Thursday, December 26, 2013

Non Traditional Christmas

There is a group in our village called, "Community of Orphans". Village Voice staff writer Carole Sjolander writes, " They are not  orphans in the usual sense of the word--they simply have no family or none visiting, for the holiday." Rather than celebrate  alone, they join together. Everyone is welcome. The group is always changing.

We are traveling after Christmas this year.  In a sense we too were Christmas orphans.  We were not alone. Several friends gathered for an awesome Christmas Day celebration. Surrounded by beautiful Christmas decorations we enjoyed a great meal. More that once bursts of laughter drowned out the Christmas music playing in the background. The hours passed quickly. Although we plan to see each other again soon, no one left before I love yous and warm hugs were shared.

My beautiful hubby, friends, decor and food!

We retrieved a member of our deacon family from the airport.  We were surprised when she introduced us to the unexpected guest that returned with her. Lolly her grand dog came home for a visit with Grandmother.  Lolly is an adorable Scottish Terrier. She was full of energy and the urgent need to relieve herself after the flight. While Grandmother's porter helped retrieve her luggage, we took Lolly for a walk. I dubbed hubby, Dan the deacon dog walking man.  Both Lolly and Grandmother are a joy.

Dan comforting Lolly on the drive home!

So it is. Christmas was not exactly traditional. The absence of loved ones weighed on our hearts. But Christmas is about His birthday.  Celebrating with those who love, respect and need us, two legged or four, is a very blessed Christmas.

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” Mark 3:31-35

(Jesus asked this rhetorical question at a time when his actual mother and brothers had come for him.  He answered this by sayting that it is those that do God's will who are His family--not necessarily his mother and brothers of the flesh at all.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Lights

This Christmas has really come quickly! Thanksgiving came late, and the ice storm held us captive for a week.  The last remnants of ice and snow have finally faded giving way to Christmas lights and decorations.

Ice finally melted from one of my favorite trails!
I love Christmas lights. The tradition of illuminating our street is beautiful, warm and inviting. Some neighbors have sadly reminisced about the house that will be dark this year. Those are the homes whose owners have moved up from this world. The Lord willing, those homes will be glowing again next Christmas!

One of the ladies adamant about keeping this neighborhood tradition alive was tardy in setting her luminaries out. She had a very good explanation.  It was her turn to host 12-14 ladies at her home.  She explained if they were placed before the lights would be run over by her guest. Obviously she speaks with a voice of experience. It makes perfectly good sense to me.   That is the reason our luminaries will not run along our driveway.  The danger would not lay with my female visitors but alas the female resident.

Sweet neighbor across the street.
Can you see a dozen women racing up this drive?

While visiting a friend this fall, we were surprised to find her home fully decked for Christmas.  She saw no reason Christmas should not be celebrated anytime, anywhere, or anyway one choose.  She was as perfectly comfortable with her Christmas trees and lights in July or December.  How can one argue that? 

Our Bible Study class members chip in a dollar or so every week to a special fund.  At Thanksgiving and Christmas we provided whatever needs to a family that is assigned to us.  We forget how a little here and there goes a long way.

Santas helpers!
We were delighted to have a family with small children this year.  It was so much fun shopping and playing Santa. It had been too many years since we had this kind of fun.  The Mom picked up the gifts in secret tonight for her babies’ Christmas Eve celebration.

The light of Christmas beams through sharing and carrying others burdens large or small. A little goes a long way! The love, joy and peace that follow are priceless.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

Friday, December 6, 2013


Animated winter snow scene with snow falling on Trees

In spite of Dan's usual denial, the ice did in fact come as predicted.  Every time we have a storm warning, he insists it is too warm for any type of accumulation.  While I do appreciate his positive attitude (or denial) we spent the majority of the day yesterday preparing for what was not coming. He checking generators and the like, I making sure the chocolate pantry was well stocked.

Street view from living room

The white landscape is a beautiful backdrop for the Christmas decorations. That beauty that can become treacherous.We pray for the electricity to remain on this year.  Thank you Lord!  We also remain mindful of those who do not have shelter.  We pray they find peace, warmth, full stomachs and the love of strangers. But by the Grace of God there go we.

