Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fly High, Robin

Grief comes upon me in unexpected moments, sobs as if from nowhere crumpling my countenance and filling my eyes with tears,  triggered maybe by a song, a memory, or words that remind me of the recent loss of a loved one. Robin, the only son of my oldest brother, a dear nephew I hadn't seen in years, passed away unexpectedly this week after losing the battle with the illness that came upon him several  months ago.  It has hit our family hard, from the close circle of relatives living near him to those like me who are scattered and far away.

Time can't erase the bond of the early years when we siblings were having our families, our children cousins growing up as friends and pals.  I remember my nephew as a baby, a toddler and a little boy, growing into adolescence, then suddenly grown, married with a family. and, now, hard to realize in the timelessness of absence, a grandfather.  It is these early memories that flood my eyes, thinking of him in his wide-eyed discovery of the world, his cheerfulness and good nature.

Last night we saw for the second time the movie, Heaven is for Real.  The reality of heaven dawns anew on me when I think of Robin being there.  Sadness is tempered with joy, for this is the realization of the goal of a life well lived.  After the movie,  we watched a television  interview of the  family of the boy upon whose experience the book is based.  Also interviewed was the man who wrote the script for the film, who confessed to being a skeptic when he first read the book.   But after meeting and sensing the genuineness of the boy's father, plus having a life-threatening condition that made him examine and deepen his own faith, he decided to write the screen play.

The famous writer said he had wanted to be a minister, but he never felt the call.  Once he discussed this with his pastor, saying, "I know that is the highest calling anyone can have," to which his pastor said, "No, the highest calling for anyone  is what He has called you to do."  He said he knew he was to be a writer, and now through this film he has reached millions for the Lord world wide.

A comment on Facebook from my younger brother in the expressions of sympathy from friends and family said, "Robin was the Music Man.  And now, for me,  the music has died."   He was referring to our nephew's talent and passion for the guitar and love of music.  Robin had formed a worship band and performed in different churches in recent years.  I had to respond that the music still goes on in heaven.  The little boy of Heaven is for Real described the beautiful music sung by angels in heaven. Music was Robin's calling.  How can I be sad when he is no doubt doing what he loved and met by loved ones and the One he loved most of all?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

This Little Pig Went to Market

Well, not soon enough to suit me!  It all started the other day when our son Greg had his car detailed. Later that evening, he told his father, "Dad, the man I took the car to has some pigs for sale." Howard's ears perked up, for they had been tossing around the idea of raising some porkers.  Greg has ample space on his farm and suitable pens for the porcine project.

"They are Chester Whites," Greg said enthusiastically,  "a sow and her 3 little pigs."  To his dad's eager expression, he went on, "The man said she had had a litter of 9, and he wanted to sell her and the remaining pigs."  Howard listened attentively as he explained.  "She was his pet he had had since she was a baby. 'So gentle I can put my hand in her mouth,' he said, and he did!"

Before I knew it, the pigs were  installed in hastily readied quarters, and I was taken out to see them. They were not what I expected!  This very tall sow with a pronounced turned-up snout was charging around the pen, followed by three very large piglets. The food they put in a huge trough was gobbled up with lightning speed, with the younger pigs climbing over the side and sliding around in it, to their disgruntled (pardon the pun) mother's squeals of disapproval.

I shivered at the thought of anyone's hand in the huge mouth, but reading about them later, I read that the stress gene is completely absent in that breed!  (How did they do that?)  My husband imparted a nugget of wisdom to me that  "when their  tails are curly, it means they're happy!"  Apparently a lot of psychology or pig psychoanalysis has gone into raising pigs!  And most of their tails were curly, despite their new surroundings.

By the next day my pig experts felt confident enough with the swine's good behavior to put Mama Pig out into a corral area to root and eat green stuff, since she was too big to get out through or under the fence. Her youngsters stayed securely inside their enclosure.  The following day when I accompanied my husband to the farm to feed them, we found  them all in the corral, the heavy-wire mesh barricade that confined the young pigs rooted and pushed open at one corner. When they saw Howard approaching with the feed bucket, they scooted under the fence and were out!

Howard surmised the sow, good mother that she is, had worked her rooter-snout into the slit of space between the gate and the gatepost, wedged it open, and freed her babies.  When my harried husband tried to lure them back in with feed, the wily pigs ate the trail of food up to the opening, then shot away to freedom. Howard even tried grabbing them to deposit them over the fence, but it was like trying to catch a greased--well, pig!

After much hassle, mother and babies were back inside, and Howard's repair work was holding securely when we checked on them today.  They eat way more than the former owner said they eat (and being that the stress gene is not absent in humans), I think the hog farmers are beginning to second-guess their decision. At least I hope that's why my spouse is looking on craigslist today, listing them for sale instead of being tempted and ending up with a pig in a poke!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Biscuit Tidbits

Cutting out (semi)homemade biscuits this morning, I started to place them on the baking sheet, leaving spaces between. Then I remembered instructions I had read once for frozen biscuits: "Place with sides touching to rise higher." That struck a chord with me in regard to our everyday lives. We can rise to higher goals if we have the support and encouragement of others.  Standing shoulder to shoulder, so to speak, like the biscuits.

Singing a hymn in church by oneself is not as inspirational as hearing the blended voices of the whole congregation raised in praise and worship.  "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel," Psalm 22:3.  I believe it means the praises of the church, as well.

The Holy Spirit was given when Jesus' followers were in one accord. Acts 2:1 says, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place."  This unity was the springboard of the church.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they went on to do great things as recorded in the New Testament.

In Jesus' high priestly prayer for the disciples in John, verses 20-21 read, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they may also be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."

While my biscuits were not one, they were one unit: a pan of biscuits.  They were not all alike.  Some were bumpy on the surface, some were not perfectly round, especially the one I put together from the left-over scraps of dough.  Some were even a little more brown, depending on where they were placed in the pan.  But by leaning on each other, they all rose high in the oven.

All Christians are not alike.  Some still  have their rough edges, some are a hodge-podge mixture from different teachings they have received.  Some are more mature than others according to their life experiences.  But Jesus prayed for us to be one in Him, as a witness to the world.

In Galatians 6:10, Paul refers to us as "the household of faith," or those professing the same religion. A household is a family, and families that stick together in love and support, both natural and spiritual, are more apt to achieve the heights God has planned for them.  And they are more appealing, too, like the biscuits!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blast from the Past

"Do you like Chinese, or do you want to go somewhere else?" our son Greg asked as we were trying to decide where to eat lunch.  I said it didn't matter, so as we came upon a Chinese restaurant, he said, "Okay, let's eat here.  I'm hungry!"

It was an unassuming little place, tucked in between two other businesses in a strip mall.  But when we got inside, it was pure oriental!  With the  black, lacquered tables, authentic red Chinese lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and the blue-black hair of the courteous wait-staff, I could almost hear the tinkle of Chinese music and imagine I was in the Far East.

Not having an adventurous palate, I wasn't sure what to order, but orange chicken was good. "You've got to try the pot-stickers!" Greg  insisted.  "And you will love the egg-drop soup."  Well, one must have to have an acquired taste for those items, but I was happy to see he enjoyed them.

The check came with traditional fortune cookies, and just for fun I opened them. Mine was  rather meaningless, but when Howard asked me to read his, it caused me to exclaim knowingly, "Listen to this!  It says, 'You are going to unexpectedly meet someone from the past in a few days,' and I think I know who it is!"  I didn't know if he caught on, but it made me think of something that transpired in Sunday school last week.

The subject was answered prayer, and Howard told the story of what he called the most dramatic answer to prayer he'd ever seen.  When we were teenagers, our church youth leader, a woman in her mid-thirties, had been married many years but had never had children.  She went up for prayer one Sunday, saying she had recently been to the doctor who said she could never have a child.

The pastor and several of the church members gathered around her and prayed for her.  Less than a month later, shedding joyful tears, our friend announced she was expecting!  We remembered the cute little girl born to the couple, their only child.  When we got married and moved away, the blonde toddler was two or three years old.

A couple of days after the Sunday school discussion, the phone rang.  It was an old friend from our former home who had attended the church with us back then.  She said she heard we were wondering about this lady and her little girl, whom I'll call Suzy. "Suzy owns the Dairy Queen!" she informed me. "She is there most of the time!"  I was taken aback, for we had often stopped at the Dairy Queen in our old hometown, possibly being waited on by this now middle-aged woman, the "miracle baby" of the past!

