Procrastinator’s Days

Procrastinator’s Days

One of these days we gotta get organized …

A woman’s work is never done (something I often heard my mother say) …

Housework, housework, I love housework (sung sarcastically to the tune of “Pickles, Pickles, I like pickles,” a song I learned teaching children’s choir)

Over the Christmas holidays I decided to tackle some projects that have been niggling at me all year. I made progress in organizing our kitchen and am still working on that. Like a true procrastinator, I get sidetracked while doing projects. Finding one cherished item makes me go put it in a place where I will be able to find it, and when I go to that place, I find still more stuff that needs to be put away. This is why women never catch up…there is always more stuff to do than meets the eye. And sometimes you get sidetracked doing another project and forget to complete the original one. But I digress. (Ha.)

I kept feeling compelled to blog, so I finally gave in. Besides, I needed to sit for a while, I rationalized.

John is busy in our downstairs bedroom scrubbing the wall (we have some moisture problems that we need to address…meanwhile, the cinderblock walls have started to show signs of mildew, so he is hard at work with a scrub brush and some orange cleaner we have found that is a good all-purpose cleaner) as I write this. I was working on organizing the bookshelf in the kitchen, and I keep finding so many things we have put up in a hurry, thinking we would get around to reading them later. Well, guess what. Now some magazines have been sitting on those shelves for at least 2 years. I am tossing stuff in recycling right and left. I am filling a box for Goodwill with cookbooks I no longer use. This is such a freeing feeling! But I can take it only in small doses.

This morning I found my dad’s address book, which surprising had some fairly updated information. He had my, John’s, Daniel’s, and Julie’s cell phone numbers. He had Daniel’s first apartment address (only two residences behind) and Julie’s address in Spain. I found addresses and phone numbers for Helen’s (his wife’s) family, some living and some dead. I discovered obituaries for my uncle and cousin Clifford Blessing, my aunt Myrtle Blessing, my cousin Annie Fletcher, and my aunt Kate Couch. I found some photos of Daddy taken in 1979. He was quite a handsome man. Helen, in her beautiful handwriting, had written on the back: Walter Leonard 1979. It was like going through a family scrapbook. Funny how you find things tucked in odd places. Until 2015, this address book (with Hummel figurine-type drawings) had been used since the 1970s, when my aunt Euchie (Eunice Necessary) gave it to my parents as a Christmas gift.

On the top shelf of the bookshelf (the only one I’ve dusted so far) I found cookbooks from churches that have been special to me over the years: Broad Street United Methodist (inherited from my aunt Reb) and Lynn Garden Baptist in Kingsport and Crievewood Baptist Church in Nashville. I think I have one more church cookbook that John’s aunt Macon gave to us as a wedding present; it’s from First United Methodist Church in Savannah, TN, but I haven’t run across it yet.

I have found several recipes that I will never cook and decided to get unsentimental because my dad wrote some of them…if I save everything I find in his handwriting, I will not find a place for everything. One was for corn relish. If I recall correctly, it tasted sort of like rotten corn. You have to let it sit for 4 weeks after putting in all the ingredients. Maybe I better dig that recipe out and see if I can take a picture of it. No, it’s already in recycling. (I think perhaps I have confused it with pickled corn, which really did taste like rotten corn…Reb always kept several pints of it in her basement.)

This weekend I have been in the house for four days…work was called off on Friday due to ice, and the first time I got out was to go to church yesterday. For this long weekend I have chosen to spend my time as a gift: it’s Procrastinator’s Day(s)! I can do some things that I don’t have the chance to do in the normal crazy-busy schedule of my life while I am working full-time.

Today I have been catching up on correspondence, cleaning a little here and there, and enjoying having time to clean my stove, wash dishes, clean out the coffee maker, do a little laundry, and spot-clean in various places.

My mother used to save projects for summertime when she was out of school from her teaching job. She certainly kept me occupied, starting in elementary school (and paying me a nickel an hour, which I thought was a grand deal, for certain projects): mowing the lawn, washing windows, painting rooms inside our house, trimming around the trees in our yard with those old-fashioned scissor-like clippers (it’s a wonder I didn’t get carpal tunnel syndrome way back then), picking vegetables from our garden (with my dad) and helping Mommy can or freeze them, and helping with laundry. I don’t ever seem to have time for such projects at home unless I block out a weekend or take a few days of vacation (and who wants to do that with their vacation time?) to do such things. I’ve decided that I will just declare a Procrastinator’s Day several times a year and spend it doing mundane chores that I don’t especially enjoy doing but that need to be done. It’s about time to organize under the bathroom sinks and kitchen sink. Yikes. But for now I am concentrating on the kitchen. Then I will move to the bedroom, where I will clean my bedside table, which is spilling over with books and is quite dusty. Next up, clean the top of my and John’s chests of drawers. And then (the biggie) clean out the bookshelves in our bedroom. I have a small library down there and need to share some of those books with others. Some I will give to friends, and the rest to Goodwill.

Well, if I’m ever going to get anything done, I must get back to the kitchen. I’m encouraged to see some things starting to get into shape. Who knows, maybe I will even dust the living room (which I have done in the last 2 or 3 weeks). I could even get really organized like my boss and have an index card file with tasks written on each card, and rotate through the card file every quarter. Nah. Probably ain’t gonna happen. Besides, I can always save something to my Google drive and not have to waste time writing out cards.

Hasta luego!


Kermit, Virginia, As I Knew It

Kermit, Virginia, As I Knew It

by Walter P. Leonard

Kermit, a small community “South of the Mountain” (Clinch), is located about twelve miles west of Weber City, Virginia, on State Route 614. It was once a very thriving community. The town was laid out for future development. There was a post office, a general grocery store, a mission church, and train station all within less than the distance of a football field. These were located beside a railroad that featured a freight station and a building that served as a place for passengers to wait for the passenger trains.

In the early days there were four passenger trains passing through Kermit, two in the morning and two in the afternoons. The Post Office that served Kermit got its name from a Mr. Cassard who was president of the sand plant located nearby. We do not know where Kermit got its name.

The sand plant was located on Clinch Mountain above where the railroad enters the tunnel through the mountain. The tunnel exits at Speers Ferry on the opposite side of the mountain. This tunnel is 9/10 of a mile long. The railroad is presently owned by the CSX transportation company.

The sand quarry did not operate for many years due to the fact that much of the rock had iron in it. This made the sand that was produced unfit for fine glassware. The sand was shipped by rail to Pennsylvania, where it was used in the manufacture of glassware.


The general store was owned and operated by W. C. Bray, followed by John Pendleton and then Bill Williams. When the store closed, Mallie Carol and her husband opened a small store about one-half mile west of Kermit. L. D. Blessing operated a small store one-half mile east of Kermit.

Kermit Mission

The Kermit Mission was begun by Miss Ellen Bergen, aunt of the world-famous ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Among others who served at the Mission were: Miss Henry, Miss Breedlove, Miss Winfred Smith, Miss Martha Milander, Rev. Frank Beck, and Rev. Martin Perry. There were others whose names we cannot recall.

In addition to the mission house, the Mission owned a large dwelling house where the missionaries lived.

Catron’s Chapel

Rev. Ples Jenkins, a Primitive Baptist preacher, held a very Spirit-filled revival that inspired the people of the community to build a Primitive Baptist church. Mr. and Mrs. Roy Catron, along with Mr. and Mrs. N. C. Jones, donated land for the purpose of building a Primitive Baptist church. This gift of land was conveyed to the church in 1941.

Post Office

As mentioned before, Cassard Post Office was near the Kermit freight station. Mail was delivered and collected by the passenger trains daily. Mr. Jacob “Jake” Hensley was the first postmaster and served until he was murdered on his way home as he traveled through a trestle under the railroad. He was succeeded by his wife, Lavada, for a short time. Lavada was followed by Lonza Gilliam Buchanan, who served from 1926 until 1937. She had as her assistant Callie Leonard Gilliam.* Maggie Leonard** succeeded her and served into the early 1940s. She was followed by Edna Bellamy Housewright, who served for a short period of time before the fourth-class post office was closed permanently.

Kermit has contributed to society: ministers, school teachers, and Internal Revenue officer, accountants, bookkeepers, secretaries, and other professional people, along with three people who gave their lives in World War II serving their country. Although many of the things that once made Kermit well-known are gone, Kermit is still a place dear to our hearts, and many fine people are still carrying on.


This article was published in the Scott County Virginia Star sometime in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

*My paternal aunt

**My paternal grandmother

My uncle, Robert Leonard, was the IRS agent mentioned in the last paragraph. My dad was a bookkeeper for many years at a small appliance store in Weber City. He worked for 18 years as a production clerk at the glass plant in Kingsport, TN (it was called American St. Gobain and then AFG Industries when he worked there). When Daddy retired in 1983, he had worked there for 18 years.


To learn more about Scott County, Virginia, visit


Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow

Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow

My original blog title was How Do You Sum Up a Year? Rather an impossible task for me right now. I haven’t blogged since May. This has been kind of a crazy year. (I’m not going to go into details. It’s enough to know one thing that’s happened during the past two months.)

I am reveling in having time off from work during the holidays. I planned my whole year around work, something I’m not sure my colleagues do.  I needed vacation a couple of times but didn’t take it due to deadlines at work. Deadlines. We live and die by deadlines in my business. Sometimes I feel depleted as I edit one more catalog, rewrite copy for one more book, write back cover copy for books that are going to Production (months after I have written trade copy, consumer copy, designed author media kits, etc.). It’s almost like starting all over to write back cover copy. Enough about work. I am trying to distance myself from it mentally so I can go back refreshed in the New Year.

A huge change occurred in our lives a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. One morning, out of the blue, I got a phone call from sister-in-law, with whom I hadn’t spoken or been in contact with (though I tried) since 2007. “Anne, it’s Bonnie.” At first I thought it was a Bonnie from our church choir, but the voice didn’t sound like hers. Then, incredulously, I said, “Bonnie?”

And my dear sister-in-law said, “Yes, it’s me.” In her typical matter-of-fact approach to life, she told me that she was seriously ill, that she was worried about her husband (my husband’s brother),  and she hoped that we would be able to support him during her illness and beyond. We talked for quite a while, and I found myself relaxing and reconnecting with her after so long. We used to be close like sisters. Then something happenedbetween my husband and hers. Since she and my brother-in-law lived states away, it was easy to just cut off the relationship.

I don’t know how many times I have prayed about this situation, hoping that the estranged brothers would work through their differences and maybe have a workable adult relationship for the first time in their lives. Sometimes God answers prayers in ways you wouldn’t expect, and I didn’t particularly like the way that God answered my prayers. “Not fair!” I fumed to God, after discovering the my sister-in-law is very sick indeed and probably won’t survive a year. She had cancer wrapped around her colon, for which she had surgery sometime around Thanksgiving. The news was not good. She knew that she was in bad shape, having lost 30 pounds since January. She was small framed to begin with and has never weighed over 115-120 pounds. The surgeon reported that she has a mass around her aorta and another around her kidney. He removed the mass around her intestines.

Well, I got a little ahead of myself here. I was talking about Bonnie’s phone call, and then i skipped to her surgery. In the meantime we had several phone conversations. The most awkward ones were with her husband, but I appreciated that Bonnie had the courage to reach out to me and let me know about her health situation before she dies. She told me in that first phone call that she didn’t think she would opt to undergo chemotherapy. She was concerned that her husband would try to talk her into trying chemo. John and I began visiting her at the hospital after she had her surgery. (John sat with his brother while she was in surgery, and the first time I met him face-to-face after 10 years, he invited me to go back to recovery with him as soon as he was able to see Bonnie. That felt a little weird, and I knew Bonnie wouldn’t remember my being there, but I went anyway. She was groggy, of course, from anesthesia and didn’t want to wake up. She was also obviously in pain. The nurse in the recovery room was trying to get her to press her button to release pain meds, and I thought, “You are nuts if you think she is going to be cognizant enough to press this button tonight.” I didn’t say anything, though. Rudy and I left after about maybe 5 minutes back in recovery. He was exhausted from a long day of waiting and just wanted to get home and go to sleep.

So our holidays have been full of hospital visits. Bonnie and I have enjoyed catching up with each other. She has been so alert most of the time. The Sunday after her surgery on Wednesday, she slept all day and did not wake when Julie, my daughter, and I went to see her. Rudy had just left; he had been with her most of the day, and he said she had slept all day. (We ran into him as he was going to his car and we were headed to the parking garage.)

I have been reticent about stepping back too quickly into Rudy’s life. We have sat around Bonnie’s bedside (she was in the hospital for 5 weeks, nearly 6) and chatted a little. I took food by the house where they are staying in Nashville (and have been since Hurricane Irma) … didn’t think to take Thanksgiving dinner leftovers, but I cooked one of my favorite go-to casseroles, a hot chicken salad, the week after Thanksgiving. Yesterday, Christmas Day, I packed up some leftovers from our meal (spiral-sliced ham, ambrosia, macaroni casserole, and a strawberry/cream cheese/pretzel dessert. John and I went to see Bonnie first at the rehab where she is recuperating and trying to rebuild her strength. She is quite weak after so much time in the hospital bed and is taking physical and occupational therapy to try to get stronger. She has made progress and is able to walk short distances (around her room, down the hall, and this weekend, around her house). Rudy brought her home on Christmas Eve for part of the day. She was so homesick to see their two Maine Coon cats, Hans and Katerina. She got some good loving time with them. And then she went back to the health care center overnight, and Rudy brought her back home for Christmas Day).

After going to Bonnie’s room at the health care center and finding she wasn’t there, we figured she was at home, so we drove to their house, about 2 miles from the health care center. Their minivan was running, and I thought, “Well, I guess I should’ve called and seen what their plans were,” but we have found it easier to just show up. Rudy was warming up the van so it wouldn’t chill Bonnie (she’s down to 85 pounds) upon their return to rehab. Meanwhile we arrived with the food. I was just going to put it in the fridge, and John and I would leave, but Bonnie had other plans. I didn’t even think about offering her food because she typically doesn’t have much appetite. On Dec. 23, she ate maybe 3 bites of her dinner while we and Rudy were there, even though he tried to encourage her to eat more. Last night she was interested in the ham, so I put a small piece and a spoonful of macaroni casserole on a paper plate and microwaved it. She actually ate most of what was on her plate. She had also eaten well at the health care center…at least the red velvet cake was gone, and she’d had some ham there too.

Visiting Bonnie reminded me of spending time at the hospital two years in a row before my mom died back in 1991. The hospital and nursing home can be depressing places to be during the holidays. However, it has not felt depressing this time, even though the health situation and outlook are not hopeful.

Bonnie has made her peace with her disease. She told me in that first phone call that she had accepted her situation, but Rudy wasn’t there yet. He is grieving, as any loving spouse would, knowing that death is imminent. It’s not been a bed of roses for him or Bonnie…she has moments of panic, which are quite normal. Oh, I haven’t mentioned that she is a mental health professional. Therapists struggle with the same situations as everyone else. She knows in her head what she is going through. I found myself saying, “Hey, be gentle with yourself. You are venturing through territory you haven’t been through before. This is scary stuff and a daunting journey.” We have shared sweet moments together, and I find myself grieving in advance for losing her. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. You reconnect with a loved one only to find that there’s not much time left. However, there is grace in our circumstances. I’m so glad Bonnie had the courage to pick up the phone and reach out to me that day back in November.

God is good…all the time. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” (Psalm 23). Even when we can’t feel the divine presence, God is there. He gives strength to the weak, and he comforts those who are struggling. Bonnie has found peace in the book Jesus Calling by Sarah Bessey. I occasionally send her texts with messages of encouragement and hope from what I read in The Upper Room daily devotional guide and other sources. Her soul is in a good place, and I am privileged to share this final journey with her.






Walter, Powerful Warrior

I’ve been going through my dad’s belongings, slowly and tenderly, in the past few months since his death on October 28, 2016. As I find correspondence (he saved everything, including bills as far back as the 1990s), I open each envelope, because I never know what unexpected treasure might be stuffed inside.

I have found pictures of my children in various cute and awkward stages–Julie dressed up in various costumes and clothes, striking a dramatic pose (she’s always had the acting bug), an adolescent Daniel…I found one pic of him smiling as he sported his Mohawk his junior year of high school. I see the sensitive, artistic side of Daniel in most of the pictures. There are pictures of Daniel and Julie playing Yahtzee with my dad at Christmastime.

But then I found one letter written by my grandmother that left me tearful. It brings to mind the lyrics of a song, “Find Us Faithful,” that our choir at Crievewood Baptist Church often sang:

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover
And the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them
To the road we each must find

Words by Jon Mohr. Copyright 1988 Birdwing Music/Jonathan Mark Music (admin. by The Sparrow Corp.). All rights reserved.

