I posted this in 2018 but today I celebrate 68 years of walking with my Savior, my best friend.
Life has had its ups and downs, but one thing has remained true. Jesus has been faithful to me through it all.
He was there when my father left my mother and I when I was fourteen. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
He was there when my husband was killed in an accident leaving me with two little girls to raise. “I will be with you always.” Matthew 28:20
He was there when the doctor told me “The odds are not in your favor” and gave me little hope of surviving more than a few more years. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Psalm 23
He is here as I began to age and face pain of arthritis and all the other issues of the aging. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
In 74 years of life, I have made a lot of decisions, some good, some bad. But that decision as a six-year-old was the best one I ever made and one I have never regretted.
Shortly after my retirement my husband and I made a trip to North Carolina to visit our children who live there. On the way we decided to stop and explore the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina.
Built by George Vanderbilt, grandson of famed industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt, in Asheville, North Carolina in 1887 it is unbelievable how big it is. The home contains over four acres of floor space and includes 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces.
On the grounds is a conservatory which is full of beautiful orchids. We were told there are over 600 different orchids. I could not of course get pictures of all 600 but I did my best to capture some of the most beautiful ones.
While there we decided to spend one night at The Inn on Biltmore Estate. We knew it would be expensive, but thought after all these years of working, we deserved one night of luxury. The view from our room was wonderful.
The lobby and lounge areas made us feel so pampered.
In our bedroom we found custom bathrobes and slippers. They offered complimentary night turn-down service, but we passed on that.
When it was time for supper my husband suggested we go into town to find a restaurant, but I wanted to enjoy a meal in their dining room – it looked so special.
Wanting to keep me happy, he agreed. After we sat down and saw the menus, I realized this was probably not a good idea. But, too embarrassed to get up and leave, and still wanting to enjoy one night of luxury, we stayed. The food was excellent and we really enjoyed the meal. When we had finished the waiter asked if we would like a cup of coffee. My husband passed, but I asked for a cup. Thinking after spending such a large amount on the meal, the coffee would be complimentary, I sipped my cup that was served in very delicate china and enjoyed every drop.
I was very upset when we got our bill (which I knew would be much too high for our budget) to discover they had charged us $4.00 for this tiny cup of coffee.
The next morning we enjoyed some coffee in the library (which was free and served in paper cups) and read the newspapers savoring one more moment of luxury.
I felt a little guilty for spending that much money for one night – but looking back now I’m glad we did it. What price do you put on good memories!
Eighty years ago today our nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor.
My parents’ generation sacrificed much in the next few years. My father was in the Navy and came back from the war with many difficult memories of death and danger.
My mother was left to take care of three children on her own.
President Franklin Roosevelt created the OPA (Office of Price Administration). This organization placed ceilings on prices of goods to prevent companies from taking advantage of the situation to raise prices on goods and also created rationing to limit consumption.
Ration books were issued to families restricting many things such as sugar and gasoline. I remember hearing stories of how people would trade their sugar rations for gasoline so they would be able to get to work.
Families were encouraged to raise their own vegetables to allow more food to be canned for the military. These “victory gardens” led to the government publishing guides on how to plant a garden and how to can the produce. Women’s clubs began with women sharing new recipes and ideas of how to create tasty food with less ingredients available.
No woman wanted to go out on the town without nylon hose. As the nylon was needed for parachute and other military needs, the hose became hard to find. (Like toilet paper in our Covid-19 situation).
When I see our generation facing a different type of crisis with Covid-19 – and the response we have made, I wonder how we compare to this “Greatest Generation.”
This past week one of the last of that generation died.
Bob Dole served in the Army and was injured in a German machine gun attack. He lost a kidney, he was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down. While he regained mobility, his arms never fully recovered. He lost the use of his right arm and his left arm was partially numb. He said he had to allow 50 extra minutes each morning to get dressed.
There are many stories of other men/women I could write about. But I’m sure you all know parents/grandparents of that “Greatest Generation” who lived through the Depression and World War II.
Sadly as my generation is gone, I wonder if anyone will remember and appreciate the sacrifice of that generation.
Fifty-one years ago today I became a mother for the first time. That day will always be one of my favorite memories. As I held my little girl in my arms I whispered to her that we would be best friends. All the fun we would have – shopping, reading books, playing games, singing songs.
I thought then that I had all the time in the world with this little one. I was wrong. Too quickly she became a toddler getting into everything. Then a little girl off to school. Her first day of school she gave me a scare as she did not get off the bus at our street. We still laugh about that day, but at the moment I was one frightened mother.
Then a teenager. Although we often hear parents complaining about teenagers I found the years when my daughters were teenagers some of the happiest of my life.
Finally she was a young woman in love. Then came marriage – and later three beautiful children making me a grandmother. Time has passed too quickly and she is now a grandmother (which means I am a great-grandmother). How did that happen?
Fifty one years – looking back at 1970 – what a difference.
In 1970 prices were:
Hershey’s candy bar – $.15
gallon of milk – $1.15
dozen eggs – $.62
pound of coffee – $.91
loaf of bread – $.25
can of Coke – $.10
average movie ticket – $1.55
postage stamp – $.06
median cost of house – $26,600
average cost of car – $3,500
Of course, income was much less then also. Median wages was $8,734
The top 10 TV shows were:
Marcus Welby M.D.
The Flip Wilson Show
ABC Movie of the Week
How times have changed. We did not have cell phones. The first commercially available cellphone was developed by Motorola and went on sale in the U.S. in 1984. The phone was huge, cost $3,995.00 and was only good for about thirty minutes of use before you had to charge the battery again.
Other technolgies we did not have in 1970:
MRI – 1977
e-mail – 1971
post-it note – 1974
Rubik’s Cube – 1974
first commercial barcode scan – 1974
Apple computer – 1976
Sony Walkman – 1979
Looking back over these fifty-one years, while life has changed in so many ways – not only in my family but in my country, one thing remains true.
I have not lost that magical feeling of being a mother. Although my daughter now lives hundreds of miles from me and I do not get to see her as much as I would like, when I hear her voice on the phone or get a text, my heart still smiles.
Growing up every year as fall began, I would begin getting excited when the mailman came. I would come home from school and ask my mother, “Did it come today?” Anticipation grew each day until finally Mom would smile and say “Here it is!” How excited I would be as I opened the Montgomery Wards Christmas catalog.
Aaron Montgomery Ward launched the nation’s first mail-order business with a one-page price list boasting 163 items, which he sent to farmers’ cooperatives throughout the rural Midwest. Unlike existing mail-order businesses that dealt only in individual items, Ward offered the rural consumer a variety of merchandise and, by eliminating the middleman, kept prices low. His new business found a ready market as homesteaders pushed west across the frontier. By the spring of 1874, his price list had grown to 32 pages and was bound into a catalog. Ward offered a guarantee – “Satisfaction…
October is a month that brings back so many memories to me. It was in this month nineteen years ago that I was diagnosed with a very advanced and aggressive cancer. So it’s natural that I have memories of that time every October – and especially since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Some of those memories are not pleasant. The surgery – the chemo – the radiation – the very hard effort to stare death in the face.
But I also have so many good memories and today brought back one of those memories.
It is raining and chilly here in Michigan today – a perfect fall day. It is also a good day to just stay inside and watch the rain from my easy chair. My husband declared that this was a day for homemade potato soup.
I love homemade potato soup. My mother often made that when I had a cold or was not feeling good. It is my comfort food. My husband makes great potato soup so I was glad to hear his offer to make some for us today.
Watching him prepare the soup and enjoying the good smells coming from the kitchen brought back a very special memory of that time battling cancer.
I continued to work through my chemotherapy and was active but with the first two drugs I was given, I would basically lose a week of life as I felt energy and life drain from my body. I would spend several days in bed too weak to do anything but get up and walk to the restroom. My husband would fix my meals and bring them to me on a tray. If there was any meat, he would even have to cut it up for me because I had energy only enough to lift my fork.
He was so good – so kind – so patient and did all he could to help me through those weeks. One day as I lay in bed I thought how much I would love to have some potato soup. Because he was doing all the shopping, house work as well as cooking and taking care of me I did not want to make any special requests. Not knowing what he had planned to fix, I did not want to impose on him so I said nothing.
I drifted back off to sleep and some time later he woke me up to tell me he was bringing me my lunch. When he brought the tray to my bed, I was so happy. He had fixed potato soup. You may think that was just a coincidence, but I believe God knew my heart’s desire and led my husband to fix that soup.
As we ate the soup today we remembered that special time and we thanked God for how much He cares about us.
And, the soup was delicious – as my husband’s soup always is.
This time of the year I find myself remembering events from years ago that generate both sweet and bitter memories with all the accompanying emotions.
March has been a month that has brought both good and bad events into my life – events that changed me forever.
The first one that brings sweet memories occurred 52 years ago on March 29. That day I walked down the aisle at church and promised to “love and cherish until death do us part.”
For almost 13 years I kept that promise. Every year as that date approaches I remember those years with my first husband. We were happy and shared a lot of joy but the best part of those years was the birth of our two beautiful daughters. Memories of those times make me smile and I am grateful for every moment we shared. Those events changed me – made me a wife, a mother.
The second memory is more painful. It was 39 years ago in March that I got a call at work that I will never forget. My eleven-year-old daughter called me and said, “Momma, I think Daddy is dead.” Those words changed our lives forever. My first husband had been working on our car when an accident occurred that took his life. Ironically it was just four days before we would have celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. So March brings also feelings of great sadness as I remember the shock and horror of that day. The pain my daughters still feel today. The older one grieves as she remembers all the times she had with her daddy, while the younger grieves because she was so young her memories are few. That changed me – made me a young widow with two little girls to raise.
So – every year in March I deal with these memories and these conflicting emotions.
That would be enough to make the last of March an emotional time for me.
But last year added another event that adds to my emotions this time of year.
On March 19 last year my second husband fell and hit his head on the concrete floor of his art studio in the basement of our condo.
By the 22nd he was in pain and we went to the emergency room of our local hospital. From there he was rushed by ambulance to the main hospital in Lansing – the capital of our state – where they did emergency surgery. He had a major brain bleed and they said without the surgery he would not survive the night.
As I remember the next couple of weeks I still can feel the knot in my stomach as I waited at home (because of the virus I could not be with him) wondering if the next call would be to tell me I was a widow again. I wondered how I could take it if he died on the same day as my first husband had died. As the next few days were “touch and go” while they tried to get him off the ventilator, I kept telling God “please, not again, not this time.”
I am so grateful to God that he not only survived the surgery but after a few weeks he was back to his normal self. The doctor said he might have trouble walking, swallowing, communicating. While he had some of these symptoms for a couple of weeks, he was soon completely okay with no lingering symptoms.
One major concern of mine was would he be able to paint again. Would he even be able to walk down the stairs to his art studio. That prayer was again quickly answered. Our son-in-love brought his painting equipment upstairs and within two weeks he painted a beautiful lighthouse scene. Soon he was able to return to his studio downstairs and continue painting.
So along with the knot in my stomach, I also must rejoice with a great emotion of gratitude that I am not a widow for the second time, that my husband is not only alive, but well and strong again.
One of his first paintings also was of a beautiful rainbow which symbolizes hope and a reminder that God keeps His promises. He called it “Hope in the Storm.” It now hangs in my kitchen as a reminder to me that no matter what troubles come, with God there is always hope.
When my first husband died, when my second husband survived, regardless God has been there – and He brings me hope. Hope for whatever next March or any time may bring. Good times or bad – He is faithful.
It’s Friday – time for another post on old church hymns.
Many of the old hymns I love are found in the old hymnals from mainline churches like Methodist, Lutheran or Presbyterian.
However, since I am a country girl at heart with some southern roots, many of the old songs I love would probably never be sung at the churches with more formal worship.
One of my favorite southern gospel songs is one my mother used to sing. She had a good voice and was often asked to sing at regular Sunday evening services and at revivals held in our area. Everyone who knew her always associated this song with her for she loved it and sang it often.
Accompanying her often on this song, it is one of the songs I memorized and it is one often requested when I play for the “old folks” in the assisted living facilities. What really makes me smile is when I play it the folks from the more “formal” churches clap their hands and/or pat their feet right along with the song.
Recently I made contact through FB with a friend from years and years ago. She asked about my mother and said she always thinks of her when she hears this song.
Written by a prolific southern gospel song writer, Mosie Lister, it is only one of his songs that I love. Anyone who loves southern gospel will recognize this list of songs by Lister:
His Hand in Mine
How Long Has It Been (one of my favorites)
I’ve Been Changed
Til the Storm Passes By
So – sit down, relax in your chair, get your hands ready to clap (and maybe tap your foot) and enjoy this southern gospel music! And yes, if you notice the piano player, I can play it just as lively as he does!
When we moved into our condo last spring my husband decided to work on the unfinished basement and create a place where he could fully enjoy his love of painting. Before this move there was never a really good place for him to keep all his painting paraphernalia. A place where he could also display his art work.
So – he began working and made a great “man cave.”
On a row, he decided to work on the second room in the basement. Instead of putting up dry wall or paneling, he designed a mural – just for me.
A few years ago we spent several weeks in Charleston, South Carolina. I fell in love with the city and especially loved the area called the Rainbow Row. Paul bought me a tray painted with the colorful houses and it sits on a shelf above my kitchen sink. Often I stand for a moment at the sink and remember that beautiful place.
Since we decided we would make this room a place where we could watch TV in the summer when the basement would be cooler than upstairs, he wanted to create for me that beautiful row of colorful houses.
These historic homes were built around 1740 and local merchants had their shops on the ground floor while they lived on the top floor. At that time the houses were not the colorful ones we see today.
After the Civil War the area became a slum. Then in 1931 Dorothy Haskell Legge brought the homes numbering 99 through 101 East Bay. After renovating them, she had the houses painted pink. Soon future owners began buying the house on East Bay and painting them in pastel shades. By 1945 after most of the houses on this street had been restored. Mrs. Legge was given an award from the Preservation Society of Charleston in 1992.
If you ever have the good fortune to visit Charleston, you must see this beautiful row of homes.
I hope someday to go back and view these homes in person, but until that day, thanks to my husband I can enjoy the memories with my own Rainbow Row. He is painting the concrete floor a grey/blue and soon I will have an easy chair to sit, read and remember!
He has started a mural of the sea wall which is near Rainbow Row. It is a work in progress as he will be adding sailboats to the sea. This is still a rough scene but will be great when he is done. Can’t wait for him to get that finished.
Throughout our ministry my husband and I have always conducted services at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Twice a month I now do a music recital at a nursing home. One of the most requested songs we get from the “old folks” is always the song “In the Garden.” It has also been one of the most requested songs for funerals we have conducted.
As this older generation passes away, I think this song will soon be forgotten. I can’t imagine the younger crowd playing this song with the guitars and drums so popular now. In fact, I have to laugh as I think what kind of music will be played for the boomers when we reach nursing home age. Certainly the music will go from “You Are My Sunshine” to “Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” Hopefully we hear some Motown and Beach Boys too.
But I digress….Back to the Song “In the Garden.”
Although I have played this song for years I must confess I often wonder what garden the writer had in mind when he wrote this song and who was the person speaking these words.
Since I started this series on the history behind old gospel songs, I did some research and discovered that the author clearly had a particular garden and a particular person in mind when he wrote this song.
In his own words:
“One day in April 1912….I drew my Bible toward me and it opened at my favorite book and chapter, John chapter twenty….It was though I was in a trance, as I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary’s life when she knelt before her Lord and cried, “Rabboni”….As the light faded, I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head, bowed, hand clasping her throat, as if to choke back her sobs, walked slowly into the shadows. It was Mary. As she came unto the tomb, upon which she placed her hand, she bent over to look in and ran away….Turning herself, she saw Jesus standing there, so did I. I knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretched, and looking into His face cried, “Rabboni”.
I’m not sure why the older generation loved this song so much. Perhaps just the thought of walking with Jesus in a quiet restful garden was reassuring to those who lived through the depression and World War II. The thought of a loved one walking peacefully with Jesus after death was no doubt also a comfort.
There is a joke about this song I heard some years ago.
A little boy came home from church and had this conversation with his mother:
Boy: Mom, in church today I learned what God’s name is.
Mother: And what is his name?
Mother: Andy….who told you that?
Boy: We sang a song “Andy walks with me and Andy talks with me.”
If you know the song, you understand the joke.
If you do not know the song, here it is. Hope you enjoy both the old gospel song and the joke also.