Monthly Archives: November 2018

Grandmother Grace’s Little Red Book



One double page of Grandmother’s book, approx. 2 1/2″X4″

I never knew my Grandmother Grace in the flesh, only through the stories my Dad told about her. He often mentioned how she painted beautiful pictures of flowers and ferns, very small pictures. He, being her only son and very interested in art, had been given a tiny red velvet book full of her little pictures along with quotations from the Bible and other books. He also had numerous scrapbooks his mother and Aunt De had made. In her day (late 1800’s), scrapbooking was a very favorite entertainment. It was fun for us, Dad’s children, to look at the many newspaper clippings they saved.

Grandmother Grace died when my Dad was thirteen. She had tuberculosis and, though Grandfather diligently tried to find a climate that would be conducive to her healing, traveling all the way from Michigan to South Carolina by covered wagon or train, she couldn’t get well.

I remember studying the little pages of delicate artwork and wishing I could have known that special lady whose photograph was so faded. I was very pleased when my Dad said I looked like his mother. The book was kept in Mamma’s desk, the safest place in the house, along with deeds to various portions of Pinedale, our Northeast Georgia home.

When my niece, Emily Grace, born on Grandmother’s birthday, was a little girl, Mamma and Dad gave her the little red book. Emily treasured it for many years. Then another Grace was born into the family. Emily, being the big hearted lady she is, gave the little book to her Aunt Pat to be saved for when little Grace, her grandchild, was old enough to appreciate it.

Over the years, we all lost track of where Grandmother’s little red book was.

Recently, Emily was having lunch with my sister Suzanne. Suzanne began describing tiny pictures she had found of flowers and ferns painted by our grandmother. “You are so good about preserving things,” she told Emily, “maybe you’d like to see them.”

Her descriptions made Emily remember the little red book and she told Suzanne about how she’d given it to Aunt Pat for Grace. (Grace is grown now, a doctor, living in California with her husband and tiny son.) Emily said wistfully she’d love to see that little book again.

Suzanne suddenly realized they were talking about the same thing–pictures in a little red book. “Since Pat died,” she said, “I’ve helped David go through her things and that’s where I found it. I didn’t know it was yours, or little Grace’s. That’s where the tiny pictures are!”

Emily and Suzanne were so excited over their discovery, everyone in the restaurant turned to see what the ruckus was about.

Emily hunts for good ways to preserve and restore family heirlooms and documents. She didn’t receive the little book and just keep it to herself. She proceeded to “publish” it with her computer so we would all have blown up copies of Grandmother Grace’s loving work, her meticulous little pictures. Emily, with use of a magnifying glass, deciphered the faded printing in Grandmother’s hand of Bible verses and poems and typed them into a form we could read.

So now the legacy of my grandmother, who went to heaven in 1899, lives on. She probably never thought of being “published.” And she probably had no idea that her son would become a renowned Georgia artist during the 1920’s and 1930’s. And she might have been surprised to know that her son had eleven children and that there is a “Grace” in more than one generation!


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Pie On The Floor

It’s almost Thanksgiving and never have we had more to be thankful for than we do this year–big things like hope, bravery, safety, love, family, joy, food, water….. But one of the top items on my gratitude list is that of simple kindnesses, some of which have happened in the last few hours. Like the matter of the pie on the floor.

But before I open up that humiliating story, I’d like to mention a few others.

This morning a sweet little lady hugged me. Now we’ve hugged before but always I initiated the embrace. Mrs. Z is almost deaf and hears very little of what I say when I lead devotions at her assisted living home. But she tries to stay engaged, smiling and nodding from time to time. She tells us every week that she’s going to get hearing aids but it never happens. Her family is gone and she’s very lonely. Sometimes she won’t come to the activities room where we meet because, she says, she’s too sad. But today she was there participating as much as possible. After the program she approached me and, letting go of her walker, she beckoned me to come give her a hug. She’ll never know how much that meant to me.


Yesterday my two youngest great-grands spent the afternoon with me. It was a beautiful afternoon and, after making and enjoying banana splits, we decided I would time their bike trips around our circular driveway. Charli, seven years old, consistently beat Kaison who is five. At first he didn’t mind because he didn’t understand that the one with the lower number was the winner. As he caught on to the meaning of thirty seconds versus forty or forty-five, he began to get very discouraged. Finally, he sat on the side of the driveway silently weeping. Charli came and whispered to me that she would purposely go slower the next round so Kaison would win. We persuaded him to try one more time and when he won he pumped the air with the greatest delight. Charli looked at me and grinned.


Nothing better than a banana split–unless it’s winning a bike race!

Sometimes it’s what someone doesn’t say that is the kindest of all. My eternal teaser of a brother made no jabs at me and my incompetent driving a few months ago when he saw my crippled car.

We saw amazing acts of kindness again and again following Hurricane Michael. Generators were shared. Chain saws buzzed as neighbors and friends cleared driveways. There were calls of concern, shared soup, tremendous displays of energy as the massive cleanup continued. Roofers and tree service folks reached out to meet needs, working tirelessly for long hours. City workers, electricians, FEMA, electricians, volunteers, everyone bent over backward to help.

Kindness surprises us in the most delicious ways! Our grandson, Charles D, came in recently lugging two big boxes of lovely citrus–grapefruit, satsumas, kumquats, and lemons.

But about that pie…

I was baking for the holidays, potato pies among other goodies. It was 9:00 last night and I was very tired after the bike timing, the banana splits, etc. Only two pies were left and the buzzer had alerted me that they were ready. I was pleased with the way they’d set so nicely and had that glisten of really good potato pies. I pulled one out and set it on a rack to cool, then turned back to get the other one. Getting a grip on the edge of the hot pie with my bulky oven mitt, I prepared to set it on a rack to cool. But something happened about then. I lost my grip and the pie hit the floor–upside down, splattering hot potato up on the cabinet and all around. Not only had I lost the pie, but how would I ever clean up all that mess!

Charles suddenly appeared, leaving his favorite political show behind. He calmly began to scoop up the mess with a dustpan. “All that hard work,” he said sympathetically as he shoveled the gooey mess into the trash can.

Yes, kindness is priceless!

As you enjoy your Thanksgiving, remember this verse, Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, KINDNESS (my caps), goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


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Omaha Beach: Remembering our Veterans


A few months ago we crossed the English Channel by way of the Chunnel, a very smooth train ride in our auto. Only twenty-two minutes and we were there. We spent a lovely evening and night in comfortable rooms at a small motel in the village of Honfleur, France. The next morning we packed snugly into our friend Dave’s little red car ready to visit Normandy Beaches, particularly Omaha Beach.

None of us, four Americans and one Brit, had been there before. We were eager to learn what we could about this historic site where so many of our soldiers fought and died for us to enjoy freedom. We wanted, not just to learn facts, but somehow to honor those men and women who gave their all.

Our excursion took us through a beautiful countryside where cows grazed quietly, where high three-bladed windmills spun lazily on rounded hills, and quaint bungalows looked out from behind neat hedges or stone walls.

Dave had a good GPS telling him the turns to make, go right down this road, or left on that one. So we arrived at the Normandy Beaches on schedule about 10:30 in the morning and began to take in the views.

It was cold and gloomy, the sky gray and lowering, appropriate weather, we thought, for remembering D-Day. We pulled our jackets close and put up our hoods as we read historic markers, walked almost to the sea, looked down on Gold and Sword Beaches trying to imagine the terror, the bravery, the fortitude, the faith of those soldiers coming in to shore on that cold, cold morning in 1944.

We stood in a 360 degree theatre and watched a black and white film of the drama, gasping and cringing at what we saw. As we left with the crowd from that theatre, there was an eerie silence as if there were no words for how we felt.

There were flower offerings at the memorials, left there perhaps on the recent Memorial Day, or perhaps by family members who may go at any time to find their father, grandfather, uncle or cousin. Flags flicked and snapped in the wind.

It was growing late. We had not yet seen either of the beaches where thousands of Americans swarmed in that day to beaches, code names Omaha and Utah. Our map and Dave’s GPS were deficient in showing the way to specific beaches along the ragged coast.

The roads were narrow and winding, sometimes taking us close to a cottage porch, other times dividing fields and pastures. We stopped at crossroads several times for our navigator and driver to study the map or look at signs, in French of course, and try to find Omaha Beach. In our twisting and turning and backtracking we met a large touring bus several times and considered that the driver, also, must be lost, until we finally realized there were several buses!

I’m grateful that Harley and Dave didn’t give up and we finally arrived where the beautiful memorial and the crosses, row on row, honor our brave Americans who gave their all for our freedom. We spent a long time there reading names, considering their sacrifice and that of the survivors and all veterans right to the present. We took pictures and considered the history since that day and how horribly different it could be now if Hitler’s army had won. We walked through the large, beautifully constructed Memorial talking quietly about statues, flags, and brave veterans we know.


