Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Time Marches On

Many years ago my husband brought home a handsome, 8-day wall clock. I can't remember if it was a family Christmas gift or something he had bought from a merchant when he worked in New Orleans. The clock was always packed and taken with us on our several moves since then, the comforting tick-tock a friendly background in our daily lives and the dependable striking of the hour a given.

A few months ago, the clock stopped keeping accurate time, but it was still beautiful in its walnut frame, the familiar face and brass gong as cheerful as ever, so we didn't take it down. One day, our son Greg told us he thought he could fix the clock. Being very mechanical as he is, I had no doubt he could.

But Greg was called out of town for work for six weeks, leaving the dismantled clock on a table in the bedroom with a "Do Not Touch" sign on top of it. That was fine. It wasn't really in my way. One day our son called and asked if a box had been delivered for him. It hadn't, but I told him I would watch for it. Probably guitar equipment, I figured.

When a large box came, I placed it on the floor by the table holding the disabled clock. Hm. That's odd, I thought, the box is same size as the clock! He must have given up on fixing the old one, I surmised.

When I told Greg the box had come, he said, "That's your Christmas present. You can wrap it if you want." I wrapped it in my prettiest paper with a festive ribbon and decorative golden frond stuck under the bow.

At Christmas, Greg told me to unwrap it, saying he hoped I hadn't guessed what it was. "Well, the label said, 'Glass,'" I said,but I didn't tell him about my suspicion.

I was right! A gorgeous, expensive-looking walnut wall clock met my delighted gaze. "A clock!" I exclaimed, glad my hunch was right!

Now we have a clock that not only sounds the hour, but also has beautiful Westminster chimes! The sounding of the gong reminds me of the lovely treat we had at our home in Mississippi several times a day when the chimes from the gracious old church next door pealed through the air with nostalgic hymns!

Today is New Year's Eve. Tomorrow begins the futuristic date of 2015! A scrap of a verse from an old hymn we used to sing comes to mind: "Time's clock is striking the hour, Jesus will soon be here..." I don't remember the rest of it, but the song deals with making sure we are ready for the coming of the Lord. The best New Year's resolution of all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Past

What a busy month December has been! The shopping for just the right gifts for loved ones, the mailing and the anxious wait for the last package to be delivered safely, not to mention the decorating, baking and cooking! Now the month (and the year!) is about to wind up, and I can take a moment to catch my breath!

I sent presents to our youngest grandchildren early, so they could enjoy them before the crush of Christmas gifts they were sure to receive descended upon them. Thanks to Face Time, I got to see five-year-old Maddie and Anne-Marie, 8, open the box that came in the mail that day. (One-year-old Isaac was asleep.) Smiles of delight were on both ends of the camera as they tore into playthings and a new outfit for each of them.

"Why don't you let them unwrap Isaac's present for him?" I suggested to their parents, to which our son replied, "Oh, no! He will open his own when he wakes up!"

"He might not know how!" I protested, but his mommy said I might be surprised. And I was! Apparently he remembered from his birthday a few weeks before, because when he awoke bright and alert from his nap, Isaac wasted no time in ripping the paper and tossing it aside!

When he spied a toy, he would clap his little hands in glee while I laughed in amazement. It was almost like being there! What pure delight to see him dance around and run after a toy truck as it spun in circles! Then when he pulled out a bright green play outfit, he clasped the clothes to his chest and rushed to Mommy with them!

I knew Isaac would have to grow a little for his clothes to fit, but I was hoping the girls' outfits would work. Finally I got a phone picture of them modeling the clothes, and they looked adorable. Their father said they wore them to the Christmas Eve services.

Anne-Marie's red dress and white vest of curly faux fur belted at the waist was cute with the boots she was wearing. Maddie's animal-print furry jacket over stretchy, black pants trimmed with fur at the ankles made her say admiringly, "Look, it has ruffles!"

Whenever Howard had asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I couldn't think of anything. Neither could he, but he finally decided he wanted a robe, which we shopped for two days before Christmas. But I was smart and went to the After-Christmas sales and scored big on bargains! As Tiny Tim would say, "God bless us every one!" And He did!

Monday, December 29, 2014

An Unlikely Christmas Day

We'd celebrated Christmas a day early since some of the family would be headed out of town on Christmas day. I had made a big dinner, including a turkey, stuffing, three signature Christmas casseroles, Waldorf salad and two pumpkin pies. Not to mention a fancy cake I'd seen on Facebook and all the treats and candy I'd made.

Naturally, I did not want to cook on Christmas day, and we had received several restaurant gift cards, so the obvious thing to do was to eat out. My husband and I set out for a town less than an hour away where a couple of places would honor our gift cards. It felt good to get out of the house after the tumult of Christmas, happy as it was.

We had gotten about halfway to our destination when Howard slowed abruptly and announced, "We are getting pulled over!" What? We weren't speeding or anything. We stopped, and sure enough, a patrol car was pulling up behind us, lights flashing. "Oh, Lord," Howard prayed, "Let us have favor." Just as we looked up, the police car whipped around us and sped off! What a quick answer to prayer! We praised God and went on!

"Nothing seems to be open in this town!" I exclaimed as business after business was closed. "I'm glad the one I looked up on the computer is open," I said. I couldn't believe it when their parking lot was deserted also! I felt like the family in "A Christmas Story" who ended up eating Christmas dinner in a Chinese restaurant! We had almost given up when we spied an I-Hop that was open. We had no gift certificate there, but we had a surprisingly delicious lunch with a gracious, talkative, older teen waitress attending.

My equally talkative husband began by asking if she were a farm girl, which she was. Turned out she has two horses and shows a 2,000-pound steer in livestock competitions. The industrious young lady said she had worked there 5 years, had paid for two cars, and is going to major in veterinary studies in college! When asked, she admitted she hadn't been to church since childhood when an aunt used to take her, giving my preacher husband the opportunity to recommend a church and urge her to take time to include God in her busy life.

It was blowing a gale outside, and as I clutched my coat closer I felt in my pocket for my gloves. I thought I had worn them in, but perhaps I had left them in the car. I was about to go in and see if I had left them on the table, when suddenly I saw a black something under the rear of the car. My good leather gloves! At least one of them! I must have dropped them! How did the wind not blow this one away? Thankfully, I found the other glove on the seat of the car!

This had been a day of God's favor! First, the patrol car incident, then finding something open and having a good meal of two steaks, enabling us to split an order, our conversation with the young girl, then finding my gloves, (which were my favorite Christmas present last year). The coziness of the restaurant and the convivial atmosphere contributed to a feeling of cheer and warmth on this unusual Christmas day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Paid in Full: Signed, Sealed and Delivered

"I bought something to send to Maddie to make up for when she got her feelings hurt," I said to son Jamie. The five-year-old had been upset when her sister got a birthday present in the mail and there was nothing for her.

"It's a calendar to mark off days till Christmas," I told him. "There's a piece of candy behind each tab," I explained, to which their father asked warily, "Did you get one for Anne-Marie, too?"

Okay, so a trip to the store to get one for the other competitive little Miss! Well, of course! She would like to mark off the days, too, I realized.

The roof slant on the house-shaped novelty would make it be hard to put in a square box for mailing, I mused later. I definitely wanted it to be in a strong package, since the last semi-fragile item I sent arrived in two pieces! The lightweight box and chocolate figurines in a flimsy plastic tray might not hold up to postal tossing and stacking.

A pizza box! It looked like it would fit in a pizza box. We got one, but the pointed roof didn't fit. Then I saw a HUGE mailing envelope at Walmart, but it was just a tad too small! We managed to get it wrapped by padding the roof with the mailing envelope, modifying the pizza box, and encasing the whole thing in brown paper and mailing tape.

A few days ago I answered a knock at the door to a woman and a couple of boys shivering on my screened porch. "We are selling popcorn for the Boy Scouts," the mom said. (Maybe she said 'delivering.') I asked how much, and she replied, "$15.00."

"Ooh! No, thank you!" I said.

Last night our son Greg called from where he is working out of state. "Mom, I had ordered some popcorn from the Boy Scouts, and my friend called and said you refused to pay!" Say what? "I told her my folks would pay for it, as I was going out of town," he laughed. I found some money he had left, so the next night I received the popcorn! Provision had been made to pay for the popcorn, but I didn't know it!

I thought of how Jesus has paid our debt, even before we knew about Him. Like the passenger on a ship who managed to get a ticket to cross the ocean. He scrimped and saved to afford crackers and cheese to eat, until one day it was called to his attention that his ticket had included meals!

My little granddaughters know how to press in! They will not be denied anything they think is rightfully theirs (at this stage, anyway). Jesus gives the example of the friend coming at midnight to borrow three loaves of bread (Luke 11:5-8). He says the loaves were given because of the friend's persistence.

"And I say unto you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Luke 11:9.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It Is Well

There is nothing like coming in from church on a snowy, wintry Sunday to the aroma of an oven meal wafting through the house! I had surrounded the chicken with carrots, potatoes, onion, and even a sweet potato. There were some fresh green beans I wouldn't have time to cook, then, as an afterthought, I made a couple of small bundles and placed them in the roasting pan, as well.

In a pre-Thanksgiving mode, I guess, I had cut a gorgeous, green-and-orange acorn squash in half, slathered the inside with a brown sugar/butter/maple syrup mixture and baked it. Served in individual bowls and glazed to perfection, the lowly vegetable with the beautiful scallops looked delicious, and tasted that way, too!

