diggingupbonesbratkin

This blog is just me, talking about whatever is flipping my switch on any given day. Sometimes that will mean I’ll be exhuming things better left alone.

Porch Lessons — July 19, 2017

Porch Lessons

One of the strongest and most lasting lessons I learned as a child was the one of reaping what we sow.

Our old Queen Anne style house had a porch that wrapped half way around it and we sat out there a lot because there was no air conditioning in the house and the porch was usually the coolest place to be in the summertime.  We shelled peas, capped strawberries, strung beans, husked corn or did whatever chore could be done while sitting on the porch.Hatcher Hinshaw House

As we sat on the porch, neighbors would be passing by going to or coming from the store or post office and would often stop to visit. It was 1948 when someone stopped to tell us that Mrs. Bickerstaff (not her real name) had gone to her final reward. She had passed away the night before.  Then, of course, the whole story had to be told.

There used to be a fine old couple who lived In a house down the hill from us. They owned their home and made a truck garden to feed themselves and to sell or trade to get other things they needed like flour, butter, or other staples.  Their only child was good about helping them all he could but had a family of his own to care for and times were very difficult in the 1930’s.

One day Mrs. Bickerstaff, a very large woman, came to visit the old couple who were sitting on their front porch shelling peas. When Mrs. Bickerstaff stomped up onto the porch a rotten board gave way and she fell through the porch floor. She was stuck with one leg dangling below the porch and the rest of her on the porch and unable to get up because she was so large she couldn’t lift her own weight.

The ambulance finally got there from 25 miles away but the doctor had already arrived and stated that the leg hanging below the porch had a compound fracture and had to be splinted before the woman could be moved.  It was a terrible accident.

Before Mrs. Bickerstaff got out of the hospital, there was a lawyer came to see the old couple to say he had been engaged to take them to court to pay Mrs. Bickerstaff for her injuries.

The old couple was stunned. They had no money nor any way to get some. Long story shortened, they lost their home and had to move to the poor farm because their son’s four room house was barely big enough for him, his wife, and their two children.

Now it is 1948 and we are hearing that Mrs. Bickerstaff passed away last night and none of us had any idea there was anything wrong with the woman other than greed.  We said so and marveled that she had passed away and of course, it had to be asked because it was on everyone’s mind, how did she die?

“Well, that was the thing about it,” said our neighbor, “She fell through the front porch, couldn’t get out, was there all night before she was found, and she had torn her side open and bled to death before she was found.”

We all studiously looked at the peas we were shelling and tried not to let our faces register satisfaction over such a horrible event.  But the lesson stayed with us all for the rest of our lives. It is true, what goes around comes around. Or as someone said long before that phrase became popular, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7-9 (KJV)

Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap

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What Happens After — July 12, 2017

What Happens After

Prayer-Connects-us-wth-God1

It has to be said, people mess up and disappoint us. We disappoint each other and it seems it is inevitable. The question we ask ourselves is, what happens after?

Ron Howard was a guest on a show and the host asked him who he liked to work with the most; Ron said he liked to work with successful, competitive, professional athletes.

That seems reasonable when you think about it. To reach that level in competition an athlete has to have drive, determination, and be focused. Maybe even a degree of ruthlessness.  But none of these are what Ron mentioned in the interview.

Ron Howard said the reason he preferred to work with this caliber of an athlete was that a successful athlete knows how to lose. But more importantly, that athlete knows how to keep going afterward.

It is important to know how to keep going afterward.

prayer3

After the job is lost, do you keep putting in the applications even though no one is calling you for an interview? And more importantly, do you keep praying about it?

After the loss of a loved one, do you still love the Lord and keep praying?

After the honeymoon is over and you start seeing the defects in your mate, do you keep praying for that spouse? Do you thank the Lord for that spouse even when things aren’t going the way you want them to go?

After the loss in a competition, do you still keep praying?

prayer

The Bible says, “…to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)

Notice the “at all times” part of what Jesus said in that verse. Not just when we feel God has been good to us and we want to thank him. Not just when we feel we need something from him and ask him to provide it. Not just when those we love need his help but at “all times.”

Notice the “ought” part of the quote. The reason men and women ought to pray is because we need to be in fellowship with the very source of our being. When we lose that, we tend to become like the other creatures of this world; creatures of instinct incapable of making moral decisions (2 Peter 2:12-14). This tragedy is being seen in our streets today.

Notice the “pray” in this verse. Yes, we should pray and here’s why, because we need Him, not because He needs us!

Notice the last part. This may be the hardest part of what Jesus is telling his followers to do. “And not lose heart,” he says. This phrase means not to faint or to grow despondent or weary. To “lose heart” is the opposite of to endure or to remain steadfast. The parable which accompanies this admonition suggests that persistence in prayer pays off.

So what happens when you pray and God doesn’t answer your prayer the way you wanted him to?  Do you give up or are you a professional and keep going?

You will stumble, you will fall, you will have storms, tempests, and other disasters or inconveniences in your life. It will matter what you do after these events. Will you pray? And will you keep praying?  It’s what happens after that matters.

prayer2

Hope — June 28, 2017

Hope

hopes

As a child, I was always the odd one out. My brother Robert was born in 1930 and in 1939 my 7th sibling was born. Yes, you got that right, my mom had 7 children in 9 years and there were no twins in there.  But the thing about having so many so close together is they all felt connected.  It was three years later before I came along and so I had no close siblings to play with and sort of grew up alone, in a manner of speaking.

grace

It was probably just my own sense of insecurity that made me feel left out all of my life and sort of unwanted.  You see, there were six boys and two girls and there was nine years difference between my sister and I.  Because there were so many boys in the house it seemed that everything revolved around them and I was sort of an afterthought.

Is it any wonder that I always hoped that someday someone would want me because I’m me?

grace2

Then along came a tall, strapping, good-looking, kind, caring man with a fabulous sense of humor and miracle of miracles, he wanted me!

When I heard the words, “As long as we both shall live” repeated by this wonderful man, hope bloomed in me and couldn’t be extinguished.  Is there anything more wonderful than being wanted by another human? A man who promises to stay with you as long as he lives?  Our lives have been tempered by adversity, expanded by faith, polished by perseverance and lived to the limit and all this time those words “As long as we both shall live” have continued to bloom in my heart.

grace4

It is a wonderful thing that God answers our prayers in ways we don’t choose.  His river of grace flows in unexpected ways and is often all around us, bubbling up in our lives, passing under our feet and never seen because we are looking for it to appear in a different way from the way God presents it.

I’m hoping today I’ll be aware of that grace and see it in every direction I look.

Tell me how His Grace has impacted your life, please.

grace3

Pray for Healing — June 3, 2017

Pray for Healing

prayer power

In my seventy-five years of living, I’ve learned a tiny bit about prayer.  I’ve also learned a tiny bit about healing and the prayers for healing.

In my experience, there are five different healings.

  1. There is a natural healing of the body caused by the magnificent immune system installed in us by our manufacturer at the beginning of our life. That immune system takes care of us far more and far oftener than we realize.
  2. There is also the kind of healing most of us pray for but few actually believe in, that is, an actual miracle healing. When I was in my early thirties a pelvic X-ray showed a hot spot in my pelvic arch bone.  The doctor said that indicated cancer. I immediately called my church, my family, my friends of different church beliefs and asked all of them to pray for this to be healed. And it was. No surgery, no radiation, no chemo, no medication, it just healed and disappeared. This is the miracle healing we seek but often do not believe in.
  3. There is then medical healing. We are very aware of this and most folks believe in this kind of healing and often this is what one has on one’s mind when one prays for healing. That is why you will often hear things like, “Please give the doctors the knowledge to treat this person’s disease” when you hear a prayer for healing.

Prayer-Connects-us-wth-God1

4. This fourth kind of healing is the healing of the attitude and is talked about in 2 Corinthians 12 verses 8-10. The apostle Paul had an affliction and asked the Lord to remove it. 8Concerning this, I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. The Lord did not cure Paul’s affliction or heal Paul but the Lord gave Paul an attitude adjustment, or a healing of his attitude.

5.Then there is the healing no one wants to talk about. Sometimes we are healed by being taken from this world and all its troubles to the next life where we are truly healed. This isn’t usually what we have in mind when be beseech the Lord on behalf of someone ailing but it may be exactly what the Lord wants to happen in the life of those who are left here without their loved one.

  1. Be very careful when you pray for healing. God hears those prayers.

prayer of a righteous man

Porch Sittin’ — May 19, 2017

Porch Sittin’

The Front Porch   

firefly-picture-in-jar            

When I was growing up in the 1940’s in a tiny town in the middle of the United States, a lot of summer life was spent porch sittin’ and it was done for various reasons.

In the first place, we didn’t have air conditioning back then and the porch was the coolest place to be on a hot summer day.

Then there was the opportunity to call out a hello to neighbors and friends as they passed our house going to the grocery store and the post office.  This was the most common way to get the current news. Only a handful of people in our town had a telephone and most of those were for business.  People went to the store and post office to collect the daily news as much as for milk or mail.  If we had news in our family to pass along, the birth of a baby, the illness of a family member, a lost pet, new puppies that would be weaned in 6-8 weeks, all of it got passed along and when the neighbor got to the store everyone in earshot heard the latest happenings at our house – – – and told their own which got brought back to us as the neighbor went back home.

There were chores, sometimes, that we carried out on the front porch.  We sat there to snap beans or shell peas and anyone who happened along would cheerfully pick up a few beans or peas and snap or shell with us while the news got told.

After supper, sittin’ on the porch took on a whole different feel. That is when we watched the first fire-flies (though we called them lightening bugs) and listened to the crickets tuning up.  It is where I was introduced to the Milky Way, the Big Dipper,  and the Evening Star. And this is where I introduced my kids to them.

Oh those wonderful days when Mom would stir up the makings of ice cream and pour it into the ice cream freezer and we kids would take turns turning the crank until the mixture froze into ice cream. Oh the goodness of fresh ice cream on the front porch on a hot summer night!

ice cream freezer

It was such a tiny town,  and very few owned an automobile, we would often count the cars that went by in a certain period of time and lay bets of our labor on the outcome. “If more than ten come by I’ll do dishes for you tomorrow night.”  That sort of thing.

This particular time of the year brings swarms of porch sittin’ memories to mind as I see four o’clocks begin to bloom (Mom always had them on either side of the front sidewalk) see lightening bugs blinking on and off at dusk, or get to longing for homemade ice cream at the end of a busy day.  

And oh, the porch I got to sit on!  It was, and is, a dream of a porch just made for sittin’! The picture at the bottom of this article is the house I grew up in and that porch was just exactly right.

Did you ever do any porch sittin’?

Hatcher Hinshaw House

The Face of Love — May 10, 2017

The Face of Love

what-if

We are all familiar with the very well-known and well-loved Bible verses which describe love.  But let’s put a face on love.

There are so many different faces of love that I’m barely going to be able to get started here, but here I go.

Even though the faces of love all look different they are still easy to recognize if you are really watching.

The face of love can be seen telling a child to brush his teeth, not to talk with his mouth full, or not to chew with the mouth open. That face of love will teach things like standing up straight and looking folks in the eye when talking to them.

There is the face of love that denies a child the candy on Halloween or Easter because the child is diabetic, or makes the tough decision to put the child through a horrible surgery and recovery period to correct hip dysplasia so eventually the child can be better. It looks a lot like hard-heartedness but is definitely love.  Or, how about the face of love that watches as doctors dump toxic waste into a beloved child who has cancer and prays that God will bless the chemo and cure the child? Yes, I call that love.

Mother-And-Child-Holding-Hands-Silhouette

This may not seem like a whole lot until the day your heart aches because you see a tired mother trying to corral her preschoolers, packages, and purse and you look into her eyes and smile in understanding because you remember your mom doing the same. So you help the mother get it all across the street and to her car and go on with her thanks in your ears and a lift to your spirit while mentally thanking your own mom for raising you right.

If you turned out to be a loving, giving, useful human who is striving to make this world a better place, thank your mom.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8Amplified Bible (AMP)

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong enduredIt does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

Love never fails 

Don’t forget to hug your mom and tell her,

“Thanks!”

How Big is Your But? — May 1, 2017

How Big is Your But?

but

Do you find yourself using the phrase, “But I” very often?

For example, do you catch yourself saying, “I need to work out… BUT I am so tired.”

I want to get healthy… BUT I love dumplings!

I know patience is a virtue … BUT I just feel so frustrated all the time.

My family is great even though we need to talk about a few issues… BUT I don’t like confrontation.

Each time I use the BUT I phrase it seems pretty big to me. That’s why I’m learning to follow every “but I” with a “But God” statement of truth instead.  When I catch myself saying “but I”… I try to use it as a trigger to redirect my discouraged heart with a “But God” truth.

When we follow up statements with “But God” the BUT becomes smaller and smaller. And let’s face it girlfriends, we all want a smaller but!

Here are a few “But God” verses and there are lots more in the Bible.

Genesis 8:1

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

Genesis 31:42

If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.

Genesis 50:20

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

1 Samuel 23:14
David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him,
but God did not give David into his hands.

1 Kings 5:4
But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.

Nehemiah 9:17
They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery.
But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them.

Psalm 49:15
But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself.

Psalm 73:26

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Isaiah 40:8

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.

Jonah 2:6

To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.

Matthew 19:26

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

John 1:18

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

Acts 2:24

But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

Acts 3:15

You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 Corinthians 1:27

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

2 Timothy 2:9

for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.

Yes, I try, but sometimes those “But I” thoughts will slip in despite my best intentions. How about you, do you need help making your but excuses smaller? Then join me in turning those “But I” moments into “But God” miracles.

but shrinkage

Doing the Right Thing — April 23, 2017

Doing the Right Thing

doing the right thing1

When I was perhaps five years old, my mother and I attended an auction of some neighbors and mom bought a rather large box of old pictures. I asked her who the pictures were of, were they some of our kinfolks?  No, they were the kinfolks of the people whose stuff was being auctioned. I wondered why Mom would want pictures of people we didn’t know.  The next day she took me by the hand, held the box of pictures in her other arm, and we went to the people who had been our neighbors and were now residents of the County Poor Farm.  She gave the pictures back to the people to whom they meant so much.  I asked her why, “Why did you do that Momma?”

Her reply was simply, “Because it was the right thing to do.”

We often came home from school to find food sitting on the table and Mom would watch us like a hawk to make sure we didn’t touch it. Then she would gather up however many of us it took to transport the food to whomever she was giving it to. Someone’s loved one had died, someone was sick in bed and couldn’t prepare food for her family, someone was too busy with harvest to have time and energy to prepare food for the family, or whatever reason there was, Mom was such a blessing by providing a meal when it was most needed.  And I remember asking why we were carrying food to others.

Mom would simply say, “Because it was the right thing to do.”

doing the right thing

My Sunday School teacher was relatively new in town and was a widow with two sons. I was twelve years old and Mom told me to invite her to Sunday dinner after church. So when Sunday School was over I invited Mrs. Valentine to dinner. She asked me if my mom knew I was asking her and I assured her that Mom was the one who told me to ask her. So Mrs. Valentine came for dinner and was surprised that her two sons were also there. Mom had told my brother to ask the boys to lunch and he had. Mrs. Valentine knew her sons were going to eat at a friend’s house but didn’t know she was going to the same place. 

When I asked Mom what made her invite the Valentines to dinner she simply said, “It was the right thing to do.”

As a teenager I saw my mom wear herself out sitting up nights with a neighbor who was at the point of death. I could see how hard on Mom it was to keep losing sleep and asked her why she kept doing it.

She just smiled and said, “It is the right thing to do.”

doing the right thing5When my mom passed away, someone came to me at her visitation and said to me, “You probably don’t remember me but I’m the grandson of the old people you mother and you visited at the Poor Farm. My grandparents never quit praising your mom because she gave them their box of pictures that contained so many memories for them and was practically their only consolation during their years living on the Poor Farm.”

Another lady brought some delicious food to the house to help feed us while we prepared to bury our mom and then the next day after we buried Mom we buried my only sister. The lady told us of how our mom had fed her family during a very difficult time and she was so pleased to be able to do something she knew would please Mom.

That Sunday School teacher? Mom had heard whispers about her that she wasn’t truly a “widow” but was just saying she was to cover up having two children. She was about to  be asked to resign her position and no one in town was friendly toward her.  Mom got acquainted with her and introduced her to others who found out what an intelligent, caring, and yes, truly widowed woman she was and friended her too.  She said my mother was the kindest woman she had ever met.

The granddaughter of the man Mom set up nights with told of how her own mother was worn out from caring for the old man through the day, couldn’t afford to hire a night nurse, and Mom heard of the need and volunteered for night duty. It made it possible for the family to keep the old man out of a nursing home as he had requested. They never forgot Mom’s generous help and what it meant to all of them.

I was sixteen when a teacher at my school was moving away.  I told Mom how I felt about her and she told me when class ended that day I needed to go to that teacher and tell her what I had told Mom.  So I did. I have no idea now exactly what I said to the woman but she came into a store where I worked thirty some years later and when she saw who I was she asked me if I remembered what I said to her. I had to admit I didn’t remember and she didn’t tell me. But she did say she had never forgotten the words I said that day and there was no way she could make me understand what they had meant to her.

I had told her what I was thinking because Mom encouraged me to do so and told me it was the right thing to do. Words I couldn’t remember meant so much to a woman that they still remained with her and gave her a good feeling thirty some odd years later. So it must have been the right thing to do.

doing the right thing3

Don’t ever underestimate the power of doing the right thing. Sometimes, it’s the only gift life gives you and the only gift you can give another.

Am I a Nice Person? — April 12, 2017

Am I a Nice Person?

cell phone drive-thru

Generally, I believe, people consider me a reasonable, caring, nice person. I will hold the door for you even if it means you will get in line in front of me. If I’m checking out at the grocery I’ll not vie for a spot ahead of you in line but will graciously let you ahead of me. If you need directions I’ll give them to you no matter how long it takes and even if I have to translate “north” or “east” into “straight ahead” and “right” for you. I’m generally patient, understanding, and pretty much a what you see is what you get type person and when folks look at me they generally see a placid, old, cow. I admit that I have about as much animosity in me as that grazing cow.

So, why then did I get in such a rage when the car pulling into the Kroger pharmacy pickup lane blocked both entrances?  It just set off my “this is outrageous” meter and made it clang at the highest level of disturbance.  There was a car length between him and the car in front of him. Why didn’t he just pull up and others could have gotten to the second lane? Even when the car in front of him pulled up he kept sitting there. I finally found a close parking space and parked, took my granny cane with the four feet on it and hobbled into Kroger. There my cane and I opted for an electric cart and drove into the pharmacy and picked up prescriptions that were waiting. Carted back to the door, got my cane and purse and prescriptions and hobbled back to the car.

Do you know why the man was so rude?  Well, as I passed his vehicle on my way into the store I could see the cell phone he was doing something on that made him oblivious to what was going on around him.  But the woman in the car with him was eating popcorn and looking around so why didn’t she tell him he had traffic blocked?

What I wanted to do was grab his cell phone, slap him on the side of his head and tell him, “Pay attention!”

What I decided to do was ignore him and come home and meditate. That’s the same thing as ignoring people except you do It while sitting cross-legged on the floor. Well, my knees won’t let me sit cross-legged and if I got down on the floor Bob would have to rent a crane to get me up. but I can do some pretty good meditating at the sewing machine. 

Why, if I truly am a nice person, do I get in such a rage at a nincompoop with no upbringing?  I just want to tell him, “Buddy, you suck!”

Pray for me, I think I may need counseling.

cell phone

 

The Last Time — April 8, 2017

The Last Time

mom reading to baby

Looking back is something we all do  but it  seems we  do it oftener when we get older. Perhaps because there is more to see behind us than before us?

When my children come to visit now and I see they are in pain, or that they don’t feel well, I think back to other times when they were young and healthy and full of life.

Remember when that child of yours was a baby?  I do, and it seemed like there would never be an end to the diaper washing (yes, we washed diapers back in the day) the bathing, the burping, the spit-up, the floor walking and the singing of the same song at nap time or reading the same book at bedtime.  And you thought you would never get to read anything of your own because your child was saying, “Read it just once more, please Mommy?” And you read it – – – just once more, never realizing that this would be the last time that request would be made. Because believe it or not, young mothers, there is a last time.  And there is no way to know which time will be the last time.

One day you will sit and hold that sweet child while it sleeps and never know that this is the last time you will get to hold him while he sleeps.

One day you start to read your baby’s favorite book to him and he says, “No, Mommy, I’ll read it myself.” And he does. How could you have known the night before that that was the “last time.”

One day you start to tie the shoelace and he says, “No, Mommy, I’ll tie it myself.”

There is the last time for everything.

It doesn’t seem possible when you are hauling a kid around on your hip everywhere that there will come a day that you set them down to walk away and you’ll never pick them up again that way. Just like you will scrub them good in the bath one day and from that day on they will want to bathe by themselves and you will have bathed your child for the last time but you couldn’t have known the night before that it was the last time.

mom with baby on hip

There will come that day that you hold their hand for the last time in the store and suddenly they are too big to hold Mom’s hand in public.

When thunder is rolling, is anything sweeter than a little voice in the dark saying, “Mommy, I’m scared can I get in bed with you?” And you get to cuddle that sweet child without knowing it is the last time he will feel the need for Mommy in the night. 

One day they need you to go to school with them and the next they are so embarrassed if Mom is seen at school You never know when it will be the last time.

One day they will run to you with arms raised for the very last time. The sad part is, you won’t recognize it as the last time until there are no more times.

So while you are living in these times, enjoy the heck out of them and remember there are only so many of them and when they are gone, they are gone. And yearning for it won’t bring back that one last time so you can know and it enjoy it – – – one last time.

Mother-And-Child-Holding-Hands-Silhouette