My dear husband does not like to get gifts. Not birthdays or holidays. Not even Christmas or Easter. Not anytime or anywhere. Nope. Nada. Nyet. The other day—mind you, it’s only June—when I surprised him with the complete DVD series of Hogan’s Heroes, which he truly loves, while thanking me, he quickly deemed it his early birthday and Christmas present adding that there was absolutely no need to get him anything else. I just have to shake my head and smile because my kids and I love to give gifts. And we especially love birthdays. It’s a celebration of life.
Giving and receiving. It’s not so hard to do. Or is it? For some, giving is a way of life. Making someone smile. Bringing that ray of sunshine into a cloudy day. Loving. Ministering. Caring. But flip the switch and be the one given to, and whoa, hold the phone. It’s been said, “It’s better to give than to receive,” but I would submit it’s a whole lot easier to be the one bestowing than it is to be the one accepting. In a world where according to The Beatles, all we need is love, why then is it so hard to be loved on? Continue reading
My daughter, Laura, doesn’t like change. Most of us don’t for that matter, but when she was a little girl, anything great or small that altered her universe, would send her into a tailspin for exactly two weeks. You could bank on it.
One time that stands out, happened when we made a major move from Missouri to northern California. We found that because of overcrowding in the public schools where we were going, it would be better for Laura, an upcoming fourth grader, to make the switch and attend private school.
First, there was the digging-her-heels-in and wrinkling-her-nose-in-protest-phase, followed by the argumentative, why-this-couldn’t-possibly-be-good-for-her-life, angle. (At that time, I was convinced if she had chosen to be a lawyer by profession, any firm would have gladly welcomed her.) Continue reading
My husband, Jerry, loves to go to the dentist. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen, he goes willingly into the office, full of glee, grinning from ear-to-ear. Not me. Not anything close. In fact, not at all. To get me there, it’s almost as if someone has to push me from behind, fighting firmly-planted feet and heels that are digging trenches as I’m forced to go. But when I’m in the chair, I know the fastest way out of there is to open my mouth wide, relax every muscle I can think of, and let it happen. The funniest thing—my dentist always tells me that I’m one of the easiest patients to work on. Little does he know.
Submission. That’s all it is. Letting something happen to you that you would not normally yield to willingly. Like letting the dentist put that medieval tool in your mouth to drill out decay—a horrible thought to shudder at in itself. Or following the not-so-wanted-diet your doctor has prescribed to save your life. Or letting the spouse who wants to plant a kiss on you when you’re not quite finished with the discussion even though they are. That’s what it is to submit. Continue reading
I have been there before and visit far more often than I want. That place where my natural self has the gifted propensity to get tangled in knots. To go to the worst case scenario. To land in the mud puddle of worry, only to crawl out dripping with anxiety. To end up with a topsy-turvy bag full of unsettled emotions like Sebastian the crab, in Disney’s Little Mermaid when he announced with much drama, “My nerves are shot.”
My latest and greatest—even though sadly it seems to be quite commonplace, although for me was a first-time experience—landed me in the world of cyber-theft. Unaware of what was happening at the time, whether it was online or at a business I visited, somehow, my credit information was lifted allowing some dear person in a different state to live the easy life, enjoying gift cards, pizza, and a tank of gas at no cost to themselves. But on this end when all came to light, uneasiness began to creep into my mind, the what-ifs muddling my thoughts. Continue reading
When I was eight years old, my mom, younger sister, and I went to hear my older brother’s high school choir’s Christmas performance where he would be singing a solo. From the first note that came out of his mouth, I was mesmerized, for I had never heard such a rich, wonderful sound. If it were something that could be touched, that beautiful voice I was hearing would be akin to a deep, burgundy velvet. I’ll never forget it. To this day, when I think back on that night, I can still see my brother on the stage—the lights low and the spotlight on him—and can still hear him singing.
So it was no surprise—when we were spring cleaning our home (and my mother had us doing that, on what seemed like a weekly basis)—that as I was caterwauling the tune of the day that was floating through my head while hand buffing the hardwood floors, my brother who was begrudgingly doing the same, in his most loving, sibling way told me, “You sound like a frog. PLEASE stop making that noise.” Wilting like a flower without water, because surely, he would know better than anyone if I had talent or not, I tucked away my dreams of having a beautiful voice like his. End of story. End of singing for me. Forever. Continue reading
We finally have it. A name for our home. After six and a half long years of several attempts—”The Farm at Gosey Hill,” “The Dog House and The Menagerie” (partly because of the many comical moments here with the animals), and even the more eloquent, “Grace Abounds,” —none have seemed to be the right fit. It wasn’t until the name “P’Niel,”—which Jacob named the place where he saw God face-to-face, yet his life was spared—added to the earlier possibility of “Grace Abounds,” that Jerry and I, with a sigh of contentment and relief, felt the quest had finally ended. Continue reading
My husband, Jerry, has told me of the fun-loving antics of his Uncle Gideon, but what his uncle did one Sunday to his mom, Jerry’s grandmother, whom everyone called Granny, is one of the most humorous and endearing stories I’ve ever heard.
Granny was a member of a primitive baptist church in Hatley, Mississippi, located right outside of Amory. Every three months, as an act of service and humility, this congregation participated in a foot washing ceremony, with everyone taking part in it.
Back in the 1890s, women did not wear nylon stockings, but thick black scratchy woolen ones. The night before this particular Sunday, after everyone had turned in, Gideon confiscated his mama’s stockings filling them with soot from the fireplace, emptying them back to remove any telltale sign of his mischief. The next morning in front of God and everyone, Granny removed her stockings revealing black sooty legs. Without a word, she turned and amidst the snickering congregants who were trying hard to hold it in, knowingly pointed her finger at her son. Taking full responsibility, he threw his head back in impish delight. Even though she wasn’t pleased with him in the moment, and probably spanked him across the county line and back again, later she might have broken into a small chuckle herself, for she was like that. And Gideon was known for his pranks. Continue reading
Every year at this twitterpating time, (according to Bambi and friends), we get a host of bird couples making their newlywed nests in our gutters, atop beams, or as safe-as-it-seems-to-them, any nook or cranny. And without fail, there is usually one couple that for one reason or another, seems to be a half a bubble off plumb in their choices.
There was the kamikaze bluebird who inexplicably would follow Jerry from room to room, flying so hard into each window leaving feathers as he went, that his sweet wife would watch from a nearby branch or window with a somewhat stunned look of “what are you doing?” Or there were the doves who nearly died of heart failure every time we walked onto our side porch because they had built their nest in the heart-shaped grapevine wreath that hung right beside the door. Or there’s this year’s winner, Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow, who have already tried and failed in four separate attempts in three different locations, to build their home, the first unsuccessful site, my fault. Continue reading
My daughter, Laura, husband Andy, and their sweet daughter, Lucy Drew have found their new home and will be moving from ours in just a few short weeks. While this is good for everyone, it has already left Jerry and me with an ache in our hearts knowing that this precious time of the happy back-and-forth, face-to face bantering with Laura, hearing of Andy’s day-to-day and the challenges he faces, and being greeted by Lucy Drew’s smile and delightful babblings in the morning, is about to end. Continue reading
St. Patrick’s Day is this Friday, and it seems everyone is gearing up for the usual festivities of parades, parties, green beer, and the dying of waterways to match. But after singing in church and then reading St. Patrick’s poem of faith and trust in God, The Breastplate, I knew there was more to the man than most of us realize. The section of the poem (below) we sing in church is really quite beautiful. The depth and magnitude of what it says always makes me cry. Continue reading