Thursday, July 30, 2009


ser·en·dip·i·ty (sěr'ən-dĭp'ĭ-tē)
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties

The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.

While talking to my friend, Tina, yesterday, we were discussing how God can bring things to light just when we most need to understand it or see it.

While I was working on my list of things that I Believe (which I posted several days ago), I was looking in my Bible to find the reference to a verse I wanted to use to go along with one of the entries. Some how, I ended up in Isaiah, and my eyes fell on these verses. How timely! And, how comforting! I had never noticed these verses before, but, at this time in my life...I feel as if they were written just for me. That is the wonderful thing about the Word of is universal...but it is so personal. Divinely Inspired, I would say.

It puts me to shame because I do not spend as much time studying the Bible as I should. What else is between those precious covers that I could have read to strengthen me or comfort me? What else is there that I should have read to guide me through a rough situation or show me which path to take?

One of the ways that I like to study the Bible is comparing different versions. My Bible is the NIV...the New International Version. Here are the verses I mentioned as taken from my Bible.

"The righteous perish,
And no one ponders it in his heart,
Devout men are taken away,
And no one understands that the
righteous are taken away to
be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
Enter into peace;
They find rest as they lie in death."
Isaiah 57:1-2 NIV

Now here it is in another translation...The New Living Translation:

" Good people pass away;
the godly often die before their time.
But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand
that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
For those who follow godly paths
will rest in peace when they die. "
Isaiah 57:1-2 NLT

I fully believe that one of the ways that God speaks to us is through His Word. He spoke loud and clear to me in this instance and it really is a balm to my broken heart. Thank you, God.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I'm not feeling much like posting right now...I'm too busy coughing my lungs up and trying desperately not to wet all over myself in the process. OK...TMI...sorry. Anyway, here are some pics that give the phrase, 'a little out of the way', a whole new meaning! Enjoy!

PS...A family actually lives in the house in the first picture!

Monday, July 27, 2009


In this post, which celebrates my 1000th posting, I list for you some of the things I have learned to be true in this life. And, some things that I live my life by. Some of these may sound a little familiar, but people have always copied me! :) I hope you will enjoy reading them...even if you do not agree with them all. You may find it interesting to do your own list. When you start to write down what you really gives you lots to think about. Be sure and let me know if you make a list, too. I may want to copy some of yours! :)


Be kinder than you have to be.

It is better to save.

Weeds take over very quickly.

You will not 'die' if you get rid of some of the stuff you think you should keep forever.

You do NOT have to color inside the lines!!!

Little children can always lift my spirits...they know lots of things we adults have forgotten.


Children's books are great fun! Try reading one out loud sometimes...I promise you will smile. Better to a child.

Never take just 1 picture of things that are important to you. Take lots of the same thing. You will only get 2 or 3 that are worth keeping.

I love things that have been used and loved by someone else before me. Character becomes fused to an item when the owner enjoys it enough to use it often. These kinds of things are very valuable to me.

Just because another car has a turn signal that is blinking...does NOT mean it is actually planning to turn or change lanes any time in the near future.

Good manners will get you into a lot of places that nothing else will.

Don't be afraid to try new things.

Don't spit...EVER!

Learn to swim.

Always wear a helmet if you are riding a motorcycle or 4 wheeler. You can split your head wide open in your front yard just as well as anywhere else.

Hang your pictures...walls are meant to be adorned.

My telephone is for my convenience.

If you cross your eyes, when you are a child, they will not get stuck like that. But, if you cross your eyes as an will give you a terrific headache!

Find a place to record your thoughts...a diary, a journal or even a blog.

NEVER take more medication than you need...but take what you do need...on time.

It is not fun to clean out the inside of your car. But, if you don't...someone will need to ride with you.

ALWAYS take the buggy that you pushed to the car, and put it in the proper place. If there is not one...return it to the store. You never know who's watching.

I know this is true...I have hidden and watched. When you take dirty clothes from the hamper to the laundry room...THEY MULTIPLY! Wash them immediately...if you leave them in the laundry room alone, especially overnight, you're gonna be knee deep in dirty clothes!


Happiness is a choice.

You are on the road to growing up when you can laugh at yourself.

Everyone has a story.

Everybody is important to somebody.


Never get so grown up that you forget how to play.

Travel as often as you can. See as much of the of this beautiful planet as is possible.

Remember that word problem that we had to do every.single.year. in school? "A train leaves Point A a 1:00 travelling at 60 mph, serving cold drinks and cookies. Another train leaves Point B at 1:05 travelling at 150 mph, serving a full meal in the dining car. Your assignment is to figure out which one is going to run out of toilet tissue on the trip. Good Luck! And, as usual, should you or any of your team be caught, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence." Something similar to that. will never, ever have to figure this out in real life.

Also, you will never have to figure out this equation: x + y = z - 4. Because adults have far better sense than to mix numbers and letters. One is for is for counting. And never the twain should meet!

BUT, you will ALWAYS, ALWAYS use grammar. Learn it! People notice bad grammar more than you think.

You are never old enough to be a know-it-all. You become truly wise when you realize just how much there is that you DON'T know and never will!

If someone asks for your opinion, give it to them. If they can't take it, they should never have asked.

It is OK to lose sometimes.

Be very careful when you point your finger at someone else...there are 3 pointing right back at you!......I've always heard this, did not say it first...

You really can choose your attitude.

You are never a failure...until you refuse to try again.

There will come a time when someone will ask you a question that is inappropriate or that you just don't want to answer. Just look at them and say, "Why do you ask?"

'Things' are not worth being upset about if they are lost or broken. 'People', on the other hand, are quite a different story.

