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.

 

Which Season Are You In?

One of my hobbies is color analysis. I enjoy the process of helping someone discover what colors are best for them to wear.  Each person can be categorized in one of the seasons of the year – fall, winter, spring or summer.  It is amazing to see how one’s hair color, eye color, eye pattern, skin tone and color preference reveal the season.  Sometimes it is hard to determine their season without the draping process.  This is done by comparing several pieces of drapes in the four season’s palettes.

Some have compared our lives to the seasons of the year.  Spring for youth, summer as the prime of life, fall for maturity and then winter for the older stages.

My favorite way to feature the seasons is the flowers.

The first signs of spring are the bulbs pushing up through the barren ground– crocuses, daffodils, tulips.  Forsythia (or yellow bells) take over the landscape.  They swiftly fade away.

 

Warmer days cause the azaleas and rhododendrons to take the stage only to last a few weeks if we are lucky.

 

Summer begins with my favorite- the glory of the day lilies. If there is enough rain – hydrangea upstage all.  Wish they could last all summer.

 

Summer’s heat ushers in the crepe myrtles and black-eyed susans.

Cooler days are welcomed as the trees take on the show with the rich, brilliant colors of fallview.johnny.house

It seems only a few more weeks and the flowers shrivel and waste away as the leaves drop from the trees and give way to winter’s barren cold.

 

 

Blooms of the Christmas cactus brighten winter indoors.thanksgiving-cactus.jpg

Chronologically I am in the winter of my life.  Although I can view the flowers in my gardens and I feel like a spring chicken.

We often think of someone as we knew them 20 or 30 years ago.  It is fun to look on Facebook and see friends from “way back when” and see how they have changed.  Not me???? But suddenly I look in the mirror and see a grey-haired person who is slightly overweight! Well, maybe more than slightly. Who’s that????

“I’m 17”– my friend Beth says!  In our minds, we are all a certain age – 17 or maybe 30 or even 40 for us over the hill gang – 60 is the new 40 these days.

Don’t you know that time passes faster as we age?  Maybe something to do with our brains and how we process time.

Just like the flowers in my garden, our lives are swiftly fading away.

One day we will be a memory to the younger generation.  What will they remember? I asked my granddaughter “What words would you use to describe me?”

“Flowers, food and family,” she said.

When I am no longer able to take care of the flowers, prepare the food and serve my family, will she and my grandsons remember my faith and desire to follow God like their Nana? Our lives are just like a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow but the word of God endures forever.

So, what season are you in?  It will pass so swiftly.  Enjoy each season and share God’s word with your family.

 

James 4:13,14 (NIV)

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

I Peter 1:24 (NIV)

All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

 Ecclesiastes 3 (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

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

The Porch

View from my swing

View from my swing

A cup of green tea and my Bible accompany me to the swing on my screened-in porch.  The humid July day requires the ceiling fans to be pushing the small amount of cool air available for a few hours.  The furnishings remind me of people in our past who have blessed our lives and to pray for them.

The black wrought iron table and chairs were on my in-law’s porch the 11 years they lived near us – just off Shekinah Lane.  The overflow of relatives sat at this table for many family gatherings.  So this set reminds me to pray for family.  Also, on the table is a twig man made by talented neighbor – bless her Lord.

Warning sign

Warning sign

The “Do not Pee from the Porch” sign brings a chuckle of a Sunday School class Christmas party.  The sign was transferred around through a White Elephant game.  We won it.  Dear friends sharing the celebration of Christmas with fun times. Bless them Lord. Also, my grandson who the sign applied to when he was younger.

A wood plant stand was made by a boy at Teen Ranch in Michigan causing memories of our “boys” who are now men –  praying the short time they lived at the ranch they were exposed to the Gospel in flesh patterned by staff who loved them in the Lord.

A plaque from my daughter-in-law encourages “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” She is going through a time of physical pain and can use this thought and my prayers.

Plants thriving in the heat of summer – one from former co-worker, another a gift from a neighbor when my husband had surgery.  These plants have grown, been divided and are flourishing.  May my prayers increase the blessings for my friends.

Tall table for a view

Tall table for a view

A tall table and three chairs make our mountain view easier to see – a gift from neighbors who are struggling now with major surgery.  Please heal and restore Lord.

Wicker chairs from a new friend look so elegant on our porch.  Bless my friend as she helps me finish my book, Shekinah Lane, to be printed soon.

Welcome wicker

Welcome wicker

Can’t help but think of my economical husband who did not want me to purchase furniture for the porch.  Did he know, or did God know that I needed these gifts to help me appreciate family and friends, and pray for them in my quiet time on the porch?

Zephaniah 3:17 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

Teen Ranch Pizza

Thirteen hungry boys (if you count my husband as a boy) sat around the dark eight foot table in anticipation of dinner.

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Our first ranch family – minus one boy.

My husband and I were serving as house parents at Teen Ranch in Marlette, Michigan.

Ten ranch boys, our two sons and my husband John savored the aroma of fresh crust, oregano, tomato sauce, garlic, ground beef and pepperoni as they ate their salads.

It was my first attempt at making homemade pizza.  Sure I had used packaged mixes to make crust.  But this was really from scratch – yeast and all.  The dough rose and even smelled good at that stage.  Preparing enough pizzas for fourteen people was a challenge.  I doubled the recipe to make enough pizzas.

The recipe was obtained from a seasoned ranch cook.  Cindy Smith was so good to share her pizza recipe with me.  I scribbled the recipe down on a piece of paper and placed in my purse.  A few weeks later I tried to decipher the recipe that was crumpled up but survived that much time.   By the appearance and smell of the dough baking, it must be a success.

Two large pizzas were placed on the four foot lazy susan of the eight foot dark table and the guys began to move the turn table slowly (this was the rule) so that each boy would have his turn in sliding a piece of the delectable pie on his plate.

Jim was the first to dig in.  He took a large bite and said, “Yuk!”

I was shocked and said, “What’s wrong?”

He said, “It is sweet!”

Several more boys agreed with Jim’s verdict.  But they were so hungry, they ate their fill.

Sure enough the dough was sweet.  I checked my recipe again and found that I had used two tablespoons of sugar instead of two teaspoons of sugar.  Never made that mistake again.

Over the years, whole wheat flour was added to my pizza recipe to give it a different texture and also to be a little healthier.  Wish I had known that at the ranch – you just can’t eat as much of the whole wheat pizza – it is more filling.

While I learned to make pizza, bread and pies large enough for fourteen, the ranch boys learned to drink sweet tea, and eat southern – like pinto beans and cornbread.

This is one of the many memories that will be shared in our book Shekinah Lane to be published next year.  Our ten years at Teen Ranch were some of the most memorable and rewarding times of our lives.

Here’s the recipe for six pizzas (I doubled for the ranch, now half for us):

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Dissolve: 4 pkg. yeast in 1 c. warm water and 1 tsp. sugar

Mix together – 8 c. flour (I use plain flour and about 2-3 c. whole wheat flour), 2 c. water, 1 c. oil, and 2 tsp. salt

Add yeast mixture, knead (I knead in my Kitchen Aid Mixer), shape on pans or let rise:

The dough will be soft.  It is best to grease your hands with shortening and spread out to thickness you desire on cookie sheets, or pizza pans.  I also use Pampered Chef stones which makes a crisp crust.

You can use marinara sauce – I make my own with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and other Italian spices.  Place sauce on pies, then mozzarella cheese, your choice of toppings and bake in very hot oven 450 – 500.

Enjoy!

First not possible without last

An evaluation of my book proposal arrived.  The same questions were posed, the same things I have been wrestling with for over three years – Who is your audience? Why are you writing? What is the thread that will pull the book together?

After searching my first five chapters and the questions presented by the editor I answered the questions.  Who is your audience? – My family and friends mostly, really anyone who wants to follow God (although I learned that if you say anyone that means “no one”).  Why write – to show how God worked in our lives.  What is the one thread to pull it together?  – The glory of God.  Seemed simple enough to me.  But it was not enough.  Or it was not clear enough.

Examining my writing and trying to answer the questions, I prayed for wisdom to help me find that thread and something people who read my book can grasp for their lives.

Then the inspiration came.

I just reviewed the chapter about our time in Mississippi and the small church my husband served that needed a piano player.  We prayed for a piano player and God provided five piano players.

I was one of the piano players in the Mississippi church although not much of an answer to prayer since I was very limited in ability.  Although I have not played much since my husband retired from preaching ten years ago, I was impressed – no God seemed to speak directly to me,

“Go downstairs to the piano.”pat.piano

Even though my piano skills are still limited, I love to play old hymns and choruses and worship the Lord.  Thinking the Lord wanted me to worship and take my mind off the book for a while, I obeyed.

The hymnal was open to the chorus on the right side of the page “Oh How He Loves You and Me.”  Surprisingly I picked up the song in A flat and remembered the chord inversions and arpeggios I learned years ago in an adult piano course.

After relaxing my mind I turned to the left hand page and the song was a familiar hymn “My Saviors Love.”  You may know it better by the first line, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.”  After playing this song for a few verses, I thought, “Ok, the love of God.  Yes, that’s what I am trying to convey in my writing.”

Then I noticed the scripture listed under the title of “My Saviors Love.”  It showed, “The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.”  Then I observed the scripture reference Galatians 2:20.  My life verse is Gal 2:20.  A chill of confirmation of God’s purpose.

I always concentrated on the first part of that verse – Christ living in me –  and how I determine to live by faith in the Son of God.  Yes, but it seems God wants me to focus on the last part  – for the first is not possible without the last.  Here is the verse:

Gal. 2:  20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Then I looked at the scripture under the song, “Oh How He Loves You and Me.”  The verse is John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”  Another Holy Spirit chill.  This is the concept used in my book introduction from John 17 where Jesus shares his high priestly prayer.  Here is an excerpt:

In John 17, known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, verse 23 says God loves us even as he loves Jesus.  Hard to comprehend he could love us that much!  Reading this chapter again recently I realize not only does God loves us as much as He loved Jesus, but Jesus shared the glory God gave him with us that we may be one so that the world may know about him.  That is powerful.  God gives us his Shekinah glory through Jesus.

John 17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Have I found the thread to pull the book together?  I’m not sure.  I do know that the purpose of the book is to share the stories of our lives and help readers know that Jesus loves them and gave himself for them.  They cannot live for him until they truly comprehend how much he loves them.  For the first is not possible without the last.