Thursday, October 31, 2013

The View from Here

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

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

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

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

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

Gospel Gleanings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fill My Cup, Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Send the Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 26, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Serendipity: Happy Accident or Pleasant Surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fresh Manna

Where have I been?  In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians,  I never associated verses 5:1-5 (where the man is cast out from the church for immorality),  with verses 2:5-11 in his second letter.  In this passage in II Corinthians, Paul is admonishing forgiveness and comfort for the offender. Verse 7 indicates that the man has suffered enough and should  be forgiven "...lest such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow." Our pastor was preaching on comfort in his sermon last Sunday.

It's always good to learn something new in church!  A few days ago as we walked into Hobby Lobby,  I said to Howard, "Listen!  Do you hear that song?"  The beautiful melody of  "My Father's World" was playing in the background.  My husband wasn't too familiar with it, but it is one of my favorite hymns, though rarely heard.  Imagine my surprise when the pastor put it on the screen for us to sing! That afternoon we took a walk in Cann Gardens, and surrounded by all that beauty,  I couldn't help but agree with the words of the song.

At Sunday evening prayer, our pastor passed out a sheet with the following questions for our reflection:

1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?

2. Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence?

3. Can I be trusted?

4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?

5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?

6. Did the Bible live in me today?

7. Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?

8. Am I enjoying prayer?

9. When did I last speak to  someone else of my faith?

l0. Do I pray about the money I spend?

11. Do I go to bed and get up on time?

12. Do I disobey God in anything?

13. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?

14. Am I defeated in any part of my life?

15. Am I jealous, impure, critical, touchy or distrustful?

16. How do I spend my spare time?

17. Am I proud?

18. Do I thank God I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?

19. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?

20. Do I grumble or complain constantly?

21. Is Christ real to me?

Thinking about how applicable these points are to our lives today, I was amazed to learn the list was compiled in the 18th century by John and Charles Wesley!

Friday, October 18, 2013

What Not to Wear

"I don't know if she or her dad chose that outfit, but that's not what she wore to school today!" my daughter-in-law commented the other day on a Facebook photo of her 7-year-old daughter all ready for her karate lesson. The little mismatched outfit with purple-patterned tights and cowboy boots was obviously pulled on after school while her mom was still at work.

Today I saw a post by a young mother whose comment read, "That is definitely not the outfit I had laid out for him!" A picture of her two-year-old son in a shopping cart pushed by his father told the story. They were on an outing while mommy taught school.

I was reminded of the time I was getting my then 4-year-old granddaughter ready for pre-K. My daughter, at work as a nurse, had left the clothes out that I was to put on her. "I don't wanna wear that!" Rachel protested with a pout, arms folded across her chest. I pleaded and cajoled to no avail. She simply wouldn't wear the cute ensemble.

"What do you want to wear?" I said, resignedly sliding hangers of other outfits along the closet rod.

"That!" she exclaimed, pointing to a long, ruffled skirt and ecru lace-trimmed peasant top. It did look cute, I had to admit after I had her dressed. I let her wear her boots with it, and she went happily off to school, all smiles.

Later that day, Amy called me to see if her daughter got off to school alright. I assured her that PaPa and I had delivered her and I had walked her to her class, as usual. I told her about the outfit change, and she asked, "What did she wear?" When I told her, she burst out laughing, "That's the exact same thing she wore yesterday!"

It was, except Amy said that the day before, Rachel had worn plastic toy shoes with it. Well, that was fine for play, which was mainly what they did, I guess. I know the little smarty played a good one on her Mimi!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Abiding in the Vine

Getting the Windex from under the bathroom sink to clean the mirror the other day, I reached past a stored make-up mirror that had been there so long I hardly noticed it. I'd bought it a long time ago at a sale, then discovered I couldn't make the hinged mirror stay in place. This time though, I saw two screws with wide heads at the side that maybe Howard could tighten with a screwdriver. Then I noticed there were two holes in the base. This thing was supposed to be attached to the wall!

