How to Make Nana’s Sweet Pickles

Soaking in Lime

Chopping cucumbers to make sweet pickles, I realized “when I am gone no one in the family will continue this tradition.” My husband’s mom canned her nine day sweet pickles and my husband and our sons could finish off a pint at a meal.

A lady in my husband’s first church made the best sweet pickles and gave me her recipe. When my mother-in-law came to visit I was anxious for her to try my pickles. She bite into a pickle and shrieked while squinting, “Whooooo, they are good.” Maybe a little too much spices or vinegar???

Over the years I fine-tuned the recipe and now each summer I make Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles to the delight of husband, sons and now grandson.

The next Sunday at lunch with my son and his family, I related my sentimental feeling about no one carrying on the tradition of making pickles.

My grandson  Cameron replied with no thought to missing me, “Nana, that is no problem. We can just look up the recipe on the internet!”

So, this prompted me to help my grandson find my recipes “on the internet.”

Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles

  • 7 lbs medium-size pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup Mrs. Wages® Pickling Lime
  • 2 gal water
  • 2 qt Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Vinegar or other commercial white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 8 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Mixed Pickling Spice

Wash cucumbers. Remove 1/16 -inch from blossom end and slice crosswise. Mix pickling lime in water. Aluminum containers should not be used for the lime solution. Soak cucumbers for 12 hours or overnight in the lime water, stirring occasionally. Rinse 3 times in cool water and soak 3 more hours in ice water.

In a bowl, mix together vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved. Remove cucumbers from final ice water soak. Drain slices. Pour syrup over top. Let stand for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Add pickling spice to taste.

Drain syrup off cucumber slices into a saucepan. Simmer for 35 minutes. Pack cucumber slices into hot quart jars. Pour boiling syrup over slices to cover and leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust lids and process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes, using boiling water bath method. (I don’t process my jars – they seal fine if packed in hot sterilized jars and last for years.)

Finished product
Finished product



So here you go Cameron, it’s on the internet.  I hope you find a wife one day who will make you some of Nana’s sweet pickles. It is truly a labor of love!

Faith, Feathers and Family

Shekinah Lane

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

The wispy peacock feathers on the teal green background of my Bible cover brought back many memories as I prepared for communion Sunday morning in 2012 at House of Prayer Church in Blairsville, Georgia. The words Faith – Hebrews 11:1 on the cover inspired my own hall of faith recollections.

Faith, feathers and family
Faith, feathers and family

The peacock feathers reminded me of a favorite flower arrangement. A wall décor with flowers, grapes, and the peacock feathers in the background mounted on a green burlap matted frame was my first purchase from a Home Interiors party. My favorite colors of green and teal permeated the arrangement. This attempt at decorating our first home in Marietta, Georgia in 1966 and establishing some permanence in my life was short lived.

As a “military brat” I had never lived more than three years in one place. John and I married in 1965. We planned to live in our nice three-bedroom brick ranch style house for many years.

I felt guilty our house was nicer than any my parents had lived in. I also mused that we would never have sad stories to tell our children about how difficult it was in the early years of our marriage. My false guilt and regret were replaced with many adventures to share with family and friends.

My husband’s surrender to the call to full time Christian ministry initiated many moves and changes in our then idyllic life. Each time we moved I was careful to pack the peacock arrangement to prevent damage. After many U-Haul adventures it was reduced to just the peacock feathers and the flowers. Not sure what happened to the grapes or the burlap frame – could be our small boys played with the grapes and the frame was used for a bulletin board?

In our first church in 1971 at Shelby, NC where John was serving as pastor of Shelby Missionary Methodist Church, the peacock feathers coordinated perfectly with the green cabinets in my kitchen. The church board was so wonderful about remodeling the parsonage to meet our needs. They asked me if I wanted the kitchen cabinets painted and I said, “Yes, green!”

The green background on my Bible drew me back to the present communion service where my eyes fell on the word Faith in large letters and in smaller letters Hebrews 11 surrounded with peacock feathers. I always placed my Bible on my lap during communion to avoid spilling the juice. Quoting the verse from Hebrews 11:1 in my mind kept me focused on preparing myself for receiving the elements that represent the body and blood of Christ. The pianist played a medley of hymns about the blood of Christ and my mind again wandered to other services when I was privileged to participate in The Lord’s Supper.

One service was in 1966 at the First Evangelical Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia when Dr. Neil Anderson was serving communion. He quoted the words from many hymns like “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”; “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus: and “There is Power in the Blood.”

The pattern of serving communion in that church was for the congregation to kneel at the altar. When the altar was filled others would wait for the next time. Sometimes it would take several tables as our pastor, Rev. Frank Ray referred to each group. This gave each person time to pray and also the pastor prayed for them as he served communion.

The order of service for communion changed for us over the years. When John began his ministry he followed the traditional method of serving wafers and juice in communion cups. Depending on the size of the congregation most were served while they sat in their pews.

Then we were exposed to the pattern of serving communion by intinction (receiving a piece of consecrated bread or wafer, dipping it in wine or grape juice, and consuming it) through the United Methodist Church and the Emmaus Community. Walk to Emmaus is a unique weekend when participants receive spiritual instruction, insight and inspiration. John and I both participated in Emmaus as pilgrims and later as servants.

Our experience with the Emmaus community was very special and John decided to serve communion by intinction in his churches. The last church he served was Confidence United Methodist Church in Blairsville, Georgia. The people, though reluctant at first, responded with great awe. One lady was so overwhelmed she cried and said “I felt as if the Lord Jesus was serving me like one of the disciples at the Last Supper.”

John served communion to our family shortly after the birth of our first grandchild, Chalonda. I read the book “I’ll Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch – a children’s book about the progression of love from parent to child and then child to parent in the aging years. We all cried and realized this would also happen in our family in time. One year John served communion to our annual family Christmas morning gathering.

Our youngest son’s wedding was another special communion celebration. Tim and his wife Shelley were married in the Susan B. Harris Chapel on the campus of Young Harris College in 1999. John conducted the wedding ceremony and then he and Dr. David Murphy, Shelley’s Dad, served communion in the intinction style. Several of our friends from Michigan attended the wedding and when they came to receive communion my heart swelled with joy to see them share this special occasion with us and at the same time celebrate our faith through the thanksgiving for the sacrifice of our Savior.

As the deacons passed out the wafers and the grape juice that morning in 2012 my thoughts returned to the service and I repeated the words I heard a precious saint say many years ago during a communion service – “Jesus saves me, Jesus saves me now.”

This simple phrase has eternal implications and serves as a reminder to me that I have nothing to do with this precious ceremony but to receive my Lord’s sacrifice of his body and blood for my sins and be grateful. Also, I am grateful for the memories of many times of participating in this expression of faith.

Now the peacock feather décor from early marriage days has returned in the form of my Bible Cover and my faith is still offering me hope. The distraction was a blessing to help me concentrate on the meaning of that verse Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

The stories in Shekinah Lanelogoforbookdemonstrate how God has covered us with His feathers and increased our faith as we learned to dwell in his presence. We did not anticipate the adventures God would provide for us in this journey of faith. His Shekinah Glory has covered us, comforted us, and catapulted us into an exciting life of faith.

Our desire is that future generations and those who read our story will experience this Shekinah (the glory of God) – God’s indwelling and presence in their lives and follow Him.

Psalm 91  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  

Ephesians 2:22  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Do you think before you speak?

During a recent bout with laryngitis I was reminded of the number of words a woman uses daily versus the number a man uses. Louann Brizendine who wrote The Female Brain concluded that women use 20,000 words per day while men use 7,000. More recent studies do not agree with his findings. But in my house, it is so true.

Only able to whisper for four days was frustrating enough but when your husband is hard think.before.speakof hearing and especially cannot hear a whisper, it was double exasperation. I wrote him notes to communicate. At one point even resorted to charades to get him to “listen” to me.

When John returned from an appointment I was waiting for him to tell me what the doctor said. He conveniently handed me a hand written note from the doctor (she is female) telling me how she changed his medications.  Since I usually accompany him to visits she knew I would be interested in new information.

At lunch in a restaurant, I tried to get John to talk to me by motion with my fingers. He said, “I don’t have anything to talk about.” Do you see why I agree about the number of words a man speaks in a day? I could have talked all during lunch.

Thankfully during this quiet time, I was reminded of my recent commitment to “be positive in my attitude and speech toward my husband and family.” Since I had to either whisper, write a note or act out my desired communication, it gave me time to think instead of just react. Many times I just say what comes to my mind instead of filtering it through a desire to be positive and concerned how it will be accepted by the recipient.

Possibly my heavenly Father was helping me keep my commitment. Ok, Lord, help me think before I speak and please help me be able to converse above a whisper soon.

Psalms 19:14(KJV)

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

 Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

What is Beautiful?


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.”


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.


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.

Walking in His Strength

Basking in the love of Jesus prepared me for walking in His strength.  I did not know how my world was about to change drastically.  Attending the final team planning meeting in North Carolina for the next Emmaus Walk in March of 2000 was a delight as we listened to team member’s talks and prayed for ladies who would be experiencing their own personal “walk to Emmaus.” 
When I returned home that night (this was before cell phones) I had a message on the answering machine that my husband’s sister Peggy and his mother Virginia had been in a wreck and were taken to local hospitals.  My husband John then called and told me that his mother was taken by ambulance to Blairsville Union General Hospital and for me to go there to see about her.  He was traveling to Atlanta because Peggy was being airlifted to Shepherd Hospital. 
Saturday, March 4, 2000 Peggy and Virginia were traveling to Marietta, Georgia for a baby shower.  Peggy was looking for something in her purse and she went off the road on a curve, tried to pull back on road and the car turned over.  Virginia had her seat belt on and was bruised and broke her back and some ribs.  Peggy did not have her seat belt on (just the lap part) – her head hit the top of the car and she broke her neck and had spinal injury to C5/6 vertebrae. 
My heart was breaking when I saw Peggy the next day at Shepherd Spinal Center in the halo brace to hold her neck and spinal cord straight.  She asked us “who is going to take care of me?”  John and I responded unanimously – “We will,” not fully comprehending what that would mean. 
I quoted her a verse the Lord gave me the night before as I sought the Lord for something – anything to make sense of this.  Rom. 15:3 “May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 
And so we did care for her – and her parents as well.  In their eighties they were devastated and did not fully grasp the situation for several months.  In April John and I went for family training at Shepherd to find out how to care for her.  What a wonderful hospital – from the intake counselor to the physical therapists and occupational therapists to the doctor and nurses – all wonderful people – so professional and caring.  Shepherd provided funds for John to remodel his parent’s house with ramps and a handicapped bedroom and shower. 

