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