A gentleman will always let a lady walk ahead of him, open the door for her, stand when she enters a room, and give up his seat to her. A lady will let him...and she will remember to say "Thank-You."

People remember a firm handshake and good manners way more than anything you may say.

One of my favorite quotes is this: "Even a broken clock is right twice a day." I didn't think that one up...and I don't know who did, but if they had not...I'm pretty sure I would have.


Family is very, very important. It is an institution God designed. Love the ones He chose for you.

Lots of people, including children, need to know that someone thinks they are capable.

Many times if you just pretend to be will find that you are.

Your life can turn upside down and inside out in a matter of hours...and it will never again be like it was. There is a word for

Don't blame what comes out of your mouth on anyone but yourself.

Slowly lowering yourself down into a swimming pool of cool, blue water on a hot, hot day is one of life's great pleasures.

Friends who are 'there' are the ones who really care.

When you go on trips, don't spend money on lots of little ratty souvenirs...purchase something nice for your home or a piece of art.Then you'll have it forever. Anything can be shipped to your home town.


We are on this earth for one serve God.

God loves to work miracles without any input from us. Perhaps because He wants us to remember that He knows best WHAT we need and WHEN we need it.

In the midst of can find joy.

God doesn't 'comfort us' just so we will be comfortable. God 'comforts us' so that we may learn to 'comfort others'. 2 Corinthians 3: 3-4 "Praise be to God...the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we ca comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

Things will not always work out the way I want them to.
Things will not always work out the way I think they should.
Things will not always work out the way I think is best.
BUT...God can take ANYTHING, and 'work in it' for our good. Romans 8:28
"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him..."

God is Able.

Every prayer is heard and answered. The answers are: "Yes." "No." "Wait."

What would you do today, if you knew you may die tomorrow? Go and do it. We are not promised tomorrow...or even the next hour.

We are all gifted by God. See: 1 Corinthians 7: 7b "...each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift and another has that."

Let the people you love KNOW they are loved. You should never have to wonder if they knew after they are gone.

"You can't out give God." This is not my quote either...Pop has said that for as long as I can remember. The tithe comes first...always.

God's Word is ALWAYS true...whether we like it or not...whether we agree or not. It does not change. It is the final authority.

It may seem as if God has forgotten you, or isn't listening to your prayers. He never forgets, and He always listens. But, WE have to get quiet and still and listen for Him.

I think God most certainly laughs and has a sense of humor. We must seem awfully foolish to Him at times.

It is never OK to make another person feel inferior.

It is never OK to deliberately hurt someone's feelings.

Never presume that you know how another person is feeling. Every situation is different even if it looks the same. Circumstances alter many things...including feelings.

We should all be allowed to deal with our hurts in the way that is best for us. Your way and my way may not be the same. That doesn't make it wrong...just different. Be respectful.

If someone is hard to be kind and helpful it anyway. They need it the most!

God WILL do what He ways He will do.

There are people in this world that need to be 'heard'. They just want to know that someone 'hears' what they say. They do not necessarily want you to do anything...just validate their feelings. A small thing for us to do...but a very big thing for them.

If no one is going to remember a mistake a month from's just not worth worrying about now.

A dog can be a truer friend than a person.
A dog can understand things that people cannot.
Everyone needs a love.


Do not use the same purse summer and winter, and year after year. It doesn't have to be expensive, but change it to go with the season.

Change your eyeglass frames at least every 2 years. Styles change here, too. And an outdated frame cancels out anything else stylish you may be wearing.

Never, never, never wear any kind of foot covering with sandals. No hose, no socks, just your foot...properly pedicured, of course.

Middle age starts the very second that you buy a pair of pants with elastic all the way around. And, yes I have reached middle age.

A monogram added to anything elevates it to a higher style point.

A new pair of shoes can only make life better. It's true!

Never go to the mall with a list of things you need. Your search will be in vain. But, if you go just to 'browse' (not spend money) will find the perfect pants/dress/top/shoes. etc.


Every woman needs to have 2 crowns in her for everyday...and one for when she REALLY need to be THE QUEEN!

A crown and a tiara are not the same thing. It is the difference between a Princess and a Queen.

Everyone needs to have a good 'hissie fit' once in a while. It clears the brain of mush and stuff that has been cluttering up the space.

The older I get, the more I realize that I do not have the time to waste on doing things just to please someone else. As long as I please my Lord, myself, and my husband...all is well.

A 'sister' is the truest friend. She and you share what no one else can.

When you misplace something...don't fret. Just think of it as playing a game of hide and seek with yourself! You'll win...either way!

Always save unsettling news until after your husband has eaten.

NEVER tell him how much things cost. Trust me on this one.

It has been said that most men never mature beyond the age of 12. I raised 4 men...there are days when this is 100% true.I read this statistic in a book, this is my comment on it.

Mothers do not have to 'SEE' everything they see.
Mothers do not have to 'HEAR' everything they hear.

Moms, save your 'big guns' for something important...don't waste them on the little stuff.

You can buy all the ingredients, slave in the hot kitchen, and work your fingers raw...and everyone will rave about the cake.
You can have a relaxing day and stop by the bakery on the way home...and everyone will rave about the cake.

Always dress to please yourself. If you do not FEEL will not ACT comfortable.

Learn what your friend's weaknesses are, and don't tempt them. Unless it's their birthday...or Christmas...or a shopping day. Mine are chocolate. And purses. And shoes. And...

It is perfectly fine to 'go off the deep end' once in a while. Just be sure you can swim.

If I am so worried about what you may think of me that it keeps me from having fun...shame on me!

Even when I think I have finally gotten things figured out...I don't.

You are stronger than you think you are.

Enjoy your grey hairs. Every one you have tells the story of a strong woman...who survived!

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life."Proverbs 16;31

There will ALWAYS be a better day!

God is just as awesome in the tiny things He created such as butterflies and dragonflies as He is in the biggest such as the elephant or the Grand Canyon.


OK, after I worked so hard on this post for several days, just so it can be #1000...I see that I have gone ahead and posted a picture of a pink suitcase on a beach as #1000. Oh, well...let's just say that I intended this to be the start of the second thousand posts I write, M'Kay?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009


I do not like to complain. But, here I go. I can not get better. I have this awful rattling in my chest that is so loud it is driving me crazy. I'm still coughing my throat raw. I have been on antibiotics all week and other meds, too. This is for the birds. I need to be up and about helping Pop. But, all I can do is lay in this bed...and cough...and rattle.

Adam just got home from B'ham and his eye looks awful. The doctor says that everything is healing well. He can lift his head up now, so that is good. But, he has halos around all lights that are blocking his vision in both eyes. In the good eye, there is a 'floater' that is so big he says it is like a windshield wiper. If it doesn't fall away on its own...they will have to drain the fluid out of his eye and replace it with water. There is also a cataract forming, that may go away...or may have to be removed. He is not seeing out of the worst eye, so he still can not drive.
All this is related to the retina surgery...except the halos. They still need to finish up the last surgery on the implants.
He has just about had all he can take. He is a strong young man, but this is his sight. And, he has to go back to B'ham next week and the next and Suzanne starts back to school next week. She has been an angel to my son. She has cared for him as well as I could ever have. I thank God for her.

And, between being sick, and Mom, and Adam, and guilt about not helping Joy and Pop...I am about at my limit, too. It seems sometimes like it just never stops. I'm ready for a break. And, now I feel guilty about complaining. But, you understand, and I know that or I would not be writing this.

I KNOW God has us all in His hand. I KNOW He is leading us through this trial. I trust Him completely do 'work in this situation for good.'

I think I just needed to say this. So thanks for listening. Please pray for this family. We are strong and we are together...but we are hurting...and struggling.
Please understand if I am away for a few days....I can't even hear myself think for all this rattling going on.

Thanks, friends. You're the best!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


My Granny Merritt, Mother's Mother, loved birds of all kinds...but especially redbirds. Granny Merritt died several years ago, and it seemed to Joy and I that after she died, we began to see more and more red birds. Joy began to say that every time she saw a red bird, it was a sign from Granny Merritt that all was well. So, it became a private little saying in our family that the red birds were sent by Granny Merritt.

Pop was telling me a few days ago, that over the past few months he and Mom have seen a red bird next to their porch every morning as they ate breakfast together. Pop would always say, "Ella, there's Ma Merritt." And, they would watch the bird as they sat together at the table by the window.

When I got to Pop's house on Friday, he had this story to tell Joy and I. It seems that as he sat eating breakfast at the table by the window, he noticed the red bird...but that day another red bird flew up and landed beside it. Then the second redbird flew up on the porch, into the windowsill, and started chirping loudly...seemingly to get his attention. And, then flew away.

Pop says the second redbird was sent from make sure he knew that she was fine, she was with her mother, and all was well.

She knew he would be sitting at the table by the window.

Way to go, Mom! We got the message!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


After I got home from Pop's yesterday, I realized just how bad I felt. And, the later it got...the worse I felt. My throat hurt, my ears hurt, my head hurt...well...EVERYTHING I had hurt!

I was up all night...and went to the 'doc in a box' as soon as they opened this morning. I have strep throat, I have an ear infection, and am about an inch away from pneumonia. They loaded me up with meds...and, now all I want to do is sleep. And, take my pain ears are killing me. Joy and I have been working at Pop's helping him get things straightened out. So, this leaves it all to Joy. She never complains, though...but, I feel terrible for not being able to help.

When I called her this morning, she told me to be sure to stop and get some chicken noodle soup before I went home...:)

I am so behind on my blog reading and commenting...please know I'll get around to it ASAP. I have also heard from several new friends lately...and some folks I knew that I didn't even know I knew! I appreciate your continuing kind comments, and uplifting prayers as my family tries to cope with missing our most important member.
Stay well!


The newspaper report on yesterday's post showed Berny sitting atop a can of Spam.
That is NOT my can of Spam. I did not use my hard earned money to buy it! In fact, I don't think I have ever been hungry enough to eat it willingly. This belongs to one of the male members of the family. You know, food to take on a fishing trip. However, I thought that as long as a bear was in my pantry...I might as well get rid of the stuff that I DIDN'T like!

I am not really sure exactly what Spam is....but I think it is similar to the 'mystery meat' they used to serve us in school! ***answer will follow***

I promise to NEVER serve Spam for lunch if you should visit my house!

***And, just in case you were is a list of ingredients...
ham, pork, sugar, salt, water, potato starch and a hint of sodium nitrate to help keep its color. The pork is mostly pork shoulder. SPAM was first invented as a way to use this underutilized part of the cow, ham was a later addition.***

Monday, July 20, 2009


"News That's 'Bearly' Fit To Publish"
In a sighting, 'bearly' able to be believed...there appeared today, 2 of the finest bears ever to be seen in these parts. Yes, I can testify to the fact that 2 of Wisconson's finest furry four-legged creatures found themselves a new home right here in our fair city.

Ms. Tonja Owens, local girl-about-town ,noticed them first as they gave her a ghastly fright at her mailbox. She heard what she said sounded, "bearly human" sounds coming from inside the box. With fear and trembling, she opened the box, but all she saw was a big envelope. Being the 'beary, beary' brave soul that she is, she grabbed that envelope and hurried into the house. Carefully tearing the envelope open, she jumped back 'beary' fast when 2 of the blackest, furriest bears just burst out of their box. Then they stood very still, so she could get a look at them...all perched up there on her island and all.

She hoisted them up and they told her their names were Bertha and Berny Bearsaltand pepper, and second cousins to that famous bear pair Brunhilda and Boris Bearsaltandpepper. She had a little trouble telling them apart until Bertha said that Berny had more holes in his head and Ms Tonja said that that totally made sense. They were very thirsty, and so she took them outside. Really, she figured they may have other business to take care of there, too. Well, they did, and then they drank her pool almost dry! They were all a' fussin' at their 2nd cousins for putting them in the mail with nary a bottle of water or snacks.

Ms. Tonja turned her back for a minute and when she looked back...they were gone!!! Where, oh, where could those 'beary' cute bears have gone? "We had just 'bearly' begun to get aquainted," said Ms. Tonja. And, then over in the pantry, she heard a disturbance. "That can only mean one thing," she said. And, sure enough, there they were...helping themselves to a snack!

Bertha was daintily (well as daintily as a bear can) helping herself to a few chocolate chips. But, Berny...well let's just say Berny leaves a lot to be desired in the manners department! He climbed right up on top of a can of Spam, and said, "Fix me a glass of sweet tea, with lemon, ole girl, I'm about to have me an appetizer...before I get on to the good stuff!"

And, the last thing that was heard from Ms. Tonja, she was seen running down the road, and over the bridge yelling, "I don't know what the 'good stuff' is and I'm not waiting around to find out!" And, she was seen talking on her cell phone a few minutes later, "Mr.Ant Man...just how big of a pest are you willing to tackle?"
For the backstory to this tale of the Bearsaltandpepper clan, visit Keetha...she knows lots of 'beary' good bear stories.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


It has been almost exactly a the hour...that the Lord called my Mama to come home. What a week. I think my family has learned some important lessons through this...I sure have.
God says that 'His grace will be sufficient...', and it has. I look back at this past week and wonder how it is that I was able to do what had to be done. How was I able to speak at her funeral? How was I able to smile and truly find joy in the situation? One word...grace. God's grace. He promises He will strengthen us WHEN we need it. I was talking to the pastor that preached part of her funeral, and he said that there have been times when he has thought he could not get through a service...but the minute he stood, he felt the strength of God filling him. As my friend Pam was singing, I thought I would just decline to opportunity to speak. Everyone would understand. But, when she finished...I stood. And the peace and strength and grace of the Lord literally washed over me. And, I was able to do what I had planned. My sister, Joy, and Pop have both felt this, too.
*******My doorbell just rang and my friend, Allison, was there with a beautiful pie, and ice cream for topping! Yummy! I can hardly wait to have a piece! Thank-you, Allison! My friends have so ministered to me this week. I am truly blessed******

We sang the beautiful hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, at the funeral. One of Mom's favorites.
I must take this opportunity to say that God keeps His promises. He does what He says He will do. Always. And, there is great security and peace in KNOWING that.
I have lived for 1 week without my Mom. And, I will live the rest of my life without my Mom. But, when my life is over, I will be with her again! And, that's His promise!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Adam is home, and though his eye looks is fixed. Another week face down...but he can do it.

The ants have subsided for now, but the bug man says he will need to come back again.

The A/C man flipped a switch and 'cool' reigns in The Creek House once again.

When Don and I were leaving the house at the same time, he rolled down his window and said to me (while we were still in the garage),"Try to keep it between the posts, dear." He said it with a all is well.

Friday, July 17, 2009



You'll never believe this...but my Adam is back in surgery. Suzanne took him back to B'ham for a check-up today...and they send him straight to emergency surgery. His retina has torn...again. They are going to try a different procedure this time. Oh, my...what a mess. Sweet Suzanne was there alone...but Ian went to be with her as soon as he got off. He will take care of her and they will stay with Ian tonight.

The ants are back in my pantry and in my kitchen. This is the third time the bug man has come.

The air conditioning unit in the back of our house had a melt down yesterday.

I moved my car so the a/c man could get to the attic access. Ran the car into the side of the house...hurt car...scraped and broke house...made husband very unhappy.

Does anyone have a case of Calgon? :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MY QUESTIONS...prologue

Dear Friends,
The following 2 posts are about the funeral of my Mother. I know they are long, but there was much to say. I write them as a reminder for my children in years to come. If you choose to read them, please scroll down and read Part 1 first.

Your kindnesses through the last few days has been so appreciated. It is stored forever in my heart.


And with Pam playing beautiful sweet music on the piano, we reentered the church. For my mother's funeral. And, I said, in my heart of hearts, "God, why did you do this? How could you do this?". We sat, and our dear pastor, Rev. David Anderson, began to speak. He told several stories about Mom...and commented on the many cards she had sent to him. The last one saying...'It's been a while since you have seen's time." His words were kind and true and full of comfort and wisdom. He put us at ease with his words and his sweet delivery.

And, then, my friend Pamela, whom I love dearly, sang. She sang a song that Mom used to sing as a solo. Then she heard Pamela sing it once and she said, "When I die, have her sing that at my funeral." It was her favorite song. And Pam has never, never sung as beautifully as she did yesterday. I believe the angels in heaven must have even stopped their singing to was that beautiful!

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus,'tis now.

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus,'tis now.

I'll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus,'tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I'll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus,'tis now.

