Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Memories

Early in our marriage, my husband and I moved from Texas, to Kansas City, Missouri, so he could attend Midwestern Baptist Seminary. I was pregnant with our second child when we moved in July. On December 19, it was time for our baby to be born, and Debbie was a beautiful baby with very dark hair long enough to curl around my finger as it lay on her neck.
We had a little 3-foot silver Christmas tree sitting on a table in the living room of our apartment, and I had bought a few Christmas presents, hiding them carefully, so our inquisitive 20-month-old son would not find them. I even forgot about some of them and found them a few months later when we moved to a house on our church field in Bosworth, Missouri.

The baby bed was ready and baby clothes were in the dresser. In those days newborn babies wore dresses, whether they were boys or girls, so the clothes for Debbie were the same ones we had used for Steve. We had bought bunk beds for Steve, putting one in his room and the other one in another apartment, where we stayed on weekends while my husband preached at a little church a hundred miles away. I thought all was ready, but I didn't count on post-partum depression.

We were far away from family, 100 miles away from friends at church, and when my husband had to go back to his duties and leave me in our lonely apartment, the depression hit me hard. I was young with two babies in diapers and I could not deal with my feelings.

Christmas that year was just the four of us, snow covered the ground, and the two Texans in that second floor apartment had never seen snow like that. Even though I had two beautiful babies, I felt a sadness that I couldn't shake off.
 After several years and two more babies, God delivered me from depression in a miraculous way (see my book A Heritage of Faith for the full story). But still, sometimes Christmas brings me overtones of sadness.
We are still far away from family 55 years after the Christmas when Debbie was born. God has done amazing things to lead us through the years. He has provided substitute parents and grand-parents when ours were too far away from us. He has given us other children, those in our churches who loved us and befriended our own children. He has brought us so very far from our humble beginnings.

I praise Him this Christmas as we prepare to see our family in Texas: a new great-granddaughter that we will see for the first time, two of our children along with their grown children, my sisters, my husband's brothers, and my precious 93-year-old mother who lives in a retirement village in Denton.

I've learned that Christmas is not a place, it's not a special gift, but it is the presence of Jesus in my life and the safety and hope He gives. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas this year and as the New Year comes in, I pray it will be a good one for us all.

She Makes it Look Easy

Marybeth Whalen and the David C. Cook company have produced a novel that entertains, while pointing up the various personalities in a close-knit modern community. I downloaded this book to my Kindle and read it in less than two days. It is compelling, free of offensive language, and complex in its scope. The sub-plots keep the reader turning the pages faster and faster.

The author created three main characters: Ariel, Justine, and Erika, women who live with their families in the new, large homes you see everywhere, where the backyards join and people get together for fellowship and various other reasons. Ariel is the new neighbor who moves in and immediately meets Justine, whose house is directly behind her. Large play equipment for the kids are in both back yards, and because of the kids' desire to play together, Justine becomes Ariel's new "best friend." She invites her to community functions and to her church, where Justine is one of the women in charge of everything. She has her own little following of disciples, women who want to be just like her.

Erika tries to befriend Ariel, but Justine tells her to have nothing to do with her. (The reason for this is the surprise ending-- and it's very unexpected).

While these women and others are loyal to their church, their life experiences do not always reflect a Christian life. They try to follow Christ but life throws things at them that are difficult to resist. Many can relate ro these experiences and I, personally, hope to hear more from Ariel, Justine, and Erika. The website did not say Ms. Whalen is planning any more books with these characters, but I hope she does.

The cute, pithy sayings of the kids are certainly from the author's personal experience. Nobody could make up such cute things that we all hear from little ones. I hope you read this book, you will love it. Check Amazon for the price and availability.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eleven Days Before Christmas

This came to my email box today:
Twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.

"Where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"This is heaven." declared a small boy. "We're spending Christmas at God's house."

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their Savior. The children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same,
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring;
Those children all flew into the arms of their King
And as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
One small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
,He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."

Then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe,
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"May this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"

Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"Come now my children, let me show you around."
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran,
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

Susan Griffith Donaldson

To be born Welsh is to be born with music in your blood and poetry in your soul.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Massacre at Sandy Hook

      I am sure I'm not the only person whose heart is heavy tonight. After the senseless shooting of innocent children and teachers yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut, I am devastated. I spent my working life as a teacher, caring for and educating children just like the ones who were victims yesterday. Now, tonight, after seeing some of the beautiful little faces and reading their names, and after hearing stories about heroic teachers who gave their lives to protect the children in their care, I cannot process my thoughts. As I watch the faces of parents on the television screen, I cannot imagine their grief and despair.

      What would motivate a person to do such a heinous act? To kill his own mother before starting out on the path he set before him; to break into the school in order to get to those precious little ones. What went through his mind? How long had he planned this? What can be done to prevent another attack like this one?

      I googled "Newtown School shooting" and read some of the articles on their website, but no reason has yet been given for the distraught state of mind Adam Lanza must have been in before starting out on this dreadful journey, I remembered the Columbine shooting and the pact the two boys had made to get revenge on students who had made fun of them. But these little children had done nothing to cause this.

       The website writer listed 13 shootings in 2012 on the Newton website. Thirteen times this year, some deranged individual used an automatic weapon to kill people somewhere in the United States.

        1.  On February 22, there was a shooting at a health spa in Norcross, Georgia. A 59-year-old man killed four people, then turned the gun on himself.

        2.  On February 27, in Chardon, Ohio, a 17-year-old killed three students and injured three others before school began one morning.

        3.  On March 6, in Tulsa, a 23-year-old man began shooting at the Tulsa Court House. Three people were wounded.

         4. On March 8, a 30-year-old man killed one and wounded seven at a Medical Clinic.

        5. On April 2, it was a 43-year-old man at a small Christian college in Oakland, California, who opened fire, killed seven and wounded three. He then walked into a grocery store and said, "I shot some people," and police were called.

