When Life Goes Nuts

chip 2 pictures 188     My life has been a bit nuts lately. I’m selling my house and moving in with my daughter. I just can’t afford to keep up a house any longer. She’s buying a beautiful new house with a room and bath downstairs just for me. I do so appreciate that she cared enough to make provision for me in her house buying decision.

At the moment though, her plans went a bit nuts too. The house she was originally going to buy didn’t get finished in time, and she had to move out of her old house because the buyers wouldn’t wait to close. So, she’s living in an RV in my driveway until she can close on her “Plan B” house which is identical to the first, just not in the fancy neighborhood she wanted. It still has access to a pool though, so CJ and I are happy about that.

At the same time, I’m dealing with medical issues. I have a basal cell carcinoma on my right lower eyelid. I thought it would be a simple matter of going to my ophthalmologist and having her use her trusty little scalpel to shave it off.  Nope! She sent me to an eyelid surgeon. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. He said I needed not one, but two surgeries—one to remove the tumor, and a second to reconstruct the eyelid. But first, I had to go back to my general practitioner for an EKG. When that came back abnormal, I now have to go for a stress echocardiogram. It’s now been a month, and I still have this stupid little thing that looks like a bad zit on my eye. I learned of most of this madness about the echocardiogram and Kristina’s house falling through last Monday, the same day I also learned my brother had died at the end of March in Florida, and had already been cremated. I think I’ve already been through enough stress this month, that echocardiogram should be a breeze. What more can a mere treadmill do to my heart than it’s been through already this month?

I guess the point is, that’s life. It goes along smoothly for months, sometimes even years, but sooner or later, the storms come. And when they do, it isn’t always one thing at a time. Satan loves to throw multiple problems at us at once to overwhelm us. That’s when we see how firm our foundation is. Will it crack at the first quiver? Or will it hold firm through the storms?

One of the first songs I learned as a little girl, after Jesus Loves Me, of course, was The Wise Man Built His House upon the Rock.  It’s based on the parable Jesus told of two men who built houses, one on sand, and the other on rock. When the storms came, the house on the sand fell with a mighty crash, but the house on the rock stood firm. The rock represents Jesus, the Rock of our salvation. Jesus is my Rock. My life may be a bit nuts at the moment, but He’s still my firm foundation. Whatever comes, I stand in Him.

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An Open Letter to my Family

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NEWS FLASH! I LOVE YOU! But BAPTISM DOES NOT SAVE YOU! Some of you have been baptized. I know because I was there. Yet with a few exceptions, your lives do not reflect a walk of salvation. They don’t boldly declare to the world, I AM A CHILD OF GOD!

This worries me because the main thing I want from this life is to see all my children, grandchildren, friends, and other family members gathered with me in heaven. I don’t want any of you to be missing!

JESUS IS A FRUIT INSPECTOR! Please read Matthew 7:15-23! Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” Our lives must reflect who we say we are!

Does that mean Christians are perfect? No! We’ll never reach that goal this side of heaven! We’re sinners saved by grace. Does that make us hypocrites as many suggest? No! Paul says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” It doesn’t matter that we won’t reach the goal in this life. We keep striving. That’s part of the fruit—endurance.

So the question I want you to ask yourselves is DO I REALLY KNOW JESUS? Do I walk with Him daily? When I have a problem, do I go to Him, or do I try to solve it myself? Do I have a desire to know His Word? If I don’t want to know what He wants, how can I claim to follow Him?

The first step is a simple prayer inviting Him to take control and be the Lord and Savior of your life. He’s a gentleman. He won’t come in without an invitation! The key here is HE MUST BE BOTH LORD AND SAVIOR! You can’t ask Him to save you without granting Him the right to be LORD!

There are three parts that comprise this prayer. A—Admit I am a sinner. (Romans 3:23,6:23) Come on, that’s easy! We know how often we blow it! Sin is all those things we say, all those things we do, and all those things that grate our teeth when we can’t get them off of our mind. It’s also all those things we should have done, but didn’t. If we’re at all honest, we have to nod our head and agree, yes, I am a sinner! B—Believe. (John 3:16) Believe what? Some people think it doesn’t matter what they believe in as long as they believe in a nebulous concept of “god.” Wrong! In John 14:6 Jesus declares, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” We must believe He is God’s Son, that He came to Earth to live a perfect life, die on a cross to pay the penalty for my sin, and that on the third day, He arose to sit at the right hand of the Father to intercede on my and the rest of the world’s behalf. And that belief can’t be mere lip service. It must determine how we live from then on. That brings us to the C part. C—Confess (or Commit) (Romans 10:10) When we confess Him as Savior and Lord, we are committing our lives to following Him. This is not a one- time do it and forget about it commitment. It’s a day-by-day live-it-out process. Yeah, we’ll fail Him, but that doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and quit. He never quits on us! In our darkest moments, He whispers, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5) He never breaks His promises!

