Invasion of the Insects (or whatever they were)

This summer right around the first of August, just in time for Kate’s swim birthday party in the backyard, we were invaded by stinging insects.  Never in my entire lifetime have I seen anything like this.

IMG_9243

WHAT IS THIS THING?!!!!

They were as big as my little Ava!!

This is only one species of the flying, attacking THINGS! The points on their rears look like they could cut your throat!

Now, this one on the sunflower I am used to seeing:

IMG_9224

One of the stinging species in the backyard this year

The bugs were so thick you couldn’t walk through the yard.  So I did what I don’t like to do.  I went to the store and bought cans of hornet spray.  There was no way I could have a bunch of kids coming over with those things swarming (best word I can use but it was an invasion) all around the pool and the yard.

So like a gunslinger, I walked out in the yard with my “guns” and chased and sprayed those bugs (some chased me back) until I got rid of them.  Mainly just scared them off because they came back.  I just kept my “guns” with me at all times while the kids were here and met them at high noon whenever I needed to do so.

WHERE WERE THEY COMING FROM IN DROVES LIKE THIS?!!!!!

After the two-to-four-week frenzy they all settled down.  It was then I found all the mounds of sand and dirt in the yard and the huge holes.  All the old timers said to pour gas down the holes.  Some said light it on fire because they have a way in and a way out, which I found to be true in every mound.

I went with the gas-only method because if I set fire to all the nests in the ground, I am fairly certain my yard would have blown up.

I used a lot of gas.  I wanted to get rid of them.  Really, really wanted to get rid of them.

My Praising Momma

It was just now on the radio.  The song that always reminds me of my mom.  When we sing it at church, sometimes I can’t even sing the last verse because I see Mom as she lay in the hospital bed we had exchanged for her double bed, dying, practically comatose, unable to eat or talk or give orders — I mean instructions.

Mom 1960

This is always how I remember Mom.  Here she is ready for church.

She had “instructed” us for many, many years, and, well, it was just a hard habit to give up.  As hard to give up as everything else she had to give up:  bathing herself, feeding herself, cooking for her family (the thing she loved best), cleaning her house (that may be a toss-up with the cooking for her family), mowing her yard, driving her car.  The list got bigger every year, every month, every week, and then every day.

She was being birthed into heaven.  Anyone who has given birth or witnessed a birth (humans or animals) knows what a difficult labor that usually is.  Being birthed into heaven is a labor as well.  Mom had struggled to eat with the coughing spells that accompany the death process.  She had struggled with the pain of her arthritis that came from not being able to get up and move around, lying in bed due to her weakened state.  Failure to thrive is what the medical field calls it.  I think she was tired and ready to go home.  All her life she had been afraid of death, and I always thought that odd because she so loved her Lord.  But at the end, when the journey home had truly begun, her peace and joy was abundant each day.90 cake

This particular day, as my sisters stood at the foot of Mom’s bed and sang hymn after hymn, no music, just their beautiful voices blending together, Mom’s little toes started  tapping to the music.  She couldn’t eat.  She couldn’t walk.  She couldn’t talk.  She couldn’t move her arms.

But she could praise the One who was bringing her home.  One little toe tap at a time.

And my heart is full of praise for the God Mom taught me about, dragged me to Sunday School to learn about, and forced me to play piano during the worship service to praise a name I didn’t fully understand yet.

Now… I have 10,000 Reasons and more to praise Jesus the Christ.

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
Bless the Lord, oh my soul
Bless the Lord
Oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
You’re rich in love
And You’re slow to anger
Your name is great
And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness
I will keep on singing
10, 000 Reasons for my heart to find
Bless the Lord, oh my soul
Bless the Lord
Oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Sing my soul, sing my soul
Bless the Lord
Oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
10, 000 Years and then forever more
Bless the Lord
Bless the Lord
Oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name (For all Your Goodness)
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name
Songwriters: Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman
10000 Reasons lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

Searching for… Hope

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by Jarred Dobbs

Another New Year has come and gone, and we are steadfastly headed down the pathway of 2017.  I always make resolutions at the beginning of each new year.  Some I resolutely work on until I reach my goal, and others linger around until they come to completion.  Then there are those that somehow slip through the cracks and don’t make the cut that particular year.  On occasion, and more often than not, they get put on the burner again at the beginning of the next new year.

