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.

 

Fill in the Blanks

How many times have you heard people say “I wish I had asked my parents……………..”  You fill in the blanks.  Shekinah Lane is our story of those blank spaces.  We want future generations of our family and your family to realize that God can use us in our weakness if we dare to dwell in the secret place (the Shekinah glory) of the most High God. 

That glory is only found as we step out in faith, out of our comfort zone, and out of preconceived restrictions.  We experienced the freedom of serving God with people from various backgrounds as well as those who had no religious background to restrict their faith journey. 

 Join us for a book signing of Shekinah Lane

at Union County Library on Friday, May 19, 2:30 – 4:30 pm

 

 When we are young children we depend on our parents.  As teens we tolerate our parents.  Young adults depend on parents again to help with their children.  Midlife finds us busy with our teens – ball games, school activities, and before we know it – we are the grandparents.

Many times only in the later years of our lives do we start to reflect and wish we had spent more time talking to our parents and asking those questions to pass down to future generations.

My family a few years before my parents died.

My parents died in the midst of our sons’ teen age years.  My mother suffered a major heart attack and died a few hours after I arrived at the hospital.  Two years later my father died of lung cancer.  Since I was in that midlife time, I had not asked those questions about my parent’s lives to fill in those blanks.

 

John’s parents both lived long lives.  They moved close to us here in the north Georgia Mountains.  For eleven years we shared them with our sons and their families.

First great-grand child

Second great grand-child

Cha and Cam enjoyed their Mee maw and Great Pa paw

 

Having four generations interact was a delight.

 

 

We enjoyed the twinkle in Great Pa paw’s eye and the smile on Me maw’s face as he shared the story about their wedding night.  Every December 23 he disclosed, as if it was the first time he told it, about when he and Me maw were married and the house caught on fire.  We made them an anniversary DVD one year and the background music was Johnny Cash’s song “We got married in a Fever.”

Third great grand child (Mitchell) with hands raised.

Even though we shared many years with John’s parents, there are still some blanks.  We wish we could talk to them just once more and ask the lyrics to so many jingles that Great Pa paw loved to recite or his secrets for successful crappie fishing 

and also to ask Me maw about her faith journey, her visions, her determination to teach without a formal education.

Shekinah Lane is our attempt to complete many blanks for our children, grandchildren and future generations.  We want them to know the joys as well as the struggles we experienced in our lives.  Our spiritual journey is the train that drives all the adventure.

 Psalm 102:18Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.

Celebration

She’s a celebrity now!

After all, her pictures are displayed on the big screen. Pictures ranged from kindergarten to her wedding, small children, family group photos, the wedding of her oldest daughter and then the first grandchild to an intimate scene with her husband as her health was waning.

Not the theatre marquee for this saint but on the big screen in the sanctuary, the one that holds words of songs and Scripture for Sunday services. She would be embarrassed with all the focus on her as the lines of family and friends streamed past her five precious daughters, only son and loving husband. This celebration is of the life of a godly lady who lived a quiet, reverent life.

Reeda Fay was known as a woman of faith and prayer and a proclaimer of God’s truth from His word. She lived in the Shekinah Glory of God. She was of the old school, “God said it and I believe it!” Continue reading

What is Beautiful?

jo.mantle

Ms. Pat, your house is so beautiful. 

People who don’t have kids have beautiful houses. 

Our house is not pretty” Jada said.

I responded, “Well you should have seen my house when our boys were your age we had toys and shoes and stuff all around and it was not beautiful.”

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I thought of my house a few weeks ago with the pantry stuff all over the living room. That was not beautiful.

Out of the mouths of babes!  This precious seven year old observed the lack of toys and kid stuff and saw beauty.

The beauty I saw was the love and security this little girl and her sister were experiencing in their Grammy and Pappy’s home.  The girls came to live with their grandparents several years ago because of their parents’ problems.

Each February we have a reunion gathering of friends from a Bible Study group.   Seven years ago, Jerry and Lois brought their three month old grandbaby Jada and her five year old sister Natalie to the gathering.

Over the years we have watched the girls grow not only physically and socially but also spiritually.   We observe them at church sitting with their Pappy as their Grammy sings in the choir.

 That is true beauty to sacrifice your lives for others.

Now Jerry and Lois have custody of the girls
and are blessed to be raising them in a godly home.

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Jerry & Lois with Jada (sitting)
My husband John and I ( standing)

I love to have nice things and am privileged to have friends who help me decorate my home.   (Thanks Jo!)

However, there is nothing as beautiful as a child who feels loved and secure and knows that God loves them.

Prayer:  Lord please help me to sacrifice myself for others and spread your beauty to those in need of love.

A Living Sacrifice
Romans 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Ecc. 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. –
Isaiah 52:7 
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  

Unlimited Data Plan

“I love my phone.”  “I hate my phone.”  How can one be so fickle?  When you upgrade to a new cell phone it is easy! 
 
After using an android smart phone for several years, I upgraded to a newer version.  At the same time my husband changed from a flip phone with no data plan to an android.  I convinced him it was time to join the “smart phone” generation. 
 
My son and his family were at our house for Sunday dinner and we were all trying to help Papaw with his phone.  His new phone has a speaking capability and you must use the words exactly to activate the service.  He needs to say, “OK Google now,” wait for the beep and then give a command.  He was frustrated trying to remember the exact words and shouted, “Go Google.”  We all exploded with laughter. 
 
Today we went to the store and the lovely, patient sales lady gave him more lessons in using his new phone.  He is making progress – he has fourteen days to make a decision about joining the “smart phone” generation.
 
It is amazing how the cell phone can pull up contacts and make a call or access your calendar or information on the internet with just saying, “Go Google Now” and then making your request.  It even tells you who is calling and asks if you want to talk or send back a text message.  Amazing stuff.
 
Aren’t you glad we don’t need a smart phone or APP to contact God.  He is always available even without Wi-Fi.  Not necessary to remember a password or pay for a data plan.  We don’t need to pay for an upgrade because he is constantly transforming us.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
God’s smart phone equivalent – a vehicle for information and communication – is the Bible. 
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
The password is Jesus. 
Jesus answered, “I amthe way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The data plan is unlimited
Ephesians 1:11-14
11 In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
 and the upgrade is Glory. 
2 Corinthians 3:18(NIV)
18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Go God!!!

Tossing and Turning

I couldn’t sleep at all last night – tossing and turning.  No, I haven’t been listening to 50’s music by Bobby Lewis.    But that was me last night.
 
Not sure for reason of insomnia because I usually sleep very well.  I was unusually tired – had lost sleep the night before because of spending five hours in emergency room.  Shortness of breath and chest pains caused my husband to insist that I go to ER to check it out.  Thankfully there was no problem with my heart.  Pain was in lungs –  possibly pleurisy. 
 
Some of my best blogs were written in my mind last night – but can’t remember what I wrote about today.  After a whirlwind of thoughts I glanced at the bedside clock to realize it was 11:44 pm.  Maybe the Lord wanted me to pray. 
 
I remembered that our church camp for teens was going on this week and since I was informed that much ministry goes on in the dorms late at night, I prayed for the counselors and kids. 

I prayed for Danielle the teen whose red bracelet I wore to remind me of her week at camp. 

I prayed for the director that she would get a good night’s rest.

I prayed for the teachers, counselors, and other leaders of activities.

I prayed for the kitchen crew, the cleaning crew, and all those who help with meals.

Canal Lake Bible Camp (CLBC) is a wonderful time of ministry for our church during the month of July.  Young and older volunteer their time and talents to share Jesus with kids – mostly those from unchurched backgrounds.  Although exhaoffer the camp at no charge to any child.  God showed up and provided the exact amount needed the first year.  Fund raisers occur throughout the year to provide funds to continue offering the experience free of charge to children in ousting work sometimes, they really enjoy the time spent. 
 
Several years ago the Camp board decided to ur area as well as many grandparents bring their grandchildren from other states. 
 
My inability to sleep helped me keep my commitment to pray for CLBC.  God has his way of using our weakness for his strength.  I’m thankful that he never sleeps but watches over us all the time.

 

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.

Christmas 2012 Traditions

Tradition????  Christmas 2012

 

 

Many of our traditions were interrupted, delayed and changed this year causing frustration, depression, and ultimately joy!
My first full year of retirement and I was ready – or almost.  Shopping done early in November, decorating started first week of December, candy and cookies made – only thing left was wrap presents, my yearly Christmas letter and cards to mail – I was excited about getting so much done so early.  Our tradition has always been to decorate for Christmas on John’s birthday – December 13 or as we have recently found out Dec. 12.  According to Grandmother he was born on the 13th a few minutes after midnight but the doctor signed the birth certificate for the 12th.   Since his birth certificate shows 12th he had to change all his records to match the certificate – something to do with social security????   But I broke tradition and started decorating early.  But we still had chocolate pie for his birthday dinner.
Since I am getting older and it takes so long to put up the tree I decided to start decorating the first week of December.  The olive wood nativity scene that John brought back from Jerusalem in 1995 is always the priority (with baby Jesus hidden for Cameron to put in the manger on Christmas morning), next the garage sale find larger nativity scene on the mantel.  Then the tree – it took a whole day to just put the tree together – it is an old one that has individual branches that must be shaped and then put up one branch at a time.   Every year I say, “this is the last year I am going to put this thing together.”  But the new ones with lights are just not as real looking as this old tree.  After the tree was up (no lights mind you) the Bible stand on the coffee table and brass candelabras with maroon candles  and the nativity scene on the mantel, I viewed the simplicity of these three and thought, “Christmas is Jesus!”
Simply about Jesus!
The simplicity of the shepherds, angels and wise men viewing the Christ child with the picture of “The Walk to Emmaus” in the background on the mantel, the Bible in the center of the coffee table, and the bare Christmas tree.

 

 Jesus has always been the center of our lives as a family and although traditions were changed causing some frustration at first, He remained preeminent.  This was the second Christmas without John’s folks around whom most of our traditions centered.  No more celebrating their anniversary along side Johnny’s birthday on Dec. 23.  No more celebrating at their house on Christmas Eve gathering around grandmother’s tree that had been up and decorated since Halloween!!!  John’s brother and sister no longer come and spend the night Christmas Eve – in fact year this year they are probably not coming at all.  Uncle Tom had broken his foot – let’s say in a hunting accident – hunting the ground when he fell out of his tree stand!  So he and Denise were probably not coming to our house – which has become the gathering place.  John’s sister, Gayle, called a few days before Christmas and said she was so depressed – “It just doesn’t seem like Christmas this year!”  Her son Kelly and his family would probably not be coming because he had to work so she and her husband Gene would possibly be going to Alabama to visit them.   We knew our son Tim, wife Shelley and son Mitchell would not be coming for Christmas due to his work in Michigan.
At my physical in early December the doctor was so excited to see a healthy person.  Her routine questions included if I had a flu shot or a pneumonia shot.  I responded, “No I did not.”  She did not seem concerned.  After a week of visiting her office again for blood work, the hospital for more routine tests and a trip to the ER with John for another episode with a possible stone in his bile duct and then two more doctor’s office trips with him (where people were walking around with masks????), I came down with the flu.  A quick response from my doctor with tamiflu prescription helped but I was out of energy to do much for a week.  Another reason to change tradition?  Was I still contagious – should everyone come here? Or was there anyone to come?  And I had not wrapped presents yet!!!!  Then my computer crashed and no ability to type my Christmas letter which has become a tradition of me summarizing the year and keeping in touch with friends from long ago.
Aunt Gayle’s house
Then John’s sister Gayle called to say her son Kelly and his family were coming from Alabama

Gee paw with twins

 

and wondered if we could come to her house instead.   So after thirteen years of all of them coming from Marietta to the mountains for Christmas we (John and I and Johnny, Yolanda, Chalonda, and Cameron) made the memorable trip to Marietta where we had traveled many years before to Grandmother and Papa Strickland’s house-  but unfamiliar gathering place at Gayle’s house for our family celebration.  Although smaller than our gathering place of many years, it was a wonderful time of food, family and fun.

 

Kelly and Mandy’s three year old twins, Haddey and Hudson stole the hearts of all of us and made it fun to buy toys again.  The older boys, Cameron, Kenny and Gavin ate in the basement around Uncle Gene’s museum of Viet Nam history.  Cousins Johnny and wife Yolanda and Kelly and wife Mandy and our beautiful granddaughter, almost graduate, Chalonda ate on the porch (thank God for a warm day!) and the older folks ate around the table and kitchen bar except for the twins who sat at the kitchen bar with Aunt Denise.
  Plenty of room in that small cozy house!  Gayle, who did not seem to sit down all day, said, “Mother would have loved this!”
Papa doing breakfast dishes!
After a trip back to the mountains with Johnny’s family we rested for the next morning – the final Strickland tradition – breakfast at Nana Pat and Papa John’s.  White chocolate mocha (Starbuck’s eat your heart out!) was prepared by Nana and Chalonda, while Papa John cooked the bacon and sausage and gravy.  Johnny cooked the eggs and Nana made the biscuits.  Cameron set the table, lit all the candles and then warmed up the couch!  Yolanda cheered every one on and poured the juice and put the food on the table. We even Skyped with Tim, Shelley, and Mitchell as they prepared their Christmas breakfast in Michigan.
My girls!
 After the meal Papa John read an unusual scripture for Christmas from Matthew 25:36 and shared, as only he can, the story about the servants giving to those in need and Jesus encouraging us that when we give to others “unto the least of these” it is like giving to him.   Nana shared about the “Sparkle Box” where a family shared on Christmas morning things they had done to help others as a gift to Jesus on his birthday.  She wanted to start that tradition but since we did not talk about this until today – she asked that we share around the table about the ways we had seen this expressed in our lives this year – Cameron playing with his cousin, Chalonda showcasing her special girls in the cheer squad, Yolanda “passing it forward” as she purchased a meal for folks behind her, Papa visiting a lonely neighbor, Nana shopping for an Angel Tree little girl, Johnny sharing with children.  It was a special time of everyone participating in this new tradition.  What J O Y!

JOY
Cam likes UGA!

 

My verse for 2012 was:  Habakkuk 3:17&18 “Thou the fig tree does not blossom…….yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation, God the Lord is my strength.”  So Jesus interrupted our traditions and helped us form new ones as He brought true J O Y !!