Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Lesson of the Dandelion

And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:12 (NKJ)


Some time ago, I had the idea of writing a devotional book about things I saw in nature on my walks around the farm. I stalled after coming up with maybe a dozen devotionals and put the project on the shelf. But a few of them,including this one, can be found on my website. I decided to share this one here because a couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of a yellow wildflower I had spotted on my walk. That led to another little yellow flower picture and it became a game to see how many days I could spot a different new yellow flower on my walks. I'm up to flower number 16 and until today, I hadn't admitted spotting that yellow dandelion. But now it's the dandelion's day. So that's why I'm posting what I imagine God might have thought after he created the dandelion. 

The Lesson of the Dandelion

   God made the dandelion and said, "It is good. This plant is tough but has a bloom like a spot of sun to make my children smile. It is plentiful so they can eat the leaves and still never lack for flowers." 
He smiled when the seed ball popped up. "Yes, my little children will have fun with that, and look at all the fresh seeds for my songbirds weary from the winter. Yes, it is good."

Ah, the dandelion, that common yellow flower that blooms from spring to fall and even sometimes in the dead of winter after a few days of sunshine. This spring was a particularly good dandelion season. For a while all the lawns and fields were dotted with their sunspots. The roar of lawnmowers soon followed, but dandelions know when to duck their heads so that the next day they can push their white fluffy seed balls high into the air to cover the lawns like snow. It's not hard to imagine God smiling when His little children run out to free the seeds to the wind or when the birds enjoy the springtime feast or when mothers receive wilted bouquets of the blooms from small warm fists. Love in its purest form. 

Yet has there ever been any other plant that more money or labor has been spent attempting to eradicate? We poison it, chop it, dig it out by the roots, and still the dandelion not only survives, but flourishes.

The early Christians had that same staying power as the world tried to destroy them, but they put their trust in Jesus and would not be conquered. They kept spreading the seed of the Good News around the world. 

Are we sunspots of God's love in whatever place we're planted? Do we share the seeds of our faith with those who need nourishment after a hard winter? Do we remember the children to be sure the message is always carried on? Does God look down at what we’re doing and say, "Yes, it is good?"

Remember the Honor Mom Giveaway

A comment with a way to contact you gets you an entry in the giveaway for a chance to win the NKJ study Bible and a copy of one of my books. Another winner will get the set of Rosey Corner books. See the details on my website.

Thanks for reading.





Sunday, May 17, 2015

What's Your Favorite May Flower?


I have many favorite flowers even if that sort of contradicts the word "favorite." But each of the blooms is definitely a favorite when I'm looking at it or perhaps sniffing its fragrance or letting the flower walk me back a memory trail. Peonies do all of those things for me. I love the flowers. I love their spicy fragrance. I love their abundant blooms and the way they just come back year after year and decorate our yards. And I love the memories they bring. You see when I was a little girl, an aunt who was like a grandmother to me had two peony bushes in her yard. Bond lived at the homeplace so she and my father had probably grown up with those peonies blooming every year too. 

As you can see in the photo, I was impressed with the blooms at a very young age. That's my cute blonde sister on the left and me trying to pick a bloom instead of look at the camera. I did like those peony bushes. When I got a little older, I liked to run and leap over them. There were two bushes side by side in the middle of the yard. One bush wasn't as large as the other bush, so I could clear it easiest. I'm surprised my aunt didn't put a stop to my jumping game, but I don't suppose I ever hurt the bushes. Well, at least not too much. I'm so glad I was able to dig up a start from one of the bushes and plant it in my yard. It's a treasure trove of memories. 

The old homeplace was sold a few years ago and the house torn down. And then the new owners moved in a manufactured home and kept mowing down the peonies until now the bushes are no more. I know those bushes must have been there in that yard for over one hundred years, but the new owners didn't have the same treasured memories of them that I did. But I do wish I could have dug up more of the bulbs to let them continue growing somewhere else. A little bit of my heritage of flower loving ancestors. But at least they are still blooming in my yard and even if they weren't, they would still be blooming in my memory.

Do you have any flowers like that in your memory?


Don't Forget to Enter the Honor Mom Contest 

If you haven't entered my Honor Mom Giveaway Contest, you still have time. Deadline is midnight EST on May 30, 2015. To enter leave a comment here on my blog posts in May with a way to contact you should you be a winner. The contest is open to USA and Canada. You must be 18 to enter. 

Some of you who get my newsletter said you had a hard time replying to that e-mail. I'm sorry if you had difficulty. I appreciate those of you who didn't give up and managed to get the message sent. But I know that sort of thing is frustrating. I've also had some of you say it's hard to leave comments here on my blog posts. I don't know why, but if you would rather enter by sending me an e-mail here's my address. annhgabhart(at)hughes(dot)net. 


If you want, you can share a favorite Mother's Day memory with me. That's not necessary to enter, but I like reading your stories. If you missed Sandi's story on my last blog post, you should go back and read it. Sandi knows how to tell a story to make you laugh. Just click on the Because I Said So Mom.


One prize in my Honor Mom Giveaway is the beautiful New King James Version study Bible pictured above along with the winner's choice of one of my books. 

Another prize is an autographed set of my Rosey Corner books, Angel Sister, Small Town Girl and Love Comes Home. Mom's stories about growing up during the Depression inspired my Rosey Corner so those books seemed the right prize for an Honor Mom Giveaway.

Thanks for reading. And I'd love to hear about your Mother's Day or your favorite May flowers.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The "Because I Said So" Mom

We're still thinking mothers tonight. I've been getting so many great Mother's Day or Mother stories this week for my Honor Mom Giveaway. You can check out the prizes in the giveaway contest and how to enter on my website events page here. But now for a special treat. 

I've made so many reading friends on Facebook and here on my blog. I enjoy hearing from all of you and appreciate you reading my blogs and posts and my books. You're the best. 

One of those friends is Sandi. Last year when I was having my biopsy and then surgery for breast cancer, she sent me some first person experiences that kept me laughing. Nothing I'd had done could compare to the stories she told. I shared one of those stories on a previous blog here if you'd like to read it. And now she's shared this great piece about her mother. I wrote her back and said I was smiling and crying both. I know some of you will be doing the same. And while you younger readers may be a little taken aback by some of Sandi's story, rest assured that these old time mamas loved their children and took to heart the responsibility of making sure they grew up right. The "because I said so" generation did a great job of raising kids. So take it away, Sandi.

Sandi's Story  - A Woman Named Grace

How does one describe the love of a mother? I have had a mother, been a mother and am now a grandmother. What a gift God has given me. This story, however, is about a woman named "Grace." There were eight of us children –four girls and four boys. Mother was of the "because I said so" generation. 

She was such fun when she wasn’t having to save us from certain death or threatening us with certain death. She told us that she had eyes in the back of her head and as a very young child, I used to try desperately to see them. (I never did, but I still believe they were there). She was full of wisdom–"your face is going to freeze that way." Or.. "If everyone else jumps off a cliff, are you going to also? " One of her favorites was "I know how ugly I are...I know my face ain’t no star, but then I don’t mind it cause I’m behind it...it’s the guy in the front gets the jar." (If our hair needed shampooed or we look especially bad that day). She also told me that there was a special place at the top of her leg (maybe she said legs) where a baby came out...I tried to see that too, but finally, at around the age of 12 figured it out and quit looking. The eyes...not so much.

Mother had many "sayings" that I, then, tried to pass on to my kids. (Hers is definitely the voice I hear in my head). I would yell..."you do that again and I’ll knock you into the middle of next week" and they would look at one another and check their schedule to see what they’d be doing at that particular time. They were fearless. I guess without the slipper it just didn’t mean anything. 

Mother had a slipper–she used it with great gusto. She could whip that sucker off and knock you (into the middle of next week) before you even knew what hit you. She used that "enforcer" a lot when she was on the phone. Why is it that children think you’ve lost both sight and hearing when you’re seemingly distracted ,which, incidentally, she never was. We’d be chasing each other around the table laughing and shouting and "whack." Time suddenly stood still. That slipper was a promise of what was to come...and next week sounded pretty good about then.

And her eyes...oh those eyes. She didn’t have to say a word, but we knew what she wanted us to do. She could make my brothers walk the center aisle of the church and sit in the front seat (they’d been in the back giggling) without a word...just by giving them "the look." When she raised her eyebrows and widened her eyes, we knew that next week was a comin’. The worst was when she’d say she was going to knock you so far into next week that it would take two weeks for you to get back....she really meant business then. 

Sometimes she’d threaten with "I’m going to knock your head off and watch it roll across the floor." That was quite a visual!
"Wipe that look off your face" was one I worked hard at achieving. Just try not to look mad when you are...go ahead...try it. Impossible...but I know eight grown ups who can do it effortlessly. 

Or the rather famous when we were whining about something–"you wanna cry, I’ll give you something to cry about." Or when I’d see someone without teeth, I’d wonder if their mother had done what mine threatened when we’d sass–"you say that again and I’ll knock your teeth right down your throat." Ugh, shudder, yuck. 

I even tried it on my young daughter once...she had said something really nasty...as four-year-olds do now and then and I heard myself utter those words without even thinking–she looked horrified and responded "oh, dat would weely hurt." I had no power...no power whatsoever. I think I cried the whole rest of the day.

We had a record at home and a song on it that said "knock her down again, Pa, knock her down again." We hummed it a lot...but only in the backyard...far away from the house.

I was a victim quite often. I think I was born without a filter...or common sense...or the ability to know what I shouldn’t repeat. I had three older brothers. I’d overhear them talking and telling stories and then I’d repeat them at the most inopportune times. Like once when a spinster neighbor lady came to visit, I announced that I knew a joke. She, of course, wanted to hear it. "Mary had a little lamb and the doctor’s fainted." I hadn’t a clue as to what it meant, but Mother sure did. I think her eyes crossed.

Lest you get the impression that she was related to "The Wicked Witch of the West," she wasn’t. If you cried in the night, ever so softly, she was there with a cool cloth and a kiss and a promise that it would be better in the morning. If someone threatened one of "hers" she had a look that could make them run for cover. If it was "Parents Day" at school–there she’d be, looking quite unlike the lady in the duster and hairnet I had left at home in the morning. I especially liked her brown suit and the way she did her hair in a bun in the back. She was a classy lady...especially when she wasn’t wearing those slippers. 

She made the best pies and cookies of anyone I knew but wasn’t so good at "real" food. However, she never made you sit at the table until you ate something–with that many kids, there wasn’t room anyways. She would look at us lovingly and say "I have good kids." We all understood the hidden meaning... . She never ever told us to ride our bikes down the white line on Rt. 40 like one of our nameless Aunts was apt to tell her rather bratty kid to do. (I think one of my brothers offered him a push). 

And she taught us about Jesus, the most important presence in our lives. Nothing made me prouder than on Mother’s Day in church, when she’d win for having the most children. We’d all be scrubbed cleaner than clean and we’d clap wildly when she’d go up front to get her geranium. She has gone to be with the Lord now, but there is a whole new generation that carries on her sayings and even her name–Grace. As I said, I am a mother and a grandmother, but in my eyes, there is only one Mother worthy of that name–ours.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Sandi. You definitely were blessed with a wonderful mother. I know you must treasure your memories of her and good times with your siblings. 

Did any of the rest of you have a mother like Sandi's? Mine never had any slippers but she could give you that look for sure. 
 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Giveaway to Honor Mom


                    


Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. ~Author Unknown


Missing Mom

I'm missing my mother today on my first ever Mother's Day without her. As most of you know, Mom went home to be with the Lord in July last year. She had walked a tough path of dementia the last few years of her life. But today I'm missing her smile. Mom enjoyed life. She loved her family and took joy in her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She had so much love in her heart as most mothers do. So I hunted up a couple of pictures showing her with lots of smiles. 

Honor Mom Giveaway Contest

To honor Mom's memory this month, I'm having an Honor Mom Giveway Contest. I sent out the details of the giveaway in a newsletter yesterday. (If you didn't get it, but would like to, you can let me know and I'll add you to my e-mail newsletter list.) 


1st Prize
1st prize in the contest is a beautiful New King James study Bible. What mother wouldn't like that or wouldn't like for you to win that? That winner will also get his or her choice of one of my autographed books. 




2nd Prize

2nd prize is an autographed set of my Rosey Corner books, Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home. I picked those as a prize since Mom and all the stories she told me about growing up during the Great Depression were the inspiration for Angel Sister. Some of you may already have the books or have already read the stories, but I'm sure you have a reading friend who might enjoy the stories too should you win. 


