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Riding The Rails

Posted by on Apr 15, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I am riding on a train. A real train, not just one of those touristy trains that harkens back to a previous time. No, this is an honest-to-goodness train taking honest-to-goodness people to places they need to go. It’s the first time I remember being on a passenger train in the good old USA. The last time I was on a train was from Budapest to Vienna and I don’t have positive memories of that trip. But then, that’s another story involving two huge suitcases and a stolen passport. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Today though I’m riding along from Salisbury, NC on my way to Philadelphia, PA and I’m watching the world roll by out my window. It is amazing. There’s a cemetery followed by a manufacturing lot. Now a farm field, trees, farm field. . . I’m feeling a bit like I’ve traveled back in time. I’m beginning to see what my Grandpa McKnight was talking about when he said that train was so much better than flying. Oh, of course it’s not as fast. It will take me 12 hours to get where I’m going (oh, hey there’s another cemetery) but if I was going to fly to PA it would be an hour to the airport, a two hour wait to take off, a couple of hours of flying and then get my bags and wait for a ride. It still takes most of a day. And this way, I get to see stuff. Stuff like the cemeteries, the trees, rivers and creeks as we go across bridges. We see the older parts of towns which might be part of the reason why I feel like I am time-traveling. There are houses right beside the tracks which remind me of the house we lived in when I was a kid. There are churches and since it is Sunday the parking lots have cars and I see an occasional person going in or coming out. We just passed through Whitaker, NC. Or is that Virginia? I’m not sure. I think we are getting close to the Virginia border. Wow! There’s some open space. . . oops it’s gone. Just passed the Rockfish Capital of the World, but I’m not sure of the name of the town. Or the State, for that matter. Now we are crossing a river and the train track is up above the trees. Wow, that is amazing. I feel an affinity with the past. I can almost imagine myself living 100 years ago. Well, until I realize I am sitting here with my computer plugged into the wall typing while my iphone is charging through my laptop. . . guess they wouldn’t have had those a hundred years ago. In my defense I did read a book, study for the lessons I am going to do this week, and read my Bible (well that was on my iphone) before breaking out the computer. . . The attendant—she’s not a flight attendant, what DO I call her—just came by to gather trash. Are we getting ready to land, I mean stop? Oh boy, this is getting a bit weird. It’s hard to type since the train jostles and jiggles along. I’m glad this isn’t a plane; this would be an...

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A Recipe for Pleasing God and Man. . .

Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Recipe for Pleasing God and Man. . .

Monday night Proverbs 3:3-4 jumped out of my Bible and slapped me right in the face.   “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart. So shalt thou find good favor in the sight of God and man.”   What struck me first was the combination of mercy and truth. I find in today’s culture that these two don’t seem to coexist very well. Not even in Christian circles.   As Christians we are called to show mercy. We are to love the unlovable. We are to be Jesus to the world. We are to meet their needs.   We are also called to uphold the truth. We are not to compromise. After all, we are to be salt and light, not just one of the gang.   But we are told to be merciful.   And so it goes.  The problem is that we seem to get one or the other right, just not both. Evidently this isn’t a new problem. After all, in the verses above God said not to let them forsake you. That makes it sound to me like mercy and truth are just as likely to wonder off than hang around your neck.   I thought of my winter scarf and the way I have to tie it in a knot around my neck or it gradually slides one way or another. Kind of like truth and mercy, isn’t it.   I find this especially interesting in light of the polarization that is present in our country. It pervades every area of our culture. You can see it in churches, families, and politics. People are so sure their way is the absolute right way that they can’t even listen to another perspective.   I’m just saying.   The last part of that verse says to write mercy and truth on the table of your heart. I think about when the sidewalk was put in at the church when I was a child. I know that I wanted to put my hand print in it. I had seen sidewalks with prints in them and it captured my imagination. Just think, someone years later could see my handprint there and know I had been present. Of course the fear of the Lord and my Daddy prevented it.   We should write mercy and truth on our hearts so they are always there. So that everyone can see they are there.   The next verse is extremely interesting to someone who tends to be a people pleaser. I heard a great message a couple of weeks ago challenging us to be God pleasers, not people pleasers.   I propose that according to these verses there is a way to be both! If you can find the balance between mercy and truth, you will please God and man.   Now that is something worthy of my efforts. Mercy. And...

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The Intrinsic Catalyst Effect of One Small Change

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Can you believe I thought up that title all by myself? Honest! I know it sounds more like something my Scientist husband would write, but it is all me. It is a mouthful, I admit. But it is a perfect description of something I have learned over the past six years. For six years we have been working to restore Bruce’s childhood home and property and create our own haven. It has been a haven all along, but one drowning in projects. However, over and over I have seen the immense and unexpected value of one single change. As the title says, one change can be the catalyst for so much visible change. For example, when we took the very real 5000 copy paperback library out of the living room on our first working trip to the house it was a catalyst. That one little project allowed us to move all of the furniture to the middle of the room and paint the walls. I’ll never in my life forget the feeling I had when the room was finished. We sat on the couch and looked at the clean empty spaces and smiled. We were amazed and hopeful. Maybe we could do this. Let me share another example. This one occurred just yesterday. Several months ago we bought a gas stove for the new kitchen. However, due to the fact that the connections were too tight for Bruce to safely do it himself and our inability to be here to let the plumber in it had never been hooked up. This meant that we were still using the stove in the old kitchen but the refrigerator in the new. It was workable, certainly but led to frustrations. We had two sinks and two drain boards and the utensil I needed always seemed to be in the other kitchen. Yesterday, the plumber came and he hooked up the gas stove. Voila! With the stove in the new kitchen I was able to bring the cooking tasks with their equipment over to the new kitchen. This incited a frenzy of cleaning, especially after I moved the microwave too. By the time it was done the new kitchen was completely functional and the old kitchen was clean and neat. The counter in the old kitchen even became a lovely display venue for some of my teapot collection. The changes weren’t large, but what a feeling of accomplishment. I found myself motivated to take on other tasks I had avoided all week. I wonder what other small changes in my life would be the catalyst to huge accomplishments? I guess I have my goal for the day; find one small change and watch things happen. I just hope it doesn’t involve big words; I used all of mine in the title this...

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Better Than an Antidepressant!

Posted by on Mar 14, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Better Than an Antidepressant!

There are two things which can brighten my mood, no matter how dark; children and music.   Since no children live at my house it is a blessing beyond words to have the vast access to good music. We do like our music. We have almost as many music CD’s  as we have books. If you have been to our house you will understand what an amazing feat that is.   One friend walked into our house for the first time and said, “do you think you have enough music?”   Well!   Of course, with the ability now to listen to great radio stations on the internet we don’t use all of those CD’s very much. But we still have them.   I have found through the years that I can walk into a building in the darkest, deepest, emotional turmoil with no ability to smile and when I walk into a room of children the dark is gone. The sun shines again. For those moments when I am with the children I am happy again! It’s better than taking anti-depressants that’s for sure!   Likewise, the power of music is uncanny. I really only discovered this the past few years. Maybe that’s because my favorite “anti-depressants” were all in South Dakota, but the value of beautiful music became key in my life. I can put in a CD of Vivaldi and within minutes I can feel my spirit rising.   If there is no good music on the radio and I have no CD or other source all I have to do is sing. I remember one trip when for unknown reasons I was just a sad, pitiful, weeping mass. Bruce had tried humor. He had tried comfort. Finally I said, “let’s sing.”   So, we started singing hymns. Hymns like What a Friend We Have In Jesus, God Will Take Care of You, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, and Amazing Grace. I cried through the first verse of the first song, then the dark cloud lifted. As we sang those amazing old hymns my spirit was comforted. The smile returned.   So, now  if I get blue I turn on some good music. Sometimes Bruce turns it on for me! He’s a smart...

