Friday, April 29, 2016

When You Can't Play

My twin sister and I have been enthusiastic Scrabble players for many years. That doesn’t mean we play as often as we’d like, but it means we have a love for the game. We are both writers; words are right up there as one of our favorite things.

Occasionally, the letters you’re dealt in Scrabble look something like this—XJBMPQR—a tray full of letters that make no sense. It doesn’t matter how often you look at them, they are not going to make a word.

The rules of the game say you can either play or pass. If you pass, you can exchange some or all of your letters for new ones, or you can keep your letters, hoping for a better opportunity to use them on the board. For example, using the letter Q or X with an available "I," if placed in a prime spot, could garner you at least 31 points. But if there is no such opportunity on the board, you're going to have to pass. The question is, do you pass and keep your jumble of letters, hoping for an opportunity to play next time around, or do you pass and exchange some or all of your letters for new ones? There are risks either way.

In life, there are times when you’re dealt a hand and the letters make no sense. No words will come, and no matter how long you wait, there is never an "I" anywhere in sight, if you know what I mean.

Maybe the best plan is to start fresh, to change the scenery, to shake things up a bit, to stop staring at the same mix of letters that will never make sense as they are.

To pass doesn’t mean you’ve given up. It could mean you’re about to begin again, with new letters, new words, new hope.

Joining the Five-minute Friday community, where today's prompt is "pass."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Need Answers? Just ask a four-year-old

"Is God an old man?" my little daughter—then four—asked on the way home from church one Sunday. I repeated the question, stalling for time. "The Bible says that God is a spirit," I told her. "He is not young or old."

He is to her.

"Is him six or twelve" she asked emphatically, as if He has to be one or the other.

At four, Anna Marie was packed with questions—and answers. The experts told me it had everything to do with her age. One minute she appeared to know nothing, only to know it all the next. Often, her questions came in waves: "How do you make Frosted Flakes?" "Does Sam (her goldfish) have ears?" "How far away is heaven?” "Is it right behind the sun?" "Why does the moon have eyes?"

There were times, at the end of a grueling day, when I complained. My computer was down, I told her. Off. Broke. No more questions, please.

But four was also the age of budding independence. No longer did she blindly accept my every word as truth. She had her own opinion of how things worked and was quick to make it known.

At the dinner table one evening, she suddenly remembered the Down’s syndrome girl we had seen at the library the day before. "Why that little girl not look like me?" she asked, puzzled, her round face appearing more precious—more perfect—than ever as I recalled images of the Down's syndrome child wearing a tight red shirt and short blue pants, drool spilling from her bottom lip.

"That little girl was born that way," I said. "Just because people look different doesn't make them—"

She interrupted. "Will her always look like that, Mommy?"

"Yes, baby. She will."

My answer greatly disturbed her. She finished her meal with a despondent face.

I sat quietly, thinking about this universal need for answers. From childhood, to adolescence, through the turbulent teens and into adulthood, our paths are dotted with questions. We are compelled to seek answers.

Often I listen as friends vow to carry a list of questions with them all the way to heaven's gate: Why did my mother die so young? Why did my children abandon me? Why did my husband divorce me? Why was my child born with mental challenges?

Having the answers to such questions seems to usher them onward, toward the day they can finally ask why. "God, WHY?” My philosophy has always been that some questions simply have no earthly answers. At least none that satisfy.

Later that evening, after my daughter crawled into bed, I knelt down beside her and we prayed our goodnight prayers. After she named all of the people in her circle of family and friends, she then prayed for the little girl at the library, her tone becoming suddenly urgent.

As I tucked her under the covers, she touched my face. "Mommy, that little girl …” She searched for the right words.

I nodded. Yes, I knew the one.

Propping herself up on one elbow, she said, “Her won't always look like that, Mommy." This she said firmly, as if there was no room for a single doubt.

I kissed her forehead, letting my lips linger.

"Not in heaven, Mommy. Her won’t look like that in heaven," she said, her voice certain, solid as steel.

It was no longer a question. My inquisitive four-year old had discovered the answer for herself, without any prompting from me.

“There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Adapted from the book, Whispers From Heaven, by Dayle Shockley. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pray for Houston

Dear friends, these photos represent the recent flooding in and around the Houston area; some of these were taken in our immediate area. Thank the Lord, our home was spared; no flooding at all. But, as you can see, thousands of others were not so fortunate and at least six deaths have occurred, due to flooding.

The devastation is great, and will require many months before recovery is complete, if not longer. 

Please pray for Houston. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Notes from the Weekend : On Change and Laughter and Hope

Dear friends, Saturday was a magical day. The morning began quieter than usual, slowing me down enough for a relaxing breakfast on the patio. Under an uncertain sky, I enjoyed a simple meal of bacon and eggs, toast and coffee, while listening to morning’s sweet song. As the wind-chime picked up a gentle breeze, it seemed to be playing music just for me, a melody of hope it was, of looking forward with faith, while embracing the now. Overhead, a flock of birds gathered in the top of an elderberry tree, having a feast and making sweet music of their own.

In the afternoon, I texted twin sister and said, “I have something hilarious you need to read.” I promised to make fresh coffee and within a few minutes she arrived. Suffice it to say that one of my greatest blessings is having my twin sister live two minutes down the street. Not only is she my praying partner, she’s my laughing partner and the next little while brought boundless laughter, the kind where you have to grab your stomach and squeal, the kind where you almost lose your breath. Hearing her laugh, and laughing with her, was a balm to my spirit, like oil being poured in the dry, cracked places.

