Remembering our Veterans … Freedom is not free

Veterans Day – memories of the past are very real today and I’m remembering all of my family who served. I wonder if the brave warriors had not fought if we would be living as free as we are today. We have the right to chose how we live, where we live, and where we work. Most everyone has food and clean water and warm blankets and a place to sleep. Many places around the world don’t have these privileges. This freedom is so precious men and women have given their lives for it.

My grandfather, Eldon Lowrey, was a foot soldier in France during World War I. He told stories about marching behind the men on horseback till he thought his legs would drop off.  He said they had to keep up with the horses. He was especially fond of telling about the time a Frenchman stopped his wagon and invited some of them to hop on and ride a while. He developed a love of champagne while he was in France. His doctor became his dearest friend when he prescribed one glass of wine every evening. About once a month, he would ask us to get him one bottle of champagne for medicinal purposes. He kept it in the garage because my grandmother didn’t approve of any alcoholic beverages and would not have it in the house. We tried to convince him that it went flat after opened and that some of the other wines would hold better, however, nothing would do but champagne, no matter how flat! He was a special man, my grandfather. And I remember…

Thoughts of my second husband, Ray Groezinger, and the stories he used to tell me are flooding my mind. He was not quite eighteen when World War II started in the 1930s. America was not yet in it. He tried to go to Canada with some of his buddies to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces, but his mother would not sign the papers for him. As soon as he turned 18, he and a couple of his friends signed up, America was now in the war. They were sent to Pensacola, Florida for flight training. It was very different in those early years, they signed up with the stipulation they could resign at will. Try that one today! They were trained to fly open cockpit planes. These three friends formed a life-long love of flying. He and his three buddies were flight instructors at Luke Field in Arizona during the war and were frozen there—flight instructors were vital.

My dad, Homer E. Hayes worked for Dallas Power & Light Company during World War II. He tried to enlist several times, but was not permitted to leave DP&L. The electric company was allowed to freeze a necessary crew of men to keep the electricity going in Dallas, Texas. He tried many times to be released, but never was. It always bothered him. He felt he was not doing his duty to his country.

My first husband, Bill D. Kerss, served in the Korean War. He was a G-2 agent stationed at the News Center in Kansas City. During that time nothing could be released to the newspapers, radio, or television until it had official clearance from the military. Security was tightly controlled. His service here in the states didn’t feel any different from having a regular job—except for wearing the Army uniform and the time periods he was gone! We enjoyed our time in Missouri, but were glad to get back to Texas. My childhood sweetheart, friend, lover, and father of my daughters died in 1977. And I remember…

I’m also thinking about my brother-in-law, Ernest Lueck, who was wounded in Korea, but always felt lucky that he got to come home. Many didn’t. I remember one of the Christmases he was there when the family packed a metal trash can filled with presents for him. It was full of warm clothing, food and treats. This happy, laughing man lived until 2010. And I remember…

My cousin, Gary Morris, is a Marine and veteran of Vietnam. He carries many scars, both visible and invisible. He went to Vietnam a happy, laughing young man and came home with a sadness and pain that has never left him, scars of the mind. The two of us are the oldest in our families, the last holdouts of our generation. And that’s a sobering thought!. And we remember all the members of our family who fought for freedom…

I know I’ve said this before, but it’s more important today than it was several years ago so I’m repeating myself. Please pay attention to what is going on in our country today and stand up to those who want to change America to be like other countries of the world where people are not free. It’s important to know the principles on which our country was founded, not just to know them, but to oppose those who want to change them.

It’s important to enforce the laws of America. They are there for a reason, not to harm, but to protect and preserve the freedoms of American citizens. It’s important to welcome all who come into our country legally and stop supporting those who come illegally.

Study and learn about the price your ancestors paid for the freedom the United States has enjoyed. Learn about the founding fathers of our country, what they believed, and the reasons they came and settled this country. The cost was great. Then pay attention to the world today, to the erosion of the morals and values that all these valiant men and women fought for and are still fighting for.

I believe Gary would join me in saying to everyone in our great country, don’t let the hard-fought-for and cherished freedoms of America disappear … the American way of life has been unique in this world. I challenge you to preserve the heritage all of our ancestors fought and died for.

Oh, yes, memories cloud my mind today of the valiant men in my life, but also of a time when the world was more innocent, when a man’s word had meaning, when men could run their business the way they wanted to, when children could walk home from school alone safely, and of a time when no one had to lock doors …

We must never forget the cost of freedom…

 And I remember …

Posted in America, General, military, Veterans | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When things go clunk in the night …

This was first posted in December 2014 when I had the flu —
Today I dedicate it to all my friends and family who have the dreaded FLU !
May it make you smile …

Clunk . . .  in the middle of the night,
I heard . . .
a single solitary clunk.

It penetrated my sleep-fogged brain. It wasn’t a normal night sound and I sat up instantly alert, heart racing, eyes searching around the darkness for what had made this sound. I got up, tiptoed across my bedroom and looked down the hall. Then I cautiously turned on a light and glanced up at the clock that hangs on my bedroom wall. The pendulum was not moving — the darn thing had stopped again. Checking the time I saw that there was only one hand pointing at two o’clock. Okay, I thought, it’s ten after two. I’ll wind it tomorrow.

I proceeded to check the entire house and all was secure. Convinced that I was still alone, I padded with cold feet back to my bedroom where my eyes fastened on the clock once more. It was still ten after two. Can’t be, I thought. This time I got my glasses and checked the clock and found there was only one hand there. The longer minute hand had fallen off. I breathed a sigh of relief. That was the “clunk” I heard. It had happened before. Climbing into bed I fell into a restless sleep.

Waking at dawn with a vicious headache I found my night had not gotten any better. No matter which way I turned I couldn’t find a position to ease the ache. There was nothing to do but get up and when I did I knew I had caught what my grandson had on Christmas Eve. I was dizzy, ached all over, and my head was pounding so hard I could hardly focus. I’d had this before, years ago, THE FLU. I glanced at the time forgetting that the clock had stopped in the middle of the night. Oh, yeah, I’ll fix you someday when I can see again, I muttered.

After a couple of days of experimenting with the bed, the couch, and the recliner, I began to be able to focus once more. I was back in the land of the living. Hallelujah, praise the Lord. I have lived through another bout with … THE FLU. My Lord is good. I was finally able to shower and put clean clothes on, forget the makeup though, I don’t feel that good! Collapsing in the wingback chair in the corner of my bedroom I turned the television on so see if the world was still there and, woe to me, I looked at the clock again. Oh, yeah, the thing fell apart in the middle of the night last night – or was it last week!

After I satisfied myself that the world had continued to turn without my help, I decided that I felt good enough to wind the clock and put the hand back on. I had never thought about how often I look at the time and ten after two was beginning to irritate me. So up I got, opened the door on the clock, felt around and found the minute hand. Now, on tiptoes to reach it, I push the minute hand on to the center post just like I have done several times before when all of a sudden it reacts like a spring and goes flying. I look around and it’s not in sight. With a big sigh, I close the door on the dumb clock and look in the chair below it. No hand. I look all over the floor, still no hand. By now, I’m not feeling so good and I have to sit down in my chair and rest.

Sometime later, who knows because the clock still says ten after two, I decided I had to find that hand. How far could it have gone? I check both chairs that sit in the corner, I look on top of the bookcase, I move books, rearrange pillows and cushions in the chairs, but no hand. By now, I am determined this will not get the best of me – I may have been beaten down by … THE FLU, but I will not be beaten by the stupid minute hand of a clock! I grab one of the chairs and pull it out to the center of my bedroom, no luck. Shaking because I haven’t eaten in two days, I manhandle the other chair to the center of the room and there on the floor was a box of books. Now I have books hidden in every imaginable place in my house, who knows, I might just want to read something when I’m in my closet. Looking at the box of books I think, Ah ha, the hand will be in there. I carefully go through the box. No hand. So I separate the books into subjects and carry them to my library, which has no more space, so I just shove them on top of other books. I’ll think about it another day, I mumble, if Scarlet can do that in Gone with the Wind, so can I.

Back in the bedroom, I decide that the hand is stuck in one of the chairs. I carefully run my hands over every inch of two wingback chairs, shake out two throws, lay them flat on the floor and look carefully, then fold them and put them away. Well, I know where the hand is not. A little success is good for the soul, I mutter. Now to the bookcase that sites between the chairs. I remove every book, every scrap of paper, fill the trash can with useless papers, then I put it all back. No luck. Deciding that the hand has to be under the bookcase, now you tell me how it could have gotten there, but there is no other place for it to be, I attempt to move the bookcase. It doesn’t move. My husband has nailed it to the wall. My head pounds again. I find a long handle shoe horn and I “sweep” under the bookcase. I found two screws, several pencils, small and sundry bits of paper, and numerous dust bunnies.

I am exhausted. I am confused. I am frustrated.  Lord, I say, I’ve done my best to find that thing but I’m giving up now. What’s the big deal about a second-hand anyway?  So I pulled, tugged, and shoved those wingback chairs, which had gotten bigger while they were in the middle of the room, back to their original positions. THE FLU couldn’t beat me, but Lord, that minute hand has.

