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Friday, July 30, 2010

He Gives Me Beauty for Ashes

I was appreciating my rose bush in my backyard because there were new pinkish red blossoms that just popped out.  As I got a closer look I saw green ivy intertwined.  At first I thought it was pretty but realized the ivy was covering up the beautiful roses.  So I started yanking on the ivy.  I did so carefully so the blossoms stayed intact.

I asked God, "What in my life is covering the fragrant roses?"  What is keeping me from all of my possibilities?  I am seeking that question because I want my fruit to shine.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit;  love, joy, peace, patience, and self control.  The big one for me is self control in my life.  

So the scripture came to my mind.
He gives me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that we might be trees of righteousness, planted of the Lord, that God might be glorified.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 24th A Life In A Day Experiment

I decided to be apart of the experiment,Life In A Day, by director Kevin MacDonald.   He is famous for his movie, The Last King of Scots.  All over the world people were invited to make videos of their day.  He ask the questions.

What do you love?
What do you fear?
What makes you laugh?
What is in your pocket?

Ridley Scott  also suggested filming a sunrise or sunset.  So I woke up quite early on July 24th and filmed the sunrise.  The colors were so beautiful right in my backyard.  God has always loved me through nature and the colors of coral, china blue and soft pink were so soothing.  How many times does God give us fantastic sunsets and we ignore them because we are sleeping or getting ready for work.  God's love is for us everyday right at our fingertips.

 Next I filmed my computer screen changing numbers because it symbolizes how interconnected we are by just pushing a button.  It's only a machine but alive with the ability to communicate with so many people.  In the last year I have joined the internet world of UTube, Blogging, CnnIreports, and Flicker.  So many people like them because its a chance to express yourself.  We were given a God given need to create.

I answered the question What do I love? by filming my husband Jim.  He had just made his delicious potatoes and onions with a sprinkle of lemon juice.  Its a tradition on Saturday morning so the smell of fried potatoes fills our home.  My friend Mary came over so we could attend the Christian Writer Conference sponsored by Roaring Lambs.  I was able to film both of them eating the scrumptious breakfast.

I filmed some of the presenters in the conference.  Karol Ladd wrote," The Power of a Positive Woman."  She inspired us not to give up writing because everyone has a message to share.  I saw many of my friends from the Dallas Christian Writers Guild.  Another speaker said, " We will change the world one book at a time."

Mary and I celebrated what we learned at the conference over a meal.  My favorite place to dine is Obzeets because of the waterfall and gold fish outside.   Sparkling lights fill the ceiling and flowers are attached to the walls.  I filmed Mary answering the question what did she learn?  I also answered the question what do I love?  I love friends who listen but don't judge.

I later went shopping and filmed the Christian Books at Tom Thumb.  June Hunt's book was right there.  It was so exciting because I just met her a few hours before.  I filmed the chips and candy section and labeled it the forbidden isle to answer the question What do I fear?

Alex filmed me answering the question What did I learn from the conference.  I got teary eyed so didn't post it to Utube but sent it to Kevin MacDonald secretly.   I answered the question by saying many presenters had gone through trials but God was there with His presence.   One presenter lost her daughter.  Another presenter had a difficult childhood to discover her dad had three families.  But they discovered through their faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit was there to give them peace.

My last film was of the sunset in my backyard.  It was beautiful of course.  I showed the bluebonnet bird feeder I had purchased at the Bluebonnet Festival.  I showed the orange trumpet vines, the same vine I saw growing in Italy.

I thanked God for the gift of life on July 24th.  I can't wait to see the movie in January so I can see how the world lived the day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Hiding Place

When we hear the words Nazi Germany most of us cringe and think how could humanity go so wrong.  In the men-st of evil there was a light that shined brightly in the darkness.  It was the light of Corrie Ten Boom,  who risked her life to save the lives of Jews hiding in her family's home.  Her father was a fantastic role model and encouraged his family to do whatever it took to save lives.  One of the helpers was caught by the German Police.  They were in great danger of being raided but they decided they had no choice but to continue with hiding the Jews.  I ask myself the question,  What would I have done?  Do I have the courage?

From the book The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

"That night Father and Betsie and I prayed long after the others had gone to bed.  We knew that in spite of daily mounting risks we had no choice but to move forward.  This was evil's hour; we could not run away from it.  Perhaps only when human effort had done its best and failed, would God's power alone be free to work."

Corrie prepared a bag of belongings in case they were caught and had to go quickly to the station.  She called it the prison bag.  When the police finally came she had a choice of taking the bag or perhaps in doing so revealing where the Jews were hiding.  She decided to make the right choice.

