Saturday, June 29, 2013

Faces of Courage

My husband is away on a rare outing with the men of our church today. I have a car and money, but I haven't left the house, finding I enjoy the quiet and solitude on an absolutely beautiful day and doing whatever I want to do!

The weather has turned wonderfully cooler, about 20 degrees lower than it has been; while admittedly it is not exactly cool, the wind has been in the north and the humidity must be lower. It was so nice I couldn't resist taking my grilled cheese sandwich and applesauce to eat at our wicker and ratan table on the porch where I could admire my garden flag we hung just outside the screen door.

When we were shopping for the hardware at Lowe's to hang the flag yesterday, I couldn't help noticing a beautiful young woman wearing a Lowe's vest energetically wheeling herself around in a wheel chair. She positioned herself in the aisle with us as she assisted another employee find what we needed. When she finished and the men were still talking, I turned to her and asked, "Are you a veteran?" She had no legs, and I thought she might have lost them in the line of duty, as so many of our service personnel have.

"No, nothing like that," she smiled, "I wish it could have been that. I was in an automobile accident." It was heartbreaking to see someone so young and beautiful in that condition, but she had an amazingly positive attitude. "Oh, that's alright," she said when I told her I was so sorry. (My husband told me later that she was an excellent parts person and had waited on him before.)

I shared with her about our beautiful 15-year-old granddaughter's recent unfortunate accident with a four-wheeler. She was so sympathetic about her injuries. I knew she could relate. I couldn't help but think of our Corrin's positive attitude, too.

"Mama, she is handling this so well," my daughter told me on the phone yesterday. "She has her moments, of course, but she realizes how blessed she is to be alive." She said her doctors are amazed both at her attitude and her remarkable progress. We talked of how God has given her and all of the family grace and favor in getting through this.

"You know Corrin wasn't wearing a helmet," her mother told me. I had wondered about that and how it might have helped her, but I was surprised at what Amy said next, "They said if she had been wearing one the chin guard would probably have caught on the pole she hit and it would have been fatal." I caught my breath.

She also told me that since she was wearing braces, more of her teeth were protected. This was a surprise, too, for I had pondered whether or not they had made it worse. We are so grateful to God for being merciful in this near-tragedy. "This will be her testimony," I said to Amy. I can only wait to hear how God is going to use this in her life. One thing I know, she went riding that day as a young girl, but she came back a young woman.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gardening Angel (Flag)

How can hanging a simple little Welcome flag be so difficult? "I think we should go to Hobby Lobby," I told my husband as we set out to find a flag holder. Oh, there were plenty of flag kits--for the American flag, especially since it's almost the 4th of July! Other than that, Hobby Lobby had nice, tall poles, but they all had a shepherd's hook at the top.

The picture that came with the flag showed a round, wooden rod with a finial at each end, kind of like a curtain rod. After we had given up at Hobby Lobby, I suggested we go back there and look in the craft section. But Howard had forgotten something at Walmart, and he wanted to look in their hardware department.

"I just need to find a male employee," he said, "Somebody who knows what perpendicular means!" (He was a little put out because all the flag mountings were set at an upward angle.) He told me to go look in hardware while he took care of his errand, but the young lady was no help in hardware, and steered us back to the patriotic flag displays.

We were getting tired and hungry, so we grabbed a bite to eat before we headed to Lowe's, where he was sure he would find the right components to mount my flag he had gotten me for my birthday. Everyone kept pointing us to the red, white and blue kits of Old Glory, with poles included. I decided to look in curtain rods, while he trailed off after a knowledgeable-looking, white-haired sales associate.

I looked at the varied items he laid on the counter. Evidently, the salesman fixed him up. There was a dowel rod, a floor flange, pole tips, and a sheath of pipe to hold the dowel rod. "$12.65?" He exclaimed when the total was rung up. The flag was only $5.99, on sale! Well, at least we could quit shopping, I thought.

I lay down on the sofa to rest when I noticed my husband heading determinedly out the door with the flag and rod in his hand. I had dozed off when something woke me up and I saw him standing there. "Did you get it put up?" I asked. He told me to come see.

I loved it! He did a great job! "Now I'm taking this stuff back and getting my money back," he said. I think all he used was the dowel rod and other stuff he had in the garage! I think we are both ready to raise the white flag of peace around here!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Birthday Doings

What a memorable birthday! I had in mind to look for a garden flag for my birthday, so I looked in Tuesday Morning in Stillwater. They only had a couple, but I finally decided on one, although I was afraid it was a little big. But when I got home, it was perfect, and so pretty, in a homespun sort of way!

While we were in Stillwater, a bustling little college town, we had lunch at Olive Garden with our favorite soup, their wonderful salad and garlicky breadsticks. Although I knew I would have birthday cake that night at our son's house, I noticed a delicious-looking dessert being served at another table and thought how good it looked!

"What is that cake?" I asked the server when she came to our table. It wasn't on the dessert menu we had. She told me it had a chocolate cookie crust, a layer of chocolate cheesecake with a white layer of vanilla topped with another chocolate layer with chocolate icing! Yum!

"It's my birthday," I told her. Do you do a complimentary dessert?" The young lady said she would check, and said it was usually one of the little ramekins of pudding. Pretty soon she came back with a big slab of the chocolate cheesecake. "I just went ahead and brought you this!" she said. Wow! That was a $6.00 dessert! That was a blessing! (which I shared with my husband.)