DO YOU KNOW MY JESUS? I certainly hope so. I want you there with me in heaven for eternity. Heaven-as Star Trek called it, the final frontier-is only one of two final destinations. You don’t want to be in the other one! HELL IS REAL! It’s a real place of eternal torment. God is righteous and holy, and He’s coming back! He will judge the world. For His children He has eternal rewards, and for the rest, well, that’s why I’m writing this. YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THAT SUFFERING!  It has no end!

Christians will face persecution in this life. If you know Him, you may already know that, but it’s nothing to what our friends and family will face in an eternity without Him. No one wants their loved ones to have to endure that. So, if you do know Him, pass this along. Maybe it can prevent someone you love from enduring that pain too.    

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Rainbow to Field of Poppies and Lupines


Happy New Year! It’s getting off to a bit of a rough start for me. My car tire had a blowout coming down 85 from North Carolina. I’d already had a bad spark plug, but when the tire blew, the check engine came on and when my son-in-law came to change the tire for me, he was afraid I’d also blown a valve.  Fortunately, I hadn’t, but I do need about $300 worth of repairs plus two tires. Not exactly what I thought I needed right now.

At the same time, I could instead focus on the fact that I made it almost all the way home before I had any trouble—close enough that when I called Kristina for help, they were less than fifteen minutes away. I did not blow a valve. I was right. It was only spark plugs and something else relatively minor. And Ray was able to get me some almost new tires for far less than I’d expected. God was truly watching out for me. I could have had a terrible accident when the tire blew. Instead I coasted harmlessly to the shoulder.

My friend Krystal gave me a blessing jar for Christmas. You’re supposed to write it down each day as God blesses you and put it in the jar so at the end of the year you have a tangible way to count all the blessings He has given you this year. Remember the old hymn? Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done.  We don’t even have a clue how blessed we really are.

I got to see my son and two of my grandchildren for New Years. It made me so happy! I’d missed them so much! It’d been so long! Do we ever think about the fact that we’re God’s children and He feels that same way about each of us? He loves to gather us in His arms and show us just how much He cares! We seem to be so quick to blame Him when things don’t go our way, but do we stop to say thanks when they do? Or do we just put it down to chance or think God doesn’t really care about such an “unimportant thing?” Nothing is unimportant to God” He knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7), keeps our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), and knows when a sparrow falls (Matthew 10:29). He’s such a loving Father!

Remember the story of the ten lepers who were healed, but only one remembered to come back to say thank you? Let’s resolve to be like that one this year; to count our blessings and say “Thank You, Lord!” for each and every one of them. I’ve already got quite a few I need to put in my jar.


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Happy Day after Christmas! In the UK, they call it Boxing Day. To them, it’s a big deal. Here, not so much unless you’re a retailer. Then it’s one of the biggest shopping days of the year. I always remember it as the biggest pain in the neck day of the year (but that’s beside the point).  Less than a week to the New Year though. It’s hard for me to believe 2017 has come to a close, and I’ve made it this far.

In 2007, I thought my life was over. Since then, I have a seven year old grandson.  I’ve also published four novels, taught Sunday School and ESL, and have more good friends than I’ve had in my whole life combined. God has truly blessed me!

Now I’m at a point where I need to make a lot of decisions about what I’m to do with the rest of my life. 2018 will bring a lot of changes. The thought scares me, but I have no doubt that God will lead me to what He has in store for me. I just pray for enough wisdom to hear His voice and follow His leading.

Change is never easy, or at least it never has been for me. Maybe that’s because it’s never come one change at a time for me. It’s always seemed to come in bunches. I married, started college, and moved to Blacksburg in one year (1968-69); later lost my job, Wade spent five months in the hospital, and Kristina was born, all in 1974; separated, moved back to Roanoke, and Kara died in 2007, and then divorced, moved to Dacula, and my grandson CJ was born in a 2009-10 period of time. It’s no wonder I have high blood pressure. Even without my genetic factors, that much stress in short periods of time is enough to give it to anyone. Doctors say stress, even stress caused by good changes from joyful events, is hard on the body and can cause major cardiac events.  I don’t know about that, but it certainly can cause emotional heartache.

Change is inevitable. We’re all changing from the moment we’re born. It’s part of our growth. If we don’t learn to accept it, we become stunted, trapped in a past that others have long forgotten. I remember meeting a baby once when I was a child. The “baby” was forty years old but had never grown. It’s one of those horrifying memories that still haunts me to this day.

As the New Year approaches, it’s normal to reflect back and see how far we’ve come, what changes we want to make, and which ones we need to make in the coming year. Like Joshua, we should “be strong and courageous” and know that whatever changes 2018 may bring, God is still on His throne—He’s still in control, and He’s got our back! He has promised He’ll never leave us or forsake us, but will be with us til the end of the age!

God bless you!


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Today is my last tutoring session with my ARW student and tomorrow night is the last for my ESL students for this year. I am so proud of these students. They are so determined to read and write and speak better English. They try so hard.

It’s not easy for my ARW student. He has some sort of learning disability. I’m not even sure what it is. I don’t think he’s dyslexic. He can read, and he can sometimes logically reason out the correct answer to a question. He just has no confidence, and he’s so easily distracted that it makes it hard for him to concentrate. And to ask him to remember what he just read to connect it what he’s reading now seems to be almost an impossibility. But he is getting better—slowly but surely.

CJ, on the other hand, learns so easily without even trying, but has little interest in doing any real studying. I know he can focus, especially when he’s doing karate. He’s learned complicated karate forms I couldn’t remember in a million years. His kinetic memory astounds me. His black belt test was seven hours long, and nothing distracted him that day.

School came easily for me too for the most part. With the exception of a couple of college classes, I never really had to study that much. I listened in class, and pretty much remembered what I’d heard. I read the material once or twice and I knew it. But I did always do my homework, and since my parents extremely limited TV time, I never really had much to distract me.

Kids today have TV, computer games, videos, cell phones—way too many things to distract them. They’re completely computer savvy by the time they enter school, but it seems many of them don’t ever learn simple grammar or spelling rules (and don’t get me started on the idiocy of Common Core math). Now I’m getting distracted from the point I’m trying to make.

Focus. We all need to do it, but it’s never easy. There are too many distractions in our world. As a favorite pastor I used to have would say, “We have to remember to keep the main most thing the main most thing.” Jesus should always be the main most thing we keep at the forefront of our minds.

Years ago, kids wore bracelets with “WWJD—what would Jesus do” to remind them to ask themselves that question in any questionable situation. That’s one part to the equation, but without a sound Biblical knowledge basis to back it up, it would be worthless. We would simply take some verse out of context to make it say what we wanted it to say.   2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “study to show thyself approved unto God.” We need to study God’s Word to know His word and His will. Why do we find that so hard? At least, I know I do. I find it so much easier to plant myself in front of a TV or on spend an hour on Facebook. Lord, forgive me and help me to focus more on You, not just in this holiday season, but always.

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Our church is in a time of transition. We elected our pastor search committee Sunday night. I’m happy to report it was a very civilized and peaceful meeting. I’ve been a part of a church where such was definitely not the case. There, if one group said something was black, the other group would be certain to assert that it was definitely white. It was so crazy trying to get anything done there because most everyone in the church was related to one or the other group, and there were an almost equal number of members in each group.

I wonder what God thinks when there’s dissention in the church? Some things are worth fighting for. What might have happened if men like Martin Luther hadn’t been willing to buck the system and change the “church” completely? But does it really matter what color the drapes are or what kind of a bus you buy when you sell the old one that no longer gets much use because it’s not large enough? I know those are dumb examples, but they’re actually typical of the kind of junk that divides some churches.

The original church had the same kind of problems. This was the reason they elected the first deacons. They also fought about who had the best pastor. Some liked Paul, others Apollos. And even Paul wasn’t immune to it. He and Silas went their own way after dissention over John Mark separated him from Barnabas, who happened to be John Mark’s cousin. In this case, God used the division to multiply the ministry. He can always use everything, even bad things, for good in the long run. The question is, what happens to evangelism when most of the new membership of a church is simply proselytizing of disgruntled members of other churches?

Statistically, there are many churches in America that don’t baptize even one single convert in a year. That’s a sad commentary on the state of many of our churches. They have completely forsaken the Great Commission. If the Holy Spirit is busy at work in a church, it can’t help but be roiling the baptismal waters. Dissention is the enemy of the Holy Spirit. It takes our focus off of the job at hand. We’re called to make disciples, baptize in Jesus’ Name, teach, and worship. We don’t do it alone though. Jesus has promised to never leave or forsake us. He will be with us always, even until the end of the age. I believe that’s coming soon. What’s holding it back? Us.

The Bible tells us that the Father is long suffering, not willing that any should perish. As soon as that last disciple is converted, Jesus will return to set up His kingdom. Just as Jesus was from the time He was a young boy, we need to be about our Father’s business—the business of making disciples. We can’t afford to be distracted by dissention.



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chip4pictures 119Preparation

The last few weeks November and most of December are incredibly busy for most people. Preparations for Thanksgiving and Christmas take a lot of time and energy to prepare. Food and gifts must be bought, those gifts need to be assembled and/or wrapped, decorating the house inside and maybe outside too. It’s a LOT of work, especially for those who have small children. As we get older, some of us tend to think it’s a lot of unnecessary work, and we severely cut back. In some cases, we’re forced to do that cutting because of money or health issues.

Still, if not physically, we should always be prepared for Christmas. It’s a time of celebration. We should all be ready to celebrate the King of Glory stepping out of heaven to dwell with us for such a short time in the scheme of eternity—only thirty three years—but what a difference those years made!

