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