Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Patience and Wisdom

Patience and Wisdom!
I read a story recently about a poor farmer. He had one horse he depended on for his Living. (1) His horse pulled the plow and was his only means of transportation. One day a bee stung the horse and it ran away into the mountains.

His neighbors in the village heard and came by to tell him how sorry they were to hear abouthis “bad luck” in losing his horse. The old farmer again said to his neighbors; ” Good luck, Bad luck…who is to say?”

A week later the horse came home and with him were twelve fine wild horses and the old man and his son corralled these fine horses. Again the news of the farmers
windfall spread throughout the village and his neighbors came back to congratulate
him on his good luck. Again the old farmer just shrugged and said; “Good luck, bad luck…who is to say?”
The only son of the farmer was one day trying to tame one of the fine wild horses and the horse threw him off and his leg was broken in three places. When word of the accident spread the villagers came back saying, “ we are sorry to hear of the accident and the bad luck of your son getting hurt. The old farmer just shrugged and said: “Good luck, Bad luck…who is to say?”

Two weeks later war broke out between the provinces…and the army came through
constricting every able bodied man under sixty.The son did not have to go because of his injury…which turned out to save his life because every soldier in the village who went was killedin battle. The old farmer was wise in accepting the fact that we human beings, regardless of advantages or education or money…are not wise enough to make final judgments on what is good luck or bad luck.

He was profoundly wise in accepting his creaturelessness and his inability to make
a final verdict until all the evidence is in. As Paul tells us, ”now we see through a glass darkly” (I Cor. 13)
We are wise to remember that we are not in a position to make a final judgment on some things that happen to us. Some events that have every appearance of bad luck…in the mysterious unfolding of life, may turn out to bring unexpected good.

We may flex our muscles and spout off our learning in the arts and sciences, but I visit in hospitals and nursing homes enough to know... we are not always in charge of our own body.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I love to quote the eight lines of poetry below to illustrated the fact that God often uses the difficulties of life to teach us important lessons ! I have certainly learned important lesssons in my life in times of disappointment and sorrow I would never have learned other wise.

It began at the age of nine, when I stood at the bedside of my dying father and witnessed the Christian peace and love that, not only sustained him , but gave him joy in the midst of death.

"I walked a mile with pleasure
She chatted all the way.
But left me none the wiser,
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with sorrow
And n'er a word said she.
But Oh the things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me."

A few years ago a piece with a similiar theme passed through the internet entiltle "I wish you Enough."

Something to think about as we began a New Year,
"I wish you Enough".
"Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments
together at the airport. They had announced the departure.
Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said "I love
you and I wish you enough." The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough.Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom."
They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry.

I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking
"Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?".
"Yes, I have, "I replied. "Forgive me for asking but why is this a
forever good-bye?". "I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and thereality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral" she said.

"When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say 'I wish you enough'. May I ask what that means?

"She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone".
She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail
and she smiled even more. "When we said 'I wish you enough' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them". Then turning toward me she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory --

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough faith in God to get you through the final good-bye.

To all my friends and loved ones: A HAPPY NEW YEAR OF GRACE AND PEACE.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas at a Children's Home

It was Christmas Eve. A minister named Henry Carter was working feverishly on a Christmas sermon. He said Christmas is a hard time of year to find something fresh to say. So much activity! People also so tired with all the commercialism of Christmas to really listen to a message from God.

Carter said the house mother of the Children's Home he supervised appeared at his door with yet another crisis.

Christmas Eve is a difficult time for emotionally distrubed children in a Children's Home. Many of the children had gone home, at least over night. The childen who were left in the home reacted to the empty beds and the changed routine.

The pastor went upstairs chaffing at the repeated interuptions he had had all week. This time it was Tommy. Tommy has crawled under his bed and refused to come out.

Pastor Carter said the House Mother pointed to one of the beds in the room but not a hair nor a toe showed. So he addressed himself to the cowboys and bucking broncos on the bedspread. He said he talked about the lighted tree in the church vestibule next door. He talked about the packages underneath the tree and all the other things waiting for him out beyond the bed.

There was no answer from under the bed. The minister finally dropped to his knees and lifted the bedspread and was still fretting at the time all this latest interruption was costing him.

Two enormous brown eyes met his. Tommy was eight but looked like a frightened five year old. It would have been no trouble to simply pull the child out from under the bed.

But Tommy did not need pulling. The pastor felt like Tommy needed trust and he now needed a sense of deciding things on his own initiative.

So the pastor got down on his all fours beside the bed. He told Tommy about the stocking with his name on it that the church women has made just for him. Still here was silence. There was no sound that Tommy heard or cared.

At last, because he could think of no other way to make contact, Pastor Carter got down on his stomach and wiggled in beside Tommy, the bedsprings snagging his suit jacket. For a long time he lay there close beside Tommy.

He told Tommy about the big wreath above the altar and the candles in the windows. He reminded Tommy of the carols he and the other children would sing. Then the pastor just waited quietly beside the child.
As he waited, a small chilled hand crept into the large hand of the pastor. In a little while Carter said, “It close quarters under here, let’s you and me get out where we can stand up.

As he stood up, he saw again the wonderful truth of how God came down at Christmas. Because flattened out there on the floor, the pastor realized anew he had been given a new glimpse of the mystery of Christmas.

God had called us from far above as the pastor had called Tommy. God had called with his stars and his mountains. God had called us to enjoy His whole majestic universe. And when we would not listen, He had drawn closer. He sent prophets with words about God.

