Her Hands

Proverbs 31:  30-31

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

 

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While the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord

The hands of a good woman are certainly to be adored.

 

Young hands once embraced her lover’s strong hands

as they joined in holy matrimony,

They embarked on an adventure

That built a lasting legacy and testimony.

 

Tender hands to hold the precious babies

Firm hands to administer discipline to the naughty

Loving hands to console the scraps and bruises

While always skilled hands, though never haughty.

 

Eager hands seeking God’s design for her life

Led to a life of devotion to her Savior,

The Holy Bible became her nourishment

And she desired more and more to gain His favor.

 

Strong hands contributed to the household funds

Working long hours in many different places

While sewing, serving or selecting fashion

She was a blessing to many special faces.

 

Vigorous hands displayed her devotion to her family

As unselfishly displayed in her desire to help whenever

Cleaning, folding, ironing or sewing clothes

Those diligent hands displayed a love to last forever.

 

Adventurous hands loved to play with the kids

Who says a grandmother can’t ride a trike?

She broke her wrist while roller skating

So it was much less dangerous to ride a bike!

 

Skillful hands designed many a quilt and afghan

All were grateful for the love contained in each stitch

And Praised the Lord for the loving hands

While we snuggled neath the softness without an itch.

 

Open hands always offered a hug

She wanted to make sure that everyone heard

Of her love and God’s, praying and trusting that

All would surrender and follow His word.

 

Fragile hands no longer able to cook and clean

Still wrote those letters and many a birthday greeting

She couldn’t remember if she had sent that card

Sometimes they received more than one reading.

 

Weak hands depended on her family for strength

Too frail to breathe without the oxygen tube in her nose

Coughing increased and eating was a struggle

She moved around the house with that clear hose.

 

Determined hands instructed her son to resist delaying her

Ready to reunite with her parents in Beulah Land

She used her last breath trying to help her husband

And in the arms of her oldest son she surrendered her hand.

 

Thank you Mom, Grandmother, MeeMaw for using those beautiful hands God gave you to bless each of us!

 

Another prompting to honor another mother.

This was written in 2009 for the birthday of my husband’s mother.  She enjoyed reading my one and only attempt at poetry!!    Again I was able to express in writing what I had difficulty telling her in person.

The last two paragraphs were added after she died in 2010.

 

Dear Mother

It was Mother’s Day 1985.  Relaxing that evening, after a pleasant day with  family, my thoughts turned to my mother in Georgia.  Living In Michigan I did not have the opportunity to see her as much as I would like.  So, I decided to write her a letter.

It has not always been easy for me to express my thoughts in person.

“Dear Mother,

Last night before I fell asleep I was thinking of “Mother’s Day” and how special my mother is to me.  I don’t know if I ever called you “mom” or maybe “ma-ma” at a very young age, but “mother” just the sound of it means – comfort – especially as a child only a mother can comfort when you’re ill or hurting – I’m far from being a child- but even yet when I’m sick I want mother to know and comfort.

Mother also means encourager and helper.  I remember how you helped me can peaches in Texas for a home economics project and helped me sew my first skirt.

You encouraged me to do my best.  Mother is also an example – how you endured hardships and made the best of the circumstances you found yourself in.  You devoted yourself to your husband when some would have given up.  You devoted yourself to us in so many unselfish ways.

I remember so many outfits you sewed for me – that blue shiny dress in Columbus, Georgia with lace collar (4th or 5th grade); a lavender sundress in Texas – the royal blue dress and jacket I wore in the Cobb County Pageant; and the prom jacket with pastel sequins (which I have kept for 20 years – never worn but just something you made – I hated to part with it.)

When I think of you I think of potato salad (no one can match – even though my sister Terry says she can!); dressing, banana pudding – I could go on and on – no one can beat my mother’s cooking.

Also – how you love your grandchildren only matches your love for us.

Just a few thoughts to let you know I love you Mother.

Love & prayers,
Pat

She wrote back a simple letter:

Dear Pat,

You’re a very special daughter, you brought tears to my eyes in the letter you wrote to me on Mother’s Day.  I appreciate all the good things you remember.  I don’t dwell on the bad things cause we all make mistakes and as we grow older we mellow and learn from our mistakes. 

I love you and have a special place for you in my heart.

Love, Mother

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My mother; Easter in TN Mom, my brother and me; Mother with four grandchildren; and Mother’s Day with the first grandchild

Now, I realize God prompted me to write this letter to my mother that May.  A simple letter but so timely as three months later my mother died suddenly of a heart attack.  I’m so glad I wrote expressing my appreciation and love for her.

And it also gave me the opportunity to hear from her.  She did not express herself very freely in person either.  So, her letter is even more precious to me. My mother valued others above herself.  She rarely complained about her struggles and forgave easily.

If your mother is still alive, please consider writing or better yet, expressing to her in person your love and appreciation.

 

Philippians 2  (NIV)
Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

 

Walk in the Way of Love

 

“What was your favorite Easter basket or Easter candy?”

Really?  A Christian radio station talking about Easter candy.  Is that what Easter is about?

My husband did have a memory of Easter candy.  His mom required him to take his younger brother and sister to  a community egg hunt.  He was walking around looking cool and stopping occasionally to eat a candy egg.  He picked up a plastic egg and opened it – he read $1.00 and put the prize in his pocket.  Several hard candy eggs later – he heard over the loud speaker, “The prize egg has not been found.  Look around for the $100 prize egg.”

He looked again in his pocket– and he had misread the note.  He went to the announcer and returned the contents of the plastic egg for a $100 check.   When asked what he planned to do with the money – he responded, “I will give it to my mom to pay for my summer school bill.”

Easy come, easy go!

I watched The Passion of the Christ recently for the second time.  Incredible the suffering Jesus experienced for us.  I remember a retreat and the speaker giving a physical description of Jesus’s crucifixion – this did not include the beatings and scourgings from Roman soldiers and the rejection of his own countrymen before being nailed on a cross.

I don’t remember ever receiving a basket.  Maybe when I was very young??

My best memories of Easter are attending church with my Dad.  Christmas and Easter were the few days we attended church as a family.

Unlike the casual attire today, people dressed up for church in those days. Dad could wear his dress Army military uniform. Mother used her limited funds to make sure her children wore nice Sunday clothes, especially at Christmas and Easter, which left no money for an appropriate outfit for her.

It was kind of ironic my Dad always looked so proud and got so many compliments for his uniform and bringing his children to church.  While my mother was the one who sacrificed and covered for him and his drinking problem which caused her to squeeze every penny out of his paycheck to pay bills.

One of my best memories of Easter was the weekend my husband and I were married.

Other family Easter memories:

My brother & his children attended with us one year.

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Easter.1972

 

 

 

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Our Teen Ranch Familyr

 

The cute blue suit is what Timmy wore when he quickly said his part on stage, popped his bow  tie and jumped off the stairs.

 

 

 

In the early years of our marriage the tradition continued of having new clothes at Easter.   I made a yellow dress for the special day.  I found a pair of yellow pumps to match and squeezed the luxury out of my paycheck.

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Can you believe lady I sat by in church this Easter had on a yellow dress and yellow shoes?

It seemed the Lord was saying to me, “You could return them and give the $20 to missions.”  I leaned over to John and said, “we can give $20.”

A few weeks before Easter, we attended a missionary banquet and the speaker, Rev. Jimmy Lentz, a powerful advocate for missionaries, made an appeal.  He realized there was only a small group of people and we were most likely giving to our church.  He asked if we would give sacrificially. My yellow shoes popped up before my mind.  I didn’t really need them I just wanted them to wear with my new dress.

Now that doesn’t seem like a lot of money – but to us in the 1960’s it was a – a car payment or electric bill???? This began our love of missions and desire to give.

New clothes are not a priority for Easter to me now.  I do cherish family attending services with us and cooking for them to enjoy.

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Little Timmy full grown with his family.

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Our son Johnny and his children and their friends.  We are still surrounded by young people.

 

Now Easter is a wonderful celebration of our faith as the highlight of the year when we commemorate our Lord’s resurrection.  As our pastor said this year, “Without Easter we would not celebrate Christmas!”

Why would we? The purpose of the coming of the babe in the manager was for God to be with us in human form so that he could show us the Father and then die for our sins and leave the Holy Spirit to be our counselor, advocate and guide.

Thank you Lord for Easter memories in my life.  May I share with my children and grandchildren that Easter is more than baskets, bunnies and egg hunts.

It’s all about the glorious resurrection of our Lord – King Jesus.

Behold our King!  Come let us adore Him!

 

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Time?

All the Time?

Pastor – “God is Good!” – response People – “All the Time!”

Pastor – “All the Time!” – response People – “God is Good!”

Our church service begins with this ritual.

Many times, I think – All the Time?

When a loved one dies?

When the diagnosis is cancer?

When your spouse leaves?

When your child rebels?

When your husband has been in pain for ten days?

You get the picture – many times we don’t feel like God is Good – all the time.

Nothing was working out.  No one returned my calls.  It did not seem that God was good this Monday.  No one seemed to care.  I shouldn’t say that- family and friends kept in touch with me constantly– they cared.  The prayer chain at church was active. The medical community was not responding.

I awoke with such optimism Monday morning – that someone would help – we would get an appointment that day for my husband.  John was not able to stand without excruciating pain or walk for ten days.  He had an MRI at the ER on Tuesday before Thanksgiving and was sent home with pain meds and prednisone.  He had a herniated disk. Now, he was out of both medicines and pain not improved.

As the hours dragged on and no calls I was anxious, ok, I was depressed.

Finally, at 4pm I received a call from our local doctor’s office. I rushed to town to get the prescription.  Then to the pharmacy to have it filled.  It was then my cell phone rang – a neurosurgeon’s office – could we be there at 8:50 the next day?  Yes, someone does care.

The next morning our son helped me get John in the car and loaded the wheelchair.  We left our house at 6:30 am for the one and half hour trip over the mountain to Gainesville.  It was a beautiful clear day the sun was shining and warm for late November.  I drove around to the front door to let John out.  Amazing, a handicapped parking place right in front.  I don’t like to pray for a parking space – but God reserved one for me that day.  After a few pulls and tugs I was able to get the wheelchair unloaded.

I rolled John in the office and before we got settled in for the wait (he was being worked in their schedule) he was called back to see the doctor.  The doctor came in and showed me the MRI and X-ray and said his disk was completely pinched and he needed surgery as soon as possible. Everyone in the office seemed concerned and the doctor was concerned about his pain level – he scheduled surgery the next week.

They called the hospital to try to schedule preop for that day.  No openings – Preop on Friday.  Oh, no go over the mountain again in few days?  John could not make that trip again.  But Yeah surgery scheduled!

I got him in the car and then tackled the wheelchair.  After several lifts a lady appeared and said, “Here, let me show you how to do that!”

We went to lunch.  John said, “Why don’t we go by the hospital and see if they can work us in for preop today.  Sure, enough someone else cared and after an hour nap in the waiting room they put him through preop procedure.

God was certainly good that Tuesday.  On the drive home, I recounted all the blessings – Praise the Lord for a safe trip, beautiful sunny day, parking place right in front of office, surgery scheduled, a lady to lift wheelchair and preop done.

But was God good on Monday when I was so despondent and distraught?  Sure, he was – he gave me the strength to keep pressing on.  Even though I didn’t feel like he was good, he was working all the time.

Seeing the goodness of God on Tuesday helped me get through the next week before John’s surgery as his pain increased even with strong medication.

Where are you today?  Do you feel that God is Good all the time?  My experience is miniscule compared to my friend who lost her husband or another friend facing cancer or someone whose spouse leaves.  But I know God can meet you even in those times.

There are many scriptures to encourage us that God is Good and that He works for our good.  Here are a few from New International Version (NIV):

Psalm 73:1                          Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

2 Corinthians 9:8              And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Philippians 2:13                For it is God who works in you to will and act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Romans 8:28                      And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Psalm 121
A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

 

This song by Casting Crowns – speaks to our times of doubting that God is Good all the time!

 

https://youtu.be/vCpP0mFD9F0

 

 

Kissing Cousins

The three quarter length sleeves on the red dress were flattering as was the fitted waist.  Even though it was a warm day in September I could not resist wearing the new dress on my date.  Johnny picked me up and said, “I’d like to stop by my house – there are some people I’d like you to meet.”

We were greeted by a friendly crowd of all ages.  Picnic tables were spread with what looked like old sheets and it seemed like every one was bringing food to the tables.  Johnny disappeared in the crowd and was kissed by several beautiful young ladies.  I knew his two sisters and they were not the ones kissing him.

Later in the car I asked about the pretty young ladies kissing him.  He said, “Oh those were my cousins!”  Kissing cousins I thought.  Ummmmm.

Those kissing cousins, Sue, Lee and Betty would become lifelong friends.

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Sue, Betty and Sue’s daughter Kim

 

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Lee and daughter Melodie

 

That was my first introduction to a family reunion.  My boyfriend’s mother was one of seven children; six girls and one boy.  Virginia, Lenora, Zora, I.V., Jessie, Ethel, and Cleo.  When they all got together on the fourth Sunday in September there was feasting, fun and pictures.

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The original gang minus Aunt Lenora

Now that handsome young man is no longer called Johnny but John and my husband of 52 years and I did not wear a red dress but a dark blue dress which detracted from my not so small waist.

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John with Benny and Gene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many gatherings have been enjoyed over the years at family houses until the crowd grew too large and then church halls, recreation centers and once at Vogel State Park.  The last several years we have meet in my sister-in-law Gayle’s church basement.

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Gayle, Tommy and Uncle Dutch

 

All the original seven sisters and one brother are gone but we still meet in their memory and in their honor for what they taught us – to love God, love our family and our neighbors.  The crowd has dwindled a bit but the food was still good and we try to keep up with each other’s lives – the babies born, growing children, those graduating from high school and happenings in our lives.

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Nana Pat, Cameron & Chalonda

 

 

 

Our almost seventeen-year-old grandson drove us to the gathering and our son and his daughter led the way in another car.

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the food and fellowship.

A few years ago, we gathered around the keyboard and sang old hymns as our cousin Keith played.

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Sanders Family Singers

 

I couldn’t help but shed a tear thinking about how John’s mom and dad and all the others who are gone now would have loved to hear that singing.

But I imagine the original gang is having their own reunion in heaven!

Exodus 20:12New International Version (NIV)

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

 

Sugar or Starch?

How could something so sweet be good for you and yet stick to the bowl like starch?

Corn

July and August may be the dog days of summer because of the heat but they are our time to ‘put up corn.’

Sweet corn is my family’s favorite vegetable.  When the family gathers for Sunday lunch or at holidays, we serve a large container of corn. Not just any corn but fresh corn that is frozen quickly to preserve the taste.

To have enough corn to serve at these special family gatherings, we schedule several processing times. Our goal is to put at least 50 quarts in the freezer.

A local farmer provides the corn, hopefully family gathers to help Papaw shuck the husks and then into the house for me to blanch, cool, and cut off cob.

I thought I would record the process for future generations, in case they want to have that fresh tasting corn we have every Sunday for lunch.

Our son and grand kids and whoever might be around help shuck it and then John and I prepare for freezer.

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Cha, Kelley, Johnny, John, Cam, Gavin

 

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Just a few more ears to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few tips to make sure you get that fresh taste!

 

Well, which is it sugar or starch? It is both. The grain can produce corn syrup which is placed in most of products we use.  Read the labels.  The corn plant also provides edible starch to make corn starch, jellies and candies.  The dextrin from the raw starch is used to make glue, fireworks.  Crude corn oil is used in making plastic resin, glycerin for soap and refined oil for salad oil, cooking oils and medicinal oils.  Corn is also used to produce ethanol (ethyl alcohol) for fuel.

Of course, our ancestors used corn to process by wet milling, fermenting and adding yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol, also known as “white lightning.” Sorry no video for this process!

Several years ago I was told there was no nutrition in corn.  But read today that corn has vitamins B and E as well as minerals – phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper with traces of selenium. Also good source of fiber.

Get the fresh corn and enjoy the sugar and starch and even some nutrients.

Fake Strawberries

John 15:4-6 New International Version (NIV)

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

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TOMATOES

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh, you accomplished this did you?”

 

 

 

 

After working in the garden at 100% humidity– I stopped to rest and drink some water. Even though I was exhausted, I looked around and took pride in the garden.

My husband told me that he would not be able to help in the garden this year because of his back problems. Stubbornly I pursued the task of planting and weeding. We failed to place a layer of wood chips in the fall which would have kept the weeds under control.

 

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Squash – newspaper to block weeds???

 

Observing the thriving  plants, I thought, “Look at this, I planted all this by myself and it looks so good.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immediately the Lord reminded me that all I did was plant and weed the garden – he caused the growth with the abundance of rain and sunshine. I felt like Job when the Lord challenged him for using words without knowledge in Job 38-41. Oops, sorry Lord.

He encouraged me to look at the strawberry patch that was overgrown with weeds.

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Right side (before)

 

 

“That is what you can take credit for – a mess. Without me you can do nothing!”

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, after four days of pulling weeds the strawberry patches are cleared of those tall weeds.

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Right side (after)

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Left side (before)

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Left side (after weeding)

 

Just like Job, I was challenged that God is the creator and sustainer of life. Success comes from acknowledging his majesty and authority over all I attempt. Whether it is gardening, volunteering, or any area of my life, the praise should go to God.

It is important to recognize the weeds as they creep into the strawberry patch.

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tiny runners are weeds – fake strawberries

 

 

 

Just like these fake strawberry vines, we must be aware of the invaders.

 

 

 

 

 

Are we taking pride in ourselves and our accomplishments without acknowledging that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father and without Him we can do nothing.

 

Thank you Lord for giving me strength and stamina to pull those weeds!

 

Job 38  New International Version (NIV)

The Lord Speaks

38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?