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A trip down memory lane

Over the weekend my family and I took a trip. We visited Charlotte, North Carolina where I spent many years when I was young. We drove by the house where my parents lived when they brought me home from the hospital. We only lived there a couple years.

Next, we were in Atlanta for a short span of time. We moved to Miami, where my father got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the university. We came back to Charlotte when I was in the fifth grade. We lived there until I was married.

My parents moved to another house in the mid 1980s.

Around this time, my husband and I moved from Maryland with our infant daughter back to Charlotte, lived in a rental house,

then built a new home.

All of these houses have changed from when we were there. Shutters, front doors and bricks have been painted in some cases. Porches have new railings. In addition, there are landscaping differences because the trees and shrubs are much bigger than I remember. Despite the passing of time and how things evolve through the years, it is good to know these homes have been maintained and cared for.

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Favorite shows inspired by books

I loved watching The Waltons on television when I was a child. It was one of the shows that my whole family enjoyed watching together. It was inspired by books written by Earl Hamner, including Spencer’s Mountain and The Homecoming. It was a series of stories about a family that lived in a rural Blue Ridge Mountain town of Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

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I took my mother to visit the original house in Schuyler, Virginia the summer after my father died in 2010. The house was smaller and had less land attached to it than I expected. Ike Godsey’s store and a museum in an old schoolhouse were just down the road from the house. The view of the mountains in the background is reminiscent of scenes from the show, which were actually filmed in California. The trip helped my mother to grieve as she remembered some happy times of days gone by when she was growing up in Christiansburg, Virginia near Staunton. The Walton house was on the Warner Brothers set. It was used again for the Gilmore Girls series and became the Dragonfly Inn in Stars Hollow in season four around 2004. It was not a real house but there is a real town in Connecticut.

I loved to watch the Little House on the Prairie based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These books regaled stories of a family living and surviving as pioneers in the rugged Midwest during the latter part of the 19th century. The show was set in Walnut Grove, near Plum Creek in Minnesota. It was focused on the time period between Laura’s childhood to adolescent years. The set of the reproduced town was built on a ranch in California and was destroyed during the last episode.

Laura wrote her books in Mansfield, Missouri. There are two houses there that are still standing and can be toured. The museum there contains a large collection of memorabilia. Pepin, Wisconsin is the location of Laura’s childhood home. There is a reconstructed cabin there on exhibit. This was the location for Little House in the Big Woods. Little House on the Prairie was partially written about her house in Independence, Kansas where another reconstructed log cabin can be toured. In Walnut Grove, Minnesota, Pa staked a claim. There is a dugout site there. The Ingalls family ended up in De Smet, South Dakota where there is a house and buildings built by Charles. One half of the prairie house stories were about this location.

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Roughly thirty-five years passed between the time periods of these two great book collections and television series. If you were to go forward from the time of The Waltons, you would end up in the late 1960s. My book series begins with my childhood during this time period. Each span of history must be retold so we won't forget what others have learned along the journey of life as times have changed.

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Fill your long, lazy days of summer with book reading pleasure!

I have written three books. The third one in the trilogy is now available. It is entitled A Union Sent from Heaven: Dry Toast Meets Savory Grecian Seasoning. It would be suitable for young women who are single, brides to be or are already married. It would make a great Mother’s Day gift. It shares dating stories from the 1970s and early 80s when I met my husband. Yes, it is G-rated. I share about being in college and being a newlywed. How many young people today have experienced that? It was challenging to say the least to keep up with studies while being a newlywed and learning to live with a spouse. We had a tight budget, so scrimped to stay afloat. My husband had a part-time job, we shared domestic chores and cooking, plus lived in a cramped apartment in married student housing quarters. We spent later years of marriage renovating houses. We developed an eye for real estate that had potential and worked to upgrade houses along with the growing needs of our family. We appreciate the sweat equity and expense involved in making a house into a home.

My second book would be a perfect summer read for elementary aged children. The Checkerboard Quilt: A Memory Collage of My 1960s Childhood is a must read for young girls. I reveal stories about things I enjoyed doing while growing up in the 1960s way before cell phones and computers. We played outdoors, free from the fear of lurking predators. We rode our bikes to friends’ houses and through our neighborhood. We learned to entertain ourselves by creating our own toys and games. I amused myself with different craft or sewing projects. On treasure hunts I discovered old interesting items in my grandparents’ basement or collected plants, bugs or flowers in their garden.

My first book, Bagpipes, Planes and Strings: A Woman’s Journey in Letting Go is for the middle-aged woman experiencing the empty nest syndrome. Perhaps your child has just graduated from high school or is at some crossroads where he or she will be taking a challenging new first step. Children grow up, go off to college or begin to spread their wings of independence. As a mother, it is difficult to experience this change. During middle age, women can experience loss for the first time, go through changes in their health, their family dynamics or may lose a loved one or parent. These can be very difficult years. I hope my story can be an encouragement to those trying to navigate these dark days. There is hope on the other side. My faith in Christ carried me through a painful journey. He healed me and gave me strength with which I hope to exhort others experiencing many of the same things.

If you would like to buy a copy of my books, you can go to Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or BAM-Books-A-Million. For the new book, A Union Sent from Heaven, you can go to Rose Dog Books to get the first off the press copies.

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Call Me A Dreamer

I grew up watching classic films from the 1940s and 1950s with my dad. We were mesmerized by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing across the screen. We watched Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in An American In Paris perform ballet “pas de deux” dances for two while we listened to incredible symphonic music. Debbie Reynolds was amazing in The Unsinkable Molly Brown as a singer and dancer. She started out with Mr. Kelly in Singing in the Rain, another favorite. I loved Judy Garland, who became a star in The Wizard of Oz. I could watch Shirley Jones in Oklahoma and Carousel again and again because of her beautiful soprano singing voice. Another favorite was South Pacific for which I could sing all the words to “Some Enchanted Evening” or “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair” because I had heard them so often. I wanted to be like Eliza Doolittle and become the belle of the ball on the arm of Professor Higgins. Because of this influence, I have become a romantic when it comes to films. I want to believe in fairytales with happy endings. There are still beautiful or good stories that need to be shared.

You understand now that writing allows me to express my view of the world through rose-colored glasses instead of one that is dark and full of shadows. I try to maintain a sense of innocence and goodness in the world. I would like to see quality films again. With a few exceptions, the movies of today lack originality. They lack good morals and decency. They lack the feel good, singing of songs as you exit the theater quality. Encore material in films is gone when it is devoid of these characteristics.

I have written three books. I have had very few sales. Yet, I have had a lot of interest from publishers. They either want me to sell my rights to another publisher or buy into another marketing scheme to sell books. I have even gotten inquiries from those claiming to be able to turn my autobiographical stories into a movie sensation. I am sad to say that most have been scammers and their intent was pure trickery with the intent to exploit and take advantage of my innocent attempts to share my hard earned lessons and hardships through stories with the world. I have been naive at times. I have thought that Hollywood really is looking for good, new material. Sadly, I do not believe this is the case any longer.

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Gardens In Scripture

Someone said “Life began in a garden.” It is a familiar quote with an anonymous author. I would like to change it to say also that “Love began in a garden.” God created Adam and Eve and placed them in a garden. He loved them so much that He wanted them to experience a perfect life in an unimaginably beautiful setting. How wonderful it must have been to experience nature untouched before the mar of sin came into the picture. Their access to this peaceful and wondrous creation was destroyed when they were tempted by Satan and fell into sin. The tempter, in the form of a serpent, offered them the knowledge of good and evil, reserved only for God, through the fruit of the tree. They gave into the lie and their innocence before God was destroyed. Because of their disobedience, they were banished from the perfect garden that God created. Gardeners know how much of a struggle it is to achieve success in growing and nurturing plants. I think of this often when my back aches after bending over to weed or planting a new flowering shrub. If only Eve hadn’t been so greedy to reach for that shiny red apple.

Each Easter season, I experience the uplifting joy of hope in my salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. During Holy week the earth seems to put on a show in perfect sync to celebrate displaying beauty, through blooming flowers. Plants previously dormant or thought dead come alive as in a miracle chorus which echoes its passion for life when it revives. To me this perfectly depicts Jesus’ victory over sin through His death on the cross.

It was in a garden that Jesus experienced great emotional suffering as He braced himself and prepared for the road to the cross. It was a poignant setting again that within the beauty of a garden, our Lord shared the pain of man. As in Eden, He felt the separation was coming between himself and God. Yet, victory was coming also. With His death, He was able to win back the ground that was stolen by the devil. Through faith in Jesus, our relationship with God was secured again forever and nothing could ever take it away.

In a garden on Easter morning, Mary came to the tomb and was overjoyed to find it empty. He was not there but was risen from the dead and was alive again! Death was swallowed up in victory. The garden was brought back to what it was intended… to be a place of hope and life instead of doom, and defeat.

In heaven, a glorious garden awaits. Even more than we can imagine. It is lined with paths of gold. There is a crystal sea. Surely, there will be other wonders there as well to behold!

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There are several legends surrounding trees that bloom during the season of Easter. The redbud tree is sometimes known as the “Judas” tree. It was given that name because of its deep purplish red color symbolizing blood. Judas betrayed Jesus with blood money or 30 pieces of silver. After the Roman soldiers arrested and crucified Jesus, Judas hung himself out of remorse for what he had done from a tree supposedly resembling this tree with heart shaped leaves and crimson purple flowers.

The dogwood flower has four leaves with unusual dark markings on each outer petal resembling nails which pierced through Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross. The center of the flower has a crown like appearance depicting the crown of thorns Jesus was made to wear on His head.

There is a real crown of thorns plant that could have been used to create this device of torture.

Come to the garden! He is waiting there for you today! You can smell the sweet scent of the lilies and roses. You can touch the hem of His garment and be healed. You can hear His whispers of love and peace.

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Lives Laid Down

I am deeply touched and saddened to hear about another school shooting. This time it was within the walls of a Christian school. Just because people are Christian and pray does not make them exempt from pains and sorrows or outside influences of evil from the world. No barricades or lockdowns can totally protect against a madman who has a plot to destroy and go on a killing rampage.

It is sad to think that the pastor of the church connected to this school lost his daughter during this massacre. It is also horrible that the head of the school was lost during the shooting as well. The school and community is reeling from these losses as well as the killing of two other children and two other adults. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

It is remarkable that the principal left a Zoom meeting and was ready to take on the shooter herself. She lost her life as she sought to confront the attacker and protect her students. Let it be said of her that “no greater love is this than one would lay down their life for their friends”. John 15:13.

This especially hits close to home for me as my daughter is a teacher of special needs students. She tells me stories almost daily when she thrusts herself in harms way for the protection and safety of her little friends. Her job has many challenges but regardless, it is obvious how much she loves these children. No doubt, she would risk her life for those children in the same way as the principal of Covenant Presbyterian School in Nashville. When she was growing up, she attended a Christian school connected with a Presbyterian church in our community.

As a parent of a former student at a Christian school I want to address a few things. There is no guarantee that because my children attended a private church school that they were free of problems. There is no guarantee that other students in attendance are from Christian homes or behave in a “Christ-like” manner. Sometimes, it is even the opposite. There are bullies in every school. Some may feel unpopular or uncool if they are different. There is a sin nature in all of us especially among children who are growing in faith or have not embraced Christ as their savior. Some may have the opportunity but reject Christ. Some may embrace Him and walk away later in life.

Some parents send children to Christian schools who would not thrive in public settings. There are smaller classrooms with more focused attention. Some may have privilege and are sent to take advantage of pre-college curriculum. Some may have learning disabilities or attention deficit problems and hope to improve by smaller classes with more hands-on training by teachers. Others send their students to be taught in a more “Christ”-focused setting with hopes that they will have a positive atmosphere for growing and learning.

This world is full of young people who are facing mental challenges like never before. Just because a student attends a Christian school does not mean they will not face depression or anxiety. The world and home atmosphere have a strong influence on the mental psyche. They may hear the message of Christ at a school but each are accountable themselves whether they hear and respond to the gospel.

The woman carrying out this devastating carnage may have fallen through the cracks at some point. At this point, we don’t know her home life and influences. We don’t know what would have possessed her to devise such a heinous crime. She was an adult and had not been at the school for ten years. We don’t know what transpired in her life since she attended the school. I am sure her parents sought out the best school they thought would have the biggest impact on her. Unfortunately, it failed to sink in or stay with her. She should have sought help within the church and mental health community before it escalated to this point of no return.

God bless the school for those they have touched whether they professed Christianity or not. All they can do is keep training, loving, and educating the children. Future generations depend on schools like these to keep the spark of God’s love alive. May they rebuild and regrow in their quest to continue the work that began in reaching more children and families for Christ.

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Beauty in The Rubble

It is challenging to keep a positive outlook amidst so much negativity in our current world. The focus is on the bad, the waywardness and depravity instead of the good. We must find the cup half full instead of half empty. We must stay thankful to God for our many blessings daily.

There are many naysayers and negative Nelly’s. I am reminded of the scripture in Phil. 4 :8. It says… whatever is true, noble, right, pure or lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy….think on these things.

Keep looking for God. You will see Him! He is right there in front of you! “Even.. if they keep silent, the rocks will cry out!” Luke 19:40.

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