And, then, I spoke. I really do not know all that I said. I had written out some things I wanted to say...and I had a semblance of an outline, but really, I don't know that I followed it very well. I talked a little about how my Mom loved to plan things...Waaaaaay in advance, and how it frustrated her that I didn't. I told how Mom had called me on July 8 th, their 58 th wedding anniversary...just last week. She said,"Guess what I got for my anniversary?" "What?" I said, thinking it was some new form of jewelry. "A casket, she said...Your Dad and I picked out our caskets and made all the arrangements for our funerals. Ann my dress is hanging in the back of the closet."
I told how she never loved planning anything more than the 17 mission trips she led. 15 in the US, and 2 foreign. We had arranged for the ladies who were members of those teams to sit together...along with the men we allowed to travel with us as drivers and gophers! I told them she would expect us to keep working our own mission fields...which start the minute we open our doors.

Then came a dear friend and former Minister of Music, Bro. Billy.. I asked him to lead us in the song, "Jesus Loves the Little Children." And, then we sang,' There's A Sweet, Sweet Spirit In This Place,' then 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness'. And, Bro. Billy shared some remembrances of Mom that he had when they travelled on a mission trip out of the country. Mom had a heat stroke in Guatemala, and nearly died. There was only one way to save her and that was to get her into water. Brother Billy sat with her in a makeshift shower for several hours while cool water from the river was poured over her. At first he stood, but then someone brought a chair for him to sit in. When she was finally moved back to a bed, the tops of his legs were blistered from the heat coming off her body. It was touch and go...but God granted her grace and mercy, and she was able to come home to us safely.

Our former pastor and dear friend Rev. Jerry Grandstaff had the main message. He spoke of his remembrances of her...some very humorous, but all so typical! He told us which lady of the Bible she was most like. He presented the Plan of that if there was anyone there who did not know the Lord, they would know the way to saving grace in Jesus Christ. His words gave us such peace, and such hope. His words strengthened us to be able to walk on without her.

Pop's friends were pallbearers. And, as the casket moved out the door...we followed, got into our cars, and waited for the trip to the cemetery.

Do you live in a place where the cars still pull off the road in respect for the deceased and their family? We do and as we made out way through stoplights...with policman stopping traffic and standing with their hats over their hearts, it made me proud to still live in 'Small Town America.' All along the way, traffic would stop and respectfully wait until we passed. I saw people walking along the road who even stopped and waited for us, too. How kind.

The tents were set up at the cemetery and the casket was set upon the steel beams that would lower it into the ground. A box, beautiful and shining as the sun glistened off its sides. Flowers on top...a more beautiful arrangement I have never seen. And more flowers on the sides. Bro. Billy picked them out and arranged them with Mother in mind...and they fit her to a T. We sat, the family and a few friends...others stood around and listened as Bro. David read the beautiful words of our Saviour from the Bible, Bother Jerry prayed.

And, it was over. My Mother's funeral, and graveside service was over. All that was left of her was in that box, under those flowers, under that tent. "O,God, why did you take my Mother?"

And, it was then...and only then...that He answered me. And, He spoke these words to my heart...

"Tonja, see that pretty box, all shiny and new? It's going to lie in the dirty ground and rot away eventually. Once it is buried, it will never be shiny and pretty again. And, the light will never glisten as it reflects off of it. And those beautiful flowers...those flowers that I made... I never intended them to stay beautiful forever. Their time is short and then gone. They will die and begin to smell bad...not beautiful as they do today. They will be thrown in the garbage and rot and never be beautiful to look at again. But, my child, your Mother, is not in that box...all that is in there is what she wore on this earth. She will live forever more with me. She is seeing the glistening of the light of God himself shining on the streets of gold. She doesn't need that old body, that was giving her such trouble. It was wearing out. The arthritis was hurting her hips and legs, it wasn't easy for her to use her hands like she liked to. It was not the way I wanted to see her live. She still had the beauty of her sweet smile, she still had the delight of seeing her grandchildren, she still saw the love in her husband's eyes...she still felt the hugs of her daughters. And, that is the way I want you to remember her. As beautiful as the flowers on top of her casket...but not like them at all. For as they rot away...she will live. As they are thrown away...she has blossomed anew. She is safe with me. She is happy. She has no hurts anymore. And, I will protect her forever. She will walk with me and she will talk with me. She will sing , 'My Jesus, I Love Thee' to me...face to face! She did, with strength and grace, the job I put her there to do. She finished her work...and now she will rest...until you come, when she will greet you with open arms, and welcome you home. And, that is why I took your Mother."



Yesterday came and went. And I survived it. I buried my mother. Can you imagine how hard it is to type those words? I wasn't ready to do that. I didn't want to do it. And, I did not like doing it. And, I told God...and He listened. He said to me the same thing that my sweet Ian, did when I said those words to him. He just held me and let me cry, and said "I know...I know."
"But, God", I said, "why did you do this to me? Why did you take my Mother away? Why did you take Pop's love away? Why did you take the kid's Granny away?" But, He gave me no answer then. Which made me mad, because if you really want to hear a word from God, it is when He takes your Mom away!

Ian and I went to pick up Pop yesterday morning before the service. He happens to have a very unruly patch of hair right in the back of his head. Mom always would have him sit at her vanity and she would fix that spot. And, then she would spray it so it would stay. I did that yesterday. Ian made sure the tie matched the suit...Mom did that, too. And, we were off. When we walked into the sanctuary at church, Mom was lying there, and I went and rubbed her head and touched her beautiful white hair, and told her I hoped she would be pleased with all we did in her honor.

