Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Son and His Son: A Christmas Blessing

Mark and Conner on Joseph's Lullaby
At our church’s Christmas Eve service, our Pastor/Son Mark sang “Joseph’s Lullaby.” Before he sang, Mark shared that fifteen years ago, at his church’s Christmas Eve service, he (Mark), dressed in full costume as Joseph, sang a similar song, while holding 6-month old Conner as the baby Jesus. “Tonight will be a little different,” said Mark. “Tonight my son will accompany me as I sing.”

What a beautiful presentation of “Joseph’s Lullaby” by my son and my grandson, who are constant blessings in my life.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Common Courtesy: Only for Christmas Past?

I admit to my age...I’m 63. That means a lot of things (for another blog piece, at another time). But among those things is the fact that I have seen a lot of changes during my years. I hope I will have the opportunity to see a lot more things change. I try to keep up, I really do. For the most part, I think I do well in that department. I was one of the first in our small town to get a personal computer, to get email, to get a laptop, and so on. I have a digital camera, a DVR and an iPhone. I have a blog, for goodness sake. I have embraced the trend to communicate more electronically and less with pen and paper. But, recently I have been thinking about things that have changed that are NOT for the better. And that leads me to believe, in those cases, that some things should not be allowed to become “of the past.” I want to give thought to that—because I want to be part of teaching my grandchildren the value of some things that have had a tendency to become NOT valued…things that should STILL be considered common courtesy. I think most would agree, if time is taken to give consideration to these thoughts.

Take “manners,” for example. What is considered “good manners” has changed, and some of the change is simply the passing of time, and the fact that some of the “old” actions considered to be “bad manners” were just silly. In my grandfather’s house, we were not allowed to sing at the table, or to laugh at the table. It was like the quickest way to get in big trouble (always a challenge for my sister and me, for whom almost anything could trigger fits of giggles). He required that orange juice be finished before eating breakfast. Those were silly requirements that never did make sense. Things that he considered “common courtesy” didn’t stand the test of time.

Not that long ago, it was considered “poor manners” for a guy to wear a cap indoors. Some of the “older” folks might still have a problem with that. But, when you come down to it, what was the reason for that “rule of etiquette”? Again, it really didn’t stand the test of time, and today, very few people would have a problem with it.

I could go on with a list of things that were considered rude or discourteous a long time ago but are no longer viewed in that light. I could also generate a list of “today’s” no-no’s  that we could predict might not stand the test of time.

But, my soapbox today is about something that should never become a thing of the past, and that is taking the time to respond with appreciation when something personal and special is done for you. Here’s my case in point, during this Christmas season: When someone gives you a gift, whether it’s tiny or huge, an acknowledgement (and frankly, a thank-you) is warranted. When someone sends you (especially through old-fashioned snail mail) a personal invitation to an event, a response is required (and frankly, deserved)—whether or not “RSVP” is written on the invitation.

The irony in all this to me is that MORE seems to be LESS when in comes to communication. Most of us use multiple modalities these days (facebook, email, texting, cell phones). With these MORE ways to communicate seems to have come LESS meaningful communication in many ways (another thought for a later blog piece). But, it is sad to me that people have all those ways to communicate, and they can’t even use one of those ways to thank their grandmother for a Christmas gift (most grandmothers do have those ways of receiving communication, you know—and if they don’t, there is still such a thing as writing a note, addressing it, stamping and mailing it—probably the method she used to send you that check!). Just use one of those modalities that you already use, and send a quick thanks, for goodness sake.

The same is true for personal invitations. If someone takes the time to personally invite you to an event, it is extremely rude and disrespectful not to even acknowledge receiving the invitation. We facebook and text constantly, mostly about meaningless things (I include myself in this). Common courtesy, when it comes to showing appreciation and being respectful, should not be overlooked. I cannot even think of a good excuse. You can respond these days without even needing to buy a stamp. C’mon.

I see this sad trend happening in the generation of my children. I’m sad to think that the children of that generation may never even realize the value of showing appreciation. And, if the trend continues, that also means they will never experience the joy of being on the receiving end of expressions of appreciation. And, that’s a blessed place to be. So, I’ll stay on my soapbox and pray that this kind of common courtesy does not become a thing of the past.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Brother, His Daughter and Grandson

Caught up with holiday preparations, spent a little time today scrapbooking (traditional, paper). My brother recently visited his daughter and grandson in Colorado, and the whole family is so doggone photogenic, I just had to do a scrapbook page with these gorgeous photos!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our Christmas Snack Buffet

Most of our snack recipes are traditional, some having been served during our holiday season each year, for more than 40 years. We usually try a couple of new recipes each year. This year, Paula Deen's "Caramelized Bacon and Fancy Nut Mix" and her "Puffy Cheese Pastries" made the cut. We'll see how they do when we vote on "keepers."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lifelong Christmas Wish

I am so blessed. There are truly not very many things, at this stage of my life, about which I can say, “I have always wanted, but never had…..” What evidence of a blessed life! My goodness.

Still, I guess it’s the “little girl” in me, or maybe the “big girl,” or, okay, I’ll say it, the “old girl"—that has always wanted, but never had, Christmas lights on my house.

This year, my husband made it happen. After 45 years of marriage, I have lights on my house at Christmas, for the first time! And let me say that they needed to be multi-colored lights—the kind that used to be on my Christmas trees. I have three trees in my house now, but they all have white/clear lights. I needed to see the colors of “real” Christmas lights.

My husband says that his greatest joy in life is taking care of me. I say that my greatest joy in life is being taken care of by him. Just kidding, on the previous sentence. Sort of. But, really, I feel very special that he granted this Christmas wish for me this year.

Oh, but of course I am spoiled. I know that. But, for me, for today, that’s okay, I think. And, I choose to think of it more as being “blessed."  And that I am.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

“Connecting the Dots”

The longer I live, the more I love learning a new truth, or perhaps a reminder of an old truth from a fresh perspective. This week’s Bible study (in our small group) brought such a “new” understanding, and it landed in my lap with a “ker-plop!”

WISDOM…it’s one of my life-goals. I want to have wisdom. I want to be thought of as being wise. I want to be remembered by my children and grandchildren as one who possessed wisdom. I desire that to be part of my legacy.

My mind’s understanding of the meaning of  wisdom is what I “pictured” as I prayed for wisdom for myself, and for others who are close to me. Wisdom meant “more than just knowledge,” or “knowledge plus experience,” or “knowing the right thing to do,” or perhaps “a ‘smartness’ developed through years of experience.” Sometimes I think I defined it as “spiritual understanding.” Maybe I even thought that wisdom was wrapped up in “finding the appropriate words” for a given situation. I had an understanding of wisdom, and according to my own criteria, I thought I had a handle on at least “becoming” wise.

Erwin McManus, in Uprising: a Revolution of the Soul, indeed provided for me a fresh perspective on what wisdom TRULY is, according to God’s Word. Erwin writes, “…wisdom is more than just finding the appropriate words but having the words that bring healing and life. [italics mine] Wisdom is not just knowing what to say; it is also sensing the situation and appropriately responding with life-giving words and actions.”

Okay, that was the “ker-plop” for me. Oh, I have the words. I always have words. I have even been labeled  “linguistically gifted” (what does that mean anyway?). So, finding words has never been a problem for me. They come, fast and furiously, even more so if under pressure. I become linguistically brilliant. You don’t even want to get in a verbal argument with me. But, of course that is not what wisdom is about, now is it?

Isaiah 50:4-7 is a passage that McManus quotes as a description of the characteristics of wisdom. I’ve read that passage many times; I never made that link before (fresh perspective). Quoting verse 4, from the NIV:
The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
Two characteristics of wisdom that are described here: knowing and using words to SUSTAIN THE WEARY, and then also LISTENING. Words—knowing not only what to say, but when and how to say it. Words—knowing when not to speak them at all, but rather to listen (sometimes to another person, always to God).

Fit those two concepts into your “linguistic giftedness,” Ms Barbara!!!

Finally, and I think I’ve always known this in my heart, but it was refreshing and affirming to hear McManus describe this aspect of wisdom--
A part of wisdom is simply being able to connect the dots between your present actions and the future reaction, what you sow is what you reap. Often times we make decisions that seem great at the moment but turn out to be different in time.
Part of wisdom is being able to see and understand the future consequences of present actions. Humanly, we are not always able to do this. Sometimes we make a good faith decision that simply doesn’t turn out the way we had thought it would. Some things, however, CAN be predicted. Wisdom is being able to foresee those consequences and make decisions in the present based on that understanding.