I had been wanting to see the new Superman movie, having been a Superman fan since childhood comic book days. We made it just in time for the 2:00 o'clock showing. "It's so dark I can't see," I said to Howard as we made our way into the screening room. Then I heard voices and could see the picture in progress. Good, I thought, no coming attractions to watch. But it seemed to be the end of the movie! Superman was all grown up! Thinking it would soon be over, we sat down.

After half an hour of dramatic scenes that I was pretty clueless about, I checked with a hostess, and she said, "That is the 12:30 movie. You should go to the end of the corridor to the 2:00 o'clock showing. Don't worry, it's just beginning, since we have 20 minutes of coming attractions."

We watched for about 45 minutes of mostly violent action and disjointed flashback scenes, until things started to look familiar. "This is where we came in," I said to Howard. "Let's just go, since we have seen most of the rest of it." This was a little too edgy for me, without enough of the nostalgic portrayals of the hero's childhood.

We hurried home to rest up before we would go to a birthday supper our daughter-in-law was having for me. Just as we got home, our son Jamie skyped with us for a half hour with our beautiful little granddaughters. "Happy Birthday!" the girls chorused, then chatted with us, Anne-Marie showing her gap-tooth smile where she had lost a tooth, and Maddie asking me how many old I was. This was a birthday present dear to a Mimi's heart!

"Mom, bring your Scrabble game when you come over," Greg said when I answered the ringing phone. After a wonderful dinner and a luscious chocolate/strawberry/whipped cream cake, four of us enjoyed a gripping game where I was ahead. "Come look at this weather!" Greg called from the front door. Unreal! Trees were bending, dark clouds were lowering and thunder was rolling from a storm that had come up so quickly we were unaware.

We dashed home to find we had no power, and neither did our neighbors! The house was hot and dark. We sat on the porch and watched flickering flames and smoke billowing from what seemed to be a house fire on the next street! What else could happen? Turns out it was only the flames from a refinery which were flaring because of the loss of power. "Lord, please let the power come on," I prayed after an hour of darkness.

I suddenly realized how tired I was and went to lie down on the sofa in the dark house. A few minutes later, blessed light filled the room! Thank you, Lord! This was enough excitement for one day!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


We had a wonderful time at the wedding of our grandson, Grant, and his bride, Jessica. The ceremony was lovely, with both our son Mark, and my husband having a part. Mark opened in a heartfelt prayer (he only choked up once) for his son's marriage, and Howard closed in a moving prayer that included the Numbers 6, or Aaronic blessing. He had been a little nervous about it, but his voice rang clear and strong over the microphone.

Later, as we were mingling at the reception, we saw several people we had known when we were part of that church about 15 years ago. As Howard was being introduced to someone's friend, the stranger said, "I didn't know you were a disc jockey!" (He isn't.) Many commented on Howard's radio-quality voice. One person said, "Your voice just made a sense of peace come over me!"

"I'm just going to call you 'Silver Throat,'" a voice behind us said as we sat at one of the tables. We turned to see a fellow minister who had served on staff there with Howard way back when. Another old acquaintance said, "I remembered that voice when you prayed!"

It's true. Howard does have a remarkable speaking voice. Perfect for a minister of the gospel. God surely gave it to him for that purpose! He has used it in ministry for the last 25 years, only slowing down a little lately. With all the wonderful compliments (including a few of "Don't you guys ever age?" that made us laugh), it made me say to him, "Maybe you should try to get a radio broadcast again!" He has preached on the radio before, in Mississippi and Virginia.

Yesterday the car radio was on and I tried to identify the familiar-sounding voice as names and faces ran through my mind only to be discounted. Then the speaker began to tell a story about "dream day" at school and I recognized it as the voice of Dr. Mark Rutland, minister and college president.

He was recalling a time in fifth grade when a teacher had the kids share their dreams for the future. He blurted out that he wanted to write books, although he didn't know where that thought came from. She encouraged the children in their dreams, having him write a short story. He now has 14 books, the latest on the New York Times Best Seller list.

My husband always knew he was called to preach, but it took him many years to realize his dream. Now maybe it's time to dream again, for that God-given voice to go out over the air waves to preach the gospel! I'm claiming the blessing of Numbers 6:24-26, "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Grand Ole (Soap) Opry

"Please! I don't want to hear any more of 'Days of Our (Chickens') Lives!'" my son Jamie groaned over the phone when I reported the latest drama with our poultry the other day. And every day it gets worse! Something broke in and decimated our flock last week. Today we found only 7 chickens left of the 100 or so birds we had up until recently!

Anyway, I have had it! We saw a chicken hawk sailing low over the farm and scanning the area today, as if there were anything left! I think it all started with our giving them a little freedom from their shelter where they were protected by chicken wire to go into the fenced, but topless, enclosure.

A few began to escape, alerting wildlife to their existence, then something bigger (Bobcat? Fox? Dog?) breached their pens and wreaked havoc, death and destruction. Feathers are everywhere. Even our prized guineas are gone.

So when I heard my husband talking to our son (his partner in crime, or should I say chicken business) and saying, "I'd like to get a few more hens and build it up again," I strongly protested.

"What did Greg say?" I asked at the end of their conversation, and I was deflated to hear, "He said he's going to build the pens back stronger than ever!" I give up! Howard was calling to me that the mail had come and there was a new Guidepost magazine.

The first story I read was from a woman whose husband was determinedly hanging on to a failing farm. She saw no hope as disaster after disaster plagued their cows, their crops and their water system. It seemed as if all he did was read the Bible, much to her impatience. She sounded like me! (Don't get me wrong, I love the Bible, too, but I am a fast reader...not so good, I know.)

