It had been a place of joy and comfort. A place where family gathered and celebrated birthdays and holidays, where love flowed freely.
      We didn’t get back there often enough – the price of plane tickets from Oregon to New Jersey for four is something you have to budget for. I remember the time we made a surprise visit. Mom sat at the country kitchen table in her usual place. I tiptoed through the expansive living room and appeared in the kitchen doorway.
      “Hi Mom.”
      She looked up, took a deep breath and said, “YOU!” so stunned she couldn’t say my name – her eldest of four daughters! I treasure that memory. The family actually managed to keep our visit a surprise.
      Mom loved that home. After experiencing the asphalt and concrete environment of Philadelphia all her life, she savored the quiet green surroundings and ability to tinker in her flower borders, spend time hand-painting wooden garden ornaments or sitting in the screen house on the back deck, listening to the gurgle of the coy pond her husband had built.
      And John found a place to direct his energies in raising chickens and goats and gabbing with customers in his feed store on the property.
      Of course, there was always a feast and laughter and kids everywhere, the screen door slamming a thousand times a day. What marvelous fun!
      But time moves on, and so did Mom and John to a little house with little land and after a year, Mom moved on to heaven.
      On a recent visit, my sister took us to see the country home. The only word that comes to mind is “heartbreaking”: boarded up windows, a tarp on the roof and the porch light hangs by a wire. The broken deck sits beside the place where sparkling ponds have been filled in. The feed store entrance has been kicked in, glass scattered across the threshold. Weeds and out-of-control bamboo replace roses and stately cannas.
      My family says they watched the house rapidly deteriorate after Mom and John sold. Lack of maintenance and trash piles marred the lovely country place and soon it sat abandoned. But the faded mural of Mickey Mouse that our son painted on the feed store still smiles on the wall, a reminder of happier days.
      As we drove away, sad, the Lord reminded me of a scripture. I turned to my sister and said, “Well Jesus said,
           ‘In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go and prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’
      That is where Mom is.”
      The passage goes on to say, “And you know the way where I am going . . . I am the way and the truth and the life;no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
      Mom and John had found “the Way,” as had our sister who went to be with Jesus just nine months before Mom.
      Seeing the old farm house just reconfirms that this is not home. But for those who have come to Jesus, a family reunion awaits ̶ more warm, more loving, more glorious than any we have ever experienced on earth. An eternal home built by the Master Carpenter.

Walking Through Art

On morning walks, I often slow my pace and gaze down a quiet, tree-lined street. With the backdrop of a hill covered in towering firs and spreading maples, the scene seems to have been plucked out of a quaint little town instead of a bustling city. One home with green shutters and a bay window became, in my mind, the home of my dear character, Mrs. Twiggenbotham in my children’s books.

I thought children should be able to “visit” such a peaceful place as they read. In a world which imposes its problems and strife on them all too soon, here they could walk beside Mrs. T. as she visited Smithville shops and the lovely village church and splash through the puddles with her and her granddaughter. I am very grateful to Kregel Publications and illustrator, Rick Incrocci for making that lady and town come to life in those books. A place of Peace, Faith, Family, and Fun!

As an adult, I can take such fanciful walks through the paintings of the “Painter of Light,” Thomas Kincade. Each year, I purchase a calendar with twelve of his works of art. One, titled Lamplight Lane is actually, in Kincade’s description, a close depiction of a “charming little village in the English Cotswold Region.” As I “walk” into the picture on the cobblestone footpath, streetlamps of a by-gone era shed their soft light beside the path and illuminate the blooming shrubs. I can almost smell the fragrance of the climbing roses and hear the babble of the flowing stream. The windows of the stone cottages glow with golden light and wisps of chimney smoke rise from their cozy interiors.

Some might say such “walks” into these realms are an escape from reality. But for me, they are mere glimpses of the ultimate Reality ~ the Home of the ultimate Artist where we who are so blessed to be counted among His family will experience an eternity of Beauty, Peace, Faith, Family and yes, Fun!


Flower Garden by Anna Langova











photo courtest http://www.publicdomainpictures.net: “Flower Garden” by Anna Langova

As The Mountains

On August 1st, I underwent my last chemotherapy treatment. Throughout surgery and six rounds of chemo, Dave and I had experienced God’s amazing peace. The oncologist assured me they had caught it early, so there was a good chance they had taken care of it. However, if it returned, the status would change from curable to palliative.

One sentence. And I allowed that one sentence to steal the peace God had given me for the previous six months. I had a blood test two weeks later, which was normal, but still worried about the upcoming tests. Another had been scheduled for December.

The Sunday before the test, as Dave and I watched Pastor Michael Youssef’s program, he spoke of a time when his son, at nine-years old, came into his study and sat, just wanting to be near his dad. Even though Youssef asked several times if he wanted anything, the boy answered “No.” Then the “lightbulb” went on in the pastor’s mind: This is what God, our Father, wants from us. Just to spend time with Him, not because we want something from Him, but just to be with Him, enjoying His presence.

When the program ended, I took my Bible and went to our bedroom to spend time alone with God. I randomly opened it and my eyes fell on these words in Psalm 125:

Those who trust in the Lord
Are as Mount Zion, which cannot
be moved but abides forever.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

At church that day, I shared with the moderator that I had a blood test coming up. When the time came for prayer requests, he asked everyone to surround me and pray. I hadn’t expected that and the outpouring of their love and concern caused my tears to flow freely. One prayer came from a 9-year-old foster boy. His words were sweet to my ears, and I’m sure, sweet to Jesus. The scripture I had been led to earlier in the day literally came to life through God’s people.

My test came back normal. I’ve asked the Lord to forgive me for letting one sentence steal the peace He had so graciously given me. Once again, I am reminded that He alone is God and my future is in His hands.



Roses Among the Thorns

When my co-blogger, Dori and I titled our project “Roses and Thorns – Observations of Life,” of course, we had no idea what would bloom in our experiences and what would poke us with prickles. But, having gone around the sun numerous times, we could assume both would grow and intertwine in our gardens of life.Roses Among the Thorns

Right before Christmas, Dori dealt with a broken leg, followed by surgery and months of recovery and rehabilitation. Ouch! Thorns. They do hurt. But being the “glass half-full” person she is, Dori chose to see the blessings in family love, crazy pets and time with the Lord – the blossoms. (see her post “Choices.”)

Okay, now it is my turn at bat. A CT scan in February revealed a mass that resulted in surgery and chemotherapy, losing my hair, fatigue and various and sundry other side effects. Thorns galore. But, oh the blooms!

Our church literally surrounded me and prayed. Prayers from them and others have been constant ever since. Women lined up to provide meals after surgery and again now during the difficult days of therapy. I’ve had visitors pop in during treatment, which is 5-6 hours long; even a friend who serves in a ministry on the other side of the U.S. surprised me with a visit during chemotherapy. There are texts from one friend as she walks to work and prays for me. Our daughter-in-law has done hours of research to find essential oils and other natural alternatives to help with the side effects. Our daughter did the drastic haircut (no not a head-shave) and is knitting me a funky “eyelash” cap. My husband is, at this moment, folding laundry. I chose a cute wig and cap at Providence’s “Transitions” at no cost. (Thank you for your blessed generosity and gracious assistance, Providence!) And the cards and well wishes continue to come.

George MacDonald said, “If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.” At this bend in the road that became rough and rocky, the Lord carries me and I am surrounded by “angels” who cast bloom upon bloom upon bloom. It makes the travel so much sweeter.



I recently finished an historical novel about a farm woman in the 1890’s.  Her workload at first seems more difficult compared with today’s woman and her modern conveniences.  But was it?  

She went to the store once a month by horse-drawn buggy to buy in bulk flour, sugar, coffee, tea, and spices (which she used every bit of throughout the month) and perhaps a bolt of material, yarn, or thread for sewing and mending. 

Today’s woman shops once a week by car to fill her pantry, with almost daily mini-trips to the store and deli.  Because of a myriad of activities that present themselves, fast food often interferes with planned menus and much of the food purchased ends up spoiled and discarded. 

The pioneer woman set one day a week aside to wash with a washboard and iron.  That seems like hard work.  However each person in the family had only two sets of every day clothes (one set washed each week, one set worn six days of the week) and one set of Sunday best.  Even with sheets and cleaning rags it was a small washload compared with now.

Each member of today’s family has a closet full of clothes that they change two and three times daily and put in the laundry basket.  The convenient washing machine and dryer is loaded several times during the week and everything must be folded or ironed and hung up.  A woman often is still working at 10:00 PM.

The pioneer family bathed once a week, on Saturday night.  Today’s woman spends time nightly over-seeing her children’s baths.

The pioneer woman found time to sew, milk cows, gather eggs, cook, preserve foods, clean the house, quilt – all done during the day.  At night she had time to sit with her family for Bible reading and she mended, knitted or read before bed.   .

After getting the kids off to school, working outside the home, going to her children’s activities, cooking or stopping by Mickey Dee’s, making lunches for the following day, helping with homework, seeing to the kid’s nightly bathes, cleaning the house, washing and folding clothes, today’s woman falls exhausted into bed.

Frankly, in spite of all our modern conveniences – horse and buggy vs car, washboard vs washer and dryer, underground cold room vs refrigerator, pump vs running water, etc., I think the pioneer woman had the  simpler, easier life.   There is one thing, however that keeps me from wishing I’d lived back then.  It’s what my mother always referred to as man’s greatest invention.  The indoor toilet.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

What is True


Our sixteen-year-old grandson is teaching a homeschool class on logical thinking ̶ discerning what is really the truth. I wish every school covered this subject and taught the kids to weigh the facts instead of having such an open mind their brains might fall out!

For instance, I have to admit I am a sucker for commercials, even when I know I don’t need and would not buy whatever it is they are selling. Is it that I’m drawn to “that shiny thing over there?” I don’t know. But we do have to pull our minds up by their bootstraps and ask if we really can’t live without that thing, or do we really deserve to have it? Scripture points out what I really deserve, and it ain’t that shiny thing over there!

So I (we) have to look at what is really true. In more ways than just commercials. I think sometimes it’s just easier to say something is true than face the fact that it might not be and then be accountable to act. Is it true that our vote doesn’t count when “they” will do what they want anyway? Maybe if we all voted, “they” wouldn’t be there to do what they want. Is there man-made global warming? Ask my sister in New Jersey who has endured multiple major snow storms this winter. Niagara Falls has partially frozen over twice this year! Did man really come from monkeys? My son had a great question about this when he was in grade school: “If so, then why are there still monkeys?” Remember “If you like your health care plan . . .?” ‘Nough said.

I’m blessed to have kids who are training their kids to think for themselves. “Don’t just believe what people say, watch what they do,” our daughter teaches her daughter. Words to (the making of) the wise.

Philippians 4:8 says: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.


illustration “Pinocchio” by africa on freedigitalphotos.net



(Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com)

I’ve always enjoyed lively discussions.  From time to time people have politely pointed out that I’m argumentative.  I’ve carefully considered that opinion and quickly  discarded it.  How could I be argumentative when I’m right?

Since I became wheelchair bound seven weeks ago and living with my daughter and her family until I’m able to return home, I’ve had to re-evaluate my thoughts on this and my conclusion is, people are correct.  I am without dispute, argumentative.  That is really hard to admit.  But when confronted by six people, all in agreement to this claim, I don’t have a leg to stand on.  (Literally and figuratively.)

The Bible speaks to an argumentative attitude:

“For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”  Proverbs 30:33 (NIV)

“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14  (NIV)

“But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”

2 Timothy 2:23  (NAS)

I learned these verses long ago, and remember applying them to my life.  Yet somewhere in life’s journey they lost their relevance and I descended into old habits. How this happened or why it’s taken so long to realize the truth of it doesn’t matter.  The question is, at age 71, can I change?  I’ve always said when I get too old to learn, put me out to pasture.

I’m determined to quit being argumentative and I’ve asked people to hold me accountable.  They seemed a little too eager so I know they’ll follow through.   I’m going to pursue the advice of Sukant Ratnaker,  “If you can win an argument by stretching your lips with a smile, why open your mouth and lose it.”