Archive for November, 2014

file0001891314285If you grew up in the South, a common destination was ‘Mama’s.’ The expression doesn’t mean that Daddy isn’t there, too; but when we refer to going to our home place, it’s always, “I’m going to Mama’s.”

And when/why do we go?

We go when we’re upset, when we’re hungry, when we want conversation, or hugs or understanding, and to step back onto our home base. For all those things, we go to Mama’s.

And when we leave that place, we take the memory of it with us—a lamp in our thoughts.

Mama’s is a state of mind. A place of refuge in an often stormy and even dangerous world. Mama’s is safety, security. It is roots.

Why do we need this? Because there is so much in our lives that has become temporary, disposable things that have no deep meaning—in fact some things that have no meaning at all except in our possession of them.

Here’s what J.R.R. Tolkien says in “The Fellowship of the Rings.”

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

Of course, I realize that Mama is absent in many homes, that abuse, neglect, abandonment, and violence are prevalent, and it is tragic that so many children have to live with this opposite of what home is supposed to be. How can we change this?

It starts with the sort of training–or lack of it–that parents have gotten in their own homes. And it comes with a loving commitment to everyone present in Mama’s house.

Thanksgiving is a number one reason to go to Mama’s, for memories, for sustenance, for love with a family. I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving, especially if you’re celebrating it with your Mama.

As for me, there was, and still is, no place quite like Mama’s. My mother’s house has been sold now, my mother and father are gone, but they haven’t left my heart, and never will.

Why Should I Smile??

Posted: November 25, 2014 in World On The Edge


Laughter, one of the attributes that make us human, is seen to be more and more important to our individual well-being.

Babies start laughing when they are only a few months old, but they smile before that. Some babies can even be seen smiling in a sonogram before they are born! One might say our lives begin with a smile.

So what happens? What brings us so far down that, at times, we cannot muster a smile? I remember my grandmother’s instruction to me as a child, words to tell myself when I was discontented over something: God give me the grace to put a smile on my face. But I thought then, I’m not happy, so why should I smile?

Later, I understood. If we are parents, we are teachers. And  if we’re teachers to our children then we had better smile, because if we don’t smile at our children, we pass on that the world is not a good place for them to be and this could become a definite problem for them as adults.

A smile is contagious and it can change attitudes; our own attitude and the attitudes of others.  When my family lived in North Alabama, I knew a young woman in my church with seven children. I taught several of the children over the years in CCD classes, religious education in our parish. Every one of her children smiled–unceasingly. The first time I met their mother I understood why they did. She smiled, too—-at every one! She did not have an easy life, certainly not with seven children less than a year or two apart. But she smiled. And her smiles taught me a lesson.

Though I never accomplished it as well as she did, I tried smiling at my children even in the most frustrating circumstances. And being children, having begun their lives with a smile, they naturally smiled back at me! The frustration disappeared, even if the problem did not. Discipline is much more easily given—and taken—with a smile.

“Peace begins with a smile,” Mother Theresa once said. “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Did you ever see a picture of Mother Theresa when she wasn’t smiling? Even when she was tending the sick and dying, and especially when she was talking about love, she was smiling.

So, I’m starting today. I’m going to smile at everyone today. I’ll let you know what happens.


Are Fathers Leading?

Posted: November 24, 2014 in World On The Edge

father-as-leaderOver the years there have been many published studies on the importance of fathers. Without a father a child is much more likely to engage in activities that are abusive or harmful. In an article entitled The Plight of Fatherless Children from the following discoveries were noted with children without fathers:

  • Sixty-three percent of young people who commit suicide are from fatherless homes.
  • Eighty-five percent of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes.
  • Eighty percent of rapists are from fatherless homes.
  • Seventy-one percent of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes.
  • Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers are from fatherless homes.
  • Seventy percent of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes.
  • Eighty-five percent of youth in prison are from fatherless homes.
  • Seventy percent of pregnant teens are from fatherless homes.

A Bowl of Butterbeans!

Posted: November 21, 2014 in World On The Edge

YW0210H_Baby-Lima-Beans_s4x3_medIf you are not from the South you may wonder: “What are butter beans?” For many of us Southerners we don’t eat lima beans – we eat butter beans.

People in my house love Butterbeans, the fresh kind. But unless you’ve put them up, i.e. into the freezer, you won’t be having fresh Butterbeans for many months.

The terms Lima bean and butter bean are interchangeable. Actually there is a little difference in the varieties. Fordhooks are the big lima beans that are available in the markets in many forms – fresh, canned, frozen and dried. Butter beans are smaller varieties, usually of the Dixie or Henderson type. There also is a Dixie butter pea that has a similar taste, only shaped more like a pea. Depending on variety, these butter beans or peas can be white, green or speckled.

And now for Bob Cain. What does he have to do with Butterbeans? He must have loved to eat them because of the very popular song he sang about them. It was also a song my daddy loved to sing–in the shower of course!

Bob was a trumpet player and singer from Hartselle, Alabama who’s natural aptitude on trumpet was recognized by the high school band in his hometown, and at age nine he became a member of that group.

As a student at the University of Alabama, Bob’s musical proficiency earned him a position as leader of the Alabama Cavaliers and he was a well-known emcee, hosting appearances by such legendary figures as Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and a prestigious ten year stint as host of the Miss Alabama Pageant.

Bob opened and operated the Cane Break Supper Club in Birmingham. The venue was a popular destination for top-notch talent, including: Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, Bob Hope and Boots Randolph. He, along with his band, The Cane Breakers, were regular artists at the club in addition to their work in Las Vegas and the South.

Bob and his wife Penny made a Christian commitment to rededicate their lives. Longtime friend Charlie Colvin encouraged Bob to share his newfound faith through music; the result was the album, “New Song”, on Bethany Records.

Jake Hess felt impressed to send “New Song” to Bill Gaither and Gaither in turn asked Bob to be part of the popular “Homecoming” video series. Bob appeared on many of the Gaither videos, traveled as one of the stars to the Gaither concerts and went on many of the Gaither cruises as a singer and musician.

All from “just a bowl of butterbeans.”

The moral is we never know what God had in mind for us. STAY OPEN and WILLING.

Riding the Waves????

Posted: November 20, 2014 in World On The Edge

file5451238436403I spent my childhood summers on Panama City Beach, Florida at a cottage my grandfather built for my grandmother , a surprise for their twenty-fifth anniversary. The beach was something very familiar, the Easter Basket colors of its water–lime green, purple, cobalt blue. Its sand white as sugar, its dunes barely able to be climbed by a young child, and challenging to the point of necessity for a pre-teen. But the most impressive characteristic of the beach were the waves.

A wave can startle. A wave can hit you in the face. And unless you’re careful, a wave can bring you down.

Isn’t life like that, too?

Don’t we often have wave after wave of surprises, disappointments, and even devastations in life?

But when we make the right judgments, the same waves that bring these things also bring delight, laughter, and that refreshing past-time–fun.

There are scientific principals that effect the waves on a beach, make them less or more.

There are principled and unprincipled people who effect the waves in our life as well, making it more or less.

Who are those people in our lives ?

On a beach, there are some wonderful waves we’d play in, and some violent waves we wouldn’t go near for fear of danger.

In life there are some wonderful people who care deeply for us, and there are some whose lies we fall for time after time. Shouldn’t we discriminate between the two? Shouldn’t we consider the dangers, or benefits of each?

All this concerns what we’re actually after, what we’re really looking for in our lives. We can pretend we’re seeking Truth, but unless we really try to discover and accept what Truth actually is, we’re hypocrites.

The Truth is that there are some people who can help us along, who will walk with us if we let them–people who mirror the image of God in which we are made. And there are people who pretend to be our best friend, but who actually who mirror the Father of Lies.

Which of these should we turn to? Which of these should we walk with? Which of these should we trust during our journey toward eternal life?

What is the Jesus Story??

Posted: November 19, 2014 in World On The Edge



When my oldest daughter was about four or five, she looked up at the Crucifix and then to me for an explanation of why Jesus was hanging there.

“The bad men didn’t like what He was saying and they got mad,” I told her. “So they put Sweet Jesus on the cross.”

“What did Sweet Jesus say to make them mad?” she asked. (more…)

Need to Chill?

Posted: November 18, 2014 in World On The Edge

cfiles27649Need to chill out a while? I know I did. And so….well, here I am at the beach at Indian Pass, FL for the month of November, and today is chilly for sure. Winter is coming.

The first two weeks here have been warm and gorgeous, from sunrises to sunsets. Some of our children and grandchildren (the three little girls) visited on the first weekend. We had loads of fun; fires  on the beach and s’mores.

The next week my husband and I began to notice things going wrong with the house ( a beautiful house really–but not a young one) This has kept up until it’s become somewhat funny. Have we told the rental company? Oh yes. Has anything been done? Oh no.

Not a thing–for two weeks. In fact, I’m getting used to the chirp of the smoke alarm. We can’t change the battery ourselves because some of the ceilings are fifteen feet. But if it stopped now, I think I might miss it because it reminds me of a parakeet one of my  sons brought home during a college break,  and left in his room at home,  for years, for me to take care of. Of course, when you have to take care of something you usually grow to love it.

One of the reasons we came here is for me to work on a another book, and that brings out in me a lot of life-musing about living in today’s world. Living is full of simple aggravations and complaints. Oddly these are the smaller things that bug us–sometimes bug us more than much more serious situations we ought to be dealing with.

Time to take out the spectacles of definition. What is most important? What is least important?  Are hearts involved? Which things are we actually responsible for, and which are another’s responsibility?

There is a lot of corruption, evil, and violence in our world–all the work of a less noble chamber of the human heart. But we have a very noble chamber, too, and a loveable one. We only have to allow it to work that way,  to act out the love within us–love that God put there.

Love is like a fire; it begins with a spark unique to each of us.

Like the characters in a book, our personal spark toward genuine love for ourselves and others comes from our particular character traits, our likes and dislikes, and a whole lot about what we are willing to do to get where we want to be.

What is the spark that will ignite the love in you and me? What will cause us to take the high road toward love, or the low one toward indifference or even evil? 

Will Only a Miracle Help???

Posted: November 17, 2014 in World On The Edge

Joy_and_Sorrow_by_SusamieHow do you react when relationships are broken?

First–if it’s a relationship you’ve invested in– you probably try to fix it.

But if that doesn’t work, do you wallow in its fall-out debris?

Do you hold grudges? Do you go for payback?

We know that one day, all things–including us– must end. And as we grow older, we see that ‘new and shiny’ doesn’t last. We also know that people aren’t perfect, and some are bad for us. We may have to give up on some relationships.

But I think it’s important that we don’t give up on the miracle of life itself.

To let go of life is counterproductive. Because when one door closes, another will open—if I don’t get bogged down in my own needs, and if I allow myself to notice it is opening.

Most broken relationships are thought of as negatives. But maybe some of them aren’t. There are some relationships that honestly can’t be fixed, and really shouldn’t be pursued any longer. In the long run, the breaking may be a positive thing for us.

Yes, we may need to grieve for awhile, but we ought to be careful that grieving isn’t what we spend the rest of our lives doing. Taking our own eyes off ourselves and shifting them elsewhere—to the need another may have– is what helps us grow in character.

And we should never let go of what will make us a better person, in the eyes of those who love us, and especially in the eyes of God.

Have you Taken a Tumble???

Posted: November 14, 2014 in World On The Edge

hopeful girl Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Do you think tomorrow will be better, or worse?

No one wants ‘worse.’ We hope for the best, knowing that it must be our own hands here on Earth that we use to make the ‘best’ happen.

Even when we’ve been knocked down, even when our life sometimes seems a walk to Calvary, we can be sure that we have the capability of rising again. (more…)

A House of Love, or Hate??

Posted: November 13, 2014 in World On The Edge


“The Pleasure of Company: A Ghost Story,” the last story in the collection, is set in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1880, when ghosts from the Civil War still roamed in the heads of some who served as soldiers.

To say that war changes a person is surely an understatement. The ghosts of any war linger for a lifetime in the heads of those who fought it—-and some, like the soldier and his wife in this story, find the ghostly battles of the mind even more ominous than the war itself.  Except, this is also love story; one in which the opportunity to forgive an enemy (which might be oneself) is offered, but you’ll have to read it to learn whether that opportunity is actually taken.

Click on the book cover to order the book.


A year ago, when she could not bear to speak to a soul, when she did not comb her hair or wash her face or dab herself with lavender water, or wear her corset (because any underclothing cut off her breath), Julia began the night walks into the woods, taking off her gown and lying upon the ground beneath the ancient oak. But neither the cooling breeze upon her breasts nor the sparkle of stars kissing the leaves to silver against the dark sky lifted her melancholy. The night walks have become her futile attempt to make sense of meanness. Still Julia cannot fathom a reason for the death of her child; still she has no face for Hattie’s murderer.

Clara and I come.

We follow her home. The next morning, Clara and I watch as Joseph, Julia’s husband, instructs Esther to, “Restart the clocks, uncover the mirrors, and draw open the curtains in Miss Julia’s bedroom.”

Julia protests. “Joseph, it’s too soon.”

“It’s been a year, exactly,” Joseph says, motioning Esther to begin. He is tall and thin, with a once pleasant face, now pinched by sorrow and the worry of a much older man.

The old black woman, Julia’s childhood nurse, carefully lifts the customary black satin from the mirror on the dressing table. The light causes Julia to shut her eyes and lower her chin into the high-necked collar of her funeral dress, made from the same bolt of satin that covered the windows and mirrors. Every night, Esther washes and irons it for Julia because she’ll wear nothing else.

“What if Hattie’s spirit has been trapped behind the mirror?” Julia asks.

“The covering of mirrors is just superstition,” Joseph says. “Hattie has not been trapped. She has not been kept from Heaven.”

Clara and I hear and understand his thinking; that the only trapped spirit is Julia’s, and he desperately wants to help it escape.

He motions Esther out of the room so he can be alone with his wife. In the uncovered glass, her unkempt brown hair hangs about her oval-shaped face. Her narrow shoulders slump forward and her opaque eyes, once buoyantly blue with the promise of a happy life, are as tarnished as neglected silver. He has to do something meaningful soon, before he loses her forever.

Yesterday, he suggested a dinner party. Once, she loved celebrations. “The dinner party is what you need, Julia,” he reminds her. “You’ve not had the pleasure of company for more than a year.” He bends to kiss her cheek, but she shies away from him as she has come to do, giving a bitter wince at the touch of his fingers on the nape of her neck.