Mothers Day wishes

1971, Christmas.  I was 21, hadn’t met my husband yet. Mom was 63. These are from left to right Ralph (Buddy), Margaret Anne, Mom, me, Sharon Rose. Four of her five children in the same room, something that didn’t happen more than a handful of times. Missing from the photo was her first, Mary.

I wish I’d known Mom had 20 Mothers Days left. Had someone told me I would have called that a lot, that it was way far away. Twenty years are nothing in retrospect.

I wish I’d have made more of those 4 day weekend trips. We were only 500 miles apart, an 8 hour drive.  Phone calls and cards were sometimes late.  I had two little ones and time got away from me.  Although we did call. We did visit. Just not enough when I look back.

Time flies.

I think she understood.  I think, having been transplanted away from her family by 600+ miles and two states, she wasn’t surprised that visits were sometimes far apart.

I wish we’d taken better pictures.  I wish we’d had digital cameras so we could keep snapping until we were all looking at the camera, nobody was talking and nobody got cut off.  I wish we’d gone to a studio.  Although there are studio pictures here and there, the vast majority of our collective memories are captured in shadow, on faded Polaroids, in black and white, somebody with their eyes closed.

I wish I could call her in the middle of the day on a week day and hear her ask “who died” because it was higher phone rates.  If she hadn’t been in her 40’s when I came along unexpectedly, I wouldn’t have lost her in my 40’s and I could still visit.  She’d be 103 now.  Some things we can’t control.

I wish we’d had a movie camera.

I wish I’d listened more closely to her stories of her youth and the family. I did listen, but I wish I’d written them down.

I’m almost her age now that she was in the snapshot.  Buddy’s gone. Sharon’s husband, gone.  All our kids are grown.  The good lookin’ husband I hadn’t met then has white hair now. Still my man.

My family got together for a week last year, 2010. I wanted a professional set of pictures, pro shots as well as snapshots.  A mother-daughter pose, a father-son pose, a mother-son, a father-daughter, a girls only and a guys only, a Nana with the grandsons shot, a Poppy with boys, a three generation of men and of course the group, goofy and formal.  I want. I didn’t get. I’ll try again next time to arrange it. I’ll even pay for it.

Sixty-three sounds old to the young. “Hey, Grandma, that’s almost to the end” from my four year old son to my mother-in-law when she turned 68.  Yeah, well, you live long enough and at some point you’re almost to the end.  I’m a ways away from the end.  But once you cross the 44 line, statistically you’re halfway there.  I am a ways away the other side of 44.  I’m forty-twenty-one.

I do have a long term retirement plan in a dwelling place far far away close enough to visit Mom frequently.  In the meantime, I wish I could see her face and wish her a Happy Mothers Day, like she’s moping around in HEAVEN!!!

So. That settled, here’s a happy wish to all the mothers of young ones, grown ones, new mothers, grandmothers, mothers to be.

All we ever have is the current.  Love your moms now, don’t put it off.  Take a picture of her, of yourself or kids, write down that you love her. Thank her for raising you. If the least you can do is send a picture in a card, send it.

And have a great day.

Save it just in case

When shoulder pads from the 40’s disappeared 15 minutes into the ’50s, most people got rid of them. The same was true of platform shoes, and button hooks. The list is long. Platforms and shoulder pads came back in the 80’s. Keep them somewhere. That was 20 years ago already. I’ll give it another 15 and you’ll see them reinstated as new. Art deco redressed itself in the 60’s and wallpaper resurrected in the 70’s and 80’s.

Some people are squirrels in human form. For the terminal squirrel, it’s painful to throw away anything that is:

  • not broken
  • fixable
  • potentially useful
  • once upon a time useful
  • used at least once
  • never been used
  • of any sentimental value real or imagined
  • could be valuable in any way to anyone now or someday
  • may be in style again whether the keeper is alive to see it or not

The last one is the most powerful to squirrels. Oh, I’m sorry! I should say “keepers”! To a genealogist, keepers are saints. Finding a box of forgotten trivia is tantamount to a detective breaking a case. That’s when rejects become treasures. Let me know when Antique Road Show is in town!

I was minding my own business in my cubie, earphones in place when something shiny caught my eye. Immediately, ADHD, a diagnosis not yet officially made, caused me to stare at a stalk of shimmering silvery foil reaching skyward from our supervisor’s cubie. Company issued keyboard brush? The lady next to his cubie has a couple of years’ worth of mysterious leftover food substances imbedded in her keyboard so it was a fair question.

As I stared, it wiggled and jiggled and started moving toward the wall. I’m checking this out.

Me: Wow, I haven’t seen one of these since I was short. That’s ….. a while.

Supv: My mom has one in the attic in its original box, the color wheel, the plastic sleeves to store the branches and the price tag.

Me: about $12.95, right?

Supv: Around that. Someone offered her $500 and she turned it down. She let us use it on our apartment balcony one year. This one is a retro Wendy found online.

The color wheel was activated and the steady stream of people whose grandmas had one way back when oohed and aahed. Nostalgia impresses me, but what impresses me more is that a corporation of our size, a bank, no less, in today’s world where a school in California formed a task force to make sure the winter celebration didn’t offend any in the 14% of the population who claims not to believe in God, a world where they can’t wear red after December 1st, a world in which Santas in Australia are told to say ha, ha, ha because ho, ho, ho scares children, doesn’t grey us down or dumb us down but allows employees to put up trees and exchange gifts and actually say Merry Christmas to each other. Welcome to the Bible belt. The ACLU is around but not victorious yet.

My friend across my cube wall is a Jehovah’s Witness. We both get to choose and to be. Last year I gave her an unwrapped gift “just because” and she said thank you.

Veterans Day

vet·er·an      [vet-er-uhn, ve-truhn] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation

–noun

1. a person who has had long service or experience in an occupation, office, or the like: a veteran of the police force; a veteran of many sports competitions.
2. a person who has served in a military force, esp. one who has fought in a war: a Vietnam veteran.

–adjective

3. (of soldiers) having had service or experience in warfare: veteran troops.
4. experienced through long service or practice; having served for a long period: a veteran member of Congress.
5. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of veterans.

[Origin: 1495–1505; < L veterānus mature, experienced, equiv. to veter- (s. of vetus) old + -ānus -an]

I appreciate #2 of the definition above, pulled from dictionary.com, that illustrates a military veteran as a “Vietnam veteran.”  All too often our focus ends with a WWII veteran.  We’ve just about run out of WWI vets and the WWII vets, now called the Greatest Generation, are dying at the rate of about 1000 a day.  In the flurry to honor them while we still have them, we can lose sight of the men who fought in Korea because that was a police action headed up by the United Nations.  Our Viet Nam vets often take a back seat.  Those are the men who were spat on when they came home.  They are the ones who sometimes don’t tell people that they are veterans who were fighting to keep communism at bay and were trashed by a generation of college students whose motives are still under debate, many of whom themselves embraced Karl Marx’ communist socialist policies.  At least one of them is currently running for president.  Personally, I believe their politics were wrong then and they’re still wrong.  Enemies don’t stop fighting and back down because we yell “peace.”

Honey’s great-grandfather, George Wesley Brock, at the age of 16, volunteered to preserve the United part of USA in the War Between the States.  Geo.Wesley’s grandfather, also a George, fought in the War of 1812, the “second revolution” against Britan’s attempt to recapture us, was himself captured by Indians sympathetic to Britain and survived a gauntlet because he said, “I’m half Indian.”  My father wore the army uniform in WWII to defeat two nations who would destroy our freedoms.  His great, great grandfather, John Murphy, Sr, fought to create a free nation in the Revolutionary War at Valley Forge as did his father-in-law, William Cooke.

So, which veterans are we honoring and if you say “all” are you limiting the celebration to those who served in combat in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, The Gulf War, and Iraq?  What about Bosnia? Afghanistan?  What about the desk jockeys, and those who put in duty in Germany in peacetime?   Anybody who’s worn the uniform, whether he or she is shooting a gun or working at the PX, signed a contract that committed them to following orders, giving up their right to free speech, and going wherever and whenever, even at the cost of their lives.

Honey enlisted in the Navy in 1968 while Viet Nam was still in full swing.  He signed the contract, put on the uniform and boarded ship.  He’s a veteran by definition #2.  This morning he had the privilege of honoring men and women in our congregation as well as veterans in general.  This is what he wrote:

Today on the Veterans Day we gather together around the Lord’s table to give a tribute to our forefathers who paved the way for the freedoms we so richly enjoy today.  But more importantly, we come here today to honor a savior who died for our eternal freedom.

Today, we salute the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel for their mission.

We remember the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

We honor the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat, but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and then teaching them how to watch each others’ backs.

We salute the barroom loudmouth, dumber than a box of rocks, whose overgrown fratboy behavior is outweighed a hundred times by four hours of exquisite behavior near the 38th parallel.

We remember the parade riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

We remember the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket–palsied now and aggravatingly slow–who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife was still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

We remember our Navy signalman who still holds close a tear stained picture of a best friend who lost his life in the line of duty.

Yes, we honor the ordinary, yet extraordinary human beings who offered some of life’s most vital years in the service of their country, and sacrificed all of their life’s ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

Most importantly, we honor and remember the greatest soldier of all, Jesus Christ our Lord, who came to earth to fight the Good Fight, Who took up the sword of righteousness on behalf of all mankind and became the greatest testimony this world has ever known for the greatest promise ever given.

Your face is going to grow like that

  • Get your arm inside the car before it falls off.
  • Stop popping your knuckles or they’ll get as big as your knees.
  • If you fall off that thing and break your neck, don’t expect any supper tonight.
  • You eat that and it’ll grow inside you.
  • You’ll shoot your eye out.

There’s nothing quite like a mother’s love, is there?

All of the above works on kids once or twice and only when they’re little.  They won’t have bad dreams over it.  Not too many, anyway.  You have to think fast to get a kid to mind when a simply “No” ceases to function for a child who’s reasoning is flawed with inexperience.  Shock stops The Why Game when there’s no time to spare, when injury is imminent and they’re out of arm’s reach.  Besides, it’s fun in a sick and twisted sort of way.

As time continues to march across your face and waistline, your imagination has to give way to reason—

  • Smoking will increase your risk of cancer and suck the calcium out of your bones.
  • Drinking can ruin your life.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Get 8 hours sleep every night, even on weekends.
  • Pay cash.

Teen’s response:  Yeah, right.  Don’t you trust me?

When in doubt, which should be a lot, just say no.  Don’t waffle on this answer.  There hasn’t been enough time and experience to create a trust track record.  Say no and stand by it.  So you hurt their little feelings.  It’s better than identifying them in a morgue.

I don’t like being surprised with unpleasant circumstances when someone could have warned me of the consequences of my, or someone else’s behavior.

  • If the consequence of sticking my hand under or near a rock in the Arizona desert could result in a rattlesnake bite, won’t someone please say so?

Do you put a lock on your door just in case of a possible break-in?  Do you build your house with a roof just in case of rain?  Do you wear a seat belt in case some idiot didn’t listen to reason and is driving drunk?  Do you buy warm clothes for winter?

If you answered yes to any of the above, it’s reasonable to assume that the man who is anxious to kill you and everybody else, has said so repeatedly, and is coincidentally developing and testing nukes, just might try to do exactly that!  We are leaving ourselves as vulnerable as the posterior of a person with his head in the sand.  We are going about our daily lives as if nothing will happen.  We need to talk about it, research means of defense, have what it takes to batten down all hatches, and stock up for survival without communication or refrigeration in case of the EMP strike.

Do you think we need a border wall?

We need to contact our loved ones and make a plan much like we did when we told our kids that in case of house fire, run to Marilyn’s porch. Do not look back, ’cause if I don’t see you on that porch, all the firemen in town won’t keep me from going back in for you myself.

Jesus told us to occupy until He comes.  Be prepared for the worst and live like it won’t happen.  But don’t act surprised if it does.  Don’t get caught unprepared, worse, unsaved.

Jesus is coming for those who watch for Him.  The signs of His return are all around us.

Parkinsons

He was known as Russell to his friends, Elmer to the Army, Sweetie to his honey and wife of 49 years, Dad to his kids, Dat to his son-in-law, Grampa and Poppy to the descendants. No matter the many names, he was known as My Brother to Jesus and My Child to God.

His humor was simple but legendary. He cheered all in his path and those who were forced to listen to the same one liner one more time didn’t stop him due to the victim’s listener’s deep respect for him. He was passionate about his faith and his family, equally passionate about his politics, being a “laborin’ man,” and would defend the underdog even if he didn’t agree with him completely. Being an underdog was enough.

He died of a low grade infection that slowly shut down his worn out vital organs in 5 days, too soon for out of state children to rush to his bedside to say good-bye. The infection killed him but the Parkinson’s wounded him to his core. He watched it ravage his body for about 10 years. The muscles he’d built into tremendous strength in his youth were weakened by the constant motion and twitching. No longer cheerful, no longer a source of humor, he would sit in his recliner and hold his one big hand with the other but the shaking was relentless. It couldn’t be stopped.

It ‘s a cruel, debilitating demon that never lets up, doesn’t let go. Medication can make it crouch in the corner only for short periods of time. Take too much, the symptoms exaggerate. Take too little, the same. Take nothing and it’s out of control. The perfect medication balance is a relief until the disease increases in intensity at which point nothing works. You shake. And shake. And shake. Cruelty in one of its ugliest forms. It’s a slow, slow death if indeed it is fatal after a thousand years of suffering.

When Mom died on May 27th, Dad was left alone in the room until December 23rd when we imagine Mom calling to him “Russ–sell! It’s Christmas time. Get up here!” For those months he wordlessly sat all day and slept in his recliner. His only complaint besides the disease was the flashing 12:00 on the VCR. We would reset it over and over but the power was turned off every night. The next morning it would flash again. He lit up only when his kids came to visit.

He lost interest in movies, his Gunsmoke tapes, the news, the radio. His hearing was so poor if he wasn’t permitted to turn it up to 300,000 decibels, it wasn’t worth the effort to turn the “dad-blame thing” on. So he sat. And shook. When he quietly went Home in his sleep, the demon beast at long last let go.

Imagine for a moment that he was still alive, still in his house in Cameron and saw Michael J Fox, a famous and therefore, informed man on TV, also a victim of Parkinson’s talking about a cure. Not being a man of science, being hard of hearing and consistently missing key information, what would the man I once knew do? I know precisely what he’d do …

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Giant

Saturdays never are. One of my projects was to clean up the computer corner, the design of which can only be described as Abandoned Landfill with a touch of Early Cave Dweller. I made a small start: one can see 20% of the oak surface.

Laundry is moving right along. I’ve done one load of towels, darks are in the washer. The blanket for the Oct 8 Buddy Walk is nearing the bordering process, I ran one errand, colored my hair, snacked, and am in the middle of Giant. That’s what I wanted to talk about.

Giant, 1956, filmed partially in Texas, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Dennis Hopper, Chill Wills , and presenting Caroll Baker. What you may not know is that James Dean, the first official role model for cool,

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Mary

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know—

The blind will see, the deaf will hear,the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb—.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great–I— AM—.

Music by Buddy Greene
Lyrics by Mark Lowry

She was a an unwed teenage mother whose fiance, knowing the child wasn’t his, married her anyway amidst an unforgiving community with clear cut rules concerning what should have been done to her.

The traditional Jewish wedding of her day was a week long party.  When the groom’s father had the new room ready for the newlyweds, the groom knocked on her door and took her.  She was to be carried through the streets by her friends and family and so the festivities commenced.  Did Mary have to give up a traditional wedding or worse, did no one attend?

Put her away or stone her.  This pregnancy wasn’t imposed.  The angel asked her.  She said yes.

We know little else.  We can only speculate on her and Joseph’s relationship.  Was Joseph resentful?  Did he treat the boy Jesus too sternly?  How did they weather the glances and the whispers?  In Jesus’ adulthood, into His ministry, He was still referred to as “Mary’s son.”

