MONDAY MEMORIES

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Memorials Are For Remembering    With Memorial Day here, I imagine many of you are just thankful for a day off, or at least extra pay to be at work. Many are hoping for good weather to enjoy the first ‘summer holiday’, and others may be hoping for rain so they can just simply stay in and rest! But whatever you are doing, I hope we are all finding a way and some time to just be remembering. Memorials are for remembering. From rainbows to unleavened bread, God said it is good to remember; and He established several memorials throughout history. Usually we are remembering the bravery and sacrifices of the military on this day, and I am guilty of taking that for granted most of the time. I’ll take the opportunity right here to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who gave their time, and often life and limb, for our country. A hundred times thank you!

Remembering Our Heroes  I have enjoyed reading the pieces written lately for our local heroes, though they’d not want it worded that way; Robert Hendon, Billy Murdock, and others. The word ‘hero’ is defined by the heart who spells it. It’s something a little different to each of us. I got to wondering why I know just about nothing of the military experience of my relatives. It is because they don’t like to talk about their service time much, I guess. With the humility they learned from authority, along with the experiences they’d just as soon forget, it’s easy to see why they’d rather have been talking about their first car, or hauling hay. I want to name them here just to pay their service the respect it deserves.

First, my “little brother” Mark Alan Jackson, three years and eight months in the National Guard and ten years in the Marines, during which time he served in Desert Storm. His scars are in his ears and in his heart. I remember he was away at Christmas and made his own fake fireplace out of cardboard to hang a fake stocking. I remember that his first baby was born while he was away, and how exciting it was to watch him walk into the airport the first time he ever laid eyes on her. Thank you Mark.

Several of my favorite uncles were military men. Uncle Wade was married to my Momma’s only sister and treated us just like his own family.  Alvin Wade Holley served in the army during WWII as a mechanic. He wore an injured eye the rest of his life because a starter fell off into his eye while servicing one of the army trucks. I don’t remember any of his stories if there were any; I do remember he had the biggest heart in all the world for anyone who needed anything ever! I miss you, and thank you Uncle Wade.

Uncle Jerry Fuqua served in the army in the Korean War, married my daddy’s late sister, and lives in Paris, Tennessee. Now, as I said, they didn’t talk about themselves much so I didn’t hear this first hand from him, but Lil Brother says there’s this one incident he has heard about from Uncle Jerry’s combat time. I won’t be too specific, but it involves the necessary bodily function that still had to be carried out even if a tree or a ditch was the only outhouse available. It also involved a Korean sniper, on a hill with a good view of Uncle Jerry taking care of business so to speak. Now the story goes that when the shot went right between Uncle Jerry’s knees, nearly scaring him out of a year’s growth, the sniper just grinned and waved. I’ll be interested in finding out how much of that was truth. But at nearly 10PM, I’m not bothering a sweetheart like him just to get a good story straightened out. More on that later, perhaps. What I remember most of Uncle Jerry, is that he takes EVERYTHING in stride, cool as a cucumber, and loved my Aunt Sue truly big. Thank you Uncle Jerry.

Henry Veltman Jackson, my great-uncle, served in the Navy and experienced Pearl Harbor up close and personal. The story goes that he saved a piece of a Japanese pilot’s scarf when the pilot crashed into their ship. That was a little too close, I’d say. Uncle Veltman’s son, Johnnie Veltman Jackson also served in the Navy. They are both gone now, and what I know about their duties is nothing, I hate to say. What I remember is that they both made the first five years of my life a joy. Uncle Veltman and Aunt Lorene were like parents to my parents when they were newly weds in a big city far from home. And Johnnie was a big brother to me. They loved me like I was their own. Many others have spoken of how richly that family layered the love onto their lives, too. Thank you Uncle Veltman, and thank you Johnnie.

Hero is a Subjective Word   Last but not least, MY GRANDPA! William Chesterfield Wilkins, Chess to most folks, Chesley to my Grandma, Daddy to my Momma. Grandpa was inducted into the army near the end of WWI, when there was  an outbreak of pneumonia. Grandpa was sent home to recover from the pneumonia and the war ended before he had a chance to return. So, his status of ‘hero’ to me, all took shape at home. I remember that Grandpa could do chin ups from a maple tree limb when he was in his 60’s, maybe near 70; and that we planted a garden together in his back yard – in town. He cared a whole whoppin’ lot about his grandkids, and that we learned the important things. He chose the direct, quick and effective application of discipline; which is why he gave me my hardest whipping ever when I was about ten. I watched my little brother pretty closely after that, for a while anyway. Grandpa was a diabetic and at that time, the only snacks he could have were bananas and Fresca. I remember that when we went to his house, he would give us his last banana if we asked for it; no, he just gave it without waiting for us to ask; and a glass of Fresca too. He didn’t have an easy life, but he made life easy for his family in every way he could. Thank you Grandpa.

