Tax Time is Here……UGH!

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  • Tax Filing time is here whether we like it or not.  “To do, or not to do” that is the question.  I started working on taxes in January thinking, I am going to get this done and over with as soon as the last  tax statements straggle in by the end of February.

Having to deal with filing taxes while having businesses for 20+ years, the few years since being retired has been a breeze for me where that yearly dread of doing taxes was concerned.  Well, now back to the business forms and making sure all numbers of income and outgo are in order and all because I wrote a book!

Authors work their way, many times for years, racking their brains, researching and staring  out into space for hours for the right words to come to mind that can be put on paper.  Then, they must keep editing and tweaking until it is finally ready for a publisher.  After quite a while, books are finally delivered to your door!  Then……..the work begins.  The first book is sold and now…..you have entered the business world again, and realize you should have kept up with all those expenses that you had to fork out while writing. Expenses like, reams and reams of printer paper, travel to research, printer ink, a new computer when the old one just gave out and you lost all your editable manuscript.  Must I list more?  While in the throes of writing a manuscript over several years, the mind is not focused on keeping tabs of all those crazy expenses and how many times you must jump up and run to the office supply store.  You must pay whatever it takes to finish the book.  I won’t even mention publishing costs, etc., etc.

April is due to arrive in one week, and that plan to be through with my part of preparing my taxes for my CPA has not been accomplished.  Instead of writing this blog, I should be going through old receipts…..as far back as ten years…..and at least try to recoup something back on a tax return!   I have not written a blog for a long time because there just does not seem to be enough time.  Having set this evening aside to finish taxes, and dreading getting into it so much, I just decided to tell you all how much I dread it, and put it off a little longer. My conscious is killing me knowing that I travel to New York for a book signing next week and if I don’t get taxes done now, I will need to get my CPA to file an extension for me…..thus costing me more $$$$$.  I think I will not bore you anymore with my dread and will just perform some discipline on myself and get busy on taxes.  Sure hope yours are done, and that you are getting a sweet return!!!!

Gettin ‘er Done

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It has been quite a time since my last blog.  Where do the days go, anyway?  Each morning, after coffee, I list the things to do today.  With all great intentions, I set out to complete the tasks on that list.  Then, the phone rings, and the days plans have changed.  Do I mind this change in plans?  Not one bit.  I am so glad that I can get up and get out, and that I still have a life outside the lists, that I make each morning.  I must admit however, that it gives me great pleasure to be able to put a mark through the chore or activity on my daily list. ” Wow, got that one done”, I’ll say to myself or maybe to whomever may be in hearing range.  Being able to reply to those who ask about “what are you up to today?”, with, “just gettin ‘er done“, is a great feeling.  Well, writing a short blog, to get back into the swing of things, is on my list of to do’s today and you guessed it!  Yes,!!!!! this one gets marked off my list.  Wishing all of you the best of weekends.  God Bless.

P. S. If I could conquer the technology block that I have, I would have a lot more time to get ‘er done.  I spend untold hours trying to do things that my computer keeps as a secret to herself.  She just won’t cooperate.

Aside

I Remember Jolene

Jolene in the garden

Easter in 2011

Easter in 2011

Sunshine warmed my back as I knelt on my knees in the front yard to do some much needed weeding. What a beautiful day; it was the kind of day that lured me outside, no matter the undone chores inside the house. I find solace in the yard and garden. A quietness that can draw me closer to God. Away from the sound of the television and the lure of the computer and all the “undone” things inside’ there is peace, even as my hands are busy weeding, planting or pruning.

Alone in reverie except for the occasional honk of a horn from a passing car carrying one of my friends to destinations unknown, I think, plan, and pull those ever present weeds. Then……..coming up from behind, and rubbing against by back, I feel a soft touch. Before I had time to turn around, here she came, a dainty gray cat, with white boots. I was not irratated in the least, as just one glimpse of her warmed my spirit. It is obvious for some unknown reason, she knows she has found a friend that she wants to hang with. I speak to her asking her where she came from…..she simply rubs against my hand and sits down beside me. She made me happy, having her near. She is with me in the yard the entire time I am out, staying within eye sight, even if she retreated to the shade of the crepe myrtle a few feet away. I felt her presense. There are no pets at the Powell house at this time of our lives. The children are grown, grandchildren have their own pets and we are unincumbered with “pet” responsibilities when we decide to travel. That is now the rule of the house…….NO MORE PETS!!!

As usual in the spring and summer, I would be outside with mother nature and my constant friend would be the little gray cat that had a spalsh of white on her face. I knew she had to belong to a neighbor as she was well fed and healthy looking even though so daint. She also had to be a girl….I just knew she had to be, because she looked feminine and loved gardening. When I say, she loved gardening, I tell you, she would come from nowhere the minute she saw me kneel down to plant or pull. I laughed at her and told her she could hear a weed being pulled from a mile away. Se would get playful and crawl up my back as I was bent over. She knew this would engage me into playing with her for awhile.

The story goes on through that first season until I decided that she might have belonged to a cat loving neighbor of mine that had passed away the very week she came to me in the yard. I bought food and fed her secretly, just to make sure she was eating. Well, finally my stach of cat food was found and I took my reprimand from the man of the house, but….continued feeding my little cat, that I had named “Jolene” after my neighbor Jo, that had passed. Jolene and I claimed each other, and had a special bond for over seven years. Even as she got old, no matter where she was, she could hear that first weed being pulled in the yard, and had to come to supervise the work. She would come to my window every morning and knock on it. I would raise the blinds and open the old sliding window and allow her inside. She would be with me as I got ready to face my day, and then we would head for the front door to go outside together. We would go our separate ways, but she was always there when I got home. I will remember her forever, and when the sun warms the earth and calls me outside, not too many weeks from now, I will miss my gardening friend more than ever.

Aside

Do We Notice the Details?

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IMG_5106

Do We Notice the Details?

Many times, it is only the surface of what we see or experience, that we take into consideration. We judge, or evaluate simply from the most evident image, or action of a person, place, or thing. There are times when we purchase something without checking out the details of the product, only to be disappointed in our decision. Perhaps we did not research the item or did not examine it closely enough.

Recently I received some awesome images through e-mail of Norman Rockwell’s magazine art. He has always been one of my favorite artists. Personally, I have a volume or two of his works. Taking a very close look at the details of his paintings, once again, I stand amazed at how he captured every detail of a person. Details, such as the look in a person’s eyes; worn shoes; wrinkles in faces, frayed clothing, and it put me to thinking. Just how deep do I look into a person before I fix an opinion of them? Maybe you have had experiences like mine, where without even meaning to, I have drawn an opinion of a person, only later to find that they are nothing like the outer person seemed to be. You know the old adage “first impressions are lasting impressions.” That is not the case for me now.  Lovely, pure and heroic are often hid deeply in the person, and I am thrilled when those wonderful traits become known to me. My desire is to always look deeper into the person and love them for what they are. Norman Rockwell does it with his paintings of the everyday person. I hope to do it with my heart.

Do You Dream?

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THIS IS AMERICA... YES, SON THIS IS AMERICA, W...

THIS IS AMERICA… YES, SON THIS IS AMERICA, WHERE YOU CAN DREAM YOUR DREAMS AND MAKE THEM COME TRUE. – NARA – 515779 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you dream?

I suppose that most of us have dreams from time to time while we are fast asleep. However, the dreams I am alluding to, are those daytime, wide-awake dreams. Such dreams as losing weight and having an hour-glass figure, or a man dreaming that he could have that  he-man physique. Perhaps we have dreams that we will win the lottery or fall into some inheritance that will totally change our financial picture for the better.

I have often wondered what would happen to my life if any of these type dreams come true for me. It does not take but a Nano second for me to stop dreaming and get back to work. Maybe you have had that deep, for lack of a better word, gut feeling that there was something good that would happen in your life if put forth an effort to make it so.  Now, I mean that certain something that you desire to attain in life. You know that Cinderella moment, or perhaps the American Idol experience. You get the picture.

Dreams, wishes, and goals are very important for us. The important thing is that we strive to make the important things come true. Many times, they do come true. But, in such a different form that, we fail to recognize them. One thing is for sure, we must work and pray and work, to see a dream come true. Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part. However, the wait is worth it when at last we recognize, YES, it has happened. Then…I suggest a prayer of gratitude for the gift of strength and patience and, for that Help from Above that made it all possible.

I watched the movie “LINCOLN”

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English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. Latviešu: Abrahams Linkolns, sešpadsmitais ASV prezidents. Српски / Srpski: Абрахам Линколн, шеснаести председник Сједињених Америчких Држава. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Lincoln,” the movie is up for many awards.  Seeing the advertising on television several weeks ago, prompted me to do a rare thing….go to a movie theatre. Waiting for it to come out on DVD was not an option as far as I was concerned. There were some parts in the dialog between Lincoln and members of his cabinet, which I did not catch, therefore I will rent the movie when it becomes available, soaking it all in.

My novel, The Royal Rose of Alabama, which I hope will be out at least early February, speaks to some of the issues that were important to President Lincoln. Thinking back on when I was putting words on paper concerning the subject of how Southerners, and specifically Alabamians were facing looming decisions concerning their way of life during the anti-bellum days, I dug deep into my own feelings. My great-grandparents were slave owners in Georgia, but by the time I came around, my family was poor as church mice and living in Alabama.

Life’s circumstances found me living in the country about 20 miles north of Montgomery for a short three summers of my primary age. Roaming the country dirt roads alone, and playing under the pines on think pines straw carpet, gave way to much fantasy. Civil war graves were in the woods on our property, adding much to the wonder of what went on in the forest surrounding our small, humble home. Even though it was middle 1940’s, it was not hard for a child who was interested in everything around her, to develop ideas of how the adults she heard felt about what had gone on so many years ago in South Central Alabama.  Now I realize that even though my writing was based on documented history, the inner feelings of the people in my book came from my personal feelings, which were, influenced early on In Autauga County, Alabama.

Hanging the Christmas Wreath

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The Plywood Nativity

The Plywood Nativity

A nice day in Alabama. Temperature climbing to 70+ degrees. The Church Christmas program has been written and re-written. Parts have been distributed. Whew! Before I start dragging out costumes to fit shepherds and angels and other Biblical characters ranging in age from 2 years to 21 years old, I must get my little home glowing with some Christmas Spirit.