Being iced in can be a good catch up day.  We had a very good training session via google hang out. With a few clicks of the mouse, we can connect with people face to face around the world.  Truly technology is wonderful when it works properly and appropriately utilized.

Not even through day one, Dan was going stir crazy  He decided to remove and replace the garbage disposal. The removal went off without much of a hitch, but finding a replacement no so much. Then there is you can't use that side of the sink thing. No worries. We will be out and about tomorrow. (That positive attitude again.)  A trip to Lowe's will be in order no doubt.
Dan turning the laundry room into his work shop
When he announced he was taking his daily walk, I thought he had lost his mind.  Everything and everyone was locked up tight with the exception of a bird or two slipping up the drive. Then there were those ingenious children at play. Having not a proper sled, they had taken the wheels off their skate boards and using as sleds.  What do they care?  Kids, ice and snow, complete joy!  So with the other kids, Dan made his walk slowly walking mostly in the frozen grass.  Then he crashed!  Now that's good use of a ice storm day!
Now who could not love this sweet guy!!!  Looks like he barely made it to the sofa!

“Out of the south comes the storm, And out of the north the cold. From the breath of God ice is made, And the expanse of the waters is frozen.” ~Job 37:9-10

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Revenge of the Thanksgiving Turkey

Last year we were introduced by our church to the tradition of the “Hanging of the Greens”.  It was one of the most beautiful services ever.  We have looked forward to it again all year long. Sunday morning I awoke with the funk. I was to say at very the least very annoyed at missing this much anticipated event.

I was not alone in my misery.  When I dragged my disgruntled self to the convenient care I was told by the haggard nurses while it seemed to be a hundred, they actually had twenty five folks waiting when they opened.  We were all apparently suffering with the same ailment I dubbed -- revenge of the Thanksgiving turkey.  I am well into my antibiotics and feeling better but still wearing my cranky pants. 

Alas all is not lost.  One of the special events is the hanging of the Chrismons on the tree and explanation of the meaning of each. With much effort we finally found Chrismons on line.  One gentleman from Michigan still practices the lost art of crafting these ancient symbols of Christmas.  We spoke by email Thanksgiving Day and they arrived yesterday.  We ordered them unfinished. Dan put down his house trim and front door painting project and immediately set to work painting the Chrismons.  We do not choose to make them elaborate.  They will remain simple as lovingly crafted by their carpenter.  Large or small, plain or simple it matters not.  Each and everything points to Christ. Dan has chosen to paint them with white and gold.  We are exciting to have our first Chrismon Tree.
Mosiac Chrisoms
We received our first Christmas card of the season today from sis Rema!  A beautiful Poinsettia was delivered by a sweet neighbor Mr. J. “This is my traditional gift to the neighbors.”  His sleigh (golf cart) was filled with the crimson beauties.  There was barely room for his reindeer (dog) but they too were happily received. Mr. J filled me in on the neighborhood tradition of lighting luminaries.  We can’t wait to add that to our list of new Christmas customs.

As a side note, I did offer to make an even exchange with Mr. J.  I offered to trade our Christmas candy for his antique sports convertible.  He smiled back, “There is not enough candy in the world!”  Well, maybe we might catch an occasional ride if and only when the sun is shining. He can’t have his girl getting dirty or anything like that.

There are all the little annoyances that come in the form of flu bugs, weather, over booking and such to steal our joy.  But the good news is nothing can stop it. It is still the season of Good News!

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.” Isaiah 61:1

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sweet Irene

We added a new twist to Thanksgiving this year.  Our Aunt Re is the last surviving member of her generation.  She now lives in a nursing home in a nearby city.  The Jackson family decided to travel there to celebrate Thanksgiving lunch with Aunt Re and her son's family.  Lunch at the local Cracker Barrel was a bit chaotic but the meal and the service was exceptional.

Aunt Re

The very best thing about this Thanksgiving was Aunt Re's smile.  She calls herself "Mean Irene" but nothing is further than fact. Maybe a bit ornery some times, but hard working, funny and kind is a more accurate description of her. It must be very difficult and lonely being a lone survivor.  For just a brief moment, we saw Aunt Re with her guard down.  Despite her best effort, a tear slipped out of her eyes.

Since Thanksgiving came late this year, Christmas is fast on our heals. Dan strung the trees with lights and put up our wreath.  We made the neighborhood rounds dropping off Christmas greetings.  Now that the trees are bare, we can actually see a few neighboring houses.

Look!  Neighbors behind us!

Flights to visit grandchildren are booked thanks to "Dr. and Mrs. Son".  I suppose it would be a mute point to explain how excited we are about this! Dan isn't even too bummed about having to wear a suit and tie this Sunday!  That may be considered a Christmas miracle!

Dan getting us lit up!

It is the gifts you cannot buy that make Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings special on this side of Heaven... it is smiles, hugs, family and friends that love each other.  Although-- pecan pie is an awesome chaser!

" So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
II Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanks and Giving

As I passed Santa's mailbox today I caught a flash of red out the corner of my eye.  I turned to see Jolly Old St. Nicholas himself dashing away. Even before Thanksgiving he is checking his list and rushing orders off to be filled. I have no doubt all the young ones I know will pass right over the naughty list on to the best behaved. Right?

In Christmas past I have agonized over the best gifts to give.  It was/is never an easy task. Now that we have chosen to make charitable donations it is even more difficult to decide.  There are so many needs and wonderful organizations around the world it can be overwhelming.

Recently we met a couple serving as missionaries in East Africa. They discovered that while school is "free" in that particular corner of the world, if students could not afford "fees" (really bribes) they were not taught and often physically and emotionally abused by their educators.

Works of art  My favorites are the simple ones by the younger boys.

They came up with a brilliant idea, no doubt birthed by the Holy Spirit.  The missionaries made use of discarded coconut shells and taught the young boys how to make necklaces to sell for their tuition.All they have is determination and a small hand held grinder. If you have ever wrestled with a coconut, you know theirs is not an easy task.
Working hands. 

When I heard the tuition for one year per child was $40.00 I knew immediately what this "Nana Claus" would be delivering in her sleigh.  If you receive one of these labors of love, be reminded of how blessed we are.  Better yet, pass it along to a favorite teacher.

May you have a blessed season of thanks and giving!

"The Lord Bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."Numbers 6:24-26

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today's Wink from God

As I made my way down the health and beauty aisle a gentlemen struck up a conversation. This is not unusual. The conversation that followed was.

He was looking for a particular brand of lotion.  I helped him find what he was searching for.  He continued to say he hoped the lotion met its claims.  He could only tolerate products with certain ingredients.  I said I was sure the pharmacist would be happy to answer any of his questions or concerns. “I am a pharmacist,” he replied.  “Oh well then—you should be good to go,” I stammered.

I walked away confused and a bit embarrassed.  I am not sure what that encounter was all about?  Particularly lately I have really been working on my co-dependent obsessive need to rescue and fix.  I can do neither but I my first response in any situation is try to make everyone happy.

Today I decided to take a different running trail.  Now that the weather is cooler, if feels great to run in the sunshine.  Each trail has its unique personality. The one I took around the golf course has its bridges and streams running around the greens.  This golf course has been closed for renovations. Some of the bridges have been torn down and replaced.  While they have not yet obtained that old weathered look I find so endearing, they are new and stronger than before.
Some things we cannot fix regardless of how hard we try.  Dan says no doubt God put us together to hold each others broken heart.  We hold out hope that will change some day. That is our prayer. Even burned and destroyed bridges of the heart will be restored.  If we all could put as much effort into rebuilding as into the tearing down, new bridges, stronger and better can be built.

As I prayed until that time God would guard our hearts, I spotted our neighborhood “watch cat”.  It makes rounds through the neighborhood several times a day.  The route is deliberate and methodical.  I was encouraged with this wink from God.  He too is deliberate and never changing.  He too watches over us until, during and after the reconstruction He promises.

 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.  Psalm 86:4-5

Monday, November 11, 2013

We the people....

Today is Veterans Day.  At church yesterday all the vets were asked to stand.  I was amazed how many men and women rose to their feet.  We were both humbled and proud of their service to our country.

Our dear friends Agnes and Jerry were dressed patriotically. Jerry was in full uniform..  Theirs is a large military family.  Both men and women serve proudly and sacrificially. Petite Agnes worked on military vehicles.  We tease that she was small enough to drop inside of the engines.  Agnes is small in stature but large in heart and devotion.  A youngster was intrigued with Jerry's uniform.  He asked if he was a general or something Obviously Jerry was very touched at the youngster's admiration.
Jerry and Agnes

Other friends John and Nancy are also retired military.  They still work tirelessly for this country they love so.  Both are active in the political scene.  They work for those who are honorable in their personal endeavors to serve this country. Equally they hold accountable those who are not.

John and Nancy (in red)

I often think of great nephew Barry who was murdered in Iraq at such a young age.  I wonder what more he may have accomplished in his life. No doubt whatever his direction, he would have given it his all. When I hear folks ask when closure will come for his family, my personal response is his void will never be filled. His loved ones will with the Grace of God get through his loss. They will never get over his loss. We should never forget about his sacrifice or the evil that perpetrated his murder.

The same evil still exists.  He flaunts himself in our faces daily.  Our military have and do battle it daily. We too should always be in the state of battle.  America has become a nation of "me" rather than "we". Are we not all just sick of "me the people" attitude in our state and national capitols?  So often I want to scream "grow up" to those we have elected to defend our rights.

Lord please help us to have the courage, wisdom and fortitude to take back this country. Together America will be "we the people" once again. We have the privilege and the responsibility to carry on for those who have given so much. May we never forget to honor them and carry on in their behalf.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for his own inheritance.  Psalm 33:12

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mini Vaca

Our good friend Becky has been visiting with us this weekend.  She was coming to this area for a family wedding and we are thrilled she decided to take a mini vaca with us. She plans to return to Jonesboro Sunday evening. That is of course unless she just happens to misplace her keys or something. In that event we would be duty bound to keep her.

We have crammed a lot into the last couple of days.  We took her to "our" Petit Jean mountain.  The lodge has been totally renovated and looks great.  Of course the views are beautiful as always.We hope to go back soon for a longer stay.

Today we visited with some of her family and friends in Hot Springs. Now she and Dan are doing one of their most favorite things----watching football.

Earlier in the week we visited our friend Ethel in the hospital.  At the tender young age of 98 her main health concern has been back pain.  She has tried for a long while to get the "glue" surgery for her back. When a physician finally consented to the procedure she was overjoyed. She chuckled as she relayed her conversation with the good doctor.  "He pulled a chair up to the bed and asked if I was sure I was born in 1915. He could not believe I was in such great health at 98.  I told him I was and I am!"

Another couple dropped by to visit her as well.  Ethel:"The new pastor was by earlier.  He said he tried to visit me at home but kept missing me.  I told him I didn't stay in that apartment."  She went on to declare, "All this company and they won't let me have my makeup!"  I think she is going to be just fine!

The icing on this week has been Dan's recovery progress.  He says he feels better this week than he has in years.  He is anxious to return to his teaching tomorrow. It is another love of his life he has missed.. Hopefully we are over this not so fun mountain.of heart ailments.

He has felt well enough to be bored this week.  I asked if he was up to vacuuming a couple of small rugs for me.  In no time he was armed and dangerous.  Be careful little mouth what you say!

Dan and his leave blower/vacuum cleaner.

I look to the mountains: where will my help come from?  My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let you fall; your protector is always awake. The protector of Israel never dozes or sleeps. The Lord will guard you; He is by your side to protect you.  The sun will not hurt you during the day nor the moon during the night.  The Lord will protect you from all danger; He will keep you safe.  He will protect you as you come and go now and forever.  Psalm 121

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Our sweet friends, Mr. and Mrs. Scales celebrated  fifty years of marriage this past Saturday. We received a call from a mutual friend earlier in the week warning it was to be a surprise. Their daughter from the East coast was making the arrangements.  Our friend was to invite local close friends. Several of us confessed we were so anxious not to spill the beans we dared not converse during the entire week.

Their children and other family traveled 24 hours round trip over the weekend to surprise them. After the excitement of family arriving and only two hours sleep, the celebrants were in no frame of mind to celebrate!

Finally after much effort they arrived at the restaurant overlooking the beautiful Balboa Lake.  The shock to find friends lying in wait with shouts of surprise was the best!
Earlier photo of sweet friends Mary and Shelvie

We were scrunched in the very back as not to tip them off as they entered.  Since the reluctant couple was late, we had some time to visit.  The first group to arrive just happened to be Caucasian and naturally sat down at the same table. Willa our feisty friend quipped, "Now we don't make white folks sit in the back of the bus! I guess I am going to have to be the one to integrate the table."   No doubt you can tell why we love these folks. Funny, loving and smart is the whole bunch!

Some of us commented on how youthful and flawless their skin was.  Again Willa spoke up, "I keep telling you all that black don't crack!"  We white cracked gals readily admitted we would love to have that recessive gene surface on our faces!

Fifty is called the Golden Anniversary.  Most of these friends had been close friends for fifty plus years.  A happy marriage, good friends, loving family, it's all golden!

Happy 50th Shelvie and Mary!

A word spoken at the right time is like golden apples on a silver tray.  Proverbs 25:11

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fall Fun

Neighborhood tree

The weather and fall leaves have been absolutely beautiful this week. Just being outside feeling the brisk air and watching the sun glittering off the rainbow of foliage puts an extra spring in our steps.
Lake Ouachita

We took another cruise around Lake Ouachita. Even though most of the timber around the lake is pine, the green actually enhanced the fall colors sandwiched between the blue sky and water.  Still, one our most favorite trees is right her in our neighborhood.
Green stop

Amidst the beauty a large piece of Styrofoam bruised the landscape. The guide and fellow cruisers decided to make a green stop.  With a bit of finagling the large pieces of dock material, probably deposited by a recent tornado, was loaded on the boat. Just how to dispose of this monstrosity would be a challenge for the park personnel. No doubt it will be up to the challenge.

Last night was Trunk or Treat night at our church.  I with my "ratted hair" and a very thin "Farmer Dan" ran a body parts store and glow ball toss.
"Parts Store Shopper"

As usual there were large crowds ranging from pets, infants, toddlers, teens, parents and grandparents.  The treaters had just as much or more fun than the trickers.
Farmer Dan

Even though the small ones wanted to eat the "body parts" the older ones, particularly the parents, loved touching the brains, heart, guts and eyeballs.
"Ratted Hair"

Even with all the fun and fellowship we had, we were exhausted.  Maybe next year we will forgo the games and just sit and pass out treats.  Maybe!

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Psalm 96:11-12

Sunday, October 20, 2013


We are very much enjoying the cooler fall weather and beautiful foliage. With the days growing short and the nights longer, we really have to be creative to stay positive.  Neither of us are winter folks, but alas, such is life. Clearly winter is on her way.

With the fall come the leaf storms.  One thing I have put on our spring list is trimming the oak tree limbs that extend over our house. As much as we benefit from the summer shade, the onslaught of acorns rolling across our roof -- not so much.  At night it sounds like we are sleeping beneath a bowling alley.

One morning this week we spotted the deer twins feasting on the acorns in the front yard.  They looked like little lawn mowers as they made perfectly cleared lines back and forth across the yard. As they moved into the woods we could barely make them out.  They were only a few feet away but with their natural camouflage they blended right into the background.

A few weeks back I began a Bible study. It is the most unique one I have attended.  I recommend "No Other Gods" if you have the opportunity to experience it.  It is amazing how idols creep into our lives camouflaged in the world's wrappings. Each member of the Bible study group serves as hostess. The hostess for the week provides a meal for the group. Serving each other in this way is most rewarding. 

I can't see much physical change since I have taken up running.  It does do wonders for my mental health.  I pray and I worship as I enjoy the Father's handiwork.  Thursday, we were getting a little stir crazy.  As I ran I prayed, "Lord, give us some fun today." I had no sooner stepped inside when the phone rang.  Friends were calling wanting to take us out for lunch. Thank you Lord!

This same couple made another timely appearance while Dan was in the hospital.  Another friend wanted to take me down for a meal. I said I was not really hungry but would like a snack.  The elevator doors opened to find Mary and Shelvie standing with a snack basket for me!  

