Sunday, February 1, 2015

Treasure Hunting

I've been thinking about the wonderful times I had as a little girl in Sunday School.  I loved it!  We had Bible verse memorization contests like spelling bees, books with spaces to fill in with verses, and it was such fun filling in the blanks.  Our only translation was the King James Version back then and sometimes I found it hard to understand, but the meaning was there and I got it.  We had a weekly verse to memorize and the teachers sometimes rewarded us with a sticker or pencil or bookmark if we'd done our lessons.  I still remember a chartreuse pen with red printing I once was something I treasured for years.  I still remember the verse:  For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.  I pondered that a lot.  Dying is not a concept a child usually thinks about.  But because I had hidden that verse in my heart, it's still there. 

With the world in the state it is, would it not be prudent to continue teaching our children and grandchildren to memorize verses that they may someday need to recall?  Perhaps our churches will be gone or our Bibles burned.  If we have those words hidden in our hearts, no one can destroy them unless they destroy our body, too.  In the '90's, I made a list of verses from A to Z on notecards.  I review them often, tucking them away for today, perhaps for tomorrow or troubles down the road.   A...All things are possible with God, Mark 10:27, B...Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken, Psalm 16:8, C....

Maybe you, too, would like to seek these treasures.  Happy Hunting!      Judy

Sunday, January 4, 2015

For Death's Sake

Christmas isn’t supposed to be a time for being preoccupied with death.  It is, for a Christian, time to celebrate the beginning of real life, for Christ’s coming means the beginning of the new order, God’s Kingdom set in motion, his kingdom of love and light.

But for me this Christmas time was a journey for death’s sake.  In mid-December I boarded a plane bound for Spokane, the nearest point to the farm where I grew up, and, if the truth were told, the place where home abounds.  Those hills will always fill me with peace and joy, and if I close my eyes, I am there. 

Death had come to my 92-year-old uncle, my favorite uncle.  As a child he babysat me, laughed with me,  and I basked in his presence.  Later, though we met scarcely once a year, there was no distance between us.  Face to face, even a few words made the day whole.  The last time I saw him, it was at another funeral service, and we sat at a table with our arms around each other’s shoulders.  I have the picture to prove it.

We cousins and children met to say good by to Uncle Archie.  We said good by in hugs, tears, eyes glued to the pictures of him in his combine.  We said good by in saying, “Remember when?” and "Please tell me again how you held his hand and he squeezed it and then took his last breath."  We said good by when we shared lunch at the church and playing switching chairs so we could sit by everyone.  We said good by as we wound our way from the church to the cemetery that overlooked the Snake River.  We stood by Uncle Archie in his box and listened to his boys (men over 60 now) saying he never became angry with them.  We heard his nephew declare, “He was my second father.” 

By this time we were less than a dozen cousins, sons, and spouses.  We stood in the weak sunshine and wet grass that chilled our toes, loath to leave.  We stretched the day when we, as a group, decided we must visit our grandpa and grandma, Archie’s parents.  We knew they were somewhere near the trees at the top of the hill, so all of us spread out and walked over the area, hunting from stone to stone.  My brother was the one who found them.  We stood around their graves and said a few words of remembrance, the closing of a circle of the day.

To spend a day with dear men and women of the same DNA and experiences, and most of all, of the same hearts towards the Savior-to-come: so important it was unspeakable.  Hearts were full, love spoke from eye to eye, ties strengthened beyond breaking.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Real Meat of Christmas

If you read last week's blog on our exotic Christmas meat contest, you're probably waiting with bated breath to learn the winner.  Let me first tell you the entries.  There were three appetizers:  wild boar sausage with dijon mustard, rabbit/rattlesnake sausage with Sriracha, and teriyaki marinated bison skewers.   For the main course we enjoyed yak meatballs, seared reindeer with cherry sauce, and a dry ham I had overcooked, but not overlooked for the non-exotic eater types.  In the end, everyone tasted everything and laughter reigned!  The vote was cast and the American Bison won by a landslide.  ("Oh, give me a home where the bison roam" would be more correct words to the song, since buffalo are only Asian and African.)  Perhaps it wasn't as exotic as the others, but the taste far surpassed the offbeat taste of the rarer forms of meat.  Certainly rattlesnake and rabbit are exotic as well as common.  Coming in a distant second was reindeer.  It must be a sin to eat Rudolph on Christmas!

The best moment of the day came, however, when my twelve-year-old grandson with a voice like an angel sang Happy Birthday, Jesus (by Carol Cymbala) as our prayer before dinner.    A Happy and Healthy New Year to you all!




Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Exotic Christmas

I have a weird family, but don't we all?  For several years now on Christmas day at my house, we've had a contest.  Whoever brings the best chili or bacon dish or side dish or dessert wins a prize.  We have a blind taste test and vote by secret ballots.  Jessica (niece) usually wins, but that's because she's a great cook overall.  My son gives it his all, too, but he lost the coffee-in-anything contest and his North Carolina 'greens' side dish left something to be desired.  And how can bacon ever go wrong, even if it's in ice cream?  I usually cook the main course meat and that has never been an entry, but this year it will be.  Everyone is asked to bring an exotic meat for us to sample and our votes will be cast.  Already we have complaints coming from all participants.  One won't taste it unless she knows what it is.  Several are complaining that it's not tradition and where is the turkey or marinated pork tenderloin or that fantastic prime rib we had one year?  I can tell already it's going to be a fun day!  I'll keep you posted after Christmas on what folks brought and who wins the prize. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On Vacation No More

This blog has gone on vacation, or is on sick leave.  Or perhaps it merely suffers from neglect. 

“Oh, no,” Judy and I lamented.  “Who shall write first?”  We each have been leading ordinary, hum-drum lives, albeit packed-to-the-top and over-flowing.  Satisfying and enervating but perhaps not exciting for anyone else.

I would stop right there, perhaps should (laughter).  However, this week I am thinking about writing again, for my first-draft manuscript is calling me to fix some things, add some things, scratch out many things.  It’s a dangerous time for a young (not in years but in output) writer. 

Also this week, I have been reading Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life.  Now here is writing worth cogitating over, rearranging brain cells for.  I am awed by Annie’s perspicuity (ordinary words won’t describe her). However, in the midst of her clarity, her incredibly complex strings of words gather meaning after meaning as they wend their way across the sky. Some of them tumble into the recesses of my mind (which should have a bigger reservoir than it has).  When they finally hit bottom they  acquire a new and tantalizing essence and even three whole days later I feel as if I’m drowning in them.

I can’t write like Annie at all, at all.

I wanted to give you a sampling of Annie’s writing but the sample turned into paragraphs, then sections, then chapters, and pretty soon I would have copied the whole book.  So, to whet your appetite I have keyed in the first paragraph of the book and hope you’ll run right out to Amazon (I use something archaic:  the nearby library) to order it.

When you write, you lay out a line of words.  The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe.  You wield it, and it digs a path you follow.  Soon you find yourself deep in new territory.  Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject:  You will know tomorrow, or this time next year…. You make the path boldly and follow it fearfully….

This much I understand:  you never know what will happen when you write.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


In order to maintain a certain amount of excitement engendered by Judy's son's Colorado Trail hike, I should be able to record some equally fantastic feat.  I can't.  It's not that I've been doing nothing, it's that I've been doing ordinary things.  I would like to campaign for ordinary.  Five cheers for ordinary here.

(Perhaps ordinary means extra-ordinary.  Sometimes.  If one is extremely grateful for ordinary.)

If you're ordinary you can smell the flowers.

If you're ordinary you can paint your kitchen green.

If you're ordinary you can tackle your pile of books.

If you're ordinary you can eat a piece of pie.

If you're ordinary your children can come visit you, AND you can take them to see Rosie the tarantula.
Hazel wanted to hold Rosie, Emory did not.
Back to North Carolina they went.  Sadness here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Car, Last State

If you've read our book, you know that I (Judy) have visited every state in the union with the exception of one.  Michigan!  This summer we drove the complete Lake Michigan Circle Tour...900 miles plus from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, up through Green Bay, over to Sault Ste. Marie, down to Mackinac Island, on to Traverse City, then to Holland and Chicago and back to Milwaukee.  I took pictures galore, of lighthouses (Michigan has more than any other state), Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (painted by God with eons, not brushes), and a covered bridge.  We visited a shopping center/restaurant/condo village that we found later to be the old state insane asylum.  We felt the ice cold water of several lakes, breathed in the uniqueness of a place where no cars, only bicycles and horse drawn carriages are allowed, and drove through rainstorms so furious even the windshield wipers couldn't keep up!  (The loudest clap of thunder and flash of lightning was when I was in a little wooden outhouse!) But would you believe my favorite picture of all was that of these wonderfully rusted, has-been Renault Dauphines?  My first car!  How I loved that car.  And do you know what?  Those cars reminded me of ME!  Just plain old with defective parts, unrecognizable chassis, dimming headlights and seat cushion stuffing nearly gone, yet to me, a beautiful car still.  We may not always be who we were, but we'll always be who we are.
Just like me

Painted Rocks...the copper in the rock same color as the water

Former insane asylum

The Holland Harbor Light, known as Big Red
A beautiful home on Macinac Island