My grandmother, who suffered from congestive heart failure, was writing to my aunt (April 15, 1977). A portion of her letter describes my dad so well:

I’ve had so much fluid at times I could not hardly get my breath. Walter came and stayed with me last night. We got up and fixed breakfast and he made his bed and carried in stove wood and pumped a bucketful of water and started home about 6:30. I think he goes to work at 8:00.

Also tucked in this envelope is a small envelope labeled “To Daddy from Anne.” Inside I found a card I’d bought, one of those that explains the meaning of a person’s name. I thought it summarized the kind of person my dad was:

an Old German name
“Powerful Warrior”

He is quiet and enjoyable; a man who is very secure with himself; always gets involved in things; just to see him is heartening; is a very devoted person; has a captivating personality; he is a man sure of himself; he is proud of the things he does.

Okay, well, some of this describes my dad. “Powerful warrior” may be metaphorical. My dad was a World War II veteran, but he arrived on the battlefronts just after the battle was over, and he was enroute to Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped, so thank God he missed that.

“Quiet and enjoyable,” yes. He was one of those people who stays in the background in many situations, happy to let someone else be in the spotlight and willing to do whatever needed to keep things running smoothly.

“A man who is very secure with himself,” maybe.The rest of the description suits him to a T, except “he is proud of the things he does.” I think my dad took pride in his endeavors but he is one of the humblest people I’ve ever known. He certainly modeled for me how to live a quiet and Christlike life.

One of these days when I feel like it, I will return to my blog posts and add some visuals. But right now I just want to reflect on my dad, his strong belief in doing the right thing no matter how tough the situation, and I honor and cherish him in my heart and memories.

I am blessed to have had such a kind man for a father. Even last June when he was failing physically and mentally, he wrote me a sweet note expressing his gratitude for how I cared for him. Always faithful, that Walter. Powerful warrior too. He accepted the challenging situations in his life, faced them bravely, and stayed faithful to the end. I want to be like him.





Everybody’s Got Something

I thought it was Gilda Radner who said, “Everybody’s got something,” but after a quick look at Google, I discovered that this saying is the title of Robin Roberts’s latest memoir.

“Regardless of how much money you have, your race, where you live, what religion you follow, you are going through something. Or you already have or you will. As momma always said, “Everybody’s got something.” ~Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts’s momma, Lucimarian Roberts, was right, and she was a wise woman. None of us is immune to the trials of being human.

If your life is going swimmingly and you feel on top of the world, rest assured, that will change eventually. You may have to deal with the loss of someone dear to you, depression, financial struggles, job insecurities, substance abuse, after-effects of trauma, a shattered relationship…the list is endless. But the converse is also true: if you are going through a really awful period in your life right now, tie a knot and hang on tight: things will eventually change.

I am taking time to reflect on some experiences I’ve gone through in the past couple of years. When I look back at my private journals, I see evidence of God’s fingerprints all over my life. I have journaled about prayer concerns. Many of them have been resolved, some in ways I would not have chosen, but they have turned out okay. I keep a card in my daily devotional magazine that I received from the alumni director at my dad’s college when I wrote her to inform her of his death. It says,

“God is our REFUGE and strength,

an ever-present

help in trouble.”

~Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

I have found that to be true.

I am also reminded of some verses I read in the Gospel of Mark (chapter 9) just this morning, in a passage where a man brings his son to Jesus.  He says, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.” (Sounds like symptoms of epilepsy to me.) I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

To which Jesus replies, with a hint of exasperation in his voice, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Scripture records that “they” brought the boy to Jesus. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at he mouth.

Jesus, I sense speaking with compassion, asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

The father replies, “Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. but if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“IF I can?” Jesus responds. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

The father instantly exclaims, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-24)

I will leave it to you to read the rest of this story. Yesterday in a Skype session with an author who is writing a book for us, the author pointed to this scripture passage as one that spoke to him deeply as a teenager. Maybe that’s a prayer we all need to pray:
“Lord, I believe. Help the parts of me that don’t believe.”

Here are some situations I’ve been praying about in the past 3 months. God has answered some of my prayers; other situations remain the same. As I’ve heard it said, waiting is the hardest part. But it’s also encouraging to see how many prayers were answered.