On this warm Alabama day, the outside decorations are going up. We won’t do quite as much outside this year, as in years past. Seems like each year calls for a little cutting back on yard decorations. Our children are all grown now. Our grandchildren are all grown. There aren’t many young children in our aging neighborhood anymore. Christmas lights in our subdivision are not of the ‘Griswold Christmas’ type anymore.

Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.

Okay, we got our Nativity scene, (plywood pattern, cutouts painted white) set up. A large star, lighted with strings of Christmas lights has been hung in the tree above the Nativity. A big red bow adorns the mailbox on the street. Now, on the front door, I am putting up the timeworn-lighted wreath, which I have reworked again this year.

To my surprise, a white SUV slows down, and a woman yells out her opened car window. “It is beautiful!” Surprised, I call out, “Thank you so much.” I wanted so badly to explain to her how it could be so much better, but she rolled up her window and drove away. Before I finished my little project, here she comes again, and repeats her earlier praise and drives off.

My heart was stirred by her kind words. It never ceases to amaze me, how a kind word can encourage us to keep on keeping on. To the kind souls in the world who pass on words of encouragement, I say, “God Bless You All, and Merry Christmas.”

Aside

Back to my writing desk in Alabama

How long does it take to write a short Christmas drama for Children? I answer myself……longer than I thought.

Sweet little darlings, preteens and teens in many churches are gathering to practice their once a year Christmas program. Gleaming parents and grandparents sit in the pews just waiting for ‘their special one’ to say his or her line or sing their song. What goes on behind the scenes cannot be described.

A few weeks ago, I threw out a couple of ideas to the children of the church where I teach, that I thought would be the start of a good Christmas program. They went along to a point, but I soon found that children have ideas of their own, as their little mouths started putting out the ideas. For a moment, I felt that I was in a very important brainstorming meeting of a corporate advertising company or among writers of a syndicated television studio. It was amazing how one came up with the major theme and it started growing with each child adding into the mix. Well, I must tell you that the consensus between them all, was that there had to be a Scrooge character involved. “Wow, okay,” I agreed.

Too bad, these youngsters are just a little too young to put a script down on paper. They sure have challenged my mind. Now after three weeks of scratching out ideas, I now have a script ready for their first practice. So, we have a Biblical Scrooge. And, you know what, I am sure there were plenty of Scrooges back in the Bible Times, just as there are today. This imaginary Bible Scrooge just so happens to be the tax collector sent to collect taxes from the House of David in Bethlehem.

An exciting two weeks lie ahead, as the challenges of the Church Christmas Program takes shape.

 christmas play 2006 and Andee 020

1 Peter 5:2-4

New International Version (NIV)

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Left Alabama and Ended up in the Mouse Trap

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Yea, another get-a-way! This time leaving my beloved Alabama in search of warm weather, and fun in
Sunny Florida.

Holidays are upon us, and excitement is growing. First, I started out with Thanksgiving,enjoying many things that I have to be thankful for. Freedom…Freedom to worship my chosen God and Savior. Freedom to enjoy family, and friends, and yes even the freedom to travel when, and where, to places of my own choosing.

This year, the Land of Disney was calling. With childlike anticipation, I could hardly wait to be with my family in Orlando and the Magic Kingdom.

The excitement in the eyes of children as they enter into the Magic Kingdom, where dreams really do come true, carries me back into my childhood imaginary world. No, I had no Magic Kingdom to visit, however, my mind, was my magic kingdom as I set up a little kingdom under the pine trees with pine straw as my plush carpet, or under sheet draped chairs, in our little family home. There was no television to watch, so I guess the great dreams, that I had, came from watching and admiring people, and perhaps watching an occasional movie.

These days, magic is in the fingers of tiny tots as they are handed new age technology and find most anything their little imagination could crave by rubbing a finger over a small screen.

Okay, back on subject. Orlando, the dream of dreams…Walt Disney’s dreams. After paying $14. to park,(I dare not mention the cost to visit the park) and riding the monorail into the park, the family and I walk in and feel the magic. The lights, the costumes, the characters, and beauty everywhere. Uh, did I really say walk into the park. I should change that to; I got pushed into the park by the eager crowds, that were feeling the same excitement that I was feeling. I could see the beautiful castle at the end of the street, cameras flashing. I was dodging people, weaving in and out trying to keep up with my family; could not afford to lose each other in this crowd. Eager to get to one of the magical rides we forged our way through only to read the digital sign informing us the wait in line was 100 minutes. On and on, to each ride, same situation. For the day, we rode three rides and ate very expensive flat bread pizza. Now, I will not complain, even the nightmarish crowd could not take the Magic out of the Kingdom.

Hats off to Mr. Walt Disney. I saw his fantastic imagination still at work as I observed the many workers it takes to keep his imagination alive. What his imagination and hard work, yes, his hard work accomplished, is amazing. America’s economy has been greatly boosted by his entrepreneurial spirit. It goes even further. Disney is all over the world, boosting the economy of many foreign countries. America allowed him the freedom to accomplish his dreams, and he worked hard for every bit of it. That hard work has paid off, for a multitude of people.

Now just why did I indicate that I was caught up in the Mouse Trap? I’ll explain it this way. Orlando on the surface is all about Mickey Mouse. For all of us who feel the imagination of a child, we can hardly wait to get here and spend a small fortune to visit Mickey and all he has to offer. The t-shirts and souvenirs are hard to pass up so we spend more money. We ran to the cheese and just like a little mouse, we got caught in the trap. All that said, now we have memories to share for years to come, of getting caught in the Mouse Trap. And as I wait for my first Novel to be published, I realize that if one works hard, and does not give up, their dreams really can come true.

Crazy Wishes for the Holidays

Most of us have been confronted with that ‘BIG question’ concerning Christmas. The question can be popped at any time, but it seems to me, it is asked when I am not ready for it. All during the year, leading up to the Holidays, it will cross my mind and I will lay a little thought to it, but usually never when I can put it down on paper. I know the question is coming, so I really want to be prepared, but somehow, all the things that I had in my head all year-long are now gone. Thanksgiving hasn’t even been celebrated yet. The time when we have so much to be thankful for. Then we often get so wrapped up in all the to-do’s of preparing for it, that we almost forget to take time to count our blessings. Now, think about this, those cooks among us, and the grocery shoppers and party planners and planners of family gatherings, can sometimes get so overwhelmed with all the things to get done, that they, or we, don’t need any more pressure put on them. Funny, but it seems to happen to me, when three things need watching on the stove and something is about to boil over and the phone is for me, that the question is about to come out! I get off the phone move the boiling pot off the stove, grab a dishrag to wipe up the hot stove best I can. Hair wanting to drop down on my face and something in the oven is burning. You got it, here comes the question from the big guy who just got up out of the Lazy-Boy wanting an answer right now. Do you know what that question could be? While finding myself all out of sorts, here comes the rested up guy, still groggy from his long nap, asking, “What in the world can I get you for Christmas”? Can you imagine what my answer would like to be at that moment. Think about it and let me know.

Addendum: I am thankful to God for His many Blessings so undeserved. With all that I have how can I ask for more.

Getting Back on Track

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Time passes swiftly. Almost too much so when there is so much that one wishes to accomplish. Sometimes, something’s have to be put aside for the more important things in life. Those more important things, such as being with family and friends when it is time to celebrate or comfort must take precedence in our lives. Finally, and sometimes unexpectedly, we find ourselves free to think for a moment.  The washing is done, the house is quiet, the counters in the kitchen aren’t terribly cluttered, the bed is made, and there is even enough groceries in the house.  We won’t speak of dust, and floors that need vacuuming, that can wait for another day. All of the bills that are due, have been paid. Whoopee, the television is off, and I sit in utter silence except for the sound of the refrigerator purring.  I think I hear my ears ringing though….does that automatically come with old age?’  Uh oh, I hear the door open and footsteps coming through to the den.  Now it is time to tell the news of the day quickly, before the television starts yelling out the news of the day. So much for my 10 minutes of silence.  The next question will be what’s for supper. I must get this blog finished, so here goes.  My novel is in the hands of a publisher, and I should have a copy in my hands by Jan. I have been encouraged by so many.  Friends and family alike, have answered my call for help on grammar, spelling, formatting, etc. etc..  Now another adventure begins.  Possibly more editing, agreeing on a book cover and then developing readers.  Hope you are one of the latter.  Well, the television is on full blast, and I will get ahead of the ‘whats for supper’ question, before it is asked. So I sign off, thanking you for reading this blog. Please feel more than free to write a comment. Continue reading

An Excerpt from Chapter 28 of my Novel

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Plaque of Alabama's First Capiton

National Register of Historic Places listings ...

National Register of Historic Places listings in Dallas County, Alabama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

   Although a title has not yet been decided on, today,  I will use this as a possiblity.

 Alabama Royalty 

The Gold Crown Pendant Affair

Chapter 28

A Visit to Cahaba, Alabama‘s First Capitol

Michael had taken a trip to Cahaba,  one of his busiest steamboat ports. The town of Cahaba had seen some hard times after being flooded more than once by the rising waters of the Alabama and Cahaba Rivers. When originally established as the first capitol of the State of Alabama, all hopes were  that these two rivers would bring the area economic riches. It was a port where steamboats could pick up passengers, produce, hogs, cattle, cotton and other merchandise that would be sent to foreign lands. The town flourished with shops, two newspapers, schools, hotels, churches, and a land office.

Plantations were scattered all around Cahaba. It was such a political place in the young State of Alabama that it was honored as the welcoming town to the french hero Lafayette. When he revisited the United States in I825 he was welcomed in Cahaba most royally. Many members of (Napoleon’s Old Imperial Guard) which had founded the town of Demopolis, visited him at Cahaba. The town held  parades and banquets to greet and entertain their illustrious French guest.

After thirty years of no floods, the town was beginning to flourish again although it was no longer the Capitol of Alabama. It was still the county seat of Dallas County;  the rich farmland there and in adjoining counties once again, yielded abundant crops that needed to be shipped out. Cahaba had become one of the most important shipping points on the Alabama River,

English: Dallas Academy in Cahaba, Alabama.

English: Dallas Academy in Cahaba, Alabama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

but by I855 things were beginning to slow down for the town.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

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Bloom where you are planted.