My husband tightened the screws, and the mirror, though still movable, held firm instead of collapsing as the arms bent. He fastened it to the wall beside the bathroom mirror and asked if the light worked. "I don't know," I said, "the cord is too short to reach the outlet on the other side of the medicine cabinet." Wait, this was a coiled, stretchy cord. Maybe it would reach over the top of the cabinet. It did, and now I have a beautiful, adjustable magnifying mirror that lights up! Just what I always wanted! And to think it was under the sink all along!

Last week on Wednesday night at church we were studying John 15 about the relationship of believers to Christ in Jesus's teaching of the Vine and the branches. In verse 5 Jesus says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing."

"What kind of fruit?" was a question posed during our discussion. Many agreed that the verse means the fruit of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law," Galatians 5:22-23.

Although I felt peace about having most of these attributes, admittedly working on others, I was given pause about verse 2, with its dire warning of "Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away." I asked God to give me something I could do to serve Him more.

Today I got a call asking if I wanted to volunteer to hold babies at the hospital! That's something I could do! There's nothing I love more than babies, having had six of my own, besides many grandchildren, some of whom I cared for as babies. Rocking and comforting a newborn seems like an answer to my prayer!

Last week our oldest granddaughter called from Tennessee asking PaPa and me to pray about a job opportunity she had. We prayed with her over the phone, and now she says she was hired the next day! This week she called for prayer concerning the sale of property. Yesterday the phone rang and she excitedly told me the property has sold!

John 15:7 assures us, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." He has been there all along with the answers to our prayers!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Neither Rain, Nor Snow, Nor Gloom of Night...

My long-distance efforts at keeping in touch with grandchildren have been going awry lately. When the check never cleared we had sent our grandson in his birthday card, we called and learned he has never received it! I sent it almost a month ago! Poor kid, and I had told him to expect it! Pa Pa is making out another one.

While browsing a store on our recent vacation, I saw something that would be perfect to let the 4-and six-year-old granddaughters know I was thinking about them. It was the right price and the right size and weight for mailing--two little net tutus with stretch bodices. It was also a craft, with the net skirt strips to be looped through the bottom of the bodice for a whirly effect. They couldn't do the craft alone, but it would be fun with adult help.

When I asked our son about them, he said they hadn't done them yet, but that the baby-sitter would help them. I have heard no more about it.

A few days ago, some cute stickers in some mail solicitations arrived in our box, and as I started to throw them away it occurred to me that the girls might like them. I found two "Thinking of you," cards with a puppy on each, wrote a note to each child, and sealed the envelopes. Then I realized I didn't know which greeting was to Maddie and which was to Anne-Marie. Oh well, I reasoned, if the wrong name is on the envelope, they can just trade cards! I took a guess, addressed them and put them in the mail. Wrong!

My son just called and announced, "You have caused consternation in the Summers' household." He said Anne-Marie got a card that said "Dear Maddie." I explained and suggested they just trade envelopes.

"You mean you sent two?" he asked in surprise. But of course! I assured him I had and he said okay it would probably come tomorrow.

The other day in Tennessee our newly-wed granddaughter was showing me their apartment and wedding albums. Seeing all the mementos of their wedding reminded me of something cute I had at home, a Mr. and Mrs. Coupon Book I had picked up at a Christian bookstore once. I told her about it and said I would send it to her. I mailed it the same day as the ill-fated cards, so I only hope she gets it while she is still a newly-wed!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Visiting at our daughter Amy's house a couple of weeks ago, we were immersed in the teenage world of our granddaughters, who kept the house buzzing with their vitality, youth and fun. The current excitement was the nominations for homecoming court at their high school. Hopefuls were to be nominated on Monday by secret ballots in their homerooms.

Rachel, in ninth grade, was sick that day, then was disappointed to find out one had to be present to qualify for nomination! Corrin, a junior, was on tenterhooks to find out if her name had been put forth. Many of her friends assured her she was a shoo-in, but she was biting her fingernails. Every day when she came home from school, the question was, "Did you get nominated?" And every day the answer was the same: "The teacher hasn't told us yet!"

All the other homerooms had disclosed their choices, which decided who would be on the final ballot, and many girls were "campaigning" with internet messages, getting pledges of votes and even giving out candy. When Corrin finally found out she was on the ballot, it was too late to solicit votes. Then yesterday, after two weeks, I got a text from Amy with the message, "Corrin is on Homecoming Court!" Her daughter had texted her the news from school.

I was happy for her, although I felt all along she would be the representative from her class, especially after she had been chosen 1st runner-up in the Miss Woodland competition a few weeks ago. This alone had been a testimony to God's goodness in restoring her beauty and well-being after a summer of recovery from a horrific four-wheeler accident in June.

I think the 16-year-old is held a little bit in awe by her classmates ever since their attention was riveted on her by news of the accident. Many visited her in the hospital and filled her room with balloons, teddy bears and flowers. No doubt their youthful assumption of invulnerability was shaken if something like this could happen to one of their own. Her recovery that has been nothing short of miraculous, and her courage and spunk in her ordeal have not been lost on them.

Corrin reminds me of her mother at that age. She, too, was on homecoming court in high school, as well as first runner-up in the Junior Miss Pageant and, as a senior, named homecoming queen. Corrin has the same high values that set Amy apart and is respected for it among her peers. Thank God for her example! I would not be surprised next year to hear that we have another homecoming queen in the family! After all, as girls and women of God, all my granddaughters are princesses!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Running Over

"Howard, look at this!" I said to my husband. We were in the gift shop of the Loretta Lynn Kitchen where we'd had a late lunch on our way home from Tennessee last week. I had picked up the cutest cup, well a half cup, really, sliced vertically in two with the back half missing. I immediately thought of our friend and former pastor's wife, Amanda, who often went about pouring coffee during a church supper. She would ask Howard if he'd like a cup, to which he invariably answered, "Just a half a cup." She teased him about his predictable response. The letters on the side of the cup read, "You asked for half a cup of coffee!" Howard bought the cup.

Then this morning in Sunday School a close friend of Amanda's walked in and presented Howard with an identical cup! "That has to be from Amanda!" I exclaimed. How funny! What are the odds we would see the same cup and have the same impulse, she in northwest Oklahoma and us in Tennessee, all at the same time? They had moved away over two years ago, and we hadn't seen them in forever! Well, great minds think alike, they say!

I love little surprises like this. Blessings, I call them. We were given some special photos by our family we visited last week, and I was intending to buy frames for them when I got home. Putting a load of vacation laundry into the washer the next day, I bumped into a cardboard carton stored nearby, dislodging the lid. There were three picture frames on top! I realized the box belonged to our daughter-in-law and called her to ask if I could use the frames. "Sure, go ahead!" she responded. "I don't even remember the box!" Now three beautifully framed photographs are gracing my home, at no cost!

We had stopped at a motel early on a rainy evening of our trip, and as the manager gave us the key, he said, "See that Mexican restaurant next door? Your supper is on the house!" Dinner? That beats a continental breakfast any day! And it was good!

Today after a precious church service, we had a surprise invitation for Sunday lunch at our kids' house. It was delicious, and it was good to get together with them after our two-week absence. I'm counting my blessings! I heard a song that goes, "I'm drinking from my saucer, 'cause my cup has overflowed." And that's not half a cup!

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Coming home from a trip is so invigorating! (After you get through the exhaustion, anyway!) The first thing I did after being gone two weeks to visit our two daughters was to arrange my "souvenirs," things I had picked up along the way.

I couldn't wait to see how a large, wicker tray Amy and I found would look on my coffee table. After trying several vignettes, I placed a framed "Hello Autumn!" stitched fabric pumpkin collage (from Georgia) near one end of the tray, a cluster of candles encircled with fall leaves in the center, and a little farm bucket from Cracker Barrel filled with a small floral spray of leaves and feathers (from a shop in Jonesborough)at the other end.

Since there was still room on the big coffee table, a crockery bowl holding decorative balls was moved to one end, my new seasonal magazines from the mail were stacked in the front corner, a small photo of my red-haired granddaughter in a novelty rocking-chair frame at the other corner, with my stacked wooden coasters balancing out the other end.
My husband loved the new look!

I had at first tried a graceful, old cup and saucer with sugar and creamer arranged on crisply-ironed, embroidered napkins from an estate sale, but they looked better on a side table in front of family albums and books.

Starting our considerable accumulated laundry, we left for the grocery store and spent $99.71 to re-stock our (almost) bare fridge and cupboards. We were so tired of road food that I had improvised on a home-cooked meal the night before with the last of some chicken I found in the freezer, a smattering of frozen peas, and two microwaved small potatoes. It tasted good with the quick pepper gravy I made from a mix!

I remembered our dryer had quit before our trip, but it was a beautiful, warm and windy day outside and Howard helped me hang the wash on our umbrella clothes dryer. Everything got dry before the predicted weather change, which brought thunder and lightning in the night, if no rain, and temperatures in the fifties this morning.

I may not live in Kansas (although it's only 25 miles to the state line), but I feel like Dorothy in saying, "There's no place like home!"

Fellow Travelers

"Supporter of Israel," the large, blue-and-white bumper sticker proclaimed. We had stopped for gasoline coming home from Tennessee the other day and noticed a very dirty car with a taped-up, broken tail light cover. A young man of possibly 19 wearing a knit cap was putting gas into it. He was pleasant-looking with a ready smile as my husband engaged him in conversation.

"So you support Israel," Howard ventured, to which the youth agreed, saying it was especially true of his parents. Howard asked where he was from, and the boy said Nashville.

"Are you a professional musician?" my inquiring spouse, who never meets a stranger, asked when he saw musical instruments in the open trunk. He said yes, and when Howard asked where he worked, to his surprise, the guy answered, "The Grand Ole Opry."

Eyeing the 5-string banjo in the trunk, my curious husband said, "How about letting me hear a few runs?" The young man agreeably plinked out a tune, much to Howard's admiration. There's nothing he likes better than banjo music. After they exchanged a few more pleasantries, and Howard wished him much success, we drove off.

"He must not be too successful, judging by his car," I commented.

"Well, maybe he hasn't made the big time yet," my music lover conceded amiably. We mused about the optimism of youth, and concluded that he was probably having the time of his life working in back-up for some famous names.

A couple of hundred miles later, inclement weather and bad driving conditions forced us to get off the interstate at the first motel we came to, to spend the night. We noticed a new bicycle parked at one of the rooms, and as we were loading the car the next morning, I heard Howard talking to someone. I looked and saw a rather scrawny man with a lined, weathered face guiding the loaded-down bicycle and fiddling with the back wheel.

"What was that all about?" I asked Howard when he got in the car. It seems the guy had bought the bike at Walmart shortly before, and they hadn't tightened the wheel bolts properly. Howard said the guy didn't have a wrench. "Do you have one?" I asked. He said he did, and got out and helped the stranger, letting him keep the wrench.

"I prayed with him," Howard said. "He is on his way to Missouri to find work and said he can ride 50 miles a day." He had come from Chattanooga, several hundred miles back. Evidently his old bike gave out. "He said a preacher had helped him and got him the motel room," Howard volunteered.

"After I prayed for him, he said, 'The Lord's been good to me,' and pulled a large, silver cross on a chain out of his shirt." We didn't envy him his journey, especially with the barrage of trucks and traffic, but he would have taken state roads rather than the interstate.

These chance meetings along the road reminded me that there are all kinds of people, young and old, traveling life's highway. A friendly word or a helpful hand given along the way can only enrich one, giving a glimpse into the lives of others. Like the old song sung by the late Jimmy Dean, "If I can help somebody along the way, then my living will not be in vain!"

Friday, October 4, 2013


My fourteen-year-old granddaughter has been inviting her school friend to come to church with her. They are best friends, so the girl often sleeps over on Saturday night to go to church with the family the next day. She likes church, and alerts Rachel early in the week that she is planning to go. Apparently, she noticed that Rachel usually wears a dress to church, because the other day she said, "Rachel, I have ordered my dresses so I can go to church."

Visiting at our daughter's house last week, one day my husband and I passed time by browsing in the Christian book store while the family was away at school and work. "Look at this," Howard said, handing me a book on Bible promises. It was full of scriptures relating to topics such as, "Fear," "Sickness," "Loneliness," etc., arranged in categories.

"I want to get two of these for the girls," he said of our teen granddaughters. We saw only one of the small books on the shelf, though, so he went back to talk to the manager. Turns out that was all they had in stock, so the manager placed an order, to be ready the next Wednesday.

"They can share that one for now," I said. And they both loved it! Rachel came home from school that night to tell us her friend saw it, asked what it was, and wants one, too! Since we would be returning home, we told them about the order and they plan to get one for her. How refreshing for a teenager today to be hungry for the things of God!

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth," the Bible enjoins in Ecclesiastes 12:1. I am so glad our granddaughter's wholesome lifestyle has influenced her friend. The Bible says that even a child is known by his doings. High school these days can be a very dark place, but that is a good place to light a candle!

Traveling Mercies

The phone in my purse rang and I saw it was my granddaughter, Bethany. We had left our daughter's home in Tennessee a few hours earlier and were on our way home. "Mimi, I just wanted to check on you guys," Bethany said. Then she told me of a horrific accident that had happened on I-40 at the very spot we had crossed that morning. A bus had crossed over the median and struck a semi-truck and an SUV with many fatalities and injuries. We were very familiar with the location and knew exactly where it was.

We sent grateful prayers toward heaven that we were not involved in that! One never knows what can happen in travel. We told her that our trip had been going fine and we had just entered Arkansas. Just a few minutes later we were in a traffic clog with trucks lined up as far as we could see. A steady line of them was pulling off after we noticed a sign advising an alternate route. Frustrating stop and go traffic finally gave way to slow progress as we merged into a single lane for miles.

The dark clouds overhead grew heavier and it began to rain. The windshield wipers were only smearing the bugs and blurring our vision. Howard stated regretfully that he should have replaced the blades. The sun was dropping through the clouds just in time to reflect on the wet highway in a blinding glare. We had hoped to make it to Little Rock, but after many tense miles of this, we decided to stop for the night.

The little motel wasn't great, but it was a welcome shelter in the time of storm. After checking in, Howard came back to the car and said, "The manager said he had just gotten in from Little Rock and told me there was a 3-truck pile-up there causing a horrible traffic mess!" Thank God we had stopped!

As we neared home the next afternoon, our daughter we had visited in Georgia called. When I told her of our experiences, she said, "Mama, God protected you on both ends of your trip!" Our daughter, Julie, said the same thing when she called. I couldn't have agreed more!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Family Ties

Yesterday was a fantastic day as we strolled the quaint streets of Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee, with members of three generations of our family: Our daughter, two of her daughters, and one-year-old Jaxon, son of our granddaughter, Bethany. Crisp, balmy weather was the perfect backdrop for wandering in and out of the shops or gazing at the fall-themed window displays.

Bethany had brought her "good" camera, and I even took a few phone pics! Giant cornstalks with golden ears of dried corn cloaked every lamp post, it seemed, and bales of hay sporting colorful pumpkins, crook-necked gourds and pots of bright chrysanthemums provided handy seating places and photo ops.

This was so thoughtful of them to take us on this tour! I loved spending time with Julie and these granddaughters! Winsome Bethany, the oldest, always sees to it that we have a good time while we are here! Later that day, she took us to see the vintage brick home they are restoring, happily helping us visualize the plans they have for it. She and her husband are approaching with youthful optimism what would be a daunting task for the older generation.

Last night I found married granddaughter Sarah strumming the guitar and persuaded her to sing for me. Her beautiful, clear voice rang out with the lovely words of a contemporary worship song. She has taught herself to play the guitar and can play a bit on the keyboard, too. The nimble-fingered young lady is also working on a knitting project.

Younger sister Michaela, the newlywed, crochets and is in the middle of making an afghan. This vibrant older teen is the computer whiz of the family and is busy with college classes in the morning and a job in the afternoon. Her efficiency spills over into whatever she undertakes, her crisp, rapid speech belying her Mississippi roots.

Little Mackenzie, 10, is everyone's go-to girl for keeping an eye on one of her three baby nephews, retrieving any lost item, or running upstairs for a forgotten article. She loves to recount the funny things the little ones say or do and is their favorite playmate.

We are going home tomorrow. We will miss everyone, but the memories of the good times will be with us all the way home to Oklahoma and until we see them again.