Memorial Day

Today was Memorial Day 2017, sunny and warm. Warm not only with sunshine, but with memories; and warmed with the family and friends who are not memories, but present blessings. Like my dad who called with a convincing offer to peel and cut up my peaches for me. Yes sir-ree I hauled that box of Georgia peaches into town and left them for him and his wife to work up. They already “had a system going” he said, as they were working up their own peaches too. Daddy always has had a system, an organized way of doing anything. I believe he would plan ahead exactly which shoe he would tie first and which direction the string would wind around the loop!

After a morning of caring for our visiting ‘granddog ‘, as well as our own puppy recovering from his first bout of stomach bug, and the usual Monday mundane chores, we joined our son for a good Zaxby’s meal. Following the required weekly trek through Wal-Mart, we drove to the edge of town to Murray Memorial Gardens where my mother and father-in- law, and my own mother are buried. We parked under a tree for shade, and walked back to the place where my husband’s parents had selected for their vault. Names on a wall are all there is to see of them. I chose to honor them by naming aloud something I remember about each one, and for the others we were about to visit.

For Maxine, my mother-in-law, I said, “the best turkey ever – nobody has ever cooked one better!” I can almost smell that aroma now. I added, “And a simple country dinner plate on a summer work day with a glass of iced tea so sweet I could have diluted it into 3 glasses”. I think she would be happy with my memory.  Pointing to my father-in-law’s name, I said “Hundred dollar bills” and smiled because of the way he had occasionally dropped one into our hands and was offended if I resisted, saying there was no reason for him to do that. He replied, “because I want to, and it’s mine to give”; kind of the way Carvis Sanders handed out gum at church when I was a kid. Except he was more consistent with a piece of Juicy Fruit every Sunday.

Walking past grave markers that had little American flags standing beside them, I said aloud, “thank you for your service”. I didn’t know any of those people to remember something about them, but I remember what I have read and heard about war, and I shudder. I remember what so many of them were fighting for and I am grateful.

As I approached my mother’s burial-place, I was pleased to see her Mother’s Day flowers were still intact, pretty purple blooms in the one provided urn that memorial gardens allow. The spot is atop a rise and overlooks a pretty pond, shade trees, and a white fence. It also overlooks the place we’ve selected for our remains, and most of the other burial sites. I like that it reminds me of how my mother stood at least a head taller than most, making her pretty white hair easy to spot in a crowd. Like the day I passed the cardiac rehab room on my way into work  in the winter of 2008-09, and there was my mama on a stationary bike dressed in a beautiful purple outfit with an Angora type sweater, not work out clothes, and her white hair shining. She was doing more panting than pedaling, but she was doing what she could. On her grave marker today lay a single white silk rose that had come off of a nearby arrangement and  I laughingly said, “Mama, have you been picking somebody else’s flowers?” She sure loved and successfully grew beautiful flowers. She also was known to pick a few  elsewhere. I took the bloom back to its intended recipient and nestled it into the bouquet. Next I said “Could I have just a little bitty bite of that?” and my husband and  I laughed because we teased her a lot for saying that  if you were eating something that she was not. Next I said, quoting her,  “Trisha, that hospital is gonna be there when you’re dead and gone!” followed by “I lived up to it Mama, I left it”, and then as I was turning to go, I said “I love you muchy muchy!” as that was the way she had started saying goodbye in the last few months of her life. So, my memories aloud to her were of sharing (both directions), concern for her children, and much love.

As we drove away, the radio was playing “Gentle On My Mind”. I love remembering good things about people no matter how many wheat fields and back roads pass between us. Those memories keep them gentle on our minds.

I got a call from a neighbor later this evening about an incident with her husband who is dealing with cancer and the gazillion treatments for that. As we were taping up some scrapes on his arm together, we small talked and laughed. He recalled that his mother grew zinnias in her garden and it helped to keep the bugs off the vegetables. Before I left, she gave me a pretty bird feeder that was a gift in memory of my husband’s dad. I felt like Memorial Day had come full circle.

I came home feeling so thankful for every day God has given me to enjoy family, friends, nature, and memories. As Garry Evans reminded us yesterday, we all have One in common to remember today and every Lord’s Day; the one who gave the ultimate gift, His life for us.

Advertisements

The Pressure’s On – A Challenge For You

Tags

, ,

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Our next celebrated day, I believe, would be Mother’s Day, coming up in about three weeks. With that in mind, I’m wondering how many of you have interesting memories to share about your mom and her cooking. Whether your actual mother, or the grandmother, aunt, or friend who stands in your memory at the stove concocting the dishes of your dreams, someone filled you up in more ways than one.  Tell about it!! Don’t say you can’t write – there is no wrong or right way to relate your favorite memories. Just start thinking about it, let your thoughts roll down your arm and into your pen (or keyboard). A line or a page, whatever it is, those cooks are worth the honor of your remembering.  I hope I get to see some of the resulting stories.

In our part of the country, food served up more than nutrition. From earliest childhood, it delivered delicious comfort, security, and just plain fun. It gave us ties to our heritage and opportunity to experience other cultures. Today, it still does much of the same, although I think the world is so full of distractions and convenience food, that cooking has lost a link to life that it once enjoyed.  As many great meals as my mother served up, one of the strongest memory provokers is a method rather than a particular dish. When the weather is cool and rainy, and there are ample indoor chores to be done, I have flashbacks of pressure cookers sputtering away in the kitchen, with steamed up windows, and loads of laundry coming through to be folded. Mama always had a pressure cooker and used it often, I’m sure because of her busy life and the need to have 3 squares on the table every day. I had one for a while, and after the rubber seal lost its stretch, it was overshadowed by the microwave. Fast, but certainly no substitute! Who can parboil a rabbit in a microwave?! I do however, have a pressure canner, and when I hear that pressure control jiggling and shimmying out the steam I think of hot meals that made my parents happy. Whether rabbits my dad brought home from a hunt at Granddaddy’s, or the pigs-in-a-blanket (aka stuffed cabbage rolls) that she learned to make while in Cleveland, Ohio, it always smelled like love. I’d just about welcome some homework to do at the kitchen table if I could just have one of my mama’s meals, cooked under pressure, of one sort or another! With 60’s music playing from the radio, I’m not sure how much homework I actually did, but what a great memory, being warmed, fed, and taught in my Mama’s kitchen!

Thank you God for our food, for the women and men who provided and taught us how to prepare it, and for your Word, our bread of life. Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:58)

“Who can find a virtuous wife?…She also rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household…Her children rise up and call her blessed;” Proverbs 31: 10,15,28 (a)

An early “Happy Mother’s Day” to you all! Whether you are a mom or not, you have or have had a mother, and I am wishing you a day of happy memories in that!

Fishing Line and HE Washing Machines

Tags

20170401_134306-1

 

I must be one of the most hard-headed people I know! How many times have I instructed family members to empty out their pockets before adding clothes to the  hamper? And yet here I am – pulling out clothes, my clothes, with fishing line tied around each piece. Even in my 6th decade of life, I am so much in the learning phase. Can you identify? Please say I am not the only one who acts without thinking, or takes on a task without planning ahead. Whatever you want to call it, action without forethought usually has regret attached. The fishing line was a partial spool I tucked into my jacket pocket two days ago just incase I broke a line. But in my washer, it was as big a problem as all the tissue particles that covered my jackets, jeans, and my husband’s socks. Now, with the line wound back around the plastic piece, and the dryer taking care (I hope) of the remaining tissue, I am reminded of a few things. One, is how little fragments escape our internal library of ‘lesson learned’; also, how grace is bigger than regret; and third, we sure can haul in more than fish when we go fishing!

Saturday was a beautiful day and I had the privilege of spending it with an eleven and a half year old “Little Man” who calls me Aunt Pat. We met on the day of his birth, and that’s another story. How did he get to be so grown up so soon? I have two children of my own, adults who grew up at the speed of light even though I tried to hold onto every hour. We know they do that, right? Yet don’t we still put off things we meant to do with our loved ones, believing ‘some days’ will get here before the ‘too lates’? I’ve known for at least 6 fishing years that this little fellow would someday know whether or not I was really fishing, or just out there to enjoy the great outdoors and let him think he was fishing. My husband had bought two new poles, the modern metal version of a cane pole which came with hook, line and sinker. Really! All I had to do was tie the line onto the end of the pole after extending it the full 13 feet. Well, that just looked like too much line, so my young assistant Ryan and I cut it with the clippers in his nicely stocked tackle box, and the remainder went into my pocket. Had I thought to figure out ahead how to use this pole still wrapped in plastic after a year(!), or restock my son’s melted, stinky contents of his old tackle box? No, that would just be too easy, I say with a smirk. To keep this from being too long, let me just say that Ryan is now fully aware of Aunt Pat’s fishing deficits. I’d say he knew that when I had to call my dad to see what the bass would be biting, and then had to borrow that green lizard from Ryan. A good sport about sharing his bait, he also didn’t laugh when my self-cut line didn’t quite reach the center of our pond. We threw back my first little fish, and he caught a couple nice ones with his spinner bait on a rod and reel. Good job! Not to be completely humiliated, I patiently kept trying and did add the third catch to our supper plans.

Did I mention taking on a task without planning? Have you cleaned and prepared fresh fish lately, with a spoon and a dull paring knife? (Thank you Ryan’s parents for stocking his box with a fish scaler!) Next time, I may consider Ryan’s first idea of throwing them all back! But oh no, I was going to have fresh fish for supper – over a fire yet! The end result was grilled fish, bone in, over charcoal; delicious for all except Ryan who thought hotdogs looked more appetizing. The fire pit was fun for him to start but not in time to cook (who forgot to bring the firewood over?) except to roast marshmallows for dessert.

Several times throughout our day, I mentioned things like “what a beautiful day God made” or “I’m sure God knew when He created this or that….” We decided to bury the fish heads and entrails in my garden which I said would thank God for our catch by fertilizing the ground. I hope when Ryan remembers our time together, he recalls that Aunt Pat gave credit to God for all things good. I hope I remember what I really caught: good memories and good lessons. Those are, first, when I forgot to check my pockets, it ‘tied up’ some time so to speak, so I need to remember the lessons of the Lord’s Word, which saves many hardships over going it our own way. In Proverbs we read, “My son, do to forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.” (Proverbs 3:1) My second thought was that I wasn’t fully prepared but my friend Ryan had what I needed. Jesus knows our every weakness, and oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! Paul wrote to the church at Galatia “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:3-4) Last, my methods weren’t the best, but with patience I caught a fish. So, I’ll try to be patient, wait on the Lord, and be supplied. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

I’m sure glad Ryan wasn’t watching today as I pulled the extra line out of my washer. I’m glad God was, and enables me to share some lesson reminders. Even without a great deal of planning, the day was packed with fun and blessings, some of which were sunshine, laughter, friends and family, a hawk soaring over the trees, geese honking, and the reward of delicious food shared with loved ones. With my lack of preparation, I didn’t deserve such a good day. With our human error, missing the mark, we sure do not deserve all that God has done for us, but we have opportunity to receive anyway. Because he loves us.

I felt almost guilty using my son’s tackle box, because I didn’t make the time, nor find the know-how to take him fishing when he was little; and he sure turned out great anyway. Those ‘somedays’ I mentioned slipped by me and were followed by regret. However, I am thankful for the grace of loving forgiving hearts, and second chances. So when I mess up and leave tissues and fishing line in my pockets, I need to extend that grace to a certain family member who does the same. Even if I let busy-ness crowd out time to call my loved ones and spend more time with them, God keeps giving me more. More time, more opportunities. I am eternally thankful for them all, and I want to seize that time before there is no more, to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. (Micah 6:8) I want to grab the opportunities to soar above the storms with wings growing stronger as I wait for the Lord to work in my life. (Isiah 40:31) More than anything else, I am thankful that He forgives when we forget to do life His way, and that He keeps putting more blessings on my hook than I could ever imagine hauling in.

It just occurred to me that if I’d had my old agitator washer instead of this high-efficiency washer that I’ve complained about so much, I’d have been in a much worse mess of tangled fishing line! Small favors!

