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

Today’s Our Day…Memories, we all have them

The doorbell rang early the morning of January 7, 1956. Mother came running to my room and woke me up saying, “You need to go to the front door.”

Half asleep, I wrapped a robe around me and stumbled to the door. A woman smiled and said “I’ve been told to tell you Today’s our day.” And then she handed me an armful of yellow roses and a handwritten note.

I was wide awake now. I put the roses down and opened the note,
Today’s our day…
Yellow roses are for remembrance and fidelity
We have to make each day a day to remember…

Sixty-two years ago today I married my love, the young man I met seven years before in ninth grade. This day is engraved on my heart and mind. The armful of yellow roses was the beginning and a single yellow rose showed up many times during our twenty-one years together, a date night dinner, the births of our daughters, a new home, and many times for no reason at all.

One of the last yellow roses showed up in Bill’s hand in Paris, France. He had gone ahead of me on business and I stayed home to go to our daughters’ dance recital. I flew to Paris the day after the recital. The plane landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport and when I looked out the window Bill was standing there with a yellow rose in his hand. “Remember…” he said as he handed the rose to me.

Memories—we all have them, some good and some not, but all are precious. They fill our life and make us who we are. Throughout the years Bill would occasionally ask “What do we remember about today?” My love died young at forty-two years. His last word to me was Remember…

So each January 7, I look through our wedding pictures and I remember…

I remember eating the top layer of our wedding cake in bed the morning after our wedding!
I remember our first little home in Independence, Missouri.
I remember the stories he shared with me about the military.
I remember the births of our daughters.
I remember him hanging diapers out to dry.
I remember the stories he made up for our daughters.
I remember him playing the guitar and singing Moon River and Scarlet Ribbons.
I remember costume parties (and that’s another story for another time!)
I remember his humor and dry wit.
I remember his love of food and coconut pies.
I remember our date nights and fancy dress -up parties.
I remember the picnics in the den and cooking hot dogs in the fireplace.
I remember playing poker with our daughters on the beach and using sea shells for poker chips.
I remember making a gallon of ice cream and taking it to the drive in theater with our daughters.

I am thankful for love and laughter and our time together.
The tears fade, days and years pass, but the joy of memories holds fast.

And I remember the roses …

 

Picture:  In the picture Bill and I have left the church and are on our way to our wedding reception and the wind was blowing hard!

Posted in Anniversary, General, Memories, Wedding | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Every Christmas has a Story … This one is for my daughter


‘Twas the Night before Christmas
When all through the house,
Family was gathered, gifts under the tree,
Dinner was ready, how delicious it smells,
When what to our wandering minds should occur,
But the birth of a child,
She was coming today!

About twenty people were crowded in a tiny four-room house, all gathered to celebrate Christmas. The floor around the tree was stacked high with red and green wrapped packages, many of the gifts were homemade. It was a cold and exciting Christmas Eve, and what a feast the family had brought to the house on Avenue A in Denton, Texas.

Every surface in the little kitchen was filled with the special foods of Christmas, baked ham and roasted chicken, scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, baked corn, vegetables of every kind, Mamma Hays’ homemade rolls, all bringing the wonderful aromas of dinner cooking.

And no one could ever skip the desserts, my Aunt Gladys’ famous divinity cake with lemon filling, Aunt Pricy’s coconut mound pies and fried Apricot pies, my mother’s burnt sugar cake and fried chocolate tarts, and Aunt Johnnie’s pecan pies. And if you were still hungry you could sample the homemade cookies, fudge, pralines, divinity, and date loaf candy. Oh, what blessed memories of family and food and laughter.

Bill and I moved back to Texas in September when he left the military and were excited to celebrate Christmas with family. Bill was enrolled at North Texas University finishing up his degree; he was also working for the Denton Record Chronicle reporting the local farm news, which was quite a learning experience for a city boy. We had left Kansas City and Army G-2 life behind us and were settling in for long-awaited visits with the family we had missed for several years.

So why am I sitting in a rocking chair in a robe, you might ask.

And why are twenty people packed in a little four-room house when my parents had a larger home in Dallas?

Good questions!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and I was in labor, we were having a baby! Plans changed earlier that day, instead of Bill and I going to Dallas for Christmas, everyone loaded up the food and came to Denton. Our baby was coming and on the predicted date! And if you know her, she is never late!

It was quite a day, the family started arriving early afternoon, and at six o’clock everyone watched me slide in the car and leave for the hospital. The doctor arrived in a flurry of activity all dressed up in a suit and sporting a Christmas tie. He examined me then sent me home saying the baby would not be born until Christmas Day, I think he just wanted to go back to his party! So we returned to the house where everyone was waiting.

I sat in the rocking chair (it had arms to help me up), Bill knelt behind the rocker with his arm around me and staring at me like I might explode any minute! As labor became more intense and closer together, presents with my name were dug out from under the tree. I rapidly opened baby gifts in both blues and pinks. Back then there were no sonograms and we didn’t know if a son or daughter was on the way. At eight o’clock Bill took me to the hospital again and this time a caravan of cars followed us. This baby was not waiting until Christmas Day!

I’m not sure Flow Memorial Hospital in Denton will ever be quite the same; my noisy family filled the waiting area near the delivery room and was singing Christmas carols. I could still hear them when at 11:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve my first child, my daughter Kimberly was born!

I really don’t know what happened to that wonderful dinner that filled the kitchen in my home or to all the wrapped presents. I was told that lights burned bright in that house and there was a celebration that lasted until Christmas morning!

I saw a movie earlier this season entitled “Every Christmas Has a Story.” That title caused me to think about the many Christmases of the past, and I realized that every year a new story unfolds for each of us. I remember the excitement and anticipation when I was a child. I remember the celebrations at my grandparents and other family homes. I remember fifty years of celebrating Christmas in my home in Irving, some all-nighters putting toys together, some sad ones when a loved one was gone, some catastrophes such as water pipes bursting under the house, some exhausting, and some perfect and glorious but I don’t think any ever topped the Christmas Eve Kimberly was born. As I age, I cherish each and every one of them— oh yes, every Christmas has a story and every story is special…and I remember.

I was recently asked what I think the spirit of Christmas means, and I answered quickly it was not Hallmark movies even though I do love to watch them. Then I had to stop and think. I thought about what it is not, it’s not the frantic shopping trips or the decorations; it’s not the wonderful meals and presents; it’s certainly not all the hustle and bustle of the season.

For me, Christmas is a celebration of love. It signifies a time of rebirth, a time to pause and cease striving, to put worldly conflicts aside, and just love the ones the Lord has put in my life. But it is not only dear memories of my loved ones, it goes deeper than that. It is a holy time, the original Christmas story happened 2000 years ago when Jesus Christ was born, when our Lord came to earth in human form to save his beloved people.

Through the years I have thought about Mary and the birth of Jesus on Christmas. I remember when I first looked at my tiny baby girl that Christmas Eve; it was the most incredible love I had ever felt. And I knew how Mary looked at her Baby Boy.

Perhaps the spirit of Christmas is the incredible love that God felt for His people and the love that we feel for Him and for our families. I think how blessed I am to have daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I think how blessed I am to have a stepdaughter and stepson. I think how blessed I am to have friends, both old and new, and the many friends where I live today.

‘Twas on the night before Christmas that I learned what love truly is. That same love fills my heart today when I look at this daughter who was born on that unforgettable Christmas Eve—she will always and forever be my baby girl.

So with a heart filled with love and joy

 I wish my first-born daughter Kimberly
A very, very happy birthday!

and

I wish all my family and friends
A very, very merry Christmas!

P.S.  How about sharing a story with me in the comment section below!

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Last of the Fun & Games for 2017 !

LAST of the FUN & GAMES!

Let’s see how much you know about Christmas trivia!

15. The poem commonly known as The Night Before Christmas was originally titled?
a) Santa’s Secret Visit
b) A Visit from Nicholas
c) The Night Before Christmas
d) The Midnight Guest

16.In the 1969 cartoon classic Frosty the Snowman how high could Frosty count?
a) 3
b) 8
c) 5
d) 6

17. In the original Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, how many “drummers drumming” did my true love give to me?
a) Eight
b) Nine
c) Eleven
d) Twelve

18. In the 1983 movie A Christmas Story,what gift does Ralphie want most?
a) A football
b) A Red Rider BB gun
c) Bunny Pajamas
d) A pet dog

19. Joel Poinsett brought the poinsettia, a traditional Christmas flower to America in 1829 from what country?
a) Canada
b) China
c) Mexico
d) Spain

20. Settlers of what nationality used the first Christmas trees in the United States in the early 1800s?
a) French
b) English
c) German
d) Scandinavian

21. The words and music of the famous carol Silent Night wee written and composed by Joseph Mohr on this day in 1818?
a) Christmas Eve
b) Christmas
c) January 1
d) His birthday

22. The first commercial Christmas card was created in 1843 by John Horsley and contained the message?
a) Merry Christmas to your Family
b) Happy Holidays
c) Seasons Greetings
d) Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you!

 

Here’s the answers to questions 8-14:

8.C…In Syria Christmas gifts are distributed by The Wise Men’s Camel.
9.C…The real St. Nicholas lived in Turkey.
10.B…In The Nutcracker ballet, the nutcracker’s main enemy is King of the Mice.
11.D…It’s customary to exchange kisses beneath the Mistletoe.
12.A…One of Michigan’s towns is called Christmas.
13.C…The Christmas song which was originally written for Thanksgiving is Jingle Bells.
14.A…The name of the Grinch’s dog was Max.

How did you do?

 

Here’s the answers to #15-22.

15.B…The poem known as The Night Before Christmas was originally titled A Visit from St. Nicholas.
16.C…Frosty could count to FIVE.
17.B…My true love gave me NINE “drummers drumming.”
18.B…Ralphie most wanted a Red Rider BB Gun.
19.C…The poinsettia came from Mexico.
20.C…The first Christmas tree in the United States was used by German settlers.
21.A…Silent Night was written and composed on Christmas Eve 1818.
22.D…The first commercial Christmas card created said
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You

 

I hope you had a little fun

 and maybe found a game to play with your family at Christmas!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

Posted in Christmas, General | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Time for More Fun & Games

TIME FOR MORE FUN & GAMES!

Let’s see how much you know about Christmas trivia!

8. In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by?
a) The Three Kings
b) Tom O’Bedlam
c) One of the Wise Men’s camels
d) Father Christmas

9. The real St. Nicholas lived?
a) At the North Pole
b) On the island of Malt
c) In Turkey
d) In Holland

10. In Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker,
 The nutcracker’s main enemy is…?
a) A girl called Clara
b) The King of the Mice
c) Almond
d) Dosselmeyer the magician

11. At Christmas it is customary to exchange kisses beneath a sprig of which plant?
a) Ivy
b) Yew
c) Holly
d) Mistletoe

12. Believe it or not, one Michigan town is called …?
a) Christmas
b) Wenceslas
c) Noel
d) Santa Claus

13. Which popular Christmas song was actually first written for Thanksgiving?
a) Away in a Manager
b) Frosty the Snowman
c) Jingle Bells
d) Joy to the World

14. In Dr. Seuss’ book How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the name of the Grinch’s dog was …?
a) Max
b) Cerberus
c) Rudolph
d) Ginger

Here’s the answers to questions 1-7:

  1. CThe carol “Silent Night” was first played on the Guitar.
  2. BElectric Christmas tree lights were first used in 1895.
  3. D…The name of Scrooge’s deceased business partner in Charles Dickens’
    A Christmas Carol was Jacob Marley
    4.C…In North America children put stockings out at Christmas time.
    The Dutch children use stockings.
    5..C…Which name does NOT belong to one of Santa’s reindeer—Klaxon.
    6. B…In Guatemala Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25.
    7.
    C…Good King Wenceslas was king of Bohemia.

How did you do?
For more trivia and the answers to #8-14,
check the new post on Thursday!

 MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Posted in Christmas, General | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Time for Fun & Games!

 TIME FOR FUN & GAMES!

Let’s see how much you know about Christmas trivia!

1. The carol “Silent Night” was first played on what instrument?
a) A harp
b) A pipe organ
c) A Guitar
d) A kazoo

2. Electric Christmas tree lights were first used in?
a) 1944
b) 1895
c) 1976
d) 1492

3. The name of Scrooge’s deceased business partner in Charles Dickens’  A Christmas Carol was …?
a) Bob Crachit
b) Jerry Cornelius
c) Bill Sykes
d) Jacob Marley

4. In North America children put stockings out at Christmas time.  What do the Dutch children use
a) Old hats
b) Beer mugs
c) Shoes
d) Stockings, just like everybody else!

5. Which name does NOT belong to one of Santa’s reindeer?
a) Comet
b) Prancer
c) Klaxon
d) Blitzen

6. In Guatemala, Christmas Day is celebrated on?
a) January 6
b) December 25
c) October 31
d) Never

7. Good King Wenceslas was king of which country?
a) Abyssinia
b) England
c) Bohemia
d) Gondor

How did you do?

For more trivia and the answers to #1-7,

check the new post on Tuesday!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Posted in Christmas, General | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

So who’s Calling the Shots…?

 

 

Do you ever turn on the news or read a newspaper or article and wonder who is calling the shots?

I remember a time when I heard or read the news and I didn’t feel sad or mad or depressed. It was long ago when the world was a gentler place and people respected others. And now I am wondering what happened to that world. Where did the hate come from? Will my grandchildren and their children grow up in a world filled with hate and strife?

The words “who is calling the shots” kept invading my mind until I finally paid attention to what was running through my head. Some of you understand what I’m talking about because I have shared that I don’t plan stories, they find me and demand to get out of my head. They won’t hush and I can’t think of anything else until I let them out. This is one such story …

The other words that invaded the peace of my day are “divide and conquer.” Combine the two and I’m guessing some of you know where this is going. The more I thought about it the more is realized it is not the government, it is not the covert groups that are prevalent in America today, it is not the hate groups or the people who blindly follow them, and it is not the Russians or the Koreans or any other country.

I look around and see no true remembrance of the past, no honest recollection of the hearts of the men who formed America with the desire to create freedom, respect, and integrity for all men. I see history being altered in the name of political correctness, but the reality is the past is cast in stone and it cannot be changed.

And then I remembered King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible saying “All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” And I realized this is nothing new. The battle of good and evil was going on in King Solomon’s time and it is still going on today.

It is not a battle between people today; they are being used and deceived by the greatest enemy of all time. The one who was around in King Solomon’s day, the one who wanted to be like Almighty God, the most beautiful angel God ever made, the angel who fell from heaven and made earth his domain.

So who is calling the shots?

Who is trying to divide and conquer our world? Who wants to take our attention away from the most important thing in this world? It is the same enemy who roamed the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve lived there. It is the enemy who enticed Eve to test God and eat from the forbidden tree. He put a doubt in Eve’s mind and she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit and were sent out of their perfect dwelling place. And he is still putting doubts in our minds. He is Satan, the serpent cursed by God.

Satan, everybody’s enemy, is alive and working overtime to deceive you and me, to divide and conquer our world, and to destroy America.  He is the one calling the shots.

So what can we do in the face of great evil? How do we defeat this invisible enemy? We cannot, but Almighty God had a plan. He sent His Son to live as a man and do what you and I cannot. Jesus defeated Satan when He died on the Cross and He rose from the dead. Jesus has paid the price and invited all those who hear His voice to become His brother or sister. He made the way easy for you and me.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
That whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal live.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
But to save the world through Him.    — John 3:16

This is what American has forgotten. We have left Almighty God out; we have forgotten that Jesus Christ died on that terrible cross for us. We have left Him out of our hearts and our lives. And He is waiting to be asked back in, to be a part of our lives.

The angel who tried to be like God, the great serpent, the ultimate deceiver, Satan himself sees this and has moved in to occupy the space meant for God in people’s hearts. His greatest weapon is still deception which divides and conquers people.

BUT, there is a bright side. There is one more powerful than Satan—the one who will call the final shot is Almighty God and Jesus Christ. There is a plan and we are seeing it happen in the world today.

Jesus said ‘Watch out that no one deceives you…
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines.
These are the beginning of birth pains.
You must be on your guard.   — Mark 13:5, 8-9

So who is calling the shots?  Almighty God and He is raising His voice.

He is calling us to know and believe in His Son Jesus Christ who came and lived on earth and died for us. Jesus promised us His peace, not as the world knows peace, but the blessed peace of knowing we are assured of eternal life and a forever home in Heaven with God where there will be no hate or strife or bigotry or pain or death, and where joy will reign forever.

But that’s in the future, I thought, and I’m not young, I can’t rally or protest or run for office. There is nothing I can do about the condition of the world today.

And then I thought again…Jesus prayed and I can pray.
So I’m asking you …

Pray for America to return to Almighty God.

Almighty God is waiting to hear from each of us …
He is the one calling the shots!

 

Picture credit:  A Cloudy Day in Irving, TX by BKG

Posted in America, General, God, Jesus Christ | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

At My Mother’s Table …

 

 

 

Have you ever wished you could go back to childhood and eat another meal at your mother’s table? I would so love to do that one more time.

There was certainly nothing fancy about the little house where I grew up in Dallas, Texas, but thinking about it brings back golden memories of my youth and lots of wonderful meals. Unlike the houses of today there was no den or family room so much of our time was spent around the table in the kitchen, this was the heart of our home.

I remember the milkman tapping on the back door, calling out a cheery Good morning, milkman, and coming right on in. Doors were always left unlocked whether anyone was home or not, just imagine what would happen if we did that today. He would check the icebox, yes, that’s what mother called it even after she got an electric refrigerator. The milkman would see what we needed, milk, butter, or eggs, and put the new items in. The milk was pasteurized, but not homogenized and the cream rose to the top. Mother used to pour the cream off for me to drink; she believed children needed to have real cream. And to this day, I’m not very fond of milk, but, oh, how I love real cream!

I remember coming in from grade school and running straight to the kitchen to see what as cooking and to sneak a bite or two. One of my favorite snacks was when mother had pinto beans cooking on the stove and she would give me a small bowl of them, the wonderful taste lingers in my mouth even now. There was no recipe, she just cooked and seasoned to taste.

I remember World War II and the difficulties of war rationing. Mother loved to cook cakes, pies and cookies and the biggest hardship for her was the lack of sugar.

But mother and her friends would get together and trade food stamps they didn’t want for ones they did want. She also learned how to substitute honey and molasses and mother kept those wonderful smells and tastes in our home.

Mother was the COOK in our home, I was never allowed to cook very much; food was too expensive to be wasted. There were a few things I could do such as stir the yellow coloring into the margarine. When margarine first made its appearance it was white and you had to mix in yellow food coloring if you wanted it to look like butter.

Mother had a huge collection of recipes, some from her mother and grandmother along with lots from family and friends. She treasured each and every one and wrote little notes on the recipe cards telling the year she got it and who it was from. She would also make notes on the card about who she cooked it for, such as Made this for Christmas 1971. And tucked in among the recipes were other little treasures, notes, jokes, poems, and a 1923 Children’s Party Book. There are even recipes for catsup, condensed milk, mincemeat, fudgsicles, pimentos, and how to make lye soap!

One of the jokes I found was:

Mother:  Tommy, I wish you’d be a good boy.
Tommy:  I’ll be a good boy for a nickel.
Mother: Why the idea! When you father was a boy he was good for nothing.

When I started trying to divide up mother’s recipes between my daughters and me, I found I could not give any of them up and a cookbook, At My Mother’s Table, was birthed. It was a labor of love and done on the very first Mac computer. Needless to say, there were lots of things I could not do on it such as page numbers! It would be so much easier today!

September 5 is mother’s birthday and I want to say Happy Birthday by sharing one of her recipes, my dad’s favorite cake. Nothing pleased my dad more than good food and good company and nothing pleased mother more than cooking!

SHERRY POUND CAKE
Bernice Hayes 1940

2 stocks oleo (I would use butter now)
1-3/4 cups sugar
5 eggs
2 cups flour
1 small bottle sherry flavor

Mix sugar and oleo and cream good.
Add eggs one at a time and beat good.
Add flour then sherry.
Bake in greased and floured tube pan at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOTHER!

We all miss you and would love to sit at your table one more time!

 

Picture of mother and dad at their 40th Wedding Anniversary Party 1982
Picture of US of America War Ration Book May 5, 1942

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Glimpses of Love and Eternity …

 

Every so often in this life I have a glimpse of that special thing we call love

Every so often in this life I am blessed with a glimpse of what I call eternity

This happened to me a few days ago. I was at a gathering of friends and we were listening to a singer. Someone said he sounded like a combination of Dean Martin and Nat King Cole. He had that low mellow voice that wrapped you up in the songs, and I’m guessing evoked memories in everyone, I know he made me remember.

Music has a magic way of awakening feelings, of transporting us to other times and places. It has always been a huge part of my life in one way or another. In high school, it was the big bands and canteen dances. It was fun and laughter and celebrations of the end of World War II. Hearing big bands to this day brings back those feelings of happy times, the war was over and life in America was good. It was people loving people, white picket fences, home cooked meals, and apple pie —golden times.

Marriage to my high school sweetheart brought another type of music. It was the years of Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louie Armstrong, and Nat King Cole. It was Too Young, Because, Moon River, Shadow of Your Smile, Lara’s Theme, As Time Goes By, and many others.

My husband and I used to share a glass of our favorite red wine while he strummed the guitar and softly sang those songs to me, many times sitting before the glow of the fireplace on cold winter evenings—truly golden days.

And then there were the special times when Bill would sing Scarlet Ribbons and Sunrise Sunset to our daughters. I loved watching their faces while their daddy was singing to them. It was the look of love shining from their eyes, my heart swells with joy when I remember—oh so wonderful golden memories.

So today when I hear those songs I am magically transported to another time and place, to winter evenings in front of the fireplace with Bill softly playing the guitar and singing, to picnics in the den floor, and our daughters roasting marshmallows in the fireplace and laughing with their dad, and my tears threaten to fall, even after forty long years—memories of love.

My mind was far away from this present year of 2017 as I sat listening to the singer several days ago. I was sipping a little red wine when I was brought back to reality by the touch of a friend. He saw and knelt down beside me and softly spoke a few words to me, he saw the tears that threatened but had not fallen. I want to say thank you to a very perceptive friend, your gift of compassion and caring touched my heart—glimpses of love.

I think maybe our Lord gives us encouragement through other people. I believe He spoke through my friend to tell me He knows my heart and He cares, even after forty years. And I wonder how often I miss that still small voice that speaks to us of hope and love. It isn’t always as visible and audible as my friend kneeling beside me—glimpses of eternity.

And I wonder, am I so consumed with my own pain that I fail to see the pain of others.
My friend saw and he spoke a few words that lifted my heart.

And I pray, open my eyes, Lord,
that I may see with love the heart tears of my friends.

Posted in General, MacArthur Hills, Memories | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bears or Mine Fields, There’s Always Light at the End of the Tunnel

 

 

 

This past Easter I wrote a story about Light at the End of the Tunnel and remembered some of the tunnels I have been through in past years. I was far from thinking I might be encountering another tunnel in the near future.

Getting older doesn’t matter, that’s only a number. The real thing about aging is dealing with the many losses we suffer, the heart-ache of losing the one you love, and twice for some of us, along with the physical things that happen to this earthly body we inhabit—all these are truly mine-filled testing grounds. Definitely not for the weak—it’s been said many times, you have to be very strong to get old!

The past couple of weeks another tunnel reared its ugly head and the light at the end dimmed a little. It started with a knee that decided it did not want even an ounce of weight put on it. The knee is totally gone, bone on bone, saith the doctor, the only thing left to do is surgery, all else has been tried. So knee surgery was set for July 24 along with the many appointments you have to go to be poked and prodded and checked.

Then a scare at the urologist with some tests, ultrasound and another one that’s difficult to pronounce much less spell, and accompanied by two biopsies. Adding a bit more darkness to the tunnel was the eye doctor who found a spot on my retina she said could be cancer. She called me at home and said if I was having surgery this had to be checked out first and referred me to retina specialist. He put me through a 3-hour examination with the brightest lights you can imagine.

My world filled with mines ready to blow and I felt like I had stepped on some of them. Couple all the tests with my inability to walk without a walker and finally I had to have a wheelchair to get to the retina doctor. Have I mentioned the knee kept right on hurting regardless of what else was happening? Any one of these would have been enough but all together…let’s just say it was rather overwhelming!

In the midst of this and for the second time in my life, the Lord put the following verse in front of me in the middle of the night.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God,
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. –Isaiah 41:10. 

So I hung on…I admit my grip was a little shaky.

The knee surgery date was changed and rescheduled for July 31. Okay, I decided. I can deal with that, a rest from the turmoil is good. I need to recover from all the anxiety.

Then some answers started arriving, the biopsies came back negative; no cancer! Hallelujah!

The spot on retina is a freckle, only 1 in 3,000 every turns cancerous. Did you get that, a freckle on the back side of my retina—you tell me whether or not our Lord has a sense of humor!

Yea, this is better. I’m hanging on a little tighter while struggling to get around in my home!

I’ll give you three guesses to deduce what happened next—the first two don’t count. The surgery date was changed again and rescheduled for August 14. Now I have asked lots of friends for prayer and I have to give them still another date, hmmm, they are going to get tired of hearing from me! Plus my incredible daughters and granddaughters are now making the third written chart to show which one of them would be staying with me for the ten days following surgery!

That brings us up to today and I am asking, what is happening here? For the last couple of days, my knee has been gradually getting better. I don’t need the wheelchair but I’m still depending on the walker, I don’t quite trust the knee yet. However, I can walk around my house with only my cane which I have been doing for several years. The pain has lessened a whole lot and I can put weight on that leg, and I’m ignoring the loud pop and crackle noises that took the place of pain!

So I’m watching and waiting. Today, I listened online to a sermon by my pastor, Dr. Andy McQuitty of Irving Bible Church, about hope. The text was from John 5—about Jesus healing the man waiting by the pool of Bethesda. Pastor talked about practicing joy in the face of trouble and trusting in the Lord; that we matter to the Lord, and He values each of us greatly even though we may be broken and wounded.

So, my friends, I’m waiting to see if the knee continues to improve. If there is no pain, why have surgery? Surgery is still scheduled, but earthly schedules can be changed.

What I do know for certain is that the Lord is here to heal me either with surgery or without it. Of course, I prefer without! Either way, He will carry me and uphold me. And in the meantime He is asking me to be joyful, so I reach up with my right hand and hold tight.

Whether there are bears or mine fields to go through and get past, the light at the end of the tunnel burns bright. No matter which way this goes, practicing joy is a declaration that darkness cannot win!

 And I am all right, I’m in His Hands!

 

 

NOTE: Sermon at irvingbible.org, go to messages and click on July 23 or latest sermon. It may be a couple of days before posted—it is so worth watching!

Picture credit: Taken by me on a driving trip in Alaska in the 1990s, and we didn’t get out of the car.

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