Friday, January 30, 2015


"Does anyone know the words of the song, Bread and Gravy? I want my mom to play it on the guitar and sing it, but she doesn't remember the words," my niece wrote on Facebook.  Her mom, my sister who is 84, used to sing the song with our oldest sister when they were little girls. It was a depression era ditty that I remembered Daddy singing to entertain us kids.

Of course, I knew the words, or at least most of them, but I saw my brother had already answered her question.  I added my memory to his, and came up with what I remembered of the song:

"On Monday we had bread and gravy; on Tuesday we had gravy and bread; on Wednesday and Thursday we had gravy on toast, but that's only gravy and bread.

"On Friday, I talked to the landlord; said won't you please give us something instead?  On Saturday morning, by way of a change, we had gravy without any bread."

That's one of the reasons I love using Facebook.  A whole bunch of family can relive old  memories, share stories, laugh, cry or kid each other as if we were all there in person.

My early childhood didn't include toast, since that meant a trip to town for "light bread," as it was called then, but there were always Mama's biscuits.  They tasted wonderful with her creamy, milk gravy made with bacon drippings, or as peanut butter/apple butter filled biscuits we carried to our country school in our tin pails.

I must say I envied the lunches some of the other kids brought, store-bought white-bread sandwiches cut on the diagonal and filled with bologna.  Lying beside their bag lunch waiting to be eaten might be a school-bus-yellow banana.  (We usually got the kind covered with brown spots.)

One day in first grade (all the grades were in one room)  my beloved teacher came to my desk and said, "I love biscuits, but I never have time to make them. Would you trade me one of your biscuits for this?" as she offered me her lovely, white-bread sandwich.  Would I! I was a happy camper as I chowed down on the treat!

My husband has a story he  tells from a 3rd grade experience.  One day he asked his teacher if he could sing a song for the class.  He had brought an old banjo and when she agreed, he began to belt out, "How many biscuits did you eat this morning..." twanging frantically on the banjo strings, to continue, "How many biscuits can you eat tonight?" repeating the verse of what was really a Martha White Flour radio commercial performed by the likes of Lester Flatt with his banjo.  He said he didn't think the teacher would ever quit laughing.

Bread has always been essential to man. Everyone is familiar with the loaves and fishes story in the Bible when Jesus multiplied the food to feed the multitude.  In John 6:35, He says, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."

Our parents provided bread for our nourishment growing up in this life. In verse 51 of John 6, Jesus says, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread that I give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."  My godly mother would say, "Amen!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Selfie-Stick

We were happy to have our pastor in the pulpit after a three-week absence for a missionary trip to Thailand, but we couldn't help wondering about the odd device he carried, a long stick with something on the end which he held at arm's length as if taking a picture of himself.  He explained it was a "Selfie Stick," something all the rage in Thailand. I have since read that they are very popular in Europe.  They will  probably take off here, too, with the obsession of "selfies" on Facebook.

I can understand the convenience of the novelty for say, vacation photos or shots in historic places.  It's always nice to have a person in a scenic shot, if for nothing else than to give the picture scale and human interest.  And it saves having a stranger take your photo. But some go to extreme, with a new selfie  almost every time you look on Facebook! 

Narcissism is to be expected to a degree in teenagers.  After all, they are fascinated with their looks as they bloom into young adults and are often insecure and uncertain.  They need the compliments and assurances of their peers that they look awesome or gorgeous.  But it seems a little excessive for adults, who hopefully are a little more serious minded.

Fads come and go.  I remember when I worked at a drugstore soda fountain as a teenager.  Hoola Hoops had just come out, and the demand was more than the supply with kids all over town requesting them.  Our enterprising boss figured out a way to cash in on the boom by buying garden hoses, cutting them into lengths and stapling them into hoops!  He had a regular manufacturing operation going on, putting his pharmacy trade in the shade until the phase was over.

That was back when we went to a small church and where everyone felt like family, especially those with teenagers in our youth group.  I went to the memorial service viewing of one of the moms on Sunday.  She had survived for 96 years, and would be turning 97 on Valentine's Day. The reunion with her children who were there brought lots of memories, stories and much catching up.  It was also a reminder of the brevity of life, even for the aged.  

