Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Steel Magnolia Birthday


Playing on the beach with manicured nails of course!

      The first born in our family was a girl on October 1. We no longer celebrate the year but the day; sometimes for weeks on end. Rema was married at the ripe old age of 16 and had a child of her own before I came into this world.

      A Steel Magnolia is described as a strong willed independent but always feminine woman. For most of us Southern women, Scarlet O’Hara comes to mind. I would say that is an accurate description of Rema. Threats of “wait until your father gets home” held little weight. When we heard “your sister is coming home” all the ducks got into a row.

      On occasion I would visit with my sister’s family when I was small. I remember clearly some rowdiness at the dinner table one night. A brightly painted, well manicured of course, fingernail tapped the table. Without a word, everyone remembered their table manners.

Proper accessories even on vacation

     An avid reader, the Bible ranks number one on her list. Southern Living ranks close behind. If it is written in Southern Living, it is almost gospel. Many vacation tours have been made in search of the magazine's must visit sites. Like most of us, she loves the beach and all of God’s glorious nature.

      On more than one occasion I have heard her say, “Girls cry, but women, NEVER!” One day I decided to surprise her for lunch. I found her alone, crying. Knowing she would be mortified to be found out, I slipped away. Even the best Steel Magnolias can be bent under the pressures of life. They just go to great lengths to guard their hearts.

      The next time you have a bird’s eye view of a Steel Magnolia, keep in mind things are not always as they seem. Am I afraid of my sister finding about this post? No. I’m not afraid of her. I am just not going to tell her. I will just send her wishes for the very best birthday celebration ever. After all, I am not completely crazy --yet!

       You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
Psalm 56:8

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wild Hair

      Dan and I generally stay in close contact during the day. After a fast paced weekend I was expecting him to be wiped out Monday night. He checked in to say he would be home within the hour. Two hours later he had not arrived and was not answering his phone. Just as I was about to panic and start looking for him, he arrived.

      Surprisingly he was all smiles and full of energy. He asks, “How does my hair look?” Of course it looked the same as always, plastered with extra hold hair spray that defies gale force winds. “Why do you ask?” He explained on the way home he discovered a Ford convertible for sale and decided to take it for a test drive. Even at 70 miles per hour, every hair was in place. He found the ride to be surprisingly quite. He could even hear the radio with the top down. Maybe that’s why the cell phone was not answered?

       Not exactly my litmus test for a convertible, but rates high on Dan’s list. To me a convertible represents freedom and wind blowing through your hair. A young man once asked, “Mr. Dan, how do you get your hair to look like a sun visor?” His parents were mortified. We thought it was hysterical. The obvious simply cannot be denied.

     He is now even more excited about our fall cross country trip. “I just can’t wait!” he says. Warmer months are totally out of the question. The heat might melt his hair. We wouldn’t want anything to hamper the fun our much anticipated trip!

      If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vessels of Honor

      There were many things I loved and admired about mother in law Mary. She was both kind hearted and fun loving. I never once heard her utter a negative word about anyone. At any opportunity to help one in need, her immediate reply was, “Oh yes! Let’s do that.”

     One of my favorite memories of Mary was our trips to her TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) group.  You were fined a dime for each pound gained. Mary always reminded me to make sure she had plenty of dimes for the meeting. I got such a kick out of that group of ladies. The leader often expressed her fears they would lose their chapter if they didn’t actually take off pounds. The discussion would then turn to what to have for lunch. They were just a fun group of ladies.

     Mary had a very special set of dishes. In the early sixties a local grocery store ran a promotion. With a certain dollar amount spent you could receive a piece. Mary had a host of friends who helped her collect them. I loved them because of the sentimental attachment rather than their monetary value. To me and Mary they symbolized love and devotion from dear friends.

     As Mary and husband Neil’s health began to decline, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with them. There were stories and memories shared I will always treasure. Mary atypically insisted we all be present for their 65th wedding anniversary. There is no easy to travel between Jonesboro and Russellville. We were making the 6 hour round trip almost every weekend and really were dreading the mid-week trip. However, it was so rare for Mary to ask anything for herself, we went. We are forever grateful for that visit.

     The weekend following the anniversary gathering, Mary shared many things privately with me. I realized she was saying her good byes. There were promises she asked me to keep and messages to deliver upon her behalf. Why she chose me, I do not know. As difficult as it was, I consider it an honor that she placed such trust in me. On that day she told me of a special serving tray from her friends’ collection. She told me she wanted me to have it and the others if I wished. Only Mary knew of its existence. So very typical of her to be thinking of others even in her last days.

     Recently, a need for dishes came to our attention. I heard immediately in my head, “Oh, yes! Let’s do that!” As I shared with Dan he immediately smiled in agreement. As much as they meant to me, we donated all the dishes – minus one!

      Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. II Timothy 2:20-21 (King James Version)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is it just me?

We shared over breakfast with friends a few humorous encounters. They were perched on the ends of their sits as I am sure you will be. Or is it just me?

Noticing a half price sale at a local garden shop, we decided to check it out. I asked the cashier if all the trees were on sale. The reply, “No, only the dead and dying are on sale.” Not even this bargain hunting city girl would fall for that!

Upon ordering a whole rotisserie chicken, “Sorry, we only have half chickens, not whole ones.” Okay, now even with my limited math skills that can work. “I’ll take two.” “Wellllll, okay then?”

And maybe my favorite of the week, caller id flashes, “Phone Scam.” Really?

We ordered our usual Mocha Frappe. After a few minutes an employee approached us. “We ran out of mocha half way through making your drinks. Can I finish them off with another flavor?” “No thank you.”

I awoke Saturday to an empty house. I find Dan outside washing the cars as is his usual custom. It was pouring rain. Soaked to the bone he says, “It was raining just a little when I started. I have to finish before our company arrives.” They call me OCD.

Our very sweet and competent pharmacists counseled me on a new prescription. “This medication should be taken with food. I don’t think you will have a problem.”

I took a Lowe’s purchase back for a refund. The lady behind the counter says to me, “Home Depot.” Well, maybe it is just me!

I pray you will all find many days filled with humor and love!

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting. Job 8:21

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Celebrating Cheryl

Today we spent a great day visiting with siblings and niece Cheryl. Since Cheryl’s birthday is this week, we decided to make it an added celebration. Just for fun, there was a tiara for her head and baubles and jewels for her cake. With typical style and sense of humor, she agreed to wear the tiara out to eat.

Cheryl is more a sister than niece. Like most of us, life has often been an up hill climb. Ten years ago on Fathers Day, we received an emergency call. Cheryl was critically ill in a Memphis area hospital. As we were driving over, I had a vision of angels standing in a circle holding hands around her bed.

We arrived at the hospital to discover, Cheryl was in a coma, her lungs, kidneys and heart in failure. Diagnosed with the rare scleroderma, she was not expected to survive. With this grim diagnosis, no restrictions were placed on visitors entering her critical care room. Many persons prayed over her as she lay unconscious on life support. She could hear the doctors say she would not survive. Although she could not respond audibly she spoke to herself, “No I am not!” Each time a prayer was prayed over her, she felt her body grow stronger.

Several days later, I phoned the hospital to check on her condition. To my great surprise and delight, Cheryl answered the phone! Later she explained the vision of angels. While in a coma she heard her physician say all medical knowledge was exhausted. The physician then asked all the staff to join hands, circle around Cheryl and pray. Those were her circle of angels!

She was on kidney dialysis for a long while as her lungs and heart continued to heal. Needless to say, the day she no longer had to make those trips to the dialysis unit was another day of great celebration. The disease was finally pronounced in remission. She was left with many physical handicaps. This has not deterred her attitude and zest for living her life as fully as her body will allow.

We will continue to believe, angels are still encamped around her and she will not only live, but live abundantly. Certainly no other thought would ever dare cross Cheryl’s mind!

Happy Birthday Cheryl and many more!!!!     

You make known to me the path of life;in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Friday, September 10, 2010

Liquid Gold

Roses drinking in the rain!

     For the last few days we have received much needed rain. Just as we prayed, it has been a slow, gentle, soaking rain. We have walked in it and drank it in as have the plants and trees in our yard. Although Dan has constantly watered them I fear some will still succumb to the brutal summer’s heat. There is just no substitute for nature’s rain. It is like liquid gold sprinkled from the heavens. God does not discriminate. The rain falls freely upon the wanted and unwanted landscaping.

Struggling Dogwood

     Sixteen very old pine trees were taken down in our front yard. The decision was not made lightly. They were severely damaged in the last ice storm and had become hazardous. Fearing another one would plunge through our roof again, we finally relented. Those majestic pines were our only remnant of color during the winter months. Dogwoods, Crepe Myrtles, Chinese Maples, Red Buds and a lone Peach Tree were planted along side new Evergreen Trees.

Taking down the pines

     Maybe because the Dogwood coincides with my favorite holiday, Easter, is it so special to me. Our lake property is covered with them. In the spring the hills are a blanket of white and pink flowers; followed by bursts of red berries in the fall. Maybe it is because they appear frail and mangled needing the shelter of larger trees to protect it from the elements.

Shroud of Turin

     This morning I watched a special on the Shroud of Turin. As with Christ, it too is swirled in controversy. World renowned scientists, even the ones certain it is a fraud, admit there are just some things even they in all their wisdom cannot explain. An every day husband and wife provided evidence disproving scientific findings of the age of the linen shroud. Neither were scientists. Once again; “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” 1st Corinthians 1:27.

     As The Legend of the Dogwood goes;

At the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood had reached the size of the mighty oak tree. So strong and firm was the wood that it was chosen as the timber for Jesus' cross.

To be used for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the dogwood. While nailed upon it, Jesus sensed this, and in his compassion said. "Because of your pity for my suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used for a cross. Henceforth, it shall be slender, bent, and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross–two long and two short petals.

"In the center of the outer edge of each petal will be the print of nails. In the center of the flower, stained with blood, will be a crown of thorns so that all who see it will remember."

     Like the Dogwood, some of us by the world’s standard may appear, broken, frail and maybe cursed. In His eyes, the mighty Oak and the frail Dogwood are equally valued and loved.

     “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45 KJV

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Labor Day of Love


Connor and Joshua



     We spent a wonderful Labor Day weekend visiting with friends and family in the Dallas area. Friday we had steak dinners at the Texas Roadhouse. It is Texas after all. Son Michael joined us, typically late after a long hospital shift. After dinner we all caravanned to a neighborhood park. It was such a joy just to see all the family together having fun. Even Mom and Dad laughed and played together on the newly renovated playground taking a much needed break from the stress of their hectic lives.

      Saturday morning we met old friends for breakfast. The time together, again was filled with laughter and reminiscing about such things as “Was there or was there not a bonfire high school graduation night?” The downside was the visit was much too brief. They and their extended families are just wonderful folks.



      The latter portion of the day was spent close to home with grandkids, Haley, Megan, Connor, Joshua, Lily and daughter in law Becky either playing or swimming in the back yard. Mom and Dad even managed to pull off a late night movie date leaving the grandkids in charge of putting Nana and Papa Dan to bed. It was rumored that some little people slipped back into the media room after curfew, but we are sure it was just that; rumor. Surely this would not have occurred on our watch.

      Sunday, also our wedding anniversary was a real marathon day for us. Although it started with sleeping in until the crack of dawn and the guys making breakfast pancakes for us, the race was soon on. We were off to Connor’s baseball practice. He was doing a great job on first base keeping a keen eye on the ball; until a pink helmeted runner landed there. It was love on first base, or at least great admiration for girl power. He being Southern gentleman had previously taken off his cap and given it to her in the outfield. He very quickly pointed out, IT was not pink!

Joshua and Connor "helping" Dad

Connor and "Pink Power"

      The afternoon was filled with Happy Meals, go carts, putt-putt golf, bounce houses and various other arcade games and rides. As the sun began to set, we headed for home. Megan remembered we hadn’t yet made it to laser tag and bowling. That would have pushed us way passed our limit. We will try to make that gig next outing.

      As we collapsed exhausted from our day, we spoke of our mutual admiration for daughter in law. Becky does such a great job of taking care of her family. She makes it look so easy we sometimes forget it is anything but. While working professionally from home, shuttling five children to three different schools and countless activities, she manages to keep her house in order, and the children immaculately groomed, well fed and organized. This weekend, in between all the commotion, she hand painted logos and names on a dozen t-shirts. After just one day, we were toast!


      We too often take things for granted. We forget to be thankful for so many people and things God has graced our lives with. Our grandchildren are safe, healthy, happy and loved. I have a precious husband who always thanks and compliments me after every meal regardless if it is horrible or not so much. There is always a kiss and a love you both morning and night. True friends and family while as imperfect as we, are in large supply through good times and bad. All this and much more because of His love

Becky-Super MOM!
      For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.  Hebrews 6:10