We were all in awe of the historical event and of the way it is commemorated.

By now the sky had brightened for us, even late in the afternoon. But on that day, June 6, 1944, I think it was brutal all day. As we walked towards the parking lot we were still trying to take it all in. Charles commented that bad weather was not at all good for our soldiers that day, but it was good for our cause in creating a surprise invasion since the enemy thought we wouldn’t go in under such horrible conditions. It was amazing, Harley added, that so many men with equipment made it to shore that day and fought and won that very crucial battle, though so many perished.

As we drove away, I noticed a nearby pasture where cows calmly grazed. The scene was so peaceful. All the horror of those days of the Normandy Invasion could be forgotten.

But the crosses are there as a witness.

My mother memorized and recited many times the poem by John McCrae who died in World War I after penning the lines that would resonate through the years. The first few lines read like this: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place, and in the sky, The larks, still bravely singing, fly, Scarce heard amid the guns below.”

P.S. At Wal Mart today veterans are giving red poppies as they have done for as long as I can remember. It’s a good time to tell them how much we appreciate them and make a donation. Tomorrow at our church veterans from each branch of service will be recognized.


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Button Party


Busy buttoners: Annette Harrell, Angela Jordan, Gloria Hobby and Juanita Jordan

Juanita, our leader, presented the idea at our women’s mission meeting. She had made thirty little girls’ dresses to go in Operation Child Christmas boxes. Would we like to get together and sew on the buttons? We were all excited about the opportunity.

I woke the day of our gathering with great anticipation for the day ahead. A button party at my house! I put ingredients for corn chowder in my big soup pot, and baked a loaf of pumpkin/banana bread. The aroma from the kitchen, I hoped, would be inviting as everyone arrived. Because of schedule conflicts, only four ladies came but we had a wonderful time.

We sat around a card table chatting and sewing. Juanita had attached a set of buttons on a safety pin to each little dress, and even marked the button sites with a pen. She had brought a box full of various colors of thread. All I could add were a couple pair of scissors and some bottles of water.

As we worked, Juanita gave us some more background as to how she got started making these dresses. “I’ve been given stack after bin full of material,” she said, “and I had to figure out how to use all this cloth wisely.”  She said that as her seamstress aunts gave up sewing they would give her all their material. Word got around that Juanita makes quilts, and friends began bringing their fabric. She laughed at herself as she told how overwhelmed she felt sometimes, yet would not turn down such nice gifts.

“I think God gave me the idea of making little girls’ dresses. I’d made plenty for my little girls as they were growing up but now I have no little ones. I called Samaritan’s Purse to see if they could use so many dresses. I couldn’t take on filling thirty Christmas boxes.”

The Samaritan’s Purse representative was thrilled over the prospect of colorful girls’ dresses in varying sizes. She told Juanita to send them in a separate container when our church sends Christmas boxes to Atlanta for processing. As volunteers go through the boxes, sometimes they need one more item to make a box complete. That’s when they select one from additional donations, like Juanita’s bin of dresses.

The dresses are adorable, each one different from any other.


Ready for Operation Christmas Child!

They are sizes two to ten, each one colorful and variously decorated with rick-rack, ribbons, ruffles, and pockets. One little dress I sewed buttons on had three pockets across the front. I could imagine a little girl picking up pebbles to put in her pockets! Some have sleeves, others are like jumpers.

We talked about the little girls, somewhere around the world, who might wear these practical, yet festive garments. I could almost hear the giggles of the children as they play in their new frocks. Someone reminded us of when we used to wear flour sack dresses and how pretty they could be. Annette remembered that once, when she was small, another child sang out for all to hear, “Annette’s wearing a flour sack dress.” Annette answered something like, “Don’t you wish your Mama made you one too?”

Angela showed us the head bands she has crocheted, one to go with each of the little dresses.


What beautiful work, Angela!

It was a wonderful morning of sharing stories about grandchildren, the old days, and new tips for our aches and pains. But our chatter always came back around to the joy of being involved in a worldwide endeavor.

After lunch, our little group began to disperse. There were five dresses still buttonless. I will take three to Mary Alice who couldn’t come and really wanted to help. The other two I finished myself. It was my treat–like relishing the last bite of pie!

Do you have your Christmas boxes ready? There’s still time! Our church’s deadline is November 11, others may be later. Get a box at your church or the Grady County Baptist Association office and head to the store!


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