And then, after doing their best, He claims to be the Son of God, no less.  If the initial angel appearance and one dream were their only signs, that and their faith was all they had to affirm their decision to marry and raise the boy together.  What I wouldn’t give for an angel appearance! In fact, I have had my belief in Jesus confirmed supernaturally more than once.  I can tell you for a fact that as I’ve proceeded from those special moments, the enemy is right there in my ear to tell me it was my imagination and I have to think, remember, and say, no, that was real.  How easy it would have been for Mary and Joseph to give up.

By the time Jesus’ ministry began, historians suggest Joseph had died.  Whether he died or slipped into the background, or simply left Mary, he isn’t mentioned again after the trip to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve.  Joseph was no where to be seen when Jesus was on the cross.  Apparently none of Jesus’ siblings was willing to take Mary in. Was there family discord concerning Jesus and His claims of deity?  One of the 7 statements concerned the care of His mother.

Mary knew Who He was and what He had to do.  Scripture says she pondered in her heart the circumstances around Jesus birth.  Gnostic writings say that Jesus, as a young boy, would raise dead birds back to life.  True or false?  Who knows?  Does that fit your image of Jesus’ later ministry?  Maybe, if not resurrected wildlife, there were other undeniable signs that Mary knew about as He was growing up. Why else would she expect Jesus to “do something!” at the wedding in Cana?  She knew something others didn’t.  The unusual goodness of His behavior compared to her other “normal” little rowdies would tell it for me.

Those around Him called Him crazy.  His siblings called him crazy.  If Mary believed Jesus to be even delusional by calling Himself the Messiah, would she have stood by silently watching anyone torturing her misdirected son before her eyes?  She was helpless to stop it anyway, but silent? Just standing there?

Put yourself in her sandals.  Do you see yourself silent or begging for his life?  Do you see yourself standing or being held back as you are trying to claw your way toward him to protect him, screaming all the while? Do you see yourself back at the house, prostrate, hysterical, being held down, or on Golgotha, standing near Him, watching?  In Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, we see Mary at the foot of the cross scooping rocks in her fist as if to defend or avenge.  But scripture says in John 19:26 that she was standing near with John, and I suggest John was literally holding her up.

Did she know that this baby she rocked in her arms was the Savior, the Messiah? That’s what the angel said.  Did she know that she was in need of saving and that His blood had to be shed for her too? Yes, maybe not that day, but soon after.

Simeon said to Mary in the temple in Luke 2:35 that a sword would pierce through her soul.

I honor Mary’s obedience, faithfulness, and courage in the face of constant adversity and the ultimate pain that only a mother would endure.  Though favored of all women, she didn’t have it soft.

The Star shone on Saturday night.

Another weekend.  Gone.

It happens every Monday.  Someone Everyone greets each other with “Hi, how was your weekend?”  What they are expecting to hear is “Fine” to which they respond “That’s nice.” You could be in a wheelchair wearing 3 casts and breathing through a tube and they would still expect to hear “Fine” so they can chirp “That’s nice” because they are walking and not looking.  My answer is usually “I forget” or “Let me think.”  It just doesn’t matter anymore.

I have noticed as I get older that time is spinning faster and faster just like that last roll of toilet paper as it gets closer and closer to the core.  Weekends are breaking records.  They pick up speed significantly around noon on Saturday and accelerate to the speed of a freight train on steroids until they crash into the alarm clock Monday morning, violently pitching me out of bed.

I have choices on weekends–plans that I can make in advance to brighten up this nano-second in time with something memorable.  Or I can vegatate with the remote, or search for the misplaced ToDo list.  Or not.  This particular weekend we chose wisely — a bright spot.  We attended a performance of Star Queen  at the church.

Ya gotta check it out here.  Just do it.  This is not Amateur Night.  These guys have the goods.  They are pros.  Just because it’s in a church…okay, I made my point.  They read the Book of Esther in the Bible of all places and made it into a musical.  And wrote the music.  Jazzy, imrov, funny.  Something you’d see on Broadway.  I’m impressed.  I’m even more impressed that John tommy Oaks, educated, experienced in the field of music, and highly trained, is using his talents and training in a ministry when he could be setting fires in the secular music industry.  God bless you, J.t.

Oh! And here’s the website:  http://www.johnthomasoaks.com/star-queen.html

Have you ever, when looking for something to do, thought to pick up a Bible and read a story in the Old Testament?  Me, neither.  Is the language a little stuffy, a little hard to follow?  Pick up a Message translation.  It’s a read-aloud paraphrase that talks to you like someone at street level.

There’s Xerxes the King, Esther, the drop-dead gorgeous Jewess (sshh, that’s a secret) queen, her cousin Mordecai the Jew, evil Haman (picture the black hat, cape, and handlebar mustache [yah ah ah] and hiss at him), a cast of several, and pagan parties in which the king orders excessive drinking.  A phrase you’ve heard several times if you’re over the age of 10, is “for such a time as this.”  Yup, that’s from the Book of Esther.  Also, “if I perish, I perish.”  Book of Esther again.  Esther’s name is translated Star and she was the Queen in Persia.  Star. Queen. Get it? ok, then.

John tommy and sometimes his dad, Thomas, or someone else, travel with Star Queen.  All parts are played by as few as two of them, using hats and wigs. They’re not just East TN performers although this is home.  Contact them.  Invite them to your church, community playhouse, whatever.  This is a production not to be missed.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Again.  After the train crashes at 5-whatever, that’s a.m., I’ll coax the sleep out of my eyes and head for work.  As I make very sure the coffee pot is running and check the email, someone will cruise past my door and ask how my weekend was.  They’d better slow down, ’cause this time I have an answer other than just “Fine.”

Train’s Comin’!!

The CB&Q and the Santa Fe railroads , double tracks each, crossed paths a mere block from our house where I grew up in Cameron.  Click on the second bar up from the plus sign on the map, click west once.  What you see as 180th was as I remember it, the Cameron Blacktop.  Neither did I know it as Railroad Street.  To save us all a little time, there were no street names when I lived there.  Zip zero nada.  It didn’t take long to know where you were going, so there was no need.  Our house faced Railroad Street, was halfway between West St. and Pearl and the back yard touched Vine which I remember as two dirt & gravel tire strips with grass between them.  I would like to think it was called Vine because Mom’s grapevines are still there.


Cameron Train Station
That’s the Cameron station on March 21, 1943.  I don’t know when it ceased to be a passenger stop.  How sad.  I remember once peeking in the window and seeing benches, broken and in disarray that had once been polished and proud to be a part of a bustling society.  When I was there, the only attention paid to Cameron was grabbing the mail bag from the hook and throwing off another one, not even slowing down.

Easter 1965180th becomes Railroad St. at the via duct, or overpass, where the two rail lines cross, seen easily
behind The Nan, Easter, 1965.  I used to climb on the supports every chance I had, but don’t tell her.  Once, as I was driving into town from the west, I saw four trains, two heading east, two heading west, meet at the overpass, all laying on the horns.  Of course the conductors had to be waving at each other. That didn’t happen often, and only once in my memory.

Backtrack a little to Easter 1956.  1956 Murphy girls That’s me, aged 6.  You can tell how close to the tracks we were. CB&Q was Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy.  That would be the one directly behind us as it was more East and West.  The line crossing diagonally Southwest had to be the Santa Fe.

Let me tell you, those trains were loud, not only the whistles but the racket the wheels and tracks produced.  In the summer evenings, the routine was as follows:  Train’s comin’! One kid closes the front door, another closes the windows, another turns up the TV as loud as it goes.  Stand your post until the train is gone, open the door, open the windows, turn down the volume and race for the good chairs.  Someone always ends up bawling that the other one got the rocker and so it goes.  Happens every night.  But you can’t miss a word of Lassie, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, or Lucy.

Did the trains run during sleep hours?  Ask Stan.

Litchfield was only a day’s drive from Cameron.  When we visited, Stan and I were put up in the better front bedroom.  What an honor.  If it was summer, the windows were open as there was no AC.  So…… the whistle sounds in the distance.  It gets louder and louder.  The light on the front of the engine is sweeping back and forth, its beam bouncing in and out of the bedroom window.  Walls are rumbling, eyeballs are vibrating, and you swear the bed is dancing as the horn is held down and 100 freight cars scream through town right in front of the Murphy homestead.  Speeds varied from around 40 mph for freights to 60 mph for Zephyrs but it seemed like forever before it was gone.  After one or two nights, you get used to it and sleep right through.  It even becomes comforting after a time.

