Hmmm…The Practice of Giving Thanks

Neglecting the practice of giving thanks has darkened their minds.
~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

This I know is true; focusing on the negative is blinding. Following the February death of our parents, I found myself in a blue funk, a gloomy place with little interest in what normally brought pleasure. Yet today, as soft fluffy clouds float across a baby blue sky, nearly naked trees stretch their arms heavenward, and the smell of Mom’s stuffing tickles the nose, I find myself excited with anticipation for the day’s traditions and the making of memories with family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Hmmm… Devil Dog, Lovely and Me: A Recap

Seventy-two years have gone by since I first met Devil Dog. He was a fresh-faced kid on that hot July day in 1942, and kind of a smart-aleck, too. So, when the drill instructor gave me orders to be this new US Marine recruit’s protection from Mother Nature’s sting, I knew I was in for a wild ride. The excitement began shortly after leaving Parris Island, SC for our assignment in Jacksonville, FL at Aviation Machinist Mate School. Yep, an olive drab scratchy wool blanket in Florida, but I had my orders. Devil Dog must have learned his way around F4U Corsairs quite well. You see, sometime later while stationed on Emirau Island in the south Pacific, he had the privilege of being Colonel Charles Lindbergh’s line mechanic. Oorah!

Now, a lot of globetrotting was done by land, air, and sea before arriving at that tropical land mass along the equator. Yes, I know, a wool blanket in the tropics, but I had my orders. Semper Fi!

We saw some interesting sights along the way, giving us pleasant and even humorous memories, and some haunting ones that continue to hang around to this day. But, it is the memory of coming home to Vestal Center, NY and meeting Lovely that is the most precious, and the beginning of the best ride of my life.

It was Christmas 1947 and Devil Dog decided to join the local church in Christmas Caroling through the neighborhood. After spending the last few years in warmer climates, he was more than happy I tagged along. You see, the temperature that evening was five degrees below zero and we were huddled in the back of a stake body truck with only loose hay to keep us warm. Wahoo! Finally, my chance to carry out my duties after six years had arrived and was kind of exciting. However, I didn’t know how exciting until I saw Lovely sitting across the way. Devil Dog was watching her; in fact, he had been keeping an eye on her throughout the entire frigid night. Realizing she must have been as cold as he was, Devil Dog worked up the nerve to ask Lovely, “Would you like to share my blanket?” Wow, what a line! I held my breath waiting for her answer. What if she refuses? Will he turn me over to her? I have my orders. But wait, she is kinda cute.

Well, Lovely’s answer led to a sixty-six year adventure involving six children, 12 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. You see, Devil Dog and Lovely were married on December 24, 1948.

Over the years, I have heard Devil Dog say, “To me a woman is someone special. This may sound corny, but after all my travels and having observed the beauty that is of God, nothing He has made is more beautiful than a woman. A woman can buy and use many things to make herself look beautiful, but to me that doesn’t make her look lovely. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary describes lovely as beautiful, morally and spiritually attractive, and enjoyable.”

Yes, Devil Dog, you are right; Mrs. Devil Dog is Lovely.

Hmmm… Dirty Dishes Tell a Story

Be thankful for dirty dishes, they have a story to tell. ~ a message on a marquee

My least favorite household chore is washing dishes. As a child, it always was and remains so today. Why, you ask. I cannot tell you. The reason escapes me. To this day, I would rather clean the bathroom than wash dirty dishes.

At each holiday dinner, the most important question to my mother (at least in my mind) is, are we using the dishwasher today? However, after reading that message, dirty dishes and their need for washing are beginning to change my perspective. Their stories of well-fed bellies instead of hunger give reminders this basic need met is what some take for granted while others crave.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Today, may we be thankful for the dirty dishes and all the blessings God sees fit to give us every day! (Philippians 4:19, Luke 12:22-32, Psalm 107:1)

Happy New Year!


Standing on the Beach

Today I am thinking of childhood vacations at Barnegat Light, NJ with Great-Uncle Everett and his family.  Why, I do not know. Maybe it is the desire to feel giddy with anticipation while standing with our backs to the surf once again. Yes, I know it sounds crazy. What is so exciting about knowing you are about to be taken under water? There is nothing fun about seawater and sand rushing up your nose as the surf violently rolls you onto the beach. Yet, stand there we did as Great-Uncle Everett encouraged us “don’t look”. Don’t look to see the next wave coming, don’t look to see how big or forceful it is, don’t look.  In the not looking, we just trusted, trusted that after each wipeout, he would be there smiling as he grasped our hand as we attempted to ready ourselves for the next breaker. In that grasp was the promise of surprising fun as the seaward pull of water away from the shore carried with it the fear of the next wipeout.

As we stand on the beach of 2013 with the surf of 2014 tickling our feet, do we catch the next wave with excited anticipation or fear the undertow of past failures and defeat?


Hmmm… Better to Eat the Fruit than Drink the Juice

It is the time of year when our minds gravitate from the holiday season of meals and parties, shopping, decorating, gift giving and getting to the season of how to lose what I did not want to gain. With the abundance of self-help resources competing for our desire to “fix” not only the holiday weight gain but also the many problems in our lives, it is hard to choose which will give us the best in long-term results.

Better to eat the fruit than drink the juice.

An interesting quote by a friend on Facebook in response to a video she shared, a video about health and “the difference between an orange and a glass of orange juice.”

Amazing how a simple choice can greatly affect one’s life.

Why do we settle for a variation of the original when we can have the very best from the Source?

Why do we not realize the most relevant self-help Resource for all our problems is the sweetest life-giving fruit of all? (Genesis 1:27, Matthew 4:4, Acts 17:24-28)

Hmmm… Tradition

Tradition.Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof.

Tevye, 1964 musical by Jerry Bock

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year, a time of family and traditions of Thanksgiving week. Pie baking night at Mom and Dad’s with the smells of pumpkin, apples, and spices. Turkey day at the farm; won’t go into what that is all about except to say it is not a good day for old Tom. Cramming as many people into the kitchen to watch Dad and one of my brothers work at carving the deliciously golden bird. Oh, the crispy skin; who can grab the biggest piece before Mom flashes The Look; yes even in her eighties she can put anyone at any age in line with The Look. Teasing Mom about the year she forgot to make potatoes; Oh, such sacrilege! Verbally reliving memories of years past, passing them on to the many young ones who spread infectious joy with squeals of laughter.

All are wonderful traditions to pass from one generation to another, traditions to help maintain a family’s strength for survival, a defense against destruction. Yet, I keep thinking there is a custom that is stronger and more powerful, even more valuable than those mentioned earlier; the sharing of one’s faith in the great Creator who makes it possible for us to enjoy and be thankful for much in this life, and even better things to come if we know Him as our Living Savior. (Romans 10:14, Deuteronomy 11:18-20)

Faith. Without faith in Jesus, our lives are as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof.