Saturday, August 27, 2016

Standard Bearers

"This salad isn't any good," I remarked while eating lunch out.  I had eaten a few bites of the leafy lettuce, spinach, and other greens off the top, but underneath, the leaves were brown-edged, pale and tasted old.  I told my husband I was going to take it back.

"Well, don't say that it wasn't any good!" he implored, to which I asked, "What shall I say, then?" My ever-polite spouse said, "Tell them, 'This salad isn't up to your standards.'" So that is what I did. When the manager was called, I repeated, "This salad isn't up to your standards." They were polite and offered me another salad or refund, but I chose dessert for us both instead!

On another day at a restaurant, after getting Howard seated, I ordered our food and gave Howard's name.  "How is he doing?" the cashier asked.  I was able to tell him he was doing better.  On a previous occasion in answer to that question, I had to report things were going slowly. He later came to our table to chat.  I really didn't think he knew us that well, but he surprised us by telling Howard, "You are on our prayer chain." I wasn't sure I heard him right and asked what he said. He repeated, "You are on our prayer chain at our church."  Wow!  I had no idea! What a blessing from almost a complete stranger!

When our grandson was desperately ill in the hospital recently, their church in Austin organized a conference call prayer chain!  We followed the instructions to participate, giving our name which was to be called when it was our  turn to pray.  We could hear the people praying as each one would come on.  It was like being at a revival or church prayer meeting!  There were obviously so many praying that our name did not come up in the long while we waited. No doubt these fervent prayers were answered when our grandson began to improve and was subsequently dismissed a couple days later!

We were taking our walk a few days ago in Cann Gardens as part of Howard's walking therapy.  He likes to walk awhile and then take a rest on a bench or in a gazebo spaced conveniently along the brick walkway.  We were disappointed when we saw someone was already sitting in one of our favorite resting places, but when Howard asked the man if we could share the seating in the gazebo, he motioned us in.

The guy wore dark glasses and seemed reticent, but the first thing he said when we came in was, "My grandpa died last night." We expressed our sympathy, then he began to pour out things to us of his own near-death experiences from drugs. Howard asked him if had any visions or remembrances of anything during that time, and he said he did but he did not like to talk about what he saw. We did not press him, but my husband gave him a card from his wallet with the scripture, "The poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of  all his troubles." Psalm 34:6.

We prayed for the man at our next rest stop. Prayer changes things. May we always bear the standard of Jesus before the world. We never know when it will be us standing in the need of prayer!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Comfort food.  I wanted something, but I didn't know what as I surveyed the pantry shelves. Not a cookie, not cereal, but something. Then I spied it: a box of graham crackers! Perfect with a glass of milk! I guess my subconscious was going back to my childhood, when Mama kept graham crackers for the babies, but not out of my reach!

The other morning, when I knew I didn't share my husband's appetite for eggs and sausage, I made myself a half-recipe of cocoa gravy! Some call it chocolate gravy, but it was always cocoa gravy our mother made for us when we were kids.  I couldn't believe how good it was when I put it over a hot biscuit. A year or so ago I didn't like the way the recipe turned out, so I reduced the sugar by half this time, and it was scrumptious: warm, chocolatey and comforting.

The Bible calls the Holy Spirit our comforter.  I think of the time Jesus startled his disciples by appearing alongside their boat during a storm at sea.  What a comfort it was for them when He got into the boat with them and calmed the storm (Matthew 14:32.) 

Don't you love it when Jesus gets into our boat with us in times of storms and trouble? We have seen  that recently when one of our grandson's life was at peril in the hospital.  We found out later that the doctors and nurses held out little hope for him and didn't expect him to survive.  But Jesus was in the boat! He brought him through!

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted  of God." 2 Corinthians 3-4.

There are countless opportunities to comfort others.  We were comforted by people's generosity and help during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina when we lived on the gulf coast.  Now we have a chance to help those in the Louisiana floods. "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem," Isaiah 66:12, speaking of future rejoicing of God's people.

At one point in Jesus's ministry, his disciples were urging him to eat.  His response to them in John 4:32 was, "I have meat (food) to eat that ye know not of." The disciples wondered if someone had brought him something to eat. "Jesus saith unto them, My meat (food) is to do the will of him that sent me, to finish his work."

As much as we love comfort, sometimes we  have to get out of our comfort zones to help others!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Letters Home

My heart leapt at what I read!  I stumbled onto a Facebook communication to one of my nieces from a name from the past! I didn't know she had been in contact with this cousin, daughter of my Uncle Robert, my mother's brother! The cousin was writing that she had found a letter from Mama, and wondered if my niece wanted it!

All the older generation of my mother's family, including Mama, have passed on, and I was never really in touch with their children.  But here was someone whose maiden name was the same last name as my mother! How I had wondered about this part of our family, always living distantly, their families growing up as ours were, not knowing each other.

I wasted no time in finding my cousin's Facebook page, and I messaged her that I would like a copy of the letter.  She replied immediately that she would send one, saying it was a long letter telling about my mother's childhood! How precious! A glimpse into the past!  She was also searching for pictures to include!

I can't wait to get the packet from her!  I have a large collection of Mama's letters that she wrote to me over the years when we lived in Mississippi, but this sounds like a much older letter, maybe from the days of my childhood? Mama was a good letter writer, and of course when I was little, there was no such thing as the instant communication we have today.

I remember a saved letter I saw once (never mailed, I think) when I was a little girl that she had written to her family in Texas. Her beautiful script covered several pages, tattered, even then. I can still see what she wrote: "Cooking supper, cornbread, buttermilk and poke sallit, what I like!" I can imagine Mama sitting down, wiping her brow with her apron, and finding a stubby pencil to dash off a letter home while she waited for the cornbread to bake in the oven of her wood stove, maybe being interrupted to remove the stove lid and add wood to cook the greens.  (I once asked her how she knew when the oven was hot enough, and she said, "By putting my hand in the oven!")

God sent us a letter, too. It's called the Bible.  It is full of letters from faithful men who were under divine inspiration to send the precious messages to us and all posterity. In it, we can find out about a place we have never seen, but one we will go to someday, if we obey the instruction letter and know and serve God.

There we will meet all the loved ones awaiting us there, some we have never met, but somehow we will know them.  I know my mother is there, the dear saint of God, who yearned for nothing more than to meet her family in heaven.  I plan to be there!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blood, Fire, and Vapor of Smoke!

It's true! When I woke up and opened the bedroom door the house was full of smoke! At first I thought my eyes were just blurry from sleep, but there was a definite fog in the air and it was reaching my nose! "Howard!" I called, for we had risen earlier and I had gone back to bed. I found my unhappy husband leaning over the sink trying to wash something down the drain.  "What happened?" I demanded.

But let me back up.  A week or so ago we started my husband on a reduced-salt diet.  We had a pack of bacon in the fridge from before, and I had planned to pick up some lower-sodium bacon next time I went to the store. But Howard was hungry for bacon now.  We thought maybe we could make it less salty by soaking the bacon in a pan of water.  He even suggested boiling it in water for awhile.  And that is what he did while I was asleep! Only he sat down on the sofa and went to sleep while the water evaporated and the bacon pulverized, filling the house with smoke!

Later that day, after we aired the house and the smoke cleared, we drove to the farm.  It was a beautiful pre-fall day, cool and clear, and perfect to watch the animals inside the pasture fence. The male goat, which has grown a scary set of horns, was aggravating the pigs as they ate some table scraps I had brought for them.  Finally, I had enough of it, and took Howard's footed cane to poke at the aggressive billy through the fence. 

It didn't faze him, so I poked again, this time losing one of the rubber tips of the cane.  I reached in to get it, and jerking my hand back to avoid the goat, I got a horrendous scrape on my arm and hand! I hadn't realized part of the fence was laced with barbed wire! Bleeding and oozing, I saw that I had a rather deep cut on my wrist and a gouge near the back of my hand!  I rushed inside our son's house and washed my wound and doused it with peroxide.  It is healing nicely today, but still looks garish!

Early this morning Howard announced plans to walk in Cann Gardens, a botanical garden near us.  After a couple of errands, we got to the park.  Strange, I thought.  There were several cars gathering in the usually empty park, with formally dressed people getting out, straightening ties and smoothing hair in the breeze.  We proceeded along the curved, cobble stone path and saw through the trees and shrubs that white folding chairs had been set up in rows on the spacious brick terrace behind the historic home on the property.

Then we heard strains of music and glimpsed a small band, complete with a bass violinist and two other violinists drawing their bows over their instruments. A wedding! What a perfect spot and a perfect day for a garden  wedding.  Rather than stare from the walkway, Howard leaning on his walker, we sat down in a gazebo a little way off and watched. Soon guests were being seated by ushers, and three men in dark suits who had been dawdling outside the bushes near us lined up and took their places. Presently we glimpsed a gauzy vision in white appear as the bride went up the aisle.

We continued our walk, but I couldn't help saying, still in awe, "Thank God for weddings."  Then I murmured, "They are a picture of Christ and the church," as Howard nodded.

The old Devil may stomp and snort like an enraged goat and manage to inflict a few wounds, but we know his destiny, and it is not Non-Smoking! Meanwhile, the Bride arrayed in white will be joined with her heavenly Bridgroom, and I'm sure the music will be ethereal!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Come and Dine!

I was reading in the Bible this morning Mark's account of the healing of Jairus's daughter. "And  behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live." Mark 5:22-23.

Jesus agreed, and was going with him, but he had an interruption.  The woman with the issue of blood exercised great faith and bravery born of desperation to make her way through the crowd to touch Jesus. Her faith was rewarded with a marvelous healing.  By that time, word came that the little girl was already dead, and there was no use for Jesus to come. "Be not afraid, only believe," Jesus told the distraught father.

The Bible says she arose at Jesus' command, and walked.  Then Jesus commanded they give her something to eat. Something to eat. That phrase stood out to me when I thought about the newborn Christian.  They have been saved and raised to life, so to speak. "Newness of life," the Bible calls it. What must they do then?   They need to eat!

The little girl's family was told to feed her! The saved person enters into the family of God that needs to nourish the new believer. They are encouraged to go to church to hear the Word, but most importantly, to read the Bible for themselves, learn to feed themselves. "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:" I Peter 2:2.

When we returned home last week after an absence of several days, I was so disappointed to find my beautiful plant on the porch wilted and drooping. We were anxious to leave and check on our hospitalized grandson, and I didn't think to make provisions for plant watering. Howard had received the Peace Plant from our Sunday School class when he was in the hospital, and we had enjoyed it ever since, but it looked dead now!

I watered it anyway, day after day, and I saw no improvement. Finally, there was a little spark of life with an almost indiscernible strengthening of the stems, then a leaf looked firm and shiny!  It was coming back to life! Today's surprise rain shower is just what it needs, and I lost no time in setting it outside for the life-giving drops!  We may not see a lot of growth in baby Christians, but with the proper nourishment of living water and the Bread of life, they will flourish!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Week!

"Mom! My pig has purple spots!" our son exclaimed.  Then he said he took a picture of the spots and showed them to the vet. "Her eyes got big, and she said she was going to notify the USDA and they would be out to look at the pig!" he said to our alarm.

Meanwhile, I looked up the symptoms on the internet, and found it did not sound serious. "The meat is not affected," I read. Still, we were uneasy for the next couple of days, until Greg had another phone call from the vet.  "I have been doing some reading, and it's not dangerous," she said. "The USDA will not be out," she finished.

And now the pig is fine, her appetite is back and she is enjoying pig life after her several days of malaise. Apparently she had a virus. Whew! What a week it has been! This time last week we were just getting home from a trip to Texas  to be at the bedside of our grandson in the hospital. A serious infection required a ventilator for almost two weeks, then the side effects of removing it were difficult.  We learned today he is up in his chair, asking for his cell phone! Praise God for His healing power!

The hospital was almost right next door to IKEA, so when we were urged to take a break, we spent an hour of welcome distraction there. It was like a breath of fresh air! Viewing the beautiful room settings, innovative ideas, and tempting merchandise, not to mention reasonable prices, lifted my spirits like a vacation!

Since we were less than two hours from Houston, we diverted our trip homeward to visit briefly with our youngest son's family.  How wonderful to enjoy the little grands and watch them play! Part of the next day was spent observing them in their classes at a creative arts worship event for children at their church.  Seven-year-old Maddie produced an original painting of Jesus and a cross in her art session, then we watched her go over her lines in Drama for a commencement presentation. She was also learning the drums, but we missed that.

Anne-Marie, 9, participated in Voice, singing joyfully with the other kids in a melisma as we watched. I saw videos of her later in creative worship Dance gracefully waving billowing, turquoise fans to music and movement.

2 1/2 year-old Isaac emerged from the nursery occasionally to take rides around the church in a fanciful cart reminiscent of England's red double-decker buses. As I tried to get a shot of his lasagna-smeared face at lunch, he looked past the child facing him on the other side of the table, pointing to me for her to notice, yelling, "It's Mimi!  It's Mimi!"  Our son said the first thing Isaac said when he picked him up from the nursery was, "Where Mimi and Pa Pa?" That warmed me all the way home!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Changing Seasons

School starts tomorrow here. For weeks, parents have been scouring the school supply aisles in the stores for just the right items listed on the papers posted for each school and grade. We were in Walmart today, and school shoppers had an almost panicky look about them as they hurried along with a child in tow, getting necessities at the last minute. It almost reminded me of people ransacking the shelves when an ice storm or hurricane is in the forecast!

I couldn't help thinking of the harried and hurried pace of our lives today, the feeling of a shadow of urgency looming like a cloud in our common subconscious. Everyone knows something is going to happen, but no one knows what. Economic, political, natural disasters--something apocalyptic?  It seems as if God Himself is sending signals that something momentous is imminent.

My husband tells me statistics show that Bible sales are at an all-time high! Hopefully that means people are seeking God. Or likely they are trying to find insight into today's disturbing world events.  Are these the last days?  Or the last of the last days?  Things seem to point in that direction.

Yet much of the world is living in a frenzy!  Schedules keep families running here and there.  Sports, entertainment, eating out and night life consume lives. It is reminiscent of what I have heard about the society of Berlin in WWII when the fall was imminent.  In the book, The Longest Day, the people are portrayed as partying wildly, expecting their doom.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

Jesus tells the story of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.  They were concerned to have their lamps lit and burning. The five foolish ones let their light go out.  Our school children go to school to let the light of knowledge fill their minds.  Maybe we all need to go back to the Bible, our textbook for living in this life, and the life to come!

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Oh, no! A tissue got left in a  pocket, and now I had white bits of it stuck to everything in the load of colored clothes!  I hate when that happens!  I knew a lot of it would come off in the dryer, but just in case, I painstakingly picked every shred of it off the garments.  Of particular concern was a new, dark knit shirt that my husband likes. It was covered in what looked to be lint! I was thankfully surprised
when the clothes came out with nothing on them, with only pieces of tissue floating around like feathers in the dryer.

Making dinner later, I needed an onion for the stuffed peppers I was planning.  I opened the top door of the vegetable bin to retrieve one from behind the heart-shaped, screened opening and was met with a swarm of gnats!  Or tiny fruit flies! The culprit was a soft onion in the bottom of the mesh onion bag. If I hadn't found it, the whole bag might have been ruined!

These incidents remind me of sin! If one keeps company with the wrong kind of people, before long, he becomes like them! Their sinful practices rub off and stick to him!  Before long, sin has infected a life.  Jesus said in I Corinthians 5:6, "Know ye not that a little leaven leaventh the whole lump?"  Leaven is another word for yeast, and here it is used as a symbol of impurity.

I remember my mother using yeast to make bread or yeast rolls. It smelled so delicious as she was dissolving it in the water, and the aroma of the bread was intoxicating! Temptations to do wrong can be that way, especially to a young, vulnerable Christian. 

However, leaven can be used as an illustration for good! In another place, Jesus uses it as an example of the spread of the gospel! "Another parable Jesus spake ye unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three  measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." Matthew 12:33.

When the yeast bubbled in the bowl, Mama knew it would make the bread and rolls rise and double in size.  When the word of God is released from our mouths or pulpits, it will do its job. "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

That word of witness you speak, that little tract you leave,  will prosper and grow in someone's heart!  It is so beautiful to see the statistics of how the gospel of Christianity is spreading around the world!

The boy Samuel responded to the voice of God by saying, "Here am I." Verse 19 of I Samuel 3 says of him, "And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground."  None of his words failed to be fulfilled.  Neither will the words of the Lord!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Cleaning our front porch yesterday, straightening the chairs, shaking the rug and sweeping, made me think of the playhouses I had when I was little. I made them myself, picking up sticks and laying them on the ground as outlines for rooms.  I would use chips of broken dishes I found for the "kitchen." Not having another girl to play with, it was totally up to me to use my imagination for my play, and I remember being embarrassed when a grown-up sister looked at my creation.  Kind of like when a parent visits a child's school room and enters his "world".

At that age, we lived on a hilltop in the blackjack woods of Oklahoma.  There was a scenic bluff behind our house that we children called "The Big Rocks."  It was our favorite place to play and a gathering place for my older siblings. I remember looking down toward the bottom lands below and singing at the top of my lungs, "When it's springtime in the Rockies," confident that the song was about our location. One of my playhouses was a big, flat rock with a carpet of green moss hidden among the thick bushes and saplings. (I abandoned this hideaway when I found a big snake coiled in the middle of my "carpet" one day!)

It was about this time that I was taken to church for the first time by an older sister who was fervent for the Lord. I didn't understand much, but a couple years later I remember being touched mightily by God when a friend and I knelt at our pew. We were crying our eyes out and so joyful!

I thought about this Sunday when the righteous child-king Josiah came up in our Sunday School lesson. Our teacher asked how many had been saved as a child. Many hands went up, and although mine didn't, I'm pretty sure that's when I was saved.  I  was filled with the Holy Spirit at age 13 when our family turned to God after the tragic loss of my little brother.

I still enjoy homemaking! I have loved and decorated several homes in our 58 years of marriage, the longest tenure being 20 years where we raised our children in Mississippi. But my heavenly home Jesus is preparing will outshine them all!

"In my father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."  --Jesus, John 14:2-3.

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Generation

"What shall I wear to church?"  Howard asked me.  I pulled out a beautifully ironed pair of white slacks and handed him a new black shirt.

"You look sharp!" I said when we were ready for church. Even the Sunday School class commented on how well he looked when we walked in, one lady in the hall saying, "You're walking tall this morning!" Everyone is glad he is gaining strength and making progress in his recovery.

Sitting in church a little later, we were passed the communion trays.  Suddenly the cup holding the "wine" got tipped in the tray and doused the lap of Howard's white trousers! Purple grape juice made a huge stain running down his pant leg! The usher quickly brought a bundle of tissues, but no amount of blotting removed the vivid color.  It didn't faze my  husband, though, and he sat through the service without complaint.

Our son in Houston had told me that his 7-year-old daughter was getting baptized Sunday! Since I remembered her sister had asked to be baptized at age 8, I asked if Maddie had requested it.  He said, "Well, when her mother asked her why she wanted to be baptized, she said, 'Jesus did it, and you did it, and I want to be the next generation!'".

I thought about that after Howard's mishap. Just as the communion element representing the blood of Jesus was spilled, so was His blood spilled. For all generations! Jesus thought of us when he prayed for the disciples in John 17:20: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word."  Psalm 100:5 says His truth endures to all generations!

Communion is all about Jesus shedding His blood for our sins. We used to sing a song in church about "the blood that stained the old rugged cross."  Try though I might, I haven't yet removed all the stains from Howard's pants, but thank God He has removed the stain of sin from us and all the generations who trust him for salvation!