But it was not until that first Christmas when God Himself came down with a baby in His arms. It was when God Himself stooped to earth and took our very place and came to dwell with us in our loneliness and alienation that we, like Tommy dared to stretch out our hands and take hold of God’s love.

The WORD was made flesh and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of God. (John 1:1-15)

The birth that is Christmas does not orbit history. History once looked forward and now looks back revolving around this historical birth that is Christmas...a birth that changed the course of history; B.C…before Christ and A.D. Anno Domini (In the year of our Lord).

The magnificent incarnation which challenged flesh to contain God has challenged our most luminous orators, writers, artist, poets and composers to contain it with words and music. It is a challenge that has produced some of the world’s greatest music and poetry. And it has always stretched language to it’s breathtaking limits.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Christmas Story

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what..

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unl ess we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"

You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.

Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, sonwe could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that,but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Difference Between Men and Women.

There was a best seller a few years ago entitled, Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus .(by John Gray). None of us who are married or have ever been married will disagree. We are facinated with one another but men ands women certainly do not always understand one another. The current story making the email rounds illustrates this well.

Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a good time so a few nights later he asks her out to dinner.

They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while, neither is dating anybody else. Then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

There is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Gosh, maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either.Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward. I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy?

Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: So that means it was ... let's see ...February when we started dating, which was right after I had this car at the dealer's, which means...lemme check the odometer. Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face.
Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed-even before I sensed it-that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty. Scumbags!

And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self- centered, school girl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a warranty. I'll take their warranty and ...

"Roger," Elaine says aloud. "What?" says Roger, startled.

"Please don't torture yourself like this," Elaine says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have... Oh God, I feel so..." (She breaks down, sobbing.)

"What?" says Roger.

"I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."

"There's no horse?" says Roger.

"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.

"No!" says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

"It's just that ... it's that I... I need some time," Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.) "Yes," he says. (Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.) "Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?" she says.

"What way?" says Roger.

"That way about time," says Elaine.

"Oh," says Roger. "Yes."

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

"Thank you, Roger," she says.
"Thank you," says Roger.

Then he takes her home. Ealine lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn.
Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechs he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it.

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say, "Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?"

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the difference between men and women!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Semper fidelis:Always faithful

The United States Marine Corps Birthday has been celebrated every year since the 10th of November 1775! My husband, Charles Shaw, like most Marines, as the Marine hymn states, was “proud to be member of the Unted States Marines.”
He served in the Marine Corps, Semper fidelis in World War II. “Always faithful“ was more than a motto to him and to his buddies and also to the wives and widows of these men, who do not question that they were indeed the “greatest generation.”

But my grandson, Captian Joshua Hearn who recently was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia after serving over a year in the U.S. Army in Iraq and anotehr year in German. He and his generation are also “the greatest generation."
They are struggling daily and honorably with new enemies as we saw clearly on September 11, 2001 after years of more minor attacks on Americans.
Then the vicious killing of thirteen and the injuring of over thiry more at Fort Hood in Texas a few days ago is another wake-up call.
In my house there is one room I call my “study.” It has my desk, and two walls lined with bookcases filled to overflow with books.

My granddaughter, Amanda, when she was small liked to come in here, fill our cards for her younger cousins and called this room “the library.” I spend a great deal of my time in here reading as well as writing.

Family members, including children when they visit are welcome and usually make a least one stop in here to check email or just “putter around” looking at pictures when they visit. The young children usually ask for and receive a supply of paper and pencil to write or draw and make themselves at home in “the library.”
On my hallway wall just outside my study is a gallery of family pictures that fascinate the younger children when they are here. They love to find pictures of themselves on Grandma Ruth’s wall.

The large bookcase near the doorway inside my study has a group of pictures above it. This one wall contains almost exclusively, photos of my husband Charles or the two of us together.

Shortly before Charles died in 1986, he had framed a Semper fidelis emblem. It now hangs in my study.

Unlike the Abu Ghrabb case with it's 24 hour a days news broadcasts, most of us were slow about hearing that Dellon Tyler Ward finally pleaded guilty to two counts of "knowingly and willfully making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements" to federal agents last year… allegeding members of the Marine Corps committing murder on Iraqi soil.” The investigation of these false charges ended up costing $193,000 and involved pulling U.S. Marines out of combat zones in the spring of 2007.

Dellon Tyler received only 15 months for this kind of treason against the United States of America and false changes against our Marine Corps

Friday, November 07, 2008

USS New York Commissioned 11-7-2009

Here SHE is, the USS New York, made from the World Trade Center!
USS New York. It was built with 7 and 1/2 tons of
scrap steel from the World Trade Towers.

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, 'those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence,'recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. 'It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.'
Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the 'hair on my neck stood up.' 'It had a big meaning to it for all of us,' he said. 'They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back.'

The ship's motto?
'Never Forget'

Friday, October 24, 2008

How old is "old"?

How Old Is ‘Old.’?

A few years ago, two of the teenaged girls at Open Door Home in our city needed to interview an older person for a school assignment. Open Door is a welcome home , since 1927 for children whose parents cannot or will not care for them.
I, not quite 80 at the time, met the criteria for "older person" so the Director at Open Door (who happened to be my daughter, Beth) called me and asked if I would mind stopping by so the girls could interview me.
When I went to Open door Home, Beth introduced me to the girls. One of the girls was a 14 year old I will call "Sarah." Beth told me, in Sarah’s hearing, how proud she is of Sarah for making good marks in school. I congratulated Sarah and expressed interest so she immediately got her report card to show me. We had a nice visit.

When we started the interview, the first question Sarah asked me was a question usually reserved for people who have reached the century mark, "To what do you attribute living to such a long old age?"

Later when Beth was showing me out, she said she hoped the girls did not hurt my feelings by making such an issue of my "old age." Of course, Beth knew as well as I that it did not bother me.
When I lived in the Atlanta area, I was not as ancient as I am now but I often spoke to Senior Citizens groups on subjects related to aging as my undergraduate degree included a certificate in Gerontology.
One of the persons I love to quote when I speak to a civic or church group about "aging" is Madeline L’Engle. L’Engle said,"One of the nice things about growing old is you do not lose any of the other ages you have been." Wow! Think of that!
It is true. Like Sarah, I know what it was like to be 14 and think 30 is old. I know what it is like to be 30 and think 50 is old. I know what it is like to be 50 and think 80 is old. I know what it is like to be 80 and know that 80 and even 100 is just a number. I know also it is a number nearer the end of the counting . But at the end of the counting, as Christians we know a new day will dawn and the counting will start over.

We gather in church every Sunday to celebrate the truth that what we call "time" does not have the last word over what God calls eternity. What we call death does not have the last word over what God calls life.
I like to quote the poet and Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore who said, "Death is not extinguishing the light, it is simply putting out the lamp because the dawn has come."

Saturday, October 11, 2008


When Wendy, a young friend and neighbor asked if I would like some fresh cucumbers from the garden she and her husband Wade had planted, I answered with an unqualified "yes."

Sunday afternoon, she brought over to my doorstep, cucumbers, tomatoes and a bouquet of zinnias!

Have you ever eaten a simple fresh tomato sandwich made with two slices of bread covered with nothing but mayonaise and slices of tomato? A feast!

It is OK to add meat and/or cheese sometimes. But a plain tomato sandwich Sunday evening was great eating!

And Zinnias! Wendy could not know and I doubt that my children know how much I enjoyed that bouquet of zinnias, which remind me of a small garden of zinnias my husband and I planted seventy years ago.

Charles and I planted zinnias in the first garden we ever made! It was a small plot at the back door of the first house we lived in after our marriage.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

News Flash: Current Health Report

I always wanted a secretary. All the years I was in Grantville and East Point Avenue I had to do my own Sunday bulletins and Church News Letters,
This week I have had two efficient secretaries. Joan (Daddy's Roses) was my secretary for my Veterans Day post. Today I'm dictating to Carol (The Median Sib) to let you know that I'm getting better.
I still have a droopy eyelid, and a swollen side of the face and lips, but I definitely look better. (Maxilliary Sinus at Emory in Atlanta). I'm not getting much sympathy now so I might as well get bettter.
Carol is making me write a post because I don't look as sick as I've looked all week. She has stopped all sympathizing with me. (Note from Carol - That's not true.) I appreciate all the visits I've had.
Last night we had Gil and Naomi and Lewis and Mark from Alabama. We had all our Alabama relatives -- David and Vicki, Jessica and Haley, too. Katie was at camp. Debi, Gregg, Jonathan, Beth, and Carol were the others here last night.

This morning I got a really nice note from Galen and Brenda Foster with a picture of our house on 97 Elm Street in Milstead. It's the house we bought when Charles came home from World War II. We lived next door to Charles' marine buddy, Grover Foster.
His wife, Myrl, and I became good friends and were pregnant at the same time.
Our son, Terry and their son Galen were both born in March of 1947 and played together, had their own language and chatted with each other. It was so cute. They remained good friends until we moved a few years later. Galen is the child in the photo. The picture is at the end of this post.
So I'm getting better every day. My right eye actually opens now, my voice sounds normal again, and the swelling is going down. I had hoped the surgeon would do a little plastic surgery and make me look better and younger. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I look older and grayer. I'm happy to be alive after that amazing surgery. I appreciate all the tender loving care and the prayers and cards and thoughts of so many of you - including many friends.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crabby Old Man

What do you see nurses?... What do you see?
What are you thinking ...when you're looking at me?
A crabby old man... not very wise,
Uncertain of habit ...with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food ... and makes no reply .
When you say in a loud voice..."I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice... the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . a sock or a shoe?
Who, resisting or not ...lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding ...the long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking? ...Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse . . . you're not looking at me..
I'll tell you who I am... as I sit here so still,
As I do at your I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten... with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters...who love one another.
A young boy of sixteen...with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now... a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows... that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five, now...I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide...and a secure happy home.
A man of thirty... My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other...With ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons... have grown and are gone,
But my woman's beside see I don't mourn.
At fifty, once more... babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children...My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon wife is now dead.
I look at the future...shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing... young of their own.
And I think of the years...and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man...and nature is cruel.
Tis jest to make old age...look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles...grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone...where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass...a young guy still dwells,
And now and again... my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys...I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living... life over again.
I think of the years, all too few... gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact... that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, and see.
Not a crabby old man. Look closer...see ME!!

NOTE: CRABBY OLD MAN poem was passed along to me by my good friend Rev. James Sanders.

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in North Platte, Nebraska, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.One nurse took her copy to Missouri . The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem. And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the internet.
Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within .. . . . we will all, one day, be there, too! PLEASE SHARE THIS POEMThe best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched.. They must be felt by the heart.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Marine World War II Marine Veteran

As the widow of a Marine who served in the South Pacific during World War II, could I not post the story below? The story has been on the internet for awhile but is worth reading again.

Charles Shaw, like most Marines, as the Marine hymn states, was “proud to be member of the United States Marines.”

This is also in honor of the soldiers now serving in our war against the Islamic Terrorist who continue their deadly atttacks. A young Marine from our church family, Clay Gentry was recently wounded in Afghanistan. Thank God, Clay is expected to recover but many of today's brave Marine's have not.

My husband served in the Marine Corps, Semper fidelis in World War II. “Always faithful“ was more than a motto to him and to his buddies and also to the wives and widows of these men, who do not question that they (not we) were indeed the “greatest generation.”

Perhaps every one of them did not earn the "Greatest Generation" title? But is was a time of loyality to God and country!

It is entitled, THE OLD MAN.
As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.

The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away..
I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm, walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too and took a few steps towards him.

I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade and then turn back to the old man and I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying, 'You shouldn't even be allowed to drive a car at your age.' And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.

I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine.

He then went to his wife and spoke with her and appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight and as I got near him I said, 'Looks like you're having a problem.'

He smiled sheepishly and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me.

Looking around I saw a gas station up the road and told the old man that I would be right back... I drove to the station and went inside and saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them and related the problem the oldman had with his car and offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him.

The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem(overheated engine) I spoke with the old gentleman.

When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. Inodded and asked the usual question, 'What outfit did you serve with?'

He had mentioned that he served with the first Marine Division at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal ...

He had hit all the big ones and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me and I told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card.

He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my pocket.. We all shook hands all around again and I said my goodbye's to his wife.

I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at the station I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me

One of them pulled out a card from his pocket looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then, that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had givento me. I said I would and drove off.

For some reason I had gone about two blocks when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name... 'Congressional Medal of Honor Society.'

I sat there motionless looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together, because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage and an honor to have been in his presence. Remember, OLD men like him gave you FREEDOM for America ..

Thanks to those who served....& those who supported them. America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the
Mall. If you don't stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front
of them! Remember, Freedom isn't Free, thousands have paid the price so you can enjoy what you have today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

There Are More of "Them" Than There are of "Us."

Sherry Smith (not her real name) called me this morning. Again! She was homeless. Again!

She had slept out in the cold last night, she told me. She was looking for a place to sleep tonight.

Her time had run out on all the homeless shelters. Hospitality house could not take her as they take only women who are in abusive situations and with small children. Salvation Army takes only men. She had applied for Government housing and was promised it in a few days but needed temporary housing now.

Yes, she has been to all the churches. I did not ask her if she had been to the Liquor Stores or other such businesses for help. I already knew the answer to that. It is only on television programs that bartenders always listen to and help destitute people. I have talked to and assisted countless destitute people looking for monetary help but have never met one who thought to ask for help from anyone in the multi-billion dollar Alcohol Industry.

Sherry had finally gone back to several of the churches asking for money for a bus ticket because "I cannot get any help here so I have to go somehow else.”

I had known Sherry and her family well when she and her siblings were children. When my husband was pastor of a Methodist Church here in the 1960's, her Daddy had been in prison and we spent much time with them, buying food and supplies over and over again. We had looked after the small children on several ocassions and had enabled an older child to attend our Camp Glisson one summer.

When I moved back to Rome ten years ago, Sherry, the youngest who had been a beautiful child, was all grown up. She is now 51 and had raised her children in Government housing, separated from her husband she told me.

She was in another “emergency “situation. She found my name in a phone book and called. Yes, I remembered her and her family well. I paid her overdue monthy rent that day and on a later ocassion.

I was genuinely glad to see Sherry and to hear about the family. Two of the 6 children had jobs but, I surmised had handed out all the support they could manage to the mother (the father had died) and the other four.

In other words, just as she had “used up the church and caring pastors," she had also used up any responsible family member.

My heart went out to Sherry this morning. I listened to her for a long time telling me she just needed a place to stay a "few days." I was sorely tempted to drive over and get her and let her sleep in my guest bedroom. How can we as Christian live in a warm house, while other people are homeless on a cold night? Not easily!

Fortunately, I remembered I as not physically able to handle a drug addicted person. I remembered other advice that has stood the test of time. Basically some modification of “tough love” seems the only real and lasting help!

In my second conversation with Sherry, I asked about “drug use.” She said “no” but quickly thanked me and hung up. She thought I had already learned the truth about her major problem in my many calls around town trying to get help for her,

I was to learn later from a Christian Social Worker who promised her, not the apartment Sherry had told me about (Sherry had lied to me about that. But she had promised Sherry she would get her into drug treatment when she was willing to go.

They also promised to keep me informed about Sherry's progress. God help Sherry to make the right decision.

Yes! There is "more of them" needing help than there are people willing and/or able to "give help." Much of my time as a pastor and even as a retiree has been spent in the social needs of people. This was true also of my husband and many other pastors. But we all need more than the human and social resources available. We need Divine help. We need God.

We need "liberation" but we need even more than "Liberation theology." We need the impowering Grace that comes with a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus as simply confessed in our Holy Book of Faith.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thursday Thirteen

For Thursday Thirteen, I will post again the 13 positive things I wrote about myself some time ago? The picture to the right is Lillian and Grady , my mother and father-in-law in their dinning room in the 1960's. My husband Charles sitting next to his mother on the left and I next to him. Three other sons , James, Grady and Bill are around the table with wives, Margaret anf Eugenia wives of Grady and Bill. The youth and children are at a table set up to the left and out of the photo)

1. God Loves me. I rejoice every day in the knowledge that I am a child of God.

2. My husband loved me. I was a teen but was
smart enough to marry Charles Shaw and to love and be faithful to him all the days of his life. During our 47 years of marraige, we both had much to learn and had some difficult days but continued to love and respect one another. He was a truly great man.

3. I was and am a good mother to my seven children, my five sons-in-law and 2 daughters-in-law. I truly love (adore) them (even my in-law children) and my 18 grandchildren plus (nine in-law grandchidren...Jack, Naomi, Ricky, LaDonna, Steven, Meleah, Emily, Phillip, Michaele) and now 16 great grandchildren (Hannah, John, Helena, Sarah, James, Lewis, Mark, Rachael, Dow, AnnaGrace, Brianne, Natalie, Ethan, Lily, Sophie, Emma) and would gladly lay down my life for each and everyone of them.

4. Dogs like me. I am not a “dog lover”… have never had time to deal with a dog but they love me, nudge me, smell me and try to get in my lap when I visit in their homes. (This may be a negative thing. )

5. I love people and look for the positive in everyone.

6. I have beautiful legs? The general consensus of nurses and hospital personnel in many of my hospital experiences in recent years , is that I still have beautiful, young looking legs, "for my age." When recovering from my heart stint surgery, a nurse - one of many - came into my room, looked at my chart, and made a big fuss about how young I looked and "beautiful young legs." Hospital policy? I felt better immediately! Perhaps that was the idea.

7. I have a good sense of humor. I love to laugh and find much to laugh about. I am considered a "serious" person so people often seem surprised that I find so many things to laugh about.

8. I have always felt fairly positive, for the most part, about the way I look. (looked ... past tense). My husband thought I was beautiful and did not hesitate to tell me. The first time I saw myself on a video, I knew I was not near as beautiful as he claimed. But like most people, I have come to terms with my "looks" and try to accent the positive?

9. I feel I a modest person ... in spite of all the bragging above. At least I am humble enough to feel guilty and "childish" for finding so many positive things to say about myself.

10. I am a positive person.

11. I do not criticize people nor look for negative things in people.

12. I am a good “preacherThis is not a positive thing about me but about the God who has “annointed” me to do so. It is a faith building experience to see how the Lord does enable one to do what He calls them to do. Surprised by joy!

13. I am kind and often listen to, pray for and try to help those in crisis.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Views on Aging

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions. "How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half . You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key. You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. "How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life . . . you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . . YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!! But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a sour-dumpling.. What's wrong? What's changed? You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone. But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would! So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60. You've built up so much speed ! that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday! You get into your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90's, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92." Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!" May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

Monday, August 04, 2008

A tribute to Pastors.

A Tribute to Pastors
I suppose all of us who have sat in Psychology classes have heard about Abraham Maslow. He believed, though he had no scientific proof for it, that restraint was unhealthy and that "self - actualization" and high self - esteem were crucial to human development.

Many of us have come to believe that nothing builds high self esteem in a child or any person so much as coming to the realization that God loves us and we are so important Jesus died to save us.

Jan Karon's Mitford series books remain on the New York Times Bestseller list for many reasons. Karon's leading character, Father Tim, is a reminder of what every good pastor should be. It is refreshing because in much of the media pastors are presented as either ignorant or evil. As I read Karon's work, I thought of my favorite pastor. He was also my husband from our youth until his death in 1986.

My pastor, like Father Tim and so many other pastors, worked tirelessly and unselfishly, visiting the sick and homebound, ministering to those in prisons, going with fathers to search for runaway children in the "hippie" era and continuing to tell the awesome good news of Jesus. All this is just a tiny part of the job description of a pastor.

The Little Old Lady with a Gun

An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top of her voice, "I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of the car!" The four men didn't wait for a second invitation. They got out andran like mad. The lady, somewhat shaken, then proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and got into thedriver's seat. She was so shaken that she could not get her keyinto the ignition.
She tried and tried, and then it dawned on her why... For the same reason she did not understand why there was a football, a Frisbee and two12 packs of soda in the front seat!
A few minutes later, she found her own car parked four or fivespaces farther down. She loaded her bags into the car and drove to thepolice station to report her mistake.
The sergeant to whom she told the story couldn't stop laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter,where four pale men werereporting a car jacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair, and carrying a large handgun.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Love is The Most Powerful Force in The Universe.

Dr. Robert Ozment, a retired pastor and long time pastor of Atlants's First Methodist Church and a columnist for the Rome New- Tribune tells a heart tugging story told by a young pastor named Grant Parris.

Parris had been a fellow student at Emory University's Candler School of Theology more than 50 years ago.

It happened in Parris's early ministry in rural Alabama. He was preaching a revival meeting in a small country church. One day after the morning service, a farmer came up to the young preacher with a request: "We want you to come home and eat dinner with us today. This is a very special day." The pastor had a previous invitation but the farmer kept insisting, " You must go with us today. This is so important. " The pastor changed his plans and went with him.

The farmer was riding in his wagon and the long trip from the church to the house gave Parris time to pause and reflect. He knew the farmer and his wife one child, a son Billy. He knew the parents were concerned because Billy had been in trouble more than once.

When they reached the humble little dwelling, the table was set. Parris received a king's welcome. The preacher, Billy and the farmer washed their hands in a basin on the back porch while the farmer's wife poured the coffee.

When they had finished dinner, the farmer's wife said, "I guess you wonder why we insisted on your coming to our house today. Today is Billy's birthday."

The farmer interjected. "You may have heard that Billy is an adopted child. Billy's mother died in childbirth. Before she died she wrote a letter to Billy and requested that the letter be read to him on his 16th birthday. Preacher we want you to read the letter."

The farmer pulled from his overall bib pocket a yellowed envelope which he had guarded for the last 16 years and removed the handwritten letter.

The farmer, his wife and Billy sat silently as the preacher began reading, "Dear Billy, Today you are sixteen and I hope a very fine young man, If I were beside you, I know I would be proud of you. Sixteen years ago, Billy, I came to a place in my life when I had to make a decision. The doctor said it was either my life or yours. I want you to know, I was glad to give my life so that you could live. My greatest dream for you is that you accept Jesus Christ into your life, serve him and grow up to be a good man. Some day I shall meet you and we shall be together forever. Love, your mother."

Before I had finished reading the letter, Grant Parris said, "Billy had slipped out of his chair, on bended knees with his head buried in his hands, and tears streaming down his cheeks and dripping on the floor."

Billy said, "Why didn't someone tell me I had a mother who loved me so much? Why didn't someone tell me I had a mother like that?" Billy became a Christian by accepting Jesus as his savior and was never in trouble again.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Home Remedies

Toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns?

Before you head to the drugstore for a high-priced inhaler filled with mysterious chemicals, try chewing on a couple of curiously strong Altoids peppermints. They'll clear up your stuffed nose.

Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1 tablespoon horseradish in 1 cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil for instant relief for aching muscles.

Sore throat ? Just mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1/4 cup of honey and take 1 tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria.

Cure urinary tract infections with Alka-Seltzer . Just dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of the symptoms. Alka-Seltzer begins eliminating urinary tract infections almost instantly-even though the product was never advertised for this use.

Honey remedy for skin blemishes... cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a Band-Aid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile, and speeds healing. Works overnight.

Listerine therapy for toenail fungus : Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine M outhwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again.

Easy eyeglass protection... to prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of Maybelline Crystal Clear Nail Polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them.

Cleaning liquid that doubles as bug killer... if menacing bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets get in your home and you can't find the insecticide, try a spray of Formula 409 . Insects drop to the ground instantly.

Smart splinter remover: Just pour a drop of Elmer's Glue-All over the splinter, let dry, and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue.

Hunt's Tomato Paste boil cure.. cover the boil with Hunt's Tomato Paste as a compress. The acids from the tomatoes soothe the pain and bring the boil to a head.

Balm for broken blisters... to disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine , a powerful antiseptic.

Vinegar to heal bruises... soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 1 hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process.

Quaker Oats for fast pain relief... it's not just for breakfast any more! Mix 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water in a bowl and warm in the microwave for 1 minute, cool slightly, and apply the mixture to your hands for soothing relief from arthritis pain.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Don't Worry Twice.

An Angel says, 'Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice.'
1. Pray
2. Go to bed on time.
3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time
5. Delegate tasks to capable others.
6. Simplify and un-clutter your life.
7. Less is more. (Although one is often not enough, two are often too many.)
8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places. schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.

9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.
10. Take one day at a time.
11. Separate worries from concerns . If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety . If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.
12. Live within your budget; don't use credit cards for ordinary purchases.

13. Have backups; an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
14. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
15. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.
16. Carry a Bible with you to read while waiting in line.

17. Get enough rest
18. Eat right.
19 Get organized so everything has its place.
20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.

21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.
22. Every day, find time to be alone.
23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray.
24. Make friends with Godly people.

25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.
26. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good 'Thank you Jesus .'
27. Laugh.
28. Laugh some more!

29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all.
30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can).
31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
32. Sit on your ego

33 Talk less; listen more.
34. Slow down.
35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe.
36 Every night before bed, think of one thing you're grateful for that you've never been grateful for before. GOD HAS A WAY OF TURNING THINGS AROUND FOR YOU.

'If God is for us, who can be against us?'
(Romans 8:31)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Growing Old


I am an old woman! Even if i did not know my birth date, I would see my age in the faces of others. It is interesting to grow old.

My husdand and I married as teen agers and wanted a large family. After our youngest, David was in school, I enrolled in college classes as a “spare time” or hobby activity.

As a pastor's wife and mother of seven, spare time was not readily available. I started as a Histoy major but suppose I aged into the study of aging. I finally earned a Bachelor of Interdisciplinay Studies, and in addition, a Certificate in Gerontology after our children had earned college degrees and were married.

While a student at Georgia State, one day I was writing a paper about “growing older” for one of my Gernotology classes. I sat at my desk looking at the last two words I had typed. Two words; not just one! “Old” may be a word we avoid but “growing” in one that opens up all kinds of positive possibilities.

To some degree, at least, we can choose to grow old rather than just get old.

My internship in Gerontology was at the Christian City Complex which included a nursing home, assisted living, Alzheimer’s unit and retiree homes. I saw examples of both kinds of aging. Some grew as they aged. Others just got older in fear and bitterness.

It is true that often when we walk in Nursing Homes and see blank stares and some pitiful conditions, we think “old” is tragic and say in our hearts, “Oh Lord, I do not want to get that old.”

