Peace and Promise

A few weeks ago my friend, Cynthia, had an idea to put together a devotional. She emailed one day and asked me to collaborate on it with her.

Me? Write a devotional? I’m not a preacher. I’m not even a Sunday School teacher. I’ve written a children’s book,  articles for magazine and newspaper and a blog. Don’t you have to go to Bible college to write a devotional?

I guess not.

Well, I said yes and we started planning. (Note: both of us learned to say “yes” to the press and then figure it out along the way from teacher and writer extraordinaire, Michelle Medlock Adams). We wanted to create a booklet to encourage people during this crazy year that is 2020. If we could make a difference in any way, it would be worth all the work.

Cynthia and I met a few years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and became fast friends. That’s a story in itself — she’s from New York and I’m from Tennessee. Yee Haw! We missed not being able to hang out in our favorite coffee shop on the Ridgecrest campus this past spring. We’re looking forward to a grand reunion in Spring 2021!

So, after all the writing, editing, fixing — I actually had one devo in there twice under two different names… had to write a whole new one. And then I used the same scripture on two different devos. That’s a little behind-the-scenes info. Writing is fun. It’s the editing and rewriting that can take you out. In the end, though, when you finally have the finished work ready – that’s the coolest. (I’m never taking the words “cool” “coolest” and “cool beans” out of my vocabulary no matter how old it makes me look, so there).

I have to say a big THANK YOU to Cynthia for thinking of me to help with this project. It was and is a labor of love. When I started my writing journey many years ago,  devotionals were never up there on my radar. I didn’t think I had what it took to even attempt it. Just reading scripture and praying about what to write, even if I never wrote a word, strengthened me and gave me an even greater love for God’s Word.

We ended up posting the devotional on Cynthia’s website as a free download. The link will eventually be posted on my site — technical difficulties slowed that down. I’m also posting the link below. I hope you will download it and read it. There are thirty devos — thirty days worth of peace and promise. I also hope that our writings will help you find a place of peace in the war zone that’s going on. Though we need God’s Word, protection and strength every day. We need Him in good times and in bad. We would love to hear your stories of peace and promise. How has God brought you through the tough times?

Download the free devotional Peace and Promise During a Crisis

 

 

 

 

 

To All My Mother Figures

I’m a dog mom. Does that qualify me to celebrate Mothers Day?

Maybe not – but I have a lot of moms to celebrate. This isn’t a new idea I just came up with. I wanted to post a special tribute to some of the women who have been like a mom to me. And to my own mom, Nancy

All the love and memories came crashing in while I was frying potatoes (“fried taters” in these parts) for supper, because it reminded me of my Aunt Bobbie, my mom’s sister. She taught me how to fry taters. She also taught me how to make cornbread. I remember it well, standing in her kitchen on Riverside Drive many years ago. I was so excited. She had two wonderful sons who she loved with everything in her, but never had a daughter of her own.  She became like a mom to me.

All of my mom’s sisters (I believe there were about eight girls in all) were like mothers to me in one way or another.

Aunt Shirley taught me to laugh and have fun in the kitchen. I loved her kitchen with all its aromas — especially the smell of Uncle Dempsey’s Butternut cakes. She also taught me what proper sweet tea should taste like and that you shouldn’t ever let anybody leave your house hungry.

Sunday suppers at Aunt Faye’s house came complete with Pistachio cake. My cousin Valerie (Faye’s daughter), always had to wash the dishes and I helped. I loved looking out her kitchen window over the sink while I rinsed and dried.

I loved going up to the country to my Aunt (Lucille) Cille’s house. It was a treat riding those curvy roads to Nickelsville, Virginia. I spent summers there riding my bike all over town with my cousins and their friends. Aunt Cille and Uncle Bruce had the biggest gardens of anybody and the best fresh vegetables. There was always a big meal on the table. Evenings after supper and Sunday afternoons were often spent sitting out on the carport, warm summer breezes blowing in.

My Aunt Nina taught me that you should always look your best wherever you were going. I watched her put on makeup and curl her lashes and hair to go out. It fascinated me. She, my mom and some of the other sisters would put Toni perms in each other’s hair. The smell of the perm solution just about ran me out of the room, but I sat there taking it all in, gaining a lot of fashion knowledge, along with a little news about the goings on in the family.

