Archive for April, 2010

Feed the Birds

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law live about two miles from our house.  They have bird feeders hung out back and are flooded with birds year round.  Those who can’t get on the feeders, enjoy the seeds spilled on the ground by other birds.

This Spring, there were birds in our back yard looking for food and nest building stuff.

I hurried to the store and purchased a bag of premium seed and a bird feeder.  It was a nice tall one with a plastic inner liner to hold the seeds with two rows of feeder holes, one around the middle and another near the bottom.  Metal wire covered the outside where the birds could perch and reach in to get seed.

A paper attached to the side said it was squirrel proof.  I laughed out loud.  Well at least the squirrels won’t be able to eat the plastic liner, I thought.

I filled the feeder with the seed and set it on a table in the yard.

No birds.

A few days later I hung it on a hook next to the house.

No birds.

I went back to the store and purchased a shepherd’s hook shaped holder and a different bag of seeds.

Those seeds smelled so good I wanted to taste them, but the price of the bag stopped me.  I didn’t need to get hooked on something that expensive.

With the feeder filled again and hanging on the shepherd’s hook in a flower bed, I watched from my window as pride swelled in my head.

Now the birds would come.

The next morning I watched as a squirrel scampered across the yard toward the feeder.  He looked at it for a few minutes with his bushy tail waving back and forth.  In a flash he jumped from the ground to mid way up the 6 foot stand and then on top of the feeder.  After maybe a minute he got a firm grip on the top with his back legs and hung down the side of the feeder.  He took seed from the hole and quickly brought himself back to the top of the feeder and began to munch.

Any circus acrobat paled in comparison to his agility.

            He repeated this feat until, I guess, his tummy was full.  Then he left, probably to take a nap somewhere.

            I sent Wayne a detailed e-mail account of the morning’s events.

            His reply, “The squirrel says ‘Thank You.’”

            My sister said to spray Pam on the pole.

Still no birds.

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Mr. Wonderful

When Wayne and I married, we thought we knew everything about everything.  Truth was that we really didn’t know much at all, especially how to live together in harmony.  There were rough spots along the way, but we were determined to make a success of this commitment we had made.

My standard back then was that he couldn’t tell me how to cut my hair or clean the house.  He wanted a kitchen with an endless supply of Del Monte ketchup (and still does today).

We worked together and along the way we had some good examples and some not-so-good examples about how to treat each other and live life in general.  One good example was D.R. Malone, our Sunday school teacher, who reminded us every Sunday the fruits of the Spirit and emphasized their importance in our daily lives.  There were many others including our parents, aunts and uncles, friends, Bro. Sam Phillips, Mrs. Deloris Battiste, our church family, sometimes even strangers.

The main things they taught us was to love and honor one another.  Somewhere along the way we learned that we must talk together, laugh a lot, and never make a threat unless we were willing to carry it out.

I told him when he opened the car door for me that it made me feel like a princess.

He told me every meal I placed on the table was good, whether it was or not.

A few years ago my friend Fran was visiting for a few days and asked, “Is he like this all the time or is it just because I am here?”

I answered that he was like this all the time and Jennie, another friend who visits our house often, confirmed my answer.

Pondering why Fran had asked, I started watching his actions.  He had brought in her luggage and placed it in her room.  He took us out to dinner and opened the car doors as well as the restaurant door for us.

            After we were packed full of shrimp, he drove us around town showing them the sights of Mobile, Alabama.  On the way home he said we “needed” to pick up doughnuts from Krispy Kreme because the “Hot” sign was on.

            He visited around the kitchen table for a while and then excused himself so we could talk serious for a while and giggle like schoolgirls.

            After Fran left for home, Jennie and I were discussing Wayne and his good qualities.  She said she had a good name for him, Mr. Wonderful.

Several years have passed since that first conversation.  Jennie still calls him Mr. Wonderful and he still lives up to that name.

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When my girls were in their young teens they announced in no uncertain terms that when they got married, they would never make lists.

It seems like I had a list for just about everything in those days.  The list of activities helped get us where we needed to be and on time.

There was my grocery list which matched the weekly menu.  In the grocery, I would add up every item that went into the grocery cart to make sure I didn’t over spend.

There was only one list that they liked, their Christmas list.  Every year, I would give them a Sears or Penney’s Christmas catalog, a piece of paper, and a budget.  They spent hours looking through the catalogs, writing down items, and then erasing them when another prized item popped up.  They were careful to stay within their budget with their wants.

The one they really hated was the list of their daily duties.  I am one who believes that children should learn responsibility by sharing in the duties at home.  In the beginning, it was to pick up their toys before bedtime and pick up sticks in the yard before their Dad mowed on Tuesdays.

They made their beds which took a lot of patience on my part.  They weren’t perfect but I didn’t remake them.  They took pride in their accomplishments and I tried to praise them for it.  Once we had a friend visiting and he told them how he would push all the linens to the bottom and straighten the spread over the top.  Take a guess how they made their beds the next morning.  We had to have a talk about that.

As they grew, the duties were more complicated.  They would fold clothes, sweep, vacuum, dust, etc.

One daughter would empty the dishwasher and the other daughter would clean the dishes at night.  The next night they reversed duties.  Of course there were times that school or church activities kept them from the dishes.  That became my night. This was a big help to me, but that wasn’t my main purpose.  It was to teach them and to help them grow in responsibility.

Guess what? All three have lists now and live by them.

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Vacation Bible School

I once heard a minister call Vacation Bible School, Vacation Jar Painting School.  He meant no harm really.  There are all kinds of crafts made in Bible school and I loved them all.

The first VBS I remember attending was held in Thomasville Baptist Church when I was about eight.  We did indeed paint a jar there to hold the treasures of an eight-year-old. 

There also I had my first sewing project, a shoe bag.

Years later, after marriage and three children, we moved into a house with very little closet space.  I remembered the shoe bag vividly and made a copy to attach to that closet door and help organize the pile of shoes on the floor.

But the thing I remember most about that VBS was a scripture the class committed to memory.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”

I didn’t really understand that scripture at the time except that it was important.  I would recite it over and over even when I wasn’t in church.  As an adult when I began a fresh walk with the Lord, I sat with the bible and page by page searched for the location of the scripture until I found its home at Psalms 19:14.

It takes on a new meaning as I try to keep my mouth from blurting out stupid things.  I think this will always be something I must work on.

For you hard working men and women who are making plans for this year’s VBS, I want to say, “Thank You” from one who has benefited from your labors and remembered it for many years.

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Granddaddy’s Prayers

I have fond memories of my mother’s daddy.  “Mister Penn” to most, I called him Granddaddy. My children and grandchildren called him Big Granddaddy.  Born right before the turn of the 20th century, he was a tall, big-boned man who often poured his strong black coffee in a deep saucer to cool it and sometimes he poured syrup on his peas.  He spent much of his life working as a share cropper.  His friends often said Mister Penn really knew his bible.

When I spent the night with him and my grandmother, she would sleep with me in one room while he slept in another. After the lights were out, I could hear him praying through the thin walls. “Precious Lord and Master,” was the greeting.  Granddaddy then thanked God for all His goodness.  He would call out the names of his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren, asking God to protect them, touch them, and draw them to Him.  He continued to talk with the Lord in a relaxed familiar way.

 As a young child I didn’t realize how much those prayers affected me. I wonder how much trouble I would have gotten into without them.

Today, when I pray, I begin with thanksgiving and praise, lifting my family up to God, then asking Him to  help others, and finally my needs.

Thank You Big Granddaddy for loving me and teaching me how to talk with God.

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