Remembering the lives of our personal heroes is a way of keeping them near if their hearts lie still. It tells those who remain with us that they matter, and that they always will.

I would be an ungrateful Christian if I didn’t mention my biggest hero. A memorial I am privileged to take part in every Sunday is to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He gave His entire existence to saving, healing, feeding, and teaching the masses – the entire world if they will accept Him. From the beginning of time as His blood flowed backward, to the end of time as His blood flows forward from the cross, He stands lovingly, tenderly pleading, “Come unto me.” Thank you God.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ( Matthew 11:28 NKJV)

 

 

 

 

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Monday Musings: Mountaintops

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Here it is Monday again, and as I savor my second cup of Maxwell House, I realize I’ve enjoyed my new book by Rick Bragg a little too long and haven’t made my Monday post. This week I share my view from a friend’s mountaintop. This was written last year to express my joy for them, and now seems the right time, with it being Mother’s Day month, to share it.

YOU CAN’T GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T OWN

A Lesson From Someone Else’s Mountaintop

When people reach their mountaintops, they raise their arms, fist bump the sky and shout with incredible joy. Sometimes, their journey is a lesson they themselves may not realize they wrote. One such mountaintop lesson that spoke to me recently is the completion of a long awaited adoption process. Not of my own, but that of a friend.

My daughter’s best friend and her husband adopted a daughter from China. You can read of her family’s incredible journey in her blog, The Glass Slipper at crouchcrew.com. In her beautiful account of their experience as adoptive parents and siblings, she talks about the anguish she imagines the birth mother having as she must wonder about her baby girl’s destiny. Never having been in that situation myself, I too can only imagine the emotional war that must take place within a birth mother’s heart when she makes the selfless choice to give her child what she hopes is a better life. I would say that in our world today this is a decision that almost never is made by anyone other than that mother herself. It got me to thinking of giving and how you can’t give what you don’t have. It is her decision to give. To give a child another life; and to give another family the privilege of calling her baby theirs, is the ultimate gift. That is, other than the gift of God’s own son to us, to make a way for us to have eternal hope, eternal life, eternal joy. This is a gift we could never deserve, and has been given because it is His to give first of all, and secondly because He has that much love for us, His adopted children.

Accepting the wonderful gift that the Father God has given involves another matter of giving. We have to give; give up something first. If our hands are full of self, sin, sorrow…whatever we are holding, then they cannot open to take His gift. These things must first be given up, but what you don’t own, you can’t give. So, we must own our sins. We must own our sorrows and regrets. By pointing fingers of fault at others we are refusing to own, or accept responsibility for our wrongs. Excuses, reasons, or holding onto grudges and envying will not get rid of the wrongs. Until we own our sins, both committed by us and to us, we cannot give them away-

– away, at the foot of the cross;
– away, into the hands of God;
– away, in forgiveness for self and others.

We must stop making them the fault of anyone or anything else. Own them – and give them up. We’ve always heard ‘confession is good for the soul,’ and I think this is why. Though it’s HARD to do, it’s SO worth it. Putting it all down at Jesus’ feet, emptying ourselves of all that stands in our way of grasping His great gifts, is the giving that makes a new life possible. Peter put it this way, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6-7) Then we are able to give His unending love away over and over to others because it is the true gift that keeps on giving. The more you have, the more you can give.

Kim and Steven emptied something out of themselves to make room in their life for a little girl who was in need of a family. Not a small sacrifice. Nor was it for the mother who gave her baby to become the new joy of another family. Theirs is one example of this marvelous circle of giving that God started centuries ago. The more we give up (ultimately ourselves), the more room we have to accept and the more He gives. God doesn’t push Himself on anyone. He stands waiting, wanting us to share His love, to lead others to Him where He is with arms full to load us up with more love, grace, and mercy. To quote a beautiful spiritual hymn, “I am mine no more”. When we empty ourselves and put on Christ, we fill up with the Spirit, and then bless others by sharing what we now own – the love of God.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NKJV)

“Love one another, for love is of God; he who loves is born of God and knows God.” I John 4:7

It’s All About the Journey

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They say it’s not the destination that counts, but the journey getting there. I agree – to a point. For without a clear destination, a person can get lost. Even with the best planning, however, there are still the unexpected treasures or displeasure to encounter. So, trophy or tragedy, more living goes into the trip than the ‘there’ (except, in my opinion, if it happens to be the Grand Canyon!) Are we there yet?

Yes, it’s the unexpected detours, the rough spots in the road, or a picturesque roadside for a picnic; the outrageous drivers, or fellow companions’ moods; and even the body of the transport that make it interesting; and proves your skill at travel – or living the journey.

Take our little road trip today for example. If you don’t mind the details, you’ll arrive at my intended destination.What was going to be an overnight stay in Hernando, MS to get an early start at the Como, MS auction, changed to “we’ll get an early morning start and save the hotel cost”. The more he looked at some other trucks on-line, the more he leaned toward stopping in Memphis to look at a truck, then on to Como. By the time we went to bed, he had decided we’d just forget the auction and look at two trucks in the Memphis area, Exit 60 and then Collierville. So, this way, we could get Auggie’s day started as usual (pee, poop, eat his breakfast) and settled in for our neighbor Karen to come in after noon to tend to him. Yes, clearly the little pudgy puffy ewok has taken the reins in our life . And what a nice detour he has been!!20180216_154935.jpg

My GPS is a tad bit old but trustworthy for the most part. Gary wants me to enter the destination’s address; he also has ‘farmer directions’ he obtained on the phone. The two rarely match! First stop, an unplanned strawberry farm in McKenzie, TN. So, we’re carrying fresh strawberries, in May, in a car, for all day. OK.

Next stop, a gas station for a large bottle of water to wash the berries. Travel makes one hungry!

Going against the GPS now,  I turned her off so her desperate attempts to make us go her way were thwarted. Exit 60: “We’re here”,  he tells the young man, who answered, “I thought you were calling before you got here. I’ll be ten minutes.” Third stop: road side, waiting 15 minutes for a three-minute drive to ‘the truck’. Or should I say, the piece of junk. Gary says it’s worth about $4,000 to stretch it out and put a something or other on it. Oh.  Off again, to the address he gave me, and GPS on again. Hey, this route is familiar – our son lived in Collierville a short while and the road off of I 40 is very scenic; calming and memorable.

Fourth stop: a truck parked on a lot, (a hot deserted lot) possibly wrecked before. The frame he thinks aloud, is out of line. “No”, I answered uncertainly, “I do not see it”. “What’s your impression?” he asks. Hmmm, an old used truck – what else could I see? Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

So, it is my job now to decide where we can eat dinner (noon meal). My third call sounded like they understood the gluten question. Home cooking, 0.8 miles away. My phone GPS got us there and surprised us that it is in the Collierville town square. Very pretty, historic and well-preserved! The Silver Caboose proved a fine choice. Homecooking at it’s best with many choices; veggie plates prepared like home, but better! And, Perfect iced tea. 20180519_132630

When the waiter came to take our order, I said, “I’m torn between a salad, or a vegetable plate, because I can’t have wheat gluten”, and as I was adding “I don’t suppose you have a gluten-free bread?” he became very agitated and abrupt. I named my peas, beans and greens selections; Gary ordered, and I started to ask if I may order a piece of grilled chicken, but he was off and running – from me, no doubt. Gary said, “What did you want?” I told him and he motioned to the mannerless waiter, saying “she wants a piece of grilled chicken added to that”. Period. As I added “…if that’s possible…” he said, “be quiet” to me, and “that’s all” to the waiter. I looked a bit stunned because we women do not go for the cut and dry; we want explanation and courtesy, given and taken. Gary said to me, “You’ve got to be insertive to people like that” LOL. I said “you mean assertive?” But at the time, yes, I could have taken my foot and become ‘insertive’. Pardon me, please, you genteel of nature.:) But my man took care of me! The chicken was good.

He’d have liked for me to drive home. Actually he said, “you gonna drive back?” I said no of course, I had things to do, naps to take, uh, I mean notes to take.

Outskirts of Jackson, TN, our GPS says ‘this way’. Gary says ‘my way’. So, GPS is off again; we know the way home. But road construction is never-ending, so a left turn has two lanes unknown to Gary who took up both lanes as we made the turn..  Another car was trying to turn left too. The driver was not grace-full in his reaction. I couldn’t look! The explanation and courtesy thing again; not at all appreciated by my driver, nor the other man. Both should have been thankful there was no accident and driven on. So now we laugh at it and continue on our way.