January 13

Friend of a friend–Cousin’s child was having seizures and was life-flighted to Vanderbilt. (Update 2/15: Friend reported the child had recovered.)

Same friend’s mom and dad–Both are having serious health problems. The mom was diagnosed with several new health conditions, including diabetes, and the doctor said there was basically nothing he/she could do for her. The dad had much pain in his spine and arthritis in his lower back. Pain management and epidural shots weren’t working. A bad knee was preventing him from driving. As of the first week of March, he has improved and is more mobile. The mom’s situation is not good and probably won’t ever be.

Prayers for my friend as she provides care for her mom and dad. She has had to quit her job, and she has three children. Also dealing with a relative with a brain injury who is undergoing occupational therapy for life skills. I pray for strength for this friend. She gets overwhelmed at times but keeps her faith. Once a week she is able to get out and go to a Bible study.

Prayers for my husband as he awaits surgery on Jan. 20 (and as the doctor’s office ran into snags trying to get his surgery approved by insurance). Update: The surgery was approved, and John came through it well.

February 15

God, help John to continue to heal from his surgery. Thanks for the progress he’s made so far.

Lord, help my high school friend who has a rare form of skin cancer. She’s miserable. Give her some relief and reassurance of your presence.

Prayers for safe travels and comfort as my yoga teacher and her boyfriend travel to Indiana for her boyfriend’s cousins funeral.

Prayers for safe travels for us and all family members going to Weber City, VA, for my uncle’s 95th birthday celebration. Thanks for his long life and how he has touched others!

Special comfort for a dear friend who has just lost her mother…be present with her during visitation with family and friends and as her mother is buried tomorrow. Prayers for her comfort and a sense of your love and peace surrounding her.

February 22

Lord, be with our next-door neighbors. He was just diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, and doctor said he has about 5 years to live. She has a 99-year-old mom who is still in good health and lives alone, but that situation weighs on her. She also has a tough relationship with her brother and is caring for two grandkids. God, please sustain this woman and give her encouragement. Show us how we can help.

Other next-door neighbor: We’ve had a difficult relationship with her over the years. Help us to be sweet and kind to her when we see her. She must be lonely.

A young couple on our street who have a new baby.

One of my friend’s sister’s family…her sister had a baby in January who was born with retinal cancer. Praying for successful treatment for this tiny baby who is already on chemo. What a tough way to start out in life. God, surround her parents with peace, strength, and love.

Our children–help them make wise decisions about their love lives, finances, close friendships, and jobs.

John–Continued healing. Please help his pain. Give us discernment about what to do regarding retirement and building apartments on our house. Help me to be cooperative with him and refrain from criticism.

Our country. Show me how to respectfully resist when the current president seems bent on destroying US relationships with other countries, bans immigrants from particular countries, when some cabinet members and other agency heads seem to directly oppose the areas/agencies which they are responsible (education, environment, for example). And healthcare. Oy vey. We need divine intervention there. The current Affordable Healthcare Act has many problems, but what I hear about the replacement plan/repeal sounds even worse. God help President Trump. I could start by praying that you’d give him a heart. (Guess I’m being critical here. Help me to live with heart.)

February 27

Prayers for my friend Jim as he heals from a recent procedure that left him very weak. He is having a liver biopsy on Mon., March 13.

Prayer of the name: I lift up to you Donald J. Trump.

Prayers for my high school friend’s son, who has serious GI problems. Help them to find relief. He is only 21 and is unable to work or go to school because of this condition.

March 15

President Trump is coming to Nashville today. Prayers for our city. Prayers for safety for all involved in the Trump rally and for the protesters (my son included) who show up to peacefully demonstrate.

March 17

Prayers for my friends Kent & Penny

My friend Linda (3/16 birthday) and her daddy, who has cancer

Praise you, God, for Jim’s good report from his liver biopsy. Praise you for his 80th birthday and the celebration we are having tonight. Continue to sustain him & his family as they live with his wife’s dementia.

Healing prayers for my friend Marti’s partner, who broke her ankle recently and has broken her back and compressed vertebrae several times. They are going on vacation next week. May this be a time of rest and healing for all involved…and give them patience with teenage twins!

Doug, that he will be happy with new job.

