Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It's Christmas Time

My friend, Tanya, and I were blessed to write an Advent devotional booklet for our fellow church members to help them prepare for the Christmas season. Each one of our devotions was based on a verse from the beloved Christmas song, O Holy Night. Below is one of the devotions I wrote to remind us to celebrate the real reason for the season, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

O Holy Night

“Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!”

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good
news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town
of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the
Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11

The Mercy Me song, I Can Only Imagine, was very popular on Christian and secular radio a few years back. The beautiful lyrics of that song help our human heart and eyes to visualize what it will be like to be in God’s presence before the King of Kings.

The shepherds of the Bible actually saw what that song portrays. The angels’ sudden appearance over the hills of Bethlehem lit up the sky with the glory of God. The shepherds of the Bible were ostracized and considered unclean by Jewish society. Their lot in life was to guard and care for dirty sheep in relative isolation. Yet, those lowly Jews were the first to receive the good news of Jesus birth and an introduction to the King of Kings. They overcame their fear and hurried to find Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Savior. They willingly fell to their knees in worship.

Become aware of those around you who are on the fringes of society. During the Christmas season think of one thing you can do to share the good news with them.

God, it is so easy to look past those who don’t look like me and who live in a different part of town. Open my eyes to ways I can share your love with them. Amen!

Thanks for reading and sharing my blog posts in 2015. I wish you 
and your family a blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Practice Thanks Living (Part 3)

My celebration of Thanksgiving may be over, but my year of giving thanks is just beginning. Starting now and through 2016, I plan to concentrate on thanks living. A familiar quote from Bill Keane is motivating me in that direction.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God,
that’s why we call it the present.”

I’ve mostly dealt with my past and learned from it. I’m replacing my anxiety about the future with hope. But what do I do about TODAY… I feel the stress level rising as I write the words below:
  • phone call from the doctor says, “You need more tests.”
  • A rude driver cuts me off and blasts his horn.
  • A unexpected situation thwarts my plans for the day.
  • A broken appliance ruins the budget for the month.

 Today is a Gift of God

Growing older with more life experiences under my belt gives me a better perspective on coping with daily stress. An attitude of gratitude and a good sense of humor empower me to tackle my problems one by one. No matter what comes my way today, it helps if I can look at each challenge as a gift. Another important tool for managing my daily stress is flexibility. Some days I wish I was more like  GUMBY — a tall colorful balloon that swings and sways in the wind. It also helps to find ways to share your burden with another person who will encourage and pray for you.

We all like to think we are in charge and control of our lives, when in reality we have to “let go and let God.” My personal experience of almost dying from liver disease before getting a liver transplant almost 18 years ago is a constant reminder to me that each day is a gift. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. We need to celebrate each day as a blessing and an opportunity to give back to others. Not only is today a gift to you, but you can be a gift for someone else. A prayer, a visit, or an act of kindness goes a long way toward putting a smile on another person’s face.

As we contemplate December 25th when the best “present” of all became flesh to dwell among us, take time to “present” yourself to God so that you may experience His “presence” during this Christmas season.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Practice Thanks Living (Part 2)

I wrote in my last post that my goal for 2016 is to practice Thanks Living based on a familiar quote by Bill Keane.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God,
which is why we call it the present.”

It’s easy to be under the delusion that past hurts and circumstances can’t hurt me anymore. I tell myself that I’ve dealt with my past and it doesn’t control my life today. But, from time to time, the past rears its head and must be dealt with again. However, my greatest challenge is keeping a proper perspective on the future.

Tomorrow is a Mystery

I don’t like mysteries. When I am reading a mystery novel, I often turn to the back to see how it all comes out; then go back and read the rest of the story. Personality-wise I’m a realist, a planner, and a fixer which is not a good combination for dealing with an unknown future. Since I can’t grasp the future, do anything about it, or keep something from happening—I get frustrated and turn into a WORRIER. In spite of my Christian faith and growing understanding of what the Bible says about worrying—it’s an ever present DANGER.

Worry is caused by fear and our bodies and minds are not equipped to deal with being under a constant state of alert. Maybe that’s why the Bible speaks so clearly on the subject. “Fear not” is mentioned in the Bible more than 365 times—once for each day of the year, plus. So, I decided to make a list of the things in my future I tend to worry about—failing health, being alone, loss of a loved one, and financial problems.  SURPRISE!  I’ve experienced every one of those things and I survived. The God who provided for me in ways I’ve never imagined will provide for me in the future. My future may be a mystery to me, but God sees my life from the beginning to the end and it’s all in His hands.

One of the advantages of growing older is perspective. As I look back on things I worried about, I find that the majority of my worries never came to pass. Things that weren’t even on my radar screen became daily priorities instead. Think of all the time I wasted worrying about what never came to pass. Make this a true season of Thanks Living by memorizing the following verse and living by its message.

“Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, 
and thank him for all he has done.” (and what He will do).  NLT Philippians 4:6

My final post in this series will come in two weeks: Today is a Gift of God. Please comment below and share your thoughts.  If you post anonymously, please add your name at the end of your message. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving. I love hearing from you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Practice Thanks Living (Part 1)

Thanksgiving is one day or maybe a month during which we focus on feasting and being thankful.  Thanksgiving is also the first day of the holiday rush. I get so bogged down that by the time the holidays are over I’m worn out, and the idea of making New Year’s resolutions seems overwhelming. So this year I decided to determine my goals for 2016 early in connection with Thanksgiving.  My goal for 2016 is to practice Thanks Living. The following quote outlines the essence of Thanks Living.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God,
which is why we call it the present.” Bill Keane

Having the right perspective on yesterday, today, and tomorrow helps me practice Thanks Living. At first I thought I would put my ideas into one blog post but the more I thought and prayed about it, I decided to write three blogs dealing with what it means to experience Thanks Living.

Yesterday is History
What do we do with the past? We’ve all been through some tough times. We’ve been hurt by the actions of others. We’ve made some bad choices. Is it possible to make peace with our past? According to a youtube video called The Josh Speaks, the first step to dealing with the past is to remember it. In other words don’t stuff bad memories and paper over them with some addiction that only adds to your difficulties today. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of your past.  Dwell on past events and wrongs and they grow bigger, more powerful, and destroy today’s potential for happiness. What you feed is what will grow.

Writing down past memories is very therapeutic. When I wrote my memoir Born Three Times, I examined my past in great detail. There were some things I enjoyed remembering and some painful experiences that I wanted to forget. But as I looked at the totality of my life, it became clear that the person I am today is the result of the good, bad, and ugly of the past. I saw how God has used all the details of my life to grow me in my Christian life. 

Is your past so painful you can’t overcome its negative effects? Consider getting the help of a friend or a professional that can help provide you with positive coping skills. Being able to put the past behind us is also good for our health. Carrying grudges or hurts leads to stress and high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other negative side effects that hurt our minds and bodies.

Learning how to forgive the past is also good for us spiritually. The Bible tells us how important it is for us to forgive.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15

Wow! I want to be forgiven by God, don’t you? I don’t want to have to give an account for every ugly word, or action, or thought I’ve had. So I must ask God to help me forgive those who hurt me in the past. We just recently cleaned out our bedroom closet. It had been way too long and the collection of dusty boxes and dust bunnies was a little overwhelming. It was also time to sort clothes and discard what no longer fit. Now that it’s done, I enjoy going into the closet to choose what to wear for the day. Forgiving the past is like cleaning out a dirty and dusty closet. You don’t like to stir things up, but once it is clean and you let stuff go, you find freedom.

“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.” ~Jean Paul Sartre

Begin practicing Thanks Living this month as you prepare for the holiday season and stay tuned for my next blog post “Tomorrow is a Mystery.”  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Box Full of Love

It’s not even November and some of us are already thinking about Christmas.  What’s the big rush you ask? It’s time to fill shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child! Since 1993, the
Samaritan’s Purse project has collected and delivered more than 124 million gift-filled shoe
boxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories. These personalized shoe boxes filled with toys and gifts will go to children in some of the hardest-to-reach countries around the world.

Day after day on TV and the Internet, we see heart-wrenching pictures of children set adrift as refugees from war-torn countries. Also many families in Africa and Southeast Asia lack the basic necessities of life with little resources left to bring sunshine into a child’s life. We may not be able to personally go on a mission trip to help the world’s children, but we can support the work of Samaritan’s Purse in distributing shoe boxes to the neediest of them. 

Many senior adults in retirement communities and as individuals participate in this project. A recent internet video showed a 91-year-old woman sewing small tote bags to include in the boxes. Her goal for 2015 is to make 200 drawstrings bags. She wakes up with a purpose each and every day knowing that she is helping to bring joy to a child’s life.

