Monthly Archives: April 2019

Hands Up


No, I’m not mixed up. I know it’s Easter, not Christmas. But this is my treasured hands poster, anytime of year!

The Lord God used such infinite skill in making human hands. Images of hands help us identify with the God Who made us. We picture God forming man in His own image, or spinning the stars into space with His fingers, or hiding Elijah in the cleft of a rock with His own hand.

Charles had a weird accident involving one hand years ago. He was inoculating a cow for brucellosis. The cow jerked and sent the syringe flying. Charles instinctively reached out to catch the syringe and received the cow’s shot in his own hand.

Whether from the syringe contents or its contaminants, Charles’ hand swelled, turned purple and black. His doctor put him on antibiotics but it got no better. He went to an orthopedic surgeon who told him the hand is so delicate and complex, so easily injured beyond repair, he would only do a lancing when all else failed. Three weeks after the accident, Charles’ hand swollen to grim proportions, the surgeon finally lanced the wound and it began to heal.

Our bodies are, according to the psalmist, “fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). But hands are especially “fearful and wonderful.” Think of all the actions of a hand: holding five cups at a time, grasping, clenching, petting, smoothing, tapping, banging, pulling, pushing, fisting, waving, prying, scrubbing, painting, writing, and the list goes on. Brush your hair, grate a carrot, clean a stovetop, knit, sew, twist a lid on or off, all thanks to the wonderful craftsmanship of your hands. Build houses, connect wires, create computers, open a door–yes, your hand at work!

Hands, specifically fingers, are part of our uniqueness. Your fingerprint establishes who you are. No one in the whole world has the very same fingerprint. I  discovered in working through some files a small card saved from many years ago. One of my children had made it in Sunday school, camp, or maybe Vacation Bible School. On red card stock a smaller white paper is glued. A child’s thumbprints placed carefully form the shape of a cross. Underneath on the white are the words: “When Jesus was on the cross, I was on His mind.”

Sign language is spoken with hands. The deaf can “read” shapes and signals of hands. A music director uses his hands to give clues to the choir. A guitarist, a violinist, or a harpist uses his fingers in very fine moves as does a surgeon, a dentist, and a jeweler.

An important vote can be taken by show of hands. Praise and adoration of God can be shown by lifting hands and clapping hands. Deals can be finalized with the shaking of hands and friends can meet, greet, and depart using handshakes.

A baby early on discovers his hands. It’s such a cute development in little ones. You see their little hand heading toward their mouth and their eyes curiously focused on this thing that actually belongs to them. One of the early activities for preschoolers is to make handprints and to create wonderful works of finger paint art. They learn to mold shapes out of modeling clay, to balance blocks higher and higher, and to help in the kitchen making cookies and mixing anything. Climbing trees and playground equipment, jumping rope, holding to bicycle handlebars, dong somersaults–using hands, hands, hands!

My great grandchildren made me a hand poster for Christmas on year. I treasure it, a unique reminder of their individuality.

So many positive phrases use the hand as a symbol. “Give a hand up,” “helping hand,” “work of his hands,” “right hand of fellowship,” “many hands make quick work,” “lend a hand,” “hold my hand,” so many “hands on deck,” a hand-size bream, or a horse that is fifteen “hands high.”

I just visited a friend who is 102 years old. She was curled under a bright pretty quilt, only her tiny face showing. Her smile lit her eyes and she thanked me for coming. Then she worked one hand out from under the quilt and gripped mine. We shared a moment of affection before her mind blinked off.

Where am I going with all this handy talking? Nowhere except to say let’s be very thankful for our hands–young supple hands, old gnarled hands, scarred hands, graceful hands, even quivering hands.

Reba McIntyre used to sing a song about her Daddy’s hands, disciplining when needed, but always loving. It reminded me of our Father in heaven Who made the universe, made the very tree to which His Son was nailed to take away our sins, a Father Who disciplines but Who forever loves us.

