Grandma and the Lion Hunt

Posted by on Apr 23, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 5 comments

This morning, sitting on my porch I am reveling in the fact that spring has sprung. The trees are budding out in their lovely spring green coat. No more grey-brown tree trunks. It is a riot of color everywhere I look. My husband mowed the lawn the other day but with all of the rain it appears you can see the grass growing.  And the dandelions. Whenever I see dandelions I think of Grandma McKnight and her lion hunts. A visit from Grandma and Grandpa McKnight was always a very special event. The excitement built over the weeks before the visit and the time they were there always flew by. It was the first time I remember recognizing that time seemed to pass quicker when you are having fun. I remember one visit when Grandma came alone. She was going to stay four nights. It felt like she was only there one. Grandma was full of ideas for keeping us busy. She would give us projects which would get us to work without realizing it was work. One of those projects was her “lion hunts.” “Let’s go on a lion hunt,” she would say. Then she would lead the way out the door into the yard. She would point to a dandelion and explain our purpose. “If you pick it when it is yellow, you prevent it spreading. If you let it turn white the seeds will go everywhere and then you will have more and more until they take over your yard.” So, the task at hand was to pick as many of the yellow ones as we could. I’m sure when we were little the idea of a “lion hunt” probably was inspiration enough. I don’t remember the first time we did this but I do remember that she would pay us. Yep, the bounty for a lion head was a penny. So, with candy costing ten to twenty-five cents this chocolate-loving little girl was motivated. I was going to seek out and destroy every yellow lion head I could find. I was thinking today about how pretty the dandelions look in the spring. Sometimes small children pick them and bring them to their Mommy as a “flower.” Only when they grow older do they realize that these pretty flowers are really weeds and should be pulled, preferably before they go to seed. I couldn’t help but think that sin in our lives is like that. It looks pretty at first, but if left unbothered it will go to seed and spread. We need recognize the sin-weeds in our hearts and pull them while they still look attractive. If we do that consistently, like the weeds the sin will decrease in frequency. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for decreasing sin in my life. I guess I’d better take a good hard look this spring not only at the dandelions in the yard, but into my heart as well. After all, I want the lawn...

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Changing world, Unchanging God

Posted by on Apr 18, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Sunday night at church we had a singspiration. We sang our favorites and it evolved into a trip down memory lane. Several of the seniors shared memories from camp, their parent’s favorites, funerals, and favorite songs from their childhood. We spoke of George Beverly Shea and his ministry which still continued at the age of 104.   It was one of the most wonderful church services I’ve been to recently. You can chalk it up to my sentimental personality bent, the fact that I’m working on getting my Legacy book out, or even the fact that I’m deep into middle age and realizing that the generation ahead of me is aging.   Whatever it is I’ve been keenly aware of the fact that things are changing, people I love and respect are approaching end of life issues and I’m going to have to grow up. Just in the past year Andy Griffith and Margaret Thatcher died. All of my grandparents are gone now. My parents, aunts, and uncles are sprouting more and more health issues. I’m beginning to age. My oldest nieces are graduating from high school. Ugh.   Yesterday morning I was driving home after an appointment and I had the radio tuned to BBN. I love listening to their music. It is calming. It is the soundtrack of my childhood. It is worshipful.   The announcer started talking about George Beverly Shea. He was talking in the past tense and my heart sank. He went on to announce that Mr. Shea went home to heaven on Tuesday, April 16th. Grandpa Jones’ birthday. I was sad. Mr. Shea is part of my childhood soundtrack. In fact, the song that the radio announcer played is one that is on a record at my parent’s house.   So, I’m sitting here writing on my porch and I am listening to George Beverly Shea! I am thankful for his ministry. I am thankful to know he is singing in heaven, maybe with my Grandpa McKnight and my mommy. Who knows?   This morning I woke up with the song “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” running through my head. This is one of my favorite hymns. The truth that God is faithful and never changes is one I’ve focused on many times in my life. I have a feeling as the years go by it will become even more important in my life.   It doesn’t matter which famous Christian musician, staunch world leader, awesome entertainer, or personal friend or family member dies God won’t . He remains the same and He will provide everything I need every day of my life. “All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” Thomas O...

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My Sunday Morning Surprise

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

I didn’t even know my daddy could cook until my mother died. Then we found out he was quite capable. True, we ate a lot of pot pies and macaroni and cheese (from scratch back then) during that time between mothers because it was what Cheryl and I knew how to make, but sometimes he would help us cook something different. Once Mom came though, he gladly gave the kitchen up to the females in the house. 🙂 So, it was a bit weird for me when I got married and my husband liked to cook as much as I do. But, I have to say–it’s right nice when I wake up on Sunday morning and he not only has cooked my breakfast, but has made up a brand new recipe too! Here it is. . . ENJOY!   Cheese, Egg, and Biscuit Muffins       Ingredients 1 can buttermilk biscuits, any brand 1 c shredded cheddar 6 eggs salt & pepper to taste Directions Cut biscuits into six pieces each and place 5 pieces in each muffin cup (works out exactly for 12 muffins). Beat eggs; add cheese and salt and pepper. Using a ¼ cup measure, ladle egg and cheese mixture over biscuits, filling the muffin cups almost full. Bake in 12-cup muffin tin at 425 for 20-25 min.  As a precaution against spills, place a sheet pan under the muffin tin. Variations Add scrambled sausage or diced ham or crumbled bacon or sautéed onion/peppers, etc., to the egg and cheese...

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What This Day In History Taught Me

Posted by on Apr 10, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Each of us has events in our lives that change everything. Some are good, some are bad, and some—well, and they are terrific.   One of my life-changing events occurred on this date in history. I won’t say what year. You’re welcome, Vonda. Yes, today is my baby sister’s birthday and her birth was one of the most influential events in my life. Definitely, one of the terrific ones.   Let me explain why.   I was nearly fourteen when Vonda was born. At the time our family consisted of Daddy, our new mom, my older sister and a little brother.  I had seen babies. I had even held them. But none had ever affected me personally other than the displacement from my mother’s lap which my little brother caused. No, I’m not bitter. . . just stating the facts. 😉   Then Vonda was born. Here was this tiny bundle of cuteness, but face it—newborns don’t do much do they. She was a good baby. She didn’t cry a lot. Pretty much she slept, ate, and did all of the other things newborns do. Anyway, she wasn’t really a lot of fun at first but she was still that precious bundle that connected the dots of family ties between our new mom and the three of us kids.   I was in love.   As she grew into a toddler the fun grew by leaps and bound. She was hilarious. I came alive when I was with her. I wanted to make her laugh. I wanted to see her be silly. I wanted to be the one to teach her how to be silly.  Imagine you are a toddler and you have five people looking at you and laughing at every funny thing you do. Yep, she was a ham.   I loved her attitude, her simple focus, and her pure happiness at being with me. She looked up to me and acted like everything I did was really cool.  She tried to imitate me. If I cleared my throat, she cleared hers. She liked to dress up in Cheryl‘s and my McDonald’s uniforms.   Somewhere along the way I realized that this was a big deal. If she watched everything I did and tried to mimic it. . . YIKES! I didn’t want to lead her in the wrong direction. Not wanting to lead her in a wrong direction molded my actions, believe me.   Through the years our relationship changed. She grew up. I taught her Jr. High Sunday School class. Then I went off to college. My last year at Northland, she was a freshman so we went to college together for a year. (No kidding, and yes, it was cool.)   During that time something shifted. She went from being just my baby sister, to being one of my best friends. We have been travel buddies, diet buddies, single-friend buddies, and accountability partners. We’ve traveled all over the world together and even to see...

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“Seryl and Meerum”

Posted by on Apr 7, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 2 comments

  I was looking for something in my writing files on my computer the other day and I came across this piece which I wrote some fourteen years and five nieces and nephews ago. I am thankful for the gift of my siblings. SERYL and MEERUM  The other morning, after working all night at the hospital, I came home to find my drains backing up.  It was, for this single homeowner, an overwhelming end to a very stressful night; the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.  My sister, Cheryl, found me walking dejectedly towards home after a brief tour through my neighborhood taken in an attempt to walk off some of the stress.  Sensing that I was unready to go home to bed, she offered to take me through the drive-through at Hardees, get a pop, and allow me time to unwind.  As we drove around, her four small children chattered in the back while we attempted a conversation in the front.  (All conversations are like this with small children around.  I know this because I am the proud aunt of 7 children five and under.) As I vented and we talked the sweet lilting voice of my two-year old niece, Mandy pierced the general hubbub to reach my ears.  “Seryl an Meerum, Seryl an Meerum” she sang in a simple melody of her own creation.  Her cheerful voice made me laugh and then as I looked at my sister, Cheryl, a lump rose in my throat.  “Cheryl and Miriam”, I repeated to her with a weak grin.  “That’s the way it has always been isn’t it?  As long as we can remember, it has been ‘Cheryl & Miriam'”.  She answered with an equally wobbly smile and a nod. Indeed, my sister Cheryl claims that her first memory occurred when she was eighteen months old and our parents brought me home from the hospital.  “I remember,” I have heard her say numerous times, “sitting on the floor under the kitchen table watching the legs of our aunts, grandparents, and parents while listening to them make a big deal about this new child”.  It is not a particularly fond memory for her.  I have no first memory of Cheryl, she is an integral part of all memories, for there aren’t many memories from my childhood which don’t include her. We were very different as children, at least to us it seemed that way.  She was thin, pale, and loved playing with dolls.  Admittedly, this is my perspective.  I was more of a tomboy and preferred playing cowboys and indians , hide-and-seek, or best of all, tackle football.  Oh, and I have never been called thin. My sister was a mover and a shaker, the self-appointed madam president of all of our neighborhood clubs.  She had marvelous ideas which she “allowed us” to help her carry out.  For instance, we spent many, many hours tapping on walls in an attempt to find the hidden passageway she was sure we had in our house. ...

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Grandma Jones and the Antiques Roadshow

Posted by on Apr 1, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Today is Monday which means if we have time we’ll catch a little Antiques Roadshow on TV. We don’t watch it every Monday but every time we do I think about my Grandma Jones.   Grandma Jones had little patience for or interest in all of the hullaballoo around antiques. She just could not see what the big deal was all about.   I remember one particular conversation I had with her. I told her about the show and that a particular piece was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. She looked at me with a straight face and said matter-of-factly, “It’s not worth that much. That’s just what someone is willing to pay for it. That’s just a bunch of stuff from when I was young.”   She had a point.   Grandma didn’t care about things. She cared about people. Oh, she wasn’t opposed to things; she especially liked the things that made her life easier later in life. Those things could even be pretty. But, spending exorbitant amounts of money on things that just looked like old furniture to her. . . not so much.   Because she cared more about people than things, her interest in old focused on people. She valued her elders and helped care for her own mother as long as she could. I have vivid mental pictures of my Great-Grandma Trunnell sitting in her rocking chair at Grandpa and Grandma Jones’ house.  She was a quiet, sweet lady. Those who knew her best said she was an angel. She kept peppermint candies by her chair and would let us each have one.   Grandma not only loved and cared for the elderly, she loved and cared for the young. Nothing lit up Grandma’s world more than seeing a new grand-baby, great-grandbaby, or even a great-great grandbaby! Right up to the time of her death she was always most interested in seeing the new people. The rest of us were just extra, but the new ones—they were essential. She taught Sunday School to children. She infused all of the children in her life with practical lessons on character just by being who God made her to be.   I’m thankful for the lessons on antiques that Grandma taught me. People are more important than things, even very expensive, very valuable old things. They are just things after all and you can’t take them with you when you go. But people, ah there’s the real truth to the lesson. If you invest your time and resources to share Jesus with people. . . you can take THEM with...

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How to Help a Grieving Family

Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Every time I hear of another family who has suffered the loss of a young parent my heart constricts with painful memories. Losing a parent as a young child is a life-altering event. Even though I’ve been through this very situation I find myself feeling hopeless to help. I know to pray. That, after all is the best thing I can do. But there has to be more. Here are a few things I believe can be helpful to families going through such loss. Support the remaining parent in any way you can. The truth of the matter is, if the parent is ok, the children will be ok. I know that my greatest fear was that something would happen to my Daddy. Beyond the physical needs of the parent, the emotional stability and coping ability is crucial. The children will gain confidence again as they see their parent coping. Now I don’t mean that they should never fall apart. Seeing your parent fall apart at the appropriate time can be a valuable learning experience in itself. But, if the parent has the right support to handle those moments life can right itself. Try and keep things as normal as possible. Of course it can never be the same again, but the children will find comfort in tradition and routine. Family rituals become all important. If you know that the missing parent used to do something special, ask if you can help carry on the tradition—not to take their place, but to celebrate a tradition they started. Keep any letters or emails you have from the deceased—especially those that mention the children in any fun or positive way. My aunt kept all of the letters my mother typed out and sent her family and after several years she gave us each a copy of all of them. This is a treasure beyond description. I think a photo album of photos from the parent’s childhood and photos of the parent with the children would be great too. Don’t be afraid to talk about the deceased. Tell stories. Relate personality traits about the parent that the child might not be aware of, if appropriate. My step-mom was actually really astute at getting my Dad to tell us things about our mother. Children who lose a parent are afraid they will forget how the parent sounds and what they looked like. Help in practical ways. If it is a mother that dies and she has preteen daughters, take them shopping for personal items. Let the dad know you are available for any conversations he might need help with. I would imagine this could be a problem for a family of boys when Dad dies. If your child is a close friend to one of the children invite them over as before, but give more hugs. Hugs from one of your Mommy’s friends helps more than words can say. Offer help with cleaning, cooking, shopping or just giving the parent an evening off....

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What to Expect. . . or Coming Soon!

