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The Older Generation – Up For The Challenge

Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on The Older Generation – Up For The Challenge

This is a repeat, a piece I wrote a few years ago and included in my book All I Have Needed-A Legacy for Life. This month is Older Americans Month and I am starting to really look forward to our family reunion just one month from today. So, I chose to re-post this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! The Older Generation – Up For the Challenge I love this picture from the reunion. It might be my favorite. To someone who doesn’t know our family it looks like nothing but a picture of a group of 60-70 something adults. But for those of us who know these people, there are some things that might make us look a second time. The fifth from the left is my Dad.  He is surrounded by his wife, sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins, and their spouses. Oh, and his sister-in-law. This picture started as one of those spur of the moment, grab a group of chatting people, make them line up, and take their picture photo-ops.  I think we started with five or six. Then we started noticing more from their generation in the room and called them over. There are several pictures in the series and each has one or two more people. My dad’s brother, Jim had already left to go to the fair so he is missing, but his wife is there. My favorite part is that they are mixed up. With the exception of two couples they aren’t standing with their spouses. I love photos that give different groupings. I like the unexpected twist. Here we have a group of people who have grown up together, their spouses have been part of the family for ten to 56 years, and they are family. They have differences of opinion, differences of belief, differences of interests, but they are family. Another thing I like about this picture is the fact that none of these people have been divorced. A couple are on their second marriages, but that is due to the death of a spouse. These folks are in it for the long haul. They had a good example in my grandparents and their parents, all who stayed married until death parted them. In this day where families are so transient, ours stands out. I can truly say I have been surrounded by great examples. At a store in Broken Bow I saw a plaque. It read. . .  “a good marriage is a union of two great forgivers.” I’m thankful for this generation and their determination to stick it out and make their love grow instead of letting it die. I love you all! I understand why you aren’t quite ready to be called “the older generation” but I’m thankful for the wisdom and strength you bring and I really think you are up for the challenge. Your parents were proud of you and we are so grateful. You can buy the book by clicking here and it will take you to Amazon. Please also not that right NOW the kindle edition is less than $2.00! That is a GREAT...

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My Edition or God’s . . .

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on My Edition or God’s . . .

My Edition or God’s . . .

Several years ago there was a series on TV called Early Edition. Every morning the main character—played by a handsome young man—opened his front door and found tomorrow’s paper on his door step. His job was to read the paper and prevent all of the tragedies reported there from actually happening.   Interesting premise. I only saw it a few times, but I loved the show. The thought that someone could make that much of a difference intrigued me. Besides, I’m a happily-ever-after sort of person.   Imagine! What if I could move through life confident in the knowledge that what I am doing is the right thing, the thing that will make a difference in the lives of those with whom I come in contact. What if . . .   But wait a minute! He had a paper, magically delivered to him. Incredible and obviously impossible.  But, what about me? I have . . . gasp. Deep breath. No way!   I have the Holy Spirit living in me. I have the promise of God that this power is available to me if I’ll listen to the Spirit and follow His prompting. I don’t even need the paper. I just need a willing heart totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Just. But, that’s the kicker isn’t it? We spend so much of our life with the attitude of a toddler—“I can do it myself”—and miss the opportunity of a lifetime. What if I was totally surrendered and in-tune to the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life? What would He do with me? Imagine . . . “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that ye ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Ephesians...

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Thoughts on Dads and Mother’s Day

Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Thoughts on Dads and Mother’s Day

Thoughts on Dads and Mother’s Day

It is Saturday morning and I’ve spent the past hour or so drinking coffee, poking through social media sites and catching up with the world. There are so many wonderful Mother’s Day posts out there. Warm, fuzzy ones. God-honoring ones. Funny ones. And men slamming ones. What? Yep, they are there.   I don’t like these. Let me tell you why. I was given the gift of two amazing mothers, my Mommy and then, when God called her home, Mom. Words can NOT adequately describe the power these two women had in molding me into who I am. God gave me the perfect tag-team to meet the goals He had for me. Incredible. This mother’s day I want to honor them. I want to shout to the entire world, I AM BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE.   But, there is someone else in that equation. My daddy.   First, my mother and father chose each other based on the fact that they were in love. They also made this decision based on a lot of prayer and a confidence that this was the person God meant for them to marry. When they married in 1957, they became a team. Each of them utilized their strengths to create the marriage and home that my siblings and I needed to be born to. They chose well.   When the unimaginable happened and Mommy went to heaven, Daddy grieved. Then, he sought God’s will. He knew that he needed a wife, a partner in ministry, and a mother for his children. He knew that the Sovereign God had a plan. He put himself in the place of finding that plan. He chose again and he chose well! Twice! Forty-four years later it is obvious to all that know them that Mom and Daddy are a great team. They compliment each other. They are uniquely gifted for the ministry God gave them. And, Mom was exactly what Daddy needed in a mother for his children. Exactly. No one could have done a better job or been a better Mom to us.   And Daddy—with God’s direction chose her.   You see, when you let God lead and choose well, that other person makes you better. Better at being who you should be. Better at being all God wants you to be. My mothers did that for Daddy. And, he did that for them.   So, I find it makes me cringe when attempts at humor put down the dads out there. They are part of a team. Moms are incredible. Moms are great! We have to have moms.   But moms need the dads and dads need the moms. That’s the way God intended it to work. Let’s not put down one to lift up the other. Let’s lift them both up! So, Happy Mother’s Day to Marvin Jones—after all, he was our only “Mom” for eighteen months—Nora Ann McKnight Jones and Dortha Onstott Jones. I am so thankful you all chose wisely and loved...

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“GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST!

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on “GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST!

“GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST!

ANNOUNCING: THE FIRST EVER “GET CAUGHT READING MONTH” CONTEST! Fact: May is Get Caught Reading Month. Fact: I like to give away books. Fact: If you send a picture of you reading a book you will be entered in the drawing for a free book. Fact: You can pick which of the books by Miriam Jones Bradley you want to win! Fact: You must post the picture on Facebook by “liking” the Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13) page and then posting your picture there, OR email it to me at miriamjonesbradley@gmail.com and I will post it there for you. (Please give me the name of the person in the picture so I know who to enter in the contest! After all, I may not see your face because you will be . . . well, reading! First name is fine.) Fact: All pictures posted by midnight EST May 31st will be entered in the contest. Fact: You can be CAUGHT READING any book, but if you send a picture of you reading a book by Miriam Jones Bradley you will be entered twice! Fact: Somebody will be really happy on June 1st! Maybe it will be you! Them’s the rules folks! READY . . . SET . . ....

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A Legacy Worth Nurturing

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

A Legacy Worth Nurturing

First thing yesterday morning I hurried out to the front yard and peeked at my lilies of the valley. After all, it was May first and the lily of the valley is the official flower for the month of May. It rained off and on all night and there were still droplets on the flowers. It made my heart sing. These flowers are from home. Last summer, my sister-in-law dug out some plants from her yard, stuck them in an ice cream bucket, and we carried them all the way back to North Carolina where I plopped them in the ground. I anxiously watched this spring to see if they would come up and was overjoyed when they did. May isn’t May without lilies of the valley. Besides, these came from my parent’s retirement home. I lived there for several years before getting married, my brother and his family have lived in it since, and now my parents will be moving into it. It is a family home, one where many of my favorite memories live. Last summer also, my husband’s aunt gave us some plants. Some were daffodil bulbs from her home which I put between the hostas a friend from church gave us a few years ago. The hostas are magnificent this year. The daffodils came up, but didn’t bloom. I’m assured they were just adjusting to their new home. There’s also a Joseph’s Coat cutting she put in a planter and it has continued to thrive even though we still haven’t transplanted it. We will find a home for it and put it in the ground this week. The gorgeous red flowers make me smile just to look at them. The other thing she brought was a mass of peonies. I love peonies. They remind me of the parsonage where my parents have lived for the past 25 years. Every summer, the peonies in the side yard bloom and we carry ant covered blossoms in to grace the table. Such a big part of summer. I separated them and put some along one side of the house, and the other at the end of the porch by the lilies of the valley. They are doing great and will be blooming before long! They are especially precious to Bruce. These plants are separated from plants that were separated from plants at the farm “over home” where Bruce’s great-grandparents lived. It was the place that his mother and her sister thought of as “home.” “Mama would be so pleased that we have some of those peonies,” Bruce said. My heart smiled. Heirloom plants are a legacy of love and should be cherished and cared for. Speaking of care, my African violets aren’t doing so well. During the time that we were at the beach this winter, there was a cold snap here, and I’m afraid we had the heat turned down too far for indoor plants. One looks like it might survive, but the two that came from a plant that came from one of my Grandma Jones’ are all but dead. She was known for her African violets. It breaks my heart, they were so gorgeous. But, there is hope! When I saw the plant was struggling, I cut off one of the better leaves from each...

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When We Were Very Young

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

When We Were Very Young

When my older sister and I were very young we had an adopted set of grandparents, the Akeys. I was so young most of what I remember about them comes from stories that survived our time with them, with one exception—the doll house. My dad’s first church was up in the mountains of northern California in the tiny town of Adin. That is where we met the Akeys. One year our mother’s parents, Grandpa and Grandma McKnight and our two aunts, Connie and Carolyn came up to our house for Christmas and Grandpa and Grandma Akey came over also. Another church sent us a wonderful gift of a doll house. This doll house was special. It had metal floors and the people and animals had magnets on the bottom. You could hold a magnet under the floor and move the characters around. It was such a novelty that my one true remaining memory of Grandpa Akey is that he and Grandpa McKnight monopolized our new doll house ALL DAY LONG. Recently, when we were in South Dakota for a visit I was looking through old photos with Daddy. There were some from that time and some of the Akeys. In an attempt to learn more about the pictures and that time period I’ve been re-reading the notebook of letters my mother wrote. She told Aunt Rachel about the doll house and about how intrigued the adults were. It made me laugh. Reading old letters is one of my favorite things to do. Also, while we were home Mom had a pile of books that she wanted us to divide between the four children. They were books that had been in our home all of our lives and I found it interesting which ones we had memories of. I ended up with a set of three books by A.A. Milne—When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six, and Winnie the Pooh. I was surprised that my sister didn’t want them, but there were others she cared more for. She informed me that they had come from Grandpa and Grandma Akey and they were given to the two of us, that being all the children there were at the time! So, I gladly took them. They were my favorites, after all! Today is National Great Poetry Reading Day. You can argue with me about this if you must, but a good deal of my favorite poetry comes from A.A. Milne. So today I’ll leave you with this piece from When We Were Very Young.   DAFFODOWNDILLY She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbor: “Winter is dead.” by A.A. Milne Building Legacy . . . one story at a...

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A Tale of Two Chairs

Posted by on Apr 18, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on A Tale of Two Chairs

Back in 2001 I moved into an apartment and quickly realized that some of my furniture just wasn’t going to fit. So, I called my sister and she offered to go along furniture shopping—with her four children. It became obvious within moments of walking into the store that furniture shopping with four small children has its advantages, the main one being that the sales people leave you completely alone. They see you, avert their eyes, and suddenly find it necessary to go do . . . something . . . somewhere. So, unbothered by enthusiastic sales people we wandered around and found a lovely couch and a small pink swivel rocker. The rocker was incredible. I could fall asleep in that chair. A couple of years later, having paid off the couch and chair, I decided I wanted to buy some more pieces. I had a hankering for a huge overstuffed chair in my bedroom. I wanted this so much that I was willing to trade my double bed for a single in order for the chair to fit. I know, it was strange but it was what I wanted. And I was single so I could, and I did. Remembering the lovely sales-person-free shopping from the previous trip, I called my sister, now with five children, and off we went. What we found was perhaps my favorite piece of furniture ever, a massive blue chair with an equally massive blue ottoman. The denim cover looked tough and the kids loved it! It almost swallowed me up and I could take the most amazing naps in that chair. When I met my husband we spent many hours on the phone—a lot of those, I was in the blue chair. So, one of the things I insisted on taking with me when I married was the blue chair and ottoman. I left the rocking chair behind with my parents, with the stipulation that if they ever tired of it, I would take it back, but not the blue chair. No way, no how was I parting with that. As we’ve moved here and there the blue chair has become a problem. It worked wonderfully in the house in Florida! It was great in our bedroom in Newberry. But, here in Hendersonville? Well, we are downsizing and the chair doesn’t fit that word. At all. First I crammed it into the bedroom and turned the ottoman sideways and it swallowed up the entire corner of the room. It was tripped over, kicked, and very under appreciated. I would occasionally sit in the chair for a glorious  afternoon of writing. But, more often than not it was neglected. Finally, I decided to take the ottoman to storage and I made do with a box covered with a pillow instead. It wasn’t the same. The chair lurked in the corner for the past couple of years, pouting—or maybe it was mourning—the separation from its ottoman. I kept hoping maybe we would need it. I dreamed of an office building in our yard in which the chair and ottoman reigned supreme. As the months passed it was a continual battle to keep the chair from becoming a storage spot for everything that was floating around the room. Kind of like having a treadmill in...

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A Worthwhile Celebration

Posted by on Feb 29, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins | Comments Off on A Worthwhile Celebration

I learned something I didn’t know this month. February is National Library Lovers Month. Yep. That’s right.  I can’t say I celebrated, but I did take a trip to the library yesterday. I wanted to get some books on tape for my upcoming trip to Pennsylvania. Any time I need to drive a long distance I like to have several books with me to listen to. It makes the time go fast and I don’t have to worry about falling asleep! I’ve even discovered that I can listen to books that won’t hold my interest when I read them. Books like those by Charles Dickens, for instance. When I went to the library yesterday I was quite stressed. It was just one of those days where my brain doesn’t want to brain. Do you know what I mean? Anyway, when I got to the library and walked in I immediately started to relax. Libraries have that effect on me. I couldn’t help but think of the frequent trips we made to the library when we were kids. Every week we walked to the library and back home with a new stack of books in each of our arms. I loved the library. The smell of the books, the quiet, peaceful ambiance. It was just the perfect place. Last November we stopped in North Platte, Nebraska where I grew up. I was beside myself to discover that the library was in the very same place and it hasn’t changed a bit. I suppose the people of North Platte may wish sometimes for a new modern building, but not me. My breath caught in my throat when I walked in. It was just how I remembered it. I wanted to go pick out a pile of books, check them out, and go back to my house where I would grab an apple and disappear to my room for the afternoon. But, I had no house, no apple, and no time for such frivolity. Oh dear. I think I am too busy. After all, there should always be time for a good apple and a book, shouldn’t there? I guess I’ll throw some apples in the car too on Wednesday and I’ll eat an apple and listen to my books on tape all the way to Pennsylvania. That’s how I’m celebrating National Library Lovers Month. How about...

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Letting Go, Carrying On

Posted by on Feb 26, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins | 1 comment

I woke up this morning feeling overwhelmed with all of the tasks I need to accomplish in the next few weeks. Once again I have overscheduled myself. So, as I’ve learned to do I completed a couple of small tasks, just to give myself some encouragement. Then, I picked up my Bible and found the Psalm for the day. When I reached Psalm 55:22 it caught my attention. This verse says:  Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. An image flashed through my mind. Several years ago, I helped with a kid’s club at church on Wednesday evenings. My mom taught the lesson during the message time, and then when the prayer time began I went downstairs and we switched places where I would an activity with the kids. Part of my job each week though, was to create a verse page. We would send home the sheet with a verse to read for each day and a memory verse, all surrounding the theme of the lesson that week. The parents signed off on the sheet each day they read the verse and they got points for bringing it back complete. We were trying to instill a pattern of daily bible reading. I always tried to make the pages interesting so I put clip art on each sheet, just for fun. One picture in the clip art book was of a young man carrying a HUGE bag full of stuff. It was bigger than he was and he bent under its weight. When I read the verse, that image is the one which popped into my head. Cast your burden on the Lord.  I imagined taking my huge bag of responsibilities and dropping them at Jesus feet. He just picked it up with his pinky like it was a cotton ball. Well, then! The next part of the verse says he will sustain me. Not that he will do the work for me. Not that he will make it easy. No, he will sustain me. So, I guess I’ll leave the burden there and pick the tasks up from him, one at a time until I get it done! That’s good enough for...

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A Lesson From Harper Lee

Posted by on Feb 22, 2016 in Blog, Double Cousins | Comments Off on A Lesson From Harper Lee

A Lesson From Harper Lee

Like so many others I was sad to hear that Harper Lee died. I often cite To Kill A Mockingbird as my favorite book. I would say it definitely was the first “grown up” book I remember making me think about my assumptions and beliefs.   I must have picked it up and read it in junior high, because I was in high school when I watched the movie one New Year’s Eve while babysitting. It was the first movie I watched based on a book I had read and I learned that no matter how good the movie, it is never as good as the book, a fact I still hold to be true.   Scout captured my interest. In my mind, I was Scout. I could relate to her on so many levels. My mother had died too. I was a tomboy. I could be outspoken. And I had an Atticus for a father. Gentle, meek but definitely not weak, determined to do the right thing no matter the consequences, protective but eager to let his children learn from life, and as Harper Lee put it,  “Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.” These traits describe my father.   I was thinking about this book earlier today and that is when I realized exactly why I so love the characters of Scout and Atticus. (For me the others are all just peripheral characters necessary to having a story.) In the character of these two people I see myself and my daddy. So as the story develops I am able to fully experience all of the different events and learn from them as if I were really there. I guess it was the perfect storm.   I believe telling a story in such a way that the reader can find herself in a character is a gift. One I, as an author, aspire to. Thank you, Harper Lee, for Scout and Atticus. And thank you for the creative writing lesson you gave me just by “the doing of...

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