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.

 

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.

Dogwood Winter

Dogwood blooms

I failed to take the hint. Admiring the Dogwood blossoms on my way to church made me think they were a bit early. Don’t they usually bloom at Easter time? Easter is almost two weeks away. However, not having John’s folks to remind me I just admired the dogwoods and that was it.

It snowed on March 12 and then a week later it was summer time – well almost. Daffodils bloomed in late February and our Bradford Pear tree budded out as well. Tulips were beginning to pop up.

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This picture was taken prior to the March snow.

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The day after the snow the blooms were burned from the cold.

Surveying the yard, I found a cluster of purple tulips. What a delight!
Thank you, God, for the promise of spring. How did these tulips burst in bloom when others have not even come out of ground? It is all in the timing, the angle of the sun, the protection of plants around them. You see these bulbs were surrounded by bushes that absorbed the frost. Also, they were exposed to the first rays of the sun to warm them as they struggled to shine. They were close to the house which provided shelter.

Lord help us to seek you as these tulips sought the sun. May we stay close to the protection and encouragement of others and stay under the shadow of the almighty.

Playing golf in 80-degree weather in March is unusual even in Georgia. Time to put away the winter clothes. After ten zillion trips down the basement stairs to the cedar closet and back up for another load I was exhausted. Contrary to my husband’s opinion, I do not have that many clothes or shoes. I just can’t carry much at a time. Sweaters, sweat pants and boots packed away. Must confess, I was so tired, didn’t finish putting up winter shoes and boots – they are still on table in closet waiting to be placed in boxes. But at least they are downstairs.

Yesterday, April 6,  the high temp was 45 degrees. It was then I realized – it is Dogwood Winter. My in laws were the prognosticators of seasons. They would have warned me not to put winter clothes away too soon. You need to wait until Dogwood Winter and of course Blackberry Winter. When the Dogwood trees bloom, it will turn cold and when the blackberries bloom even though many times in mid-May – we will get a cold spell. They did not need a weather app.

Just like us – we kind of stagnate in our mundane life, complaining about cold weather then we receive a few warm days, or even hot days, and we complain about the heat. So, it gets cold again. We just can’t be happy. What is going on? Does God really know?

Please don’t let my blueberries die when it possibly frosts tonight. They are loaded with blossoms.

John’s dad always said if the wind is blowing the frost won’t hurt the plants.  May it be so ! God sends the rain and snow to water the earth and cause it to bud and flourish. He knows what he is doing.

He also sends his word to us. It will not return to him void. Can he trust me to use his word to encourage, comfort and challenge those I encounter? Am I as concerned about sharing his love as I am about my flowers and garden?

Don’t forget Blackberry Winter is yet to come!

Isaiah 55:8-11 (New International Version)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


							

In-laws and Out-laws

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Captured

Don’t call the nana police – this was just a fun time with my grandchildren playing. I was obviously the “bad guy” that got tied up.

“In-laws and out-laws, we all have them!” Words of wisdom from my father shortly after I was married. At the time, I did not comprehend the meaning. It seemed cruel to call your relatives out-laws.

I’m sure my daughter-in-law wanted to consider me an out-law when I rearranged her kitchen shelves while she and our son were on a trip. I love to organize and it seemed the thing to do. She did not agree. Another daughter-in law was not pleased with me when I cleaned out her flower beds. They were weeds weren’t they???? Both of our sons, said, “Mother, please don’t.” My husband said, “I told you so.” It is not easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

My cousin calls her in-laws by a different name. She refers to her son’s wife as her daughter-in-love. When I heard this the first time, I thought, “I want to be a mother-in-love to my girls.”

This time of year, you may relate to the term – out-laws. Some need to be handled with kid gloves and those who, let’s be honest, we’d like to tape their mouth and tie them up – just for a few minutes.

If you are fortunate to have family gather, don’t just be an in-law – please don’t be an out-law. Instead choose to be a

mother-in-love

father-in-love

brother-in-love

or a sister-in-love.

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Just so you know the grandchildren
above still love their Nana Pat and hopefully my daughter-in-loves consider me a mother-in-love – most of the time!

 

 

Romans 12:10 (NIV)

Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves. 

How to Make Nana’s Sweet Pickles

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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

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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!