This plays into my “Decisions-in-Advance” sermon I preach to my grandchildren. There are some temptations that will come your way that you ALREADY KNOW will not turn out for your good. Taking an extreme example, recreational drugs. You already know the end of that story. (This same philosophy can be applied to any physical addition, by the way.) It may seem the “cool” thing to do at the time. But, if you have already decided ahead of time, that you will not give in to that temptation, it’s so much easier at the time. The decision was already made, and all you have to do then is stick to the decision. I’m not saying it is easy, but it is certainly easier than waiting until the moment and THEN making the decision and sticking with it. Decision already made. Just implement it. That “decision-in-advance” is an example of true, Biblical wisdom, because you have connected the dots between present action and future consequence.

I can attest to this in my own life—at least in that area, I can say God blessed me with a measure of wisdom. I have always been able to think in terms of future consequences (perhaps being the child of an alcoholic has given me a deeper perspective than some). Additionally, a young mom in our small group discussion shared that it was interesting to hear me talk about “decisions-in-advance,” because her own mom had preached that sermon to her, and as she was growing up, she took pride in sticking with her decisions, in the area of drug temptations as an example, and she knows God blessed her through that decision.

So, after this study with McManus, when I pray for wisdom for myself and for my family, it is with a more profound understanding of what wisdom really is. From the study leader guide, “God says that if we lack wisdom (and we certainly do), if we’ll ask Him, He will give us the wisdom we desire…God says that we are to ask for wisdom from a heart that is already convinced that God is who He says he is” (James 1:5-8). Another great lesson: pray for wisdom out of a heart that knows that God is God, and I am NOT.

Perhaps this lesson hit me especially hard because I recently allowed fear and worry to cause me to use words in a way that would be the opposite of “sustaining the weary.” The issue was one close to my heart, and I allowed my firmness in the belief that I was “right” outweigh the wisdom that would have dictated a different way of approaching the issue.  In that experience, I didn’t do a very good job of “connecting the dots,” either. I didn’t foresee the consequences of my actions. Unwise again. Because God is good, fortunately, the person whom I treated unwisely was willing to forgive me.

This study didn’t just “step on my toes.” It steam-rolled over me. It left me with the realization that I have so much more to learn about wisdom, and I have so far to go in reaching that goal. But I will continue to pray for wisdom, from a heart that knows that He is God, and I then must believe that He will give it to me, even if He has to hit me over the head with it.  (James 1:5)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu Sneak Preview

I’m having fun experimenting with digital scrapbooking. I’m not ready to replace my traditional method for my real scrapbooks, but it is fun to create a single-page layout sometimes. This is an 8.5 x 11 inch layout, prepared for printing, so that I can keep the tradition of posting the menu in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. I've been doing this for years, with a standard computer print-out. The kids all look for the posted menu, immediately after arrival on Thanksgiving Day. The Thanksgiving Menu is traditional and rarely varies, but they still want to see it "in writing!" Thanksgiving is the holiday that I get to most enjoy being a cook and a hostess, as it’s all about the "feast and family" that day, as we celebrate God's bounty and thank Him for our many, many blessings.

Autumn Respite

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Conner’s District Honor Choir Concert

We are proud of Grandson Conner (9th grade), as he represented his high school in the 9th-10th Grade District Honor Choir. They performed in concert at Lindenwood College on November 6, and it was our pleasure to be able to attend. As Mark noted, he (Mark) did not have the opportunity to study and perform this level of music until he was in college.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sharida's Easy Pumpkin Spice Muffins

My Own Chicken Noodle Soup

Barb's Own Chicken Noodle Soup
To answer the obvious question, no, I do not get tired of soup, at any point from about mid-September until time for Thanksgiving Dinner…maybe even longer than that.
Today, I made this up. Or, I should say, “Today I created this comforting culinary delight.”  We just finished supper, and frankly, it was to die for.
Yesterday I baked a chicken. Won’t even go into the details of what a disaster I had in my kitchen. Baked it in a huge domed stoneware “bell.” Chicken was large. Chicken was juicy. Juice spilled over in oven. Did I mention the chicken was juicy? Bad spill. Bad mess. House had to be aired out. Oven had to be cleaned.
Today is a new day. The chicken was actually delicious. I saved the stock that cooked out of said juicy chicken. I used the stock and some of the left-over chicken for today’s soup. This is kind of my recipe, best I remember:
  • About 64 oz chicken stock (used my leftover, with fat skimmed, and additional stock from Kitchen Basics)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 8 oz (dry measure) Amish noodles (narrow)
  • 2 tsp salt (but, to taste)
  • some cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (just because I have it)
  • About 2 cups chopped cooked chicken (better if baked rather than boiled)
Bring stock to boil, in Dutch oven or stock pot. Add carrots and celery. Simmer until vegetables are starting to get tender. Add dry noodles, bring back to boiling, and cook until noodles are tender. Add seasonings and chicken. Simmer at least 30 minutes.
Good for what ails ya’!!