I gave up and sat down in my cleaned-up corner with freshly brushed clean chairs, with my organized books, even the pencils are neatly arranged. I picked up the television remote and thought I’d watch the oldies channel to get my mind off that ridiculous clock, clicked it and leaned back to relax. Or tried to relax when something stuck me in the back of my neck, and I jumped up. No, that’s wrong, I don’t jump anymore –I got up. I thought I had been stuck by a pin or bitten by a spider. Once again I ran my hand over the back of the chair. I found nada. By now, I am beyond exhaustion and … THE FLU is making its presence known. My head is pulsating like a rock band. I sit down again and lean back … and felt a crawly sensation on the back of my neck.

This time, I really did jump up and scurry to a mirror. I looked at the back of my neck. There, hanging in my hair, tickling my neck, was the darned minute hand. I was speechless. Words failed me … for a minute.

Lord, I said, if you wanted me to clean that corner of my bedroom, you could have just asked me!

Now, you tell me – does the Lord have a sense of humor or not!

Posted in flu, General, humor | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Cinderella Syndrome…and they lived happily ever after

 

 

“Find a need and Fill it” is an old saying in the advertising business. That’s what the Hallmark channel did a few years ago when it launched their formula happily ever after movies. They scattered a few here and there and, eureka, their viewership increased. Now it is the only movies they present.

The past several years Christmas movies have started long before Thanksgiving. Actually, Hallmark presented Christmas movies the entire month of July, they are still the same stories the Hallmark channel carries all year long. We live in a maze of dreams fulfilled where Cinderella always marries Prince Charming. And he is charming and loyal and has a castle and all the gold he can spend, and they live happily ever after in their fantastic castle.

And even more interesting is another advertising adage that says if you study the shows people are watching on television you will discover their basic needs. If that is true, by Hallmark channel statistics, it appears we have many people in our country who want and long for a peaceful and happy world without strife. Now the past few months I’ve noticed other channels are following Hallmark’s lead and adding a few feel-good movies to their lineup of programs. They are testing the waters to see if they can get the same viewership as Hallmark.

Hallmark channel movies always end happy and usually with a kiss; no quarrels, no lost presents, no disasters, no over-sugared children, no exploding water pipes, no ovens that quit heating leaving the ham and turkey raw when it’s for dinner, no disasters. In the movies, everything get fixed or cooked just in the nick of time.

We can go into a Cinderella Coma watching the happily ever after movies. There’s something very calming and comforting about them. The stories are always positive and hopeful and free of the combative people we generally see on television, a safe haven for those weary of violence and arguments and biased viewpoints churned out by the news media.

Maybe that’s why we watch the feel good movies…

Most of you know my mind runs amuck at times and it just ran smack into news, politics and the media. Oh, dear, I promised myself I would not get into that so I’ll just ask one question and you can form your own conclusions. Have you been watching less and less news and flipping on a feel-good program more this past year?

I know I am watching Hallmark movies more than I used to and it is because they never depress me. However, at times I do wonder if they don’t set the bar so far out of reach that life becomes disappointing—because after the movie ends, we come back to the imperfect world.

But, maybe we all just need to escape the world for 90 minutes…

It’s the new take on the Happily Ever After fairy tales of our youth—and wouldn’t we love to live that dream. That’s what we expected as children, that’s what every human being wants, it’s the eternal search for happiness. But somehow, life generally falls short of the movies, and we know something is missing. Hmmm…

We all seek to find something that doesn’t exist in this world.  Everyone has times when dreams come true, but reality dictates it won’t exist forever. So many issues cannot be resolved or changed, sickness happens, and the death of loved ones leaves us alone and in pain.

And I long to change or fix all that…
My nitpicky mind says the only thing I can realistically change is me…
My attitude, my words, and my reactions to events that happen that I don’t like…

I can let the world’s news upset me, or I can focus on the good in my life…
I can make peace within myself and where I am in life, in spite of the problems…
And I can choose joy with my Lord, my family and the people that fill my life…
It’s a choice.

Sigh…but something is still missing…

After all is said and done, isn’t Happily Ever After what the Lord Almighty promises all who believe in His son, Jesus Christ. A place where we will see our loved ones again, where illness and pain and death don’t exist, where conflicts are no more, and where the Lord is King.

In the midst of movies and news and shopping and Black Friday specials and rain and snow and ovens that die and pipes that burst and pain and illness and death, I need to remember that Happily Ever After hasn’t come—yet.

Jesus Christ said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3

So flip to a Christmas Hallmark movie and enjoy the quaint beauty of the little towns, watch the problems dissolve, and see Prince Charming kiss Cinderella, and smile…

Remembering…
We’re not home yet…
Jesus is coming back to take us to our new home.
And the best is yet to come…

 The miracle of Christmas is the real Happily Ever After

Posted in Christmas, Cinderella Syndrome, General, Hallmark channel, Jesus, movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Life is a Collection of Moments…Halloween Fun in 1923

Life is just a collection of moments, 
       Some tell us who we are,
                 Others what might have been…

 

During the past weeks of rainy weather, I looked through some of my mother’s keepsakes, and I found a little book entitled The 1923 Children’s Party Book. It shows games and recipes for the major holidays starting with New Year’s Eve and continues through the year ending with a Christmas party. 1923—a moment in time, and its fun to think about those parties.

The dedication at the beginning of the book is to …
Busy Mothers, whose first thoughts are to surround the health and happiness of their children with every safeguard,
And…
To Better and Happier Homes—where the absorbing problem of getting the most out of life is ever subordinated to the joys and responsibilities of parenthood.

It’s difficult to imagine reading a dedication like that in any book that is published nowadays. It is certainly different from the thinking in today’s world. Times were simple, less hectic, and moms didn’t work outside the home.

1923—well, I don’t know about that year personally, but I do remember life in the 1940s before television brought the world into our homes. Children were not involved in a lot of never-ending extracurricular activities. I walked home after school, had an afternoon snack then sat down and did my homework. We spent time as a family, at least that’s how it was in my home in the 1940s.

I remember sitting down to dinner with my parents every night and we’d talk about our day. Today, we hear a lot about spending quality time with our children—quality time in the 1940s was mother washing dishes and me drying them. In the winter after the kitchen was cleaned and dishes put away, we would play games like Chinese checkers, monopoly, work puzzles, or read a book.

Summertime in Texas was always hot; think about it, there was no air conditioning. It was cooler outside than inside the house so after the evening meal we would sit in the front yard, visit with neighbors, and sometimes mother or daddy would tell me stories.

I remember elementary school, but I don’t remember any after-school activities, however, doing homework and reading books is a very vivid memory. I do remember walking to and from school with friends. My parents had one car that my dad drove to work, but I had many friends whose family did not even own a car so we walked or rode the bus. I remember going to birthday parties of close friends—birthday parties were the highlight of our life! It was definitely simpler times!

 

 

A peep into the past…
it’s October so here’s some  Halloween fun
from The 1923 Children’s Party Book.

 The book suggests making the house look as mysterious as possible with heaps of corn shocks, autumn leaves, and grinning pumpkin lanterns. It suggests sticking a scarecrow in one corner, a ghost in another, and “do not have too much light.” The written invitations were mailed and they asked each guest to come in costume.

Several games are devoted to predicting the player’s fate and who they will marry. The first game listed is Bobbing for Apples, but with a twist—it suggests trying to bite apples suspended on strings with hands clasped behind—especially if a mischievous person helps by swinging the apple! It goes on to say everyone must catch the apple then peel it. Pare in one long piece, if possible, and then toss the skin over the left shoulder. The letter it forms will give a clue as to the player’s fate!

The Grab Bag—into a large bag put a little bag for every girl present. In these little bags are small articles that will determine the occupation of the girls’ future husbands. A bottle of medicine (druggist), a pen (author), a hammer (carpenter), scissors and spool (tailor), and so on.

More Fortune Telling—in a tub of water, launch little half walnut-shell boats, each with the name of a boy or girl written on it. Stand in the center of each boat a tiny lighted candle. If two boats float together, those persons surely will marry. If the lights burn brightly their lives will be happy and unadventurous. Why unadventurous? I looked up the word and it means careful, conservative, cautious, safe, and stay-at-home. Different times!

And for more fun, Invisible Surprises—give each guest an orange envelope which must not be opened until quite late. The paper inside seems blank but when held over a candle,the surprises, which are written in lemon juice, become readable. Something like the following will be found to be lots of fun.
               In the front room two steps to the right…
                   Your lover waits for you tonight.

There are other games such as Guess Who where a person stands behind a sheet with only feet showing at the bottom. Guests must figure out who that person is. A version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey for Halloween becomes The Tom Cat Game. It appears Halloween was predicting the future in 1923—today’s Halloween is more about spiders and goblins and horror houses.

There are recipes for Halloween treats, Calumet Doughnuts, Tarry Apples, Halloween Sunshine Cake and Cookies, Cocoanut Pop-Corn Crisps, and the most unusual one is Lighted Ice Cream.

Lighted Ice Cream
3 cups cream
3 cups milk
2-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla
6 eggs
Mix and freeze until hard.
For serving, shape it with the usual cone-shaped ice cream scoop.
Quickly roll the cones in chopped nut-meats, place each come o a plate, top it with a tiny candle in a birthday cake candleholder, or the candles many be stuck in by means of toothpicks.
Pour around each cone a sauce made by cooking together maple syrup, a few raisins and a bit of stick cinnamon for ten minutes, then chilling the mixture.   Light the candles and serve!

