Friday, March 29, 2013


I cannot imagine walking down a familiar road in my town and seeing human beings hanging on rough hand-cut crosses.  The pain, cries, sweat, blood, flies, heat, and smell must have been horrific.  The religious and political leaders sneering, laughing and mocking added to the surreal scene. Relatives, friends, and people passing by must have been in some type of shock at the sight. The Roman method of capital punishment was unbelievably cruel.

Watching someone you love hang there must have been unbearable!

How Mary, His friends and His disciples even lived through that day is remarkable! I wonder if his mother cried out, "let it be over soon."

The Bible says the sky went dark from about noon until three o'clock.

Maybe that was some type of comfort, a type of sheltering from the intense heat, the sneers, the gawkers.

It WAS over about three that day!  All the hope His disciples had placed in Him to make things right, to overthrow Roman rule, and to vindicate their loyalty to Him, all gone. He was dead! 

All their misplaced theories and desires were crushed.  They gathered at a hiding place as well.  Their lives were on the line now too.  To those alive then, that Friday was NOT good!

What sorrow! What indescribable grief!

 Where is the grief today, where is the sorrow for all the sin of the world that put Him there?

I don't see a lot of grieving over sin these days.  In fact, that word is not politically correct.  Just try to bring it into casual conversation! Sin these days is defined as just an alternate life-style that must be embraced. Every man does what is right in HIS own eyes!  Our culture is dark and evil seems to be gaining ground.

The cross proved that sin is horrific and demands a price. The price offered and received that day was the body of the Son of God.

God have mercy on us all!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


WOW!  What an eye-opener!

For a while now I've been extremely frustrated at the national dialogue over just about every subject imaginable: Freedom, right to life, same sex marriage, taxes, politics, morality, movies, value of children, etc.  I've bemoaned the fact that it seems that when we talk to one another we are speaking foreign languages.  There seems to be no clear speaking OR understanding!

Well, Ruby Payne, PhD. has helped explain to me this phenomena.   According to her extensive research we ARE talking different languages because of the vast differences of MIND-SET found in different socio-economic groups.  We might all be Americans but we live in different WORLDS.  The world of poverty is starkly different than the middle-class and the middle-class thinks and behaves totally different than the wealthy. (No news flash there!) The values placed on family, food, education, relationships, clothing, language, money, time, destiny, world view, love, humor varies GREATLY DEPENDING upon the "caste" you were born into!  (OH, my, I thought this only happened in India!)

The family patterns in generational poverty explains why poor children find education in our public schools so difficult and higher education an impossible abstract dream.  Role models and support systems are critical for poor children to succeed and are often missing from their life. This book is a must read for educators, employers, policymakers, and service providers. New creative ideas are possible and critical. Unspoken rules/skills/tools of the middle and wealthy class must be taught and LEARNED.  Until they are the poor don't even know they HAVE a choice to succeed.

Dr. Paynes research and countless books and seminars have earned her the title of expert. Without judgment or condemnation Dr. Payne suggests many ideas to turn things around. Throwing money at a failed educational system is NOT the answer. I find this fascinating.

Anybody in power listening to Dr. Payne?

(How does this affect our national scene?  Speaking the language of the poor and keeping them poor translates into votes, manipulation and dependence. )

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Tis the season! The Morel  Mushroom is "edible gold" from the woods of America, and it's almost "open season." (These were found by my nephew last spring at one of his favorite "hot spots.")

I did a little research, actually about 5 minutes of research, and have learned that there is a wealth of information about these little tidbits of nature.  There are online sights that answer questions, predict the best time to harvest in various states, recipes, equipment needed, rotten tree logs identified and even one called a "sightings map."  Pictures of poisonous and non-poisonous  'rooms are critical information for the novice. Who knew?

All I know is that hunting mushrooms in the spring in central Illinois is one of the most fun times a family can experience. This pictures brings a SMILE to my face as I reminisce. (Tromping through the timber, head bowed down, eyes pealed for snakes, shrieking with joy at a find, relatives racing to the sweet spot near an old rotten elm log, picking them as fast as possible as if they were going to be going anywhere.)  The added reward is EATING them! (Wash/soak in refrigerator in salt water to get rid of bugs, rinse, pat dry, dip in egg, drag through flour, fry in hot oil in Granny's old iron skillet.)

I've learned today that they grow in most states with the weather, ground temperature, amount of sunshine and perfect soil all factoring into the sport. All but the deep south and the desserts of the southwest can claim them, with southern Wisconsin being the very BEST area to plan a hunt.

The season is short, beginning mid-April through mid-June. The relatives in Illinois usually head for the woods mid-May.  Checking out all the .coms makes the whole process a science that guarantees rewards!

And folks are still bad mouthin' that evil Internet!   If it helps me find a "mess" of these in OK, I'll be singing it's praises!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Wow!  It's been an interesting week, Pope-wise! 
The world has been watching a simple little pipe propped up through the Sistine Chapel to see if/when the Catholic Church would elect it's new leader. And there he is: Pope Francis.

And folks around the world are abuzz!  I have checked the history and belief system of this very loving simple man and LIKE HIM!

But, he's already a problem for many folks!

Evidently the fear is that THIS guy is going to stand on principles that have been in place for thousands of years and until recently thought to be good and right and holy!  There has been talk and now dismay that the Cardinals did not choose someone YOUNGER, MORE LIBERAL, MODERN, SOMEONE WILLING AND ABLE TO CHANGE THE TENETS OF THE CHURCH to align with pop culture.

It's incredible and very interesting!

Because we live in an age titled, post-modern, truth is relevant, you see!  It goes like this:  believe whatever you want and if you're sincere, it's OK!  If you want to believe  God is Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy, GO AHEAD!  Your truth may not be MY truth, but who cares, as long as you sincerely believe it. It's your business, right?  How foolish! And how very common!  Relevant truth has left in it's path a confused generation with no foundation to base life's decisions.

Enter Pope Francis!  He has the audacity to believe that marriage is ordained by God and involves one man and one woman.  He believes life is a gift from God and not from a murky cesspool of tadpoles. He believes EVERY child began as a "thought" from God and thus sacred.  He refuses euthanasia for the elderly but leaves the end of life also in the hands of God. He depends upon the Sovereignty, Grace, Power and Love of an entity beyond human comprehension.

He embraces all the old time traditional beliefs that were once held in high esteem in this country.

Not so anymore.

Today, to uphold the Biblical standards of life and love is to somehow "judge" those that make other choices.  To stand firm on scriptural principles is to somehow "hate" those that disagree.  How foolish and irrational.  NO ONE is forcing anyone to be a Catholic or a Christian. Free will is! And in the midst of all the crazy criticism true believers LOVE their neighbors regardless of their lifestyle, because they embrace the dignity, value and worth of EVERY human being.

 I find it amazing that those that have no understanding of the meaning and mission of the church or have read the Book,  malign it for NOT modernizing the tenets of the Christian Faith. 

Would our culture dare insist that Islam change it's practice of stoning women, beheading thieves and homosexuals, or even bigamy? (The silence is deafening.)

Should pop culture be the standard we hold high for our children as we try to teach them right and wrong to PROTECT THEM, TO GIVE THEM THE BEST LIFE, TO ASSURE THEIR SUCCESS IN LIFE AND LOVE? 

Should Hollywood, People Magazine, Rock Stars, the Homosexual Community, the Pro-Choice Movement, Skin-Heads or Al-Queada be given the position of determine moral and ethical behavior? Who died and appointed ANY of those folks GOD? Why are we following or listening to people anyway?  No matter how strong, successful, sincere, wise or persuasive, all people are capable of the worse atrocities imaginable given the "right" set of circumstances at any given moment.  It's in our nature.

Why NOT the applaud the church for being the church?  Why NOT embrace the principles put forth in the Bible?  My guess? Perhaps because there IS such thing as TRUTH  and it is found there and it is NOT found comfortable by those that want to make their own rules.

Faith requires the faithful to adjust life TO the scripture, not the other way around!  HE is God and we are not. ALL trouble begins when we get that basic TRUTH backwards.

(I've spent years trying to get the first commandment right,  "Thou shalt have NO other gods before Me."   That includes my own pitiful ideas, plans and desires.  If I ever get it down, I'll let you know.)

I LIKE this new POPE! (And I'm not Catholic.) He's got the platform, looks like he's got the strength and determination.
He's also got a bull-eyes target on his chest and is no doubt depending on his GOD for protection, mind, body and spirit!

He's got quite a task ahead of him.  Maybe God will use this man to call our culture back to it's senses.

God help him, He's going to need it!

Saturday, March 9, 2013


 Here we are in ALL our glory. The Ridge Readers Book Club met this past Friday (2nd Friday of EVERY month) to discuss this month's book AND to celebrate Shirley's 75th Birthday.
(Tall red head behind the flowers!)

The book was "Very Valentine" and was fine.  The party was VERY FINE!  We shared brunch, mimosas, old-age quotes, Julie Andrews "Favorite Things" song AND a whole lot of laughter.

These are the finest women in all of Wagoner County.  (We missed you, Charlene!)

We've been together 6+ years, once a month, every month! 

Having lived in many places and belonged to even more organizations, I have to say this bunch is unique!  We come from all sorts of backgrounds, experiences, states, religions, educational and professional experiences. Somehow it gels!

Never have I experienced such FUN, respect, stories, grandchildren pictures, wisdom, silliness and did I say FUN!

None of us miss this meeting unless by providential hindrance! To miss our monthly meeting would be to miss out on the laughter,news,  jokes, one-liners, self-deprecating humor and of course the BOOK!

We've read, cussed and discussed an unbelievable variety of literature. (God bless TRUMAN!) Our leader Marion keeps the list and tries to keep us organized.

We're planning a road trip next. Plans to rent a bus are in the works. We're headed to a museum in another state and we may evolve into a book/museum/travel club, who knows.  (Italy has been mentioned!)

With this bunch every day is a new day, every book a new book, every joke a new laugh, every meeting a new delight.

I'm so blessed to know these neighbors.

Front row: Donna, Karen, Shirley, Maureen, Dianna
Back row: Marian, Linda, Janice, Mary Lynn, Kathy, me. (Charlene missing!)

A BOOK could be written about THIS BOOK CLUB!  It would have to be classified as fiction, no one would believe the words on the page!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


A  couple of years ago I finally sold our baby crib at a garage sale. Great bargain, $10.00. Even though it once held Hays, Maggie, Dax, Gabby, Gracie, Mollie and Thompson, it was taking up too much room in the guest bedroom. We decided that WHEN a baby came to the house we could borrow one for a few days, return it....and meanwhile enjoy the space.

What a plan!  It's been working just as we thought it would.  Our good friend Laura loans us her very beautiful baby crib every time baby Betsy Braner comes to OK.  We hurriedly put it together in the LAUNDRY ROOM and Betsy has her own private sanctuary! She sleeps like a ....well, baby!

Today I returned the crib once again, after a recent babyhood visit.  Laura and I met in the parking lot of a local restaurant (after which we would enjoy lunch!) and proceeded to unload the heavy pieces from the back of my red wagon to her red wagon.  After hauling, padding, positioning just so, I realized that the NUTS AND BOLTS of the thing were missing. Those pieces are CRITICAL when putting the thing together!

Extremely frustrated that Honeybuns had packed up all the pieces the night before for me but left out THE most important screws and hooks I decided right then to "call him out" on his neglect/forgetfulness/dementia, whatever!

Right there in that public parking lot, in front of my friend, I dialed him up on my cell phone.  With no polite hello or are you busy preliminaries, I quickly accused him of leaving the necessary pieces behind in the laundry room.  "How was I to know that they were not included in this shipment? Did I have to tell him everything??  Couldn't he remember this one thing so I wouldn't have to make another trip??"

He listened  kindly, politely and patiently remarked, "They're in your car,  I put them in the drivers seat, so you wouldn't miss them."

I ran around to my drivers seat.  There was a ziplock bag of baby crib hardware!  I had driven 7 miles, SITTING on the bag!  Never felt a thing!

If you had been outside today about 11:30 you could have heard him cackling!  He was a hootin' and hollering.'   Laura joined in!  .

How could it be?  How could I have possibly jumped in the car, put it in gear, backed out of the garage, and driven 7 miles sitting on a bag of hardware?

I'm blaming this incident on this flu bug I've been battling for a couple of weeks.  However, I now have a new nickname:  "Numbutt!"

It'll be a while before I hear the END of this one!  (You can't make this stuff up!)

Monday, March 4, 2013


Unbelievable! And hiliarious!

As is our custom, Honeybuns and I exchange Valentine Cards on THE day every year.  It usually goes like this:  I place a funny card on his bathroom mirror the night before so he will find it as he gets ready for work early on Feb. 14th.  Later he will find a very serious, mushy, full of "vows of continued love card" in his briefcase as he opens it at work.

He does the same!  I'll find a funny card in the bathroom, another by a huge bouquet of flowers in the kitchen as I get ready for my day.  It's great!  We've settled into a predictable tradition!

I wasn't aware that we were SO VERY PREDICTABLE!  I think we're in a RUT!!

You see, the DONKEY CARD appeared AGAIN!  I vaguely remembered seeing this fellow in years gone by.  As I dug through my "special cards" box, found deep in the bottom of a dresser drawer, there HE WAS!  As I investigated I realized this donkey has made an appearance on Valentines Day for the past FOUR YEARS!

The above picture is the proof!

Honeybuns couldn't believe it!  If I had not saved these cards, he would NEVER have believed it.

Yep, I've received the same funny card FOUR YEARS IN A ROW!  Unintentionally!!!
I've often remarked that "every day is a new day."  Evidently "every card is a new card!"

Now, I'm sure some psychiatrist somewhere could have a hey-day with this. 

I'm chalking it up to old-age, dementia, and HALLMARKS very talented artists.

OR.....maybe we're just in a rut!   Changes are coming for February 2014!!


What a great Saturday in February!  The Dallas kiddos were here for the weekend and the CO kiddos were in their car on the way to Branson for a family visit there. Wha-Lah!  Jamie made a little detour to Broken Arrow so the cousins could see each other for a short time.

It was great! After a few minutes of realizing family connections, they ran outside to play.  Chasing the dog,  each other and laughing made it a delightful time.

We slowed the fun for a few minutes to take an historic picture.  There they are, all nine!  Lined up like a who's who family reunion.  They are all sizes, colors, & personalities.

Left to right, back row:   Mollie, Dax, Hays, Maggie, Gracie.  Tiki and Betsy on Papa's lap, Thomspon and Gabby with Bebe! 

 They have no idea how they are equally and unconditionally loved. 

The time was short but absolutely memorable!! 

This picture says it all.  It's SO fun to watch them grow into very unique individuals.

One friend describes this picture as a foretaste of heaven.  It certainly was for us that day!

Love them to the moon and back!