American Heritage

When I have the opportunity to visit different parts of the USA, I am amazed at the beauty and diversity of the geography.  I have traveled from New York to South Carolina and Texas by car. I’ve also been to Missouri and Colorado. I’ve also seen a few states by air. I must admit I haven’t traveled extensively.

I often think of a song I learned as a member of junior chorus in elementary school, “America, Our Heritage.” Do any of you know it? Like “America the Beautiful” it evokes scenes of the blessings God has given us.

I’m sad because of the great division among Americans today. We know that freedom isn’t free. We have to work for it and to protect it. History shows that blood, sweat, and tears went into the founding of the United States. In times of national disaster, we have pulled together. Our men and women have assisted other countries in defending freedom and helping in times of need.

We’re not perfect, but God has blessed us in so many ways. On this July 4, 2018, may we humble ourselves before God and strive to find equitable solutions to the challenges facing us.

Happy 242nd birthday, USA.

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Big Sister

This picture reminds me of my oldest sister. Fourteen years my senior, she married and started her family while I was still a little girl.

Nancy loved animals and nature, and I suppose it’s fitting that the apple trees were in full and beautiful bloom when she passed away in May, 2013, just before Mothers’ Day.

She treated me well, buying little gifts to cheer me when I lay ill in bed, and buying Toni home perms (some of you might remember them) so I could have beautiful curls in my very straight hair. They lasted a couple of days. I had sleepovers in her home sometimes, where I loved reading her books (Heidi and Arabian Nights come to mind), listen to her records (I loved the Strauss waltzes), and I played with my nephew and two nieces. Many memories.

She enjoyed her cows, horses, and chickens. She cultivated gardens of flowers and vegetables. She coaxed chick-a-dees to eat bird seed from her hand.

I would be negligent not to mention that she played the piano.

Today, June 28, is the anniversary of her birthday. She is missing from our family circle when we get together, but I look forward to seeing her in eternity.

Happy birthday, Nancy.

 

Posted in Family, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Fireflies

Lightning bugs, aka fireflies. On warm summer nights I would join my siblings in the yard to catch lightning bugs. Not an easy task, since the tiny creatures moved around between blinks of light.

I would put my lightning bugs in a jar, with a little grass to keep them happy. Of course, making holes in the jar cover was a necessity so they could breath. I would set my jar next to my bed and fall asleep watching them blink on and off. One of childhood’s delights.

The next morning, no lightning bugs. I was convinced then that they escaped through the holes in the cover. I realize now that my sister probably released the poor things while I slept.

The last time I tried to catch lightning bugs, I couldn’t keep up with them.

The following scene I wrote is reminiscent of my experience.

“Remember when we used to catch fireflies when we were kids? We would see who could catch the most,” Jesse said.

 Katie said, “Do you have any jars, Haleigh?”

She tapped her cheek with her finger. “I think I saw some canning jars in the basement,” she said. “I’ll check. Just a minute.”

 “Need help?” Willie called out to her as she disappeared inside.

 “Nope!” she called back.

 For the next half hour, six young adults chased fireflies.

 “I don’t remember its being so hard,” panted Jesse, after running all over the yard.

 “I think it’s in the way you flick your wrist,” Jeremy suggested.

 “Right,” said Katie.

“I got it!” yelled Haleigh and Willie together, reaching for the same firefly. Both came up empty-handed.

“Who won?” someone asked after another fifteen minutes. They counted.

 “I won. I got twelve,” said Katie. “I guess I haven’t lost my touch.

Lightning bugs are fascinating creatures. By day they look like, well,  insects–six legs, wings, black body, orange head. Only at night do we see their light show.

The blinking light is part of their mating ritual, but it’s still wonderful to see. Did you ever wonder how they made their light and could turn it on and off?

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Our amazing Creator created the firefly’s body to mix exactly the right chemicals in the right proportions at the right time to make light that blinks on and off. The hymn says it well. “This is my Father’s world…His hands the wonders wrought.” (Babcock)

Posted in Nature and Creation | 2 Comments

Change

                                        

(An excerpt from “Escape Code” by Beth Westcott)

Awaking  to the patter of rain against her window, twelve-year-old Summer Bradford groaned and pulled her blanket over her head. She waited for sleep to return. Instead, her eyes popped wide open. She kicked off her blanket with a huff and sat on the side of her bed.

She stretched and yawned as she gazed around her room. Her clothes lay in a messy display, hanging from a large suitcase and a couple of plastic totes. Boxes made twin towers against one wall. Her shoes lay in a heap by the closet door. She didn’t care. She had hoped to wake up and find herself back in sunny California with her friends, her old home, and everything familiar.

Someone knocked at her door.

“What?’

“Hey, Summer. Mom wants to know if you’re up yet. It’s after eight,” said her twin brother, Ryan. “Dad has to leave for the office soon.”

She stood. “Yeah, I’m up.” She sorted through some piles to find her clothes for the day.

“Okay, I’ll tell her.” Ryan’s footsteps faded.

How could Ryan be so cheerful? Rainy, dull, boring all described her life. They didn’t even have an internet hook-up yet, so she couldn’t contact her friends. God didn’t hear her when she had begged Him to let them stay. She had prayed until the day Mom and Dad sold the house in California, and they headed for Freedom, New York, in their packed van, pulling a U-Haul trailer.

Life means change. I can hardly imagine all the changes my mother has seen in her lifetime. She’s 103.

I try to remember what life was like back when we had a black and white television, we played 78 vinyl records on our record player, the speed limit was  50 mph on the highway, postage stamps were two cents, and milk was delivered to our doorstep in glass bottles. We communicated by letter, or maybe telephone, or we stopped in for a visit.

I don’t envy parents bringing up children today. Life has become so much more complex, with instant everything. Truth has become garbled and twisted. Pain and brokenness are common. It’s harder to keep families together.

Change is inevitable. We are born, we grow up, we choose a job or career. We get married, have children, watch them grow up, become grandparents. And around us the world is changing, sometimes for good, but too often for bad.

Leaving one home to move to another is not my favorite change. The sorting, packing, moving, and unpacking can become tiresome. Like Summer, I miss my old home and my old friends.  Our next move is into retirement, coming soon.

When I first began to write for publication, I knew almost nothing about it. I loved to read, and I loved a good story. Through the years, my writing has changed as I have “learned the craft.” There’s always something to learn. Instead of a typewriter and a paper manuscript with an SASE, we now produce a manuscript on a computer and send it in electronically.

As with so much in life, the demands to become a successful, published writer have changed. I’m still learning. And I’m grateful for the writers, publishers, and agents who have helped and encouraged me on my journey.

God alone is unchanging (Malachi 3:6). He is always faithful. For that I am thankful.

 

 

 

Posted in learning and life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our Flag

The Continental Congress passed a resolution on June 14, 1777:

     “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.”

Our flag has a simple and distinctive design. At first the colors did not have special meaning. It is thought that the colors were copied from the Union Jack, Great Britain’s flag. That seems reasonable, since so many of the patriots were born and lived under Britain’s rule.

In my research I learned that the color meanings came from the Great Seal, adopted on June 20, 1782: white, meaning purity and innocence; red, meaning hardiness and valour;  blue, meaning vigilance and justice.

I also learned that the star symbolizes the heavens, the stripe symbolizes the rays of light from the sun. The thirteen stripes represent the thirteen original colonies, and each star represents a state in our country.

Tears come to my eyes when I repeat the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem. God has given me the privilege of living in a great country, a country with a representative government and the rule of law.  A country that is governed by a Constitution that guarantees our freedom and rights. When I pledge to the flag, I’m promising to fulfill my responsibilities as a citizen.

The United States of America is not a perfect nation, just as its citizens are not perfect as individuals. Laws are broken, rights are taken away. Today we are divided in so many ways. Yet we are still one. It is my prayer that we can learn to work together again to promote what is right and just and good.

 

 

 

Posted in Holiday | Leave a comment

Which Way?

One day, traveling in unfamiliar territory,  my husband and I set our GPS device (we call her Mandy), trusting that we would arrive at our intended destination. When each turn led us onto a narrower road, and the surface became dirt, and we could never have met another car without one of us backing up and pulling over, we began to wonder where we were headed. By this time we had no choice but to follow Mandy’s instructions. We finally arrived at the highway that took us to our destination.

We try to walk together every day, for our health and for time together. Sometimes bad weather keeps us indoors, or our schedule for the day doesn’t allow time to walk, but we do our best. We usually follow a certain route for our walk because we know the distance and how long it will take.  Sometimes we choose a different path to walk. We walk to a shop on Main Street, or we walk to and around the park.

Are you familiar with Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”? The last three lines are:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”   

Every day you and I are faced with choices: to eat cereal or eggs for breakfast; to wear dress or casual clothes; to go to college or get a job; to marry or remain single. Some choices have greater impact than others. All the choices we make influence us in some way.

crossroads-3251759_640

“The Road Not Taken” reminds me of the Scripture passage Matthew 7: 13,14. In these verses, Jesus describes two gates and two ways. The wide one, followed by many, leads to destruction, and the narrow one, less traveled, leads to life.

I believe the choice with the greatest impact on any person’s life is the choice to receive or reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. When we say yes to Jesus, we enter the narrow gate to salvation from sin’s punishment and follow God’s way of eternal life and obedience to Him. (Romans 6:23) We are like a branch attached to a vine. Jesus connects to God the Father, the Creator and Sustainer of life.

Each person who chooses to follow Christ has God’s Holy Spirit living within (John 15:5-15; Romans 8:14-16; 1 John 4:13). In Galatians chapter five, Paul tells Christ’s followers to “walk in the Spirit.” We walk in the Spirit when we let ourselves be guided by God’s Holy Spirit. We read and obey God’s Word. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance and teaching, we glorify God.

Two walks, two ways to conduct one’s life. Without Christ, a person follows his or her own “want-to” instead of God’s way. The works of the flesh, the outcome of our natural desires, are listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Following natural desires leads to choices that are destructive and morally barren, i.e. sexual immorality, selfishness, murder, envy, drunkenness, etc. As followers of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit to help overcome evil desire. Instead, the fruit of the Spirit (vv. 22,23) are produced: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Although I have chosen God’s way by receiving Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, I’m not perfect. I’m influenced by sin around me and my natural “want-to’s.” At times I become angry, impatient, unkind, or selfish. God wants me to own up to my sin. When I confess, I’m forgiven and made right with God because I belong to Jesus Christ. (1John 1:9) If I’ve offended another person, I’m responsible to apologize and ask forgiveness.

apple-693971_640

 

I’m still growing and learning. I need the Holy Spirit to help me produce fruit to glorify God and show I belong to Christ.

 

Posted in learning and life, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wait

Do you like to wait? Do you agree that the best things in life are worth waiting for?

Here are some things I’ve waited for:

I waited to start school. I had to be old enough. I waited to graduate. I had to study, learn, take tests, and pass enough subjects to earn enough credits.

I waited to go to college. I had to graduate from high school and take college entrance exams. I waited to graduate, taking the right courses and earning the right number of credits.

I waited to get married, to the right man at the right time.

I waited for my babies to be born. Two were late, one was early.

I waited for my husband to be cured of cancer. By God’s lovingkindness, he was.

I waited for my children to grow up. This wait was sometimes difficult and challenging, often fun and rewarding. (I didn’t wait for the “empty nest,” but it happened anyway.)

I waited for grandchildren, a special reward for grandparents.

We all have to wait for something. We stand in line at Walmart to pay for our purchases. We wait in the waiting room to see our medical professional. We wait to buy a car or a house until we can afford it. We wait for our company to arrive. Some waits are harder than others.

Some waiting is passive. We can’t do anything. We just have to wait. Some waiting is active. We study, plan, prepare, and work toward our goal.

I’m waiting now, even as a senior adult. (sigh) This is an active wait. I’m learning about social media and marketing, and I continue to write and hopefully improve as a writer. I suppose I could say that my wait will be over when Meadowsong is released on November 20. But I’m sure that won’t be the end of waiting, although it will definitely be a milestone.

As a Christian, I believe God always answers prayer. Sometimes His answer is “yes.” What I’m praying for is in line with His will. Sometimes He says “no.” God knows that what I’m asking for is not best for me or the person I’m praying for. Sometimes He makes me wait for what I’ve requested, until I’m better prepared or will appreciate it more.

Waiting is hard, even for an adult, but the best things in life are worth waiting for.

“But those who wait on the Lord/Shall renew their strength;/They shall mount up with wings like eagles,/They shall run and not be weary,/ They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 NJKV

 

Posted in learning and life | 1 Comment