Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Littlest Angel

"Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers," Proverbs 17:3 (KJV). Some versions say they are a crown of the aged, so that would include women, too. Baby Isaac, the youngest child of our youngest child, is certainly a crown, or reward to us as grandparents!

His hair is growing and sticks up in a cute, little-boy way. I was smoothing it down and admiring his perfect blonde head the other day, and I remarked, "He has a double crown! That must mean he's a little prince!" only half kidding, because he is our little prince!

David expresses his wonder at the value of man in God's sight in Psalm 8. Verse 5(b) says He has crowned him with glory and honor. Man is made in God's image, and is the masterpiece of his creation. In beholding the heavens with its wonders, David asks in verse 4, "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" Yet a little later, he acknowledges that God gave man dominion over animals, birds and fish, "...over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet," verse 6.

God values little children. It is in Psalm 8:2 we find the words, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength..." He also values their childlike faith and trust. In Luke 18:16, Mark 10:14, and Matthew 19:14 we find Jesus saying to let the little children come to Him, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. The scripture says he took them up in his arms and blessed them.

Psalm 128:4 promises, "Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. (6)Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children..." It is always a blessing to see our grandchildren, but especially this week. We were present for Isaac's dedication ceremony at their church when his parents dedicated him to the Lord. He was very good and did not cry, only looking quizzically at those who came up to join in prayer over him. The pictures show Isaac kept his eyes open. (After all, Jesus prayed with his eyes open, looking up to heaven!)

All the family were invited to stand along with the parents in support of their vow to bring Isaac up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I am confident that the 8-month-old boy in the blue shirt, tie, vest and pin-striped pants with no shoes over his black dress socks will not be a stranger in the courts of the Lord. I think he is already crowned with the knowledge that Jesus loves the little children!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


"Maddie, do people ever tell you how pretty you are?" I asked my little granddaughter as I admired the smiling 5-year-old at breakfast at their house, to which she answered, "Well, they always say something about my hair." And no wonder. It's her crowning glory, if I do say so myself.

"Do you know where that red hair came from?" I asked her. She shook her head, and I told her that my mother had red hair, and that she got it from her, her daddy's grandmother.

"Where is your mama?" she wanted to know. I told her Mama was in heaven, but I would show her a picture of her on my iPad. Maddie had also asked about my dad, so I pulled up a picture of them together. "He looks like Uncle Mark," the perceptive little miss said. It was true. Our oldest son that she had gotten to know only recently does look like my father.

Then Maddie noticed that my mother's hair was red. "It looks like Cessy's," she said, remembering their au pair they'd had for a year with the same color hair.

"That's where you get it!" I said, exiting the screen, "From your great-grandmother!"

Mama had eleven children, but none of us had red hair! However, at family reunions, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are sprinkled like red pepper throughout the crowd. One of our six children has red hair, and he has a carrot-top son of his own, but Maddie is our only other red-haired grandchild.

On a vacation our son's family took to France a couple of years ago, Maddie attracted much attention. Total strangers, especially people from India or other Asians, would take her picture or want to touch her hair. It was a little unsettling for her parents, especially when someone would "accidentally" stand near the 3-year-old and have their picture taken.

I have read that red-heads make up only 2-4 percent of the world's population, and Scotland has the largest concentration, percentage-wise. I had always heard and said that my mother was Irish, what with her fair complexion, red hair and freckles. But a recent genealogy search by a family member has revealed that she was of Scottish descent!

I love teaching my grandchildren about their heritage. Nowadays, genealogy searches are all the rage. It is especially rewarding if one finds honor or royalty among their ancestors, but when a search reveals a scoundrel in the bloodline, not so much. What is most important is that we teach our children about their heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus, who shed His pure and perfect blood that we might inherit the Kingdom of God!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Deep in the Heart of Texas!

"Let's stop at some of the antique shops!" I suggested to my husband as we passed through a picturesque, historic small town on the way to our son's house in Houston. We were ahead of schedule with a couple of hours to spare, and this seemed like a good way to pass one of them. The western-flavored atmosphere of rustic enterprises beckoned us, even though on closer inspection we found many were closed or out of business.

"This one looks open," I said, as I tried the door of one establishment and we went inside. "Hell-o," I called when I didn't see anyone. Just then a woman stuck her head out of an interior doorway and unlatched a small gate that she came through. "Are you open?" I asked, and she said they were. I could see into the area she had come from, which was decorated with antiques, wall hangings and other relics of the old west and times past.

"Can we go in there?" I asked, but she said that was her home. She told us it used to be a part of the store, but when business dwindled they had had to move into the store building.

"I used to have a bed and breakfast here," the proprietor said. I could see she had an eye for decorating, but there was nothing I had to have in the small, crowded store front. I did admire a metal, spiral staircase leading to nowhere in the corner of the room. "We just got that," she explained, "I just use it as part of the decor." Flowers wound through the stair spindles and beads dripped from the railings.

Howard seemed to have a fascinating conversation with the lady as I browsed. They were soon discussing different places of the country where they had lived, and of course, the talk eventually included the goodness of God and his oversight in our lives.

One never knows what lies beyond the next door. The next shop was neat and lavishly furnished and supplied with vintage glassware, antiques, and objects d'art. While I was giving it a cursory once over, I heard my husband complimenting the proprietor on her tastefully decorated business. With that, she told him she was not really an antiques dealer, but an artist. An artist who carved gourds. She took us to a display cabinet with what I thought was Indian pottery inside, but when she removed some of the pots to show us, I could see they were beautifully carved vases, bowls and containers of brilliant colors.

"I also do pressed flower art," the thin, grey-haired lady said, pointing to framed pictures under glass on the wall. "See," she said of a fairy subject, "her wings are made of lettuce leaves!" It is amazing how many art forms there are and the way people use their talents!

We stopped at an attractive, rustic place next door with a huge, painted sign heralding "Kolaches." There were kolaches, a Czech pastry that is a Texas tradition, but I was amazed when I saw an adjoining room. It was a fairy land of gauzy netting, a gazebo outlined in white lights, glass-topped tea tables and dozens of small, white, slip-covered dining chairs arranged around the huge space. When I exited, I noticed a carrousel horse on a post with a sign on his neck announcing, "Kolache Christmas Tea." Evidently, it was a thriving business, though it was open only Thursday-Sunday.

Other than sample tastes of the delicious kolaches, the only thing we took away from our excursion was a taste for Texas! We plan to stop on our way home and explore the other side of the street!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grand(s) Time!

"Mimi, do you want me to read you a book?" Maddie asked me after she had knocked, peering around our bedroom door this morning. I had read her a book last evening, which the five-year-old, paying rapt attention, thoroughly enjoyed. She "read" her memorized picture book to me with great gusto, and maybe even recognized some of the words. She had told me she is going to learn to read when she starts kindergarten this year.

Visiting at their house in Houston, we stopped at a Barnes and Noble bookstore on an outing with our grandchildren today. Maddie promptly picked out a book, "The First Day of Kindergarten," for me to read to her.

After I read a couple more books to her, during which she warmly confided, "I like it when you read to me," I suggested we walk around a bit. She was reluctant to leave the children's section, however, so I hovered nearby as I browsed. When I went to retrieve her so we could join the others, I found my friendly granddaughter listening intently and hanging on every word of a woman who was reading a story to her child!

I'm so glad she loves books. Yesterday when the subject of school's starting came up, her big sister, who will be in second grade, moaned that she was not looking forward to the dreaded subtraction. Maddie said, "I like school! I want to be ed-u-cated!" I had to laugh at her sophistication and big words. When I told her parents what she said, they burst out laughing, too.

"What does 'educated' mean, Maddie?" I asked, to which she promptly replied, "Learning!" Well, she is certainly doing that! And so is her big sister. Last night Anne-Marie asked me if I wanted her to put a picture on my iPhone "lock-screen." I selected one of the baby, and she had it on in nothing flat, then putting it on my "home screen" as well, with a few deft taps of her seven-year-old fingers.

Baby brother Isaac is busy learning constantly, too, from figuring out how to reach a toy as he practices his new-found crawling skills, to programming his computer mind with the varied tastes of things he puts in his mouth, which is everything. He is also intrigued with the sounds he can make by rapping a plastic cup on the table edge, or the satisfaction he gets out of crushing a paper cup and hearing it crackle. Awhile ago he was found, puppy-like, with his sister's small purse dangling from his clenched teeth, all four of them!

This morning I suffered a blow to my self-esteem when outspoken Maddie told me I was old. "No, I'm young! Pa Pa told me!" I said in mock-protest. She informed me she was young and I was not. At any rate, hopefully, I'm not too old to learn! Or even teach them something, however irrelevant it may seem to them in their digital, electronic world!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Worth a Thousand Words

My niece is looking for a picture of her mom. My sister passed away several years ago, and apparently, like the rest of us siblings, there were not many pictures of her early years. But Darla has heard of a particular photograph, one I remember well, of my sister at age 2 or so, sitting with our older sisters, probably 4 and 6. It was a precious studio portrait, with the smiling little misses dressed in matching outfits and sailor hats. My oldest sister remembers the dresses. She said she wore a pink one, the middle sister wore a blue one, and the baby sister's was white.

We can't imagine what happened to the picture, although I had not seen it in many years. I remember it among the family pictures Mama kept in a box that I would go through sometimes when visiting home. I wasn't able to there when my mother's things were dispersed when she passed away, but I did receive a packet of pictures of my own family and the children that I had given to her as they were growing up.

My niece has sent messages to all the family via internet to see if anyone might have the picture. Since her search has been futile so far, I suggested that she try Mama's family, or what is left of them. One brother, my favorite uncle, used to visit us with his family when I was little and would often take pictures of us. Unfortunately, all of Mama's siblings have passed away, too, but I gave Darla the name of a cousin, Uncle Robert's son. She found him on the internet and called this 2nd cousin she had never met, but although he was very kind and would have helped, he had no pictures of any of our family.

It would be a miracle if the lost picture is located, but if it exists, my sister's daughter is determined to find it. She has a bit of her mother in her.

We have no pictures of Jesus. Cameras hadn't been invented then, although I'm sure there were artists who painted pictures, but there are no known likenesses of our Lord. The only description we have of Him was the prophetic one of Isaiah 53:2, which says, "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him."

This may have been a foresight of his disfigurement on the cross, but at any rate we have the idea that he was an ordinary-looking person of his day. Of his early years, we are told in Luke 2:52, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."

I used to have a picture called, "Jesus Laughing." It was an artist's rendition of how he saw Jesus. It probably was not too far off, because Jesus surely had an attractive, even magnetic, personality. He kidded his disciples, calling James and John "the sons of thunder." Many of his comments were wry and tongue-in-cheek, often witty and and always wise.

Some religions and beliefs have held it is wrong to take pictures, based on Exodus 20:4, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image," which is actually referring to an object of worship.

I love pictures of loved ones. Now I even get to see them real time on Skype or FaceTime. I no longer have to wonder how baby Isaac is growing and changing. I can see for myself! I hope Darla finds her picture, but whether she does or not, the memories she holds of her mother will never leave her heart.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Good as New

"Look at my shoe!" I exclaimed to my husband. I had come upon the still-practically-new shoes in my closet and put them on, only to discover that the thin heel cap was gone from one of them! Maybe that was why I had quit wearing them!

"Don't worry, I can take it to the shoe shop," Howard told me. We dropped the shoe off yesterday, and while there, I saw a man get out of his pick-up truck carrying a single cowboy boot. It was well-worn, crumpled and caked with mud. I couldn't believe he would take such a dirty boot and plop it on the counter, but he did, and the repair man did not seem at all fazed.

When we picked up my shoe today, Howard saw a friend there with a suitcase. "Are you getting ready to take a trip?" Howard asked him, to which he replied, "No, I'm just having this suitcase sewed up."

Thinking about this later, I reflected on how it reminded me of the salvation experience. Even though some may have lived good lives and look perfect on the outside, like my shoe, there may be some hidden flaw or sin. Everyone needs the Lord. We all need to go to the altar of repentance, or to the "Repair Man." He receives dirty, old sinners just as the shoe repairman received the dirty, old boot. God is no respecter of persons.

The suitcase the man was carrying had a tear in it, or a ripped seam. He obviously didn't want the contents to spill out while in use. On a recent trip, I discovered I had worn a hole in the end my duffel bag by hurriedly pulling it incorrectly against the concrete instead of resting it on the wheels. I had to insert a make-shift cardboard liner to keep from losing something.

Jesus told the woman at the well that he could give her living water so that she would never thirst again. "But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life," John 4:14.

In John 7:38-39 Jesus says, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (39) (But this he spoke of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"

I have heard it taught that when the Bible says, "Be filled with the Spirit...," Ephesians 5:18, it means to be "being filled," with the Spirit, a continuous process, necessary because we "leak." Verse 19 continues further, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord..."

Once at a Rodney Howard-Brown meeting, otherwise known as the "Laughing Revival," the congregation was invited to form a line for prayer. The line stretched around the large auditorium and down every hallway. When a minister laid his hand on my head and prayed, I found myself on the floor. After a few minutes, I felt a bubble in my tummy and a small "hmph" came from my mouth. It was followed by more bubbly sounds, then ha-ha-ha. Soon I was laughing hilariously. Everything was so delightful! It was as if a fountain of living water was flowing from my belly! I had had a re-filling!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


"You may disagree with this," the lady behind the microphone said, "but when I go to bed at night I pray, 'Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul You'll take.'" She was a soloist at the Jubilee Saturday night songfest, and she was giving a few words of testimony. "I know it's a child's prayer, but I'm a child of God, so I pray it!" she finished with a flourish of her hand.

Actually, David expressed something similar when he wrote in Psalm 4:8, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." And in Psalm 3:5, he says, "I laid me down and slept; I awaked, for the Lord sustained me."

When my daughter Amy was about three, she would say, "Now I 'Amy' down to sleep." One night she heard Trevor, her 7-year-old brother, say his prayers. He began, "Now I lay me down to sleep," and Amy interrupted, "No, it's not now I 'lay' me down to sleep, it's now I 'Trevor' down to sleep!'" She may have misunderstood, but she made sure God knew who was addressing Him!

I once read a story that famed preacher Rex Humbard told. He said a child had been injured in an accident, and the doctor was about to perform life-saving surgery. The mother cuddled her son, telling him that he was going to be put to sleep for the operation.

"But Mother," the little boy protested, "I always say my prayers before I go to sleep! Can't I pray now?" She told him to go ahead, but to hurry, because there wasn't much time.

He prayed the little prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep." He had just finished the phrase, "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take," when the doctor slipped the anesthesia mask on him.

"It was the last words he would utter on this earth," Rev. Humbard said. The mother's words were true. There wasn't much time.

David prayed many prayers for protection and safety in his lifetime, for he was often pursued by enemies. He gave God the credit for waking up in the morning, for his prayer said,"I awaked, for the Lord sustained me."

It is still God who sustains us and gives us our every breath. I think of the chorus we sing in church: I am blessed, I am blessed. Every day that I live I am blessed. When I wake up in the morning, and I lay my head to rest, I am blessed, I am blessed! We need to praise Him while there is still time.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Frugal but Flourishing!

"What is this? A garage sale on groceries?" I remarked as we pulled up to the supermarket. There were beautiful displays of tomatoes, okra, squash, corn and other vegetables piled in neat, cardboard trays in front of the store. We had stopped because I was out of potatoes, but we took some of the other nice veggies too. The sign said they were community grown, and the polite young man supervising the products said they were organic, and were there in an effort to get people to buy homegrown and healthier produce.

Well, the tomatoes certainly were delicious, and I'm sure the corn we bought is, too. We also bought a huge cantaloupe inside the store, and I can't wait to taste it. We had been sidetracked on an errand by garage sale signs, and we couldn't resist stopping at two. We restrained ourselves and Howard and I spent 75 cents and 25 cents respectively. It was worth it for the chance to visit other neighborhoods, one of which was filled with elegant, dignified stone homes in settings of spacious landscapes with huge, old trees bordering the lake.

I don't know if it's because it's the weekend, or the end of summer (school starts in two weeks), that is prompting sidewalk sales and the like. Yesterday in Stillwater our attention was grabbed by colorful goods in craft tents set up along the sidewalk. It was almost like a garage sale, with decorative odds and ends from the decor of an up-scale store offered for sale, as were items from a bath and body shop. I got pump dispensers of foaming hand soap in luscious scents at a savings of 75%, a new checkered lunch cloth for 25 cents, plus a damask-covered cushion in the same pattern of our big chair.

At the next store, assorted books were 90% off, yielding two kids' activity books and one hardback for 20 cents each! Our bargain lunch plan was thwarted, though, when we couldn't locate a coupon for a complimentary meal for two at Olive Garden that I could have sworn was in my purse. I had carried it for months, so it is probably in another purse I will have to search. Meanwhile, we enjoyed chicken sandwiches at Chick-fil-A.

It was so gratifying to see how busy the restaurant was! I am glad to see a wholesome, Christian business prosper. Our son has practically raised his kids on their chicken nuggets. Now 5 and 7, they have been going there since the 7-year-old was the only infant member of the men's Bible study meeting that her father attended there. She went along in her carrier until she graduated when she got old enough to run around and be disruptive.

Maddie, the 5-year-old, particularly likes to ask the blessing on food at the table, whether at a restaurant or at home. She was heard praying recently, "Thank you, God, for everything you have did and everything you have done, and everything you have did and done, and for sending Jesus to die on the cross, and for taking our sins, our hunger, our hungriness, our thirst, our thirstiness, our sickness and our pain." Priceless!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


"I like your pen," the young PA I saw at the doctor's office yesterday said to my husband. Taking the handsome, wood-look pen from the placket of his shirt, Howard said our son got it for him for Christmas. At the same time I said, "That's the wooden one made by a physician-friend of our daughter that she gave him."

Howard shook his head, said, "No," and the doctor chuckled. "I like the cross," he clarified, speaking of the gold clip that held it in place, which was all that had been visible. Hmm. He might be a Christian, I thought. Then when he said, "Be blessed," as we left, he confirmed it for me.

We had been so impressed by the courteous, thorough manner of the young professional, whose good looks reminded us of our 18-year-old grandson. The dark beard he sported was probably worn to make him look older, I suspected.

We had come to the urgent care facility because the parking lot of our own doctor was jammed with cars, indicating a long wait, and I was glad we did. My regular doctor would have probably ordered x-rays of my sinuses, which I didn't want!

"That was the mate to the pen you left in Cracker Barrel the other day," my spouse reminded me as we walked to the car. Oh! I had forgotten there were two! I wondered when I saw it where that one came from!

How well I remembered that day. My clerical husband had bought some cute little booklets from the office-supply store that had sayings like, "Things to Remember," or "Bright Ideas," and such written on the covers. I put one in my purse to jot down ideas for blogs when something occurred to me. That day I pulled it out to tally the number who had been at the family reunion we had just attended.

"Can I borrow your pen?" I had asked, not wanting to dig through my purse for the one I had purposely brought for that. Then when our order came, I laid the pen on a narrow ledge along the wall by our table and didn't think of it again until we were way down the road and he asked for it. I felt so bad (but not so bad that I didn't remind him of something similar he had done, though!).

Pens disappear, but not the love of the ones who gave them. Nor does the love of the One who gave His life on the cross. Something I am reminded of when I see the glint of gold on my husband's pocket.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sunshine on My Shoulder

The temperature was 59 degrees when we got up this morning, and a perfect 72 by the time of my doctor visit. The beautiful sunshiny, cool day was enough to make me feel better, let alone the medical diagnosis of merely having fluid in my ear. I had been feeling so bad and letting my imagination run away with scary scenarios.

