Monday, October 9, 2017

Stranger Things Have Happened!

"Hello, stranger!" I said jokingly into the phone when I saw my daughter's number on the display screen. I had been trying unsuccessfully to reach her several times and was glad she was calling. Then I heard a man's voice asking for Howard! How embarrassing! Quickly getting off the phone after telling him Howard wasn't home, I realized my mistake. The area code was similar, and I hadn't looked at the rest!

Speaking of strangers, my husband seems never to meet one. He had gone about 70 miles away to Enid today with our grandson in regard to an antique tractor's repair. "Are you there yet?" I asked him over the phone. He said yes, they were starting home.

"You'll never believe this!" my excited, extrovert hubby said. He told me the man who waited on him had the same last name as people he used to know in the small town where he grew up. I had heard many times of a Sunday School teacher of that name he had when he was about seven years old. She had made such an impression on him because she always played a ukulele when they sang the children's Bible songs in class.

"She was his aunt!" Howard exclaimed. I'm not sure how he figured this out, but I could imagine the sleuthing, questioning, and genealogy trails he went down to arrive at this joyful discovery! He did say that when he found out the store employee was of the same church denomination in which he himself had grown up, he began to put two and two together. He remembered that the lady of the ukulele was the pastor's wife!

Howard finally got a ukulele when he lay in bed with chicken pox in grade school, and his dad brought him one to pass the time. He has loved it ever since, likely because of the influence of the Sunday School teacher.

Won't it be wonderful in heaven when there will be no strangers, and we will know as we are known! We can imagine harps in heaven, but there may even be ukuleles!



Friday, October 6, 2017

Eye Opener!

What shall I make for breakfast? I mused before I got up this morning. Already this week we'd had biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and sausage, oatmeal and strawberries, and fried eggs and bacon. I knew what sounded good: blueberry pancakes! We'd bought blueberries a couple of days ago, and I couldn't wait to taste their deliciousness!

I went into the kitchen and got out the pancake mix, stirred up the batter and opened the fridge for the blueberries. Hm. I didn't see them. After shuffling through everything on the shelves and in the crisper drawers, I called to Howard, "Where are the blueberries? They're not here!"

He had no clue, and I repeatedly searched the refrigerator. "Maybe we left them in the car," I speculated hopefully, "I'll go see." It was still dark out and had been raining, but I was determined to find what I was craving. Besides, I noticed other things were missing, too: strawberries, refrigerated breakfast rolls and a can of biscuits! There was no bag of groceries in the car.

"You must have left them in the shopping cart!" Howard ventured, but the cart was empty when I returned it for the 25 cent deposit! I concluded we had left a bag on the counter when we bagged the groceries. He said, no, there were five bags, and we brought 5 bags into the house!

I gave up in frustration, and said, "Why don't you pray?" He did pray that we would find the missing groceries. I was resignedly getting ready to put the plain batter onto the griddle when Howard said, "There it is!"

What? Sure enough, a bag of groceries was sitting on a small bench in the corner just inside the kitchen door where I had set them down when we came in from shopping! Not only did I find the blueberries and things I missed, but also a head of lettuce, green peppers and broccoli! Everything looked fine, and we had blueberry pancakes for breakfast!

Why couldn't I see them? It reminded me of the story in II Kings 6:17 when the servant of the prophet Elisha saw the city of Dothan surrounded by an army of horses and chariots. He said to Elisha, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"

The Bible says, "And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of chariots and fire all around Elisha.

God still answers prayer!





Thursday, October 5, 2017

Heartthoughts: The Butler's Tray

Setting out Fall décor around the house, I snapped photos of some of the arrangements. What is acceptable to the naked eye is not always reflected in pictures! (You've heard the saying, "The camera adds five pounds."?) Well, the camera also picks up things one doesn't always notice. Like today, when I took a picture of a coffee table that showed its wear and tear.

But let me back up. One day some 40 years ago my husband and I were shopping at the brand new Walmart that had opened in our small Mississippi town. What a delight and treat it was to have such a sparkling, wonderful new place to shop! They even had some furniture!

"Look!" I pointed out to Howard, "That coffee table is a butler's tray! I've always wanted one!" It wasn't a big elaborate tray like some I'd seen for coffee tables, but it was affordable and we loved it. It came unassembled, however, but my handy spouse was good at putting things together.

Everything went smoothly until the screws in the brace underneath would not tighten sufficiently, although the table was sturdy enough. The kids used to absently twirl the board with their feet as they sat on the sofa.

As our kids grew up, one by one they would bring home a sweetheart. Their younger siblings started noticing a pattern. When the romances became serious and the couple in love would sit on the sofa to announce their engagement, cheeks flushed and eyes downcast, they unconsciously twirled the brace with their feet.

"Look Mom," one would whisper to me, "They are twirling the board!" We knew then we were about to get a new member of the family!

Well, the butler's tray has acquired many scrapes and scars over all those years, both from feet propped up and coffee spills, I'm afraid. That's what was showing up in the photo. I hadn't used the tray in years, until I needed to fill a spot in rearranging recently. Our kids have all married, and though there may have been some scrapes and scars along the way, we couldn't be prouder of all of them and the wonderful families God has given them. Now it's their turn to watch their kids make those announcements! I wonder if any of them have a butler's tray?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chance Meeting

"Did you see the figs?" A woman I had passed on our walk in Cann Gardens called as she approached me. Figs? I must have missed them. Then I saw them and their big, beautiful leaves. I commented that the leaves were so large, no wonder Adam and Eve used them as coverings!

She must have thought I was biblically inclined, because she and her husband began a conversation with us as we rested on a bench, telling us they were missionaries! We had a wonderful visit with them for at least an hour! When Howard heard they work in Kosovo, he exclaimed, "Kosovo! We supported a missionary there!" Turns out they knew him!

"Yes, we sent money to buy a cow for a widowed villager there!" (The man had been left with children when his wife was a casualty of a war nearby.) We had known this missionary's father, and Howard asked if there was anything our church could do for his ministry. We were told we could buy a cow!

Our small church loved the idea, and within a week the big jug with a red thermometer and markings on its side held the requisite $600! After viewing a video of the poor recipients' joy at receiving it (the young daughter was ecstatic at the prospect of drinking milk) the church collected money for another cow!

What a pleasant respite our encounter was, after the horrendous news we had seen that morning of the carnage in Las Vegas! In a blog the day before, I had referred to our alarm system going off at church, and although it was a malfunction, it didn't keep the firemen from showing up. Then I heard that the Las Vegas shooter's location was found because the smoke alarm in the hotel room had gone off due to all the shots fired!

I was struck by the report that many of the 22,000 people gathered for the event were desperately trying to find a way out of the concert, but all exits had been closed to keep non-ticketed people out. The newsman remarked, "Locking people out also means locking people in."

It is the missionaries' desire (and ours!) to spread the good news of salvation, so that no one will be locked out of Heaven, but will be at a glorious "Lock-in" with Jesus forever more!

Jesus said of the last days, in the parable of the fig tree, "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near--at the doors!" Matthew 24:12. The alarm has sounded!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Heartthoughts: Security!

We were engrossed in the pastor's sermon this morning when suddenly the sound of screeching filled the sanctuary with emergency lights flashing! A mechanized voice was repeating robotically, "Emergency Alert! Everyone vacate the building! The disabled will exit first!"

What in the world? We could detect no emergency as everyone was looking around uncertainly. In a few minutes a man appeared in the doorway with the welcome news that it was a false alarm! Still, there was no electricity. The pastor was trying to finish his sermon without sound amplification, and we strained to hear him, although he had come down from the platform to be closer to the congregation. Suddenly his voice was normal. The power had come back on and the wireless microphone he wore was working.

Later, exiting the church following the service, we saw two firemen standing near the door. Evidently the Fire Department was alerted when our alarm went off. Thank God for technology even if it does malfunction once in awhile!

The announcement was a little alarming (no pun intended) at first, because one never knows what will happen these days in public gatherings. Many churches have resorted to having security in place for the congregants' safety.

I am glad for passages in the Bible such as Psalm 91 which reads:

(1) "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
(2) I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him I will trust.
(3) Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
(4) He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
(5) Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
(6) Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor from the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
(7) A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
(8) Only with thine eyes shall thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
(9) Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation.
(10)There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh they dwelling.
(11)For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
(12)They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
(13)Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
(14)Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
(15)He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.
(16)With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood...

"There's a space on the other side," I said to my husband when we saw that a car was blocking the gas pump where we wanted to park. Howard was driving around toward the pumps on the other side when a car turned in ahead of us. Leaving us a little room, the driver went to the second pump. Behind him, our hose barely reached our car!

Just then the man who was getting ready to pump gas got back into his car and pulled it forward a few feet!

"Thank you!" my spouse said in surprise, to which the other customer replied cheerfully, "No problem! There is enough room for all of us here!"

"That's a polite man," Howard remarked, and I agreed. The stranger's words reminded me of something I heard on TV from a man a few days ago, referring to different beliefs and racial prejudices. He said something like "This is a big country. There's room for everyone here!"