Healing the Hurt

Tags

Let’s sit and talk for a moment about your pain. I’ll pour a cup of coffee, and you can pour out your heart.

If you are among those who have experienced emotional hurt, harbored old wounds, or are in a painful place now, then this is for you. If you are in the number of people involved with helping a loved one with any such painful issues, then this is also for you. Because deep wounds cause scars and scars don’t go away; because seeing a loved one hurt, hurts too; and because those valid sources of pain are ever present, most if not all, at some point, need help.

Not a counselor, nor trained beyond the brief introduction we get from nursing psychology, I am addressing this subject only from the heart of someone who cares. Neither have I had enough life experience to feel like an expert. However, there is nothing new under the sun,  (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and if we are careful observers of life, we learn as we go. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes went on to say, “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered.” (1:15) Why then is it that people keep trying to go back and change the past? The past IS part of who I am, what I’ve become, for better or worse, built up or eroded. Whatever it was, it cannot be changed; but it can be used for  building blocks to a better self, and compassion for others. If I could change anything, it would be to plant that notion firmly in the minds of some who are futilely struggling to remake the past. Looking for comfort from the Spirit of God this morning, I was reading in Colossians, though I can’t recall why at the moment. Do you ever find some matter of your heart shows up in the scripture you go to next? I do, and  what I want to recall here is chapter 3, verses 12-14.”Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But ABOVE ALL THESE THINGS”(emphasis mine), “put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Holding on to the embedded notions of unworthiness, low self-esteem, or holding a grudge is caustic to the healing process. No good thing can grow in that environment. The continued desire to change the past by rehashing it and reopening old wounds will never change it. Rather, it allows it to breed toxins and fester into problems with our present relationships. Oh how I want to erase things from the minds of those in such anguish; until I remember that all we experience is who we are. And I wouldn’t want to change who they are;  just heal the pain. All we can do from here on, is let it go and allow fresh granulation tissue to fill the wounds. The scar will certainly be there, but it should become a healthy, healed body.

As I was  pondering the way people tend to use the past as a propellent for all future feelings, I thought about why some wounds heal and some do not. In nursing, I saw wounds that healed nicely, minimal scarring, and no residual stiffness. Then there were wounds that seemed destined for trouble. They developed infection, complete with all the different  microbes and resulting nastiness possible. From the small gaps where the edges just fought coming together, to the gaping holes of purulent evidence, there was resistance to heal. Those require treatments that can be very painful, and usually have extensive scarring that interferes with surrounding healthy tissue, possibly causing less mobility if not worse. Two main factors make the difference in how the healing goes. Those are first, the condition of the host – the tissue and  the supporting system; and  secondly, how the wound is being treated. Relating this to the psychological wounds is pretty easy. How was the victim developing as a person before the painful encounter? That would be like the condition of the tissue. Was there a support system to help his or her emotional healing? That would be like the immune system. Did they ask for and get help, or meet with refusal to acknowledge the source of injury? That would be the medical community and infection control. (Now don’t go calling the person who inflicted this emotional wound, an infectious microbe!😁) Most importantly, does the host, that is, the person cut by life’s sharp edges, know where to turn. That might be the follow-up, self-care or home health.

When a deep scar has developed in one’s heart, it is so important that they know how to unclench their grasp on that piece of the past; a piece that has been so much a part of who they are.  I believe we can get so wrapped up in some thorn in the flesh that we aren’t sure what kind of person we will be without it. I believe the Word of God has the best salve for the wounds, if we can just help those in pain to see it – really grasp and understand it. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15. Pointing to that peace as our loved ones struggle may involve a pain of its own. Our pain becomes real as the victims smother out all efforts with a toxic attitude. Attitudes toward life are formed early, and are the hardest thing to overcome if they are not healthy ones. We see them still struggling with self-image but we know they are wonderful people capable of great things. When we see the scabs knocked off before the healing is done, and we see the stoic set of their jaw, we cry their tears for them. And then there’s the ‘wound care’. Though it may seem calloused, we have to debride the unhealthy tissue, and that may be painful as they recognize the actual source of infection is their own refusal to let go. It will also be painful to experience again the original injury as they bring it to the surface, where it can be purged from its viable strength.  Once they are forced to own the pain and give it away to God, then they must be encouraged to leave it there. Leave. It. There. Don’t allow them to continue to bring back up what they have longed to put down. Similar to someone with a weight problem staying away from the cookie jar, these dear souls with bad memories must stop going back there to a bad place.  Encourage them to search the word of the only One Who truly knows what they’ve endured and having created us, knows best what works for us. What Paul the Apostle said of his goal to serve Christ, is good for us as we work toward our goals – “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize…” (Philippians 3:13b-14a). Paul had caused trauma and suffering for others, as well as suffered many severe hardships himself. He was fully aware of how much we might need to forget.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 That is our house favorite.

So as I wait for all the pain in the world to be healed, and all creation whole once again, I will do what I can for whom I can.  It may be only a smile here, a pat on the back there; a hug for those accepting it, a willing ear and a word of encouragement. Let it go, like the movie Frozen taught us. Move on toward  taking what you are (…”that whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content” Phil. 4:11) and  allowing God to transform and renew you into the best you that you have ever been. And as I watch I will keep my favorite prayers alive for you. Those are found in Isaiah 40:31 (teach me Lord to wait) and Micah 6:8, that you will know all that’s required of you is to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” You don’t have to move the mountain; you may only need to hold God’s hand as he leads you through the pass.

Now, cream or sugar with that cup of coffee? as we put a bandaid on your booboo.

Cookie Jars and Stickers

Good morning! It is a very cold sunny morning in Southwestern Kentucky. With just the puppy and me home today, I found myself starting something kin to spring cleaning in the kitchen. Not that I am ready for that, but the remaining fragments of the holidays were starting to bother me so taking time off from tax preparation, I grabbed a cookie jar. As I dumped out the three or four stale cookies, I realized with some sadness that there were no stickers inside. Does your family have little trivial traditions; fun stuff that you only know of within your inner circle?

The blue toboggan clad one is the older of my two snowman cookie jars and each time I’ve ever washed it, the inside of the top was plastered with stickers from Chiquita bananas,  Dole fresh fruit,  and apple varieties. It has been my son’s sneaky (truly never caught him in the act!) endeavor to place stickers from food not only inside and under the cookie jars, but on the back of can openers, the radio, toaster, and anything else he thought I’d be a while finding. He started that when he was a kid; he is now 39 years young and I still occasionally find a new sticker. And I smile. But this year, he wasn’t around enough during the holidays to think of it I suppose, and he has been busy pursuing a master’s degree. So, I felt a small trickle of melancholy squeeze into my heart as I finished washing the jar.

      No less my son, but a dab less fun as we take on layers of life; the sun still shines, but

     we’re wearing the blinds of toting our struggles and strife.

Moving on to the second jar, a more modern take with lime green in his scarf, I took off his head and presto! I was back in the happy lane of memory. I knew the man hadn’t forgotten the little acts of teasing his mama and had found his mischievous side still up to the antics of youth. Just little acts of acknowledging I am here, and wanting to make me smile.

How does our heavenly Father feel when I no longer show the enthusiasm that I did when first becoming a new Christian? This is the question I found in my heart as I finished up the jars. Not that He wants us to remain young disciples in our level of maturity, certainly; just as we parents would never want our children to fail to grow, mature, and put away childish things (I Corinthians 13:11). But I felt a pang of sympathy for God the Father when He sees the vacancy in our eyes that were once aglow with spreading the gospel.  Then I quickly felt aligned with the satisfaction He has when we return to his plans for us. Finding the little sticker symbols of love, I could meekly identify with His pleasure as He sees us back in the excitement of where we started. I want to keep putting happy stickers on the work He has planned for me. I bet when I open my spiritual cookie jar, I find it full and running over with all kinds of goodness for me, too.

Little acts of love and kindness are never forgotten. In fact, according to God’s word through the apostle Paul’s pen, love is greater than speaking in tongues, sounding brass and cymbals. Love is better than prophesying, and all knowledge and faith. (I Corinthians 13:1-2)  Followed by my daughter’s favorite passage of scripture,  verses 4-7, love is explained to be patient, kind, without envy or pride; well-behaved, seeking good for others, not easily angered nor of evil thoughts; rejoicing in truth and not in sin;  bears, believes, hopes and endures all things.

Go out and leave a little sticky note of kindness to make someone know they are loved today.

 

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

About “Sharing From My Heart”

Living in a technology controlled world is difficult if not disturbing for a person whose brain didn’t come with a computer chip. I have written tonight in my laptop Pages, and decided to share it via my blog. The only way I could find to do that is what you see in the previous post and you have to click on the ‘give-in-or-give-up’. Sorry for the confusion if it causes any. Have a great rest of the week. Trisha

Good Day, Bad Day – All in One’s Perspective

I’ve heard trouble comes in threes. I had one such day on Monday, the second day of the new year. I however, do not say it was a bad day. No day is bad since it is one more window of time the Lord has provided with much potential, and always full of blessings. Even if we can’t see them through the mud on our panes, they are there.  I was blessed with the laughter and chatter of two little girls in my house that day. My great-niece and our neighbor’s little girl had a play day and they never missed a moment, filling the house with activities for the dolls and imaginary pets. I stayed out of their way and got a kick out of listening to the scenarios they created. Oh yes, I was about to tell of my trio of troubles that day.

First, as I finished ironing a shirt, (and it just had to be one of those long ‘boyfriend style’ shirts, light blue and white) I missed the hanger and dropped the shirt into the wax warmer plug-in that WAS beneath the ironing board. The scented wax was red. The red wax was scattered along one sleeve and shoulder as well as the hem. Luckily it dries quickly and seemed like it would peel off, but no, I soon saw that the color and waxy feel were not giving up. I decided to put the shirt into the freezer and hoped that would cause the wax to chip away cleanly, and the warmer found another receptacle in which to reside. I finished my ironing and made lunch for the girls and myself. A while after lunch they wanted popsicles and I sent them to the freezer to make their selection. The shirt! They hadn’t found that to be an obstacle, or even something to report to me. You’d think finding a shirt folded up in the freezer drawer would seem odd to 7 and 8 year olds, wouldn’t you? When I remembered it, I hurried in there to find the shirt wadded up and moved aside, but no worse off. The wax hadn’t let go, either. Spot remover and rewashing took care of the situation just fine; so the blessing is that I’ve moved a potential problem that could have involved a not so easily laundered item.

Later on the girls wanted to watch a movie. Upon return with the DVD from another room I was met by a kitchen floor full of milk splattered over an area of about five by ten feet and a little blond-haired girl down on her hands and knees trying to wipe it up  with a single paper towel. I couldn’t think of where to start so I heard myself exclaiming, “I just don’t understand – lunch at the dining room table was over – where did this come from – I thought you were waiting for the movie – Izzy please just go back and get a bunch of paper towels for me.” She brought both, yes, both the remaining two towels on the roll. I decided to get their movie going before tackling the clean up, just to find the stupid DVD/TV/Remote team weren’t playing nicely together and it was getting rather warm about that time. Finally the movie Frozen was playing and I thanked Izzy for trying to help clean up, reminded her of the “only covered cups for the living room” rule, and fetched my mop and bucket. My blessing? Izzy had dropped the cup on her way into the living room, not on the sofa one foot away, not on the rug beneath the table where she started, and hallelujah! not on the king sized quilt tent covering the breakfast table two inches from the edge of the spilled milk. Floors, chairs, and walls can be wiped down and little girls can be happy again. As I finished the second mopping, the thought popped into my head that troubles come in threes.

Now, the incident that got my blog brain going happened when I took the girls home. Neighbor delivered to her parents, and niece delivered to her home, I was contemplating going home for a nap versus stopping to visit my dad. The idea of getting home prevailed as I was leaving the final drop off point. Then my phone rang and my dad said, “What happened to you?” I asked, “what do you mean?” He replied, “well, you just took off  without saying anything, is something wrong?” “Daddy, I’m just leaving Jessi’s driveway; I haven’t been by your house”. Pause. “Trisha, we just saw your car out here in our driveway, and it looked like you were on your phone so we waved at you and waited, but then you just backed out of the driveway and slowly drove on down the street.” He was so sure of what he’d seen that I almost questioned my sanity (after all it had been a full night and day with my guests) but I assured him that no, I had not been anywhere near his driveway. I told him I had thought about coming by to visit, but was not dressed to be seen, hair uncombed, and felt like going home for a nap. To which he uncharacteristically said, “we don’t care what you look like – we’d just like a visit”. By then I was nearing their neighborhood and felt like my car was going to turn in his direction even if I didn’t, as if a force was exerted by the puzzling experience and I  looked forward to hearing details of what they saw that made him think it was me. We visited for about an hour, more or less, and they both explained in detail how she had looked out one window, told him I was in the driveway, he looked out a door, waved and stepped back inside to find in a few moments that the car was leaving, and the two of them said I had to be called right then to see if something was wrong at home perhaps. All of that at the very moment I would have been traveling toward the state highway on my way home. Later, as I actually was driving home after my visit, I encountered a clean up crew about half way home where there had been a fairly serious accident. My blessing? I don’t think I have to explain that one for you. I have a chill just retelling it. Now, arriving home, engine turned off, I heard the third trouble for the day. My right rear tire was spewing loudly and I found a piece of metal in it. Obviously I picked it up on my way home, probably where the accident had occurred.  The leak was slow enough that I had time to drive it over to my husband’s shop where he could take the tire off under shelter and, long story short, it was a $12.50 repair the next day. A piece from a windshield wiper is what the repairman said it was.

Now, some would say that if I hadn’t stopped at Dad’s, I wouldn’t have damaged the tire; and that things don’t happen for any reason. Others might say the timing was too close and if I hadn’t stopped I could have been involved in the accident myself. We never did figure out who has a vehicle so much like mine that my own dad thought it was me. Some say we entertain angels unaware. No matter which camp you’re in, I say I am one very blessed woman; a daughter of the King, and of a very good daddy too.

“I walk with the King, through pastures so green; by quiet waters still to do His good will. He lighteth the way, from darkness to day, I’ll hold to His hand, I walk with the King.” (words and music by Alton H. Howard) I’ve always loved that song.

The whole thing really stirred my heart with that “providence of God” thing we wrestle from time to time. Whatever we do in word or deed, we are to do all in the name of the Lord. So I don’t want to sound ungrateful by denying His hand in how things turned out. Neither do I want to say everything is guided by or happens for a purpose. Too many things happen that we just cannot find a good reason for and I think partly, stuff just happens. Minor things like flat tires and major things like loss of life; no apparent reason. But, the more I think about God, the more He engages my life, and the more I am influenced by His will. Those little voices in our heads that make our decisions are guided by something, the influences in our lives,  kind of like ‘out of the heart flow the issues of life’.  So deciding to spend time at Dad’s really was something I had been considering because of several influences. One, various proverbs from the bible caution us to respect the elderly, appreciate time spent on others, and so forth. Then there’s the blessing from God of still having a parent around to visit and still learn life stuff from him. Thirdly, because I love that Jesus said the kingdom of Heaven is ‘of such ‘ as little children, I love spending time with them and learning more of those traits. So in those three ways God did orchestrate my day. I guess what I can take away from all that is to train those voices that you hear to be good ones, and then listen to them. It could save the day – or not. Think what you will, I’ll always believe an angel or the Lord Himself was guiding me that afternoon. A good day, or a bad day? Definitely it was a good day!

Flat Sodas

The fizzle is out of my soda pop, or to us Southerners, my coke. Come to think of it, the snap is out of my crackle in a lot of ways. Four days after Christmas now, dust has diminished the shine of decorations and scraps of paper remain of the pretty presents under the tree. The cookie box is about empty, the half eaten cake is in the refrigerator, and the empty stockings lie deflated.

