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Sunday grace

As the fog clears from my brain early this morning, I remember her. It’s her birthday.

I plug in the coffee pot and turn the numbers on my perpetual calendar to November 4. And I think of that day 18 years ago when she entered this world.

I missed being at the hospital, thinking we had plenty of time to get there. Her three-and-a-half-year old sister was brought to us in the night while mommy, daddy, and the second set of grandparents hurried to labor and delivery.

I carried a pager in those days, and that was the thing that alerted me to the news. I listened to the message of “we have a baby girl,” with a mixture of joy at her arrival and disappointment at missing this important moment.

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I suppose I made up for that one time not being there by being here in the house next door to hers. For ten years she lived close enough for me to hear her playing in their yard, to see her wave and shout, “Hi Grammy.”

I found two pictures recently of the lane in front of our house, and I wondered why I had taken them with no apparent reason. Then I spied three tiny figures walking toward our house. With a magnifying glass I could see them, my three grandchildren, ages three, four and seven on their way to Grammy and Papaw’s for who knows what kind of adventures. Hot cocoa, dress up, games, books – these were possibilities. She was the one out front, skipping along while her older sister held the youngest by the hand. Sweet remembrance.

They always brought the sunshine when the door opened to them, whether they came by one or by three.

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We two are miles apart now. I miss getting to celebrate with this special young woman today. Our connection is the Birthday Box I priority mailed to arrive in time. It contains items I hope will please her, and a sealed zip bag of my special hot cocoa mix, because that is a memory we hold and my Happy Birthday wish across the miles.

She’s a busy girl now, with school, choir, friends and family activities.  She’s beautiful and graceful, funny and creative, loving and her own unique self. I’m happy that she is happy, flourishing, and becoming.

But I miss her. Especially today. On her birthday.

So I pray a blessing to the Father who knows no distance. Whose hand reaches mine and touches hers. The One who holds her life in His strong hand and knows the way He plans for her to go.

I trust and believe that He hears my prayers for her. His heart is tender towards mine and the longing I feel. He sees the tears that gather in my eyes even as I write.

My Father’s heart is tender towards her too, His love far greater than mine can ever be. He has a future for her, and He will guide her to it.

“I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. 
Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have Breath.”
Psalm 116:1-2, NLT

Sunday grace.

Celeste, tulsa oct 2018 (2)

 

 

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July 2018 ending

The garden explodes with color in mid summer, heat and rain creating bookends to an occasional temperature-perfect day. The flowers are the reward for my years of plantings. And they are coming up everywhere, even in the walkway.

Pink ladies (aka naked ladies) appear in unexpected places. The first blooms of morning glories signal late summer, their vines wrapping spindles on the deck. My few tomato plants tease me with their blooms and still-green fruit. Thankfully, I have discovered a local farmer’s market where I purchase tomatoes that taste the way a tomato is supposed  to taste.

The Canadian geese have returned to the lake across the road after being gone for months. Though they look like adult geese, I think they are the family of hatchlings seen in the spring. The younger ones are smaller and the largest goose is still very protective. They all fly now, coming and going at will, forming the signature V as if they practice for a long trip southward. It’s the beautiful cycle of nature, and I get to observe it from spring to fall.

The hummingbirds have been active at the feeder on the deck. They provide entertainment when it’s cool enough to sit on the glider. Maisie keeps trying to catch one. The female sits calmly and sips. The male flits around like he is on vigil and extremely alert. Kind of reminds me of a couple I know (here at the Wright House).

As in the cold of winter, we tell our Maisie that she is a lucky dog, living in controlled temperatures and feeding from our hands. Rescued from the streets of Mississippi, she has a happy home with us who dote over her.  In addition to loving to walk the lane and investigate every smell like a roving reporter, Maisie takes her place on the deck with her nose to the lattice watching for the neighbors’ dogs or the rabbits that drive her to whimpers of longing.

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Among the books read this month, one on CD that has been extremely long but interesting, is Dearie, the Remarkable Life of Julia Child. It reminded me of seeing her on TV many years ago. Her story is amazing considering she didn’t learn to cook until she was in her thirties. The book stirred my interest in all things Julia. I checked out Mastering the Art of French Cooking, perusing the detailed recipes, and I will revisit Julie and Julia on DVD from my library. I even purchased a used copy of The French Chef, which includes the recipes of her innovative cooking show first aired on educational television in the 1960s.

I’d really like to master a few of those recipes, especially the omelet and souffle. A copper bowl many be in my future, hopefully found at a thrift store.