To Enter

To enter you can send me an e-mail at annhgabhart(at)hughes(dot)net or leave a comment here on one of my blog posts in May with a way to contact you should you be a lucky winner. The deadline for entries is midnight EST on May 30, 2015. The contest is open to USA and Canada. (Sorry, international readers, but that Bible is heavy.) Also, you must be 18 to enter. 

If you want, you can share a favorite Mother's Day memory with me. That's not necessary to enter, but we always have fun sharing stories here. 

A Mother's Day Story

Some of you have already entered and shared some stories. This one from Janet made me reach for the tissue box.


"My first Mother's Day without Mama was 2 years ago. As you said, you knew your Mom loved you even though she couldn't say it.

My Mother who also had Dementia fell 2 days before she died. I went into the ER room and told the doctor she was my Mom. As soon as my mother heard my voice, she said, "Is that Janet"? I had not heard Mama say my name in 3 years. She knew I was her daughter but she didn't know my 2 sisters. She only knew them as very nice ladies who were taking care of her.

My favorite Mother's Day memory is being with her at the church she went to. She would see me sitting in the pew and her face would just light up. Oh, how I miss that!

I better go blow my nose and wipe my eyes. It's hard to type and cry at the same time."

Thank you for sharing that with us, Janet. That had to be a heart gift to you to have your mother speak your name.

Thanks, everyone, for reading. 









  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Loretta, A Super Prayer Warrior

Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all of our doings, as we express heartfelt gratitude, and as we pray for others. (David A. Bednar)


Do you have a special prayer warrior in your church? One of those people you better not ask to pray for something you want unless you're really sure you want the prayer answered because it will be. We have a prayer warrior like that in our little country church. Loretta is an example of faithfulness and love. 

We went to her house tonight to help her celebrate her 99th birthday that is coming up next week. At her age, you can celebrate every day for a month if you want to. Loretta told us she has been a member of our church for seventy-five years. She gave her life to Christ as a young teen before she married at age sixteen. She and her husband, who died several years ago at age 96, moved their membership to our church when they bought a farm in the neighborhood. She said they used to go all around the area and gather up children to bring to Bible School. Recently, she had been going through some of her things and found the worker certificates she received for working in Bible School in 1957 and 1960. She'd kept them all these years and had them to show us tonight.  

Another thing she has kept all these years is her devotion to the Lord. Every day she reads His word. Every day she prays for her family and friends and for her church. Every day she thanks the Lord for His blessings. Even on the hard days. 

This week is a good time to visit Loretta. To rejoice with her in a life well lived. She is the mother of five, the grandmother of many and yet she makes time to pray for the others in her church family. A true prayer warrior. 

As you read or listen to God's Word and spend time talking to Him in prayer, your spirit will eventually become stronger than your flesh. (Joyce Meyer)

That's where Loretta is now. Strong of spirit and not as strong of body anymore. But she's still remembering that the "knee" is an important part of the church family when it's bent in prayer. Proverbs 31 could be written about Loretta. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:31)

I have been so blessed by Loretta's prayers for me. Do you know someone like Loretta? 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Faith, Courage and Baptism

Do you remember when you were baptized? Different denominations have different ways of accepting members into their fellowship and different baptism traditions. The church I attended sporadically as a child was a Baptist church so once a person made a profession of faith, baptism followed. I remember going to Sunday school when I was young and to Bible School, but we didn't attend Sunday services on a regular basis.

My mother was raised in a Christian church, went every Sunday, but my father wasn't a churchgoer. His family had roots in an old Baptist church that had died out and by the time I came along, the church met once a year for a homecoming service. I'm almost sure my dad went to that. I know I did - at least as a very young child. Then they must have stopped having that service too. It was all day preaching with dinner on the grounds. About all I remember about the services was that it was long, very long and somebody brought pink lemonade for the dinner and that almost made the long hours on the hard benches worth it.

Both my sisters made a profession of faith and were baptized when they were around twelve at the Baptist Church a couple of miles from where we grew up. I'm guessing at their ages. They might have been younger. I remember when the sister that's only a little older than me was baptized. I remember church members saying they thought I would walk the aisle with her. But that walking the aisle was a big roadblock for me. I was very shy. I did feel the Lord in my heart. I did want to say so, but that aisle looked a hundred miles long to my young eyes. Even after I got my driver's license and began going to church by myself and wanted to answer the altar call, I could not step out. Some of you are probably saying the Lord would have helped me and He would have. But I couldn't do it. 

Then at the too young age of seventeen, I got married and had a baby. At the hospital when I was being admitted, they asked for my church affiliation. I had to say none even though my husband and I went to church every Sunday. His family was an every service faithful churchgoers. That was fine by me. I wanted to go to church. But I felt terrible when I had to say none about my religion. I felt very close to the Lord. I just had never proven it by declaring that in front of man as the Bible says. 

So, after I was back in church following the baby's birth (back then you stayed home for at least three weeks before you carried babies to church or anywhere else), I was determined to overcome my shyness and walk the aisle. It may have helped that we were going to a much smaller church with a much shorter aisle than the one I'd attended before I married. The Lord does find ways to help us. :) The invitation hymn was "Just As I Am." I had set that song in my head as the one, and so, I stepped out. Walked the aisle to take the preacher's hand. I was baptized. 

Later my father-in-law told me how happy they were I had joined church, and it dawned on me that they were concerned over their son marrying an unbeliever. You see, I had never felt like an unbeliever, only a person lacking the courage to step out. I should have remembered what God told Moses at the burning bush when Moses said he couldn't speak. Who gave man his tongue? Or something like that. He might have asked me who gave a girl courage. But He kept loving me, kept nudging me, and made it possible.

All this to say that Sunday I watched my nine-year-old granddaughter be baptized into the church after a profession of faith. That's the picture up top. A sweet day. She was a little nervous, but she was happy. Her friends from the neighborhood came to witness her new life beginning. It was a day to rejoice. 

Do you remember the day you were baptized or made a profession of faith?    

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Special Bond of Sisters



"You can kid the world. But not your sister." (Charlotte Gray)

Did you ever read a quote that carried any more truth? Sisters know us and we know them in a way no one else can. 


Tonight, I went back in my blog archives looking for something about my book, Angel Sister. I found plenty of posts. I mention it again in this post because if you have an e-reader and would like to read my first Rosey Corner book, it is on e-book sale for $1.99 one more day, tomorrow April 30th. Then the price will go back up. Angel Sister is a special book for me since my mother's memories play such a big part in the the background of that story. Also, since I had sisters and no brothers and my mother had sisters and no brothers, I focused on sisters in Angel Sister. I wanted to highlight that special bond sisters have for one another.

And in this post with segments pulled from a 2011 post, I'm sharing about sisters again. Now I have grandchildren who have that sister bond. Three sisters in each set of grandchildren. 

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." (Marion C. Garretty) 

When you're kids living in the same house, you're sometimes ready to choke one another, but the sister bond changes as the years go by. The older sister who tormented you with her superior everything is now the sister you can count on to tell you the truth and point you in the right direction when a decision needs to be made. The younger sister who spilled your favorite bottle of perfume and was such a pest is now the sister who will hold your hand through the worst doctor's visits or will walk with you through the hard times of caretaking your parents. And the middle sister - she's the glue who holds the sisters together. She's the one with the ready ear and the shoulder to cry on when things aren't going well. In Angel Sister, I have Kate, the middle sister be the responsible one - the one who wants to make sure things turn out right for her family.

Our sisters do know us. They shared the same experiences growing up. They know about that first cake you made that even the dogs wouldn't eat. They know about the snake that showed up in the inner tube with you when you were swimming in the pond. They remember how much you loved your first dog. They know about the time you got lost in the snowstorm in the city and are still thankful that turned out okay. They were there at the beginning when you first took up a pen to write a story. They laughed at you and drove you crazy. They knew exactly who you were and they kept loving you even when they didn't like you so much. 

"You keep your past by having sisters. As you get older, they're the only ones who don't get bored if you talk about your memories." (Deborah Moggach)

Thank goodness, my mother and her sisters never got tired of talking about their "good old days." And that I never got tired of listening to them. Without those oft repeated stories, I might never have written Angel Sister. My sisters and I don't do the "remember when" as much as Mom and her sisters did. But maybe we should - where our kids can hear. Our pasts are a gift of experiences and love that we should pass along to the younger generation whether they think it's boring or not. And then eventually they will do the same. That's what families do.

Do you like to "remember when" with your sisters? Or your brothers? 

What's a sister mean to you?