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Our Joy Boy

As I at on the sofa in the living room my attention was drawn to the inspirational words on the wall: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.” Overcome with emotion, I peered down at the baby in my arms and then, again, to the inscription on my daughter’s wall.

God, please give my daughter and her family the strength and energy to meet the challenge of caring for this child.

I tried to imagine the night this sweet baby boy in my lap was relinquished.

Did his birth parents feel they had no other options? Was he born with brain damage or did the malnutrition cause it? Where did his parents abandon him? Why did he end up in a hospital instead of an orphanage?

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SHEPPARD FAMILY 2016 HIGHLIGHTS

20161113_115920

In early January, our long-dreamed-of family vacation to Hawaii finally became a reality (just 1- 1/2 years before our first grandkids graduate high school and scatter to the four winds). The plan was for all of our grandkids and their parents to go, but…

erin-selah-sarahGod’s plans to surprise the lonard-kids-christmas-pictureLonards with a pregnancy prevented their making this trip. We dearly missed them, but our 13th grandchild, Sarah Elizabeth–our little miracle baby–has already blessed our lives beyond measure.

We also celebrated Greg’s parents’ 65th wedding anniversary in Hawaii. Wow!

garden2Greg built our first garden at our Texas house in March. It’s critter-proof because we don’t want to share our organic produce with the deer!

mom-bd-lunchCelebrating Mom’s 82nd birthday at a luncheon in Kerrville.

 

 

choppedsummer-kidsJune was glorious with all the kids and grandkids coming for a visit. One of our favorite activities when together is doing a “Chopped” (the tv cooking show) session. The kids paired off and came up with some tasty creations, all on their own.

nana-hudson-castgreg-hudson-readingWe had the joy of spending Thanksgiving in Bogotá, Colombia with the Turk family. We supervised home school of the older four kids for a few days while the youngest (Hudson-4 years old) underwent surgery to fix his dislocated hips. His full body cast adds extra challenges. We are all praying he will now be able to walk.

des-mom-dadA huge blessing in our family occurred this year when, following years of prayer, we reconnected with our daughter, Deserea. God is good!

 

As we reflect back on 2016 we feel blessed and thankful for you, our family and friends.

Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased. Luke 2:14

 

Finding Real Peace In A Not So Peaceful World

What a glorious evening with our young mommas! We, the patina moms in our home church, cherish these once a month occasions to fellowship with and love on these precious young women.mentoring-moms-christmas-2016

Last night we sat outside wrapped in blankets while sipping  hot chocolate and  listened to a segment of  “Lake Wobegon Christmas” by Garrison Keillor. We laughed a lot. I suspect most of us identified with at least one of the humorous life scenarios depicted when this family came together for the holidays.

It is easy to laugh, at least for now. But, will we still be laughing as the month progresses and the stress of the season is upon us? So much to do! Decorating, cookie baking, finding that perfect gift, school programs, all while meeting the normal and sometimes unexpected needs (that don’t take a vacation) of our family

Then it’s here, the time we have anticipated for months, when all the family comes together. We have lofty expectations-like the Norman Rockwell portrait norman-rockwell-tablewhere all, dressed in their finest, are peacefully and cheerfully gathered around  a table with the perfect holiday dinner spread.

 Oh, this  will be the best Christmas ever.

Then it happens!

The pie requires a spoon or that obnoxious relative says something that ruffles our feathers and we just can’t resist the urge to respond. Worse yet, our kids are actually acting like kids!

Unfortunately, we live in a world of chaos. But thankfully, we are not bound by the world’s madness.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

We can have confidence that when God’s grace rests on us, we will know a peace that goes beyond understanding. The peace that comes because Christ came into this world and put things in order, beginning with his birth, completed in his sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection.

He brought a real and lasting peace that the cares of this world can’t steal. His act of total selflessness is the reason that we have freedom to experience such calm in our souls, even when everything around us is crumbling.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

As the pressures of the season wear you down, take time to breathe. Grab a cup of  tea, sit and bask in peace, real PEACE from THE ONE who has already overcome.

 

 

 

Reflections of 9/11

As I reflect on the events of 9/11, this song by Paul Simon speaks to my heart:

Sound of Silence
Sound of Silence

We replay the images of that day over and over-they are permanently imprinted in our minds. We remember where we were, as if it had happened yesterday.