Speaking of, my favorite thrift store is gone. Yes, gone, lock, stock, and barrel, and without my notice. I drove there with a friend this month, us excited at what we might discover, and the store was empty. I was devastated. Where am I going to find the things I need at the price I am willing to pay? I’ve gone there several times with a list in hand, and found exactly what I wanted, walking out feeling quite satisfied with my bargain purchases.

I had been looking for a gently used percolator there for several months. As a result of my store disappearing, I went to ebay, where I found a vintage Corning Ware percolator like Sweet William’s parents used when he was a teenager. I’m always experimenting to make that perfect cup of coffee. I’ve tweaked my methods to gain that rich coffee flavor I enjoy. I’m loving the somewhat old-fashioned way of preparing the pot and hearing the familiar perk. I think of my mother and dad, the many pots of coffee made at their home and how it is part of my heritage. Perhaps that is why I often approach a new friend with “Would you like meet for coffee?”

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This month I got creative for Independence Day. I made a door hanging of red and white ribbons and lace paired with denim and buttons in honor of the Flag of America. Long may she wave! I will gladly pledge allegiance to a country that has offered me so much freedom. Brave men and women have fought and died for my rights to make choices and live free. I will honor them and my county by standing and placing my hand over my heart as I sing the Star Spangled Banner.

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I celebrated my birthday and our son’s birthday this month. In his birthday box I included copies of old pictures, black and whites of his grandparents when they were in their twenties perhaps, him with his Granny and Gramps when he was young, one of him at about seven with his dad. They stirred memories in both of us.

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Sweet William and I have been on a learning curve with our very first smart phones. We have finally gotten the hang of Google Maps, which was the main reason for purchasing the phones. GPS is amazing!

We traveled from one appointment to another last week and were uncertain of our route, so we turned on The Voice of Google Maps (I’ve yet to give her our own personal name). She directed us easily and tried to route us to a simpler way, which we did not heed, not quite trusting her yet. Later we found out she was right and we should have listened. Now she is my hero.

Sweet William and I have decided we need to trust that voice in our phones though we cannot see her and don’t understand how she can tell us which way to turn. How does she know all that?

How much more should I trust a marvelous, huge God who designed me and the world I live in, who planned from the beginning to the end, and knows the way that I take? How can I put my confidence in a voice in a digital machine, and not trust the Sovereign Creator of the universe. It just doesn’t compute.

Sometime I’ve not heeded His voice because of my lack of faith in Him. Later I learned that I should have listened to Him. He is altogether trustworthy. When He speaks, I need to pay attention.

A favorite quote this month is:

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope and as old as your despair.”
— Douglas MacArthur

Having managed to live another year old this month, staying young as long as I can is a theme. Faith, confident trust in my God, and hope seem to be key.

  • Let me live as young as my hope.

Monday grace

I wake to the alarm, walk to the kitchen to make coffee, open the window and feel some little coolness. The dark liquid begins to flow into the pot and I remember: It’s my birthday.

How can I be this old when I still feel the same age on the inside?

I looked on the world wide web to search the day of the week I was born and this poem came to mind:

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

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While I was a Saturday child, my experiences have encompassed each day of the week. Haven’t we all?

Birthdays make me contemplative. Deep thoughts swirl and twirl and pull up scenes from the past. I remember a few simple parties when I was young, my mother and dad being the focus of my life, an only and beloved child.  I’m reminded how becoming an adult changed birthdays, because there are responsibilities and work to be done even if it is your special day.

The first birthday after my mother died was hard. She made it significant. She remembered, even if everyone else forgot. Birthdays were never quite the same without her thoughtful touch on the day.

There was one birthday not too long ago when Sweet William was recovering from one of many surgeries in a span of three years.  I expected nothing, but he’d arranged with some of the nurses to have surprises for me when I got to the hospital. It was especially meaningful.

There have been times when friends remembered me with cards and gifts, and I was shocked that they knew and took such sweet initiative to make me feel special.

I recall the year I turned sixty, coming home after a day of work, and being surprised by my precious ones who then lived next door. They came to celebrate. The grandchildren made a cardboard birthday cake for me, and I wore it as a hat. It became the symbol I coaxed each of them to wear as they celebrated their birthdays that year. It is a tender memory today as I look at those dearly loved faces.

Sweet William and I pre-celebrated simply on Saturday, and we anticipate dinner with good friends this evening. We will feast on their fellowship as well as the good food. And we will eat cake! Or something sweet and delicious.

I expect calls from those precious ones I long for who are miles away, sweet wishes bathed in love, their voices the gift I crave more than anything.

