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FFF daisies

Friday’s Fave Five is hosted by Suzanne at Living to Tell the Story and encourages us to put in writing five blessings from the week.

1. I have not posted for several weeks. Why? So I could spend as much time as possible with these two!  We had a wonderful summer. I was feeling much better than I did last summer, and was able to be more interactive with my grandchildren. Since next summer should be post hip replacement, maybe I can even be more active with them!

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2. My herb garden is winding down. It brought me lots of pleasure thus summer, though not quite like I expected.  It was an herb and vegetable garden, but the zucchini corporate takeover took out my kale, and a mighty wind storm took out my zucchini it all its golden glory (I planted yellow zucchini.)  The entire crown of the plant with its broad, bristly leaves and five golden fingers of zucchini-to-be ended up on the deck.  The plant never recovered. I planted ten peas and only two came up and my green beans elbowed the zucchini for sunlight before the demise of the squash.  Next year my husband is making me a second planter so I have veggies in one and herbs in the other!

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3. I am grateful for the wonderful privilege of having all five of my children together in one place for a few weeks each summer.  Our house was loud and messy, full of comings and goings, laughter and tears, discussions and debates.  We do Christmas in July (well…August this year) complete with holiday dishes, decorations, Christmas crackers (and the antics that go along with the hats and prizes), and Christmas readings. The China-based part of the family has left us until next year.DSC09573

4. Watching college football with my husband is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s that time of year and he is actually able to take a day off each week (well, most weeks) after years of having a too-heavy workload to do this.  I have one thing to say about college football:  Go Buckeyes!!

5. No word yet on my surgery date.  My first hip replacement was 8 years ago this December.  I am praying that I can have this one done before the snow comes since ice and snow hinder my mobility and make walking around on crutches or with a walker a little more tricky. Good news:  I am much more mobile this time than I was before the last surgery.  I’m very grateful for that!

 

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FFF daisies

On Fridays we stop to recount a few blessings from the week.  I have found it to be a wonderful exercise in gratitude, and it forces me to think grateful thoughts, even if it’s been a discouraging week.  Thanks to Suzanne at Living to Tell the Story  for hosting this!

1. Encouraging kids Is it ok to brag a little about your kids?  I say yes, when they have accomplished some impressive feats.

Our family members have always had weight issues, and our oldest daughter recently underwent bariatric surgery, a procedure called sleeve surgery.  She followed pre-op instructions carefully, had the surgery, and has stayed within her post-surgical restrictions.  As of today she has lost 110 pounds.  Our second daughter has combined an Atkins and exercise approach and has lost over 50 pounds.  Our third daughter, who has type 1 insulin dependent diabetes, has been using the exercise room at her work as well as watching what she eats and has lost over 20 pounds.  After sorting out my low thyroid issues I am now down 27 pounds.  My daughters have inspired me and help me stay on track.  And that is a huge, huge blessing!

2. My crazy raised garden I’m not sure why I find this so humorous, but one side of the bottom of my raised bed herb garden gave way after a few days of torrential rain last week.  I currently have the sinking garden of Beaumont on one end of the planter and a giant corporate zucchini take-over of the planter on the other.  Every time I look at it, I laugh.  My husband and son are kindly planning to rebuild it on Monday and all of the plants will have to be moved.  I am hopeful that they will all survive the transplanting.

3. Home for the summer I cannot completely express how wonderful it is to have most of my family here near us this summer.  The noise and fun factors both will increase when our daughter-in-law and grandchildren arrive at the end of the month (they are enjoying sibling and cousin time with my daughter-in-law’s side of the family for the next couple of weeks!)

4. Powerful thunderstorms We had some doozy thunderstorms overnight a couple of times this past week.  I am always amazed at the majesty and raw power of these displays.  It reminds me of our days in South Carolina when we would gather on the front porch and watch thunderstorms.  My husband used to tell the children it was God talking. (There are quite a few biblical references to God’s voice thundering.  A few of these are in Job 37 and 40, Psalm 18 and 29, and Revelation 19.)

5.  Yummy quiche My youngest daughter made me a crustless quiche for dinner.  It was delicious!  It’s always satisfying to try new foods (or re-introduce foods into my diet) that don’t make me sick.

Have a blessed week!

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FFF tulips

Sharing blessings causes us to stop and remember all the Lord is doing for us even in the midst of trying weeks.  Here are some highlights from my week:

1. Holding a newborn baby There is nothing quite like holding a newborn baby, a helpless bit of humanity less than 24 hours old.  This sweet little boy has three older and very attentive sisters, and loving parents.  As I held him his wee little eyes would open just a slit then slowly shut again as he drifted back into sleep.  Precious!

2. Memories of my mother The little one mentioned above was born on my mother’s birthday.  I have been reflecting on my mother and her impact on my life.  We had a close relationship but there are many things I wish I had asked her about her childhood, family history, and especially the family photo album.  Who are all of these people pictured and how did they touch your life?  Makes me more thoughtful about labeling my photos and telling my kids about my childhood.

3. Kitchen herbs I bought little pots of thyme and oregano at the grocery store this week.  I can use them in my weekly recipe of soup and, if I defy all my past history, can nurture them along until planting time, which around here is mid-May at the earliest.

4. The Mind’s Eye recordings  My husband found some recordings online from The Mind’s Eye, a group of audio recording artists from the 80’s.  We used to own several cassette series dramatized by this group and they were very, very good.  We would listen as we traveled and our kids loved to hear the tapes over and over again. This week Bud and I have been listening to their dramatization of The Hobbit. They’re as good as I remember!

5. My family – photos from China My son, who lives and teaches in China, posted some beautiful pictures of the family this week.  My youngest daughter is enrolled in the nursing program our son oversees.  In just a few short months my son, his wife, their two kids and my youngest daughter will be home for the annual monthly visit.  I am eagerly anticipating that time together as a family!

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Mama T 001

Better Late than Never?

When Mama passed away in 2008 I was honored to give a eulogy at her memorial service. I rewrote that eulogy to post for Mother’s Day this May…..and somehow never published it on my blog.  Sigh.  Even though it’s later than I intended, I hope you’ll enjoy a glimpse into the life of a wonderful woman.

The Blessing of a Godly Mother-in-law

I was doubly-blessed to have a mother who loved and served God whole-heartedly as well as a mother-in-law who was equally as godly.  Since I recently wrote about my mother I’d like to honor my wonderful mother-in-law, Jean Talbert, this Mother’s Day.

A Lovely Lady

My mother-in-law was a lovely lady, refined and cultured with an interest in the arts and music.  She loved to play the piano and listen to classical music – interests passed down to her children and grandchildren.  Mom shared a house with Bud and me for a couple of years in the early 1980’s.  It could have been a sticky arrangement, but it wasn’t due to Mama’s wisdom and graciousness. “Mama”, as she liked us to call her, was extremely hospitable, and loved to cook for and entertain her friends and family.  She had particular delight in hosting the Lord’s servants, whether for a meal or overnight in her home.

 Mama as a Nurse

Mom’s training as an RN showed up frequently.  Every bump, scrape, and bruise was a hematoma, abrasion, or contusion while a hint of indigestion was always dyspepsia.  When she began spouting medical terms we lovingly called her “Hematoma mama.” In order to become a nursing instructor at a Christian college Mom had to return to upgrade her education while in her mid-fifties.  She was an intelligent woman with a keen mind and was grateful for the opportunity of teaching nursing from a Christian perspective.

 Mama Was Never Boring!

Years ago when Bud was on a study tour in Israel, Mom drove with me to my parents’ home in Ohio.  While taking her daily walk she “made friends” with some neighborhood ducks.  The next day she took along a few slices of bread for her waddling buddies.  A local photographer driving by was enchanted by this delightful woman peeking out from behind a tree to feed the ducks.  Mom’s whimsical pose made the front page of our local newspaper!

Granny Loved Her Grandchildren

Mama dearly loved being Granny to her grandchildren.  She had a marvelous sense of humor and a deep throaty laugh.  We could occasionally wheedle her into barking and clapping like a seal which delighted and amazed her grandchildren.  Granny often told the grandkids stories about her own childhood.  She described how she and her sisters used to have burping contests then promptly taught her enthusiastic audience how to burp loudly too! An avid reader, Mom appreciated quality writing and had a particular fondness for missionary biographies. Dubbed by the grandchildren as the “Book Granny,” Mama used special occasions to buy brightly illustrated, charming books that our kids loved reading over and over.

 A Godly Example

But more than anything else Mom loved the Lord and spoke of Him and to Him throughout her day. Her well-marked Bible and detailed prayer lists were indications of a vital and personal walk with Lord.  She was a prayer warrior, particularly for her children and their families. We felt the loss of those prayers when Alzheimer’s prevented her from interceding for us. Proverbs 31:28 reminds us, “Her children rise up and call her blessed.”  We were very blessed to have Mama as mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. Mom Talbert blessed her family by her intelligence, humor, love, and godliness.  Mama, we miss you and look forward to being reunited with you in heaven someday.  Thank you for the godly example you left us.

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Snow in the darkBlizzard!

The snow swirled angrily around us as we inched along a remote western Canadian highway in the darkened solitude of a late December evening. Returning from my father’s funeral in Ohio, our third parent to die in six months, we were oh-so-weary and yearning for home.  Soon the winds began to howl, driving the blinding snow across an obliterated prairie landscape.  A blizzard!  Bud could no longer see anything but white; we had to get off the road and stay off until the storm passed.

Following the reddish blur of a 16 wheeler’s taillights we pulled into a parking lot where a bevy of truckers were gathered discussing the blizzard. “Supposed to last all night.”  “They’ve closed the road ahead due to zero visibility.”  “Guess we’ll park here and wait out the storm.”

Prairie Pride

Behind a dimly lit old convenience store was an equally dimly lit derelict building bearing a flickering sign  ‘Prairie Pride Motel.’[1]  Even through the snowy blast it was obvious that whatever pride had once been there was long gone. I was dubious about getting a room in such a run-down looking place, but Bud had been driving for over twelve hours and was exhausted.  And we certainly did not want to sleep in the car during a blizzard.

A single light bulb swinging crookedly from a wire in the ceiling threw wisps of light across the narrow interior hallway. Scraped and scuffed, the room doors hung loosely from their hinges, as if the slightest puff of wind would dislodge them from their frames.  A skeletal middle-aged woman, cigarette dangling from her lips, ignored us as she carelessly slouched over the cleaning cart she propelled down the hall.  This was not promising.

Where’s the Pride?

Well, we reasoned, maybe the rooms themselves were in better shape.  Ha! Ever watch one of those spy movies where the hero has to hide out in a decrepit old building in some bleak place like Siberia?  A set designer could not have created a more convincing setting for that kind of scene than our lodgings that night.

Our room was ‘decorated’ in early garage sale with no two pieces of furniture or linens matching anything else.  A microwave with the glass door bashed in sat on a rickety table and two double beds slumped against opposite walls.  Totally worn out, Bud dropped onto one of beds and fell asleep.

Our daughters lead me over to the overstuffed armchair.  “Here, Mom, you rest while we tidy up.” Gratefully I sank down in it…all the way to the floor!  Choking down our laughter (we did not want to wake Bud up!) I thrust my arms up while the girls each grabbed an arm and, with Herculean effort and a modicum of noise, hauled me out of the chair.

Still Looking for that Pride

I wanted to freshen up after the long drive but the bathroom …..well let’s just say some abandoned gas stations had cleaner bathrooms than this place.  I carefully examined the well-worn face cloth and took the plunge to wash my face and hands.  No way was I getting into the shower which was a graveyard to generations of entomological specimens and boasted multiple layers of dirt.

After shoving a rickety chair up under the doorknob (at least the clattering chair would wake us up if someone huffed and puffed and blew the door in!) I gingerly sat on the edge of the bed trying to figure out how to lie down without rolling to the middle or disturbing my husband. My weary mind finally settled on a plan – balance my torso on the very edge of the mattress and hang an arm and a leg off the bed so I would not roll to the middle. (OK – here I tried not to think about what might be under the bed that would find dangling appendages enticing.) The girls covered me with my coat (no way was I going to sleep between the sheets!) while I tried to settle in for some rest.

This Place Did Not Live Up to Its Name

The stuffy room reeked of smoke so, despite the bitter cold, our daughters opened the window.  Ah! Fresh air!  A parking lot light brightened  the room allowing me to watch with weary amusement as the two girls finally laid down to get some sleep, each promptly rolling to the middle of the bed while the sides of the mattress flipped up engulfing them like a giant tortilla.

Arms and legs thrashing about they finally figured out how to balance themselves so sleep might be possible.  Soon all was silent…..for a few moments.  Two truckers walking around outside stopped directly under our open window and began arguing – loudly.  What a night!

We slept fitfully that night and were relieved to find the storm had passed before we drove off early the next morning.  A parting irony was the hand-scribbled sign taped to the office door:  ‘No Vacancy – (Tonight Only.)’  As if!

We Bear the Sign ‘Christian’

Since that experience our family has used the phrase ‘Prairie Pride’ to describe anything which sounds like one thing but delivers something entirely different. Not one thing about that location offered anything which a typical traveler would call pride.

I began thinking about how we can wear the sign of ‘Christian’ and yet sometimes not live or act as Christians should.  Like it or not people hold us to a higher standard when they know we are believers.

And they should, and so should we.  Our standard is God’s Word.  Not culture, not personal opinion, not ‘flavor of the day’ theological ideas, but the Word of God.  We are to model ourselves after the person of Christ and be Christians, or ‘little Christs.”

Is Your Sign a Joke?

snow

When we saw the ‘Prairie Pride’ sign we had certain expectations that some pride would be taken in how our room looked.  When that was not the case the name seemed to be a joke. When others see the ‘sign’ Christian, what do they expect?  Something that follows a biblical standard.  What do they actually see? Are we a joke to them because we say we are Christians and behave in an ungodly way?

We should not be surprised when someone rejects Christ and Christianity because of Christians’ blatantly ungodly choices.  Let’s NOT be like that.  We need to ask God to help us live out our name Christian in every aspect of our lives.  Unlike the Prairie Pride which did not live up to its name, by God’s grace we can be Christians who do live up to theirs!


[1] There are several reputable (and clean) motels bearing the same name.

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When our children were young we had no other families with small children in our new little church.  Often at family devotions one of our children would pray that God would send them each a Christian friend, but they had to wait a long time for God’s answer to that prayer.

In  struggling with the desire to have a friend her own age, our daughter wrestled  with the temptation to overlook things she knew were wrong for the sake of having someone to play with.  Her prayers for a Christian friend seemed to be answered when the family of one of her classmates began attending our church and the two girls started spending time together.  The new family had standards which were different from ours, evidenced in almost every area of life.   This difference provided a springboard for our children to ask many questions as to why we do what we do, and allowed us to point out the biblical defence for our choices.

One day while these nine year old girls were playing together, they decided, without permission, to ride their bicycles to the nearby drug store. When their trek lead them to the cosmetics counter, our daughter’s friend held up a brightly coloured lipstick and suggested they should each get one. Our daughter pointed out that they had no money, but her friend showed her how easy it was to slip that slender tube into her pocket and take it without paying for it.  It was so pretty!  They would be like the bigger girls!  And, after all, it only cost a little bit of money so it wasn’t really like stealing.  James 1:15 tells us “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin,” So the deed was done and the girls left the store.

The lipstick stayed hidden for a short time, but soon I noticed telltale red marks in the vicinity of my daughter’s lips. (Did she think I wouldn’t notice?)  Had she used mommy’s lipstick without asking?  No?  What do you mean it is your lipstick?  You’re not allowed to have lipstick.  You got it at the store when you were at your friend’s?  How could you buy it when you had no money?  Soon the compromised conscience of a young child who has been taught right but has done wrong caused her to confess her sin in tears.  We told her that she had to go with us to the store and talk to the manager, confess her theft, and pay for the lipstick.

We then called the friend’s mother and told her what had happened.  Imagine our consternation and absolute shock when this mother responded that she knew about the theft but wouldn’t dream of embarrassing her daughter by making her go to the store manager and confess the theft. No amount of urging or biblical admonition would budge this woman’s position.  The welfare of her child’s soul was bartered at the altar of keeping up appearances.  And so ended a less than beautiful friendship for these two girls.

The Bible has much to say about friendships.  Godly friends can bring us immeasurable benefit.  David was grateful for the unselfish friendship of Jonathan, who put his friend’s welfare before his own. (I Samuel 18:3)  The Proverbs remind us that a true friend loves at all times and speaks the truth to us, even when it may temporarily hurt.  (Proverbs 17:17 & 27:6)  Obedient Christians are counted as friends of Jesus. (John 15: 14-15)

On the other hand, the wrong friends can harm us.  Amnon’s friend gave him counsel that ultimately lead to death.  (II Samuel 13:3)  Haman’s friends commiserated with him in his plot against the Jews and none of them warned against carrying out the wicked scheme (Esther 5.) Job’s friends came to wrong conclusions about Job’s troubles and could not help him see God’s providential hand in difficult circumstances (throughout Job.) We are warned not to make friends of an angry man (Proverbs 22:24) or with worldly people, who are God’s enemies (James 4:4.) Finally, we are warned that evil or ungodly companions can corrupt us (I Corinthians 15:33.)

Our daughter learned some valuable lessons about friends through that incident.  She still yearned for a close friend and even had other disappointments of friends professing faith in Christ, then falling away from that profession.  Her tender heart discovered that in Christ “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”  (Prov. 18:24) Several years later God graciously granted her the desire of her heart by bringing a newly saved classmate to our church.  This girl loves the Lord, is obedient to the Scriptures and wants to serve God with all her heart.  Our daughter gratefully discovered the joy of having the right kind of friends.

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Grandpa and Didi

Our son, daughter-in-law and their two small ones are staying with us for a few weeks.  Dave and Des teach English in Asia and our opportunity to spend face to face time with them is limited.  When each of our five children was born we dedicated them to the Lord.  Bud and I understood (at least on some level) that this likely meant that God might direct them to live and work in a place far from us.

China is far from Canada. We are so grateful for Skype and Dropbox and e-mail and phone calls.  Many of the missionary biographies I read speak heart-wrenchingly of men and women leaving home and family never to see loved ones again.  They were willing to do this out of love for God and in obedience to the Great Commission.

We are very, very blessed to have these few weeks together as a family.  Three of our daughters finished college and worked elsewhere for a time.  They moved to our area last year.  Our youngest daughter leaves to begin her second year of Bible school soon, but she’s been home for the summer.  So right now all five of our children, our daughter-in-law, and our two grandchildren are nearby.  Very blessed.

Author Lois Wyse once said, “If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I’d have had them first.”  We are having a wonderful, interactive time with our grandkids.  They are delightful and do unexpected things, and we can give them back to mom and dad after we spoil them a bit.

Chloe is a little bit of a thing who just turned two (born on Canada Day!) but she is very articulate and conversive.  It’s easy to forget that she is just two at times. We have read books, played in the yard, tasted herbs from the herb garden, and played delightful, imaginative games together.  She loves to sing and recite and repeat things she’s heard.  We were humored by her recitation of a Mother Goose rhyme, “To market, to market to buy a ……fence!” (there was a fence in the picture) and “Home again, home again…..bibbity, bobbity, boo!”  (we’d been singing the Cinderella song, too.)

Little Paul is called Didi (Chinese for little brother.)  He is four months old, as chunky as his sister is diminutive, and full of smiles and cooing.  He’s almost turned over but that shoulder keeps getting in the way!  Chloe loves her Didi and he is laid back even with all of her frenetic attention and(usually)gentle hugging and kissing (think Energizer bunny.)

One cannot help but think of Proverbs 17:6, “Children’s children are the crown of old men” with grandchildren in our lives.  Grandmas feel that way too. Dave and Des are rearing their little ones with love and care and boundaries.  The children are sweet and polite and fun to be around.  Yes, we are blessed. Very, very blessed.

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