Monday, February 28, 2011

The World of Books

        Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to read. My family moved a lot during my early elementary years, but in spite of the change in routine several times, I learned to read without any problems.
       At one school where I was enrolled, the teachers listened to me read and put me up in the next grade. I was "double-promoted" because of my good reading. They forgot to check my math skills, though. I still have trouble balancing the checkbook! But because of my "double-promotion" I graduated high school a year early.
        Later in life, after I had four children, I got my teaching degree. As I taught children with reading problems, I thanked God that I didn't have to deal with reading difficulties. My mother was a reader, and she encouraged me to become one, too. Both my sisters are avid readers, too, due to our mother's influence.
        When I was old enough to get on a bus in Dallas by myself, I could ride to the public library and check out my own books. I would put them in my satchel, get back on the bus to go home, and lovingly touch the books, reading the titles, and deciding which one I wanted to read first. There was a bench in our yard under a big elm tree where I often sat during the summer, reading my books.
        Books can take you places you can't go. My husband and I have traveled to many places, but there are other places I wanted to see. I can go on-line or get a book and experience the wonders of the place I was unable to go to physically. I can learn about feelings and problems that people overcame by reading books.
       I like to read about real people. I like to read biographies and memoirs, and I enjoy finding out how people overcame the trials and problems in their lives, and how they used those things to make them better people.
       I wrote my book, A HERITAGE OF FAITH about my family because I am sure others like to read about real people too.
       The main reason I wrote my book, though, was to tell about my husband, who was pastor of eleven churches, staff member in one, and Director of Missions for a county in Missouri during his active ministry. Our family was called to churches in trouble--churches where the people were mad at each other. Sometimes the church had split before we got there, sometimes the church had fired their previous pastor.
        God used my easy-going husband to put those churches back together and get them on the road to being loving churches again. As soon as that was done, He called us to another church where we started all over, doing the same thing again. Many experiences we had are chronicled in my book.
       If you like to read about real life experiences, you will like A HERITAGE OF FAITH. If you want to read about a family whose experiences were side-splittingly funny, you will like my book. If you want to read about the way we did it in the old days, you will like my book.
       Encouraging Christian fiction is what my book is. Hope you enjoy all 259 pages. My website contains a few stories from my book--check it out!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weddings Then and Now

        This summer we will have three weddings in our family.  Our grandson, Daniel, the second of our grandchildren, is marrying Molly on May 28 in Midland, Texas. They are both still in school, and will continue their education--Molly in nursing and Daniel in law. Daniel also plays a mean guitar and has several guitar students. I love to hear him play.
        Our younger daughter Cindy will marry Ben on July 1. Cindy has two children, a boy aged 7 and a girl aged 14, and Ben has three daughters, ages 7, 13, and 18. Fortunately, all the kids get along great. So they are going to have a full house! Our older daughter Debbie will marry Owen on July 9. Debbie has one boy still at home, who will be a junior next year. Her other three children are either in college or out on their own, as are Owen's two children. A lot of adjustments will be made by all these family members after all these weddings.
         As I was reading the paper this morning, I noticed the page about weddings and it got me thinking. Weddings used to be pretty commonplace. Our families had been through the Great Depression and money was scarce. People just got married, rather than spending a lot of money on big weddings and great parties. At least, that's the way it was in my neck of the woods.
        I read the questions asked to the couples featured in the paper and thought about how that related to me and my husband. How did you meet? How did you get engaged? How did you choose your ring?
        We met in college in June, and were married in November of that same year.  We were in a Baptist college in Texas, he was a preacher and I knew God wanted me to be a preacher's wife.  We saw no reason to wait around, we decided to get on with our life. Not a lot of planning went into our wedding.  We sent out invitations, I wore a wedding dress and veil, and my mother took care of the reception, which was at our house. My dad officiated at the ceremony at our little church, and one of my college friends was the only bridesmaid. One of my husband's brothers was his best man.
        My husband related a funny experience before the wedding. He and his brother, George, were waiting in a little room before the ceremony began. His brother went over to a small window, opened it, and said, "Hey, boy, come over here and stick your head out this window." My husband said, "Why?"  George said, "That's your last breath of free air.  Enjoy it while you can, because after tonight, it's all over!"  He still married me, in spite of George's dire prediction.
        After the reception we drove to our little duplex in the town where we attended college. On Sunday we moved our church membership to a church where a friend was pastor, and on Monday we went back to class.  Oh, and on Saturday night after the wedding we drove to my husband's hometown of Fort Worth, bought a used refrigerator, and moved it into our apartment.
          How did we get engaged?  He said "Will you?" and I said, "Yes."
          How did we choose our rings?  We only had a little money, so we went to the local jewelry shop in Decaur, Texas, where we attended college, and bought matching wedding bands that we could pay cash for. An engagement ring was out of the question for us. We were still paying for college! And we knew that Seminary was coming next.
          In spite of the "regular" wedding and the inexpensive reception, our wedding was memorable, and we've stayed married for 56 years.
         My parents were married in a small ceremony and they wore regular clothes, not even wedding finery. They were married for more than 60 years before my dad passed away.
         It's wonderful to have those great memories, a big, beautiful wedding, and many friends wishing you well.  We didn't do it that way, but we are glad those who want to and are able to, can.  But the real thing is not the wedding, it's the marriage.  If love and commitment are present, and if each one honors the other over self, the marriage will last.  If God is part of the union, and if the couple worships together and prays together, they will stay together. Selfishness has no place in a lasting marriage.  It's a lot of give and take, but mostly give. If each partner gives and gives, willingly, not grudgingly, then the marriage will be a long and happy one.
          I wish that for my grandson and for each of my daughters and their mates. I hope they have as great a marriage as we have had. We didn't have much money, but we've had a wonderful life! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Qualifications of a Pastor's Wife

I was looking through some old files and found this little gem. I don't remember where it came from, but thought it would be fun to put it on my blog.  I've been a pastor's wife since I married in 1954. You can tell it's dated by the reference to the CB radio in the last paragraph.  Nowadays it would be a cell phone. But many of these statements are things that were expected of me through the years.

Qualifications of a Pastor's Wife

Her ears should have an automatic sifter for sorting out information that should be kept confidential.

Her mouth should be always smiling, saying good things.

She should have three eyes, the two to lead music as she plays the piano, while with the third she watches her children on the front pew to make sure they behave like the preacher's kids should.

She should have at least four hands to keep the house neat at all times, sew for all the family, bake better cakes than anyone else for the church picnic, raise the children to be examples of obedience, intelligence, and achievement, and always be first to do extra work at the church.

Her feet should be trim and dainty, yet large and substantial enough for all the working, walking, and standing that her job requires.

Her hair should be divided down the middle, half in the fashion of the day, and half in a conservative "motherly" style.

Her clothes should never be new because that would make her a spendthrift, never old because that would prove her out of touch, never fancy because that would show as not conservative enough.

Her figure must not be too trim because that would indicate vanity, but not too matronly because that would mean she lacked will power.

She must have a file cabinet mind that can produce Sunday School lessons and devotionals at a moment's notice, detailed statistics over the past ten years, and chapter and verse containing the parable of the vineyard, or any other scripture somebody needs to know about.

She must be an expert counselor on marriage problems and coping with unruly children.

Above all, she must have a CB radio brain in order to locate her husband in one minute flat, regardless of whether he is in his study, calling on prospects on the golf course, visiting in the hospital, or browsing in the Baptist Book Store.


I went to the public library Saturday morning and picked up a book called The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty. I knew it was not a Christian book, which is what I usually read, but it looked interesting, so I starting reading. I finished the last twenty-five or so pages this morning. It was so compelling I could not put it down (except while I was at church yesterday).  From the first paragraph, I was hooked.

On the very first page, a high school senior has an accident in her SUV that kills another student at the school she attends and where her mother is a teacher. The entire book deals with relationships-- with the girl's parents, her parents' friends, the mother of the dead girl--so many little twists and turns that keep you flipping pages faster and faster, and reading carefully to get all the details.

It made me wonder "What would I do?" if this were an event in my life.

The mother of the high school student came from a dysfunctional family and there were many flashbacks into her life, as the reader tries to understand her and the dysfunctionality of her own family.

The girl who was driving the car goes through a great transition as she deals with the accident.

The girl who was killed was a member of a church, but the family of the girl who was driving the car saw no use for church in their lives.

I realize not every book is Christian, but I could not help but think that if the author had shown God's plan in the lives of these people, they could have overcome their problems much more easily. As it was, the girl who had the accident came to a realistic solution in her life. She was very depressed, but she found a satisfactory solution to relieve herself of guilt. However, God could have done it so much better.

There is some bad language in this book, but not an inordinate amount. If there had been, I probably would not have finished it.

This book is written as many of Jodi Piccoult's books are. It give a contemporary moral dilemma and tells how it is resolved. The characters are believeable and interesting.

What do you Have in Your Hand?

Sometimes we feel inadequate. Trials come and we don't feel up to the challenge. But I like the positive approach, rather than the negative. I like to think of what I can do, rather than dwell on something that is impossible.

In the book of Exodus, God called Moses to bring his people out of Egypt, where they had been living as slaves for hundreds of years. In chapter 4 Moses expressed his worries to the Lord and said, "What if they don't believe me?" I am sure he was worried for his life. His feelings of inadequacy as he contemplated going before the king of the land overcame him. He knew the power of the king and his own mortality.

God said to him, "What do you have in your hand?"

Moses said, "A staff."

God said, "Throw it on the ground."

He did, and it turned into a writhing snake.

Then God said, "Take it by the tail."

Moses reached for it, and as soon as he held the snake by the tail, it turned back into a rod again. God was showing him the wonders that He could do. God was asking Moses to trust Him.

God was proving to Moses that He could help him to do anything. And God can do the same for you and me. That doesn't mean that we can become an accomplished singer if we have never before developed our voice and learned music. It doesn't mean that we can paint a beautiful landscape if we have never held a brush.

But we can develop a talent that we we didn't know we had. At the age of 68, I began oil painting, and I found it is something I can do and I really enjoy it. I didn't know I could do it until I tried. It took some practice, but I kept on trying.

At age 74, I began writing a book. It was self-published and in almost a year, 500 copies have been sold. People I don't know have written me notes and emails about how much reading it has blessed their lives. I am still writing, sumitting articles to magazines, and have been accepted by some. Beginning in April, some of my articles will be published. I kind of feel like Grandma Moses with her paintings, as I sit at my computer writing, editing, posting, and emailing things to editors. This March, 2011, will be my 76th birthday. If I can do this, anybody can. I love learning new things and hope I never stop learning.

God wants us to look at the positives in our lives. Think of something you can do well, instead of sitting and moping because something is beyond your reach.

Are you able to draw pretty well? Go to a children's hospital and draw cartoon characters to make the children laugh. Or draw pictures for your children or grandchildren. I remember my dad drawing a cartoon character when I was very little, and I loved watching him do it.

Are you a seamstress? Make a lap robe for a person in a wheelchair or a crib quilt for a new mother. Make some clothes for a toddler whose mother needs help with clothing her little ones.

Do you enjoy cooking? Take a meal to a shut in or to a lonely person living alone. Then do the dishes and clean up the mess for the person in that home.

What do you have in your hand today? Think of something you can do for somebody else. You will brighten their world as you brighten yours.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Learning about Discipline

…We have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.  Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
---Hebrews 11:6

Our friend's daughter, Pat, loved to climb a tree and jump out of it onto the flat roof of an old shed where she played and looked out across the countryside. Her father told her repeatedly not to do it because of the danger. He tried to impress upon her that she could get some serious injuries, but she happily went on, unaware of what might happen. That was her favorite place to play, and seven-year-old Pat loved clilmbing that tree!
Sure enough, one day as she jumped from the tree, she missed the roof and fell to the ground. The result was a painfully broken arm. My husband was their pastor, it was the middle of the day, and Pat's father was working. So my husband drove Pat and her mother to the hospital. Pat was in a lot of pain as they drove, her arm was at an odd angle, and the bone was even sticking out where the hard fall had injured it.
That night when her dad came home, he held little Pat on his lap and forgave her for not following his instructions. He did not punish her, knowing that she had finally learned her lesson. For several weeks, however, she had to endure the pain and discomfort of her arm healing, and put up with the inconvenience of not being able to use it, because she had disobeyed her father.
God warns us about things we need to leave out of our lives. Yet, we sometimes go on and on in our sin just like little Pat did, until God teaches us a lesson we won’t soon forget. Sin in our lives causes us to pay a price. Even though God forgives, we have to suffer the consequences. The misuse of our bodies brings its own consequences, because of the laws of nature.
Pat had to learn not to jump from the tree, just as we have to learn to get sin out of our lives.
When we deliberately sin, we must take the consequences.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Peace and Security in My Lifetime?

       In the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles we find the story of King Hezekiah, a man who became king of Judah when he was 25 years old. The Bible says at the beginning of his reign, "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord."  He started off right.

      In fact, he did a great thing. He opened the doors of the temple at Jerusalem and repaired them. He had everything cleaned. The temple had been left in disrepair for a long time before Hezekiah came along, and he wanted to get rid of all the filth and idol worship that had gone on before, so he set up leaders and gave each group a task. When all the work was done, the people celebrated. They got out their musical instruments and worshipped God. They gave offerings and prayed, recognizing God as sovereign.

        The kingdom of Judah began to prosper again.  People brought costly items and gave them to the king. Chapter 32, verse 21 says everything that the king undertook prospered because he obeyed the laws of God. Storerooms were prepared as people continued to bring food and treasures to be kept in the stockpiles at Jerusalem. Hezekiah took great delight in his many possessions and treasures.

        Then Hezekian became ill, near the point of death. Hezekiah prayed and God gave him fifteen more years of life.  After his recovery, a king from Babylon came to visit and commiserated with him about his illness and recovery. In other words, he flattered Hezekiah and got him to talk about his kingdom. Hezekiah took the king and showed him all his treasures, even his armory.  He showed him everything because he was so proud.  But pride was his undoing.

        The prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah and said to him, "What did you show the Babylonian king?"

         Hezekiah said, "I showed him everything in my palace. There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show him."

         Isaiah prophesied that because of Hezekiah's pride, the kingdom of Judah would one day be taken in exile to Babylon, and everything Hezekiah was so proud of would be carried away by foreigners.  A most audacious statement follows.  Hezekiah said, "The word you have spoken is good, but there will be peace and security in my lifetime"  It seems he cared nothing for future generations; he wanted prosperity while he could enjoy it.

        The prophecy was true. Years later, the people were taken to Babylon and became slaves. The temple was destroyed and all its treasures were carried away to Babylon to be used in pagan worship.

       As I think about our government today, I wonder if anyone is thinking about our own children and grandchildren. What are they going to have to endure because of the spending and waste that we see everywhere?  Where is the prophet today who will speak to our leaders and cause them to think about future generations?  Are we going to settle for "peace and security in our lifetime" and forget about the lifetime of our children?

This article was published by the St. Louis Suburban Journal on October 20, 2010

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Review THE HELP

      I recently finished another good book titled The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. This one was not a Christian book and there were no references to anything Christian. It was a study of black/white relationships in the days when many families employed black maids to help with the housework and to raise their children.   References were made to the Civil Rights movement in the United States and to the assassination of President Kennedy, so that sets it in the late 1950's.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a prominent figure, too.

      High society was prevalent among the white ladies. Mistreatment of the black help was noted, but so were some good things that happened to them. It depended on the family as to how they related to their maids.  Most of the whites considered the black people "dirty" and "diseased". They did not want the maids using their toilets (but they handled all their food, so I saw some discrepancies in their thoughts).

      The book was set in Jackson, Mississippi.  However, I saw a lot of the same prejudice in Dallas, Texas, while I was growing up in the forties and fifties.

       When slavery was abolished, the black people were not really freed; they were not treated as equals. White parents often did not want their children associating with black children. Blacks were treated badly by those in authority. They were not allowed to drink from fountains that whites used.  I remember getting on buses in Dallas where a sign clearly marked the back for the "coloreds" while white people sat in the front.

       We did not have a maid. My parents and grandparents lived together until I was out of high school, so the housework and child-raising was done by my mother and grandmother. They worked as a team to cook, clean, and do everything else. Our family did not have "old money" like the people in the book I read. My father worked as a carpenter and my grandfather was a bricklayer, and they worked hard to provide for our family. My mother cooked three big meals a day. Relatives showed up regularly and often stayed for the meals, because they knew there was good food at our house.

       At one point in my life, we lived in a different town and I attended a school with children of other races. Most of the children were Mexican, but there were a few blacks. I distinctly remember my grandmother getting me ready for school, putting some coins in a handkerchief, and tying up the corner so the money would not fall out. She then put the handkerchief in my hand and said, "There. Now, don't you let them dirty Niggers and Mexicans get your lunch money." That is indelible in my memory. I was very young, and I immediately feared people who were "different" from me, because of my grandmother's comment.

       People have learned a lot through the years. We still see some prejudice, but we also see many good friendships between people of different races. Just recently we heard of a white coach giving one of his kidneys to a  black basketball player in order to prolong his life. Children now learn in desegregated schools where young minds are all given the same opportunities to learn and grow together.

       Bias is probably still alive and well, but it is not as evident as it was back in the days when I was a child in school. People are realizing that God made us all and people are people. I hope everyone realizes that, and I hope that all children are given the same chance to realize their dreams, based on their hopes and intellect, not on the color of their skin.

       In this book, one of the white ladies determines to make a difference. She interviews the black maids and writes a book about how they are treated. It is a book that will hold your interest until the very last page.