We set the table with our prettiest dishes and ate in the dining room. My biggest platter held the colorful vegetables, including the long green beans steamed just right, and the tasty chicken. I even remembered some dinner rolls and warmed them in the oven.

We'd already had a wonderful spiritual "meal" at church. After several of the newer, contemporary songs, our praise and worship service had ended with the stirring hymn, "It is Well with My Soul." The congregation sang the reassuring words with heartfelt fervor:

When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrow like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast caused me to say, ""It is well, it is well with my soul.

And especially the verse that says:

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but in whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Oh my soul.

Some were moved to go to the altar and pray in the heavy sense of God's presence that prevailed.

The pastor's message, dealing with the uncertainty of our times, held the theme of "Fear Not!" following the scriptures of Luke 21:25-28. Verse 26 tells of "Men's hearts failing them for fear" at the things coming on the earth.

He stressed the words, "Look up," from verse 28: "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

Pastor closed the service by having the congregation sing the last verse of the song:

Oh Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as the scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so it is well with my soul!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

21 (Grand) Kids and Counting!

I was in a hurry to mail the birthday package to my almost-eight-year-old granddaughter. I found a box that would fit, but I didn't have any wrapping paper on hand. What about the comics? We still had Sunday's paper, and I at first considered the black-and-white pages of the cartoons, but looking further, I pulled out the brightly-colored smaller comic section.

The books looked cute wrapped individually and tied in a stack with some red grosgrain ribbon I had. I hoped it didn't look too make-do, but I think a grandmother (even a Mimi), is entitled to a little eccentricity!

Face Time came on last night with Anne-Marie displaying the books for the camera. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I could see by her shy smiles that she liked them. And it was a present for me that she read aloud a couple of pages for us! Then she said, "The paper was really neat!" Score!

"Did you get a bike for your birthday?" Pa Pa asked her, to which she replied, "No, I learned how to ride a bike!" Then she went outside and demonstrated her new-found skill for us by wheeling around the yard. I'm sure that good feeling of accomplishing a childhood milestone was like a birthday present, too!

Baby Isaac came onto the scene, and Pa Pa remarked that we heard he had climbed the stairs! "Wanta see?" son Jamie asked. I held my breath as proud daddy put Isaac near the staircase. The little climber, hovered over by dad with the iPhone, didn't stop until he had reached the third floor! The playroom! The mother-lode of toy land!

Thankfully Isaac won't be able to reach the stairs on his own, with all the fences and gates they have. Riding herd on those fences seems to be a constant requirement, though, as I have learned young Isaac's new nickname is "Houdini." If he finds a gap, as he did near the piano recently, he maneuvers, flattens himself against said piano, and squeezes through to freedom!

In mailing Anne-Marie's present, I realized I hadn't put anything in for Maddie, the five-year-old. I'd never forgotten this before, and I could only hope she was getting big enough to understand about birthday presents. Wrong! She sat with head down poring intently over the books as she flipped the pages and refused to look at the camera. I was feeling terrible until she finally looked up, tossed a cascade of red hair and flashed a big smile. It may have helped that I promised to put something in the mail!



Monday, November 10, 2014

Birthdays

"What would you like for your birthday, Anne-Marie?" I asked my granddaughter who is turning eight in a few days. We were on Face Time watching her baby brother open the gift we had sent for his birthday, which is 10 days before that of his big sister.

The little charmer turned her lovely green eyes toward the ceiling and thought a moment, then named something I couldn't quite make out. "What did you say?" I asked, to which she replied, quite clearly this time, "A Target Gift Card!" I laughed in surprise, and realized that she is becoming quite a sophisticated young lady!

Later, I asked her dad for some ideas , telling him I was thinking of getting her some books. He suggested some children's titles, which I found the other day. "I hope she likes them," I said as I spoke to him today.

"Yes, she's into reading," my son said. "She's been reading the Bible to us on the way to church. Right now she's in the Book of Job." Wow! I didn't know she was that sophisticated! I'm used to her serious, grown-up ways, though, since that is her personality. Perhaps it is partly because she is the oldest of the three children. Her dad said she is a thinker and a problem solver.

Maddie, 5, is a thinker, too, one who thinks outside the box! In her imaginative mind, anything is possible, even getting George Washington's autograph, which she requested recently. The other day she was heard pondering, "Why am I so smart? It must be my brain!"

Baby Isaac celebrated being a year old by terrifying his parents yesterday. Our son abruptly hung up the phone during our conversation saying, "I gotta go!" When he called back, he said Tammy had found Isaac at the top of the stairs! He was smiling proudly, as if to say "Look what I can do!" One more space to fence off!

I just found out that Anne-Mary will play Mary in the children's Christmas pageant at their church! She will be perfect for the role. I can just see her blonde tendrils escaping a demure, (probably) blue head covering surrounding her angelic face. Baby Jesus may not have had blonde hair like little Isaac, but by the time he was a year old, I'm sure He was keeping His mother on her toes!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Soothing Rx

"Carol sent you a plant," my husband said as he came in from a Bible study at the home of friends. "It's aloe vera, for your burn," he continued. Oh, I had wanted to use aloe vera when I burned my arm a few days before! But some antiseptic spray had stopped the burning, and now it was healing nicely.

A few hours later I awoke with my arm itching madly at the burn site. I realized I'd probably been scratching it in my sleep, but knowing it was likely just healing as the dry skin peeled off. Still, I couldn't sleep. Then I thought of the aloe vera plant. I went in and broke off a spear and applied the oozy, clear gel to the sensitive skin. After awhile, sleep came easily, and I awoke rested.

I thought of the balm of Gilead mentioned in the Bible. "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" -Jeremiah 8:22. Gilead was an important source of medicines and spices, including balm from balsam trees grown there.

My husband says that when he was a boy, his mother swore by Cow Salve. He said it was applied to any cut or sore that he encountered during the rough play of his childhood. Evidently, she had been introduced to it back on the farm when they applied it to abrasions and scratches on their cattle.

I remember my brothers responding to ads in comic books to sell Cloverine Salve. They were sure they could earn some of the valuable prizes offered: bicycles, bb guns or roller skates and such. Alas, they ended up returning much of the merchandise; although it was only 25 cents for a small, flat tin, not many people wanted to part with their quarters.

I can still see the bonus give-away for those who made a purchase: Dark blue cardboard wall art with religious sayings or verses scrolled in glittery script across the surface. They adorned many modest homes around the countryside back then.

Sometimes the word, salve, is used to mean "sooth," as in hurt feelings. Several months ago, my husband and I were eating out for an early Mother's Day lunch. Disappointingly, the soup we were served was not hot, only barely warm. When the server came by to inquire about everything, I mentioned it. She promised to bring hot soup right away.

After several apologies and promises from various people, we received fresh bowls of soup. Not only that, the manager appeared, saying our lunch was on them and giving us a certificate for a complimentary meal next time we were in. That certainly salved our feelings!

By the time we decided to use the certificate, I could not find it! I searched my purse thoroughly to no avail, as did my husband his wallet. Finally we regretfully gave it up as lost and forgot about it. Then yesterday as I was looking for my voter registration card in my wallet, there it was! The certificate! Now I can't wait to use it! The perfect balm!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

You Are My Sunshine

"That's my sunset!" I exclaimed when I saw the picture on the front page of Monday's paper. A news photographer had captured the same glorious scene (at a better angle) of the setting sun Sunday evening. The stunning celestial display was the harbinger of an approaching cool front bringing rain to our area.

Sure enough, dismal, chilly weather has been ours for a couple of days. It's really not so unpleasant, though. The autumn leaves glisten in the dampness and the warm house is inviting. The sprinkles did not keep us from doing our civic duty of voting this November 4. The little "I Voted" sticker is still on my jacket.

Another important November date for us is November 7th. Our grandson Isaac's first birthday! It was so fun picking out some small toys today to send to him. Maybe I will get to see his reaction to them on Face Time!

Apparently his mom brought down a set of large-size connecting blocks from the upstairs playroom the other day. "You should have seen his eyes light up when he saw the bright-colored, plastic blocks," Jamie said. "Tammy said it was like the time we first put him into his activity saucer and he saw the attached toys. Then he was so excited he was almost shaking!"

His proud father was talking about his little son during our phone conversation today. He said Isaac loves to get out of the gated enclosure of his play area. "I let him walk around through the house yesterday," Jamie said. "He would stop and look, studying everything." Cataloging it in his memory, no doubt. I'm sure the little blonde bundle of curiosity loves his new-found independence since he began walking.

"We caught him trying to brush his hair," Jamie chuckled. "He was using the wrong side of the brush, but going through the motions," he said. Babies are such imitators! That is how they learn, of course, which is why it is so important to set a good example for them.

And they grow up so fast! Our 18-year-old grandson Kyle exercised his privilege to vote for the first time today. We have watched this active boy with the love of airplanes grow into a mature young man who pilots gliders, leads his school band as a drum major, and is into film making, having made his own short movie.

God grant that all our grandchildren have a safe and stable world to grow up in. May our vote make a difference and may we see change for the better in the direction of our country. And may there be many beautiful sunsets ahead!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Open My Eyes, Lord!

Tonight I was watching a Little House on the Prairie episode of when daughter Mary lost her eyesight. It focused on Mary going away to a school for the blind, and how she learned to cope and lead a fulfilling life. I remembered reading in one of the Little House books that their mother told Laura to be Mary's eyes for her. Laura learned to describe in detail the things she saw so that Mary could imagine them. She painted pictures with words for Mary to see through her eyes.