Extended Family Scrapbook Page

I've been spending most of my time in recent days with family history research, but I did enjoy creating a couple of scrapbook layouts. Here's one I just completed, featuring my sister who is married to Russell's brother--their children and grandchildren--photos taken late summer/early fall.

Monday, October 25, 2010

BK's Vegetable Minestrone

Click to play this Smilebox recipe

An Old Sycamore and a Young Lad’s Memories

Many times Russell has told the story of the big sycamore tree that was beside the banks of the Moreau River where Pleasant Hill Baptist Church folks went for summer baptisms. On one of our “journeys into family history,” he said he would like to see that tree again. sycamore by Moreau River where baptisms were held
Some things never change. You can count on the big, old sycamore tree to be the same size, and in the same place, even after the passage of 50-some years. Its roots are firmly grounded. When Russell was a lad (probably 8-12), he and his two brothers and two cousins would all encircle the tree, joining hands, and could barely reach all the way around the tree. 
That same day we drove by the first house my family lived in, when Daddy first came to pastor Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. First house as pastor of PH lived in 2 mos no rng water How can something deteriorate that much in just 50 years?. It was barely recognizable.
Lord, I know that my human body has deteriorated in fifty years, by Design. But, for what matters in this life, and in eternity, thank you for your gift of grace in my life, giving me roots firmly grounded in You. Thank you that, in the end, I can be more like the sycamore tree and less like the dilapidated house.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies for “my kids”

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Ready for Oven
Oatmea Raisin Cookies Fresh From Oven

The Reason for Cookies

When I got the word that my kids were coming out to “play” in the woods after school today, I made some Cheddar Chowder and Dilly Bread for supper; for their after-school-snack, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I love being a Mamo—and being a Mom is pretty neat, too!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Barb’s Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars Served
Barb’s Pumpkin Bars

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c cooking oil
  • 1 16-oz can pumpkin
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • Chopped pecans (optional)
In mixer bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin till light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and soda. Add to pumpkin mixture and mix thoroughly. Spread batter in ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
Bake in 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool.
Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top if desired. Cut in bars. Makes 2 dozen.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
Cream together cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, beating well, till mixture is smooth.
(I usually refrigerate left-overs after the first day or so. It also freezes well.)
(This has been a family favorite since I first made it when my children were young. I make it every autumn.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010


   While in Eldon to visit the Cemetery, we located the “old” Drive-In where Russell’s family would often go for hot dogs and shakes, usually on a Sunday evening, when the boys were teens. Russell tells of how their dad would pay for a shake and one hot dog apiece, and then they would each buy themselves two more—each eating a “yard of hot dogs.”  Russell preferred the pineapple shake, usually; Curtiss and David liked the butter pecan (as I recall the story). For old time’s sake, Russell and I each had ONE foot-long hot dog (okay, so he ate part of mine) and a shake (he had pineapple, I had butter pecan).
   We also drove by the house where Grandpa and Grandma Ford used to live—308 Mill Street, in Eldon. Russell had great fun with memories of Eldon!

Another Journey

Yesterday we traveled into the heart of Central Missouri, where Russell’s roots run deep. We visited five cemeteries, four for his ancestors and one for my family (father and sister). I took 103 photos and then narrowed it down to 50, for my scrapbook albums. I have one album just for “Journeys into Family History,” and now I have several pages to do in that album!
Entry Eldon Cem
At the Eldon Cemetery are buried Russell’s paternal grandparents (Ford).
Entry Pleasant Hill Cem
At Pleasant Hill Cemetery are several of his mother’s (Scott) ancestors: Grandparents, Great Grandparents, and 2 sets of Great Great Grandparents.
Entry Johnston Cem
At Johnston Cemetery there were so many ancestors we thought we would never get all the pictures taken: Great Grandparents (Scruggs), Great Great Grandparents (Johnston), Great Great Grandmother (Scruggs Hines), Great Great Great Grandparents (Johnston), and Great Great Great Grandparents (Tipton).
Entry to Hart Hill Cem
At the Hart Hill Cemetery, Russell’s Great Great Grandfather Scruggs is buried (although there is no longer a distinguishable marker for him).
Entry Enloe Cem
At Enloe Cemetery, my father and sister are buried.

In all, Russell’s ancestors’ burial sites visited: 2 sets of grandparents, 2 sets of great grandparents, 4 sets of great great grandparents, and 2 sets of great great great grandparents.
We always enjoy these treks, and feel we are honoring our ancestors when we visit their graves.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Journeys into Family History

WalnutGroveCem 024 zoom
As a part of my genealogy research, we like to visit the burial sites of our ancestors. Now, I know that may seem a bit morbid. But, for us, as we learn more about our ancestors, it’s somewhat like going on a “treasure hunt” to find their final resting places. It is especially satisfying to find the ones who are really far back in our history. We have some really neat stories of discoveries we have made. Today we went to Boonville, Missouri, where Russell’s great grandparents are buried. We had tried once before to locate this tombstone. This time, we found it! These were the parents of Russell’s father’s mother. They were the first generation of that branch of Russell’s tree to be born in America. Emanuel’s parents immigrated from Switzerland. Susanna’s parents immigrated from Bavaria (Germany).

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Keep Smiling
God has placed several encouragers in my life. Each one plays an important role in keeping me balanced and positive. This week, my daughter was a HUGE source of encouragement for me. Sometimes she just seems to know my heart in a way that is perhaps unique to daughters and mothers. She knows I’ve been experiencing some sadness in my life, and to let me know that she is thinking about me, she sent me this delightful card, with an inside verse that reads, “Have a beautiful day (no matter what else is going on around you.)” Well, just opening that card DID make me smile, and it now sits in my work area, where each time I see it, I smile again. That’s the fruit of an Encourager’s act of kindness!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fall is Officially Here!

Hot Dog Roast at our place 10-2-10
Fall is here
Yes, we have had the first wiener roast of the season, at our little picnic spot on our property. We have had a homemade soup/homemade bread meal. The fall decor is out in the kitchen, complete with Spiced Pumpkin candle. We have rearranged the closet, with the sweatshirts and corduroys at the front. I have even already made my homemade Apple Pie TWICE! But, it’s never officially fall at our house until I make the first batch of My Own Chili of the season. That’s today! Yay! Here’s my own from-scratch recipe:

Barb’s Own Chili
  • 1.5-2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 cans Bush’s Red Beans, drained
  • 2 cans Tomato Sauce (not the small ones)
  • Water to fill the 2 tomato sauce cans
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin (powder)
  • 1 1/2  tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
In stock pot or Dutch oven, cook the beef and onion until done. Drain. Add rest of ingredients, mixing well. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. We love it with Club crackers and Colby Longhorn Cheese—oh, and you know, those little Cokes in the 8 oz. bottles!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Across 45 Autumns

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Met him in 1959. Fell in love with him that day. Never dated anyone else. Married him in 1965. Love him more each day! Can't believe God blessed me with him!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

45 Years Ago Today

Bride and Groom
Excerpts from my life story journal on that date:
September 8, 1965
I awoke with the feeling that this was the day for which I had been born. At 10:00 I went to the beauty shop to have my hair done and a manicure (my first). I picked up the sheet cake and the flowers while in town and then spent a leisurely afternoon getting ready. Honoring tradition, I did not see or talk to Russell before the wedding.

At 7:00, time for the wedding, I was excited to death but not in the least nervous. I had not one second of doubt about what I was doing. I was consciously thinking, "Remember all this--remember how you feel and everything about this evening. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

There was an aura of unreality about the ceremony--an "I can't believe this is really happening, it's too good to be true, I'm the happiest person in the world" aura.

The girls wore mint green satin, full-length, sleeveless dresses, with matching pillbox headpieces. The men wore dark suits. Russell wore a black suit. I wore a floor-length white satin peau gown with an illusion veil secured to a pearl tiara. I carried white symbidium orchids from Russell on my white Bible that was my wedding gift from him.

The ceremony was brief--everything went perfectly. The ceremony was performed by Daddy, and Grandad walked me down the aisle. To the question, "Who gives this bride in marriage?," Grandad replied, "Her grandfather, in the name of her mother and father." (He had rehearsed his line many times and was quite nervous about his role.)

One highlight of the service was the "Home Dedication Ceremony," which required Russell to vow to establish and maintain a Christian home, including having a family altar. I vowed to support him in this.

When Russell placed the wedding ring on my hand during the double-ring ceremony, I saw my wedding ring for the first time. Tradition required that I not see it during our engagement.
Following the ceremony, the reception was held in the basement. The Frosted Lime Punch that Mother had made was delicious--it was so hot in the church that evening. There was a huge crowd; several were standing.

After the reception, there were pictures. I changed into my going-away outfit, a green wool suit that Mother had made, with matching hat. I transferred my orchid to the lapel of the suit.
My wedding gown, as well as all the bridesmaid dresses, were all handmade by Mother, in the six weeks preceding the wedding. The ring pillow was handmade by Mamo Eubanks (Mother’s mother).

Our first stop was Rolla, where we spent our wedding night in the Holiday Inn. The bill for the night was $9.27.

I felt that my whole life had just been a preparation leading up to marriage, and I was never so completely happy than when I realized I was finally married to the man I loved with all my heart, the one in God's plan for me.

 Today, celebrating with a nice day in the city--delicious lunch! The waitress (hoping for a nice tip, I'm sure) said we didn't look like we could even BE 45, much less have been married 45 years. Give that lady a hand!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Celebrating Labor Day Weekend Our Way

When someone asks me "What are your plans for the holiday weekend?," I have come to realize lately that my favorite answer is: "Well, church on Sunday, like usual, and then we are having our kind of holiday--we don't have ANY plans." Does that speak to our "age," or maybe to our "stage in life," to admit that our favorite plan sometimes is an un-plan?

On our property, Russell moved the fire ring and the picnic table up to a cleared spot a little "up the hill" from the previous location (it was close to the creek, and the weeds along the bank are so high that we can't see the water from down there). So, we enjoyed the beautiful outdoors yesterday evening.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Circle of..........Blessings

                                       Mark 1973

There's no doubt we are enjoying a "season of blessing" at RiverOaks Church. We are reminding ourselves that we need to step back and recognize what God is doing, and be encouraged by it. Since our celebration of the baptism of 17 last Sunday evening at our annual Bapti-Q, we have been remembering that Mark actually baptized very many of the parents of those children, among the 145 we have baptized within the eight years of RiverOaks' existence. God is showing us that there is a reward of harvest that comes from "staying the course" and following His clear direction. The road has not been easy (near impossible at times), and we have had our challenges, as does any church plant.

Following the special evening last Sunday, Mark wrote a new tune and arrangement for "How Great Thou Art" (see his blog, "Thoughts to Think Through," link on my sidebar, for the details on the "birth" of the song). It was my blessing to be in the band (keyboard) today as we played/sang his new song. It's an awesome song of praise to God, "How Great You Are," born out of a heart full of adoration for God.

Also today, with the mountaintop of the Bapti-Q fresh in our minds, we were blessed to have a parent-child dedication service for five babies in our church. For me personally, I thought about 40 years ago when Russell and I dedicated our firstborn to God, in our church in North Carolina. Now, our firstborn is a pastor and leading our young families to dedicate their homes and babies to God.

So, yes, I'm overwhelmed at this time, to think about, and praise God for, the Circle of Blessings. And I thank God, again, for the HUGE ways in which He shows me WHO HE IS, on a regular basis.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"The Worrywart's Prayer Book"

Recently while on vacation, I picked up a book just for me: The Worrywart's Prayer Book: 40 "Help-Me-Get-A-Grip God" Meditations and Prayers by Allia Zobel Nolan. I have not read all the book yet, but I have found many helpful "thoughts for the day." Right away, on page 1, I underlined this quote by Earl Riney: "Blessed is the person who's too busy to worry in the daytime and too tired to worry at night." I like that. I marked it, "Good one!" Now, I do want to be "blessed," so it looks like I need to be a little more "busy" in the daytime and a little more "tired" at night. 

Oh dear...

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Heat Advisory" Notwithstanding

In the midst of a heat wave, my son and grandson are biking the Katy Trail. They set out this morning and plan to bike around 150 miles in three days. They have been "training" for the trip, biking lots of miles a lot of days. Well, they're big strong "boys," and they will be fine, but Mom/Mamo has to not think about things like heat exhaustion, lightning and thunderstorms, sunburns, and dehydration. I said I was not going to think about those things. So, I'll just dwell on what wonderful guys they are, and how thankful I am that they are who they are. I'll also think about how glad I am that they can do this together. Russell delivered them to their "put in" location and then took this pic on Mark's phone just as they were embarking on the journey.

UPDATE: Reporting in Monday afternoon, they had biked about 40 miles and were "feeling good."

UPDATE #2: Tuesday morning, after waiting out a torrential rainstorm, they are off again. They have many miles to go today! (Gotta love those iPhone pics!)

Update #3: Today (Tuesday) was grueling--50 miles on the bikes, with a strenuous hike thrown in along the trail. Mark reports that it was pretty tough, and Conner stayed right with him. Yes, I am a proud Mamo.

 Update #4: Wednesday morning: The guys reported a wonderful and relaxing overnight stay at Grams', with an "amazing" supper, good rest, and great breakfast ("She's an inspiration," Mark says of Grams). Off again this morning, amid threatening weather, they sent this pic of a huge rock along the Katy Trail. Today they will ride many more miles, to their take-out place.

Final Report, late afternoon: Got a text from Kristy that she picked up the guys at their take-out; they are fine but tired.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Getting Into THE WORD

Yesterday morning, while on a "forced break" (an oxymoron, as was pointed out by my bright daughter-in-law) with my husband, I ventured out in the heat to a picnic table on our campsite. Sassi and I were looking forward to having our Quiet Time in the fresh air. It was a little too warm for her to lie on my lap, her favorite position, so I put her little bed up on the picnic table (now my study area). I thought about what a cute picture that would make, so I pulled the iPhone out of my study bag and snapped the photo below. She ventured closer and closer until finally she was right on top of my Bible (generally speaking, she is interested in anything that I am interested in). I took another photo (above) and emailed it to some family. Then, I thought about what a great illustration that photo would make for the topic, "Yes, it's a good place to be, IN THE WORD."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My First-born Grandchild-God's Special Creation

This little 4-year old girl (pictured here with her brother Conner) is turning 17 today! What a special product of God’s creation she is! Tory has always been so beautiful, inside and out. She is bright, cheerful, lively, sweet, loving, sensitive and caring; she has a heart that desires to serve God.

My verse for Tory today is the same as the one I chose for her for 2010:

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 
– Jer 29:11 (NIV)

Afternoon addition--Adding to today's post, here is the beautiful birthday girl. Her brother's verbal "happy birthday" to her was so true...he said, "You are beautiful on the inside AND on the outside."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Looking Back—a Difference Made?

I suppose it is human nature. I would like to believe that I have made a difference. Of course, I do believe I can make a difference in the lives of my children and grandchildren, and I do believe that is part of “my calling.” I’m happy to have that responsibility, and I am deeply rewarded when I see that God has in fact allowed me to make a difference there. My children and grandchildren are wonderful about expressing their feelings for me, and that is just about the best blessing a mother or grandmother could have!

But, today, I’m thinking about the idea of “making a difference” in the circle outside my own family. For the years I spent as a teacher in public school classrooms, was that time well-spent? Did I actually make a difference? Realistically it’s not so much that I need to feel I made a difference in the WORLD... But in someone’s life?

When you’re a teacher, you have lots of moments of knowing, at the time, that what you are doing is valuable, that you are making an investment in the life of a child. Children are wonderful about letting you know that they think you are special. But, after the passing of time, I sometimes wonder if I made any lasting difference. Then occasionally, rarely actually, a reminder comes my way that tells me, “It was worth it.”

I spent twelve years of my teaching career with gifted children (K-8), in a small school in a small town. Those were special times for me, and I often remarked that I couldn’t believe they actually paid me to do that job. (I didn’t say it too loudly, because my husband was the superintendent). I had the same students year after year, as they progressed through elementary school. I loved my “kids.” I don’t even remember the “curriculum” that I made up for us to cover in my class. I’m not even sure I had a “curriculum.” My primary goal for my students was that they learn how to think for themselves (creatively and critically) and that they realize that they could do basically anything in life, if they would always do their best. It was so fun to see their little minds working away!

Recently one of them came to mind, and as I wondered what “became” of him, I employed the amazing tool that is the internet. I located some information about him and contacted his alma mater. They in turn let him know how to get in touch with me. I wasn’t even sure the “student” would remember me—my strongest memories of him are from his second-grade year, and that was around 1981. I did not expect to hear from him, but I was thrilled to learn from the internet search that he had become an engineer (that was my prediction, when he was a second-grader—seriously).

Today I received a special blessing. In my inbox was a note from him. He told me all about his education, his career choice, and what he is doing now. I was amazed to read about that little boy, all grown up and successful. Then, I read, “I wanted to say just how nice it is to hear from you, and I want you to know that the moments in your classroom still seem like yesterday to me and were highly formative in the direction my life has taken. Do you remember the program I wrote in BASIC on the Atari that played Jolly old St Nick? The pride you showed in me, drawing the principals attention to it... moments like that really pushed me to want to try to be better than average and that spirit has stuck with me for life.”

Tears streaming, I thought about this topic: looking back--a difference made? It seems so, and I am once again thankful that God called me to be a teacher and placed me in a position to influence children through the years.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

America's "Lost" Virtue

Many of my close friends and family have often discussed the trend in our country, away from accountability. Actually, it's more than a "trend." It's a free-fall. That's the truth. But, I heard it put a little differently yesterday, and since it's kind of "stuck" in my mind, I'll write about it.

Listening to ESPN Radio as I drove into the city yesterday, I heard one of the commentators talk about our country's lost virtue--DISCIPLINE. Out loud, I said, "Amen." This guy admits he is not a moralist, and he certainly does not claim to be a Christ-follower, in fact quite the opposite. And yet, he sees it. He explained that he has lived his life according to a principle, and so far, though he has made many mistakes, he has never gotten himself into real trouble. That principle, he says, is this: "DON'T GO WHERE YOU SHOULDN'T GO; DON'T DO WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T DO." He proceeded to expound on the recent arrest of an individual who is in a position of administrative leadership in a major college.

The ESPN Radio show host gives excellent advice for living. He gave that advice without quoting Scripture, but of course the Bible IS the original source for that concept. The host also made another point, that also has its basis in Scripture: your sins will find you out, and you will reap what you sow. (Make no mistake, he did not use those words; but he did make that point.)

Let's be about the business of helping our children and grandchildren recognize and understand the value of self-discipline. And, if you need a fresh one-liner to throw in there occasionally, this one works: "DON'T GO WHERE YOU SHOULDN'T GO; DON'T DO WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T DO."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"It is for freedom He has set us free!"

Every year at this time I like to just think about the awesome blessing it is for me to have been born in America. Our country was founded on the principles of freedom, and many people, including my husband, have fought to keep our country safe and free. Lots of thoughts are in my heart tonight, and I may "opine" about all that in much greater detail at a later time, but for now, I just want to share that we enjoyed attending the Cardinals game last night, with their special emphasis on supporting our armed services. Folks were encouraged to bring posters and banners, so I threw together a couple of posters just before we left. Part of the pre-game festivities included parachutists landing in the stadium!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Makes me tired just thinkin' about it!

My beautiful Tory has been training for Cross Country Track this summer. This morning she ran FIVE miles without stopping. Her dad told me he is so proud of her! So am I!! Wow! Bless her heart--she doesn't even like to run, but she sees it as good self-discipline. She's so special!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My GranGirls



My girls will be turning 17 soon. No, I cannot believe it.

Of Fireflies and Toy Stories

My littlest grandchild, four-year-old Dawson, has begun to enjoy talking on the phone with Mamo. What more delight could there be in a Mamo's heart than for one of her precious grandchildren to want to talk with her. So, at this point in time, Dawson and his Mamo have a "mutual admiration society." He likes to talk to me, and I like for him to talk to me. Last evening, his mom sent me a text with a photo, and an audio note from Dawson that he had caught some fireflies. Later, he called me. We had quite the conversation about the fireflies ("They are orange and green and red.") and his first movie ("Was it Saturday, Mommy? Yes, it was Saturday."), "Toy Story 3."

He loved the movie, and he asked me "What was your favrit movie when you were a kid, Mamo?" I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't really remember getting to go to a movie when I was a kid, but I do remember getting a television for the first time when I was about 8. I saw a "movie" on that TV, so I said, "Peter Pan." He said, "I like 'Peter Pan.'" He wanted to know what was my favorite book when I was a kid. He didn't seem to understand "Tuffy the Tugboat" or "Babar the Elephant," but we found common ground a bit with "Peter Rabbit." Anyway, WHAT FUN!! At tne end of the conversation, his mom told him he could talk to Mamo some more later. "How 'bout tomorrow," he said.

THIS is what I'm talkin' about!