When early spring rolls around, I find myself all excited about getting into the yard, cleaning out flower beds, trimming shrubs and planning what new flowers to plant that will bloom in the spring and summer seasons. I can hardly wait to see what surprises await, as the soil warms to germinate the seeds that have rested there during the winter months.  Most of the little green shoots that begin to show themselves have to be pulled up because they are weeds. However, among those weeds will emerge the familiar little leaves that I recognize to be a flower trying to inch its way up to face the sun.

About this same time, weeds and grass start growing up in the cracks in our concrete driveway. Getting out the weed eater we usually cut them out to keep the driveway neat and then use the lawn blower to blow off all the dirt and weeds we have cut down. We try hard to make sure the dirt is blown out of the cracks so that the seeds of the weeds will have nothing to sustain them. If that does not work, out comes the round-up and we will spray the cracks.

Several weeks ago when identifying what could be assumed as a weed, to be a little Vinca flower growing up in the driveway, I wanted to let it live and bloom, knowing that it would more than likely be crushed by the wheels of one of our cars, I still didn’t have the heart to pull up the little plant. One week led to another and in  some way the little flower managed not to get crushed.  Finally a bloom appeared. I was careful not to let my car be the one to crush it. Company came and went, we had to use the entire driveway, and still, the little flower survived. There was a wedding at our house this past weekend and there would be no way that the guests could park without running over the little plant. Saturday morning, all cars were gone and I was excited to see that not only was the Vinca surviving, it had added blooms.

I think of how God can plant us in places where at times it seems like we simply cannot survive. The storms of life, the heat from the trials we face and in some cases the maliciousness of others, just seem to be too much to keep us growing. Think of missionaries who go into areas where there seems to be no hope. Sometimes in the season that they are there, they see no “blooms.” But they planted a seed and God let that seed develop even though the surroundings didn’t seem good enough, and after a while,  a bloom appeared and from that bloom, more seeds were produced………and finally a field of “flowers” came forth.

We may not be missionaries on foreign soil, but we are constantly planting seeds. I want to do all I can with His strength to plant the right seeds, even if I never know exactly what soil they are planted in. Lord, help me to bloom where I am planted and may the seeds from my bloom produce goodness  and beauty in Your eyes.

Today is the Sabbath Day and I will Worship

The busy week has ended.  Blessings have been poured out in abundance this past week, as  they have in all the those leading up to this one.  I woke up every morning to give God praise for another day.  He allowed me to experience the aromatic smell of coffee and feel the  warmth of the coffee cup as I wrapped my hands around it each morning while  filling out my crossword puzzles.  And as always there was the Word of God on the kitchen table that held His  Precious Word to me for the day.  I must never forget how blest I am that I live in a country where the Holy Bible is available to me.

As usual, there was a lot of work to do this week.  I didn’t worry too much about the dust that had gathered on table tops, nor the scattering of books and paper that I  would be referring to off and on as I worked on my novel. There were more important things to do than fret the small stuff.  One of our best friends would be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and I could hardly wait to be a part of it.  That celebration was yesterday at our church,  Center Point Church of the Nazarene,  and it culminated in adding more joy to my life.

You might ask how their celebration could add more joy to my life, when after all, it should be all about them.  Well, I learned many years ago that when we invest ourselves in the lives of others, it comes back as a blessing to us.

Here are a few examples of how their anniversary party added to my joy.  It was a thrill to have one of my granddaughters spend the biggest part of two days with me while we baked cakes and decorated them, together for the event.  What a joy to a grandmother to be able to share and teach a grandchild, one of the skills that she has used through the years.  Yes, we worked hard…….but we laughed long as icing bags tore and I panicked over a spill of cake batter and had to get her to my rescue.  We swore off cake icing and cupcakes for a while as she totaled the number of cup cakes  to be about 215. She learned techniques of stacking a wedding cake, decorating it, and how to mix colors and to make chocolate icing.  Our hands might be a little dry, due to keeping them in the hot soapy water to make sure everything was clean, clean…….but they can always heal with a good hand lotion, and nothing can take away my joy from those two days of us working  together.  Oh, and I might add, that I put her to use in helping me understand more of computer technology while we were waiting for cakes to bake.

Now let me go back to the Saturday before this week began.  Our church’s head Trustee and our Pastor called a church work day.  We needed to spruce up for the upcoming celebration.  Our faithful turned out to pull weeds, mow grass and trim hedges.  Blowers were used to clean off the parking lot of debris. Hot, and peacefully tired, we had fellowship together as we ended our church work day with hotdogs and good chocolate cake. I is amazing how working together to build God’s Kingdom, even if it is with a broom, mop, weed eater, lawnmower or dustrag can draw a people together and bring us joy.

Time is drawing near and it is time for the celebrated couple’s family to arrive from Virginia.  They have a truck load of supplies on board in order  to put a party together for the parents they cherish.  I couldn’t wait to see them and get started on the fun of preparing for the party that was to be held in our fellowship hall at the church.  This fellowship hall has become the sanctuary for the Center Point Hispanic Nazarene Church. What a wonderful group of worshipers gather there for worship several times a week!  Sweetness fills the air on Wednesday evening as they so humbly remove all of their musical instruments and sound system in order for us to use the facility.  They remove all the chairs and sweep the floors for us and all in a sweet spirit.  It is a joy to see them work together happily.

Friday finds us in that fellowship hall, turning it into party central.  It had to be right.  White linens on tables that had been washed down by two church ladies on Thursday. Serving tables arranged to be pleasing to the eye and offer the best presentation of the foods that would be served.  The honoree’s family bringing in all the beautiful decorations and working like bees to get the job done, while us church folks were doing all we could to help. It was sort of fun ordering the men to clean windows, which I must say they did without too much grumbling.  Actually the groom of 50 years and his bride ended up finishing that chore!

Saturday morning came……..it’s the day of the party.  Flowers were brought in to add color.  Balloons were filled with helium to line the not so attractive walls to make the room more festive.  At last came the colorful fruits and vegetables, cup cakes, tea, punch coffee chicken croissants, pigs in a blanket, swedish meat balls, and Chick-Fil-A nuggets all displayed in a festive way on mirrors, silver trays, silver warmers, and crystal platters.

Finally, the time has come to celebrate.  The honorees come, and the room is filled with happy, smiling faces.  Joy fills the room as people meet and greet and extend their congratulations to a couple who have stayed together for 50 years as husband and wife.  The room quietens as their son-in-law formally introduces them.  Food is served and people mill around again.  Their precious daughter quiets the party goers again as she pays tribute to her mother and daddy.  Then, the granddaughter stands before the microphone to sing to her grandparents and their guest. She had prepared to sing  a country song and one or two more songs of the 50’s or 60’s.  The room got quiet…..she held a church hymnal in her hand.  I knew when I saw that, that her plans had changed.  She had slipped out during all the hurry-scurry of last-minute preparations in the fellowship hall and found her way to the little sanctuary.  Spending some time alone with God, she decided to change her decision to sing secular songs to a song that would  represent the fact that the Love of God  is the real glue that can hold love and a marriage together.

After a while, the cake was cut, pictures were taken and guests were saying their good byes.  The honored couple departed and the clean up began.  Packing away of all the decorations, washing of the serving pieces, distribution of left over party food and taking down of balloons was underway.  It was all over.  All the work that had been planned for months by a loving daughter and her family was soon to be over………….but what was left, besides tired bodies could never be duplicated.  The remnants of a celebration is the joy of celebrating and memories that last forever.  It is the joy of melding family and friends into a spiritual bond.  It is the joy of members of a church working together in a labor of love.  Wow, it has been a joyful week and I will go to church to worship Him for His many blessings and the Joy that He and only He can give.

His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me…….and doggies too!

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Have you ever gotten dressed, climbed in your car and headed out for an appointment or  a meeting and upon arriving, wondered where everyone else was.  A double take on the watch proves that you are on time and not too early, so where is everyone.  Then…..it dawns on you…..”I am a day early!”  You chide yourself, thinking, I went to all this trouble and now I have lost an hour and a half of time that I sure could have used working on an important project.   Oh well, you say to yourself; I’m dressed and out, so I may as well go to Wal-Mart!

For me, this experience was this very evening.  Running late, I dabbed on a little make up, put my hair up, threw on some decent clothes and headed out the door.  I was running a little later than I should have been because I couldn’t find my house keys. Oh yea, I finally found them, locked the door and headed out to Wednesday evening prayer service at my church.  You guessed it, I was 5 minutes late and so was everyone else.  Why would everyone else be late? They wouldn’t!!! Uh Oh, this is Tuesday night, not Wednesday night. How dumb of me;  too much on my mind!

I was glad it was only Tuesday night because with what I need to accomplish  this week, all of a sudden I have an extra day!!!! I wanted to head on home and grab a bite for I had forgone food for the day not wanting to take the time to eat.  I will make myself a sandwich, pour up a glass of ice tea, settle in front of the TV and catch some of the Olympic games.  After all, I have an extra night!  Thinking things through a little further though, I am already dressed to be in public and I had told  my granddaughter, Jacquee,  that I would buy a small cup cake pan…..the kind that makes tiny cupcakes.  I have several of the normal size but we need little ones for an up and coming 50th anniversary party. This is good, it is still daylight and I will save myself a trip out tomorrow.  My mind was in a whirl trying to think of what else I might need while at the store, and “God, is there some special reason that I should be out of the house tonight?”  Approaching a traffic light, the car in front of me made a sudden swerve to the left.  Then right in front of me was a little dog, yelping and struggling to get up.  He had just been hit. Before I could pull over, he quit struggling and laid deathly still. I knew that I had to do something.  I found a way to pull over so that I could determine what to do for the little dog.  A battered old pickup stopped and blocked traffic.  The gentleman inside jumped out and  armed the little one up and put him in his front seat and took off.  I decided to follow him in an effort to be of help if he needed me. He made it one block and started slowing down and pulling over into a parking lot.  I was thinking, “The dog has died, now he is not in a hurry.”  I pulled my car up beside his and rolled down my window. His windows were down, it was obvious the old truck had no A/C.  He looked over at me and I asked him if the little dog was alive.  “He’s breathing,” he answered.

“What are you planning to do for him,” I asked.

“I’ve got to get him to a Veterinarian some how,” he answered, with as much compassion in his eyes as you could ever imagine,  “but I have just run out of gas.”

We were not by a gas station.  Asking him where he would get gas, he pointed up the road.  I would walk up there to a station but I don’t have any money.

“Do you have a gas can?” I asked.  Confessing, I must admit, that I thought….”sure he does, poor guy probably runs out all the time, by the looks of the situation.   “I can go and get you some gas,” I offered.

He interrupted me, “Excuse me ma’am, but let me check on my little buddy here.  I really need to check him out.”  I was touched by the young man’s concern for this little animal.

Coming back to me he repeated his need to see that the little dog get to the doctor.  He took me up on the offer to buy him some gas.

Yes, I have  a container, but it doesn’t have a cap on it.”

I was so relieved that he had that plastic gas can.  I took off to the nearest station, filled up the little can and plugged it up with paper towels and headed back to the little dog and his hero.  He had checked the little one out further, and felt that possibly he could make it.  The dog had a collar on (and a leash!).  He had called the owner but no answer.  He had called the veterinary, no answer.

I stood at the open car door next to  the little dog who was struggling for breath, and talked to him and whispered a prayer for him,  while the gentleman, that I later learned was David, put the gas in his tank.  He reached for his phone and tried the owner’s number once again. (I was so glad he had a cell phone, as I had left mine at home in the rush to get to church!) Someone answered the phone and I heard him say, “Your little dog has been hit by a car…….. Oh, I am up here at, at, at…….I jumped in and said you are at the U-Haul parking lot across from Kentucky Fried Chicken. I realized then that his heart and mind had been so concerned about this dog, that he didn’t even know where he was.  He repeated the information  that I had said, into the phone and within 5 minutes a man and woman came up crying, to get their beloved pet.  I declare to you; that   dog smiled when his mother picked him up.  It was like he had a new life.  His breathing eased.

Now, how does the heading of this blog relate to this story?  God knew ahead of time what this evening had in store for a young man who would run out of gas, for a couple who loved their pet, and for me, a lady who was wondering,  as I rode down the driveway of the empty parking lot of my church, why God allowed me to make such a mistake.

I will never forget the kindness of the man who stopped to help this helpless little dog.  I just know he would have been hit again, as no one else was stopping.  He made the comment to me, “You know, I hope we can find his owner because to some people, their pets are like their children and I have two children of my own, I wouldn’t want to lose one of them.”  I was able to give him enough money to get more gas and he was so grateful.  “I am the blest one, I told him, and the dog’s owners who were also trying to express so much gratitude.  God had me come to church a day early for this very reason.  His love is awesome! and I needed to know that he has his eyes and compassion on all of us and on those we love.

A/C fixed……ready to face another hot day in Alabama

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I am so happy to say that as of yesterday, I can now ride in cool comfort in my old automobile.

By the way, have you ever bought a car through E-Bay? My  Champagne colored sleek 2000 Lincoln Continental must have, at one time,  been sitting in some prestigious dealership all bright and shiny just trying to say “pick me, pick me!”  and someone did!   Advance five years down the road……….I saw her listed on E-Bay, up for bids. Her picture was small but upon enlarging it, I liked what I saw.  Umm, I liked the leather seats, keyless entry, all power everything, roomy, ……….I even liked the word “Continental” that was on her backside.  I checked her out on Carfax and found out that she had a clean record!  Little girl had never been  in trouble, Yea.   She had been around the block a time or two; I think about 110,000 miles or so.

I started my bidding, keeping watch on her.  This was going to be my lady.  We would travel  and go great places together.  She would carry precious cargo…..ie grandchildren..She would be my workhorse, loaded from time to time with lawnmowers, weedeaters, dirt, pinestraw, plants, VBS materials up to her roof, sports equipment, luggage, dog houses, fences and friends.( the order given does not relate the importance of)  The bidding went on for several days.  She had no reserve placed on her, so the highest bidder would be her master. At last that final second came, I watched closely, ready to up my bid….and then, it was all over, she was mine for the taking!

She was to be mine when the money was paid but first there would be the trip to claim her and take care of all the paperwork.  Texas was her home and where she would be picked up by my husband.  Wilbur got a ride from our truck driver buddy, Bill Sanders  who had a run to Dallas and welcomed  company for the long ride.  Business was handled and she was on her way to her new home in Alabama.

She has been a mighty fine lady, never complaining about staying outside in the horrible heat and freezing winter weather with no roof over her head.  The garage is occupied by her new brother, the Big Truck!  So here we are, growing old together, traveling miles down the Alabama backroads and taking care of our ills when they befall us.  She will now have her air-conditioned!  I will enjoy her air being conditioned. I have had my check ups and now we are ready to hit the roads together again.  Sorry grandkids, Grammy is not going to get a new car!  Lady Continental is just fine.  She no longer smells like gas because her gas leak has been cured too! Her shoes are new and her oil is  changed.

Even cars want to call Alabama home! She was just waiting for me to get her here.

P.S.  Sorry Lady C, that you couldn’t make it to the State Tennis Tourneyat Auburn University last week-end, but maybe next year.