That same day we received news from our daughter in Georgia of the disappearance of a couple from their church.  The tragic ending is now known.  Thankfully these people were faithful Christians, as was our departed friend.  Happenings like these make us consider our own mortality and remember what is important in life: A relationship with Jesus Christ. The acronym JOY says it clearly: Jesus first, Others second, You last.  That is a picture that is not a selfie!

Clean Sweep

We have the cutest new gadget!  It's like the little, round robot machines that vacuum carpets by themselves, except ours dusts the bare floor! I was a little skeptical at first, thinking it would run over the edges of the rugs, but the slightest ridge makes it change directions. I had fun with it yesterday, but not as much fun as the little dog at our house that barked at it, nosed it suspiciously and tried to keep up with  it.

Our son's family has the vacuuming robot.  I saw the little round device blinking in the corner of the bedroom where we slept while at their house.  I had wondered how they kept their entirely carpeted upstairs so clean, but they just turn the little monster loose to busily do the  work of keeping the almost-white carpet pristine fresh.

Somehow this made me think of what scientists have discovered recently about the brain.  How it has a function that acts as a little vacuum cleaner to sweep away plaque and debris while you are asleep. Apparently this is activated by dream activity.  There is some evidence that dreaming helps prevent Alzheimer's disease in this way.  Of course, to dream, you have to be asleep, which is one reason sleep is so important to our health.

(I once heard a Bible teacher say that the scripture in Proverbs 29:18, "Where there is no vision the people perish," could be applied to dreaming, which keeps us healthy.)

I was also reminded of the ever-vigilant Holy Spirit in Christians.  If we are sensitive  to the Spirit's guidance, we will recognize the nudge of conviction when we have done something wrong, repent of it, and have a clean conscience.

Jesus  said in John 16:7-8, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth, It is expedient that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (8) And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment."

We need eight hours of sleep to be healthy, and we had to plug in our little appliance for eight hours of charging to use it.  But He is constant.  Jesus said, "I am with you always." It is we who have to stay plugged in to the Holy Spirit. He helps us keep our house clean!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Love in a Box

"How many times have I told my children that I had given them a box of love? Which in actuality is a pretend box of nothing--air--representing love.  After receiving a wonderful package in the mail recently, I was reminded of this box.

"It was not my birthday, not a holiday or any special day.  It was a box full of thoughtfulness packed with care, full of things I could probably use...because someone thought of me. To me, it was a box of love.

"Yup, I think this world needs more boxes mailed.  Just a little effort is a great deed. (Thanks, box-sender.)"

This sweet bit of prose was written by my daughter and shared on Facebook.  It reminded me of boxes my grandmother sent to my mother when I was a little girl.  How exciting it was to dig through the considerably large cartons filled with mysterious things from far away Texas!  My grandmother, with a large family herself, knew that anything she sent would be put to good use.

There were dresses, coats, pants, and all manner of things, most of which would not fit anybody, but Mama was an expert at "making over" clothes.  After all, some of our young uncles and aunts were not much older than Mama's eldest children.  Mama's treadle Singer sewing machine was kept busy clothing nine of us kids during those WWII years.  What she didn't redesign into proper-fitting garments, our resourceful mother cut woolen garments into squares and pieced together warm quilts for our several beds.

I don't remember whether the boxes came by US Mail or were shipped some other way.  I know the postage for mailing would have been prohibitive at today's rates!  Usually a letter accompanied the box, and my 5-year-old fingers would trace the penciled letters of Grandma's handwriting.   Just think, I would ponder, Grandma's hand formed these very words!  (I didn't remember ever having seen my grandmother, and I endowed her with all kinds of virtues and qualities.)

Grandma often enclosed pictures of her large family, romanticized in my mind as the ideal household.   They seemed always to be receiving some award, commendation or diploma.  The dashingly handsome and beautiful figures in the studio portraits sang solos, wore sharp military uniforms, or sported corsages, things foreign to our back-woods, hill-country lives.

When I grew up, I realized that Mama's family, of which she was the eldest child (whose own mother had died in Mama's infancy) was just an ordinary family, having hailed from the hills of Tennessee and were simple, hard-working folk like anyone else.  According to my mother, Grandma did like to put on airs a bit, but that didn't matter when we received those wonderful boxes of love, love that would stretch from generation to generation.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


"Does anyone need a handout sheet?" The leader of our Bible study was asking.  There had been enough at our table for all, but when another person sat down, she didn't have one.  I had given mine to her, thinking I would just look on with my husband, so I didn't raise my hand.

"Over here," the lady sitting next to me motioned, pointing to me.  The teacher came back with a few of the lesson leaflets and handed one to  me.

"I don't have to have one, if you're short," I said, to which he said, taking me off guard, "No, I've always been this height."  I couldn't help laughing at his quick wit. We had been enjoying this study on prayer with the video and discussion following with much class participation.

After class, Howard went up and spoke to the leader.  We had heard he had a restaurant, and we wanted to find out where it was.  He gave us a card with the internet info on it, and after church we looked it up on the computer.  It is a restaurant specializing in organic foods  from farm-fresh ingredients.  We were happy to see they get their produce (and I think beef, too), from the heritage farm where we enjoyed buying fresh milk last summer.

We were thinking about that restaurant the other evening when we ate at a steak-house in a neighboring town, using one of our Christmas gift cards. We had a marvelous steak, but I must have over-did it a bit with the rich, delicious treat, because I came down with stomach pains the next day, and still felt off this morning.  Lying around bored and lonely, I tried to call my two daughters, but neither of them answered.

Feeling sorry for myself and missing my family, I was in a funk with a case of the blues.  After a pity party for myself, I forced myself up to get dressed.  Just as I came out of the bathroom, the phone rang. It was one of my dear daughters returning my call, and after a good visit, the other daughter called.  I was ashamed of my reaction earlier, cheered up and had a great day attending our 9-year-old granddaughter's basket ball tournament,  which her team won as champions!

Then tonight a sweet teen granddaughter from Georgia called me with a question about a scripture. After I gave her my best advice, we talked about her job and how proud we are of her.  She said, "I can always count on you, Mimi," which warmed my heart.   I told her I was sorry we couldn't live close to them like we did when she was little.  It warmed my heart even more when her soft voice over the phone assured me, "I'll never forget you, Mimi."

I think God was looking down on me in my dismal state of despondency, and granted me a good day and phone calls from loved ones! Maybe we'll even go to the church member's restaurant soon! Food from God's green earth nourishes the body like hearing from children nourishes the soul! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Storage Wars

Nothing says get organized like January! Ever since Christmas, stores have been displaying all kinds of storage containers, from tubs to huge cartons to small boxes. "Oh, look!" I said to my husband the other day, "I could use some of those cute boxes!" They were sturdy, strong, and covered with bright, graphic designs.

I wasn't really sure what to put in them, but when I got home, I realized they were perfect to hold pictures overflowing from tattered shoe boxes. I had put them there years ago after removing the photos from old, yellowing, photo albums. Unwrapping the clear, outer covering from a colorful box and opening the lid, I saw a tag that said, "Picture box." Duh! There were even little slots on the ends for labels identifying the contents.

One box easily held all the photos, leaving the other free for mementos. I am a saver, I admit. Besides birthday and Mother's Day cards and such with sweet sentiments, there was a small manila envelope with my name on it in my late mother-in-law's graceful script. All kinds of treasures were inside, from another small envelope labeled, "Howard's curls," to fragile, brittle drawings from his and his brothers' school days.

I recognized an envelope we had discovered in her things at her passing, addressed to her in her maiden name with a 3 cent stamp on it. It was from my future father-in-law, pressing his sweetheart for a decision on the all important question a young man proposes to his intended. She was a saver, too.

The soft, brown curls neatly tied with 75-year-old thread that spilled from the envelope reminded me of when our red-haired son was little. I had let his beautiful hair grow long, finally giving him his first haircut at 2 or 3 years old. I said, "Let's save your curls and send them to Grandma." My mother had red hair, and I knew she would love them. This must have made an impression on him, because once when he was probably six, watching me sweep up his red curls from a haircut, Trevor said, "Aren't you sending my hair to Grandma?"

With the advent of Facebook, I don't get many physical photos from my children any more, just the fleeting, electronic visual images that appear on the screen of my phone, computer or iPad. While I am grateful for those, which I faithfully "save," they don't make it into my scrapbook.

Scrapbooking pictures with artistic embellishment was my passion for several recent years, for which I have a dozen bulging albums. Now that, too, seems to have been replaced by Shutter-fly, a book of bound pages produced on the computer and professionally printed with magazine-style photos and script. A wonderful improvement and a treasured gift when I receive them, but I would like pictures to hold in my hand, and take out of a box, studying them for storage in my memory.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Golden Rule

"I think I will go to the place Joe told me about," my husband said as we drove around on some errands. "He said they have things like a lug wrench there," Howard went on. He had been keeping his eye out for a bargain in a lug wrench to keep in his truck, since we already had one for the car. My thrifty spouse was unwilling to pay a high price for the tool. His handyman friend, Joe, knew all the second-hand and junk shops in town.

"Oh, look!" I said, "There's Joe now." We were going past a mission for the poor and disadvantaged, and there he was, lifting his bike from a truck. I asked Howard what he was going to do with it, and he said Joe was placing it somewhere for safekeeping while he went in to breakfast.

When we had completed our errands and had stopped for a bite of lunch, Howard decided to go to the aforementioned store. "Oh, there's Joe again!" I said, at seeing him get on his bike and leave the shop where we were going. He didn't see us with his head down, so we went on into the store.

"Do you happen to have a lug wrench?" Howard asked the proprietor.

"I had one, but I just sold it!" he replied. Immediately I surmised what had happened.

"Did you sell it to an Indian guy?" I asked, "The man that just left the store?" He had, and I knew that Joe had bought it for Howard! Sure enough, we got a call shortly from Joe, saying he had bought the wrench and put it in the back of the truck at our house.

How thoughtful! We had been picking Joe up at a shelter and taking him to church, even getting him a burger afterward. I know he appreciated it, and this was his way of showing gratitude, even by spending some of his scarce resources.

Although there was no real comparison, it made me think of the widow's mite in the Bible or the alabaster box of precious ointment that was broken and poured out for Jesus.

Several times we have shared food with Joe, especially when he has been over here working at some odd job we needed done. When he helped Howard clean the basement recently, I noticed a comforter I had forgotten about stacked with some things they had brought up. I took it and put it on the washer, but Joe asked where it went. He said Howard had given it to him, because he only had one thin blanket at the shelter. Of course, I was glad for him to have it.

Jesus said as recorded in Matthew 25:40, "In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." I believe Joe was practicing the instructions of Jesus when he said to do unto others as you would have others do to you, in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. (I also noticed that verse 30 of Matthew says, "Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.") I won't be asking for my comforter back!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Wrinkle in Time

I found myself using one of my teen granddaughters' tricks this morning. When we were visiting at their house late last summer, I would hear, "Put this in the dryer!" shouted down from upstairs, accompanied by a pair of jeans or shirt hurled down to whomever got the message. They were getting ready for school. No, they weren't trying to dry a garment, just de-wrinkle it.

Putting away some laundry this morning, I saw my corduroy pants had come out a little wrinkled, so a little sprinkling of water and a few whirls around the dryer would do the trick. I had asked my husband to put an empty basket on the washer, then it was my turn to yell, "While you're in there, get my pants out of the dryer!" Not quite with the urgency of the hurried school girls, though.

One of them is turning 16 in a few days. In fact, three of our granddaughters are having birthdays this month. I picked out their cards yesterday and laid them on the counter. To the friendly cashier's "How are you?" I told her about the three birthdays.

"How old are they?" she asked, to which I replied, "12, 16, and 23." I was flattered when she looked surprised and said I didn't look old enough to have the older ones. "I would have guessed the 12-year-old was oldest," she said. I mouthed my age to her in a whisper, and the poor child said she had thought me at an age that is 15 years younger than I am!

I wish! Not really, though, when I consider the blessings the years have brought me in children, grandchildren and now, four little great-grandsons! It is my greatest joy to be around them, the little ones, especially. We last saw little Isaac, our youngest grandchild, at Thanksgiving, shortly after his first birthday. Face Time keeps us up with his growth and changes, which amaze me at every peek of him.

We laughed in delight at seeing Isaac open his birthday and Christmas presents via the electronic marvel. It was the closest thing to being there, seeing every expression and antic as he clapped his hands, tore paper, and danced around.

I miss having the energy and vitality of youth! Whether in the sparkle of a granddaughter's eyes as she re-lives an exciting basketball game she played, or a baby's wide-eyed wonder of life, or a child's joy of learning to read, nothing compares to their bright, hopeful, confident outlook! Laundry wrinkles aside, the only wrinkles I will tolerate now are laugh lines and eye crinkles from smiling at moments like these!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rich Man, Poor Man

"Mom, do you know who The Property Brothers are?" my son was asking on his phone call from California. Of course, I knew who the television personalities were from their show on remodeling houses. "Well, they were on this flight with me!" he exclaimed.

Why was I not surprised? Greg has a knack for running into celebrities. A few years ago he ran into and talked to Mike Tyson on Rodeo Drive. This past summer, he was in the same music store with an admired, famous singer, Michael Martin Murphey and shook his hand no less that 3 times!

I can't say I've met many celebrities, only one time I met Gloria Copeland in the Galleria in Houston. I'd been noticing that she was looking thin on TV, and I said, "You're wasting away to nothing!" to which she replied, "Why thank you, honey!"

The mother-in-law of one of our sons used to have Pat Boone as a Sunday School teacher. She said she was at an event in their backyard once (I think a baptismal service in his pool), when she lived in California. I mentioned something about this to a woman at church one day, and she smiled politely. "Do you know who Pat Boone is?" I asked, and she said, "No, does he go to this church?"

Our pastor just came back from a mission trip and told the story that a government official, the Minister of Finance of that country, was a guest at the same gathering. They ended up singing Karaoke together! (After singing Amazing Grace at the official's request, he was asked to explain what the song meant, enabling him to have the host pastor preach and present the plan of salvation in their native language!)

Meeting celebrities and important people can be impressive and exciting, but it is good to remember they are only human, and as much in need of a Savior as everyone else. We are told in James 1:2 to not show partiality to a wealthy person who may come into a congregation by giving him the best seat, while delegating a poor person to a lesser place. Jesus is no respecter of persons.

Everyone wants to be great, but Jesus said in Matthew 20:27, "And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."

Lest we feel inferior or inconsequential, let us remember the words Jesus spoke in I Corinthians 1:26-27, "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."

All need the gospel, and we all have a part in sharing it!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Basket Case

I wasn't sure I would make it to our granddaughter's 11:00 a.m. basketball game, since we had to get our son to the airport and I was to get my hair cut. Nevertheless, we found time and were soon seated on the bleachers watching the 4th graders play.

Not knowing much about the rules of the game, I mostly just watched and enjoyed the energy of the girls as they tirelessly bounded from one end of the court to the other, pony tails flying. Frequently the teams merged into precise formations with a girl guarding the opposing player with upraised arms behind her, signalling to catch the ball.

I would have tired out in the first quarter, but their strength and vitality amazed me as they shot baskets, blocked players, dribbled and passed the ball like pros, only occasionally getting correction from their coaches. I found myself laughing and smiling with the sheer joy of watching the determined, purposeful youth in action. It was positively fun!

After a stop for lunch, Howard asked me for the bank card I had used at the salon. "I gave it to you!" I responded. He said he didn't have it, so I double-checked my purse, to no avail. We looked in the car, checking the seats and floor. Oh well, I thought, when I get home I will empty everything and locate it.

Arriving home, I said a quick prayer that the card would turn up, then I opened the door to get out. I couldn't believe my eyes! There on the ground beside the car was the flimsy card! Had it been lying there since we left over 3 hours before? I didn't see how that was possible, with the cold wind blowing on the light-weight card! That was the quickest answer to prayer I'd ever had!

God is a prayer-answering God! During recent weeks I have been fretting and concerned over some family situations, stewing and worrying in indecision. What a waste that was! When the time drew near for resolutions, the problems were solved smoothly and like clockwork in God's perfect timing!

The ball players I watched today had their obstacles, but I didn't notice any anxiety as they doggedly kept on keeping on! Their coaches were hovering nearby, guiding and keeping an eye on them. Just as God has been there all along for me, faithfully answering my prayers!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Drama of Life

I love "The Waltons" television series. The nostalgic show, while set in a slightly earlier time, reminds me of my early growing-up years. We lived in a mountainous area, had a red-haired, home-maker mother and a dark-haired, handsome father, full of kindness and wisdom, but shrewd as they come.

Even the siblings, for the most part, fit some of the characteristics of us kids. You might say my oldest brother, Sam (known as Duane then), was a John-boy type--Daddy's helper, smart, and a leader and teacher for the younger ones. I remember him showing me how to do simple sewing, pushing the needle through the fabric without sticking my finger.

"How do you do that?" my 5-year-old self asked, and he replied, "Well, you've just got to be that sure of yourself if your gonna sew!" He made the first pan of brownies I'd ever tasted, getting hold of the recipe and proudly turning out a treat.

Mary-Ellen could have been blonde Pauline, a tom-boy, brave and a little brash, not to mention beautiful, in her place as next-oldest.

Elizabeth and Jim-Bob make me think of my brother Bobby and myself, only I was the older one by almost two years. We were playmates as little kids, doing crazy and silly things and laughing about them. Once we played a trick on Mama. We knew the seat of the rocking chair was broken, but we placed the seat back on as if it had been repaired, then thought it was funny when she fell through!

I remember explaining to Bobby as we examined one of the rare dolls I had, "Look, that's where God put it together," running my finger along the seam of the composition body.

When the Walton's say, "Good Night," their voices echoing warmly through the rooms, I remember how our family talked after we went to bed. We could hear through the small house as Mama and Daddy made up riddles for us to guess, much to our delight. Talk went on in the dark until it became mumbles that lulled us to sleep. If I awoke scared in the night, I listened for Daddy to cough or snore, then I felt safe again.

In my own family, I was Olivia and Howard was John. Our oldest, Mark, was our John-boy, responsible and a model for the others. Trevor was red-haired Ben, Greg musically gifted Jason, Julie was impulsive Mary-Ellen, Amy pretty Erin, and Jamie might be innovative Jim-Bob.

We were (and are) a church-attending family as the Walton's were portrayed, and I can't help identifying with anyone with a large family, even on television!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Just Do It!

"Max almost didn't make it to the meeting tonight," the leader of our study on prayer said. We were to begin a video/discussion series by Max Lucado last night. "We had ordered this material several weeks ago, and it was back-ordered and back-ordered," he explained, then told an animated account of how he had chased down the UPS truck, got inside and dug through contents until he came up with the video!

Well, it was worth all his effort! The study, "Before Amen," deals with the simplicity of prayer and how sometimes people are uncertain or reluctant to pray because they don't know how. For purposes of the study, Max distills prayer into four succinct divisions: "God, you are good. I need help. They need help. Thank You."

Today Howard and a helper worked in our basement cleaning and organizing it, discarding some of the partially empty boxes from our last move. I made a pot of potato soup and a chocolate cake, of which they ate heartily when they were almost finished.

"Don't be going up and down the stairs since you just ate," I cautioned my husband, who has been known to get a little short of breath if he exerts himself after eating. Naturally, he didn't pay any attention but went down and did some more. A little while later, I noticed him being extremely quiet and preoccupied in his easy chair.

He admitted he was having some discomfort and asked for an Alka-Seltzer, but just wanted to rest, and I was more than a little concerned. "Get me the Scripture Keys book," he requested. He went to the section on healing scriptures and asked to be left alone.

A little later, I noticed he was looking like his old self, and he said brightly, "God answered my prayer! I have been healed!" What a relief! Praise God!

Then he said, "And something else. I was thinking a few days ago about a book I used to have." He described the book to me, and I remembered he had referred to often when we lived in Mississippi several years ago. "I prayed that I would find that book, and would you believe I found it in the basement today!" He went on to marvel that "God answers my prayers!"

Part of the discussion last night was that some people seem to have the gift of prayer. They can pray long, effective, heartfelt, beautiful prayers. My husband is one of them. He is conversationally gifted. He can talk and talk. While others pray more simply and to the point. I am one of them. I tend to speak in the same manner, directly and even abruptly. It seems we should pray in a manner comfortable to us. Oh, and I have my prayers answered, too!

After the meeting, several people said they had been feeling guilty about their prayer lives for not praying longer and more proper prayers, but now they were reassured that God hears all our prayers, no matter how halting or faltering they may be!

Jesus said in Matthew 6:7-8, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they they think they shall be heard for their much speaking. (8)Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


New Year's Day had dawned cold, bleak and grey with ice pellets in the forecast. I had bought black-eyed peas to cook, along with other of our traditional foods for our meal that day. It would be just three of us, including our son for dinner, as his family was away on a trip to the East Coast. Then he told me he planned to work all day at his farmhouse on a computer assignment for his company.

On sudden inspiration, I said, "Well, we could just bring dinner out there!" He protested that he didn't want to put me to that trouble, but I insisted it would be fun! I set to work, putting the peas on to cook with pork hocks to give them flavor. That done, I remembered I had chocolate chips for cookies and pecans left over from Christmas, so soon cookies chock-full of them were baking in the oven.

Cabbage and other vegetables went into a pot next, and when the cookies came out, in went the cornbread I stirred up. Howard made a gallon jug of tea while I found a basket to hold everything. We bundled up and set out with our "picnic," braving the cold and the fine mist in the air.

Greg had a roaring fire in the fireplace to welcome us, and the food was delicious! The change of scene and eating away from home made the day exciting and fun. It also pulled our son away from his work deadline for awhile as we sat on his couch in front of the fire and chatted away. The little bit of extra effort had brightened his day and ours and was worth it!

On Sunday morning when we settled into church near the front after our Sunday School class, I turned to Howard and said, "Look who's on the front row!" It was our friend and former pastor from a different church, no doubt the speaker today while our pastor was in Thailand.

He began his sermon by referring to a visual on the wall of the Lord's Supper with the words, "Anno Domini 2015, The Year of Our Lord." He asked how many wanted this to be the year of our Lord, and what that would look like. Would we only want the blessings? What if there were sad days ahead as well?

Taking his text from Hebrews 12 about the great cloud of witnesses, we were soon led back to the heroes of faith in chapter 11. Many great feats were accomplished by Moses, David, Samuel and the prophets. But what about those in the following verses who did not receive deliverance, "destitute, afflicted and tormented, of whom the world was not worthy."?

The minister pointed out that faith does not always mean we are exempt from the negative things in life, but that God may take those hard experiences and use us to comfort others who may be going through the same thing.

We have faced things this past year that we have never faced before, but through them we have learned to empathize more fully with those who have experienced them. May it truly be the Year of Our Lord this year!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Jesus, the Light of the World

Saturday I spent the day taking down Christmas decorations, boxing them up and handing them down to Howard to store in the basement. I had left them up as long as possible, enjoying the way the colorful ornamentation and bright lights lit up corners of the room, bringing cheer to the dim house during sunless days and cold nights.

"There!" I said when we finished, "All traces of Christmas have been removed!" Of course, I meant just the trappings of the holidays, not the Reason for the Christmas celebration. Jesus and His light are always with us! He guides and takes care of us every day!

Just today, the phone rang with the news that my husband had had a flat tire on the truck. He wanted me to drive to where he was to bring him the lug wrench that was in our car. "Where are you?" I questioned. Since he was in the parking lot of an auto supply store, I suggested he try to borrow a lug wrench from them. When he didn't call back, I assumed that's what he did.

A good while later Howard called and said that all had been taken care of. "Did you borrow a lug wrench?" I asked, to which he replied, "Yes, but then the jack was too short for the truck!" I wondered what happened, and he said a friend was passing by and saw him there and happened to have a farm jack! A coincidence? No, I prefer to think it was God's guidance! Why else would this friend (whom we hadn't seen in months) just happen to drive by at that moment, just happen to look that way, and just happen to have what was needed?

Due to job changes, child care arrangements have had to be made in our youngest son's household for their one-year-old, while the bigger children will trade homeschooling for public school. As much as I wanted to fill in for them, distance and circumstances prevented it, and I spent many moments of concern about the change.

I was reassured and surprised to learn that little Isaac had been spending time without Mommy in the church nursery. When I asked his daddy how he was doing with that, Jamie told me he had adjusted just fine. "If another toddler cries, Isaac goes over and pats him and offers him a toy," he said! What a mature little 13-month-old! The peace of and light of Jesus is surely upon him!

I was touched today when I heard a phone interview of the man who answered the door to the bleeding, crying 7-year-old survivor of a plane crash. Asked how he thought the little girl found his house over a quarter mile away in the dark and through ravines and brambles, he said, "Well, I have a security light outside in the yard, and I think she just followed the light."

Jesus said, "Follow Me." There is safety and security provided for us if we just follow the Light.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Men Ought Always to Pray

"I hope you don't mind," I heard from a neighboring booth at a restaurant. Looking up, I saw a woman was talking to me. "I included myself in that prayer," she smiled.

When our waitress had brought our order, she asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you?" to which my husband surprised me by saying, "Yes, would you ask the blessing over our meal?"

The friendly waitress said she'd be glad to! And she prayed a beautiful, eloquent--even anointed--prayer! Not only did she ask God to bless the food, she asked him to bless the cooks and other diners, and thanked Him for a new year, closing in the precious name of our Lord Jesus! No wonder the other diner wanted to be a part of the prayer! Of course it was alright!

How refreshing to know that there are believers and hungry people (not only for food) all around us who believe in prayer. God is such a prayer-answering God! Recently I had felt confused and frustrated over a situation. I had responded to something recommended on the internet and signed up for a product.

As soon as my order was complete, information came on that I was placed on a waiting list, and the only way to get off the waiting list was to advertise the product on my Facebook page and solicit orders from friends!

What an awkward predicament! I felt used and tricked! The e-mails I received from the company seemed irrelevant when I questioned this, as though they were standard form responses. I lay awake worrying and pondering what to do and couldn't go to sleep that night. Finally, I turned it over to God and fell into a peaceful slumber.

The next morning I opened my e-mail to read,"Your order has been cancelled." Praise the Lord! I had not requested that, only inquiring about the cancellation process! But I felt so relieved that God had taken care of it in the night. Looking at the date, though, I saw the e-mail was sent before I had prayed!

I thought of the scripture in Isaiah 65:24 that says, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."

I had been concerned about traveling plans one of our sons had for this week, since bad weather was predicted. His father and I prayed many prayers of protection for him and his family. This morning I was startled to learn they had narrowly averted what could have been a horrendous accident. Our son said he was trying to make sense of red and yellow lights he saw ahead on the two-lane road they were traveling, when suddenly he came upon a tanker truck stretched across the road, evidently trying to turn around. He managed to brake hard and quickly from his 65 mph speed. Thank God, they were safe! I've no doubt God sent His angels to guard them! God answers prayer!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Throw It Out!

Help! I'm addicted to playing a game I can't win! Saving leftovers! I can't bear to throw out perfectly good food, so I place foil over it and save it. Maybe we will eat a little of it, and maybe we won't. I transfer it to a plastic storage container for another day and usually forget about it!

Tonight I made a (almost) clean sweep, taking out the L.O.'s and mercilessly putting them down the garbage disposal. My husband had inspired me when he cleaned out the freezer section of the fridge today. Some of them were leftover leftovers that I had disguised as a new dish. Mashed potatoes had become potato salad. Beans had become chili. But enough's enough! I will start the new year with a clean plate (er, slate).

When our kids were growing up, I never had that problem. There were no leftovers with six hungry youngsters cleaning their plates. It's hard to downsize, when soups and stews keep growing with every added ingredient.

Sometimes I think we hang on to leftovers in other areas of our lives, too. So many people reminisce and dwell on how it used to be, especially about church. They only want to sing the old hymns and live on past spiritual experiences. It's true, revivals were fervent and frequent in our youth but we can't live in the past. God has fresh manna for us every day if we will gather it!

We may hang on to the memory or the loss of past relationships, leftovers of yesteryear that haunt us. Or we remember missed opportunities and nurture thoughts of "If only..." Paul said in Philippians 3:13, "...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those thing which are before."

Psalm 96:1 admonishes us, "O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord all the earth."

God is a God of new things. His mercies are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. (23)They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."

Some of the recollections we have are in reality not so great as we remembered them. Like refrigerator leftovers, they may not even be appetizing if we experienced them again. As the new year begins, it might be well to discard regrets, putting them down the garbage disposal, and looking forward to the new things God has in store for us!