After a brief announcement of rules and safety regulations, all were allowed to go outside and to the front of the boat for a better view.   

The great ships were impressive in their massiveness as they sat at the docks awaiting loading or unloading of their cargo!  Names of foreign countries were emblazoned on their sides.  Names like, ITALY, SWEDEN, ISRAEL, MEXICO, VENZUELA, and our own UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, all with their flags proudly flying.  Several splendid gray liners--government ships, our son said, were manned by merchant marines and could be deployed with three days notice to any trouble spot in the world.

Now and then a sturdy little tugboat, rimmed with rubber tires for resilience, would pass us, ready for its work of nudging the big ships into position for docking, debarking or embarking.  The word, TUG, was painted at strategic spots on the ships' hulls indicating contact points. 

"Look, Anne-Marie," I exclaimed to my six-year-old grandddaughter, "a pelican!"  She laughed when I taught her the rhyme, "A funny bird is the pelican, His beak can hold more than his belly can," doggrel by Ogden Nash.  Gulls and other seabirds soared overhead, glistening in the spring sunshine.

Our jaunt was several miles long, taking 90 minutes for the round trip.  We were informed that it was yet another 50 miles to the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but we felt like we had been sea borne all morning.   

I thought of the Bible verses, "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep," Psalm 107:23, 24. 

And again, of the boats that were ever on the alert for a dispatch to anywhere in the world with only a three-day notice.  Our angels are dispatched instantly when sent by God if we are in peril, "...sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," Hebrews 1:14, and in Psalm 91:11, "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all they ways."   Kind of like the busy tugboats!  I was so glad we had taken the cruise!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter

"Do you want a trophy?" my granddaughter, Allison, asked me in an aside as she tallied the winners of her Easter egg hunt event.  "Did I win one?" I asked, and she nodded.  I guess she was checking the level of my participation enthusiasm.  This grown-up granddaughter could have a career as an event planner, I thought.  She had thrown this extravaganza for young and old alike on the family farm property.

It had been a perfect Easter Sunday (Resurrection Day, I like to call it) with a packed-out congregation stuffed into our little church that morning, what with visiting families of the members and those who somehow manage to make it to church at Easter (or Christmas) if at no other time, and a moving message by our recently bereaved pastor.  Hearts were touched when he mentioned his late wife and our dear friend from time to time, as he is understandably apt to do these days.

We were out in plenty of time for me to pick up the food I had made to take to our son's house to add to their family feast.  Why can menus and food prep be so fraught with doubt and vacillation for me?  I had planned to get a turkey breast to supplement my daughter-in-law's ham dinner, then reconsidered and made a hen with dumplings.  I had stewed and de-boned the chicken the night before, planning to add the dumplings in the morning and take them to her house in a crockpot set on warm until lunch time.

Panic set in when the crockpot was not where it was supposed to be.  No amount of searching revealed it, but it was probably stored in the basement from our move last summer!  I had undercooked the dumplings a little to finish in the crockpot, and now it was time for church with my plans foiled.  They went into the fridge to be rewarmed on site, and thankfully, they were just right!

After adding cubed fresh pineapple to cottage cheese, I looked online and found you were only supposed to use cooked or canned pineapple for that!  My strawberries I had cut up and sugared to set overnight looked soggy and pale!  And the shortcakes I had baked tasted disappointedly like biscuits.  Oh well, maybe it was just my dulled sense of taste that didn't let me relish the meal, but I did relish the fellowship!

The picture-perfect event in the country followed.  Children were scattered like bright little blooms on the deep green, new grass slope where Allison had set up a kids' egg hunt.  Doting parents hovered over the smaller tots and their baskets, enjoying it as much as the kids.  This was a farm outing for them, made perfect by viewing the small horde of new chicks in the shed and peering at the eggs in the nests of our white leghorns. 

Then while the kids went on a hayride conducted by our son, the adults were ushered down the hill for the "Extreme Egg Hunt."  My husband and I tagged along, then I got into the spirit of the game when I spotted a bright egg at the base of a gnarled old tree.  Most of the young adults had swarmed to the other side of the hill, so I garnered a basket of eggs in no time as one led to another.  Thus my trophy for fourth place!

The day culminated as we watched the final episode of The Bible mini-series later that night.  Though I couldn't watch the crucifixion part, the portrayal of Paul and the other apostles was riveting. I was moved to tears at the realization of their steadfastness and zeal in spreading the gospel, despite horrible persecution and martyrs' deaths. The faithful presence of Jesus was apparent several times in cinematic depiction, stretching the imagination to comprehend the reality of what actually happened. 

Paul's concluding declaration as recorded in II Timothy 4:7 is, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (8) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."  The best trophy of all!