After the games, the little book suggests ending the Halloween Party with dancing. It reminds us that the table must be as spooky as possible, and at ten o’clock the costumes will be judged!

I don’t remember ever going to a Halloween Party when I was young, but we did go Trick or Treating in our neighborhood. No tricks were allowed, only treats! If we had a costume, it was homemade and very simple. We just went to a few houses on our block and most people passed out homemade treats or fruit. My most vivid memory of Halloween was the year my little black and white cocker spaniel was stolen. Sigh…

I’m thankful for those simple times when I grew up, when family and family activities were more important than ball games, dancing classes, and the myriad of things available to the youth of today. It was quality time spent with parents, learning who they were, what they valued, and forming a strong foundation that we would need as we grew into young adults and entered a scary world. And I wonder—what is defining the youth of today?

Some moments are engraved on our soul,
Moments that can never be forgotten…
It’s who we are; it’s what defines us…


I’m hoping you will scroll down to the Leave a Reply and share a memory!

Posted in General, Halloween, Memories | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rain, Rain go away … Come Again Another Day

 

Rain, Rain, go away
Come again another day
All the family wants to play
Rain, rain, go away

I’m guessing you might remember standing at a window when you were young and wanting to go out and play! Well, I’ve stood at the window a lot lately wishing the same thing!

It looks like we are not doing Fall this year in the Dallas area of Texas! We have had more rain the last month and a half than the entire rest of the year, and there are many flooded areas around the city. Normally, October is a lovely month in Texas with moderate temperatures and very little rain.

So what did my family do? Way back in the summer, we planned a picnic in the park for our families to have a get-together for the first time in many years. Of course it is next Sunday October 21. Little did we know we would have a monsoon! Hmmm … we are still planning and, if the weatherman is right, we just might get to have it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love rain and it is a cozy time to read a book or to write my stories. I’ve always considered rain or snow days as adult time-out, but I guess at this point I’ve had more than enough time-outs, and I am ready to get out of the house. Sometimes I think the rain is God’s tears for the mess His world is in.

I promise you a better story next week about a 1923 Children’s Party Book that I found among my mother’s keepsakes. I’ve had children’s nursery rhymes on my mind ever since I found the little book!

So I’ll just end with another poem.

Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

And I bet you know what my wish is!

 

Posted in Dallas, General, rain, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Parakeets, Perils, Pitfalls, and Perversity of a Writer

 

 

 

Writers love words.
The perils and pitfalls of a writer is they love to read the dictionary.
An entire day can slip by when we start searching for the perfect word to describe a situation we see in our mind. I’m convinced it is built-in our DNA. Who else but a potential writer is given a dictionary on her tenth birthday, and it is her favorite gift, and she reads it from A to Z? Quit laughing at me! We are just perverse enough to play with every possible, and impossible, word.

Max Lucado in his book, In the Eye of the Storm, tells a story about a parakeet. It begins when the bird’s owner decided to clean the cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it the cage. Interrupted by a phone call, she turned to talk when she heard “ssopp!” The bird was sucked in. She gasped, dropped the phone, turned off the vacuum and opened the bag.

 There was the bird, alive, but stunned and covered with dust and debris. She bathed him and then realized he was soaked and shivering. She in her compassion picked up the hair dryer and turned the hot air on the shivering bird.

 The parakeet never knew what hit him.

A few days after the event, the person who had shared this story contacted the bird owner and asked how the parakeet was.

 “Well,” the lady replied, “He doesn’t sing much anymore—he just sits and stares.

 “It’s hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . that’s enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.

When I read this story I laughed out loud then cried for the little bird. This is an incredibly visual story, and I related to it on a number of levels. I’m guessing a lot of you relate to it as well.

I’ve been absent from posting my stories for months now, there have been some health issues and the song just hasn’t been there. I have, however, been consumed with the editing of a second book, The Davenport Daughters, the sequel to The Davenport Dilemma. And I have decided I should let my readers in on a little bit of the fun, in other words, the pains and problems of editing.

Editing a novel comes in stages; the first one is after the fun of telling the story is finished. The manuscript then goes to friends who are willing to read a couple of hundred pages and make notes on what doesn’t make sense to them, errors in grammar, punctuation, misspelled words, continuity, characters, etc. These wonderful, diligent people are called Beta Readers; that just means first readers.

Stage Two is when the writer gets the Beta Readers’ notes back — the writer goes through the book, makes the changes on the computer then prints out new pages. By the way, reams and reams of paper along with many, many, many black ink cartridges are used in this process. Office Depot loves me. I am now on their regular delivery route; however, the perversity of a writer is most of the time she forgets to place the order until the ink runs out, and then she has to leave the computer and physically go to the office supply store. Sighing…

Working through the notes, the writer tries to fix whatever problems the readers have found. The grammar, punctuation, and spelling are fairly easy corrections. Sometimes the Beta Reader says I don’t get it or you lost me. And here’s where the trouble begins—this happens because the writer knows what she is saying, she can picture it in her head, but the reader doesn’t have a clue what she is talking about. This is where it gets slow and tedious. The writer attempts to make the story that is in her mind clear to the reader.

The Third Stage comes after the Beta Readers corrections have been made. The writer sits down with the manuscript and reads it aloud from page one to the end of those 200 pages, preferably away from the computer, and making her own editing notes. I hear you asking, Why? Because,—sigh—when you change one thing, it more often than not messes up something else. When a story line is changed then other areas almost always have to be adjusted. And it may be many chapters have to be altered— sighing again. Or it could be you are using the same word over and over and over again and you have to find other words. Or you have already told that story once and you can’t do that again. Or a word has disappeared — this happens during grammar and punctuation corrections. Sighing…

This is where The Davenport Daughters is now. It’s a very long process and most writers at this stage wonder why on earth they are going through this pain and stress. They get up and go to Starbucks or Paneras (my place of choice, the comfy chair up front) to calm down and try to remember why they wrote the dang thing in the first place. Have you ever wondered why you see so many people in those places are drinking multiple cups of coffee and working on laptops?

The Fourth Stage is back to the computer to work through the writer’s personal edits. It’s always dangerous when the writer gets back on the computer. She always, always, always can find a better way to say something—or so she thinks. Actually, it could go on forever and forever and never getting to the complete and total satisfaction of the writer.

But, it has to stop somewhere.

Then the real fun begins. The writer turns her precious manuscript over to the publisher — and, woe is me, it all starts again, sighing. But, that another story for another day!

So, dear friends, this is where my life has been this year. Do you see why I related and laughed and cried at the parakeet story? “It’s hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . that’s enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.

However, I promise you, The Davenport Daughters is on its way! Perseverance is another trait built-in to a writer’s DNA.

The little parakeet will sing again …
As will the writer—on the day the dust and debris is blown away—and she finally holds the finished book in her hand!

Hallelujah!
and
Pour the Champagne!

Posted in Authors, General, Writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Someone to Watch Over Me …

I posted this years ago but dad is on my mind so strongly today …
     and I’m reminded again of the old song,
          “Someone to Watch over Me.”

Dad was the one who made me feel safe, protected, and loved. I thought nothing could ever go wrong as long as he was there. If it did, I had complete faith that he could take care of it. As far as I was concerned, he could take care of anything. In my eyes, he was all-powerful.

Because dad disagreed with many of the man-imposed beliefs of the church he grew up in, he wouldn’t go to a formal church, however, I never heard him criticize it or his parents. As I grew up, I began to see that while he didn’t go to church, he was a believer in Christ. He didn’t talk the talk—he simply lived what he believed.

I watched dad’s attitude and manner with my grandparents. I saw the way he honored them. He never raised his voice or spoke to them without a sir or ma’am—can you tell he grew up in Texas! I don’t remember dad using foul language, yelling, or telling dirty jokes in front of the family. I wasn’t “taught” to be respectful of my parents and grandparents—it was modeled in front of me.

Dad was very strict and his rules were not to be broken. I can still hear his voice going very soft when I did something I shouldn’t, and I knew I was in trouble. I was taught to never ask why or beg him to change his mind. I was actually in my forties before I learned where the “never ask why” came from. Matthew 5:37 says “Simply let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no,’ be ‘no.’ Anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

The value of controlling my tongue was brought home to me very early in my life. You’ll notice that I said the value of controlling my tongue. I’m still working on the control part; it’s been a lifelong challenge. I have clamped my teeth over my tongue many, many times, and wished I had many other times. At dad’s constant prompting to think before you speak, I learned the importance of thinking things out. Most of the time when I did stop and think, I didn’t need to say it or ask about it. Usually just slowing down kept me out of trouble.

I don’t remember dad ever telling me he loved me in words; but there was never a time in my life when I doubted his love. I knew it, just like I knew that morning always follows the night. One of the most important things I realized very early in life was that I was the child and dad was the adult. He was the authority over me and always would be. And I felt safe and protected.

Don’t get the wrong idea, dad wasn’t perfect, he had flaws like everybody else, but he walked the walk. And this laid the groundwork for my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Dad made it easy for me to accept the authority of God the Father.

No matter what our earthly fathers are like, good, bad, or indifferent, we all have a heavenly Father who created us and knew us before we were ever born (Psalm 139), one who knows the number of our days, who wants the best for us, who promises to take care of us, and who through belief in His Son Jesus Christ has made us heirs of His eternal kingdom along with His Son.

Dad went home to God the Father’s eternal kingdom a long time ago, and when I am missing him, I open God’s Word and read His promises …

And I know without a doubt that
Someone is still watching over me …

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DAD

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Left Behind … Have you ever wondered?

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes in the dark of the night I think about what might have been. You know—the kind of night when sleep won’t come and the past fills our minds. I think about my loved ones who have moved on to heaven. I wonder what they are doing and if they remember life here on earth.

I think about the apostles and wonder if they felt left behind when Jesus ascended to heaven. I know Luke 25 tells us that after Jesus blessed them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. However, I wonder if in the middle of the night when they couldn’t sleep if they ever wondered what Jesus was doing and if He remembered his life here on earth.

But then I remember that Jesus was fully alive when He ascended into heaven.

Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote a poem entitled, “Of Death I Do Not Approve and I am Not Resigned.” This poem resonates with me and I find a small comfort in knowing someone else has had the same feelings as I have. I’ve struggled so many times with the emotional earthquake of losing loved ones and I find no comfort in the finality of death. My soul cries out at the injustice and the loss. No, I do not approve and I am not resigned.

The amazing thing is God Almighty did not approve of death either. When Jesus saw Mary weeping and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled and asked where they had laid Lazarus. Come and see, Lord, they replied. And Jesus weptJohn 11:33-35

Jesus wept … With His tears, God tells me that He did not approve of death any more than I did, that He was not resigned, and that He was not willing that any should die. This God, this God who is love, this resurrected living God, this incredible God who created man and woman, was not willing for His loved ones to return to dust.

God had a plan to save His created people, not to harm them but to help them. He did what no one on this earth can do. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who not only paid the price for our sins, but defeated death when He gave up His life on the Cross. He returned to life three days later and conquered death for all of mankind and for all of eternity. Jesus did this out of love for the Father—and for you and me.

Jesus wept…Here is the comfort for my soul. God is not off in the clouds watching, He is here now. Here, God gives me hope for a future. Here, God gives me assurance that the dead will rise, that I will see all my loves’ faces again.

Just like everyone, I struggle daily with this imperfect world. My journey has been a long and uncertain one mingled with both good and bad times. And yes, sometimes in the rawness of grief I falter, but the Lord always reminds me He is with me and this earthly place is not my final destination. I am convinced this world is only temporary and that death has been defeated. There will be a time when the imperfect will be made perfect, when life will be fair, when pain and grief will no longer exist, when sadness will be replaced with joy, and Christ Jesus will reign.

Easter is why we don’t give up.

 Easter is the day Jesus rose from the grave and defeated death. Because of Easter, “The trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed … Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15: 52.54

Easter is the day that gives me hope. Easter is a day of celebration, a day to celebrate life and to remember Almighty God loves us and we will see our loved ones again.

Left behind—temporarily…But I am comforted in the knowledge that God can and will make everything new and right and beautiful and perfect someday. I am comforted in His promise of an eternal future for all who believe in His Son. I am comforted in His promise of a grand reunion with my loved ones.

Oh, what a celebration of life that will be!

May your Easter be filled with peace and joy and hope!

 Jesus Christ lives!

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Nothing is the Same…When Right was Right and Wrong was Wrong

 

 

 

 

Life was so much simpler when I was a child in the 30s, 40s and 50s.

Watching the news the past few years and again this last week, I am deeply saddened by America and the disconnect people have with one another in today’s world and how intensely scary it must be to young people.

I am reminded of those simpler years and how blessed I was to grow up then. We didn’t have fancy homes or much money during the 1930s depression years, but we had each other. The love of family was the most important thing in our world. We ate together, talked together; played games together, worked in the garden together, took walks in the evening together, went to church together, and cried together. It was an unselfish time, a time filled with absolutes and God was the supreme authority. Right and wrong were determined by what God said.

When the school bell sounded we sat down in our classroom and listened to the morning announcements over the PA system. The principal started the school day with a prayer, all heads bowed. Next, we stood with our hands over our hearts and repeated:

I Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

And we understood God was watching.

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) were posted in every class room. When a child misbehaved at my school the teacher directed him to figure out which Commandment he broke, and then they talked about it. If the child was unrepentant he ended up in the principal’s office, and an attitude adjustment was rendered. The parents were always notified and that was scary because we knew our parents would reinforce the principal’s action when we got home. Most parents supported the school.

Absolutes, black and white, right and wrong, children knew exactly where they stood. If you broke the rules you were in trouble.

The boundaries started changing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s removal of prayer from our nation’s schools. On June 25, 1962, thirty-nine million students were forbidden to do what they and their predecessors had been doing since the founding of our nation, publicly calling upon the name of the Lord at the beginning of each school day. The boundaries continued changing in 1980 when the Supreme Court ruled against the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools.

Hindsight is amazing in its ability to clarify. Looking backward, it is easy to see that the value system of America started changing the instant prayer was taken out of schools. The downward spiral accelerated when the Ten Commandments were removed and a hole was forged in the soul of America as we lost our firm foundation. We all have a basic need to know where we stand and what we stand on is solid.

Oh, yes, the children of the 30s, 40s, and 50s rebelled against rules and restrictions. We challenged them just as the children of today do. It was all part of growing up, pushing the limits, testing the waters. But when problems came, we liked the boundaries of home, family, and God although we never admitted it. They surrounded, protected, and made us safe.

I look around at the world today and it appears we have traded family and our Lord for the love of self and “Me, Myself and I,” all wrapped up in uncontrolled anger and pain. Billy Graham once said, “Each generation faces different issues and challenges, but our standard must always be measured by God’s word.”

In this world of changing values, a world where nothing remains the same, where history books are being altered to reflect political correctness, how comforting it is to open the Bible and know that God doesn’t alter His Word to fit this world. His Word is absolute, carved in stone.

We can read His Word and know where we stand and what we stand upon. These boundaries show us a God who loves us, who wants to save and protect us and who sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay for our sins, and who desires for us to love Him back and respect His infinite authority. These boundaries reach deep into our soul and offer us sanctuary in a world that has very little security.

If we listen very carefully, we can hear God’s voice echoing across the centuries as He assures us His Word is unchanging and eternal; His Word stands firm in the heavens, and His faithfulness continues through all generations.

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the Word of God stands forever.” -Isaiah 40:8.

Right is still right and wrong is still wrong!
And God is still watching…

 

Note: Picture at the top: Betty around 1-1/2 years at her great grandmother’s home in Blue Ridge, Texas.
Note:  Parts of this story were first written in 2015.
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Kansas City … and All that Jazz

 

 

 

 

 

This morning I was listening to Blues singer Etta James singing Trust in Me and my years in Kansas City come alive. Moving to Kansas City in the mid-1950s was a real eye-opener for a Texas girl who grew up with ranch style houses, the Grand Ole Opry, Minnie Pearl, and two or three days of snow every few years.

It was definitely not Texas!

Bill and I married the first week of January moved to Kansas City a few days later, it was colder than anything I had ever experienced and the first thing I did was buy a REAL winter coat and fur-lined boots. Then we started looking for a place to live, he was in the military and we were required to live within so many driving minutes of his base. In this part of town the buildings were mostly dark brownstone, very old, very dismal, and covered in black soot from the steel mills. What I really wanted was a place that was painted white and not covered in soot! We went east on Truman Road to Independence and found a tiny white duplex and moved in, emphasis on tiny! Time passed and we moved to a much larger apartment in one of those soot-covered brownstone buildings. Once you got inside it was fine and I loved, really loved, the basement, the floor in our apartment was always warm.

After the initial surprise of everything being so different I loved my years in Kansas City, particularly the music—definitely not the snow and soot! New Orleans is said to be the birthplace of jazz, but it’s also said America’s music grew up in Kansas City. KC jazz is a style of jazz that developed in the 1930s when the transition was made from big band to the musical improvisation style of Bebop. The Kansas City sound was largely instrumental, but it showcased the blues vocal traditions of New Orleans and became known as the Kansas City Blues.

There was a saying among the Army guys where my husband was stationed, “All roads lead to Kansas City Jazz Clubs,” so when Bill had time off we would head for 18th and Vine streets in the heart of downtown KC. This was home to many blues and jazz clubs and all were great. Jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker, Big Joe turner, Ella Fitzgerald, and Orin “Hot Lips” Page are forever linked to this neighborhood.

The Blue Room exists today and is chock-full of jazz artifacts, vintage photographs and memorabilia. The club is part of the American Jazz Museum which celebrates the careers and legacies of Charlie “Bird” Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and other jazz greats.

A few years ago I was blessed to go on a trip with my two daughters and show them around Kansas City and Independence. We went to the Blue Room and had a wonderful (very nostalgic for me) night of Kansas City Blues music. Earlier that evening we enjoyed a delicious KC steak at the Golden Ox Restaurant in the stockyards where Bill and I loved to go. Special memories for me of the 1950s before my daughters were born, and now, special memories of the time when the three of us visited the places their dad and I loved.

Memories, they have a way of sneaking up on you and holding you captive. Today has been one of those days when my mind has been filled with our years in Kansas City, so many life-changing experiences, so many stories. Today, it was the Jazz clubs….

So here’s to my Bill and the life we shared,
I still miss you after 41 years,
A part of me will always be there … holding hands with my love,
In our favorite jazz club,
Sipping a vodka gimlet,
And listening to the soulful music of The Temptations!

Posted in General, Kansas City, Memories, Moving, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments