Something Beautiful

      Once upon a time in my youth, I wanted to be the mom of a big family.  I think I’ve mentioned it before.  Some things hindered me from that becoming a reality.  First of all, I had such a poor opinion of myself that I couldn’t imagine anyone ever really loving me, let alone marrying me.  A friend of mine and her husband had a baby.  One evening as I held him in my arms babysitting alone in that big house, I understood how precious this little life was and I wept.  The weeping was for myself because I couldn’t imagine ever actually having a child of my own.  No one loved me and I was alone and there was no husband and no child in my foreseeable future.

Fast forward to this morning.

I was looking through my jewelry box because I was in the mood to wear a ring.  It doesn’t happen too often because I work in healthcare and washing my hands is a constant demand.  I slipped my mother’s ring on thinking about how much I love my family.  This was a good day to wear it.  It wasn’t a gift from anyone.  I purchased it myself because I thought it was beautiful.  The stones are pretty together and the colors seem to harmonize.  Placing it on my finger, I left for work, quite pleased to be wearing it. It’s very pretty isn’t it?

family ring

As I walked out to the car I thought about my past and how I never thought for a second that I would be wearing a ring with this many stones.  Who would believe that I would one day be married to such a wonderful husband!  And further, I only had one son! How did I end up with this cloud of stones?  As I drove toward the freeway, I thought “Thank you Lord, for my family. Thank you for your blessings.  I am humbled by your love.”

Resurrection Sunday and Passover happen almost simultaneously this year.  When this happens I really see the roots of my beliefs – it truly is Judeo-Christian in nature.

As I pulled into traffic and made my way to the travel lane, I heard the radio announcer on my Christian radio station say that only 1/10 of 1% of the people of Israel believe in Jesus.  It hurt my heart to think that. Imagine if my children didn’t know or love me.  So what if there were many.  It is only the love and knowledge that they are my children that beautifies this ring.

When I arrived at work, a little lady and I were talking and as usual the subject of the Bible came up and she pointed to her morning reading and said, “I don’t understand this.  Can you help me with it?”  When I read the words on the page, I could hardly believe my eyes.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see Me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’”  Matthew 23:37-39

It still brings tears to my eyes.

I told my friend that God really loves His family and they have rejected Him.  I told her of a story I once heard about men who were walking in the aftermath of a forest fire and they found a bird that had burned to death sitting on the ground.  One of those walking knocked the bird over and from beneath its wings a brood of chicks came running out into the world.  That bird protected its young even to its own death.  That is what God was saying to Jerusalem.  He was about to love them so much that He was going to die.  He wanted to love them and protect them but they were not willing. And so devastation came to Jerusalem and until 1948 the nation of Israel was scattered to every country on this earth.

One day the nation of Israel will say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”  Until then we pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

There is a very interesting thing that I noticed on my ring today that I had noticed before but felt it was silly for me to think about.  After all, I had purchased it myself.  I think the ring was meant to be a gift.  If you look at it from the side, it says in gold:  “I love you” with a tiny heart in the middle.

i love you

It reminds me of Isaiah 43 verse 4.  Go ahead.  Look it up.

Thank you Lord, for doing for me what I could never have done.  You mean more to me than many sons.  You are my God and my Love.  You are precious in my eyes also.  May my life honor you.  Thank you for my family and Yours.


An Old New Thing

Did you ever say something and as soon as it’s out of your mouth, while the little word balloon is still hanging above your head, wish you could inhale it back in?  This is a major cause of bad breath!  I have a hunch that we all suffer from this malady. The Bible is full of warnings about what we speak.

The book of James pops to mind where he admonishes us to:  let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

I remember a time in my life when I wished that if I could only have a dot in my eye – a little cross-shaped dot that I could see all the time, maybe then I would remember God when I speak.  God is so good to me.  I have to admit that as I have aged, the ability to keep my tongue from flapping so freely has abated some.  That’s mostly because of the major repair work God has done to my character.  But it doesn’t mean I am out of the woods.  No, this week was a prime example of it.  My intention was never to hurt someone with my words.  But it would be helpful if I could think prior to opening my mouth whether the way I say the words would be hurtful.

I have a new friend in my life and we spend much time together due to unavoidable circumstances.  I found my friends words to be constantly critical.  I am such a soft hearted soul.  Everything that was said I took personally.  I found myself constantly defending myself.  Finally, something happened that I thought was without error.  I asked my new friend what she thought and the first words from her were something like, “Well some of it was good but…”  I was so deflated by this that I blurted out, “If only once you would not find fault!”

I hurt my friends feelings by that.  After all, I was taking this way too personally.  When I looked into her eyes, I knew that my words had hurt her feelings also.  I didn’t mean to hurt, but I did.

This is where being “slow to speak” would have been immensely helpful.

In Ecclesiastes there is a beautiful soliloquy about a time for every matter under heaven – a time to keep silence and even a time to speak. I am certain that there is a way to say whatever needs to be said, in a way that is helpful and not hurtful.  I also think that sometimes it is unnecessary to speak.  God is able to do much more without my “help”.  I could have just prayed about it, depending on His character and loving-kindness to all those He created, to do abundantly more than all that I could ask or think.

God hasn’t “dotted my eye” yet, though sometimes I deserve it.  We all live through many hurtful things.  I am praying that the words I speak don’t have to be among them.  I know it is in His will for that to be true.

A Glimpse at the Obscure – Bones

I love the Bible for all the obvious reasons.  Through it God taught me.  God’s word is my salvation.  It is strength and encouragement.  It yields the comfort I receive in times of trouble.  All these reasons are obvious to everyone who reads and loves the Bible.

There are the beautiful accounts of Jacob the deceiver who wrestled with God, and Ruth the gentile counted in the lineage of Jesus, Esther the queen who was born for a terrible time and did what the Lord needed accomplished.  We can’t forget about Abraham who believed God and it was reckoned to  him as righteousness, and David who was an adulterer, an inconsistent father who overlooked the terrible things his children did to his own hurt, yet God called him a man after His own heart.  These stories are encouragement to all who have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

But I love especially the obscure events recorded in the Bible.  They remind me of the depth of who God is to include tiny details that make me wonder about Him and who He is.  So for the next couple of posts, I think I will talk about a few of those places in the Bible that have always made me wonder.  Here is the first.

There are lots of places where the Bible talks about bones.  The first mention is Adam speaking of God’s creation of his wife:  “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”  Joseph asked that his bones be carried back to the Promised Land from Egypt.  In Psalm 22 it was prophetically said of Jesus that all His bones were out of joint and that He could count all His bones.  In Proverbs 3 it says:  “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

In Ezekiel 37 there is the valley of dry bones where all the bones of the house of Israel are strewn in a valley and they begin to rattle and come together.  Sinews appear and then flesh.  Finally breath is breathed into them.  It is a prophetic passage about the raising up of Israel in the last days.  It’s the chapter from which the song “Dem Bones” was originated.  Go ahead, look it up on YouTube.

That’s a pretty strange passage.  But the strangest little account in the Bible about bones is a story about the bones of Elisha.   Elisha was Elijah’s protégé so to speak.  During his lifetime, Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and Elijah said he would receive it if Elisha saw Elijah being taken. Elisha indeed saw and received that double portion.

Elisha’s life was full of miracles.  The Jordan River was divided.  The spring of water was healed – cleaned of pollutants.  A bear from the woods destroyed mockers.  Water was provided. There was the miracle of the oil that kept pouring from the jar. A Shunammite woman’s son was restored to her from death.  Elisha purified poisonous stew during a famine, and then there was the multiplication of loaves for food.  Naaman was healed and Gehazi was smitten with leprosy.  An iron axe head floated in a river.  Spiritual sight was given to the one who was afraid; Elisha praying to allow him to see that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  In this same battle he struck men blind and later restored their sight.

But his final miracle happened after he died.   The account is in the book of 2 Kings 13.  It is obscure and it is only two verses long.  The prophet Elisha is buried after his death.  It was a bad time for Israel.  The kings were idol worshippers and idolatry among the people was rampant.  Here is the entire account:

“So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year.  And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.”

That’s it!  The whole account is in these two verses.

Bones restored life to a dead man.

They say that the bones of the human body function to support, protect, and give us movement.  But bones also manufacture blood cells and store minerals.  Bones hold our body together and without bones there couldn’t be life.  Everything about God, the Author of Life, can be found in the bones of the Old Testament.  And in this account God showed how bones submitted to Him gave life to a dead man.

The Most Important Decision

When I was young I wanted to be a teacher and have a family with ten children.  I thought that was my life’s purpose.  That didn’t happen.  At the ripe old age of 21 I discovered that my purpose wasn’t something I chose.  Given to me at my creation, my purpose was something I had yet to discover.  It says in the Bible that the Lord “knit us together in our mother’s womb.”  So even though the act that begins the process is with a man and a woman, or whatever else man can come up with, it is God alone who gives life.  Don’t believe anything else.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you anything different.

At 21 I was working at the Gannett newspapers in New York and also in a parking garage next door.  Neither job was full time, but I made enough money to pay my rent and buy my groceries.  I had no idea what God was doing in my life.  To the chagrin of my parents I left the Roman Catholic Church.  I decided that if I wanted to know who God really is, I wasn’t going to find Him in rituals.  When this all began to transpire there was a rich slush of events guiding me.  I had a boyfriend who was preparing to be a minister, yet he was a terrible example.  He would say that we shouldn’t read the Bible and sin at the same time.  Yet he did.  So did I. I felt guilty and we should have known better.

There were friends I had met through work who were just plain wicked. The terrible things they did and said were for a time, alluring to me in my rebellion.  I was young and naïve and determined to embrace the culture of the world around me.  After practicing my own sort of wickedness, I decided that I didn’t want to do this anymore.  I tried desperately to change and never look back.  But I could never really shake the things I had done.  I wanted to live a right sort of life.  Of course, I had no idea how or where to get better.

My sister Margie gave me a ceramic cross that she’d made and it was in my room at the apartment.  It was beautiful but it made me feel even more guilty about my life.  So I began to truly seek God and read a Bible.  I started in Genesis.  I greedily consumed it until I got to chapter 5 and then got mired in who begat whom.  I don’t know where I heard this at the time, but someone said that I should start in the New Testament. so again I started, this time at the Gospel of Matthew and again I arrived at chapter 5.  Right there in the sermon on the mount, I got snagged by a verse about salt.  “You are the salt of the earth.”  What does that mean?  Why would salt lose its taste?

It perplexed me.  Yet it compelled me to continue to search.  I felt like I needed someone to help me understand.

At the parking garage I worked the front entrance.  A girl searching for a job approached the ticket booth where I stood.  With a smooth and buttery Pennsylvania accent, she asked, “Are they hiring here?”  I liked her immediately and directed her to the office for an application.  It “just happened” that there was an opening and as soon as she left, I went to speak to John, the assistant manager who sat reading her resume and application.

“You should hire her,” I blurted out.

He looked puzzled.  “What makes you say that?”

“I don’t know.  I just like her.”

The company hired Adrienne that week. She and I got along famously and she began to invite me to her home for a Bible study.  I was not sure what that meant but I wanted so much to understand the Bible that I said that I would do that one day.  It made sense that studying might open my eyes to something I couldn’t see on my own.  Five chapters in the Old and New Testament just weren’t enough to sustain me.

Adrienne punctuated each day with an invitation to a Bible Study.  As much as I liked her and as much as I wanted to understand the Bible, something else made me afraid.  At the time, I had no idea why fear hindered me, but it did.

They say everyone who comes to the Lord undergoes a struggle accepting His salvation.  That’s the fear that sets in.  I was, riddled with trepidation.  Finally, I promised Adrienne I would go and my own promise obligated me to her requests.  I went to a Bible study and it was on John chapter 3.  On that evening, there were two new people there who didn’t know the gospel and its power to save; a young man named Tom and I.  When Jerry, the man who taught the Bible study, explained how Jesus told Nicodemus that even though he was a Pharisee, he needed to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, I was spellbound.  He put in plain words how sin separated us from a God who is so holy that He cannot accept sin.  He described the punishment that Jesus endured on everyone’s behalf.  If we decided to accept the offering Jesus made to God, His righteousness would cover our sins.  Suddenly I felt dirty, remembering my own failures.  I wanted to accept the offer.

Jerry asked us to pray together and accept Jesus as Savior.  The tug of war in my heart was minute compared to the fear prior to entering the house.  I had already made a decision in my heart that I wanted to know Jesus. My inner resistance was nothing like Tom’s panic.  He was saying that he would much prefer to go home and think about it and decide later.  He pulled his car keys out of his pocket and started to look like he was going to bolt.

But Jerry compassionately further explained.  Life is a tug of war between God and the devil.  We think that we make our own way and our own plans but we are not your own.  Salvation is surrendering to God because the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  He explained that if Tom left then, he was giving the devil a foothold against the Lord.  He quoted verses that said exactly what Tom needed to hear.  I was so set on praying that I don’t remember much that was said.  I was just hoping that Tom would hurry up and change his mind.  Finally, Tom slipped his keys back into his pocket.  He got down on his knees.  Those gathered that evening joined him and we both prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer” together.

That was the beginning of fulfilling my purpose in this life.  It was a decision I alone had to make and yet the circumstances that God put into place humble me these years later.  I see a more complete picture now than I did then.  It was one of the best and most important decisions in my life and yet He prepared my life so that I could choose no other option.  God is so good.

If you pray… If you don’t…

This evening was the evening that we meet to have dinner together and pray.  We have been praying together now for so many years none of us can remember how or when it started.  Sometimes it was on Monday evenings, sometimes on Thursdays but right now it is on Tuesday evenings.  We have seen the Lord work on our behalf so often that we trust Him to answer.  We have been praying so long together that no subject is off limits.  The subjects of our prayers have ranged from our personal lives to our children and grandchildren to our employment.  We have experienced miracles.  We are three Christian sisters.  We don’t look very powerful and without Jesus we would have no strength at all.  But with Jesus we are strong.

praying together

Today is a day when I am feeling overwhelmed with the prayer needs of others.  There are so many that I thought that I could pass them on to you.


To begin, my sister Marge has a great-granddaughter named Suzie who is going to have surgery tomorrow.  It is my highest priority today.  Pray for Suzie.  She is 2 years old.

I personally had a gnarly day.  Pray for me and my relationships at work.  Pray for a co-worker.

Pray for a lady who has lost both her legs, her eye sight, and has neuropathy in  her fingers.  Because of this, she cannot depend on learning Braille.  Pray for her to see Jesus.

Pray for Camden to have a complete healing or for the tests to just be wrong.  He may be in need of surgery and it is said that he won’t outgrow the disease if he has it.

Pray for an oldest brother who would not say Happy Father’s Day to his dad.  His siblings did, but when his dad said, “Aren’t you going to wish me a Happy Father’s Day?”  He just smiled and shrugged.

Pray for the salvation of family members.


You might ask, what is the catch to prayer and why don’t everyone’s prayers just get answered?  Well, Jesus prayed a prayer that didn’t get answered the way He desired.  Right before His tortures and crucifixion, He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me.  Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Your prayer has to be according to God’s will.  In other words, praying to win the lottery probably isn’t in God’s will for your life.

Sometimes, God answers prayer almost immediately. We three sisters prayed to have a certain answer to prayer a couple of weeks ago.  And when we met for dinner this evening our sister was delighted by God’s answer and praising Him.  The answer fell right into her lap.  The very thing that she was praying but could not speak, was answered by her son from his own mouth, in his own words!

An even faster example came today.  This morning I prayed with a sister and this evening she called to say that the answer had come! This was a prayer of concern for a person in her care for which she needed wisdom.  The answer again, was quick, when someone else provided the answer she needed.  God is awesome!

Sometimes the answer to prayer comes after a long time.  In this case, the timing for the answer must be right.  In my own life, I had prayed for something for so long, I was weary of praying it.  Then one day, in utter desperation, I prayed a prayer asking the Lord for some word that would help me to know that He was hearing my prayer.  The answer came from the Bible.  Here is the first verse:  “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant?  Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.”  That is Isaiah 50:10.  Then right across from it, another verse seemed to be burning out of the page at my eyes.  “‘Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?’  For thus says the Lord:  ‘Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.'” That is Isaiah 49:24-25.  The details of this event are still such a blessing!  The prayer was answered within a month and the blessing was permanent.  Thank You Lord!


I have felt the weight of a burden that I carried for years.  The prayer was hindered through my own disobedience.  Don’t expect to get rewarded with an answer to prayer when obedience to God is lacking.  It’s like desiring a raise and knowing in your heart that you haven’t earned it.  There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.”

My obedience was corrected.  The burden was suddenly lifted from me.  I was elated, but could not help but think of this lovely gift as false.  “Okay, when will the other shoe drop?”  But then I was reminded of what Jesus said. “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  In other words, God only gives good gifts to His children, not evil gifts.

That made me remember something else.  There’s a verse in Revelation that says that we overcome wickedness by the “blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.”  The only thing that saves me is the bloody sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  My righteous deeds are worthless to God.  He says that they are like filthy rags.  The only thing that He will accept is a perfect sacrifice – Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

And the thing that allows me to overcome temptation is the memories I have of the many, many blessings that God has given me.  They are stored in my mind.  When I am tempted to not trust Jesus for an answer to prayer, I have this long list of answers to prayers.  Jesus and the loving kindnesses that He has given me over the course of my life, give me the confidence.  The list just keeps getting longer and the telling or the testimony, strengthens me to overcome temptations.  It encourages me to tell what Jesus has done for me.  And it all starts with prayer…


Remembering Mom

Mother’s Day just passed and when all the kindnesses were over I thought about how much I miss my own mom.  I would love to sit down with her and just talk again.  We had a lot of conversations in our times but I feel confident that if I could have one more it would be different now.

I remember my mom saying her feet ached.  I had little concern because at the age I was, pain was a fleeting thing.  But now that my own hips ache, I wish I could tell her “I understand”.  I don’t think that we understand the extent of pain in old age until we begin to reach it.  I’m sure the hard working woman that she was endured pain that she didn’t complain about.

Mom was feisty.  I remember my mom and dad having an argument and dad going around closing the windows so the neighbors wouldn’t hear.  Mom went right behind him, reopening the windows and saying she didn’t care what the neighbors heard.

Mom had little tolerance for ineptness in people.  She would fly off the handle and begin a long tirade of Italian that she would tell us never to repeat.  Whenever my sisters and I catch ourselves being impatient, we will say, “Susie came to visit today” because truly our temperament came from her example in this.  It took all of us years to unlearn the behavior as born-again Christians.  And even Susie became patient after the Lord saved her at 73 years, just after my dad passed away.

Mom was a great cook.  There was never a meal that didn’t include a salad and dessert.  She would try new recipes all the time.  She liked to experiment with different foods she had not yet tasted.  But if you remember the schedule she kept from other posts, you won’t be surprised at the following:

Mom would be in the door only moments before dad sometimes and she would cut up an onion and place it in the bottom of a pan with olive oil and cook them until tender. I’m sure that was intentional.  The entire house would smell like a great meal was on the way.  Then, instead of the tomato paste, canned tomatoes and the rest, she would open 2 jars of Ragu Spaghetti Sauce and dump them in along with some water.  She would make meatballs with frozen basil that she kept in the freezer.  She added spices and other herbs and bread soaked in milk.  These she would mix into the ground meat and then float them gently in the sauce until they were cooked.  She would put a pound of pasta in a pot of boiling water.  She made a salad and pulled out some sort of pastry she had purchased and in about 45 minutes we had a meal that looked like she had been in the kitchen all day!  Dad gave her the nick-name “The 100 mile an hour cook” and I think he was right.  She did quick meals way before Rachel Ray made them popular.

Their marriage endured so much.  But after five children and a lot of forgiveness on their part we all remember fondly the long talks we did have.  We talked together at dinner.  There was a lot of teaching and learning that went on around the dinner table.  There was a pot of coffee on all the time.  Guests arrived at all hours and they would entertain, always having coffee and some left-over dessert to serve.

My mom and dad loved each other so much.  But it wasn’t the kind of love you imagined from television in the day.  It was a gritty, enduring thing that was displayed most distinctly as my dad was passing away.  Mom told dad that he was not supposed to die first.  That she didn’t think that she could live this life without him.  But as she watched him suffer with cancer, she finally told him, “Angelo, it’s okay if you die.  I don’t want to see you suffer any more.  I will be okay.”  Two days later he passed away with the comfort of knowing that she had said she would be okay.

A recent illness I endured reminded me of my mom’s eyes when she was in the hospital in the last few years of her life.  My dad had already passed on and she was alone.  She had an extremely high blood sugar level and she was very sick.  I went into the emergency room and she looked at me with the most frightened and sad look in her eyes that I had ever seen.

I know that the fact that Jimmy, Debbie, and I were there with her comforted her.  I don’t remember what we said but I remember that it was the beginning of her last days.

She needed the help that we could not give her.  So she moved back to our home town again and was in a home for senior citizens nearer to our older sisters.  Margie and Jojo were so kind.  They managed all the events in her life with care.  Making trips to her home and bringing her to buy groceries.  They took her to visit their homes at times when it was very difficult.  Later when she had to be in a care facility, they visited her and covered the problems she endured with loving care.

I would call her once a week to talk to her and pray with her.  We would read the “Daily Bread” together.  Debbie bought her a large print Bible that she would read as long as she could and I know that she certainly trusted in the Lord.

My last phone call to her is God’s gift to me.  It was a Friday.  I called her and told her that Michael and Gracie and I were coming to visit her on Wednesday.  She paused for a long time.  I almost thought that she hadn’t heard me.  Then she said, “Wednesday?”  I replied happily, “Yes”.

There was another long pause and she said, “You’d better hurry.”

I had a long conversation that day.  She told me that she prayed for Marvin and I and Michael and Sara and their daughter every night.  She didn’t know yet that there would be so many more.  We closed the conversation as she said, “God bless you, Linda.  I love you.”

She went into a coma on Friday afternoon and passed away on Sunday morning.

I worried about whether she had truly been saved for only a little while.

On Sunday morning, I was at church and it was before the second service began.  I didn’t know that my mom had passed away. Two friends were talking and I asked them if they would pray for my mom as she was dying.  They asked if she knew the Lord and I answered, “Yes”.

They quoted a verse that I will never forget.

After we prayed, I received a call from Jojo that our mom had passed away.  I sat in the Atrium at church and prayed alone.  “Please Lord, would you show me something to help me trust that my mom is okay?”  Then I opened my Bible and it fell open to a page.  I pointed to a highlighted verse.  It was the very same verse that my friends had quoted!  This is the passage from which it comes:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.  ~1 Thessalonians 4:13-18


My mom taught me so much.  I remember many more stories that I may or may not publish.  She was really something.  I will love her forever and I look forward to our next conversation.  I bet it will certainly be different from any other.

Lentil Soup Day


I am spending a couple of days keeping vulnerable adults safe from my cold.  I hope that I can keep Marvin from catching this, too.  It’s miserable.  I spent this morning in bed listening to the book of Isaiah.  I had to replay a couple of chapters when I realized I had dozed off or if I spent too long sneezing and blowing my nose.  I’ve finished two different boxes of tissues – the one in the bedroom and the one in the living room.  Now that I am spending time in our home office, I think I’m making quite a dent in this box, too.  Yes, it’s a miserable cold.


Did you know that once you start sneezing you can’t stop it?  It’s a reflex action of the body.  You also can’t sneeze when you are sleeping because the nerve endings that cause a sneeze rest when you are asleep.  I also learned that a sneeze travels at 100 miles per hour and can spray up to 5 feet.  A virus sure has a way of getting around.

So I made myself a gift – a pot of lentil soup.  It is one of my favorite soups. But it’s quite a trick chopping veggies and not sneezing.  I had to wash my hands often.  Once all the ingredients were in the pot, it only cooks from the boil for about 35-40 minutes.  It’s warm and easy and makes me feel comforted.  I’ve written out my recipe at the end of this.  I think I could fall asleep in any position right now so it must be time to go take a nap.  I hope you like the lentil soup recipe.


Lentil Soup

2 circles of the pan with olive oil

1 chopped onion – large

3 chopped carrots

5 chopped celery ribs

1 # of lentils (washed and checked for anything that isn’t a lentil.)

1 can of fire roasted tomatoes

2.5 quarts of water or chicken stock (chicken stock makes the soup richer)

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 kielbasa sausage cut into slices and then slices cut into quarters

Let the olive oil get warm in a stock pot.  When it ripples, add the vegetables.  Cook until the onions are translucent – about 7 or 8 minutes.  Add all the other ingredients, wait for the pot to come to a boil and then cover it, turn the heat down to simmer.  Let it remain on the low heat for 35 to 40 minutes.  I’ve tasted it and it’s delicious.  Let me know if you try it.

Free Went to the Electric Chair – Top Ten Dad Quotes


Good sayings say everything you need to know succinctly.  I heard one recently that makes me laugh every time I think of it:  “Don’t marry for money, you can borrow it cheaper!”  We play a game where I work and the residents finish the second half of a saying.  “There’s no fool…like an old fool.”  “A stitch in time…saves nine.”  I’m sure that children today couldn’t play the game.  These old sayings are no longer a part of everyday life.

Throughout my Dad’s days, he always had a perfect quote for every occasion.  Daddy was old-school.  Like the people where I work, he lived in the days when “early to bed, early to rise” was actually said out loud and often.  People don’t talk like that anymore and I’m afraid that colorful speech has become a whole different animal in the 21st century.

isolated sitting multicolored cat on white - illustration

I hope that you will enjoy these quotes.  They always bring a smile to my face.  I’m afraid I’ve forgotten more than I remember.  If we don’t write them down, they will be forgotten from disuse.  If you remember any others that your parents may have used, write a reply!

1.  FREE WENT TO THE ELECTRIC CHAIR – Everything came with a price.  Any advertisement that claimed that any thing was free, came with a shake of Dad’s head.  Pity the poor door-to-door salesman who knocked on our door with a “free” gift for the lady of the house.  In Daddy’s mind, there was no such thing as free.  Free had died – thus “Free went to the electric chair” was one of his favorites.  There was no such thing as “free” in his day and age and there isn’t much free in ours either.


2.  I’D STRETCH A MILE IF I DIDN’T HAVE TO WALK BACK – I can still picture Dad saying this after a nap on the sofa.  Dad would stand up, stretch and punctuate the action with this quote.  Have you ever heard this one before or did he make it up?  I truly don’t know.


3.  MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES – Oh if this were true! Whenever we asked Dad for money he’d say this or something equivalent to it, “What do you think, I have a money tree out back?”  I wondered why we didn’t plant one!  Mom and Dad were frugal.  They knew how to make a dollar stand at attention and stretch!  But they grew up in the days of the depression so they remembered doing without.  Mom used to recount a time when she was a little girl that she would find a nickel and go to the store and come home with a lunch-sized paper bag full of candy that she would hide under her bed.


4.  I BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD AND I CAN TAKE YOU OUT – This was actually more a Mom saying than a Dad.  She was always hurling threats at us, especially if we had the audacity to answer back.  I may have been the worst in the family with having the last word.  It took me years to learn to just shut up!  When I was pregnant for my son, the doctor had a picture in his office that was a cross-stitched pattern.  Underneath the picture was stitched “QUIET WOMAN” and the picture itself was of a chubby woman, standing in a full length dress with a white apron, holding her head under her arm.

5.  IF YOU LAY DOWN WITH DOGS, YOU’LL WAKE UP WITH FLEAS – This was his advice on how to choose friends.  It’s such a hard process – choosing your friends.  No matter how hard you try not to, you will always pick up the worst habits of others rather than their good habits.  It’s really a fact of life.  So be careful who you choose as a friend.


6.  IF YOU STAND SIDEWAYS I’LL MARK YOU ABSENT – Since I’ve been on a perpetual diet most of my life, I heard this one from him often – always just after a week or two of dieting.  Another one he would say is:  If you stand sideways and stick your tongue out, you’ll look like a zipper!  I eventually learned that it was pointless to ask Daddy if my current diet was working because he would never give me a straight answer about it.  Maybe he knew that I really wanted to hear that it was working.

7.  YOU MAKE YOUR BED AND THEN YOU HAVE TO LAY IN IT – Literally this is true.  The way you make your own bed is important because at the end of the day, you’re the one who has to lay down in it.  And the way you walk through life, the mistakes that you make, are the ones with which you live.  (I am thankful every day for forgiveness – aren’t you?)

making bed

8.  BEAUTY MAY BE SKIN DEEP BUT UGLY GOES RIGHT TO THE BONE – Beautiful isn’t everything in a daughter.  Yes, we were supposed to do the best we could with what God gave us, but that had a lot more to do with who we are as a person.  Your outside always reflects what’s inside eventually.  So be beautiful in your heart first.


9.  WHILE THE CAT’S AWAY THE MICE WILL PLAY –  No consequences if the cat’s away, right?  I think not!  It seemed like Mom and Dad had eyes in the back of their heads.  We may have done things wrong when we were not in their sight, but we never really got away with it.  I remember my sister Debbie telling me about how she had skipped school with her boyfriend and went to a mall downtown.  As she walked past Uncle Freddie’s shop, he said, “Deb-or-ah! Are you on a field trip?”  Maybe the reason Mom and Dad knew everything about us is because they had such a big family found everywhere!

10.  I’M SELDOM RIGHT AND I’M WRONG AGAIN – Whenever he and Mom had a discussion about anything that was a strongly held belief in Mom’s opinion, Dad would resign himself to her opinion.  He would have made a great politician – but this only worked with Mom.  Anyone else – Beware!


Dad was very wise.  He lived in a day when wisdom was important.  If we fail to remember the past we are doomed to repeat mistakes so learn a lesson!

What’s God done for you lately?

It’s kind of funny how God intercepts our thoughts daily and we forget it so quickly.  I keep a journal so that I won’t forget.  But I still forget.

Take what happened just recently.  It was a Wednesday evening.  At one time when my husband and I went to service, I always had two friends who met us there.  Wednesday has become inconvenient for them so they don’t come to church on that night anymore and I miss them.  Don’t get me wrong.  These two friends still go to church, just not on Wednesday.

I was feeling sentimental that evening.  Next to Marvin and I were two empty chairs.

two empty chairs

I looked over at the chairs and that sentimental feeling washed over me.  You know how sometimes even in a crowd you can feel alone?  Well, that was the feeling.

I prayed, “Lord, would you let someone come and sit beside us?”  The thought of the words were no sooner in my mind, when a young man accompanied by the church usher stopped at the row ahead of us and he stepped into the row in front of us and practically had to climb over three people to get to the available chair to our right.

Boy!  Talk about God not answering a prayer!  I mean, these two chairs were a ton more convenient that the one he took.  I thought, “God, You couldn’t just let him sit here?” and I have to admit I felt hurt at God’s obvious shun.

The pastor/worship leader announced the next song and said, “I think this song is for someone tonight.”

This is the song we sang:

Here are the lyrics to the song:

“Whom Shall I Fear (God Of Angel Armies)”

By Chris Tomlin

You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light
Whom shall I fear?
You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear?
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind 
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding on to Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The God of angel armies is always by my side.
What a lesson to learn again!  First of all that God is always by my side.  Then, that even if a prayer is not answered in the way I expect, His answer is so much better than anything I could have imagined.  How do you not praise and worship a God like this?

Dad and Mom – It’s All in a Day

  When I think of my parents, I never think of Ward and June Cleaver.  My parents’ names were Angelo and Susie — and Susie had been shortened from Assunta.  We were of Italian descent.  Life was different from “Leave it to Beaver”.

spicy_meatball    Here’s a picture of the Spicy Meat-a-ball commercial from the 60s.  This picture isn’t quite right either.  They were modern American parents with a twist of tomatoes.  For a few years they ran “Pizza Haven” as they called it.  It was hard work. I don’t know how they did it as long as they did.  They worked to provide for five children and sometimes life was just plain difficult.

Let me give you an idea of how a day went in our family while they owned the restaurant:

5 am   Dad got up at 5 a.m. and made coffee and eggs in his special egg pan (when there wasn’t left-over pizza).  The egg pan was NEVER washed with water.  It was filled with salt and heated until the salt turned brown while it was stirred.  It was the shiniest pan in the house and the eggs never stuck.  (It now belongs to Jimmy! — but I digress.)

7AM   I don’t remember what time Jojo and Margie got up.  What I do remember is Dad had to be at his full time job at the paper box factory by 7 a.m.  The factory made boxes for Kodak products and he was a supervisor.  It was a good job.  A few of Dad’s brothers also worked there.  I remembering him talking about Uncle Sam and Uncle Mike working there, too.

Jojo and Margie were in high school and their lives were a blur to me.  I remember pictures of their proms and prom dresses but the actual memories are gone.  I remember Jojo and her friends singing like the McGuire Sisters — Sincerely.  I remember music always at the house, whether singing or dancing, there was always something musical going on.  (Part of the reason for this blog is that I have to write things down before I forget!)

By 8:30 a.m. Debbie, Jimmy and I were ready for our day.  Jimmy and I were in grammar school.  Grandma Immaculata was dropped off by Uncle Caspar to babysit Debbie who was too little for school.  (as you can see the family was in the habit of unusual names)


Number 40 School – John Warrant Castleman

I remember standing in that doorway and crying the first year of school as I waited for my Mom to pick me up.  I thought she would surely forget me there.  I think Debbie cried, too.  I was the biggest baby.  The teacher I had first was gray haired and I think that my crying got on every one of her nerves.  I cried so much that I remember her shaking me.  That scared me even more and I would cry from the minute I was dropped off until Mom came to pick me up.  My Mom must have heard about it because I was changed to a different classroom after that and I had the nicest teacher.  I never cried again.

9am   Mom had to be at her full time job by 9 a.m.  She worked in the neighborhood drugstore at the candy and cosmetics counter.  She worked a split shift — from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then in the evening.  Uncle Caspar drove us to school and he would let Jimmy sit in the front seat and shift his car from 1st to 2nd gear.  Jimmy loved it and I was jealous since I was older.  He explained that I would have a turn next time but I don’t remember ever having a turn.

I didn’t get it at the time, but I think Uncle Caspar was a gearhead.  He liked cool cars and I remember going to Grandma’s house and on one side of the house was Uncle Caspar’s hardware store and on the other side was Uncle Caspar’s garage where he kept his cars in various stages of repair and maintenance.  There were more than one.  The cool car that Jimmy shifted may have looked like this.  I only remember that it was turquoise and Jimmy said he remembered it being a Ford Galaxy from the early 60s.

car Caspar

In those days Jimmy and I walked home from school to eat lunch and then went back for the afternoon session.  Grandma always had a good, hot lunch waiting for us.  I remember having pastina and egg or minestrone soup but never a sandwich like we had when mom was home.  Not that we were deprived or anything.  We could open up a tray of the finest cold cuts when mom gave us lunch at home.  Wonderful Italian bread and magnificent sliced cheeses were always on hand.

pastina        Minestrone Soup 051    juicyfruit

I still love soup for lunch.  It reminds me of home and love and Grandma.  Juicy Fruit gum and soup and I have a perfect happy heart picture of my cute little grandma.

1 oclock  At 1 p.m., Mom left work and picked up Debbie and Grandma and drove Grandma home.  Then she went to the Pizza Haven to make the sauce and dough for the pizza.  Jojo and Margie would meet them there after school, though their part in all this is still fuzzy since I didn’t get out of school until later.  I just know that everyone had a job.  I remember on the weekend prepping the pizza pans and helping by staying busy drawing pictures with Jimmy and Debbie in one of the booths.

dad sleeping             4oclock          By 4 o’clock Dad had arrived home from work.  He immediately took a nap on the couch while Mom got in and started dinner.  Dad was a loud snorer.  We all would laugh, but I can’t imagine how tired he must have been.  We were completely oblivious to how hard they actually worked.

We didn’t help much with dinner.  Mom was in charge of the cooking – period.  You knew not to get in her way.  She was doing fast food before it became popular.  Dad called her the “100 mile an hour cook” because she cooked everything fast.  That was the true fast food and just this side of burnt.  The meal always contained meat and vegetables and a starch.  There was almost always a dessert.  After dinner, we took turns washing and wiping dishes and sweeping the kitchen.

But Mom left us to clean because she had to be at work by 6 o’clock.  Both Dad and Mom had to be somewhere else –Dad at the restaurant and Mom at the other half of her split shift.  Mom worked ’til 10 p.m. and then drove to the Pizza Haven to help Dad close.  They had to clean up everything.

60s  Jojo and Margie were in charge of us.  They told us what time to be in bed and there was little negotiations about time.  (The only reason I chose this picture is because it is most like the clock in our living room at the time.  I had to have a little nostalgia.)

Mom worked until 10 and then went to help Dad close the restaurant.  That usually included cleaning up the kitchen and if there were any unclaimed pizza, we had a special breakfast in the morning.  What’s wrong with that?  It’s bread, veggies, cheese and/or meats.  All the food groups are covered!

They arrived home after 1 a.m. and I’m not really sure how they ever got enough sleep.

dad mom

When I think about a day like this I can’t compare it to my days.  I get up at 5 a.m. and go to bed by 10 p.m.  There are still days when I don’t feel like getting up at all.  I am in awe of my parents more now than I was when I woke up to what parents really do when I became a parent.  I love them forever.