Monthly Archives: November 2021

Thank You, God

Thank You, God, for this beautiful fall season. Thank you for wind in the trees, for geese flying in a vee, for cotton white in the fields, for pumpkins piled up, for scuppernongs on the vine. Thank you for chilly mornings, longer nights. Thank You for healing from Covid, for miracles in so many forms. God, I just can’t stop thanking You!

Thank You for the waxing and waning moon and how its cycles affect crops, the tides, and even the birth of babies. You are amazing! Thank You for the millions of stars that remind us of your promises to Abraham that he would be the “father of many nations”–and how You have kept every one of those promises.

Thank you for my walker. I’d like to be able to walk without it but in the meantime, it’s a good companion. Its wheels swivel quite handily; I can walk almost anywhere with it except up and down steps and through thick grass. When I get tired I can sit down on the seat that I also use to haul things around. Thank You for the ability to walk without a walker for 77 years.

Thank You for all our senses–sight, hearing, taste, smell, and feeling–and for all the beautiful things You share with us through these senses. We enjoy the drama the sun puts on every night and every morning. We try to discern all the colors in a rainbow and remember your promise to Noah that we have inherited. We listen to Beethoven who, though deaf at the time, wrote the Ninth Symphony, so beautiful. We can hear the birds singing and children laughing, the honk of a horn, an airplane flying over. We can taste Thanksgiving pies, tender turkey and wonderful dressing. We can taste our salty tears of joy and sadness. We can smell fresh linens, yeast bread baking, roses in bloom, and rain. We can feel a warm hug, a cat’s tail circling our legs, a hot bath, and the textures of yarn and fabric.

Thank You, God, for our family and for a time to gather around the table. Thank You for my energetic veterinarian husband of 55 years, for his patience, wisdom, and tenderness. Thank You for a tall handsome son, Will, who is so good to us, so thoughtful and cheerful and for his wife and children. Thank You for all our five grandchildren and five great grandchildren and for our dear daughter, Julie, who has gone to be with You.

Thank You for bluebirds and cardinals, for squirrels and rabbits and deer. Thank You for butterflies flitting over the lantana as the season wanes. Thank You for trees whose leaves turn bright and then fall right on schedule. Thank You for rain, sleet, and snow, all under Your control. Thank You for a warm toasty fire.

Thank You for the sky, for the vastness of it like an ocean, for billowing clouds and wispy feathery ones. Thank You for bright sunny skies and for grey hovering ones. Thank You for waking me this morning with the tune of an old hymn in my head: “Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the sky of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.” (Some of the original words of this hymn were written about the year 1100. Other writers include Lari Goss, Mike Speck, and Danny Zaloudik.)

Thank You for our church and for freedom to worship there. Thank You for friends, old and new. Thank You for the encouragement You give us through these sweet instruments of Your mercy and grace. Thank You for the Bible, our guidebook, our love letter from You, for the promises kept, Your forgiveness and patience.

My youngest great grandson, Kaison, eight years old, came bouncing in while I was typing and leaned over my shoulder to see what I was writing about. He promptly asked if he, too, could write a thank you to God. What he typed on my iPad screen sums up my prayer of thanksgiving. Here it is:

“Thank you, GOD, for sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins and for making our beautiful world.”

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!


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A Red Leaf

We were walking around our driveway, each in our own thoughts, when Charles spied a red leaf ahead of us, picked it up, and handed it to me with a knowing smile. We both knew what the red leaf meant so no words were needed. I treasured the red leaf for several hours until it started to turn brown.

We’ve been enjoying this little gifting of a red leaf for almost 56 years. One or the other of us finds a red leaf and gives it to the other. More often, red leaves are found in the fall, but some shrubs put forth stray red leaves other times of the year, like nandina. It only needs to be a red leaf, regardless of size.

This is how it started. When we were newlyweds, Charles in vet school and I working at University housing, we were asked to help chaperone a Baptist college retreat. It was very odd, being chaperones for our classmates. We forgot most of the time that we were responsible for making sure everyone was safe and reasonably proper. Most of the time we just enjoyed the opportunity to be away from campus a day or two, studying God’s word and having hilarious good times with our friends. One of the speakers talked about ways to build good relationships, even very small, silent ways. He’s the one who told us about the meaning of a red leaf.

We were in the north Georgia mountains in the autumn, and there was beautiful color all around us. It wasn’t hard to find a red leaf. On a rare quiet walk, just the two of us, we each found a red leaf to give to the other. We have found delight in continuing this little ceremony ever since.

Of course the exchange is more romantic when it’s between sweethearts or spouses (who are still sweethearts!), even grey headed ones. But this tiny gesture can mean a lot when practiced by good friends, cousins, parents and children.

The red leaf simply means “I love you.”

When I think about the One who provides the beautiful red leaves of sweetgum, maple, sourwood, dogwood, and red oaks, I’m so blessed with the realization that God is saying “I love you.” It’s just one of His many imaginative ways of communicating with us. To receive the message, though, we have to see the red leaf and accept it. Just as we may walk past a red leaf without noticing it, we can often miss a word from the Lord as significant as that of the still small voice He used to talk to Elijah.

Remember, when you see a red leaf it means “I love you.” Maybe there’s someone you’d like to gift with a bright red leaf today!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

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Baseball Lessons

We don’t always watch the World Series. But the Braves were playing for the championship so we watched every night, mourning the nights they lost and cheering vigorously when they won. We agreed that we had the best seats “in the house,” not having to elbow through crowds and not having to pay a monstrous amount. We just settled back in our comfy chairs until someone made a big hit when we almost danced.

Watching the games, I began considering some things I’ve learned about baseball. Though my knowledge is meager, I’m going to share a few of those baseball lessons. Hope not to embarrass my son and grandsons!

You might say my experience with baseball began when I was eleven. I was visiting my oldest sister Pat and her husband David in Charleston, West Virginia. Ostensibly, I was to care for their baby girl, Lorna, while they moved to their new house. However, all my older siblings (eight of them) were ever watchful for giving us younger ones a new experience and this was no exception. Hence, one hot summer evening I accompanied David to my first baseball game. Only now do I realize what a drag it must have been for poor David to have the responsibility for an ignorant little girl instead of sharing the game with Pat. On the other hand, David, who loved baseball better than his favorite chocolate pie, was engrossed in the game and didn’t notice I was so bored I went to sleep and all but fell out of the bleachers. Why did everyone yell and clap when the score didn’t change? What in the world was there to get excited about when, time and again, a batter tried to hit the ball and couldn’t?

Baseball Lesson #1:

If you don’t know the rules, there’s no joy in the game.

Forward a few years: One afternoon at a college church retreat I found myself “forced” into playing softball. I still didn’t know the rules and had no skill. But I did know the point was to hit the ball and then run as if a monster were after you. So I did that. Problem was, I didn’t have a clue when to stop. I collided so hard with the third baseman, an elderly deacon, that we both hit the dust. I was hurt very little and I think he got up laughing, but I was humiliated beyond words.

Baseball Lesson #2:

Knowing when to stop is as important as knowing when to go.

I learned enough about football to enjoy yelling for the Georgia Bulldogs but still was baseball ignorant. Then, in 1973, when our son was five years old, we signed him up for tee-ball. He has been an avid lover of baseball and other sports ever since. I took him to every game and practice and watched as he progressed through Little League. I didn’t want to miss a single game. This was my child so I was very interested. I began to learn the rules, at least in rudimentary fashion. I watched every move my young catcher made springing from a crouch to chase a wild ball or trying to put a player out at home plate. Listening to other excited parents nd coaches, I learned some of the baseball phrases: “Good eye, good eye!” “Shake it off, shake it off,” “Heads up in the outfield!” “Run, run, run!” and “Touch the base!” I clapped wildly when my star hit a grounder and made it to first base, or when, wonder of wonders, he hit a homerun. I cringed when he struck out and retired to the dugout looking hot and unhappy. Good moves or bad, I clapped as did the other supportive parents. I tried to listen as Charles, much better versed in baseball than I, explained what was happening so I wouldn’t clap at the wrong time.

Baseball Lesson #3:

When you love someone, you become deeply interested in what means a lot to them.

For a few years in the 1980’s several family members met each fall for a few days at St. Simons Island. My mother was always a part of the group. In fact, it was John’s “trip for Mamma” to which others of us joined if we could. One year our vacation collided with the World Series. One night we were seated at a seafood restaurant waiting for our entrees when, on television, a World Series game began with a soloist singing the National Anthem. Mamma, who knew even less than I did about baseball, very elegantly stood at our table with her hand to her heart. The rest of us at our table, rose with one accord, while other diners stared. We might not all be smart baseball fans, but we were fans of our country. And we knew, even as adults, we’d better do what Mamma did.

Baseball Lesson #4:

Loyalty to our country and our team (whichever team that is) is very important. Loyalty is a characteristic of our parents and grandparents that we must pass on to the next generation.

Now here we are pulling for the Braves in the last game of the series against Astros. It’s the first time Braves have made it to the World Series since 1999. The score for the series is Braves 3-2 and Astros 2-3. Braves need only one more win to become champions. Midnight approaches and here we are with sleepy eyes glued to the television as our team plays a spectacular game, shutting out the Astros 7-0. We text back and forth with our son in Birmingham: “Way to go, Braves!” “Monumental homerun!” “Can you believe that double play?” I enjoy details that the little ignorant girl of eleven knew nothing of: the pitchers’ strategy in striking a player out, the timing and accuracy on the part of those batting, those pitching, and certainly the outfielders, and I enjoy observing the characteristics of each player and getting to know Rosario, Freddie Freeman, Soler, and others as if they were friends.

When the Braves win the World Series for the first time since 1995 we celebrate with them as well as with crowds of fans in Houston and Atlanta. Somehow, their win makes us feel like winners too! The players, their manager, and certainly the fans are ecstatic. Players and officials are almost tongue tied when they are interviewed. I think every one of them makes mention of how they won only because they played as a team. Several give glory to God for their success and for pulling them through great difficulties in the past year.

Baseball Lesson #5:

Keep your eyes on the ball, never give up, and be prepared at all times. Don’t go to sleep when, inning after inning, nothing happens. You will surely miss something! When wonderful things happen, be sure to recognize all who contributed to the success and, especially, remember to thank God. And celebrate!

Go Braves!


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