I have penciled dates on my calendar, plans with more precious people in the coming days. I intend to savor this birthday week as much as I can.

While there are projects I need to do, I sit and think and type away and look at pictures and remember, sipping on the second pot of coffee. The projects will be there tomorrow, of this I’m sure.

The plants have been watered, breakfast cooked and cleared away, bed made. I will do chores as needed while music plays sweetly on the CD player. It is another day in my life, a day to be lived. It is a time to be treasured, a moment to worship, because I will not pass this way again.

Life is a gift, to be lived joyously, to be treasured. Our days are determined by God alone. He will decide when it is enough.

Until then, let me live, strengthened by the grace of Christ Jesus.

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Sunday grace

This day.  It’s Sweet William’s birthday, and I think of the grace of God.

I’ve lived with this man longer than I lived without him. We’ve been through so much together. There have been hard roads and there have been joyful celebrations. It is the way of a life.

How is it that we have come to this place in time? We have been shaped and molded by our experiences. We have weathered storms, and though battered and bruised, we have come through victorious. By grace.

We have celebrated life together, cried at death together, and intend to walk together for as many days as the Lord gives us.

What to do for a birthday at this age when we have celebrated so many times? We have given the gifts and signed the Hallmark cards. God has blessed us beyond what we deserve.

And it is all grace.

If not for God’s grace, we would not be celebrating a birthday today. I am convinced of it.

So we will celebrate. Celebrate life. Celebrate goodness and mercy. Celebrate the boundless generosity of a Savior who gave us all so that we could join the family.

By grace alone, we were given life to live to the full. Thanks be to God for His amazing gift of life, Sweet William’s life.

Sunday grace.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to me

My birthday is tomorrow. I started celebrating yesterday.

My philosophy about birthdays is this: The older I get, the longer I get to celebrate. It works for me. So this year I started early.

Sweet William took me to get my birthday present, two pots of lovely yellow knock-out roses. They remind me of a primrose blossom. I have a spot picked out in the garden that will be just right for them.

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Next was the grocery where I had a birthday epiphany. Ice Cream. Let the celebration begin! I found peanut-butter-chocolate on sale and headed to the cookie isle for a generic Nutter Butter cookie. After lunch, Sweet William crushed the cookies and mixed the ice cream with them – I love that man – and we had our own version of a Blizzard.

This morning I baked biscuits, from my mother’s recipe, and topped them with jam made by a friend. I think of my mother in the days leading up to my birthday. I miss her especially when the day arrives. She taught me to cook and cook well. And for that Sweet William is very thankful.

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Today I made a Plum Cake, pulling the recipe from my stash of those tried and true. Everyone should have a birthday cake, even if she has to make it herself.

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Tomorrow, we will visit a church where a younger friend is a member. She is scheduled to sing in the service, and I love her and her voice. Then we plan to visit a young man in rehab who needs to know he is loved and that prayers are being lifted heavenward for him. No agenda. No message to give. We simply want to show we care.

I’m trying to figure out being this age. It’s taken a lot of years to get here. My experiences are showing on my face, fine lines deepening more than I like. My silver hair seems to be even lighter and a bit thinner. I have aches and pains regularly and especially after a day in the gardens.

I am changing eyeglass prescription more frequently, and the trifocals make me squint sometimes, just trying to find a place of clarity. My hearing is still good and my mind is clear, thank the Lord.

My figure is fuller than it used to be and in odd places. And that information about gravity pulling everything down? It’s a real thing.

I can’t put in the same hours of work I did a decade ago. That’s frustrating. I’m not as busy I as I used to be. I’m OK with that.

I wish I had kept a journal more consistently when I was younger. Those events I thought I would remember easily? I don’t. When I read old journals I am surprised at what I’ve forgotten.

Life is still sweet. I appreciate the simple and the small. Friendships are deep, us having been through years of trials and loss, blessing and triumphs together. New relationships are exciting now that I am more comfortable with who I am. I can be myself, and I don’t have to strive to impress.

I’ve learned to be a better listener without trying to fix the problem.

I’ve found God to be trustworthy through these years. I do not understand Him or His ways, and I’m coming to accept that more. He is beyond comprehension. I still wonder why He loves me like He does, and how His grace can be so inexhaustible.

I still treasure the Bible and believe it to be true. In an ever-changing world of science, technology,  medicine, philosophy, and the latest idea, the words of Scripture are reliable. They speak a steadfast truth in a world that constantly wants to change the meaning of truth.

I’ve never wanted to live my life over. Why would I want to go through all that again? We often wish we knew “back then” what we know now. Wouldn’t that be a lot simpler? But I think we only get the wisdom to understand as we live through this life. I’ve learned through the living.

If I had the chance, what would I say to my younger self, the one who was in her twenties, thought she knew most of the answers and didn’t have a clue?

  • Slow down and smell the roses. Pay attention to the little things.
  • Don’t worry about the dust on the furniture. It is not a life and death issue.
  • Invite people over more without cleaning the house first.
  • Play with children and welcome them into your life. They show us how to live in the moment.
  • Laugh a lot. Sing out loud. Move to the rhythm.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. It is healing to your body.
  • Put those photographs in good albums that won’t fade the memories.
  • Slow dance with your husband.
  • Listen well to your friends and family and neighbors and anyone who needs an ear.
  • Save some money and spend some money. Plan for the future because it is coming.
  • Buy quality not just what is on sale. It will last longer.
  • Memorize Scripture while the brain is young. Memorize poetry too.
  • Let go of hurts and don’t hold grudges. Forgive and get over it.
  • Don’t worry about what other people are thinking of you. They aren’t. They are thinking about themselves.
  • Take good care of your skin. It’s got to last a long time.
  • Disregard the size of your dress or jeans and what the scale reports. They’re only numbers and not the value of your life.
  • Respect yourself and respect others. Speak up for yourself when necessary.
  • Slow down when you eat and enjoy the flavors.
  • Pay no heed to your critics. Instead, hear the people who care about you.
  • Pay attention to your elders. They have been where you are.
  • Stay in church. There are people there who need you. You need them too.
  • Be patient with yourself and others. Pray for patience if you must. It does not bring more tribulation as you may have heard.
  • Don’t whine. It is not attractive.
  • Smile a lot. It brightens the face and makes it more beautiful.
  • Don’t let the rich and famous be your role models. Some of them are not doing so well themselves.
  • Love yourself, the unique gift you are to humanity. Explore your talents and enrich them however you can. Then use them to bless the world.
  • Love others well and freely without expectations. Expectations kill relationships.
  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You are one of a kind, made in the image of your Creator who makes no mistakes.
  • Be thankful. Always. In all circumstances. Everything is working for your good.

Life is a precious gift. The years mount up and I wonder how many birthdays I’ll have to celebrate. But that is not my concern. My God is in control of that, and I rest in His divine plan.

Tomorrow I will be 68 years young. I feel every bit of it. I have lived it, laughed in it, cried through it. I have been loved greatly and have learned to love in return.  I have experienced the miracle of salvation and felt the ocean of grace all around me.

I don’t know what my future will look like. I trust my Father with that. He’s been looking after me all these years, and He will continue to keep His watchful eye on me.

I do believe the best is yet to be.

peggy little girl

 

THE RECIPES

Mother’s Drop Biscuits

  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening or oil
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup of milk – use buttermilk if you have it

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put about a tablespoon of vegetable shortening or oil in a skillet or griddle. (I prefer a cast iron griddle.) Put this in the oven as it heats up. You want the oil to be a little hot so the biscuits will cook crispy on the bottom.

Measure flour into a large bowl. Pour the oil into a measuring cup, then add the milk on top of it to equal 1 cup of liquid. Stir the liquid into the flour and mix.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto the hot oil.

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until the little peaks of the drop biscuits are browned.

Serve with butter and jam. Oh my goodness, they are good!

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Plum Cake

This is a simple cake with a spicy flavor. It is very moist and looks lovely baked in a bundt pan setting on a footed cake plate.

  • 1 cup of oil – or for richness use butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 small jars of plum baby food. (I’m having trouble finding plum baby food these days, so a dark fruit substitutes well.)

Combine oil and sugar. Add eggs one at a time.

Mix flour and spices together. Add to oil/egg mixture and combine well.

Add baby food and continue to mix.

Pour into a greased and floured bundt or tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour.

ICING

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine all and pour onto warm cake, poking a few holes in it to allow the flavor to infuse the cake.

ENJOY!

 

Sweet 16

Today is my granddaughter’s 16th birthday. I was blessed beyond measure to celebrate with her last weekend.

Sweet William and I traveled the long road to where our precious ones live, the one and only son and his family. The drive was worth the hours on the road to see smiling faces and be received with such warm welcomes.

I’ve missed some birthdays since they moved from the house next door. Thankfully, I did not miss this important milestone in my precious Grand Girl’s life.

She is the middle child. At times she is the quiet, introspective one. At other times she is the comedian, actress, goof-ball who makes us laugh.

the-3-grandsShe was born without me being at the hospital. Her older sister was brought to our house early one morning in November when time came for her parents to rush to the hospital. I supposed we had plenty of time to shower and dress since her sister took her time coming into the world.

I was wrong. Before many hours had passed, I listened to the message on my phone, “You have another granddaughter.” Elation and disappointment mingled, but I was thankful for her birth. We hurriedly made our way to the hospital where mother, dad, and new baby girl were contentedly waiting for us.

It was a day to remember.

Memories surface today as I think of my Grand Girl, us miles apart and in different states but joined at our hearts.061-2

She was the queen of dress-up. She loved the costumes and cast-offs kept in a box in the back room. She emerged as a character of some sort and took on the persona and accents with ease. One of my favorite personalities was Dr. Bendova, dressed in a white shirt, silly glasses and top hat. She made us laugh a lot.

Being the second child, she was often the companion and follower of her big sister. Once when she was allowed  to spend “alone time” with us, all by herself, she climbed up on the stool next to the kitchen counter where I spend a lot of time, and commenced to talk up a storm. I was surprised at all the words coming from this child who was usually so quiet. It was as if she finally had a captive audience to hear what she had to say.

She loved to cook with me, sitting on that same kitchen stool, us sharing tasks of making meals. Her consistent game began with, “Let’s pretend we’re on a cooking show.”

100_1062-2A few days ago we made pumpkin pie together in her kitchen. It was as special as it always was.

She was a girl of many faces, most of them silly. For years we could not seem to get a serious picture of her. With everyone posed for a snapshot, she invariably make a goofy face just at the moment of the shutter’s opening. While it was frustrating at the time, it has given us myriad photos of this girl’s special way of bringing comic relief to us all.

This past weekend, we celebrated that special girl.

She has grown tall and beautiful, graceful and distinctly herself, studious and artistic, bright and cheerful. She is thrifty with her money and has an entrepreneurial spirit.

She brings gladness to this Grammy’s heart. I love spending time with her.

As Sweet William and I drove home after our three-day weekend celebration, I thought of the trip, the memories we had made, the joy of being with our precious ones, the fun and laughter, the shared table of fellowship where hearts are content just to be together.

Time slowed for me those few days. I forgot what day of the week it was, living in the moment with each sweet soul.

Good-byes are never easy, no matter how often we practice them. But good-byes are as much a part of life as the welcome homes are. We must receive them both if we are to be loved and to love in return.

As we headed east to our old Kentucky home, the sunset glowed brilliantly. A song came to mind:

I think of my Grand Girl on her special day. My eyes mist and there’s a lump in my throat as I remember the child and watch her blossom into a young woman.

Her life is a gift to all of us who know and love her. Her gifts and talents are from the Father above who planned for her life. My prayers seem unceasing for her, that she will know the way the Father leads her, that she will follow Him with all her heart, that she will understand how great the Father’s love is for her.

I pray that her heart is open to receive all He has in store for her. It’s her birthday today. I’m so thankful she was born.

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Sweet William

Today is Sweet William’s birthday.

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It’s one of those milestone birthdays, the ones where someone throws a party and invites lots of guests to celebrate life.

He chose to spend it quietly with me. I determined to treat him special and with as much kindness as I could. Nothing was going to deter me from that goal.

I cooked homemade biscuits with breakfast, a rare treat these days when we try to watch our carbs. We ate on the deck in the cool morning and watched Maisie play in her fenced yard.

We relaxed with some pre-recorded TV shows. He got to choose. I didn’t even ask for a Hallmark movie. I brought him coffee more than once.

For lunch I fixed one of his favorites, broiled salmon with green beans and salad greens.

In the meantime, I changed sheets and did several loads of laundry, never once asking him to fold or put away. This was his day, and I tried to allow him to do what he wanted, relax at home.

The day is almost done. There is a coconut-pecan pie in the oven, our evening birthday treat. I’ll light a candle and sing to him as we finish another birthday.

Expensive gifts are unnecessary at this point in our lives. We have most everything we need. Time is our greatest gift, and I gave it to him this day, his birthday.

Tomorrow the calendar date will turn and the birthday will be over. But there will still be the opportunity to show kindness and love to this man, the one I’ve celebrated birthdays with for over 40 years.

Tomorrow is another day. And each and every one is a reason to celebrate life. This is our life, and we can choose joy as we live it.

So let the celebration continue. Happy Birthday Sweet William.

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