Anyway, after his stolid perseverance, their cows got well, the rain came and things turned around. Their milk sold, they could take showers, and contentment settled in. (They even opened craft stores and such on their property!)

Was God speaking to me through this story? The timing was astonishing! Maybe it was a sign. If so, God will surely give me peace. Our granddaughter is good at painting rustic signs. I can just see one with "Gregory's Egg-ery" or some such slogan in my future!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dear to the Heart

It all started during prayer time at church yesterday when the pianist asked for prayers because she and her husband were facing putting down their beloved aged and ill dog. A common sympathetic nerve was touched among members of the congregation with the brother taking the prayer requests digressing into a memory of his one and only cat.

"I never liked cats," he said, "But this one adopted me." He told how the cat would rush to meet him at night. "Then he would ignore me," he said, but it was obvious how much the cat came to mean to him over the next seven years. Then one night he felt something under his tire, and went to remove a grandchild's toy, only to find it was the cat. "I prayed that God would take Buddy-cat to heaven," he said, tearing up.

The organist then interjected a testimony that she had founded a wounded dog on the road in front of her house. "It was groomed and had a collar, so I knew it belonged to someone," she said. She washed its cuts and tried to feed it, but it was hurt too badly to survive. After calling all her neighbors with no clue to its owner, the next day she called the vet's number on its collar to find out it belonged to a new resident who had just moved into the community.

A sad story ensued of how the 15-year-old blind dog had gotten out in the unfamiliar area and was hit by a car. "But I met my new neighbor and made a new friend!" she exclaimed. "I think it was a witness to her that I had compassion on the little dog. I had placed it in a box and she took it home to bury it."

A man read a scripture from Proverbs 12:10 that says, "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast." The pastor had to finally stem the outflowing tide of animal stories, but it reminded me of something our son had shared at breakfast.

We were eating with them at Braum's that morning before they left to go back to Texas after having been here for a family wedding the day before. In his inimitable story-telling way, Trevor told of the family's coming home from shopping one evening to find their little dog, Jack, missing. They called and called him to no avail, and after a search around the neighborhood, they gave up for the night.

Then, sitting down to his computer, what should appear on Facebook but a comical picture of Jack, looking a little uncertain and like a deer in the headlights, his mop of bangs awry as if from a shampoo. An explanation was posted underneath that someone took him in, fed and bathed him and was searching for his owner. (I quipped, "Maybe he said, 'I'm not telling!'") They lost no time in retrieving their funny little dog.

(That brought to mind a memory of when Howard lost a favorite hat, and after searching for it all week, I noticed I had an e-mail from our son in Houston. I opened it, and there was our 5-year-old granddaughter wearing the missing hat! "Did you forget something?" it read. No wonder we couldn't find it! It was 500 miles away where we'd left it on a recent trip!)

Last night at church when the pastor asked for a few short testimonies, an octogenarian took the mic and told how his visiting grandson had found a baby bird that had fallen from a nest. Despite the parent birds diving at him, he managed to put the fledgling back into the nest. Makes you realize that His eye really is on on the sparrow. Like the poem by Cecil Francis Alexander, "All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Fifty-five years! Our fifty-fifth anniversary is today! For our fiftieth anniversary five years ago, our whole family got together in Nashville for a stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Hotel. But today is a relaxed, private day of celebration, since we have so much else going on right now. Tomorrow our son Trevor and family will come in so that we can all attend a grandson's wedding in Kansas on Saturday. We will see our son Mark, father of the groom, and the rest of his family.

Mark is in the process of relocating to Austin, Texas, from Smithfield, NC. It will be so good to have them back in the midwest again! After his flying trip to Tennessee as wedding photographer, son Jamie and family have accomplished a move to a bigger home several miles away from their former residence. I'm so glad for them, but I can't help feeling nostalgic about their house where they brought home their newborn daughters. Maddie, 4, and Anne-Marie, 6, have never known any other home. No wonder Anne-Marie cried during the night last night, their first ever in the new house.

Besides all this activity, our week has been filled with the anxiety, hope and joy of the ups and downs of our 15-year-old granddaughter's accident and recovery, and vicariously experiencing through pictures the event of another granddaughter's wedding a few days ago. Howard's 75th birthday and Father's Day were a part of the mix, also.

So it's no wonder that we had a quiet, but nice, anniversary. "Do you want to go to McDonald's for breakfast?" Howard asked when I awoke. He's always up for that, but it takes me a little longer to get moving in the mornings, so I would rather eat at home. We enjoyed berries, pancakes and turkey bacon at "The Breakfast Club," (our front porch) in the cool, clear morning overlooking our dew-sparkled lawn. Then we had our walk at Cann Gardens amid more beauty of God's creation.

Getting out of the truck when we got home, I noticed in the back a 12-pack of flowers we had bought a couple of days ago. Howard had seen some planted in a bird bath at the park, and he wanted to do that at home. We got out the plants and potting soil and went to work.

First, we had to bring the heavy, unwieldy bird bath from the back yard. When I fretted over that, my husband allayed my fears by saying he would use the dolly to transport it. After we got it set up with the flowers looking lovely, it toppled over and spilled everything, necessitating doing it all over again. "It looks off balance," I announced when I viewed it from the porch. He leveled it by digging at some of the dirt under it, and after considerable adjustments, pronounced it level. Then I noticed that the bowl was off center, but finally we finished our "little" project.

After a good rest, we went for an early dinner at "The Rusty Barrel," the premier steak house here. Now he dozes in his chair while I write. Maybe our 60th anniversary will be a bit more celebratory!

Prayer Walk

"Can I go with you on your prayer walk today?" I asked my husband. He'd recently been going off early to Cann Gardens, while I cleaned up after breakfast and did my morning routine.

"Yeah, sure," he replied, " but remember I'm gonna stop and sit a lot." That was okay, I didn't mind resting and praying a bit. After we had enjoyed one of the gazebos for awhile, I left him with his prayers and wandered around a little, with my own thoughts and prayers.

Going under an arbor, I noticed the handsome, twisted vines growing over it. Striking and imposing, they exuded a rugged strength that nourished the smaller vines dripping leaves through the lattice overhead. I couldn't help but think of the words of Jesus, "I am the vine, ye are the branches," John 15:5. In previous verses, He tells us that the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine.

"Look at these lilies!" I called to Howard as we resumed our walk. They were gorgeous! The blossoms were at least eight inches long, and they were a deep magenta, looking like royalty. Jesus is the Lily of the valley, I thought. Solomon 2:1 says, "I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys." Though this was spoken by the girl in the Song of Songs, both descriptions have been applied to Jesus, especially in our beloved hymns.

A little later, we passed under another arbor. "Look, grapes!" I exclaimed at seeing tiny green marbles clustered below the distinctive leaves. This was a grapevine! I almost wanted to reach out and bite into the green, probably hard, grapes. Grapes figure prominently in scripture, often used by Jesus in illustrations, since everyone in that agricultural time was familiar with wine and vineyards. His most important reference to wine was during the ritual in which we are told to remember His death, the wine representing His blood in our holy communion.

We found another inviting seat in a garden bench on the tiled terrace. A lovely planter stood beside it, and among the impatiens, marigolds and other plants filling it was a large stalk of corn, probably ornamental, judging from the variegated stripes on the waving, graceful leaves. I remembered the story of Jesus and the disciples walking through a corn field on the Sabbath. The disciples picked some corn, rubbing off the kernels with their hands. They came under scrutiny for this, apparently because rubbing off the grain represented work, a taboo on the Sabbath according to Jewish law. Jesus reminded them that He was Lord of the Sabbath!

We finished our walk, and I felt like I had been to church!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Report of the Lord

Ring-g! I dashed for the phone, thinking it might be my daughter. I'd been trying to get her for an update on our grandaughter Corrin's condition on her first day home from the hospital. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the name on the caller ID! Corrin!

"Corrin? Is that you?" I asked incredulously. She had not spoken since the trauma of the accident, except for a few muttered sounds and grunts, due to her mouth injuries and swollen tongue from the airway tube worn for days.

"Hi, Mimi," I heard clearly from a sweet voice that was a only a little blurred around the edges. I was overcome with relief and delight! She sounded like her old self! After exclaiming over her, I finally gave her the chance to talk. "I can't smile because my lip is sutured," she said stiffly.

She managed to tell me she was doing a lot better, even drinking some liquids. "I had a smoothie, some pedia-sure and some soda," she said. "I even went downstairs by myself today!" What wonderful news! Her mother said that in the hospital she would only stare at the wall with no interest nor ability to get up. Finally, they had gotten her up and friends took her out to the garden of the hospital. After that, her mom managed to get her released. And home was doing her so much good!

"Sweetheart, I'm so sorry you had to go through all this," I spoke into the phone. I was surprised by her answer: "It made me a better person." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this heart-touching admission, so mature sounding from this deeply spiritual 15-year-old.

"Mama said you wanted to read me something," she reminded me. I found the passage in the Bible and read all of Psalm 42 to her. It deals with the psalmist's deep longing for God, who seems remote and distant.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance," verse 5, and repeated in verse 11, which ends with, "For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God."

And I could tell that was exactly what God was doing in my granddaughter's life! I can't wait to hear what progress she makes today!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Life Strides

What a jumbled, emotion-filled roller coaster of the last few days! From the terror of a teen granddaughter's accident, to the relief of her survival and the heartbreak of facial injuries, to the joy of a safe outcome and the hope of her future! Add to that my husband's 75th birthday on Saturday and Father's Day today!

All day Friday I worked on Howard's birthday dinner: Roast beef po-boys, 7-layer salad, Texas sheet cake with Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream, my favorite. I made the roast early, so as not to heat up the house, making the salad while it cooked and putting the cake in when the meat was done.

Then I remembered our son, Jamie, the chef, telling me he likes to make the sandwiches ahead, wrapping them in foil and letting the delicious gravy soak into the crusty bread, to be reheated later. That sounded like a good idea, but it was surprisingly time consuming. The salad took time, too, and between finishing the cake, straightening the house and helping put leaves in the dining room table, collecting 8 chairs and setting the table, I was ready for a rest before our son Greg's family came over for the celebration.

The whole thing pleased Howard so much I was glad I had pulled it off, and we had a wonderful evening with the kids, planning to have his actual birthday free to run around and eat out. "Look at those clouds!" I said as we headed off to Stillwater the next day. We wanted to eat at Olive Garden, our favorite place. The sky grew darker and darker, and jagged lightning flashed ominously in the distance. We decided to turn around and try to beat the storm home.

Back in town and feeling safer, we had a nice lunch at Chili's while the rain sluiced down the plate glass windows. By the time we were through, the sun had come out and we caught the end of an estate sale, 75% off by this time. Fun! Browsing the local department store and picking up a special card for our granddaughter at Hallmark made us tired enough to go home for a nap. After that, the day dissolved into an evening of Gaithers, Welk, and a special on televison cowboys, our cultural heritage.

Today, Father's Day brought a special day at church with the men presenting the service. A highlight was a 22-voice impromptu male choir singing "Onward Christian Soldiers." The wonderful timbre of the masculine voices filling the church brought tears in the appreciation of fatherhood. Our speaker, known as the Will Rogers of our church, was endearing, funny and challenging in his homespun wisdom shared so guilelessly.

A brisket/ribs/sausage barbeque lunch at the rustic Stage Coach with our family rounded out a wonderful Sunday. A family wedding next weekend and seeing loved ones gives me something to look forward to, even as I view online early pictures from another granddaughter's distant wedding we missed on Saturday. We plan to go east in the next few weeks to add support in our young patient's recovery. Meanwhile, our own 55th anniversary is coming up, and then my birthday a week later. God, direct our steps in this dance of life!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs up!  My daughter sent me a phone pic with Corrin, her lower face swathed in bandages, holding up her hand in this sign of hopefulness and confidence from her hospital bed.  She will have surgeries later today, and I am thankful for her positive attitude, although some apprehension is understandable! 

I have been busy grabbing the phone and painstakingly texting back and forth with Amy and Rachel, trying to retrieve the snapshots they send, all the while making Howard's birthday cake and doing dinner preparations for a pre-birthday celebration with local family tonight.  I can't believe he'll be 75 tomorrow!  But he's so young! (And since I'm a year behind him,  I must be young, too!)

We had been counting the days until all of Amy's family would come for our grandson's wedding next week.  Now a shadow has fallen over that happy event as plans have been changed and eclipsed by this unforseen accident.  Suddenly nothing matters except the safety and well-being of our injured and endangered grandchild.  Our hearts ache to be there with her, but grandparents coming from this distance, with travel arrangements and other considerations, might only complicate things.  Hopefully we can see her soon, though.   

And we do have the visit of our son Trevor and family to look forward to, not to mention son Mark and his wife Rhonda, parents of the groom, all of whom we will get to spend time with at the wedding.  Others of our family are busy with the wedding of granddaughter Michaela, to be wed on Saturday in Tennessee.

So I still have plenty to do around here for company readiness.  I have been coddling our flower beds and hanging baskets, willing them to be pretty for next week, and Howard is even now trimming the lawn and doing yard work with a handyman he has enlisted.  A busy weekend is ahead with Father's Day on Sunday, so even though I may not have a green thumb, I will give a thumbs up, too, for all the good times and the times, Lord willing, that will get even better!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

His Mercies are New Every Morning

Our granddaughter is asking for pen and paper to communicate while she can't speak!  She is in the hospital due to a bad accident on a four-wheeler and waiting on specialists' assessments before they remove her intubation.  Not only is she writing notes, she is requesting and listening to praise and worship music from the speaker at the head of her bed. What better way to heal?

Last night at church, I placed a beautiful, framed photograph of her on the altar, and all the church gathered around and prayed for her.  After the prayer, I started to remove it, but the pastor asked me to leave it there.  It was almost like praying for her in person.  And from today's report, He is moving!  Her physicians are finding the situation not nearly as dire as was feared when she left her admitting hospital some four hours away.  Apparently, she improved en route!  Just like God!

The two 15-year-old cousins, along with her 14-year-old sister and his 10-year-old sister, had taken out the four-wheelers for a daring, fun adventure, although they knew they were not supposed to ride them that day.  After safely manipulating through woods, they emerged to find an iron pipe blocking the path of Corrin's vehicle, which would have hit the little girl riding with her, had she not turned to the right and taken the blow herself.  Her boy cousin managed to flag down help to call the ambulance. 

One of the things she wrote on the pad was, "I'm sorry, Mama."  This is a sweet, sensitive and spiritual child, although she has a sense of derring do, which I imagine will be curbed by this sobering incident.  Her brother was involved in a similar, but less serious, accident a couple of years ago, which has changed his outlook on safety considerably.

Ironically, our own daughter, Julie, had almost the same type of injuries from a car accident when she was about that age.  Her doctor told us that if the blow were an inch higher or lower, she wouldn't be with us.  Corrin's doctor told her parents the same thing.  How merciful that an angel kept her from looking up or down on impact!

Growing up is hard, with lots of bumps along the way on the road to maturity.  Thank you, God, for keeping our youth!  And for keeping Corrin through the surgeries now scheduled for tomorrow!

God's Hand

"We need mayonnaise," I said to my husband as I was collecting the makings for a 7-layer salad to take to a funeral dinner.  Then I remembered he didn't like the brand sold at this discount store.  "Look, they have Miracle Whip," I said, "and it's on sale!"  We normally don't use Miracle Whip (though I was brought up on it, but after nearly 40 years in the deep south we were strict mayo people!)

After I got all the ingredients for the salad, I started having misgivings.  I had always put the pretty salad in a trifle bowl, which attractively set off the different shades of the green layers.  But by the time I got everything in, it was difficult for people to dig down and serve themselves from all the layers.  Besides that, the mayonnaise-mix  topping dripped down in rivulets inside the bowl and hid the salad greens.

I found myself lying in bed and trying to decide on the seven layers.  I knew it had green peas, lettuce, celery, but what else?  Maybe I could look it up on the internet.  The first recipe I saw was for "Vegetable Layered Salad."  It had all the ingredients I had on hand, and the directions said to put it in a 9 x 13 dish!  I'd never thought of that, but it would make for much easier serving!

Then I saw that it called for Miracle Whip topping with a spoonful of sugar!  I had always used mayonnaise with a little vinegar and sugar.  But the Miracle Whip and sugar tasted even better, with just the right tang of tartness!  And without the added vinegar, it wouldn't be so thin that it would run down the sides!

Getting up early, I put the salad together, and it all worked like a dream.  I had it ready to be delivered to the house of a friend by 10 a.m., in plenty of time for her to take it to the church that afternoon. Then we could do our errands, have lunch and get ready for the funeral service at 2:00 o'clock.  I was thanking God for working all this out--from my finding Miracle Whip on sale and buying it, to finding a recipe that called for Miracle Whip, to the idea of using a glass baking pan instead of a bowl!  (I hadn't located  my bowl since moving, anyway.)

We didn't go to the funeral after all, as just before time to go we got a call with the bad news of our granddaughter getting hurt in a four-wheeler accident. I stayed by the phone all afternoon. I got the empty dish returned to me tonight, so I presume it was a success.  My friend's husband, who took the salad when I delivered it to their house, looked at the shredded cheese and bacon bits topping the mayonnaise dressing under the plastic wrap and said, "That looks good!"

Our sweet granddaughter is in the hospital awaiting corrective surgery for her wounds in the morning.  I know she will be alright.  If I can trust God with the little things, I can surely trust Him with the big things!

Monday, June 10, 2013


"The anchor holds, though the ship is battered; the anchor holds, though the sails are torn,"  sang our song leader in a departure from the hymns he usually led.  I love that song!  And it was so effective as the congregation joined in from memory.  Then last night he sang another favorite as a solo: "I Thank God for the Lighthouse."

That afternoon, my husband and I remembered we were on the calendar to sing that night, and Howard pulled out the old song, "Where No One Stands Alone," for us to try.  I had never tried to sing it, but we practiced, and surprisingly it fit in well with the mood of the day which was tinged with sadness due to a death in one of the families of the church.

The former pastor was passing through town on a relocation move to Texas, and he was asked to preach for the evening service.  His subject was "Remembrance," and he was full of memories.  "Do you  remember that old blue pew we used to have?" he asked his former members.  "I remember when we got this light," he said, pointing to a flickering "candle" flame in a glass votive on the communion table.  "It was to remind the people to come to the altar and pray."

He told of a time he, his wife and family were routed from bed with the noise of a tremendous crash, seemingly from the street outside their house.  Upon investigation, there was no trace of any disturbance.  A few minutes later, their phone rang with the terrible news that a wayward son was in a horrific accident when hit by an 18-wheeler in a distant city.  His point was that, when extricated from his crumpled car, the scared
young man remembered his Christian upbringing and asked for prayers.  His injuries were minor!

"Sometimes God brings forth something stored in my memory that I had completely forgotten," the stooped, older preacher said.  He said when he was young he used to attend auto races as a hobby, since it was a pasttime that he enjoyed and was harmless to his Christian testimony.

"Once years later, one of my church members asked me to drive him to a nursing home in Kansas where he would become a resident," he began.  "As we drove along, suddenly an 18-wheeler, turned sideways, was coming at me.  There was no way I could get away, when out of nowhere the thought popped into my mind, 'Race drivers drive away in the ditch.'  In a split second, I headed for the ditch, which was actually a smooth climb up the embankment to the only grassy space for miles.  The rest of the roadside was covered with overgrowth and boulders.  We passed safely with inches to spare!" he finished.

Like the flickering flame from the altar, Jesus is our Lighthouse in the darkness of our despair, and we never need to stand alone if we remember Christ our Saviour, our Anchor!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

But for the Grace of God...

"Is it clear from the east?" my husband invariably asks me every day as he checks traffic from the west.  We are about to pull out onto Highway 60 from doing our farm chores.  There is almost always a steady stream of eighteen-wheelers, trucks and automobile traffic speeding down the busy road.

Yesterday, from the barn yard, we heard sirens screaming and caught glimpses through the trees of emergency vehicles flying past going east.  "It must be an accident," I said, sending a prayer heavenward for whomever might be involved.  We finished up and headed back to town for our grocery shopping.

Coming out of Walmart later, I felt the vibration of my phone in my purse and knew it was about to ring.  I carried a small purse today and, despite the incessant, endless ringing, I couldn't access the phone that was lodged under my wallet.  I called the number back once I got in the car  and recognized the voice of my church friend.

 "Has anyone called you?" she asked, to which I replied, "Just the call I missed just now."  "That was me," she said, "I'm calling with a prayer request."  Then she told me that the son of a friend had just been killed in an automobile accident!

"No way!" I exclaimed when I heard who it was. "Isn't that the father of the boy who drowned last summer?"  She said it was.  I couldn't believe it.  Our friend wasn't even over the tragedy of losing her grandson, whom she had raised!  Last Sunday she was tearfully asking for prayer, saying it was the one year anniversary of his death.

"Yes," she said.  "She is taking it very hard.  She needs lots of prayer."  Of course, we prayed for her and her husband.  I remembered her grieving so hard when our pastor's wife died a few months ago, saying Clara was the one who got her through the loss of her grandson. Now this!  How much could one person take!

"It happened on Highway 60.  His car was hit by an eighteen-wheeler," my friend spoke over the phone.  Turns out it was just a mile from where we were.

"You just never know, " I said to my husband.  "One minute you're here, and the next, you're gone!"  When I told my son about it later, he said the same thing.

Ironically, there were two Facebook posts on my screen today of narrowly averted accidents.  In one, my granddaughter was describing coming unexpectedly upon an accident on the freeway, then, after carefully manipulating her way past it, a car on the off-ramp stopped unexpectedly in front of her, causing her to swerve around it, while another car was able to swerve around her!  She was thanking God for her family's safety and lamenting the fact that she had ignored a feeling ( the Holy Spirit?) not to take that route in the first place!

The other post was from a former neighbor in Mississippi who was driving with her granddaughter in a torrential rain, when a truck coming around the curve on the country road lost control and came within an inch of hitting them head on! She, too, was praising God for His hand of protection that moved the truck away from them. "I could have reached out and touched it!" she wrote.

It pays to be ready.  The next life is just a breath or a heartbeat away.  It's so near you can almost reach out and touch it!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Faith Builder

Every Sunday morning on the way to church we passed a huge flea market set up overnight in the parking lots of Ponca Plaza, a local shopping center.  It was packed solid with people, vendors and all kinds of junk from boundary to boundary, and it was growing.  Each Sunday the crowd was larger. 

"I wonder why those people don't go to church," I would lament every time we passed and saw the people milling about.  We could see it was the routine of many to have breakfast at the Perkins next to the parking lot, then amble around the flea market. What a way to spend the Lord's Day!

We have lived here for almost six years, and the flea market has been a fixture at least that long.  "Howard, I wonder what would happen if you went down there and suddenly started preaching to them," I said, only half joking.  Two Sundays ago at prayer time during church, my husband requested prayer.  "I just want to pray that God will do something about that flea market," he said, "Those people need God and revival!  I pray that he does something to get their attention!"

Last Sunday as we drove to church, I felt like something was missing.  Did we pass the flea market?  I looked behind me and didn't see it.  The plaza was swept as clean as a whistle! Where was the flea market?  They must not be having it today, I thought, although they'd never missed a Sunday, as far as I knew.

Then tonight at midweek service, a friend said to us, "Did you hear about the flea market?" I  recalled that I hadn't seen it  this past Sunday.  "It closed down!" she announced triumphantly!  "After we prayed!"  Wow!  How dramatic was that?  An undeniable answer to prayer!  "It had been there for years!" the lady exclaimed.  She said something about Penney's not renewing their permit, I think.

Praise God!  That flea market had been a blight on the city, set up during church hours and attracting so many of our citizens who could have been in church!

"It was in the newspaper that it closed," she went on.  "I'll bring you a copy of it."  No doubt it was a surprise and big disappointment to many, and we were surprised ourselves at the speedy answer to prayer!  "You're going to be in trouble," people teased Howard, "when they find out it was your fault!"

The pastor observed, "You know, Newkirk First Assembly has a reputation for seeing answers to prayer. Wait till this gets out!"

Not long ago, our pastor asked Howard to preach for tonight's service.  And preach he did!  His impassioned sermon was a charge to the people to pray for revival, his heart's desire.  He predicted a mighty heavenly outpouring as in the book of Joel, where God promises to send the former and latter rain in the same month.  He urged the congregation to pray and seek God for it.  And God answers prayer!

Happy Contemplation

We have been so excited about the baby expected in our son's family ever since we learned it will be a boy!  Next on the agenda is the selection of a name, but Jamie has been mum on that one, only kidding around on Facebook with pun-like names for our amusement (and my exasperation!).  I even suggested naming his son and heir with his own name, as a Junior.

Yesterday the phone rang and I saw it was his number.  "Hi, Jamie!" I said cheerfully, "What are you doing?" (I had kidded him pretty hard about the names, and I thought he might be a little offended and was relieved he had called.)

"Hi, Mimi," a little voice answered.  It was Anne-Marie, their six-year-old daughter!  We haven't had many conversations on the phone, and to keep her talking, I immediately asked her about her kindergarten graduation and the "field day" afterward.  She patiently explained the games, then I asked what room she would choose in their new house. "The turquoise one!" she said. 

When I finally quit peppering her with questions, she announced, "Isaac.  His name is Isaac."  The reason she had called!  I squealed and told her I loved it! I looked up the meaning and found it means "He who laughs."  Perfect, if he is anything like his father!  Besides, I love biblical names.

Later that day, we were enjoying fooling with the chickens, letting the "teenage" ones out into their fenced area where they found bugs under leaves, picked at grass and leaves, and scratched and ran to their hearts' content.  We sat on a lawn bench in their midst and exclaimed over the beautiful coloring the sunshine revealed in the feathers of the three young guineas kept with them. 

We also noticed how some of the chickens were mistreating the smaller banty chicken we had put in their midst a few days ago.  It hardly got to eat before one would attack it, sending it shreiking away.  It kept to itself as much as possible, especially out in the chicken yard where it could get away.  I noticed it coming up under our bench, then it hopped upon the arm of the bench right by us!  She (I called it a she) was friendly and seemed almost tame!  I think she would have let me pet her!

"We should take her home," I suggested to my husband.  "We could keep her in the rabbit cage out back."   However, I knew city regulations would not permit that. "She could be a pet," I ventured.  I had never felt affection for a chicken before, but she tugged at my heart. This morning I read that some bantum breeds have gentle dispositions.

The small, white chicken reminded me of a dove in her gentleness. I thought about the Holy Spirit being personified as a dove.  I found out that the name, "Jonah," means dove, coming from the word, "yo-nah," the sound of mourning that a dove makes.

I was telling Jamie I would miss their old house, especially the nursery where he has painted the walls with pastoral scenes of sheep and a shepherd, and where he hand-lettered the whole 23rd Psalm bordering the ceiling around the room.  I forgot to tell him how I always knew we were in his neighborhood when we heard the soft, melodious cooing of the resident doves in the area trees. Even better, though, will be the cooing of baby Isaac and the melody of laughter in their new home!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Harsh Realities on the Farm

Apparently there's a lot we don't know about farm life. Our little banty broody hen was setting on a nest of eight eggs that grew to 16 eggs as either she or another hen added to the nest daily.  We tried to remove the fresh eggs for awhile, but the last we checked there was still 16 small eggs.  Then one day I urged her off her nest to see if any were cracking, and there were only 8 eggs!  We couldn't imagine who took them, and wrote it off as a mystery.

At last the eggs began to hatch.  There were four black darlings that looked like a little string of pearls as they copied mama hen's example of scratching and pecking, all the while staying close to her.  "I have bad news," my husband said after he had come in from feeding them one day.  "There is only one chick left.  One fell in the water pan and drowned, two were missing, one got out and I barely rescued it from the cat!"  Oh, no!  That cat must have gotten the other two!  We moved the hen and lone chick into a cage where they would be safe.

Today I could see only the crotchety hen on the nest surrounded by hay, but I assumed the chick was in there with her.  Next we went to the cage where Howard had placed several young bantums with 2 hens and a rooster.  They were all black or dark colored except one white one.  Howard spied blood on a raw spot on her back.  Apparently, the rooster didn't accept a white chicken and had been pecking her.  We moved it to a pen of white chickens, with a few Rhode Island Reds mixed in, all just a little bigger than her.  We were dismayed to see a dead young chicken in the pen, looking as if it had been mauled.  Something must have gotten in and grabbed it.  The cat! I guessed.

At last I was ready to gather eggs from the hen house while Howard got their feed for them.  I opened the lid to the nesting boxes and recoiled with a scream.  A horrible sight met my eyes as a huge, black snake was entwined among the eggs!  I shuddered and ran to the car.  My brave husband got a garden shovel and slammed it into the snake.  Although injured, the snake managed to slither off.

I told all this to the man at church tonight who had given us the bantums.  He said the snake had probably taken the eggs we had been missing from the setting hen's nest.  "They swallow them whole, then twist around a stick or something to crack them," he informed me.  Then he said they eat baby chicks, too!  That's probably what happened to the missing babies!  The experienced chicken raiser said snakes slip under the hen and get the eggs.  I wonder if that's why I didn't see the lone chick today!

"Did you see the picture in the newspaper of a black snake wound around the pole to a Martin bird house?" the knowledgeable informant asked.  "It was trying to get to the bird's eggs!"  I couldn't help but think of that old serpent, the devil, who the Bible says goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour!  Thank God, someday the lion will lie down with the lamb, snakes will  be harmless, and Satan will be thrown into a bottomless pit!  I can't wait for redeemed creation!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What is So Rare as a Day in June?

What a blessing that God gave us such a beautiful day today after the tempestuous bad weather lately!  Today was the annual Herb Festival that is so much anticipated every year, not only by locals, but by folks from far and wide who come to participate, shop, browse, discover, exclaim and just generally have a good time.  It is held at Cann Gardens, a beautiful venue any time of the year and a perfect setting for the displays of crafts, plants, shabby chic and re-purposed furniture, and artsy clothing, to name a few, not to mention food, both homemade and that sold at food stalls.

We set out at mid-morning into the dazzling sunshine and perfect temperatures.  Parking was almost non-existent, and the space we found was quite far removed from the festivities.  I noticed a conveyance (I think called a Mule) parked in the street in front of us, and called out to the driver, "Are you shuttling people?"  Turns out he had been delivering something, but he said yes and waited until my husband parked the car in the tight space.  We clambered aboard and were thankful for being saved some steps!

Right away I saw a cute wicker plant stand at a reasonable price among all kinds of yard furniture and various and sundry items scattered under trees and upon the grass.  Much of it was tempting, and all of it was interesting.  A booth of bright patchwork pillows and braided rugs took my eye, and I stuffed a couple of them into the plant stand for Howard to carry.  I was looking for a hanging basket or fern for my porch, but  I didn't see anything in my price range. 

After looking our eyes out in fascination, we were hungry and checked out the food booths.  Lines were long and prices were high, so we left to get a bite elsewhere, after which we would visit an estate sale, our only vice. A few trinkets were gathered there-- the ubiquitous small hand tools and kitchen items--but the house was fascinating with its surprise rooms: A glassed-wall plant room under sky lights, bedrooms tucked in unexpected places, stairs, and rooms that went on forever. Brick terraces, a pool, and other amenities along with lots of nostalgic items (toys and games from our children's era, children's books, record collections) made for an entertaining half hour.

We still had to buy groceries, and as were waiting to check out at Aldi's, I noticed the customers in front of us were having a subdued conversation with the checker, who moved items away from their order.  After they had walked away with half of their food, I knew the young couple didn't have enough money. In a whisper, I told my husband, and he offered to pay for their groceries still on the counter. 

They smiled and protested briefly, then the wife asked if she could help me sack my groceries while hers were being re-tallied.  I learned she had a new baby, and that they used to go to church, but not so much since the baby came.  I told her about our church, but I didn't press her.  Again in the parking lot, they were grateful and friendly.  It felt good to help someone in need.

We even got to go back to the Herb festival and find a hanging plant, reduced by this time.  Thank you God, for a great day!