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Kaleidoscope Memories

Posted by on Jun 8, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

Do you remember the kaleidoscopes we had as kids? Those long cardboard tubes with the little eye-hole in one end. We would peer through the hole, hold it to the light, and slowly turn the cylinder. As it turned we ooh’d and ahh’d over the different patterns of color and light that appeared in the kaleidoscope. My mind feels like one of those toys today. All of the sites from the past week at home and with family are flashing through my mind, shifting back and forth, up and down, sideways. I see one in my mind’s eye and I think—oh that would make a great post—but then another memory floods in and shifts the focus away. I’ve started a list because right now I can’t focus enough on any of them to write it down. Besides, we’ve been too busy to stop and write. But one of these days I’ll be able to grab my list and pull up a particular memory. I love the fact that God gave our brains the ability to remember things we have seen and heard. That’s what happens when we sleep. Our experiences are filed away into long-term memory during sleep. Maybe that’s my problem. With the time-change and busy days I haven’t been sleeping as well as usual. Maybe when I get home and get some solid sleep my memories will file themselves away in a more orderly format. Then instead of a kaleidoscope my memories will be like a view master! That’s another of my favorite childhood...

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All I Have Needed–a Legacy for Life

Posted by on Apr 24, 2013 in Blog, Home Is Where The Story Starts, Uncategorized |

One of the things I learned from my parents and grandparents was this love of books. Even though books weren’t always easy to come by in the Sandhills, my ranch grandparents loved reading.  Grandma Jones was such a voracious reader that after her eyes failed her we arranged for her to get books on tape from the library. Yesterday, in interviewing my aunt for our family newsletter I discovered that my great-grandmother also loved to read. She always kept her magazines, Capper’s Weekly and GRIT by her chair. I get GRIT. I love the connection. Today, as I often do, I find myself wishing I could share something with my grandparents but I can’t. They are all in heaven. So, instead I am going to share it with you, and indeed all over the internet! I am pleased to announce the cover of my newest book, All I Have Needed, a Legacy for Life. This book is a collection of pieces written about the common sense life lessons gleaned from my parents and grandparents. I learn best through hearing and seeing, so the fact that I was surrounded by people who were gifted at creating word pictures for me was an incredible blessing. Not a day passes where something I see, hear, smell, taste, or touch doesn’t bring up a memory of something I learned from one of them. I am blessed. So rejoice with me that we have a cover. Keep your eyes open for updates on a definite release date. As of now, it appears that our release date is May 30th. As we get closer to that date I’ll let you know more details, but with the title name and my name you should be able to start watching Amazon and such places for pre-orders. You can also notify your local bookstore to be on the lookout for...

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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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“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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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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Of Senses and Memories

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

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

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The Eighteen Dollar Miracle

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

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

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Of Nurses and Politics II

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

One of the things I really enjoy about being a nurse is the part where I get to meet a lot of people. Go figure, I am a people person after all. My new job has been especially enjoyable for me. I am no longer in Critical Care. My patients are more alert, more conversive, and for the most part they get well and go home. I’m really enjoying that! The other night I had a very interesting patient. He made me think. He reminded me of a post I had written a few months ago. This man is Jewish. He was in a concentration camp when he was thirteen. He told me about that time in one sentence. “They killed my whole family. . . all of them.” I can’t describe the look in his eyes. He was watching the Convention that night. I think it was the convention of his party, but I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what he said as he shrank lower into the hospital bed. He looked at me with such sadness and said this, “They all say such awful things about each other. They just argue and argue.” I agreed with him and told him my “I wish politicians would act more like nurses” philosophy. He agreed. So, today on this day when we remember 9/11 and are facing an important election I am going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to cut and paste part of a previous post and throw it out there. We need to wake up folks. We need to start talking and stop fighting. I’m just saying. . . Of Nurses and Politics I started my new job last week. Since my official residence is still in South Carolina and I am a republican, I am voting in the primaries this week. Now, I realize there may be an apparent disparity between those two events, but I think not. I’ll explain why. I started thinking about this last month when I finished my last week at Lexington Medical Center.  I was so, so, so glad to be done. But, I was desperately saddened. I was leaving “my peeps”. I’ve never called a group that before. For some reason—I’m unsure why—I bonded more than ever before with my coworkers. I think it may have been our differences. The group that worked the night shift were from all over. There were some from the South, sure. But, there were some from the Midwest, the Northeast, the Philippines, Norway, and even one from that foreign-est of foreign places, South Dakota. But, that didn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that we were of all different persuasions of religion and politics. There were ultra-conservative people, bleeding hearts, those who really didn’t have an opinion, and some in the middle. We were of every color, “red and yellow, black and white.” We even had different styles of nursing. There were the “rule followers” who believed the policy is...

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Nothing To Fear

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

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

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