        6. In a Seattle cafe near the Washington-Seattle campus, a man opened fire on May 30, killing four. He was angry because he didn't get his tuition money back when he dropped out of school.

        7. A pool party in Auburn, Alabama, was the scene of the next shooting on June 9. A man was angry about a dispute over a woman, and he opened fire, killing three people and injuring three others.

        8. At Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on July 17, at a crowded bar near the University of Alabama, seventeen people were injured but no one was killed by gunfire. Before going to the bar, however, the man entered a home and shot at a man. The perpetrator was charged with 18 counts of attempted murder.

        9. On July 20 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a man dressed in black killed twelve people and injured 58 others.

         10. On August 5, at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconson, a 40-year-old man walked in while people were meditating and praying. He opened fire and killed six.

        11. October 21, at a day spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin, a 45-year-old man killed his wife and four other women before shooting himself.

        12. On December 11 at Clackamus Town Center in Clackamus, Oregon, a man wearing a helmet and an ammunition-packed vest killed two people and then himself.

         13. December 14, just yesterday, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a 20-year-old killed 12 little girls and 8 little boys, all aged 6 or 7 and in the first grade, he killed 6 women in the school who were teachers or administrators, and he killed his own mother, before turning the gun on himself.

         This senseless killing has turned into an epidemic. Is there anything that can be a common denominator in all these crimes?  Is there any way to put an end to all these killings? How can people cope with the devastation that comes into their lives when a loved one is killed so senselessly?

          I'm sure the experts will have answers for us eventually, but meanwhile, funerals for babies must be planned and people must come to grips with these deaths. With only ten days until Christmas, how can these families go on with some semblance of life?

          Please pray for Newtown, Connecticut. Pray for those whose children are dead. Pray for those whose children survived. Pray that parents will know how to help their children alleviate their fears about going back to school, and help them go on with their little lives. They have a lifetime of memories. Their innocence has been taken away. Christmas will be very different in Newtown this year. Remember to pray for all those people on Christmas Day.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Christmas Surprise

This story was published in Celebrating Christmas with…Memories, Poetry, and Good Food, Editor, Donna Clark Goodrich, 2011

            Three tow-headed little boys looked out the window. They were waiting for their dad, Bill, to come in to eat supper. Their mom, Thula, had beans and cornbread prepared, but nobody could eat until dad walked through the door. They were hungry. They watched mom dish up the beans and pour the fresh milk. She had milked the cow that morning, then chilled the milk so they would have a nice, cold treat at suppertime.

            Most of the time, beans and cornbread were the fare at their house. They killed a beef once in a while but the meat had to be used sparingly. More often, they butchered a hog. Then they had bacon, sausage, and ham curing in the shed. Mom sometimes put some of the pork into the beans. The boys all hoped to get pieces of meat with their beans when that happened. But they ate what was on their plate, and if they got lucky and had some meat, they were glad.

Bill was foreman on a ranch just west of Fort Worth, and he was fortunate to have landed that job. Before they moved to that area, they were sharecroppers working farmland on the banks of the Brazos River, way down in south Texas. Times were better now, but still it was nothing special.

Christmas was just two days away. The three boys knew not to expect much at Christmas. They knew they would get an orange, maybe a banana, maybe a pair of socks and a small toy, probably something Bill carved out of wood for them to play with. But they didn’t expect anything else, because that was the way it had always been. There were hard times in the 1930’s in Texas during the Great Depression, and they were all used to it.

            Ed was the first to see his dad. “Look, Thuriel, there he is!” he shouted. Ed was eight and the oldest of the boys. Thuriel was six and George was four.

            All three boys clambered to get to the front door first, to grab daddy around the legs and give him a hug. Ed, being the oldest, always got there first, but Bill had a special hug for the other two, as well. He was a loving dad who didn’t leave any of the boys out. Ed hugged him around the waist while the other boys each grabbed a leg to give him a proper welcome home. It was the highlight of  Bill’s day to look at his three boys and then to sit down and hold them on his lap for a few minutes before sitting down at the table. He was proud of his boys.

            That night, Mom had baked a cake for dessert. She dished up three slices of cake and set them before the boys after their meal was finished. Thuriel looked at Ed’s piece and said, “He got more than me.” Ed grabbed his fork and began eating. Nobody was going to take his piece away, if he was quick at getting a bite of it.

            “Just eat your cake, boys, and be glad you got it,” said Thula, as she gave Bill his and put hers on her plate. As she watched the boys she thought of a plan. Next time she baked a cake, she would let one boy cut it, and the other two would get first choice of the pieces they wanted. That will help them learn to be careful and it just might solve the problem of the rivalry, Thula thought.

            They had filled up on the beans and cornbread, and before long it was bedtime for the boys. Then Bill and Thula sat quietly, cherishing their precious time together. They made plans about Christmas. Bill showed Thula the little cars he had carved for the boys to play with, and she told him she had three oranges, one for each boy’s stocking. Money was scarce, and there was nothing to be done about it. They would not go into debt, and they would do what they could, and it would be as it always had been.

            Bill and Thula did not get to go to church very often, but everybody at church knew them. They were regulars when they could get there. It was a five-mile walk to the church, and with the little boys, they didn’t make it every week. Sometimes a neighbor with a car would piek them up and take them to church. They read their Bible at home and told the boys stories about Bible heroes. They didn’t want to neglect their boys’ Christian education, so they made a point of telling a Bible story most nights.