Scripture repeatedly tells us we have a planner, a spiritual GPS so to speak, to keep us from getting lost. In our spiritual journey we need the same things as we need on a road trip. We need directions, food for growing and sustaining faith; grace and gifts. We make mistakes, and we need re-directing. And then with gratitude we find our way home.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24  (ESV)

Happy travels!

 

 

Monday Mistakes – 3rd in Monday Series

This is the post that I intended to publish last Monday. Ironically, the title was already “Monday Mistakes” and I forgot I had it ready, so I wrote what I posted last week instead. This is a follow-up on my weed and feed attempt from 2 weeks ago.

The weed and feed deed has been done. I assure you that the blacktop in front of us as well as the driveway will not be sprouting weeds any time soon! However, the middle of the yard should have weeds aplenty! My husband tried in his non-teacher way to tell me how to get started. But these seeder/spreaders are unforgiving; once that high dollar stuff is being fanned across the ground, there’s no bringing it back. Controlling the speed with one foot and one eye on the speedometer; the fan toggle with right hand, steering wheel with left hand, and my other eye trying to turn with my arthritic neck to check on the progress (the open/close handle wanted to jog shut from time to time) was a multi-tasking that I hadn’t done in many years. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, and just hope that I haven’t killed precious things in my effort to take out the unwanted weeds. Does this sound familiar?

Yes, in fact, we can do more damage than good if we do not balance the bitter with the sweet. In my dandelion driven distraction, I forgot to put the cat up; fortunately by the time I actually got started, the dew was all dried so I have hopes that he didn’t pick up the chemicals with his paws. In my haste, I forgot to decrease the distribution width on the first swipe, then I misjudged the radius of my turns and didn’t cut off the fan, so there is much overlapping, and that is not the end of my mistake list. But I had the best of intentions. They say roads are not paved with good intentions.  I was nearly finished with what I knew was not a good job, when I thought about the BIRDS!!! I love them more than pretty grass, so what was I thinking????? Now I will be watching for their welfare for days, with my stomach in a knot until I know that they are OK.

Have you ever put forth a great deal of effort in helping someone, only to decide in the end that you did more harm than good? Yes, so have I. It’s that balance thing again. Carefully selecting enough constructive criticism while being sure they know you care; and providing the encouragement they need is a daunting task. I have recently been in such a situation. After much encouragement from my heart, and sincere prayer for someone, I found that there was still something holding that person back. She just wasn’t able to get over the mountain in her path, but she seemed to be making so much effort! It was breaking my heart. Then when I observed what I’ll describe as slipping back over loose rocks that were sure to trip her as she climbed, I made one last  effort to give a hand up.

Regret seems to love me – it comes to sit with me often.  I just have to remember that my intentions were good when I worked to remove the weeds and fertilize the lawn. My methods were not as well thought out. But we just can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I learn from mistakes; forgive myself and others; hope for new beginnings; and keep on loving. I believe I can feed, without the weeding next time. Encourage, without offending. Lesson learned.

 

 

Monday Makeovers

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“…all things are become new.” II Cor. 5:17b

The clothespins were starting to fall out of the ripped side of my old blue bag. It was made of that stuff somewhere between paper and fabric, so there was no mending that! Certain that it would not endure another trip to the clothesline, I began pilfering around for a solution, without having to buy another one;  or more likely, wait through several trips to the town of forgotten errands. Rummaging around in my craft supplies, I spied a piece of heavy canvas, so old that I don’t recall what its origin was. The great nieces had used it for a drop cloth once, but it just never felt right to discard it. So, I’d shuffled it around 100 times, more or less.

  • One old coat hanger and my wire cutters provided a stabilizer for the back side, where I placed:
  •        two grommets from my sewing box, left from a project of three years ago;
  •        removed the actual hanger from the old bag to fit through the grommets;
  •        used an old spool of brown thread for contrast stitching,

and it’s a new clothespin bag!MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Why, you ask, would I care about a clothespin bag? Because for me, and my family, there is nothing that compares with the scent of sheets and pillowcases hung out to dry on the clothesline in the fresh spring air. So that’s the why of that.  As to why I didn’t just go grab another no-trouble replacement at Wal-Mart? There’s a little bit of a DIY’er in me and a lot of cheap, too. So if I can make it out of old parts, and not incur more expense than buying one, why not?

I’m so glad the Lord didn’t just toss me out, but set out to remake, renew, and refurbish me instead. My soul was torn, and my spirit was falling out. The devil was wearing me thin.  But the love of the Father made my soul whole. The Holy Spirit speaks peace to our dismantled spirits through the Word of God. And Jesus Christ sacrificed all the needed materials to make us new.  “This people I have formed for myself; they shall declare my praise” Isaiah 43:21

When God’s people, Israel, had been cast far off, scattered among foreign people and lands, God’s prophet Ezekiel relayed to them that God would restore His people. “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgements and do them, and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20.

Today God’s spiritual Israel, His people, “know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands eternal in the heavens.”  (II Corinthians 5:1, speaking of the resurrection) There is also a renewing in this life that can be a daily blessing. When we as wives, mothers, sisters and friends let each other down, betray our own hearts’ desires and do what we wish we would not; and worse, when we let down the Christ Who gave us the perfect example, we are being the torn ragged old cloths that time and temptation produce. But we have One who loves us much more than we can understand, and He has provided a way to mend and makeover those who go to Him. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (verse 17)

Thank you Father God for taking my heart’s old tattered cloth and replacing it with the sturdy fabric of faith; for giving me new purpose every day, spurred on by your Spirit and the zeal of fellow Christians. Thank you for a day of rest and worship, preparing me for my Monday makeover. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” (II Cor. 4:16)

Monday Musings

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PICK YOUR COLOR

They’re All Sweetpexels-photo-65547.jpeg
Monday – so sweet with potential; with all six of the week’s seven days yet spread before us. Like a bag of M&Ms candy with all those colors, you can choose the color you feel like, although they all taste the same. Ultimately, Mondays are like that; each with 24 hours in the day, the paper was delivered, the mail will run, there’ll be meals to eat, and work to do. But for now – on Monday – we get to choose the color we’ll wear. The bag is still full! I can be blue if I choose, or sunny yellow. It’s all in what you pick. In high school I used to eat only the brown ones – that let me savor the taste, but not too much. As time went by, so did my self-control, and I am no longer a respecter of colors.

What will you take on for the new week? Select ravaging red, and take the day by the horns and go! Or bravely wear brown of contentment in the face of a fast paced world. This week’s post will be short, because I intend to take on a new job. I am going to weed and seed the lawn with a new spreader. I hope it produces LOTS of green! This is also the first of what I hope becomes a series of Monday posts. I will continue the M&M theme with the second ‘M’ standing for something to go with Monday, the first ‘M’.  Perhaps “Monday Mommas” is right around the corner:)

Today I am enjoying yellow and blue – sunny weather, blue skies, and four little bluebird eggs in the box still incubating. Last Saturday, I observed the sweetest thing I’ve seen in a while – two bluebirds just kissed! I am not kidding. I saw them fly into a leafless maple, sit side by side, turn to each other and touch beaks; then one flew off and the other watched. Did he go to work? She preened a little, then she, too, flew away and into her box. No, they weren’t feeding each other as I’ve seen them do for their young in the past. I didn’t see nest-building material being exchanged, and the eggs were already in the nest.  No, they just kissed; had to be. It gave me a new understanding of “a peck on the cheek”.

Have a sweet rest of the day!

“Look at the birds of the air for they neither sow nor read nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26

Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary Olive Oil

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Why make the decisions we make? Purposeful, random, or eenie-meenie-miney-moe’d, something persuades or propels us in one direction or another.  Sometimes I just like the sound of a thing; like EVOO, or balsamic vinegar. I have a bottle of each on the kitchen counter, just because I like the looks and sounds of cooking with them. Over time, I’ve developed a real like for one; a little less for the other. I’ve obviously encountered a decision-making situation today or I wouldn’t be thinking  along that line. As we age we often take on sensitivities and intolerance to various foods and environments. Mine came to be wheat gluten, and over several years I’ve learned where gluten may be hiding and how embarrassing it is to question vendors, who only sell, not make the food. The frustration on their faces when we ask “does that have wheat in it?” is obvious. But it must be asked to make the decision.

