Wednesday, July 31, 2013


On the 25th of July, I hit the auspicious mark of "Double Nickles!"

Half-way to 60!

Waaaaay over the hill!  (If you're under thirty.)

A spring chicken! (If you're over 80.)

I turned 55 years old.  (Not nearly as exciting as the first time I marked a 5 in my life.)

But I wouldn't want to trade any of the wonderful life I've been living in order to go back.  No sir, not for one little minute!

Who in their right mind would want to repeat zits and spankings and first dates and falling off the monkey bars and gym class and...........?  Well, you get the idea.

On the 25th, I was treated to lunch at my favorite tea room by dear friends who serve as part of our church board.  Much laughter, precious cards, thought-filled gifts!

Frank took me out to dinner that night.  Then he and I strolled around the very same lake we circled on our first date over thirty-four years ago!   (I'll tell you about his gift to me in another post soon.)

The entire family blessed me with a beautiful Sunday lunch, cards, gifts, hugs and even some kisses!

The GGC family showered me with lovely cards and words of love they had carefully written.  (Which of course I greatly enjoyed - being a word person myself!)

It's late this final day of July.  I've worked hard all day.  I've squeezed my grandbabies and "patted" Noah.  I've enjoyed a great Bible study; led by my own dedicated husband.  Had a time of prayer with dear friends of GGC.  Talked with my girls and even some extended family.

But reflecting just a moment with you, faithful reader, felt important before moving on to August. When pondering just what to say, I thought I should share with you a poem that had impact on my life as a young teen-aged girl.

 The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Resplendent Roast

"This roast is as tough as shoe leather!!"

Grandma Miller (Mom's mother) said this nearly every Sunday afternoon until I was about twelve.

She frequently threw in, "Those green beans are so stringy!  I don't even know how we'll eat them."  And, "Yes, I baked some rolls.  But they're a sorry excuse for yeast rolls if you ask me!"

Mom would begin reassuring Grandma. "It's going to be fine, Mama.  You're worst roast is always better than anyone else's!"  (That was no exaggeration!)  "These green beans are beautiful!  I don't see any strings at all."  "The rolls look like they're ready to float away!"

I could count on her diatribe each time we ate Sunday lunch at Grandma's.  (Unless, of course, we went to Blanche's Boarding House in downtown Pensacola!)

A steady stream of complaints would begin emanating from her tiny kitchen just as each platter or bowl of steamy deliciousness arrived at the dining room table.  She stopped the negative reports only long enough for Dad to ask the blessing.

Then it would start again until every plate was filled to the edges with her "inferior" cooking.

As our forks sliced through the roast like hot butter and ice cubes clinked in the frosty tea glasses and yeast rolls began melting in our mouths, all you could hear were sighs of culinary contentment!

Then compliments would begin rolling in from every corner!  We each offered reassurance for Grandma that we found every item on the table to be truly delicious!

Grandma Miller had learned to cook while growing up on a farm in Indiana.  She knew exactly what she was doing!  Both with her cooking and her complaining.

There are two measures for a roast dinner in my adult life:
  1. Did I use an "Aunt Dorothy" roast?  (A cut of meat just a bit more expensive.   Mom's perception was that Aunt Dorothy was the only one in our extended family able to afford such meat.)
  2. Does it smell like a "Grandma Miller" roast?  (That magnificent fragrance that wafts heavenward when the lid is removed for the first time! Causing your mouth to water and your heart to be thankful for taste buds!)
Last Monday night as I prepared family dinner, both criteria dovetailed beautifully.  The two roasts in the oven were good cuts, well-marbled.  And it smelled divine all the way out to the drive.   I could hardly wait for everyone to arrive.

But when I lifted the first roast from the pan to begin slicing, panic hit!

Normally, I have to use a second meat fork and sort of scoop the meat on to the platter because it just falls apart in tender morsels.  Not Monday!

I stuck the first fork into my beautiful "Aunt Dorothy" roast and held up the entire thing like a........  Well, like a huge piece of brown shoe leather!

Before anyone could see the horror, I dropped it back into the roaster.  It took some effort but I managed to extricate the fork from said piece of meat and tried to skewer the other roast; hoping against hope for a better result.


By this time, Joy had slipped over to assist.  (She's the real Rachel Ray in our family.)

"What happened?" she asked.  Somehow managing not to laugh out loud as she attempted her own version of "Stab the Rubber Roast." 

"I don't know,"  I really was dumbstruck.

Then it hit me.  After dashing in from work to hurriedly get dinner started,  I had put the oven on 350 degrees out of habit.  You can not cook a tender roast on such a high temperature!

"What will we do?"  Now Kristin was whispering with us.  "I can run to Publix and get some chicken."  When all else fails, serve the Gospel Bird!

My frustration was mounting!  "Let me get the electric knife.  We should be able to slice it thinly and pour on the au jus for camouflage."

I'm sure I saw a wisp of smoke coming from the straining motor as the electric knife attempted to saw through the unyielding bovine bounty.  The girls and I looked at one another in shock.

Part of me wanted to burst out laughing.  But the other part was hurt and embarrassed that my beautiful dinner was ruined.  And how long have I been cooking?  Um, let's see.........over thirty years!! 