Did Stan get much sleep on his vacation to the in-laws?

Some memories are priceless.

Youngest Son to Youngest Son

Check out the hat.  Some looks just don’t last, do they?

Leslie Ethel RusselThere was no date on the back, nor were there names.  But I happen to know that Susan Ethel Parrish Murphy is on the left, my dad, Elmer Russel Murphy is on the right, and the little guy in the middle is Leslie Murphy, son of Herman, dad’s older brother.  I can’t be sure of the date, but it’s somewhere in the 30’s.

I am in possession of the old Murphy family Bible.  Births page 678The copyright is 1804. Isaac Thomas, dad’s grandfather, states in the flyleaf that The Murphy Boys, both circuit riding Baptist ministers of the hardshell order, took the Word throughout the territories of Kentucky and Tennessee.  They were of the Baptist Hardshell Order. That phrase indicates a strict adherance to scripture to a decimal point.  The shalt nots were the order of the day.  Yet, in those days many settlers pledged their commitment in front of the other settlers as witnesses and had children before the circuit preacher could get to the settlement and make it official.  I like to open it and breathe in the smell of “old, old book” and imagine it new, smooth leather. The flyleaf records their mission to the wilderness of the day. Maybe if I close my eyes and concentrate I’ll hear the snap of twigs, the sound of laughter, robust singing, catch the faint scent of woods, perfectly pure air, wildflowers, or just plain horseflesh.

When Dad finally gave it to me, I carefully turned the pages and found a drawing of a child’s hand, a handwritten paper that showed lineage back to merry old England, two knights in the 1500’s and back even further, a name of a sheriff in 1100-something who had no last name, and more to be treasured, records of births and deaths of those who shaped my heritage before the Declaration of Independence was even thought of.

…… ” so let the youngest son have the preference.  Isaac T. Murphy, Kewanee, Illinois, March 17th 1895.”

Isaac T was my father’s grandfather.  He was the 16th and final child, born last of 5 children of the second wife (we can only guess the first wife wore out) of the Rev. John Murphy, Jr., son of John Murphy, a veteran of Valley Forge, and Rachel Cooke who married and moved with him from Virginia to Tennessee prior to the Revolution.

Like the properly folded flag that is carefully laid in the arms a family member after a veteran’s funeral, so this Bible came to me.  I can almost feel the history in my fingertips and hear the faint whispers of the past.  It’s more than a relic, it’s a treasure.

The youngest son to the youngest son.  Because Dad had 3 girls and Mom was 41 when the 3rd girl came along, that would be me, Leslie was the only male child to carry the name Murphy in the line, unlike the days of old when people had enough children to have at least 3 sons among them.  Being the 16th, Isaac T. would have been shocked to see the population control of our day.

Leslie joined the armed services, I can’t remember which branch, and was dispatched to Korea in the early 50’s.  His wife remained at home near Monmouth in the trailer park.  I forget her name.  When he came home, we were so happy.  Man, he was cute!  I was 6 years old and, like my sisters, was totally charmed by this uniformed cousin with curly blonde hair.   In a few weeks, he was dead.

Suicide, the sheriff said.  Gunshot wound to the head.  Leslie was left handed.  The gun was on the floor under his right hand.  He was not wearing gloves.  There were no prints on the gun.  A somewhat smallish figure in a big overcoat was seen leaving the trailer shortly after the shot was heard.  Suicide was the irrevocable call.  Don’t anyone forget the circumstances surrounding my good cousin’s death.

I am simply the youngest of the youngest.  After it is inconvenient for me to keep the Bible, it will be handed down to one of my two children, neither of whom is surnamed Murphy.  They can take turns caring for it if they so wish.  Surnames can’t matter now and shouldn’t be an issue.  All I ask is that the keeper(s) of it know the history, and treasure it with the Bible itself, that they pass that history to the next keeper and the next, until such time as Jesus returns to earth.  The finest diamonds will pale in comparison to Him and the Peace He will establish;  the Murphy Bible will be unimportant.

But, until then, it’s 201 years and counting.

Happiness

What is that anyway?  What does that word encompass?  If only I was shorter, taller, thinner, rich, younger, older, well educated, had a bigger house, etc. etc.  If I were just single again.  If ony I were married. The Rockefeller who became rich in the railroad business in the 19th century was asked “how rich is rich enough?”  His answer was “just a dollar more.”

“Pursuit of happiness” is in the constitution.  It’s our right !!  No, it’s our privilege.  But do we know it when we see it?  Do we know how to achieve it?  Have we the sense to hang onto it?

I love movies.  Most of my collection is comedies.  I have most of the the musicals too.  In South Pacific is the song Happy Talk.  So catchy.  So sweet.  Whatever mood I am in I have a movie to fit.  There’s a long list of movies I want to own, movies I saw years ago on The Late Show.   They make me smile and forget …. whatever is not making me happy.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot.  Let’s hope I haven’t been dead from the neck up for half a century!  I have regularly watched TVangelists.  Never got into Jimmy Swaggart, caught Roberston now and then, couldn’t stand the Crystal Cathedral guys!  Joyce Meyer has the best scripture food out there.  Spinach.  She shovels it in like you would feed a baby in a high chair.  Scrape the chin again and stick in the spoon.  She can slap you upside the head and it’s so logical, all you can say is “Thank you, Ma’am.  May I have another?”

Once upon a time in 1985 I was not happy.  First, let’s assume I loved and adored my husband and children.  But……nobody was coming through for me.  What did I have to do?  My life was ….. I don’t know.  We were on our way to the Black Hills and had stopped for an overnight at our friends’ cabin close to Alexandria.  I was not fun to be with.  I was taking every spare moment I had to think and calculate how I was going to arrange finding something new.  I wanted out.

Our Sunday school class is studying Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now simultaneously with Joyce Meyer’s Seven Things that Steal Your Joy.  Tom pointed out that Joel is saying the same thing over and over.  Like the song, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”  Joel’s saying that you trust God and expect His good things, expect high, and, and, ….. expect.  Fine.   But he does keep saying it over and over different ways.  So on the way home from church I thumbed through and saw Tom was right.  29 chapters later Joel gets to how.  And he says what I realized as truth in 3 seconds back in 1985.

That Sunday morning at the lake cabin, only one channel came in.  The TV preacher said it so simply ….. you decide to be happy.  Whatever your situation, assuming Jesus is in your heart and soul to support you in your decision, you can decide if you’re going to be happy, and decide if you’re going to accept it at face value.  I just stood there.

Sometimes we don’t figure out the simplest things by ourselves.  Think about it.  The world teaches us that our happiness is imputed onto us by our surroundings, other people, the right choices, wealth, health, education, the list goes on and on.  “Just a little bit more.” And when one moment wears off, run to the next one.  The responsibility for my happiness does not lie with anyone but me.

Decide.  You can choose to have a good attitude in the middle of a mess.  You can choose to smile through your tears.  Live today.  But expect better tomorrow or whenever.  Expect the best God has for you.   Osteen’s right.  He also says to wait patiently for it.  Joyce says anybody can wait grumpy, but it goes a lot better with an attitude of gratitude.  You pick.

The TV preacher that pierced me with that simple statement was the Crystal Cathedral guy’s son!  No, it did not make me a regular viewer nor a contributor.  I haven’t tuned into him since.  Don’t have to.  God knew where I’d be, and what I needed to hear.  There he was, syrupy sing song voice and insipid grin.  Thanks, What’s-your-name.  I needed that.

Dominoes

I loved my Gramma Murphy. She would rock me in her wicker rocking chair. I remember looking down and noticing nervously that we tipped way, waaaay back, held breathlessly in one of those forever moments on the very tippy tip tip of the runner. No way was she rocking me to sleep in that thing.

She didn’t have a TV but she had a radio and couldn’t miss The Arthur Godfrey Show every day. When reception was a little static which was often, she would hit it until it came in better. Lots of tape later, the thing still operated, still produced static, and she’d hit again.

She liked to fix me snacks like any good grandmother would. She would ask what I wanted probably thinking I would say cookies, or cake, or pie, but I said peas. Peas? Yes. With butter, please. Peas. Salt, too. Coming right up. (this kid is weird)

And we would play dominos. Sometimes I would just line them up and tip the first one delighting in the inevitable tumble and she and I would marvel and laugh.

Gramma was born in 1879. Her brothers were the farm hands, she and her mother were the house slaves. At 18 she married Butler. She lost her first child at 4 months to a fever, her preemie boy/girl twins, born at home died after 4 hours, and a daughter was stillborn. Herman and Dad lived, her only surviving babies. Wanting a daughter so very desperately, she put Dad in dresses until he was 6. Fortunately, this did not scar him. When Dad was about 11, Butler was told his gum disease would move to his brain, causing insanity, and he would kill his family. He prevented this by hanging himself. I don’t think Dad fully recovered. Ethel didn’t completely. She didn’t become totally bitter. But some hurts did transfer…. selectively. My heart aches for her, her hurt and those she hurt.

It’s important to me not only to understand my own hurts but to understand the hurts that are handed down. Somebody stop the dominoes.

I have a friend in our church family who shares a common memory with me. As all little girls do, she asked her mama if she was pretty. Like my mother, one of her mother’s biggest fears was that her pretty little girl would get the dreaded Big Head. Her answers were something like “Pretty is as pretty does” or “Beauty is only skin deep.” (Sigh). I guess I’m not pretty.

I don’t know if Ethel ever asked her mother that question. I don’t know what her overworked mother would have said to such foolishness while her own hair dragged in her eyes, and her calloused hands were busy with one more endless chore with no end in sight.

Generally, hurting people hurt people, not only their own children but anyone else that crosses their path. But, sometimes the first domino is the person who’s been led to believe he or she is the center of the universe; someone who hasn’t been taught or even comprehends the essential people skills like compassion or respect; someone who must be in control and on top at all times.

Parents, tell your children they are beautiful creations in the likeness of God. Hug them. Kiss them. Praise their ‘fridg art. Give them practical people skills. Show them how to have joy in the midst of sadness and hurt. Tell them how to repel the inevitable cruelties of the world and how to seek healing on their knees. Balance that with a healthy humility in God’s presence, gratitude, obedience, and the ability to give and forgive.

Across the Flow

Ok, so nobody’s asked me why I chose that title. I had two pages of cutesy, maudlin, wierd, and trite options. This one just felt right. I think it’s me. Sort of. Some would say I am so much against the flow of thoughts and ideas, it’s not funny. And sometimes you would be right on. There are big deals over which I am immovable.  When it comes to those biggest deals, I’ll just stand there in the rapids like a rock, or move out of your way if need be, but across, not with. You can move around me or grab my hand. Your will is as free as mine.

For the everyday common stuff, I see myself moving across the majority’s flow, teasing, breaking the monotony, getting someone to laugh, to think, to move out of a rut, to stop, rest, look me in the eye for a moment, and maybe a little hug would be in order.

Once, when I was killing time in Chicago between flights, I people-watched. And since very few airports provide cots, I was obliged to sit in Chili’s with a bowl of soup, then walked the concourses to the ends and back. Got my workout in! After one or two, they all started looking alike and I was wishing I had some breadcrumbs to make a trail. I noticed no one looks at anyone they aren’t traveling with, making it a very lonely, albeit crowded place. I did manage to exchange a sentence and a chuckle with a lady in Chili’s, and thanked a soldier on a 2 week break from duty in Iraq. He appreciated that.

When it was finally time to settle at my departure gate I noticed there were two flights departing from the same gate, 10 minutes apart, so no empty seats were available for waiting. I parked myself across the aisle. When the call came to board, I headed across a flow of people who don’t slow down or look up, only look through and walk around. No “excuse me”s, no notice, no problem. Just like blending onto a freeway, they zigged, I zagged.

Interrupting the flow makes life interesting and fun. I rather like moving across. If we bump into each other, let’s stop and talk.

Blogging!

I have heard people gently describe others who suffer from hoof-in-mouth disease as “having no unexpressed thoughts.”  I have many times fit into that category.  I am now no longer limited to face to face conversations, the telephone, and email.  I am online!  Wow!  When I worked nights as a New Hire Trainer, my husband said I had found my niche–staying up all night and talking.  And I have so much to say.  But, relax, only one thing at a time!

One of my passions is genealogy.  Since I feel we are products of not only our own pasts, but influenced by our heritage, I am thrilled when I look in the records and find one more piece of the ancestry.  I gain strength and identity from knowing that they’re not just names but once were alive, in love, worried, happy, sad, brave, etc and so on, dealing with things I deal with but in a different setting.  I am even more thrilled when I find letters or articles written by them, to them or about them.  In our recent age of instant communication by telephone and deletable email, I am excited about recording my thoughts, woes, worries, joys, and the rest of the human experience not only for those who read me from day to day but for those who aren’t yet.

Be assured, I won’t be all about dead relatives, fun as they are.  I have a wide set of interests including All My Families.  More about more later.  Stay tuned.

A Story of Sorrow and Courage

I have a Page! And I have no idea what to do with it. It was an accident that happened when I accessed my blog on WordPress and just pressed the wrong button. But here I am. I don’t know if I can do it justice in which case I will go back to posting on my facebook timeline and let posts show up on your newsfeed. To be determined.

That said, I want to tell you a family history story. The lineage backtracks as follows: Me>Doris Smart>J.Henry Smart>Hugh Smart who married Sarah Mitchell in 1866 in Ontario. He was 37, she was 19. He came to Canada with his parents Sam and Martha from Ireland. Sarah was born in England and came to Canada as an indentured servant. You can look up the details on what that meant to be indentured but I believe the short version is temporary unpaid servant or by definition, slave. She hired on to a family in exchange for passage.

I assume she fulfilled her contract and then married Sam but that’s pure guesswork. All the details I’ve found are stated here.

Mary Elizabeth was born June of 1867, Jane Eliza in Aug of ’69, Joseph Henry, my grandfather, October of ’71. Hugh Herbert is listed as 1875 followed by Martha Jane in May of 1875 telling me either my records are wrong on Hugh Herbert or they were twins. William J came in 1879. Six children in 13 years. Sarah was 32, Hugh was 50. How about a show of hands out there of men who want a 6th child at age 50.

Diphtheria came to Glenelg, Ontario in early 1880. It’s an ugly and fast acting, deadly infection. I won’t link it here. If you look it up, don’t click on Images too close to your last meal.

A plague.

Sarah and Hugh lost 11 year old Jane, Hugh Herbert at 5 or 6, and Martha Jane, 5, in March of that year. All three in one month.

Half, 50%, of their children in one month.

I don’t know who decided they were moving to Hugh’s brother Tom’s place in Saulte Ste Marie, Michigan or if the wagon was being loaded when the disease hit town or after losing just one child, but move they did, and fast, before more were grabbed by the ugly claws of a hungry monster. But not fast enough.

My grandfather, Joseph Henry remembered docking east of where the Soo Locks are now. He remembered that his dad had no money and had to charge the cost of shoeing the horses for the five or so miles to Tom and Catherine’s farm house. According to Mom, J.Henry took the reins and drove a wagon down main street at the age of nine.

For some reason I never asked for more details nor did Mom volunteer more information if she had any. Many times history is lost because no one wants to talk about it. Grandpa died when I was eleven. Being 500 miles away in Illinois I had few opportunities to talk with him as he wasn’t well those last few years.

But, isn’t it enough to understand that not too long ago and all time before that, life can happen to anyone and death in whatever form happens to everyone. What sorrows, fears, and tears we go through now is simply more of the same wearing different clothes.

We lean on each other, we lean on God and His Word, we weep at His feet, we enjoy what He gives. He has said in His Word 365 times, one for each day, “Fear not.” I hate this magnified fear that has hit us in the form of a virus. News reports swirl through the air but don’t let it nest in your hair. God’s got this. Covid19 has a 99% recovery rate. Treatments tried are working, forces are denying what works in France and elsewhere and are pushing for vaccines while the numbers are decreasing. Again, God’s got this. Have faith, not fear.

I’m not hiding in my house. I will not wear a mask in the open air and sunshine. Sunshine and summer’s warmth is ridding us of a virus far, far more under control than the scourge that ravaged my great grandparents’ family and town. And, as for similarities and details on diphtheria, I will delete woulda-coulda-shoulda commentary on how Grampa’s siblings could have been saved with masks and staying in. That was 1880. They knew some things but didn’t have the antibiotics and vaccines. Diphtheria still exists in other parts of the world and is now preventable and treatable. Diphtheria per se is not my point here.

Please, please be strong and courageous. Ask questions when something seems fishy and even when it doesn’t. Look around. Don’t take one source as your only source of information and pray for an outcome that allows us to move freely among the people we were told to teach of Jesus and His salvation. Rise up, warriors.

What’s your passion–interest–hobby–ministry?

Do it! Go for it! Love it! Perform with excellence! (I sure hope it doesn’t involve sin e.g. pornography. Yes, Virginia, even looking is participating. It is sin)

Jesus told us to occupy until He comes again.  But He needs you to know He wants to use your passions, interests, etc.  If your ministry is outreach, may your heart remain on fire.  If your heart leads you to study in the Word to uplift and instruct The Body, share with me.  The Body is composed of many members none of whom can perform well in all areas but can be excellent in one or a few — the heart and the liver function differently but both are necessary.

There are many things to do for mankind requiring different levels of character components. “Feed my sheep” but are we to feed them with the same food the same way over and over? Is variety a spice in this case?  For example, in the field of medicine, a researcher whose passion is analysis through a microscope likely makes a lousy pediatrician, an area that requires specific people skills.  However, they depend on each other to paint the portrait of excellent care for the patient.  The same is true in the church. Within the Body, there are those whose function(s) — foreign mission giving, the food line at the homeless shelter, sequestered studying or one that can be the most mis-interpretive of character, The Watchman, warning of Jesus’ return and the signs of His coming — are equally vital to the spread of the gospel.  That last one can really tick people off and produce the most vicious hateful flack of ginormous proportion even from within the Body. “You have no love!!”  Be strong! You may appear to lack the sweeter fruits of the Spirit but God knows your heart and motives.  Stay the course He’s called you to in the face of critics who don’t like to hear they’re in sin who must attack you to justify their actions and those on the inside who believe their ministries are more important or relevant than any and everyone else’s.

In the church body, in the church building, God uses the music program as a carrot to lure the unsaved — emotion is not a bad thing when God is using it.  When the visitors become Be-Backers and want to learn more, God uses the teachers who may or may not be able to carry a tune in the proverbial bucket yet their hearts burn for analysis of The Word to transfer Truth to power in those whose passion is to witness.

You get the picture? God can use you where you are. But, what if what you’re interested in, the thing that is your pastime pleasure, doesn’t appear to have anything to do with faith outreach or church involvement?  God can use that too.  I think of a conversation in the movie City Slickers.  They were sitting around the camp fire.  The men were talking baseball statistics.  The lone female couldn’t understand.  Her conversations were about relationships, what’s working, what’s not.  She asked how baseball stats could be so important that that’s all they talked about.  The response was from a man who had nothing in common with his father. The relationship was pain.  But they both liked baseball.  They had something that allowed conversation, a conduit for communication, their only link to each other.

One of my passions is my genealogy hobby.  If anyone wants to talk to me about it, I have information on the ancestors that is a testimony.  Their stories and circumstances are a testimony of my tree to  me. God can use them still, through me but only if I share.  In today’s world, online networking is hot e.g. Facebook.  You’re reading another form — blogging.  God can use it if your heart  burns for outreach.  It’s a colossal waste of time if it’s purely personal fluff as in “look at me, look what I did today.” May I suggest that after a weeks’ worth of commentary, your readers have a fair glimpse into your heart.

Matthew 28: 19-20, known as The Great Commission is stated in the KJV as “Go.”  The original language is more correctly translated as “As you go..” or “going.” This was such a relief for me.  The Bible college I went to in Minneapolis was primarily a missions training school.  I honestly felt that because I didn’t hear a voice saying “Go to Africa!!” I was an abysmal failure as a Christian. But when you know not every Christian is suited for foreign missions, and Jesus knew that, you can joyfully pursue what He want you to do where you are and let Him direct your steps, not necessarily trips to faraway continents.

As you go — to work, on the highway (don’t forget God’s a mind reader), in the church lobby, at the grocery store checkout lane, on Facebook, around the family holiday dinner table — make disciples, teaching His commandments according to Matthew 28: 19 and 20 all the way to the end of the age.

You will be persecuted by those to whom the Truth is offensive.  But Jesus chose the foolishness of preaching to draw men to Him. “In this world you will have trouble.” Yeah, no kidding.  Be strong.

Anybody is somebody who is serving in the house of God, working in the body of Christ.

Christmas Day

On the way home from midnight service, we listened one more time to The Gaithers’ Christmas CD, The Greatest Story Ever Told, pulling into the driveway to the last delicate note of Mary, Did You Know, blessing us as our heads hit pillow approximately 1 am.  I am up ahead of Honey, talking to you in the pre-dawn morning light, waiting to grind the coffee beans.  We have exactly 7 gifts under the tree for the two of us.  The stockings each have DVDs, a jolly tradition to fatten the movie collection, and somebody got a new cologne to replace the Old Spice (finally).

Christmas. It is what it is, a day set aside to honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  We dress up, buy gifts, give to the poor, bake and cook and eat, send greeting cards and letters reporting the year on one page or just sign the card, and attend an extra worship service.

And this is good in its simplicity and adornment.

Then we diet or plan to diet.

I’ve posted many times my complaints of the Christmas machine, how it needs a face lift, a tweak here or there, that we should move the date, tear away the pagan symbols, etc.  I still want to move it, I still want to retire the jolly old elf. Greg Laurie, a prominent minister in California, suggested we at least eliminate gift exchange in a effort to tone down the unrealistic expectation factor for people who become depressed or in debt trying.  I don’t know if I agree with elimination, maybe reduce the pile under the tree and give more to those in need.

In short,

  • research states Jesus was conceived during the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, and born the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall.
  • Santa was originally a false god called Obed or Obid or some such name but is now publicized as a 19th century morph of Nicholas, born in Turkey in the early 300’s, who was a bishop in that early church father group, performed miracles, gave extravagantly to the needy, attended the Council of Nicaea from which he was thrown out and jailed for slapping another attendee who insisted Jesus wasn’t deity
  • from that Council, Constantine made Christianity legal, profitable, and state run, adopting nearly all the pagan symbols from Babylon BTW (and we know how God just loves Babylon), renaming them Christian to attract the multitudes to the new easy religion and pay taxes to him. He was baptized and allegedly converted. If that’s right, I’m going to have a serious discussion with him in heaven right after I ask “Why snakes?” and look up the relatives.

Christmas today resembles nothing of Jesus’ day, Constantine trashed all things Jewish and lest we forget, Christianity is grafted into (not cut from) the Jude-ac root, Jesus Himself.

In spite of it all, those who get it worship not the baby, but the existing risen Lord Jesus and rejoice, celebrating through gift exchange and fullness of food, sharing both in Jesus’ name.

The world has gone overboard, twisting each detail.  Christmas is an opportunity to profit, eat, drink, and be merry in all its temporary loud emptiness and glitter, avoiding the intent and meaning of Luke 2. It’s misplaced but we’ve mentioned that already.

(sigh) I can’t fix it.  But I can tell it better.  So can parents teach the real meaning, and please understand you are confusing your children when you let them actually truly believe in the unrecognizable morph of a false god, then a righteous servant of God into an elf in a red suit who can do magic.  Let’s have some fun with fairy tales but call them fairy tales, games if you wish. Consider this.  If they believe in Santa because you said to, and believe in Jesus because you said to, and find out Santa isn’t real, what about Jesus? Is He real or not? What else that you’ve told me is not true?

The coffee is on.  The stockings beg attention.  One of my gifts is a tall-it, a prayer shawl like those worn from Moses’ day, like in Jesus’ day, like He Himself wore.  I can hardly wait to see it.  I replaced Honey’s worn out Thompson Chain Reference study Bible.  What a blessing he wears out Bibles when years ago he didn’t open it.

May the peace of the season dwell in your hearts.  May your giving give all year. May the Messiah of the manger live in your homes.

I heard in passing and I stopped to listen

When you confess your sins as a forgiven Christian, the forgiveness is instant.  Forgive yourself and go on.  God does not remember sins that have been washed in the shed blood of the lamb. (John Hagee)   So why do I carry the rotting corpse of guilt? Because I feel like such an idiot for committing the stupidity in the first place.  The truth is that I really am an idiot when I know this stuff and insist on penance at which point I am moving into pride, my behavior declaring God’s plan of forgiveness on the cross wasn’t good enough.  That just gave me a headache. Forgive me Lord.

I heard in passing the TV set a good one from someone I hadn’t heard before, can’t remember his name but couldn’t drag myself away from the curling iron long enough to surf for a substitute so I half listened until he said something about salvation evolution. I stopped to listen.  He asked if I believed people were saved gradually or if each one of us needs to make a from-darkness-to-light decision.

Do I believe we grow into salvation or do we grow in faith from accepting salvation? What does the seed that is witnessed into my mind grow into? The seed of knowledge grows toward a decision, one that has to be made consciously.  I’ve said it before — does sitting in a garage long enough turn you into a car?  Salvation cannot be applied onto anyone like clothes or soap or duct tape.

At some point you turn from your wicked ways.  The point at which you have wickedness defined for you and have the consequences of wickedness clearly stated, if you don’t turn from sin, that’s when you decide to repent or not to repent, which is “turn.”  The One you turn to is not just critical, it’s the whole point as opposed to “turning over a new leaf” on New Year’s Day.

Maybe you can’t pin the sticker on the calendar.  Maybe one day you had an epiphany and acted on it in prayer without thunder. Maybe you were so close that the transition from pre-dawn to light wasn’t that long a ride.  But you did cross over.  Jesus is the source of the salvation.  The Word, the work of God’s Holy Spirit, and personal contact through prayer is the means by which we grow in faith and learn to walk deeper and deeper in Him.

You can attend church for years.  I heard sermons from womb to knees.  But Mom could not paint me with salvation, feed it to me or dress me in it.  All she could do was force me to be there and pray I listened.  I had to reach a point, an actual point in time, when I reached out and I received the gift.  I opened it.  I exercise it.  Me.  Knowledge may have soaked in —

I knew who Jesus was and all about Him but did not know Him until I decided to know Him.

He’s always there, does not go away, holds me, watches me, teaches and disciplines. He gives me the choice to stay or leave, to contact or not to contact Him. I grow when I choose contact, to stay.

The TV preacher asked me if I believed in evolutionary — gradual salvation.  No. I don’t. You’re dating or you’re married. You can even be engaged but you’re still not a bride until you’re a bride and you’re still not married until you take the vows. “I take Thee, Jesus … ” You’re pregnant or you’re not. This is the scariest verse in the Bible:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then will I tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”                                       —- Matthew 7: 21-23, NIV.

“Knowing” in the original language means “intimacy.” “Never knew” means “You and I did not have an intimate relationship.”

Sooooo …… what am I saying here? That intimacy saves? Nope. That intimacy keeps us saved? In terms of my commitment to Him, not the other way around.  He hangs onto me as long as I want Him to. Growing in the relationship happens after the commitment, the point at which I am “saved.” It, by itself, does not save. Becoming intimate, remaining and becoming more intimate keeps me strong enough to walk away from sin and sinful decisions and makes me stronger.  I can also call this process sanctification. It is growing up, maturing, being able to eat meat instead of being limited to milk as Paul described it.

 

Yeah, but can you do it and not slosh your coffee?

Joy is not in what you have or who others say you are or even who you think you are.  It’s who you are in Christ.  Behave with joy.

I could have told Honey when he opened the Netflix envelope that 9pm is approx 1 hour and 4 minutes too late to start something if you want to see the ending.  But, it was Saturday night, therefore, since hope springs eternal in the mind of those who can’t remember last Saturday night, we hit the start button.

One hour and 4 minutes later, “we have to be at the church early for sound check, we’d better pick this up tomorrow.  But it’s so good…eh….I’m not making it to the end.”  So we paused it and picked it up again right after church so we could still take a nap at 3:00.

We don’t go to concerts for several reasons, top of the list being they’re crowded.  First, you pay an unreasonable amount of money for a ticket in the nosebleed section so off in the wings if the performer is not on the front edge of the stage, you may as well be at home listening to the CD.  Or the DVD.

“This guy has more talent in his left ear lobe…..”

“Wasn’t that fun going to his concert with the Dales? It was worth the parking, the walking, the price, the crowd, the not so good seats…. he’s good.”

We’ve gone to one music concert in our entire relationship in 36 years.  We’ve gone to hockey games, baseball games, the state fair, all of which involve parking in the Australian outback, too much money, high priced bad food, and crowds but this guy was worth it all.

“Oh! I love this one!  Turn it up…. is there still some coffee?”

…the Copa, Copa Cababaaaaana…

One hand on the waist, the other holding the coffee cup, movin’ to the beat, movin’ the feet, all the way to the recliner sofa…

Didn’t slosh a drop.

About this time in the story telling, any one of my kids will have his/her hand over his/her face, shaking his/her head and making “uuuuuuuu..” moans.  Oh, well…

Copa Cabaaana….

“Do you mind if I play that one again?”

“You know, he just doesn’t stand at the mike and yell.  Well, I’m woofed.  Think I’ll lay down for a while.”

We’ll have to rent that one again sometime.

 

The Blue Bowl

Mom didn’t have much worldly wealth.  One of the few things she had that she treasured was a china bowl.  I have no idea where she got it, if it was something her mother or another relative had, or if she acquired it at yard sale for a nickel.  It was a  heavy bowl, blue on the outside, white on the inside, straight up and down sides, no rim, hard for little girl hands to handle with confidence.  Maybe there were some flowers somewhere on it but I’m too lazy right now to call one of the sisters and ask.

One of the things we did not have growing up was a dishwasher.  I take that back.  We had three — us.  The bowl must have been just the right size for mixing or serving, therefore she used it frequently and she was proud of it.  So much so that we just knew we were unforgiven and out of the will if we so much as chipped it.  When it was time to wash The Blue Bowl, life became slo-mo, sound faded into a background hum, tension increased when one of us had to handle it out of the rinse water.  You drop it, you die on the spot, the parents get off without questions, no arrests, no time served.  Life was bad enough when anything was spilled or something broken — “we just can’t keep anything!!” or “another mess to clean up!!”– it was a feeling in the pit of the stomach….

On other occasions in my life, I’ve felt that same lurch deep in the gut.  We all know the feeling when thoughtless words add another brick to a wall, when an email can’t be pulled back, when the person you’re talking about is standing behind you, when “sorry” can’t erase the disappointment, when Humpty Dumpty is swept into the dustpan.

Once that bowl or another treasure is smashed, it’s never the same.  If it can be glued, the cracks forever tell the story of what you did. When it’s people that are damaged, Holy Spirit can make it like new.  When my little girl broke a chunk out of an oval bowl that was part of my wedding china set, the look on her face broke my heart.  “It’s just a thing, Honey.  Don’t worry, I think we can glue it.”  And we did.  You should have seen the look on Eric Barrows’ face when years later he picked it up by the glued piece and it snapped off.  Where’s the camera when you need it?

Mom was not a screech or an unforgiving shrew.  She had other sorrows that caused her to attach too much to a few things.  Over The Blue Bowl, there would have been disappointment but nothing permanent.  Okay, years later she might have mentioned it out of the blue, pardon the wordplay.  But she always knew people trumped things.  Again, I have no idea why she valued it to the point that she did.  However, a big however —

When we moved them from the house to a nursing home and disbursed their belongings, keeping some things, sending some off to auction, none of us girls wanted The Blue Bowl.  You would think there would be names drawn, an argument, some sentiment over it.  For me, I didn’t want the phone call in 40 years asking me if I still had it.

I have found out that the California sister has it and uses it on occasion. If she ever chips, cracks, or breaks it, well ….. say hi to Mom ‘cuz she might be comin’ for a chat.

Going west

I love this nail polish, Orly, Alabaster Verve, which says absolutely nothing.  I would name it Raspberry Sherbert, kind of frosty but more shimmery.

Tell me you care.

My daughter brought me some polish by butter of London, a more natural solution in the world of nail art.  I love it.  Foundation plus color plus protective clear coat and voila, nails grow long enough to make them worth coloring.

Do you care yet?

When you’re my age, trim means a lot more than it used to before the chin line got wavy and the waistline wandered.

Other than nails, the important stuff, I have to fix my cell phone.  (Nails to cell phones? Slow day)  For the longest time, I’ve been accusing callers of breaking up and having a poor signal and you sound like you’re in a well or a fish tank, you’re cutting out, you’re gargling.  It finally dawned on me that not all of them could have poor signals, but my phone could be receiving badly.

I was told by the guys at the Radio Shack next door to my company where I signed up for my Sprint phone a year ago that the only place to repair it under my repair contract is about 25 miles west.  “But I got it here.” (we’re sorry) “Did you buy the Radio Shack repair contract?” No. “Well, then….”(we’re sorry)….

New management.  I don’t like them.

Yesterday I yahooed Sprint stores.  Wow, there’s a Sprint store at the mall by me off 640.  I called the number, they had the ear piece for my phone, all I had to do was walk in and they could get the job done in 90 min.  So off to Knoxville Center.  “Honey, can you meet me at the mall? I can drop my phone off, we can eat Chinese food at the food court while they repair it.”

It’s a kiosk.  (we’re sorry) The store closed in January.  The only Sprint repair is at the one out near West Town mall, now 30 miles the other way. “I swear I talked to a human this morning at a phone number assigned to this location and he said….!”

I’ll take the chicken and the noodles.  Iced tea, un-sweet.” To those north of the Mason/Dixon line, you have to specify un-sweet or you get two minute type 2 diabetes.

I really love this nail color.

Montezuma has nothing on Chinese Revenge.  I suspect the leftover gunpowder not used in the fireworks from 14 road side tents made its way into the alleged chicken at the food court in East Knoxville.  Just call me Shots.  After the “dust” settled, I called Nancy.

“Just wanted to confirm you guys are coming over Saturday.”

“Sure!”

“And I have to run an errand…”

“Sure!”

“And I want to see if that pendant is still at the….”

“And I need to go to the party store for some wedding shower stuff.”

She’s a hard sell.

“I’ll pick you up Saturday morning sometime after 10. Or so.”  That means I have to tidy up before Saturday. Cleaning off the dining room table is the pits.  I suppose I could do the one armed sweep if I can find a box the right size.

Tomorrow is Thursday, my late day.  We’ve been reduced to 39 hours when there’s not extra work that warrants OT.  It’s early in the month and the work load is light.  I get to sleep in an extra hour this week although I may make the best of the extra time and see what I can find for my daughter-in-law’s birthday Friday!! She won’t get it on time again this year but isn’t it best when your birthday is stretched out? (no)

In other words, I have a June/July birthday block.  I was always caught short on my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law — do I see an in-law pattern here? Once you identify a pattern, you can break it, right?  I promise I’ll be more efficient next year.

Saturday I will go west to fix my phone, check out a necklace pendant I mentioned for a birthday present, pick up party stuff and — oh, lunch! We have to do lunch!  And…oh! yarn!  And rhinestones at JoAnn Fabrics … !

Y’know, sometimes I shouldn’t be let out of the house.

Mrs. Brock, you have a good heart. And arteries.

June of 2009.

I won’t say I was scared.  It was sobering.  Being terminally flippant, and I did joke through this experience consistently, I was brought to a point of uncertainty in which I felt I had to say a few things to a few people such as “Please clean the house before you tell everyone I died.”

I have also been thoroughly enjoying Facebook and have renamed it.  The preacher combines Facebook, Twitter, and My Space into one word — MyTwitFace.  Pretty good.  I’ve already decided Twitter is for the birds and will disconnect the next time I think of it — too much potential for too many people to know too much about me.  I’ve never looked into My Space since I have a blog and that too is too universal and subject to stalking.  But, like I told my mom when she worried about me being single in Minneapolis, when they get me under the street light, they’ll lose interest.  If they kidnap me, it will be The Ransom of Red Chief all over again and you could be in for some unexpected cash.

Facebook, however, has more of an exclusive club atmosphere and I am enjoying it a lot.  I can fondly change it from Facebook to Chatterbox. Or how about Party Line?

I’ve posted bottom line comments to my Chatterbox stating a stellar outcome to my heart cath  — clean and pretty, if you consider the bloody pump pretty at all, mine is in Cardo Man’s words, beautiful.  So.

I arrive on time, sit and wait.  Answer questions, go to another area, sit and wait.  Take my clothes off, put on a gown, answer some of the same questions — “Are you or could you be pregnant?” to which I replied “I bet you people love to ask that”, get plugged into monitor, lay and wait.  (Butt goes numb but it ain’t seen nothin’ yet) Go to procedure room, have things attached, an iodine wash where the leg is attached. It won’t look good in a swimsuit. I get draped, wait for CM to show. He poked his grinning face in the doorway at exactly 1:03 and cheerfully chirped “How are you?” How do you answer that one? “Oh, fine.” Ready to be punctured.

They claim I was sedated but what I think really happened is that Joy Juice Judy has her thumb on the trigger and dispenses it in increments —  the longer the procedure, the more she mashes the trigger.  CM pierced the femoral artery which I did not feel and started pumping in the dye. When I say “pumping” I mean he jumped up and lightly punched down on the entry site every time he wanted to see the arteries show up on the screen.

This is as gory as it gets.  The screen was even black and white.  I was able to watch and it was pretty cool to see the inside live.  I was wide awake according to me at the time meaning I had no idea how much Joy Juice Judy jammed.  But I’m pretty sure she was ready to shoot more if CM called out “hey, there’s some good stuff gumming up this one, gimme a stent!”  Instead he proclaimed me clear, replayed the video for me, turned me over to the plugger-upper guy, whipped off the glove and headed out the door before I could say “was it good for you”…. not even dinner?

At 1:35 they paraded me on my regal roley bed back to the beige curtained chamber of boredom where my audience awaited my return.  CM blew in, shook hands, said I had a beautiful heart of an 18 year old and arteries he could drive a truck through.  “So what are the chest pains and the other symptoms about?”  “Well, it isn’t your heart, so you know you’re not going to die from them.”   Now the investigation can continue at a more relaxed pace.  He went on to say he loves putting in stents — a man who enjoys his work, I guess because doing so helps those who need it — but could find no excuse to do so on me.  (sorry)

After he left and our friends left, it was just Honey and me, no TV.  He brought a book, I brought a book, the lady on the other side of the curtain was snoring, I couldn’t prop the book, snoozed off and on, and I wasn’t allowed to so much as flex my right leg for four solid continuous unbroken hours.  I can’t tell you how profoundly that lack of movement affects the posterior region to the point where you say what posterior region?

At 5pm I was told I could sit up until the RN was sure nothing was going to spurt, after which she let me walk to the potty after which I could get dressed and sign off on all the instructions regarding showering, eating, etc.  I am to sit or lay all day today, take a shower this afternoon if I want to (ya think so?), carefully remove the dressing late tomorrow, look for all sorts of weird anomalies like, oh, maybe green and blue streaks, redness, hard surface from internal bleeding. Okay, and have a nice day, then.

All is well so far at 1:20 Saturday.  And before I sign off here, I went to the email and read that our good friend Bill Blevins, a WWII vet, lost his fight against heart disease.  Last month when I went to the ER, our friend Jim was upstairs undergoing his own heart cath and was administered stents.  This time, but different hospital, I was undergoing my test while Bill was being taken to another ER.  I came home to the house last night, he went Home to his mansion in heaven this morning.

We all say how wonderful that day will be when we see Him face to face, but we want to go together.  Until that great day of the Rapture of the Church, we say goodbye one at a time.

Goodbye, Bill.  We’ll miss you, we’ll take good care of Peggy, and look forward to seeing you again in God’s timing.