Monday, September 29, 2014

MIracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas was a sweet story reminding me of the story of redemption found in Rahab's story in the Bible.  I'm not sure Sarah meant for it to mirror that story, but I thought it did.

It's the story of Perla Long who had a child out of wedlock and moved to Wise, West Virginia to get away from the talk of folks in her own hometown.  But she couldn't move to a new town with a small daughter and then lie about never being married.  So her story, and the judgment and rejection of people, followed her to Wise.  Casewell Phillips was a bachelor who became enamored with the mother and child.  He helped Perla feed hungry crowds of people with small quantities of food which always grew according to the size of the crowd.  A true miracle...but it wasn't enough to win the favor of the people.

I admired the way Sarah described the drought in Wise.  Having just gone through a 5-year drought in our own area, I thought she hit the nail on the head with her descriptions.  And the first rain after a drought?  Miraculous!!  I loved that John heard it on his way to heaven before it actually materialized in Wise.

A very sweet story.  I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Friday, September 26, 2014

39 Years

I realized today that my grandkids probably don't know our story of how we met, fell in love, and married.  So I want to tell them our story...

Engagement photo...courtesy of Olan Mills

I was 18-years-old and a freshman at West Texas State University when I met Andy on a blind date.  I'd been challenged by a pastor when I was 12-years-old to begin praying for God to prepare me for my husband and to prepare my husband for me.  I took him up on that challenge and had been praying that prayer consistently for six years.  He'd also had us write a list of things we wanted in a husband.  I was very specific.  I wanted him to be a growing Christian...and a guitar player, among other things.  (I had unrealistic visions of him singing to me all the time.)  I was a very serious 18-year-old and ready for marriage.  I'd been to a puppet seminar to learn a new ministry that fall night in 1974 and on my way back to the dorm, I found myself crying out to God, "God, I'm ready to meet that man You've been preparing for me!"  That sounds very dramatic for an 18-year-old, but I was pretty focused.  That very week, I had gone to the activity center with a few friends and ran into Donna Smart and her boyfriend, Dennis White, both from Pampa. We talked a bit and it was if a lightening bolt struck Donna. She looked at Dennis and told him they needed to fix me up with Dennis' roommate, Andy.  She told me to go back to my dorm room and expect a call from this guy.  I did...and I don't mind telling you I was a little excited!  Sure enough, Donna worked her magic and Andy called me.  We talked for awhile and then he asked me out on a double date--with Dennis & Donna (who married later).  We were going to go to Wonderland.  Donna had told me that Andy sang with Vicki & the Royalheirs and it just so happened that my roommate, Peggy, had an 8-track of Vicki & the Royalheirs--which I listened to over and over before our blind date.  I secretly hoped he was the first tenor on that tape.  (He was.)  I borrowed clothes from my suitemates and was looking good on that first date.  When I walked to the door that night and saw Andy for the first time, I knew he was the man I was going to marry.  Later, he told me he knew the same thing.  

Dennis & Donna (Smart) White

Andy was traveling with the Royalheirs as we began to date, so I didn't see him very often those first few months.  We began communicating through letters.  I was able to travel and hear him sing several times alone, with my parents, and with the group.  When he was home, we were together as much as possible.  It was an exciting time as we began to get to know one another.  I definitely had stars in my eyes.  By the time we'd been dating for 6 months, Andy the back of the Royalheirs' van on our way home from one of his concerts.  I eagerly said "yes."  It was February 28th...and since Andy wanted to always be able to celebrate the day he proposed and not worry about a leap year, he waited until after midnight, March 1, to propose.  We planned to marry the next August or September.  We had to wait for a break in the Royalheirs' schedule to have the wedding.  We soon realized August wouldn't work, so we planned for a September 27 wedding.  The next week after Andy proposed, he took me to Sid's Jewelry in Borger to choose my engagement ring.  He invited his mom to come along since she'd worked at a diamond shop and knew the quality of diamonds.  My ring was beautiful.   

My Dad & I

As we began making wedding plans, my dad offered us $2000 to elope--and I was ready to take it!!  But Andy wanted a wedding.  I know...that seems so opposite!  So we began planning. The wedding was going to be at my home church in Pampa...Central Baptist Church.  We asked Andy's pastor, Paul Burleson, and my uncle, Raymond Sanders, to both officiate.  We'd never seen that done, but we wanted both men to be a part of our wedding.  I went to Daisy's in Sunset Center for my wedding dress.  The dress and veil cost  $99.  It wasn't my dream dress, but it had a long veil which was a train, so I was happy. The dress was very indicative of the 70's.  We chose and purchased the blue fabric for the bridesmaid's dresses and they each had their dress sewn.  They wore (lovely!) blue hats.  I also had 4 candlelighters, including my 12-year-old sister, Sandra,  two cousins, Ramona & Kim, the daughter of Royalheirs' singer & pianist, Kenda.  Mom made their blue dresses and white pinafores.  Two of my younger cousins, Robb & Tami Jo, were the ring bearer (his mom made his little white tux) and flower girl (who wore a Holly Hobby dress and bonnet my mom made.)  I went to the florist to order my bouquets and really wanted an exotic flower.  But it wasn't in season.  So I ended up getting large pink roses and stephanotis.  Andy actually ordered my bouquet.  I had no idea what it looked like until I got it.  It was stunning.  There was a large orchid which lifted out of the center of my bouquet to wear as a corsage for my going-away outfit.  The bouquet was filled with white orchids, white roses, stephanotis, and live ivy.  By the time we married, Andy had just turned 24 and I was 19.

So many people helped with our wedding.  Dennis White's mom made beautiful candles which went in the windows of the church.  Virginia Kelley made our spectacular wedding cake which was a pure labor of love.  I'd never seen one so pretty.  Mom later told me that they actually only paid about $800 for our wedding.  Dad would have lost out if we had eloped!

Rose Gray, the gifted cook at Andy's church, cooked a fabulous pot roast meal for our rehearsal dinner which was served at the SPS building.  It was her wedding gift to us.  Andy was speeding home that night and was stopped by a policeman who only gave him a warning when he found out Andy was in a daze because he was about to be married the next night.  Grace. 

My two brothers, Bob & Gary, were ushers and seated guests.  I had no idea just how much fun they were having until later.  They had pinned notes on the inside of their jackets which read, "Tips Accepted!"  They would flip their jackets open to people they knew.  My aunt heard what was going to go down so she bought some marbles to give to people as they came in so they could give them as a "tip" to Bob & Gary--their pockets were soon bulging with marbles.  I think the photographer had more fun than anyone with my brothers' antics.

There's this story of Robb, our ring bearer.  It was about time for him to walk down the aisle and he decided he needed to go to the bathroom...which was clear across the church!  My brother picked him up and ran with him while my aunt was yelling instructions on how to get his tux off.  They made it back just in time to set him down and he calmly walked down the aisle as if nothing ever happened.  In fact, I didn't know til later that it had even happened!

Andy (sans mustache) & I

I'd never seen Andy without a mustache. But the day of our wedding, he decided to shave.  I think he didn't want a mustache in our wedding photos.  Since we didn't see one another before the wedding, I was shocked when I saw him as I walked down the aisle!  His upper lip was a little pale from lack of sun which made me think he was very nervous.  I knew Andy was going to sing "The Twelfth of Never" and since I thought he was so nervous, I expected him to sing it quietly or nervously.  But when it came time, he boomed out the song.  I was so taken aback, that I got tickled and began trying to cover my I was shaking.  Everyone in the audience thought I was crying.  I was glad to find out they thought I was crying instead of giggling!  I remember both Bro Paul and Uncle Raymond saying, "Amen!" after his song.  Andy's twin brother, Phil, and Steve Davis (of the Royalheirs) sang a couple of songs during the ceremony.  One song was "Savior Like a Shepherd"--Cynthia Clawson's arrangement.  Roberta Grant and Eddie Martin, both with the Royalheirs,  played the piano and organ, respectively.  It was the first truly musical wedding I'd been to...and it was mine!

My brother, Bob, had a new Camaro and offered to let us use it for our honeymoon to Red River.  The day of our wedding, he informed me he wasn't going to bring it to the church for fear of the guys painting it, so he had it hidden and was going to meet us on the Amarillo highway where we could trade cars.  I kept trying to inform Andy throughout the evening, but we were overwhelmed with people hugging us and talking to us after the wedding ceremony and during the reception.  I was never able to communicate to him that we needed a car to leave in.  We changed into dress clothes (and I was wearing my corsage) before we left.  The plan was for us to walk out the doors of the church, I was going to toss my bouquet, and we were going to run to the waiting car.  In reality, we walked out the door, Andy dragged me down the steps of the church, I dropped my bouquet and never threw it, and we had no car to leave in!  Ha!  If I remember correctly, dad finally tossed his car keys to us and we left for our honeymoon.  Our photographer got a picture of us in that car--with my bleeding knees!

We got a couple of miles out of town, and Bob was waiting for us with the Camaro.  We traded cars and Andy began speeding away.  A few miles later, a policeman stopped us.  The same policeman who had stopped Andy the night before!  Andy got out of the car to talk to him and the policeman came to my window.  I nervously rolled my window down and he said, "Mrs. Dietz?"  I said, "Yes?" trying not to giggle.  I'd not been called that before.  He asked me to remind my husband not to drive too fast.  He wanted us to make it to our honeymoon destination.  (I'm sure he was having a great time with it!)

Area on the old Red River Road where Andy carved our names on a tree 39 years ago.

For our first night as Mr. & Mrs. Andy Dietz, we stayed at our new apartment in Amarillo.  The first thing we did was order a pizza---we were starved!  The next morning, we made our way to Red River and stayed there about 5 days.  We were the only young people in town.   In fact, most of the town was closed down until ski season.   Many people asked us if we were newlyweds--I naively couldn't figure out how they knew.  The leaves were beginning to change and it was cool and beautiful.  Thirty-nine years later, Andy & I still love to go to Red River when the leaves change.

While we were in Red River, my mom had surgery.  She almost died in the days following.  I would call home occasionally from a pay phone and check on her.  When my aunt told me she wasn't doing well, we decided to go home early.  I was very protective of my little sister and knew she'd been sent to stay with friends and also knew she'd be feeling a little lost.  So we went to Pampa and by the time we got there, mom was better but still needed to be in the hospital a few days.  I invited Sandra to go home with us and she did.  When we got to Amarillo, I called Kenda, one of the flower girls, to see if she wanted to come stay with Sandra.  So Sandra & Kenda, two 12-year-olds, had a slumber party at our house on our honeymoon.  I wouldn't have had it any other way.  And I knew I had a great guy.

And that's our story....

Friday, September 19, 2014

God's best for me is not perfect...

I saw this on Facebook recently and instantly my heart said, "YES!"  That's it exactly.  My cousin, Pam, so aptly commented, "God's plan looks way more adventurous and definitely NOT boring! It sure is exciting watching how HE gets me out of those pits!! "

It's only taken me 58 years to come to the realization that God's BEST for me is not PERFECT.  And by perfect, I mean flawless, without defect, without shortcomings, foolproof, impeccable.  Or maybe it's just that God's definition of perfect is different from mine.  

I've known this in theory, but why can't my heart line up with my mind on this issue?  I've read James 1 (even memorized it!) where it says trials and testing make us perfect (mature, complete--God's definition of "perfect").  We all want life without problems, complications, worries, tests!!  But God, in His wisdom, knows that those are the very things that grow us up--make us perfect.  (Which, by the way, is a great example in parenting for us!)

God's best for me isn't going to look perfect (without defect)...but it will bring about perfection (completion, maturity), if I let it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larson & Emma Chapman

Who hasn't perused the blog, A Beautiful Mess?  Even this grandmother has!  These young women, Elsie Larson & Emma Chapman, sisters...have created their own business by creating beautiful things.  They even created A Beautiful Mess photo app--the #1 selling photo app.  Well, now they've created an inspiring book with some of their best ideas.  Think Pinterest in a book.

The book is filled with wonderful photography of their two homes and the creative ways they've been inspired to make their homes their own.  Throughout the book, you are encouraged to be creative in your own home and not to care if an idea is too trendy or overused.  You are to make your home your own and a place you want to come home to.

Some of my favorite ideas are hand-painted lettering on plates and mugs--and even a wall!  They take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.  It's pretty obvious these girls like color!  It's everywhere and done in such a fun way.  There are ideas for decorating for parties, dinners, and outdoor fun.  You won't go wrong purchasing this book!

I'd give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I received this book for free from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS for this review.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Twin-Thing

Phil & Andy

Most days, I don't even think about being married to a twin...unless I'm around their mother who loves to talk about them or...they're together.  And we've been together quite a bit lately. They also just celebrated their 64th birthday yesterday.  So the twin-thing has been on my mind.

The Dietz family met last month at a campground in Oklahoma for a few days.  It was the first time in about eight years we'd all been together.  Our kids don't even think about their dad and his twin's idiosyncrasies.  They've grown up with it.  Oh, we might laugh occasionally when we're together and Andy & Phil really get going.  They do so many things just alike.  But it's normal to us...we've watched it for many years.  It's not until there's a new member in the family that it stands out again.  So this reunion was no exception.  Our daughter-in-law, Shanna, hadn't been around Phil. And Zach & Shanna's kids had never seen him.  Dax is three-years-old and we could tell he was a little confused with Phil being there.  He still knew his "Pot" and would stare at Phil and walk around him cautiously.  Of course, Andy & Phil tested him quite a bit.  Gus, on the other hand, who just turned two, couldn't really tell the difference.  He was easily confused.  He went to both indiscriminately and was perfectly content with either.

It's always fun to see the twin-thing through fresh eyes.  Shanna just sat and observed Andy & Phil and laughed behind her hand throughout most of the reunion.  She'd never seen them in action.  She couldn't believe they had the same hand motions, the same voice, the same humor.  She would laugh telling me things she had observed.  And they feed off of each other.  It's just funny seeing one of them times two!

I remember when our first granddaughter met Phil.  She was only two and was a little confused.  But she quickly figured them out.  She had always called Andy "Pops."  When she learned Phil was an uncle, she began calling him "Uncle Pops."  Since Dax calls Andy "Pot," Shanna was trying to get him to call Phil "Pan."  Ha!

It's always interesting seeing the twin-thing through new eyes.  Happy birthday, Andy & Phil!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hiding in the baggage...

How did Saul go from hiding in the baggage when Samuel was pronouncing him as building himself a monument after the battle with Amalek?  That was the question I was asking God yesterday as I did a lot of driving.  

You see, I'm teaching these stories to children on Wednesday nights.  The first week, I taught about Israel asking for a king and rejecting God as their king.  God gave them what they asked for and gave them Saul as king.  But Saul didn't think very highly of himself.  He told Samuel that he was from the least tribe of Israel and the least of his tribe.  And then he hid in the baggage when Samuel had called all of Israel together to choose the next king.  (Samuel & Saul already knew what the outcome would be even though Samuel was apparently drawing lots to find the next king.)  When Samuel drew Saul's straw, he was nowhere to be found, so Samuel prayed and asked God where he was and God told them to look in the baggage.

I'm not sure this was meant to be a metaphor, but what a great metaphor!  Saul was hiding in the baggage.  And I believe his baggage was insecurity and inadequacy.   

I wanted to find the reason Saul went from hiding in the baggage to raising a monument in his own honor.  It appears he went from one extreme to the other--feeling like a nobody to thinking he was someone pretty important!  I think I found the answer from Saul's own words in I Samuel 15:24, "I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice."  

Saul feared men.  He wanted to please them.  He was a people-pleaser instead of a God-pleaser.  Because he was an insecure man and felt inadequate (his baggage), it was easy for him to listen to the voices of other men.  He needed their approval.  

And in that process...he disobeyed God.  And Samuel told him that rebellion was like witchcraft and stubbornness was like idolatry.  Because Saul had rejected God's word and disobeyed, God rejected Saul as king.

Baggage is an easy place to hide.  But when you hide behind your baggage instead of coming out into the open and dealing with it, it becomes an easy place to fear man, disobey God, rebel, and become stubborn.  The end result seems to be building a monument unto yourself.  Idolatry.

God desires altars where we worship Him...not monuments where we worship ourselves.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Out of control

Recently, someone told me of a person whose life was spinning out of control and they were trying to control everything around them.  They needed to feel they were in control of something!

I'm wondering if that's exactly what's going on around us.  Our world is spinning out of control, so we have the same need--to control something.  

Just something to examine.

"Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives."  
Galatians 5:25