However, statistics tell us most of the elderly live in their own homes and take care of themselves. The percentage of the “frail… disabled” is small, much les than 10% the last time I checked.

Regardless of our present age, if we live long enough there is an old man or an old woman in our future:

Someday . . .Somehow . . .Somewhere in time
She's waiting . . . I will see
The old woman . . .Time is making
Time is making . . .out of me!

Will she be a sad complainer?
A fretful tenant of the earth?
Or a kind, productive person
Filled with happiness and mirth?

Please be patient . . . God is making
Molding slowly . . . Out of me
A shining portrait . . . He has promised.
Just you wait and see.

He is smoothing out the roughness,
Polishing the dreary places
Filling life with joy and gladness
Pouring out His gifts and graces.

God remake me . . . in Your image.
I want to like her . . . when I see
The old woman . . . time is making,
Time is making . . . out of me!

by Ruth Baird Shaw <><

Monday, June 16, 2008


When I was in high school, we were required to prepare a deck of vocabulary words. On the 3 by 5 cards we wrote a word on the front and the definition of the word on the back.

These cards we carried with us to study new words and to make them a part of our vocabulary.

As adults our stacks of vocabulary cards kept growing as got into jobs, marriage or moved into college and perhaps into graduate school.
My husband and I married as teen agers, and raised seven children. I finally graduated from college after our children were grown and went to Seminar

y and earned a Master of Divinity degree as a middle aged widow.

Those of us who enrolled at Candler School of Theology (Emory University) remember our first class when Dr. William Mallard said, “When you go home today and you are asked
what you learned in seminary you can say, 'uh Hermeneutics.’" So we added “hermeneutics” without the “uh” (as well as other theological words ) to our vocabulary. Mallard defined " hermeneutics"as “the science of the interpretation of Scripture or method of exegesis.”

Let us imagine each word in our vocabulary… is on a 3 by 5 card and the cards are stacked in rows on a table. As we write and/or as we speak…even as I am now writing…words are selected and combinations of words are used…to communicate…to convince…to tell a story…to relay a message.

All the words in our English language use only 26 letters. Everything we need to know…all the words used to express all meaning can be said or written using only 26 letters. Yet it takes a thick dictionary to hold them all.

And we are sometimes speechless. We are often inadequate when it comes to selecting the right combination of words and putting the words together to really communicate with one another.

I suppose all of us who have an interest in writing or speaking or in any communication, struggle with finding the right word…the correct combination of words…and with putting meaning into ”words.”

If we are a writer or a teacher, or a minister, in one sense, “words are the tools of our trade." Churchill said, “short words are best and old words are best of all.” It was said of Churchill, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”

Recently I had occasion to go to Fort McPherson. I stopped at the gate to get a pass. Two young soldiers, a man and a woman were in the gatehouse. They were talking loudly in sounds that sounded like serious argument. The young man came over to see my drivers license. As he was filling out my pass, I decided to ask about it. I asked if they were fighting or just clowning around. He said,“Oh we were just talking.” Just taking?

It got me to thinking about language…words…rhetoric.

Which comes first, language or thoughts?
Do words form or belief systems or do concepts?

Do concepts (from the depths of our subconscious)
give birth to our language…our rhetoric.

Words! In these few minutes…as I have been writing, I have taken a stack of words…short words…old words…words that tend variety…and arranged them as prose.
Prose is words which tend toward variety.

Poetry or verse in our culture is words arranged with repetition in their accent rhythm and which tend toward uniformity rather than variety.

The value of poetry is not confined to what is said. Equally as important is the language used …the words! Not just the meaning but being “surrounded by the words.”

In the Old Testament book of Ruth, we might say "Ruth was homesick. It is not the same as saying with Keats, “She stood in tears amid the alien corn”.

We might say “the surise was beautiful” but we catch our breath when Emily Dickinson
wrote, “I’ll tell you how the sun rose…A ribbon at a time.”

I close this meditation with some words, some theology vocabulary words…arranged as verse. And I suppose it goes back to our society being inundated with words.

The prophets of old came generation after generation with words about God and many did not "get it." The first verse in the book of John tells us one day in the city of Bethlehem "the Word was made flesh" and came among us and "we beheld his glory."

Could it be so often “what we are a building” is not a brave new world but a
Tower of Babel .
I pile my poetry words…Up high
And stand and gaze …Up to the sky.

And higher…High as eye can see

Early on…Diversity…
The “cutting edge.”…Plurality.

Then add “Process Theology”

I clap my hands… My words have power,
I dance around…My poetry tower.

Confusion…Babel tumbles down.
My words lie silent…On the ground.

And kneeling there…in wordless loss,
I find the”WORD”..Beneath a cross!

by Ruth Baird Shaw (copyright 1987)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Median Sib Cooks Sunday dinner for me.

The Median Sib, our middle of seven children came down to Georgia to check on her mother who had spent a few days in the hospital. One of the special dishes she prepared while here was "Creamed Chicken on Cornbread."

I found the recipe on one of her blogs, "Cabbie's Cooking." She wrote;
Creamed Chicken on Cornbread. "This recipe was given to me by a friend, and I’ve made some adaptations to it. I leave out the mushrooms and the peas, and it is SCRUMPTIOUS! You can also leave out the sherry - I usually do., This is a fantastic meal - one of those foods that makes you feel good - true comfort food. I’ve served it to company many times, and it always receives raves. Make a salad to go with it, and you have a complete meal."

Creamed Chicken on Cornbread
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups light cream (half and half)
2 cups milk
4 cups chicken (cooked and chopped)
8 oz. can mushroom pieces, drained
3 oz. jar diced pimentos, drained
1/4 cup sherry (optional)
1 pkg. frozen peas or one can of peas(optional)
salt and pepper to taste.
Melt butter. Add flour and salt; cook until bubbly. Add chicken broth. Stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Add cream and milk. Simmer 30 minutes. When ready to serve, add the other ingredients and heat thoroughly.

Serve over corn bread, cornmeal sticks or muffins. The creamed chicken is also great over toast. Yield 6 to 7 servings.

Carol doubled the recipe and invited her siblings. She served the creamed chicken over corn sticks, with tossed salad, fresh cantalope and had whipped up her special Sour Cream Pound Cake with a lemon glaze for desert.

Friday, June 13, 2008

To Die is Glory. To Live is Grace.

Harold E. Nicely tells how Justice William O. Douglas recalled that at age 6 or 7, his mother told him how wonderful his father had been.
The family had moved from a small town to Portland Oregon for surgery that proved fatal. Before the surgery his father had said; "If I die it will be glory. If I live it will be grace."
These words were beyond the understanding of a small child. But years later they came back with meaning to interpret a great crisis in his own life: To die is glory. To live is grace.
These words can only mean that beneath our laughter and our tears is the great foundation of the unchanging goodness of God's amazing grace that overflows the cup of life. Sometimes our journey is "walking in sunlight...heavenly sunlight." Sometimes the pathway turns toward the valley, even this is an appointment in the divine wisdom for a glory not yet seen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tribute To Charles Columbus Shaw

Little known facts about Charles Shaw in reply to a letter from one of his children.

In thinking back, Charles had a lot of leadership skills early on. When he was inducted into military service at Ft Mac, they gave him the choice of what branch of service he wanted to serve in. He chose the Marines. He was put "in charge" of a group that were traveling together to the Marine base in San Diego, California for his basic training. His later service was in the South Pacific until the end of the war in 1945.

Charles Shaw served two years in the Marine Corps from 1943-1945. I think his leadership qualities must have been recognized because he only had a High School education at the time.

Charles, like most Marines, as the Marine hymn states, was “proud to be member of the United States Marines.” He served in the Marine Corps, Semper fidelis in World War II in the South Pacific.

“Always faithful“ was more than a motto to Charles and to his buddies and also to the wives and widows of these men, who do not question that they (not we) were indeed the “greatest generation.” In other words, we respected each other.

When he was a teenager, Charles wrote the "love letters" for many of his buddies. I can testify...he was good at it! Before we were married , he wrote to me every week. When he was away in the Marine Corps, he wrote several letters each week. I am sorry we did not keep the letters.
Another thing your daddy did as a teen ager which shows his uniqueness was "adopt" a child at the Methodist Children's Home. There had been something presented in church about the need. So Charles asked to "adopt a child" and spent some of his "hard earned money" on toys and clothes for the child they assigned him. I suspect many if not most of those who chose to participate in the "adopt a child" project of the church were people older and with more money.

He, as you know, was a wonderfully tender hearted man. And a worker!He delivered newspapers as a young boy. Later he had a Dry Cleaning route where he went around from house to house and collected clothes his customers wanted cleaned, took them to a Dry Cleane Service in Conyers. Later in the week he went back to Conyers to get the cleaned clothes and delivered and collected the payments. He made only a pittance but every little bit helped.

As soon as he was old enough, he went to work for Calloway Mills. He made the amazing salary of 25 cents an hour. As was common in those depression years, he gave all his paychecks to his Dad and Mother to help with household expenses. He did this right up to the week we were married.

Your questions have started me thinking about WHY we did not keep his Marine stuff together. It was not a time when one thought about family history as much as they do now. Mainly we did not think of family history because there was not leisure time then as now.

We lead such a busy life with him taking advantage of the Veterans Bill of Right to go back to school and finish college and then going for 3 years more of Seminary and such busy pastorates which he continued with love and committment after two heart attacks and bi-pass surgery and until death.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Lyn.

Happy Birthday to Lyn! My first grandchild, Lyn - is married to her high school sweetheart, is now the mother of two daughters and a son and is a dedicated school teacher . She and her husband and chidren have recently moved to our town . So it is good to get to be with her and her husband and their beautiful children more often
I wrote the post below a couple of years ago about a book she gave me and post it again on her birthday. She is outstanding, not just to her grandmother but to all who know her.
Our large extended family (numbering more than 50 now) has celebrated Christmas together on December 26 for over 20 years. This allows for individual family or “other family” gatherings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
My precious granddaughter Lyn is a thoughtful gift buyer. Among other gifts, she gave me a book entitled The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. I have read and looked at the pictures…twice! It is a book she reads to her students every year, she tells me. The book reminds her (and me) of all the “hugging, eating and breathing” of our “big, loving, supportive and fun-loving” family.

It may have been a book I needed to read. I was tired and considering whether or not the party was worth all the cooking, cleaning and emotion involved in such a large family celebration.

Was it worth it to my children and grandchildren who drove across the state and some across several states to get here?

Clearly, it is a great ocassion for all the young children (age 6 to 13) who take turns being Santa Claus and handing out gifts. It seem to be "worth any trouble" to the little children who love to play together with siblings and cousins on the lawn or in the "children's bed room" in the house here.