So far this year my resolution schedule is behind only a tad.  That hasn’t been the case in the previous years.  The drawing of the kitchen with an Aprons&appetites plaque is by my son.  He drew this several years ago.  I am just now getting this one on here.  There is another one simmering on the burner somewhere, and someday it will make its way to the blog table as well.

What does all that have to do with hope-blog?

All those New Year resolutions keep me pressing forward, keep my goals in front of me.  hope-blogThey are carrots spurring me on, giving me the prize if and when I finally get to it.  The methodical doing and ticking off of items on my list gives me a hope that transverses from New Year resolutions into daily life struggles.  “I got this accomplished, so maybe that can happen, too!”

Over the past few months my hope gauge has been broken, and that has left me with question upon question upon question.  In the search of some way to mend my state of mind, raise my hope quotient, I am reading a book entitled The Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston as well as The Question That Never Goes Away WHY by Philip Yancey.

The carrot is before me.  I feel a twinge of hope.

Rewards Are Just So Nice

If I have heard it a hundred times, I have said it two hundred: Poor people have poor ways.  I am not talking about destitute; that is a whole different animal.  Their ways are unique and sad and so very difficult, and I could use a thousand adjectives.  My mother grew up in the Great Depression, so I have heard stories of destitution.  If you have never read Grapes of Wrath, get a box of tissue and get the book.  I still cry when I think of that book.  I cry when I think of people who are destitute.  And I cry as I am spurred to do something tangible for these people.

Pictures of the Great Depression:

Pictures of current situations:

But this blog today is about poor.  About the perception of poor.  About really being poor.  And I have to confess, I really don’t know.  Not personally.  What I know is only because my mother was poor at one point in her life.  But that point in her life made a dramatic impression for all of her life, and she passed those impressions down to her children.Grandma Madeline and Mom 1925

That is Mom around 1925, maybe a year or two later.  She was born in 1920 and doesn’t look too old here.  Although the official date of the Great Depression is 1929, Mom’s family was already poor.  The ensuing years were to bring even harder times.  And those times are why she and her sisters and so many others who went through these poor times did so many of the very frugal things they did long after they were established in nice homes with good incomes and money in the bank: saving and reusing the wax paper from cereal boxes; only running enough water for the task; making their own clothes; growing big gardens and canning; hanging clothes on a clothesline with a clothes dryer sitting in the utility room.  That’s just a few.

And the older Mom got, the more she worried about having enough money to be able to take care of herself, so she wouldn’t turn on the lights till she absolutely had to and kept the heat down low and the air conditioner blowing warm air.  She would sit in her thin gown with her leg thrown over the chair arm in the 90+ heat while we who were taking care of her tried to cook and clean.  We finally rebelled and made her wear clothes as we turned the AC to a cooler setting.  Water was used sparingly.  Fans and air conditioners were turned off at night.  Food was bought on an as-needed basis with very little kept in the cabinets or the freezer.

And she would say “Poor people have poor ways.”  So even though I am not rich, neither am I poor although my upbringing has trained me to think that I am.

Which is why I love reward cards.  Which is why I shop where I get a little extra for my money (I love getting that 10 cents to a dollar off my gas at Kroger).  Which is why I use coupons.  Which is why I love Shutterfly (I have gotten so many cool free items from there).  Which is why I bring my loyalty card to be punched at CurleQ when I get hair cuts or buy merchandise.

No, I don’t need to use coupons or the reward cards.  But it is nice to be rewarded for my spending money at a certain place of business or being loyal to a certain business.  Even though I realize and understand those businesses are keeping close track of everything I purchase with that reward card, I don’t mind.

