Thursday, December 30, 2010


Awww, Christmas memories, nothing like them!  Forget the chestnuts roasting by the open fire, Jack Frost nipping and Yuletide carols, the Braner family went to the track!!

Here we are lining up in the speed demon go-karts located at a great place called Andy B's Recreation Center in Tulsa.  Cute name right?  And since we have an Andy and his last name also begins with B we decided to  check out this place. It was fabulous and no disappointment!

For $5.00 each driver over 50 inches tall  and older than 9 years could round the track several times, darting in and out of traffic, squealing around corners and avoiding near misses. Shorter drivers had to ride shotgun with a taller person.

Looks simple enough and lots of fun,  right?
I was confident that I could participate in this event since all I had to do was turn left, turn left, turn left.  No great challenge there!

Gravity helped me get into that very low drivers seat and Mollie (age 3) was delighted to be my passenger.  After  fastening all the safety belts and a few directions from the owner of the place we shot out of the starting gate immediately as the shot sounded.

Mollie started laughing and squealing with delight.  Evidently she has a need FOR and enjoys SPEED!   It took about 2 minutes for both of us to realize that I had no idea what I was doing.  The accelerator and the brake were easier enough to master, but those sharp curves and fellow racers sent us bumping into walls and other cars immediately.  We bounced and laughed through lap #1.

Everyone was passing us at super sonic speeds as we putzed and crashed around the track.  We were a ridiculous sight.  At lap #2 she yelled out in her loudest three year old voice, "WE ARE TERRIBLE!"  Yes, we were!  But, no one had as much fun as we had that day.
We bumped around 8-10 more rounds pretending we were racing at the Indy 500! She loved every minute of it and I loved watching her laugh. There is nothing more precious on this earth than watching pure joy bubbling from a child.

As we slowed down and entered into the victory lap that signaled the end of our race we finally got control of ourselves and hugged tightly with the new knowledge of a shared experience.  Perhaps she was thrilled that she was still alive.  I PRAY she remembers that day well into adulthood!

Getting out of that low seat was another visual image but Honeybuns came to the rescue!  We gave that owner/operator a new Christmas vision as well as I struggled to my feet.

It truly is healthy to make "new" traditions!  Christmas Joy can be found in the most unsuspecting ways and sometimes in the oddest places.

Monday, December 27, 2010


With fourteen people under one roof, a week long celebration planned, & dubious weather reports from CO the possibility of a Christmas disaster was looming.  HOWEVER, never one to underestimate the power of a Christmas miracle, this family forged ahead.

The weather cooperated, no flu bugs jumped on anyone, four blow-up beds were added to the decor and here it is the Monday after Christmas and I am one happy Grandma.  Andy, Jamie and their five very active kiddos drove 13 1/2 hours from Durango, CO....Philip, Nancy and their three drove 4 hours from Dallas.  I realize and am thankful for the sacrifices they made to  "come home" for Christmas this year. When all those children are grown their parents will then realize the feeling of "wholeness" that can only come from having all the chicks in the henhouse at the same time.   Having my grown children's feet under my kitchen table is a joy to behold.

It was the best celebration ever for me!  I have enough pictures and stories to keep this blog running for a long time, perhaps even a book is in the making!  We partied hardy.  Events included bowling, go-kart racing, a Jingle Bell band, much eating,  serious games of chicken foot, Christmas cookies, Nerf gun battles, gifts, Christmas light tour, and more eating! There was action every minute!                                   

Interacting with the grandkids was so much fun.  I'll spend days listing the one-liners that I overheard.  The mental images of them playing are seared into my brain matter.

This picture reminds me of one not so pleasant incident.

Gabby, age 3, LOVES her froggie jammies.  They are fuzzy and footed and zippered, the kind every pre-schooler knows well.
At one point in the week we all heard her death scream coming from the guest bathroom.  She's a big girl, you know, and can "do it myself" when nature calls.  Hays was the first to reach the scene.  Gabby tearfully related her dismay.  She'd caught her little "outie" belly button in the zipper of  her froggie jammies!  Evidently sometimes the lessons of life must be experienced to fully grasp.
Gabby learned that  zippers can be dangerous!

The rest of us learned that sacrifices made to make family times happen are well worth the effort.  Memories are priceless!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


A few months ago I joined a local writers group here in Tulsa.  These very gifted men and women meet just once a month to share tips and tricks of the trade.  Their meetings are informative, educational and encouraging.   I try to  attend when I'm in town but don't make it every month.

A while back the President of the organization gave a talk on how to write devotionals for magazines that do that sort of thing. It was intriguing.  I left with a spiral bound notebook full of ideas.   As usual she also stressed the importance of perseverance.  It was common to submit many articles to magazines only to receive the dreaded rejection notice.  Rejection is reality for wanna-be writers.  It's part of the process and expected.

I came home that night, sat down at my computer and whipped out a devotion, taking all of ten minutes.  I'd followed my newly acquired instructions to the letter. 

I conjured up memories and wrote of the day many years ago when  my mother-in-law who is now deceased shared with me the "secrets" of her county wide famous angel food cake recipe.  It was a simple day packed with urgency for I was the only one in the family interested and we both knew that when she was gone the recipe would be lost. The many steps it took to achieve the perfect angel food cake was daunting.   Many times the family would discuss the futility of the process when you could buy a cake at Walmart and have it digested in the time it took to get through step 3 of the "made from scratch" variety.

It was a quiet poignant exercise.   Her secrets were entrusted to me as the next generation of grandmas that would eventually have the time to sift that flour seven times, not six, not eight, but SEVEN!  Such secrets MUST be shared eventually.

The Bible tells us that believers are "entrusted with the secret things of God" and that those important secrets MUST be shared from generation to generation.  That was the connection  devotional magazines are crazy about!

That's the story in a nutshell.

I clicked on all the right icons, submitted my devotional to a well known Christian publication and WAL - LA, this past week I got a message saying that my article had been accepted for publication. 

UNBELIEVABLE!  Where was the rejection letter?  First and only article?  What?  You've got to be kidding me!

I felt like I'd just reach GO without going all the way around the board.  I'd not spent enough sweat and tears or years to warrant this news.

Honeybuns was startled by my uncontrollable laughter!  How could this possibly be happening? It certainly wasn't my writing skills that brought about this "success."  I have none!

I think it was the message.  One generation sharing with another something important! 

There is much to share, to talk about, to gently instruct.   There is a need and an urgency.

Who could have predicted that a cake recipe shared on a quiet day would have produced this conversation years later?

I read recently of a kindergarten that was re-located to a nursing home.  The children's classes were held IN the facility and young and old alike all ate lunch together, did recess together, read together and made some inter-generational friendships.  Behavioral problems in the children all but disappeared. Loneliness often experienced in homes for the elderly was replaced with anticipation and conversation.

Young and old interacting, sharing laughter, stories, perhaps secrets. It's a win-win situation. What a great idea! 

Today I think I'll be on the lookout for some young friend that wants to bake a cake!  I have a secret recipe!  IF the conversation takes a spiritual bend perhaps I'll even share a couple of secrets God has whispered in my ear.