It occurred to me that this act of kindness and compassion for her sightless sister more than likely contributed to Laura Ingalls Wilder's remarkable writing skills that have left readers spellbound for generations. You might say Laura learned to see with her heart, so that Mary could do the same.

A little while ago I happened to be outside at sunset and was glad I had my phone to snap a picture. The clouds were glorious, tinted an orangey-pink against the turquoise of the twilight sky. In the bat of an eye, the colors had drained from the sky, leaving only grey masses like ancient battleships sailing into the horizon.

If we don't open our eyes to the marvels of our surroundings, we fail to see the everyday miracles that God performs so faithfully. And if we don't open our mouth in an effort to reach out to others, we are missing much. Yesterday we attended a funeral, and as people gathered afterward for a fellowship meal, my husband introduced himself to a stranger.

"Hi, my name is Howard Summers," he said as he reached to shake the man's hand. The man then gave Howard his name, to which my husband responded, "I knew people by that name in Mississippi."

"What part of Mississippi?" the man asked, and Howard replied, "Picayune."

"Picayune!" the stranger exclaimed.

"Do you know where that is?" my spouse asked. The man said they had lived there 20 years! They had moved away only a few years before we left there, after our living there 20 years! What are the odds? These people were from western Oklahoma and were only here for this relative's funeral. We had a nice visit recalling familiar businesses, people and places and interests we had in common. Small world!

But a beautiful world it is, full of beautiful people! As a son-in-law gave the eulogy for the departed yesterday, he said, "We all know what a great guy John was, but I think there are a few things about him you didn't know." He listed a few interesting tidbits, then said, "You probably didn't know John was a romantic." He told what a devoted husband our friend was, and concluded by saying, "They celebrated their anniversary every Wednesday!"

I'm thinking, "Here was a man who had learned to see with his heart!"

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October 31

My husband has a soft spot for the down and out, and sometimes he gets more than he bargained for in doing a good deed. When a friend rode up on his bicycle the other day and asked for some odd jobs, Howard spent the morning with him mowing and weed-eating in the yard.

About noon, Howard came in and asked me to make him a sandwich while he took Joe home in our truck. It was only a short distance away, so I wondered what was taking him so long. Then the phone rang. "Joe wants me to help him move a few boxes," Howard said, "I'll be a little late."

Time wore on, and finally my hungry husband came home, explaining: "Joe got evicted from his apartment, and he wanted me take some boxes in my truck to a storage unit he had rented. I said okay, but it turned out he hadn't even packed the boxes yet. When we got to the storage facility, he had to fill out papers to get the unit." So that's what took so long!

"He wants me to come back tomorrow and help him move the rest of his stuff," Howard said wearily. He told me Joe was worried about where he would live, as his girl friend had no room, because her brother was living with her. The next day he found out Joe had secured a place at his niece's home, but he had to sleep on the floor, since more relatives were staying with her.

Yesterday Joe helped Howard and our son cut up a tree and do work on the farm, and when my helpful husband was taking him home, he was informed that Joe needed to find a mattress to sleep on on the hard floor.

"Take me to the Salvation Army," Joe said. They had no mattresses. Joe directed him to several other charitable organizations, but they either had none or no longer gave out mattresses. Try Habitat," Joe said hopefully, "maybe they have one."

An employee was just locking the door to Habitat for Humanity when they arrived. "Do you have any mattresses?" Joe inquired, to which she said, "No, but we just put one in the dumpster out back."

"It looked okay, with no stains," my husband said. "Joe was elated!" Maybe he'll be able to get a good night's sleep and Howard will get some rest!

"Now let's go get some lunch!" my spouse suggested. We had fun taking advantage of the 50-cent corn dogs at Sonic, and the free ice cream (custard) cones at Freddy's! Last night we went to the church Fall Festival, for which we had helped decorate, and enjoyed seeing the cute kiddos, the ingenious program skits with a message, and the fresh-baked soft pretzels. There were also the chocolate fountain (the theme was Willy Wonka), candy apples and plenty of candy!

Going out the church door, I was met by an adorable munchkin coming in covered in fur. "Are you a bear?" I asked the probably 4-year-old child. "No, I'm a girl!" she exclaimed. "What is your costume?" I clarified, and she said, "A fox!"

We got home in time to cover the plants for the expected freeze and went to bed on a satisfied note, thankful for a good day!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sightings

"Mom, you'll never guess what happened today," our son said as he and his dad came in from the farm. "Allison called me and said, 'Dad, the driveway is full of guineas!'"

"Wait, let me show you," he said, picking up his iPhone and clicking on a video. Wow! there were dozens of guineas! White ones, with a few grey ones in the mix, clacking noisily and creating quite a din as they rushed around, pecking in the grass of the corral pens.

"Where did they come from?" I asked. Then a thought occurred to me! Last year we had several guineas (our prizes we had nurtured from balls of fluff) that were among the flock of chickens that disappeared from their chicken yard. We assumed varmints had massacred and eaten them (though really there were only a few feathers on the ground), but maybe they escaped and survived, and this was their offspring!

"I gave them some corn," Howard announced. "I hope they stay around!" He had loved those young birds we had.

Imagine! Wild guineas! I know guineas are survivors. Some people even use them as watch dogs! Their loud clacking can be an alert system! The funny-looking fowl love to range far and wide in their searches for bugs and insects, roosting high in trees for safety.

All I could think of when I saw them was the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel! The Kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians about 700 BC, then assimilated into the population and lost to history as a people. The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin survived. Some people think the lost tribes theory is a myth, and much folklore has circulated about the lost tribes, with many people groups claiming identity with them.

However, one thing we know: God has promised to bring the Jews back to their homeland, the fulfillment of which began in 1948 when Israel became a nation. Isaiah 43:5 says, "Fear not, for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, And gather thee from the west." Never before have we seen so many Jews returning to Israel as in recent years. The culmination of this will be Jesus's Second Coming, which seems to Christians to be more imminent every day.

Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,...how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matthew 23:37.

My husband wanted to gather the guineas for safe keeping, but sadly for him, they were last seen running away in undergrowth along the highway. May we always be obedient to the Lord's calling and ready for His coming!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Royalty: Encore

In a blog a year ago, I talked about my granddaughter Corrin being nominated for Homecoming Court. She hoped, though really didn't expect, to win, not having campaigned or given out candy like the other girls. Nevertheless, much to her surprise, she was voted in and got to serve as a 2013 Homecoming Maid. I made the remark that all my granddaughters are princesses, and I wouldn't be surprised if one were queen next year.

Guess what! It happened! Corrin was overwhelmed when her name was called out as 2014 Homecoming Queen! Since I couldn't be there, the plan was for me to watch the suspenseful moment on Face Time. Somehow that proved difficult, so my grandson Reid decided to video the ceremony and message it to me. The video started just after she had been announced winner, but I got to see the blue, royal ribbon with the glittering title being draped around her neck.

Photos showed the petite, brunette beauty with her hand over her mouth in shock and awe when she heard the announcement. Her humble statement she posted on Face Book under a gorgeous shot of her between two lovely friends reveals her heart: "Wow! What a surreal moment! I will treasure this forever. My gratefulness cannot be expressed through words. Speechless! All of you are incredible. Thank you all, truly!"

We are so proud of this 17-year-old young lady! She has a very determined spirit and a strong faith in God which has strengthened her throughout the past 18-month ordeal she has endured. Since a tragic four-wheeler accident when she was 15, she has undergone several surgeries and bone grafts.

This in preparation for dental implants to restore her beautiful smile lost with several front teeth in the accident. Her hope is that all will be completed by the time she enrolls in college next year!

Meanwhile, in addition to her senior classes, Corrin plays on the golf team, works as a lifeguard for a senior aquatic center (which also involves cleaning and supervising the place), spends two school afternoons weekly at the hospital where she is in a nursing/basics program looking toward her career goal as a PA in the medical field.

My granddaughter has a servant's heart, obvious from her earliest days. Jesus said in Luke 22:26, "But he that is greatest among you, let him be the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." Now that's royalty!

The Unexpected

Ouch! I dropped the lid of the pot after it had slid and released a spurt of steam right on to my inner wrist! A steam burn! Oh, no! I hate kitchen burns! Once before I had splashed scalding water from a cup in the microwave and got a painful burn on my hand. It hurt all night, as I remember.

I quickly grabbed some ice and made a cold compress. It helped relieve the pain momentarily, but I was soon running cold water over the ugly red splotch. It didn't seem severe enough to go to the doctor, but after more than an hour of temporary relief then recurring, stinging, discomfort, we headed for the drugstore.

"Try to get something with aloe vera," I said as Howard went in and I waited in the car nursing my wound. "Ask the pharmacist what's best!" I called after him. I knew not to put butter or cream on it, the old-fashioned remedies our mothers had used.

He came back out in just a few minutes. "He said this is the best thing for it," Howard said, pulling a small spray can from a plastic bag. I lost no time in spraying the antiseptic/pain killer on my wrist. The relief was dramatic! Instantly the pain was gone! Why hadn't I sought help sooner? I was able to sleep all night with no pain, and it hasn't come back. Thank you, Lord!

Last night Howard attended a revival service in a neighboring town. As the hour grew late and he still wasn't home, I became concerned, wishing I had gone with him. I remembered how not long ago he had had trouble seeing while driving at night. But that was before he had cataract surgery last summer, I reminded myself. He had put off the dreaded procedure for months, years even. Then he was astonished at the immediate clearer vision resulting from the quick surgery!

I needn't have worried; my husband made it home safe and sound, bubbling over with enthusiasm at the uplifting meeting.

How many times have we put off something needful, either for inconvenience, fear, or neglect? We may have always intended to visit the sick person, take care of a task, or fix something broken, and suddenly it was too late.

One thing that must not be procrastinated is making a decision for Christ. "Behold, now is the day of salvation," I Corinthians 6:2. Hebrews 2:3 says, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" Some things are too important to ignore! And the relief is dramatic!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October Surprise

"You missed the celebrity," I said to my husband as we were exiting the guitar store yesterday. We had come to Wichita to pick up our son at the airport, and they hadn't wanted to miss the opportunity to make a stop and indulge their shared passion: checking out guitars.

I was waiting for Howard to make his purchase (no, not the $3,000 instrument he had strummed), but a pack of guitar picks. I sat on a bench half noticing a man take a large box from the counter and go toward the door, after the smiling sales clerk had exchanged animated small talk with him. Just then the clerk approached me and said, "Did you see him? That was Michael Martin Murphey!" At my blank expression, he mentioned the title of a song that he had made famous, but I was clueless.

"Tell my son over there," I urged, pointing to Greg at another counter. "He would probably know him." Greg's reaction was a wide-eyed "Where?" as he rushed out the door in pursuit of the customer. He caught up with us on the way to the car.

"I can't believe it!" he exclaimed. "I shook hands with Michael Martin Murphey!" He also couldn't believe we had never heard of him. He patiently explained that he was famous in the 70s and sang a hit called "Wildfire." On our ride home he pulled the singer up on his iPhone and had me listen to the song.

"He said he was on the way to Oklahoma City for an appearance, and had stopped to buy a guitar," Greg said. He wasted no time in calling his brother, Trevor, who was just as impressed as Greg was. I enjoyed their excitement at a celebrity sighting, even if some of the star's brightness may have diminished by now.

As Greg napped on the way home, Howard and I commented on the colorful fall foliage along the highway, marveling at the wonder and precision of God's creation. We pondered over whether the going down of the sap caused the leaf color changes, or whether it was less sunlight and shorter days. "I'll ask Siri," I quipped as I brought up a convenient source of information on the phone.

Immediately there was an encyclopedia article explaining everything about photosynthesis, the process by which leaves produce food for trees and other plants, and how chlorophyll reacts to longer nights and less sunlight by disappearing. When the green pigment is gone from the leaves, the other colors that have been there all along are revealed, giving us our autumnal show of red, yellow, orange and brown in the beautiful scenery of fall.

Meeting or glimpsing celebrities may be thrilling, but nothing compares to the awe inspired by seeing the majestic work of our Creator, and contemplating the intricacies and perfect design of our world. "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament sheweth his handywork," Psalm 19:1.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Clipping Coupons

Glancing through yesterday's newspaper, I decided to look at the food ads. I usually don't pay much attention to them, as I pretty much always just buy whatever appeals to us. This time, I saw the supermarket was having a good sale on things we normally buy, but for even less than the rock-bottom grocery prices at our regular store. There was just one catch: You had to clip coupons.

"Go get the scissors," my husband said when I showed him the ad, to which I answered, "Oh, I'm sure we can just take the whole page and show them." We got ready to go shopping, and I decided on second thought to cut them out. It's a good thing I did, I realized later!

This was work! Rifling through the coupons and matching them to the product! We weren't sure if the offer was good for every style of say, green beans, but we did the best we could. All over the store, from canned vegetables, to meat market, to baking aisle to cookies and crackers! We are too old for this! I thought, as we laboriously and slowly pushed our cart, squinting at the coupons (I had forgotten my glasses) and scanning the shelves, often looking over the shoulder of some other shopper taking their time.

Unaccustomed to coupon shopping as we were, Howard was placing the small paper squares atop each item and grouping them appropriately, but the checker said, "Just hand me your coupons. The computer will figure it out." We put our requisite $10 or more purchase on the conveyor belt with the sale items and waited for the total. We saved $18.00! Wow! Now my shelves are full! What a good feeling!

Earlier, Howard had mentioned a favorite television minister he had watched last night. "He said we are not supposed to be chintzy and act as if we can't afford anything when we can," he told me. Since he liked that philosophy, I ordered a fancy salad for lunch with chicken, glazed pecans, cranberries and apples. Then just as we were headed to the supermarket, we passed a shoe store that we had forgotten was having a going-out-of-business, 70% off sale today.

Their prices are so high we have never shopped there, but they do carry quality merchandise, so we decided to stop in. Nothing really caught my eye, as I'd bought new shoes recently. Howard declined to buy anything except some designer shoe polish. Then I saw a great-looking purse! I circled the aisles a few times, but I kept coming back to it. Should I get it? I loved it and needed (well, not "needed,")one.

"Remember what you said about thinking you can't afford anything?" I teased. He looked thoughtful and soft-hearted, and it was on sale, so I got it! Well, at least we economized on groceries!

With Feeling

"What if there was no everything?" my five-year-old granddaughter questioned. She is at the age where her brain seems to be working overtime trying to figure out the world. Another question to her dad was, "What if you and Mommy had never met, and you saw me, would you know me?"

Maddie is a very passionate little girl with an enthusiastic personality and indomitable spirit. (Could her red hair have anything to do with it?) Bursting with the intensity of her feelings, she has been known to hit her older sister, who is amazingly patient and long-suffering about it. Her parents, however, take a dim view of this and think they have put a stop to it. "It's so hard to self-control!" Maddie states.

Our little bundle of energy is busy sorting out life as she sees it, and thankfully, that can be a good thing. The other day she asked why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles didn't thank God for their pizza.

Visiting with the children on Face Time a few days ago, I asked Maddie if she was looking forward to school (Home School Enrichment) the next day. She told me she was making a cardboard heart to take with her.

"Why are you making a heart?" I prodded, trying to elicit as much conversation out of her as possible before she darted out of view. "It's not Valentine's Day," I teased. I really couldn't get her reply, but my son explained they were on letter "H" that day, and she was taking it for Show and Tell. Of course! "H" is for heart, and Maddie is all heart!

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," Matthew 5:7 promises. And I Peter 1:22, "Love one another with a pure heart fervently," describes my little granddaughter's approach to life!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Main Thing Is the Main Thing

Making a purchase with our debit card the other day, Howard was asked to sign an electronic card that popped up at the register in addition to his signature on the bank card. He demurred, saying he had never had to do that before. He asked to cancel the transaction and paid cash for the purchase. We concluded that the clerk had rung up the sale as if on the store credit card. The manager was called and worked feverishly trying to straighten things out.

"I'm sorry this is taking so long," the harried-looking woman said. "I'm a little slow since my accident."

"Were you in an automobile accident?" my husband asked. It turned out that she had fallen from a step-stool at home, chipped a bone on her spine, affecting the nerves in her hand, which she was having trouble using. She had only been back at work a couple of days.

"See, I can only open my hand this wide," she showed us, stretching out her fingers, "but it's more than I could do yesterday." We left the store admiring her dedication to her job, which she said she'd had for 19 years.

The next day at the supermarket, Howard asked an employee where to find a certain product. He came back to me and said, "She could use a course in public relations," referring to her unenthusiastic reply. He was brought up in a grocery store and has always used the utmost courtesy in business.

A little later, this same person checked out our groceries. "Did you hurt your foot?" Howard asked her, noticing her limp.

"No, I was in a car wreck two days ago," she told him. Well, that explained her demeanor! We often forget that those who serve us in their jobs working with the public have lives of their own and problems which they may struggle to keep from showing.

But it is refreshing to see someone who is thoughtful of the customer. The waitress we had at our lunch table recently impressed us with her courteousness and helpful attitude. When we left, Howard commended her to the manager at the cashier counter.

"I would just like to compliment our server today," my husband told him. "She was very cheerful and professional, and we appreciate it," to which her boss said, "Oh, yes, she has been here for 16 years."

"No, this lady said it was her second day on the job!" Howard said, pointing her out. The manager then looked pleased, and obviously took note of that.

The Bible says that whatever we do, we should do as unto the Lord. Colossians 3:23. It also says in Proverbs 20:11, "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right."

I am reminded of something our son related to me the other day. It seems our 5-year-old granddaughter was watching a video, when she remarked, "Daddy, the Ninja Turtles didn't thank God for their pizza." Even a child...



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hearth and Home

"I like the fall, the mist and all, I love the night owl's lonely call, the wailing sound of wind around." So starts the poem by Dixie Wilson, one I learned and loved in high school. Yesterday was that kind of day. But instead of being gloomy, the chilly, misty weather was invigorating--fun, even.

There's not much to do in our small town, and most of the festivals are over. We decided to treat ourselves to lunch at our favorite 50s diner. And a treat it was! The best burgers, followed by their signature chocolate shake in a fluted glass. Hubby and I shared, but we should have gotten two! I almost felt like ordering the pictured chocolate/strawberry sundae served in a cardboard classic car!

It was just a little way down the street to a fancy-shmantzy boutique I wanted to visit. The wares ranged from a decorative burlap Thanksgiving towel ($5.00) to a little boy's outfit (I have an 11-month old grandson) at $56.00. Maybe next time. Anyway, it was fun to look.

"I have to go to the hardware store," my husband announced. I asked what he needed, and he said, "A screw." What? A single screw? Well, we were bored, so a poor excuse is better than none. I went in with him, since they usually have some housekeeping knick-knack at give-away prices. Last time, I came home with a ceramic frog with a gaping mouth that holds my scouring pad. This time, a whole stack of cleaning sponges were only $1.50. On the way out with our purchases, we were handed a bag of free popcorn!

