“As the world grows increasingly dark, remember that YOU are the light of the world.”
This is a passage from my favorite devotional author, Sarah Young, and it was taken from the Sept. 10 reading in her book Jesus Always.
My daughter was born on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the most horrific domestic terrorist attack on the United States of America. I remember crying in the birthing suite thinking to myself, “what kind of world is my baby girl being born into?”
Sadly, as her 16th birthday approaches, it hasn’t gotten any better.
As Christians, we have a privilege and duty to shine God’s light into the world. It’s our job to spread His word and His love with others.
John 1:5 says, “And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it.”
How are you spreading God’s principle of love?
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a remarkable man. I wish he was alive today. The work he did in the 1960s to achieve change in a nonviolence way needs to be reestablished.
The other night, I was reading through a book* of famous speeches I purchased my daughter last year (for a Public Speaking class). In this book, in the “LOVE” section, is a passage from MLK Jr.’s speech:
“Nonviolent resistance avoids not only external physical violence, but also internal violence of spirit. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him.
At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.
The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe.
Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.”
Sometimes I believe it’s honestly this simple. As Christians, we can do our part to “focus our energies on doing what you can to brighten the place where God has put us. Use your time, talents and resources to push back the darkness. Shine His light into the world!”
So go, do God’s work. Spread the love. Brighten this place. Push back the darkness.
In 1946, stamps were $0.03 and my late Grandma Libby was being “courted” by my late Papa Bill.
Fast forward to June 9, 2009 – Grandma Libby passed away after suffering a massive stroke days before.
Around this time of year I always get a little nostalgic and start going through old photos or letters from her house.
Recently, I found some letters inside her late husband’s leather aviator case. Papa Bill was a lieutenant in the Army.
I found a few things interesting while going through these letters:
He was a pack rat and kept everything (thank goodness for that, because I saw a whole side of Grandma I have never seen before), and
Most of the letters have no address on them, simply a name, city and state.
Since today is June 13 and I found a letter from June 13, 1946, I thought it would be fun to share a letter from more than 70 years ago. Some of the phrases are a little confusing, but enjoy!
Hi honey bun:
So good to hear from you – what day do you start back, or do you know yet?
Over at Harris’s last nite – all sat out on the deck – another wonderful moon – thought “full moon and empty arms” (know that song, don’t cha) – got to thinkin’, gosh – only a few nites ago and William was here – seems so long.
Mother went over to Harris the morning after you were here, bright ‘n early – wanted to know what time I left over there – etc. – she’s never mentioned it to me tho and better not for I’m just at the point to tell all my relatives to lay off – fed up – living here has brought out the worst in me, made me so irritable. People can ask me to do anything but they can’t DEMAND or force me or my Missouri Mule crops out in me!!
With my sister and her husband here I don’t know how successful we’ll be doing anything – it’ll be too obvious – they just don’t enjoy doing the same things we do – they don’t smoke OR drink which is their business, yes, but they kinda cramp others style. They’re lots of fun – I know they won’t want to leave for an evening for their time is so short here.
May sound silly but up till “Monday nite” week ago, I thot if I didn’t get outta here I’d be bazurk – but since I’ve met you I’m perfectly contented to stay – be fun to go east for a while but I don’t care particularly now. Think you can do an awful lot for me – my brother has such a screwball attitude toward woman that he’s given me a terrific complex about “divorcees” – I’ve actually suffered with it.
Sorry I did seem no “fun” the other nite – had a long talk with myself beforehand + promised I wouldn’t lose my head, but I did – everything about you was perfect – you’re so darned tender, gentle, sweet and loveable, my kind of sweetie heart – and after so – long time (since Xmas) I couldn’t resist you – told you I was weak willed when it comes to being loved – can’t get enuf – just love it.
Mob coming for dinner today and boy is it hot – gonna put on shorts + halter this aft and get out in the sun – don’t mind it when I’m out in it and dressed accordingly but hate to have on layers of clothes + my “ladies aid smile” on a hot afternoon.
See you soon hon’ – I hope!
Best – “The gay widow”
Sure thing I’m nuts – can’t I have fun being that way!
Grandma wasn’t a widow until much later in life, so I’m not sure what her signature meant, but she was usually a very gay/happy lady! Miss her lots.
Do you have any old letters passed down from your relatives?
Recently, I found some handwritten notes by my late Grandma Libby. One of them was a letter she wrote to her older sister and it included a transcript of a note she found from their mother about herself and her life growing up in Harris, MO.
Reading about my late ancestors and their lives fascinates me, especially when I come across things I’ve never heard of, including “thundermug” and “elocution.” You learn something new every day! Also, I’d love to know what my great-grandmother mean by “too much rabbit in me.”
Enjoy this little flashback to the past — I did.
Found the following “notes” of Mothers’ a day or 2 ago:
Amber E. Harris (pictured) – Born 4/2/1885 @ 4 a.m. – no phones. Dr. Brown from Newton was summoned to A.W. Harris farm.
I was 7 or 8 when farmstead burned. Arthur and Gertie Reger and May Law all boarded there and went to Harris College. All Eastern professors – from kindergarten through to college courses – football, etc. – they had public speaking, elocution and Delsarte classes.
We children all had specific chores to do – mine was to bring in big hickory basket full if chips from the yard to start the morning fires and to take Grandfather’s “thundermug” out, empty and scald it, and put on west porch to air. This porch was not used to enter or leave the house – mostly for airing at night. I placed it under Gpas bed after he was asleep.
I came back in to tell Mama it was all smokey or or foggy outside. She was bathing and getting Gussie (born 1890) ready for bed – he was 1 yr. old – smelled the smoke, carefully laid Gussie on the bed and ran outside – a small blaze was showing all around the chimney – Grandfather was “in his cups” – Papa in other bed in the room – Mama slipped in and whispered to Papa, who noiselessly crept out – He and the hired girl each took 2 buckets of water – when they opened the attic door they had to run to beat the flames.
Cliff was in his 1st year in Kirksville college – Estelle was in the bathtub! Mama sent Clara (11 + years), Wood (6 yrs) and me (10 yrs) to closest neighbors – we had to pass a long barn, 200 feet long – we children were scared to pass it in daylight; we got about halfway of the length when Clara set Gussie down and ran like a deer!
(The Harris sisters and family friends. Amber, my great grandmother is on the far left.)
Wood and I struggled but we landed Gussie safely in Mrs. Willard’s arms. Estelle dressed carefully and came out carrying her canary – and cage- and the new shoes she had just gotten for Christmas and had not mastered the art of using them. Papa dressed Gfather and brought him out in the yard and had 2 men hold him and also had a man each side of Mama to keep her from going in! She was disgusted with him – she knew where everything was – all the children’s clothing was upstairs, which could not be reached – but many things could have been safely gotten from the 1st floors. It was long before the days of ready-to-wears so the relatives and friends brought clothes to cover us – as I think back we must have looked like Halloweeners.
I remember a pair of high heeled shoes a cousin donated – they nearest fit me – I was delighted – but not for long, they were too uncomfortable. I had never had anything but spring heels and never had any other kind until Shoe Co., no longer made in my size.
(Overton Harris – Amber’s father)
We had a smoke-house with big fireplace – 2 rooms down and 2 up – Mother brought 2 set springs – looked like they had woven wire in the middle, but sturdy from all around. She had a carpenter put hinges on one side and by day the bed was hooked up against the wall.
No other heat but fireplace, over which all cooking was done. Thanks to Dutch ovens and boiling kettles we are 3 squares daily.
We had sewing women by the year when not otherwise busy – she pieced up the scraps into quilt tops and quilted them on machine. I can assure you we were neither cold nor hungry. Mama was equal to any emergency. She had tracked by wagon-train, with her family, to California when she was only 12 yrs old. They had 2 wagons – mama drove one team, took care of her team, and did the cooking for the 2 wagons. Grandmother Jones was expecting a child – imagine such a trip for a pregnant women – Platte River – no bridges – friendly Indians. Mama was pushed in river. Uncle Charley saved her. Landed at Visalia, Calif – Aunt Fannies from there. Have letters written from there to her mother and sisters at Scottsville, Mo.
Grandmother very homesick because of heat and drought no crops for 2 years. Grandfather sent Gmother and family all home by boat around Cape Hope (no Panama Canal) and they landed in NY. Then by train to end of line in Ohio then home by stage coach! Gfather remained to sell his livestock then followed family route home. En route on boat Gfather become very ill, lost consciousness. He had no idea how lone. When he aroused he immediately felt for his money belt. A voice said, “Brother – no worries – everything is intact.” The Capt. saw his masonic pin and had him moved to his cabin where Capt. tenderly cared for him. Then masonry means something. It meant brotherhood.
This was about 1865 and in Macks’ town – Mack landed at same location. Visalia, CA – left his family near her sister and family while he served his stint in Vietnam – the children could swim in river at foot of hill and they were near enough to call back and forth without taking time to call on the telephone.
Later the Jones family settled between the towns of Harris and Newton where they remained. The W.H. Haley family joined Harris land on north. Mrs. Haley was sister of Mr. Jones. The Haley farm when all way to Newtown.
The proximity of the families brought much happiness and peace – I remember when Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad came through, bringing great excitement. The next great wonder was the telephone, which hung on the wall and a chair was kept under it for comfort and convenience of the “visitors”. I still really over # – 4 longs and 4 shorts!
A big 2-way fireplace warmed both living and dining rooms – a baseburner in Gfathers room – and a real cook stone in kitchen. Somewhere in the big hearth was a loose brick under which was the “money safe” – only Gold was used – no banks nearer than big cities – Gabrilla was the “banker”. Aunt Nancy was “banker” on Calif trek. She made a chamois vest – with slots and pockets for different denominations of gold coins. I’ve seen it. Laster was given to Missouri Historical Society at Jeff City.
As a young man, Grandfather lived at Boonville. Was a cooper. No trains. Everything shipped in barrels on the river. He finally took in a partner who ran away with $2000.00 – which destroyed his faith his fellow man. He came to Sullivan County with wife and son, Jim, 1 black woman, wagon and oxen team. Land was bought for $125 per acre, but all commodities were cheap in proportion. They cleared and planted orchards and vineyards. Always built near a good spring of water, for household, and creek for livestock. I’m glad I didn’t live as a pioneer – too much rabbit in me – and I prefer creative comforts.
Written by Libby Cowgill to her Sister Marge Clymer
Over the extended holiday weekend, I started digging through tubs in my basement and came across three diaries.
There are entries from 1989-2004!
Reading through some entries I have experienced a wide range of emotions: some entries are quite comical, others make me feel ashamed for my behavior and some help me remember things I long forgotten, including the faith I had in God and the belief that He had everything in my life under control. I don’t remember believing in Him back then, but apparently I did.
Tonight, I gave my daughter a journal that she could use as a diary if she chose to do so. While she’s not starting at 10 years old like I did, I want her to be able to look back 10 or 20 years from now and remember the good and the bad.
The cow diary was my first diary. I still remember buying it at a garage sale across the street from my house. It was brand new in cellophane and came with a cow pen.
I keep a couple of diaries these days: one to track all my prayers and devotional readings that stuck out to me, and another for quick note about things that happened that day.
Do you still have your old diaries? Do you keep one today?
My father is a patriot and veteran. He served his country for many years in the Missouri Army National Guard.
Growing up, I remember visiting “the facility” where his unit was. I also remember seeing him off from Fort Leonardwood when I was in the fifth grade.
I don’t remember how many months he was gone, but today, I found several letters he sent me while he served overseas during Operation Desert Storm.
I know I don’t have to tell you this, but the fight my father and many others fought in the early 1990’s isn’t over yet. Our troops are still fighting for the future of the next generation.
In his letter to my fifth grade class, my dad wrote:
“I want you all to understand that what we — the military have done here in the Persian Gulf — was very important for your future as young Americans. Hopefully, by the time you are my age (41) — the world and everyone on this planet will have learned how to live together in peace.”
In 3-1/2 years, I will be the same age my dad was when he wrote that letter to me. I wish I could say that there was more peace in the world.
Sadly, it’s gotten worse.
There have been thousands of lives lost fighting for this freedom my father and all soldiers fight so hard for. As we celebrate Memorial Day, please continue to keep past, present and future military men, woman and families in your prayers.
To all the men and women who have served or are currently serving, and their families, THANK YOU for your service and sacrifices.
“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah… So tweasuwe youw wove.”
One could only be so lucky as to experience the true love that Westley and Buttercup did.
Now that you have the scene from The Princess Bride in your head, I want to show you a different scene of a different true love:
While the image is a little grainy and from a distance, what you see is the adorable couple that lives across the street from me taking a ride on a tractor at sunset.
Both well into their 80s and have been married since the 1950s, maybe even before. Last summer, I snapped the above photo of these two crazy kids taking a ride in their back yard. Perhaps he is the “Farm Boy” after all. 🙂
On the days I’m fortunate enough to work from home, I occasionally get a glimpse into their love story. Thursday, and every other day I’ve been home around 4 p.m., she excitedly comes out of a cozy little farmhouse as soon as she sees his truck pull into the driveway.
Thursday, she came out twice, peeked inside the garage to see if her husband was home yet, then went back inside when she discovered he wasn’t home just yet. As soon as she sees him pull into the driveway, she opens up the garage door and patiently waits for him to pull into the garage. Sometimes, she scurries over to the driver side door of his truck and gives him a little smooch from the window.
It’s one of the most adorable things I have ever seen.
I have faith that one day, I too, will be able to greet my true love the same way this loving bride greets her adoring husband.
Why am I making such a big deal about the old couple across the road from me? You see, she doesn’t always remember I’m her neighbor. One of these days, hopefully not for a very long time, she might forget to greet her husband at his truck, or might forget him altogether*. What I believe keeps her memory going every day is our Heavenly Father and the incredible power of true love.
I believe that true love can overcome just about anything. It can withstand the tests of time.
I believe that true love is the sweetest of addictions, and that no matter how hard you try to resist, you keep getting pulled back to the one that you love.
I believe true love has the power to heal and to help people remember.
I believe true love has incredible ways to make you feel.
I feel true love when I look at old couples like my sweet neighbors across the street.
I feel true love when I pray to God.
I feel true love when I read His word and think about the sacrifices Jesus Christ made for those of us who believe.
Opening up my Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young is something I look forward to every morning. Today, was no different.
How many of you wake up and say this?
“Today is a blank page. I’m going to see what I can fill it with.”
I say this all the time, and even started the New Year saying something very similar. Today’s reading encouraged me to try something a little different:
Knowing that your future is absolutely assured can free you to live abundantly today. I have prepared this day for you with the most tender concern and attention to detail. Instead of approaching the day as a blank page that you need to fill up, try living it in a responsive mode: being on the lookout for all that I am doing. This sounds easy, but it requires a deep level of trust.
Today, trust that God’s way is the perfect way.
Sometimes it’s hard to trust anyone, even God, but Psalm 18:30 reminds us that “His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.”
I found myself holding my tongue today in line at a Subway restaurant. The two girls behind me were talking about one of the girls boyfriend’s and how she couldn’t understand why he broke up with her.
“I bought him anything he wanted, cooked him foods that he liked, had sex with him like all the time, and he still broke up with me. I just don’t get it,” she said.
She continued telling her friend, who replied with “uh huh’s” and “yeahs,” all the things she had done to earn this guy’s affection, but he still rejected her.
I wanted to turn to her and say, “Maybe that’s because he used you and has no respect for you.”
Now, this chick could have taken me out if she wanted to, so I felt it was best to hold my tongue, but on the inside, I truly hurt for her and wanted to do my good deed for the day and help you. Instead, I proceeded to tell the Subway employee what I wanted on my BMT, paid for my food and walked away.
I’ve been that girl before.
I’ve been that girl who did lots of things to get the wrong kind of attention from the person I was dating only to be hurt, completely broken hearted and even confused as to why the relationship ended.
I’ve been that girl who thought she was doing the right thing in a relationship by allowing my boyfriend to treat me like crap, hoping he would eventually become someone he wasn’t.
I’ve been that girl who, now that I look back, had no respect for herself and made some really bad choices.
But, I’ve also been that girl, that because of some of those mistakes and the seeds that were planted by family and friends, is NOT the girl I used to be.
The other night, I was watching a local TV station called KMOS (one of the only channels I can get with my digital antenna). There was a documentary on about the wonderful Maya Angelou. Miss Maya said something that night that stuck with me. I even wrote it on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker.
“You are enough.” — Maya Angelou
“You have nothing to prove to nobody,” she went on to say.
I wish I would have believed that a long time ago. I wish I would have believed in myself back then, but I believe in myself now. I wish I would have respected myself back then, but I respect myself now. This is all thanks to the relationship that I have with a very special person – my Heavenly Father – and some amazing friends and family along the way.
The scripture says this about self respect:
“For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:20
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” – Matthew 7:6
My relationship with God has opened up my eyes to a whole new world:
A world where I don’t feel like I have to prove anything to anyone.
A world where I choose not to settle for anything less than I deserve.
A world where I respect myself and expect others to respect me.
A world where I show my daughter what it looks like to be respected.
While I wasn’t able to help this girl today, I hope she figures this out sooner rather than later. I hope she learns that she deserves someone better than this guy (notice I haven’t used the word man, because I don’t consider him remotely close to being one).
Ladies, if you’re reading this and it sounds like a relationship you’re in currently, get out of it. Relationships are all about giving and receiving, not just receiving. It works both ways. Love yourself first. Respect yourself first.
You’ve got a friend in me. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk.
We’re super critical, sometimes curt, and often forget they are, after all, kids. They don’t know it all. They haven’t figured it all out. We need to cut them a little more slack.
I have found myself apologizing to my daughter and asking for grace on more than one occasion. I don’t think there is anything wrong with admitting we don’t always know what we’re doing. Let’s be real…we’re raising teenagers…they think we’re stupid anyway. HA!
On Wednesday nights, I lead a book club at my church. Last week, one of the moms shared a conversation she had with her teenage son about his grades. Caleb is usually a very diligent student, but teenagers, oftentimes forget to turn things in causing their grades to decline.
Being the mother of a teenager, I can appreciate the ebbs and flows of good and bad grades, so when Maria, a former school teacher herself, shared this tip about something she tried with Caleb, I put it in pocket for future use.
“I felt really bad the other night when I was discussing Caleb’s grades with him,” Maria said. “I immediately focused on the missing assignments and the less than ideal quiz scores. I felt so bad after he went to bed, I decided to try something a little different.”
That night, Maria reprinted his grades and circled everything he done right—completed assignments and high scores. The next morning when he woke up, she showed him the same grades, but this time, with all the good things circled instead of the bad.
A little change in perspective goes a long way.
Luckily for me, my daughter shared her grade report for Physics with me on Thursday night, just one day after Maria talked about her experience with Caleb.
As you can see, there are a couple of not so good scores on here, but I chose to circle all the good ones. Focusing on the positive could give your child that little boost of confidence they need, something that’s hard for teenagers sometimes. I try to do this as much as possible with my daughter whether it’s grades, a play she made on the softball field or a stunt she nailed during a cheerleading competition.
Whether its your child’s grade sheet or something else in life, try focusing on the positive before you go right to the negative.