" I was about to reach for my prison bag.
Wait.
It stood where I had shoved it in my panic; directly in front of the secret panel. If I were to reach down under the shelf to get it now, with this man watching my every move, might not his attention be attracted to the last place on earth I wanted him to look?
It was the hardest thing I had ever done to turn and walk out of the room, leaving the bag behind.  
I stumbled down the stairs, my knees shaking as much from fear as from flu.
The soldier said,
"Where are the Jews?"
"There aren't any Jews here.
Where do you hide the ration cards?"
"I don't know what you're..."
The soldier hit me again.  I staggered up against the astronomical clock.  Before I could recover he slapped me again, then again, and again, stinging blows that jerked my head backward.
Where are the Jews?
Another blow.
Where is your secret room?
Another blow.
I tasted blood in my mouth.  My head spun, my ears rang - I was losing consciousness.  Lord Jesus, I cried out, protect me!
The soldiers hand stopped in midair.
If you say that name one more time I'll kill you!
But instead his arm slowly dropped to his side. " If you won't talk, that skinny one will."

Then I recalled.
The vision.  The night of the invasion.  I had seen it all. Willem, Nullie, Pickwick, Peter-all of us here -drawn against our wills across this square.  It had all been in the dream-all of us leaving Haarlem, unable to turn back.  Going where?

Thoughts were enemies. That prison bag..how many times I opened it in my mind and pawed through all the things I had left behind.  A fresh blouse.  Aspirin, a whole bottle of them.  Toothpaste with a kind of pepper-minty tast, and--

Then I would catch myself.  How ridiculous, such thought! IF I had it to do again would I really put these little personal comforts ahead of human lives? Of course not.  But in the dark nights, as the wind howled and the fever pulsed, I would draw that bag out of some dark corner of my mind sad root through it once again.  A towel to lay on this scratchy straw. An aspirin..

Corrie was sent to a concentration camp.  She did survive and her testimony has been heard for generations.  In the book she talks about how God let her take her Bible into the camp because as the guard searched through her things he did not find it. She believed an angel hid it. It was so important for her to have her Bible for inspiration.  I thought how many times do I take my Bible for granted.  She told of many more miracles.  But the biggest miracle is; she did not loose her faith in God.  She still thought of Him as her Hiding Place, her source for peace and joy.  She did not give up her trust in Him.  She kept on the path of doing the right thing and God's grace gave her strength to endure the hardships. I think Corrie has a big jewel in heaven for not bringing the prison bag and choosing life.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lasting Friends Julie and Laura

I am blessed to have lasting friends I've known since junior high, Laura and Julie.  Each time we get together we talk, laugh, cry, and share our hearts.  Its like putting your feet into comfortable slippers.  They've been around for years and maybe you don't wear them every night, but when you do, they feel like the same slippers from years before.  They feel familiar and soothing.

Our favorite place to talk is hanging out by Laura's pool.  It has a tropical feel like the beach, or some far away place you've always wanted to visit.  Beach boy music plays in the background as we tell old stories about boys we use to date, or friends we use to know.

"Remember how we use to play spades every day at lunch in 9th grade?  Remember our first year at Texas Tech  when we lived in Chitwood.  We use to smell cows on our way to the mess hall.  Sometimes it was so strong it took away your appetite. The smell was a reminder we went to college in the heart of West Texas where cowboys wore hats and Charlie Pride played on our radios."

Laura was there when my dad died.  She helped me in the kitchen serve the ladies mint ice tea and cold potato salad.  She even helped clean up the dishes while we talked to guests.  Julie was overseas teaching military students but was so good to call and ask how I was.  She said I wish I could be there.

Every good thing comes from God so I know Laura and Julie are a gift.

Sanford H. Palmer My Dad, Attorney, Brother, Son, WWII Veteran and Christian

My dad's mother, Grandma Palmer, had a plaque on her wall  I found when I was moving in my twenties.  I found it at a time I was feeling a little low and needed encouragement.
It's on my wall now beside a cross and a picture of a sunset that says, Shalom.

