Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's A Boy...Or Maybe A Girl!

We have this beautiful, lush tree in our yard - it must be really old because it's way taller than our house.The blossoms are so full and heavy that the branches are beginning to hang low. But this little guy's parents chose the dark, old, full-of-junk detached garage for their home.
Poor little guy/girl has no brothers or sisters so he's all alone in the dark when his parents fly off for food. I don't think he's happy about that, do you?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twice In One Week!

Yesterday my husband and I drove to a small town in sort-of-southern Arkansas where we own a house that we rent out. Now we lived in that house for 13 years and it was probably one of my two favorite houses that we've ever lived in, and we've lived in more than a few. It's an old house, on The Historical Register whatever that means, and was built before 1930 as were all the houses on a three block span on our street. (No that's not it in the picture but I thought you all might like the picture that I sort of "borrowed" off the Internet) It was rented to the same people for five or six years but they moved out last December. For a variety of reasons we hadn't been down to check on it and it remains empty. It made me almost physically ill to see how it had deteriorated and how dirty they left it. I didn't want to touch anything for fear of contamination! We called a former student of ours who has been mowing the yard for us to see if he was also in the cleaning business...and it turns out he is, thank goodness. To make a long story short we were visiting with this young man when all of a sudden he told us he wanted to thank us for our parts in his life. What? I was his high school counselor and my husband was his high school principal and he went on to tell us he remembered our help in keeping him out of trouble (my husband) and getting his diploma (me). He was a special needs student and one of the sweetest kids I ever met but sometimes made some poor decisions. We just did what we always did for kids, but how incredibly blessed we felt yesterday when he told us he remembered. Since I've been retired for 6 years now I sure don't hear many of those validations.
Lo and behold when I opened up my e-mail this morning I had a message from another former student - out of the blue. He was up early to take the Colorado Bar Exam today and wanted to thank me for my part in helping him get there. He spoke of the value of time and remembered the time I'd spent talking to him and helping him to stay focused on his goals and the time I'd spent traveling to the airport to see him off as he left for The Air Force Academy. I'm amazed that he remembers that but it proves once again that we never know when we're impacting a life.
Ricky Timms, a gifted quilter and musician, talks of two gifts given to him that impacted his life in a profound way. His grandmother remarried late in life and gave him her old sewing machine when she moved. That gift led to a very lucrative and fulfilling career that has taken him to multiple countries to teach classes, inspired several books, and won him numerous awards. But he also comments that one day many, many years ago a sewing machine salesman got up one ordinary morning and went about his normal work day never dreaming that he would that day sell a sewing machine to a woman, who would leave it to her grandson, who would use it to impact people all over the world. That salesman was just doing the task assigned him that day but God used that task to make a difference in someone's life.
I hope that we all remember that as we go about our ordinary tasks today. What we do, no matter how small, can be used (and might be used!) to make someone's life better. We may never know it. We may never even dream it. But God can use it...and us....for a mighty purpose.
And I also hope that today you might remember a teacher/counselor/principal who impacted your life. If there's any way to do so make a phone call or send an e-mail and say thanks. It's a little thing that would make an ordinary day become an extraordinary day for that teacher.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Down In The Country

Yesterday Jerry and I visited a small church down in the country. Last year we had a remarkable young woman serve as an intern at our church during her senior year at seminary. This small church 30 miles from here is her first assignment as a pastor. We loved Heather and couldn't wait to see and hear her in her very own church.

When I say a small church I mean that on any given Sunday they might have 60 or 70 in worship. Yesterday Heather's family was there as well as four of us from her former church so we really swelled the ranks! Jerry and I attend a large church where there might be two or three hundred at each of three services so this was a very different environment for us at this point in our lives. We've lived in small towns many times and been members of small churchs but none quite this small. And oh how I love a small church!

Everyone there knew we were visitors immediately - because everyone there knows everyone else there. They are family in the truest sense of the word. The good, the bad, the ugly....makes no difference in a small church. You are who you are and who you are is good because you are part of the family. Everyone knew who was sick and who had a death in their family and why this person wasn't in church this Sunday and why that person needed a visit and a prayer. And as I sat there listening to this incredible loving service I thought....this is just how it was after Jesus died and the communities of God were meeting in their homes and beside the rivers and in hidden places. They were a family, a community of God.

What kind of church do you go to? Oh I don't mean the denomination because I don't think that matters - I'm pretty sure there won't be denominations in Heaven. I mean is it large or small? Is it a place where everyone is loved and accepted and welcomed and prayed over? Is it your family? If it's not, what can you do to help it change and become a family? Have you thought about that? Do you love small churchs like I do?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Charlie Wasn't There

I went to an exciting celebration at church yesterday. And I saw lots and lots of friends – a whole church full! But Charlie wasn’t there. His wife, Liz, with her beautiful white hair was all dressed up in black slacks and a gorgeous white pleated blouse. His twin daughters, Jamie and Amy, and all their families came too. Charlie’s whole Sunday School class was there and they sat together just like they do on Sunday mornings in their class. His friends from the Red Coat group and his neighbors and even his daughter’s friends came. My goodness there was even a church bus of folks from Memphis that showed up!

We heard the best music – “How Great Thou Art” and “Beulah Land” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Even though these songs were some of Charlie’s favorites, Charlie wasn’t there to hear them.

We got to see pictures of Charlie from the time he was a baby on his mother’s hip to last year’s wedding when he was the grandfather of the bride. Black and white pictures of Charlie standing by a plane when he was serving our country were side by side with pictures of Charlie loving on his daughters and laughing with friends. But Charlie wasn’t there to see them.

Charlie’s daughters stood up in front of the whole church and talked about him – about his faith, about his patriotism, about his love for his family. They told us about him putting his neighbor’s newspapers on the doorstep every morning because he got up before everyone else. They told us about him always keeping bottles of water cold for the garbage men and how on that last day he was in the hospital he reminded them to do that. And how, even when he was struggling to breathe, he was trying to take care of Liz, his love and his heart. His friend, Max, told us about the prayers they had together and the things Charlie was thankful for. But Charlie wasn’t there to hear all that.

I kept looking around thinking any minute I’d see Charlie come walking in but he never did. And when we all walked out to that great tune “When The Saints Come Marching In” that’s when I realized…..that saint, Charlie, had gone marching in. Head up, shoulders back, determined to get there, Charlie marched right up to the feet of Jesus. And I bet he’s sitting there now, telling a joke or two, visiting with family and friends, and doing his best to take care of everyone around him. He might not have been here for our celebration but can’t you just imagine the celebration they had for him up there?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Prayers

Last week I told you I wanted to post once a week requests for prayer and I almost forgot it today, the second week! Maybe I should be asking for prayers for my memory. :)

I have prayed for every one of you who had requests and I know of several others who have as well. Please continue to send me what is on your heart and we will all join together laying those hurts and concerns at the feet of our Father.

Our friend, Charlie, was my first request last week. Charlie passed away about 12:45 this morning. Jerry and I were there till about 11:00 last night and it was quite apparent that it was a matter of hours. His family will appreciate your prayers.

Kim's father, our second request last week, is weathering chemo very well but of course that's going to be a very long battle.

And our daughter, Tammy, will continue to have problems with her back so I continue to ask for prayers for her.

I would like to add my brother and his family to our list. Last Saturday his wife's son and his stepson (he's raised him since he was a child) drowned while at a gathering of friends. He was 44. Please keep that family in your prayers as well.

Please leave us a comment with any request that we might add to this list and also a comment if you are praying for all those readers/commenters on this blog. Blessings to all.....marlene

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Old Man Is Snoring

Remember that verse from your childhood - It's Raining, It's Pouring, The Old Man Is Snoring! Wonder where that came the snoring thunder? It has poured down here today. Lots and lots of rain. I love summer rainy days - how much better can it be than to snuggle in and read a good book or stitch in front of an old movie on a rainy day. Unfortunately for me, I didn't get to snuggle in this morning.
Let me remind you that I'm a "bit" OCD. Just a tiny bit. And if you believe that I have some land....well, you get the drift. I plan my days is an understatement. The day before. In my head and woe to anyone who can't read my mind! Today I was going to get up at my normal time, grab my chai latte and Bible and head for the deck. After that I would bake the bread I had left rising the night before, make the beds, sweep the kitchen, shower and dress, and head for a 9:40 doctor's appointment which might take an hour. Then I'd drop books off at the library, go to Kroger, come back home to finish my housework and cook dinner for a friend who was coming over later. That should leave time to read a few blogs and stitch a little on my wool wallhanging. Except....
At 9:00 last night a friend called my husband to remind him of the Methodist Men's monthly breakfast at 7:00 a.m. And that wives were invited. We're never invited. And I hate surprises. Especially when I have plans. So instead of my calm and methodical day I rose at 6:00, put bread in the oven, dressed and went to church. Where I froze. I mean really, they complain about the utilities but the temperature is set at minus seventeen. What's up with that? Then WE ran to Kroger (it always costs me twice as much when my husband goes with me, does it you?) and then back home where I dropped him and the groceries off. I made my doctor's appointment, barely (and remember that all of this is in a torrential downpour!) where he told me I had something that sounded like Jose Cuervo (Di Qupaorvain Torosynoulis or something remotely similar) which really means I'm getting older and the tendons in my thumbs are not happy about that whole aging thing. He sent me to the people who make braces and I ended up like this:

The doctor said wear them in the day time. The brace people said wear them at night too. Excuse me? There are things you cannot do in braces like this. To put it delicately, or not, the bathroom is one place where you have to take them off. To do the dishes. To take a shower. If there are typos in this post it's not my fault.

And then, to top it all off, he sent me to get a shingles vaccine. Anybody had one? Where they talked to me about getting a flu vaccine. It's just July people! And I had two allergy shots this are not sticking a needle in me again this week.

Despite it all, it's 2:00 and I am snuggled in. Chicken is in the crock pot, bread is baked, dishes are washed. I didn't dust but I can't use this as an excuse because I rarely dust. Dust is a protective coating for furniture...did you know that? The Old Man Is Snoring!

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's Monday - Yea!

Some people hate Mondays but I love them! I just love new beginnings I guess. Mondays are like a brand new book you've never opened, or a blank piece of paper waiting for you to put a pen to. With Mondays you can make the week anything you want it to be. By Wednesday it's too late for that because stuff has already happened that will shape your rest-of-the-week. But Mondays....

You can start Monday with a burst of energy.....wash the sheets, sweep the floors, straighten your house, run your errands. That will set the tone for a week of accomplishments.

Or you can start Monday by pulling the covers over your head and begging for just a few more minutes of sleep. If you do that you'll drag around all day aggravated that you didn't get to doze longer and playing catch-up on all that you need to do.

You can start Monday by baking bread, making cookies, cooking chicken spaghetti and then taking it to someone who's got an illness in the family or who has 6 kids and needs a break. If you do you'll sing under your breath, smile when no one's looking, thank God for your blessings.

Or you can start Monday by balancing your checkbook and getting mad that you can't afford a shopping excursion or a new car. You'll grumble all day asking why me and what's life all about anyway.

Here's my Monday:
1. I got up at 6:30, grabbed my Bible (and my chai tea latte) and went out to the deck to read and think.
2. I pulled the sheets off my bed and stuck them in the washer.
3. I cleaned off my desk and stacked up the bills to be paid, thanking God I could pay them.

What's next for me today? I'm going to sing under my breath, dance through my chores, count my blessings.

What's your Monday going to be like? It's up to you, you know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday Prayers

A fellow blogger (McKMama) has started a new Prayerful Wednesday post. She is encouraging her readers to post prayer requests so that we might each be in prayer for fellow readers. It's so important to "approach the feet of the Father with our heartfelt requests." Because her audience is so vastly different from mine - she is a young mother with small children and I am an "older" woman/grandmother/quilter/stitcher which means we have vastly different audiences - I'd like to copy her idea here on my blog. Of course since I'm technologically challenged I'm not going to have a link or a button or whatever that thing might be that allows you to go to a separate place and talk about one particular thing (see what I mean about being technologically challenged?) I'm just going to devote one post a week to prayer requests.

If you would join with me in conversation with our Father about the prayer requests made here I'd be so pleased. And if you have something dear to your heart that you would like others to join you in prayer about please let it be posted here - we don't need details to know that your heart needs a little comfort. If you have a Caring Bridge link or a Caringpage site that you would like to post feel free to do that. I promise you that I will lift up every single request that you put in the comments and I know that others will join me in that promise.

I have several things on my heart today that I hope you will pray with me about:

1) Our friend, Charlie, who is in the hospital right now.
2) Our friend Kim's father, Terry, who is battling cancer.
3) Our daughter, Tammy, who has had back surgery in the past but is still having terrible pain.

God loves the prayers of His children.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I do things like make my own laundry detergent and fabric softener.....

I can tomatoes and make pepper sauce.......

I cook up figs that were given to me, add strawberry jello.......

and make some beautiful Fig/Strawberry Preserves.......

and then I go to a quilt show and buy all this. Do you think my frugal/money-saving efforts justify purchases like this? Is this legal? moral?

What do you do to save money? And what do you buy because you "saved all that money"?

BTW...I'm beginning to hate blogger. How about you?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

June Goals

I got a good start this month on my embroidered Halloween quilt blocks. I've done four and there are only eight in all. I'm doing these on a dark tea color Kona cotton with black thread. The surrounding blocks will be pieced using oranges, rusts, browns and blacks.

This picture of "Marlene's Herb Garden" is not of the finished quilt because I've entered it into a quilt show here in Hot Springs and forgot to take a picture before I did that. But it is finished and the binding is on!

The binding is also on this Snowball Quilt and, in fact, the grandchildren used it this past weekend to cover with at night - I don't think the snowballs made them feel any cooler though. :)

This table topper, "Friendship", is made of wool and was the most fun to make. I love stitching on wool - that old saying, "it's like sewing through butter" really holds true with this!

And the binding is on the Butterfly Quilt too!

As for the rest of my June goals - well not much progress. I haven't done any studying so that means I didn't read Breaking Free by Beth Moore. However, I did go to Little Rock and buy the workbook that goes with it so I'm ready! Maybe in July. Maybe.

And weight loss - not a happy tale there either. If you remember I had lost 19 pounds since Christmas. The first week I came back from babysitting I gained 3 pounds. :( I chalked it up to not getting as much exercise (no changing diapers, no picking him up and putting down and picking him up, no pushing the stroller, etc.) I asked my son if he wouldn't just quit his job and move down here next door to me but he declined. I can't imagine why! I've lost 2 of those pounds but that means I'm still up 1 pound from last month. Not so good but not so bad.

How did you do on your goals this month?

And does anyone know why Blogger is rearranging everything I put in my post? Grrrrrr!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

It's a Beautiful New Flag!

My cousin Carol and her husband Keith sent us a new flag for the Fourth of July celebration. Isn't it beautiful? I am thanking God today for our country and those who came before us who were wise enough and courageous enough and who had enough foresight to take those difficult steps to our beginning. And I am thanking Him for those in all the between years who fought so valiantly to maintain our freedom.