"What is that sound I hear?" I asked my husband that night at bed time. He couldn't hear it at first, but when I laid my head on the pillow, the sound resonated over and over. I could not get to sleep because of the steady, staccato noise. Finally I got up and checked for faucet drips, barking dogs, appliance noise or whatever I could think of. At last I must have slept, but in the wee hours I awoke to it again. It had to be dogs barking! I concluded.

Today as we were driving home the back way, I noted that the Standing Bear Pow-Wow had begun. We passed the huge gathering, glancing toward the concession stands and all the cars and people there. Howard put the window down for a better view, and then it hit me! Drums were booming loudly in pulsating rhythm. We looked at each other and said in recognition, "That's what we heard last night!"

The mystery was solved! Thinking of our diverse population, I had to agree with the statement of the man at the gas station and the man on TV: "This is a big country. There's room for all of us here!"

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Light My Lamp!

My lamp quit working, so my husband rewired it! Or should I say "we" rewired it, because I was at his beck and call when he needed help. "Hold this flash light for me!" he entreated me as he struggled with the stubborn fixture.

"Plug it in!" he would say one minute, only to have me disconnect it the next minute. Once the house lights blinked, and my electrician husband did something at the fuse box.

Finally Howard replaced the milk-glass globe. His next words were, "Now bring me that tall thing that goes in the middle." I knew he meant the lamp chimney that fits over the light bulb and extends out the fluted top. With a sigh of relief, he was finished, and the lamp glowed brightly again.

The Bible says the light, or lamp, of the body is the eye. Matthew 6:22; Luke 11:34. How important it is that our eyes see the right things and perceive the right image. How easy it is to see the worst of a situation, rather than anticipate the best outcome!

I like Paul's instructions to the church at Philippi when he says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things," Philippians 4:8.

Sometimes our thinking has to be rewired! To do that, we have to be "plugged in" to the One who is our power source! Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven," Matthew 5:14, 16.

Our lamp chimney stabilizes and protects the bulb and insures the bright light. Jesus is our protection, and if we rely on Him, I doubt we will "blow a fuse!"

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Smells Good!

The most wonderful aroma has been coming out of my kitchen! I have been making apple butter! It must be the time of year that brings on the urge to once again fill my crock-pot with chopped apples and delicious spices. Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves sprinkled over the apples with sugar and a pinch of salt combine for a delicious treat, whether for a breakfast biscuit or mixed with peanut butter for a sandwich!

When I once mentioned to one of my daughter-in-loves that I had made some apple butter, she commented on what a long, tedious process it is. She hadn't yet discovered how easy it is today, because several years ago an elderly church member had come to their house and helped them make apple butter, which consumed nearly the whole day, stirring and standing over the stove.

If I remember right, I think my mother and grandmother once made apple butter in a big black pot over a fire in the back yard. I do definitely remember their making soap that way once. I couldn't figure out part of the soap recipe Grandma left behind, when it called for "monkey blood." I found out later that was Mercurochrome (or was it iodine) put in as an antiseptic. This was in the mid-forties.

But back to apple butter. Mama didn't routinely make it, but she bought a lot of it. The apple butter mixed with peanut butter was put in biscuit sandwiches that we carried to school in a tin pail for our lunch. As a first-grader, I got tired of that regimen, then one day the teacher traded me a sandwich on store-bought "light bread" for my biscuit. She said she loved biscuits, but never had time to make them. I think she was just being kind. She was always my favorite teacher!

Cooking and methods of preserving food have advanced since then, but some things never lose their appeal, such as the fragrance of spicy apple butter wafting through the house. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 2:15, "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish." The best fragrance of all!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

In a Flash

"I would like to have some coffee," my husband announced as we headed home. I'd had a hair appointment, and he had been at the gym. We'd already had lunch, but Howard loves his coffee.

"Okay," I said, "Let's go to the train depot coffee shop!" He agreed, and I went before him up the steps to the quaint little place. The wonderful aroma of coffee met me as I glanced appreciatively at the tastefully done interior. Then suddenly the room was coming at me in crazy angles in a kaleidoscope of confusion! I was aware of falling as Howard tumbled into me, knocking me down to the floor!

What had happened? Howard said he tripped his foot on something at the door! We were both down, and after I managed to get up, he resisted my efforts to help him. Instead, Howard scooted himself over to grab the leg of a table to help me get him up! I winced with pain from the impact of falling hard on the shiny, painted concrete floor!

Presently we realized we were somewhat okay, and drank our coffee to calm our nerves. I am alright now, more than 24 hours later, and Howard only has a scrape on his arm. How fast the unexpected can happen!

At supper I was making tacos, and I put the shells in the oven to get crispy the way we like them. Chopping a tomato, grating cheese, cutting lettuce and browning the ground beef, I thought how good everything smelled, almost overwhelmingly so! Just then I turned around to see blazes though the glass of the oven door! The taco shells were on fire! No wonder something smelled so strong!

I yelled in panic for my spouse, and confusion reigned for a moment before I grabbed a spatula and scraped the burning inferno into a pan. After dousing in water and putting the mess down the disposal, we flung open the doors and put the ceiling fan on high. Thankfully, I had more shells, and though a little shaken, we got through dinner!

Alarming world events are happening every day. We seem to be seeing scripture fulfilled before our eyes, but Jesus said the end is not yet. Nevertheless, we know that things can happen fast! Revelation 3:11 says, "Behold, I come quickly." Be prepared!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fledglings

The three surviving baby chicks we hatched several weeks ago in the incubator were cute with their downy, yellow feathers. They looked like little balls of fluff as they toddled around uncertainly in their protective box, kept warm by a heat bulb.

Finally the growing chicks graduated to a wire-covered cage in the barn. But now they were awkward-looking and gangly! Worst of all, their feathers stood out at crazy angles as if they'd been caught in a wind storm! Since we had three roosters, we weren't sure what their heritage would be, much as we hoped they were Araucanas.

Last week we deemed the young chickens ready to mix with the rest of the flock, though we feared the dominating rooster might be rough on them at first. Sure enough, he tried to flog them, making the newcomers retreat inside the hen house to huddle in the shadows of the nesting boxes.

I save table scraps as a treat for the penned-up chickens and hoped to entice the young ones to come out. Now they are making dashing forays into the big pen once in a while, on the outside chance they can grab a morsel.

But the strangest thing has happened! I hadn't noticed the scaredy-cat chicks for awhile, but when they dashed out recently I was amazed! They were beautiful! They have feathered out nicely with the prettiest wings, dark feathers glistening over the mottled softness underneath. I think they are Araucanas after all.

Isn't that the way it is with growing children? Cute and adorable as babies, they usually reach an awkward stage as they grow up. They not only look like gangly, if endearing, colts, they often feel "dumb," clumsy and insecure. They need the support and encouragement of family more than ever at this vulnerable age. Not only of family, but spiritual support from and involvement with their church to strengthen them against negative factors they face.

Even as the old rooster is out to pounce on the vulnerable young flock, the Bible warns in I Peter 5:8, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

There is nothing more rewarding to parents than to one day look at our off-spring and see the beauty of Jesus in our grown-up "chicks!"


Monday, September 18, 2017

Volunteer Army

Yesterday was a big day for us at church. Howard and a friend had practiced several times for a song to follow the worship service. He was a little nervous, but our friend had made sure his guitar and equipment were in place and had taken care of every detail. It had been her idea, and it was a blessing to him to be able to do this.

Immediately afterward, a presentation was on tap to honor all the volunteers of the church. Over the past few weeks, headshots had been taken of each volunteer. At the time I really did not know what they were going to do with the pictures. We had been told that we were to gather in the hallway before being presented to the church.

I soon found out that we were to line up alphabetically and go in one by one. There were about a hundred of us clustered in the hall, and it took a little while to find our place in line with the "S"s. Finally the names with our letter came up. I followed Howard as I heard first his name called and then mine. We were handed a long-stem red rose and received hugs and appreciative words from our pastor and his wife as we crossed in front of the platform. (When I sat down I realized they were showing each individual's picture on the screen as the names were read, even if we'd been too busy to notice our own.)

Yesterday's events reminded of an Awards Day. Kind of like the Awards days we attended when our kids were in school. It was such a proud moment to hear his or her name called for a special achievement award!

The Bible tells us that there will be, not an award day, but a reward day someday. "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built upon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he will suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." I Corinthians 3:13-16.

My volunteer service was nothing notable, mostly consisting of supplying a cake or dessert for a funeral or bake sale or helping in the kitchen. Howard's is in visitation when needed. (Perfect for his gift of communication.)

Good deeds done can be great or small. Our helpful friend who persuaded my husband to use his guitar and sing in church for the first time since his recovery from surgery and complications last year was demonstrating kindness and encouragement! Rewarding qualities for sure!

Monday, September 11, 2017

On an Ordinary Day

It was a beautiful late-summer, early-fall morning. My husband and I were taking our granddaughters, Corrin, 4, and Rachel, 2, whom we were baby-sitting, for a walk. We loved to go down the hill to a spillway where the water ran over the low bridge just enough to cool little feet and wriggling toes.

After our tots tired of tossing pebbles over the bridge barrier and sighting fish stirring the water below, we nudged them on for the long walk up the steep hill. But first, they had to catch tadpoles in the shallow puddles beside the road and pick scraggly bunches of sunflowers bobbing in the breeze. Rachel got tired first, so we made a pack-saddle of our arms and carried her up the hill while big sister scrambled on ahead.

How we loved this little bit of country paradise! We had begun pastoring a small church and needed a place nearby, after having driven for a few months from our former home 40 miles away. I had despaired of finding a rental, though I searched the newspaper daily. Then one day I happened to read something from a book by Pat Robertson. He told of how they were in search of a home, when the Lord spoke to him, saying, "Until you are thankful for the home you have, you will not find a better one." Good things happened when he commenced to do that, ending up with a ranch, horses, and a home they love.

I took his words to heart and did the same thing. The next time I looked at the classifieds, I read, "For Rent: Cozy cottage on 30 rolling acres, pond, pecan trees, on 15-acre lake." We took it! And now glad to go in and collapse on sofas! The television was on, since our son was with us while taking a break from college.

I stared at the screen, thinking it was some kind of accident, when I saw smoke billowing from a tall building and heard puzzled concern in the voice of the television host. It was 9/11, today's date!

We fell to our knees as the horror sank in, and the terrifying events that followed that day kept us praying! The security of our idyllic little world was shaken! And now, 16 years later, we are shaken by disasters of what the news commentators describe as "of biblical proportions"!

The scriptures tell us, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven;

Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken remain." Hebrews 12:25-27.

The next verse comforts and admonishes us, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with godly fear." Certainly applicable for today!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse

"What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" David asked this question thousands of years ago. I couldn't help thinking the same thing during the majestic eclipse all of the US was privileged to see.

Suddenly we were aware of our own helplessness, except for the mercies of God! If the sun were blacked out more than momentarily, our life on earth would cease! Plants would not grow, food would not be available, and darkness would prevail as we groped about in confusion!

Who do we think we are, with our wars, political unrest, materialism and disregard of God and His plan? Surely, if the celestial event had a message, it would be to remind us how dependent we are on His higher power!

Psalm 19 says it all:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. (2)Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. (3)There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. (4)Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, (5) Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

(6) His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. (7)The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (8) The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. (9)The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

(10) More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. (11) Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. (12) Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. (13) Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. (14) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer."

Amen!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

First-Aid

Ouch! I poked my finger with the sharp end of a knife trying to open a plastic-packaged item. There was only a droplet of blood, so I rinsed it off and didn't think much about it. Until the middle of the night when it felt definitely sore. By morning, it was painful and a little swollen, right below my fingernail. Belatedly, I put antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid on it. Not only was it uncomfortable and worrisome, it stuck out like a sore thumb, er..finger, ruining the look of my nail polish!

While we were in Houston last week, my daughter-in-love took my granddaughters and me for a girls' day out. We visited the nail salon! I loved my manicure! The kids each got a mani-pedi for back-to-school, and their mother chose a pedicure. Anyway, my blemish had taken on a dark-red color that definitely didn't go with coral shellac! Thankfully, it's all better now.

The same thing had happened to me a week or so before. Same scenario, using the sharp point of a knife to cut open a stubborn, plasticized container! The only difference being that I took action then and immediately washed, applied ointment and a Band-Aid to my pierced finger on the other hand. Didn't even get sore!

Reflecting on these little incidents, I thought about how a bad deed, mistake, or sin, if not repented of or made right, can fester and grow out of proportion, like a swollen injury. But if repenting, apologizing or setting things right is done right away, as in the example of caring for the injured finger immediately, it need not even leave a scar!

Jesus addresses a situation in Matthew 5:23 dealing with an immediate setting-to-rights example. "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; (24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

Guilt or a heavy conscience can mar relationships not only with man, but with God as well! We are also told in scripture, "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath," Ephesians 4:26.`And my advice is, Don't go to bed with an un-tended problem, be it a cut finger or something bigger. Take care of it, the sooner the better!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Feeding the Flock

"Give me 42 kolaches," I thought I heard my daughter-in-law Tammy say, in addition to her order for all us in the car. We were on our way to church, where son Jamie was already, preparing for his Youth Sunday School Class. Later, after we had eaten our food in the café area, I found out the purpose of the bag of sausage- and ham-stuffed rolls.

Jamie had asked Howard to give his testimony for the youth in an interview with his dad. Meanwhile, after we climbed the stairs and entered the youth area, we were surprised to see a number of pool tables and passed through a darkened hallway lit only by sparkly, twinkling lights. A teenage musician was giving a trip report when we walked in, and then Jamie began the song service. A worship service, really.

"All of you come to the front," he instructed the youth. "C'mon, c'mon," he admonished them as they were soon obediently all up front standing before the platform. They attentively sang and worshipped together. I had never seen a Sunday School class like this!

As the youth took their seats, they were told it was time for breakfast. So that was what all those kolaches and bottles of water were for! "Girls go first, then the guys," he said, as they eagerly tramped to the food tables, got their kolaches, then ate them sitting in their seats to hear Howard's words.

My husband began telling of visions he had had in the hospital while in recovery after heart surgery last year. They listened intently when Howard told them he had seen Jesus three times, and had had 10 visions. In one in particular, he described vividly how beautiful heaven is, and also that he saw people entering heaven. "They were floating down like Mary Poppins, landing gracefully, then when they recognized where they were, they began to dance joyfully in glad realization that they were home!"

At one point in his interview, Howard related how uncomfortable he was in recovery, and he knew he still had physical therapy facing him. He had heard that it was strenuous and was dreading it immensely. In his weakened state, he even told God to take him home! He said he had felt the Lord's presence so strongly that he wanted to leave this world. I remember he said, "Call Greg," our son. What I didn't know was that he was going to give him instructions about his demise!

"No, Dad, you're not going to die. I will help you get through this," Greg assured him. And he did!

(Coincidentally, later in the morning service during the pastor's message, he spoke about his recent emergency surgery and difficult recovery. "I told God I was ready, and I wanted to go home," he admitted. "Thank God my other half wouldn't have that!" he said as he shook his head.)

How gratifying it was to us as parents to be able to attend church and worship with these kids and grandkids! Now that we're home from Houston, it seems almost like a vision of my own!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Foundational!

We loved the brown leather sofa we bought several years ago. Our son, Jamie, advised that we use non-textile furniture due to my allergies, and that is largely what we have done. The only problem with our sofa was that while it was still new, one end of a spring sprang loose from its foundation. Service men from the store came out and fixed it, but it has been problematic for some time.

Getting used to the inconvenience as we often do, I tolerated it and plumped it up with extra pillows and cushions. It was probably puzzling to guests when they were asked to sit at either end of the sofa, never in the middle!

Then our adept and competent son, Greg, heard me complaining about it the other day, and in a matter of minutes had the piece of furniture turned upside down, saying he could fix it. He and his engineer son, Adam, examined and evaluated what they would need to repair the piece, then left to come back shortly with a collection of tools.

Soon they were sweating, pulling, hammering and practically re-building the underpinnings and foundation of the couch! After several trial and error attempts, they pronounced it finished. I was amazed when they turned it upright and it was a non-sagging, evenly cushioned, place of relaxation! Praise God for help from family!

I thought about the story Jesus told of the house that was built upon a rock, its solid foundation. When the storms came, it stood strong, while the house built upon shifting sands collapsed and fell. Everything that lasts must start with a good foundation. We endeavor to provide good, stable homes for our children so that they may grow up secure with a strong foundation for their beliefs, conduct and way of life.

Sadly, many in our world do not have this. Thankfully, we support efforts to minister to those in adverse and dire circumstances throughout the world with our givings personally or through the church and other ministries, with the purpose of reaching them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 28:16 assures us, "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." (be forced to leave.) Thank God for our foundation, Jesus Christ!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ever-present Help in Tiime of Need

I had a sinking feeling as I digested my son's words. To my question as to whether he would meet us as planned at our 3-hour layover in Ft. Worth, he replied, "No, I can't do that. I have to work." Several times before when we had taken the Amtrak train to visit our youngest son's family in Houston, Trevor met us there and took us to lunch and a brief sight-seeing tour to pass the time.

I told him that was fine, since it would've meant a long drive for him anyway, but inside, I was panicking. How I dreaded us struggling with bulky luggage (I always pack too much), pulling it nearly half a block, over tracks, and finally to the train station to wait out the hours, then repeating the process and boarding again! We hadn't done that since Howard's heart surgery several months ago, and I was concerned.

That morning while we waited at the station to begin our trek homeward after an eventful week at son Jamie's house, we kept getting updates that the train was running late. Actually, we didn't mind, since that would reduce our waiting time at Ft. Worth, where we would board The Heartland Flyer for the remainder of our trip back to Oklahoma.

We settled in for the ride, going to the observation car for awhile, enjoying the scenic view of big sky, West-Texas hill country. Finally we decided to get something to eat, although the prices on trains are triple anywhere else. (We had brought food for the trip going down, but we soon tired of it and ate in the dining car as a splurge.) This time we visited the Cafe' and it helped pass the time.