"Only one life will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last."Philippians 1:21

I think my dad lived a life of service to others, his family and God.  He was not prideful even though he had many accomplishments.  He even tried a case on the Supreme Court in Washington D. C.  He took us kids to church every Sunday and made sure we all three got a college education.  He encouraged me to go back to school to get my Masters in education and paid for it all.  He was a devoted husband who drove his wife to see her mom in Oklahoma City once a month to check on her for over ten years.  He never complained but knew it was the right thing to do and it pleased my mom.   He taught Sunday School for many years.  I saw him research his lessons with 3 translations and commentaries from the Bible.  He was a seeker of the truth and enjoyed researching topics.  Sometimes I came home and there was a Bible Study in our living room.  I found out later his mother's side of the family, the Kempers, started Hopewell  Methodist Church in Ohio.
So I feel grateful I was raised with a dad who thought it was important to go to church every Sunday and taught me what it meant to be a Christian.  He wasn't perfect but he wanted to follow Jesus and set a good example in his life.


Fort Worth  Obituary
Sanford H Palmer, 86, a retired attorney, passed away Tuesday, Jan 8, 2002, a day before his 87th birthday.
Funeral: 1:30 p.m. Friday in Greenwood Chapel. Dr. JW Sellers and Verne Fuqua will officiate.  Burial: Laurel Land Memorial Park.
Memorials:University United Methodist Church, 2416 W. Berry, Fort Worth, Texas 76110
Pallbearers:Don Short, Howard Wilson, Weldon Johnson, John F. White, Roy Ince and Dan L. Stricklin Jr.

Sanford Palmer was born Jan. 9, 1915, in Oklahoma City, Okla., to Harry Palmer and Addie Kemper Palmer.
Mr. Palmer received a bachelor of science degree from Oklahoma City University and juris doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma, where he was a 60-year member of the Oklahoma University Alumni.  He was also a member of the Federal Bar Association and the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

He married the former Miss Sue Hon in Oklahoma City in 1949, and they moved to Birmingham, Alabama where he began his career as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.  After working there for 10 years, they moved to Fort Worth, where he worked for the National Labor Relations Board as a supervising attorney for 25 years until his retirement in 1981.  After his retirement, he enjoyed traveling and spending time with his family.

Mr. Palmer was a World War II veteran, serving four years in Australia with United States naval intelligence and was discharged with the rank of chief specialist A CR T U. S. Naval Reserve.  He was a life member of VFW Post 8911, Fort Worth.  He was a member of the University United Methodist Church for 43 years, where he was a member of the Methodist Men and the New Covenant Sunday School Class.  He also served as Sunday school teacher in several classes. He will be missed by his family and many friends and neighbors.

He is preceded in death by his parents; and his brother, Don C. Palmer of Sacramento, California.

Survivor: Wife, Sue Palmer; sons, Martin Sanford Palmer of Austin and Maxwell A. Palmer of Fort Worth; daughter, Sandra Palmer Kent and husband, Jim of Dallas; and grandsons, Alex J. Kent and Michael J. Kent.

How Should We Love? Clara Mae and Sue

Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  Romans 15;7
And do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  Hebrews 13:16
Be Kind and compassionate to one another Ephesians 4:32
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  Colossians 3:13
Pray for one another so that you might be healed.  The prayer of a Godly person is powerful.  It makes things happen.  James 5:16
Serve one another in love. Galations 5:13
Teach and instruct one another with all wisdom.  Colossians 3:16
Encourage one another and build each other up... 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Offer Hospitality to one another without grumbling.  I Peter 4:19

There are many examples of love through relationships in the Bible.  I can think of Jonathan and David, Esther and Naomi, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and His disciples, Paul and Timothy, and the most important relationship between Jesus and His Bride the Church.  Jesus gave us the perfect example of love when he gave His life for us on the cross.  He was the sacrifice for our sins.  He bridged the gap between us and God so whoever believes in Jesus will be saved.  We need to trust, rely upon, cast our cares on Him.  Jesus died for us that we might be set free.  We give Him all our cares, He gives us all our peace.

How should we love?  An example of love I have in my life is between my mom, Sue and her cousin Clara Mae.  After my dad passed my mom was very lonely.  Clara Mae called her every night to check on her.  She called so my mom had someone to talk to.  It was very quiet in the house when you are use to having someone around.  My mom cared for my dad after his stroke for seven years.  He did not talk but a few simple words.

Sue took him shopping with her and said, " Sanford just stay there in that chair and I'll be back in a minute." He never wondered around but was happy to just sit and watch.  This seemed like a burden to many but she preferred to take care of my dad than be alone in an empty house.  If she went shopping she had someone to go with.  People were always willing to help even if they were strangers.

After a few years of Clara Mae and Sue talking on the phone her cousin got an idea.

"Sue, why don't you call Jack.  I went to the Putman City reunion and I asked Jack, do you remember Sue?"

He said, "Do I ever.  She was the first girl I danced with at Putman City Dancing School.  She was the girl with the dark wavy hair and kind eyes."

Sue worked up the courage and called Jack in December.  They talked for hours.

My mom said," I think he liked talking to me because he wants to come to Fort Worth and take me out on New Years Eve. I said sure, I don't have anything better to do."

So Jack came, they went out, and a love affair blossomed.  It turns out Jack and my mom were both baptized in the same Ten Street Baptist Church.  They had many things and common and old stories to talk about.

I said, "Mom, I think he is a gift from God." She said , "I think you're right."  They've been seeing each other for five years now.  He's helped her through lonely time and Sue has helped him.  They write passionate love letters to each other.  Jack takes Sue to his WWII reunions and he looks great in his old uniform.


"He eats like a bird so he can fit into his old uniform." explained Sue. "But he still looks good in it."

Clara Mae had the love to think of my mom.  She had the love to go beyond herself and get these two love birds together.

I think that's love.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

God Works All Things Together For the Good


I am reminded of the scripture God works all things together for the good to them that love God  Romans 8:28

Doris was my mom's first cousin. Doris and Sue were like sisters.  My grandmother Maud and Great Uncle Oscar loved each other deeply.  Their bond was security when things were rocky and they both needed family.  Doris lived on a farm next to my moms on the outskirts of Oklahoma City when land was plentiful and farms were a way to make a living and get food on the table.

Uncle Oscar brought his sister Maud from Arkansas when she was only sixteen years old.  She didn't know her brother because she stayed behind after their mother divorced Grandpa McPherson.  Grandpa McPherson took his son with him but left his daughter behind.   Maud raised eight step children and was happy to have a break from her duties on Moon Hill.  So she took a chance and left Arkansas with her brother for the unknown land of Oklahoma.  The land became prosperous and felt like home.

Maud married and established roots. It turns out Maud had adjoining farms with her brother.     My mom use to go over to Cousin Doris, Cousin Clara Mae and Cousin Harold's home to play. Doris was a beautiful baby and was fun to dress her up in doll clothes.  Her best friend had a sister she dressed up so Sue thought Doris was the perfect baby to play house with.  Clara was a little older and wanted to be just like Sue.

As the families grew together their lives intertwined and love grew.  Oscar's kids played with Maud's.   Maud helped Oscar's family when mother Opal passed away.  Doris was only three so they needed a mother's tender touch.  Maud came over if one of the children had an ear ache.  She used a secret herb to help sooth the pain.  She came over if the girls needed advice.

The farms were far away from a church so the church came to them.  Putman City Baptist Church sponsored a satellite preacher who set up a tent revival in Bethany near their farms.  The preacher was on fire for God and spoke the truth.  My mom said people were moved by the Holy Spirit.  One lady stood up in the tent and confessed  to an affair she had been having for years.  Her husband forgave her and they hugged and wept together.  Many people cried out they needed Jesus to forgive them of their sins and went up to the front to make their confessions of faith.  Clara Mae, Doris Jean, Harold and my mother were all baptized in the river near by.

Years passed and children were born. Families were established but their ties to one another stayed strong.  When Doris passed her nephew Harold arranged for the preacher to give her memorial service.  Her service took place at Tenth Street Baptist Church in Bethany Oklahoma.  The same place where the tent had once stood a church took its place.  All the family was there to rejoice in their faith and celebrate Doris's life.  All things do work together for the good to them who that love God.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What Will You Leave Behind?

As I listened to my mom's first cousins memorial service for Doris Jean McPherson Gary, the preacher kept asking the question...

What will you leave behind?

The church's sanctuary was full of Doris's friends and family. As I talked to Doris's friends I listened to their stories about how she impacted their lives. I always knew Doris as Uncle Oscar's daughter. But I see she was so much more. She was a seeker of truth. She wanted to impact the lives of others with her love and acceptance. She touched so many people by just talking to them. I want to be a warm friend who listens. I want to be the person who asks, How are you? I don't want it to be about me, I want it to be about how I loved.

Doris Jean McPherson Gary's Memorial What Will You Leave Behind

Doris Jean McPherson Gary, 76, passed away peacefully with family at her bedside to be with her heavenly father on July 12, 2010 in Oklahoma City. She fought a courageous fight till the end. She was born to W. Oscar and Opal Mae (Short) McPherson on Feb 18, 1934 in Oklahoma County. Doris was a wonderful wife, mother, friend and grandmother. She will be sorely missed by many. She is survived by her husband of 54 years. Orvile M. Gary of Yukon, son, Mike Gary and wife Sharon of Jacksonville, Fl. granddaughter Jenifer Amos and husband Orin and their children Seth and Skyler. Also survived by a grandson, David Gary, daughter-in-law Betty Gary, both of Yukon, sister, Clara Mae McPherson of Bethany, sisters in law Kitty McPherson Kravits of OKC, Dorothy Cooper of Norman, Loretta Courtney and Joy Taylor of Elmore City; brother in law Bobby Gary from Newalla; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and a huge circle of friends. Preceding her in death are her son Kenneth Scotty Gary, brother Harold McPherson, parents and stepmother Bonita McPherson as well as two brothers in law, and two sisters in law. Doris was always giong, nothing would slow her down. She had a very fulfilling life and she touched so many people's lives just by talking with them. She was a very intelligent and wise woman who never met an enemy. She had nothing but lvoe to give. Memorial Service held Friday July 16th @ 10AM at West 10th St. Baptist Church 6732 NW 10th St.

Bed and Breakfast and other stories

My mom and I stayed at a bed and breakfast in Oklahoma City the night before Doris Jean McPherson Gary's Memorial. I read through the journal entries and added another one...

"I'm going to break tradition and say I wasn't here for an anniversary with my hubby, though it would have been a fun time.  I was here with my 88 year old mom Sue. Doris Jean, her first cousin, had just passed so we came to Oklahoma City for Doris's Memorial Service. We had a blessed time just being together and sharing stories, even if they were the same stories I heard as a child. They seemed even more special as she sat in a pale ivory love seat with her pink gown draping across her shoulders. Her words will be etched in my memory. She's sleeping now. She looks heavenly with her arm across her forehead and hand on her chest."

A Journey Into The Past

The most important bond one develops in life is the relationship between mother and child. I've always looked up to my mom. As a child I wanted to bake delicious homemade apple pies like my mom, sew fashionable clothes like my mom, keep the house as clean as my mom, type as fast as my mom and look as beautiful as my mom. She was on a pedestal to me and I never quite reached her perfection. My pie crust was never flaky like my moms, I needed my mom's help in home economics just to finish my assigned skirt. Let's say my room wasn't the neatest and I made my only D in second year typing. She thought I needed that second year to have something to fall back on. Most people realize their mom isn't perfect when they become teenagers but that realization never really hit me. It took a journey into the past to realize she was human just like me.

My two sons and husband were going off to a Chisholm Trail Boy Scout Camp that you only find in Texas, where the boys, I mean future men, reenact a military fort of one hundred years ago. Since I was free for the week I asked my eighty-three year old mom where do you want to go?

She thought about it for a while and said, "I want to go to Birmingham, Alabama," I answered, "Birmingham, Why?"

My mom replied, "I want to see my old house where I had my three kids," My family had moved to Fort Worth when I was one because it was less travel for my dad. I didn't have many memories of Alabama. But my mom had a trunk full of memories stored in her head because Birmingham was the place where she had her first home, her first child, her first neighbor, and her first try at being the perfect homemaker. My Dad was a traveling attorney for the National Labor Relations Board, so he was gone for weeks at a time, saving the world from unjust labor practices.

We packed up the Camry and started on our journey of discovery. I decided to have nothing planned but a map to guide us. My husband always had a typed agenda, including scheduled walks on the beach. Yes, it was my idea of fun to have nothing scheduled but the anticipation of what could happen along the way. We stopped at every antique store that looked interesting, picked the most charming places for lunch, and dined in elegance for our evening meal. As we entered each state we stopped at the Welcoming Center as I gathered information I might use in the classroom and our vacation. By the end of the trip our backseat was filled to the top with valuable information about each state and antiques to decorate our homes.

The first day of traveling we chatted through Texas and Louisiana and decided to stay in Vicksburg, Mississippi to rest our tired bones. My mom is hard of hearing now, so it was easier just to listen than to talk myself. All I had to do was ask her a question and she elaborated with and answer for an hour. Country and western music was gently playing in the background as she revealed secrets of her past.

"Mom was it difficult for you to raise toddlers with dad gone so much?" I questioned.

"I never got use to being in the house by myself. I would count the days till your dad got home." She revealed. "The neighbors really helped me out a lot. I don't think I could have done it without them."

My stone image of my mom being perfect was chipping away as she revealed her struggles. After touring two Victorian Inns, we chose All Star Casino on the Mississippi River. We got dressed up in our flowered dresses, hot pink lipstick and hit the Video Poker Machines.

"Mom, it's just like Bridge, just save the cards you like." I taught. The sound of the machine roared with excitement as we won a hundred dollars. We cashed out our chips and put the hot money in our hands for antique shops the next day. We got up bright and early for the first opening of an informational tour of a luxurious Vicksburg Mansion. Since my boys weren't there I could skip the famous Vicksburg Civil War Battle Fields. We hit three tours on our way to Birmingham and three on our way back.

Every time I asked my mom, "Should we stop here?"

She always said," Whatever you think." I actually never heard those words much as a child but every time she said, "Whatever you think,"it was like healing sap to the tree trunk of my soul."

We finally made it to Birmingham in the height of rush hour traffic. Since my husband usually drove in unknown cities, it felt strange to navigate the terrine myself. My mom kept saying I think I know where the house is. We made it to the general location but we got confused on the street numbers. Sweat was dripping down our faces and tears swelled in our eyes as we pleaded with the gas station attendant for directions we might understand. In desperation he finally circled it on the map so we wouldn't get lost. As we approached the house she kept saying how things had changed.

She said, "That's where Peggy Sue lived. She babysat you kids when I was having a hard day. Across the street is where Mary Lou lived. I called her up at midnight to come over because the thunderstorm was so loud I couldn't sleep. She stayed up with me all night until I fell asleep and watched you kids the next day. I think she is dead now. Oh lets get out so I can get a good look at my old house."

Just as we got out of the car a handsome black man pulled up and asked if he could help us. My mom explained she use to live there so he said we could have a look around.

"That tree is the one your dad and me planted. We built the porch in the back so we could have shade in the hot sun. The boys use to play football in that field over there."

The home was very small to our standards today, but it was plenty big for my mom and she loved it dearly because it held all the memories of her past. She could remember rocking kids to sleep and neighbors helping out in times of need. I never knew my mom ever needed so much help. She was always so independent and fix any broken appliance. She mowed her own grass till she was 84 years old. I discovered my mom wasn't quite as perfect as I once thought, but that made her even more perfect to me.

Crystal The Perfect Cat

Crystal, my family's cat, was sent to us from God. Her name Crystal, was given to us by my son, Alex. The name fit her because when glass crystal is held in the light, a multi-colored rainbow shines. She was like a rainbow of colors that reflected the light of calm, peace, security, loyalty, love, warmth, and devotion to our family.

We decided to get Crystal after many years of begging my husband Jim, for a cat. He grew up with an outside cat and I wanted our cat to be indoors so we could grow closer to her. Jim finally agreed after I went back to teaching. The boys said we needed something special because I was going back to work. They were not excited about after school care.

We got Crystal through an agency called Adopt A Pet. Volunteers acted like foster moms and knew each cat's personalities. I had many conversations about the perfect cat for our family. I said, "Yes, I want one with short hair because I know long hair cats shed all over the house. Yes I want a cat that is friendly and sits in your lap. Yes I want a cat without claws because I don't want my furniture scratched up."

I had finally settled on a short haired male, who was good with children. After arriving at the agency we discovered the perfect cat I had picked out was sick. It was against the rules to take home a sick cat so I thought better to come back another day. At first the boys were disappointed, but later Alex's eyes peered toward a Persian cat with long white fluffy hair and huge golden eyes. He picked her up, nestled her head towards his, and shouted, "I want this one." I cringed when I saw her long hair and claws.

"Oh no Alex, her cat hair will shed all over the house and she has claws that scratch furniture. See that cute Tabby over there with short reddish hair," I begged.

Michael came over about that time and said, "She's soft and pretty, let me hold her."

I knew then there was no turning back. Crystal was our new cat. My perfect plan had been changed. We brought her home and I felt better because her silver hair matched our light colors I chose for decorating. It was as if she was meant to add a certain flair to our home. She just blended with the background of our family. We showed her the litter box and she never had an accident until her last year of life.

I took her to the vet to make sure she was okay because she had been limping. Dr. Benjamin told us she was probably five years old by looking at her teeth. We told him she came from a home that had a hundred cats. The lady just couldn't take care of her any more. I'm not sure what her name was in her former home. He said her legs were just fine and didn't know why she limped.

We later solved the mystery. We think she had to fight for food because in the first month, she limped before the cat food bowl. We noticed a pattern around dinner time. It was a way to get sympathy from the cat lady. She pretended to be hurt, hoping for more generous food servings. She stopped limping after several months. But when Crystal was nervous, or upset she reverted back. It reminded me of my own bad habits when I feel vulnerable or insecure. Through the years we seldom saw her limp again. She felt more secure and safe with us.

Over time I called her the perfect cat. She never jumped on our kitchen counter. She didn't do the things you hear about from other cat owners. She was just there for us. If the boys played video games, she laid on the floor as if she were watching. If I was in the living room reading a book by the fire, she settled into a comfy chair next to me or gazed out the window at birds in our Live Oak. She was happy to share a part of our lives. She never went outside, so we didn't have to worry about letting her in and out. She strolled into the room where Jim plays video games. She laid in front of his feet for her daily petting. She loved it and always came back for more. We all said Crystal loved him best.

When Alex got Mr. Wiggles, A Teddy Bear Hamster for a pet, we were afraid Crystal might eat him. Sometimes Mr. Wiggles escaped downstairs and found his way to the kitchen cupboard. We looked all over the house for Mr. Wiggles and feared the worst.
Panicked I thought, where does a hamster go? So I opened the kitchen pantry and there was Mr. Wiggles snacking on fallen cereal. Crystal never bothered him. She knew how much Alex loved Mr. Wiggles. He was part of the family.

Crystal had amazing talents. She could play Kitty Hockey. We discovered the talent when we saw her batting a plastic top to a bottle of Diet Coke. I got on the kitchen floor and hit it back to her. With my amazement she hit it right back to me with her paw. I called Michael and Alex into the room and said,"You have to see this." We wanted to see how many times Crystal hit the plastic cap back and forth like a game of hockey. I think the record was twenty. At the time this was most exciting because both boys were avid Roller Hockey Players for the Redwings.

If we had a party or friends over, Crystal was in the middle of our center hallway posing with one paw outstretched and the other paw tucked under her silver fluffy body. Her head was held high as if it say, " I'm proud to be a part of this family and I belong here." She stayed in that position for hours. People always said, "She's such a pretty cat." And we always answered, "I know."

I brought home my school's library cat for a weekend stay to see if Crystal was comfortable with a roomy. I had never seen Crystal hiss so loud when she saw Libby, the library cat. Her tiny body managed to get in the attach mode and Libby quickly hid under a chair. I didn't want Crystal to tear up our library cat so I kept Libby in our bedroom. Jim suffered through two nights of Libby jumping all over our bed. Crystal loved us so much she didn't want to share attention.

When we took our long family vacations, Crystal stayed at Grandma Palmer's home. The first few days she stayed under the dining room table. Later, She ventured out to the living room. Grandma Palmer laid a quilt on her red velvet chair for her to sleep on. My mom said, "Crystal only stays in the living room chair. She's no bother. Does she have to go?" Grandma's home was like her second home. She felt safe and warm in the comfy red velvet chair.

I knew Crystal was dying because she was loosing weight. Dr. Benjamin said she was very old, about seventeen. It was hard to let her go. I had conversations with myself, "Should I take her to the vet to put her to sleep?"

It must be natures way of letting go because she stopped eating or drinking water. I tried to give her little drops with a syringe. As she walked down the hall it was slow. Her frail body wobbled but she kept going. She didn't want to give up life with us.

When I left the room she managed to move to a different area of our home. Michael had a friend over to play video games the night before she died. I went to the family room to tell the boys to go to bed, it was late. I found Crystal laying to the left of him. She was posing like she always does.

Michael, "She's posing for you. She dragged her tired body over to where you notice her. She loves you that much. She's saying goodbye."

Later I found her in front of our bedroom door. It was her way of saying I love you, I am here for you. I don't know how her brain was able to even think but her passion for our family was strong until the end. She was the best cat ever. We miss her. It's not the same without her. When we go to heaven I pray Crystal will be there with us. She will be looking up at us with her loving golden eyes.

This photo was taken a week before she died.

Why Ducks?

The family of ducks who visited our home have been a part of our lives for over ten years. I wanted to capture their beauty with pictures and words. I think they have been a metaphor for the truth that God is our hiding place. The Lord is our safe place and we can find refuge in Him just like the ducklings found safety under their mother's wings. When we trust in Him and follow his direction He is our shield. He will cover us with his feathers. If I start to worry and grow weary, I pray and visualize his protection covering me with His Love. He is like big and small shields over us every day as we trust in Him and ask for his guidance. In this world of What Ifs, its comforting for me to believe God wants what is best for me and has a plan for my life. I want to walk in gratefulness when I wait in a long line, or driving on the freeway and a car dashes in front of me, or when someone hurts me I can see they are carrying their own burden. God help me not to complain but rejoice in knowing You ARE IN CONTROL.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Hiding Place

My safe place Psalm 91

God will cover you with his feathers.
You will be safe under his wings.
God will do what he promised.
And he will be like big and small shields over you.

Amplified Version
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you
trust and find refuge:
His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

Ducklings Leaving

On day sixth of the ducklings being in our pool I opened the gate. Momma Duck stared at the open door. She waved her wing as if it was time to leave. "Follow Me," she quacked. I quickly grabbed my camera and yelled to Michael.He said I'll help take pictures and we followed the ducklings down the path. We watched them safely cross the street. She was headed in the direction toward the creek. I lost the duck family as they went under the gate of a neighbors backyard. But I trust they made it safely to the creek a half mile from our home.

It reminded me that it was time for Michael to leave for college. I was glad we got to share the experience together.

My Momma Duck

My mom and brother came over to celebrate Mother's Day. I was excited to share the ducks with her. She smiled as the ducklings swam. I thought my mom is my Momma Duck. She watched over me when I was young. She tried to keep me safe and guide me. I love my mother and she loves me.

Daddy Duck

Momma and Daddy Duck have been together for over fifteen years. They love each other. They've been together through the hatchings, through the sad parts when some of them don't make it. Daddy Duck liked to lie side by side Momma Duck while she slept. Their eyelids shined like golden stars. There was a nearby creek the Daddy Ducks liked to gather together while the Momma Ducks cared for their young. Daddy Duck sometimes corrected the little ducklings if they were lagging behind. He knew how important it was for them to keep together when it was time to leave for the creek. One little duckling left behind was dangerous. The number one predator in the urban area was the cat.

Dusk

Dusk was approaching and the ducklings needed to sleep for the night. Momma Duck chose to rest by the blue perennial, next to the edge of our spa. The ducklings huddled underneath her one by one. One little duckling fell into the water. Momma Duck chose her location wisely because the ducklings were able to jump back to safety by the ledge of the spa. Momma Duck stayed faithfully on the ducklings until dawn for protection from predators in the night. I had watched Momma Duck for ten years but this is the first time I noticed a wide deep blue stripe edged with two white brushed lines on her majestic wing. She wasn't plain at all, she was beautiful.

Eight Ducklings Swimming in our Pool

The ducklings finally hatched and we saw eight swimming in our pool. At first they swam close to their mother. When Momma Duck left for food they huddled together in a circle shape of protection. After a while they ventured away to practice swimming on their own. The ducklings usually stayed for just a day to quickly leave for the creek a half mile from our home. It was fun to watch them the short time they were there. I was amazed how they followed mother duck's every move. This animal behavior is called imprinting.
Each March I watched for the Momma and Daddy Duck to swim in our pool. It was the first sign they were back. Year after year they came. My neighbor Jos had her own routine. She liked to feed the birds every day in her front yard. Squirrels came to feed out of her hand. Her yard was a haven for all animals.
"I saw the ducks again. The male duck has a limp this year. They seemed to be starved because they gobble the food." Jos explained. "The Daddy Duck always lets the Momma Duck go first." Mallard Ducks mate for life.

One Warm Spring Evening

One warm spring evening a Texas Hail Storm approached our area. The weatherman reported golf ball sized hail. Buckets of rain were pouring as I shined a flashlight to see the tips of her feathers. There she was not moving an inch, glued to her eggs to keep them safe. As I watched her so carefully protecting her eggs while the hail came thrashing down, my admiration for her grew. I checked the nest the next day and not one egg was cracked. Trees had blown down, windows were broken but her eggs were safe.

Ducks In My Pool

"The ducks are back." I ran to tell my sons Alex and Michael.
I saw Momma Duck's head peaking through the tall green grass at the edge of our backyard pool. Each spring a family of Mallard Ducks chose our pool as a safe place to make their nest and lay on their eggs in hope they will hatch. For over ten years my family witnessed the cycle of newborn life as the ducks returned to our pool. Mallard Ducks mate for life and we participated in their love story.
The first year we saw Momma and Daddy Duck Alex and Michael were in their tweens. We awoke to the sound of squawking.
"Whats that loud noise?," Alex said as he looked out the window. We all ran to the family room to see.
We saw two ducks playfully swimming in our pool's crystal blue water as if they had found the Ritz Carlton Pond. We thought it was strange for ducks not to know the difference. We went back to our normal routine of getting ready for work and school. Several weeks later, I noticed twelve white eggs put together in a circle shape of love. I brought the neighbor kids to see the carefully prepared nest of twigs, feathers, and grasses intertwined. I watched Momma Duck faithfully lying on her eggs night after night. Mallard Ducks sit on their eggs for twenty-eight days because the soon to be ducklings need warmth to grow. There was since of comfort knowing she was there so dutifully.