A/C trouble in my auto leads to a new discovery! BMX Champion

About the time I think I may not have to spend a lot of money this month…….here goes the car A/C.  Now all of us Alabamians know that driving in the south in July just simply requires the A/C.  Driving along in the steamy 90+ temperature with the windows rolled down enough to at least stir up a little breeze reminded me of the 1950’s when a lot of cars had no air. I know mine didn’t; of course I was a lot younger then, but my parents weren’t.  Well, they didn’t have to try to hear a conversation on a cell phone with the windows down either, because there were no cell phones.
Women could wear scarfs (bandanas) or hats to keep their hair from going crazy. One thing about it though, everyone or most everyone was in the same boat, or should I say un-airconditioned automobiles so that when they got to their point of destination one and all looked sweaty…..or as one southern marketer of GRITS says , southern girls don’t sweat, they glisten.  Well, enough of that and on with the story.

Going to the highly respected Crestwood Auto Service in Birmingham to get a good diagnosis on my A/C issues, I just happened to meet the owner, David Heath.  David came highly recommended by personal friends of mine and I now know why.  After checking under the hood of my old Lincoln, I could tell by the look on his face that he felt like he would be dealing with a monster on this one.  I let him off the hook by agreeing to take it to someone else that he recommended.  Now all this said, what I discovered while chatting with David was that there have been National Champions among us for years that we never hear about.  Oh,  Alabama and Auburn Football we hear and hear and hear about, but what about the young people who are living right here in our neighborhoods who become champions. Getting on the subject of bicycles (I guess at that point I thought I might have to resort to one) I learned that Jesse Heath, David’s son ranked #1 in the Nation in BMX Racing.  Never made the Birmingham News even though Bicycle magazines wrote it up.

During this adventure of BMX Racing, Jesse Heath became good friends with a young lad from Wetumpka, Alabama  whose name is Barry Nobels, who was also a racer.  Now Barry won a National Championship that was held in Louisville, Ky. and went on to race in Australia where he won, World Champion BMX Racing in Amateur!  Funny, I never knew we had a World Champion BMX Racer in Alabama.  Did you?

I can only say that I wish our newspapers would publish the wonderful good achievements of our children.  So many, yours and mine alike, who have accomplished good things deserve to be honored, at least in their own hometown newspapers. Surely it can’t all be about contact sports (even though I am a fan) or all the shootings of which none of us are fans.  Just a thought.  Remember to praise the people, especially the young who do good.

A drive down a country road

Just got back home from my writing hide out. I have been pretty much glued to my new HP, editing and re-writing until my legs wanted to go to sleep.  Having to get up and stretch, I would wander outside and walk down the road apiece deeper into our property, pet the country dogs ( they are an entirely different story) that would come to visit and then water the zosia grass we are trying to get to spread. Back in for more work.

Last evening, I felt a little too couped up so jumped into the hot car, turned in A/C up and headed out for a little country adventure.  Decided I would try the little two laned country road that ran past Providence Baptis Church. (Alicia and her girls took that road and somehow ended up in Prattville!)  Any way,  I drove the little curvey asphalt road not know where I would come out, but hopefully would end up on Hwy. 31. After several miles driving, looking off to  a left fork in the road, I spied a two story white lap-siding building that I knew had to be an old church.  I took the fork to the left and sure enough I stopped in front of Chestnut Creek Baptist Church.  The old church, according to a very faded sign, boasted of being established in 1814!   Wow, I had come upon a treasure.  The old church had a bell tower and an adjoining cemetery.  Pulling the car to the back of the church onto a little dirt road that gave access to the cemetery, I parked and got out to take a look.

My imagination ran wild, as I read inscriptions on blacken tombstones that dated bact before the civil war.  Right behind the church were the still standing, what I will call, homecoming tables.  In my mind I could see the congregation on a hot summer day listening to a long winded preacher speaking on the Glory of God (or hell fire and damnation) while the youngsters squirmmed and the young people cut their eyes to their sweethearts whishing the service would be over so that they could slip out and hold hands under the shade trees.  The men after having done their singing and worshiping were probably anxious to get to those victuals that were just waiting to be tasted.  I’m sure the  women had made up their very best dishes, hoping for praises from all who tasted them.  Ummm,   I am hungry just thinking about the fried chicken and delicious homegrown veggies and scruptous desserts!  Altar call give and the last Amen said, I can just see the children running out the double wooden doors to chase each other in the cemetery, and play hide and seek among the tombstones.

I got back in my car, wishing I could have been at one of those church services way back when.  Back when the church was the center of the community and was the place to go.  Young people wanting to go and perhaps meet the love of their life.  Children getting to play with each other, while the older folks caught up on gossip (Christian gossip, I’m sure!)  and all this centered around the sharing of the Love of Jesus!

I did in fact end up on Hwy. 31 at Coopers and headed back to my hide out where I would continue my work, thinking……..I wish I were a real writer because there is certainly a story to be told about where I went this evening.

Hope all of you have a wonderful upcoming Sabbath Day.  I am sure your minister or priest or rabbi will have you out of service, where you have enjoyed air conditioned climate on a padded pew or chairs, in time for a great meal at your favorite air conditioned restaurant.

Just hear the saints who have gone before and are looking down from Heaven.  “Those folks sure have it comfortable down there now but they don’t know what they missed in the old days……..but they sure don’t know what they are missing up here. Hope they all make it up here!”

Have a wonderful weekend and a sacred Sabbath.