Home Is Where The Story Starts

Halfway to Heaven

Posted by on Jan 12, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

It’s a weird thing, the passage of time. I remember when summers seemed to stretch out forever. I also remember my Grandma saying that time just went faster and faster the longer you lived. She was 95 when she said this so I’d guess you could say she was an authority on the subject. It seemed strange to me that it would be so for her at that time of life. After all, she was in the nursing home with very little to pass the time. Strange.   Today I didn’t have any trouble deciding which mug to use for my coffee. Unlike other days I haven’t switched mugs either as I’ve fixed several cups of tea. I’ve kept the same one. It’s my “Mommy mug”, one that belonged to a set my mother had. It’s not anything special. Cream background with alternating cream and brown boxes. In the cream boxes are brown flowers and in the brown boxes are cream flowers.   I used it because today is January 11th, 2013. This day marks forty years since my Mommy went to heaven. Forty years! Wow!   In some ways it seems like just a few years ago. The memories from that day are the most vivid of any day of my life. The large details. The little itsy bitsy moments. All of them.   But, on the other hand it seems half-a-lifetime ago and I guess that’s as it should be, because forty years is half a lifetime.   My cousin sent me a message today telling me he was thinking about me. I was surprised that he even remembered. He is only 9 months older than me. But then, maybe that’s why he remembers. He was the “Max” to my “Carly”. (If you don’t know what that means get a hold of the Double Cousins Mysteries and you’ll figure it out—Although he also is a big part of Brandon but that’s a whole different topic.)   His sweet words were a balm to my spirit. He reminded me of the hope we have knowing we will see Mommy again. I laughed because just this morning I was thinking about that. One of those distinct memories I have from that time was my response to the assurances that people made that I would see my mother again. I don’t remember verbalizing my response but knowing myself as I do it wouldn’t surprise me if I had. I’m just saying. .  .(think Ramona from Beezus and Ramona!)   Here’s what was going through my mind—if not out my mouth. “Yeah, that’s great. I’ll see her again. But that won’t be for years and years and years. I’m only ten. I don’t WANT to wait another 80 years to see my Mommy!”   But here I am, forty years later. It doesn’t seem like it could have been that long. I’m beginning to realize just how fast our time on earth goes by—even if we get the full number of years....

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A Prayer Poem For You

Posted by on Jan 2, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

I wrote this eight years ago and sent it out as my annual letter. I hope it is a blessing to you today.   Philippians 1:3-11 Dear Lord, I thank You for the friends that You have given me, For each time I remember them Your blessing I can see. The fellowship that we have shared in times of joy and tears, Has been a tool that You have used in my life through the years. I know dear Lord, that Your word says, the work You have begun Will be continued every day until their lives are done. So Lord that they will trust Your word, for this I humbly  pray, And  know that You are guiding them through each and every day. May their love abound in wisdom, and understanding too, So the things that they approve  are the things You’d have them do. When others look into their lives may they see sincerity, And a reason for offence may there never, ever be. Ephesians 3:14-19 I bow the knee and ask dear Lord, that strength to them you’ll grant In the inner man, according to Your wealth You will implant. As You dwell in their hearts by faith , Your love they’ll comprehend. And be filled with all Your fulness from now until the end. Colossians 1:9-13 Also give them Lord today,  each the knowledge of Your will. With wisdom and understanding I pray their lives You’ll fill. That they’ll  walk worthy of you Lord  and please You every day, Being fruitful  in good works, and learning more of Your way. Please make them strong and mighty, with Your overwhelming  power. So that they will show forth patience, and with joy others they’ll shower. May they always be quite thankful unto You, our loving Father, For in Christ they’ve been made perfect, and You’ve broken Satan’s power. Psalms 37:23-24 And when they fall Lord teach them what You said in Psalms is true. That a good man’s steps You’ve ordered, and have planned  all he should do. They shall not be utterly cast down, for You’re word has said, With Your hand You will uphold them, and through this they’ll be led. . Psalms 138:7-8,  John 14:1-3 When trials come that break their hearts, and they can’t understand. Help them  know that You’ll perfect them  as they’re molded by Your hand. Until the day You take them home, to live with You forever, In the place  that You’re preparing by the crystal flowing river....

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Posted by on Oct 29, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

At six o’clock this morning the power went off. We knew it right away because the bathroom fan we run at night for “white noise” stopped and the printer in the corner of the bedroom beeped. Yes, every room in our house becomes an office—but that’s a different story. The power was off for an hour and since then we have increased our preparations. We’ve drawn up water, searched out candles and flashlights, started the laundry, the dishwasher is running, and Bruce is checking out a used generator online. It is windy, cold, blustery and miserable outside and I’m loving it! Other than the fact that we may lose power again and all of the pretty leaves have blown off the trees, I think it’s wonderful. I’m sitting at my kitchen table watching the trees at the back of the property bend and sway with the wind. The leaves dance and fly frantically through the air. Here we are, at the end of October and winter is just around the corner. This blustery type of day with winds gusting well into the 50’s is quite reminiscent of life in Wyoming and South Dakota. This is just one of those Fall days. The temperatures FALL, the leaves FALL, and sometimes even tree branches and power lines FALL. The sun is shining—part of the time—and it is forecast to start in this afternoon with the rain/snow mixture that is supposed to come with this type of weather. I’m telling you folks, it feels like the middle of October in South Dakota. The thing about this weather is that I think it really has something to do with God getting us ready for winter. You see, if we went from the beautiful 70 degree days to the cold of winter it would be a shock. But, when you throw a few of these blustery “cold” 40 and 50 degree days into the mix in October the shock isn’t so great. It kind of reminds me of how he prepares us with little problems so that when the big trials come we can stand tall and not topple over. So, bring it on! I have a house full of books and I started a pot of beans this morning. I might even make some soup. There are just some important things to do on days like...

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A Recipe For Comfort Food

Posted by on Oct 25, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Tonight I made Cream of Acorn Squash soup for the first time. Now, it might not sound very good to you but it was. Good, that is. It kind of surprises me that I would enjoy such a thing. It seems like foo foo food to me. But, then I do like soup. I like acorn squash too. As I stood at the counter this evening scraping the baked squash out of the skins I smiled. Grandma Jones would have enjoyed eating some of this squash. She loved acorn squash. It was her favorite. I grinned again when I thought about the mix up I had between pumpkins and acorn squash but that’s a story I already told. But, tonight it wasn’t going to be just acorn squash. It was going to be acorn squash soup. I would need my old Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. That’s when I began to realize this was going to become a collision of memories! You see, there’s more people involved in this soup-making. When I was little my mother always used the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. You know the one. Hers was a hard back copy. It has a red and white cover. It came out in the 50’s. Well, my sister got our mother’s and I always wanted one. So, one day when I was visiting Grandma McKnight down in Athens, Georgia I mentioned how much I  wished I had that cookbook. Grandma decided right then and there that I would have hers. And so I do. It’s even better since it‘s in a three-ring binder. But, it was my mom who told me about the recipe. A couple of years ago she mentioned it. “Have you ever used the cream soup recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook,” she asked? I assured her I hadn’t. She said that she had tried it with some left over celery and they really enjoyed it. So, I took her suggestion only I used asparagus. That’s the beauty of the recipe. You can use any vegetable really. You just need 1 cup pureed vegetable of your choice and voila!, there you have it. Tonight I served it with oyster crackers. They are the ones I bought the other day purely because they remind me of my Grandpa and Grandma Onstott. That’s the first place I ever remember seeing them. I thought they were amazing and fancy. So today I had yummy Cream of Acorn Squash soup and it reminded me of six of the most important people in my life, my mother, Grandma Jones, Grandma McKnight, Mom, and Grandpa and Grandma Onstott. Now that’s a recipe for comfort food.   Cream of Vegetable Soup (pg 372 – Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book Melt over low heat in heavy saucepan  . . . 3 tbsp. butter Blend in . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 tbsp. flour, 1...

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Of Senses and Memories

Posted by on Oct 18, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 7 comments

This morning I am going to a Christian school in Asheville to speak to their students (Grades 1-12) about writing. I am very excited. The lower grades will hear my presentation about my path as an author interwoven with educational information about the writing process. The older students though, are going to be hearing about senses. They may even be using their senses to do some writing of their own. Why did God give us senses? Well, of course it was so that we can taste our food, smell the flower, know when things hurt, see where we are going, and communicate through speech. Simple. But, there is more to it than that. I believe one of the most important reasons is so we can create and recall memories. Let me explain. This morning I woke up with my Grandpa McKnight on my mind. It might be because the Pastor of the church I’ll be visiting today used to by my Grandpa’s pastor. It also might be because I’m going to speak on the senses and I’ve been reminded of him several times this week through my senses. We had pot pie this week. Every time I eat pot pie, I remember my Grandpa. It starts with the sight of the steaming pan with that flaky brown crust on top. Then the smell smacks me in the face and I’m right back in Grandpa’s kitchen with him. He liked making pot pies to put in the freezer for some evening when he had no idea what to fix for him and Grandma to eat. But, the first thing that set me off this week was ironing some of my husband’s shirts. Now, I know they are permanent press, but unfortunately our dryer doesn’t always get them just how we want them. Besides, I enjoy ironing. Not only does it give me great satisfaction to see the end result, it employs my senses. When I iron I love the feel of the smooth cloth under my hand. I love the warmth that radiates up from the material. I have random memories pop into my head when the smell of the warm cloth reaches my nose. Memories of my mother ironing all of those cotton dresses and shirts, all damp from being sprayed, rolled, and tucked in the laundry basket to wait their turn. And, memories of my Grandpa McKnight. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s I would go visit my grandparents in Georgia. I would travel down, spend a week and help Grandpa as much as I could. Grandma was an invalid and unable to leave her room very often. Even with the help of his daughters it was a heavy load for Grandpa. I would iron some shirts and his huge handkerchiefs. I would cook some food ahead and we would put it in the freezer. Grandpa would tell me stories. Repeatedly. He would start with stories about his childhood. Then he would go on to his...

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The Eighteen Dollar Miracle

Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 10 comments

Why is it when we think of miracles we think of the flashy, the dramatic, the “in-your-face” events? Why don’t we think of the practical solutions that we’ve missed, the solutions that were overlooked. And, then one day they were “discovered.” That is the story of my miracle. A few months ago I prayed, I pleaded, I cried to God for a miracle for my sister. I could see her health deteriorating as her tremor took more and more of her abilities and even personality from us. Her children and husband took such good care of her. She never complained. She still managed to run her household and homeschool her children from her reclining throne—or as her youngest calls it—her “natural habitat.” But, her face had lost it’s expressiveness. She needed help with the basic activities of life. It was painful to see and heartbreaking to contemplate. I wondered at her diagnosis. I though she looked like a Parkinson’s patient but so many doctors had said it wasn’t THAT. It was essential tremor and we were out of all of the easy treatments. I know that God answers prayer. I know HE has the power. But did I have the faith to pray for a miracle? I would pray for the faith because I could not watch any longer. So, I added my prayers to those already going up. I asked my church people to pray. I sent messages on Facebook. I told my sister, “I am praying for a miracle.” In my mind this is how it would go down. (Notice how I had a plan instead of just letting God make one—Bless my heart.) Cheryl would go to a new specialist. I would go with her if necessary to make sure that doctor realized my big sister needed fixed. The doctor would look at her and say, “Oh dear, you need this very specialized procedure and it will cost a lot of money.” We would then jump into action, raise a very large amount of money at special events, and my sister would have the miracle procedure. Hmmm. Well, my sister went to the new specialist without me and the doctor looked at her and said. “You don’t have essential tremor, you have Parkinson’s. There are medicines for that. You will see a huge improvement.” We went from dread over the thought of THAT diagnosis to elation. There was medicine! Eighteen dollars a month worth of medicine! So, over the past month as my sister has faithfully taken her new medicine we have seen the rebirth of a powerful, intelligent, brilliant mind. SHE’S back. She walks, she talks—so much this weekend she wore a sore spot in her lip—she types, she even played the piano yesterday. Last evening as I watched her move—with much pomp and circumstance—a tossed salad and a piece of cheesecake from her plate to her mouth without tossing a bit of it across the room or spilling it on her laptop I couldn’t...

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Of Nurses and Politics II

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 2 comments

One of the things I really enjoy about being a nurse is the part where I get to meet a lot of people. Go figure, I am a people person after all. My new job has been especially enjoyable for me. I am no longer in Critical Care. My patients are more alert, more conversive, and for the most part they get well and go home. I’m really enjoying that! The other night I had a very interesting patient. He made me think. He reminded me of a post I had written a few months ago. This man is Jewish. He was in a concentration camp when he was thirteen. He told me about that time in one sentence. “They killed my whole family. . . all of them.” I can’t describe the look in his eyes. He was watching the Convention that night. I think it was the convention of his party, but I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what he said as he shrank lower into the hospital bed. He looked at me with such sadness and said this, “They all say such awful things about each other. They just argue and argue.” I agreed with him and told him my “I wish politicians would act more like nurses” philosophy. He agreed. So, today on this day when we remember 9/11 and are facing an important election I am going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to cut and paste part of a previous post and throw it out there. We need to wake up folks. We need to start talking and stop fighting. I’m just saying. . . Of Nurses and Politics I started my new job last week. Since my official residence is still in South Carolina and I am a republican, I am voting in the primaries 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...

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Nothing To Fear

Posted by on Sep 3, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 2 comments

I heard this weekend that 40% of our personalities are due to “our raising.” I find that interesting. I don’t know how on earth they came up with those figures but I can tell you that I believe with all my heart that events in our childhood do change us. For instance, I know that having my Mommy go to heaven when I was 10 changed who I was forever. How can it not? I have long believed that my fear of sudden bad change relates directly to the fact that my mother got up to go fix supper, and in the doorway between the dining room and kitchen, went to heaven instead. Trauma. It changes us.   However, I see in my nieces and nephews—some very much like their Aunt Miriam the same dislike for conflict, the same fear of bad change. I see it when we watch movies or when they hear a story. I don’t believe it is more than the norm, but there must be some of that in the 60% of their genetic makeup. Of course I hope that they get through childhood without anything happening to accentuate that tendency.   Or do I?   I know that I struggle as a Christian with trusting God. I got a new coffee mug this weekend and it says TRUST on it! I am managerial (aka bossy) and I like to be in control. I don’t want to let go because what if the worst-case scenario happens. I think maybe, just maybe I can help God. If I admit it what I am really saying in my heart of hearts is. . . I think I can do a better job than God! Well.   Hell-OOOOO Miriam.   This summer God put a situation in my life I had never even thought to fear. It was so far beyond the realm of what I dreamed up that it hit me like a train out of nowhere. I can’t fix it. Only God can.   I am helpless in myself. I have no answers other than those that come from God. But you know what? God has been pouring HIS help from heaven like He’s taken the fire hydrant, aimed the nozzle at me and my family and opened it up full-blast. He has shown me that HE has the power, HE has the mercy, HE has the love, HE has the justice, HE has the knowledge. I am the vessel, nothing more, nothing less. HE’S GOT IT!   So, this weekend I went to the Christian Communicators Conference. I thought I was there to learn how to be more professional in my speaking opportunities. HA!   Oh, that was part of it. I learned A LOT. I lived through—and even enjoyed—the five minute taping of my presentation. But what God really did was in my heart. He showed me through listening to other amazing stories of the power of God on the lives of these 31...

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The Soundtrack of My Childhood

Posted by on Aug 24, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 2 comments

When I was a child our home was always filled with music. My mother came from an extraordinarily musical family and she was certainly one of the best. She could play the piano like “nobody’s business” and she could sing. Her solo voice was “discovered” when she went to college and took voice lessons. The story goes that she didn’t tell her parents she had a solo in the Christmas concert and when she stood and sang “O Holy Night” in her clear un-warbling soprano my Grandpa cried so hard the pew shook. (This was his form of high commendation.) My Daddy was not musically talented. He loved music. He loved to sing. But, his voice didn’t know where to go. He has a beautiful voice, but struggles with hearing his note. However, he determined along with my mother that they would fill their home with music. He felt that it was possible that the lack of availability of music in his home when he was a young child had prevented him from developing an ear for music. He didn’t want that to happen to his children. So, they signed up for a record club. Over a couple of years they received a pretty good batch of records. There were some from the Ralph Carmichael Orchestra and the Ralph Carmichael Singers. There was one from the Revivaltime Radio Choir. We heard the White Sisters. Over the years, as opportunity arose they added to the record stash and it now includes George Beverly Shea and Jim Reeves among many others. One of my favorite memories is being allowed to choose which records would go in the stack on the little record player. In fact, when we were sick our day consisted of camping out on the couch and manning the record player. We had some children’s records from the Children’s Bible Hour and Ethel Barrett.  Of course, the story ones were played first, but then when you were tired you would put on a stack of music and drift off to sleep. Thanks to my sister and parents we have had the opportunity to listen to some of these records again. I turn them on and go about my work. Peace descends on my soul like a Grandma’s quilt on a cold day. It is like hot chocolate for my soul. I find myself, 15 years after even hearing any of them knowing the next song when one ends. I hum along and recognize the arrangement before it changes from one section to another. This is the soundtrack of my childhood. I wonder today, in homes across America. . . what is the soundtrack of childhood for the youth of today? Is it ABC, CBS, NBC, MTV, FOX, CNN, American Idol? My soundtrack involves old hymns sung in old styles. Most people would say it is outdated. It certainly is dated in some ways. But, it is my soundtrack. The soundtrack of a joyful home where Christ was the reason...

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From Generation to Generation-Always the Same

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 2 comments

This morning I am drinking my coffee and reading my Mommy’s bible. My Dad and Mom keep it on the piano in the basement. Last time I was home I found a Pledge Card for her to pray for my sister and me from when I was six months. This morning I started poking through the Bible looking at some of my favorite passages.   It appears they were some of hers too.   I love Philippians. I especially like Philippians 4. I actually have a very strong memory of my mother using Philippians 4:8 to correct bad thoughts I was having as a child. It stuck with me.   So this morning, I looked for the red highlights, the underlined places, the torn pages, the notes in the margins and these are the verses that jumped out at me.   Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation (“sweet reasonableness” is in the margin) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for (anxious about) nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.   I love that the Bible is the same now as it was when my Mommy was a young mother. I love that God can speak to me in the same way.   Mostly, I love the truth that no matter what happens in our life GOD doesn’t change and HIS WORD is the same for all generations!   Wowie-Pizowwie!...

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Of Skies, Planes, Geckos, and Memories. . .

Posted by on Jun 23, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 2 comments

For someone who never really liked Florida that well I’m finding myself being reminded of all of my favorite things on this trip south. It’s amazing to me the memories and feelings different sites and sounds bring up.   Yesterday as we drove along I-95 through Northern Florida the blue sky filled with lots of puffy clouds opened up in front of us. “I love the sky here,” I commented to my husband. “It seems so big, so much farther away.” I feel like I can almost see clear to heaven. This, of course led to a discussion of the reason why. Is it the flatness? Is it the lower elevation? I don’t know. But you feel so tiny and the sky so very very big.   As I gazed out the window an I’ve-only-seen-it-in-Florida site met my eyes. “Look,” I said. I pointed to the sky where a small plane pulled a sign. There was a little airfield near our house in South Florida and it was very common to see the advertisement signs being pulled around the sky in our neighborhood. I loved it. Such an unusual thing for me. . .   “What’s on the sign,” we pondered. Then we saw. It was the Geico Gecko and I had to laugh. There you have it, the big sky, the airplanes pulling signs, and the geckos. Three things about Florida that were kind of new and interesting to me.   This morning we are enjoying a relaxed time in one of our favorite places. Perkins. We first saw each other face to face in a Perkins and that is where we had our rehearsal dinner before our wedding 7 years ago this weekend. We like to visit Perkins and celebrate with Peanut Butter Silk Pie and coffee. Too, it allows us time to check email and reconnect. We are computer nerds after all. We are also trying to regroup emotionally with the comfort food. Here’s why.   My most favorite thing about Florida isn’t the sky, the planes, and certainly not the geckos. My favorite thing isn’t even the ocean which I plan to see later today. My favorite thing is the friends. Last night we spent with my “mother-in-law”, the friend who was such a part of my mother-in-law’s life the last few years of her life. Since I didn’t get to meet Bruce’s mother in person I have counted on the friendship with this dear lady and Bruce’s aunt to help me get to know the woman who raised such amazing sons.   It was a bittersweet visit though. Since our last visit four years ago this sweet woman has been attacked by Alzheimer’s and we found ourselves struggling to find new ways to connect. We learned more about her childhood than her present life. We smiled and laughed with her about the good years of raising her children. We hugged her and told her we loved her. We said goodbye.   I might love...

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Of Memories, Shredded Wheat, and Coupons

Posted by on Jun 21, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

This morning I tried a new recipe. Well, actually it is an old recipe. I have no idea how old because it came with the house.   As I have explained I am a saver of memories. I also like recipes. As we cleaned out the house I have set aside any little pieces of paper, recipes, notes, etc. that I thought should be saved. As things get “rearranged” they occasionally will float to the top again and be noticed. Today’s recipe is one such item.   It is an approximately 3X3 inch cardboard piece with a recipe for Fruit Breakfast Crunch on it. It even has a photo of a yummy looking peach dish with a cup of coffee. Oh, yeah.   So, months or years ago I set it aside. It would get buried, unearthed, and buried again. The other day as I was unpacking I came across it again and set it on the designated cookbook shelf. I need to make that soon. I’ll have to get some Shredded Wheat so I CAN make it, I  thought.   (I don’t buy shredded wheat usually. It’s OK but my dad is right, it does taste like hay.)   Anyway, a couple of days later—yesterday to be exact—I was going to the grocery store and I noticed a coupon on the refrigerator for Shredded Wheat. Now, that’s a-whole-nother blog but let’s just say it is very rare. . . very, very rare for me to successfully remember to use a coupon before it expires. Evidently I had saved the coupon just so I could do this recipe. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing that the two items “floated to the top” at the same time.   Since I was going to the grocery store to use two coupons for Community Coffee I decided I would do the unheard of thing and use THREE. So, off I went.   I was so giddy with excitement as I handed my three coupons and three items to the check-out girl I’m sure she thought I was a bit “touched.”   This morning I made the recipe. It involves breaking the shredded wheat into two pieces, putting sliced peaches on top, mixing brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, a dash of lemon, and pecans and dropping that on top of the cereal and peaches and baking it.   I wasn’t sure it would turn out. After all, this recipe—obviously from a Shredded Wheat box—is who-knows-how-old. Tastes in cooking have changed. However, this was amazing dish and I will be making it again.   I like to think that my mother-in-law would have been utterly delighted that I saved her little recipe. I think she would be even more delighted that I made it and it turned out so...

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For The Fathers of “My Kids”

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

I spent most of Father’s Day in a post night-shift fog but I had a couple of moments of clarity. One was when I was talking to my Daddy. I do love him. He is such an inspiration, comfort, and joy in my life. The other was when Bruce’s Aunt Alva was here. I found myself digging out the photo frame full of nieces and nephews which was still carefully wrapped in its blanket from the move. I showed Aunt Alva and then sat with all 12 nieces and nephews on my knee and thought about the Dad’s that made “my kids” possible. I need to thank them. My brother-in-law Norman is responsible for five of the kids, four girls and a boy. My brother did his share by giving me five nephews and two nieces. I am grateful beyond words. It is a little awkward to wax eloquent on the wonderfulness of these two guys because, well, they can be a pain in the neck. What? How dare I say that? Well, it is the truth and the truth is that they glory in being a pain. Our history is that Clark became a pain merely by being born. He intruded in my life by taking over my throne that was my Mommy’s lap. As he grew it didn’t get much better. He’s five years younger than me and he was a much-loved pest. I alternated between wanting to kill him and trying to make him conform to my idea of how he should act. This continued all of his life until I got married. Hmmm. Now I know why he was so excited for me to get married. HA. His self-proclaimed favorite verse to quote to his sisters is this one, “A brother is born for adversity.” I think that he is misquoting it. Despite all of this natural big-sister and little-brother dynamic we really do love each other. I know that if anyone ever tried to truly hurt me they would have to contend with him. I know that I am one of his favorite people. I also know that he is an amazing husband and father. He has produced five boys who are so much like different parts of his intellectual-redneck-cowboy personality that it is an amazement and a wonder. And the ladies his daughters are becoming show me they know the security of a Daddy who loves them. I can enjoy his children knowing they are being trained to respect their authority. They love their family, their siblings, parents, grandparents, and especially their Aunt Miriam. What more can I ask? He is teaching them to be real in their love for others and God. He leads by example in the servant mentality he has towards those who are less fortunate. Thank you Clark. My brother-in-law and I have known each other for 32 years. He has been married to my sister for almost 26. Most of those years we have enjoyed getting under each...

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Treasure In the Pantry

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

One of the challenges to getting settled here in Hendersonville has been the fact that we had to switch gears to Salisbury before we finished our addition last year. We still didn’t have pantry shelves or closet shelves when we moved in.   Bruce finished the pantry shelves yesterday just before I left for work. So, when I got home last night I stood and admired the lovely empty space, just waiting for cans of food. Today I had my chance.   Before going to work this afternoon I transferred all of the pantry goods from the shelves in the “old kitchen” into the new pantry. I found my heart beating faster as I lined the cans up, all in good order. I just love the look of all of that food waiting to be used. Extra food makes me feel safe!   We both come from the same kind of background when it comes to pantry goods. Our families weren’t “rolling in dough” so to speak. Our parents kept food on the table and a roof over our heads. We had enough to eat. We were loved and safe. Sometimes this required creativity!   Our mom’s watched the sales at the store. They bought in bulk when often used items were on sale and then they were put aside for later. We both tend to do that. The lovely thing about this way of stocking a larder is that you always have something to fix. You even have a variety. And if, like my sister said last year when her husband was out of work—the bottom falls out of your world and you have to live off of what’s in your pantry—you can.   When my dad worked for a grocery store as a second job he brought home the cans without labels that they were going to throw out. Sometimes we would open a can and eat the “mystery ingredient”. It was kind of fun. At least all of our food still has labels.   When I organized the food from three pantries into one a couple of weeks ago I told my Mom what I had done. “It helps sometimes to have to go through it all anyway,” she said. “Then you know exactly what you have!”   She was right! I’ve even come up with some supper ideas from the forgotten foods in the pantry. There are others that have prompted me to find a new recipe.   The bonus to the whole process is that the cupboard shelves in the old kitchen which were freed up can now hold some of the extra dishes we brought with us until we can sort through and decide what we need to keep and what we can get rid of. I’m not holding my breath about that part, though. We don’t just have pantry stockers in our family lines. We also have some “keepers and savers.”  ...

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The Gift That Keeps On Giving. . .

Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Today I went to the store to buy a very important item. A clipboard. I need it for work tomorrow.   For the first time in 7 years I’ll be working on a floor that isn’t critical care. That means I’ll have a few more patients. One of the tools I developed when I was in Rapid City was my clipboard and my worksheet.   So, today I made up worksheets and went and bought a clipboard   The first clipboard I bought years ago cost me less than five dollars. I know this because I used money from my Grandpa and Grandma McKnight to buy it. One year Grandpa sent us each five dollars and said something like this: “I know it isn’t much but I wanted to give each of you something. Maybe you can go to McDonald’s and get a burger with it.”   I decided I wanted to use it for a clipboard and I did. I used that clipboard for years until one day it broke. I was sad. Often I had looked at that clipboard and remembered where it came from. So, I went and bought a replacement “Red Grandpa McKnight clipboard”.   Now, I can’t remember where that one is. I think it broke too. At any rate, I needed a clipboard so I set off to find a red one. However, after going to two stores the only one I found was blue. Since we just spent two days moving and I had a house full of boxes as well as a garden full of weeds I didn’t want to turn the town upside down looking for a red one.   Blue is good, I thought. Blue was Grandma Jones’ favorite color. Now I can remember two grandparents with one...

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An Open Letter To My Mom

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Dear Mom, I’ve thought of writing this letter many, many times. I’ve planned it in my head but all of those plans didn’t make it into long-term memory in their exact form, so I’ll start over.   I don’t know if you realize just what a precious gift you were to us. To me. When you came to our home we were a fractured family; heads down, just doing the next thing that needed done while coping the best we could with the tsunami caused by Mommy’s death. Oh, we had love. We had family support. We had friends. We had an awesome Daddy.   But the hole was immense and deep. An endless chasm.   And then you came.   The relief was immediate and exhilarating. Well, at least until you fixed creamed tuna and spinach. (Smile). You came with your new foods, your new ways, and your breath of fresh air.   You were really “cool” because you had been a single missionary. You were the most amazing woman in the world because you got my mass of thick unmanageable hair cut into a shag! We came home from school one day to find you and Daddy had redone our bedrooms with new comforters and paint. Oo-la-la!   Of course, you were firm. You were the Mom and that was an interesting adjustment for three children who had been “motherless” for long enough to have developed some independent ways. That’s all I’m going to say about that.   I have a strong memory of the first time I remember an adult apologizing to me. That was you. It wasn’t anything big. It was just something you said in front of others. Something I’m positive, looking back that I would have said in the same situation. But, when you apologized to me it did something inside of me. It made me feel like you were someone I could trust. Someone who would do right no matter what. I learned that while saying you are sorry is VERY hard, it is the right thing. That, very possibly is the most important lesson you ever taught me.   During all of my  years of being single you were my map. You were the one who reminded me that God has a plan. I just needed to wait. I’m thankful I had that example. It helped more than you know.   Of all of the things you did or were, the best was that you loved our Daddy. You made him so happy and that righted our world in ways I can’t even describe. You continued the pattern we had seen in our parents—that of servant leadership. It’s a lesson that has become part of who I am, who my siblings are.   I thought I understood how it must have been for you to come as an independent single missionary lady and suddenly become a wife, mother, and Pastor’s wife. Then I got married at 43 and moved from SD...

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