And, family and friends started arriving. I don't think I mentioned before that her sisters, and her brother and his wife, and 2 cousins came from NC. It was such a comfort to have them with us. They all still live withing a few miles of one another near their homeplace...Mom is the only one who moved away. But, they have remained very close through the years, and Joy and I have been so fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with them all. Several dear friends, who are older, and very feeble, wheelchairs. She has ministered to them over the years. I would never have thought she would go first. The pastors were there, and the musicians were there. I tried to speak to everyone who we had not seen the night before at visitation. But, I became a little overwhelmed at one point, and sat down on the front pew...and covered my eyes. Tears began to fall. I said, in my grief,"O God! Why have You done this? Why?" And, He did not answer me. But, when I opened my eyes, there stood 4 dear friends from school. I got hugs and love straight from the Father....and regained my composure. People took their seats as it got close to the time for the service. Pam had been playing the piano. But, my sister took over...and played with the grace of an angel. She played for about 15 minutes...songs that were favorites of Mom...songs that she used to sing as solos and duets. And the last song,"It is Well"...she played, and as I watched she was singing the words as she played..."It is well with my soul..." It was a beautiful moment. It took great strength for Joy to do that, but she did it as a tribute to Mom...and for Tara, and Lori, and Tommy, and Pop, and me. Thank You Joy. She loved that!

Our family, both by blood, and by friendship, retired to a quiet room for prayer. While we were gone the casket was closed. My Mom was inside...along with a little cloth angel that she had given to Lori when she was a little girl. That angel had been over her bed ever since...and followed her to college and grad school and now into her home as a new wife. And, now it lies with Granny...all stuffed full of a young girl's love for the sweet lady who understood her so well and loved her without question.


The beautiful blanket of flowers for the casket. Red shirts on top are the shirts our Women On Mission Team wore each year. Several were brought to the gravesite.

Note the 3 large orchids...for Pop, Joy, and myself.

The following are close ups of the flowers.

The name of these roses is 'Priceless'...a very fitting name for my sweet Mother.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Very quickly let me share with you what I have experienced tonight.

This was the night of visitation at the funeral. It was to be from 6-8. The family met there at 5:00 to view her body and get prepared for the evening. At 5:40, the director came and said, is it OK if we let folks in now...there are already 50 people in line?! And so they came... and they came steadily for the next 2 1/2 hours! Many of you who read this blog came. And everyone's face had a they told us how Mom had impacted their lives, or how she changed their lives...or what she had taught them...or the example she set.

And every story warmed my heart. And every story made me feel proud. Not because of what I had done, but because she was MY mother. And every story blessed me with comfort.

But, most of all...every story honored her. It honored her time, and work, and energies spent in the service of the Lord. It honored her commitment to the great work of the church and the role she played in it. It honored her in front of her loved ones.

I feel that because she honored Him with her life...He honored her in her death. Even though her health had been a little shaky lately, she did not become ill and suffer long. She did not die in some sort of tragic accident where there would have been great pain. The most pain she felt was maybe 5 minutes. And, then he mercifully took the feeling of pain from her as she lapsed into a coma. She did not slip into the clutches of dementia and leave us looking after only her body. She was able minded and 'just a little less' than able bodied up until the moment the cerebral hemorrhage started.

God was so kind and gracious to her. I think He was very pleased with how she lived the life he gave her. And, so, when He decided it was time for her to go home...He chose to honor her in death.

That is a great comfort to this daughter.

'Night Mom...I was so proud of you tonight!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Today has been a very hard day.

I woke this morning with a weight on my heart. You know that feeling that is half awake/half asleep? That feeling of "I need to remember something..."? And, knowing instinctively that you really don't want to remember? That is the feeling I woke to today. My mom isn't here. I can not go see her. I can not call her. I can not hug her. I can not have her 'make it all better.'

Today has been a very hard day.

From the moment I got over to Pop's until the time I left-an hour ago...there have been people there. Everyone wants a hug and everyone wants to know what happened...and everyone is talking at the same time. And, it is very loud. And, I have a headache. And, Pop looks so small and lonely. His 'Ella' always was in charge of these big shindigs. She had everything arranged, and everything in place. He didn't know what to do...and where to go...his helper, his partner, his other half was not there.

Today has been a very hard day.

Joy, Pop, and I went to the funeral home to finalize plans that had been made earlier. But, things were not in place as they should have been. Things were not done as they should have been. What we were expecting and what transpired were 2 very different things. (I'll explain more about this later). So, we were disappointed and yes, a little bit angry. But, knowing mistakes can happen...we tried to make the best of it...we tried to think about what really mattered. And, then another oversight...Lord, what's going on? And, why is this happening? let's go from here.

Today has been a very good day.

When I got to Pop's, I found friends..already hard at work. Patty was busy organizing the kitchen. Food had already started pouring in. And, she was tackling it. Suzanne was busy writing everything down, and keeping records of plates and such. Tara and Lori were busy greeting those who were arriving. Joy and I set about finding some papers we needed. Looking up, I found my friend, Shirley coming in the door from out of town. I was so happy to see her. She set about helping Patty and teaching her how to make coffee! I found Mom's dress and we began to find her accessories, things we needed to take to the funeral home. Patty left, and Tina arrived...along with Jan. Pam came and Shirley came back. They handled the kitchen. They thought to get plastic containers to put the food in and they organized it all without a dab of help from me. Actually I usually start twitching when I stay in a kitchen for very is not a pretty sight. Whenever someone came in that needed to eat...there was food...and plates...and ice...and napkins...and!

Today was a very good day.

We took Mom's clothes and Pop, Joy and I headed out to the funeral home. A very pleasant young man met us at the door. He ushered us back to a conference room, and we began the process. Questions...dates...names...who...what...etc. We got it all answered. And, then we got some unhappy news...things were not as we expected. Mom's casket was supposed to have a pink lining...and it was white. Now this is just a little thing...but not so little today. The fact is that Mom and Pop had their 58th wedding anniversary last week. They went that day to the funeral home and picked out their caskets. 5 days ago. My mom picked out the stainless steel casket with a pink lining. And, that is what she wanted. And, that is what we wanted her to have. But, the original salesman had ordered the wrong thing. We either had to change to a different casket...that we didn't like...or accept the white lining.We were not happy...Pop especially. And, he told this nice gentleman just what he thought about this. Pop was not ugly or unkind...just firm. This man was as patient and helpful as he could be. He called this place and that place and another place...but the best we could do was to delay the funeral 2 days for one to be shipped. Nope...not going to happen. So, I told him again that we were not happy with this, but,we knew it was not his fault,,,and we would make the best of the situation. Then there was another problem with the way things were explained to Pop...and thus began a long explanation again and again and again. But, this guy never lost his cool (though I am sure he was thinking, "How did I manage to pick THIS family?" Patience prevailed...and all was well. Until they could not find the records of the marker that Mom picked out. I took the brochure...Joy and I made a quick decision...and moved along. We could have gotten someone who was not patient and understanding...who tried to pass the buck. But, he tried everything he could to please us. And, when we left...with a 25 pound ham in our hands...we were at peace with all that was arranged.

Today was a very good day.

My dear friend, Pamela, who lost her father 4 years ago to the day, has always had a special place in Mom's heart. Mom has always said that she wanted Pam to sing at her funeral. Pamela used to sing solos alot, but hasn't in several years. Her father's death went much the same way as Mom's and it has been very hard on her. Today, when I asked her to sing...a million things passed through those eyes...and in a very long few seconds she said,"Yes, yes I'll sing for Mrs. Ella".

Today was a very good day.

We have seen so many people who loved Mom...people who said how she had changed their lives. People have stopped by with this story to tell about her, that funny joke she loved to play, how she led so many of us when we were young women...into the roles we play today; roles which include the leading of other younger women, who will take our places. She led by example. She led well.

Today has been a very good day.

The young man who takes car of Mom and Pop's lawn drove by with his equipment...just to make sure everything looked tip top "for Mrs. Ella." He blew off the sidewalks and touched up the lawn...and she would have been so proud. As I got in my car to leave, Pop was out watering the flowers. Mama's flowers which she took such a joy in growing. He was doing what she would have done if she were here.
I left Tina and Jan in the kitchen. They were putting up all the food...and fixing Pop a dish of warm peach cobbler and a glass of milk. They insisted I leave. And, I felt so blessed to have friends -all day long- who say..."I am here to serve. I am here to help you make it through this, I am here to ease your burden. I am here because I love you and your family."

Today has been a very long day.

Good-night, Mama. All is well.


Dear Friends,

This morning I called my Mom about noon to check on her. She was not feeling good last night. She said she didn't feel good, but that she was better. She told me about what she was cooking Pop for lunch, and asked about how the boys all were. Then she had to go because she heard Pop coming in and she had his potato fritters ready to fry.

After lunch, they both lay down on facing couches for their nap. In a few minutes, she was up and saying she hurt...then she began hollering with the pain and told Pop to call 911. He did, and they came and said that she would be fine...this was not life threatning. Joy went on to meet Pop at the hospital. It seems that while she was in the ambulance, she became unresponsive. As soon as they got her to the hospital, they put her on the ventillator. After XRay and was determined that she had had a massive stroke in the cerebellun.

The entire family who are in Dothan had gathered, and our pastor...they waited with us for the DR. to talk to us. The bleed had occurred in the cerebellum, the brain stem was affected, and spinal fluid was compromised. There was the possibility that surgery may give her back a small amount of function...or kill her immediately. But, if she lived, she would have had to have skilled care for the rest of her life. We did not want her to live like that...she would not have wanted to live like that. And, so...we did nothing. They moved her to ICU so they could monitor her. We were waiting for Ian to arrive from Birmingham, and Ben to arrive from his guard duty. As soon as every one was there...we removed the ventilator. She struggled to breath...and we thought she was going to leave us then. However, her breathing got better...her color got better...and her heart remained strong. We sent everybody home about midnight,so Pop and Joy and I sat with her. We talked to her and sang to her. About 1:45 she stoped the labored breathing, and took very shallow breaths. Her heart rate also slowed way down. minute she was with us...and the next, she was with Jesus. At 1:53.

After attending to the necessary paperwork, Pop and Joy and I each went our separate ways. No one wanted any company...we wanted, I think, to put it all in place in our minds. She was with us this morning and tonight she is in Heaven.

Tomorrow we will get together to plan the funeral.
I have some more very interesting things to tell you. How amazingly God worked.
His hand was seen everywhere.

I may not be posting for a few days...please forgive me, But, I'll be back in a day or two.

I covet your prayers for strength, and wisdom, and patience. I'm here to testify to you that God Almighty is on His Throne! He alone is worthy of our adoration and praise. And, I praise him for having such tender mercies toward my Mother.

Rest well, Sweet Mother...I love you!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Thank you all so much for your prayers and concern for Adam yesterday and today. Funny how things can change in a matter of moments, isn't it? And it seems as though everything stops but what you are focused on.

He got out of the hospital at 3 this morning and had to be back at the Dr. office at 1. He told Adam that the surgery went perfectly. One of the retinas was completely detached, the other just torn. The longer the wait, the worse the outcome. Which is why they operated at 10 last night. He put a laser seal on both eyes to try to prevent this happening again. AGAIN? Yes, it could happen again, because of the way his eye is made. The doctor said this happening had nothing to do with the implants he had a few weeks ago. Now...the hardest part is going to be this...he has to stay completely face down for a week. While he is awake, while he is asleep...while he is doing anything! Bless his heart...but he can do it.