            The next day, December 24, Bill took the boys out and cut a tree from the woods around their house. They proudly trekked back, pulling the tree. Excitedly, the boys waited until Bill nailed it to a couple of pieces of wood so it would stand up, then Thula pulled out the box of decorations. Happily, the children were chattering and decorating the tree when they heard the sound of a car close to their front door.

            “Who could that be?” Thula wondered. When she opened the door, she saw three ladies from the church as they carried in a big box.

            “We brought you this food,” one of the ladies said. She set the box on the table and began taking items out—there was a turkey, some home-canned vegetables, and some produce.

            Bill and Thula were speechless as they considered the gift they were receiving. The boys knelt in chairs by the table as they pulled things out of the box, amazed at the bounty.

            “Oh, we have more,” one of the ladies said. She opened the door and brought in some toys—a truck, a play lawnmower, and a little car big enough for a boy to sit in! The boys looked at the toys, and each of them figured out which one was his. The car was too little for Ed, it was too big for George, but Thuriel fit into the seat perfectly. It was made for him. He pushed the pedals and the car began to move around the room. He was in little boy heaven. He had never had a gift like this one! Ed grabbed the truck and George began pushing the toy lawnmower.

            That Christmas was the most memorable one Thuriel ever had. People thought enough of their family to bring them toys, and he was the luckiest one because he was just the right size for the best of them. He rode that car until he was too big to get into it any more, then it became George’s. By that time, two more boys had been born to the family, and they got to ride the car when they were old enough, too.

            On Christmas morning, the boys could hardly wait to get their toys and begin to play with them. They took their stockings from the mantle and exclaimed over the oranges. Ed stuck his thumb into the thick skin and began sucking the sweet juice out. An orange was a rare and wonderful treat for each of the boys.

            Thula roasted the turkey and made cornbread dressing. She opened a jar of the home-canned green beans, peeled potatoes for mashing, and made a feast for her family. They counted themselves among the privileged on that Christmas in 1934, thankful for people who cared enough to think of them and bring them gifts.

6 cups cornbread and 4 cups biscuit or soft bread crumbs—soak in 4 cups milk, stock, or water.
Saute in hot fat until golden brown—1 large onion, celery (part leaves)
Add onions and celery to crumbs, add 4 well-beaten eggs, 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon sage or poultry seasoning.
Add 4 more cups milk, stock, or water. Taste and add more sage, if needed.
Stuff bird. Cook in medium oven about 25 minutes per pound.

Note from the author:
(This is a true story. My husband, Charlie, was called “Thuriel” by his mother (THUR rul), a name I never heard anyone else called.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

          Move over, Nicholas Sparks! I just read my first book by Dan Walsh on my Kindle. I immediately went to and ordered four more books that he has authored! I enjoy Nicholas Sparks--have read most of his books, but Dan Walsh can compete with his writing style, and he is a Christian author. I would love to see this book about Christmas as a Hallmark movie.

          This was about a man named Rick, whose parents divorced when he was eight. His mother remarried, but Rick kept his heart closed and wouldn't let his step-father in. Finally, he grew up and moved away from his home in Florida, his heart still filled with bitterness because of the loss of relationship with his real father, whom he adored.

          Rick finished college and earned his MBA in accounting. He had worked in a productice office for about ten years when his mother called him for help. Art, his step-father, was in the hospital with what doctors thought to be a stroke. It was the week after Thanksgiving. Rick reluctantly went home, counting the days until he could get back to his life, and hoping not to "waste" too many vacation days helping his mom.

         While he worked in his mother and step-father's bookstore, along with an attractive single mother who worked there part-time, he began to see his mother and her husband as those who came into the store saw them--people who cared about others and wanted to help them.  The quirky book store customers add much to the book, as the reader is introduced to each of them.
He was attracted to the young woman who worked there part-time and to her delightful little daughter, but he knew they didn't have the same lifestyles. He was on the fast-track to success and she just wanted a much slower life.
         As time went by and Art remained in the hospital, Rick kept having to call his boss for more time off.  He realized he was about to get fired if he didn't get back to Charlotte.

         Rick's heart began to mellow and he understood more about Christmas as he interacted with all the characters. An unexpected twist near the end of the book helped him realize that his best life might not be about becoming a millionaire, having expensive skiing vacations, and drinking bouts with his friends.

           Be ready to laugh and to cry as you read Remembering Christmas. I won't give away the ending, but if you choose to read this book, you will be blessed. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

           Download this on your Kindle or you can order it from Amazon. It was published in 2011.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Bit of Marital Advice

       When my husband and I met in college and married just six months later, we didn’t have much time to find out about how to be a married couple. We had to “learn as you go” and are still at it fifty-six years later, thanking God for our years together. However, there is one little tidbit of advice we received that has meant more to us than anything else.
         My dad was a preacher, and he married us. The only thing I remember him telling us in the way of marital counseling “Kiss her when you’re going out or coming in.”
         Back in the 1950’s when we married, most of the wives were homemakers. They stayed in the house while the husband went out to “bring in the bacon.” So the man did most of the “going out and coming in”. Early in our marriage, though, both of us were working, and we remembered the good-bye kiss almost every time one of us left to do something, or when we came back home. It became a funny ritual we always did, and it helped us to remember my dad, and his homespun wisdom.
         Nowadays, both husband and wife are usually needed to help with the family income, so both are coming and going a lot. That’s a lot of kisses. And when you’re kissing a lot, you don’t have time to get mad at each other.
          It doesn’t hurt to give a little squeeze along with the kiss. At our house, it always brings a smile and a happy memory when I see my husband puckering up for a kiss, as he comes toward me, his keys jingling in his hands, as he announces, “I’m going out!”
(Written by Juanita Nobles and published in Love is a Verb, compiled by James Stuart Bell and Gary Chapman, 2011-- picture made in 1963)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Delightful Christmas book

If you want a quick read, and a delightful one, read Melody Carlson's new book, "Christmas at Harrington's." I recently downloaded it to my Kindle and finished it today.