What goes into a shoe box? The most popular items include a small doll, inflatable soccer ball, school supplies, hygiene items like toothbrushes and soap, flip-flops and socks. Non-chocolate candy, beads for girls, and flashlights for boys are much desired by children everywhere. A regular shoe box filled with items and wrapped in Christmas paper can be taken by November 23 to one of 4,000 drop-off sites in all 50 states. Operation Christmas Child also provides free pre-printed boxes for filling that are available at Christian bookstores.
Shoe boxes are flown to countries all over the world and distributed via boat, truck, and by mule into the remotest communities of people. The children and teenagers are then given an opportunity to take a class called “The Greatest Journey” that introduces them to God’s love through Jesus Christ. Lives are changed for eternity, as many receive the hope offered by the Gospel. And it all starts with a shoe box and a visit to your local dollar store.

More information on how you can help is found at the website:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What Color is October?

Slow down and look around this October. Along with April, it is one of the most colorful months of the year.  No wonder fall and spring are favorite seasons for a lot of people.

The variety of colors everywhere has amazed me. Here’s a sample of what I have observed.

·        Leaves – The leaves are changing slowly in Georgia this year. Our first 40o night time temperature arrives this weekend and will, hopefully, change the green leaves to yellow, red, purple, orange, and not just drab brown. I still miss my home town at this time of the year. It’s very hard to duplicate the beauty of a northern New York State fall.

·        Flowers – It was time to replace my spring flowers on our porch and deck. When I arrived at the garden center, my senses were assaulted by the display of fall flowers. The mums were yellow and bronze and everything in between.  But I knew they would not survive the first freeze, so I headed to the pansies. I chose the deep red and yellow ones. Their bright faces will keep me cheered during the cold and dreary winter.

·        Pumpkins – The color and variety of pumpkins has amazed me this year. Pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns are not just orange and round any more. White, green, and gold ones were stacked at the grocery store in a very appealing display.  Other vegetables such as squash and decorative gourds added to the color combo. Pumpkin bread anyone? Here’s a link to a Betty Crocker recipe. Enjoy!

·        Football – Here is Georgia everyone bleeds red and black for the University of Georgia Bulldogs and gold and black for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Fans of the Atlanta Falcons sport their red and white shirts and are thrilled with their winning record. I’m not a football fan myself, but I enjoy seeing others wear their team colors. 
·        Apples – On a recent trip to the apple barn in Ellijay, Georgia we sampled many types of apples. We snacked on everything from bright red delicious to green Granny Smith. As I type, I am chewing a slightly tart Pink Lady.

·        Pink – Speaking of pink, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is everywhere.  I have several friends who have overcome this tough disease. My prayers go out to all those receiving treatment. May they experience many more colorful October days.

                            Do you have some fall sights or memories to share? 
Please comment below. I love hearing from you.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

30 Days Hath September

The first day of fall.
It’s a good thing I memorized the Mother Goose rhyme that helps me remember the number of days in each month. Knowing the rhyme has prompted me to write another post before Wednesday. Usually, I have an idea or two in the hopper for my bi-monthly blog, but this short month caught me short.  I don’t even know what happened to September except that I spent two weeks with a stomach virus followed by a cold, and here we are ready for October.

When I was a child, I loved the month of September because it meant going back to school. I was one of those weird kids who loved school—new teachers, books, friends, and opportunities. I’m sure school instilled my love for learning, reading, and writing. For me the first Tuesday of September when school resumed was more like the beginning of a new year than the traditional New Year’s Day on January 1. Since my school years were spent in Western New York State, the colorful leaves peaked and fell in September. Kicking and crunching the leaves as I walked to school was a favorite pastime.

Two songs I still enjoy include September in their titles. The 1959 song “See You in September” was a big hit when I was a teenager and wishing I had a summer love.  And who still doesn’t enjoy the very romantic song “September Morn” sung by Neil Diamond.  Here is some more September trivia:

Today, September 27 has been designated National Chocolate Milk Day, National Crush a Can Day, National Corn Beef Hash Day, and National Gold Star Mother’s Day (in recognition of mothers whose sons died on the battlefield.)

Now for the serious side of September. At the top of our list has to be our remembrances of 9/11. Where were you on that day?  We were on a tour group bus in the heart of France. We had pulled into a rest stop, and there in the corner was a small black & white TV showing grainy footage of the smoking twin towers. I first thought it was a replay of the old King Kong movie with the giant ape climbing up the Empire State Building. Everything was in French and nobody in the rest stop spoke English so our tour guide had to interpret for us. We were all in panic mode when we got back on the bus. It wasn’t until we got back into Germany that we could watch English speaking television. We weren’t sure when and if we could fly back to the US. On the return flight several days later everyone sang God Bless America when our wheels touched down at the Atlanta airport.

Even after 29 years, I sadly remember September 17, 1996. That was the day my first husband, Talmadge Davis, died of a sudden heart attack. Our family life changed forever. One week later my youngest son, Michael Davis, celebrated his 15th birthday. September memories are better these days because a grandson and granddaughter were also both born in this month. I am thankful everyday that God allows me to live and enjoy another beautiful September.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Old People's Music

The sounds of Frank Sinatra
I like the music sounds of previous decades—50’s, 60’s 70’s along with some more recent music too. The songs that used to croon about June, moon, and spoon and were accompanied by instruments were my favorites. When I finally figured out how to RIP my music to my computer, transfer the sings to my Kindle Fire HDX, and play them on my Bose Bluetooth speaker, I felt like I had arrived. I could listen to all my old favorites anyplace, anytime, anyhow.

Shirley and me ready for the
 Josh Groban concert
My granddaughter was helping clean up the kitchen after a recent meal I had cooked for my son and his children. We were having a real bonding time over the kitchen sink. Afterward I suggested we  sit down to watch a bit of TV. When I turned it on, the Public Broadcasting Channel came up with one of their quarterly fundraising events featuring a well-known singer of the past. Just as I was relaxing, my granddaughter jumped up and announced, “Grammy, that’s old people’s music,” and she flounced out of the room.

Oh my, I guess she was right. It didn’t impress her one bit that I know how to play my favorites on all the latest gadgets. And she probably wouldn’t be impressed if I told her about the wonderful time Charles and I had attending the Barry Manilow concert on our anniversary. Somehow she just couldn’t imagine her grandparents swinging and swaying to his music. Do I dare mention to her that a friend and I recently attended a Josh Groban concert and listened to his beautiful baritone voice sing Broadway hits from yesteryear?  

Charles and I recently watched another PBS program featuring Johnny Mathis along with the announcement of his upcoming concert in Atlanta in January. I looked at Charles and laughed, “More old people’s music.” He said,” If can still sing like that at his age, we need to get tickets.” Now to complete my concert bucket list for the year, I need to hear Michael Buble` sing all the oldies but goodies in the swing style of today. It just proves that what goes around comes around. 

When I’m alone and have some unpleasant household task to perform, I turn on my Kindle and speaker full blast and am transported to another place and time. Old People’s Music helps me feel young again.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Pursuit of Happiness

Who doesn’t want to live a satisfying life?  Humans are complex and travel many different paths in life, but everyone is looking for meaning and purpose. We spend most of our time pursuing those things that make us happy. After all we’re Americans and isn’t that what Americans do? The Declaration of Independence gives full support to our desire to be happy.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the                                    pursuit of Happiness.

 I found two internet articles on the subject of long-term happiness and the sense of well-being, which represent two sides of the same coin. The first article from the August 12, 2015 edition of The Week Magazine is entitled The Key to Sustained Happiness is Religion.  Researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands studied various social activities that people chose to pursue.  They also looked at organizations that people join. Politics, Community Involvement, Charities, Education, and Religion were the areas that received the greatest scrutiny.

The researchers discovered that every area they studied except religion led to decreased happiness over time. Only participation in a religious organization boosted happiness in the long run. The researchers said that they were puzzled by their discovery. 

The second article written by Scott Barry Kaufman on August 2, 2015 on the Scientific American Blog asks What Character Strengths are Most Predictive of Well-Being?  517 people ranging in age from 18-71 were studied to determine their positive strengths. The goal was to use this information in psychology to not just treat mental illness but to encourage people to focus on those positive strengths. Google:  Scientific American Well Being for article.

The characteristics that rose to the top in people who experienced well-being were: Gratitude, Love, Honesty, and Hope. I see a strong connection between participation in a religious organization and those characteristics. Believing in God and studying His Word with a group of like-minded believers will make us more thankful and honest. Stretching our faith muscles will develop a mindset of love and hope. 

Jesus also talked about a full and satisfying life as recorded in the Bible in John 10:10.

I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly.

Pursue happiness and a sense of well-being by investing your life in serving God and serving others. And I would love to hear from you. 

What makes you happy? 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Life Without Regrets

Feeling sad or disappointed over a missed opportunity is not something any of us enjoy. We like to think we are “take charge” people who live life to the fullest. 

In the past month Charles and I have attended memorial services for two men who devoted their lives to church planting and spreading the Gospel. They lived their lives fulfilling the mission that God had given them. Their funerals were more like joyful celebrations.

Hospice nurse, Bronnie Ware is the author of the best-selling memoir, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.  I recently saw a post from her on Facebook entitled The Top Five Regrets People Express on Their Deathbeds. She writes,

“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home
to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to
         twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.”

Here are the five regrets she observed and paraphrased by me.

#5 – I wish I’d let myself be happier by embracing the moment and not being afraid of change.

#4 – I wish I had nurtured and maintained my relationships and not given in to the time thief that kept me from doing important things with family and friends.

#3 – I wish I had had the courage to express my feelings. I spent too much time stuffing my feelings and not speaking honestly.

#2 – I wish I had simplified my life and hadn’t worked so hard amassing possessions.

#1 – I wish I had lived a life true to myself and done more to fulfill my dreams.

When we lose our health, doing these five things is much more difficult if not impossible. I remember when I was so sick with liver disease and facing a transplant, all my energy went into surviving each day. I did have regrets and unfulfilled dreams (such as writing) and have been so thankful for a second chance to see my dreams come true.

I will add one more to the list above—one that we can do something about even when we are at the end of our life. When people are on their death beds, their minds turn to where they will spend eternity. If they are not sure of their relationship with God, that can cause a lot of anxiety and regrets. The good news is that it is never too late to find a right relationship with God. He is always waiting for us to come to Him, accept Jesus as our Savior, seek forgiveness for our sins, and experience His grace. That simple act of faith will provide the peace, joy, and love that comforts and grants life without regrets. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Georgia On My Mind

Fifty-four years ago this month I left my relatively sheltered life on the banks of Lake Ontario from the small town of Webster, New York to begin a new life in Atlanta, Georgia. It was quite a transition from being surrounded by the red maple trees and rural life in western New York to the tall pine trees and red dirt of north Georgia. At that time, Atlanta was just an up and coming city trying to make a name for itself.

My oldest sister, Jan, and her husband, Curt, lived here and it was at their invitation that I made the big move. My high school diploma was still wet and I needed a place to go to get some advanced education.  My high school goal was to attend a small campus of the New York State University system and major in education and international studies. My family’s finances could not make that dream a reality, so I flew to Georgia to attend a much more reasonably priced Executive Secretarial program that would train me to enter the workforce sooner rather than later.

It was at times a difficult adjustment due to the different cultures. The Old South was still very much a reality in the early Sixties and as a Yankee my accent and interests stood out like a sore thumb. I think everyone assumed that when I got my training that I would return to New York to look for a job. A funny thing happened on the way to graduation.  I decided I liked the Southern lifestyle and especially the weather—no blistering cold and lake effect snows for five months every year.

So many good things have happened to me since I left my comfort zone and embarked on a new way of life. Interesting jobs, marriage, children, a spiritual renewal, more education, a second marriage, a liver transplant, and good health in my later years to enjoy all that God has provided.

I have been blessed with Southern girlfriends who at times tease me about my Yankee roots. When I moved here I was 100% Yankee. But now based on the number of years I’ve lived here, I am 25% Yankee and 75% Southern. 

My memoir, Born Three Times—A New Life, A New, A New Love, fills in the blanks and tells the rest of my story. It tells the story of God’s amazing gift of second chances and provides inspiration for those who are going through difficult times. I would like to reach more people with the message of my book. You can help by clicking below on my Frieda Dixon, Author Facebook Page. After you open my page, be sure to click LIKE. My goal is 100 LIKES which will help me become more visible on Facebook. Thanks for your help and support of my blog.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Look and Feel Younger

Let’s face it, we are all growing older. We may kick and scream, but we can’t stop the process, and I am not ready quite yet for the alternative. Online articles abound with advice on how to age gracefully. Recent ones include: Remove your Eye Bags Instantly, This Trick Erases Teeth Stains, 68 Year Old Grandma Outsmarts Botox, and The Secrets to Aging Gracefully. I usually read them because I just might learn something. The one bit of advice that appears in all articles has to do with exercise. I also get unsolicited urging from my late bloomer mate who exercises in some form or fashion almost every day. He is on a three mile hike in hot weather as I write this.

Until two years ago, I participated in deep water aquatics at the YMCA. I decided to give up swimming because I was getting too many colds and infections. Then my excuse became something like this quote from an unknown author.
 "I tried exercise but found I was allergic to it - my skin flushed, my heart raced,
I got sweaty, short of breath. Very, very dangerous."

Then I read Fifteen Ways Exercise Helps You Look and Feel Younger. Who doesn’t want to relieve stress, reduce belly fat, have better sleep, and be more flexible? After checking out the options for an exercise program in my area, I finally decided to join two fitness classes at our local senior center. It was time to get out of my comfy chair and take to heart a doctor’s admonition to his patient, 

“I’m afraid pulling the handle on your recliner doesn’t count as exercise.” 

I was surprised to discover that I could get a pretty strenuous workout by using a straight chair for support while I use weights and a resistance band to stretch my legs, arms, and torso. My second class is a gentle Yoga class that helps with balance and relaxation. I can do this without injuring myself and get myself in better shape in the process.

God placed me in this body to accomplish His purposes while I am still here. I can’t do that if I am too sluggish to move and am unmotivated and lazy. I want to be able to say like the apostle Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Too Close to Home

The search for the two convicted murderers who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York is very close to my hometown of Burke, New York.  I still have cousins in that area and a lot of memories of going to Owls Head, New York where the latest search is taking place. Some of my relatives had a camp on a lake near Owls Head and I spent a lot of time enjoying summer vacations there. 

Prison is in the middle county at the top of NY State.
The scene of the latest search is only 17.5 miles from where I grew up and very close to a border check point that leads into Canada. When I was young our family could have walked a mile to the Canadian border and crossed over without being stopped. The border is much more secure today.

My father spent much of his spare time roaming the woods and the hills where the police are now searching. He was a member of a hunting club like the one where the escapees’ DNA was found.

Upstate New York, especially those counties closest to the Canadian border, has a very large prison population. That area of the state is very sparsely populated and rugged, with forests and thick underbrush, and small towns scattered across the Adirondack Mountain region. The prisons are considered an economic lifesaver for a region that has few jobs and opportunities. The population of a county with a prison grows by approximately 30%—counting the inmates, prison staff, and families of inmates who move to the area. An increase in the prison population grows the county census and increases the amount of grants and representation at the State Capitol in Albany, New York. So unless there is a rare prison break, it is a win-win for the locals. This year I suspect a lot of locals are staying away from their summer camps on remote lakes until the escapees are caught. 

Upstate New York is anything but peaceful and quiet these days. I’m praying that the police soon apprehend the convicts so that my family and other folks in that region can enjoy the little bit of summer they get for two months every year.

Monday, June 8, 2015

19 Years & Counting

I’ve been waiting a long time to write this blog—nineteen years to be exact. Today my late bloomer husband and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Almost to the exact hour 19 years ago we said our “I dos.”

It was the second marriage for both of us, and with my terminal illness, neither of us knew how many years of wedded bliss we would have. Charles reminds me that “love is deaf, dumb, and blind.”  In spite of the obstacles we both believed that God brought us together and so we chose to trust Him with our future. 

To celebrate we attended the Barry Manilow “One Last Time” concert last week. What a show and what a showman. He sang everything from his forty year music library. I have to admit that I expected his voice to not be as strong as it used to be.  Boy was I wrong; he hit all the right notes and never missed a beat.  He definitely “writes the songs that make the whole world sing.”

The next day we took time to smell the roses at Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, GA.  One thousand red and white knock out rose bushes were still at their peak. Their fragrance filled the air as we walked along the winding paths. It reminded me of June 1998 when we went to another garden five weeks after my liver transplant. With my limited stamina, I made the effort to walk a few hundred feet and sit on a bench. We were both determined to get out of the house and do something for our anniversary. I am blessed today to live a very normal life today.

A few months ago, our nine year old granddaughter, Belle, drew this picture of Charles and me for Grandparents’ Day. She copied it from a family photograph. I guess this is what anniversaries are all about. 
The Bible offers words of wisdom on how to keep a marriage strong in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.”

During our marriage ceremony, we played the song; “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be. God bless our love.” Those words still ring true today.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sister Act

Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of
our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.” – Susan Scarf Merrell

As the years go by and life gets busy, we don’t spend enough time with family members who live away. It takes extra effort to plan opportunities to get together especially since we’re all getting older and challenged by our abilities to drive long distances. Charles and I had been saying for some time we needed to see both our sisters this spring. 

Marion & Richard Simmons
Charles sister, Marion and her husband Richard Simmons, live in Baton Rouge, LA which is a long ten hour drive from where we live. So we asked them to meet us in the picturesque city of Fairhope, AL for the weekend. The beautiful weather enabled us to tour the shops and visit the Mobile Bay area of town. We enjoyed tea at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear and a delicious feast at the rustic Wash House Restaurant. The building is so old; you can’t imagine a fine restaurant being housed inside. But the inside atmosphere and food were very delightful. We spent a lot of time catching up on kids and grand kids and talking about the old days when Charles and Marion were young—more interesting stories for Charles’ book. 