Nothing like a bag of hot, buttery popcorn, munched as we rode along, to take away the chill of a grey day. We noticed a couple of trees with leaves turning yellow, the rain and wind sending a smattering of them scurrying along in the roadside gutter.

We had a couple of options for a Saturday night activity. One, a free western swing band concert, or two, a gospel singing group that we wanted to hear. Bad weather was forecast, however, and staying home was very appealing, especially with the warmth of fireplace on a cold, disagreeable night.

The rest of the poem goes, "I like the gray November day, and dead, bare boughs that coldly sway against my pane. I like the rain. I like to sit and laugh at it, and tend my cozy fire a bit. I like the fall, the mist and all." We stayed home.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lay-Away Plan

"I want to tell you a story about this guitar," my husband said as stood holding it in front of our seniors' group yesterday. He pointed to the guitar strap over his shoulder with the embroidered words, I AM BLESSED, running along its length. "This is my blessed guitar," he said. "My other guitar has a strap that says, ONE OF THEM, so it's one of them!"

"A young couple with two small children began attending the church we pastored in Mississippi a few years back," Howard began. "Times were hard for them, and they were struggling economically," he went on. "They used butane in their mobile home for heating and cooking, but their butane tank was almost empty and they had no money to buy more. Winter was coming on, so when the church learned of this, we had their tank filled for them."

I remember how grateful "the kids," as we called them, were. Several months later, they stood at the back of the church at the beginning of the service one evening and asked Howard, who was standing at the front, to close his eyes.

"When they got to the front," he continued his narrative, "they said, 'Now hold out your hands,' and they put this guitar in my hands!" He told the group how surprised he was, and how much he likes and treasures the guitar. "It's not as fancy as my other one, but I love the way it sounds," he said.

The couple told us that they wanted to do something in appreciation for the church helping them through that winter. "We put this guitar on lay-away then and have been paying on it, and we just got it out," I remembered them saying modestly through pleased smiles. No wonder he loves it!

When our kids were growing up, I used the lay-away plan many times, especially for their Christmas toys and gifts. That way I could let the store hide them until almost Christmas and I wouldn't have to! Besides which, with six of them to buy for, the regular payments took less of a bite out of the budget!

I think of the Bible verses that mention the treasures God has laid up for us. "Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!" Psalm 31:19.

Or 2 Timothy 4:8, where Paul says, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

My children might have wondered and imagined what they would get for Christmas, but our imaginations would fail if we tried to imagine heaven. "For it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him," I Corinthians 2:9.

I had to agree with Howard when he closed his talk with the song, "I Am Blessed."

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pay It Forward

The recent talks of quarantine due to a dangerous virus prompted my husband to tell of an old memory. "Before I was born, my mom had a bad case of scarlet fever. The whole family was quarantined for several weeks," he recalled of what his father had told him. That was before they had antibiotics to treat the disease, which was quite contagious.

Howard said his mother was expecting him at the time, which means his brothers would have been 9 and 3 years old. "The doctor said I would never have scarlet fever, since Mom had it when she was carrying me," he remarked. He told how worried his father was, not being able to leave the house and go to work.

"Dad said sometimes a neighbor man would come and park his pick-up truck out in the road by the mail box, and Dad would go sit in it and visit with him," Howard remembered. One day when the neighbor asked how they were getting along, his father said, "Well, we're getting by. My mother-in-law baked a big banana cake awhile back, and we have been eating off of that."

"Another thing," his dad said, "Since I can't work, I'm behind on my car payments. I'm afraid they will come out and get it," he said of his proud possession, a Chrysler. "In fact. I can't figure out why they haven't picked it up already."

The old farmer neighbor looked pensively out the truck window and said, "Well, that is kind of strange, isn't it?" Howard said his dad knew in that moment that the neighbor had been making the payments! It was never discussed, but the car wasn't repossessed, and his father resumed the notes when he went back to work.

Neighbor helping neighbor. It was a way of life back then, I suppose. Sometime later that year, the baby that would grow up to be my husband was born, a man of fairness and kindness, qualities passed on from his dad, learned under his tutelage while growing up working in the family grocery store.

"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. These attributes cannot be restricted, quarantine or not.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Follow the Son

"Look how the sunflowers are all facing the same direction!" I said to my husband. It was true. The entire 70 acres of them were facing east. I had seen an article in our newspaper about this field of sunflowers we had driven several miles to see, and we weren't disappointed. This was amazing! The simple beauty of a single flower was multiplied by thousands, transforming them into awe-inspiring grandeur stretching toward the horizon.

I thought about the sight later, and I realized a spiritual application for Christian living can be drawn from this humble plant. Sunflowers are grown as a crop for several reasons, one of which is their oil, which is pressed from the seeds. Oil in the Bible is a symbol of the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer.

Not only is the sunflower good for oil, its seed is edible and provides food for birds, wildlife, and even man. When the believer allows the Holy Spirit to work in him, he will exhibit Christ's qualities and share the Bread of Life with the spiritually hungry.

The flower also produces nectar for butterflies and bees, the fringe benefits being that the bees pollinate the plant. Those who live for Jesus should have a sweetness of soul obvious to others. "Pleasant words are as the honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones," Proverbs 16:24.

Many uses have been found for the lowly sunflower, in medicine, industry, and other areas. Sunflowers can be pressed to make dye. As Christians, we should affect a change in our world. As dye changes a fabric, we can use our influence in changing the fabric of our society.

Another way the rugged sunflower is used is for windbreaks. Planted together, their hardy, fibrous strength gives protection to more vulnerable plants. Jesus is our windbreak, a shelter in the time of storm.

The sunflower does all this while still being beautiful! May we go through our days showing forth the beauty of Christ in our lives. Sunflowers are popular as cut flowers. Jesus was cut down in the midst of his beautiful, earthly life that we might live forever with Him. Perhaps the secret of the sunflower is that it faces the rising sun. An example for us to keep our eyes on the Risen Son!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Word Walk

"Your phone is ringing," Howard prompted me. I reached for my purse and heard my son ask if I wanted to Facetime. I had to decline, since were in the middle of a Scrabble game at the church Senior meeting. When I got home, I discovered the reason for his call. I turned on Facebook and there was baby Isaac being held in place by his sister with an excited look on his face. The short video revealed he was walking!

It was only the day before that I'd seen him stand alone for the first time! A little later we did get to Facetime, after Isaac was refreshed by a nap and lunch and in fine form! He repeatedly took short, almost running, steps between dad and big sister, with 5-year-old Maddie recording on the iPhone. We were all giddy with laughter and pride in this little prodigy. At the end of his coaching sessions, Isaac amazed me by turning from his grip on the coffee table and stepping confidently to his daddy!

We'd had a great time playing Scrabble that morning, although we didn't set any records. Our words tended to be short and zany, eliciting a lot of laughs. After all, we were senior citizens, one who professed she didn't read much, one a NASA retiree, and Howard and I. We had brought our huge, deluxe set with the revolving turn-table, non-slip grid surface, and one-inch tiles--perfect!

What a dichotomy we were! Isaac with his short steps and us with our short words! We have a lot in common, though, with the baby's next stage being that of speaking his own short words. Our little grandson is already an expert at communication, though, through crying, smiling, reaching, facial expressions and baby babbles. I'm not sure if he's making words yet, other than ma-ma or da-da.

His father was a bit of a late talker. He said few words early, like "cat" and "git" (to the pesky puppy), then clammed up, only to start speaking in paragraphs when he decided to talk. I think his sisters followed the same pattern, but we will wait and see what Isaac does. If he is like the rest of his family, he will have wonderful communication skills, speaking clearly and concisely, and in the case of his sisters, non-stop!

Words are invaluable to our expression. The Bible calls Jesus the Word. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus was the expression of God.

I love the Bible verse in Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." I liken that to the upper and lower beam of headlights. Sure to steady the feet of little Isaac and all others who keep His paths, no matter what their age!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's October All Over!

"I'm glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." This quote by L.M. Montgomery, creator of Anne of Green Gables, could be a sentiment expressed by many, judging from all who love Fall. Today is the first of October, which is one of my favorite months, too. Who wouldn't love the cooler weather, blue, blue skies, and beautiful foliage?

Of course, Halloween comes in October, too. As a child, I loved Halloween, but not anymore. The spooky, colorful observance of what was really All Saints' Eve, or All Hallows Eve, was created to honor departed saints. Not that that was the manner kids celebrated, even back then, doing the ghosts and witches thing, and in my dad's generation, acts of mischief. Thus Trick or Treat.

When we lived in New Orleans, we were surprised to find that people observed November 1, All Saints Day, as a religious holiday. Today, October 31 has morphed into a gargantuan commercial opportunity, rivaling Christmas in sales and festivities.

Recently our bright little 5-year-old granddaughter, Maddie, asked her father, "Why did God make Halloween?" He explained that most holidays were made by man, and only the Jewish feasts were God's idea. Her response was, "Well that's not fair to our country!" Being a child, I suppose a feast sounded like a party to her, and she thought she might miss out on something. Parents walk a fine line today in not wishing to deprive their children of fun, yet not wanting to embrace something undesirable or dangerous.

Thankfully, many churches put on fall festivals and fun nights for children that have nothing to do with Trick or Treating, yet keep them safe and off the streets. Some bring goodies in their car trunks and let the kids "Trunk or Treat."

But there is more to October than Halloween at the end of the month! Our town is replete with fairs and festivals throughout the fall. The recent county fair was a hit with our local grandchildren, whose father bought them tickets good for unlimited rides, and of course they took advantage of that! This Saturday is OctoberFest, held on the grounds of the Marland Mansion, and next week is the annual Art Center Flea Market that we like.

I saw something in the paper that I would like to see for myself. An area farmer has planted 70 acres in sunflowers, and according to the article, the fields of beautiful yellow and brown-centered flowers have attracted many admirers and photo buffs. The plants will be harvested after the first freeze for the seeds yielding oil and bird seed. The beauty afforded onlookers is just a bonus! Like the golden leaves of October!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Legacy

"Isaac just ate, and he's in a good mood if you want to Facetime," my son Jamie said on the phone. Of course! I love to see my little grandson! Face to face is better, but when he's 500 miles away, Facetime is a blessing! Almost-11-month-old Isaac smiled beautifully at me, showing his dimples. He tends to be rather sober, so I was glad to see him happy.

"Can you put him down so I can see him in action?" I asked, so they went into the den where I watched my heart speed-crawl across the room, select a ball from his pile of toys, discard it and survey the coffee table for more possibilities. He held on and walked around it, then went to his father and pulled up. Suddenly he let go and was standing alone! Jamie was as shocked as I was! He'd never done that before!

Baby years go so fast, I was happy to be privy to this milestone! I visited my sister, who is ten years my senior, on Sunday. I wanted to ask her about some family history I was a little fuzzy on, and she started talking about when I was born. Being 85, she likes to reminisce and told me about walking down the lane from school, kicking the dust with her shoe and singing about the beautiful trees, sky and clouds.

"Come in and see your baby sister," she heard as she entered the front door, to which she said in surprise, "What baby sister?" My mother held the small, pink bundle of me and put me in her arms. She hadn't had a clue! As she described the baby sweetness, soft blonde hair, and soft skin of my newborn self, I got a mental picture that seemed to fill a memory gap for me. There were no pictures of me as a baby, but I felt I had just received one.

My sister remembered the hard times of long ago, and the house Daddy built of slender logs where I was born. Somehow my folks raised eleven children, and like the Duggars, I suppose we all worked together. A few days ago I watched a Walton segment where the family had undertaken getting a neighbor's apple harvest in for much-needed money. The exhausting task took the cooperation of everyone picking apples, but they we so gratified to have managed it!

It made me think of a time when some of our children were teenagers still at home and our neighbor's shed burned down. Much of the debris had been cleared, but there was still some residue and cement blocks on the slab, for which our friend was offering $500 to anyone who would clean it up. $500 would come in handy, so we decided to do it. Who knew it would be so hard? We fell into bed at night only to tackle it again the next day, but we finally got it done! I don't remember what we did with the money, but I'm sure it was put to good use!

Thank God for families, our dearest possession on earth. He is so faithful to provide, protect and care for us, in good times or bad. The children (and grandchildren!) are His reward!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sight Unseen

"This is one birthday she'll never forget," I said after visiting our soon to be eight-year-old granddaughter at the hospital. She had been hurt on a four-wheeler and had to have her leg put into a cast today by an orthopedic surgeon. We were getting a bite to eat after leaving her room as she was readying to go home.

"I don't remember my eighth birthday," I said, "but I do remember being eight!" One reason I remember that age is because that's when I had chicken pox!

"Well, I remember my eighth birthday," my husband mused. "Or was it my ninth. Anyway, I sat on the porch all day waiting for the mailman to bring something my mother had ordered for me from Montgomery Ward catalog--a pocket watch!" He said he treasured the watch for years.

Ordering things through the mail was evidently a frequent and favorite activity of his as a boy. He has told of sending away for spy rings, secret codes and other prizes kids treasured back then. The funny thing is, he is still doing that today! Ever so often, something will come addressed to Howard, and to my question, "What have your ordered this time?" he usually says, "I don't remember ordering that!" as he unwraps a pen, notebook, or some gimmick from a credit card company.

The few times I have ordered things from a catalog I have been disappointed. I would much rather buy something in person, especially clothes, which never fit otherwise! Sometimes even the color of an item is wrong, not looking the same shade as the illustration. And objects that are so appealing in the offer are nearly always smaller than they look in the picture.

As our birthdays are reaching ever greater heights, we find ourselves thinking more about heaven. What will it be like? Our imaginations fail us as we try to comprehend our heavenly home. I Corinthians 2:9 tells us, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

Trying to visualize heaven is like an unborn baby trying to imagine what life outside the womb would be like. Like the song says, "I can only imagine." We are not told much about heaven, but we infer from David's words when his child died that loved ones are there. He said as recorded in 2 Samuel 12:23, "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."

Jesus promises in John 14:2-3, "...I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also." That is all we really need to know, for we can trust the Bible, the letter written to us from God, who does not do false advertising!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Old and New

Tonight we were watching an episode of The Waltons in which John Boy bought his mother a much-needed washing machine. She certainly didn't expect it and had been content to go on washing clothes on a rub-board, but she was overjoyed with the surprise. It was the old style washer, probably with a wringer.

It reminded me of the time my dad surprised my mom with her first automatic washer. He thought she would be pleased when she came in and saw it installed. No way! She was very upset because it wasn't a wringer washing machine--the kind she was used to. (Mama got used to it though, and never looked back!)

I must be my mother's daughter, because I felt the same way about a color TV. Early in our marriage, Howard worked for an appliance store and sold the beautiful color models every day. He could get a good deal on one for us, but for some reason I protested. A color television? An unbelievable luxury! Why should we have one? Black and white was good enough for us, I reasoned. Of course I loved the beautiful set in the maple console that he brought home!

I never thought I would embrace the computer, but now I couldn't do without it. Other electronics like the iPad and iPhone held little interest for me, but now I can't imagine life without them! I remember when phones with cameras came out a few years ago. It seemed an unreachable possibility to have one or know how to use it. Now they are so simple that I love to take pictures and put them online!

Changes come so thick and fast nowadays it's hard to keep up! The children who are raised with such things take it for granted, though. I heard of a father who told his daughter that he didn't have a computer growing up. "Then how did you get on the internet?" she asked in surprise.

I admit I do love old-fashioned things. Antique furniture, the cozy comfort of a fireplace and rocking chair with a fringed afghan thrown over it, old dishes, and log homes. But sometimes we settle for less, thinking that we don't need or deserve something better. We make the mistake of setting our sights too low and just get in a rut of familiarity.

It is easy to do that spiritually, too, just getting by with the status quo or basic knowledge of Christianity and lifestyle. But we are encouraged in the Bible to go deeper in our relationship with God. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you, Jesus said. Draw nigh unto Me and I will draw nigh unto you.

When Jesus was talking about bringing the new message, the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the world, He said that new wine can't be put into old wineskins, Matthew 9:17. The people had to accept something new, and change their way of thinking and living. Then in Matthew 13:52, He talks about "a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." (Knowledge of both the Old and New Testament is beneficial for our Christian growth.)

We need to keep growing in God! "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," Proverbs 4:18.

A Berry Good Morning!

"What would you like for breakfast?" I asked my husband this morning. "If I had some blueberries, I would make blueberry pancakes," I ventured. He settled on eggs, bacon and toast, but I couldn't help but think about the blueberry pancakes I made when our children were growing up.

Blueberries weren't as common then in south Mississippi, our part of the country, so I would buy a box of blueberry pancake mix occasionally. The berries were packed in water in a small can inside the box of mix. I remember using the purple liquid to make blueberry syrup for the pancakes.

As blueberries became more locally grown, we picked huge, grape-like blueberries at a neighboring farm. Such a fun activity and outing for our grandchildren! Later on, we had our own blueberries growing on bushes outside our back door. Oh, the cobblers, muffins and pancakes then!

When hurricane Katrina hit, our friend had about 30 gallons of blueberries in her freezer. Her insurance covered the loss of food due to the long-time power outage, allowing her to collect hundreds of dollars for the ruined blueberries!

At today's prices, she would have been reimbursed even more! But blueberries, a super-food, would have been worth it. I should eat more of them since they are touted as an anti-aging, brain food!

Isn't it remarkable that God created some of the most nutritious foods to be bright and attractive to the eye, insuring that we would eat them? Apples, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, squash, and on and on are delicious and healthful.

Man has processed, manipulated, and imitated so much of our food today we wonder what we are eating. Nature's way is best. Artificial sweeteners are dangerous, margarine and fake butter are bad for you, oils are suspect, and wheat has been modified until it is no longer what it used to be.

Now I read that a little real butter (much tastier), is healthier and benefits eyesight, skin, and brain. Lard is the new gourmet cook's choice. (I could have told you that from the excellence of pies and fried chicken my mother used to make which could not be equaled in flavor, crispness and texture!)

My only dilemma now is that I don't have a big family around to enjoy all the good food I could make for them! Leftovers are a major problem around here, especially with my tendency to save every tidbit in the cute,tiny containers from a plastic storage set. Refrigerator cleaning day keeps my garbage disposal busy!

Thank you, God, for the plenty and excess you have provided! Help us to choose the healthy foods you made, and give me strength to abstain from too many blueberry desserts!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Rite of Switching the Wardrobe

On one of these cool mornings we've been having, I reached for a pair of warm, fleecy sweat pants to wear around the house. Finding only summer things in the drawer, I remembered storing the other warm clothing. It is 48 degrees this morning, so I think it's time to switch them back. My closet also needs to be rearranged so I can access sweaters, jackets and fall clothes.