They just send me more appropriate coupons.

Open Letter to Mr. Warren Buffet

This little blog doesn’t make much difference in the world.  Not like your billions can.  All those billions you are dedicating to philanthropy.

Will this money go to better schools and universities?  I’ve read where some of your club members — for that really is all your giving pledge group is, a club for billionaires to pat themselves on the back that they aren’t really keeping all that wealth –have already given to the sports programs at universities.  I’m sure their name is on a building somewhere as it rightly should be.  They did give the money to that sports program.  I’ve also read where some have already given to Harvard for molecular causes of disease research and another to Cornell for medical research.

Will this money be given to the arts?  Perhaps to the schools in rural counties that can’t afford any type of art program, or music program, or dance program, or, well, any program except basic classroom classes.  Will there be a head honcho who decides who is in more need of these pledged billions?  Say, Harvard or Gallatin County K-12?

Will this money go to provide a stronger foundation of learning where it needs to be strong:  In the elementary schools, in the poor communities in dire need of funds,  in the high schools in these same types of communities?  These areas are where you will find your future Americans that will one day buy the products and use the services that made you the billionaires you are today.  Perhaps one of those industrious persons will become a hedge fund manager themselves someday and boost their rags to riches stories.  Anything can happen when one is given opportunity and has a drive for the bigger and the better.

The word “opportunity” is why I write this open letter that you will never see.

Most of the giving of the $373.25 billion dollars in private giving is given by U. S. citizens.   (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm/bay/content.view/cpid/42)

The giving per income level and amount given may rival your mighty pledges.  The boasting of your wealth sickened me from the very first media outpouring.  The fact that you are proudly giving your money away to charity also sickens me.  I and my friends give to charity.  With our paltry earnings we give substantial sums to charity.  We will never have a wing of a university with our name emblazoned on it, but we may have given a child in our local school system a chance to go to Washington D.C.  We may not be able to help with finding a cure for a dreaded disease, but we may have helped a family who has someone with that dreaded disease to eat and pay the bills.  We may not be able to provide opportunities for those in the arts to progress and sell their wares so to speak, but we have provided those who have lost their jobs with smaller, less-paying  jobs to provide for some of their needs.

This country needs less of your charity, Mr. Buffett, and more of your ingenious money-making ideas that will benefit its citizens, not just you and your chosen few. My first thought when I heard of your glorified club was Why doesn’t he take that money and provide incomes for people?

Build factories wherein  you don’t make one dime, but the people working in it do.

Provide those gum-selling opportunities where people are given the chance to sell their wares with less risk and more gain.

Give children the chance to learn well: The chance to use new books instead of the hand-me-downs of classes and classes before them; the chance to see the world with a field trip that’s beyond the public park; the chance to embrace those arts you speak of so highly with an arts program in their school.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  A man with your mental acuity, your influence on your billionaire buddies and their mental acuity, and all those billions you all are just eagerly waiting to give away should be enough to create jobs as well as promote all those things you want your billions to promote.

We need jobs, Mr. Buffett.  Can you and your cronies not come up with this fantastic Giving Pledge to constructively help the backbone of America?small town 2

You want a museum in which to give a billion?  Visit any small community whose coal mines are closing and businesses have dried up and blown away.  Visit any river town whose docks are closed and boat traffic floated off.  Visit any rural county.  Visit any rural school.

I thought this article by thedailybeast right on point.  I’ve been thinking this sentiment ever since your high and mighty giving pledge.