Wow! Medicines are expensive! I cringed at the $104 tab for my nasal spray and Howard's prescription. Then the pharmacist told me they would be over $600 without insurance! Thank God for a big favor!

Walking into Walmart, I noticed a rack of pretty breakfast gowns (aka dusters) on clearance. $2.00! I bought two! Just what I had been needing instead of the current choices in my closet: a striped, Joseph's-coat-of-many-colors light-weight men's robe with a torn pocket, an over-size white cotton wrap-around, and a very dated fringed, orange caftan. Much better for morning cooking are these feminine loungers in pink plisse and waffle pique! (Even the name sounds like breakfast!) I like small favors, too!

Feeling celebratory, Howard and I treated ourselves to lunch at our favorite fifties diner. They had a protein plate he wanted, and I got their signature hamburger, the best in town! A phone chat on the way home with my daughter who was visiting in our Mississippi home town left me in a warm, nostalgic mood as she shared about seeing people we knew.

The phone rang when we came in the door. It was our Houston son confirming our plans to go there for their baby son Isaac's dedication in two weeks! When I said I couldn't wait to see Isaac, he asked, "Did you like the video I texted you?" to which I responded, "What video?" He said he had sent a video on my iPhone of Isaac in the bathtub. I couldn't wait to view it.

I wasn't successful in bringing it up, so my patient son walked me through it and showed me how to text on the new phone. The baby splashing in the tub was adorable, and I learned something new as well! Thank you, God, for the blessings of today!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beautiful Thought

"Listen to that bird!" I said to my husband as we were sitting on the front porch today.  "I think it's a cardinal," I concluded, because I had noted that sound and watched a crested red bird opening its beak as it warbled high in a tree once. The birdsong grew closer and closer, but we were unable to spot it from our vantage point.

Although I'm not an expert on our fine feathered friends, I do love to watch birds and tentatively identify them sometimes.  I think my fascination with the beautiful creatures began when I was about 10 years old, and our kindly neighbor gave us children a John J. Audubon book on birds in an effort to get my brothers to stop shooting them with BB guns.  They didn't pay much attention to the book, but I remember studying the pictures intently.

I think that's why I picked up a handsome coffee table book on birds of North America at an estate sale the other day. I find myself poring over it with the same enthusiasm I had as a child, and no wonder.  Birds are some of the most beautiful creatures in wildlife, gracing our lives with their colors, music, and effortless flight.

The other night at a Saturday Night Sing, my ears perked up when I heard a plaintive, haunting melody being strummed as a lady got up to sing.  The music struck a familiar chord somewhere deep in my subconscious, and I realized it was a song I used to hear my dad sing when I was a child, The Great Speckled Bird.  I never realized what the symbolism was, but I visualized it as the Bible, with its pages fluttering like wings, speckled with the words of scripture, flying up toward Heaven.

Tonight I looked up  the song on the internet, and found it had many verses, but only a couple that were familiar to me.  I also found out it  is supposed to represent the true church, and the believers being carried up to heaven on its wings.  It is based on Jeremiah 12:9, which says, "Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour."

Whether the application is accurate, I'm not sure.  The song was written many years ago and made popular by country artists like Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash and others.  But the imagery of a speckled bird as God's people being pursued by enemies is a strong one.  One verse says something about "I'm glad that my name is on her book."  That is the main thing.  That our name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, waiting for us when, like a bird, we will fly away.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

This Ole House

Estate Sale!  Our favorite shared pastime!  My husband and I drove to the site which was a few miles into the rolling, Osage countryside. It was quite an estate! Encircled by white pipe fences, the imposing, brick, country home sat on a considerable acreage. The mansion looked newly-built, although the owner, who had died recently, was most likely elderly.

We were impressed by the interior, richly appointed with glowing, golden oak features in woodwork, carved moulding, bookcases and cabinetry. The furnishings that were displayed for sale were equally impressive: heavy, solid dressers, chest of drawers and particularly, I remember, a massive sleigh bed, the headboard gracefully scrolled back like a sleigh.

There were entire rooms devoted to hobbies, crafts, and games.  The owner must have been a doll fancier, for there was a doll room, and beautiful dolls' clothes on miniature hangers filling a circular rack.  My husband was interested in the guitars in the hobby room, but the one he wanted was already sold.

In other rooms were huge, curved-glass curio cabinets and showcases of collections of various kinds.  One wall hanging was pinned with gold and lacquered award pins of achievement someone had earned.  I was glad to see a number of Christian books in their library.  We bought several for a little bit of nothing.

Although most valuable and valued belongings had probably been removed before the sale, there was still excess wherever we looked, and this was the second day, when prices were being reduced. It would surely take more than one estate sale to sell it all. How did anyone collect so many material things?  I suppose the wealthy travel and bring home mementos or have plenty of resources to indulge whims and interests.

I like pretty and attractive things, but sometimes after awhile I don't find them so attractive anymore, and I am looking for a place to store them.  It is only natural to enjoy beauty, I think because our eyes were made for the perfection and beauty of  heaven.  The Bible says that He has put eternity in our hearts.

Today we have a generation of hoarders, something largely unknown in less affluent times. In actuality, we are only collecting things that someone will have to dispose of when we are gone.  I try to bear this in mind as we are getting into our upper years.  The Bible says in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease."  Something I have to remember when I go to estate sales, for I have an eternal Estate in heaven, where the beauty is indescribable!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Good Day

"Jesus knows me, this I love," I read on the church sign we were passing.  I like that! I thought.  A new slant on the words of a song familiar to all, from child to adult!  I love the little surprises that each day holds. They stimulate and refresh my mind and my mood. I was so glad we got out of the house today.

My first surprise was waking up this morning to the sound of heavy rain.  It continued steadily for a couple of hours, during which I did laundry and routine tasks, then the sun came out.  "Let's go somewhere!" I said to my husband.  By that time we'd had lunch and he was feeling lethargic. He'd been at the gym earlier and was a little tired from the work-out.

We decided to drive the 20+ miles to Ark City, just over the Kansas/Oklahoma line.  There was a music store there that Howard likes to visit, and I wanted to browse around a new area. We parked on the main street of the small country town and walked down the sidewalk in the wonderful, unseasonably cool and pleasant weather to a clothing shop.

We have the same store at home, but it is in a plain, unattractive plaza.  Here, the picturesque old buildings towered over the street giving a feeling of the old-fashioned down towns we used to know. I felt positively buoyed as we walked into the store.  Seasonal sales were going on, and I rifled through the racks, but nothing suited.

"Are there more sales in the rest of the store?" I asked a customer, who told me there was more farther back.  I picked up a couple of tops that I liked, though they were still expensive, even on sale.  I was debating whether to get them, when I saw a stack of cute shirts for a fraction of that price!  But all the pretty ones were in tiny sizes.  Coming out of the dressing room, I noticed more on a rack I had not seen.  Several were in my size.  And they were cute!  I got them!  Finding a bargain. What a nice surprise!

I was happy to accompany my husband to the guitar store where he strummed on and tried out several instruments, thoroughly enjoying himself.  My phone sounded with a call from our son, Trevor, who was boarding a cruise ship with his family. I knew they were going, but it was a bright spot on my day that he had called!

On the way home, we stopped for gas, which was surprisingly cheaper than any we had seen, and Howard asked if I wanted a drink or snack.  I was in the mood for ice cream, and inside the convenience store I noticed a display freezer of novelty treats. Snicker candy bar ice cream?  I'd never had that before, but it was delicious!  Another new experience!

I made liver and onions with bacon for supper, something I hadn't made in years, and then a new recipe of broccoli salad.  Everything was delicious!  After supper Face Time showed up on my phone with my 8-month-old grandson, Isaac filling the screen.  Nothing could have pleased us more, and soon his big sisters' sweet faces appeared as well.  7-year-old Anne-Marie filled me in on the names of exotic-sounding animals she had learned at Vacation Bible School, and 5-year-old Maddie bounced around, telling me her bo-bo was better.  What a lovely day!                

Today I viewed a video of the miracle of a pre-born baby's development and his entry into life. What a wonderful God we have who has created us!  The mother of one of my friends has lived a long life and is nearing the end of her earthly journey.  She relates glimpses of her heavenly home with sights of loved ones, beautiful music and wonderful peace.  She is getting ready to enter the real life God has prepared for her, for which this life is only a preparation.  Thank You, God, for life! And thank You that Jesus loves me, this I know!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


My husband needed some office supplies, so yesterday we stopped at Hobby Lobby.  Not a very likely place to find them, I thought, but since he usually browses the calligraphy section, I figured he must know of them.  When he was looking in art supplies for colored pencils, I suggested we check out crafts.  We did find them and the colored paper clips he wanted, too.  (He likes to color-code his notes.)

I hadn't been in the store for some time, since my house is quite full of decorative items, but I couldn't resist the temptation to peruse the beautiful displays and novel articles. "Look, these are 50% off," I pointed out, noticing antique-looking clocks and art objects.  We were headed toward the front, when a 66% off sign caught my eye, but I really didn't need anything.  But when I saw a section with 90% off, I stopped short!

Into my cart went a beautiful, tall, rectangular green glass vase, regularly $39.95 that I bought for $4! I love the way it catches the light in my living room, and I even found tall stems to fit into the bottle-like opening!  Another attractive piece was a ceramic container in the shape of a bunch of grapes, complete with lid that I couldn't pass up for $1.80, usually $17.95, and a half-bowl style straw basket, marked $12.49, for which I paid $1.25.  It is cute hung against the wall holding natural-toned wicker balls and decorative, dried pieces.

Checking out, I glanced across the store and was shocked to see an entire section filled with Halloween decor!  It's only early July!  I had stopped a clerk earlier to ask about pencils and wondered why she was pushing a cart incongruously filled with pumpkins! How time flies!  But of course, fall will be here before we know it, and the stores like to get a head start.

