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Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

Go Back In Time? If Only . . .

If you could go back in time for a few days where would you go? What time period? I have many such locations, but one place I would love to visit is Saluda, North Carolina during the early 1900’s.   Let me explain why.   The first time I visited Saluda was March 2004 when I came to North Carolina to meet my soon-to-be husband’s family. When we pulled into town Bruce pointed out which direction would take to his grandpa’s farm house and the church where some of his ancestors were buried. He also pointed out that the Saluda interchange sat on what used to be his grandpa’s corn field. I believe this may have been the first time I ever heard the phrase, “When the road took the farm.” It wasn’t the last.   As we drove down Main Street I was drawn in by the old-time small-town feel of the place. I noticed the depot and the bright yellow buildings beside it. I spotted the big Baptist Church. I love depots, yellow, and Baptist churches. I was hooked.   Over the next ten years we waved each time we passed Saluda, greeting our family—live and dead, as we rushed on our way to the place we would eventually call home on the other side of Hendersonville. There was no time for a stop in Saluda, for our home was calling us. It was a place to clean out and fix up.  A home full of memories.  A lovely place away from the noise and overpopulation of Florida. Here, despite the work I found peace. I could hear the birds sing. A rooster woke me each morning. But, it was a lot of work and even once we moved to Newberry, SC and eventually up to the house in Hendersonville, our visits to Saluda were few and far between.   A couple of times I made an unexpected stop at Saluda . . . well, at least at the interchange. Yep. My car engine blew up not once, but twice right in the middle of—you’ve got it, what used to be Grandpa Bradley’s corn field. Was it a sign?   So, when I decided it was time to start a new mystery series—this time set in the South—it was a no-brainer where the first book should take place. Saluda. After all, this is where my husband’s people come from. My other series started on my grandpa’s ranch. Why couldn’t this one start where Bruce’s grandpa farmed? So, the research began. I drove over to Saluda and wondered through town. I read a book written by some of the people in Saluda, a book that shared first person accounts of those days during the early 1900’s. I was blown away by the history Saluda can claim. I mean, not just one thing, but several.   One Sunday afternoon, armed with the book I returned to Saluda and drove around and around and around the town trying to find as many of the old hotels as I could. There were well over thirty back in the day.   You see, when the train finally came up the Saluda Grade to what was then Pace’s Gap in 1878, a whole new way of life was formed. People from the low...

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Remember Why We Celebrate

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Remember Why We Celebrate

Remember Why We Celebrate

One of the many life lessons my daddy taught me was to use words properly. I was reminded of this a few minutes ago while I watched a beautiful Memorial Day video tribute.   The thought that shot through my mind was this: It is Memorial Day, not Celebrate Day. Today we stop to Memorialize, Remember, and Commemorate those who gave their lives so we can Celebrate our country, our freedom, our day off, and our family gatherings.   Let’s not allow the busyness of our celebrating cause us to forget the true meaning of the holiday, to remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice so many men and women made on our (insert your name here for a powerful reminder)...

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World Stroke Month – A New Perspective

Posted by on May 26, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 1 comment

World Stroke Month – A New Perspective

If I had written last May about World Stroke Month, as a nurse of more than thirty years, I would have been able to share many facts, signs and symptoms, treatment options, preventative measures, and even some of the struggles patients and families will face after a stroke.   If I had written it last May.   But I didn’t write it last May, as a nurse of over thirty years. Instead I am writing it this May, as a daughter of a stroke patient.   Here are some of the statistics I would have shared last year: According to the CDC at cdc.gov “Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. In 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans died from stroke—or one person every four minutes—died from stroke, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, almost 800,000 strokes occur in the United States. Strokes often lead to serious, life-changing complications. . .”   Strokes don’t just happen to the elderly. It can happen to anyone. Some of the effects of stroke listed by the CDC are below: Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body. Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory. Problems understanding or forming speech. Difficulty controlling or expressing emotions. Numbness or strange sensations. Pain in the hands and feet. Depression So, back to my story. Last May my Daddy suffered a stroke. It was determined that it was an embolic stroke, meaning that due to atrial fibrillation in his heart, he had formed tiny clots that had traveled to his brain and caused the damage. He miraculously recovered a great deal of function, but was left with some significant challenges in how his brain processed. But, for the most part we believed God had given us a miracle and we had dodged the bullet. The doctors put him on a medication to prevent further clots and strokes and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Until autumn, when he incredibly suffered a second stroke. I say incredibly because the doctors are still befuddled by how someone on that particular medication could have a stroke. But he did. And this time, he was left with damage to his speech center. We are still thankful. Grateful. Counting our blessings. Daddy is still with us, he is still wise, loving, funny, kind, and gentle. We count each day a blessing. But, it occurred to me. I’ve learned a few things through this experience so I thought I would share them here. A stroke will change your life forever – We can’t go back. It isn’t going to go away.  Daddy has said it over and over—“My brain just doesn’t work the same.” The damage requires rehab, exercises, medications, doctor’s visits, retirement, all lifestyle changes not only for my dad, but for my mom as well. And, despite the best care and an incredibly motivated and hard-working patient, the damage is still there.   It isn’t just the patient whose life changes. Stroke changes the dynamic of the entire family. Children find themselves helping parents through the maze of post-stroke life, picking up more and more responsibility. Even grandchildren step up, taking on responsibility! This isn’t easy for anyone involved. In our family, we have discovered...

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Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | Comments Off on Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Lessons from a Chewbacca Mask

Right up front there are a couple of things I think I should share about myself. Confessions of a sort. First, I have never seen Star Wars. Okay. Take a minute to process that. I know some of you need it. After all, I remember the look on my husband’s face when I blithely informed him of this fact. It just isn’t my genre. So, it should come as no surprise that until recent events I had zero idea what a Chewbacca is. I do now.   Yesterday morning I got up early to work on a small editing project for a friend, and as is my pattern I skimmed through social media while drinking a cup of coffee. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the happy faced lady with the strange mask. So, I watched the video. I laughed until I cried. Such an infectious laugh. So much joy. I watched it twice.   Then, this morning (while having coffee) I found a second video. It was the same “Chewbacca Lady!” She was speaking at a Fine Arts Event, telling about the events of the past two days. I was more and more excited as lesson after lesson popped out of her mouth! She had so much to share in such a short time! Wow! Just Wow!   So, I want to give you five lessons I learned from (or was reminded of) by the “Chewbacca Lady.” 1. Joy comes from letting God use you how he made you! This woman didn’t hold back. She let her personality shine, come what may. She didn’t worry about how it looked, what people would think. She just shared her joy with others, and that joy spread. Everywhere. 2. After times of loss we can get our joy back. She spoke in the second video about what happened when she saw herself with the mask on and the Chewbacca’s head was thrown back in laughter. She realized that the Chewbacca had his joy back. After all, she said, Han Solo was dead. That was sad. But, it brought her joy to think that the Chewbacca could get his joy back. Sometimes, when slogging through grief that truth can be elusive. It is nice to have this reminder. 3. Sometimes you just have to laugh. Don’t hold back. She spoke of trying to get control and stop laughing, but she just. couldn’t. quit. Laughing. There are moments like this in life and they are really awesome stress-relievers. Enjoy them! 4. God wants more from us that a willing heart. Yes, we are all given a gift from God. Yes, he wants us to be willing and surrendered to letting him use them. But there are some other things we should be. Diligent. Patient. Obedient. We can be gifted, willing, and driven to be our best, but if we aren’t diligent, patient, or obedient He won’t be able to use us to our full capacity. Powerful stuff. 5. When God opens a door, no matter how unexpected and unusual, GO with it! Use the opportunity you have been given. And have fun while you do it. So, thank you Mrs. Chewbacca Lady. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for the lessons. And, thank you most of all for being who God...

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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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