Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Fond Farewell to 2011

If you pay any attention to the news of the past year you know that 2011 was not a very good year. There were wars and rumors of war. There were protests and angry mobs. The economy was a mess, and politics has been very nasty. Yet, when I look around my little corner of the world ,there has been a golden glow of joy, goodness and peace. In the place where I have lived, the year 2011 has been a wonderful year.

We celebrated my seventieth birthday and our fiftieth wedding anniversary this year. Perhaps all those years have taught us to be a bit more patient and to trust God a little more. In all those years there have have been many dark and difficult times, but we are still here. We are surrounded by family and friends. God has seen us through to the other side of those dark times. We are now enjoying the green meadows and quiet waters that have been waiting here for us all along.

Here is a list of some of the reasons, in no particular order, I have felt so blessed in 2011.

1. We had a most wonderful party for our 50th anniversary which made us feel very loved.
2. Two more of our beautiful, intelligent grandchildren graduated from high school. I see great hope for the world when I see my grandkids and their friends.
3. Our daughter and her sweetheart became engaged. We get to plan for a fall wedding.
4. Our son has lost more than 100 pounds this year. He looks and feels so much better.
5. I get to teach the toddlers' Sunday school class. These beautiful babies are so much fun.
6. My oldest granddaughter bought her own house. How did she grow up so quickly? Amazing.
7. Our long lost son came home. What a wonderful reunion!
8. Our kids' businesses are both making a profit this year.
9. Our grandson’s ulcerative colitis was declared to be in complete remission.
10. We have discovered that retirement gives us time to enjoy all that life has to offer. We have enjoyed beautiful sunsets, good books, the company of friends, the joy of quiet evenings together, and the certainty of God's grace.

My only resolution for 2012 is to continue to count my blessings and to live each day with joy.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Snapshots

We began a brand new tradition this year with Christmas Eve brunch at our granddaughter's new home. It is good to pass the joy of hosting a holiday party on to the next generation, even if it is really hard to believe our granddaughter is now an adult.

I love the Christmas eve services at church. The lit candles and music always bring tears and sweet memories.

Christmas day brings the family together. Although we missed our oldest grandson who was needed by the Air Force and youngest son who was need by the Army, we managed to fill the house with love and laughter.

DQ arrived wearing his new Christmas hat.

Not to be outdone, his dad received a new head of hear.

We did have a hula-hoop contest. Girls are better hula-hoopers than boys.

After a long day of food and family our granddaughters crashed as usual in a nap on the couch.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Friday, December 02, 2011


In 2002 our son came home for a visit. He drove his big 18-wheeler down our little street, picked me and took me for a ride. We found a parking place for his big rig, and he stayed and spent Christmas week with us. We loved having him here, but we knew he was going through a difficult time. His marriage had ended and the future was unclear. After the holiday he got into his truck, and disappeared. More than seven years passed with no contact. We knew nothing about his life. The not knowing was very hard.

In the spring of last year a friend called to say that Todd was on facebook. I looked and, and sure enough, there he was! His big smile and beautiful eyes stared back at me from his profile picture. I just cried. He was alive. He looked happy. His profile said he was the army and that he was married! I was amazed. I sent him a message and asked him to call. On Mother's Day, 2010, I got an email form Iraq. It said,
“Hi Mom. I'm sorry it's been so long. I miss you. I love you. I'll call soon. Todd”

We have talked several times since then. We met his wife and step-daughter. We have been getting to know each other again.

Thanksgiving day Todd flew home. He was nervous. I was excited. The moment we saw each other we both started running. It was a wonderful hug! There were lots of tears and lots of laughter. His sweet wife just stood there laughing and crying with us. In the moment of that wonderful hug the long years of not knowing melted away. We were a family again.
God does indeed answer prayers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Each day of this month of November I have been listing one of the many blessings in my life. I posted them of my facebook page, and it has been interesting to see how people have reacted to my list. I have more blessings to count than I have days in the month. It has been a fun exercise.

I thought I might try to make a list of things I hate to stand in opposition to my gratitude list, but I had a hard time coming up with anything I hate. I hate liver and pickles. I hate the helpless feeling that comes when people I love are hurting, and there is nothing I can do to make things better. My hate list is pretty short.

Today, in honor of Thanksgiving I will share one of my sweet memories.

The last several years of my dad's life were hard. His health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer care for himself. The time finally came when the very difficult decision was made to move Dad to a nursing home. I flew to California to be with them during this hard time. The morning of the move Mom and I were up early trying to prepare Dad's favorite breakfast. Mom started crying. I started crying. We just stood there holding each other, trying to get through the moment when we both started to sing, quietly at first and then at the top of our voices.
When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
 And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

We danced around the kitchen, crying and laughing and holding on to each other. Somehow the day that lay ahead seemed possible. Our blessings were greater than our pain.

Today I am thankful for the gift of song that makes the hard moments of life bearable.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Last weekend I helped at a church Halloween party for the children. It was, as always, a fun time. I enjoy seeing the kids in their costumes and having time to listen to them.

Yesterday I saw this picture of me chatting with one of my young friends. I was startled. I look like an old lady. I suppose the fact that we celebrated my seventieth birthday and fiftieth anniversary this year is a clue to the fact that I should look old, but it still surprises me. In my head I'm still the girl I was when I was young. In my head I still look like I did when I was twenty.

In my head I still look like this. I'm sure the mirror is just playing tricks on my eyes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hudson River Valley

After playing in the big city for a few days we boarded our river boat, the American Star. This was a wonderful way to explore the Hudson River valley. We unpacked and enjoyed our comfortable room, good food, interesting, beautiful sights and the company of pleasant people.

I loved getting up early and sipping my morning coffee while watching the fog roll across the river. It was a peaceful way to begin each day.

The river has several lighthouses along the way, each unique and different from all the others. It had never before occurred to me that a river needed lighthouses. None of them is in use any longer. They just stand as a symbol of a time gone by.

The first evening of our cruise we docked at West Point. It is quite a formidable sight from the river. It's appearance did remind me a bit Hogwarts, and I suspect that a bit of magic is sometimes practiced there. It is a beautiful, impressive campus.

The leaves were just beginning to change color when we left New York. By the time we returned the trees were becoming beautiful signs of autumn.

This valley is home to many beautiful homes. We stopped in Hyde Park where FDR and the Vanderbilts lived in splendor. My favorite fine house was Olana, the home of Fredrick Church. Church was a great American artist who lived in a Persian castle in the Catskills. If I looked out on his view of the Hudson valley every day I believe I too might become a great painter.

The Hudson River valley is a beautiful, interesting part of the world. I am so grateful that we able to enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

When our boat sailed by the Statue of Liberty I got goose bumps just thinking about what this sight must have meant to the masses of immigrants who sailed past her on their way to America. This symbol of freedom is one of those things that makes me proud of my country, a place that welcomes the all those yearning to be free. This great country of ours is built on the lives of immigrants who have worked hard to make this land their own and have blessed this land with their talent.

Most of these people passed through Ellis Island on the way to their new home. The Lower East-side of New York became crowed with these new Americans, fresh off the boat.

At the suggestion of my favorite rabbi one of the things we did in New York was to visit the Tenement Museum. It was a very educational and emotional tour. We went through two of the 300 square foot apartments that were home to two of the families of the many immigrants, one appeared as it did in 1890s, the other as it was in the 1930s. Life was very hard for these people as they adjusted to a new land that was in the midst of economic hard times. Most did not speak English and lived in great poverty.

Some things never change. People of that time formed political parties to keep these newly arrived citizens out of America because they had a different religion and spoke no English. It was said they would hurt our country and never be real Americans. The children and grandchildren of these immigrants are now part of the American tapestry and have helped to make our land a great place.

I hope our country still can be a place that welcomes the huddled masses yearning to be free. I believe these new arrivals can help bless this country and make it a stronger, more beautiful place.

God bless America.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Times Square

I believe Times Square in New York is the best people-watching place on earth. Everybody comes here to see and to be seen. The crowds of people, the bright lights, and general craziness are great fun to watch. Our traveling companions, Pat and Ralph, and I just sat down and looked in amazed wonder at all we saw.

I'm not sure what these two were talking about, perhaps a business deal of some sort. The gentleman was one of the hundreds standing in line for cheep show tickets.

These two people chose a busy place for their wedding. No one seemed to be paying them much attention.

I loved this entrepreneurial young lady. I suspect there are many folks at Times Square who need a little mending done along with a little encouragement.

I smiled when I saw that even Minnie Mouse needed to take a break for a hot dog.

This handsome character befriended Pat and me for only a dollar.

We returned to the square after dark only to find it more crowded and a bit more crazy. It was great to see, but I believe one visit will be enough to last me for a long, long time.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

New York

I am beginning to get excited now. We leave tomorrow morning. We will catch the train and ride to New York City. I'm a small town girl and the big city is an exciting place to visit. I am always overwhelmed by to enormous number of people and the gigantic buildings. I expect I will walk into a pole while I gawk at all the sights. On Saturday we will board a river boat and head up the Hudson river. I have never been in that part of the country. It should be beautiful along the river with the autumn leaves coloring the landscape. We will stop along the way to tour Hyde Park ,West Point and several other spots.

I hope to be able to share some good stories and beautiful pictures.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Kingdom of Childhood

I just finished reading a good story, The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman. It was one of those books that interfered with my life because I wanted to read the story instead of doing anything else. Now that I finished I want to know happened to the characters who filled my last two days. I always hate when the book ends and I don't know what happened to everybody.

This is not a nice story. It is full of people who do things they should not do. Judy is a middle-aged teacher who has an affair with a teenaged boy. The story includes pieces of her sad childhood that make me feel for her, but never quite enough for me to forgive her adult actions. Judy is one of those people I want to hate, but find I can't quite hate.

This is a good story that left me feeling a bit uncomfortable because it sounded like a story that might be true. I don't want this to be a true story.

My reason for wanting to read the book is that the author is friend. She's one of those people I liked instantly. She's a bright and funny lady who always makes me feel good. She is the happily married mother of four young children. She teaches Sunday School. This dark story does not seem like it would come out of my sweet young friend.

It is a great read!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We have spent the last few weeks getting rid of stuff. We have collected an amazing amount of stuff over the years and it is time for most of it to go.

I began in my closet. When you can't possibly squeeze one more piece of clothing into the closet it is time for something to go. That part was pretty easy. Anything I no longer wear or never really much liked got cleaned out. Clothes were either given away or thrown away.

Next I began cleaning out cupboards and closets full of old toys, crafts, and art supplies. I threw away 14 jars of dried out Play Doh, a big box of broken crayons, dozens of games and puzzles, and broken toys my now grown grandchildren played with when they were little. It was hard to get rid of some these things. They triggered many sweet memories. I kept the memories, but threw away the battered toys. One closet shelf held 43 vases. They all came filled with beautiful flowers, but 43 vases really are more than I need. My husband boxed them up and took them to the local florist who was delighted to take them. The florist even gave him a big bouquet of flowers to bring home and put in one of the six vases I kept.

Inspired by all my cleaning, my husband decided it was time to clean out the attic. That has been a very interesting bit of cleaning. We have lived in this house almost 50 years. The attic held remnants from all those years. Mixed in with the old college books were letters we had written to one another before we were married. In one of them I told of my great excitement after an interview for my first job as a registered nurse. I had been offered $395 a month! I didn't know what we would do with all that money. There were parts of science fairs and school projects going back to my husband's high school days. There was a lot of old camping equipment. We used to love to camp, but now we find hotels are far more comfortable. So much stuff!

It feels good to clean out the dusty left-overs and make way for whatever the the future may bring.

Monday, September 12, 2011


My politics lean to the left. I donate money to and vote for Democrats. I listen to my friends and family who have another view of politics, but I just can't agree with their conclusions. I find it interesting that people who share the same faith and values, who love one another and love this country of ours disagree so strongly about politics. I wish we could remove the angry accusations and name calling and realize that we all are all patriotic people who love this country. Is it possible to disagree respectfully?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Power, Power, Wonder Working Power

Here is a picture of my new favorite person. After Hurricane Irene blew through leaving us without power for five days, this lineman from Kentucky was a very welcome sight. Thank you, Mr Lineman, for returning to us the wonder working power of electricity.

I think the one thing I missed most was light. We are both night owls, rarely going to bed until well past midnight. We played Scrabble by lamp light and were forced into some long, interesting conversations. Without light we were in bed by ten every night.

My all electric kitchen did not work. On night number one we enjoyed dinner and visiting with our daughter and grandchildren. On the third night we emptied our defrosted freezer and cooked all our meat on our other daughter's grill. We enjoyed quite a feast together that night. There are some very nice restaurants in our town that all had power. We enjoyed dining in several of them. My morning coffee is a necessary ingredient in life, so we got to go to my favorite coffee and bagel store every morning.

During the day we worked in the yard, read, and went to visit our daughter who is doing daycare for 3 month old twins. There is always a baby to rock at her house. One day we played tourist and went into DC and visited the Newseum. It is filled with thought-provoking exhibits. This broadcast tower from atop the World Trade Center in the 9/11 Exhibit was part of a very poignant display.

On day four of no power I cleaned out the refrigerator. Fortunately I was planning on loosing power so I did not have a lot of food in it. My refrigerator has not been this clean since the day we bought it. I took this picture right after the power was turned back on.

Our power was finally turned on just before dark yesterday. Today I am very thankful for all the wonders of electricity. The lights are on. My washer and dryer are running. Music is playing. My refrigerator is once again full of food. I was able to enjoy my morning coffee at home. The computer works. The TV works and we were able to watch our Redskins win a game last night.

Life is good. Life is better with electricity.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Did That Happen

Not too long ago my daughter came to tell us the very exciting news that she was pregnant. This baby was much wanted and the answer to many prayers. My third granddaughter was beautiful and perfect in every way. She has filled our world with joy.

I can't quite figure out this beautiful baby girl grew up so fast. I blinked my eyes and she became a young woman. Today she is on her way to Ohio to start her freshman year at Kent State University. It is a day filled with many emotions as she begins this new phase on her journey though life.

We love you Sofie. You fill us up with pride.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Amazing Son

I was sitting on my porch reading this afternoon when I noticed a good-looking young man walking up my driveway. It took a minute to realize that this was actually my younger son. Paul has been working hard over the past year to loose weight and get healthier. I have been very proud of his efforts, but today he looked so healthy, happy, and confident that I hardly recognized him. He is a school teacher and he had bought new clothes for the start of the school year that show off his slimmer body. He was stopping by to tell me about the first day of school. When he walked into the first meeting of this new school year after not seeing any of co-workers this summer, he said everyone stopped talking and just starred at him. Then they all stood up and started cheering for him . It was really a feel good moment. A loss of 120 pounds does make a man look better. I think his accomplishment is amazing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Down By the Sea

We have just returned from a few days by the sea with family and friends that are like family. It was such a lovely few days. I think my favorite activity was just sitting on the porch and visiting together, but all of it was fun.

We enjoyed the surf.

We enjoyed the sand.

Mik and Alex found that flying a two-string kite is more difficult than expected.

We learned that stand-up paddle boarding is harder than it looks.

Mark found this was the best way up handling the paddle board.

Julie thought this was the preferred way to paddle board.

Ann found her yoga training useful and was able to actually stand up on the stand-up paddle board.

Tim and Gary thought the kayaks sounded like a lot more fun.

We are glad to be home, but we did have fun down by the sea.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why I Teach VBS

After a very hot week of Vacation Bible School I am very tired today. Each night for the past week I told an exciting, wonderful story from the Bible. It took a lot of energy to make these wonderful stories come alive three times every evening for a group of very energetic children. This morning I am feeling every one of my seventy years, but I am also feeling that sense of happiness that comes from being part of a something important and successful.

Faith in the almighty loving God is at the core of who I am. I want to pass that faith on to another generation so they will feel that same love and security that can only come from God. So we sang and danced and even went inside the smelly belly of a whale to hear exciting stories about the God who made them and loves them.

Every night I received wonderful hugs from some of the children. I listened as they excitedly told their parents about the story of the night. I don’t know that they will remember all the stories, but I do hope they always remember that they are loved by the loving, powerful God.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Time for Grandsons

We have just returned from a three day vacation with our two teen-aged grandsons. We went to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA where we rode some scary rides, saw some silly shows, watched the fireworks, played in the wave pool and floated along the lazy river. We had discussions about important topics like whether pretzels taste better in twisted shapes or straight and the fact that grilled cheese sandwiches should always be cut in triangles. There was also some talk about what they wanted to do with their lives and what they need to do to achieve their goals. Our sixteen year old with his learner’s permit drove the whole way there and most of the way back. He only scared me a couple of times.

In my head these two are my little boys. In reality they are now man-sized almost adults. I am always surprised at how quickly children grow up. Enjoy each precious moment with your little ones.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

TG Fowler

During communion last Sunday I began to think about all the people who helped to shape my faith. There is a long list, but Sunday my thoughts centered on my grandfather, TG Fowler. My memories of my grandfather are of an old man who loved me enormously and told funny stories. He was a preacher at a large Church of Christ in Texas. I did not know him when he was a young man, but I have heard a lot of stories. The world has gone through a lot of changes in the past hundred years. I wonder what he would think if he could see us now.

I have a book titled, “Gospel Preachers Who Blazed the Trail.” It was published in 1911. It contains stories of men who were preachers in the Churches of Christ at the turn of the twentieth century. My grandfather was one of those men.

He was one of eleven children born on a cotton farm in Tennessee. His help was need on the farm and he was not able to attend school as a child. He was sixteen when he was first permitted to attend classes. He could not yet read. I have a very hard time imagining a life without reading, but it was a common experience in the 1890s. He was able to go to school for three months each year for the next three years. When he left home at age nineteen he was just barely able to read. After he married my grandmother he enrolled in the Gunter Bible College, a small school run by the Churches of Christ in Texas. He attended classes there for three semesters.

My grandfather may have lacked formal education, but that man loved God and he loved the Bible. When I was little we would play the Bible Game. I would read a verse from the Bible and he would quote both the verse before and the verse after mine. It was very rare that he wasn’t correct. He had the entire book memorized. I thought he was amazing. His faith was innocent, pure and contagious.

My mom told stories about going to hear him preach at arbor meetings. He would preach every night for two weeks and crowds would gather under the shady arbor to listen. She and her sister would sit in the buggy and listen. After preaching each night he would baptize people in the river. I think it must have looked a bit like the baptism scene in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.”

I now worship in a Presbyterian church, but sometimes during communion I remember my grandfather. He was a good man. He and my grandmother raised five children who all loved God. My mother is the laughing one on the left in the back row.

This is the article published with his picture in book from 1911.
THOMAS GIDEON FOWLER was born near Lewisburg, Tenn., April 20, 1883. His parents moved to Texas in 1893. Thomas was old enough to be of service in the raising and gathering of cotton. Being the second boy and fourth child of 11 children, the father unable to work, it was necessary for him to stay out of school and assist in making a living for the family.
He was 16 years old when he entered school, at that time not knowing his letters. He attended a small country school three months for three years. The day he was 19 he began life for himself. Seven months later he again entered school and continued for nearly two years.
September 14, 1904, he was married to Miss Jessie Mullins. November after his marriage he entered Gunter Bible College, where he was a student for nearly three sessions.
He began preaching the first year after entering Gunter Bible College, and by the grace of God, and the help of his faithful wife he has continued to preach the word with success --- though at times he has had to teach some in the public schools.