I have to say a word here about my daughter-in-love. Suzanne is so good to my boy. She loves him and cares for him just as I would. All this medical hoopla that comes with the 'Owens' name, has been new to her...but she has handled it with strength and courage and a wonderful attitude. I thank God for her everyday, and I thank her for being so clearly 'exactly what Adam needs'.

Friends, God is good. He is mighty. He is worthy of all praise and glory...and I thank Him with my whole being!


Today is Ian's birthday. And, what a joy and delight this child has been. (Yes, Ian, I know you are not a child anymore...). He has brought such fun and laughter to our family. Our family as a whole. He is the 'baby' of all the grandchildren...but, believe you me...he has been able to stand right along side of them in anything they do.
From the very beginning, he has attempted to do the impossible...even when he knew better! It was always hard to hold him back if there was something he wanted to do or somewhere he wanted to go!

Ian loves life. And, he always has. It always surprised me how many people he knew that I didn't. He was the type of little boy who always made his presence known wherever he went. Kids loved Ian, and adults did, too. We even had someone tell us last week how much they used to enjoy having Ian over to their house when their son and Ian were school chums.
Now, he was a clever boy. And, it was hard to play a joke on him...but one time...we got him good! He was having his second heart surgery when he was about 14 or 15 years old. They came and got him for the surgery, and off they went. But, his youth pastor at the time, Larry Holcomb, had sinister plans. He brought with him to the hospital, a bottle of hot pink nail polish. Well, we asked the nurses if they would be so kind as to paint his toenails while he was asleep! Sure! They had nothing better to do! And, so they did. Well, this was a small, private hospital in our area, and so the word spread quickly that the deed was done. Everyone...and I mean 'everyone' came to see his toes. Now, for a good half a day, Ian did not know why everyone that came to see him would check his toes! But, when he realized it...
He was a great sport about it and enjoyed telling the story as much as we did! He could easily laugh at himself, if the joke was on him!

I could go on and tell you lots of stories, but, for now, I'll just say that I am blessed to have him as a son. He is a joy to my heart, a shoulder to lean on, and a most precious gift from God. He gives wise counsel to those who ask, and like his daddy, thinks through a problem clearly before attempting to solve it. Most importantly, he loves the Lord. He seeks His guidance, and recognizes and gives thanks for the blessings he has received.

Happy 26 th birthday, Ian.


Thursday, July 9, 2009


When Adam woke this morning, he was realized he had lost the peripheral vision in his right eye. He called his doctor in Birmingham...who happened to be out of town. Another doctor in the practice said it would be a good idea if they checked him out. So, He and Suzanne made a quick stop here to drop off the dog, and got on their way.

I have just heard from them, and he has a detached retina. They are en route to a retinal specialist with the plans for surgery within the next few hours. That is all the info that I have.

Please join your prayers with mine as I ask God to work another miracle for Adam. I will update when I have more info. And, I thank you for your prayers.

EDITED TO ADD: There is a tear in both of Adam's retinas. One is much more severe than the other. He will be having surgery tonight at Birmingham. This is an entirely new problem and has nothing to do with the implants he had put in a few weeks ago.

God is in control of all things...this included. Pray for wisdom and confidence in the doctor who is doing the surgery. We serve a mighty God!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I'm still laid up...not feeling well enough to be up and around...but tired of laying here resting,reading and computer surfing! So, since I can't be there...I'll show you where I'd like to be...

First, let's follow this path...It's going to lead us to some very special places...

Now, which of these pictures would you like to be living in for a few weeks?
Just plop me right into that hammock...and a cool drink and a good book, please!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


This is me these days...feeling yucky. I did go to the doctor. He says I have the Epstien Barr Virus...which is a fancy name for infectious Mononucleosis. Remember when kids would have this in high school...used to be called the kissing disease.
Well, I have it and the symptoms are sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, extreme fatigue, and fever.

I have been able to do little more than lay around, rest, take it easy, rest again, and then try to sleep at night! We did have guests over for July 4th...probably not my best idea...but everyone pitched in and helped. However, I lay down today when Ian left to go back to Birmingham around 10:00...and I just woke up about 6:00.

I have been unable to read and comment on all of your blogs like I usually do, so please give me a little grace. I will get back to my full steam ASAP.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Hope that your day is full of FUN...FOOD...FROLICKING...FRIENDS...FAMILY...FIREWORKS!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


One of the best trips I have taken was a trip to Hawaii with my 2 best friends, Shirley and Tina. We went to Maui for a week in 2007. We were able to see so much of the island, got to eat loads of yummy food, and made memories to last a lifetime!

One of the special places we ate was fronted by a beautiful beach. All around the shoreline were numerous lava rock. While we were waiting to eat, I found this large rock that was shaped like a heart. I collect heart shaped rocks, so I was delighted to find this one. I took it back to the hotel, with the intentions of bringing it back home. However, when we began packing for the trip seems my suitcase had shrunk! And, the contents had mysteriously gotten heavier! So, the rock was destined to remain on the island. My friend, Tina, said, "No way! We're taking it home!" And, she found room for it in her luggage...and so, it made it to Alabama.

Fast forward to 2009. After the fountain next to the pool was finished...I placed it in the middle of the pile of tumbling stones. And, there it sits...the perfect centerpiece...the perfect place for a beautiful reminder of an island in the middle of the Pacific...a place that holds beautiful memories.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Just heard from Suzanne. The surgery went well, and Adam is doing just fine. The doctor was very pleased. They will see him again tomorrow and then head home. Then a 2 month wait for the last procedure.

God is good and all praise goes to Him! Thank you all for going to The Father on our behalf!