Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bloom Where You Are Planted

      Today I decided to sweep all of the pecans and leaves off of my back patio.  As I did, I noticed this beautiful petunia, blooming like it thought it was spring!  I planted it last May beneath a big potted fern, hoping to fill the pot with color. The little petunias did not do very well, dwarfed by the larger plant.  Arkansas has already seen its share of cold weather, freezing most everything else in the yard.  Perhaps, this little petunia survived strengthened by its determination to live.  And now, after almost everything else in the yard has withered and died, this beautiful petunia declares its glory.
After my father died, my mother and I were visiting my father’s mother, Grandmother Smith.  She had this little sign stuck up over her stove, “Bloom where you are planted.”  I remember my mother looking at that sign and saying, “That’s what I have to do now.”  So, she sold their beloved house on the bayou, packed up her belongings and moved to Arkansas.  For 26 years, she “bloomed”, joining a new church and making new friends.
            God protects us long enough, teaching, strengthening and empowering until it’s time to step out on our own.  Like the little petunia on my patio, we can surely  bloom when He steps away and sends us out to do His work in the world, knowing without a doubt that He is only a step away.  Even something as small and insignificant as a little Christmas petunia can give me “God bumps.”  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Memory Tree

        The Christmas before my daddy died (32 years ago), he and my mother helped me craft this beautiful Christmas memory tree.  This tree is special in many ways.  For one thing, it is covered with jewelry and memorabilia that go all the way back to my childhood (my brownie pin), through college (owls from my sorority), and to trips that I have taken as an adult.  It is also special because my father had a part in making it for me.  This was something he rarely had the time to do.

      My daddy worked six days a week, from 9 to 9, as the manager of a small department store.  Christmas was always a family affair.  My mother was the cashier, my brother clerked, and I wrapped presents.  It was exhausting, but at least we were together as a family.  So, there was not a lot of time for crafts and Christmas decorating at home.  But, this special year, my mother and daddy had fun helping me create this tree.
     To make the tree, all you need is:
  • A picture frame (I spray painted it gold)
  • A piece of plywood the same size as the picture frame.
  • Velvet to cover the plywood
  • A string of lights
  • Pearls to outline the tree
  • Jewelry, pins, memorabilia to glue on the tree
Draw a tree on the plywood and drill holes where you want the lights to stick out. Cover the plywood with the velvet cloth. Feel where the holes are and cut through the velvet.   Drape the pearls in the shape of your tree.  String the lights through the holes.

The fun part:  Hot glue your "ornaments" on the tree.  I added new ornaments this year from some old jewelry that I had found.

        My parents are both gone now, so every year, I look forward to hanging this memory tree and taking the time to "remember".  It is fun to show my grandchildren the ornaments and explain what they meant to me and where they came from.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday- Mary's Song

One day as I was praying
An angel came to me
And told me not to be afraid.
He said he had a message sent from God’s own hand,
A message for all people in God’s land.

I felt an overwhelming peace inside my soul,
As God showed me my special role,
By fulfilling the promise made to Abraham,
In sending God’s sacrificial lamb.

I am only a child myself,
Betrothed to a man I love,
But God has chosen me to carry His own son.
His perfect plan has begun.

The days passed very quickly then;
My life was never the same.
My soul magnified the Lord,
And I waited until my time came.

The child lies here beside me now
In this small and dusty place,
And I feel the presence of the Most High God
As He smiles at his own Son’s face.

I was chosen to give birth to God’s own son.
I will be the mother of his child.
What happens now, I don’t know
But God’s special plan has begun…………….

          God’s special plan has begun.

CH Copyright 1988

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mrs. Ruby

         Punching in the numbers, I slip through the front door of the nursing home, giving a quick smile to the young man in a wheel chair stationed by the door.  He’s always there when I come in, moved there, perhaps, where he can see the comings and goings of the visitors.  He doesn’t smile, but just stares straight ahead.    Walking past him, I ease down the hall past the woman wheeling herself one foot at a time in her wheelchair.  Intent on her journey, she ignores me. I knock quietly as I open the first door on the right. Peeking in, I see that Ms. Ruby is sleeping.  Her roommate smiles and says, “Now, you go right ahead and wake her, honey, she won’t want to miss your visit.”  Hesitantly, I call her name, “Mrs. Ruby…..Mrs. Ruby, it’s me, Cindy.”
            Mrs. Ruby stirred and turned toward me, groggy and incoherent for a moment until recognition set in, and then she gave me a huge smile.  Every time I see her, she blesses me with that beautiful smile; smiling with her entire face. . . her nose wrinkling, and her bright eyes sparkling  with fun, intelligence, and pure love.  Reaching down to hug her, she literally trembled with joy and tried to sit up, her thin shoulders shaking.  As I eased her back down on her bed, she began talking to me. I could make out maybe one or two of her words, because after several mini-strokes, Mrs. Ruby’s speech is very difficult to understand.  But, that doesn’t stop her!  I tell her about my children and my grandchildren, and she tells me about her daughter and her beloved grandson, Stan.  Listening intently, I get the gist of what she is trying to tell me.  Love is our language.  We understand each other perfectly.
Mrs. Ruby is teaching me about grace and courage…….and dignity.  She has fallen so many times, breaking bones and going through surgery without one complaint.  She faces one more surgery next week because of a recent fall.  But, she serenely embraces each day knowing that her Lord and Savior is always taking care of her.  Every time I am with her, I feel the presence of the Lord; yes, even God-bumps in her tiny nursing home room.
Over the years, Mrs. Ruby has prayed for so many people, sending out church bulletins to those who were absent, and just being a quiet presence in the church.  She tells me about people that she is still praying for from her nursing home bed.  God will continue to use Mrs. Ruby until the day He takes her home to be with Him. 
We pray together before I leave, her beautiful eyes glistening with tears of love for her Lord….and for me.  Reluctantly, she lets go of my hand.  It’s always so difficult to leave her.  I tell her roommate goodbye and ask her to take care of Mrs. Ruby.  Her roommate smiles fondly at her.  “Honey, I can’t hear and she can’t talk, but Lord, we get along just great!” 
I am always so humbled when I punch those numbers back in and walk out the front door of that nursing home.  Taking in the beautiful sunset as I drive home, I pray that someday I might have the courage and dignity that Mrs. Ruby is teaching me.  In Proverbs 31:25, it says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.”  That’s Mrs. Ruby.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mary's Story

“Mary, come quickly!”  I heard my mother calling me.  Sensing her excitement, I put down the piece of cloth that I was sewing and hurried toward the sound of her voice. Entering the other room of our house, I saw my mother standing beside my father.  Both of them were beaming with pleasure.
“Mother, Father, what is it?” I asked smiling at them both.
“Your father has wonderful news, Mary!” she exclaimed.
My mother’s sweet, beautiful face looked with love at my father.  He smiled at her then took my hand.  “Mary, I have found you a husband,” he said proudly.  “I have talked to the matchmaker, and we both feel that this man will be perfect for you!”
I admit that I was stunned.  Of course, I was of the age to get married, but I had not really let myself consider the possibility of leaving my mother and my father.
“Who is he, Father?”  I asked curiously.
“Joseph, the carpenter,” he replied.
My mother added, “He is a very kind man, my child.  He will be very good to you.”
I nodded obediently as I thought about the man who was to be my husband.  He seemed so old!  My mother had begun to teach me the ways of a man and wife.  I blushed as I thought about it.  I quickly put that thought out of my mind, as I knew that I had at least a year of betrothal before this was expected of me.
“When will the ceremony be, Father?”
“I have talked to Joseph, and he hopes it will take place within the month,” my father explained.
There was so much to do to prepare for the ceremony, but we were betrothed in front of our family and friends three weeks later.  We would now have a year to get to know each other
I found that Joseph was truly a kind and patient man.  He was not a large man, but he was strong as an ox.  I could not help but watch him as he carried wood into his workshop, his muscles taut from the exertion.
We laughed a lot together, too.  He had an exceptional sense of humor and kept me entertained as he worked by telling me stories.  One story he loved to tell was about a rich lady from the village who hired him to build some new furniture.  She had gone to Jerusalem and brought back the latest designs.  As he worked, however, she kept changing her mind until the end product looked exactly like the furniture she had in the first place.  He would laugh his huge laugh; enjoying the story more each time he told it.
Joseph also loved God.  One day, we were walking together in a field outside of the village.  We stopped underneath an ancient, gnarled olive tree.
“Mary, look at this tree, how gnarled and ugly it is,” he said.
I walked up to the tree and ran my fingers down its rough bark.
Joseph continued, “But, how blessed I am that God has given me the gift to turn this wood into something of beauty.  Tomorrow I will return and cut it down and haul it back to the shop.  I plan to craft this tree into a beautiful table for our new home.”
Gradually I began to love this sweet, funny man.  I looked forward to the time we would become man and wife.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:25, 26

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Picture

     Since all of our family is together for Thanksgiving, this is a great time to have a photo op..........gathering all the grandchildren for our yearly Christmas card. Of course, when seven little kids come's a scream (literally).  
From this: Screaming....I made the mistake of telling them to say "turnips"....go figure.

To not paying attention:  

To a little Photoshop and sweet face magic!

Of course, we are Razorback fans...........the background picture is the senior walk in Fayetteville with their great grandmother's name etched in the walk.  It truly takes about 50 snaps to get one good picture!

Here is the first year's picture...first five blessings.
Then this one at the farm.......

And last year's:

     It's hard to describe the joy that I get looking at these little precious faces.  As difficult as parenting is, it's all worth it when your children grow up and give you grandchildren!  We are truly blessed by God.  I pray daily that these gifts will grow up to be men and women of God.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Focus on God--Scripture # 22

     In photography, the camera can focus on the subject in front while blurring the objects behind.  This is called bokeh.  The beautiful blurred colors accent the object of focus.  Seeking God is a lot like that--focusing on the Father blurs the distractions of the world.  This takes time and a lot of prayer.  There are so many things in life that distract and pull us away from God.  Only prayer allows us to take our eyes off of the background and look into the eyes of God.  As we truly see God, the beauty of his world (God's bokeh) begins to swirl around us.  That's a good thing.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Do Not Be Anxious--Scripture # 21

       How old are these trees?  It is amazing to me that they survive standing in water like that.  But, the result is a wood that is strong and yes, water resistant....go figure.  God reminds me that when I'm knee deep in water, He is there for my protection.  The process strengthens and allows me to grow as a Christian.  Anxiety tries to creep in and steal my joy.  As God has built in a protection for these Cypress trees, can he not even more give me the same protection? Paul tells me to not be anxious, but to present my requests and fears to God..........with thanksgiving because He has already answered them.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Never Ever-Scripture # 20

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Genesis 8:22
      We read a lot about global warming, dire warnings that man is destroying the earth; but God promised Noah that the world as we know it will never cease.  I happen to believe that just as I do "good works" for God because I love him, I also take care of the earth for the same reason.  It is simply an outpouring of my thankfulness to God.  It has nothing to do with a political agenda or a "tree-hugging" mentality.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Grandmother Smith

Who in the world is I.E. Smith?  For all my childhood, I saw that on her mail.  As a child, I never even thought to ask.  She was just “Grandmother Smith” to me.  Of course, that was back before the days when grandchildren called their grandparents, Cisa and Stoney.  Yeah, that’s our name—who knew?
            Grandmother Smith (to distinguish her from my other grandmother, Grandmother Stansberry), was just short of five feet, petite, but definitely feisty.  She instilled within me that a girl could do just about anything that she set her mind to do.
            Born in 1890, Ila Elwynna Patton was the daughter of a third generation American citizen, Timothy Patton, coming to Indian Territory in the early 1900’s to settle and make a new life for his family.  Grandmother told me that she remembered camping along a creek, listening fearfully as the Indians danced and sang in the distance. 
            My grandmother grew up to be a strong and independent young woman.  She married and had five children. One day she decided that she wanted to open up a couple of rooms in her house. She found some kind of big sledge hammer and knocked out a wall.  Her young husband came home that evening and just shook his head.
            My grandfather was a barber and sold Maytag appliances, going out to the farmers in the county, washing their clothes and giving them a shave and a haircut in order to make the sale.  He died of pneumonia at 48, leaving my grandmother with teenagers, a new house in the middle of construction, and the Maytag business.  She took on all of that, finished her house and proceeded to sell Maytags even when people told her that she just needed to stay home and take care of her family.
            During WWII, Grandmother Smith opened the Cinderella Shop, a woman’s “dress” shop that, of course, sold dresses since women could not even imagine wearing pants.  She loved going to market in Dallas with her different clients in mind, calling them up when she returned to let them know that she found the perfect outfit.
            Grandmother remarried after the war, selling the Cinderella Shop and moving with her husband, Phil, to Lake Tenkiller to open a bait shop.  It was a child’s paradise.  In the summer, my mother would put me on the bus in Tulsa with a brown paper bag of good things to eat, several brand new comic books and send me to Grandmother’s to stay.  She and Phil lived in a little apartment attached to the bait shop.  I loved going to bed at night, listening to the soothing sound of the minnow vats in the next room. 
            Grandmother would always take me fishing when I came to visit.  Fascinated, I remember watching her beautifully manicured; bright red nails squish a worm or crawdad on a hook.  She was ever patient when my line got tangled, or I just got bored with the whole thing.
            For reasons I never knew, Grandmother divorced Phil and moved back to Cordell.  At the age of 75, she was out dancing and met Charlie.  They were married for over 20 years since Grandmother lived to be 103. 
            I am who I am because of the strong women in my life, women like my Grandmother Smith who called me “honey” and loved me unconditionally.  I am proud to be her granddaughter.  I hope that my granddaughters and grandsons will someday feel the same way.
My grandmother's house, built in the 1930's.  As a child, it seemed huge,  I think,  because it had real stairs and a second story. I took this picture last month as we were passing through on our way to Colorado.

This story resulted from a challenge from Jennifer at Getting Down With Jesus..GettingDownWithJesus


Sunday, October 2, 2011

"I Am who I Am", Scripture Verse # 19

Never in my 63 years have I taken a vacation in the fall.  As a child, I was always in school and as a young adult, my children were in school; and then of course, I was working in school. So, it was a delight and pleasure to take off for the Rocky Mountains this September. The colors were, to say the least, stunning.  I could not believe how beautiful the aspens were in their “quaky” goldenness.   The sound of the aspens was lovely enough without the added glow of the yellow leaves.  It took my breath away.  I kept telling Preston to “stop!”   Every turn of the road seemed to reveal an even more beautiful sight. 
            I love to imagine what heaven is like, and this must be it!  Heaven surely rivals or exceeds even the most beautiful sights on earth. “Lord”, I remember saying, “I hope it’s always fall in heaven!" I love the clear, crisp days and beautiful colors.  After the hot, humid, breathless days of summer, autumn is my favorite.
            As the sun filtered through the golden trees, it seemed to light them on fire.  I could almost imagine God shaking those trees and talking to me like he did Moses from the burning bush. So many questions come to my mind when I talk to God.  Just like Moses, I find myself arguing with Him.  Who are you?  What do you want from me?  Where are you, God?  As I look again at these photos, and think about this scripture, God speaks in His still, quiet voice to my heart......I Am.  That's really all I need to know right now.  Someday, when I'm face to face with Jesus, I'll know completely.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beauty-Psalm 104

     It was a beautiful, warm afternoon in Arkansas.  My husband and I had taken our two grandsons out to the farm for a pizza picnic.  As we were packing up to leave, I noticed the birds flying in to roost on the trees in the reservoir.  They reminded me of ornaments on a Christmas tree.  
Psalm 104 says:
1 Praise the Lord, my soul.  Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and rides on the wings of the wind,
3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.  He makes the clouds his chariot.
I love the thought of God wrapping himself in light and riding on the wings of the wind.  But then the psalmist tells us in verse 30, “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” God is omnipresent, everywhere at one time.  That’s difficult to wrap my mind around.  But like the psalmist, I think God is pleased when we try. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. Vs. 30 That makes me happy, too.                        

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Streaming Light

     One thing that photography has given to me is an even greater appreciation for the light.  Several days ago my husband and I were out walking early one evening.  I looked up to see a tree literally glowing from the rays of the setting sun.  It was an ordinary tree that became extraordinary because of the light.   
      In Psalms 36, the psalmist says, "in your light we see light".  Jesus tells us that He is the light of the world, "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 
   Years ago, as a young mother, I would wake up in the night with panic attacks, strange sensations that were unexplainable and very terrifying.  One night this happened, and as I tried to pray my way through it, God gave me a vision of standing in His streaming light, a light that warmed and comforted me. Three phrases came to me as I sat up on the side of the bed, “reach out in faith, trust in Me, and stand in My Light. I got up out of bed, went to another room, and wrote the words to this song:

Does life seem overwhelming?
Nothing feels quite right.
Just reach to touch the Lord’s hand
Just stand in His Streaming Light

Reach out in faith when you are lonely
Reach out in faith when you are ill
Reach out in faith when you see no hope
Reach out in faith for God’s perfect will

Trust in Him to be beside you
Trust in Him to get you through the night
Trust in Him when you are afraid
Just stand in His Streaming Light

After all your prayers for healing
After you’ve given Him the fight
Just reach to touch the Lord’s hand
Just stand in His Streaming Light

Close your eyes and look at Jesus
Close your eyes and reach for His hand
Close your eyes and feel the love flowing
Just stand in His Streaming Light
Just stand in His Streaming Light