We were told Suzy attended church there with her mother until her own marriage, and our youth leader of former days was a faithful member until her death several years ago.  Our meeting should prove interesting, as we indeed encounter someone from the past who is living proof of answered prayer!  Something no fortune cookie could have predicted!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

To God Be the Glory

"We just don't see the glory of God as much as we used to," Howard remarked at the breakfast table, mentioning great revivals such as the Brownsville revival and Azusa Street.

I knew what he meant, but I couldn't resist saying, "But didn't you see the glory of God on that little girl's face in Kids' Church last night?"  She was a first time visitor of about 4 years old, actually too young for the group we teach on Wednesday night. The pastor's wife mentioned when she brought her upstairs that she might want to go back to her mother at some point.

Although seemingly a little shy, the child sat stoically,  attentive of the proceedings.  She watched with interest as the other youngsters jostled and teased their seat mates, but surprisingly, she joined willingly into the activities.  They were to write a "newspaper headline" and a few sentences about the birth of Jesus, which we had been studying.  I happened to glance at her paper and saw a line of very uniform characters, unrecognizable as letters, but she was writing her story.

A little later when the children read their stories aloud, some even presenting it as evening television news, she raised her hand and said she wanted to give her story.  I was surprised at her imagination and enthusiasm!  Her face lit up, as in her clear, piping voice she told a wandering tale of Jesus being born in a snow storm and how it rained and thundered, and other details I couldn't quite catch.  A little inaccurate, maybe, but still, her innocence and earnestness were so sweet and appealing.  No wonder Jesus loves the little children!

"And didn't you see the glory of God in the soloist's song Sunday?" I further commented to my husband.  It was a glorious Easter song, sang with such power and intensity one couldn't help feeling the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Maybe it's my age, but I am easily moved by the most ordinary of miracles:  A new baby grandson with all his wonders and potential. A small, dry seed we have planted in the garden that could become a thriving plant bearing fruit for food and seeds to reproduce itself over and over.

"Look at that sunset!" I exclaimed as we drove out of the church parking lot after service.  It was stupendous!  The huge, red orb that was the sun hung just above the horizon, transforming the clouds into a surrealistic bright-orange skyscape, layer upon layer of billows, indescribable with words,  heralding the heavy rains that would be forthcoming.  I sat amazed at God's glory in his handiwork!

Yes, we want to see the manifestation of God's glory in a supernatural way upon God's people, but if we but open our eyes, we would see His glory all around us!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ascension Day!

Looking back over the Easter week-end, I love seeing so many special Easter pictures online of family and friends.  Just when I was wondering if there would be any of our youngest grandchildren,  my heart was gladdened to see the baby looking adorable, the girls gorgeous, and the family shot of all of them so handsome!

We had a beautiful Easter service at church  (which looked fresh and attractive due to the creative efforts of our pastor and pastor's wife).  Chatting before service, Howard and I were remarking to the friend in the pew in front of us about her bright little six-year-old son. I was reminded of the movie we had seen on Saturday.

"We saw Heaven is for Real yesterday," I said to her.  "The little boy in that was very smart."  We talked about the story for awhile, then she whispered something to me.  "What?" I asked.

"I had a little cousin who had a near-death experience once," she related.  "He was injured in an accident, hitting his head, causing a bad concussion with unconsciousness."

I asked her more about it, and she said, "When he came to, he told his mother, 'I saw Jesus! There was a door that was open, but he told me I couldn't go through it. He said I had to go back home because it wasn't time for me yet.'"  He was four years  old!

"This was not a family that went to church, but after that, they all became church-goers, living for the Lord," she finished.

For the first time in years, I did not do any Easter decorating as pertains to the commercial aspect of the holiday.  No dyed eggs, Easter baskets, jelly bird-eggs, or chocolate bunnies were in the house.  I used to make Easter baskets for our children, even sending some to their college rooms. Now I leave those traditions to them, as parents.

My daughter, whose kids are getting older in teen years, mentioned to me over the phone that she gave them the choice of getting Easter baskets or new Easter outfits, with candy being put in a big bowl for the house.  They chose the new clothes, and had a great time shopping and decking out for church.

"Then later," Amy said, "Corrin came to me and said, 'Next year, do you think we could get legit Easter baskets?'"  I had to laugh, since she is almost a senior in high school, but it is hard to let go of childhood traditions.

One tradition I kept was making Easter dinner.  When I found out our son's family would be out of town for Easter, I considered just going out to eat.  Then it was decided that the older grandchildren (who don't live at home anymore) would not be going with their parents, so I invited them over to eat with us.  It gave me a reason to make the dinner special with deviled eggs on a platter, ham and all the trimmings, and homemade strawberry short-cake for dessert.  I even put some of our beautiful purple irses in vases for a seasonal touch.

Granddaughter brought her boyfriend, and I invited their other grandmother, too, so we had a festive holiday meal, good conversation and happy fellowship in commemoration of our Lord's beautiful Ressurection Day!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Sweet-smelling Savor

Lilacs!  I hadn't noticed these for years, having lived for half a lifetime in the south where they are not common.  But lately I have seen several bushes of the fragrant, lavender clusters. I did have a friend in Mississippi who had a bush that she called lilacs (she pronounced them "lilocks").  Perhaps she had transplanted it from her native Kansas, or maybe it was the drooping, purple clusters of wisteria, a vine which we had in our yard, as well.

I read that lilacs are members of the olive family. We had a couple of sweet olive shrubs growing beside our house when we lived in Mississippi.  I remember sitting in the yard one day when we first moved there and catching a hint of an undefinable fragrance wafted on the breeze.  It was indescribably sweet and pleasant, but I could not detect its source. After a few seasons, I identified the  heavenly perfume as coming from some tiny white flowers on a gangly, woody bush growing among the azaleas. I learned it was sweet olive. If the scent of the lilacs I see around town is as intoxicating, they must be related!

Today as I waited in the car while my husband bought gasoline for our lawn mower, I noticed a couple crossing the street from the neighborhood grocery to the service station.  I thought they seemed animated in their conversation, but as they got closer and their hand gestures were more pronounced and frequent, I realized they were deaf and using sign language!  They seemed pleasant and in a good mood, obviously enjoying one another's company.

I was reminded of that a little later when I turned on the computer and saw a Facebook post of a friend who had attended a talent competition for the handicapped.  It was called "The Unstoppables," an organization designed to inspire confidence in and help young women achieve their dreams and use their talents despite their physical limitations.  One could see in the countenance of the contest winner, a soloist, the shy pride she felt in her new-found self-esteem.

Whether this is a Christian organization or not, I don't know, but I think the principles found in the Bible apply.  II Corinthians 2: 14 says, "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. (15) For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish."

We are to be winners in Christ, and to give off the sweet-smelling savour of Him!  What better way than to help the disadvantaged  realize their own sweet-smelling savour!  Even as the unlikely-looking olive shrub was the source of the heady fragrance in my yard, we never know what is in people that is just waiting to be discovered!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


With temperatures in the 80s last week, snow yesterday and a hard freeze last night, it's no wonder I feel mixed up!  I want to write a blog, but my thoughts are a muddle.  To start with, we had a busy few days getting ready for the visit of our son Mark and daughter-in-law Rhonda.  We loved having them, and our dinner of roast-beef po-boys that I made turned out well, enjoyed also by our son Greg and his family.

After supper, they wanted to see Greg's  place in the country, ending with a twilight stroll across the pasture to their 5-acre "pond" (lake).  Next day, after a breakfast of homemade waffles with strawberries, Rhonda and I set out for a girls' morning while Mark and his dad went to do a carpentry project with Greg.  She is such fun to shop with, especially since she insisted on my trying on several items and buying me a cute shirt!

"Do you want to borrow my comb?" she asked from the dressing room where she was trying on clothes after I despaired over my messed-up do.  She handed me a purse-size hair spray, too. Wow!  I had never seen a comb like that!  A curved, flexible, comb with a  triple-row of teeth that she had gotten from her hair dresser, it made my hair do wonderful things.  She said it was a teasing comb, and we wasted no time in going to the beauty supply house to get one for me.

Meeting up with our guys, we had lunch at a country diner, joined unexpectedly by my granddaughter Allison and her boyfriend.  Mark and Rhonda went to their hotel for a rest before we all reconvened on Greg's deck for his 9-year-old daughter's birthday party. Rhonda had missed her son, Chase's birthday a couple of days prior, but he would be there that evening for the cook-out, along with his brother Grant and Grant's bride, Jessica.  Just a couple of days before, we had celebrated grandson Adam's 20th birthday there.

We met Mark's family at their hotel for breakfast the next morning, then since they were heading off to Wichita to see Rhonda's family, we decided to drive to Wichita for my sister's 85th birthday! What a great time we had seeing her and family members we hadn't seen for a long time. One niece is a genealogy expert who kept us enthralled with her knowledge of family history gathered over 30 years of research!

Sunday was upon us by morning, and putting on a chicken to roast while we were at church, I decided to ask Greg's family over for lunch.  There's nothing like family to make a Sunday dinner special, and it was!  An afternoon of relaxing was just what I needed to rest up from and reflect on the past few days.  They were amazing!

Monday, April 14, 2014

What's in a Name?

Recently I came across a book on baby names, and while I didn't pore over it with the intensity of bygone days (when I needed it), it did make for interesting browsing.  Familiar names often had obscure and surprising meanings and origins.

I got to thinking about my mother's rather formidable task of naming my ten brothers and sisters and me.  I'm sure she didn't have access to books with thousands of names, but her selections reflected, however unconsciously, lofty ambitions and ideals, and even a slight predictability of what her offspring would be like.

Take the boys, for instance.  (There were seven of them.)  The first, Duane's eagerly awaited and much anticipated birth after three girls was heralded wildly.  He was promptly labeled with several honorable names in the release of seven years' pent-up frustration of son-lessness.  First, he was named Samuel (asked of God).  Though she named him for my father, no doubt truer words were never uttered by our mother.

His second name was Austin, whether for friend, family, or place, I know not, but the meaning is "high or august, exalted."  Certainly appropriate for a first-born son.  Duane, the name by which he would be known throughout boyhood, was the one most indicative of his character.  It means "of a poem or song."  My best memories of our growing-up days were when he, thumbs hooked in jeans or overalls, recited long poems for school programs: Jest 'Fore Christmas, Casey at the Bat, or If. And he's never far from his guitar, strumming and picking ballads or Hank Williams and George Jones favorites.

My next brother, Earl, was also named after Daddy: Christopher.  His dark hair and coloring were the same, unlike the first son's blondness.  Christopher, of course, is self-explanatory.  And my brother Earl is is the very embodiment of gentle strength.  Beneath his rugged good looks is a strain of sweetness all too rare in men.  (Of course it wasn't so evident when we were younger and having our battles!)  We are next in age.  Earl is his middle name, meaning nobleman or chief, not too shabby an ambition for a second son!

Robert Charles is my brother Bob's name.  It sounds rather like a king of England, doesn't it? Robert means "shining fame."  I'm not so sure about the fame part (though I always thought he and my oldest brother should have gone into show business with their side-splitting comedy routines,) but "shining" he is.  A stickler for an immaculate appearance, you will never find Bobby looking less than dapper. (Nor his house, car or family, for that  matter.)  Charles means strong and manly, and though he inherited our grandfather's slight stature, he is sturdy and trim in mid-life.  A quiet chuckle often breaks his serious demeanor to reveal his keen wit and sense of humor.

James Edward is a name plucked from royalty if ever there was one.  Originally coming from Jacob, it means "founder of Israel."  No small achievement, that!  But he was just Jimmy to us, our determined and independent little brother.  These same traits are in the business-like Jim of today. Edward means "prosperous guardian," aptly describing someone with his industrious persistence. "Early to bed and early to rise," was written for Jimmy.  As children,we'd often find him in bed by 6:00 p.m., covers pulled up to his chin, even in the warmest weather.

Johnny, my second-youngest brother, carries the most used boy's name in the world.  It is found in almost every language in nearly a hundred forms. Small wonder, as it means, "God is gracious," a sentiment no doubt echoed by countless mothers as they view their newborn.  His middle name, Ray, is "the radiant, the king."  And Johnny radiates: smiles, charm, friendliness.  (Of course, he's a bit of a ham, too.  He grins out of almost every page of the family photo album, hamming it up for the camera.)

In the Bible, the mother of James and John asked Jesus if her sons could have places of honor in heaven.  Though I doubt my mother knew that "Jerry" means "exalted of the Lord," she nonetheless bestowed on her youngest son that name (unconsciously expressing an inborn desire?). At any rate, he was exalted around home, with all the coddling and cuddling of a youngest child. "Lloyd" means grey, nothing like the day he was born when I was almost nine: a puffy-cloud, blue-sky day of rain-soaked hills and valleys in the middle of the month of June.

We never knew if one small brother would have fulfilled the prophecies and hopes of his name. He died in childhood.  But we did know that Roy Wayne filled his own special place in our family. From the time he was a chubby toddler, he endeared himself to us all with his funny ways, dreamy blue eyes and little-boy clumsiness.  The name "Wayne" means wagon-maker.  But "Roy" is another word for royalty, for like all babies, he was once a king.

Our family did have its feminine side, with the first child being born a girl.  She had dark hair and dancing brown eyes.  A first grandchild as well, she was the darling of all the families and carried quite a responsibility in her role as eldest child to us who were to follow.  A good thing she was named Charlotte, a feminine counterpart of Charles, which means strong and manly.  Thus, Charlotte is "the strong and womanly."  She grew up to be both; her special position in the family giving her confidence, prestige, power and authority--the first two attributes helping her wield the other two.

My sister was known, however, by her middle name, Christine.  Surely her most Christian quality is her generosity of spirit.  Impulsive and rash she may be, but those traits are softened by a quickly penitent nature.  Somehow she always reminded me of Scarlett O'Hara.

Mama and Daddy's second child was also a daughter, christened Frances Pauline.  Did they know that Frances means free?  There is no better word to describe my sister.  Hers is truly a free spirit, refusing the molds and patterns set by someone else.  Independent even in childhood, she would form her own friendships, make her own games, rule her own mountains.  She would have to call upon these resources and hidden strengths often as the years passed.

Her middle name equally personifies her, though.  She shares with her famous namesake, Paul, the zeal to establish churches and evangelize the world.  The word "Paul" may may mean "little," but her dreams and aspirations are not.

My third sister's name is especially apt.  None of us ever liked to get Lorene mad at us.  (Her name means "famous warrior" and we learned to lay low when she was on the warpath), or "laurel," meaning "victorious," which meant she'd probably win.  Her middle name, Laverne, means profit or gain.  (She drives the hardest bargain you ever saw.)  She is like the virtuous, thrifty wife spoken of in Proverbs 31 who sews, brings food from afar, knows value when she sees it and is praised by her husband.  Needless to say, she is the envy of all her sisters.

The last name I'm going to write about is mine: Thelma June.  Though long detested by  me, I have finally come to terms with it. I think.  I found out it is Greek, which seems to impart a certain dignity.  And I always held a mental picture of a romantic-looking photograph Mama had at home of her sister, my Aunt Thelma, on her wedding day.  She was truly a beautiful bride.

But the name's most saving grace for me, especially now, is that it means youthful or young.  And I have enjoyed comments of friends and acquaintances throughout my adult life  that I don't look my age. (Of course my sisters get the same compliments--a family blessing.)  But I can't figure out how the meaning of my middle name, "June," applies to me: really, nursling?  Oh well, at least it's Greek! For all of us, Thank you, Mama and Daddy!  --Written in 1980.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


We are to have a family reunion in June, but I feel as if I'm already there!  Family members have been posting old photographs and pictures on Facebook, some of which I've never seen and others that bring back such nostalgic memories!

A niece who does extensive genealogy searches has shared documents she has unearthed of our family's history!  I even found my name on a 1940 census!  I was less than one year old, but there I was along with my older siblings of ages 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11!

She has found a connecting thread to my paternal grandfather, who disappeared when my father was a young child.  The names under a formal photograph of a couple identified as Daddy's aunt and uncle swirled and surfaced in my murky memory as I remembered him mentioning "Aunt Sarah and Uncle Hardie." It was their 1880 wedding portrait, in which they were stiffly posed in their finery, fashionable dress of the day.

There was another picture, this one of my maternal grandfather as a young man.  If I ever saw it I don't remember it, although it does look vaguely familiar.  I just remembered him (on the one occasion I saw him) as old and ill, looking nothing like the handsome, dapper figure in suit and tie looking quite contemporary in the 1880s.  I could see my mother in him.

There was the imposing brick building identified as the school my older sisters had attended.  We younger kids went to the newer school by the same name built later.  My brother remembered it in a post by saying that's where he told the tall tale in front of the class of the elaborate presents he got for Christmas.  We were very poor.

Old pictures of our youth made me long for the days when I looked so "awful."  Funny how pictures can put things like that in perspective!  What I wouldn't give to be slender, fresh-faced and crowned with thick, luxuriant tresses again!  The dashing, romantic pictures of my oldest brother in his Air Force uniform revived the feelings of family excitement when he came home on leave.  It was like John Boy Walton come home from the war!