Who can't make a decent roast dinner after thirty years of practice?!!!

Fortunately, I had some left overs in the refrigerator.  So we snatched those out and scrambled to get them reheated.

Joy grabbed a sharper knife and once again attacked the edges of both roasts.  It required some serious elbow grease, but she started the salvage process with a few slices from each one.

I began dishing up the vegetables, potatoes and bread.  Moving around the kitchen like someone in a daze.

We quickly placed every possible option on the table then called for the fellas and babies to join us.  The dining table is in our kitchen.  Getting all the high chairs, daughters, sons and sometimes a couple of guests squeezed in around it takes some Jedi maneuvering.

Finally we were settled.  We reached to join hands for the blessing and that's when it happened.

To the surprise of every adult at that table, Spencer called out, "I pray!"

We looked to Poppa at the head of the table.  Frank smiled and said, "Okay, you pray buddy."

Heads bowed as the two and a half year old said reverently and sincerely, "Fahver Jeshush.  Tank you for a food!  AMEN!"

And with those eight simple words, Spencer turned "Shoe Leather Disaster" into "Resplendent Roast Dinner" for me! 

We did laugh til our sides ached when the unsuspecting Meagan (who didn't know about the electric knife failure) tried to cut her first piece of roast.

And the platter of left over ribs and chicken cleared out pretty quickly.

No matter.

A sign hangs over our patio door that reads, "We may not have it all together.  But together we have it all!"

Shoe leather roast, stringy green beans,  failed yeast rolls...........and family laughter.  Who could ask for more?


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I absolutely hate feeling cornered!

Sometimes I even have to deal with small amounts of claustrophobia. 

Like the day during our renovations that a cord under our platform wasn't co-operating.  John and Frank had used every "fishing" technique at their disposal and still couldn't access the evasive electrical cord.

When I came down to the auditorium, it was already 6 PM and I was done for the day!

They couldn't leave until the cord was accessed.  And neither of them could squeeze under the platform to reach it.

The quickest solution was painfully obvious.
So I got down on my belly.  Pin-pointed the EXACT location of the cord. (It was about ten feet beyond the opening.)   Took a deep breath.  And began inching my way under the incredibly low platform.

Frank kept his hand on my ankle as long as possible.  He and John both kept up the verbal encouragement.  And I kept my eyes FIXED on the cord!

No looking around.  No giving in to my brain as it screamed how ridiculous this was.  No thoughts of panic.

Nothing more than, "This is helping the men you love.  Get the cord.  Then Get Out!"

I acted like it had been no big deal once I was out and able to stand up.  I casually brushed off my slacks to camouflage my trembling hands and said, "Alright, let's go home!"

The calm exterior totally fooled the men I was trying to impress.  But my insides were quivering!

(Actually, while rehearsing this for you my palms became a little sweaty and I've taken several deep breaths!  Whew!)

The point?

Sometimes life (more specifically - the enemy) will corner us.

We instantly feel trapped.  Things begin to close in around us.  We feel totally alone.  And if we believe that there is no way out, We Will Panic.

I've never made a single brilliant decision with fear as my motivating factor! 

But when I do sense that I'm being cornered by darkness, I begin to make some choices.

I try to readjust my thoughts and focus on the ultimate goal.  I rehearse the truth of scripture instead of the lies of fear.  I force my brain to believe the best is possible - whether it looks possible or not. 

And I listen for the words of encouragement coming from wonderful friends around me!

A great scripture became powerful for me many years ago.  Psalm 124:1 says, "If the Lord had not been on our side......."

No matter how dark that corner.  No matter how restrictive my place of difficulty.  No matter how impossible the outcome.  I Am Not ALONE!  The Lord is on my side!

And remembering that one truth has kept me moving.  Kept me sane.  Kept me from making some stupid, fear-filled choices!


He is on your side, too!

Sunday, July 7, 2013


One Quiet Hour!

That's what I just enjoyed.  One entire hour of total quiet. 

No phone.  No TV.  No Facebook.  No one else around.

Just me, the dogs and my thoughts.

Now that hour happened to be sandwiched between birthday celebrations of last week,  (Abby turned one last Sunday and John turned 27 on Tuesday)  and company and bridal showers and celebrating the Fourth with a community cookout sponsored by our church.  AND the impromptu sleep-over for seven teen-aged girls that will fill my living room in just a few minutes. 

I needed one quiet hour!

Tomorrow morning at 6 AM, we'll be there to cheer as John and Frank begin a 125 mile bike ride.  (They are raising money for the seven girls from our youth group who will participate in a mission trip to help inner-city youth of Miami.)

Sometimes an hour is all you need.  Especially when you know that the busyness of life has purpose beyond your own wants and desires. 

Sometimes an hour gives you enough time to take a deep breath.  To regroup.  To remember why you're doing all you're doing.

I think that's what the Sabbath was originally intended to provide.

Then again..........when you miss too many Sabbaths; when you rush right past the quiet hours.......then you need...........VACATION!  (Frank and I are planning that for the end of August!)

Just a quick thought from one crazy, busy, happy pastor's wife tonight!

Hope your week is blessed with many quiet hours!