The book opens when Lena is on a bus, after being released from prison, heading for a new location to start her life over. Lena was the daughter of a hard-nosed father and a frightened mother, and she married a preacher. Or she thought he was a preacher. As the book progresses we learn that this man was not what he professed to be. He was the cause of Lena's prison term.

Lena meets new friends and thinks maybe she can put her past behind her, but that is not to be. Someone from her old life recognizes her and she is ostracized again. Fortunately. the handsome son of a friend, who happens to be a lawyer, comes to her rescue.

Read the book to find out what happens, and to delight in her friendship with a child who needs someone to love and care for her.

This is light and easy reading, with a Christian twist. From the way the book ends, I sense a sequel--maybe Romance after Harrington's-- Hope to see this book soon.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Memories--The Lost Doll

Christmas memories are sometimes hard to pull out of the recesses of our minds. We all have them. Sometimes they are happy ones, sometimes they are memories we would like to forget. Even sometimes, they are so harmful, we only remember them in bits and pieces. My earliest Christms memory was when I was a very little girl--five or six, maybe even younger.

The United States was coming out of the Great Depression. World War II may have still been going on, because I can't put a date on this one. My parents and I lived with my maternal grandparents in an apartment. People in those days lived together to share the rent, since money was so hard to come by.

I remember getting a doll, one of the first ones I received, I think. I don't remember what it looked like, but I remember being happy, holding it and playing with it until, like all little children, I became distracted by something else and left my new doll on the floor. Or maybe it was thrown askew on the couch. Whatever happened, my grandmother must have thought I needed to learn a lesson. Because later in the day, when I looked for my doll, it was not there.

I looked everywhere and finally cried out, "Where is my doll?"

My grandmother said, "You threw it down. I guess Santa Claus came and got it because you didn't take care of it. He probably took it to a little girl who would love it and not throw it down."

I began to cry. I said I was sorry. But the doll was gone. I thought it was gone forever and I cried bitterly.

Later in the day, I found the doll. It was on a chair or on the couch, I don't remember where, but there it was! I grabbed it and hugged it to myself, rocking and cooing words of pleasure. My doll was back. I looked up and saw my grandmother's eyes. She said, "Well, Santa Claus was watching and he saw that you were sorry you didn't take care of your doll, so I guess he brought it back. He's always watching you, you know. So you'd better take care of it this time."

I'm sure my grandmother didn't intend to be mean. She wanted me to care for my things, but I was too small to understand the concept. Perhaps my parents could not afford to buy the doll, and my grandmother wanted me to appreciate it. However, I learned to watch my back, because a powerful person was watching me. This experience gave me a fear that I carried with me for many years.

Do you have a Christmas memory that you would like to share on my blog?  It may be happy or sad, just something that you remember that made a deep impression on you. I'll be adding more of my memories, too.

Leave a comment on the blog or email me at with a short summary about your memory. I'll get back to you and perhaps we can agree to put it on the blog. I'll help you "beef it up" and we'll swap memories.

Names of those who contribute entries to my blog for the month of December will be in a drawing to receive a free copy of my book, A Heritage of Faith. Drawing for the book will be held December 31. I'll post the name of the contributors and of the winner. If you win and you already have my book, I'll send you a copy of my unpublished book--the one about Bible characters, Ordinary People Come Face-to-Face with Extraordinary God.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

58 Years

November 27 was an important day in my life. It was our 58th wedding anniversary. Never dreamed I would be this old. Never dreamed I would be married this long. But I'm thankful for both things.

Charlie and I married only six months after we met. My parents and grandparents shuddered at the thought that I would marry someone I had only just met. But to both of us, it seemed the thing God would have us do. Despite my parents' objections, we had a wedding, went back to college, and continued our lives. Within a couple of years, Charlie was pastoring a church and I was playing the piano and teaching Sunday School. Of course, I was only nineteen when we married, I knew nothing about teaching adult ladies, but I followed the teachers' guide and off I went, happy as a lark. God protects the young. They don't know how many mistakes they make. And I surely made a lot of them.

God WAS in charge. We love each other deeply. And now we have been married all these years.

A couple of days after our anniversary, a package arrived in the mail. My daughter-in-law had alerted me that we would be getting a late anniversary present, so I was ready for it. I slit the tape and opened the box. Out jumped a bag of colored drinking straws. OK, so I drink water all day long and I need the straws, but this was strange.

I dug a little deeper and found 58 birthday candles, then 58 toothpicks! What was this, I wondered. I looked at the straw package again, and sure enough, someone had opened it, scratched through the number 50, and had written 58 over the number. Then I found a sleeve of money, then another. I looked closely and there were 58 quarters, 58 dimes, 58 nickels, 58 pennies, and even 58 postage stamps. And there was a CD. Written on it were the words, "58 pictures of our kitties."

I burst into laughter. Our son and daughter-in-law are always coming up with something unusual, but this is the icing on the cake! They sent 58 of several items to celebrate our 58th wedding anniversary.

Then on the bottom, I found a note.  This is what it said:

58 stamps --- 26.10
58 quarters-- 14.50
58 dimes ----   5.80
58 nickels ---   2.90
58 pennies --     .58
58 straws ----  1.53
58 candles----  4.50
58 toothpicks - 1.09
58 picures of kitties -- 1.00
Total             $58.00

Knowing that your parents and grandparents
have been together for 58 years...................     PRICELESS!

It was signed by our son and his wife, our grandson and his wife, our granddaughter, and the two cats and one dog that live at their address.

What a memory! And what a lot of work they did to make this all work out to $58.00.  Thanks, David and Margaret.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Bad Times--the Era of the Dust Bowl

Last week I watched the PBS special on The Dust Bowl, a time in U.S. history during the 1930's when people in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and that area suffered greatly. It was on for two nights and I was intrigued. I was born in 1935 and remember seeing my relatives dressed like the people in those pictures. I remember stories my parents and grandparents told about hard times. My dad's parents lived in a tent like many people did then, even though they lived in the Dallas area. Before I was born, my dad worked for $1.00 a day to earn money to pay the doctor for my delivery. He and his family were migrant workers, and they knew hard times all their lives. So these pictures captivated me.

The announcer told about a woman who had written a book about her own experiences during that time, so I ordered the book and read it. Sonora Babb, the author, wrote with astuteness about that era. I am sure she incorporated many things she had seen and experienced to write this "fiction" book. It broke my heart to read about the hardships of these people. This book is similar to "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. In fact, mention was made of his book in the PBS series. Babb audaciously wrote to a New York publishing house and sent them three chapters of her book, but before she could get there and sign a contract to finish the book, Steinbeck's book pre-empted hers. Sixty years later, her book was published by University of Oklahoma Press.

I remember seeing my paternal grandmother with expressions like those of people in pictures from that era. When I was a little girl, she lived in a small house, but she was still a poor woman. She had eleven children and five of them died at birth or shortly after.

I saw my grandmother caring for grandchildren like this. And I saw the futility and barrenness on my grandfather's face, knowing he could not make enough money to care for all those children. He was a barber until his eyes became too bad for him to see, then he became a migrant worker.

My dad tells about wanting to go to school, but he had to help pick cotton and other crops to help the family make enough money to buy food and pay "the man" who owned the places where they lived. The sadness of the Great Depression was more than anyone should have had to bear.

  In the book by Babb, I read about hunger. Little children crying, mothers making "pepper tea" which was water with salt and pepper and nothing else, men and women who fainted from hunger, but the worst thing was seeing the people lose their dignity. Many of them packed up and left the dusty country, and moved to California. But once there, they found the same indignity, poverty, and hunger. Children were ostracized and called "Okies" at school, while their parents worked as migrant workers for seventy-five cents a day.

In the book, Babb tells about the beginnings of the unions. People wanted the dignity of work. They wanted to provide for their families, but the enormity of the situation caused them to begin to accept relief. There just wasn't any work for them.

If you like to read about real events, and yet read a book that is like a novel, you would like this one. "Whose Names are Unknown" chronicles a period in our history that I hope will never be repeated. The book is worth reading because of the history, and because you will learn about the resourcefulness of people.

Pictures were taken from the internet by searching "Dust Bowl Pictures."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Computer-Savvy Guy

An interesting thing happened at our house one day last week. My husband, whose main activity on the computer is Solitaire and reading e-mail, was at the computer. He had tired of Solitaire and was just looking at the pictures that I use as a screensaver. Many pictures of family members through the years make for a pleasant pastime and both of us take advantage from time to time as we remember those old pictures we see scrolling across the screen.

He saw our son's name on the page with all the icons. He had never seen that before, so he clicked on it, and suddenly Steve's face appeared in full view on the screen.

"Hello, mom," Steve said. He assumed it was me because I'm the one who does most of the computer stuff around here.

"This ain't mom!" my husband said. But he still didn't know what was happening.

"I can't see you," Steve said.

"Well, I can see you. What is this?" my husband asked.

"You're on Skype," Steve informed him.

"What's that?" dad replied.

"It's a telephone thing on the web. We can talk, but first I need to see something besides the ceiling. Is there a little round thing on top of your computer screen?"

My husband looked around, found it, and said, "Yes."

"Turn it until you can see me," Steve told him.

Charlie turned it and Steve said, "Now I can almost see you! Turn it a little more." After some adjustment, they were able to see each other and talk.

My husband came to me and said, "I just Skyped with Steve on the computer." He didn't know what he had done and he doesn't know how to do it again, but he felt capable and computer-savvy because he had Skyped with our son in Germany and he didn't even need my help to do it!

(Here is a picture of my husband with his brothers. He is in the back row, with the tan shirt.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An Unexpected Family Member

The Other Daughter by Miralee Ferrell was a book with a twist that kept me reading, wanting to find out what happened next.

The main character, Susanne Carson, was sitting in her living room waiting for her husband David to pick her up for a birthday dinner, when she heard a knock on the door. Her children were with their grandmother, and she was excited about a night alone with her husband. But on her doorstep stood a bedraggled girl, about 13 years old, who said that Susanne's husband was her father.

Susanne discovered that the girl's mother had died and she had been living with an uncle, who drove her to the Carson's house and dropped her off without waiting to find out how she would be accepted.

The plot thickened as Susanne discovered that her husband had an affair before their marriage, and this child was truly his.

Susanne's daughter, Megan, her mother, and David's father all welcomed the girl, but Susanne found acceptance hard to find. The turmoil she went through as she vacillated between forgiving her husband or leaving him, and whether she could accept another daughter into her family was an evaluation of her Christian faith. The book goes to great depths to deal with Susanne's feelings and decisions.

This story shows how people might react when they discover their spouse has made mistakes before marriage, and the strength that one needs when a spouse is blindsided by a situation such as this. This is a different sort of Christian fiction with a twist at the end, when the uncle and his live-in girlfriend reappeared.
The story proves that sometimes we have unexpected twists and bends in the road of life, and we have to make decisions that will change everything that we think is safe and comfortable in order to come to grips with it. 

I won't give away the ending, but I think if you decide to read this book, you will be reading long past your bedtime.

The author, Miralee Ferrel, wrote this debut novel in 2007, then she wrote a sequel focusing on a woman you meet in the book. She then did some historial fiction. This is an author you might like to keep an eye on in the future.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Just Stay in the Race

Mary Hollingsworth tells a story about the noted director of biblical epics, Cecil B. DeMille. When they began working on the movie Ben Hur, DeMille talked to Charlton Heston—the star of the movie—about the all-important chariot race at the end. He decided Heston should actually learn to drive the chariot himself, rather than just using a stunt double.

Heston agreed to take chariot-driving lessons to make the movie as authentic as possible. Learning to drive a chariot with horses four abreast, however, was no small matter.

After extensive work and days of practice, Heston returned to the movie set and reported to DeMille. "I think I can drive the chariot all right, Cecil," said Heston, "but I'm not at all sure I can actually win the race."

Smiling slightly, DeMille said, "Heston, you just stay in the race, and I'll make sure you win."

Those are the words of God to everyone through a time of tumultuous change: "John, Mary, Heather, you just stay in the race, and I'll make sure you win." Look for God's hand. If you cannot see it in the event itself, look for it in the aftermath when you are putting your life back together. I promise you, God's hand will be there. (King Duncan, Collected Sermons,

 I borrowed this story from Donna Goodrich's blog today (with her permission) because it really spoke to me. How many times have I thought I just couldn't keep up, I couldn't stay in the race? I'm sure every woman had has these feelings. Can you remember a time like that?

Back in our early days in the ministry, when the money was short and the bills kept coming in, and I kept having babies while my husband tried to finish seminary, it was hard for me to stay in the race. I even dropped out for awhile when my emotional depression took me out.

But God is good. He picked me up and kept me on the path. Today I count my blessings and thank Him for His goodness.

Psalm 40:5 reminds me, "Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for me no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."

Thank you, Lord.

In my book "A Heritage of Faith," one of the chapters deals with the nervous breakdown that I had when I was a young mother, and how God brought me out of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Out of a Far Country and The Edge of Grace

This unique book, Out of a Far Country, shows the redeeming love of God as He came to two individuals. The sub-ttles are "A Gay Son's Journey to God", and "A Broken Mother's Search for Hope." It was written by both Christopher and Angela Yuan.
Angela, the mother, was an Atheist and her husband had a nominal Catholic background, so they raised their boys outside the church. Their marriage was in trouble and their family was falling apart when Angela sought to end her life. When God intervened, she came to know Him personally. After leading her husband to Jesus, both of them prayed earnestly for their son, Christopher.

Christopher was a gay man, a drug user and seller, who had no time for God. Angela prayed that God would do whatever was necessary to bring her son into a relationship with Him. Christopher was at his lowest when the police raided his apartment, found drugs, and he was arrested and imprisoned.

When man is at his lowest, he has nowhere to look but up. And this is where Christopher found himself. A Bible happened to be in his cell and he began to read. Then he began to understand what his mother had been saying to him. He came to realize that his imprisonment led to his salvation and to ridding his body from the drugs that were so prominent in his life. His conversion and life change were dramatic, as God led him out of the mess of his life.

Not all gay men and women have such an outstanding conversion and life change as Christopher Yuan did. This book was dramatic and inspiring. I recommend it to people who want to see the drastic changes God can make when a person yields his or her life to Him. I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review on Blogging for Books.

Another book dealing with this subject was one I downloaded recently on my Kindle--The Edge of Grace. It is about Caryn and David, a brother and sister who grew up in a close family. Their parents had died, Caryn had lost her husband, and the two of them, plus Caryn's little son, were all that was left of their family.

When David told Caryn that he was gay, she was devastated. She withdrew from him and her son missed his uncle very much. Then when Caryn discovered David was living with another man, she tried to keep other people from finding out about it.

The only thing I have against the book is that Caryn agonizes with her thoughts and it gets pretty wordy. However, I wanted to find out what happened, so I continued reading. Of course, they went through some hard times getting there, which makes the book worthwhile. But grace won out as Caryn came to accept her brother for who he was.

If such a situation comes to you and your family, you will need help in dealing with it and sorting out your feelings. I would recommend both these books to help in that regard. Many times, with such heavy burdens in our lives, all we have is God's wonderful grace to lead us through to understanding.

Roanoke, the Lost Colony, by Angela Hunt

We've all heard about the Pilgrims coming to America on their three ships and landing at Plymouth Rock. I learned about it many years ago in elementary school and taught it to my students as a teacher. But I don't remember hearing about the settlement at Roanoke, Virginia, by another group of English men and women during the late 1500's.

This ocean crossing was just as difficult as that of the Pilgrims. Perhaps it was even more difficult because of the ship captain, who was more interested in looting other ships for gain than taking care of the people who traveled on the boat. The protaganist, Jocelyn, and her pregnant cousin, Eleanor, slept on filthy floors with the women for more than forty days, while the men were in separate, but equally as bad quarters. Food rotted and water was almost non-existent by the time the group arrived in the new land.

This was a true story, crafted by Ms. Hunt to read like a novel. The personalities of the characters are carefully drawn and they come alive to the reader. As the people deal with the natives and with each other in their closely knit community, we can be thankful that ones such as these came to begin our wonderful nation.

This small community lived together with the Indians for about twenty years until another tribe, one that was more war-like, came into the picture.

These people came to America to make a new start and to worship God as they pleased, but they did not dream what difficulties they would have. John White, one of the leaders of the group, traveled back to England to get help for them, but he was thwarted at every turn by the Queen, who had lost interest in the group.

John White never made it back to his daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter in America. However, his papers and writings provided much of the research for this book.  I have read other books by Angela Hunt that were just as carefully documented as was this one. She does excellent research to make the books true to the situation, whether they are historical or biblical. Look on and you will see many other books about Roanoke. Be sure to select the one by Angela Hunt for this story.

