From My Front Porch to the Great Plains

Most mornings you can find me on my front porch. Even when I leave for work at 6:20, I steal a few minutes on my porch with a cup of coffee, watching the day dawn and listening to the birds greet the new morning.

Every day I become more and more amazed, enthralled, and captivated by the variety of birds and creatures God gave us. For instance, just from our porch I have seen the following this Spring/Summer.

Early one morning, two raccoons marched down the road and climbed the maple tree, as if they own it. Maybe they do.

Two groundhogs burst out from under my porch in the middle of some kind of altercation. When I yelped—yes, yelped—they turned tail and ran back under opposite ends of the porch. I guess they decided it was better to get along under-ground than to deal with that crazy human on the front porch.

Squirrels. Lots of squirrels, which my husband calls tree rats. There is one who likes to pretend he is a high-wire performer and jump from the tree in our front yard to the tree across the road. He’s made it every time, so far. We have rabbits that hop around the yard and into the gardens, if given a chance, and the occasional deer or three.

Then there are the cats. A neighbor has some cats that made some more cats and you get the idea. They are semi-feral, but deign to approach our porch for the little bit of kitty food we put out to entice them to visit our property often, and at length. You see, there are also mice, and it sure helps to have cats prowling around the exterior of your home.

The most recent cat visitor to our porch is a kitten. We’ve named it Tippy—short for Tippy-toes—because it has perfect white toes on his front feet which contrast with his brown black coat. I admit it. We’ve named them all. It’s easier to say, “Patch was out on the porch this morning,” than, “that white cat with yellow patches was out on the porch.” So we have Bob—his tail somehow got cut off—and Tom. They are both big male cats and they rarely eat from our porch but do roam our yard. There is Patch and Spice, Clove and Cinnamon, Cinder and Stretch, and now Tippy. And Sandy, the feisty runt of his litter. Bruce calls them skitty kitties, and the little one is “the itty bitty skitty kitty.” We like rhyme.

The other day Clove tried to come up on the porch with a big old mouse in her mouth. I guess she was showing me that she was earning her keep. I shooed her away. I saw her a couple of days later with another one. I cheered her on, while assuring her I didn’t need to see the results of her exploits.

And finally my favorite, the birds. Our neighborhood sounds like an aviary, especially in the morning. At first light they start warming up. Cardinals, wrens, blue jays, tufted titmice, chickadees, crows, doves, towhees, hummingbirds, and wood peckers.

One recent morning I sat on my porch and thought about the joy the birds bring to me, and how they glorify God with their beautiful song. I couldn’t help but remember the little chorus I used to teach the children:

           

The birds upon the treetops sing their song,

            The angels chant the chorus all day long,

            The flowers in the garden blend their hue,

            So, why shouldn’t I, Why shouldn’t you.

            Praise Him too?

 

In two weeks, Bruce and I will take off in our motor home for an 11 week tour of the Great Plains. The purpose is two-fold. First, we will be visiting all of my paternal aunts and uncles, as well as Mom’s sister and brother. But, secondly, we will follow in the steps of the Double Cousins from the Double Cousins Mysteries. We plan to visit every town in which a Double Cousins mystery was set.

So far I have eleven events scheduled and I’m expecting a few more before it is all said and done. You are welcome to follow along virtually through my Double Cousins Mysteries (Ages 7-13) Facebook page.

If you are interested in the itinerary, go to my website’s home page and you will find it there. In addition, like and follow the Double Cousins Facebook page so you don’t miss any of the fun!

I have a feeling I might miss my front porch a bit while I’m gone. However, I am thrilled at the thought of all of the unique Great Plains creatures and creation I will see instead!

She Lived. . . Stitch by Stitch. . .

Last night I was exhausted; mentally, emotionally, and physically. Wednesdays are always difficult for me since I work the previous two nights, but despite extra sleep yesterday afternoon I was pretty pitiful. So, I put myself to bed. I snuggled under my Grandma quilt and drifted off to sleep.

Today is the 98th anniversary of the day my Grandma Jones was born. This marks the first birthday we won’t be celebrating with her. She is celebrating it in heaven and I don’t regret that. I miss her. A lot. But, I know she was ready in every sense of the word and I’m thankful she is there. However, I couldn’t help but think of the impact she had on the lives of so many people in this world. She wasn’t famous. She wasn’t rich. She wasn’t a huge success by today’s standards. Yet, in every way that really counts she was famous, rich, and successful. And she did it stitch by stitch.

You see, my Grandma was a wife, mother, grandma, sister, friend, daughter. She took her relationships and responsibilities seriously. One way she showed her care was by providing for her family. She made quilts. Lots of quilts. When her children were at home she made quilts to keep them warm. They weren’t for show, although she loved to make them beautiful. As her family expanded, so did her quilt making.

For each new grandchild she made a baby quilt. There were 23. For each grandchild’s high-school graduation she made a tie-quilt. There were 23. Then she went on to make each of us a quilt for a double bed. When she came to a wedding, she brought a quilt and Grandpa brought money. A few years ago, when it became apparent even to her that she wouldn’t be able to keep her house much longer, she gave out he quilts to those who weren’t yet married. I put mine away for awhile but then decided I wanted to use it, married or not.

Since getting married I have kept the quilt folded at the bottom of my bed. When I am cold I pull it up. I can see different pieces of material in it that I recognize. They were the remnants of things Grandma made for us when we were younger. I know that Grandma put a lot of love into each of the quilts she made, just like she put a lot of love into each of our lives. She wasn’t a woman of many words. She wasn’t managerial. She was just a woman who loved her family and provided for them.

Even though I don’t have children I can learn a lot from her. I need to use the talents I have to provide for, and bless those God puts in my life. That’s all He asks. I don’t need to do it all at once, either. I can do it like my Grandma, stitch by stitch, over a life-time.

On My Father’s Side. . . and On My Mother’s Side

We so often talk about our physical and personality traits and trace them back to our parents. I love doing this. Today I received this amazing song. It is one I have never heard before but it is well worth the time it will take to listen to it.  For someone like me who needs a human connecting point to “get something” this was amazing. Thank you, Jesus for coming as the perfect God-man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5ddoyfn6g4&feature=related

Right Feeling Follow Right Actions

Why is it that we sometimes have to  be reminded of our own advice?

Right Feelings Follow Right Actions.

The first time I remember hearing this phrase was at Northland Baptist Bible College. It is an amazingly simple concept, one we all have experienced but certainly one that is difficult to live consistently. At least it is for some of us. I’ve found it useful when teaching children. I even put it in my first book. It is such a critical concept to “get”.

While I don’t remember hearing it put quite that way before Northland, I had certainly been taught the concept. I had been taught that if you do your work first, your fun time is much more enjoyable. I can attest to the fact that is true. We all know that if there is a task we are dreading, getting it done brings such a sense of relief and accomplishments. I had also been taught that if we obey, even when we don’t want to, we will be thankful we did. This also is true.

So why the difficulty? I’m sure it is wrapped up in the human nature, sin, selfishness, laziness, all of those negative traits.

Whatever causes it, I struggled this morning. I didn’t feel like getting up but I wanted to get things done. Once up I didn’t feel like doing the things I wanted to get done, but I wanted them done. The longer this tussle went on the more miserable I became. I even started to get a headache.

Finally, after a few stops and starts and some prayer on my part for divine help I gave myself the right-feelings-follow-right-actions speech. Then I got the two things I was most dreading DONE! Then we rewarded ourselves and went to Sonic for a Diet Cherry Limeade and a drive in the convertible. Now that I am home I am whizzing through my list.

 Well, maybe plodding is a better word but at least I’m moving forward.

A Legacy Should Not Be Wasted

 

I am impressionable. I admit it.

For instance, when I watch the movies made from Jane Austin books I have to make a pot of tea. When I watch You’ve Got Mail, I need a cappuccino.

One year, after watching You’ve Got Mail for the umpty-jillianth time, I made handkerchiefs for all of my nieces. Do you remember the scene where Meg Ryan’s character uses a handkerchief with a daisy on it? Then, in another scene she gets daisies when she is sick. They are happy flowers. I like happy flowers. Let’s just say I bought a lot of daisies when that was my favorite movie. . .

Like I said, I’m impressionable.

For this reason, if no other I am exceedingly grateful for my upbringing. We’ve all seen those impressionable souls who can’t decide what they believe. They can’t make right choices. They always seem to be following the wrong guidance. I really believe I have that potential in me, considering my impressionability factor.

So, what made the difference?

First, of course it is the Lord. His Spirit dwells in me convicting me and helping me make right decisions. Without Him I would be in a heap of trouble, that’s for sure.

There is another thing though. I have been given—by God no doubt—a precious and valuable gift. It came packaged in my parents and grandparents.

For an impressionable child there was nothing more valuable than a world filled to the brim with mature, loving, consistent, Godly examples of the fruits of the Spirit. I’m not exaggerating here folks. My parents and grandparents taught me everything I need to know to succeed in life. Then you throw in some awesome aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, and friends and I have been wrapped in a cocoon of positive impressions.

I have seen—lived out in full color—self discipline, the value of hard work, a vibrant prayer life, patience, forgiveness, wonderful marriages, meekness, goodness, faith, moral excellence, determination, humor, and the list could go on and on.

My spirit was overwhelmed and I cried yesterday as I drove to work. Why me? Why did God bless me with this amazing life? So many people struggle through life, overcoming their surroundings and I’m given this amazing opportunity. Why? With great opportunity comes great responsibility.

Please pray for me as I seek to use the opportunities God gives me to make the best use of this legacy. It must not be wasted.

Generational Friends

Generational Friends is a term I coined to explain some of my family friendships. I don’t mean friends in my family, but friends that encompass an entire family. I guess it is the result of growing up in small churches where we didn’t have all of the groups that seem to be so essential in churches today.

I really don’t need to get off on a tangent here but I must say. . . I do not understand the hang-up people have about needing a church to meet all of their needs. For instance, a youth group, a children’s ministry, a singles ministry, a young married group, a seniors group, etc. etc. etc. How on earth are the older women supposed to minister to the younger ones when they never interact. Besides, what about the idea of what You can do to help the church. To borrow a phrase from President Kennedy, ask not what your church can do for you, but rather, what you can do for your church.

OK. Sorry. That is one of my soap boxes.

 Because we didn’t always have the opportunity to have friends in our particular age range, my siblings and I learned to be friends with those much older or younger than us. Some of my best friends have been senior citizens. In another instance I was in my early twenties when I gained a friend in her teens. From that friendship I developed a close friendship with her older sister, her mother, and eventually the entire family.

In the case of another family the friendship started with the parents who are ten years my senior. I babysat their children when I was in nursing school. He was my Pastor. Through the years I went back as often as I could to see them and our friendship grew and continued. I went to graduations and weddings. The funny thing was, once the kids grew up they became my friends too. One went with me to a singles retreat.

 Another one, Josh, called and I helped he and his wife and baby Emmy get back to Sheridan to surprise the parents. During that car ride was when the term generational friends was coined. Josh said to me, “Miriam, I bet when Emmy grows up she’ll be your friend to.” I hope so.

September Morning

September Morning

Crushed

By the numbers and images.

Falling buildings, broken hearts

Crashing Planes, crushed bodies

Jumping people, hijacked dreams.

America staggers

Under the weight.

Fear, anger, disbelief,

lost innocence.

Our hearts are fallen,

Our minds unable to conceive this evil

Hiding amongst us.

As the fog of dust and ashes

begins to settle,

We lift our flags

In homes, businesses,

and even amidst the rubble.

Reaching a hand to God

We pull ourselves first

to our knees, and then

United

As “one nation, under God,”

We stand as fast as we can

To face a changed September,

Mourning.

by Miriam Jones (2001)

Meet Me In The Stairwell

‘MEET ME IN THE STAIRWELL’ 

You say you will never forget where you were when 
you heard the news On September 11, 2001. 
Neither will I. 

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room 
with a man who called his wife to say ‘Good-Bye.’ I 
held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the 
peace to say, ‘Honey, I am not going to make it, but it 
is OK..I am ready to go.’ 

I was with his wife when he called as she fed 
breakfast to their children. I held her up as she 
tried to understand his words and as she realized 
he wasn’t coming home that night. 

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a 
woman cried out to Me for help. ‘I have been 
knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!’ I said. ‘Of course I will show you the way home – only 
believe in Me now.’ 

I was at the base of the building with the Priest 
ministering to the injured and devastated souls. 
I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He 
heard my voice and answered. 

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, 
with every prayer. I was with the crew as they 
were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the 
believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them. 

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. 
Did you sense Me? 

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew 
every name – though not all know Me. Some met Me 
for the first time on the 86th floor. 

Some sought Me with their last breath. 
Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the 
smoke and flames; ‘Come to Me… this way… take 
my hand.’ Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. 
But, I was there. 

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You 
may not know why, but I do.. However, if you were 
there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me? 

Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey for you . But someday your journey will end. And I 
will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may 
be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are 
‘ready to go.’ 

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments. 

God

(Thanks to my Mom who sent me this forward by email.) 

Going, Going, GONE

I am pleased to announce (and so relieved) that the Book 2 proposal is in the mail I just took it to the post office and sent it off. It should arrive tomorrow. Please pray with me.

I believe that this publisher is the one the Lord has directed me to. I know that is a bold statement, but my decision was made based on prayer, the advice of wise and knowledgeable people, and the peace I have about sending it to this particular publisher. So, I am praying “in faith, believing” and I can’t wait to hear from them. 🙂 They promise to respond within twelve weeks. 

Here’s where it gets tricky. What if they say no? It’s possible. I know many people who have believed they are doing God’s will, pray in faith, believing, and God shuts the door. So, what is the answer? I guess it is surrender. This is not my book. It is a project that I feel God has given me. So, I will trust his timing and his power. But, I’m still praying “in faith, believing!” Pray with me, please!