Psalm 90:12 says, "Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."  In fact, this whole psalm of Moses speaks of the brevity of life and how we should find our purpose in it. "For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night," 90:4.  Verse 10 tells us the days of our years are threescore years and ten, or fourscore by reason of strength.

I like the positive tone of verses 14-17:  "O satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days," (14).  "Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children,"(16). "And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it," (17).

We all desire to leave some kind of permanent mark on the world (sometimes called the search for significance), but some things will only be realized in eternity, when all will be revealed.  Until then, we can serve the Lord and be glad!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Brother's Keeper

Visiting a different church this morning, we were approached in our pew by a greeter.  After his welcome and a bit of small talk, I asked his name.  When he told us, we asked if he were related to a Blackwell family by that name.  Turns out he was, and before I knew it, my husband, who knew practically everyone in his old hometown, was matching him with family members he had known.

When the greeter mentioned "Uncle Jack," Howard asked, "Jack, of Jack's Bicycle Shop?"  It was the same man, who had been disabled and rode around town on a modified, scooter platform of some sort.  "We used to take our bicycles to him!" he said.

"Once my older brother had something on his bike that needed to be repaired, and my mother told Jack to fix whatever was wrong with it," he reminisced. Then with a guffaw, he recalled, "And he did just that!  Fixing things we didn't even know needed fixing.  He even gave the bike a  new paint job!" It seems his mother was presented with an astronomical bill!

"Do you  remember 'Aunt Judy?' my husband asked the man, who looked thoughtful, but shook his head.  He'd been born in Tulsa and was of a younger generation.  "Everybody knew Aunt Judy," Howard went on.  "She would welcome all the little kids into her house, give us candy and hug and kiss us.  My friend took me there once."

Expanding on these memories at the Sunday dinner table, Howard brought up "Corn Cob Bill," another local character. "He did all the odd, dirty jobs around town," he explained.  "My dad would get him to dig the garden or clean the chicken pen."

He continued by saying that the eccentric figure wore multiple layers of clothing, winter or summer, and was reputed to carry a lot of cash.  Sure enough, once he was taken to the hospital where emergency workers had to peel off layers of clothes and found them stuffed with wrinkled and wadded currency.  I told Howard he should write a book.

Every town has its characters, usually sad souls who are highly visible as they walk the streets, but others seemingly having not a care in the world, just living their own lives in their own way.  When we lived near the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, we were involved in a beach ministry to the homeless and indigent who gathered there.  Many were highly intelligent people, even former professionals, who had dropped out of society for one reason or another.

They welcomed the love, food and worship services they found in the casual, accepting atmosphere. Howard describes it as one of the most rewarding times of his ministry there, second only to ministering to the victims of hurricane Katrina.  No one  turned us away as we visited the FEMA trailers, often perched on slabs of the owners' former homes, bringing food, supplies and always, prayer.  In many ways, we are to be our brother's keeper.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Stand Still and See

"Oh, look!  A baby bird!" I exclaimed as we stepped out of the car.  A plump, feathered blue jay was sitting on the grass directly in front of us with it's mouth gaping as if asking us for food.  We were late for church at the revival we were attending and found the parking lot full.  We'd had to park on the grass under spreading branches of a tree.  The little bird must have fallen from a nest above.  I hated to leave it, but we wanted to get inside to hear the popular evangelist.

My first impulse was to pick up the cute nestling, but images came into my mind of the time I found baby birds on the ground when I was six years old.  I picked them up and lined them up on the fence, when suddenly I felt the fury of the mother bird as she lit on my head and drilled it with her sharp beak.

Another time, more than 30 years later, I stood on a ladder to get a peek at the cheeping babies in a nest built in a tree overhanging our deck.  I had just managed to look, holding to a branch as I steadied the step-ladder I had placed on our deck, when I heard a maternal shriek and was almost knocked down by the swoop of the protective mother who must have been watching from afar.

Hoping this baby's mother was hovering nearby, we went on into the church.  I could only trust that she had shepherded it to safety, for it was gone when we came out.

The service had been amazing!  The fiery lady preacher was of the old school, having preached for some 40 years and peppering her sermon with incredible experiences and miracles from her years in ministry.  The congregation was like the baby birds, mouths agape in awe and wonder, and hearts open and hungry for these fresh words from God.

The sermon this evening had been titled, "The Battle is the Lord's," taken from David's encounter with the giant, when he said to the Philistine, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defiled," I Samuel 17:45.

Other biblical accounts were referenced, such as the battle of Jericho; and of the four lepers who famously said, "Why sit we here until we die," and approached the camp of the enemy who had held the city of Samaria hostage.  God caused the Syrian camp to supernaturally hear the sounds of horses and chariots, causing them to flee and  fulfilling Elisha's prophecy of the deliverance of the city  by God in II Kings 7.

What a relief to know the Lord will fight our battles if we turn them over to God!  I have turned over to God a situation that has affected us, and I know He will determine the outcome.  Like the mother bird defending her young, he will come to our aid in our distress, even gathering us under His wings as the mother hen shelters her brood.  We may be blown about by the storms of life, but according to Psalm 91, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chat Room

"Hi!" the woman I met pushing the grocery cart smiled broadly and waved her hand in a friendly gesture. I said hello back, but I had no idea who the elderly lady was.  Someone I'd met at church or somewhere, I reasoned.

"How do I know you?" I smiled and asked as she stopped her cart and seemed to want to chat.  She wasn't sure, but said we looked so familiar.  Turns out she was from Blackwell, where we grew up. Then she said she was 93!

"93!" I exclaimed, "You're doing so well!  Do you drive?"  She said she didn't, so I assumed someone brought her to the store.  On hearing the word, Blackwell, my husband soon had her engaged in conversation about people she might have known there.  When she told us her last name, he looked thoughtful, then brightened as he recalled the name, but it was her uncle.

We kept running into the talkative lady throughout the store, as she exchanged tidbits, looking backward at us as she walked.  Finally, we were in the same check-out lane.  Howard whispered to me, "I think her uncle was a bootlegger!" to which I responded, "Don't say that to her!"

Then I heard him ask her, "Was your uncle fond of the 'the recipe?'" She didn't get his drift, and he whispered, "Did he bootleg?"  She looked confused, but her daughter in front of her chimed in, "Yes, and her daddy went to jail for that!"

As they checked out, her mother turned to us and said conspiratorially, "Those were the good old days!"

We had to laugh at her spunk and good humor.  She had already told us of a long career in real estate, saying how surprised she was to get the job with only a 7th grade education (which was probably actually equal to high school or college by today's standards!).

People had been friendly all day, including the young woman who was coming in as we were going out of the store.  I stopped and waited for her to enter, but she insisted, "No, you go first."  Then there was the cheerful employee walking by who called out "Have a great day!" as we were leaving.

We had stopped at a Texas supermarket as we neared our son's house on our trip over the weekend.  I needed the makings for a special salad I was making for the family reunion we would attend the next day.  I had seen the recipe in a magazine, and besides the main ingredient of broccoli, it called for raisins or dried cranberries (I used "Craisins"), sunflower seeds, vinegar, and other items hard to find in a strange store.  But the employees and even strangers were so cordial and helpful in pointing them out.

Then at the reunion, stories and events from different points of view were enjoyed and laughed over, as well as things I had never heard before or only vaguely remembered.  As I thought about this later, it occurred to me how wonderful it will be in heaven to meet loved ones and those we have never met, to get to know them and all the wonderful people of history and the Bible that have lived for God and made heaven.  It will take an eternity for that.  (Or maybe we will know them instantly in that new dimension, for the Bible says we will know as we are known!)

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to  face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."  I Corinthians 13:12.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Traveling On

"What is the sign that plane is pulling?" I asked my husband.  We were on our way to our son Trevor's house in Texas and were passing the outer edge of Arlington.  I couldn't make out the words until it came closer and then saw it was an advertisement for a car insurance company with the comic picture of a gecko.  We were talking about it later on the patio with Trevor as we watched another plane in the big-sky country. Trevor recognized it and pulled out info on his iPhone that verified the numbers and flight data.

The next morning at breakfast, Trevor said, "You know that plane with the sign you saw yesterday?"   I nodded and he said, "Well, it had a crash landing right after that.  I saw it on the news!"  We gasped, and he went on, "He lost power in his engine.  He had to release the sign and made an emergency landing on the highway."  Wow!  That could have been us on the highway where he landed !

That night at supper, Trevor announced, "I heard on the radio that a plane crashed today and the pilot was killed.  It was the one we were watching from the patio last night!"  How awful! Our tech-savvy, plane-aficionado son pulled up a picture of the small craft, turned upside down on its cockpit. I couldn't help but shudder and think of our teen grandson who spends a lot of time in the air in a glider.  I'm always sending up prayers for his safety.

I also sent up several prayers for our son Jamie's trans-Atlantic flight to France last week, and again for his safe return.  Praise God, the flights were uneventful.  From his reports of his mission-related trip, though, it was anything but uneventful. It was filled with stories and praise reports of baptisms in the Mediterranean, witnessing on the beach, assisting in converting a facility into an outreach cafe/coffee bar, and amazing accounts from Christians of God's faithfulness and presence in their lives.

As a photographer, Jamie was able to assist the missionaries in taking pictures of their work there to use in publications to their supporters.  Having lived and worked in France for a college term and fluent in the language, Jamie was able to help host a visiting pastor from America and act as his guide in the area.

Our trip to Texas was for a family reunion.  It turned out to be a wonderful time with loved ones, some we had not seen for many years.  We could only thank God for his favor on the trip, and for our own safe travels. Someday our earthly travels will be over, and we will be gathered in heaven with our eternal family, from all ends of the earth.  We can be certain of a safe landing. Our Father will see to that.