Our thirteen grandchildren will only remember from what we tell them. I am thankful they were spared the horrors of that day. But, it is a different story with their parents.

Two of our sons-in-law were working in Washington DC, very close to the Pentagon area. Living more than a thousand miles away and unable to get through to our daughters (due to jammed communication lines), feelings of alarm and distress gripped my heart.

God spared our family heartache on that day, but the faces and cries of those who lost loved ones still haunt my soul. The media showed all and it was heart-wrenching to watch.

So, on this beautiful, clear morning, with a hint of coolness in the air, a day much like that fateful day, I sit quietly and reflect as I watch a video of Paul Simon singing “The Sound of Silence”, commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.

A few lyrics from “The Sound of Silence”:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

 My heart aches for those in the audience at this commemoration. Even though I don’t know them, I weep with them. They have all come to honor their loved ones who lost their lives on that horrific day. They will tell you that not a day goes by that they don’t think about it. But today, they gather, sharing a common bond with many they have never met.

Together they:

Reminisce

Grieve

Pray

Heal

The encouragement of this day will provide hope to keep going.

MAY GOD HEAL AND BLESS OUR COUNTRY!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Trump, Never Hillary

A  guest post from my husband, Greg, summarizing his thought processes on how he will vote in the presidential election. 

Far be it from me to tell you how to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

This year, more than any other in my memory, we face a choice between two major candidates who are so deeply flawed that I have anguished about the vote I will cast in November. Your perception and clarity of vision may have allowed you to reach a conclusion without much angst, but for me it was not easy.

HillaryUltimately, I have come to the conclusion summarized in the subject line of this message: I will not vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton. Whether I will pull the lever for another candidate or write in a name is not yet decided, but I can not–I will not–vote for the candidate of either major party.

Because I am adamantly pro-life, favor limited government, and believe that public officials should be held to the same standards (or higher) than those who report to them (think: security and classification), the reasons I can’t vote for HRC are obvious.

Below, I share with you some of the articles and essays that have informed my decision against supporting Trump.

I hope that you will pardon me for opening this rabbit-hole door that, should you choose to go through it, will lead you on a chase that could consume hours of your time. I believe that the authors of these pieces are particularly insightful, and they helped me to clarify my thinking about this most unusual election.

With those disclaimers issued, therefore, here are links to some of the more thoughtful pieces I have read:

On April 21, 2016, Matt Walsh warned us that, if Trump is the Republican nominee, Hillary will be in the White House. He pleaded with Republicans (especially Trump fans) that they not nominate Trump, and declared that he, along with a large majority of other voters, would not vote for Trump. He demolished the “a vote not cast for Trump is a vote for Hillary” argument by asserting that, because Trump is absolutely not electable, it would be a grave mistake to make him the Republican Party nominee. And if Trump were to become the Republican nominee, then he will lose–and the responsibility for that is on those who made him the nominee, not on those who take the principled stance that they will never vote for Trump.

Well, now that Trump is the nominee, I had to decide whether I could hold my nose and vote for him. The absolute unacceptability (to me) of the leading alternative (HRC) is unthinkable, and that, more than any other reason, is why I considered voting for Trump.

I was briefly swayed by Wayne Grudem’s arguments for why voting for Trump is a morally good choice. He makes a compelling argument that, due to the fact that the next president will be appointing a Supreme Court justice to fill Scalia’s seat (and probably one to three more!), the country cannot afford to entrust that responsibility to HRC. She almost certainly would stack the SCOTUS with liberal justices who would abolish all abortion restrictions, further restrict religious liberty and freedom of speech, and criminalize dissent from the Left’s liberal agenda. Also, her commitment to big-government approaches to the economy, education, and public health would likely exacerbate the issues we are seeing due to Obama’s liberal policies. Grudem concludes that “the most likely result of not voting for Trump is that you will be abandoning thousands of unborn babies who will be put to death under Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court, thousands of Christians who will be excluded from their lifelong occupations, thousands of the poor who will never again be able to find high-paying jobs in an economy crushed by government hostility toward business, thousands of inner-city children who will never be able to get a good education, thousands of the sick and elderly who will never get adequate medical treatment when the government is the nation’s only healthcare provider, thousands of people who will be killed by an unchecked ISIS, and millions of Jews in Israel who will find themselves alone and surrounded by hostile enemies. And you will be contributing to a permanent loss of the American system of government due to a final victory of unaccountable judicial tyranny.” With those considerations taken, Grudem concludes that his conscience and moral judgement compel him to vote for Trump as the candidate most likely to do the most good for the USA.

New York Times columnist Tom Nichols is a stalwart in the never-Trump movement, and decries the notion that conscientiously opposing Trump’s ascent to the White House invalidates his credentials as a conservative Republican. He argues that the Republican party could tough out four years under HRC, but that neither the Republican Party nor the conservative movement could survive even one year under a President Trump. He colorfully characterizes Trump as not just politically incorrect; he’s “an uncontrollable fire hose of offensive lunacy.” To hold his nose and cast his vote for HRC as he has vowed to do, then, is to concede a battle to the Democrats in order for the Republicans to live to fight another day. It seems to me, however, that it would not be necessary for Nichols to trouble his conscience and vote for HRC in order to stop Trump, because, at the rate he’s going, Trump will have no chance of winning, anyway.

In the Witherspoon Institute’s website, Public Discourse, Matthew J. Franck discusses the weight of a single vote and the burden on one’s conscience for casting it, and concludes that he can vote for neither Trump nor HRC. He poses the question, “What is more important, your conscience or the outcome of an election?” Franck argues that he cannot, in good conscience, vote for either of these “ludicrously unacceptable” candidates because that would be “an act of willing that Clinton or Trump be president, carry out her or his stated policy aims, and bring his or her fundamentally bad character to the highest office in the land.” Choosing the lesser of two evils only works when one of the choices is, in fact, not really evil. Franck provides an interesting historical summary of instances in which the electorate faced a “lesser of two evils” choice, but none of them sunk to the level of our 2016 options. He concludes with the exhortation to “vote as if your ballot determines nothing whatsoever—except the shape of your own character. Vote as if the public consequences of your action weigh nothing next to the private consequences. The country will go whither it will go, when all the votes are counted. What should matter the most to you is whither you will go, on and after this November’s election day.” Indeed. After all, because our ballot is secret, we have to live only with ourselves regarding how we cast it.

To this point in this case I’m building for how I will vote, I have made no overt appeals to the Bible. Because I am a Christ-follower, however, I must ask myself, what would He want me to do? In moving toward an answer to this question, I have been aided significantly by the scripture-based arguments made by Samuel Whitefield, of the International House of Prayer. In his powerful essay (also attached as a pdf), Whitefield raises four issues related to Trump and the church. (In this context, when Whitefield refers to the church, he is talking not about any specific denomination but about Bible-believing Christ-followers who trust Christ as their savior. That is the way I will use the word herein.) In summary, those issues are:

 

  • Wrong is wrong, no matter the political party or other social construct. I’ve already touched on the “lesser of two evils” conversation, and how choosing not to vote for one candidate works to the advantage of the other, more evil, candidate. That argument has a certain logic, but it is crushed by the weight of the fact that some things are just wrong. Trump’s (recent) embrace of a pro-life position does not make up for everything else he stands for (misogyny, infidelity, bigotry, profanity, deceit, pride, arrogance, rudeness, and on and on).

 

  • For Christians, the conversation about Trump is much bigger than just the issues because he claims to be one of us. Scripture tells us to assess a tree by its fruit, and Trump’s fruit provides almost no evidence that he is a true follower of Jesus. If the church embraces as its candidate a man whose life and actions are, in almost every way, antithetical to the character and teachings of Jesus, then it loses its prophetic voice in our culture. “Despite his wickedness, many Christians are being rallied to Trump’s cause by the idea that we must do anything to prevent a Clinton presidency. However, … a Clinton presidency is not the biggest thing at stake in this election. The biggest thing at stake in this election is the church’s prophetic voice to the culture. The church’s role in the national discourse is at stake and that is far more important than who the next president is. … If the church breaks her slavish ties to the political system, and recovers her prophetic voice in the culture, that would be far more valuable than avoiding a Clinton presidency.” When a man like Trump claims to be a Christian, for the sake of the gospel we can’t go along with it, and we certainly can’t endorse him as a fellow disciple of Christ–else we have no defense when the culture charges us with hypocrisy.

 

  • We read in the Bible that God uses a wayward nation’s adversaries and leaders to humble its people and bring them to repentance. We should reflect on what “season” our nation is in, and consider the possibility (likelihood?) that God is using our leaders–as well as international influences–to chasten and correct us. If, indeed, God is moving us into a season of decline from “American exceptionalism,” then to rally behind Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan is to choose to defy God’s sovereign plans. “If the Lord is humbling the nation, Trump represents something entirely different – pride, arrogance, and tolerance of sin. Promoting and embracing Trump is a statement of our trust in human strength at the cost of decency and morality.”

 

  • Like Daniel, Christians should be participative and influential in government, but we should not put our hope in it. Every four years, the church seems to succumb to the temptation to seek its security in a political savior, rather than in The Savior. It may be that, this election cycle, we “are faced with two unqualified options because the Lord wants to break our search for a political savior.”  “In the absence of a focus on the beauty of Jesus, the ‘lesser of two evils’ and ‘anyone but Hillary’ arguments have created a context where most of American Christianity is being fearfully motivated to remain essentially subservient to Republican politics. Now is the time for the church to break free of every political machine in order to become a prophetic voice to the nation.” “Both candidates are morally compromised. Both parties are breaking down. If we step outside the political fervor we may just hear God’s voice inviting us to recover the church’s voice in the culture by once again setting our hope on the one true Messiah.”

In summary, despite the hysterical cries to the contrary, this too shall pass. God is on His throne, and we are not responsible to effect change by determining who will live in the White House. God will effect the change He wills, and we must be His voice in our culture. If we are compromised by our adoption of a supportive stance for a candidate who defies God, then how can His voice be heard through us? Might our nation’s obsession with finding a political savior result in less comfort in the lives of Christians? Might there be efforts to restrict our “rights” accorded by the First Amendment? Might we be persecuted for taking scripture-based stands on cultural issues? Might that persecution be imposed even by our government? Yes to all of these. The greater question is whether–like Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah–God’s people will be faithful to Him above all else and preserve our standing to speak prophetically into our culture. May God lead and bless His people, and may we find the words and the courage to point our culture back to Him.

 

On Turning 40

Another daughter turns 40. I appreciate her tender heart. She has agreed to guest post on my blog. So, thank you, Erin, for this timely reminder of what’s really important. 

I’m turning 40 this week and here is what I know:

God is real and He loves us. 

These ‘family values’  hung on our wall when I was growing up. family values ‘God is real and He loves us’ was the first value and I’ve thought about it often these last few years. I have lots of questions about God and His ways. I don’t understand a lot of things about Him. He doesn’t answer prayers in the way I think He should sometimes. He is silent sometimes.

But, sometimes He does answer. Sometimes He isn’t silent. And, sometimes, He gives gifts not even on our radar. And, often, those are the sweetest gifts of all.

Also included in our ‘family values’:

People are more important than things.

How disheartening this world is lately. Gun violence, war violence, domestic violence….it’s just gut-wrenching. I get discouraged. I don’t know what the answer is. More gun laws? Fewer gun laws? More war? Less war? Sit ins? Walk outs? Protests? Silence?

I have no idea.

No answers.

None.

All I know is that people are more important than any of it. And if we valued each and every person and taught our children to do the same then maybe things would be better. I know, I know, it’s not that simple. But, what if it was that simple? What if life meant something? What if every life was valued and what if we showed people they were valued?

A few weeks ago, the kids and I, stopped at a traffic light, observed a homeless man walking up and down the middle of the street with a sign. We watched a boy-maybe 12 or 13?-abandon the bike he was riding and run across the intersection. He dropped several bills into the homeless man’s paper cup.Homeless man and boy3 Then, we watched as the homeless man wiped tears from his eyes. And I wiped tears from mine.
Oh, I hope my children value life like that-not just that they notice, but that they act. I want to meet that boy’s mother.

Maybe I’ll have things more figured out when I’m 50, but this is pretty much all I’m sure about at 40:

God is real and He loves us.

People are more important than things.

And, the way I want to respond is to love God back and love people better. As I enter a new decade, I’m really excited to do a better job of that.

 

 

On Turning 60

Welcome, brother, to the 60s club! I am proud to be your sister, but mostly, I am proud of the amazing man of God you have become.

Congratulations! You now qualify for senior citizen discounts. Not trying to make you feel old! Really!

As I recall memories of our childhood, certain snapshots are still vivid in my mind.

I was 5 1/2 years old when you were born, but clearly remember the excitement that cute, little red-headed baby boy brought to our family. You turned one-year old the month before I began first grade in Natalia.sherry, ken, me as kids

Daddy fenced in a giant play yard (palm leaves spread over the chicken wire roof to provide shade) in the front yard. You rode your little trike and played with toys, as Mom cleaned the house, periodically checking on you. How times have changed! I doubt that in this day and age a toddler would be left unattended outside, even briefly.

One day I came home from school to discover you had caused a little excitement in the neighborhood. Convulsions, brought on by a high fever, had given Mom (along with a few neighbors she summoned for help) quite a scare. Needless to say, you were pretty lethargic the remainder of the day.

I believe apologies are in order for the times your big sisters were less than kind to you. I’m not sure what possessed us to come up with the wicked idea to convince you that the eggs in the henhouse were in jeopardy of not hatching unless you sat on them in the absence of the mother hen. Shame on us! But, it did provide a few chuckles. I sincerely hope you find it in your heart to forgive us!

The year we moved to Devine, you entered 1st grade. Sherry was in 3rd and I began junior high as a 5th grader. With the birth of Brian the previous year, our little house in Natalia was busting at the seams. The new house on Transportation Drive in Devine seemed like a mansion. The acre of land, complete with an old barn, offered ample space for hours of outdoor exploration.

Strangely, I don’t have as many specific memories of you after we moved to Devine. I recently read some old letters I sent Greg during my times home from college where I wrote about taking and picking you up from school and activities.young ken I believe you were just entering high school when I was in my freshman year of college. Greg and I married in-between semesters of our sophomore year. By the time you were in college we already had two kids and Greg had accepted his first employment position in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

A special memory of mine is that of you and Brian walking arm-in-arm ken & brian down the path at his wedding and the picture I have of you, Brian, and me. brian, ken, me

So, now here we are, in our 60s, with much to be thankful for-solid marriages, amazing kids who have given  us beautiful grands.

Richly blessed in so many areas of our lives!

I thank God for you and pray that our relationship continues to grow stronger  in this “Autumn stage” of our lives.

Oh, yes, and don’t forget that the 60s are the new 40s! We still have a lot of life to live!

Happy 60th Birthday, Ken!

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln

A Man’s Man

As I pored over photographs,

a particular one, my dad and I performing our Sunday afternoon ritual of reading the funny papers, caught my attention. Sprawled on the living room floor under the swamp cooler, I (four years old), in a summer dress, and he, clad only in his jeans, together, looking peaceful and relaxed. That was how our relationship developed, and blossomed through my childhood. KarenDadComics [38828]

 

A quiet man by nature, he didn’t talk much, but we did things together. I watched him, and I learned.

 

Sunday mornings, I, along with my sister, walked with  Dad the few blocks to attend Sunday School. Mom usually drove to church after she finished straightening the house. It never occurred to me to question attending Sunday morning and evening church. My dad established this priority early in our lives. He consistently led by example.KarenDadSherryDressedUp [38829]

 

When I was nine years old, his employer sent him to work in the devastated area hit by hurricane Carla. He had never been absent over night, so these two weeks seemed an eternity in the mind of a young girl. What an exciting day when he safely returned, bearing presents for my brother, sister, and me. They weren’t expensive gifts, but I thought the frog slinky he brought me was the coolest toy ever!

 

Following the birth of my youngest brother, as I was about to enter fifth grade, our family of six had outgrown our small two-bedroom home. A house in a neighboring town, a perfect fit for our family, came up for sale. An acre of land, complete with a barn and tool shed, provided ample space for a garden, a clothes line to hang diapers to dry, and plush carpet grass to play on.

 

After sealing the house deal, Daddy wasted no time plowing a portion of the land for a garden. I frequently observed his “go-to” book, pages worn from daily use, laying on the coffee table. The author, Adelle Davis, a pioneer in her time on recommending methods of healing the body naturally with vitamins and minerals, presented methods for growing food organically.

 

Many days, after supper, we made the ten-minute drive to our thirty-two-acre farm across town. Much more comfortable with my driving than my mom, Daddy would take his place in the passenger seat, which signaled that I was doing the driving. I much preferred the rustic outdoors to being indoors. A large pond, teeming with fish and frogs, and our small herd of cows added even more motivation for these weekly farm visits. The wide open space provided the perfect setting for us kids to explore without interruption.
Vivid in my mind’s eye was the night I held a light while Daddy assisted our oldest cow (Beauty) with the birth of her breech calf. Arms, deep inside her, he grabbed the stubborn little guy and turning him, assisted him through the birth canal and safely into his new world. Looking back, I am amazed that observing this birth didn’t seem the least bit gross or strange. We had watched, and even participated in all types of animal activities (cattle branding, administering immunizations, doctoring wounds) since we were very young children. Nothing seemed gross, just a natural part of life. We had also been taught the value of life, even that of a tiny calf.

 

I loved to go places with him. Fond remembrances of a weekly Greek class ranked as one of my favorite Dad and Daughter Activities. I, thirteen years of age, and the youngest member of the class, felt special and valued, believing that my dad thought I was smart enough to attend this class.

 

A few times a year my dad was asked to replace and adjust lights at a ballpark in a neighboring town. His occupation, an electrical lineman for CPS (City Public Service) in San Antonio, more than qualified him for this task. On these weekends he was allowed to take his pole-climbing equipment home from work. I felt proud, but also frightened for him, as he made the dangerous ascent up the tall creosote poles. Once at the top, he appeared as a tiny stick figure hanging in the clouds high up in the sky.

 

Although his occupational work required mostly physical labor, he exercised his mind by reading and seizing every opportunity to acquire knowledge. As a result, there was little he couldn’t figure out how to do. This “life-long learning” gene, most likely passed down from his dad, has continued to show up in various members of our family. I feel blessed to have inherited this love for learning.

 

On work days, rising early before anyone else, Daddy prepared his breakfast; usually eggs scrambled with peppers from our garden, bacon, toast, and coffee. The peppers, spicy hot, triggered beads of sweat that trickled down his forehead. As he ate, he read from the Bible and Reader’s Digest..

 

When it came to singing with his quartet, he easily overcame his natural shyness. When they practiced at our house, I, always an enthusiastic spectator, loved listening to their toe-tapping, acappella renditions of Stamps-Baxter songs, such as “Just a Little Talk with Jesus”.  Leading singing at church proved more challenging for him. He had perfect pitch and a beautiful voice, but his nervousness, evident when standing in front of a large group of people, kept him from volunteering too often.

 

My dad, a handsome man, with black curly hair and dark skin, looked younger than his age. Although, standing only 5’8” tall, he always seemed taller to me. A friend from High School, who used to sometimes come home after school with me, shared she had a crush on him. At the time, I thought this to be so peculiar, but it explained why she would always finagle a way for him to drive her home. Of course, I would always go, too.

 

A hard and conscientious worker, both on the job and at home, he would have never considered hiring anything done. Besides, there was no money in the budget for such extravagances.

 

He was highly respected by fellow employees, relatives, friends, and church people.  Ready and willing to help anyone in need, he did so with humility and selflessness. I never observed even an ounce of pride in his attitude.

 

My grandmother (called Mickey by her grandkids), a positive influence in my dad’s life, consistently modeled Godly character. Her unfailing demonstration of these values in our lives spoke volumes. I don’t remember her ever saying a negative word about anyone. She worked hard (even into her 70s), alongside my grandfather, in a hot and dirty plumbing shop, and never did I hear one complaint uttered from her mouth. I will be forever thankful for her example that contributed to the amazing dad he was.

 

Forced into early retirement, he fought a long and courageous battle with cancer. I remember, as a child, feeling blessed to have a dad who lived such a healthy lifestyle, and thought this most certainly guaranteed him a long and good life. I also felt blessed to have had a dad present all the years I was at home. For reasons we had difficulty understanding, God chose to take him much earlier than any of us were prepared for. I always wondered if the creosote (now known to be a cancer-causing agent) in those poles he climbed may have triggered his cancer. Due to the altered state of his brain following the cancer surgery in 1975, he wasn’t the same man I had known as “my daddy.” He lived twelve more years, seemingly at peace with the changed person he had become.

Rare is a man who possesses the integrity and honesty my dad practiced his entire life. A close friend paid quite a compliment by writing a poem for the memorial service entitled “A Man’s Man”:

You really never really know a man

Nor just how much he’s worth,

Until you’ve seen him tested

In the fires of this earth.

The measure of a man is not

The way he uses tools,

But a man is big or little

By how he suffers fools.

It’s not how hard that he can hit

Nor paint his opponent black,

But rather how hard a punch he can take

And still come bouncing back.

If he can laugh a belly laugh

And shiver when he fears,

Or love with all his openness

And not ashamed of tears.

A man will do what he must do

Sometimes that’s all that he can,

But when he does what he should do

Then he knows that he’s a man.

I know an awful lot of males

Acquaintances without end,

But I know a man who is a man

And count him as my friend.

Kenneth Young-As I saw him, by Ben Clement

 

We chuckle at a young grandson who contends that you are not a man until you have your very own pocket knife. I find myself wishing he could have known my dad. This grandson will someday realize what it really takes to be a man and I have no doubt that he, like his great-grandpa, will understand.

“But when he does what he should do

Then he knows that he’s a man.”

 

I feel sure all who knew my dad would agree he demonstrated the attributes of a Godly man in integrity, work ethic, strength of character, and selflessness.

 

He will be remembered as “A Man’s Man”!

 

Never Again!

The United Nations in Vienna, Austria recently commemorated 70 years since the end of the Holocaust. A friend of ours who attended the ceremony reported that this emotional and stirring observance touched him deeply.

Following is a quote from one of the speakers:

“Today, the world once again marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We remember the six million Jewish and five million Gentile victims of Nazi terror. We also stand with those being oppressed and murdered today. The world needs to remember so that the sins of yesteryear don’t turn into the reality of today. NEVER AGAIN!”

The Holocaust was an atrocity that should never have happened. Having visited Auschwitz, I was sickened to witness the physical remnants, indications of horrific and appalling methods in which humans were tortured. I would also concur that this should never happen again!

Regrettably, it is happening again, and has been for decades. Extermination of helpless babies is our present Holocaust.

Our society fails to acknowledge the barbaric murder of helpless, innocent victims of abortion. How can we simply shrug off the deaths of 42 million babies each year (1.37 million of these in the United States)?

All humans have value simply because they are created by God in His own image.

So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

Babies are precious miracles fashioned by a Creator who cares deeply and individually for them. You created the deepest parts of my being. You put me together inside my mother’s body. How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well. None of my bones was hidden from you when you made me deep inside my mother’s body.That place was as dark as the deepest parts of the earth. When you were putting me together there, your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them.

Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)Baby-with-Tear

We have a strong desire to make a difference and take a bold stand for the babies, but often feel ill-equipped. It is easier to turn our heads the other way. It’s just too painful, too agonizing!

Although, to elicit a heart and mind change in another person is not our responsibility, we can influence others with our words, when well-chosen and seasoned with love, can make a difference. We need to educate ourselves with reliable information from credible sources. Then, at least, we are able to be a voice for the thousands of helpless babies. Lives are at stake! We must take a stand for these innocent victims.

You might ask what you can do. The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview has made available an amazing resource: 21 Days of Prayer for Life. http://www.colsoncenter.org/images/content/colson2011/21-days-of-prayer-for-life-v2.4.pdfy

These heart-rending stories, information, and prayer models may offer just the spark to join the fight for life.

BABIES’ LIVES MATTER!

We need to shout “Never Again!” to the inhumane slaughter of tiny human lives.

Jar Storage

jar picWe often have nine or more grandkids, along with their parents, visiting for one to two weeks at a time. In an attempt to cut down on my cooking time while they are here I hit upon a real timesaver using mason jars.

  • Jars are cheap, seal well, and easy to organize in the pantry.
  • I measure out all the non-perishable ingredients for a recipe (such as cornbread, chocolate cookies, etc.) and put in the jar. Sometimes a recipe necessitates separating ingredients into plastic ziploc bags.
  • On a sticky label that is attached to the jar I write simple directions that include perishable items (milk, eggs, oil, etc.) that need to be added. If using separate bags, I just write steps of recipe on the bags.
  • Kids much prefer helping Nana bake, rather than just pulling out a bag of cookies from the freezer.
  • And, the advance preparation eliminates error in measuring all those dry ingredients (before the troops arrive!) when things are a little less chaotic and one can actually think without all that sweet jabbering going on.

    Numbers One through Twelve (Thirteen born in April!)
    Numbers One through Twelve (Thirteen born in April!)

At the grocery store you can find cases of ten jars or watch for them at garage sales or second hand shops. Jars come in all sizes to meet the needs of storing small (nuts) to large (sugar/flour items.

Ok, let me know YOUR creative jar storage ideas.

 

Must go and get ready for the onslaught of these yahoos!