I surely don’t want to leave anybody out — there was also Aunt ‘Rene (Irene) who had the cleanest house this side of the Mississippi. She let Uncle Everson put his deer heads on the walls, but they had to be placed just so. I could tell, even with their beady eyes following me everywhere around the room. Aunt ‘Rene’s house was at the top of what’s probably the highest point in Weber City, Virginia. We could see all over the place sitting outside in the front yard — even over into Holston View Cemetery where my mamaw and papaw rest.

My Aunt Joyce taught me the importance of being strong no matter what. One of most resilient women I ever knew, she passed way too young.

My dad’s sister, Sarah, raised four boys well. All of them grew up to be fine men. She taught me the importance of adapting to changing situations. She, too, would have loved to had a daughter to go with all those boys and took me home with her to spend the night whenever she could.

Grandmothers can teach you a lot, too. My Mamaw Moles (my dad’s mom) taught me that a girl can drive a big ol boat of a car (made entirely of real metal) through the interstate traffic of Greensboro, North Carolina without an ounce of fear! Well,  she had no fear — I saw my life flash before my eyes a few times the day I took that road trip with her.

Mamaw Dockery taught me the worth of a good story. Told just the right way, it can hold a kid spellbound and out of mischief (like jumping on the bed). How I would love to sit and listen again to her tell the story about the headless Civil War soldier she saw walking up her front steps over in Fort Blackmore. Ghosts seem to be more prevalent out in the country.

Saving the best for last, but not nearly least — my own mom taught me about Jesus and the importance of being part of a church family. It’s something I still value so much in my life. Mom also liked to cook and put big meals on the table. Her Sunday suppers were some of the best. We usually had roast and potatoes with plenty of home canned green beans. If it was summer when gardens were in, there would also be a salad or killed lettuce and onions. Ok – now I’m hungry again.

I guess the thread running through this quilt of family memories is that all of them fed me in some way. Whether it was food or a life lesson, I am better for having known each of them. They are and will always be influences that helped shape me into who I am today.

I’d love to know — what are some memories of women who helped shape you?

 

 

Pandemic Life in Hooterville

Is it ok to say this whole “pandemic” thing has had me the least little bit stressed?

I don’t even mean the virus itself. I pray over that whole mess and leave it there. The sudden change to my predictable rut is what’s had me out of sorts. 

The biggest obstacle I’ve had working from home turned out to be unreliable internet. Rainy days ruined any hopes for connecting to the work world. For awhile I felt like I lived in Hooterville –  went outside looking for a telephone pole to climb.

It turns out my former internet supplier had things hooked up inside a plastic box by the side of the road where rain runoff could flood and/or a car could slide into and knock the whole thing to kingdom come. I do live in Hooterville! I even had to set up shop at my neighbor’s house for a few days until we switched over to a new provider.

In the midst of all this, my day job hasn’t slowed down a bit. This is probably the busiest time of year for a medical school, so I have been mucho busy (and stressed!) learning how to lend support via electronic means and making sure the learning environment still happened for our group. 

My technical creativity went up, while my writing creativity took a bit of a nosedive. Writing anything worth reading was just not happening. My brain felt like it had taken one too many rides on the tilt-a-whirl. Jesus take the wheel!

I decided that the tide had to turn or I was going to go get a job at the doughnut factory and forget everything else. That’s my contingency plan, anyway.  Getting up early every morning to go make the doughnuts isn’t the worse thing that could happen.

Until I resign myself to rolling out dough for a living, I will be writing the dough. Maybe I’ll invent blog doughnuts with messages on them. See, I know God has a perfect plan for me. Why else would He give me all these whacky ideas? Some will come to life in this blog, some in books and in other avenues. 

The bottom line is that even though I get stressed, I don’t have to let stress overtake me and have me so turned around that I can’t even find my way out of a paper bag.

I think it’s the same for all of us. Fear will present itself. It tries to look like a big ‘ol bully coming in to steal your lunch, eat your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and then pop the bag  in your face. Fear don’t care.

The truth is, fear is only as big as you let it be in your life. There is a defense that’s way more reliable than gloves and masks (no, I’m not saying don’t wear your gloves and masks). When you get into God’s Word and find out what He says about you and about standing up to fear, you’ll realize that you don’t have to run off and hide from everything. You can stand strong in faith.

So, make a decision to live! Live in the face of all the bad news. In fact, turn off the news. Let go of stress. Live like you’ve never lived before.

Go forward on purpose.

Don’t Fence Me In

Thank goodness I have plenty of room to roam during all this quarantining that’s going on. I know everyone doesn’t have a farm next door to wander through or neighbors you can sit with in the driveway waiting for sunset so you can take photos. I’m sorry for all of you living in crowded cities who are in that predicament and I’m praying for you.

I’m praying for all of us.

We aren’t used to this. Saturdays are for running the roads and stopping to eat lunch wherever you have a mind to. Weekdays are for being at work with your workmates and meeting in the kitchen for coffee and talking … ahem … discussing important work matters.

Working from home really isn’t so bad. I’ve always wanted to work from my living room office and have my own private bathroom stocked with all my stuff. Another bonus — my dogs are here! Every day is “take your dog to work” day!! Yep, it’s kinda nice. I know I’ll miss this when we return to our offices. Do you think they’ll let me bring my dogs with me? Pets help relieve stress– it’s been proven.

I also miss going to church and seeing all my friends up close and in person. (well, not too close — I was never one for that even before the pandemic hit)

People, we’ve got to figure out a way to get back to semi-normal and still be safe! I need my Hobby Lobby fix!! You can only shop online so much. I like to browse and look at stuff, feel the textures on the fake wood and imagine how I’m going to decorate a room or whatever I’m fixin’ up. I want to wander through the aisles listening to the church music. It’s so relaxing. I could almost lay down in the floor and take a nap right in the middle of the place. Maybe I should take my pillow and blanket next time — I’ll go in when they’re about to close and hide out in the candle aisle. They’ll never know I’m there until the next morning when the opening crew comes in and finds me snoozing away, with a snowman from the Christmas clearance section tucked under my blanket. Don’t worry, I’ll pay for it. I don’t steal from the Lord’s home decor store (or anywhere else, for that matter)!

I know all of this will be over sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’m going to look at all the good going on in my life and enjoy the *pause*.  I am still working everyday, but there’s something to be said for not having to put on makeup and then drive through traffic and redlight cameras to get to work. And gas prices are down!! Though I’m not really using much gas right now. But that’s another point to ponder.

The key is – Count your blessings. Help your neighbor whenever you can. Be kind.  And know that you’re going to have to wait a few minutes outside in line at the Mexican restaurant when you go pick up your order of burritos with extra salsa.

When all this is close to being over, you just might find me by the door at Hobby Lobby waiting patiently for them to open back up. I might spend my whole vacation week in there. Don’t judge.

 

Happy New Year, Sort of

I know I’m a tad late, but Happy New Year!

It’s still early in the year and still acceptable to wish everyone a great 2020, right?

It’s my mothers fault, you know. She said I was slow getting here and I’ve been slow ever since.

Mom, that’s not very nice.

Now that that’s over, where was I? Oh yeah- Happy New Year! (now I feel like I have Frosty the Snowman syndrome). I know we’re already starting  February wondering if snow, and low bread and milk shelves are in our future for the next twenty nine  days.

This is a Leap Year, so February will be a little longer. I don’t exactly understand what Leap Year means, except that it’s okay for a girl to ask a guy out, or even propose marriage during the year. Remind me to wish you Happy Sadie Hawkins Day in November!

I quit making resolutions a long time ago. I never stick to them, anyway. I do set goals. Maybe that’s sort of the same thing. My goals are something I can work toward all year long. I take account in December to see what I actually accomplished during the year.

Sometimes my new list of goals is very similar to the old list.

Wow. Twenty-twenty. It seems like just a few years ago I sat watching the Jetsons on Saturday morning cartoons thinking, “Nah- none of that will ever happen”.  I was a kid, okay.
The only thing we don’t have yet are those flying cars. Now, that would be pretty cool. Only certain people should be able to qualify to pilot a flying car though.  Lord help. If you can’t use your turn signal or navigate a four-way stop, you do not get a flying car license. I need to be in charge of approving those.

We’ve even surpassed everything the writers of “Back to the Future” could come up with.

It should be pretty interesting to see what’s ahead. Hang onto your seats. I have a feeling it’s gonna be out of this world.

Whatever happens in the near or distant future, let’s remember to be kind. Always be kind (refer to my post from last year). Let’s declare this a year of kindness and respect. Can I get an Amen?

Now go out and put that into action!

 

The Daze After Christmas

It’s the daze after Christmas and all through the house… someone or something is always stirring, it could be a mouse.

But not likely because the barn cats have given them chase, keeping them away from our dwelling place.

I don’t wear a kerchief and the Doublewide husband doesn’t wear a cap to sleep. The dogs were all settled, with nary a peep.

Until we hear gunshots — don’t they know it’s the middle of the night! I glance at the clock in case the news reports a body found. I’ll be able to to testify what time I heard the sound.

Then what do I hear, when I’m just about to doze off? A truck running up the road with loud mufflers. I scoff.

The temps have been warm, so no snow to reflect the moon. I glance out the window to see that the cats have gathered for their morning food. Getting ready to serve them breakfast of cat chow and leftovers, I put on my jacket and boots.

Back in the house, I make coffee and sit down. What will I do with my time now that Christmas has left town?

I know what to do! This is the ticket! I’ll go after-Christmas shopping for next year and when I get home I’ll hide it.

In December 2020 when I’m looking for all the good gifts I found for 80% off — after I search through all the closets and shelves and up in the loft …. it will be evident it’s all lost and I’ll have to run out again. On Christmas Eve next year, that’ll be me rummaging through the gift card bin.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hebrew Children as Southerners

I recently heard a term I’d never knew existed – Southern Israelite. As you might guess, this created all kinds of interesting images and wonderings in my head (hee hee).

What if the Children of Israel had been Southerners….

I looked up the term “Southern Israelite” and found out it’s some kind of flat earth group. This post, however, is entirely based on my imagination and all it conjured up when I  learned that there was such a thing.

One of my first thoughts – What would a Southern Israelite eat? Unleavened cornbread?

How about the scenario when they were wandering around in the wilderness. They complained about everything, you know.

They weren’t happy with the food God supplied. Can you imagine –  free food falling out of the sky and that bunch complained about it…

“Manna again? Think you could rain down a little barbecue sauce to go with this? Maybe a little Texas Pete, Lord?”

It’s a thousand wonders that God didn’t barbecue THEM!

Then there was Moses having to deal with all that mess of people. I’m sure he got ticked off more than once – “What in tarnation do you think you’re doing?”

“See what you made me do — I’m sa mad I could just hit this rock. If you don’t have any water to drink, don’t come crying to me.”

I can also imagine the convoy they had trailing across the desert.  The wagons and camels decked out in the colors of all their tribes with little flags flapping in the breeze, Dale Earnhardt stickers on the back. I think that’s where trailer parks got started. It may also be where impromptu fiddlin’ jam sessions started — “ya got time to breathe, ya got time for music.” (borrowed from Briscoe Darling, of Andy Griffith fame; but I think he got it from Moses)

And no Southern event is complete without a covered dish dinner, especially a church crowd  — bring on the manna ‘n cheese! Hang out with the Southern crowd and you’ll never go hungry.

One thing about it, Southern Israelites would be an interesting bunch. Living the mobile life presents its challenges, but then, Southerners are known for their creativity. The women surely found a way to survive life on the road. Need your hair did? Just pop into Big Hebrew Hair for the latest style.

In the end, when they reached the Promised Land, I can imagine the Southerners ready to charge ahead and overtake the city, instead of being afraid to follow God’s command like the others were. “Shoot yeah, let’s go!” “Don’t you worry about a thing. We’ll git ‘em!”

I think I’ve gone to church with a few of their descendants.

As the Old Testament reports, the group eventually crossed over into the Promised Land, took the wheels off the trailers and settled in. I’m sure they had a big hoedown with plenty of food and music. Can you imagine all the grills it took to cook up enough hamburgers for that bunch?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

AARP, I’m not Ready for Thee!

Just because I’m watching The Waltons on a Friday night does not mean that I’m interested in a policy for final expenses.

I’ve realized the drug and insurance companies love to advertise on the tv channels I like to watch. They think only senior citizens watch the oldies. I have to endure ads about incontinence and Jitterbug phones right in the middle of  Andy Griffith. The nerve of them assuming that I need any of that, because I’m watching  reruns of shows I saw in their original form in the 60’s and 70’s.

I’m a tad offended.

“Do you have frequent urges to go to the bathroom?”
“Does sitting for long periods of time seem like torture?”

No! I want to watch The Lucy Show and not have to see somebody cringing in pain while dancing to “Boogie Nights” on a gallbladder commercial.  Please get off my tv. Just because I’m over 40 and like the oldie shows does not mean that I have the heartbreak of psoriasis.

I’ll tell you what heartbreak is — having to sit through those commercials.

Pharmaceutical companies are using  pop songs that were popular in the 70’s and 80’s to push their drugs, too. If I have to listen to another Earth, Wind and Fire song while hearing a voiceover tell me all about stool softener… Why do they think I might even need that? My stool habits are none of their beeswax. Watching Lawerence Welk and Gilligan’s Island isn’t fun anymore.

What’s coming next? Nursery rhymes advertising wrinkle cream? The younger set will be combating the aging process before they even start grade school.

I can see it now– the spokesperson would probably be a kid from a baby food commercial. A whole dance team dressed like characters from Frozen twirling around on screen with a jar of snowflakes that claims to freeze everything it’s applied to so little ones can maintain that “just born” look throughout life. “Quick – act before you turn eight — or it will be too late!”

I think I’ll pass. In fact, I’m starting my own revolt against all the so-called experts who  invade my late night tv viewing. While the geriatric ads are running, I’ll make my way to the kitchen and eat something loaded with bacon and butter – all the stuff they warn you about.
Pour some sugar on that.

Rock On, my friends. Rock On.

 

Stellar Performance

I love singing in my car.

It’s my stage. It’s my chance to perform with the greats.

Don’t laugh.

What’s wrong with singing a little tune while trucking down the road?

Singing in the car could seriously cut down on road rage too. Who has time to be mad while they’re singing? Somebody cuts you off in traffic — sing to them. It’s great therapy — if you have friends in the car, go ahead and harmonize! Get your car choir going and drive all over town. You could go to every drive-thru in town and serenade all the drive-thru’ers.

It never fails though, right when I’m in the middle of a stellar performance, hitting the highs and the lows, holding out that last note perfectly – my phone rings…

Telemarketer averted and I’m back on stage!

I’m sure the other drivers wonder what on earth is going on in my car. I don’t care. I’m singing with Shania, Faith, or maybe Alan Jackson. Who cares what people think. Can’t they see the lights, the stage and the orchestra. Oh yeah, that’s all in my head – in my little world inside my car. It’s safe there.

Aw, come on. I know I’m not the only one who sings in my car. I know you car performers are out there – you’re the ones who play your imaginary drums on your steering wheel and sing into your coffee.

We’re an elite group, you know. We are the ones who help make the world a better place as we drive down the road with a smile. Other people want to smile and sing too when they see us. There you go — we’re making the roads safer just by being out there with our little traveling concert venue.

I think the transportation people could come up with a road safety campaign about singing in the car. They could call it — Singing for Safety — or something like that. I don’t know, but it would be fun!

Until I get the call to star in their commercial, I’ll be out there singing in my car. Elvis and I will be doing our part to keep the rest of you safe out there.

Go ahead and try it. I guarantee you’ll have a better trip to the grocery store next time.

Don’t Take Me Out to Eat

You know the old saying, “You can dress her up, but you can’t take her out”? Well, you might want to think twice before going out to eat with me. I may accidentally spill something on you.

My husband has known this for years. Still, he goes out in public to eat with me. He apparently doesn’t learn from past mistakes, because it happened again when we  went to lunch last week. I thought I would clean up our table and carry everything, stacked up in one hand, at one time. I didn’t quite make it to the trash can – one tilt and the avalanche tumbled down  … salsa went on me and a little on the people sitting near the spill site. Poor people. They had no idea.

I’m beginning to think that, perhaps, I should always eat in my car by myself. Or just stay  home. Though, I don’t think this happens except when I go out with my husband.

He should have known what he was getting himself into. The first time I so gracefully managed to spill something, I remember it was early in our relationship – I knocked a glass of tea over and it went toward his side of the table. Oh there have been numerous spill events over the 28+ years we’ve been together.

I think I need a personal assistant just for eating out.

They could make sure my bib fits well and has a little pocket to catch anything I drop (believe it or not, that’s not so much the problem — I’m a pretty good aim when it comes to getting food in my mouth), keep my glass at a distance (as I tend to talk with my hands) and clear the table after we finish eating. I think that would solve everything!

I wonder how much a thing like that costs. I don’t need a fulltime assistant — just one for when I go out to eat. It doesn’t seem to happen when I’m at home or dining at someone else’s house. On second thought, I knocked over a bottle of water while eating supper at home just yesterday.

So, that brings up another question. Why do I only make the messes when I’m eating out (or in) with my husband? Hmmmm– any psychologists out there? These and other questions may be answered someday.

Until then, know that going out to eat with me may be hazardous to your health – or at least to your wardrobe. Think before you invite me out anywhere. You’ve been warned.