Having taken the first nap today that I’d allowed myself since too long before the holidays, I awakened very thirsty. I had come into the house earlier with that super sleepy feeling I get from riding in a sun-filled car, and went straight to Mama’s old chaise in my sunroom, moved Mr.Gray Cat’s blanket and stretched out in the bath of sunlight all over my back. About an hour and a half later I awoke suddenly, remembering something I had promised I would do right after lunch; and it is now 2:45 pm. Shaking the sleep from my head and the adrenalin from my heart, I poured a glass of Diet Coke  over crushed ice, looking forward to that sparkle and sizzle to get me going. I thought I might sit for a moment and plan my strategy for de-decorating over the next few days; then proceed with today’s assignments.  My heart sank as the flat brown liquid just sat there, no fizzle nor foam at all; just that yucky sweet taste and I’m reminded of so many things – like my memory – that seem to have gone flat lately, or at least lost their luster.

Having the blessing of good friends to share the season with is so important to me. One such occasion was my college roommate stopping for an overnight visit yesterday.  I told her she got the leftovers from all the Christmas goodies, but unfortunately it was more than just the food. Five days of grand dog plus our own puppy, and simply enjoying time spent with family had left the floors strewn, furniture dusty, and the dessert table a crumbly hodgepodge. My energy level  as well, was waning. So I decided to take the advice of sage writers and just relax and enjoy the time together instead of being exhausted from cleaning and preparing like we do at the beginning of the season. And, I did enjoy our visit so much! Hopefully she did too, enough to forgive my smelly little puppy and dusty furniture. Judging by the way it was accepted, I’d say the Christmas cake was still good.

This all reminds me of the way we often enjoy our season of being in the beauty of God’s love but in so doing we let the tinsel tarnish and the glow grow dim. In the midst of our blessings we can take so much for granted. Busy-ness, baking, purchasing and wrapping almost wipe out our ability to enjoy the Christmas season. Likewise, business, family and friend activities, recreation – just enjoyment of life in general – can, and often does, take our focus away from the excitement we felt when first giving our life to Christ. Here we are basking in His presence, but forgetting the missions He has given us. I speak for myself betting there are others like me. It was good to just sit back and enjoy family activities, preparing food, exchanging gifts, watching movies and best of all laughing and talking while we end another year of blessings. Meanwhile, a layer of living crawls over all that pretty preparation of decorating and baking, and lack of upkeep is obvious. In my personal life, I want to be more diligent this coming new year to keep my Christianity shining. I want to keep that ‘new Christian’ feeling alive. “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”(Galatians 6:9). Again, to the Thessalonians Paul wrote “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (II Thess.3:13).  God’s Word never grows old nor out of season. I want to hear the fizz and see the sparkle every time I open HIs Word; I want to be refreshed by it, preventing me from having a flat outlook on life. I want to taste the sweet perfection of His love and never have a yucky taste in my mouth from the world that the devil drives.

Two days later:

I’ve turned the Christmas tree lights back on today to drive away the gloominess, yesterday’s sunshine hidden by today’s rain. I love the sparkle and excitement of the holidays and tend to hold on to it as long as possible. Eventually the task of keeping it all refreshed gets old, and alas, it will come down and make room for tax preparation, garden planning, and perhaps a puzzle assembly. But in our non-holiday world, the richness of His grace is all I need to drive out the gloom and doom that threaten our joy. With Christ in your heart, you will overcome the tarnish and dullness that Satan wants to wrap around your blessings. Happy New Year friends. As you pour your cup of cheer, whether Diet Coke, wassail, or egg nog, may you recognize your blessings and shine all year!

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

LATE SUMMER’S DAY

I’ve looked through my posts and do not see if I ever posted this poem. I feel like I did, but I can’t find it. I wrote it one September, possibly late August, and today reminded me of it. Probably five or so years ago, sitting on my front porch watching  my friend/like a sister/former patient ‘in waiting”s little boy play, I was in awe of this time of year.

The birds’ cheerful singing with the wind chimes a ringing

Give voice to the breeze as it blows.

Warm air that feels cool, sky as blue as a pool,

Make the day as good as I’ve known.

Little boy Ryan with popsicle lips and butterflies sipping at zinnia tips:

Two special sights to behold.

The greens are much darker and serve as a marker,

With the gathering streaks of gold,

Of the promise that Autumn hovers; and a peacefulness covers

The summer’s long dry breath of air.

Cicadas chip through the still afternoon

And echo my thanks to be there.

P.Ward