Home Is Where The Story Starts

Turning. . . A Simple Gift

Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

Turning. . . A Simple Gift

  Saturday, Bruce and I drove down to Newberry, South Carolina, for Oktoberfest. We hung out at one of our favorite bookstores, Books On Main, visited with friends old and new, and sold books. It was delightful. But, in our minds was the little detail of time. We were on a schedule. At 2:30 we needed to leave since I had another destination that evening. But there were people still buying, so we lingered a bit. After all, if people are buying, you don’t leave. But as soon as we could we packed up, hurried to the car, and Bruce drove back up the mountain.   Then I switched gears. Throwing my already packed bag in the car, I said goodbye to my husband, and off I drove for a writer’s weekend near Boone, North Carolina. Whew.   This is our life. Switching gears. The turn around. The next event, next day at work, next project to get done, next book, next trip. As we drove, the spectacular Autumn foliage popped up around every curve. The season has changed and the trees have “turned”. Bruce commented on the song from The Byrds called Turn, Turn, Turn. (To Everything There Is A Season) by Pete Seeger. As a young adult it was one of his favorite songs. He especially liked the harmonies, and the words come straight from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which of course talks about the changing seasons.   Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.   I didn’t know the song well, but as he described it, the melody and words floated into my memory, as songs often do. Yes, I knew that song.   Then he mentioned a song I didn’t know. Simple Gifts, a Shaker tune. Here are the words to this piece.   Simple Gifts (by Elder Joseph) Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free. ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, And when we find ourselves in the place just right, ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight. When true simplicity...

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How Sweet The Sound!

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

How Sweet The Sound!

It is a well-known fact that I am a hummer. (Not to be confused with a humdinger or the vehicle by that name, please.) The truth is I am almost always humming something. It is a humming habit. I don’t know where it came from; it has been a part of ME as long as I remember.   In addition to humming, I also am known for the ability to think of a song lyric for every situation. For instance, if I am having a difficult day, I might burst into song with “Smile, though your heart is breaking, smile, even if your faking. “ Yes, sometimes I change the lyrics. As I woke up this morning I thought of my trip to this beautiful mountain home in Boone where I am enjoying a writer’s retreat with friends. It was Saturday night. I had already been to Newberry, SC with my husband for Oktoberfest, then back home where I gathered up my things and jumped back in the car.   By the time I arrived in the Boone area it was dark. Pitch dark. My GPS failed me, not even recognizing the name of the road. But, I was confident. After all, we lived near here for a year and I drove this road back and forth to work many times. All I had to do was find the intersection.   Well, let’s just say that after several tries I was inordinately relieved to find an email from one of my friends with a phone number to call if I needed anything. So, I phoned a friend.   Deanna talked me in and when I couldn’t find the keypad to get into the gated community (we decided they made it impossible to find in the dark so those who don’t belong can’t get in—that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) Glenda drove down and let me through the gate. We laughed about “how many writers does it take to get into a gated community”?   But, this morning as I remembered this episode, a single line from a song drifted through my head. “I’ll be on your side forever more. . . That’s what friends are for. “ I smiled. Then, I thought of yesterday at our church in the mountains. When the choir sang an arrangement of “All The Way My Savior Leads Me,” I sat with my eyes shut and let the words wash over me. This is one of my favorite hymns and one particular line has comforted us more than once.   “For I know what e’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.”   I thought of my Daddy. Since June he has suffered two strokes. He is still alert, oriented, moves all of his extremities well, able to care for himself, but weak. And, he can’t talk. Oh, he gets a few words out. Sometimes an entire sentence pops out. But it is hard work. And frustrating. But, one of his first...

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Lovingkindness. . . A Gift To Me

Posted by on Oct 17, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Lovingkindness. . . A Gift To Me

I woke up this morning and snuggled under the covers. I asked God to show me what HE thought of me, and these words came to mind. “Oh love that wilt not let me go.” I smiled. Several years ago when we went home for a visit, my oldest niece, Kari came to me and said, “Aunt Miriam, will you sing a special with me for church?” Of course I said yes. (I say yes to my nieces and nephews as often as I can.) This is the song we chose: O Love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be. O light that foll’west all my way, I yield my flick’ring torch to thee; My heart restores its borrowed ray, That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day May brighter, fairer be. O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain, That morn shall tearless be. O Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from thee; I lay in dust life’s glory dead, And from the ground there blossoms red Life that shall endless be. by George Mattheson Today I am attending the last day of a women’s conference. Allume is a conference for Christian bloggers and writers and I am here because my publisher suggested it. (I also like to say yes to my publisher as often as I can.) At Allume I have been challenged, taught, encouraged, brought up short, and thrown to my knees before God. I have been uplifted by sweet friends, old and new. I have been reminded that I am a wonder to God. I have been shown that God delights in me. I have been challenged to see myself as God sees me, all of my messiness . . . but YET. . . he delights in me. He made me this way. And, though—like my daddy reminded me—he may not want me to stay exactly how I came out of the womb, he created me to be who I am today. Then he strategically placed and removed the events, trials, joys, opportunities, and people into and out of my life to make me capable of doing and being what he wants me to do and be.Today. So, my nieces and nephews? Gifts of God. To me. Music?  A gift of God to me. The opportunity to sing this song with my niece a few years ago so that whenever I sing it I think of her, and pray? A gift. And, then the Holy Spirit whispers in my heart, “Miriam, if HE loves you that much. . . If He arranged all of that? WHAT good thing is he arranging for you today?”   Jeremiah 31:3  The LORD hath appeared of old unto...

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A “Someday in Heaven” Week

Posted by on Sep 27, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

A “Someday in Heaven” Week

  I don’t often have strong moments of missing my mother. She went to heaven when I was ten, so it has been a lot of years. But, last Sunday as the soloist sang, a thought flashed through my head that led to a sudden sadness. “Mommy would have loved that song (Grace) and she would have sung it.” Then, the pianist hit a really interesting key change and I thought, “That would be fun to play.” That’s when the moment of sadness hit. When my mother died I lost the opportunity to ever accompany her on the piano. But, just as quickly as the sadness arrived, a response which I’m sure was prompted by the Holy Spirit popped into my head. “Ah, Miriam, someday in heaven. It has been a “Someday in Heaven” sort of a week. This week a sweet friend from work held her Papa’s hand as he went to heaven. I wrote about him recently; I wrote of his love for his little great-granddaughters. It was a powerful thing to see. Another day, one of my favorite guys—my best friend’s Dad—graduated to heaven. It is good to know he suffers no more. He fought valiantly and lived with grace and truth. But, oh the hole he leaves. We will miss his humor, wisdom, and love. And then, tragic news of a friend’s son in his first year of college, unexpectedly called home. So much unused potential, we think. But God, He is good all of the time. He is with us through it all. I began to dread looking at emails and facebook, or receiving calls. It was so much sadness and loss. Heaven sure was looking better and better. Then, I was reminded of a letter Grandpa McKnight sent me a couple of years before he went to heaven. In it he started listing all of the people he was anxious to see again in heaven. To be honest it made me nervous. I didn’t want him focusing on that! It seemed too much like a “goodbye, I’m tying up loose ends” kind of letter. It made me sad. But, now I get it. He was reminding himself of the glorious hope we have in Christ. There will be a day. A day of no more tears. No more goodbys. No more parting. No more sin. No more pain. And maybe on THAT day, I’ll accompany my mother as she sings a song for Jesus. Just think. . .   As I wrote this, one line from the song on Sunday came back to me. It is a powerful truth. Your will cannot lead me where your grace cannot keep me. (Grace by Carolyn...

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Learning at Their Feet

Posted by on Sep 7, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

Learning at Their Feet

The other day I saw one of those meme’s come across my Facebook page with this quote by Andy Rooney. The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person. The picture was of an old lady back in the fifties or sixties sitting in a bus or train station with a little boy wiggling beside her while she talked about something undoubtedly  important! At a glance, I could have sworn it was my Grandma McKnight. My breath caught in my throat and it wasn’t just because of the photo. It was the quote. The friend who posted it said this: “I always thought this was true. Do young folks today believe that?” It made me a bit sad that she asked the question. That she had to ask the question. I believe this is a fundamental problem in our culture. The children MUST learn at the feet of the elders. The photo and sentiment brought another photo to mind. I dug around in my computer picture files until I found it. Yep, there it was. A precious picture of Grandma Jones and one of her great-great grandsons. Even as her brain refused to stay awake, she always would wake up for the “new ones.” She lived for the events where they were visiting. And, the grandchildren, greats, and great greats valued her presence, wit, and wisdom. Then my mind flew to another photo I knew I had floating around my house. I’ve intended to scan it in for several years now. It is a picture of Daddy with two of my nieces. The photo is almost twenty years old now, and the nieces are adults finishing up their college degrees this semester. That didn’t keep them from sitting with their grandpa at the hospital when he had his stroke this past Spring. Daddy is much like his mother. He loves all of the visitors, but the ones he gets really excited about are the grandchildren. I called him one evening recently when he was spending a couple of nights in the hospital and he was anxious to share that my oldest nephew stopped by all on his own to see him.   Then, just a week ago I went to work and found I was being “floated” to another unit. I wasn’t particularly thrilled. (That is a colossal understatement.) But, even as I grouched and grumped around I knew in my heart what was going to happen. God was going to make this a day to remember. I was there to receive a blessing. I might even be given the gift of BEING a blessing. Ugh. I wanted to be a grouch. (Yes, I did have that bad attitude, I am sorry to report.) I was right. In the first room I entered sat a grandpa, propped up in the hospital bed. A great-grandpa. His “night shift daughter” was at his side. Soon the “day shift daughter” arrived. He was charming and cheerful even...

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A Time Capsule of Sorts

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

A Time Capsule of Sorts

Every time I pull out our little red rice cooker my husband says, “There’s a big one somewhere in the basement.” To be honest, I was kind of tired of hearing it. This past week’s house project included cleaning out one area of the basement so that we could make a tool and work area for Bruce. Guess what we found right where he thought it was? Yep, the rice cooker. We pulled it out and set it on the back steps to take upstairs when we were done. Sunday morning we took it out of the box. We wanted rice for dinner and thought there was no time like the present. It was something more than an old rice cooker. It was kind of like a little time capsule. Here are the facts: This rice cooker has never been used. It has been there for years. It is Japanese. It was most likely purchased in Japan and brought to Bruce’s Grandma or mother by his Uncle who lived in Japan. The box still has his last name written on it with marker. It is in perfect shape. The instructions are written in English, but by someone for whom English is a second language. It is much better English than foreign instructions today. There are many more things you can cook in a rice cooker besides just rice! The cloth wrapped cord was still tightly coiled, just like it came from the company. There are Japanese characters on the power plug. It doesn’t appear to be worth a lot of money per my research online. It makes awesome rice. I wondered why my mother-in-law never used the rice cooker. Then, I looked at the tiny kitchen she had and realized that if I was wondering where I was going to keep it in my new, roomier kitchen; she surely wouldn’t have had room for another appliance. One that was taking the place of a simple pot she could use for many tasks. My husband shared more with me about his Uncle and what a wonderful event it was when he came to visit. I listened and learned more about this family I joined ten years ago. I am currently writing a mystery set in Saluda, NC. The kids in my mystery find a time capsule buried in a tater house. They learn things about people who lived long ago. People they will never meet. Just like I did with the rice cooker. Maybe I’ll call it my rice capsule. Or time cooker. Hmm. Maybe I’ll work on that idea some...

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Hospitality – A Gift

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Hospitality – A Gift

We often look at hospitality as a gift. One we give to others. But it can go both ways. The other evening at church the Pastor was talking about the importance of showing hospitality. He spoke of the challenge of not letting our own plans get in the way.   My husband and I both love having company come. We really do. I think hospitality is one of our gifts. But, that night the word made me anxious. You see, we had a friend call and she wanted to come spend the weekend. I was delighted she was coming. But, I was a bit stressed since we were/are in the middle of a major “turn everything upside down organizational push” at our house and you know how we women can be.   As I thought of hospitality, I realized I had seen a good deal of it just this summer. In May we planned to visit Rapid City for a couple of weeks. Our hosts and dear friends were gracious and excited about our visit. We had a busy schedule planned. Then, my daddy suffered a stroke and we left early for South Dakota. Once there, we decided we would stay two weeks and leave. But, then we would miss my nephew and niece’s graduation, the original purpose for our visit. We didn’t want to do that. But, staying two weeks with friends is a big deal. Three weeks? That’s a lot to ask.   But, not for these friends. They were gracious. They said it hadn’t been bad at all having us there. They let us know they didn’t mind. And they meant it, we could tell. What a gift.   When I went to Hayesville for the book event in July a friend of a friend opened her lovely home to me. Because of my two night stay I now have a new friend. One who knows what hospitality truly is.   Two weeks ago we visited a home that has become dear to me. I have visited the Clark’s many times over the past 24 years. Every time I pull into their driveway and enter their house a sense of peace descends. This family has perfected the art of hospitality. They could teach graduate classes on the subject. They could write the book. When we arrived, the Clark’s were still at a VBS event. “Just go on in,” they said. We grabbed our bags out of the trunk and climbed the steps to the back step. When we walked through the door into “The Room That Richard Built” we were welcomed by the huge dining room table. I heard it say, “Let’s play a table game.” I turned and looked at my husband who had never visited this home. The look on his face said it all. It was peace. It was delight. It was comfort. They had him from the get-go.   The next morning Mom Clark took us out and showed us around the yard. She...

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Saluda Dream – A Summer To Remember

Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 4 comments

Saluda Dream – A Summer To Remember

Have you ever wished you could go back to the past? I have often thought I would love to spend one day on a Wagon Train. Just one. I’m pretty sure the novelty would wear off quickly. Today I believe I might enjoy a return to Saluda, NC in the first part of the last century and I think I could last much longer than one day. Here’s why. Saluda, North Carolina, a small town at the top of the mountain sits just off of I26 as you come up from South Carolina to Hendersonville and Asheville. The interchange consumes what used to be my husband’s grandpa’s corn field. The family refers to the building of the road as, “When the road took the farm. . .” Because, well, it did. Take the farm, that is. If you drive down into Saluda you see a sleepy little town, a tourist destination of sorts with a railroad track running right down Main Street. There are no trains now, mores the pity. (Reason # 1 I want to go back to the former Saluda.) Anyway, you would never guess if you just drove through, the rich history hidden in this tiny town. I’m talking a colorful and varied history. There is the history of the Cherokee Indians who lived in these parts first. Then you have the first settlers who came through on the Indian Trails in the 1700’s and stayed to make a living off the land. There is Revolutionary War history and Civil War history. All of that was before Saluda even got its name. What really made the town come alive was the railroad. In 1878 the track was built up the Saluda Grade and the town’s name was changed from Pace’s Gap to Saluda. When the trains arrived, the people from Florida and South Carolina flocked to this mountain town for the summers. Hotels and boarding houses popped up everywhere. At one time there were over thirty of them. The first third off the 20th century Saluda was a happening place. Besides the tourist industry, there was the baby hospital started by Dr. Lesesne Smith. The homes on his property housed a hospital for the sick babies who were brought to the mountains. A group of benefactors in Spartanburg decided they needed a hospital for those who couldn’t pay too, so the Spartanburg Babies Hospital was born. It sat across Greenville Street from Dr. Smith’s hospital and he saw the babies there too! The doctor also ran a Seminar every summer for pediatricians from all over the country. As incredible as this seems it all happened in Saluda. So, I have been researching all of this for the book I am writing. It is the first in a new series of children’s mysteries set in the South. But, I’m having a problem. The research is so much fun. Driving around town finding all of the old hotels and boarding houses is a bit addictive. Dreaming about how...

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A Real Place, One I Called Home

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

A Real Place, One I Called Home

If I ever build a town from scratch, I’ll start with a town square, one with a park in the middle surrounded by brick streets. If you have one of those, the people and stores will come.

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A Growing Legacy!

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts | 2 comments

The grass shimmered with dew and the air was still cool when I gathered the rake, hoe, and a small bag of seeds and headed out to celebrate my birthday! Yes, you read right. I celebrate my birthday by planting things. It started about thirty years ago when we just happened to be planting our garden on my birthday. I clearly remember helping Daddy mark the rows with sticks and string, then planting corn and bean seeds every few inches. Something about putting those seeds into the ground, knowing that plants would grow, food would be created, and we would be able to eat it spoke to my soul. That may have been the first time I ever really helped plant a garden, I’m not sure. But it wasn’t my last. I was hooked. Of course, if my birthday was in November—like my older sister—it would be harder to keep this tradition. But, May 2nd clearly lends itself to such an activity. The seeds I planted were ones I received from a dear friend. “Mom” Clark has been an inspiration to me for over twenty years now. (See photo above for a view of their yard.) Every time I visit them I am challenged, blessed, and delighted to see the home she has built there with her husband. Not only is their house a haven, but she has a flower and vegetable garden that serves others. She has flowers that are cut and placed “just so” into jars, then taken to the shut-ins that she ministers to, or friends that need a pick-me-up. A couple of years ago she let me harvest some seeds from her cock’s comb and I have been itching to find a place to plant them. So, happy birthday to me. . . this year I did it! Last week we transplanted some daffodils and peonies which Bruce’s aunt gave us. She had thinned some of hers and sent him home with a car load. We planted the daffodils between the hostas we received a couple of years ago from friends at church when they were thinning theirs. The peonies, it turns out, originally came from “Over Home”—the name of Bruce’s great-grandparents place in Polk County. These are legacy plants. In my kitchen I have an African violet that came from one Grandma Jones had. I also have a mother-in-laws tongue that I got from Mom. It keeps growing little babies, so I have several plants I need to give away. We have a plant Bruce saved from his mother’s funeral and another plant his aunt gave us. If you look at all of the plants in and around this house, all but one came from someone. Even the huge Norway spruce tree beside the house was once the little Christmas tree for Bruce’s family. Heritage. Legacy. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be as small as a seed. Which reminds me. I have some Bradley beans which I soaked overnight....

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A Moment of Legacy

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

A Moment of Legacy

This morning I sit at my kitchen table, my de facto office. I’ve been sitting here a lot these days as I work on my latest book. I’m approaching final revisions and I’m ready to be done.  A couple of days ago I had one of those moments of recognition. One of those moments which, if you know me at all, you know I revel in. It’s not really déjà vu. It’s more like the quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s when they ask the man in the store to engrave a Cracker Jack ring. “Do they still really have prizes in Cracker Jack boxes? . . . That’s nice to know. . . It gives one a feeling of solidarity, almost of continuity with the past, that sort of thing.” That’s the kind of moment I had. Let me explain. Our home is a family home. My husband’s parents built it before any of their boys were born. My father-in-law hurried home on weekend leave from boot camp in South Carolina to make sure it was enclosed and safe for his wife when he left for Korea. They raised four boys in this home, and after her husband died, Bruce’s mom stayed here for many years. I never met either of them, but I’ve had the privilege of getting to “know them” through their home. For instance, our kitchen table is the very one that they used in their kitchen. I love it because it is a classic. It is yellow, and I like yellow. I like the fact that I can see the worn spot in the top where his Mama set her coffee cup. A few years ago we added an addition off to the side of the existing home. The addition includes our new, bright kitchen which looks out on the deck and across the back yard. It actually sits pretty much where an old red cedar tree sat. An ice storm took the top out of the tree several years ago, so we didn’t mind so much taking it down, but still it was sad. See, Bruce’s Mama loved to read, especially romances. She always wanted to travel, but by the time she could. . . well, she couldn’t, due to health problems. So, she sat at her kitchen table, read books about exotic places near and far, drank coffee, and watched the birds in the cedar tree out of the kitchen window. She especially loved a pair of doves that nested in the cedar tree. She read romances, after all. That kitchen window is now a doorway into our new kitchen. The table sits very close to where the tree once stood. At the old yellow table I write books about places near and far, drink coffee, and watch the birds come to the cedar birdfeeder on our new deck. I especially like watching the chickadees playfully swoop in and out, taking turns at the feeder. I write children’s stories, after all. So, when...

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Music and Memory

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Shortly after my grandma went into the nursing home some of her family purchased a CD player for her. Others bought or rounded up good music CD’s. Grandma loved good music. She liked watching some TV programs like the Hallmark Channel, but cataracts had made it almost impossible for her to enjoy. She loved to read, but once again her vision precluded that. So, we got her music. She loved her music box and listened to it a lot. In fact, the nursing staff said she listened to it almost 24/7. She had many CD’s with old hymns and they were some of her favorites. I asked her what singer she liked and she told me John Denver. She said he had such a nice voice, so easy to listen to. She especially liked Rocky Mountain High. I bought her a set of John Denver CD’s which I now have at my house. Now, every time I hear a John Denver song I think of Grandma. If the music was going her feet were going too. Oh, not fast. She would just wiggle her toes back and forth to the music. Bruce and I had the privilege of going with her to a church service at the nursing once when we were snowed in there in Broken Bow on our way home to SD. I don’t know the denomination, but their music was lovely. Grandma nodded along, and sang a little too. It was the highlight of her day. Today I was reminded of this when I watched a show called Alive Inside-A Story of Music and Memory. It is a documentary I found on Netflix that speaks about the value of music in helping people with dementia keep their minds engaged. It was powerful. I was ready to jump into the car and go to the local nursing home to play the piano. So many older people have so much to offer us, and yet they can’t interact with others to share that information. Or maybe they can, but we don’t take the time to listen. I’ve heard it over and over at work when I encourage my patients to share their stories with their families. “Oh, they don’t want to hear that!” I think many of us would love to hear about it, but it does take effort. And sometimes music. I’m thinking I need to find a nursing home near my house and see if I can’t find another “grandma” or “grandpa” to visit and sing with. How about you? For more information about the music and memory program and how you can help get iPods to seniors, go to http://www.musicandmemory.org. I hope you  enjoy this amazing video demonstrating the power of music to help those suffering from dementia.  ...

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And I Know He Watches Me!

Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Three chickadees dined at our bird feeder this morning. The first one darted in, perched on the side and pecked at the suet they seem to prefer over the seed. When two more approached, he skittered away. While one bird took his place, the other perched on the deck rail waiting his turn, like a customer at a restaurant listening for his name to be called. Finally, the second patron left and the patient one took the preferred spot, never mind that he ignored the opposite side which also provides suet. We did buy two kinds of suet. Maybe this is evidence of a preference. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying watching the birds. I find myself looking for reasons to stay and work at my kitchen table so I can enjoy their arrivals and departures. That isn’t too hard with a book deadline fast approaching, but it can be distracting. We have four kinds of birds so far. The chickadees are my favorite. We also have the sparrows and the wrens. Then there is the tufted titmouse pair. They are a lovely bird with a horrible name. At least, that is my opinion. A few more come by to see what all of the excitement is about, but don’t stay to eat. Those include the cardinals and even a red-headed woodpecker! Once the little birds fly away we can’t see them in the underbrush and on the trees. But, the bright ones—the cardinals, blue jays, and the woodpecker—we can see from clear across the property. From my table I can watch them fly from branch to branch in the big trees at the back of the garden. As I watch the birds enjoying their new source of food or flitting from branch to branch I think sometimes about the verses in the Bible regarding birds.  Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Matthew 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. I also think about the song I’ve heard all of my life, especially one line: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me. God doesn’t have a problem seeing the birds in the underbrush. He doesn’t depend on their coloring to make them visible on a cloudy winter day. No, He sees them anytime and anywhere. And, it is no different with me. In Psalm 139:7-12 I am told that I cannot hide from God. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.  If I say,...

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The Most Powerful Presence

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Home Is Where The Story Starts |

We spent Thanksgiving with some of my McKnight cousins. It was so much fun laughing and remembering together. We found ourselves bringing our grandparents into the conversation over and over. Whether it was mimicking one of Grandpa’s pet sayings, or commenting of how proud Grandma would have been of one of the kids attitudes their presence was felt. Oh, not literally. They weren’t there in some ghostly way. It is just that we know them. They invested in us and taught us. We sense what they would say and do. We also spoke about how we tend to hang on to things just because they belonged to someone we love. I’m really bad about that. I guess it feels like they are not completely gone if I have something of theirs. I’m working at whittling down the things we have to things we truly love and can use. But it is hard. When I was packing books last summer I found a small book on the shelf. It is old and the cover says it is a World Devotional Classic. On the flyleaf it is inscribed to my Grandpa and Grandma McKnight.  To: Franz and Eleanor for their gracious hospitality and Christian fellowship in the LORD. Bill   Psalm 13:6  It is a copy of The Spiritual Riches of John Bunyan, published in 1952. I have been reading this book here and there, ever since. I haven’t made it far. I keep getting distracted and when I come back to it, I reread the part I already started because it is so good. One simply cannot overdose on the attributes of God. Last week I reread a short paragraph and I copied it into my journal. I prayed over it and asked the Lord to help me hold onto this passage. I believe that if I can truly GET the truth of this point it will CHANGE MY LIFE. It would change yours too. Here it is.  PRESENCE OF GOD God’s presence is renewing, transforming, seasoning, sanctifying, commanding, sweetening, and lightening to the soul. Nothing like it in all the world: his presence supplies all wants, heals all maladies, saves from all dangers; is life in death, heaven in hell, all in all.  Whether I’m at home, at work, in my car, in danger, in perfect safety, having a good day, a bad day, or somewhere in between God is with me. His Holy Spirit lives within me. I hope the knowledge of HIS presence affects me even more than the memory of my grandparent’s presence. After all, HE is actually still here! Psalm 139:7-12  Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I...

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A Right and A Responsibility!

Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

This is a column I wrote for the Newberry Observer back in 2010. It is applicable for today! Enjoy! I am so excited for November 2nd to get here, I can’t hardly wait! It is, after all one of my favorite things in life. On November 2nd I get to go stand in line, get my ballot, go into my private little booth—how exciting is that—and making sure no one sees what I am marking. I get to have my say.   The thing is, I’m not just excited for November 2nd because of the present dissatisfaction with the direction in America and our government. I am excited because this is something that I was raised to deem important. In my family voting was never questioned. It was something you did because you were an American. It is, after all our right and our responsibility.   When we are given such a huge gift, such as freedom we are then responsible to take care of that gift. This was not preached to us but lived out. My grandparents and parents got excited about voting. They paid attention to the news. They discussed politics. Then, they made the best decision they could and they voted.   I remember a conversation between my Grandpa Jones and my Dad. Grandpa was probably in his early 80’s and he was concerned about the direction of the country. He commented that he just wanted to leave a better place for his grandchildren. He wondered if he had done enough to ensure that. He was born in 1905 so he had seen hard times. He had seen good government leaders and bad ones. He had voted a lot. But he still felt the responsibility. Overheard conversations like that one really make an impression.   I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to vote. When Ronald Reagan died I sat on my couch and cried while I watched the news coverage. My niece sat with me and watched me cry. I could tell she didn’t understand what Aunt Miriam was so sad about. “Ronald Reagan was the first President I ever voted for,” I explained. “He was a real American hero.”   Even at her young age she understood. Her parents believe in voting too, you see. Now my nieces and nephews, several in their teens, are anxiously awaiting the day when they can vote.   One thing that is so amazing to me is that it doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, black, white, red, brown, or yellow. If you are an American and 18 you can vote. Even if you are living in Thailand you can get an absentee ballot and vote. Why wouldn’t you?   It doesn’t matter if you live in South Dakota, South Florida, or South Carolina. You can live on the coast or in the forgotten middle of the country. You can live in Manhattan, New York or Manhattan, Kansas. You can be unemployed or the CEO of...

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Benefits of Transitional Seasons – Like Snow on Leaves

Posted by on Nov 3, 2014 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts |

Leaves shouted their existence with riotous color as the branches, clothed in pure white demanded recognition of the soon demise of Autumn. I stood in my kitchen, gazing in wonder at the five inches of snow blanketing the deck and the back half of our property.     My heart jumped with delight at the whiteness. Snow makes me happy. But then the leaves,   jostled by the wind waved at me. What about us? We aren’t through yet, you know! We thought Autumn was your favorite season. Traitor!   That night the wind howled. I snuggled deeper under the covers and listened to the sound of trees bending and swaying, the gusts inevitably tearing more leaves from the trees. Still,  the wind comforted me. The sounds of windy nights always bring memories of my  childhood in the Great Plains. Comfort food for the mind.   The next morning, the view out the back window was admittedly less pleasant. No snow. Noticeably fewer leaves. But then I peeked as far left as I could and there they were. Some trees still gloriously covered in bright yellow leaves. On our way to and from church we saw more vibrant trees shouting the triumphant survival of Autumn.   Yes, the snow warns that winter is coming. We must prepare but we can still enjoy some Autumn before Winter arrives for good.   I love the fact that God gives us some warning.   I have a set of four paper “lampshades” that fit on top of a night-light. They are seasonal. So, on the first day of Autumn I fulfill my ritual and I change the lampshade. When winter comes, I change it again. Each season is acknowledged by the changing of the lampshade. It is a rare day indeed that I change it early or late. No, it must be on the FIRST day of the season.   God isn’t that way. Otherwise, one day would be beautiful crisp Autumn with picture perfect leaves, and the next Winter, complete with a blizzard. How would we adjust to that?   Not well, I’m afraid.   And while we are thinking about transitional benefits let us not forget aging. Now, I don’t consider myself old but I’ve had a rather shocking episode of aging this summer. With the failure of my tendon I’ve faced the reality that I’m not as young as I used to be.   If someone had told me in June that I would be JOYFULLY wearing a brace on my left foot, a brace I very well may have to wear for the rest of my life I’m afraid my reaction would not have been pleasant or accepting! But throw in a few months of inability to function and well, the brace seems like a friend.   So, I’ll enjoy the next few days of beautiful sixty degree afternoons and crisp nights. Maybe I’ll take my new brace and go for a walk stomping in the crunchy leaves,...

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