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The Power of A Story

Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Power of A Story

The topic came up this morning while we were getting ready for church. Somehow, in our “this-and-that” conversation a much-repeated phrase popped out.  “There will be no smilin’ on this bus.”  We both laughed at a reference to a remembered funny statement made by Bruce’s niece some 25 plus years ago. “Sarah will never live that one down,” Bruce said. I laughed and commented that I didn’t think she really minded. It is a sweet story that her Daddy and Uncles like to tell. It shows the adoration they all had. . . I mean, HAVE for the little girl become young woman. What’s not to like about that.  As I pondered the value of this story in the Bradley family one of my own popped into my head and I shared it with Bruce. I remember my Grandma Jones telling this story several times. She had a dry, quiet wit. She didn’t talk a great deal. When she told a story, you listened. She recounted that when I was three or four and we came to visit the ranch I was standing outside the hog pen. I watched. I listened. Then I proceeded to say with some disdain, “Pigs don’t say oink.” When Grandma told the story she would always laugh. I remember the glow and the feeling of love and security that always came with the telling. It’s just a simple story. I’ve heard funnier ones. But, the thing that was so breathtakingly remarkable to me was the fact that my Grandma, who had 23 grandchildren remembered that story and liked it enough to tell me and everyone around me. She delighted in a memory of me. She thought I was funny. She loved me for me! As I stood at the mirror this morning doing my hair I realized something. That was a powerful gift for her to give me. The gift of validation. The gift of love. The gift of a cute story! This is a gift I can give to my nieces and nephews and all of those children with whom I come in contact. I can build them up not by approving the things they do, but by approving the person God made them to be, quirky personalities and all. And this folks, is one of the reasons I tell...

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Something to Blog About

Posted by on Mar 3, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

“I can blog about this,” I told my husband as the Physician’s Assistant stitched up my thumb.   I’ve had a bit of a dry spell trying to think of things to blog about. Oh I get ideas, but before I get the time to write them they are gone, outdated, or just not as interesting as they seemed at the moment. So, I’ve felt restless, unable to settle, irritable—you know that feeling when you know you are putting off something you should do. I just couldn’t settle to focus and write.   Today instead of writing a blog I was slicing potatoes for drying. You can see where this is going. I enthusiastically gathered my equipment, set up the water with the teaspoon of citric acid to soak them in and washed the potatoes. Then I  started slicing. I couldn’t feel the potato go through the slicer so I lifted it up and looked. Yep. It was slicing.   Wow, I thought! This is a great slicer. The next thing I knew I had sliced the outer side of my thumb and nail. I almost cut the chunk clean off. I knew as soon as I saw it that we were headed to the doctor.   So, now I am forced to stop the potato production. Thankfully, Bruce finished the batch and is now making the best potato chips I’ve ever eaten.    I won’t be able to wash dishes or do any cleaning and I suspect that once the lidocaine wears off my thumb will be throbbing.   It turns out, though I can type just fine with my right thumb bandaged! Guess I’ll be blogging more after...

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A Gift Delivered in God’s Perfect Time

Posted by on Jan 28, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 4 comments

This morning I was cleaning out my email folders and I came across an email to my sister with a scan attached. I caught my breath. When we were at my parents’ in December I found a treasure. I was downstairs and I saw a bible sitting on top of the piano. I picked it up and opened it. It was my Mommy’s bible. I stood there, unmoving while I leafed through it. I found places she had underlined—she loved some of the same passages I do—and notes she had written in the margin. After several minutes I came to the back fly leaf and that’s where I found the real treasure. There tucked between the back page and the cover was a little card. You could see it had been taped on that page but the tape had come loose long ago and now it was just tucked in place. The card is faded. There are yellowed tape spots at the top and bottom. But it is one of the most beautiful pieces of paper I have ever seen. Here it is:   I cried then, and I cried again this morning. The fact that I had a mother who not only gave me life but desired to do anything she could to insure that I would have “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ and His will for (my) life” just overwhelms me. I am so blessed. The truth is, I had two mothers who prayed that for me. How can I be so double-blessed when so many don’t get one Mom like that? Amazing! This month—as in every January—I’ve done a lot of thinking about my mother. She was born and died in January so it has kind of become “Mommy month” in my life. There are times I wish I could just have one day with her now that I am an adult. I would love to see what she was like from an adult perspective. Oh, I know that isn’t how it works and it probably would be too hard to let go after that day, but I still wonder. Just think . . . when we get to heaven we won’t have to deal with that anymore. We will be with those who have gone ahead and I don’t believe for a minute that we’ll miss those left behind. How awesome will that be. . . to just glory in the joy of the moment with no regrets and no unfulfilled desires? But, the gift of today is that God gave me this awesome reminder. I believe that on November 19th, 1962 the Sovereign God wasn’t just working in a mother’s heart so that she would pray for her little girls. I believe God was preparing a card so that 48 years later that little six-month old girl could experience some Mommy-love. Thank you,...

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Of Nurses and Politics. . .

Posted by on Jan 17, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I started my new job last week and I have two more days of corporate orientation. Then I get to start my “on the job training” in the ICU/CCU.   Since my official residence is still in South Carolina and I am a republican, I am voting this week.   Now, I realize there may be an apparent disparity between those two events, but I think not. I’ll explain why.   I started thinking about this last month when I finished my last week at Lexington Medical Center.  I was so, so, so glad to be done. But, I was desperately saddened. I was leaving “my peeps”. I’ve never called a group that before. For some reason—I’m unsure why—I bonded more than ever before with my coworkers. I think it may have been our differences.   The group that worked the night shift were from all over. There were some from the South, sure. But, there were some from the Midwest, the Northeast, the Philippines, Norway, and even one from that foreign-est of foreign places, South Dakota. But, that didn’t matter.   It also didn’t matter that we were of all different persuasions of religion and politics. There were ultra-conservative people, bleeding hearts, those who really didn’t have an opinion, and some in the middle. We were of every color, “red and yellow, black and white.”   We even had different styles of nursing. There were the “rule followers” who believed the policy is the ultimate document. There was the laissez faire, laid-back sort. There were the “Lone ranger” nurses who liked to do things themselves, and then there were the “it’s all more fun if we do it as a group” type.   Oh, there were differences. Differences of style, differences of personality, differences of beliefs, and even differences of opinion, otherwise called disagreements. Oh yes, there were disagreements.   BUT.   There was a unifying cause. There was something that trumped all of those differences and disagreements and that was what made us a team. The patient.   Nothing brings a team of nurses together like these words, “Call a Code.” Or even the slightly less terrifying, “I need help in here.”   When a patient is “crashing” the nurses come together and there is one goal, saving the patient. All differences are forgotten and they work as a team to make sure the patient survives. Maybe things aren’t done exactly like the “rule followers” would like. Maybe the “bleeding hearts” don’t get everything they would like. But, the patient gets their best group effort.   Here was my thinking as I finished at Lexington and now this week as I am being introduced to a new team. I was privileged to work in the midst of such a great and diverse group of nurses. I learned a lot from them, even those I didn’t agree with. Sometimes especially from them. My hope for my new job is that I will find a similar team of co-workers. There is nothing like it.   So, what on earth does that have to do with voting?   If only. If only our leaders in Washington would act like nurses. If only they would realize that our country is in crisis, our economy is “crashing”. In fact, it seems like...

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An Unexpected Gift

Posted by on Jan 5, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on An Unexpected Gift

I am sitting in my dining room looking out the kitchen windows at the pink sky. It is sunset and I am having coffee with my twelve nieces and nephews. Now, lest you think our small apartment is a bustling mass of humanity let me explain. For Christmas this year my sister, Cheryl wanted to give me something special. Thinking that with three houses I might possibly have a free wall she concocted the idea of coffee with Aunt Miriam. Cheryl had Aunt Vonda take a picture of each of the kids holding a different coffee mug borrowed from Grandma, and framed them. I cried. You see, before getting married I lived close and was able to have a cup of tea with them on a regular basis. The older ones have some really great memories of those times. Their aunt does too. So now, even though I am 1500 miles away, I can see their smiling faces the moment I walk into my house, when I sit down to eat, or like now—when I am writing and watching the sunset. It’s not quite as good as having them here, but it is quieter! This past week hasn’t gone quite as planned. By the time we arrived back in North Carolina New Year’s Eve my dry scratchy throat and cough had turned into laryngitis and a nasty cough. My nose even had to join the party. I had a lot planned for this week between vacation and starting my new job but I had to put it all on hold. I was sick. Besides the mug photos God gave me some gifts to brighten my days during my forced “down time.” Let me share what I’ve been doing this week. When we arrived at the house in Hendersonville, I found a gift on the table from my favorite NC sister-in-law. She had come across a puzzle and it spoke my name. Seriously. It is of teapots. I brought it home to Salisbury and I spent the better part of three days putting it together with sporadic help from my husband. It is adorable and I believe I may mount it and put it above my mug wall in Hendersonville. Then every time I see it I can remember the special friendship I have with my newest “sister.”  She is a kindred spirit.                                                                                                                   When we arrived in Salisbury there was a package from my favorite Michigan Bradley cousin. Inside I found a smiley face mug. A big one! I love coffee mugs and there is nothing like a big cup of tea to soothe a sore throat and help tame an out of control cough! Besides who can help but smile when you see a bright yellow smiley face. It was a gift of comfort and joy.                                                                                     Last Sunday, too sick to go to church I was sad to be missing the opportunity to start the year out in church. Then it struck me. I had the DVD’s. For Christmas this year, my cousin Michael obtained and gave each of us a copy of several  CD’s and DVD’s of our Grandpa McKnight preaching. When I first got the packet I didn’t process the fact that there were DVD’s and what that meant. But, when my brother called my...

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The View From My Window

Posted by on Dec 4, 2011 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The View From My Window

This afternoon we walked downtown and poked around some stores. We stopped at a framing shop and while Bruce spoke with the owner about a project I looked through some prints they had for sale. There was a small one—about 5X7—which caught my eye.   It was a scene of some old house rooftops and featured the chimneys. I was startled and pleased but not so inspired that I wanted to pay thirty dollars, especially since I could take a picture just like it out my back window.   The apartment we are renting is on the second floor of a historic house. It was divided into apartments after World War II. It appears that the kitchen was tacked on the back at that point and it is very small, less than a hundred square feet which can be rather frustrating. The saving grace for the tiny kitchen is the wall of windows.   Almost the entire back wall is taken up with three 12-pane windows. When I am in the kitchen I almost feel like I am in a tree house.   I’m not an “outdoorsy” sort of person, or at least I didn’t think I was. I’m certainly not athletic but I do love to walk and hike if it’s not too strenuous. When I was a child I preferred to be outside playing than inside, unless I was reading a good book.   But there is something in me that needs to see outside, especially first thing in the morning. Cup of coffee in hand, I am drawn to the porch, the deck, or in this case the window. I have to see what the world looks like.   The kitchen window look out on the back yard—also known as the parking lot. However, since we live on the second floor my window looks out on the trees and the chimneys. No, I’m not kidding. I said chimneys.   From my windows, without even turning my head I can count 12 chimneys on three houses. Of course, most of them aren’t in use anymore since these houses have been retrofitted with modern heating. But still, there are those lovely chimneys standing like sentinels against the skyline in defiance of modern convenience.   Also from my windows I can hear the chimes over at Livingstone College. They ring the hour and at certain times of the day the chimes play hymns. Sometimes I even open the window and shiver in the chilly breeze so I can hear the chimes better. After all, a cup of coffee, chimneys to gaze at, and chimes playing majestic hymns. Nothing there to complain...

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