Cherishing Us, A Legacy of Marriage

Marriage has always been important in my family. In fact I can’t think of a single divorce on either side. That is quite unusual this day and age, and something for which I am grateful.

On my parent’s 50th anniversary I remember being amazed at how many years of marriage were represented in the room. The total was in the hundreds, and it caused me to pause and thank God that I had been given such an example to follow.

My husband’s parents were divorced on his 18th birthday. Divorce is never easy on the kids no matter how old they are. Something he didn’t want to happen, happened, and it was sad for all involved. As a result, my husband was determined to make our marriage a priority through the years, and by God’s grace we have.

This past February we published our first book to help marriages continue to grow. It’s titled, Cherishing Us – 365 Marriage Tips to Help Your Marriage Grow. This week we are offering the Kindle edition in a Countdown Sale. Beginning at 8a today, the price is only .99 cents for 24 hours. On Wednesday the price goes up to $1.99 and on Thursday the price is $2.99.

If you are married and want to learn more of what it looks like to cherish your spouse, we hope you’ll make this small investment for a huge benefit to your relationship and for the children who are impacted by the quality of the love your share.

I am grateful my grandparents and parents both shared 57 years of marriage before death parted them.

My sister and her husband just celebrated 45 years. And my brother and his wife, as well as Tom and I will celebrate 40 years in a few months.

God has been good to help us to stay the course and keep our marriage vows alive. We pray our book will help you say the same in the years to come.

Advertisements

It’s The Little Things

Today I’m feeling a bit blue. Maybe it’s because I’m not feeling great. Maybe it’s because it’s the time of year when both my Mom and Dad were diagnosed with the disease that would take their life, 6 and 15 years ago respectively.

I have finally started to write the sequel to my historical fiction novel, Through The Eyes Of Grace. It is causing a fresh wave of grief to pour over my heart that usually sabotages any attempt to write.

But not today!

Instead, I’m lifting my head up and making me a cup of hot tea, Lavender Lemonade to be exact. Tea soothes away the hurt, both in my throat and in my heart.

And I will say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for giving me such wonderful parents, and for providing me with a story worth telling.

Today I’m choosing JOY.

The Day I Ordered My Coffee Black, A Short Story

Coffee Meme.jpg

I am a part of a writer’s group that has been together for the past 15 years. Every Wednesday we are given a writing prompt to help us keep our creative inspiration flowing. Today’s prompt was one that immediately got my mind thinking…

Writer’s Prompt: The girl at Starbucks who always gets a caramel macchiato orders black coffee today.

A man of quiet strength, he had been the one who kept Jo grounded when her world seemed to be spinning out of control. Her Dad was confident in her ability as a writer. This infused her with determination to meet his expectations. Even as the rejection letters mounted, it didn’t sway his belief that her voice was something special. Yet, on this day of all days, Jo was struggling to remember the sound of his voice, and it left her fraught with anxiety. What daughter forgets her Dad’s voice after only three years? If his voice faded so fast, would she forget her voice too? What if she never knew her voice? Was it all a facade visible only by her Dad’s faith in who she could be?

Tormented that his death would cause a similar death to her future, Jo decided she needed to get outside. She was hopeful the fresh air would stimulate her thoughts.

Fall was living up to its name as crisp, colorful leaves descended in cadence to the sidewalk below. Jo gathered her jacket around her neck to ward off the chill. Instinctively, she walked to the corner for her morning pick-me-up. As she waited in line she remembered the countless times she and her Dad had met here to go over her latest plot. He would smile as she read, not so much because he loved the story, but because he loved its author. A tear started to fall, which she caught with her sleeve before it had a chance to show itself to a watching world.

She discovered why she was struggling this Father’s Day. It was the reality that no one was watching her, and no one cared for her as he had. She shifted in line reading the food offered on the rack where she stood, hoping to forget. Jo realized her anxiety had followed her, and it was impossible to run fast enough to get away.

She let out a sigh when the barista asked, “What can I get for you today? Your usual?”

She recalled the countless times her Dad had answered this question. In his gentle, reserved manner she could hear him say, “I’ll have a tall, coffee. Make it black, please.”

Her memory exploded alive along with her Dad’s voice.

“No Caramel Macchiato for me today.” Jo thought to herself.

It was Father’s Day and this one was for Dad. Along with his voice came fresh inspiration. The title of what she would write next, “The Day I Ordered My Coffee Black”.

Prompted to Remember

(Photo from 1962, Silver Star Pharmacy)

I am a part of a writer’s group that provides a writing prompt once a week in order to help us keep the creative juices flowing. This past week’s prompt led me down an unexpected path. The following is the prompt and what I wrote in response.

Wednesday Writer’s Prompt:

What place, or kind of place, elicits fond memories of the past?

Opening the door was an entry to my childhood. A time capsule bursting open in celebration of what once was.