As we were nearing our stop, I was surprised to hear Howard inquiring of an attendant if there was a porter or anyone who could help us with our bags. Incredibly, she said, "Yes, we have a "People Mover." I had seen luggage on carts on previous trips, but I always assumed they were for a long-distance baggage car! As soon as we got off the train, they sent the vehicle for us and our luggage, which they held for us. We couldn't believe it! They even came and got us when The Heartland Flyer arrived and took us and the luggage to the boarding area.

That was an answer to prayer! Howard told me that he had prayed earlier that we would get help! And to think it was available all along! I couldn't help but think about how Jesus wants us to call on Him, for he will bear our burdens. We go along struggling over heavy loads of worry, troubles, or anticipated problems, when if we will only ask, He will carry our baggage!

Despite the lost time due to heavy rail traffic, we made it to our destination right on the dot! We were met by our son Greg who saw us safely the rest of the way home. Jesus will do the same!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Corrin!

I rocked her as a newborn, caring for her at only a few weeks old when my daughter, Amy, returned to her nursing job. How well I remember giving baby Corrin her two-ounce bottle, cradling the warm little bundle on one hand and patting her back with the other until I heard the requisite burp, then holding the second tiny bottle that would complete her feeding. She felt like my own baby! But when her parents came home from work, I readily relinquished the precious bundle and fell exhausted on the sofa. Who knew how hard it would be!

We had moved back from a couple years stint in Wichita, Kansas, where Howard was on staff at a large church, serving as Senior's Pastor. But we missed our Mississippi home, and our kids needed a baby-sitter. I loved it! It was a joy to watch little Corrin grow. I would put her down for a nap on our large bed, lying down beside her while she wriggled and blinked for a few minutes before those lashes over her beautiful brown eyes drooped in slumber.

It wasn't long before she was learning to crawl, imitating three-year-old big brother Reid, as he mimicked her on all fours, rocking back and forth. He would become her idol throughout her childhood, enduring his reckless foibles, such as the time the told her to turn around, then shot her in the back with his BB gun! No matter, she would put on his jeans and try to be just like him.

Corrin was quiet and shy in pre-school, but behind that furrowed brow, she was a thinker. When she was four, she and brother Reid attended a VBS at the church we were by then pastoring. On commencement night, she stood stolid and bored-looking on the platform, not singing or participating. I was convinced she hadn't gotten anything from the lessons, the theme of which was "Brave Believers," patterned after heroes of the Bible.

A couple of weeks later, Amy and I were in our pasture with Corrin and little sister Rachel, 2, when we heard the pounding thuds of the two resident horses galloping toward us at full speed. Amy grabbed Rachel, calling Corrin as we rushed for the gate. Abruptly, the horses came to a halt, and we looked back to see her raven-haired daughter holding up a stick in front of the steeds, manes still flowing from their sudden stop. She had stopped them in their tracks!

"How did you do that, Corrin?" I questioned in astonishment, to which she replied, "I'm a brave believer!"

When she was six, Corrin was reading from her children's Bible, and one day told me she was up to the story of the "Drinking Queen." I found the place and saw it was titled, "The Daring Queen," Esther.

From going on her first mission trip to an Indian reservation in New Mexico at age 10, to becoming a college junior at a Christian university, our granddaughter has been making us proud. Now she seems to have met "Mr. Right," so we can only imagine the next step in her future. Happy 20th birthday, little one!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Musing Through Memories

My sister Pauline was a bit of a tomboy. The second oldest, of which both were girls, I think she was a sort of Daddy's 'boy,' until his sons came along, anyway.  At any rate, she grew up brave and adventurous.  Almost 9 years younger, I can still see her up in the top of a pecan tree shaking the branches so the rest of us kids could gather the treasured harvest.

Daddy had been away for a long trip to California, and she was the one who heralded his homecoming from the pecan tree-top.  "I see Daddy!" she shouted, to our happy surprise. Later, she would accompany him there where both found work in Buena Park.  I think that created a life-long fondness for going out west.

Pauline was widowed at the tender age of 25, when the father of her three young children died unexpectedly from a heart attack.  Summoning all her strength and courage, she held her family together while restlessly seeking a new beginning. The spunky young mother, kids in tow, stoically drove several times to California where she had Christian friends and a warm welcome.

My dear sister took Jesus as her savior as a young teen, and was fervent for the Lord her entire life, becoming an ordained minister who even established churches. It was she who took me to church for the first time when I was about five years old, getting me there as often as she could.

It was at that small, country church that the impressionable youth learned the hymns and gospel songs that she loved to sing. Somewhere along the way Pauline picked up the guitar, which was the perfect accompaniment to her lovely, lilting voice. At some point, the talented young woman made professional recordings and CD's, a stash of which was found after her passing. I have been given one to treasure.

Pauline's entrepreneurial bent found her starting several businesses and enterprises, some of which were more successful than others. In later years, as my sister's load lightened, so did her mood and personality. She was funny! She loved to joke and make other people laugh. Her wonderful sense of humor endeared her to us all. Her songs in her own voice surrounded us in the prelude to her funeral. She was singing about heaven. I've no doubt that she is there, maybe even making the angels smile!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lights Out!

The bulb in our refrigerator went out, and we kept forgetting to get one! Meanwhile, I had to use a flashlight or grope in the dark for whatever I needed from the mysterious contents inside. Finally Howard bought a bulb, but when he tried to put it in from the awkward angle, it didn't seem to fit.  A few more days of darkness. 

Intending to exchange the bulb for the right size, we found we had left it at home.  The helpful sales associate showed us different sizes of appliance bulbs, but we couldn't be sure.  Then saying that they didn't have the selection that an appliance store might have, he suggested we go to Lowe's.  We didn't feel like navigating Lowe's, so we went home  empty-handed.

That night, I asked our son and grandson over for supper, since Greg would be out of state for work the coming week. I mentioned the fridge, and Greg said, "Let me see that bulb," despite my telling him it wouldn't work.  He came to the table a few minutes later, and said, "It's fixed!"

"You mean it works?" I crowed happily, then opened the door to welcome, streaming light!

How important light is! Jesus tells us in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

Proverbs 4:18 says: "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the  perfect day."

That makes me think of traveling, for in Psalm 119:105 we read, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." I have always compared this illustration to the headlights of an automobile. The upper beam lights the highway ahead (light unto my path), and the lower beam (lamp unto my feet),  illuminates the road directly in front of us!

We may not  have made it to Lowe's, but thankfully, we had the solution all the time! Jesus is always the answer, and He is there all the time!


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thermostat

"Howard, this fridge isn't cooling very  well," I said as I got out our breakfast preparations.

"Well, turn it up!" was his reply. 

Then I looked at the dial and found it was only set about halfway.  I quickly turned it to the coldest setting. I know the shelves get  too full, what with our many leftovers preventing proper air circulation, but I had nearly emptied it recently.

This got me thinking about the spiritual lives of believers.  Often we get lukewarm, and our relationship with the Lord needs to be turned up to a higher level! Jesus said he would rather we be cold or hot. I  hate lukewarm milk, and would spew it out of my mouth, just like Jesus said in Revelation 3:16, "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth."

Sometimes we get filled up with leftovers.  Leftover grievances. Someone hurt our feelings, maybe years ago, and deep down, we have never gotten over it. Someone did us wrong, or someone else got the promotion or award that should have been ours. Leftovers stink after awhile! They get all moldy and dangerous.  It's best to forgive and throw out those old hurts and disappointments.

Our granddaughter attends a week-night church program for teens.  Every week for months she was the most attentive, knew all the memorization scriptures, was well-liked by all, and when it came time for the award at the end of the school year, all the kids assured her it would be hers. And she expected, it, too, but it went to the most unruly, uncooperative student in the class:  the superintendent's son. She cried, but I think she has put it behind her now.

A couple of days ago, I noticed a pot of flowers I have hanging on my porch.  Unfortunately,  all the pretty blooms were facing outside,  so I turned the basket of  flowers around so I could enjoy the blossoms. The next time I looked, all the flowers were turned backwards on their stems facing the sun!

Not that they were hot or cold, but their DNA was to face the sun!  To be hot with the joy of His presence, we must face the Son!

Today while we were in town I noticed a temperature reading on a lit-up sign that  said 78 degrees.  "Well, it will sure be hotter than that this afternoon," I  remarked, "It's supposed to get to 102." When I got out of the car, it felt that hot already.  The gauge  was wrong!  Sometimes we have to check our spiritual gauge.  Are we negligent in church attendance? Slack in supporting the work of God? Not keeping a close relationship with Him? Face the Son! Where the temperature is just right!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Seeing is Believing?

Browsing Youtube the other day, I came across an old movie I love, "Sarah, Plain and Tall." Oh, good! I thought, and couldn't wait to click on it. Rats! It was a video with a huge, oval, white spot in the middle of the screen! I wanted to see it so bad that I continued to watch anyway, putting up with the blurry, faded picture, which was only clear around the edges.

Since I knew the story so well, I followed along okay, catching a little of it over several days.  I finally finished all three series of the videos. Then another showing of the movie came on.  This time perfectly clear and in vibrant color!  And to think if I'd scrolled further, I could have watched it comfortably all along!

How many times have we stopped short of something or of some goal that we wanted to achieve only to settle for whatever popped up in our path? We often give up too soon, then in retrospect we realize that if we  had only held on a little longer, success would be ours.  This may be true of education, relationships, or even pursuing in prayer!

Later, I thought of the scripture that says, "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. Of course, it is speaking of our limited understanding and knowledge here, but in Heaven we will have clear vision and recognition, as we will be recognized as well!

Here things are not always what they seem.  Not long ago I bought a purse that I really liked.  I had carried it to church on Sunday, after which I had visiting family over for a big Sunday dinner. As we all chatted later, I noticed my new handbag lying on a bench in the living room where I had obviously dropped it coming in, in my hurry to serve the meal.

I picked it up and showed it to my grown granddaughter, pointing out features that it had, and closing a zipper pocket I had left open.  I went on and on, getting no response, when finally she laughed and said, "Mimi, that is my purse!"  I gasped and laughed at my mistake, and went to the bedroom to get my almost identical purse!  The joke was on me, as I was zipping and fooling around with her pocketbook!

The other night I got ready for bed after taking my allergy pill and setting a bottle of water on the night stand for when I would get thirsty.  In the middle of the night, I got up in the dark, heard something hit the floor and almost simultaneously felt a spurt of cold water under my feet. I had knocked off and stepped on the plastic water bottle! Seeing through a glass darkly? Up there, everything will be crystal clear!



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Chicken!

"They won't go outside!" I exclaimed to my husband. He had recently transferred some nearly grown chickens from their protective cage to wider spaces, which included a safe, fenced area outside. Howard came into the shed and began to nudge one through the opening to the outdoors.  The chicken immediately ran back inside to the gloom and semi-darkness of the hen house.  It had been almost a week, and the good-sized birds refused to budge!

Of course, I knew their trepidation was partly because of the roosters, which had been known to initially pick on a newcomer until they got used to its presence. But the young flock was missing so much! Fresh air, sunshine, discoveries in the grass--even the table tidbits I tossed in almost daily! It reminded me of how kids used to yell, "Chicken!" to a pal who refused to take a dare or do some weird feat.

Sometimes I think Christians are held back from some goal or accomplishment in work for the Lord because we are too "chicken!" We don't want our comfort zone to become uncomfortable! We wouldn't have the stories of the mighty heroes of the Bible if they had stayed in their comfort zones.

David stepped forth to kill Goliath.  "Then David 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 has defied."!

The disciples risked and even lost their lives to spread the gospel.  In Judges 4:21 a  woman named Jael drove a tent peg through an enemy's head and delivered Israel from the Canaanites. A teen-ager named Mary suffered scorn and gossip to carry the Savior of the world in her womb.

We are not usually called to such mighty endeavors. But it's easy to let the smallest obstacle stand in our way...too busy, don't feel up to it, uninterested, inconvenient--when we are asked or invited to do something for the Lord.  Or if it is something that involves a risk, we may be too "Chicken!"

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Word Fitly Spoken

I noticed my husband had a troubled look on his face when he came back from picking up a few things at the grocery store. 

"What's wrong?" I asked. "Is everything alright?"

With downcast eyes he said, "I think I failed God."

When I asked what happened, he began. "I had checked out and was standing in front of the news stand looking at the newspaper, when the manager came up and said, 'If you're looking for good news, you won't find it there. Not there, not anywhere! Not in any newspaper!"

Howard said he was taken aback, and replied, "Yes, America has problems."

"But I should have witnessed to him and told him the good news of the gospel!" my conscientious husband exclaimed. I could tell he was feeling bad.

"Let me read you something," I said. It was a Father's Day message from our daughter, Julie, that he hadn't yet seen:

"Father's Day honors and celebrates our precious dads. My dad turned 79 a few days ago. My husband expressed in his sermon this morning that Dad should write a book. You see, Dad's positivity is contagious. His songs are positive. His hello's to strangers are encouraging. Phone conversations are uplifting. Sermons that he shares are pointing in the right direction. Remember the little song, "Smile awhile and give your face a rest"?  The song depicts his life's attitude. Dad, thanks for your winning words and bright light to those you meet. I know where it comes from. It comes from God's Word. We are more than conquerors through Him. My interpretation of all this? Of your life's work? If we are in the Light (Jesus) we are winners! I love you, Dad."

His face crumpled a little as her father tried to suppress a tear. "That makes me feel better," he said quietly. I think God will give him another chance to talk to the grocer!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rise and Shine!

"Get some Ballard biscuits," my husband directed me when we were in the grocery store awhile back. We never buy canned biscuits, but somehow Howard had a longing for the biscuits he remembered as a child from his dad's grocery store. He calls any canned biscuits Ballard biscuits, which are probably not even marketed by that name anymore.

We always buy too many groceries, it seems, and, tired from unloading the bags, I put the cold things away and shoved some canned goods still in the bag onto a lower cabinet shelf.  Several days later, I decided to use the biscuits for breakfast.  I couldn't find them! They were not in the refrigerator nor anywhere else. I even looked in the car, in case they had fallen out. They never showed up, and that was weeks ago.

A couple of days ago I was retrieving a can of tomato sauce for stuffed peppers I was making for supper. Something felt odd in the bag,  kind of squishy. My lost biscuits! The can had popped open, and a couple were loose in the bag, but some had stayed in the can.  I was about to discard them, when I saw they felt oddly fresh, puffy and not discolored.  Howard told me to bake them, and they tasted fine!

Later I thought about the lesson on leaven in the Bible.  Usually, leaven (yeast, or baking powder) has a negative connotation, but in Matthew 13:33, Jesus says, "...The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole lump was leavened."  Seemingly, that would point to the spread of the gospel around the world, such as we see now!

The can of biscuits was hidden away in the dark until it came to light and gave us bread to eat! Psalm 119:11 reads, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." We need to hide the word in our heart! As we remember, meditate and think on the word, it will grow us stronger! Scripture speaks of "the hidden man of the heart," I Peter 2:4, and Romans 7:22 says, "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man."

The next time he sent me back to the refrigerated area for biscuits, I grabbed two of the small cans for Howard. I have to feed the outward man, too!

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Masked Bandit!

"Where are your guineas?" I exclaimed in alarm when I looked into the cage of the young birds.  Howard rushed to see for himself, but they were gone! He had treasured these fowl! Two had died when we first got them several weeks ago, but the four remaining were healthy and growing with  careful feeding and attention every day.  Small feathers scattered on the barn floor told the story.

Twice lately a huge raccoon had been discovered in the barn when our grandson went to shut the chickens in for the night. It was seen hiding in the rafters!  Evidently the predator crept in just before dusk when the chickens went in to roost! There was evidence of a struggle when both white feathers and red feathers were discovered on the floor.  Our white rooster had put up a victory fight, but the scanty remains of the red hen testified to her demise!

I felt so bad for my husband. He had doted on the guineas! Farm life can be so discouraging. I would have given up long ago, but my patient spouse is persistent. The quote "Hope springs eternal within the human breast" certainly fits him. He is already planning to get more guineas!

Several renegade guineas visit the farmyard regularly as it is.  Sometimes only a few, and at other times a huge flock of them! We like them, not only for their zany appearance, but because they kill and/or eat pests like ticks, snakes, and other undesirables.  Besides that, their clacking noise makes them a good "watch-dog!"

The raccoon reminds me of what the Bible says about the devil in  1 Peter 5:8. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour." Like the wily 'coon, Satan wears a mask. The Bible tells us he transforms himself into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14.) He can appear in many disguises to tempt and trap his prey.

The way my husband never gives up on nurturing and raising a flock of chickens makes me think of how God never gives up on us, His flock. Howard is ready to get his shotgun and go after the marauder. Jesus is pictured as the Good Shepherd who rescues the sheep with his rod and staff.

We are told in scripture that church leaders have responsibility to watch over our souls. (Hebrews 13:17). Maybe if  we ever raise guineas to maturity, they will suffice as "watch-dogs" and scare away the intruders! Howard would be a happy man!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

New Life!

From the time we saw a chipped place in the egg, we were excited! We'd waited the required 21 days for the chicks to start hatching in an incubator bought for this purpose. Then when the chick was obviously coming out, we squealed with delight! Our joy knew no bounds when the wobbly, still wet, little creature actually stood awkwardly on its own two feet!

You'd have thought we were new parents!  All laughing, talking and exclaiming on "our" accomplishment.  But the miracle of life was worth celebrating! How could an egg yolk develop blood cells and veins, a heart beat, and much more that would turn into a chicken?

Our glee reminded me of the Bible verse that says the angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner repents and is born into the kingdom (Luke 15:10). He has new life!  How we all cherish the new life when a baby is born into the household! It seems everyone is in a daze of joy and celebration for days to come.

Lately it seems many have finished their earthly life and have gone to heaven.  The Bible tells us we will  know as we are known up there.  What joy it will be to see people young and healthy again! Here on earth we often lose track of friends and people we used to know. But it's a small world and getting smaller all the time!

We were surprised during a recent revival that we knew the pastor the evangelist referred to in his sermon. In fact, our son married his daughter! At first, I thought we  had made a mistake, but he exclaimed, "Mark and Rhonda? Of course I know them. I've held two revivals for them!" He had known them from Alabama before they married!

Once our son, Trevor, was conducting a seminar in Atlanta, when a participant asked if Howard and Thelma were his parents!  He had never met her, nor she him! It's a small world!  In visiting our son  Mark's church in Austin, we were startled when a man said he knew our son, Jamie, who lives in Houston!

At the Herb Festival recently, a smiling woman remarked to Howard, "I know you! You're the one who looks like my dad!" Sure enough, at an estate sale a  few months ago we were approached by a stranger who wanted to take Howard's picture! "My mom noticed the resemblance," she had explained, "and wanted to get a picture.  You look just like him! Your mustache, and even your hat is like the one he wore!"

I can only imagine the reunions to come in Heaven, where there may even be cuddly rabbits and downy chicks, all bursting with new life! After all, the Life-giver will be there!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Planes, Trains and Automobiles!

We had gone to our son Greg's house this morning to see him off before he left  to board a plane in Stillwater for a work assignment on the West Coast.  Then we remembered this was the day an Amtrak train was to make a stop in town on a trial run for possible train service here!

After Greg left, we headed back to town to be among those who would greet the uncommon sight of a passenger train scheduled to stop here  at 10 o'clock.   Since we  had a few moments to spare, my husband opted to stop for coffee at Sacred Grounds, a new coffee shop occupying an old railroad depot, all beautifully redone.  The line at the drive-through was too slow, though, so we hurried on to get to the designated area for the Amtrak stop. We would get coffee on the way home!

There were hordes of people! It was a beautiful morning, sunny and cool, and it seemed everyone was smiling and in a good mood.  After all, we wanted to make a good showing that reflected our hope that they would add that convenience locally!  Howard and I often use the train to travel to visit our kids in Texas, but we have to board in Oklahoma City. Or Norman, our preferred station.

It wasn't hard to visualize how fun it would be to ride to Wichita, Fort Worth, Austin or San Antonio from right here at home! And no driving! I guess many people felt that way, judging from the turn-out!

On our last train excursion, I was enthralled by a voice coming over the PA system as every place of interest we passed, no matter how small, was described in glowing, enthusiastic terms! The voice, obviously of a conductor who could have been in show business, rose and fell in dramatic expression, making a scene out the window impossible to ignore!

At  last  the train came into view, with cell-phones held high by many eager to record this rarity with their camera feature.  Dignitaries who rode the train stepped out to greet us, and some held their own phone/camera out the window to take pictures of us taking pictures of them!

The stop was brief, and as the locomotive lumbered past, our mayor, one of the honored guests, leaned out the window of a passenger car giving a smiling "thumbs up" with both hands, obviously pleased at the attendance!

People have sometimes used trains as a metaphor for the trip to heaven. Kids used to sing of the "Happy Day Express" in children's church. "This Train," as in "This train is bound for glory, this train.." is an old, traditional gospel song.  The happy crowd waving, applauding and greeting the much-anticipated arrival this morning made me think of the joy of His people when Jesus returns for us! Arms will be lifted heavenward as we meet Him in the air! (I Thessalonians 4:17.) And no words will suffice to describe the beauty! And Jesus will be smiling, obviously pleased at the attendance!


Monday, June 5, 2017

To Be or not To Be?

That was the question.  Would it rain and spoil the scheduled church picnic on Sunday, or would the forecast be wrong? The rain had miraculously missed Saturday's Herb Festival, which we finally attended once it appeared it wasn't going to pour.

I  worked the rest of Saturday preparing picnic fare: a chocolate sheet cake, large potato salad, and home-fried chicken. Howard had cut up two fryers the night before, since he is the butcher in the family, having grown up in his dad's meat market/grocery store. (Some of the pieces seemed a little undefinable, though--he may have lost his touch since then.)

With such a lot of chicken, I got out my largest frying pan.  For some reason, it was taking forever for the grease to get hot enough.  Finally, it began to bubble, but when I put in the pieces, it would stop.  I was getting frustrated, turning and trying to brown the chicken.  Maybe there is something wrong with the burner eye, I thought, even pushing the pan to cover parts of the other burners.  That helped a  little.

When I replaced the huge skillet with two normal-size ones, the chicken got done and was presentable, at least. Howard  had mercy on me and cleaned up the mess. The rain began in earnest at bedtime,  and I heard it pelting down every time I woke up. Surely there would be no picnic, but every time I checked the internet church page, there was no cancellation.

We were  just ready to  load the food in the van and leave for church,  when I checked again.  The picnic had been cancelled! I was a little relieved.  On the way home from church, I called our son and grandson, who were glad to come over and help us eat the bounty! We had a wonderful afternoon of visiting and fellowship.

Later that evening, our son in Houston helped the grandkids Face-Time with us!  What a joy! 3-year-old Isaac explained that his new haircut was "broke" since the gel put in by the hairdresser had worn off!  He had to demonstrate a train set on the floor, making it go with a controller he held in his hand.  Big sister Anne-Marie treated us to "Jingle Bells" she performed on a recorder, then "Mary Had a Little Lamb" picked out on the piano.  Smiling, pajama-clad Maddie made a brief appearance, then Isaac re-appeared wearing a Spider-Man cape and mask, informing us that Spider-Man had "powers" in his hand.

All in all, it turned out "To Be" a very good day!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

In the Garden

"You know those plants are loaded with strawberries," my son Greg pointed out after checking on our tiny  garden. What? I had no idea! Every time I'd looked at them, all I could see were leaves! Well, under the leaves were hidden fresh, juicy berries, which we happily collected.

"Shall I pull the onions?" I asked of my husband. The (dried out) bulbs we had planted rather late had yielded only a few green onions, which were getting too large now.  He agreed, so I tugged at the long, green stems and was surprised that the roots had the purple sheen of red onions! They should be delicious!

"Look! The potato plants are blooming!" I announced at seeing tiny blossoms on our thriving plants, the only thing that was growing  thick and vigorously.  I wondered why they had blossoms, and what that meant.  I was pretty sure  it wasn't time to dig them  up, but I looked up info on raising potatoes.

Sure enough, the article I read said many people think the buds are indicators of harvest time, but they are only making seeds to ensure future crops! Well, we didn't start ours from seed, only from seed potatoes, which we cut into sections, making sure there was an "eye" in each cube, from which a root sprouts.  I found out that when it is time to dig up the potatoes, the vines will dry out, turn brown and wither. 

I couldn't help but see spiritual lessons and draw comparisons from all this new life in the garden. The surprise of strawberries under the leaves and the purple of the onions pulled from the soil reminded me that we never know what is inside a person, beneath the veneer and public front we see on the outside. When we get to know them, we are often surprised by the talents, wisdom and abilities God has instilled in them.

As Christians, we need to produce and sow seeds of the gospel into our own and the next generation. Who knows when a root of understanding and belief will sprout as their "eye" is opened to the Truth?  How rewarding to see a "crop" of new "potatoes" for the Kingdom! Our generation will someday wither away, like the potato vine, having done our job, but our "seed" can go on until the Harvest!




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Food for Thought!

Yesterday at our Senior Ladies' Breakfast, someone mentioned bread, and I asked them if they had heard of Dave's "Killer" Bread.  They were all ears, so I told them how much my husband and I like this healthy bread, especially the "White Bread Made Right." The funny part is that the baker learned to make it in prison!

I also gave them a tip for some green beans that we like.  It  just so happened that while we were at our son's house eating Easter dinner, I commented on how tasty the green beans were that my daughter-in-law served. "How did you make them?" I asked, to which she replied, "Oh, they're from a can at Walmart!"

She gave me the name, Glory Seasoned Green Beans, and I wasted no time in stocking up on them! The ladies were incredulous, especially when I told them I had taken a crock-pot full of them to a church dinner, and they were all eaten!

Later in the afternoon, we attended services for a friend we had known well at a former church. She had requested that her funeral be a time of celebration and praise. Many warm and amusing remembrances were given by her sister and a former pastor, as they reflected not only on her exemplary life, but also on her fun personality and sense of  derring-do!

One story was about the time when they lived close to a mountain in Colorado, and the older sister, age 10, suggested to the then-five-year-old telling about it, that they climb the mountain behind their house. It was rough and slippery, but after awhile, it was getting late, and big sis decided it was time to go home, despite the fear of crumbling rocks under their feet.

At  some point, they thought they detected a faint cry in the distance. They recognized the voice of their mother, who never stopped calling their names. They knew they were headed in the right direction by the sound of her voice.  She had been worried out of her mind and was so glad to welcome the scruffy girls safely home!

Her point was that Jesus knows us and is calling our name.  He won't give up on us if we will heed Him.

I thought of the tasty bread and the food I was so eager to share about.  Jesus called himself the Bread of Life.  When the disciples asked Him to eat in John 4:31, Jesus told  them He had food to eat that they knew nothing about. John 4:32. He said that His food was to do the will of His Father, verse 34.

May we be as eager to share the Bread of Life as we are to share about earthly food, and to think of our work in telling others about Jesus as our food! And if we listen for and  follow His voice, we will be going in the right direction!




Monday, May 22, 2017

School's Out!

Wow! Three graduations in the family in a week's time! Our grandson Adam graduated college, our granddaughter Rachel graduated high school, and our great-grandson Gavin graduated kindergarten! We are so proud of them all!

Gavin is the little boy, who, in  trying to figure life out, after asking the blessing over the food at the table one day, asked his father, "Dad, do pray over your food at work?" Our grandson told him that he prays a silent prayer over his lunch. That night, Gavin announced, "I said a silent prayer over my lunch at school  today!"

A few days later, his dad found out some older boys at school were rough with Gavin on the playground. He was ready to go confront the boys, but Gavin protested, "No, Daddy, we have to walk in love!" He had paid attention to his grandfather's sermon that Sunday!

I remember baby-sitting Rachel in her kindergarten days. Her favorite after-school activity was to play school, with herself as the teacher and me as the pupil! Her pencil rapped authoritatively if I did not do things  the way her teacher taught her! Now she is an accomplished young woman, ready to face the world.

Since Gavin lives in Tennessee, and Rachel in Georgia, we were only able to attend Adam's graduation, at OSU in Stillwater. He proudly wore  the stole and chain around his neck, symbols of honor, as he received his degree in Chemical Engineering. They grow up so fast.

A graduation of another kind took place a few days ago, and we will say our final good-byes on Tuesday to a friend who has already left for heaven. Her graduation robe was white, and her award of honor a crown, I'm sure one with many stars. May that be our goal someday, when we finish our schooling here on earth!


Friday, May 12, 2017

Stormy Weather

"Oh! It's going off again!" the cashier said with a worried look, "I was afraid of that!"

"What is going off?" I asked quizzically as we paid for our purchases, to which she responded, "The tornado warning siren!"

Just then I heard it! We had come to Stillwater for some shopping with our son (he wanted to buy me something for Mother's Day). We'd had lunch  and he'd made a quick stop at a music store, but now the rain was pelting down and the air was filled with the eerie whistles! Our trip would be cut short as we hurried to the car.

A mechanical, monotonous voice was blasting from the car radio with ominous warnings: Debris would be everywhere. People and animals outside would be injured. Roofs and houses would be destroyed.

Shortly after we got into the car, the phone rang with the report from our grandson, Adam (who had stayed home) that he had received a message from his college that all OSU students were to take cover!

Announcements were broadcast that school buses loaded with children were returning to schools. The bus-riders would shelter in place at their schools.

Then live reports from storm chasers pin-pointed the location of the almost certain tornado. It was near the small town of Perkins, only a few miles behind us! Thankfully Greg was driving! The reports were of expected baseball-size hail! I could just imagine it coming through the wide windshield of our van!

Tense prayers were going up from us for our safety. About halfway home, the rain slowed a bit, the weather reports were relaxed somewhat, and we breathed a collective sigh of relief! By the time we got home, though the street gutter vents were spewing out water like water spouts and rivulets ran down the road, we only dodged a few raindrops getting into the house!

Thank God, He is a shelter in the time of storm! Isaiah 25:4.  Today the sun is shining beautifully in a rain-washed sky as the grass and flowers sparkle with moisture from heaven. A glorious day!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Forgetting to Remember

"What are you guys doing here?" I heard my son's voice and saw him looking down from the SUV beside us a few weeks ago.  Well, we were actually getting something inside the store for his daughter's birthday! "We'll see you there soon," he called as they went on to the party location. 

We didn't see their car as we pulled up, so we waited patiently, then decided to go in. We were sitting on a bench by the door when the hostess asked,  "Would you like a booth?" to which I replied, "No, we're waiting for family."

After a few minutes I said to Howard, "They did say Pizza Inn, didn't they?" He said he thought so, so we settled down to wait. Just then the phone rang. 

"Where are you guys?" Our son queried. 

"We're at Pizza Inn!" I exclaimed. "Where are you?"  Then I heard him say, "We're at Pizza  Hut! I told you!"

After I insisted he'd said Pizza Inn, we drove the short distance to Pizza Hut.  We found them waiting to cut the cake with several others around the table for our granddaughter's 8th birthday celebration. Later I looked at my phone and found the text that did indeed say Pizza Hut!

I've got to quit speed-reading and scanning print! Twice recently we showed up for church events that I was sure were on particular nights, only to find we were the only ones there! Although I get the church bulletin, they often get misplaced or don't make it home with me!

The aforementioned incidents pale in comparison to scenarios the past couple of days. Our visit to son Mark's home in Austin was expanded to include visiting son Jamie's family in Houston.  The guys met halfway to alleviate the distance to transfer their parents, the procedure being repeated when we would go back to Mark's to catch the train. 

"We have extra time," Jamie said as we prepared to meet Mark at Brenham, to which I said, "Well, we could visit the Blue Bell creamery near there." Little Isaac heard us mention ice cream, and he was excited.  I was enjoying the scenery and the puffy white clouds floating past the car window when a horrible thought hit me.

"I made a mistake!" I announced ominously from the back seat. "I left my phone plugged into Jamie's wall!"

"Well, we won't be getting ice cream," our son announced as he resolutely turned the car around, prompting a little voice to protest, "I want ice cream!" It's a good thing we left early, I thought. Isaac's daddy consoled his son by promising ice cream at the Dairy Queen where we would meet up with Mark for lunch.

Up bright and early getting our things together to catch the train the next morning, I discovered we had left medical equipment of Howard's at Jamie's! Jamie would have to mail it!  Thankfully, it was nothing urgent. 

We were almost to the train station, even a little early, when Mark's phone rang with the news that I had left my computer! How could that be? I remembered packing it in its special carrying bag! We turned around to go to meet grandson Grant who would relay the computer to us. But as time was running short, Mark called Grant to squelch those plans, as we might not get to the train on time.

Mark said he could mail the computer, but just then the phone rang with Grant saying he would meet us with it at the train station!  Miraculously, he made it  just in time to hand the computer bag out the window. I knew I had put it in the bag! "It was sitting on the chair!" Grant exclaimed.

We sat down on the train with a sigh of relief. We had made it, with the help of our  family who had loaded and carried our luggage back and forth numerous times. And just 3 hours until we would meet son Trevor, who would take us out to eat during our Ft. Worth layover, after which grandson Adam would meet us in Oklahoma to drive us home! Thank you, God, who works things out when we mess up, and thank You for dutiful, caring loved ones who help when we forget!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

He is Risen!

"We're having the children's bell choir again, since the Summers Six were not here earlier," our son Mark announced laughingly as the children lined up in front of the congregation. I laughed, too, since he is the eldest of our six kids. Turns out this family's name is spelled Sommers, but the coincidence is amazing. We had four boys and 2 girls, while they had four girls and 2 boys!

Mark drew his sermon from I Corinthians 15:13-14, where Paul puts forth the dichotomy of what it would be like if there is no resurrection. "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been  raised, our preaching is dead, and so is your faith."

"Why then have Easter?" Pastor Mark asked, "Why drag everyone from bed, get the kids ready, look for lost  shoes, and go to all the trouble?" (Later, he laughed again, after learning that was indeed the case when the Sommers family was late because of their small son's missing shoe!)

His father and I do not often get to hear our son preach, and we were bursting with parental pride and gratefulness to God at his eloquent and heartfelt message. Our spirits agreed with the several people who greeted us after church with nothing but fervent appreciation and love for their pastor and his wife.

And it's no wonder, as what we saw from them that morning was nothing short of amazing. The church is a satellite church from a larger campus that for the past year has been using the facilities of an elementary school for services. This entails literally taking a church from a box (truck) and setting it up every Sunday morning!  Teams of dedicated members busily and efficiently set up chairs in the cafeteria-turned-sanctuary, partition off children's classes and a nursery, place musical instruments on the platform, and dozens of other feats, including turning it back into a lunchroom, unfolding tables to leave it as they found it!

"Please stay on the canvas when we take communion," Mark advised. It seems the school doesn't appreciate any grape juice dripped on the carpet. "Just receive the elements there and return to your seats," he instructed. A large canvas had been taped down at the back of the room for that purpose.

Although the Last Supper was the scene of the first communion, now known as Maundy Thursday, and Jesus died on Good  Friday and rose on Easter Sunday, we took the bread and juice in remembrance that morning, being careful not to spill the representation of the blood, which was spilled so freely for us at Calvary. 

As Paul said in I Corinthians 15:20, "But Christ has indeed been  raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." He is risen!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Pitcher Pictures

While eating breakfast this morning, my eyes fell on a collection of pitchers I have on the bottom shelf of a serving cart. I love pitchers! Pitchers and bowls! And teapots! I never seem to get enough of them. Looking at the graceful shape (well, most of them, I also have rustic pitchers) and smooth curve of the pouring lip is soothing and pleasurable to me. I guess my addiction hails back to when I was little and my favorite Christmas present was always a tea set!

Not only are they nice to look at, they bring back memories of when and where I got each one, and the story behind or in them! One of my favorites is a heavy, crockery pitcher I bought at an estate sale several years ago. I loved the red barn painted on the front, and always kept that side turned outward to go with the red accents of my kitchen. One day I decided to turn it around, and it dawned on me that the scene painted on the back was like looking at our former home in Mississippi!

The farmhouse was so similar I couldn't get over it! It was blue, which our house was after we'd had it redone. The gable end faced the front, from which a porch with a railing extended to the side just like our house! There was a light post near the drive, and a fence along the front by the road, same as ours. Even a tree at the same corner of the house as the one our children played under. What sweet memories flooded my thoughts!

I also like the pitcher engraved with the scripture, "I was thirsty, and you offered me drink," Matthew 25:35. I used to keep it in a bowl with the words, "O taste and see that the Lord is good, "Psalm 34:8, etched just below the rim.

One pot isn't exactly a pitcher, but a lovely, ceramic coffee pot that used to sit at the bottom of a drip coffee maker. On it is a raised, painted scene of sailboats on blue water with puffy clouds overhead. It is very old, and was part of a collection from my husband's mother. How surprised I was one day when I saw one just like it in an artistic display on a magazine cover!

In John 7:37-38, an account is given of the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, when golden pitchers would be used by priests to pour out water on the altar as an offering to God. Jesus was there and witnessed the ceremony. The Bible says, "Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

In verse 39, John explains, (But this spake he 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.)

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is available for us today, pouring out upon all who thirst for Him!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Voices

"Julie, I thought I heard your mama's mama's voice!" my son-in-law Steve exclaimed as he came out from a convenience store to where our daughter was waiting in the car. They were in Tennessee, near the area where my mother lived until she was 12 years old, before her family moved to Texas. "I could have sworn I was listening to your Grandma!"

He had overheard a conversation which obviously reflected the dialect of the Tennessee mountains! My mom did have a unique way of speaking, especially if she was telling a story. She was good at that. Her masterful tale-telling in her country vernacular kept any listener enthralled, as often as not inducing side-splitting laughter in those paying rapt attention, hanging on every word. I can still hear her dramatic, drawn-out descriptions and the way she prefaced her remarks by saying, "Now listen at this!"

Of course, Mama's voice was at its best when she was telling of the goodness of God. When a family member might have a seemingly insurmountable problem, the spunky red-head would often remind them emphatically, "God is the biggest!" Her favorite Bible verse was "In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy path," Proverbs 3:6. And acknowledge Him she did!

Mama was a prayer warrior. As such, her voice was often heard from her bedroom lifted in praise and supplication to her Lord for her large family.

We attended a funeral a couple of weeks ago, after my husband had exclaimed over seeing the obituary in the newspaper of a long-ago friend. We hadn't seen her in more than 50 years, since we had lived away so long, but old memories run deep. We hardly recognized her family members we met there, but talk flowed easily of the old good times. Howard recalled when the departed had worked at his father's grocery store/meat market; and I approached a middle-aged lady playing with her grandchild who I remembered as a three-year-old my mother-in-law used to baby-sit while her mother worked at said store.

Howard recalled laughingly how he could still hear his father's voice advising him to always refer to the chickens in the meat-case as "Arkansas fryers." And to stress to the customers that the hamburger "had just enough fat and just enough lean" in it, plus the fact that "bone-in roasts and chops taste best!"

My mother's voice still reverberates in the hearts of loved ones left behind, and has guided many in life choices. But I would love to go to her home place in Tennessee and hear those endearing local voices for myself!



Monday, March 20, 2017

Plumb Drained!

The house was quiet. Howard had gone to do chores at the farm, and I was resting after a busy morning. Still tired from a non-stop week running around with our visiting son and family, I fell asleep on the sofa. I had put in a load of clothes to wash and went to check on them when I woke up.

What in the world! There was water at my feet in the kitchen! The floor was flooded, and I could see the double sink had overflowed! Oh, no! My husband had been plunging a sluggish sink and garbage disposal, but nothing like this had happened! The wash room was also flooded, with sopping wet throw rugs squishing beneath my feet!

I met Howard at the door with the unhappy surprise. We didn't know a plumber! Our son recommended the "Drain Doctor." When he got here and assessed the problem, he returned with a huge tire! I could see why when he pulled out a plumber's snake he carried coiled inside it. Just a push of a button on the motorized device, and within 20 minutes our drains were working again. Apparently, the washing machine shared the same plumbing as the kitchen sink. Whew! What a relief! Now life could go on!

"What stopped it up?" we asked, although I suspected my husband had lost a dish cloth down it when he did dishes one day recently.

"Just food," the wise "doctor," (who looked to be only a kid) answered. Well, I realized guiltily, I was rather careless about putting large amounts of leftovers down it when we'd had company, even baked potato and sweet potato skins.

Sometimes it seems like our spiritual life is "clogged up" as we get overloaded living life and are too busy to make time for God. Maybe it's nothing major, just the ordinary challenges, problems and stresses that consume our day.

It is easy to give excuses or to say it was so-and-so's fault for our lack of time or opportunity to attend to our "clogged" spiritual life. Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden found excuses for their disobedience and played the blame game. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the devil, the serpent.

We notice in the Bible that Jesus often took time to pray. During His temptation in the wilderness, he stopped Satan in his tracks by using the Word. "It is written..." prefaced His defense as He refuted the enemy. When flooded with life's problems, we can take comfort in these words: "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him," Isaiah 59;19.

The Bible calls Satan a snake as it reads, "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years." Revelation 20:2.

When we were kids, my brothers and I referred to a dragonfly on the water as a "snake doctor." Although the "Drain Doctor" used a "snake" to fix our problem, it is Doctor Jesus, the Great Physician, who is our ever present help in time of need!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Picture That!

"Excuse me, but would you mind if I take your picture?" a stranger asked Howard today! We were browsing at an estate sale and were taken by surprise by her request. "You look just like my late father-in-law," she explained, "and my mother-in-law wondered if you minded," she continued as a smiling older woman appeared at her elbow.

"We noticed when you first came in that you look so much like him," they marveled. "He even wore a hat like yours," the widow remarked fondly, "And a mustache," she finished. Of course, my husband was glad to comply. Then they heard me say something to him, calling him by name, and the older lady said, "Howard! Our last name is Howard!"

"Is this okay?" the younger woman asked Mrs. Howard, showing her the image on the phone screen. Then she snapped another shot, to her mother-in-law's satisfaction. They thanked us profusely, and we continued to browse, with a warm glow of "What just happened?" making us smile.

It reminded me of the time when we were riding on a train to see family, and a large group of older men came into the observation car where we were, and sat down. I couldn't take my eyes off one of them. He looked amazingly like an older version of Howard! The same chin, nose, and demeanor. It was uncanny! I didn't take a picture, though maybe I should have!

Thankfully, my spouse is friendly and likable, and nearly always outgoing to strangers, so he rather enjoyed the incident. But what if he had been cross and unapproachable? I doubt they would have wanted his picture! Even though we didn't know the people, it seemed we had a kindred spirit.

When people pass away, sometimes it is hard to remember them exactly after awhile, and we even begin to forget the sound of their voice as time goes on. But the Bible tells us that in Heaven, we will know loved ones, friends and acquaintances. I Corinthians 13:12 reads, "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." A picture that no camera on earth can equal!

Friday, March 17, 2017

"Oh Misery, Misery, Mumble and Moan, Someone (Re-)invented the Telephone!"

"Hi, Mark," I said cheerily when our eldest son's name lit up the screen of my iPhone. I was startled to hear a woman's voice say, "I don't know whose phone this is. It was left out in front of my shop!"

I said Mark was my son, and rapid-fire info filled my ear when the voice said, "He is in Kemah! Do you know who he is with, so you can tell him where his phone is?" I drew a blank. I'd had no idea he was at this resort area a good way from their home in Austin. But with this being the week of Spring Break, it was possible they were taking a holiday.

Hanging up the phone with the promise of trying to reach somebody, I dialed his wife's number. No answer. Repeated calls were futile as well. I didn't have either of his sons' phone numbers, and I couldn't think of anyone who might be with him.

After much frantic wracking of my brain, I decided to call the lady on Mark's phone again and suggest she contact other numbers on his phone. I pushed Mark's name, and the phone rang. He answered! "Hi, Mom," he said, "I lost my phone. We are at Kemah, and I didn't know where I had left it! I retraced my steps and just found it!"

The details were sketchy, and Mark was in a hurry, so it was all a little fuzzy to me. I gathered that my daughter-in-law was shopping somewhere, and when I said I had tried to call her, his response was "Rhonda's phone is dead." So that was it. I was just glad he found his phone!

Sometimes the new technology can leave us stranded and feeling helpless. I could always find my phone when it was attached to the wall, but now, not so much! My youngest son and family were here from Texas for a few days of their
Spring Break. They visited the Marland Mansion, and I saw a photo of their 8-year-old posing holding an old-fashioned receiver with a long cord attached to a rotary dial phone on the wall. She seemed to get a big kick out of it!

It used to be that people had to go through a priest to talk to God. But when Jesus died on the cross, the heavy veil that hung in the temple was rent in two, giving us direct access to the Father! Hebrews 10:19-20 tells us, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (20) By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh."

I am so glad that Jesus always has a listening ear for His children! And His phone is never dead!