We drove scenic 98E from Fairhope toward Pensacola, FL. Several signs along the way kept us entertained and gave me some new ideas for future writing efforts. I’m glad we’d already eaten lunch when we saw the Roadkill Café or we might have been tempted to check it out.  Next we passed the Blue Angel Baptist Church that gives dual recognition to the Christian’s eternal destination and the US Navy’s flying aerobatic squadron. 

Our next destination was Gulf Breeze to visit with my sister and her family.

Audrey & George Kimmel
Audrey Kimmel is my older sister and like me a recipient of a liver transplant. Our personalities and interests are similar so we’ve enjoyed a lot in common throughout our lives. I was the pest when we were younger when she dated her soon-to-be husband George. Charles and I stayed on Pensacola Beach so we could take advantage of the beautiful weather and the ocean waves.  Audrey came with us to sit on beach chairs under a big umbrella—a very enjoyable and relaxing experience. We enjoyed visiting with their children and grandchildren, and having a delicious dinner with Audrey and George at Jackson’s in Pensacola on our final vacation night.

Sisters are those special people in our lives who have known us the longest, know all about us, and love us anyway. So glad we could make some new memories with them.

As we headed home on I-65 in Alabama near Evergreen, we drove over Murder Creek.  My story making wheels have been churning ever since.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

What’s your favorite way to travel? I like all modes of transportation that will take me to new and interesting places. We were too poor to travel much when I was a kid, so it’s still a real treat for me to go anywhere. However, I’ll take a pass on boats and ships since I get seasick. 

As a teenager I yearned to ride in a luxury convertible like I saw advertised on TV and in the slick magazine pages. I wanted to hit the road and feel the wind in my hair and the bugs in my teeth. When I found out that one of the engineers in our office had purchased a classic vintage 1966 black Corvette convertible, I started to drool and drop hints. “You know I was a teenager in the 60’s and I didn’t know anybody back then who had such a fancy car.” On another occasion I took a more direct approach “Riding in a Corvette convertible is on my bucket list.” 

Finally, our co-worker Larry Hill said, “It’s going to be beautiful Saturday. Do you want to take a ride?” I looked at Charles with hopeful eyes as he said, “Go for it.” 

We cruised through downtown Acworth with its antique shops and historic buildings. I waved at the gals at Glitzy Chicks and felt sixteen again. Finally we arrived at Sonic for car hop service—vintage 1966. A beautiful day, a beautiful car, and a smooth way to travel.

The next Saturday Charles and I went to the Salute to America Air Show at the Silver Comet Airport in Paulding County. Charles checked out the Corsair he worked on when he was in the Navy and admired the C-130 cargo plane on display. Charles’ Finlet invention was tested on a similar C-130 with good success. Now we are waiting for the government to decide to buy them. It’s a good thing we’re not holding our breath.

Have you seen the Famous Idaho Potato Truck?  Well, we found it at the air show and it did not have wings. Here’s granddaughter Alexa with me in front of the Giant Spud.

So where’s the train—at the Whistle Stop Café where we dined on fried chicken and biscuits. The train made famous by the movie, The Great Locomotive Chase, is housed nearby in Kennesaw, GA and is featured at the Café. A small scale version of the famous Civil War train travels through the restaurant on an overhead suspension track blowing its horn as it goes. That’s us standing in front of a painting of The General with the moving train in the background.  

I didn’t go farther than thirty miles to enjoy planes, trains, and automobiles, but it was still quite a ride. Where are you going on your next road trip?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April Showers Bring .....

… Lots of pretty flowers and anniversaries. It’s been a blustery April in north Georgia with lots of rain and wind. Today, however, is one of the most beautiful days of the year so far. April and May are two of my favorite months – springtime days before the heat of summer settles in here in Georgia.

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at a ladies retreat with the April Showers Bring May Flowers theme.  I shared my testimony and stories from my book Born Three Times.  We talked about how the tough times in life (those April showers) make it possible to bloom like May flowers and bless other people in the process.

There are other things I like to celebrate in May besides the pretty weather. It will soon be seventeen years since I received my second chance at life when a healthy donor liver replaced the diseased liver in my body. It’s with mixed emotions I celebrate my life as I still reflect on the family who made the difficult decision to donate their loved ones liver in May of 1998.  April is National Donate Life Month to encourage people to register to be organ donors and to tell their families about their decision. Please consider checking that box on your driver’s license. Currently, nearly 124,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants in the United States.

My blog anniversary is also in May. In 2012 I started my twice-monthly blog and can’t believe how quickly the months have flown by. This is my number 72 post. I’ve had 15,251 clicks to this date. People from countries all over the world have read what I have written. I want to keep on keeping on and am continually looking for new ideas. Your input is always appreciated.

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and it’s another reason to celebrate in May. My own mother has been gone for twenty-eight years and the older I get find myself imitating her in some of my ways. Being a mother to two adult sons and grandmother to five grandchildren continues to fill my life with challenges and blessings. As a step-mother to Charles’ two children and his grandchildren, my life has grown in ways I never imagined.

Celebrate those April showers and May flowers God has placed in your life and share those blessings with others.

“For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”
Song of Solomon 2:11-12

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Home on the Range

Charles and I talked for weeks about taking a “Staycation.”  Spend less money, sleep in our own comfortable bed, ignore the phone, pray for no emergencies at work or with the kids, catch up on household tasks, eat out every night – sounded  “de-lite-full.”  I can’t believe we actually pulled it off.

We began our great adventure the week leading up to Easter. We each had a goal for the week—Charles was going to write more of his life story in preparation for his book. Frieda’s plan was to clean out her clothes closet, store winter clothes, and bring in the spring/summer clothes from storage. We didn’t want to spend all our time just relaxing, as tempting as that was.

By the end of the week, Charles actually produced 8,500 words for Frieda to edit into his manuscript. Frieda loaded up three big boxes of clothes to donate to the local homeless shelter. We ended up with our pickup truck full of odds and ends to donate. I felt ten pounds lighter when all that stuff was gone.

All work and no play was out of the question, so we took one day to visit Gibbs Gardens near Ball Ground, GA.  The Gibbs family has landscaped over 200 acres with beautiful trees, flowering shrubs, ponds, and bridges. Thousands of daffodils dotted the hillsides, and the pinkish Japanese maples were just starting to bloom. It was a beautiful 80 degree day-perfect for strolling on the garden paths midst clouds of yellow pollen unique to Georgia and its pine trees.

Picking a different restaurant every night was the frosting on the vacation cake. We decided to explore the USA via our food choices. We started out the week with Huey Lueys for a taste of south of the border foods similar to what we could find in Texas. Next we went to California Dreamin for some fresh vegetables and a taste of Los Angeles.  Our next stop was to Boston for Irish food at O’Charleys (use your imagination please), then to Chicago for Italian food from the local Parkside Grill. We concluded our week by eating Memphis BBQ at our BBQ Cutie, and finished our imaginative tour of the US by consuming Southern fried chicken and biscuits at the Whistle Stop.

I didn’t want the week to end, but Charles was ready to go back to the office. Doctor and dental appointments and a trip to see the tax man demanded our time and attention. Our week practicing retirement put a new spring in our step. Another staycation in the future is definitely on our  
“to do” list.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Out with the Old

Old winter clothes have to go.

It’s that glorious time of year in Georgia when warmer days prompt the trees to burst forth with color. I feel bad for my friends and family up north still stuck with below freezing temps and wrapped up in quilts and heavy sweaters. But I can’t wait to purge my closet of its drab clothes in favor of brighter ones. When I pack up my flannels, corduroys, heavy sweaters, and fleece I declare that winter is in its last gasp and will soon give way to the warmer days of spring and summer. I recently took two days and several trips up and down to the basement closet to make the swap. About the time I started the task, the thermometer took another plunge below freezing just to remind me who’s in charge.

Old eating habits have to go.

Climbing those stairs gave me some much needed exercise and made me realize how out of shape I am. Too many carbs and too many days piled in the recliner wrapped in a quilt have taken a toll on my body. Trying on some of last year’s clothes has been very painful. Well, let’s put in plainly—they don’t fit.  Ugh—I have to lose weight. It’s time to cut way back on the comfort food of winter and lighten up my diet with lots more fruit and veggies. It’s also time to take that daily walk to help burn some calories. How about a walk around the Mall instead looking at all the pretty new clothes?  The only problem is they won’t fit either.

Old ways of thinking have to go.

For the past few weeks our church has focused on the Sermon on the Mount during this Lenten season leading up to Easter. The words of Jesus in the book of Matthew have challenged my way of thinking. The eight Beatitudes or blessings in Matthew 5:1-10 tells the ways I am to live in relationship to God and to others. When I put into practice the challenge of the each Beatitude, I receive a blessing from the hand of God. The lesson of each Beatitude is not to focus on
self, but to focus on those around me. In our self-oriented, me-first society, it is indeed a new way of thinking. As you prepare for Easter Sunday and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, consider His words from the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Have a Blessed Easter.