The soda fountain served guests a daily special prepared by our beloved cook, Flossie. She was like a grandmother to me, always making sure I had enough food in my belly to fuel my curiosity. The clattering of dishes passing through the triple sinks to wash, rinse and sanitize were the background music of life in my Dad’s Pharmacy.

The regular customers provided a cadence call of life in our small town, beckoning us to participate together in life’s difficult moments.

But the center of it all was my dad’s caring heart. Each customer knew they had a faithful friend who would sacrifice time with his family in order to provide for their needs in crisis. He listened to their laments and carried their concerns to God in prayer.

But that was then.

Sadness cloaks me with a familiar comfort. Gone are the customers, the needs, the community of friends who called my Dad “Doc”. Gone are the rich smells of comfort food served with a smile. Gone are the days of my childhood.

Yet the memories linger as I sign the paper ending an era. Soon this building will belong to someone new.

(Photo from 2017)

We will go our separate ways to live our dreams and provide for those to whom God has given us to care and provide.

Tomorrow’s memories are being written on the walls of today. Each day matters; make them count for eternity.

April Is National Poetry Month

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry. In fact my first writings as a child were simple rhymes. I love the challenge of finding the right word that says what I want it to say. Dr. Seuss took license here and made up his own words and characters that rhyme. Some we’ve all grown to love like Cat in the Hat, Yertle The Turtle, Horton Hears A Who, and everyone’s beloved, Grinch.

There is a challenge for writers this month called NaPoWriMo, which stands for “National Poetry Writing Month“. Those who are participating are writing a poem every day for the entire month. That’s a bit much for my schedule, so I’m going for once a week, maybe. It depends on whether or not my creative energy is available.

I’ll heed the advice of my favorite poet…

“Think left and think right and think low and think high.

Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.” – Dr. Seuss

Instead of writing poems that rhyme, I’ve decided to write prose. I hope you enjoy this one.

Sweet Fragrance Of Unity

A pleasant warmth brushes my face as I inhale the morning air.

IT WHISPERS,

 “Winter has at last fallen asleep”, tucked beneath the black dirt of the garden bed.

“Tread lightly,” it cautions.

Hope, peeking through the soil as a timid flower, is unsure of the climate.

Thunder clouds gather like opposing views bringing with it

winds of threat and cloudy accusations.

Meant to harm, yet providing something needed…

RAIN 

As the

words

fall

from

the

sky

of lofty

opinions,

some run off rejected

a torrential flood of judgment.

Other words

                        S

                        I

                       N

                       K

                       deep, bringing with it gentle correction.

The solar sentinel ever present though not seen, 

sends out rays of help

chasing the clouds of accusations away

like a faithful friend.

SUNSHINE

A second look and hope has emerged safe and at attention

in response to the steady cadence call of the sentinel in the Sky.

Gone are the threats.

Spring at last.

The garden has learned to embrace only words which nourish the soul,

thus filling the air with a sweet fragrance of 

UNITY.

Do you enjoy writing poetry? Have you ever tried? 

“If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”

– Dr. Seuss

___________________________

My new book that my husband and I have written is now available on Amazon

Happy Birthday, Grace

Yesterday would have been my grandmother’s 129th birthday, so I’m hosting a cousins tea today. It’s themed after all her favorite things and to say excited is a huge understatement.

It would make her smile to see us gathered together around my table today having tea and biscuits.

She loved Spring probably because she loved gardening. We used to be commissioned to gather those ugly giant grasshoppers off her plants and throw them in a coffee can of turpentine. I never did it. I was afraid of a bug big enough to look me in the eyes. Still am!

She made the best chili too. You can find her recipe in the Oklahoma Recipes tab above.

The only thing missing from today’s celebration will be the cousins who couldn’t be here and of course, Grace. Maybe the Lord will let her have a peek and once again give thanks for the blessing of family.

Happy Spring from my table to yours!

Sharing From The Heart – Just As I Am

Yesterday I was given an unbelievable honor. I was asked to speak at the funeral of the pastor who led me to the Lord. It was a privilege I didn’t take lightly. I prayed that God would help me capture with words what this man meant to me, and that He would give me the strength to read it. He answered my prayer and following is what I shared.

Anyone who knew Dick Milham was impacted by his love for the Lord, for people and for life itself. He was a faithful friend and made himself available to our family on countless occasions.

Our family started going to Powers Drive Baptist Church in the early 60‘s when I was only 4 years old. I don’t remember when Pastor Milham started leading our church, but I’m grateful God sent him to us.

The year was 1969. I was ten years old and sitting in the pew between my mom and dad as I did each and every Sunday. But this time when the familiar hymn began to play–

Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

My heart nudged me to go forward. I was afraid, so I asked my Dad to walk with me. When we got to the front, Pastor Milham met me and said he wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing and that there was no hurry. He asked if I could come to his office and discuss what this decision would mean for me? I said ok.

Just as I am, and waiting not

To rid my soul of one, dark blot;

To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Over the next three weeks I went to his office while this dear man with a huge heart for young people explained the Gospel. He made it clear that this decision would change my life forever. And it did!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;

Sight, riches, healing of the mind;

Yes, All I need in Thee to find,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Once he knew I understood the decision I was making and what Christ had done for me, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized on December 21, 1969.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

I’ve know many friends over the years who, as adults, were re-baptized because they said they didn’t understand what they were doing when they were young. Because of Pastor Milham’s kindness and patience with me I have never had that experience. I knew exactly what I was doing and it has been the foundation of my life to this day.

My sister, Bettie, shared this memory she had with me and said how it has helped her countless times throughout her life when facing trouble.

During a Sunday message Pastor Milham must have been going through some tough times and shared this analogy with the church: He got in a boat and rowed out into this big lake to have time alone with the Lord and maybe he could get some answers. As he was out there a big storm blew up all the sudden. As he saw the far shore line he started to get worried about getting back to shore, but noticed a piece of paper in the lake a few yards from him. He heard the Lord tell him to row for that paper, then there was another and then another and before he knew it he was back on shore. He realized then the lesson the Lord was teaching him, there may be something really big and almost unreachable in front of you but if you take it step by step or paper by paper and keep your eyes on the task you will get there.

Photo Credit: Walldevil.com

Just as I am, though, tossed about

With many a conflict, many a doubt;

Fightings within, and fears without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Pastor Milham was the real deal. He shared his life with all of us, and was there for all the moments when we needed him most. He came right away when my Dad was dying from brain cancer and sang by his bedside because my dad loved to hear him sing. There were no accolades, no audience’s applause, just my dad needing to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown

Has broken every barrier down;

Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Pastor Milham, you are now before the throne of God and your faith has been made sight. What a celebration must be taking place as all of those who were influenced by your life, faith and love, have welcomed you home.

I am forever grateful for the foundation of Truth you laid for me that I am still standing on today. I pray my life will influence others for God’s glory the way your’s has impacted mine.

Richard Milham 1934-2017

Orlando Sentinel Obituary

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

Unexpected Inspiration


Her attention to detail was barely noticed by the gathered crowd from various parts of the eastern seaboard. We were an unlikely group except we had two things in common: we were women, and we were waiting to use the restroom. This woman, employed by South Carolina’s Welcome Center, certainly had her hands full–the line wrapped around the building, yet her heart embraced her calling with joy and grace.
We talked briefly. She explained how bad she felt for the bus load of special needs adults who took extra time to do what we were all there to do as quickly as possible. She looked away speaking kindly to the old woman with the walker making sure she had a clean stall and toilet paper. 

She continued, “I hope I don’t need this kind of care one day, but if I do, I’m sure someone will be there for me as I have been for others.”

“I hope so too, ma’am! And thank you for making a difference.”

“Have a blessed day!” She said ducking her head in another stall to sanitize it.

Oh I will, I thought, because of your inspiring example.

“As you did to the least of these you’ve done it to Me.” Matthew 25:40 (paraphrased)

Here a Date, There a Date…

Woman writing in her diary at sunset

I have done it for years, and it has always been a happy habit that I enjoy. It has been easy for me to remember dates on the calendar and special things that happened on that day 1, 5, or even 10 years ago because I have journaled consistently for nearly 3 decades. My husband and I still celebrate our first date, the day he proposed and our wedding anniversary.

Thirteen years ago the dates on the calendar began taking a sad turn for me–my dad died on January 3, 2004; My daughter moved out-of-state with her husband and three children in May of 2011; My Mom passed away on December 15, 2012; My son moved to TN with his wife and three children on March 24, 2014; the list goes on and on.

This year we’ve faced more challenging dates on the calendar–my Mother-In-Law fell and broke her hip, our daughter needed surgery and it was scheduled right between Christmas and New Years Day. Not to mention the friends who have moved, friends who have endured incredible suffering and life-threatening illnesses.

What used to be a fun habit can now at times bring torment and despair. It’s all on how I choose to remember. A friend recently gave me a plaque with this quote on it by Dr. Seuss. It says,

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

I tend to look back and remember precious times that are no more and feel sad. God is helping me to change this habit, but old habits don’t die easy. I don’t know if I’ll ever celebrate Christmas without remembering my parents and what my siblings and I walked through with them on the road to eternity. It was the most precious hardship I’ve ever endured.

Isn’t that how it is with life? We long for the happy moments, but it is the intensely sad ones that often become the most precious to us. Most of life’s important lessons we learn come to us through tears.

What dates on your calendar bring you joy? Tears? Do you think it’s good to remember or better to forget? I’ve decided it’s good for me to remember, but to limit those things on which I allow myself to dwell.  Remembering the hard parts may not be the best for me. I must choose instead to remember what I learned through it all and focus on that!

This year I pray I’ll be more aware of how quickly my heart attaches to dates and their meaning on the timeline of my life, and resist the downward spiral of emotions that comes so easily to me. I want to instead remember the good with smiles of gratefulness for what once was and let go of the weight of regret for how things have changed. Life is too short to look back unless it is to give thanks to God for it all.