“Perhaps the most troubling issues posed by the Gates-Buffett crusade is its potential to intensify the inequities that exist both in the nonprofit world and in the rest of society.” wrote Pablo Eisenberg, senior fellow at Georgetown’s Public Policy Institute, in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy column. “Foundations, corporations, and other forms of institutional philanthropy tend to favor the nation’s most-privileged citizens and neglect the neediest people and organizations.”  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/08/06/buffet-pledge-where-the-billions-will-go.html

Thinking about Thanking

Today at my brother’s house, my little niece, Charlotte Ann, had a prayer/speech she had prepared.  In it she wanted us all to think about what we were thankful for, and the plan was then to share those thoughts.Brenda in thought

We never did get around to sharing our thankful thoughts.  We were too busy eating and playing games and eating and yelling over each other to try to be heard and eating and laughing and eating and accusing the guys of cheating and eating and actually cheating ourselves.  Until we were so full and so hoarse and so tired that we all scattered and went our own ways to our own abodes or wherever else we had planned to go.

The thing we didn’t do, of course, was share in our bounty of thankfulness.  And bounty is an accurate description of the list of things to be thankful about:

1.  My salvation through Jesus the Christ.

2.  Family who love and fight and play and strive to make time to get together as our families expand and that time is more precious.

3.  A home.

4.  Plenty of food.

5.  Work that provides me with a paycheck and work that must be done in order to keep a clean house, grow a garden, have a lawn… you get the drift.

6.  The opportunity to help others whether it is monetarily or hands on.

7.  Good choices.

8.  Good doctors and staff that actually care about one’s health.

9.  My church.

10.  You guys who read my blog.  🙂

As I ponder on my good life, my heart cries for those who are in real struggles right now:  mental health, the fight for life as they struggle with a disease, the loss of a loved one, drug addiction, sexual abuse, hunger, oppression of different forms…

God, pour mercy and grace upon these people.  Give me direction to turn my thanksgiving into theirs as well.

All Potential Fathers, Please Stand Up

The counties in which I work may be small in population, but our courthouses are large in their history and stand rather regal in our rural towns.

courthouse 2We have over the last few years begun to designate certain days of the week for certain types of court hearings.  Monday, for instance, may be traffic day when all the traffic cases from parking tickets to DUIs are heard.  Tuesday may be the day that all the felony cases are before the judge.  Wednesday may be civil cases such as divorce or probate or small claims.  All the counties in my circuit have done or are perfecting this regulated system of scheduling court cases on certain days.

Of coucourtroom joke 1rse, we are a circuit in a rural area, therefore, we don’t have the volume of cases that a city or bigger town may have.  Everyone knows each other in most of the counties, and although things are run professionally, we are just friendlier with everyone from defendants to their lawyers.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have some high profile cases or some heinous cases or even some very busy days.  It does mean we have some downright hilarious incidences.

One such particular incident happened a few years back when we still had a variety of cases on the docket for that day.  There was a room full of people waiting their turn, watching the proceedings until their own cases were called.  courtroom audience

At the particular moment we were having a paternity hearing with the mother sitting at counsel table along with two putative fathers also sitting at the table.  The case had been before the Court on several other occasions since she had already named some men who had been dismissed from the proceedings for one reason or another.

She was a likeable gal, someone in the community the attorneys and the judge knew, a bit of a rounder perhaps.  She had several children but tried as best she could to take care of them. courtroom judge 2 Before beginning the hearing, the judge looked at her and ever so kindly said, “Ms. So-and-So, are there any other prospective fathers you want to name?” 

Ms. So-and-So turns around to the gallery and looks at all the men seated there.  She then says, “Yeah, maybe him,” and points to a gentleman sitting in the pew, waiting to have his case called.

courtroom surprised man

His surprised response — “I’m just here for a traffic case!”  — didn’t keep him from being asked to come up and sit at the counsel table to be a part of the putative father hearing.

His shock lingered throughout the hearing.

It was hilarious.court reporter laughing

They’re Driving Me Crazy!!!

Brenda in thoughtNever start with I.  But in this case I have to because it is I who cannot wrap my raised-on-paper brain around all my computery gadgets.  It exhausts me even now just writing about it.