Records of our scattered family history may be scarce, but they make me think of the Bible and how the Jews were so careful in recording their genealogies. Generation after generation was painstakingly written down. God chose this people with their fastidious attention to detail for His special purpose of bringing us the Bible and the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. Through Him we will have the opportunity to see our loved ones in Heaven someday when everyone is young and beautiful again.  Now that will be a real family reunion!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Promises to Keep

"It's bubbling, it's bubbling, it's bubbling in my soul," my husband sang as he played the guitar and led the children in the spirited song, his favorite.  We, along with our son, were doing our first night of kids' church, and we were in for a delightful evening.

"I wish we had some bubbles to go with that song," I remarked, to which one child said, "I'll get some!" rushing out and returning a few minutes later with bottles of bubbles from her Sunday School classroom.  We let them take turns blowing bubbles while the others sang.  Later, winding up the evening, they participated even more enthusiastically, singing, dancing and blowing bubbles. Church was never like this!

I loved  working with the children!  Their fresh faces, originality, and enthusiasm were irresistible. Our lesson was on God keeping His promises, with the story of the priest, Zacharias, and the announcement of the angel Gabriel to him that he would have a son to be named John.

As an activity to reinforce the lesson, the kids were given twisty-sticks, a plastic pipe-cleaner like material to sculpt into angel shapes of their own.  The results were impressive!  The angel one boy made definitely looked as if it could have been Gabriel, with its almost body-builder shape.  Most of the others looked like the typical image with a skirt-like silhouette, but his stood on two strong legs.

"Would you be scared if you saw an angel?" I asked, as per the lesson suggestion.  When one child said an emphatic yes, I asked why, and she replied with up-thrust arms and palms, "Because it's an angel!" Duh!

They had great fun acting out the scene of Zacharias in the temple room (constructed by the kids moving chairs into a square enclosure) where he burned incense (with a yellow crayon).  "Zacharias," a 7-year-old boy, had his lips zipped by the 8-year-old "angel," when he questioned the promise of a son's birth.  Then he blurted the name, "JOHN," getting his speech back when it was time to name the baby.

The children were given time to talk about topics such as school, friends, and feelings chosen from a twisty-puzzle with several categories. One little girl talked about school,  saying she was sad about missing recess to do make-up work, but she was happy she got caught up!  Remarks like these give me insight into their world, learning myself as I teach these angels!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Has Sprung!

Well, Texas may have its bluebonnets, but in Oklahoma we have henbit!  Fields, lawns and roadsides are covered with a beautiful, lavender blanket, spreading like spilled Easter-egg dye over all. For a weed, it is very attractive and well tolerated. Its seasonal color fits right in with the jonquils and the brilliant yellow of the forsythia bursting forth around town.

The splash of color from the humble henbit is especially welcome on days like yesterday, when the skies were the color of slate and the wind blew cold and biting.  This morning was warmer with the soft breezes of spring, and the sun that broke through heavy clouds is now beating down in earnest. We have been waiting for it to get warm enough to eat on the porch, and now it is too hot!

My little granddaughters in Texas regularly have their pictures taken in a field of bluebonnets, especially lovely as a background for their pastel dresses and the windblown tresses of blonde Anne-Marie, and Maddie, holding back a veil of red curls.

The Texas misses, 5 and 7, keep us enthralled with their cute sayings, especially the youngest one. She is bursting with information and misinformation at this stage, keeping her parents on their toes for explanations and clarifications.  Her mind was on orphans the other day, and Maddie told her father, "If me and Anne-Marie were orphans, we wouldn't remember you and mom."

Recently she heard of a church her dad had visited, and she questioned, "Is that in Jamaica?" then asked her mom, "Is Jamaica a place?"  When told that it is, she demanded, "Then why didn't you tell me?"

My son reported that recently Maddie asked when she could meet George Washington.  "In Heaven," He replied, to which she questioned, "Why?"  He told her because George Washington is dead. "Then can I have his autograph?" she persisted.

Spring is bursting out all over with new life all around us. Bunnies are hopping, chicks are hatching, bluebonnets are blowing and henbit is growing.  And so are the children, keeping springtime alive in the hearts of their Mimi and Pa Pa!