Connect the Dots

Art by AKesterstudios.com

This past weekend a dear couple finally married. It was a celebration that all who attended will not soon forget.

Our church building, that is a multi-purpose complete with a wood basketball court under the carpet squares, was transformed to look like a grand hotel ballroom.

The days leading up to the wedding were full of happy friends eager to make this day one of dreams come true. We cut floral stems, hung fabric with twinkle lights indoors, market lights outdoors. We set tables with greenery, white flowers, candles and hundreds of clear bottles and vases.

The groom has faced tragedy in his young life. His Dad passed away suddenly a few years ago leaving him the oldest son. His Mother was left to raise their four kids while grieving the unbelievable loss of her best friend.

His siblings were all in the wedding party and his Mom was ready to welcome a new daughter to the family. Joy exuded as the wedding began!

The bride is the only daughter of three children. She is a talented musician and artist who spent much of her college years working for a prosthetics company making dreams come true for new amputees. In her off time she paints for fun and profit—and she’s very good. Check out her website AK Studios.

I was the recipient of a piece she was commissioned to do for me by one of my best friends for my birthday. You can see it at the top of this post.

His (God’s) faithfulness connects the dots.

And this couple personifies the faithfulness of God. As I write this they are enjoying their long-awaited honeymoon, and all of us who witnessed their vows couldn’t be happier for them.

Life brings so many difficulties including unexpected death. But if we wait long enough, the tides turn and the good God has stored up for us rolls in like a flood.

What troubles are you facing? Know that this too will pass. But we must connect the dots or we may miss the good that is sure to follow.

❤️ Mr. and Mrs. ❤️

Four for a Dollar

This post was originally shared on The Romantic Vineyard blog in November 2010. I thought it was worth sharing in the UBC on Day 19. Enjoy…

It was the week of Thanksgiving, and I was set on trying a new creamed corn recipe for the holiday.  Having a large extended family I was going to need a lot of corn – 24 ears to be exact.  I knew that the grocery stores would be too expensive for such a large quantity; so my husband and I headed towards a roadside vegetable stand.   I was sure that their candy corn, as it’s called, would help me duplicate the dish I had so enjoyed at a New Orleans’ restaurant, Commander’s Palace.

Off we went.  We stopped at the first stand we came to, and I scouted out the market to see if they had what I needed.  They did and at the right price, too; four ears for a dollar!  My husband stayed in the car certain it would only take a moment to make my purchase.

I bagged my corn and took it to the man working the checkout counter.  He looked a bit odd, but seemed friendly enough.

“Hi!” I smiled as I placed my corn on the table in front of him.  “I have 24 ears of corn in the bags.”

He looked at me while figuring my total in his head, “That’ll be $21!”

“$21? The sign said that the corn is four ears for a dollar!

“That’s right – $21.”  He said with a toothless grin.

I knew he just wasn’t thinking, so I attempted to help him with his figuring.  “The sign says four ears for a dollar – that’s eight ears for two dollars, twelve ears for three dollars…”

I thought he would have stopped me by this point, but it was obvious by the unbelieving smirk on his face that he still wasn’t getting it.

I continued, “sixteen ears for four dollars, twenty ears for five dollars and twenty-four ears for six dollars!”

“Naw! You’re tryin’ to cheat me!” was his reply.

I couldn’t believe it!  Was he joking with me?  Was there a hidden camera somewhere? He was serious and so convinced in his mind to the point that he wasn’t going to sell me the corn!

I asked, while looking around, “Is there anyone else that works here?”

Before he could answer me I saw a couple of men sitting at the far end of the stand. I walked up to them and asked if they worked there.

The owner replied, “Is he giving you a hard time, darlin’?”

“Well, he’s trying to sell me 24 ears of corn for $21.” I still couldn’t believe this was actually happening.

“Man, he hit his head yesterday and must’ve hurt himself worse than I thought.  Come with me!”

I followed him as he approached the checkout counter.  “Mac, I want you to sell this lady her corn for $6, ya hear?”

He took my corn from under the counter and still hesitated in taking my money.  He kept staring suspiciously at me, and when his boss had walked away he said under his breath, “You must’ve really winked your eye at him!”

With that I took my bag of corn before he could grab it from me and quickly got in the car.
As I closed the door and took an exasperated breath, my husband said, “What took you so long?”

“You won’t believe it…”

Do you have an unbelievable story to tell?

Kindness Is Appreciated

It was an awkward moment in July when I called to see if a friend was still on for providing dinner for our family. By his answer I knew he had forgotten. We had to kick into gear since there were nearly 30 already gathered at the home of my niece to eat.

We stopped at Publix and bought all the chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese from the hot deli, as well as Cole slaw, potato salad, Hawaiian rolls and baked beans. I felt bad for the customers waiting with the next number to be served at the deli. Their stares revealed their anger that we were taking all the available hot food. I avoided eye-contact because we had no other choice.
I managed to hold back my tears. We pushed our heavy cart with our heavy hearts to the cashier, which is when it happened…

Friendly Cashier, “Hello, You must be having some party!”
Me: “Actually no. My brother just died on Monday from Covid and the person who offered to bring us a meal tonight forgot.”

The poor cashier. I don’t remember what he said, but all the blood drained from his face.
Why did I do that? He didn’t deserve my blunt response, but I couldn’t help it. My emotions had been building all day and he happened to be there at the wrong time to be the recipient of my outburst.

Of course, I apologized, through tears. I tried to explain that I’m not normally like this, but I think the damage was done. He was embarrassed.

Harsh words are like that. Once spoken they can’t be taken back. Oh, we can do all we can to apologize and make it right, but if it’s not in the heart of that person to forgive, the relationship may never be restored.

We live in a harsh world right now. So many fling words on social media without thought. It’s hard to think the best when we’re hearing the worst.
But we are better than this. We don’t know what someone is going through unless they explode the reason in your face. I hope my obvious heartache and loss helped this poor guy give me sympathy instead of anger. But it’s his choice.

We all face heartache from time to time. It’s in these moments when kindness is appreciated.

This is my 11th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November. It was originally published in our neighborhood newsletter, which I began in 1999.

The Benefit of Doubt

My title is a play on a familiar cliche’ when you choose to think the best of someone–you give them the “benefit of the doubt”. However, that is not what this post is about. It came as a question in yesterday’s post by a reader/blogger I’ve met through my current UBC group. She asked the following…

“What made you doubt for so long your ability to write your grandmother’s story?” She added, “I’m sure you had what it takes in 2000.”

She is nice to make such an assumption, but looking back I can see how much I changed over those 12 years. My Dad passed away in 2004 (the first death of someone close to me since my grandmother died 25 years before him!) My two oldest children got married. We were blessed with 5 grandchildren in that time. Our daughter moved away with her husband and two of our precious grand kiddos (also the first in our family, which nearly killed me).

I have taken all the personality tests and they all come to the same conclusion–I feel things 100%. If you are hurting I’m going to put myself in your place and hurt with you. When my grand babies would FaceTime me crying because they wanted to come to Nana’s house, it ripped my heart out because they no longer lived minutes from us! I didn’t like the changes and the emotions were too raw for me to even think about writing.

I was discouraged. I felt like I didn’t have it in me to finish what I had started. I doubted. But what I didn’t realize was God was still at work finishing His promise to me that I would write my grandmother’s story.

Every heartache. Every delay. Every sad goodbye was teaching me things my grandmother experienced in her lifetime.

  • Her uncle had made an arrangement with her father that if he was able to stake two claims in the Indian Territory Land Rush of 1893, he would give her parents one of the claims.
  • Her uncle was successful, so she left her grandparents in Kansas when she was only 4 years old to move to what would soon become Oklahoma.
  • She experienced losses, disappointments and tragedy.

Once I realized how much I was learning about her by feeling her pain, I became better at documenting her story. I realized that God was intentionally delaying my progress to make me a better story teller.

Then, God had our friend’s fiancé move in with us not knowing how she would be a crucial piece of my writing puzzle. If she hadn’t come along I don’t think I would have finished in time. And I hate getting to the end of a big puzzle and realizing the last piece is missing. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Doubt has many benefits. Even when I lose all hope, God promises to complete the work He’s begun in me. That included helping me fulfill my life-long dream of writing, Through The Eyes Of Grace.

In what ways has a delay in your story or your goals helped you in the long run?

This is my 9th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to write everyday in November.

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Unexpected

I was hosting a Ladies Retreat at our cabin in NC. The ladies were all due to arrive in time for dinner, and it was my job (as well as two friends who came along to help) to have dinner ready for them when they walked in the door. One said she had a new recipe she wanted to make for the meal.

One by one the ladies arrived excited to finally begin our week together. The kitchen was emitting all the inviting smells of a home-cooked meal. This welcomes in a way nothing else can. The menu consisted of ham, new potatoes with fresh snapped green beans cooked with onions and bacon, glazed carrots and this extra dish I was eager to try. Have I stirred your appetite yet?

It happened to be Mother’s Day too? My Mom had only been gone a few years, so this day was still quite tender. I missed her then and still do today. One rarely gets over losing their Mom, and I was no exception.

When we all sat down at the table my friend described her featured side dish. As she did I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as the tears welled up in my eyes. The dish she made was the exact same side dish my Mom used to serve at our Pharmacy soda fountain when I was young. She called it Scalloped Pineapple, i.g. pineapple bread pudding. I had the recipe at home and hadn’t made it in years. So to have my friend think to make this same dish on Mother’s Day as a surprise for all of us, ended up being a blessing from God for me she could have never planned.

But God.

He knows how to bless in unexpected ways. And when He does it leaves me breathless.

Below is the recipe. Maybe you can use it to bless another the way my friend unknowingly blessed me.

Bon Appetite!

Scalloped Pineapple

This is my fifth post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

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.

Well Said

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 11.44.29 PM

Have you ever happened upon a You Tube video that so affected your life you wish you could take credit for the wisdom shared? I just did! Our son shared the link to this video on his Facebook page and I watched it mesmerized by the way the creator of it managed to share such wisdom. I pray you’ll take a few minutes and watch it in its entirety. It’s worth it!

Write Your Story

Touchstones are everywhere in movies, in songs and in books. It’s something that touches your heart because you can relate to what’s being shared.
Whenever I come across a touchstone I know because it usually makes me cry.

I just heard a song that affected me in such a powerful way. It’s a new release by Francesca Battistelli, titled Write Your Story.

No matter what we’re going through what a comfort it is to realize God is faithful to write His Story on our hearts. I’ve posted the lyrics below with a link to the song in the title.

May God encourage you today with touchstones of the heart.

Write Your Story

They say
You’re the King of everything
The One who taught the wind to sing
The Source of the rhythm my heart keeps beating

They say
You can give the blind their sight
And You can bring the dead to life
You can be the hope my soul’s been seekin’

I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I do, that You can make me new, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

My life
I know it’s never really been mine
So do with it whatever You like
I don’t know what Your plan is
But I know it’s good, yeah

I wanna tell You now that I believe in
I wanna tell You now that I believe in
In You, so do what You do, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

I want my history
To be Your legacy
Go ahead and show this world
What You’ve done in me
And when the music fades
I want my life to say

I let You write Your story, write Your story
Write Your story, write Your story

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart
[x2]

Making Connections On The Timeline Of History

Sorry for my absence. My husband took a bad fall last Monday, and I didn’t have time to post. He is recovering slowly, but we’re grateful to God that he didn’t break any bones. He’s just very sore.

Photo Credit: brighthorizonsacademy.com

Photo Credit: brighthorizonsacademy.com

We homeschooled our three children through most of their primary education years. It was a privilege to do so, but it wasn’t easy. I tend to be a quitter when things get too hard for me. But by the grace of God I haven’t quit my marriage, nor did I quit my goal in being primarily responsible for the education of my children. Doing this allowed me the privilege of teaching my kids history, which is a subject I’m passionate about. Mostly, I loved doing biographies and seeing how God’s hand provided for them in their trouble.

When we began I set up a timeline in our laundry room that covered both B.C. and A.D. centuries. When reading the Bible we were able to place those people on their place in the timeline of history. It was a great visual. When we began studying the Industrial Revolution it was astounding to me. I had never put all the facts I had learned in school together on a timeline to see the progression of this time period. I discovered famous people who were friends and how God used those friendships to facilitate new discoveries.

Photo from Flicker

Photo from Flicker

One of my favorite stories is of a young boy who was born in a little village outside of Paris, France, in 1809. His father was a tanner and made leather goods of all kinds. The boy was a smart three year old and was already starting to read. He had always been curious and even though his father had forbidden him to touch his tools, he couldn’t resist. One day while attempting to punch a hole in a leather strap like he had seen his father do many times, the awl slipped and pierced his eye. Within days his eye became so infected and spread to his other eye, which in turn caused him to go blind.

The boy had loved learning to read. He was saddened when he realized there weren’t many books for the blind. This was due to the fact that they were made up of raised letters in the alphabet. Each page contained only a couple of sentences, making them cumbersome to handle and difficult to read. Each book was so large and expensive to make that there were only a few in existence.

This is the story of Louis Braille. His curiosity and love for reading compelled him to discover a way for the blind to read as easily as those who had sight. What you may not realize is that it was his discovery which enabled Helen Keller, who was born deaf and blind, to lead a normal and productive life. She was invited to honor him a hundred years after his death when his coffin was relocated to Paris during a solemn ceremony to honor his accomplishments for the blind community. This video is live footage of the ceremony.

Another interesting connection is the friendship which developed between Helen Keller and Thomas Edison, who was partially deaf. Seeing how God used both of their disabilities to motivate new inventions that helped those with similar disabilities function independently in life is inspiring. I love making these connections and seeing how trouble and/or weaknesses can end up being used for good.

“Professor Johnston often said that if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything. You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree.”
― Michael CrichtonTimeline

This helps me look for the bigger picture when I’m facing trouble, and I’m hoping it will help you as well. Knowing history helps us make sense of our own story as it’s being written. After all, it’s all His Story and for His glory!

What stories on your timeline have inspired you? Have you made important connections by stepping back and looking at the bigger picture? 

Did I Ever Tell You About The Time…

Think of the many stories you have bouncing around in your head that your family has told over and over. You know them so well, you most likely roll your eyes whenever it’s being told for umpteenth time. But do you realize these stories only last for two, maybe three generations? Then, they’re lost forever. Unless someone takes the time to write them down.

How could you preserve your family stories? Here are a few suggestions:

1.  Write them in a family Bible or journal made for this purpose.

2.  Video your family telling the story.

3.  Make a photo journal using Snapfish or the like including pictures of family gatherings where these stories were always told. Be sure to include the names of all present as well as the date.

It isn’t hard to do this, it just takes planning. What stories come to mind that are worth preserving in your family?