A year or two later:  I made a decision on this rainy day to have a small ‘skinny coconut latte’ and I may have found a new best friend to accompany me as I blog. I still like to say “balsamic vinegar”;  and “olive oil” just rolls off the tongue (double entendre unintentional, but I like it). Perhaps I began this post to address decisions. Picking it back up today however, I really do not recall that particular impending decision. But what I do see in it is this: sensitivity and intolerance! As I get older, I find I am less sensitive, but more intolerant. While that may sound conflicting, allow me to explain.  For food and environment, ‘sensitive’ and ‘intolerant’ are pretty much the same. With attitudes, each of those words can go its own way independent of the other one. In the years when I was overly sensitive, everything seemed personal. Comments, actions, attitudes, were perceived as directly pertaining to or because of me. Me. Really? Someone forgot to tell me that the world was not my mother and I would not be accountable to them all. What makes us think we – anyone – is important enough to cause others to have those ‘bird-flipping’ days? What could I have done to deepen another’s frown, or increase the grit in their growl? I truly was relieved to discover years ago that the world’s happiness does not hinge on me. In case you don’t recognize it, that would be called co-dependancy. I learned it in childhood and that’s another story for another day. Isn’t it liberating to know that people can snap at you, frown and scowl, and you can just smile back knowing it isn’t your fault? Now, of course if I have offended, and yes sometimes I do, then it is just as liberating to admit it and say “please forgive”.  But in the world of vinegar-dripping attitudes, just remember that even if it wasn’t our doing, we can still have a sweet effect on the vinegar, and not become acidic ourselves. Drop into their lives a little sugar, salt and pepper, chopped tomatoes, hot peppers and onions and that vinegar comes to life! We called that goulash where I came from.  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)  Being less sensitive decreases worry and less worry opens the path to positive reactions.

Tolerance, however,  is another thing for me. When I was more sensitive, I was more tolerant in that I was prone to think maybe everybody is right, and I am not. Sensitivity for me, left me less clear about where I stood on a subject; therefore, I was more tolerant of the world’s junk.  I was afraid to make a stand even with a strong platform, so that I wouldn’t stir up some controversy that might be taken personally. This is reminding me of the “double minded man” of James 1, verses 8, 23, and 24 who is indecisive, doubting, and can’t even remember his own image!! I am happier being less tolerant of the things I know my Savior taught against, even though I am still  no fan of controversy! I will, in fact,  go to great lengths to avoid it. That’s just one reason I like to write; it gives me time to carefully phrase, and rephrase things to avoid being abrasive. Though I would never do that intentionally, it just seems that when the tongue gets going, it is usually way ahead of the reins. So, I write.

So then, being intolerant enables me to take a firm stand when I know a thing to be repulsive because now I can clearly separate the things I cannot tolerate, from the people who do them. The people are loved, the actions are not.  I learned recently that one reason the shepherd anoints the sheep’s head with oil is to cause an opponent’s head to slide off when he is butting heads in a challenge. Less damage is done. Another reason is to repel the flies that pester and fester. The Lord has anointed my head with oil, and it is so sweet. I can tolerate the pounding I may invite by being intolerant of what I want no part of.  And I can let insults slide right off!

Rosemary added to olive oil gives it a touch of sweetness, adding to the oil’s many other benefits. A wonderful emollient, it also is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants; and is flavorful alone or with added herbs. I choose basil and olive oil to change our age-old family recipe for goulash. I’m sure this would not be tolerated by my grandmothers, but I think my Mama would love it. She was much more tolerant of my decisions.

Then there is the vinegar I just can’t seem to totally avoid. You know, no matter what kind of vinegar I open, it still smells sharp and tastes acidic. As the Lord anoints my head with the oil of gladness, may the Holy Spirit continue to buffer me that I will not carry acrid sensitivity, but rather joyful certainty. If I have aligned myself with the good Shepherd, I can enjoy the oil, and avoid the vinegar. Maybe that is where this post was going from the start. We can make the decision to spew acrid vinegary attitudes all about, or we can pour the oil to smooth and enhance life for ourselves and others.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” Psalm 23:5

COOKIES AND CRAYONS; It’s a Kid’s Life

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Photo on 4-15-18 at 4.41 PM

I was a kid again last Sunday afternoon. Having received a bit of morning news that I was helpless to change, I turned to activity that might be the response from a child. No, I didn’t have a tantrum; in fact, it wasn’t even an anger producing situation at all. It was just one of those times when a child might shrug with helplessness, become saddened, and move on to activities that help him process life’s circumstances and deal, or more accurately, not deal with it.

After worship and a meal, I took myself to Wal-Mart. I needed cookies! Imagine my delight when I found gluten-free Animal Crackers! Now, I do admit a great chocolate chip cookie is hard to beat, but for a kid – my kids – animal crackers were the best! I couldn’t resist that little red circus car of crispy animal shapes to take home to my little ones in the 1980’s. Neither was I about to turn down this Glutino version today, since I have become gluten intolerant over the years.

Next, my Wal-Mart wonderings took me past the colorful Crayola aisle.  Whereas this is a temptation that I normally resist, that day my grownup reasoning was drowned out by recollections of opening a box of sharp, smooth waxy crayons. So I took a box of 24 and casually placed them in my cart, just for me.

After selecting the boring grownup stuff – light bulbs, detergent and cat liter – I found a cake mix and cherry pie filling  to try a new “sugar-free” treat for my hubby friend. (We kids can be so naive.) Eager to try out my new treats,  I had visions of hopping on the back of my cart and coasting up to the checkout counter. But I knew I would just pop a wheelie and end up on my back, in the floor, with a buggy of crayons and cookies on top of me! Shudder.

Once I was home, I shared the Animal Crackers with my Yorkie who was ever so glad I wasn’t thinking like a grownup. I also colored a whole page in a Barbie coloring book that I once bought for our great nieces. As I colored, I was thinking, no wonder kids are such inventors of ideas! My brain storming was in overdrive as I made Barbie a brunette and colored her world.

  • Wal-Mart – that magical place a child learns to ask for as soon as he or she can talk. It’s where they can walk out with something interesting that they didn’t walk in with. They smile and speak with no prejudice.
  • Animal Crackers – simply flavored, easy to hold, crunchy, and a trip to the zoo – all in one little  package! For about 79 cents (in our day) you could feed a child’s imagination. What fun would it be to bite the head off a lion if it didn’t crunch?! Or if a bear didn’t ‘snap’ in half?
  • Crayons – colorful; new sharp points that make it so easy to stay within the lines; and that smell!

The aroma of new Crayola crayons takes me back to childhood where my cousin Jan and I would lie in the floor of their walk-in closet and color our evenings away! The intensity of staying in the lines always made her stick out her tongue and that made me smile. Being the boss of how each picture developed gave us purpose, and a sense of accomplishment. It just felt good to control something in a world so out of our control; same as today.

14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
15Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

Mark 10:14-16 NKJV

 

Driven and Defended

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Once again I am driven by the cold wind to my laptop keyboard.  There’s hardly a discomfort that can’t be improved upon by a cup of coffee and a candle. My picks for today are Green Mountain Signature Blend and a Beehive Pot of Sugared Citron by Aspen Bay Candles. For December, January, February, and even the first part of March, I, like most of you, can gaze upon the glossy white of winter and find beauty and blessing in the frozen stillness of a winter snow. But this is April 7! The free-falling stuff  we awoke to this morning was just not what I wanted to see.

Worse than the white spread over tree blossoms, was the 28 to 32 degree temps of early morning. My first 7 AM thought was of the wheat crops, and for many farmers this late freeze will not be good news. My next thought was of intense gratitude for our daughter’s safe arrival to her home shortly before 2AM, after her Dallas flight had a three-hour delay. Last night I’d closed the front door on a driving north wind with a prayer that God would deliver her safely home, and He did. He no doubt heard my heart thinking, “I won’t even pray for the wheat crop because defending my girl is so much more important”.  So, as much as I wanted to complain this morning about the weather, it was overridden by the blessings of a warm home, happy hearts, and good health.

As I took Auggie out for a walk near noon, that north wind was still at work. Try as it did to remove my cloak of gratitude, I just pulled it more snuggly around me, as I also did with my fleese-lined coat. That reminded me of the childhood fable of the sun and the wind competing to see who would cause the traveler to remove his coat. Of course, the sun won. Like the warmth of the sun, which gave the traveler freedom to remove his heavy overcoat, the sword of the Spirit defends us against the drive of evil, that we may stand; (Ephesians 6:13, 17) and provides the freedom to remove an overcoat of fear, guilt and regret. Such a laden coat may hide our joyful cloak of gratitude.

In our north wind, Auggie and I walk briskly in the exposures between the large evergreens of our fencerow. Then we slow down and enjoy the protection from the wind as we reach the next tree. In a similar way, we enjoy amazing grace and protection in the wind break of our Lord. The elements of life can be pretty cold and fierce, but He beckons us to move in close to Him while we brace for the next wave of ‘whatever’. “How precious is Your lovingkindness, Oh God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” (Psalm 36:7)

A bit of pulled pork and a jalapeño corn muffin later, I am enjoying the sun through my window. Mercifully, it has cut its way through the cold and cloudy sky. Our Redbud tree is glowing and the Yoshino Cherry blossoms seem happy enough dancing in the wind. Our days may be driven by the forces of nature, but our spirits are defended by a loving God whose Holy Spirit directs, and whose arms protect.

“For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2: 11-12)

 

Friendships: Puppies and Porcupines

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Hello! Long time, no see. I’ve been a neglectful blogger lately. My writing time was used to expand one of my articles published previously by Christian Woman Magazine, and I used that to present a talk in a Ladies Retreat in West Virginia. My sister and daughter accompanied me there last weekend. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and fun; so many laughs, hugs and encouragement that I feel recharged and refreshed! I’m not sure we realize, as women in a busy world, that our souls need refilling and refueling on a regular basis. We certainly pour out of them on a regular basis, do we not? I like the slogan on the Alum Creek Ladies Retreat Facebook page, which is “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. That has me thinking about friendship.

There are of course several levels of friendship. There’s the ‘barely know ya’ Facebook ‘friending’ and the ‘so glad to reconnect’ social media friending; there are long-standing work/school/neighborhood relationships that became friendships probably due to simply being there and the frequency of spending time together. Then, there are those unique people from our past who we can see ever so seldom and always feel like we are just picking back up a conversation from only yesterday. You know the kind , who have their ‘only them’ places in your heart. Perhaps it’s the first childhood friend you made (mine is Sandy Perfilio Jordan); or perhaps your high school bestie (enter Janie Hughes Guizlo); and of course the one you lived with as you left home the first time for that adventure called college (Linda Stubblefield Pugh). A different kind of friendship that can only be cultivated through time is that of husband and wife as newly wed days turn into always. He always has my back.

The weekend held for me a buffet of friendships. From the acquaintances that immediately felt like good friends, to the life long cherished friendship that is much more like family. This is the Arthur family of a little place called Bancroft, West Virginia. The mom, Helen, was my baby sitter before my memories begin and the mutual love between her family and mine continues in spite of my mom’s passing and the 450 miles between us. Helen’s daughter Kimberly Holder is my sister in the spirit. We think a lot alike although she is much more thoughtful and humble than I am. I had the privilege of seeing her sister and brother-in-law (Vicki and Whitney Hess) give their live band performance at a little Italian restaurant.  Though I never thought Vicki and I to be anything alike with all her talents, I discovered we have one important thing in common: she was more nervous singing in front of her three friends from Kentucky than all the times she has performed before senators, governors, and such. I too, had just had a case of nervous nellies as I spoke before a group of about 170 gals just like myself – living our seasons, doing our best to make each day count. My sister, my daughter and I were treated like royalty. That’s hospitable friendship.

Speaking of sis and daughter, this is another kind of friendship. Kathy, my sister and Stephanie, my daughter are the most supportive loving people you could ever ask for; more than I ever deserve! These close family members are people you can argue with and still come out friends. We must have those with whom we can share tears and confidences, knowing that it goes no further than them. That’s called trust.

My Mama told me once that to have a friend, you have to be a friend. I believe she got that from Proverbs in the bible, where it says “if a man is to have friends, he must show himself friendly”, and it was her answer to a question I asked.  I sat down at her kitchen table one morning in the months before her passing and said, “Mama, I don’t know what I’ll do without you. You are my best friend; and I don’t make friends the way you do.” That’s when she said how to be a friend. Hers was a sacrificial, wise and true love friendship.

I enjoy a large church congregation full of friends, many of whom I have no doubt would do anything they could if I needed help. Even there, there are always those two or three with whom you share a special bond. One shares a love for writing and has the most beautiful spirit. Another was a labor patient whose baby I was blessed to catch as he entered the world, making two friends of one! A couple of others whose newborns came at the end of an overtime shift where much bonding takes place are dear to my heart. Camaraderie at its best!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the very special friendship we have in our pets. Pets, especially puppies, bring out a gentleness in us that we start losing at about five years old. I think a three or four-year old would pet a porcupine and sweet talk it if given the chance. I want to be that kind of friend – the one who can love another in spite of the prickly days, the days when you need to be told you are special and not be reminded that it’s due to the quills. Like my puppy, who is always glad to see me come back home, I want to have open arms and heart for those in distress, or with regrets. I think that’s a Jesus kind of love and friendship.

I was blessed today with a visit from my old college roommate. The two of us shared memories and todays’ struggles and brunch. Hers is a non-judgmental kind of friendship, where we can openly discuss family matters and controversial issues with that trust I mentioned earlier. Along with the past weekend, today refilled my cup; I’m refreshed, renewed and refilled. That’s friendship.