Friday, January 28, 2011


Tonight I had the rare experience of sitting with a group of teens and early 20 year olds  and witnessing  facts that up until now  I'd only read about. 

There were about 30 in the room, all strangers to me, but they knew each other.  There was pleasant bantering in the room and an underlying sense of respect for one another.  They were part of a group that meets every Thursday night at a local "club" for food and fun.

 A safe place for them to gather is provided through a local ministry.  It's located in a part of Tulsa that I rarely drive through. Most lived nearby.

The meeting room was clean, painted in bright colors and welcoming. Smells of good food cooking filled the air. The groups motto painted on the concrete wall assured everyone that entered that they were welcome and safe, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Safe is probably the most important word to describe the place and the atmosphere. Safety is what these particular young people long for and need.

The agenda for this meeting was to educate these young people about Human Trafficking.  As we went around the room and made introductions they confessed that they knew very little about the subject.  They listened respectfully as the presentation was made, the awful facts were flashed before them on the big screen. 

I watched their faces as they watched the screen.  And we ALL learned much.

I learned that the cold hard facts that lead to Human Trafficking were sitting right before me in bodily form.  The young people were brutally honest when asked very personal questions.

Yes, most had been sexually abused as young children, many had already dropped out of school, several had been raped repeatedly, they had come from violent homes, a handful had been homeless already in their young life.  They knew prostitutes personally and were pretty sure they'd seen Human Trafficking going on right in their own back yards. Alcohol, cigarettes,  and drugs are essential elements of their daily existence.  They didn't wince at the idea of having ever been shot at, but quietly just raised their hands as they remembered that horror. Not many lived with both biological parents.

I listened, respected,  and tried to look into their eyes.  Some looked down, all but 2-3 avoided contact. A few exuded the bravado of phony confidence, attempting but failing to mask their fears.  Some faces held that blank stare of emptiness. They seemed so young....and so old.  They are babies and they are broken.

They've experienced way too much for their years.  Life has already taught them more than I ever want to know.

They are prime targets for predators that promise love, money, and security only to deliver pain and loneliness. There is no doubt that several I met tonight will never live to see adulthood.  I wonder how many will be mourned by any family at all, and how long it will be before they are totally forgotten.

There's a name for these  kids: throwaways.   They are rejected, rebellious and alone, in dire need of tender care and professional counseling.

Thursday night is the highlight of their week.  For a few short hours they are accepted, warm,  and safe.

The depravity of man was on display,  personified in the eyes of young victims.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


My dear, sweet friend and almost constant companion  these days is named Loretta.  She's a relatively new addition to my list of loved ones having only  been with me now about 4 years, ever since we moved to Oklahoma.  She is faithful, strong, and could be classified as a "low maintenance" type of friend.   She's willing to go anywhere I want to go and is a great front-seat type of passenger. Her loyalty is astounding, her steady personality is a calming influence.

She reads maps fluently and guides me around Tulsa and every other road I choose to travel. We have traveled  together to Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, all over Oklahoma, and  Illinois.   Her voice is kind, dripping with patience, even when I get exasperated and testy. We enjoy the same music and often listen to sermons in the car just to pass the time.   I can always count on her for an interesting and informative conversation. Lively bantering is part of our appreciation for one another.

That's what friends are all about, right?  Faithful, true, keeps confidences, always encouraging, ready for an outing  with happy spontaneity. I respect the fact that she knows how to hold her tongue in times of crisis when I've made a bad decision. Yet, she doesn't hesitate speaking her mind  when she's got something important to say.

She has kept me from danger with her wisdom,  and entertained me on long drives.  She comes along only when invited and never feels slighted. She knows no revenge and never complains of hurt feelings even when I tell her I've had enough of her for one day.

Loretta arrived WITH my big red Ford Expedition.  She lives right there in the dash and comes to life with a push of a button.  Her last name is GPS.   Whatever would I do without Loretta?  I'd be lost!

Egads!  I've befriended a computer!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Everybody knows THAT'S true.  Family, friends, the Word of God, a child's laughter,  people,  love, generosity, kindness, patience and encouragement all head the list of THE most important aspects of life.  NO THING can compare with the pride and friendship grown children bring, the devotion of a husband or the joy of grandchildren. NO THING can compare with an intimate relationship with the Creator or the bond of sister-love.

BUT...there are some THINGS  that make me smile,  too.  I could make a list or write a song (oh, Julie Andrews already did that!) or even take pictures of my favorite things.

Sometimes if a grandchild is having difficulty going to sleep I tell him/her to close their eyes and think about their favorite things. They always get that dreamy faraway look that tells me that they're thinking really hard and I can leave the room knowing that sweet peaceful sleep is imminent.

It's fun to dream about favorite things once in a while.

My  short list includes, in no particular order of importance:  puppy dog tummies, hybrid bearded Iris's, French soap, dusty old bookstores, antique shops, fabric stores, yarn shops, the mountains of Alaska, the beaches of Hawaii, sheets that have dried on a clothesline outside, letters from friends, fuzzy robes, new shoes, BOOKS, a red ripe Illinois tomato, a ride in a convertible, morel mushrooms freshly picked from an Illinois riverbank,  the Smithsonian, old pick-up trucks,  a plane ticket, an e-mail from a family member or friend, an evening free of anything electrical,  Gardenias,  MUSIC, and a picture crayola-colored by a grandchild.

My list COULD get long.  It might take days to complete it!!!

The moral of this story life is full!  Full of the important things of life and blessed with a whole lot of extras.   I think it's really healthy to stop and count 'em up every now and then.

Kris Kristopherson used to sing about it, "what have I ever deserve even one...of the blessings I've known?'

The answer...NOTHING!...NOT ONE THING...... have I's all GRACE!


I am extremely thankful that my land line and my cell phone do not have the capability of  "video call."  Who needs to see my hair standing straight up early in the morning?  Who needs to know that I'm still in my nightgown while washing the breakfast dishes as I take a call? Who needs to see my pre-make-up face on a lazy day or the vision of me trying on a swim suit anticipating summer? That would cause instant blindness or perhaps a stampede for the telemarketer or family member. Yep, when that phone rings I am still invisible. It's the last bastion of privacy!

Until now.

I believe it was George Jetson that predicted such a device as "phone-a-vision."  And folks,  it is HERE!  

We installed SKYPE on my computer a year or so ago and don't use it as much as I'd like.  BUT...when we DO click on that "place a call with video" button and one of the kids clicks on the other end,  magic happens! Right there just inches from my nose is one of the cutest faces in the universe.

It's usually Mollie or Gracie on the screen  and we have a great time, making faces at each other, blowing cyber kisses, telling stories,  welcoming new dollies into the family, and basically just giggling.  Our most recent cyber visit included a look at the bottom of four little feet,  new teeth growing in filling the empty spot of a 6 yr olds mouth, and watching and hearing a recitation of  "The Cow." It is a dose of medicine for far away grandparents. EVERY home should be so equipped.

We used SKYP to meet TIKI for the first time a year ago in November.  He'd arrived from Africa to his new home and family and as grandparents got our first glimpse of him over the Internet.

This past year we  connected with both sons while they were working in foreign countries half a world away.  Yes, I love SKYPE and the folks that invented it and keep it up and running! I have no idea how it works but have heard something about satellites and free!

It's a great connection tool that requires only a little preparation.  A quick fluffing of the hair-do or throwing on a robe doesn't take long at all.  However, I will NEVER click the "answer video call" box while trying on a swim suit.  It is my sense of responsibility for keeping the nation safe that prevents such reckless behavior.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


MUCH can be accomplished in the middle of the night! What's that about? Is this part of the aging process?

I'm pretty sure it's not just me because I have friends that tell me of their "middle of the night" epiphanies, work habits and hobbies.  But then again, all those friends are my age, too.  One gal even remodeled her house so she would have a pleasant sitting area near the bedroom complete with desk, books, and comfy chair.  The little nook was designed so her husband wouldn't even miss her as she slipped away and no light would disturb his snoring. She only had to go to the kitchen  briefly for the hot tea. (Perhaps she'll add a microwave and sink!)

There was a time when the idea of  me getting out of bed at 3 a.m. was considered insane, now it's ALMOST a daily occurrence. It's not a sad or frightening experience, but almost enjoyable.

I have my  best thoughts, and prayers at this hour.  There's a clarity of thought-stream that just isn't present during the hustle bustle of daylight hours.  Problems are solved, projects are completed and dreams for future fun with family and friends are planned. Memories can be relived with surprising focus and fond smiles.  My best stories, fiction and non, are put down on paper near a small nightlight. I can write a poem that no one will ever read or remember the words of a song that meant something  to me in high school!

Surely  everyone, regardless of age, has had the thrill of finishing a page-turner of a mystery at 4 a.m. That happens often, too.
There are a few books that I've read without taking a break or sometimes even a breath, from start to finish, cover to cover, and finally laid down in the wee hours.  Then there are those thrillers that would keep Rip van Winkle from any shut-eye.  I try to stay away from those.

Midnight (or later)  shopping can be done via the Internet. That store is ALWAYS open for business.

Of all my nocturnal activities, I draw the line at folding laundry or mopping the floor. Those are STRICTLY daytime chores! That law can be found in the Library of Congress.
Some of my neighbors are awake at this hour too. It's amazing what all goes on under the cover of darkness.  Looking out my window becomes somewhat of a theatrical site.

Entertainment is often provided by the wild creature category.  I've seen an opossum exploring my back patio, a mouse run across the concrete and leaves scattered  by the Oklahoma wind.  There's a fat old owl that sometimes sits on the fence.  A family of raccoons might pay a visit.  I've heard tales of coyotes but have yet to see them.

Once in a while a group of teenagers will stroll by.  Go figure that one!  That's another category!

Last summer a very odd old truck parked across the street. The security guard checked that out and told me a couple of folks were night fishing in the lake across the way. (Security guards are up and ready to answer their phone in the middle of the night, too)  Why would anyone want to go fishing at night? Why would anyone choose to be a night time security guard for a bunch of old ladies that don't sleep?

Then there is the newspaper delivery truck.  That's a dance worth watching!  There is a rhythm to sliding around the corners, pitching rolled up papers onto driveways.  The movements are as smooth as a ballet or the Texas two-step but not quite as sexy. I wonder when that driver sleeps.

Some neighbors are arriving home from working the late shift, some are just leaving for their long commute to their jobs.

There has also been a couple of times when I've witnessed young single male neighbors quietly sneaking home, parking their cars in their parents driveways.  They're always carrying their belts and shoes as they stumble to their doorways.  I silently wish them well.

Occasionally a fire engine siren will whiz down the back road and I find myself silently praying for the person that is in need of help.  Sometimes it's a police car and I'm sad for that officer who is heading to an unpleasant scene.

Yep, there's a lot of action during the night.  Sometimes it requires an afternoon nap just to keep up with it all!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


The Refinery of Tulsa  is hosting ANDY when he comes to town mid-January for a talk to teens and book signing.  He's actually coming to spend the week to serve as the Spiritual Emphasis Week pastor for Metro Christian of Tulsa.  He has scheduled other events outside the school for weekends and evenings.  His heart is for teens and he loves to get in front of them.

Tomorrow I'll be helping hand out some of these fliers to schools, churches, and places teens gather. IF you know of someone in that age group or a youth pastor, etc...that might be interested, pass this news along.

This flier was designed by Brittany, the store manager. It took her all of about 10 minutes. What talent!  And what a beautiful young lady. The Refinery is a "hip" clothing and book store for young people that often opens their doors for events such as this. 

It's going to be an exciting week having Andy (AND GABBY) here with us for a few days. I hope they'll let this old lady grandma stand in the back of the room so I can listen in!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Everybody is talking about New Year's Resolutions this week.  The big debate is whether they are valuable or a waste of thought time.

I keep a few favorites stored away for each new January.  I pull them out, write them down, make an effort and then tuck them back into my memory  bank about February 12th.  They become "resolution reruns."  With this plan no time is wasted on making up new ones each New Years Eve  after the song Auld Lang Syne has been sung by the fat lady.

Many years ago I decided that rather than concentrate on resolutions that would make my life absolutely 100 % better and then get discouraged and fail I would instead choose to LEARN something new each winter. Scientists tell us now that continuous learning keeps the brain cells busy and active and supposedly wards off early dementia.  I'm all for that!  And the dreary winter months are a great time for such adventures. 

The list of past learning projects reads like a comedians joke book, the list of new skills I long to master mimics a  "bucket list." 

There was the year I learned to roller skate. I think I was 35 at the time and can happily recall that no bones were broken before ditching that sport.  I spent hours toning those inner thigh muscles before the realization hit that I would NEVER get past the first draft of roller derby wannabes.

A couple of years ago knitting was the obsession.  That hobby is still evident by three or four half-done projects laying around the house.  I pick it up from time to time  and very proudly declare "I can knit."  The big lesson learned there is that knitting is not as easy as knitting teachers say it is.  There are complicated stitches to master, a foreign language to decipher and patterns that would make NASA scientists shake their heads in dismay trying to figure them out.  After hundreds of dollars of classes and all the paraphernalia that goes with knitting I've "been there and done that." However,  I still consider learning to knit as one of my greatest accomplishments. 