If you are interested in historical Christian fiction, you will enjoy this book. I downloaded it to my Kindle for free.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs

      If you are anything like me, and have dieted several times in your lifetime, only to gain the weight back and have all that to do over, you will enjoy reading a new book by Chantel Hobbs. She lost two hundred pounds by doing it one day at a time.

      Chantel offers many tips on how to lose weight and keep it off by focusing on food, faith, and fitness. She not only shows you how to lose weight, but how to hold on to the new life you were designed to live. In her book, she teaches you how to change the way you think, which leads to new actions.

      Beginning abou mid-way through the book, you will find meal plans of 1400 to 1600 calories a day.  Her book also contains stories from many people who have lost weight, with before and after pictures.

      This book explains fasting and how that can help you lose weight while you are focusing on God. You will also find a chapter that tells about tools for losing weight: attitude, exercise, strength training, and results. A strength-training program of exercise is illustrated with easy-to-follow pictures.

      This very positive book can be the new beginning we are all looking for.

      This book was provided to me free from Multnomah for my honest review.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Barn Again Gang

Last week my husband and I attended a meeting where a group was scheduled to sing. I had heard the group before and knew they were good, so I told many people in my acquaintance. When we arrived, almost all the seats were taken, but we found two together and began visiting with those around us, waiting for the program.

After a nice meal, the Barn-Again Gang took their places. As I remembered, there were three people in the group, two men and a woman. Brenda played bass while her husband, Gene strummed his acoustic guitar. Their friend, Steve, sang harmony and his wife, Debbie, took care of the sound equipment.


As the trio sang, I was not disappointed. The close harmony of the three singers took my breath away and brought some tears to my eyes. They sang old hymns, mostly. Their website states that they sing Southern/Country Gospel.

Besides the uplifting music, I was touched by Brenda's testimony.

Brenda wanted to share with us how much God truly cares for us and the lengths He goes to speak to us personally to give us strength and courage, so we can fight the battles we face. She stated that early one morning in 2006, while standing at her kitchen window praying, she cried out to God in desperation because of a heavy burden. She looked out the window and saw a helium balloon laying in the grass. She went out to see the balloon and found a card attached to it from a little girl in Vacation Bible School in another state.

The balloon had traveled 250 miles to Brenda's home in less than 24 hours, and on the card attached to the balloon, she read these words: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go, (Joshua 1:9). Brenda held the card close to her heart and looked to heaven, thanking God for his promise that day, little knowing just how much that word from God would continue to hold her up.

The following year, 2007, Brenda was diagnosed with breast cancer. She would read the card and trust God as she went through surgery and treatment. By 2009, the cancer had metastasized. She knew that meant it was terminal, yet, still, she held on to God's promise. She read her Bible daily and trusted God.

Brenda, her husband, and their friends have been singing for several years. They continued to sing. (The first time I heard them sing, Brenda had very little hair on her head because of her cancer treatments. Last week I noticed she had a nice cap of curly hair.) They continue to praise God with their music and are a great testimony to His promises. Brenda still carries that card with her to this day. As she continues to fight this battle with cancer, they covet the gift of every prayer offered on their behalf.

The group lives in House Springs, in Jefferson County, Missouri. If you get a chance to hear them, you will be blessed. Check out their website to see the CD's that are available for purchase, or to invite them to sing at your church.

                                                       THE BARN AGAIN GANG
                                                               Steve, Brenda, Gene

                          CD's available, among others. Check the website

Thursday, October 25, 2012


As long as I can remember I have loved to read. My family moved a lot during my early elementary school years, but in spite of the change in routine several times, I learned to read without any problems. Both my parents were readers. My dad was astounded by knowledge. He would read newspaper articles, even encyclopedia articles, aloud to anyone who would listen. My mother, who is now 93, still reads several books a week. My two sisters and I, all avid readers, try to keep mom supplied with lots of books.

At one school where I was enrolled in second or third grade, the teachers listened to me read and put me up in the next grade. I was "double-promoted" because of my good reading and comprehension. 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.

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. I sat on a bench in our yard under a big elm tree that summer, reading my books. In my memory, this is when I got hooked on books.

I like to read about real people. Along with fiction, I like to read biographies and memoirs. 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.

Later in life, after I had four children, I got my teaching degree with a specialty in reading. I worked with children who had reading problems such as dyslexia. In 2010, I wrote A HERITAGE OF FAITH based on my family. If you like to read about real life experiences, you will like A HERITAGE OF FAITH. Some of the experiences I wrote about were hilarious, others will cause you to cry. This 259 page book is available on Amazon, or directly from me.

In my blog, I will be writing about some of the things we experienced during the years we served churches where my husband was pastor. I will also be reviewing Christian books and telling about wonderful Christian authors. Maybe some of them will be new to you. Some of the books I will tell about can be found on Amazon and transferred to your Kindle free or for a small charge.

Encouraging Christian living is what my book is about. And encouraging Christian fiction is what I read. I hope you will visit my blog again. You will find entertaining stories and helpful book reviews.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Appalachian Tale of Love and Acceptance

Joanne Bischof's new book, "Be Still My Soul" was a delight to read. It is a tale of backwoods people living in the Appalachian Mountains in the early 1900's.

Lonnie, a pretty but socially inept 17-year-old is walked home late at night by Gideon, a young man who has been around the block a time or two. When Lonnie's alcoholic father sees Gideon trying to take advantage of his daughter, he assumes the worst, and a shotgun wedding is planned for the next day.

 As the story progresses, Lonnie has to learn to adjust to an unplanned wedding and life with a man she does not know. When living with his parents becomes unpleasant, the couple goes away to make a new life in another town. Interesting subplots include meeting an older couple who take them in and teach them about responsibility and love.

Ms. Bischof has written an outstanding story of growing up and growing into love while depending on God. It is comforting to watch Gideon, as he learns to think of someone other than himself and to watch Lonnie, as she leans on Scriptures she has learned to help her through trying times.

The writing is impeccable and flows easily. The book is easy to read and hard to put down. I read it in a day and a half. This book was sent to me free by Waterbrook Multnomah free for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Search Committee

This book about a group of church members seeking a new pastor was delightful. I enjoyed reliving memories as a pastor's wife when search committees came to the churches where my husband was pastor.

This humorous story of a group of diverse people seeking a pastor tells about each person's personality and their efforts to work together for the good of the church. Sometimes there were conflicts, as there are when any group works together.

The surprise ending will not be revealed here, but if you read it, you will be surprised at what happens after the committee works together for a year, when they finally decide on who to recommend as their next pastor.

I downloaded this book free from Kindle and it was a quick read. The author is Tim Owens. The way he writes tells me that he has been around churches and church committees a long time!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter

This debut novel for Katie Ganshert was an excellent read, in my opinion. The protagonist, Bethany Quinn, grew up living in a trailer in her small town in Iowa and being the girl everybody overlooked. Because of the death of her dad and some other things that happened to her, she was bitter and angry, and had given up on God. She was estranged from her past and had not talked to friends and family since she left home ten years prior.

When the book opens, she has a successful career as an architect in Chicago. Her mother called to tell her about her grandfather's heart attack and her former friend's sick husband, so Bethany went home for a few days.

She met Evan, who had been living with her grandpa and helping him on the farm for the past ten years, and their personalities clashed. In fact, her personality clashed with everyone. She had built walls to protect herself, and she was not willing to come out from behind them.

The book focused on the reasons for Bethany's harsh personality. She refused to talk about God, even though Evan and her friend, Robin, continued to witness to her. She refused to connect with people who remembered her, and she refused to talk to her mother. Alternating chapters told about Bethany's present life, and the year when she was twelve, when her father died. The author did a good job explaining the reasons for Bethany's disinterest in friendship or intimacy with anyone.

At the death of Bethany's grandfather, she inherited his large farm. But Evan, the man who worked for her grandfather, got the house. There had to be a way for them to work together so they both could attain their goals. In addition, her firm downsized and let her go. She moved in with Robin, her friend from high school, and together they began to unravel things from the past.

When Bethany began to realize some things about herself and open up to people, the reader could see a drastic change. Read the book to find out what happened. I finished this book in a day and a half and I recommend it highly.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Teen-Age Pregnancy in the 1950's

I recently received a Kindle and have been enjoying downloading books and reading them voraciously. One of the books I read was THE THIRD FLOOR by Judi Loren Grace. This book told about an teenager in the 1950's who found herself pregnant and was sent away from her family to live in a home for unwed mothers, thus eliminating embarrassment to her family, especially her father, who was a politician.

I remember hearing of homes like this because I was a young teen-ager during the 1950's. I remember asking about one of the girls in my class who suddenly disappeared. The other girls snickered and giggled, embarrassed, as they told me she was gone to have a baby. I knew nothing about how this happened, but I tucked this information away. I never saw my classmate again. No doubt, she was spurned because she had had a baby out of wedlock.

In this book, the girls were made to live in dormitory-like rooms, but were never given any information about how babies were born or what would happen to them. They were told that whenever their labor pains began, they were to pack their suitcase and walk to the third floor, where their baby would be delivered. The girls in the dorms never saw their friends again. They were whisked out the backdoor of the third floor and sent back home, with or without their babies.

In this book, the main character told her story in the first person. She took her baby home, but her mother arranged a "back-door" deal and gave the baby away. Years later, she found her son, and also located her good friend from her time in the home.

Times have certainly changed from the 1950's. Now unwed pregnancy is not viewed as it was in the past. Girls who are pregnant before marriage are not treated today as they were then.

I recommend this book. It was well-written and the characters were real to me as I read it. It is a fast read. I downloaded it free on my Kindle.

The Daughter's Walk

Jane Kirkpatrick's historical novel about a walk across America by a mother and daughter in 1896 brings many issues to light. This feisty woman decided to walk from Spokane, Washington, to New York City, a distance of 3,500 miles, to advertise a new line of clothing for the modern woman, a shorter dress that exposed her ankles. Her spunky idea was formed when the clothing industry offered $10,000 to a person who would do it, and she needed to money to save her family's farm.

Helga, the mother, was ingenious in her endeavor. As they travelled, she found places to speak to tell about their journey. Clara, the daughter, did not want to go on the journey at first, but she became a willing helper before it was over. They kept a diary and collected artifacts. Clara drew pictures to tell about their adventure. Their hope was to write a book about it when it was over.

This was an actual event which was supposed to take seven months. However, because of circumstances, the women did not reach their destination on time and the sponsors withheld their payment. The women were left in New York City with no money and no way to get back home. They found employment to care for themselves and to try to save money to buy their tickets.

When they finally arrived home, Ole, the father, and Ida, the sister who had been left in charge of the younger children, were bitter with resentment because of the long absense of their mother and sister. This deep resentment eventually drove Clara away, and she found employment with a woman she had met on the trip.

Clara stayed with her employer for the next twenty years, estranged from her family, who refused to accept her monetary help. They lost their farm and lived poorly. They refused to let their mother write or talk about her trip, and rebuffed every effort Clara made to remain on good terms with them.

This book is not a "happily-ever-after" one, but is one that depicts the stresses that arise in families when conflicts come. This Norwegian family felt that their mother and sister had abandoned them. Then, when Clara went to work for one of the people who had orignally sponsored the trip, they said she was taking "dirty money" and they could not forgive her. This book was very well written and impelling with its honesty and openness. It was provided to me free by Waterbrook Multnomah for my honest review.