Later, we took our coffee outside where spring’s brush has painted every tree in my yard in rich shades of green, a sign of hope for those still in winter. 

The sun, no longer hidden behind the clouds, was now filling the yard with warmth.

Under its gentle spell, we sat awhile and talked of trivial things, pleasant things, while the wind blew through the trees.

In the silent spaces, I thought of how life seldom goes as planned, how events beyond our control often dictate the paths we take, how a year’s time can bring about so many changes. Some good, some bittersweet, some life-altering. But always, there is hope. A single glance across the lawn was proof of that. What once was barren and bleak, now blossomed with new life, and I'm grateful to be personally acquainted with the One who makes it all possible. 

As I write, night has come. Outside, a soft April rain is falling, the air is still and quiet. I know I will carry this day in my heart for a long time. It will remind me that change is inevitable, that laughter is healing, that hope springs eternal.

Until next time, sweet friends, thanks for the pleasure of your company. You're always welcome here.


Psalm:130:5: I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. 

Psalm:147:11: The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.

Psalm:71:5: For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.

Psalm:31:24: Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Psalm:33:18: Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

Psalm:43:5: Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in GOD.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Arabella : A Gaggle of Photos, Like Mother Like Daughter?

Oh, the fleeting days of childhood. Our darling Arabella has been walking for awhile now, and growing by leaps and bounds. Every day, I see changes in her and I long to stop the clock. Some days I feel as if I'm reliving my life, she favors her mom so much at this age, from the front and from the back. Is it just me, or do you agree?

I try not to post too many pictures of my little grandbaby, as I don't want to overload you on cupcake, but today's the exception, I suppose. Here is a gaggle of recent photos of Memaw's cupcake. If you have a grandchild, you know the joy she brings cannot be measured.

These were taken on Good Friday, a day when as many as could gathered to share a family meal. I love the first two photos of Arabella and my grandniece, the one I call sugar plum. They hadn't seen each other in a month or so, and after getting a good look at her cousin, Arabella just fell over on her. Moments like these need no photo for remembering; they are stamped on my heart.

Precious moments of pure sweetness. 

Last week, we met my mom and dad halfway between our place and theirs for a bite of lunch. They hadn't seen Arabella since Christmas and were anxious to spend time with her. They adore their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and I wish they lived down the street, so their visits could be more frequent, but I'm grateful they live only two hours away. Watching them together, no words.

As you can see, my attempts at selfies with cupcake haven't improved since the last time I mentioned failing at accomplishing this task. I must keep trying, but of course.

Until next time, sweet friends, thanks for indulging this Memaw. I am blessed.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Anticipating Mother's Birthday : An Afternoon Remembered

In these old photos, my mother is barely 25. With three children under school age, two of them twins, her days were filled to the brim with things to do. I think that’s why this collection of photos are some of my favorites from childhood. Busy or not, Mother made time for the things that really matter to children, things that every parent should strive to do.

I think it’s safe to say this was the first photo Daddy took on this particular day, as the bare feet appear to be squeaky clean, and in a house with linoleum floors, clean feet were probably the exception. I love how my sisters and I are pressed against my mother, against each other, and, if you look closely, you can see Mother's arms reaching all the way around her little brood, her hands resting gently on her babies.

In this snapshot, I declare my mother looks like she could be a shampoo model, her naturally curly hair framing her face and flawless complexion. I can't help but wonder what the trio of girls on the left were talking about. It appears one has already staked her claim in the little red wagon.

It is obvious that big sis and I drew the short straws when it came to seating arrangements, big sis stuck in the back, me stuck in the middle, nary an inch on either side, but I must say that even though my twin sister is hogging half the wagon, she couldn't look more adorable. Speaking of adorable, how about my mother's shoes?

Behind us is the little parsonage we lived in, just a skip and a hop from the church my father pastored in Mississippi, a place still near and dear to all of us, even these many years later.

From all appearances, this photo was taken at the end of that summer afternoon spent in the yard with Mother; not only is my face a bit droopy, so is my underwear. I can imagine Mother saying, "Go stand by the car and let me get a picture of y'all before we go in." 

Back inside, there would be supper to cook and clean up, baths to be drawn, all done by the loving hands of my mother.


If life goes as expected, Mother will turn 84 on Monday. I was probably in my late 30's before I fully realized her true worth. In my youth, we didn't see eye-to-eye, but with age comes wisdom (hopefully) and seeing her through mature and wiser eyes changed my life. She taught me that we didn't have to agree on every subject, in order to fully appreciate the beauty of each other

Without question, Mother's contribution to my life is immeasurable and continues to this day. Not only my life, but I'm grateful for the impact she has on my daughter's life, as well; they text almost every day and talk on the phone often. And while time isn't on our side, I pray that my little granddaughter will also have the privilege of really getting to know her great-grandmother before time runs out. 

As I write these words, my heart is full. Happy Birthday, beautiful Mother! I still want to be you when I grow up.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Gathering Flowers : Simple Pleasures

Every spring, my hands itch to play in the dirt, to clean out the debris of winter, to turn clean, rich soil in my hands, to place seedlings in the ground and nurture them to their full potential.

In the meantime, I’ve gathered flowers where I could, and spend a few minutes each day marveling at the unique beauty that is theirs alone.

Outdoors, sky blue Lagunas spill out of two clay pots, although they look more purple than blue to me.

While indoors, cut hydrangeas, left over from my granddaughter’s birthday party, remind me of summers spent at my grandmother’s house in Mississippi.

Flowers, no matter how I come by them, are one of the simple pleasures in life, a necessity, as I see it.

Until next time, dear friends, gather flowers where you can.


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