Think about it. For the first two thousand years or so of earth’s existence, most men had no concept at all of who God was. He was to be found in nature, and most civilizations had an oral tradition that was originally monotheistic, but it was so veiled in myths and superstition that the average person had little hope of distinguishing what was truth and what was man-made.  Then God called Abraham. What made him different? He was in a pagan land. His own household was full of idols. We don’t know why, but we do know God chose him, and he obeyed. He left his homeland and his idols, and followed where God led him. And God blessed his faithfulness. For the next almost two thousand years, man had the Old Testament covenant through Abraham. Thousands (or maybe millions) of lambs, bulls and doves were sacrificed to atone for the sins of the Jewish nation. What about the sins of the rest of the world? They were unatoned for. But then…Then everything changed. Jesus came, lived the perfect life we’re incapable of, and died to once and for all time pay the penalty for sin. No more lambs, bulls, or doves need be slaughtered. Jesus paid it all. Hallelujah!

He left the splendor of heaven, was born in a stable, placed in a cattle feeding trough, and his mom and earthly father were poverty stricken. When you really think about it, isn’t this entirely appropriate symbolically. He’s replacing all those cattle who’ve been slaughtered through the ages, In our spiritual poverty, we can’t do a thing about our sin problem, so He’s taking our place on that cross. The King of Kings became poor for our sake.

Think about this too. As a carpenter, Joseph should not have been poor. Why was he? Because he married Mary, a pregnant virgin. They would have been shunned. No one would have been allowed to trade with him. He could have walked away and retained his wealth. Following God’s plan can be costly for His servants.

So, what must we do to be ready?

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A Christmas Short Story

The Ornament

by Teresa Pollard


Eight year old Debbie Parker peered at the butterfly ornament and chewed her thumbnail. It was hanging from a gold wire stand which sat under a glass dome on Grandma Watkins’ old upright piano next to the hall staircase. The ornament was glass too, but it was enameled with one blue and two dark pink flowers, and there was a large orange, black, white, and gold, Monarch Butterfly fluttering above the flowers. It didn’t look like any normal butterfly she’d ever seen though. The colors had an iridescent glow, more like angel or fairy wings than a real butterfly. It fascinated her, none the less. Every time she had come to see Grandma this Christmas, she’d stood right here on the stairway where she couldn’t be seen and stared down at the ornament on the oak piano below. Why wasn’t it on the Christmas tree in the living room with the rest of the Christmas ornaments? Why was it under a dome? It was so pretty. If it was her ornament, she’d hang it at the top of the tree where everyone would see it and tell her how beautiful it was.

The large green artificial Christmas tree in front of the picture window in the living room had lots of ornaments on it too. Bells, gold lace ribbon, balls of every color, bows, tinsel, sleighs, angels, stars, and tiny nativity sets adorned the tree. They were pretty too, even when the tree wasn’t lit up with hundreds of tiny white lights like it was now. But none of them held the fascination of the butterfly ornament. It wasn’t on the piano last year.

But then again, she was only eight. Maybe it had been here last year, and she didn’t remember. She didn’t remember a lot of things about last Christmas. She couldn’t. It hurt too much to remember. Mommy had been here last Christmas. She was sick, but she’d tried her best to make it a good Christmas for Debbie. She did remember that much. They’d gone to see The Nutcracker ballet, to feed the ducks down at the duck pond, and played laser tag at the mall.   Mommy had even gone out at four o’clock in the morning on Black Friday to find everything on Debbie’s list. She only knew that because she’d heard Grandma complain about it so many times since. This Christmas, mommy was with Jesus.   Aunt Sarah told her Jesus needed another angel.   That made Debbie so mad. Didn’t Jesus already have enough angels? She’d only had one mommy. And she wanted her back! Christmas was Jesus’ birthday. How old was He anyway?  Mommy used to say she would stop counting when she reached 29. Debbie wondered why? It didn’t matter. Mommy never got there. Debbie could count to a zillion. Was Jesus that old? Had He stopped counting? Was that why he needed another angel? To count his birthday candles for him?

“Debbie, time to go!” Her daddy called from the kitchen.

“Coming, Daddy!”  She raced down the steps and through the hall to meet him. From the corner of her eye, she saw the butterfly swing back and forth as her footsteps vibrated on the wooden floor. The light reflecting on the glass as it swung made it even prettier. It made her smile.

When she got to the kitchen, Daddy was standing in the doorway with his baseball cap in his left hand and her back pack on his shoulder. He was ready to go. Grandma had that effect on people. She sat stooped over at the kitchen table peeling a humongous pile of potatoes. She liked to cook. You could tell. She always cooked enough to feed an army instead of just one person.   She also liked to eat. She was a large woman with wispy gray hair. She wore wire rim glasses too, but she was far from the image of Mrs. Santa Claus. Big people were supposed to be jolly.   Grandma Watkins wasn’t. She seldom smiled. She was a good cook though. She often sent home food for Debbie and her daddy. If the smell coming from her backpack was a clue, today was no exception. She smelled fried chicken. And probably apple pie. There had been a whole one on the counter earlier. Now there were only a few slices. Even Grandma didn’t eat that much! But she knew daddy wasn’t a very good cook, and she worried they didn’t get enough to eat.   Because of all of mommy’s doctor bills, they didn’t eat out much anymore. That was okay.   Debbie was learning to cook for him. She made good spaghetti. Daddy loved her spaghetti, even if the sauce did come from a can.

“Tell your grandmother goodbye and give her a big hug,” Daddy commanded, giving her a gentle push toward the older woman.

“Bye, Grandma,” she whispered, her reluctant gesture all but ignored. “We’ll be back Friday.   Daddy has to work overtime at his spare job at the sock factory this weekend, so he wants me to spend the weekend with you. He can have supper with us Friday night though. Is that okay with you?”

She hoped it wasn’t, and she could stay at her friend Katie’s house, but it wasn’t to be.   Grandma nodded without looking up from her potato pile. “I’ll pick you up from school right after the bell rings. Be sure to remind your daddy to write you a note Friday morning. And I’m bringing some cookies for your class Christmas party that morning too. Is there any particular design you’d like on them?”

Debbie tugged at the arm of her hand-me-down knit Christmas sweater as she thought.    “Could you make a butterfly like the one on the piano? I think you have a couple of butterfly cookie cutters under the cabinet next to the refrigerator. I saw them when I helped you make cookies for the soldiers at the VA hospital. ”

“A butterfly isn’t very Christmassy, Pudding,” her dad chuckled. He patted her blond curls.   “How about bells or wreaths?  Or better yet, snowmen. Boys always like snowmen. ”

“No, I want butterflies,” Debbie insisted, not quite stomping her black patent leather shoe.   Daddy would be upset if she did that. But she did cross her skinny arms and pout a bit–Just enough to make him grin and rub her head again. He was the best daddy in the world.

Grandma Watkins sighed. At last she nodded. “Then butterflies it will be. But I’ll warn you, I’m no artist. I can’t make them nearly as good as the one on the piano.”

“I’m sure they’ll be fine, Mom Watkins,” Hank Parker, Debbie’s dad, assured her. “I appreciate all you do for Debbie. And she appreciates it too.” He set his jaw and gave her the look that said she’d better appreciate it. “Can you thank your grandmother, Debbie?”

She nodded.  “Thanks, Grandma. You can come to the party too. It starts at twelve o’clock right after lunch. You can come to lunch first, too, if you want to. We go to the lunch room at eleven twenty. ”

Grandma Watkins dropped her knife and took Debbie’s hand. She gave it a gentle squeeze.   “Thank you for asking, Debbie, but I can’t. I have a doctor’s appointment Friday morning for my blood pressure medicine. I’ll drop off the cookies to your teacher before I go.”

Debbie breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t want her grandmother to come to the party anyway. She didn’t want to go herself. If Jesus was so mean, he would take her mommy, why should she celebrate his birthday?

Debbie got through the party. She almost forgot to be unhappy for a while. Besides Grandma’s butterfly cookies, which the girls thought were quite beautiful and the boys said tasted great, there were candy canes, ice cream bars, brownies, and all kinds of other treats.   Debbie hadn’t eaten much this last year. Her daddy had fussed a lot about that. But today she did eat, and it was good. Especially the butterfly cookies. As they bit into them, Katie had giggled and whispered to her that she was going to love her Christmas book. They played games and sang silly Christmas songs too. When it was almost time to go home, they traded gifts. The class had drawn names for a gift exchange. All they were allowed to give each other was books, but Debbie loved to read, so that was okay with her. Katie had drawn her name. Her book was bigger than most of the others, and it was wrapped in iridescent tissue with a large pink bow. The wrapping paper was so beautiful she almost didn’t want to unwrap it. She wanted to thank Katie for the gift, but when she went to find her, her teacher, Mrs. Williams said she’d had to leave the party early for a dentist’s appointment. When Debbie at last opened the wrapping, the book inside had a large Monarch butterfly on the front. It looked an awful lot like Grandma’s butterfly.   She’d check it out when she got back to Grandma’s. The bell rang, so she rushed to shove the book into her back pack and get to the door. She hoped Grandma had gotten out of her doctor’s appointment on time. It was so awful to have to stand in the car rider’s line for almost an hour waiting because your ride was at the back of the line.

The wait wasn’t too bad, but when she picked Debbie up, Grandma Watkins was even madder than usual. She’d stopped by the grocery store on her way to the school, and “some dummy” had banged into her grocery cart just as she was checking out, causing her to break the dozen eggs she’d just bought to replace all the eggs she’d used for cookies. Now she had egg ick all down her pant leg. As mommy used to say, “She was not a happy camper!”

As soon as she unlocked the door, Debbie raced ahead of her to the hiding place on the stairs.   Before dropping her book bag onto the landing, she pulled out the new butterfly book.   She was right. The butterfly on the cover was identical to the butterfly on the ornament. And it sat on two dark pink flowers and one blue one just like on the ornament. How was it possible? She was so engrossed in the comparison; she didn’t hear Grandma enter the foyer.

“Debbie, what are you doing? What have you got there? May I see it?”

Startled, she tried to hide the book behind her, but instead, it sailed through the rail, hit the piano on its corner, and flipped over, knocking the glass dome to the floor as it crashed flat and the dome shattered into hundreds of tiny pieces. The ornament didn’t fall all the way to the floor, only to the lid of the keyboard, but it was enough. The ornament was also broken into several large pieces.

“Oh, Grandma, I’m so sorry!” Debbie wailed. “I didn’t mean to break your lovely butterfly.   Honest I didn’t. Please forgive me.” Huge tears ran down her cheek. “I have about thirty dollars in my piggy bank at home. You can have it all. I’m so sorry. Please don’t tell Daddy. He’ll be so mad at me. ”

Grandma wasn’t angry! Tears fell down her cheeks, but not for the ornament. The tears were for Debbie. “Hush, child. It was an accident. I know you didn’t mean to do it. I’ve got eyes.   Besides, it wasn’t my ornament. It was yours. I meant to tell you all about it this weekend.   Now, stay put right there on the staircase while I get something to clean up all this mess. The last thing we need right now is a trip to the emergency room to get glass out of your feet or hands.”

After Grandma had gotten the broom and vacuum cleaner to clean up all tiny pieces of glass from the dome while Debbie sat as still as a statue on the step, she picked up the piece with the butterfly.  “Look, Debbie. The butterfly isn’t broken. The picture is still all in one piece. ”

Debbie sniffed and wiped more tears from her cheeks. “Yeah, but what difference does it make?  The rest of the ornament is toast. ”

Grandma Watkins pursed her lips together and her brows knit together almost making a single line. But she still didn’t look mad. She took a deep breath, and then nodded to Debbie. “Can you run up to my sewing room, please, and bring me the big brown craft box from under the desk?  And there’s some fine gold glitter on the second shelf of the bookcase. Bring that too. I have an idea how we can mend this.”

Debbie shrugged and ran up the stairs. The items were easy to find. When she came back down, Grandma was standing with her back to her at the dining room table. Walking over beside her, she set the craft box onto the side chair. Grandma had fitted all the pieces of the ornament back together like a 3D puzzle. Only one piece was missing, and that lay on the table beside her.

“Now, Debbie, I need your help here. We need to do a bit of surgery. But I warn you. This is going to be a delicate operation. If we’re not extra careful, we could make things worse instead of better. ”

She was so serious, and yet so funny, Debbie saluted like she was in the army.

Grandma’s brows rose, but she nodded. She got it. She laughed. “Okay, Private. First, can you pour some of the glue into this bowl, and add some glitter to it? A little more. That’s good.  Now, stir it up with a craft stick. Perfect.  Next, suck as much of it as you can up into this medicine dropper. Right. Now, hand it to me. Thank you, Private. You did a great job.” Turning the ball as she went, she worked the glitter glue along every crack with the medicine dropper.   Then she glazed the entire ball except for the piece with the butterfly with a thin layer of plain glue and sprinkled glitter on it too. When she had all but the last piece done, she placed it into a cup that fit it almost perfectly, and worked the final piece into the puzzle, and repeated the former processes. “Now, Private, please run get my hair dryer from my bathroom. We want to get this glue dry as quickly as possible before the glass has time to fall apart again. Having such a big piece on one side is going to help since it gives us a place to cradle it while it dries, but I don’t want to take any chances.”

Again Debbie saluted and ran to do as bidden. When she returned, she gazed at the repaired ornament. “Ooh, Grandma! It looks beautiful! I think it’s even prettier than it was before! The way you made the gold glitter into veins looks like you did it on purpose. ”

“You may be right. But please remember, it’s extremely fragile right now, so you can’t touch it. Don’t even breathe on it hard until it’s completely dry, or it might fall apart”

“I won’t. I promise.”

“I know you won’t, Sweetheart.” She gave Debbie a peck on the cheek and winked at her.   Grandma had never winked at Debbie before in her life. Maybe she had something in her eye.   “Can you stay here and keep an eye on it for me while I go upstairs and change.” She chuckled.   Debbie was certain she’d never heard her do that before. “I’ve still got the egg ick on my pants leg, and I’ve got to get them off and cleaned before they’re completely ruined. And if I don’t get a shower real quick myself, I may go nuts. Oh, well. Some days you’ve got to break a few eggs, so they say. I didn’t know it was supposed to be so literal.”

Debbie had no idea what she was talking about, but she was glad Grandma was in a better mood, though she wasn’t at all sure why.

She giggled. “Sure, Grandma. I’ll holler if it starts to come apart, but I don’t think it will.   You did a real good job of mending it. Will you tell me about the ornament when you come back?”

“Yes, I will. I’ll be glad to. Be right back.” As she went upstairs, Debbie could have sworn she was singing a Christmas carol. What was wrong with her?

When she came back, Grandma had not only showered and changed, but had put on some lipstick too. Debbie didn’t think she’d ever seen her wear lipstick. And she wore a smile. It made her look so pretty. Even if she was old.

But Debbie was confused when she asked, “May I see your book?” She thought they were going to talk about the ornament. She handed her the gift from Katie.

Grandma ran her fingers over the cover. Then she held the book to her breast and gazed upward for a moment. “Thank You, Lord.” Then she turned her gaze toward Debbie.   “Sweetheart, did you happen to notice who the author of this book was?”

She shook her head. “No. I didn’t get a chance to read it at all yet. All I saw was the butterfly.   It looked just like your ornament, so it made me curious.”

Grandma turned the book around so Debbie could see the cover. “It should. The same person painted both of them. Your mommy. See, her name is right here on the front.”

Debbie read, “Kara Watkins. What? That was mama’s name before she married my daddy. I never knew my mommy wrote a book. And I didn’t know she could paint either. You and Daddy never said anything about it.”

She breathed a contented sigh. “I’m not sure your daddy ever knew about the book, Honey.  He was working so hard at two jobs, besides taking care of you and your mom. Between her job, taking care of you, and trying to finish her college degree, Kara hadn’t painted in years, although she did it all the time when she was your age. She loved butterflies. When she took ballet when she was a little older than you are now, she once played the Princess of the Butterflies for her ballet recital, and after that she drew them constantly for months. And she wrote lots of butterfly stories to go with the pictures. That’s what you’re holding now. Katie’s mom works for a publisher. She had the book made especially for you from your mom’s stories and illustrations.   And your mom made the ornament last year. It was one of the last things she did before she got too sick to do much of anything. She wanted you to have something to remember her by. But I didn’t know Katie’s mom had the book ready for the book exchange.  ”

Tears streamed down Debbie’s face. “But I broke Mommy’s ornament. She would be so mad at me. ”

“No, she wouldn’t, Honey. I promise. She would know it was an accident just like I do. ”   Grandma pulled Debbie into her arms. “We were both broken, just like the ornament, Sweetheart, but if we will let Him, Jesus can mend us and make us even better than ever—just

like you said the ornament looks better now than it did before. ”

She sniffed.  “But, Grandma, Jesus is so mean. He took my mommy just cause he wanted another angel. He already had lots of angels. He didn’t need my mommy too. ”

Grandma hugged her again, even tighter this time, and they rocked back and forth so hard, Debbie was dizzy. “Oh, Honey, who told you that?”

“Aunt Sarah.” She whispered.   “At mom’s funeral.”

Grandma wiped her own eye. Her voice took on a harsh tone for a moment again, but this time Debbie was certain she wasn’t mad at her. “Well, Sarah was wrong. Sometimes people say stupid things because they think it will make us feel better. But it doesn’t. It’s just plain dumb.   Jesus loves you. And He loved your mommy too. Your mommy isn’t an angel. She’s a person.   And she’s still a person. She’s a person who now lives in heaven.”

“But I want her here. I need a mommy. And so does daddy. He’s so lonely. Sometimes I hear him cry at night after he thinks I’m asleep.”

“I know you do, Sweetheart. And I do hope your daddy finds someone wonderful to be a mommy to you and a wife to him. You both deserve it. But your mommy couldn’t be that anymore. Cancer made her body break down just like that dome. It was smashed so badly it couldn’t be mended anymore. Did you ever see a caterpillar? Did you know a caterpillar is a butterfly? It just doesn’t know it because it hasn’t changed yet. Our bodies are kind of like that caterpillar body. When we die, if we know Jesus, it’s not really dying. It’s simply our body changing into our forever body like the caterpillar changes into the butterfly.  That’s why your mommy wanted you to have the ornament and the book. She wanted you know Jesus, and to love Him. She wanted you to become everything Jesus meant you to be. She was so sorry she couldn’t be here to watch you grow up. That was her worst pain of dying. Leaving you behind.   But her greatest hope is that you’ll become like a butterfly and join her one day in heaven. ”

“Are you like a butterfly, Grandma?  Will you be in heaven too?”

“You know what? I am. But I sure haven’t been acting like it much lately, have I? Even before your mommy got sick, I was already broken. I started to break when your granddaddy died, but your mommy’s sickness turned me into a bitter old lady. Two losses so close together can do that to us if we don’t cling to Jesus. But that’s going to change. My wandering in the wilderness days are over!”

Debbie didn’t quite get the last part, but she knew one thing. She wanted to cling to Jesus too.   “Can you help me turn into a butterfly too? I want to spend forever with mommy and Jesus.”

“You bet I can. It will be my honor.”

After explaining the ABC’s of salvation and leading Debbie in prayer, both of them were in tears as they clung together and stared at the ornament.

Grandma jumped up. “You know what? Let’s put this ornament on the Christmas tree where it belongs. We’ll put it right at the top where everybody can see it. Butterflies are symbols of the Resurrection, and what would Christmas be without the Resurrection? You do know what the Resurrection is, don’t you, Debbie? It’s when Jesus came out of the grave on the third day, and walked around in his forever body in front of everybody for forty days before going back to heaven to wait for us all to join Him. I’m so glad you wanted me to make butterfly cookies for your class.   Now, when you go back to school in January, you can tell all your friends about what they meant. This is going to be the best Christmas ever. ”

Debbie clapped her hands and giggled. “But the Resurrection is at Easter, Grandma.   Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Mommy used to bake a birthday cake for Jesus at Christmas. But she forgot to make one last year.”