This particular couple is quiet and unassuming.  Since Dan's illness we have become aware of how much they do for others behind the scenes.  Their camouflage is simply the love and joy of serving with humility. They find accolades offensive.  They are beautiful angels serving others unaware.

When I begin to fret and worry I pray I will once again be reminded If He provides shelter, protection and food in abundance for His animals. Will He do any less for us?

He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.
Psalm 25:9

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Drama Team

The Jacksons had a bit of drama this past Saturday. I wanted a Dogwood tree for my birthday. Forgetting how difficult it is to plant in rock, the project took me a while.  Swinging a pick ax is not one of my gifts.  It wasn't long before I needed a short break.  I plopped down in a chair and the next thing I know the sun was asleep and the rain was coming down.

Dan is very protective of his tools.  I was trying my best to retrieve the tools from the weather before he awakened.  No such luck.  I was caught in the act. After the tools were cleaned and stored away, I attempted to haul potting soil up from the basement. Not my best idea-climbing up a wet hill with a load. I ended up face down in the mud.  I looked like tar baby.  Mostly my pride was hurt and I did forget my faith for a few seconds.

My drama was minor.  Dan scared us to death when he passed out trying to shave.  His head ended up in the sink. I managed to get a chair under him when he came to. We understand it is common for blood pressure to drop as his did but his passing out is not common place for us! He has not felt well since.  Even with the surgeon's words to slow down and stop complaining the patient grows more impatient.

Even with the drama and my carelessness, we escaped with minor bumps.  We are thankful we are not the only guys with failing hearing and eye sight.   A friend approached me Sunday night to ask how Dan's gout was.  "Gout. What gout?"  On the way home it hit me.  I had been misunderstood.  My statement, "Dan has passed out" was heard as "Dan has gout."

My birthday has started out very well. Dan had a confession first thing.  He bought a birthday card for me before his surgery.  Unfortunately, he cannot remember where he hid it away.  When I happen upon it, it will be a nice surprise! We have a gentle rainfall which is perfect for resting.  After a breakfast of waffles, Dan is down for a rest.  Our friend Jerry plans to spend the afternoon with Dan and Pastor Jon. I have a date with the girls.

Our dear friends John and Nancy invited us to a lovely Sunday lunch in their home. Our new and much loved Pastor Jon and wife Jackie joined us making it a double blessing.  We so much appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed the much needed the break.  The table was beautifully set and Nancy prepared our favorite foods. Thank you for the many ways you spell love!

Feeling yucky and impatient as he is, Dan maintains his humor.  Like a baby, he looks so peaceful napping.  I said to him he must have been a really cute little kid. His response, "Well, I have always been little." 

...He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber not sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.  Psalm 121:3-5

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Family of Friends

We have always felt blessed to have such a wonderful family of friends. During Dan's recent open heart surgery and recuperation, once again we are humbled at the outpouring of love and support.

Favorite mags

It will be three weeks Wednesday and Dan is really doing well.  We seem to have finally licked that nasty fever that kept plaguing him. He has been taking a few limited outings and brief walks. Although he wanted to drop a few pounds, he has lost 25 in two weeks.  We do not recommend this weight loss plan! 

I said to him today, I am very happy he has chosen a positive attitude towards his healing.  He happily announces to all he is doing great. All things considered, that is very true and we are thankful. He fails to mention that after minor exertion, he is down for the day. He still has trouble breathing and really has to limit his conversations.  That is perhaps the most difficult challenge for him. He does love to talk.

Favorite things....frappe

Today he took a walk up and down the flat part of the street. He napped until lunch.  It was such a beautiful day he had lunch on the deck then back to napping. He became very emotional hearing from one of his childhood friends. His goal today is to attend evening worship service. If we make it, it will be the first since his surgery.  We both look forward to it. 

I started displaying all his cards but ran out of room.  I took a notebook to the hospital with me and asked visitors to sign.  I was so glad.  The first thing he wanted to know when he could speak, "Who was here?"  I did. not have to worry about forgetting anyone. It was most encouraging to him as I read the notes left by friends and family.