Doug and his partner Frank…and all the gay couples I know. Legislation is before the Tennessee assembly to ban same-sex marriage, or at least not recognize it as valid marriage. The legislation defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Lord, I don’t understand why we are revisiting this territory after the Supreme Court ruling a couple of years ago.

Prayers for those affected by the U.S. House Resolution on education, especially its implication for special education and the many areas where we will go backwards…I pray this bill will not pass. Show me how I can respond effectively. Jim Cooper, our representative from the 5th district, will vote against it.

Well, those are just a few of my prayer concerns from the past 3 months. I believe in the saying “Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.” I also believe in putting feet to my prayers, so I ask God to show me how he would have me respond to various situations. Still pondering a lot of this.

I am going on a silent retreat (overnight) next week. I hope to gain clarity and hear God’s voice about several situations in my life.




















The Journey No One Wants to Take

The Journey No One Wants to Take

Since my dad died in October 2016, I have been reminded that I am on a journey. Grief is a journey that we don’t want to take, but everyone has to embark on it at one time or another, if he or she lives long enough.

Now that my second parent has died, I feel adrift, as if if my moorings have come loose. Sometimes my grief expresses itself in not being able to concentrate. At other times, I feel impatience and rage as I’ve never felt them before. For instance, I have recently gotten really angry at people who do stupid stuff in traffic—like the pedestrian who jaywalks in front of me at dusk and yells at me (to which my response was to roll down my window and yell back, “I couldn’t SEE you!”—also wanting to say, “You moron!). Or the driver who sees a traffic accident that just happened and stops his car in front of me rather than using his turn signal and pulling over to the side of the street (or at least turning on his hazard lights). I got uncharacteristically angry at such an incident earlier this week, and I thought about yelling at the STUPID person who DARED to stop his car without warning … and then I remembered, “Wait, he is wanting to help. But what an IDIOT! How does he expect me to read his mind? Not to mention that it’s dark, and the other two lanes of traffic were already blocked by the accident, and now he’s blocking my way home, and I am driving in my new (to me) car and could have hit him, and all these other cars are slowing down…and…

Something deeper is going on inside. I am raging because I miss my dad. And my mom. And the family we used to be. Sure, my mom died way back in 1991 when I was 32, but the death of my dad has stirred up that old grief that never completely healed.

I am doing strange things.First is the absent-mindedness. I have misplaced several items, such as my prescription sunglasses (which went missing for nearly 2 weeks), my water bottle (I left it in a bathroom at church), and most recently my Starbucks gold card, which unfortunately tI just reloaded this week. It’s maddening to have to retrace my steps and figure out where I might have left something.

I’ve been reading booklets on grief, which I never thought I would do, but they make me feel better because they reassure me I am not going crazy. I haven’t dreamed about my dad since he died. That is different from the way I experienced grief over my mom’s death. I have been having dreams about being left somewhere by someone dear to me. Maybe that’s a sign I feel abandoned.

Sometimes in choir I will sing a line of a hymn or an anthem, and the words get to me. A wave of grief washes over me, and I think I will drown. Tears spring to my eyes.

Not long ago I found the obituary I’d written for my dad, and I rewrote it. Now what good is that going to do, more than 4 months after his death? I was so dissatisfied with the obituary I’d written. It reported just the facts and didn’t give a sense of the kind and loving person my dad was. Here is some information that I left out of the obituary: My dad was an avid gardener. My mother always called him “p-tic” (meaning particular), and he was indeed a stickler for details. He had trouble fixing things, and I think it frustrated him to no end.

He was careful, but  not miserly, with his money. He was generous with his love and attention, and he generously shared his time, talents, and love to help others. Daddy served as volunteer treasurer of the Clinch Valley Baptist Association  for more than 22 years. He was a member of the Canton (NC) Civitan Club and was  their treasurer for a few years after he moved there in 1994 at age 71.

He was a night owl. As a teenager, I loved sitting up with him at night at our kitchen table as I did my homework and he paid bills and balanced his checkbook (to the penny). Whenever I entered a room where he was (at home, at the hospital, or at his assisted living and later nursing home), he lit up and smiled at me as if I had just made his day by my mere presence with him.

A week or two ago, I started sleeping with a teddy bear that belonged to my daughter when she was young. Somehow having this small symbol of love at my back while I sleep helps me feel a little better. On nights that I have trouble sleeping, I just hug that little green bear and think about my dad.

My dad always had my back. Last week I listened to a voicemail he’d left on my phone in June 2016. Daddy had called to see how I was feeling because I’d missed work the day before. That is so characteristic of him.

Today I was reading a meditation on grief titled “Death Never Takes a Holiday.”* One of our Upper Room Books authors, Richard L. Morgan, mailed me the book when he found out about my dad. It’s been sitting on my desk for months, and I finally opened the book. “Grief is awkward and uncomfortable,” I read. Yep. “The word grief means ‘heavy.’ It may well be the heaviest weight a person must bear. Death is the unwelcome intruder that stole your loved one and robbed you of love and joy. Life will never be the same.” Yes, that’s certainly true.

The meditation ends with a prayer: “Lord Jesus, you were acquainted with grief. You wept aloud when your friend Lazarus died. We feel so bereft and alone without our loved one, but you have a part in this sorrow that tears our heart.”

In another booklet titled Experiencing Grief (this one a gift from my church), I found this wisdom: “In a sense, grieving is actually  a show of faith. We are trusting God to hold us in our most vulnerable time, when our feelings are raw, our life is in pieces, and our strength is gone. If that isn’t faith, I’m not sure what is.”**

Whew. It’s okay for me to feel this bereft, even though I know in my heart that my dad is with God. It is comforting to know that Jesus understands how I feel. Jesus knows what it means to feel bereft and alone. I can make it through this journey of grief if I lean on him.


*Richard L. Morgan, Meditations for the Grieving, Copyright 2005Wipf & Stock.

**Kenneth C. Haugk, Experiencing Grief, Book 2 in the Journeying Through Grief series. Copyright 2004 by Stephen Ministries.









Sooo tired

I know that most of us can relate to the title of this post. And today is Sunday, when I customarily take a nap.

I have taken a lot of naps lately. Mostly on the couch at night while my husband and I are watching a TV show. Even on shows that I’m interested in, I find myself “resting my eyes.” John laughs and says, “Yeah, right.” I have been so tired that I sleep through parts of my favorite shows.

Yesterday we went to see “The Wall,” a movie that’s a fantasy about The Great Wall of China; it stars Matt Damon. As soon as we got to the theater, I sensed I was in trouble. We watched the previews, and I struggled to stay engaged. Then the movie began, and … I slept. Even with a hyper 10-11-year-old sitting beside me. He and his friend kept talking and I started to tell them to shush, but suddenly I didn’t care. I fell asleep.

I woke up about 20 or so minutes into the movie. I hadn’t figured out that Matt Demon was in the movie, and I didn’t recognize him until someone told him and his companion to go clean up, that they smelled like animals. Boy, I must have been out of it, because normally he is one of my favorite actors.

So today I took a cherished Sunday afternoon nap. I wasn’t feeling well, and I conked out. About an hour later, I heard quick footsteps walking around upstairs. I looked over and John was still in bed, so I woke him (not smart) and said, “Who’s that upstairs?” It was our daughter. She had come by our house to get her computer today, even though she came by yesterday afternoon for the same reason (and forgot what she came for).

I came upstairs bleary-eyed and said, “Well, hi, what are you doing here?”

I think that part of why I am napping so much lately is that I haven’t been sleeping well at night. I have an autoimmune disorder that causes my feet to swell and skin to itch…and just general joint discomfort. On a good night, I wake up only once, go to the bathroom about 3:00 a.m., and catch about 2.5 hours more of sleep. On a bad night, I wake up multiple times or I don’t fall back asleep. One day a couple of weeks ago, it got so bad  in the midafternoon at work that I took out my yoga blanket, folded it up like a pillow, got down on the floor under my desk, and napped for about 10 minutes. I was able to focus after that. (This is the first time in my 37 years of working that I’ve actually given in and taken a nap at work.)

I think my mind and body are tired from my weird diseases but mostly from grieving over my dad. I started sleeping with my daughter’s teddy bear about 2 weeks ago, and it feels good to have it to hug. Maybe I’m grieving the empty nest (though I longed for it to get here, it hit about the same time as my dad’s decline) and my dad at the same time. Who knows. I am grateful to be able to get up every day and walk. Keep on walking; keep on moving; take a nap when your body tells you you need to. (I can always put my head down and say, “Amen” and maybe people will think I’m praying. :D) That’s my theme.