“I know. She didn’t forget, but by then, she didn’t have the energy to bake. She asked me to, but I guess I was like you. I was so mad at Him, I wouldn’t even bake Him a birthday cake.   Why don’t we go bake one now?  I’ll bet your daddy would love a slice of birthday cake for dessert tonight.

The End

The ABC’s of Salvation

A—Admit to God you’re a sinner; that you’ve said, done and thought things

not pleasing to God. (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 1 John 1:9)

B—Believe that Jesus is God’s Son; that He came to live a perfect life and die

to pay the penalty for your sin.  (John 3:16)

C—Confess Him as your Savior and the Lord of your life.  (Romans 10:9-10)




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I told a friend the other day that I so miss the Virginia fall. Living in the mountains, the fall was a riot of spectacular color that lasted for several weeks. Here, at least where I live, fall consisted of a few days of dull color while the leaves turned to brown and fell off the trees. There were a few individual trees that bucked the trend and had a splash of color, but even they didn’t last long.

I just can’t get used to Georgia weather. It’s like there are no seasons. It’s just hot, hot, hot, and then ick. Right now we’re in the ick. There’s no beautiful white blanket of snow to make the weather bearable. It’s just kind of damp and miserable. I’ve got to say though, that my daughter Kristina loves the weather here. She says she had enough of the Virginia snow to last her a lifetime when she was a kid. Funny, how we all react to the same things differently. I guess that’s why God made us all different, and made all different kinds of weather (and just about everything else in different varieties too.) It’s something for everyone—good gifts from our loving God. Even though I’m not there to see them, those Virginia autumns will always be a part of me, and I praise Him for them.

And even though I can’t get used to the weather, I’m so thankful for my home in Georgia. The people here are amazing. I have so many friends who have blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined when I left Virginia in 2009. God is good. He took this broken Virginia girl and put her back together again in a new place.

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since my life went bananas. My baby’s birthday is this month. I still miss her. That will never change, but I do take comfort in knowing she’s in a better place with no more pain or suffering. But I also know she didn’t want to go. She had a young son she didn’t want to leave. If there was any way I could have taken her place at that time, I would have gladly done so. Then I felt like I had nothing left to live for. I was wrong. What’s new? God still had a plan for  my life, and I’m here as long as He wants me here.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans I have for you…” Aren’t you glad He does? We sure can’t begin to know. If we did, we’d probably truly go nuts. We can only take it one day at a time, And we might as well forget worrying about it. We can’t change a thing by worrying. We can only make things worse. Worry causes illness, and illness will destroy us. One day at a time is all we’re given, and it’s all we need.

God bless you.

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I AM THE WAY (John 14:6)

I AM THE TRUTH (John 14:6)

I AM THE LIFE (John 14:6)



I AM THE DOOR (John 10:9)


I AM THE TRUE VINE (John 15:1)

     Critics will claim Jesus never claimed to be God. Baloney! These I Am statements were a declaration that all the Jews of His day understood completely to be a claim to be Yahweh God. If He had not been, they would have been right to call Him a blasphemer and put Him to death. As C. S. Lewis so rightly claimed, Jesus never left open the option that He was a great teacher and a good man. We have to believe He was “a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.”

The world is a mess. The time is ripe for an Antichrist to rise on the scene. One can easily imagine a charismatic leader taking control of things and promising the people he can solve all their woes. This would be especially easy if all the Christians who would oppose his plans were raptured off the scene. Can’t you just imagine his I AM statements? Actually, they’d probably echo those Jesus made.  But in this case, they will be blasphemy!

Pastor Derek Spain has been preaching a sermon series called The Church is a Mess. It’s on 1 Corinthians. The church at Corinth was a mess, but it was nothing compared to today. I saw on Facebook this week that the pope was urging his people not to try to have a personal relationship with Jesus because it was “dangerous.” I don’t know if that’s true or not. If it is, God forgive him. That’s blasphemy too. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6) According to the article, the pope said the church was the only way to come to God.

We are the church. We are His body. In Matthew 28:18-20, He gave us the Great Commission, to go to all the world and preach the gospel, the good news that He, God’s one and only Son, had come into the world that if anyone believed in Him, they would have eternal life with God. And not only that, they could have an abundant life now in this world. They would no longer have to be chained to their burdens of sin and despair, but could have a life of peace, joy, love and purpose. The question for us is if we truly believe He is Lord, why don’t we live like it? Why do we seem to yearn for those old bonds? Doesn’t that make us just like those scoffers who stood by the cross hurling insults? Screaming Blasphemer!?  God forgive us!

It’s been said that blasphemy is the only unforgiveable sin, but I don’t think they’re talking about simply insulting Jesus by wanting something we shouldn’t, although that’s bad enough. They’re talking about rejecting Him completely. Never accepting that He died for us and paid the penalty for our sin—that’s the ultimate blasphemy! That’s the one for which there is no forgiveness. Please don’t let anyone you know make it!  Tell them about Jesus and His love before it’s too late.


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