Napping at home with his pillow and Razorback blanket

All of the email and face book messages have been saved for him to read when he feels well enough.  I have tried to keep him briefed on all well wishers.

I will not make an effort to list all of the many acts of kindness and support for fear of leaving one of you out.  The ole brain never had the brightest bulb but it is dimmer and flickers more often these days! I have to make one exception.  Those beautiful notes of crayon and knock knock jokes from the grandchildren did his body the most good!  I know all you grandparents get that!

Rest assured, each and every one of you have touched and blessed our lives for the better.  Keep praying! We feel them!

As he recovers I try to surround him with some of his other favorite things. Auto magazines, Razorback blanket, mocha frappe and a friend's fat free sugar free banana bread. Yummy!

Another friend has taken him to the local coffee shop for a mocha, of course.  He was a bit sheepish sharing his space with gals having their quiche lunches.  But then, he did have the "co-owner" to demonstrate how to chill. 
"Co-owner" of coffee shop demonstrating the art of chillin'

Lunch the vanity tag. Do you think?

For us family and friends are interchangeable.  Our friends are our family and our family friends. Thank you for the blessings you are.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion.

Psalm 73:26

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Called by Name

Physical therapy began soon after Dan’s surgery.  He was embarrassed to walk the hospital halls in his “designer” hospital gown. I knew his robe would be too hot and heavy for him. I was sure a quick run to the mall would produce just the light weight robe for the occasion. No such item was to be easily found.   One young male clerk informed me that men no longer wore robes but leisure wear in the form of pajama bottoms and tee shirts.  I finally found a light weight cotton robe—in the Village.

It was the one and only robe of its kind on the rack.  The name and logo of it's designer was proudly displayed on the garment. I could care less about either. It filled the need.  My mind flashed back to a time when having this particular logo on clothing was a must have.  The logos may have changed over the years but our obsession with names has not.

A dear friend and I had a conversation on personal identities.   We both felt pressured to fit into what others felt our roles should be. Recently I tossed and turned during the night struggling with all of the church and community positions others, while well meaning, were sure was a perfect fit for me.

I asked God to help me sort through it all.  The answer, “Your name is Linda.”  The message was clear.  I was feeling stress because I was being pressed into man’s calling not God’s.  Our walk with God is a very personal one.  His plans are spoken to us directly. Even though our personalities and gifts are suited for a particular endeavor, if God has not whispered in our ear, it is wrong for us.

Thank you Lord that You have called us by name!

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.

When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you.  Isaiah 43: 1-2

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bakers Dozen

Not that's funny!

Thirteen men from our community went on a men's retreat this weekend.  To keep us out of mischief (right) it was decided the girls should have a sleep over.
Captain Shelley

Agnes chillin!

Dottie and BJ

Cynthia..."I''m awake"!

Pat and Anna singing!

As soon as we got the guys off and some say it was like getting a child off to camp, we began our at home retreat.  There was much laughter and fellowship.  We learned none of us are any good at Pictionary. Creative as the group is, there was not an artist among us! It was great fun though.

In between dinner, snacks, breakfast and boat rides including a midnight cruise, there were other games. Some play for fun, others are very competitive.  I am sure we novices are a thorn in the side to those serious gamers. In any case, all had a great time.  We are so blessed to have a community of fun and loving friends.

As the conversation usually goes with us gals, the discussion of health and weight loss came up. As we munched on brownies but who's to know? I know you will keep our secret just between the two us!

One of our best friends is totally into fitness.  We are afraid she is going to totally disappear one day.  She exercises obsessively, relatively speaking, and eats very little.  She declares if one runs every day for one week, they will fall in love with running,

I decided to take the challenge.  I have begun running.  It is more like schlepping along I guess. So far I would not call it running or jogging.  I don't know yet whether I will live to love or hate. I will let you know if I make it through the week.

As I pass the lowly walkers, I tried my best to give them that superior look as runners have given me in the past. They don't have to know I am praying my next breath will not be my last and my legs have no feeling.
Who keeps moving the mile markers!
I have yet to reach that runners high I hear so much about.  One thing I would agree with my friend. I do love it---soon as it is over!

      For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

     Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
Hebrews 12:11-13