Walking in God’s strength is possible when you bask in his presence.

Peggy came home from the hospital in May of 2000 and we realized God’s strength as we all became care givers.  Looking back now I am in awe at how God gave us supernatural strength to care for Peggy.  Many would say, “I don’t know how you do it.”  And now, I think, “I don’t know how we did it either.”
God also used this to bring our family closer and helped us realize the scriptures are so real and not just nice platitudes.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.”  These and many more sustained us. 
Walking in God’s strength is possible when you bask in his presence.  Nothing is too hard for God. 
Are you facing an impossible situation in your life?  You are not alone.  God wants to give you strength.

Philippians 4:13

New International Version (NIV)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Duty Calls


“The bobcat does not have an emergency brake.  Can you walk up to the barn and put blocks behind the back wheels?”  my husband called from his trip into town.
So my morning devotions were interrupted –I  dressed quickly and walked to the barn.  I found some blocks small enough to pick up and put them behind the back wheel of the bobcat, then walked back to the house.
However, my
duty was turned into delight. 
Hearing a humming sound from the electric transformer caused me to tune in on other sounds of early morning.  The happy chirping of birds, the clicking of a woodpecker, and the moisture dripping off trees and shrubs had  a refreshing feel.
  Azaleas and irises 
lapped up the moisture and stood up a little taller and blackberries strutted their stuff in full bloom.
 It is “blackberry winter” after all.  The last few cool rainy days washed everything and made the woods so lush.
  Even my snap peas in side garden joined in the celebration. 
Then a song burst from my heart as I sang to the Lord and all the creatures in the woods to hear – 
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, new every morning – great is thy faithfulness of Lord, great is thy faithfulness.”
What a refreshing interruption to my morning routine and a
duty turned into delight. 

Search and Rescue

Who would have thought that at my age I would be searching on the floor for a blue green contact lens?  No it does not belong to my grandchild but to me.  You’d think that by now I would be more careful or at least give up and just wear glasses.  Being smart for once I was removing my gas permeable contact lenses (that’s hard lenses) before taking a nap.  The right lens popped out easily and was placed correctly in the blue side of the container.  Then pulling up and out on the corner left eye lid nothing seemed to come out.  Seeing no lens in the sink I tried again.   Nothing.  Hmmmm it must be stuck in my eye.  Rolling around my eye lid it seemed wedged in the side – very common for these characters.   No luck there.  It must be on the floor.
I called in the chief of search and rescue – my husband John –who brought a flashlight to begin the surveillance.  He couldn’t see anything because he didn’t have his glasses on so while he was gone I got on the floor and searched every nook and cranny of the rug since that is usually where the contact lands.  Nothing but grey hairs and dust.  More dust was found on the edges of the sink cabinet as well as the ceramic tile floor.  Ye gads I’m glad my guests don’t come in my bathroom they wouldn’t believe how dirty it is – dust everywhere.  John returns with his glasses and another flash light.  He has on large outdoor boots and I cringe as he walks into the bathroom.   He examines the floor and then marches down the hall since I walked there to get my shoes after thinking the lens was trapped in my eye.   Even looking in my eye with his flashlight reveals zero.  So he gives up and leaves.
Continuing my investigation I retrace my steps, examining the counter top, the bathroom rug, the floor and the hallway rug again.   Scanning in spots where the critter has been found before was to no avail.  Then I pray, “Lord, you know where the contact is.  Please help me find it even if it is crushed.”  I comb the same areas again with my flashlight hoping for a shiny reflection.  Then, there in the hallway outside the bathroom, just where John walked with his big outdoor boots and I also walked about five times glitters the perfectly shaped left, long distance, gas permeable contact lens.   Mission accomplished.  Persistence paid off.  Or did it?
Not the first time the Lord helped me find a contact lens.  So why wait until all means of searching are exhausted.  Yes, I was praying the whole time – or was I?  When I finally stopped and specifically requested his help he came through in a nanosecond to rescue my plight.
May my life be a reflection of God’s admonishonment in Matthew 6:33-34
 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

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!

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 !!