Posted by on Mar 23, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Last week I was talking to an agent at a conference. I told him about my Legacy book which will be coming out this Spring. “I’ve been extremely blessed in the parent and grandparent department,” I explained.   I went on to tell him about my grandparents. I told him how my grandparents and parents made my childhood “perfect for me” even when tragedy struck. I told him about their wisdom and humor which came out in practical little sayings—things like, “If it won’t matter in fifty years it isn’t worth worrying about.” (Grandma Jones)   After sharing several of these quotes with him he shook his head a bit sadly. “The problem is there aren’t very many grandparents like that left anymore.”   He’s right. That, folks is why I wrote this book.   Our culture is crying out for wisdom. It’s desperate for common sense. It is absolutely starving for examples of holy living. I had all of those wrapped up in my parents and grandparents.   How selfish would I be to keep it all to myself? Besides, I love telling these stories, because—like my grandparents—I am a storyteller. That’s what I do.   So, stay tuned! In the next few months, I will be sharing new stories here on my blog as they pop into my head. I will be reminding you of the upcoming release of the Legacy book. And, I will be keeping you informed of the exact date of its release. Our hope is that it will be done in time for Mother’s Day.   Now, I just wish I could call Grandma Jones and tell her all about...

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Not Good Enough Anymore

Posted by on Feb 18, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

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. Philippians 4:8   I’ve begun to seriously review my entertainment choices the past few months. Is it really beneficial in my life? Does it help me think of true, honest, and just things? Or—is it as I suspect—muddling my mind with lesser things. I’m realizing that the things with which we surround ourselves and those which we approve for the younger generation do have a lasting impact on their choices. “But it’s the best thing out there,” just might not be good enough anymore.   You see, I have a real-life story to tell you. When I was a child, my Daddy watched what we saw on TV pretty closely. Oh, he wasn’t super strict. But, he paid attention. When we were watching shows as a family he used it as a teachable moment and was always pointing out when something wasn’t correct on the TV show. He would comment when the show made spiritual people look silly. He would point out when people weren’t behaving appropriately.   When I was in 8th grade we moved to California. The TV had been in his room for quite awhile. I guess that was the best way he could think of to control our television consumption but even that wasn’t fool-proof. I’m just saying. So, when moving day came he thought of a new one. He left it behind. Citing the lack of space in the U-Haul truck he had my Grandpa Jones take it and put it in the upstairs of his garage shed.   I suspect he got tired of the fact that he couldn’t watch a show without having to rebut multiple ideas. Imagine . . .that was in the 70’s and those shows are now the safe choice for the most discerning of parents.   Is it any wonder our society is in trouble? What we need isn’t just new leadership in Washington. What we need is for Christians (me) to fall on our faces before God and ask Him to forgive us personally, as a church, and as a nation for allowing things that are not “true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, or praise worthy” to consume our minds and our lives. Then maybe he will change our world.   If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles...

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A Suggestion and a Request

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Recently a friend asked me if I’ve thought of putting out a prayer newsletter for my friends who are prayer warriors. To be honest, the idea had never occurred to me. I still find it amazing that people are as excited about my books as I am and the fact that they want to PRAY for me is just beyond awesome.   My mind immediately flew to my grandparents. I remember wondering when my Grandpa and Grandma McKnight died who would be praying for me and all of those other people that they prayed for. After all, we had plenty of evidence that Grandma McKnight prayed for each of us specifically. There were the lists.   When I visited their house once I found a bunch of pieces of scrap paper on the table. Each had a list of names. Some lists were longer than others. When I asked Grandma about the lists she told me they were her prayer lists.   “When I can’t sleep in the night because of the pain I get up and sit at the table and pray,” she said. “But the pain medicine makes me doze off. Then when I wake up I can’t remember where I was and I have to start over. So, I make lists. Before I pray for you I write your name down. Then if I fall asleep I know where to start up again.”   We laughed a little about the need for the lists, but when she died I felt the hole. I’ve wondered through the years who is praying for me. I know my parents do. I know I have some friends that do. But this—the suggestion that there might be a whole group of people wanting to pray for me and my books—it floored me. It also humbled me.   I am so blessed to be given this opportunity by God. I don’t really think people realize just how much joy and pleasure it gives to me to write these stories and then talk to children about the writing process. Really I like to talk to anyone. Oh wait, you knew that!   Anyway, prayers are needed and they are needed now. My publisher recently agreed to publish two books for me this year. The first one will be a collection of pieces—some from this blog—about the lessons I have learned from my grandparents and parents. Our working title is “A Legacy For Life” and I have a deadline of March 1st. Yes, I said March 1st.   The second book will be the third in the Double Cousins Mystery. It will be set in Rapid City. I have a rough draft but in looking at it more closely I believe it is really only about half of the book. The deadline for that one is September 1st.   So, I would appreciate your prayers. Pray for wisdom that these books would be just how GOD wants them. Pray that I would be diligent....

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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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