Even though we've been back here for 7 years, I'm still in the south, where we could wear summer clothes all year long by just adding a sweater or jacket. After living there nearly forty years, I'm still startled by the precise change in seasons here. Fall is right on time, the summer was short, spring too fleeting, and winter will be pushing fall out of the way before we know it.

One change I am looking forward to is when the leaves start to turn. They are looking a little faded now, but in a few weeks I know there will be a riot of glorious colors, even rivaling the colors of spring. I read that Indian summer days with their brief warm spells contrasting with very cool nights are responsible for the depth and intensity of colors in the leaves. The earth is getting a new fall wardrobe, rivaling anything we can buy at the clothing store.

In speaking of the future, the Bible tells how the earth will grow old like a garment and be changed. Psalm 102:25-26 says, "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed."

Verse 27 assures us, "But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."

Even as the beauty of autumn eventually gives way to the dead of winter, we look forward to the glories of spring. Paul tells us in Romans 8:18, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us," speaking of future glory.

He says in verse 22 that the whole creation groans and travails. And, in verse 23 that we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the redemption of our body.

We used to sing a song in church, that while maybe not grammatically correct, was still right in its theology. It went, "I tell you, the best thing, I ever did do, was to take off the old robe and put on the new. The old robe was dirty, all tattered and torn. The new robe was spotless and never been worn. I tell you, the best thing, I ever did do, was take off the old robe and put on the new!"

Now that's a change of wardrobe!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's Fall, Y'all!

I love the golden colors of the fall season! The cooler weather of the past few days has motivated me to begin decorating with these splashes of color, especially nice when the skies are grey, and even better in the soft rays of autumn sunshine!

I had been waiting for the pumpkin shipments to come in at my favorite store, absolutely the best place in town to buy them. They are bigger, have more "personality" with the long stems and often quirky lop-sidedness, not to mention cheaper. A huge one and a medium-size one sat on my patio bench for a couple of days until they found a home in my garden wagon.

Going down into the basement for fall flowers I had stored, I found not only that, but farm baskets, one holding a stuffed, calico turkey wearing a straw hat, and two others, one in which I plopped a floppy scarecrow on top of a still-new burlap coffee bag. Another smaller scarecrow stands stiffly astride the side of the other burlap-draped basket on the porch.

In a storage closet I found a straw pumpkin to fill with the orange and yellow mums from the basement, and a pinky-orange, ceramic pumpkin that looks cute on the dining room table with fall leaves peeping out under the green-stemmed lid.

A yellow, potted chrysanthemum was already on the porch steps, but I needed a few more flowers to add color. We were happily surprised to find a couple of pots at close-out prices, and another of just the right size and rusty-red color to complement the pumpkins.

It just occurred to me what is missing from my fall vignette. A bale of hay! Maybe I can get a small, decorative bale today. I can put it in the wagon with the pumpkins. I noticed yesterday from the road they are not as visible as I would have liked, so we'll see how the hay helps.

We rejoice with the coming of each new season God has given us, but I think fall is my favorite one. I think of the poem I memorized in high school by Emily Dickinson that goes: "The morns are meeker than they were, the nuts are getting brown. The berry's cheek is plumper, the rose is out of town. The maple wears a gayer scarf, the field a scarlet gown, Lest I should be old fashioned, I'll put a trinket on."

Must be the reason I like to decorate!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Growing Up Strong!

My five-year-old granddaughter Maddie has promoted herself from the nursery/kindergarten department at church to the youth group! "I go to Youth now," she announces after accompanying her dad to one of his services with the teenagers. "It is cray-cray!" she exults, picking up a teen phrase for "crazy."

She also knowledgeably chimed in with a comment during a class her mother was teaching for older kids. Her mom says, "Life doesn't happen to Maddie, Maddie happens to life!" A pretty good description of this little bundle of enthusiasm. She has been turned on to God early in her life. His seed is in her.

I was reminded of something I heard recently. The other day I was looking at a watermelon at a roadside stand. "Are these melons good?" I asked. "I liked one that a friend got here last week." The melon she had served at their house was delicious!

"Yes!" he replied. "Now, they are seeded," he told me. "Watermelons with seeds taste better than seedless." I bought one, partly because it was a small, round melon, and not too big for our family. It was good!

I read a recipe for chicken and noodles in a magazine a few days ago. I was surprised that it recommended using bone-in chicken pieces, served that way. "These are the most flavorful," the author commented. I usually stew the whole chicken, or just use white meat, but this was a quicker method, browning drumsticks and thighs before stewing to develop flavor. "And don't skim the fat," he went on, "flavor is in fat." I will have to try it!

I find bone-in roasts taste better, too. And pork chops with the bone are much better than boneless ones. My husband grew up in a meat market, and he always told me the bone adds flavor.

Maddie may be small, but her zippy personality is full of flavor, sweet and pungent, like the melon! And she is being taught the word of God. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is quick,(alive)and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

Our life blood is formed in the marrow of the bones. Scripture teaches that life is in the blood. Thank God for the blood Jesus shed for our salvation, including the salvation of our children and grandchildren. May they always have the backbone to stand up for Jesus! I believe Maddie will!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Alterations

ALTERATIONS, the sign read. We had been wondering about the little shop that had recently opened in a building formerly housing a barber shop and more recently a healing center. We brought a couple of things in to have hemmed and were met by an attractive oriental woman with a beautiful smile.

"I compliment you on your decor," my thoughtful husband announced as we entered the cheery interior. "It looks better than when I used to get my hair cut here."

She smiled her appreciation, and soon Howard was carrying on a conversation with her which revealed she was from Viet Nam. Her bright smile hid a sad past, with both parents and brother having been killed in turmoil there, and her husband being imprisoned for 4 years.

"I waited until he was released, then we came here," she said. She said her father had been a government worker, so I suppose political unrest was involved in the tragedies.
She seemed grateful for the freedom of this country.

We recently marked the anniversary of 9/11. How well I remember that morning in 2001. Howard and I had taken our grandchildren for a walk down our country road to a scenic spot at the bottom of a hill where water ran under a low bridge from a pasture lake. The kids were two and four, and after dabbling their feet in the water and catching tadpoles in the roadside ditch, they were ready to go home. Going up the hill was harder than coming down, so we made a pack-saddle with joined arms to carry 2-year-old Rachel, as Corrin dawdled behind, tossing pebbles or picking wildflowers.

Collapsing on the den sofa as we came in, I saw that our son had the television on. He was taking a break from grad school and working locally this semester. Seeing smoke billowing on the screen and hearing a puzzled narrative from a newsman, I thought it was the scene of a plane crash somewhere. Then I heard incredulous voices raised in amazement and caught sight of a plane hitting a tower. The gravity of the situation became apparent, and the day that had dawned so beautifully became a day of terror.

Now we are in uncertain times again, and as others come here for safety and freedom, we
find ourselves concerned about our own. I heard news commentators speculating yesterday about how when dictators are deposed, if something good is not put in their place, something worse will fill the void.

It reminded me of scriptures in Matthew 12:42-45 and Luke 11:24-26 where Jesus talks about an unclean spirit being cast out of a man, then when it returns and finds
the "house...empty, swept and garnished," he takes seven spirits with him worse than himself into the house and the man's state is worse than the beginning. Jesus is telling us not to be satisfied with just cleaning ourselves up, but to fill our lives with the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is full of wisdom, both spiritual and practical. The alterations lady not only alters clothing, she altered her locale. Moving into freedom is always a good idea. And Jesus is the Truth that sets us free!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Best by Taste Test

"There's nothing like home tea, is there?" I remarked to my husband as we ate supper tonight. He agreed, then I said, "But remember how good the iced tea tasted at that one place on our trip?"

Then ensued a discussion of just where that place was. "It was in Tennessee where you thought you were eating chicken, but it was steak," I ventured. He never would admit that particular mistake, but I suspected something when we walked out of the restaurant that was famous for its biscuits, and he said, "Next time I'm going to get a steak biscuit."

Later he told our daughter and family how good the chicken biscuit was that he had at the restaurant. "Howard, I had the chicken, and you had the steak!" I insisted. "Remember you said how tender it was?", to which he said, "That's because it was chicken." I had to laugh, because there was no dissuading him. I hatched a scheme to go there the next day and have him order steak and prove it to him.

He was not convinced, and said that was not what he'd had the day before. "Take a bite of this chicken!" I said, "Is that what you had?" He looked a little uncertain, but stuck by his guns. Men! How stubborn! His reasoning was that he had ordered chicken, and that's what he got. (In reality, he ordered the chicken for me.)

"But that's not the place with the good tea!" I insisted, a movie playing in my mind of the many places we had eaten. Then I remembered it was at our favorite place in Jonesborough, Tennessee. The chicken/steak incident was in Georgia. Even though I'm supposed to avoid caffeine, the delicious elixir was worth the indulgence.

Sometimes our minds can play tricks on us. Like the time Howard brought me an apple pie from McDonald's. I tasted it and almost spewed it out of my mouth! What was this mushy stuff? Applesauce? My taste is unreliable, but I knew the texture was not apple pie, even though that's what the label said.

"Taste this and tell me what it is!" I demanded to my husband. He took a bite and said it was apple pie. I called McDonald's and described the contents for the manager. "Oh," she said, "that's pumpkin. It must have gotten in the wrong box." Since Howard expected it to be apple, that's what his mind told him it was, just like the steak! (Well, it was sweet and contained cinnamon!)

Psalm 34:8 says, "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." That is one taste we don't quibble over!

Heartthoughts: Throwback Thursday

"Mimi, since you and Pa Pa have been married 55? years ('56,' I interjected) can you tell Randy and I what your secret is?" my granddaughter Michaela questioned. They have been married a little over a year. "We want to have a long and happy marriage, too!" she stated.

Well, I had no secret to give her, any more than what she already knew about us. She expressed appreciation for her parents' and grandparents' enduring marriages, and also for the fact that there had been no divorces by her husband's parents or grandparents.

She and her husband seem like uncommonly sensible young people. One day when we were grocery shopping on our recent trip there, I mentioned that I always spend more when my husband goes along. "Oh, I don't take Randy shopping," she said. "And I budget and make a list!" I agreed that that was a wise thing to do (although I do enjoy Howard going shopping with me!). They are also serious about their education, he having just graduated college and Michaela taking classes as well as working!

How fast our grandchildren are growing up! And I agree with what one friend said when I posted some family pictures of when the children were young on Facebook's 'Throwback Thursday': "How time fliesssss!" When I look back, I wonder how we raised six children! But God was faithful, meeting our needs and providing for their educations. I read once that to raise good kids there has to be a nurturing figure and an authority figure in the home, in other words, Mom and Dad.

Yesterday, Howard was in Staples getting something copied, which happened to be some Christian material. The clerk surprised him by asking, "Oh, can you tell me in the Bible where it speaks of the Bride of Christ?" She said a customer had remarked, "I don't want to be the "bride" of Christ. Why does the Bible say that?" He gave her the references she wanted.

"Well, the Bible does say marriage represents the relationship of Christ and the church," I said, "calling it a great mystery." There are many scriptures on marriage in the Bible, and I'm sure Michaela and Randy are aware of them, having been brought up in the church. In fact, Randy is to be ordained in ministry in the near future! I think they have access to all they need for a successful marriage! And since they both already work in the church and her parents and grandfather are ministers, you might say they are "throwbacks!" to their ministerial heritage!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Temporary Address

"She is 106 years old!" the nursing home resident said of her friend as they sat side-by-side in wheel chairs. Wow! We had heard about her in the church service just before, as her name was mentioned in a prayer request. Now here she was in the hallway. "She worked for the telephone company, and so did I," our informant shared proudly, "and she worked at the post office, and I did, too!"

When I heard that the church we had recently began attending had a nursing home service, I told my husband, and he quickly inquired about helping with it. This was the first time we had come, and Howard had brought his guitar. We were told to be there at 8:30, but it seemed no one had gathered yet. I asked a wheel-chair patient in the hall if she would like me to push her to the service. She seemed a little disinterested, but she agreed.

I placed her alongside some other residents who had trickled in, but soon she had wheeled herself to a place beside where I was sitting behind a table. "I like it better over here," she stated. Maneuvering into place, she encountered unfriendly resistance by another attendee. I looked to see another oldster firmly pushing against this fellow-resident's wheel chair. "You don't run this place!" the first lady said through clenched teeth, as the other patient glared at her! Apparently everything is not all sweetness and light in nursing homes!

The service seemed well organized, with two men coming in bearing communion trays, one standing at the podium and speaking a few words from scripture, then the other praying before they began passing out the communion elements. They served us as well, and we held our cups and bread, waiting on all to be served. But then I noticed some drinking it immediately and thought it was just their mistake. Turns out that's the way it was done here, and we were left holding our cups as the men left the room! We immediately took our communion!

We had a nice visit with the pianist who had come in to accompany the singing and left immediately afterward. I helped with assisting the patients find the right page in the songbook, and was impressed by their participation in the singing. One male voice dominated as it boomed out. "He used to be the shop teacher in high school," the director confided to me.

After a short devotional, everyone joined together in saying the Lord's prayer and their memory verse, John 3:16. Just before she dismissed, the leader invited Howard to play the guitar and sing, which he thoroughly enjoyed, walking around making eye contact with patients as he strummed and sang a couple of choruses.

Several began wheeling themselves out, and I looked for someone to help. I realized I didn't know their room numbers, and some were obviously not able to tell me. One lady said she knew where her room was, however. I pushed her down the hall and she didn't see her room, so we entered the next hall. Then a tall man met us, saying hello to her. "Her room is around the corner, first room on the right." he said, "I will take her home."

None of us know when our time will come, some may live to be 106 and others younger could go out in a car accident or some other untimely way. When I die, how wonderful it will be to hear God or an angel say, like the man in the hall, "I will take her home!"


Friday, September 5, 2014

All God's Children

I found my shoes! What a surprise! I did not leave them at a motel during our trip! Unpacking, I unzipped a side pocket of one of the suitcases at home, and there they were! I had gone shopping for a replacement pair while in Georgia, but the cute, strappy ones I bought didn't feel so great later and would have to be returned.

"Let's stop at the store and return them before we leave town," I suggested as we were about to depart to visit our Tennessee daughter. It was about 9:30 a.m. when we got to the store, but the sign said they didn't open until 10:00. We decided to wait and return them at the mall in Johnson City. No problem, but I didn't get around to buying any more shoes. And now I don't have to!

One day during our vacation Howard had to get a prescription filled at the Walmart pharmacy. I was waiting for him at a table at the in-store McDonald's, people-watching as they checked out their groceries in front of me. Suddenly a voice said, "I like your shirt." I looked up to see a friendly, Tennessee woman talking to me, and I said, "Thank you!"

"I like the colors," she went on, of my multi-colored top. I told her I had bought it at a store in Kansas. "I like your necklace, too," she continued, "It matches your shirt." Then, "Did you buy that there, too?" I didn't remember where I had bought it, but I thanked her. Soon she took her leave and I could see her going back toward the meat department where she obviously worked.

We had to go to the grocery store after we had gotten home, and as we pushed our basket toward the check-out, a stranger came up to Howard and me and abruptly said, "You are an attractive couple!" I was a bit taken aback, but he had thrown his arm around Howard's shoulder and said, "God told me to move to Blackwell from California."

Soon my loquacious husband was engaged in conversation with him, finding common ground with him about everything from scriptural insights to their residence location. "I bought so-and-so's house," the man volunteered, and Howard knew exactly where that was. The former owner's wife had been the secretary of our junior high school!

I guess we seem very approachable, especially Howard. Recently we had attended a drive-in theater for the viewing of the movie, God's Not Dead! Before it started, Howard went to get me some water. While he was gone, I thought the man in the next car was rather friendly, and when Howard came back, they chatted through the open car windows.

That Sunday at church, a man came up and said, "You were parked next to us at the drive-in!" We hadn't even recognized them, since we were newcomers to the church. Then his wife walked up and surprised us by saying, "I saw this distinguished-looking man walking toward the car with water, and I thought I recognized you!"

Well, my husband does look a little distinguished, I guess, with his reading glasses riding low and his serious demeanor. But I think people really see God in him, and kindred spirits are drawn to him. He has been a minister for nearly 30 years, having preached just last Sunday at our daughter and son-in-law's church in Tennessee.

Isaiah 52:7 reads, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" Those were mountains where Howard was preaching, and unlike me, he didn't misplace his shoes!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Home Again

"I want to go through Siloam Springs," my husband announced as we were about to come upon our exit for the highway that would take us to Tulsa. Tulsa. Our nemesis! Every time we were routed through there, we got lost, due to detours around road construction!

"Why do you want to go that way?" I protested, figuring it would take longer, and I was already worn out after two days on the road returning from our trip. He said he hadn't been to the small town in some sixty years, and he wanted to go there. I knew that's where his brother, a young, traveling evangelist, met the girl who would be his wife, and there were family ties there. But he also reminded me that his great-grandfather used to pastor a church nearby, and that his family had taken him there as a small child.

"There was a spring near there where my mother always insisted on stopping for some of the good water," he explained. Actually, I went there and saw the spring and church on a trip with Howard and his family when we were teenage sweethearts.

The route he had decided on would take us to Siloam Springs via Fayetteville. Suddenly I felt like I was back in Tennessee! The curvy, scenic, mountain roads soon gave way to breathtaking beauty! I hadn't seen heights like this since we crossed Sam's Gap and Fancy Gap, deep, blue, mist-shrouded chasms in North Carolina a few years ago! I ooh-ed and ah-ed in appreciation and wonder.

"Jeannean thought this was the prettiest place on earth," Howard said of his late sister-in-law, young then and a school teacher in the area. Well, it was very beautiful! But the hairpin curves were a little unnerving.

He didn't recognize a thing in Siloam Springs, the main thoroughfare of the sleepy little town having been transformed into a strip of restaurants, agencies, banks and other miscellaneous businesses. "What is that thing in the distance?" I asked. It looked like a monument of colossal proportions, but drawing nearer, we saw it was a casino, complete with a waterfall cascading down its rocky heights.

We were hesitant to follow the signs leading to Tulsa, so Howard stopped for directions, even though we had our GPS. We wanted to avoid the detours through the city at all costs. "He said this was the right way," my husband reported, getting back in the car. Sure enough, we navigated through the metropolis and soon found ourselves clear of the city and on the final leg of our journey home!

What if we hadn't taken the route Howard had spontaneously decided to take? We would not have been on a clear path through Tulsa! Thank you, Lord, for being with us on this 2,000 mile trip! We had been safe all the way! Not only that, but our mechanically-inclined grandson had taken it upon himself to work until midnight on the eve of our departure replacing our brakes! Something very necessary on the mountain roads! Every time we make it home safe and sound from a long, arduous trip, we consider it something of a miracle! And I believe it is!