Then there was the year of learning to ice skate. If I remember correctly that was the year the whole family was interested in the Winter Olympics! There were a few splats that would have won the prize on  America's Funniest Home Videos had we recorded and submitted them.

The year I tried to learn to snow ski left my teacher, who also happened to be our daughter-in-law Jamie, with unrepairable damage to her right hip. We have some family stories about that fiasco that still brings tears to our eyes and pain to the tummies with laughter.

Belly dancing, line dancing, and numerous exercise routines have also come and gone.

This year I've toyed with the idea of learning to play the violin.  Good violin music makes me weep. The purity of that sound brings tears to my eyes without any explainable emotion.  I would LOVE to master the violin.  That might take years, but I'm looking into lessons and the cost. Yes, the cost might inhibit some of my grandiose plans!

Speaking of cost, Honeybuns has suggested that my Jan. project be the art of budgeting! He loves numbers, always has and always will.  I can't even remember the pin number to my bank account so we had to make a rhyme out of it so I could function there.  I doubt learning to understand the family budget will rise to the top of the list.  Surely brain cells aren't stimulated by such a mundane boring  time consuming effort.

My debate now seems to focus on 1. learning to scuba dive or 2. learning to recognize and understand the great works of art. 
Since I have yet to learn to swim and have a terrible fear of being submerged in water, I'm leaning toward the art project. Surely there are computer programs or online classes that will be a great tool for this endeavor.  There must be great joy in being able to identify a  Rembrant from a Ruebens from a Reynolds from a Renoir at just a glance. Yes, that's it, this year I'll  aspire to become an expert in the great works of art. I'll begin today.  I have visions of new coffee table books, road trips to great museums and perhaps even a trip to the Hermitage. Wow, that would be fun! 

When Honeybuns gets his budget perfected I'll spring this news on him!

Now that that is settled, I'll get back to folding the laundry.  No need to waste any more time debating with myself!

Monday, January 3, 2011


This is creepy!

A few weeks ago I was visiting the Christian Women's Club of Huntsville, Texas.  I was the guest speaker for their December meeting and because their usual venue of the local country club was being renovated they decided to rent the conference room of the Texas Prison Museum.  The meeting room was lovely and the ladies were very gracious and kind. There were smiles all around, good food, good music, holiday greetings, gifts and kind words.

Just a few feet away from that lovely setting was quite a different scene.

Attached to the conference room are several much larger spaces that are designed to hold artifacts, pictures, testimonies, and a replica of the "Wall".  (I learned that the "Wall " is the actual prison that is located in downtown Huntsville.  It houses 1700 inmates and is the only place in Texas where death row prisoners breathe their last. )  The Texas electric chair is stored in one of these adjoining rooms.  It is on display for anyone to see and evidently thousands of folks stop by and visit it each year. I wondered why anyone would put the prison museum on their vacation itinerary.
Old Sparky  is in semi-retirement now.  The popular choice of execution these days is lethal injection. But this chair is serviced, checked, polished and kept in working order JUST IN CASE an inmate might choose this tool of justice.

Reading about capital punishment and hearing stories of horrific murders by psychopaths and evil men is one thing. I remembered John Wayne Gacey and Ted Bundy and others! To actually stand in front of this chair is spine-tingling! 

Justice must be satisfied, there is no doubt about that.  There is something deep within the heart of all mankind that cries out for fairness, for payment to be made, and for deserved punishment to be carried out. God Himself is the author of righteous judgement.

Visions of  living, breathing human beings strapped to that wooden chair flashed through my mind.   I didn't even want to think about what else flashed through those straps that held feet and hands. This hard piece of furniture shining in the spotlight had witnessed and was the cause of many deaths. Standing there and staring at it was a very sobering experience.

What a contrast  of emotions!  There I was happily celebrating Christmas and the life giving birth of Immanuel with those lovely ladies while just a few feet away this icon of  death was given a place of honor. I was questioning their choice of venues.

Oh, my! Perhaps the true meaning of Christmas was staring back at me and I was about to miss it.

The Christ child came, lived, died and rose again so instruments such as Old Sparky might never be needed!   HE came to remove the power and punishment of sin so that I and all those who believe will never have to face capital punishment in this lifetime  OR the eternal death sentence delivered by the just and holy God in the hereafter. 

How grateful I am that Jesus willingly came to experience the "Old Sparky" of His day.  The first  Christmas was the pre-requisite for the first Easter!  He came to die so that I might live!

I'm thinking that the Texas Prison Museum is the perfect place to celebrate Christmas!

Maybe I'll make a trip to Hunstville for Easter, too.