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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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Of Flashbacks and Templeton the Rat

Posted by on Apr 28, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

The other day I told an online friend that “my eight-year-old twin nieces turned seventeen today! How did that happen?” It’s hard to believe the nieces and nephews are growing up so fast. I have flashback moments—usually when they are telling me the things that they are doing now like getting learner’s permits and such—where my brain still sees them as four to eight year old children. Kind of like that car commercial on TV. I had a flashback moment the other day when I was in Pennsylvania. I stood in front of a classroom of third graders and spoke about developing the plot of a story. I was using the story of Charlotte’s Web to explain each point and the flashback happened. In my mind I saw my five oldest nieces and nephews all under five years old. They were sitting on the floor in my parent’s house watching Charlotte’s Web for the umpty-jillianth time. My Dad sat in his recliner watching the grandchildren. All of a sudden, from Daddy’s chair and in his voice came a perfect impersonation of Templeton the rat. “That wasn’t nice, Charlotte.” Our heads whipped around. There sat my Daddy, grinning—or would that be smirking—from ear to ear. The kids dissolved into giggles all over the floor and I thought we grownups would laugh until we cried. This morning I had a strong pang of wishing. I was wishing that my siblings could bring their children to see me. When I first got married and moved South that was the plan. But distance, finances, car woes, the price of gas, health issues, and did I mention distance has prevented it. So, every chance I get I travel back to South Dakota. Sometimes I take videos with me. Sometimes I take my favorite picture books to read to the youngest ones. I don’t want them to miss any of those favorite Aunt Miriam experiences. It’s just a few months until I’ll go again. I can’t wait. I’m planning a video party with the youngest ones. We’ll watch Charlotte’s Web! Now, if any more of the boys can avoid having their voices change before I get there. ....

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Opportunity. . . the answer?

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

A few weeks ago a lady who has known Bruce’s family for years was visiting with us at church. She commented about how smart Bruce’s Daddy was. She mentioned that he was so good with his hands. She summed it up this way. “If he had had the educational opportunity he could have been an engineer or something.” Bruce agreed with her. We were talking again Sunday about my Grandpa and Grandma Jones, Bruce’s parents, other adults we know. Many, many of them did not have much for opportunity when they were young. There just weren’t choices for education like there are today. Life was tough. Putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads was a higher priority. Yet their lives were a success. They were honest, hard-working people who did a good job of raising their kids to be productive members of society while themselves being honorable. What more could we ask? I’ve had my Aunt Arlene on my mind lately since I’m doing a family newsletter and it’s her turn to be interviewed. The trouble is, she’s in heaven and I can’t call her. So, I’ve enlisted help from others. What I’ve heard over and over from her siblings and children (8 of them) is that she was a hard worker and she was smart. My Uncle said he thought she might have been the smartest of all. She never went to college. She chose to get married and raise a family and that’s what she did. Very well. I look back at the lives these people lived and I can’t help but wonder this. How much better off are we now that young people have every opportunity. Pretty much if you want to you can find a way to go to college. There are even colleges for kids who aren’t college material. There are scholarships and grants just waiting to be snatched up. Maybe it means student loans but there are ways. The world says you can be anything you want to be. The problem doesn’t seem to be the lack of opportunity today. The problem seems to be lack of character. So many people today don’t want to have to work for what they get. They feel entitled. I think it’s time to change the conversation. I don’t think we should be telling kids they can be anything they want to be. I believe with all of my heart they need to be told this: You can be anything GOD wants you to be. He will empower YOU to do the work needed and it CAN be accomplished. If that is their vision and mind-set they will have both the opportunity and the character they need to change the...

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Riding The Rails

Posted by on Apr 15, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I am riding on a train. A real train, not just one of those touristy trains that harkens back to a previous time. No, this is an honest-to-goodness train taking honest-to-goodness people to places they need to go. It’s the first time I remember being on a passenger train in the good old USA. The last time I was on a train was from Budapest to Vienna and I don’t have positive memories of that trip. But then, that’s another story involving two huge suitcases and a stolen passport. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Today though I’m riding along from Salisbury, NC on my way to Philadelphia, PA and I’m watching the world roll by out my window. It is amazing. There’s a cemetery followed by a manufacturing lot. Now a farm field, trees, farm field. . . I’m feeling a bit like I’ve traveled back in time. I’m beginning to see what my Grandpa McKnight was talking about when he said that train was so much better than flying. Oh, of course it’s not as fast. It will take me 12 hours to get where I’m going (oh, hey there’s another cemetery) but if I was going to fly to PA it would be an hour to the airport, a two hour wait to take off, a couple of hours of flying and then get my bags and wait for a ride. It still takes most of a day. And this way, I get to see stuff. Stuff like the cemeteries, the trees, rivers and creeks as we go across bridges. We see the older parts of towns which might be part of the reason why I feel like I am time-traveling. There are houses right beside the tracks which remind me of the house we lived in when I was a kid. There are churches and since it is Sunday the parking lots have cars and I see an occasional person going in or coming out. We just passed through Whitaker, NC. Or is that Virginia? I’m not sure. I think we are getting close to the Virginia border. Wow! There’s some open space. . . oops it’s gone. Just passed the Rockfish Capital of the World, but I’m not sure of the name of the town. Or the State, for that matter. Now we are crossing a river and the train track is up above the trees. Wow, that is amazing. I feel an affinity with the past. I can almost imagine myself living 100 years ago. Well, until I realize I am sitting here with my computer plugged into the wall typing while my iphone is charging through my laptop. . . guess they wouldn’t have had those a hundred years ago. In my defense I did read a book, study for the lessons I am going to do this week, and read my Bible (well that was on my iphone) before breaking out the computer. . . The attendant—she’s not a...

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A Recipe for Pleasing God and Man. . .

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

Monday night Proverbs 3:3-4 jumped out of my Bible and slapped me right in the face.   “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart. So shalt thou find good favor in the sight of God and man.”   What struck me first was the combination of mercy and truth. I find in today’s culture that these two don’t seem to coexist very well. Not even in Christian circles.   As Christians we are called to show mercy. We are to love the unlovable. We are to be Jesus to the world. We are to meet their needs.   We are also called to uphold the truth. We are not to compromise. After all, we are to be salt and light, not just one of the gang.   But we are told to be merciful.   And so it goes.  The problem is that we seem to get one or the other right, just not both. Evidently this isn’t a new problem. After all, in the verses above God said not to let them forsake you. That makes it sound to me like mercy and truth are just as likely to wonder off than hang around your neck.   I thought of my winter scarf and the way I have to tie it in a knot around my neck or it gradually slides one way or another. Kind of like truth and mercy, isn’t it.   I find this especially interesting in light of the polarization that is present in our country. It pervades every area of our culture. You can see it in churches, families, and politics. People are so sure their way is the absolute right way that they can’t even listen to another perspective.   I’m just saying.   The last part of that verse says to write mercy and truth on the table of your heart. I think about when the sidewalk was put in at the church when I was a child. I know that I wanted to put my hand print in it. I had seen sidewalks with prints in them and it captured my imagination. Just think, someone years later could see my handprint there and know I had been present. Of course the fear of the Lord and my Daddy prevented it.   We should write mercy and truth on our hearts so they are always there. So that everyone can see they are there.   The next verse is extremely interesting to someone who tends to be a people pleaser. I heard a great message a couple of weeks ago challenging us to be God pleasers, not people pleasers.   I propose that according to these verses there is a way to be both! If you can find the balance between mercy and truth, you will please God and man.   Now that is something worthy of my efforts. Mercy. And...

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The Intrinsic Catalyst Effect of One Small Change

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Can you believe I thought up that title all by myself? Honest! I know it sounds more like something my Scientist husband would write, but it is all me. It is a mouthful, I admit. But it is a perfect description of something I have learned over the past six years. For six years we have been working to restore Bruce’s childhood home and property and create our own haven. It has been a haven all along, but one drowning in projects. However, over and over I have seen the immense and unexpected value of one single change. As the title says, one change can be the catalyst for so much visible change. For example, when we took the very real 5000 copy paperback library out of the living room on our first working trip to the house it was a catalyst. That one little project allowed us to move all of the furniture to the middle of the room and paint the walls. I’ll never in my life forget the feeling I had when the room was finished. We sat on the couch and looked at the clean empty spaces and smiled. We were amazed and hopeful. Maybe we could do this. Let me share another example. This one occurred just yesterday. Several months ago we bought a gas stove for the new kitchen. However, due to the fact that the connections were too tight for Bruce to safely do it himself and our inability to be here to let the plumber in it had never been hooked up. This meant that we were still using the stove in the old kitchen but the refrigerator in the new. It was workable, certainly but led to frustrations. We had two sinks and two drain boards and the utensil I needed always seemed to be in the other kitchen. Yesterday, the plumber came and he hooked up the gas stove. Voila! With the stove in the new kitchen I was able to bring the cooking tasks with their equipment over to the new kitchen. This incited a frenzy of cleaning, especially after I moved the microwave too. By the time it was done the new kitchen was completely functional and the old kitchen was clean and neat. The counter in the old kitchen even became a lovely display venue for some of my teapot collection. The changes weren’t large, but what a feeling of accomplishment. I found myself motivated to take on other tasks I had avoided all week. I wonder what other small changes in my life would be the catalyst to huge accomplishments? I guess I have my goal for the day; find one small change and watch things happen. I just hope it doesn’t involve big words; I used all of mine in the title this...

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Better Than an Antidepressant!

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

There are two things which can brighten my mood, no matter how dark; children and music.   Since no children live at my house it is a blessing beyond words to have the vast access to good music. We do like our music. We have almost as many music CD’s  as we have books. If you have been to our house you will understand what an amazing feat that is.   One friend walked into our house for the first time and said, “do you think you have enough music?”   Well!   Of course, with the ability now to listen to great radio stations on the internet we don’t use all of those CD’s very much. But we still have them.   I have found through the years that I can walk into a building in the darkest, deepest, emotional turmoil with no ability to smile and when I walk into a room of children the dark is gone. The sun shines again. For those moments when I am with the children I am happy again! It’s better than taking anti-depressants that’s for sure!   Likewise, the power of music is uncanny. I really only discovered this the past few years. Maybe that’s because my favorite “anti-depressants” were all in South Dakota, but the value of beautiful music became key in my life. I can put in a CD of Vivaldi and within minutes I can feel my spirit rising.   If there is no good music on the radio and I have no CD or other source all I have to do is sing. I remember one trip when for unknown reasons I was just a sad, pitiful, weeping mass. Bruce had tried humor. He had tried comfort. Finally I said, “let’s sing.”   So, we started singing hymns. Hymns like What a Friend We Have In Jesus, God Will Take Care of You, All the Way My Savior Leads Me, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, and Amazing Grace. I cried through the first verse of the first song, then the dark cloud lifted. As we sang those amazing old hymns my spirit was comforted. The smile returned.   So, now  if I get blue I turn on some good music. Sometimes Bruce turns it on for me! He’s a smart...

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