My motto “Never Give Up” (which I might add I have had since high school although I didn’t know that I had it since high school until right now actually) has kept me going and learning and surviving all these long years of my life.  Even when trying to master my computery gadgets.  I have a real love/hate relationship going on with them:  Kindle, MacBook Air, HP, iphone, Diamante and Case Catalyst, Roku… I’ll even include the DVD player for the girls.

music blog 6Today I’ve been trying to get the Amazon Prime music on the Roku. Grrrrrrrr                   It sounds so easy when I read about it on my Amazon page:  if you have Amazon Prime, you get all this cool music (gist of music blogthe Amazon music page).  The Roku has a music icon on my Amazon station because, yes, I did subscribe to Amazon Prime.  No problem.  Well, no problem after I figure out how to download-upload-inload-outload-whateverIneedtodo to get it on the Roku and get my yet another password going.

music blog 3If it weren’t for my good friend, Google, I would never be able to get anything accomplished.  Even then, it’s a slow, slow process.

Little Will and the Clan

Momma and newborn Will

Momma and newborn Will

Just because I think he’ll have to be a wrangler to handle those wild animals that this little guy has been adopted into, I got him a pair of baby cowboy boots and a bandanna bib.  He was only 5 pounds and some ounces when he joined us, but I’m expecting the little guy to grow… and grow fast.

He was graced with some mighty tall and fine looking parents.  Good parents that just couldn’t quite take care of him, so they searched and searched and found just the right set of parents they wanted their little boy to know as his very own.  And this set of parents came with a herd of youngins that would love him and cuddle him and play with him, and, I would suspect, even someday fight with him.  A family.  A good family who had prayed for just the right son to bring into their fold.

cousins

cousins

One of these days, sooner than we like, he will be sitting on the couch with the Illinois cousins and his two sisters and big brother. But for right now he’s very content to be snuggled by whoever wants to grab hold and snuggle.

snuggling

snuggling

one happy Daddy

one happy Daddy

Our little guy is just that right now:  little!!  We have been used to his big sister who also comes from tall genes and looks four instead of barely two.  And she has been used to the limelight and the attention, so when Mawmaw asked her if she wanted little Will, her answer was a firm “No!”

just fine without a baby smaller than me, thank you very much!!

just fine without a baby smaller than me, thank you very much!!

The three-turned-four-child household will be going through a lot of changes this year.  A big part of those changes is from our little Will joining the clan.

What a great change!!

such a cutie!

such a cutie!

 

 

Byron, Wasana, and Sumia… as one journey ends

As a child grows out of the services of World Vision, that organization sends a packet with all the information of the new child I can temporarily adopt and help on a monthly basis.  The front of the packet says “as one journey ends… another begins.”

And so these past couple of weeks I have discovered that my little Wasana’s village has become such a self-sufficient bunch of people that they are now being phased out of the World Vision ongoing help.  How exciting for them!  And how sad for me.  Little Wasana will be 14 in September.  We began our far-away relationship when she was 7.  Over the years I sent small gifts (stickers, pencils, hair clips, etc.) for which she would always send a big thank you and tell me about getting them.  She went from an unsmiling, scared-looking little girl to one with a nice school uniform and a beautiful smile.

I will miss her updates and her letters.

Before Wasana was Byron from Ecuador.  He and I only had three years together before he grew too old for the program.  I still pray for him as I am sure there are many opportunities in Ecuador for a young man to be lured into a harmful and dangerous lifestyle.

And now… little Sumia comes across my path.  From Bangladesh.  Her picture depicts sad eyes, very short hair (Ava and I thought she was a boy at first) and no smile.  I am already worried about her and glad I will be helping her, perhaps even bringing joy to her little face.  Her picture is on my computer where I can see her everyday, prompting me to pray for her every day.  Which then prompts me to pray for Byron and Wasana.

Children I love even though I have never met them.

There have been incidences wherein I absolutely knew people were praying for me.  I could feel it in my soul.  And so I have asked the Greatest Lover of small children, Christ, Himself, to allow these children to feel the prayers that I am praying.

May it be so.