Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: Lunch in Paris -- A Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard (Copyright 2010) (Back Bay Books / Little Brown and Company, 2010)

Paris.  Paris, France.  Who hasn't dreamed of traveling to Paris?  Ever dreamed of taking up life there on a permanent basis?

Always the sound of Paris in name alone fills us with thoughts of intriguing personalities, gastronomic delights and markets filled with fresh produce and breads and trinkets.  Never having traveled to Paris and likely won't in the near term, I opted to read Elizabeth Bard's memoir, Lunch in Paris -- A Love Story, with Recipes.

The first sentence of Chapter 1 caught my attention:

"I slept with my French husband
halfway through our first date."

Wild horses could not have kept me from diving into this highly entertaining and delightfully written story of Emily Bard's experiences as she makes the transition from America to France.  

The abundance of open air markets fills our protagonist's head with lofty ideas of cooking French meals as though she were a practiced chef.  Some of the best tips she received came from her soon-to-be-husband, Gwendal, cooking or later the two of them cooking together.

Fortunately for her readers, Bard has sprinkled throughout the book incredibly tempting recipes, most of which do not sound extremely difficult to prepare.  The taste buds are tempted at almost every page turn.

As much as this memoir is about Emily's experience transitioning between two cultures, it is also about Emily and Gwendal's relationship and the blending of lifestyles.  European with American.  The French laissez faire attitude toward life and how it impacts others vs. the traditional schedule keeping, budget maintaining, let's talk it over before we do it attitude of a lot of American types.  This latter includes our sweet Emily.

In my own humble opinion, this was one of the lightest and most delightful travel memoirs I've read.  The structure, characterization, and simple transition from chapter to chapter made this an easy read while feeling as if the reader had been transported to Paris.  I have no hesitation in recommending it to others.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Five-Minute Friday with Gypsy Mama: Gift

I love Five-Minute Friday with Gypsy Mama.  It gets my creative juices flowing.  It makes me free write for five minutes flat out about something.  Today the word is "gift."


Gift isn't hard to write about.  There are so many around me!  I think of our new great-grandson, Everett, a peach of a little fellow.  Now four months old.  A gift from God he is.

Then there's his big sister, Kylie, now three.  What a cutie she is!  Full of the joy of colors, especially pink and purple, dolls and books, coloring pictures.  A gift from God she is.

My husband, Bob.  Truly my gift from God.  Bob has been my partner, my friend, my lover for almost 31 years.  Through it all, he has been by my side.  He has cared for me through
seven, or is it eight, surgeries in the last decade.  He never complained.
A gift from God he is.

Then there are our children, Craig, Suzanne and Steve.  What more can parents ask for than three children grown, out in the world doing their jobs and growing families.  

And with them come the grandchildren -- Kory, Michael, Tyler and Alyssa.  Life has been filled with gifts, all from God.

The gift of springtime every year.  Filled with brilliant colors of blooming flowers and trees, the promise held in blue skies and sunlight, and the thought of fresh produce soon. 

And then there is the best gift of all -- the gift of God's Son, Jesus Christ.  
Sacrificed to die a brutal death on the cross for the sins of the world.  Yes, our sins.
  How can I not rejoice over this gift?  

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours
but also
for the sins of the whole world.
I John 2:2 (NIV)


Scripture verse and images added after the five minutes was finished.

Linking up with Gypsy Mama this morning.  Want you join us?

Idioms, an Interesting Ingredient in Language

Language and all its components isn't usually a table topic for us.  Today, however, I said something that caused my husband to stop dead in his tracks.

I received an offer from an editor to work with her.  I know several people with whom I can work and was saying so to my husband.  He questioned if I knew her.

"No, I don't know her from Adam's off ox, as my grandmother would say."

"What did you say?"  When I told him, he said he'd never heard of any such thing and what was it.

I decided we'd have a little language lesson.  I started with the fact that it was an idiom.  As defined on The Free Dictionary, an idiom is a noun meaning one of the following:

"1. A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, as in keep tabs on.
 . . .
3. Regional speech or dialect.
4.  a. A specialized vocabulary used by a group of people; jargon: legal idiom.  
 . . ."

"Adams' off ox" is definitely a regional expression arising in the South.  To get a clear picture of its origin and history, we did a search on World Wide Words and found an incredibly fascinating history of the expression. 

Usage of this unusual phrase dates back to 1784.  Michael Quinion, author of World Wide Words, provides an interesting piece on "Adams' off ox" here.  Please take some time to read this interesting item.

Once you've read the article on Adam's off ox, return here to look at the photograph to the left.  It gives a clear image of what Quinion describes.

Our discussion here at home ended in some good-natured laughter and teasing, my Pacific NW husband poking fun at the idioms found in the South.  And as always, I managed to get a few pokes in myself at some of the things heard in the NW.  

Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone,
but primarily by catchwords.
~~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rebirth, Renewal and Resurrection

spring song

By Lucille Clifton
the green of Jesus
is breaking the ground
and the sweet
smell of delicious Jesus
is opening the house and
the dance of Jesus music
has hold of the air and
the world is turning
in the body of Jesus and
the future is possible

Lucille Clifton, "spring song" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton.
Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton.  Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.
   I confess my first reading of this poem by Lucille Clifton was last evening.  In fact,
I'd never even heard of Lucille Clifton until I came across this one work of hers.

   As I read the words, I was instantly reminded of the renewal we experience in these
first days of spring.  Of course, the renewal of the earth is pricking away at our

daffodils pushing up through the snow,

blue skies, high clouds and the sun breaking through,

trees long since appearing dead sharing new green leaves, and

the first dogwood blossoms opening before Easter.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NLT)

   Like the rest of God's creation, coming to life again in spring, we too have been given the gift of rebirth and renewal with the gift of God's Son, Jesus.

Sharing over at The Grace Cafe with Joan

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Am I on My Knees Enough?

"Come, let us bow down in worship, 
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of
his pasture, the flock under his care."

When was the last time I was down on my knees?  Probably to look for something that rolled under a piece of furniture.

When was the last time I bowed down in worship, even in my heart, except on Sunday mornings?  Can I even remember?

These are simple enough acts of respect and worship, and yet likely none of us commits them as often as we know we should.  Often, we give more lip service than kneeling service.

As a little girl growing up, I can remember peeking in my parents' doorway at night and seeing my mom on her knees.  Later in her mid 80s, she still got down on those knees, stiff and sore, even though it was a struggle.  The only thing that kept her from saying her prayers on her knees until her last breath was drawn was her immobility.

Why as a teenager was I embarrassed by her show of respect and humility before her Lord?  Because I didn't understand perhaps, or because I didn't want to understand.  The question begs some deep inward reflection.

Today, as a grandma and great-grandma, I pray every day but in a more comfortable position than on my knees.  Do I have an excuse for not bowing down or kneeling?  No.  

Have we, in our too fast, instant messaging, texting world reached a point where we can't even take the time to humble ourselves before our Lord and Savior to raise our petitions in prayer?  Perhaps we can hold off that next IM, Tweet or Facebook post for just a little while longer, and get down on our knees.  

After all, God just gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to bleed and die on a cross for our sins.  And we don't take the time to kneel and bow down?  Isn't it time we think about what we who have been saved by the Blood of the Lamb could and should be doing to say thank you?

Maybe it's time to get our knees dirty and bow our heads down low.

Photo credit:  Sprinkled Joy

(Psst . . . I know today's Wednesday; I'm just late getting over to Write It, Girl.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Sandwich Kid, Part III

In my last installment of The Sandwich Kid, I introduced you to my younger brother, Brad.  He was for all of us a life changing experience.  Brad didn't then, and still doesn't now, know the meaning of the word "calm," "slow," or "take it easy."  Always on the go, something always cooking, Brad is a man of many talents and uses them constantly.

Did I mention that he was our dad's pride and joy?  You see Brad was Dad's first boy born to him.  Our older brother, Gene, and Dad had a tremendous relationship.  Gene always referred to Dad as his father too, but Gene was the product of mama's first marriage.

So, Brad comes along when Dad is 53.  Yes, you read that correctly -- age 53!  I remember Dad telling everyone that God had blessed him like Abraham, in his old age.  For a long time, eight-year old me wondered what that meant.

God visited Sarah exactly as he said he would; God did to Sarah what
he promised: Sarah became pregnant and gave Abraham a son in his old age,
and at the very time God had set.  Abraham named him Isaac.
When his son was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him just as God had commanded.

Perhaps this is behind Brad's call to the pulpit and preaching?  Not for us to know but it was something Dad said over and over.  And now I understand the blessing Dad saw in this baby boy.

Of course, being the only girl between two boys and not at all happy about this second one, it hurt my feelings to hear my daddy talking so proudly about this wrinkled, wiggling, red-faced from crying baby boy! 

And this baby boy began to grow . . .  yep, somebody was feeding him and it was taking! 
By 1959, at age five, Brad was firmly ensconced in his boy persona -- a rough and tumble cowboy lived out under the sycamore tree, while the house was filled with vroom, vroom! and all forms of cars and trucks.  Not to mention, a Lionel train lived under his bed.

Not only was my life being impacted by a five-year old brother, our older brother had his own son, now seven years old.  Where had all the girls gone?

I had no interest in the games boys played.  I liked my dolls, roller skates, Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables.

Whose idea was it that I'd be stuck in the middle of so many boys?  What could I do but try to exist?  Well, I made the best of it, as you'll see in the next installment of my life as a middle child.

I hope you'll come back and continue this journey with me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Heart Full of Thanks -- Counting One Thousand Gifts (386-399)

Continuing to count One Thousand Gifts with Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience, an exceptional way of thanking God through every single moment of life!

386.  Safe travel these last weeks.
387.  Incredible week of weather -- from warm spring days to snow and hail to rain and cold, but still in God's hands.
388.  Trips down memory lane as we shuffle through boxes of treasures in the attic.
389.  Old photographs.
390.  Sharing laughter and tears together for many reasons.
391.  Our daily devotion and prayer time together as husband and wife.
392.  Isaiah 40:31.
393.  Praying friends and praying for friends.
394.  Amazing worship service on Sunday.
395.  The beginning of Jesus' journey to the cross over the next two weeks.
396.  A friend's reunion with a child given up for adoption 16 years ago.
397.  Online friends I've never met face-to-face who are so faithful.
398.  Sparrows perching outside the window.
399.  Squirrels chattering about who knows what!

Hope you'll stop by and count with us over at Ann's site, A Holy Experience.  It's an incredible experience.

Enjoy the above free printable from Mother Letters.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fresh Brewed Sundays: {Renewal}


Do you not know?   Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,  the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint. 
~~ Isaiah 40:27-31 (NIV 1984)

Lately, we've been on the road a lot more than usual traveling out of town to help family in the midst of a serious medical situation.  Oh, how I've been tempted to complain about my travel weary bones, my body that longs for my bed, meals cooked in my own kitchen my own way, my home being ignored.  But it isn't my way right now, it's God's way for me.  This week in a meeting this Scripture was shared and opened for discussion.  God spoke so clearly through these words:  That he will renew my strength; my body will receive rest; I will not faint; eagles' wings will lift me up!  

Linking up with Barbie over at My Freshly Brewed Life for

Photo credit (top):  Wallpaper4God 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Review: Stones from the River by Urusula Hegi (@ 1994) (Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1995)

Ursula Hegi writes the story of Trudi Montag, a Zwerg -- a dwarf -- different from everyone in her world with great compassion and true sense of understanding who Trudi is and what her struggles are.

Trudi's story is set in the small town of Burgdorf in Germany.  It is 1915 and as the story begins, almost all the men of Burgdorf are at the eastern front fighting a war.  The women are in control of their homes, children and even the town.  And this is the world Trudi is born into.

These women care for the infant Trudi -- her mother is mentally ill and shows no interest in the tiny babe.  

From the outset Trudi's differences are quickly noted.  Her eyes look older than those of an infant.  She is stout, her head looking larger than her body.  Early in her childhood Trudi comes to believe that everyone can know, just as she does, what is going on inside everyone else.

Hegi continues Trudi's story through both World Wars, interspersing vignettes involving other characters who impact Trudi in a variety of ways -- loving, hurtful and compromising ways.

Despite her setbacks and differences, Trudi faces up to and conquers many difficult situations.  It is a story of courage, determination and strength.

Hegi has delivered an epic work in Trudi's story -- a story applicable to our own times.  Written with a candor that holds the reader's interest, Hegi touches on the core of the Nazi's desire to eliminate those they deemed less than human.  Differences have always existed between the peoples of our world, and they continue to exist.  Trudi's story brings to harsh reality the truth of our humanity to man.  This is a work for all time.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where, Oh Where Is Spring?

April Rain Song
By Langston Hughes

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night—

And I love the rain.

Yesterday was the first day of spring.  Today in Portland the high was 39.
Those "silver liquid drops" Langston Hughes refers to in his poem,
April Rain Song, were falling all around. 

Three hours away in Eugene there was seven inches of snow.  Surrounding areas had
varying amounts.  Snow this near the end of March is unusual.

And still the daffodils and primroses are blooming, perhaps bending their heads low in
the rain and cold.  Such brilliant spots of color in the dark, cold, gray days. 


Other parts of the country are enjoying spring and summer weather.  The Pacific NW is still waiting.  How amazing that God has planned and planted this earth and the seasons.
No matter that things get off schedule.  

In the end, it will work out just as God planned.  I don't mind waiting.

Langston Hughes, "April Rain Song" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photo credits:
Top:  Examiner
Middle:  Register Guard
Bottom:  Flower Garden Bulbs

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Guest Post -- Welcoming Ann Best Today

Today I am hosting my first guest post.  I am pleased that Ann Best agreed to be my first guest.  Ann is one of many writers who inspire me.  However, Ann's recipe for inspiration is blended with a sprinkling of courage, a large serving of love, and immense hope not only with respect to her writing but to life in general.  Just the recipe all beginning writers need!

Welcome to my blog, Ann. It is a joy and honor to share this space with you. 

A small press, WiDo Publishing, accepted my memoir In the Mirror, back in December of 2010. It was a long and interesting process that took place at a time when the publishing industry began going through massive changes. It was a major change in my life in other ways, too. Because I was housebound with my disabled daughter, my only means of marketing was through the Internet, so I had to learn how to blog.

There were times when I felt like my seventy-year-old brain was stretched to the limit! So much so that I didn’t think I could ever self-publish. However, at my age, I didn’t want to wait years to publish something else; and I knew that a novella would be a tough sell, especially one that didn’t fall in one of the “popular” genres.

But I had a novella in my files, Svetlana Garetova’s story.

I met Svetlana in 1997 when she was a fill-in aide for my disabled daughter, for a week. On day one, I told her I was interested in miracles and angels stories for a book I was writing. After showering my daughter, she started telling me how she came to America. Instantly I knew she had a dramatically compelling story. I stopped her. “I’ve got to record this,” I said, and got out my tape recorder.

 I spent several days transcribing what she told me into story form. But I never did the miracles and angels book, and so her story sat in my file for years. Then last fall when I got it out, I thought, This really is fascinating.

But I’m getting older by the minute, and don’t have the time or patience to query publishers. And so, because I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, I decided to self-publish it, partly to see if I could do it. I couldn’t do a cover on my own. I absolutely can NOT figure out PhotoShop. So a friend came to my rescue. She said she would do it for free, but I paid her anyway.

This was all I had to pay. From a lifetime of reading and writing, and with my editing and proofreading skills, I knew I could produce an error-free manuscript. I just needed some readers who would tell me if something didn’t make sense.

After they gave me their feedback, I went through the manuscript again and again to make sure everything did make sense, and then I had to figure out how to format it for uploading. It took time, but Mark Coker’s Smashwords guide is designed for dummies like me. Up it went on Smashwords.

However, getting it uploaded to Amazon was another problem. I finally used one of the programs suggested in Amazon’s style guide, MobiPocket Creator.

Through a lot of trial and error, it worked!

The last time I saw Svetlana in 2005, she said I could do whatever I wanted to with her story. I think she’d be pleased with the way it turned out.

Brief Synopsis: When Svetlana Garetova flies with her four-year-old son from Moscow in Russia to Salt Lake City in America for a visit with Jimmy Rafael, she becomes very ill. He nurses her to back to health, but when she recovers, she realizes with horror that she has missed the deadline in Moscow to pay protection money for her businesses. Her distraught mother tells her that she would be safer in America, and when Jimmy says he will marry her, she accepts his proposal even though she barely knows him and has some misgivings. On their wedding night, she discovers who he really is, and that she and her son are almost prisoners in his house. She must find a way to escape, and people to help them.

You can download a sample from the beginning of the book on Amazon. (   [This also links to In the Mirror])

You can also read a sample of it on my blog post, a scene that’s from the middle of the book, the most dramatic scene in the story. (link to the post:


Thank you, Ann!  I appreciate your taking the time away from your busy world to share with us today.  Wishing you continued success with your writing and publishing.

Please take the time to visit Ann's blog, where Ann offers not only her own perspective on writing and self-publishing but also the best of other writers and published authors. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Heart Full of Thanks -- Counting One Thousand Gifts (377-385)

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews
who had come along with her also weeping,
he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
“Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 

Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 

The Gospel of John is rich.  And it contains the shortest verse in all of Scripture:  "Jesus wept."  Only two words. Only nine letters.  Yet that short verse speaks volumes to Jesus' compassion not only for Lazarus' sisters, but also his compassion for us.

In times of trouble, we seek answers and understanding to situations we may not fully understand.  We question:  Why I am the one to have this disease or this problem?  Why am I the one who can't do everything I used to do?  Why am I the one diagnosed with an insidious disease?  Why did I lose my job?  Why is my home in jeopardy?  Why, why, why???  Likely, we shed tears as we shout angrily at the world, family and friends and sometimes even God.  

Jesus sees our tears.  He hears our anger and despair.  He knows our burdens.  And he comes to us with compassion and yes, love.  In the verses above, Jesus saw one of Lazarus' sisters weeping as well as the Jews who came with her.  Seeing their tears, he was "deeply moved in spirit."  

In our own times of trouble, no matter the source, Jesus sees our tears, hears our anger, and he is moved to touch us with his compassion and love. 

Photo credit above:  Central Church Cambridge

Continuing to count One Thousand Gifts:

377.  Jesus' compassion and love for us, no matter what.
378.  Understanding of family needs and wants.
379.  Daffodils and crocus blooming bright yellows.
380.  First hyacinth blossoms, purple for the season of Lent.
381.  Safe travel this last week.
382.  Children who care.
383.  Safety of a daughter and grandson.
384.  Joyful acceptance by the next generation of family treasures.
385.  Season of Lent.

We're all counting over at Ann Voskamp's site, A Holy Experience.  Won't you stop by and join us?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Should I, or Shouldn't I?

That is the question I ask myself all too often, especially as it relates to entering writing competitions.  One answer to my constant questioning is the fear of not measuring up, a crack in my character left there by my mother's constant "you can't."

After all, I'm a grown up now, even a great-grandma, so I should be able to get past that one. But there's also the lingering doubt that I probably won't win so why waste the time.  Good point!

However, isn't it also good practice to write and try submitting pieces?  Isn't it worth my time to find out what others think of my writing?  Well . . . oh, stop that!

Yes, I should try and what if I'm rejected, lose the contest, or just don't measure up.  The bonus in this whole exercise is that I will have had some practice.  And doesn't practice make perfect?  We need to put that idiom to work in all this.

And I know this.  Taking piano lessons starting at age six, it was literally drilled into my mind that practice should happen often and with great effort on my part.  Recently, my flute instructor and I talked about the need to practice every day.  Every day?  Yes, every day.

So, if I equate trying by submitting my writing to contests here, there and yon to practicing, it perhaps won't be so frightening.  Forget the part about judges reading your work, the other writers submitting pieces, the silence when you hear nothing . . . after all, it's part of practicing my chosen craft.

Sigh . . . I feel better now.  How about you?

Q4U:  How do you feel about submitting your work, whether to contests, magazines, perhaps for an anthology, etc.?  I'd love it if you shared your thoughts in a comment below.

Photo credits:
Question mark:
Practice Makes Perfect:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt (Boston; New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1900)

Helping my husband locate a book on an adjacent library shelf, I picked up this book and loved every page of The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932).

Because I'm a "multiple book reader" (usually four or more going at a time), it took me longer than it should have based on the writer's ability to keep the reader's interest.  The subject matter is, for me personally, a topic I'm drawn to because of an interest in the history of the South and of the African-American slaves.

Chesnutt tackles the issue of "passing" in the post-Civil War South.  "Passing" was the tradition among light-skinned or mulattos to pass for white, although ethnically they were considered to be Negroes.

The main characters in The House Behind the Cedars are brother and sister, John and Rena Walden.  The novel is set in Patesville (most likely Fayetteville, NC).  It is interesting to note that Chesnutt's family moved to Fayetteville when he was but six years old.

The intricacies of the brother and sister's attempt to "pass" is handled in a most compassionate way by Chestnutt.  His writing style is of another time and place, casting this book in the category I would call great literature.  Many readers today might not particularly care for the structure of the work itself, but it cannot be denied that Chestnutt has put to the page a most fascinating topic in a fascinating choice of language and style.

Finding this amazing piece of literature that has so long been hidden from view except as a classroom assignment was a superlative moment for me. I consider it tragic that more people have not been exposed to the subject matter or to Chesnutt's writing style. After turning the last page, I held the book closely and said aloud, "I don't want to return this one to the library!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Sandwich Kid, Part II

Last time in Part I of my story as the middle child, you met my older brother, Gene.  For all time, my hero, someone I looked up to, and yes, even idolized at points in time.  Dreamed dreams of the romantic kind about his friends.  After all, there was 14 years difference in our ages (writer smiles here).

Me, mom and Brad (1954-55)
And then along came Brad, my younger by eight years little brother.  I remember the night he was born -- the disruption in my life began right then and there.

Awakened by my folks in the middle of the night, carted off by my uncle to his house, my impression of this little boy could not have been worse!

Morning came with dad arriving at my aunt and uncle's home beaming from ear to ear.  A man with two daughters from a previous marriage and a little girl eight years old, dad felt like God had blessed him like Abraham in his old age.  I truly couldn't see that this was such a big deal.

In those days (for those of you much younger), newborns and their mamas stayed in the hospital almost a week before coming home.  But come home they eventually did.

Brad didn't sleep.  He cried like a banshee in the night, all night.  And this is not just a child-like opinion.  He had medical issues not clear at the time -- enlarged tonsils and adenoids, which couldn't be removed until a few years had passed.  This meant he couldn't nurse well and breathing while lying down was difficult.  My parents would sit up holding him, while he cried, just so he could breathe and calm down.

Needless to say, I wasn't pleased to hear the words "shh, baby's sleeping" each time Brad slipped into slumber.  Mad would best describe my reaction.  Add to that the sweet things by everyone who came by to visit -- he's such a boy, so cute, so sweet, adorable, precious -- and I became totally disgusted with this crying, wrinkled little being.

Enter bad behavior!  Not that I was the perfect child, but what I'm about to describe was totally out of character for me.  I had heard enough and decided to do something about it.

Mom and dad had a beautiful suite of mahogany bedroom furniture.  In the beautiful wood on top of the nightstand, I proceed to carve with the point of a ballpoint pen, "Shhhhhhhh, baby's sleeping!!!!!!!"

Oh, the punishment rendered was painful but my satisfaction at having sent my message was delicious.  Imagine my horror when my parents never had the top of the nightstand repaired.  Yes, when we cleared out the house that last time after mom's death in 2001, there was my message for all the world to see.

Don't forget to tune back in soon for Part III of The Sandwich Kid!

Photo credit:  Bargain John's Antiques

Linking up on Tuesdays in March with Write it, Girl.  Come on over and check out whose writing!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Heart Full of Thanks -- Counting One Thousand Gifts (365-376)

On Saturday, I read with interest Mark D. Roberts' post for Daily Reflections at The High Calling.  Roberts' reflections on Psalm 118 almost brought me to my knees.  Questions began whirling in my head and heart:  Do I always give God the glory?  Do I seek my own selfish satisfaction of being in the spotlight?  Do I seek compliments upon my accomplishments in church activities?  Do I stop and even think that the glory isn't mine?  And the questions went on! 

I want to share with you the prayer that concluded Roberts' post on Saturday.  It's one I hope I never forget . . . .

Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
     but to your name goes all the glory
     for your unfailing love and faithfulness.
May you be glorified, Lord, in my work.
May you be glorified in my family.
May you be glorified in all of my relationships.
May you be glorified in my earning and my spending.
May you be glorified in my public life and my private life.
May you be glorified in my church.
May you be glorified in every bit of my life.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
     but to your name goes all the glory
     for your unfailing love and faithfulness. Amen


Counting again today with Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience:

365.  God's Son who died for our sins.
366.  Prayer, so simple and yet sometimes so hard.
367.  Calling to minister in caregiving.
368.  Niece and nephew answering the call to serve in Nigeria.
369.  Another niece answering God's call by teaching in Russia.
370.  Two days of warm, sunny weather this past week.
371.  Memories being discovered in dusty old boxes.
372.  The love of my life and all he does for me.
373.  Safety for our daughter and her son as they returned from Indiana.
374.  Our daughter-in-law so full of compassion and giving.
375.  Friends I've never met who are praying for our family.
376.  Glorious goodness of God.

Won't you come on over to Ann's place and join us in sharing the gifts God has placed in your life this last week?

A Holy Experience
Photo credit:  Wednesday Night Service

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Know What Verbal Abuse Is . . .

and over the past few days, the media have shown us that some of today's advertisers seem to know what verbal abuse is too.

In the Washington Post earlier today, a column appears regarding Rush Limbaugh's verbal attack on Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke, who testified on behalf of women everywhere regarding contraception. 

No matter your religious or political views, Ms. Fluke was entitled to appear as any U.S. citizen should be to voice her opinions regarding women's health care.

Unfortunately, Ms. Fluke became the object of verbal abuse rendered by an unbounded vitriolic flow from Rush Limbaugh, radio talk show host.  His words were so strong and hurtful to women in general that they will not be repeated here.

Several of Limbaugh's advertisers immediately began pulling their support for his program.  Limbaugh decided an apology was in order, one which to my ears sounded self-serving and which Ms. Fluke rejected.

As a victim of verbal abuse in my childhood, I wanted to speak out here about the impact of any form of verbal abuse -- marital, parental, educational, religious, and I could go on.  In my situation, I experienced parental verbal abuse in the words my mother used to control me.  Yes, it was painful, and yes, it scarred me.  But the scars are hidden from clear sight -- no one knows they are there but me.

And like Rush Limbaugh, each time my mother's words seared my soul and left me feeling smaller than small she came with hugs and kisses and apologies.  Over and over again.  I soon learned not to believe her apologies as they were so disingenuous, like Limbaugh's to Ms. Fluke.  I decided I'd rather keep the scars.

“It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree.
The wounds remain.  In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers
them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
Rose Kennedy

Friday, March 9, 2012

Everything Feels So Empty

Today I'm linking up with Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday.  I don't usually post on Fridays, but recently I've been trying to work on freewriting and opportunities like Five Minute Friday provide that arena for me.  When I saw the word "empty" on Gypsy Mama's post, I knew right away I had to write today!


Everything feels so empty.  Our family has recently been slammed with a diagnosis of an illness in my husband's brother that has devastated us.  We've been travelling recently to Jim and Helen's home about five hours away to help with downsizing as they prepare to move.  Jim's health requires this move, as Helen can't keep the pace caring for him and their home too.

As they point to what we should take for ourselves, an emptiness pervades the room.  How can we take what has been their treasure?  How can we not pay them something for a piece so valuable?  And yet, they insist.  We come home with boxes of their treasures to unpack, some to keep, some to pass on to other family, some to donate somewhere.  Everything feels empty, like we're pouring all the water from the pitcher.  

Jim's illness is emptying him out too.  He was diagnosed a year ago with Parkinson's but last week we learned from a specialist that it's Parkinson's with Lewy body dementia.  The dementia has attacked Jim's mind like a freight train without brakes.  The person we knew is gone, empty of much thought and recognition.  How can it be this man is becoming empty?  Or is he?  We don't know.

But God's promise is that with him in our lives we will never be empty.  If that's so, how is it we feel empty, we see empty, we sense empty?  It's because there will always be trials and tribulations, sorrows and grief, struggles that cause us to feel empty.  Yet, if we reach for God's hand and love, we will be filled again and again, and capable of moving forward away from the emptiness.

"'Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone
who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.'"

John 7:38 (The Message)


[Images and verses added after 5 minutes.]

Photo credit:
See you over at Gypsy Mama's for Five Minute Friday.  Give it a try!
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