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


"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!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Feathers 'n' Fur

We have chickens in three different pens, divided by little chickens, teen-age chickens, and big, grown up chickens. I sometimes wait in the car listening to the radio while my husband feeds them, plus the goats and cats. But today I was struck with an impulse to go see the "baby" chickens I hadn't seen for awhile. I was astounded at how they'd grown! They are getting all feathered out, with the distinctive colors of the Araucana breed.

Then I thought I'd look in on the oldest chickens, and as I peered through their chicken-wire enclosure inside the barn, I saw something in the corner that definitely wasn't chickens! As my eyes adjusted to the dim area, a shaft of sunlight shone on a wriggling, grey mass in the corner. Kittens! Newborn kittens were huddled together on the hay-strewn floor, guarded over by a recently-delivered mama cat!

My first thought was that the bossy rooster in residence might attack them and kill them! He had almost pulverized a mid-size pullet that Howard had placed in there one day. "Howard! We've got to get them out of there!" I yelled to my husband, who was as surprised as I was at my discovery.

Though Mama Cat was nervously guarding them, I managed to get her out and usher her to the cat food we had put out. Then, keeping an eye out for Rooster, I gathered the squirming little bundle and placed it on straw in a far corner of the barn. Then I picked up their mother and put her with the babies. What's this? She was giving them tentative pokes with her paw, like a cat with a mouse. Not the Mama! She was still at the feeding dish! I retrieved the right cat, and was relieved to see her nuzzling them as they responded by lifting little heads.

It dawned on me what was going on when I saw a little head go into the mother's mouth! She ran with the kitten, pausing once to get a firmer grip, while the kit dangled helplessly from her jaws! Then the unbelievable happened when I saw her scale the wooden lower half of the wall, expertly climb the chicken-wire enclosure to where it ended near the top of the barn, than dive over and land on the floor of her original chosen nursery locale! All the while holding baby!

So there we left her with the rest of her brood, while the hens and roosters warily kept their distance! Like they say, You can't fight Mother Nature!

After watching this panorama of events, I reflected on the marvel of Creation. How God put the right instincts into all the creatures, great and small. The nurturing, protective qualities inborn in them could only come from their Creator. Seeing the cat's climbing feat, I thought of the old song we used to sing in church that goes: "I can run through a troop and leap over a wall...Hallelujah, hallelujah!" It is from a psalm of David thanking God for his protection and power. "For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God I have leaped over a wall," Psalm 18:29.

Two more farm cats look ready to deliver, so we will have plenty of little mousers coming on, and I'm sure, many more antics on the horizon!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Who Are You Wearing?

Politicians were asked this surprise question by a reporter as they entered to hear President Trump's speech a couple of nights ago. They were taken aback, but knowing it was the stock inquiry to Hollywood celebrities as to whose designer clothing they were wearing, most responded with an amused chuckle, smile or quizzical frown.

I couldn't help but think about how most people are concerned about their appearance and want to project the right image of who they are. Some prefer to be casual (most, nowadays) in their dress, but many are more comfortable in looking right for the occasion, whether for church, business or even work-outs at the gym.

But back to the question of "Who are you wearing?" As a Christian, I want to reflect Christ in my walk of life and follow the directives of scripture. I Timothy 2:9 tells women to dress in modest apparel, that is, not elaborately and without ostentation.

I Peter 3:3-4 advises it's not our hair-do, or gold jewelry or what we wear, "But let it be the hidden man of the heart...even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." Verse 5:5 goes on to say that one is to "be clothed with humility."

In another analogy to apparel in the prophecy of the Messiah, Isaiah 61:3 reads, "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."

Verse 61:10 says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

More instructions are given in Ephesians 6:13 and following to take on the whole armour of God, putting on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. Our feet are to be shod with the gospel of peace. Then we are to take up the shield of faith, wear the helmet of salvation and carry the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.

If we abide by these principles, the question might truly be not what you're wearing, but Who are you wearing? I want to wear Jesus!