Monday, March 31, 2014

A Monday Morning Smile...

...or maybe even laughter aloud.

When I count my dearest friends, Mary Frances Bryant has been numbered among them for around fifteen years.  

If ever the phone rings before the roosters crow, I don't panic at what might be bad news, but realize it's probably Mary Frances.  She knows I'm a morning person and it's all right to defy the traditional 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. calling hours.  Actually, I don't know if that's traditional etiquette, but if I wrote an etiquette book, that would be my guideline.


She has been rejoicing for a niece who'd long wanted a baby and was finally blessed with a little boy.  Doing what babies do well, he was on a crying jag and her husband asked, "What is wrong with him?!"  

My friend's niece replied, "I don't know.  I've only known him two weeks!"

Mary Frances has endured the worst any parent could--twice.  She has buried two of her four children.  That is always with her, and it was a part of our conversation as well.  She is in her early 70s and she has a part-time job plus she sees to her elderly mother's needs.  Her mother lives semi-independently. Mary Frances cooks for her and takes her to doctor visits and on errands.  

She is an inspiration to me and I hope by sharing a little part of her life with you, you'll be blessed with a smile to start your week.


Mrs. A

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Handwritten Journal Entry, March 22, 2014

We need each other, yet we clamber over one another in our soulish realm, afraid someone is going to get something one doesn't have, or worse yet, try to prevent another from manifesting their right to express their God-given gifts.

Those immature souls, profoundly petty and jealous, are blinded by the enemy to their own giftings and callings.  Deeming themselves worthless, they fight against another rather than fight for themselves. 

They are enraged at one who would operate in audacity--the audacity to believe that Jesus came in order that a person would have a full, abundant life.

They will refer to their self as Christian, but wickedly tear down the work and life of another, trampling good fruit.  They listen to the lies of the enemy, thinking it their duty to level another, attacking their faith, slandering with the epithet of hypocrite, never realizing, grasping, that there is more than enough to go around, instead rattling empty cups which should be flowing over!

We were meant to be pieces of a wondrous puzzle, one incomplete without the other, but some are not content to let another be the size and shape piece of the Creator's original design and deign to chip away at another, maliciously, jealously savaging complementarity, reducing to bits and pieces, instigating colliding rubble, rather than allowing completion.

Brave one, remove yourself from that embittered tyrant!  Go where you've been commissioned, be the person God designed you to be!  Send the saboteur back to the Potter's wheel with your blessing and for God's sake don't let them reshape you!

Immature one, you are not diminished by the blessing of another!  Fear not the awe, hate not the recipient, for the Lord wants to bless you in His own unique way.  Let the seed He has planted in you break through the earth rather than try to bury someone's good fruit.  The dirt you throw on another will wash off in time.  Their integrity will withstand the assault and you'll find yourself a resident of the pit you dug to bury them!

A Perfect Day

camera in hand
flowers, birds
sun reddened
faces and arms
walk in woods
hands in earth
volunteer magnolias
replanted intentionally
two stewards
resting on
still cool ground
a bit of land
called home
looking up
dazzling sun lit filaments
golden glow
pine pollen
renewal, rebirth
windmill squeals
gentle breezes
love does not mind
dirt and sweat
head on chest
arm encircling
and reflects
in purpose
now cherishing
a moment
no one 
needs them
freedom earned
long ago
and tries
in vain
not to think 
how quickly
this life

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Photo Essay, Spring is Almost Here!

I name my trees.  This is Kizzie, after my Grannie.

Teakwood rockers after a bath of Arm and Hammer detergent and OxiClean, sunning, almost ready for the front porch

My first rose garden, 14 of 16 planted are thriving

rose garden detail

This was a gift from my sons when they were little guys.  I believe it was for Mother's Day.  Years ago I would say it had rust on it, but these days it's called patina.

Bradford pear blooms, woods behind, blue sky above

They didn't come as clean as I'd like, but at least I know they've been washed.  They are also being readied for the front porch.

Bradford pear bloom details

Mr. Bee doing his springtime thing

Geraniums, wandering Jew, aloe, gardenia!

We want out!!!  The begonias and kalanchoe have greenhouse fever.

Mr. A readying the mowers.  That's right, mowers.  One for each of us.

Erma Bombeck was right.  The grass is always greener over the septic tank.  The sycamore tree is still nekkid, but I'm sure it'll get its glory on soon.

Keep reaching for the sky!

My favorite of the day

Sunday, March 9, 2014

To the"Son of God" Bashers

My spirit has been grieved over Christians warning people against this movie based on the spiritual journey of Roma Downey, co-producer with her husband of this movie.

Yesterday my attention was brought to a blog post of someone sharply critical of Downey, accusing her of being a New Age pagan.  It took exactly one Google search to see the author of the blog had copied, almost to the point of plagiarism, from a website which calls out people deemed to be false teachers and/or apostate Christians.    

Some of the evidence used to discredit Downey, thus the movie, was her affiliation with John Edward and her study of Eckhart Tolle's work.  John Edward claims to converse with the dead and Tolle has no particular religious ties, but his work is an outgrowth of the study of many spiritual paths.  

The lack of mercy shown Downey troubled me.  Her mother died when she was 10 years old, and as someone who lost a parent at 11 years of age, now 50, I can testify it is the most profound loss of one's life.  Downey is Catholic, and Catholic doctrine decrees one should not consult with mediums/psychics.  The Bible, in Hosea, also says 'my people perish for lack of knowledge.'

It was a spiritually dangerous thing for her to do, and perhaps she was not aware of that at the time.  I, too, believe it would have been better for Downey had she not done that, but I understand the ache, the desperation to hear from a loved one no longer on this earth.  

I am not going to spend a moment researching Eckhart Tolle's work and will only say that when I realized he did not believe in God, I chose not to study his work.  Downey chose to, and is being roundly condemned for it, and combined with her consultation with John Edward, her current work, the "Son of God" movie, is being bashed by harshly judgmental Christians.  

The Bible also teaches to look at the fruit of one's life.  Downey has been on a spiritual journey that has led to her proclaiming Jesus is Lord.  Downey and her husband also produced "The Bible" a mini-series from which "Son of God" was birthed.  In an interview upon its release, Downey said the intent was to awaken an interest in the Bible.  When the movie was released, she said it might be easier for someone to invite a friend to a movie than to church.  

It is clear her heart's intention for the movie is to be used as an evangelism tool to lead people not to consult with mediums or study the work of someone vaguely spiritual, but to belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God. There is evidence the movie has done just that, 1,000 baptisms at Tim Foreman's (bassist in the Christian band Switchfoot) church and 3,000 at Rick Warren's mega-church followed the viewing of the movie.  Warren needs no further introduction, yet he was one of many called out as a false teacher by a lone wolf blogger who disapproves of the movie, and who also alleged without substantiation he and many others she deemed false teachers were profiting financially from the movie.  


Is the fruit of your life libeling Christians who are leading people to Jesus Christ?  If so, then shame on you.  Who are you to judge the heart of another? To pick out events of a person's path and decree because of them their current work is of no worth, even dangerous?  My dear God, and that is not a vain use, if the Apostle Paul had been judged by the same standards, much of the first century world would not have been evangelized and these Christians would scoff at most of the New Testament!

The people poo-poo-ing this movie know that Paul, before he was an apostle, killed Christians, and that early Christians were terrified of him, and it took some time for him to gain their trust, to believe his conversion was sincere.  They know he wrote most of the New Testament.  They know this, believe this, yet they won't lend a moment's thought to the fact that Downey's considerable spiritual exploration led her to the same conclusion as Paul, that Jesus is the Son of God?

Not one of those who are bashing this movie have identified one iota of evidence, subliminal or blatant, that the movie is an underhanded attempt is to divert people from Jesus Christ and toward New Age thought or paganism.

No, it is more important to them to be critical of Hollywood.  Somehow in all the violence, decadence and blasphemy produced in Hollywood, a woman managed to use its considerable resources and potential of exposure to the masses to lead people to Christ.  Does not Romans 8:28 say that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord, who have been called according to His purpose?  

At her judgment, will Jesus condemn Roma Downey for missteps on her way to Him, or will He reward her greatly for coming to the ultimate truth--proclaiming He is Lord, acknowledging Him before others, caring enough about their eternal destiny to share what she knows in her heart to be true?

In case my intentions aren't clear, I am neither endorsing nor promoting the movie, but defending a flawed Christian in her heartfelt desire to introduce Jesus Christ to people who don't yet know Him, to lead people to study His Word, the Holy Bible.

For more about "Son of God" and its producers:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tater Tots, Waffle Irons, Pumpkin Bread, Internet Outage and One Serious Reflection

My original plan for this blog post was to be inspired while cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg wafted throughout the household from the two loaves of pumpkin bread with dates I baked this morning.

The Internet wasn't available, so instead, the scentspiration of the spices involved in the wafting was used while I was on elbows and knees under my desk, trying to see the brand of the modem while talking to a computer I reached when I telephoned Mediacom.  I'm going to guess the computer is a woman of a certain age plus a decade or two as she was a tad hard of hearing. 

I'm thankful no one was around to photo-document me with my bottom in the air yelling, "Continue!"  Couldn't she be more attentive and listen the first time?

Anyway, at nine months past my fifth decade, I should be giving thanks I can crawl under a desk and yell.  While I was in that ridiculous posture, this was happening in the oven:

Your eyes aren't fooling you.  One loaf is shorter than the other because Mr. A and I had to determine already if the efforts to make pumpkin bread with dates were worthwhile.  Indeed they were!  

This was where the action really was this morning, island adorned with mise en place, to use a little high school French, or in other words, covered with bowls, spices, measuring cups and ingredients needed to make this baking dream come true.

Whether it was the rainy day or the expiration date on the pumpkin, the end of this month, this is how I spent the better part of the morning, certified amateur computer technician duties aside.   

My morning started on a dare, seeing if tater tots could successfully be transformed into hash browns with a little coercion from a waffle iron.  Be dog, they could!  It took a little woman-handling to get the iron to close around the still frozen potatoes, but it made four adorable little hash browns. I did not photo-document that either, so I hope you'll take my word for it.  

I was a little dubious about the outcome as I have tried other things on the Internet which ended in a mess, like melting soap slivers in the microwave. Mr. Bubble can't bubble up as high as the Ivory soap slivers which didn't melt and I wondered if a little gremlin inside my computer was laughing its dastardly little face off.  I'll beat those gremlins yet as I've read of other ways to reduce those soap slivers into re-purposed compliance--maybe on another rainy day.

This rainy day started with as much sunshine as I could muster.  Mr. A didn't have to be called to the breakfast table and when he arrived I pointed to his orange juice with extra pulp and said that was all the sunshine he'd be getting today.  Good-natured thing he is, he said I was his sunshine, then we broke into song instead of the blessing, and sang "You Are My Sunshine" all the way through.  

I then said, "Amen," but Mr. A found this prayer insufficient, so he went ahead with, "Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen."  Neither of us address the Lord with "Thy" other than blessing time, but it's one of those old ways that gets inside a person and stays.  Thy it will be prior to mealtime, from here until we eat at the Lord's table in heaven.  Maybe it'll still be Thy then, but I won't try to figure that out right now.

My figuring out presently is largely in the category of what to do with the rest of my life.  I recently wrote out a list of twenty-five things I wish for, categorized in do/be/have.  It was an exercise from a book entitled "Becoming the Woman I Want to Be" and one was supposed to list quickly without thinking long on it twenty-five things to do/be/have.  

Part of me thinks that sounds silly at my age, but the part of me that didn't plan this far ahead, past the time the children were raised and launched and all the parents cared for until Jesus took over that job, has work yet to do. Raising children was my career, and when that is done correctly, one works herself out of a job.  The good Lord knows I miss them, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  I cannot imagine the pride they must feel having completed college and found jobs in which they can support themselves.

But now, what to do with myself?  I forewent the framework of a 9 - 5 and worked as a freelance writer most of those years.  In another book by the same author who suggested the do/be/have list, I just noticed that spells "do behave", she had her readers to write a personal vision statement.  Since my previous mission was accomplished, I did her bidding and wrote another:

"My primary purpose is to be a godly woman, wife, mother, mother-in-love, and in God's timing, grandmother.  I am to love the Lord Jesus with all of my being, and to be a willing vessel to write inspirational books, stories, articles and poetry that direct people to God, encourages and makes them laugh, and most importantly reflects God's redemption and restoration."

This blog is one of the time fillers and it has brought me a creative outlet for a passion which never dies in a writer.  I enjoy photography, so I can pitch that in here as well.  My do/be/have list, which is an outline for what remains, surprised me pleasantly.  

There were only four things on my have list.  One of them was a tiller.  Really. There was a time in my life I'm certain I could have used all twenty-five counts for haves.  I've had so much in my life, even without being a wealthy person, I realize the material things don't satisfy for long and in time they are discarded, obsolete or gathering dust before they're en route to Goodwill.  

One of the be's is to be a more disciplined cook.  Pumpkin expiring this month, pumpkin cooked, check.  A do was to consume far less Internet. Before the Internet was imagined, my late mother often called me scatterbrains.  If you know me aside from my writing, you know there is a ring of truth to that at times.  The Internet doesn't help that condition.

In my handwritten journal, I expounded a little on that theory.

December 1, 2013

"The antithesis of social media and Internet surfing is meditation on God's Word.  In the former, unrelated pieces of information are randomly consumed; the latter brings deep thought, understanding, even a meeting of the mind with the Lord.  Choose this day whom you will serve.  

One captures and enslaves; the other creates a deep, heartfelt desire to willingly, happily, serve and obey the God of this universe.  One can easily divert one's worship to the gods of intellect and consumerism, jealousy, competition and evoke feelings of inferiority.

The other brings about appropriate worship and an inner knowing that sufficiency is found in Christ alone.  Each has the awesome capability to guide and govern one's approach to the entirety of life.  Do we desire an orderly structure that leads to peace or incohesive absorption of material maladaptive to a productive life?"  

I get upset with myself when I fall to random media consumption, which I suspect does not help a soul with attention deficit disorder, and then there is that feeling of loss, time which can never be regained, spent without a mission online.

It's a conundrum I'm addressing this Lenten season, hoping to sacrifice some of the time spent online to more productive time spent with the Lord.  I don't expect to emerge a super-saint, but hope to be more engaged in my own life, in the lives of those I love, while not tethered to a keyboard and computer monitor.

As my late mother-in-law used to say, "Time will tell."  
P.S.  This rainy day entry is actually being published on a sunny day due to the Internet outage.

Mrs. A       

Monday, March 3, 2014

Rich and Spoiled

That's me.  

Not in the Kardashian way, and I'm happy to report I am only vaguely familiar with them, have never watched their television show, which I gather the plot consists of obscene flaunting of material wealth and excess in all categories.  

Surely I'm not the only person 50+ years of age who gets excited when Big Lots has their 20% off everything sale!  My sweet husband and I went there yesterday and bought sixteen bare root roses for a total of $36.00.  For less than the cost of a dozen roses on Valentine's Day, I'm going to have a rose garden.  Suddenly I have been made a very rich woman!

I wasn't too selective, couldn't be really, but chose all the roses which had signs of new growth, and ended up with a variety I intend to label before planting.  I asked my husband only one more thing, to tell me where he stored some five gallon plastic buckets we have so I could soak the roses in them.

This morning, after baking banana muffins, loading and running the dishwasher, feeding the dog, cat and birds, then piddling on Facebook, I went to get on some grubbies to play in the dirt.  I walk into the master bedroom, which has three vertically long windows, and see this:  

On the right hand side of this picture, the white rectangle on the fence is a piece of lattice on which climbs seven sisters roses rooted from a great-aunt's garden.  Hers came from my great-grandparents' farm, my kind of heirloom.

Tears promptly filled my eyes.

Yesterday my sweet husband asked me if I wanted him to put down the material which keeps weeds down, and I said, no, I didn't want to bother him with this, it was enough he bought the roses.  It is hard for me to say I now have more free time than ever in my life when I am aware how many obligations so many others have.

I've lived that season as well, a former card carrying member of the sandwich generation.  There were many days of my life which were scheduled in this manner:

  • get up and get kids ready for school
  • throw in a load of laundry, then quick pick up of household
  • go to my mother's and do the same at her house
  • take her to the doctor or grocery store or both
  • pick up kids, then go back to doctor's office to pick up mother
  • (kids would do homework in doctor's office)
  • somewhere between all this, work a little job as a book vendor
  • gave up substituting job at the kids' school, had to leave it too many times to take mother to emergency room
  • take her home, settle her in from doctor/ER/grocery store
  • go home, prepare for ball games of the season
  • make supper, clean up
  • fall in bed exhausted, slept well, thankfully, save for the times I would take my mother to the emergency room in the night
  • get up the next morning and do it all again
  • in the midst of all this, I wrote a newspaper column for 12 years and was doing preliminary work on a book
  • and when I thought this season of life was winding down, I found myself in a care giving role to an older brother who was dying
I am not someone who prides myself on being a human-doing.  I believe everyone should carve out time to be, to think, meditate, and ponder.  I also realize this is close to impossible in some seasons of life.  

I didn't do all the aforementioned single-handedly; enormous credit is due my loving husband who pitched in above and beyond what any spouse could desire.  As is said about the time our children are babies, these days were long, but the years were short.  Suddenly, it seemed, I was/am looking for things to fill my time.

Each day is not pre-filled for me and I must give thought to what I'd like to do that is of some value.  In the crazy-busy days, the value was always present--what higher calling than raising children and seeing to the needs of the elderly and sick?  And I'm living a season in life now so many long for, having enough time in the day to do what one wants without being rushed.  

There was another season in life which was completely opposite the crazy-busy days, interminably slow to me, growing up.  

As a child, I'd gaze out the window of my elementary school classroom, longing to be there instead of confined to a desk which was no different to me than a chain and shackles.  It took decades, but that dream came true.  

Along with another, a rose garden.

No doubt most people thought that the roses which grew alongside the carport of my childhood home were the work of the women of the house, my grandmother AKA Grannie, or my mother.  That assumption would be wrong. The roses were my father's joy, a man with brawny biceps, around six feet tall, whose life's work included driving a gasoline tanker, working in a pit crew at races, butchering meat on the weekends, and running a gas station while working as a mechanic, chain-smoking all the while.

Those roses smelled a lot better than Daddy's second-hand cigarette smoke!  And they were lovely, delicate, what a contrast to a man with deep brown skin and equally deep furrows in his forehead.  I didn't know their Latin names, didn't know they had Latin names, but to me they were red velvet, yellow with a pink-tinged edge, pink, white, all more beautiful than my senses could contain.  Back in the day, I stopped and smelled the roses nearly every day they were in bloom, full-on face plant, breathing in as much as my little lungs would hold.  

With any luck, I'll eventually be inhaling heaven sent scents.  I have neither the knowledge nor the intent of becoming a pissy rose gardener.  My late mother once told me about a woman who grew roses who was so afraid someone would root one of her roses, she'd gather and discard the clippings.  I simply want to enjoy my Big Lots roses in my own wrong-side-of-town manner.   

God created these lovely plants, and He is giving me the joy now of oversight and arrangement.  Mr. A has demonstrated great faith in me, he who once quipped my black thumb had evolved to brown, lovingly doing the harder work of preparing the soil.  

I sometimes wish he understood that I want to do those more taxing jobs, that I have time to do them, but I must appreciate how rich in love and spoiled by chivalry I am.  

I was never promised a rose garden in this life, but it seems the good Lord, in His awesomely perfect timing, has brought me a second one to enjoy in a season of life when I have time to do just that.