In heaven, we will recognize Jesus by the nail scars in His hands.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Indian Spring

It was my idea to clean Indian Spring. For years I’d wanted to see the flagstones on the “floor” of the spring but it was clogged with mud and leaves except just where the clear, cool water issued from the earth. Even when we raked it as kids and shoveled silt out we never saw the flagstones. When I questioned them, my siblings didn’t remember there ever being flagstones. But somehow I knew they were there.

The perfect time to dig out the spring had arrived. Charles and I and our two children, William and Julie, were vacationing at Pinedale. I wanted the children to have some of the woodsy experiences I had enjoyed growing up there. Charles greatly enjoyed pruning shrubbery to my Mom’s specifications. So here we were–and Indian Spring was calling!

One July day four of us set out for the South Woods, armed with a couple of shovels, to dig out the spring. It was our children, William and Julie, their cousin Tami, and Charles and I. How I persuaded them to do this, I can’t remember!

Indian Spring, so named by my father because the Cherokee had dug out the pool in the distant past, was at the foot of a high steep bluff. It was surrounded by tall Lombardy poplar trees, oaks and wonderful laurels big enough we could set up housekeeping under them. Three poplars clustered around another smaller spring just below Indian Spring. The poplars we called “The Three Sisters” and the spring was the “Indian Children’s Spring.”

The spring itself is consistent and faithful. The clevity the Indians dug around the spring is about fifteen feet wide and amazingly neatly circular. Stone steps, flanked by a couple of wild azaleas, descended to where the water entered. There a nice wide mossy stone made it possible to kneel to drink or to dip water. The small area where the water bubbled out was clean and clear, made so by the spring itself.

My Dad had always told us that the trail along nearby Indian Brook had first been used by the Indians and possibly, too, the cart road that wound along the base of the Bluff. There were a few arrowheads still to be found when I was growing up, though most had been discovered and collected by Dad and my older siblings. As I told the children this Indian lore, I could tell they didn’t really believe it. They weren’t sure we’d find flagstones either, especially since none of their aunts and uncles remembered seeing them. But they had gotten into the mystery of this adventure and they weren’t backing out yet.

I showed the children how we had made cups with large tulip leaves folded into a cone shape and fastened with a small needle-like stick. I showed them the twin oaks between the spring and the brook with a gnarled seat between. My Dad had wedged a board in between the trees to make my Mom a seat and the trees had grown together meeting in the middle of the board. All three of the children giggled and squealed as they walked the footlog across Indian Brook and chased crawdads in the clear bubbling brook.

Charles and I started digging and the children took turns too. There were years of leaves, mud and small twigs in the lower side of the pool away from the actual spring. We thought to clear that all out first and work our way back to other side. It wasn’t easy. The water was ice cold which felt good for a few minutes, then became numbing. One by one we climbed out to warm our feet.

The job seemed insurmountable. Whose idea was this anyway? Of course they all looked at me with hopes I’d give up. But I wouldn’t give up. Charles, still humoring me though he was very doubtful, suggested we dig deeper in a smaller area, concentrate our efforts. I loved him for sticking with me!

But was it all to be in vain? Well, at least the spring would be clearer than before. And we’d all had a good time working together and exploring the woods.

After another long hour I was about to cave. Where had I gotten that strong picture in my mind of flagstones on the bottom of this pool?

Suddenly there was a clink of metal on stone. Everyone got excited then as if we’d struck gold. After much labor we could feel wide flagstones beneath our feet. We worked with renewed zeal until we could feel flagstones over almost half the whole spring. We all sat on the bank waiting for the water to clear so we could see. Finally, in amazement, we gazed at a floor of wide flat brown and gray brook stones.

By this time the sun had sunk behind the Bluff, we were exhausted;  it was time to head back.

We trudged back to Stone Gables, a tired, muddy, straggly but happy bunch. On our way we passed the schoolhouse cabin where my siblings and I had studied English kings and U.S. states and capitals. We crossed Ramble Brook where we had built dams and caught water lizards. We trekked around Tulip Hill, across Sand Flat and up Sunny Lawn toward the house.

The children ran ahead, suddenly alive with new energy at the thought of the delicious supper Grandmother would be cooking, maybe even a blackberry cobbler with berries we’d picked earlier. I knew my Mom would be excited about our find. She herself hadn’t seemed to know they were there. But she was always very interested in Indian lore and showed great sadness over the fact that the Indians had been driven long ago from this land we loved.

It would have been good and right to return to our digging job the next day, to finish what we started. But we had many other things to do, like going to Lake Russell to swim and picnic. We never uncovered the rest of the flagstones. But I’m sure they are there, just as the Indians laid them 150 years ago or more, and just as we discovered them that hot July day about 1977.

How did I know those flagstones were there? I’m still not sure. I think, though, that my Dad told me about them in such a vivid description that it was if I had actually seen them. He was capable of that.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Lamp To My Feet


Today’s child may not have an image of a lamp that might guide one’s feet, at least not as clear a one as a child of the 1950’s would have. The verse from Psalm 119:105 reads, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” What does that mean? That we hold God’s Word, the Bible, against our feet as we walk? Or that God’s Word is like a light for our feet. And what would a portable lamp really look like?

Electricity, known as “lights”, were installed in our house when I was about fifteen. Prior to that our light was from the fires, the one or two flashlights, candles, and kerosene lamps. Lamps were very, very important. Someone had to light each one in the house before dusk turned to night. Someone had to wash the chimneys each week to keep them bright and clear so light from the wick would be strong. Someone had to trim the cotton wicks so the flames would be even and give out a good steady light. Someone had to replace wicks trimmed so many times they no longer reached the kerosene in the bowls below. Someone regularly had to refill the bases with kerosene from a large spouted can.

There was one lamp to light the stairs, one for each bedroom, one for the kitchen, and two for Daddy’s study where Mamma read to us each night. If one was needed elsewhere it would be borrowed and then returned to its usual place. Normally, a lamp was never taken outside. So maybe I wouldn’t have such a clear image of a lamp lighting one’s feet if I didn’t remember that night in 1953.

It was a borrowed lamp on a summer night that lit the feet of two of my sisters as they left our house trailing down the hill. We could see a halo around the girls’ feet as they walked. It was a dark night with no moon to show the path so the lamplight guided them around obstacles in their way. That light jiggled with every step Jackie took and became smaller and smaller in the distance. My little sister and I watched from an upstairs window, sorry that we weren’t allowed to go on this strange adventure. Not that Ginger and Jackie were “allowed.” They were just going anyway.

Usually Ginger instigated adventures but this time it was Jackie’s idea. We knew someone had joined Stan and Charlie who were spending the night in the little guest house at the bottom of our hill. We heard a car, saw its lights turn off, heard loud laughter, occasional shouts, and even some music. Mamma and Daddy, at the back of our house, were apparently oblivious to the party at the foot of the hill.

“I just know John has come and we need to go get in on the fun,” said Jackie, trying to convince Ginger who was already dressed for bed with curlers in her hair.

“I don’t know,” said Ginger. “It doesn’t sound like only brothers to me. They’re loud but never that loud.”

“Oh, please, let’s go. John’s come all the way from Atlanta. He’ll be hungry. We’ll take them some bread and butter and surprise them.”

Jackie finally won, they took the lamp and slipped down the stairs and out the door.

There was something prophetic about Jackie’s taking the lead that night. Because the fellow visiting our brothers was not John. It was the Virginian who would become Jackie’s husband. He told us later that when he saw Jackie that night her face was spotlighted by the dim glow of the lamp whose chimney was woefully smoked from the jiggly walk down the hill. Jackie’s look of total amazement when she saw Fred triggered something in his chest.

Somehow the image of that small pool of light around our sisters’ feet as they walked that night comes to mind as I read this verse. The lamp lit their way right then guiding them around sharp stones, sticks and pine burrs. Probably Jackie was barefoot.

But, jumping ahead, The Word, God’s lamp, lit Jackie’s path into following His commands on much greater decisions, such as whom she should marry. Just so His Word can give us immediate help as well as long range guidance.

There are only two prerequisites for one’s receiving this wonderful guidance: 1)read the Word, the Lamp, to hear His voice, and 2)submit to His leading as you follow His path.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized