Friday, July 30, 2010

HEART THOUGHTS... from Helen

"Sisterly Love"

“The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35, THE MESSAGE)

My older sister, Judy and I use what might be termed ‘sister speak’. Sister speak involves code words from years of memories shared. She’s my ‘Big Sisty’ and I’m her ‘Lil Sisty’. Silly? Probably. But who’s to say what constitutes silly in family traditions. We giggled a lot as little girls. One such giggle fest took place in church. A vivid memory unfolds, as I remember somehow one of us breaking a little strand of fake pearls and them all tumbling to the floor (not carpeted) in the middle of the service of this little country church. Judy and I got the giggles and couldn’t stop. We often got the giggles when we’d go out to eat which wasn’t a frequent thing back in the day. Daddy got so embarrassed one Sunday we were threatened with having to go sit in the car. We couldn’t stop.

Judy is three and a half years older and my brother, Gene is seven years older than me. I am the baby in my family of origin. My mother still calls me her ‘Baby Chile’.

Sisters share a lot of history, both good and bad. We fought over who would wash the dishes and who would dry the dishes. Who would dust and who would cook. We joked over the old song “Clementine”. You remember that one, don’t you? One of the last lines being: “til he kissed her little sister, and forgot his Clementine.” I did tease her about that. Even though it never happened, I loved picking at her about it. I don’t think she always appreciated it. We argued over the telephone as teenagers. Only one phone at the end of the hallway and I can see her sitting with her knees pulled up to her chin whispering into the mouth piece so no one could hear. I did the same thing when it was my turn.

Judy always looks her very best, not a hair out of place, not a wrinkle in her attire… so not like me who flies by the seat her pants... She is well put together. Another memory that comes from our church growing up years is that of an older woman talking to mother after the service. “That Judy is the prettiest little thing.” As I looked up into their faces I waited for her to include me; she didn’t. She distinctly looked at me and said nothing. Oh well!!!!

My sister, Judy, reveals her generous and empathetic heart to all who seek her shoulder to cry on. She truly exhibits care and understanding for those in pain and need. When my daddy died Judy took my mother in from Bethea Retirement Community to house and hold her close in her fresh widowhood. At the time Dennis and I took care of his aging mother in another part of the state. Judy and my brother-in-law, Jim, took such good care of mother, spoiling her like she’d never been spoiled her whole life. She thrived on it. She lived close to our old home place and in the same town as her other family members and doctors. They couldn’t have done a better job of honoring our mother.

As years passed, mother aged, Judy and Jim aged and health issues cropped up that resulted in mother’s decline leading to the stroke that hospitalized, and then required nursing home rehabilitation. It was an evident fact that Mother needed more care than we were able to administer at home, so she resides at National Health Care in Sumter. Only those siblings who have had to make such decisions and then live with them know the trauma that accompanies them. And who is it that takes care of all the paper work, the day to day business, the laundry, the loving, and the phone calls the encouraging, the trips to doctors, and the birthday parties? It’s Judy and of course her hard working husband, Jim, right alongside.

I admire my sister’s gifts of service, love, hospitality and over all willingness to do whatever is necessary ‘because that’s what family does’. Judy is a hugger and an affectionate sibling. She and I have a sister’s bond that cannot and will not be broken. Do we always agree…does any sibling? But we choose to move toward what we do agree on and carry on. As Judy struggles with her own health issues, she continues to listen to others and encourage them in theirs, because she knows whereof she speaks. She’s right as she reiterates the saying of today, “It is what it is”.

I think of sisters in the Scripture such as Rachel and Leah in the first book of the Bible, Mary and Martha from the tenth chapter of Luke. There are so many lessons to be learned from each one. Over time I believe we can identify with both sisters in both stories in a variety of ways at different times in our lives. The Lord loved both sets of sisters and He chose to display their good traits along with their better ones. Jesus, Himself had two sisters, I believe, and brothers in his earthly family. He surely knows the interchange, good, bad and indifferent, that takes place in the family unit.

Jesus also said at one point, “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35 NASB)

I’m so thankful to say that my sister does the will of God. In ‘sister speak’ you could say, we are sisters times two.

Friday, July 23, 2010



“Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

Pierre Beauregard III, a medium French poodle gained access to our home shortly after our matrimony. Dennis felt sorry for him. Beau belonged to my groom’s longtime friends who loved him dearly …until they adopted a baby boy that they loved more and Beau got relegated to the out of doors, a place he was not accustomed to and didn’t care for at all. Can’t you just see it now, Coach Lynn walking a chocolate poodle in the rain in front of our honeymoon cottage on Brushy Creek Road in Greer? It wasn’t a good fit. But he meant well…Coach Lynn, that is. He wanted to save this dog from a chain and possibly the pound.

It all went down hill shortly after our marriage when Beau didn’t want to relinquish his spot beside me in the bed. (Yes, we rue the day we allowed him on the bed) He made the mistake of growling at his master. Not a good thing to do. This dog demonstrated no sorrow whatsoever for his errant behavior and continued to defy the master of the house. I don’t suppose dogs show godly sorrow but I know a lot of them do show some humility.

We acquired a fence in our back yard for Pierre Beauregard to romp in while Dennis coached and I worked in the Emergency Room. We knew we were dealing with a shrewd yet smart animal when Beau dug out under the fence and came to the front scratching on the door to get inside. After many efforts at containing him, frequent baths due to the mud puddles he dug getting out of the fence and enduring the condescending looks of the groomer when we took him to be trimmed; we decided to just not keep him in the fence because he wasn’t staying in anyway. What was Beau’s solution? He dug himself back under the fence into the backyard and presented himself at the side door to be admitted. OH, he did frustrate the newlyweds. Dennis, who was teaching/coaching at a local high school at the time advertised at school for a new home for our poodle. Pierre Beauregard sensed the future and began to ‘do his business’ right in the middle of our living room in front of the television. He was placed with a student whose parents called us shortly thereafter to ask if he was up to date on his shots. It seems Beau had bitten his groomer. Poor Beau just couldn’t get over the rejections in his life. I have to admit, we were among those who rejected the impudent little poodle and we are dog lovers.

Lessons learned from Pierre Beauregard III:
  • Rejection in any shape or form may result in rebellion
  • Rebellion may develop into a number of reactions
  • Reactions vary from compliance to lack of repentance to outright revolt
  • Revolt rarely wins friends or influences people, especially when the people rule
  • Relocating a rejected poodle to the newly wed game has its repercussions (or… timing is everything)
We didn’t really want to get rid of Beau. Our desire was to rescue him, love him and give him a better life. He failed to adapt to us and us to him.

Do you suppose that God, our Father has that in mind for us when we find ourselves in a rebellious situation no matter what the cause? I’m glad He doesn’t reject us as children but He chooses His own restraints in teaching us important lessons even if they come at the end of a leash or inside a fence. How do you respond to God’s restraints?

“Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.”

Friday, July 16, 2010



“I delight to do Your will, O my God”. (Psalm 40:8) AMP

Tanmarque’s Happy Princess fulfilled a youthful dream when my grandparents surprised me with this precious collie pup. Princess proved to be my Lassie for true and real. As an adolescent I marveled that she always desired to please me.

Princess memories flood my mind as I smile remembering them. Some of the most memorable include her uncanny ability to sniff out snakes and slay them by carefully stalking, then snatching them quickly and shaking the life from them. I attribute her determination to a bite she received on her nose as a pup. Her elongated nose grew to enormous proportion one summer day and the vet felt it was snake bite. This collie demonstrated her hatred for creepy crawlies by a definitive snake bark. Our family came to recognize this bark and to heed it appropriately. One dark August night she tended her ten pups in the back yard pen when we heard that specific bark. Sure enough, she found a huge rattler, which my daddy killed, probably saving her life after we rescued all the pups in our kitchen. Her protective instinct would not be deterred. We forced her inside also.

Let’s back up a bit to those ten pups. My mother (ninety-four) insists that I include this part of Princess history. After giving birth on our screened front porch on a hot summer day, Mother discovered Momma collie going back and forth into the living room from the front porch. She investigated and found that dear royal Princess felt that nothing was too good for her babies so she carried each one gently into the living room and tucked them in the corner of the couch. I happened to be working at the time, so didn’t get to witness this enthroning of the babies. Mother couldn’t decide whether to be upset or laugh. We never forgot it. Princess delighted to do for her family what she felt to be the very best. When said pups left the nest their momma, just like mine, knew just what to do. She instinctively separated the pup leaving and gave it her best wishes, nosing and licking it as if she knew.

While in high school, Princess trotted beside me as I walked to the bus stop two tenths of a mile down our dirt road each day. Her deepest desire was to be with me and to be obedient. She also knew instinctively when my bus returned and she joyfully greeted me when I arrived.

Princess, I’m sad to say, acquired a taste for the neighbor’s chickens which he finally despaired of enough to shoot her. She came home and died under her beloved dogwood tree outside the kitchen window. At the time I attended nurses training in Greenville and didn’t get to tell her goodbye. For years afterward, I dreamed I heard her barking; thankfully it wasn’t the snake bark. I don’t believe there are poisonous snakes where she resides.

Lessons learned from my precious Princess?
  • Devotion unspeakable
  • Love unbounded
  • Faithfulness undeniable
  • Joy unspeakable
  • Confidentiality unequalled
  • Patience unending
  • Delightful obedience…
Shouldn’t all these attributes define our desire/delight for our Master?

“I delight to do your will, O my God”

Friday, July 9, 2010



“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2 NIV

Duchess joined our family around the same time that adolescence arrived for me. She derived her heritage from the Heinz 57 family. She was black as the ace of spades and apparently acquired some shepherd and some lab in her ancestry. Duchess, though a medium sized friendly dog tried her best to keep up with whatever went on at our country home. She dearly loved to go rambling around the country side where we lived on my Granddaddy Goodson’s farm in Oswego, South Carolina. She loved to follow my Daddy when he drove the tractor. She loved to go down the lane with Momma and me to gather eggs from the chicken coops. But the singular thing that I remember about Duchess, my dog, was that she dearly loved flopping down in any mud puddle she came across. I can see her now just plop right down and smile all over herself, long pink tongue hanging out the side of her mouth, happy as she could be. Momma would fuss and I would get to hose her off until the next time.

Isn’t it funny the things we remember about our pets? I wish I had a picture of Duchess to show you how happy she was in the mud puddle. You’d have thought she was part pig. She did not, however, endear herself to us when she chose to run up and shake her muddy self all over us.

What did I discover from Duchess?
  • Mud Puddles can serve a purpose
  • Duchess taught me that it is the simpler things of life that make us happy.
  • Flopping down in a mud puddle beats running around like a chicken with its head cut off
  • Mud puddles are for cooling off sometimes. They may not be the most attractive way to relax but they surely can help the immediate heat of a situation.
  • Dogs named Duchess may not act like the royalty the name implies, but they get the job done nonetheless
  • Dirty is a relative term. To Duchess being muddy meant nothing more than temporary comfort from the heat of the day. She knew I’d wash her up and she’d be soot black and shiny again.
  • Don’t stay in the mud puddle too long and be compared to the “sow that is washed goes back to her swallowing in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:22b) NIV and end up lazy, listless and at loose ends.
  • And by all means, when you’ve been in the mud puddle, don’t run up to your friends and shake your mud all over them.

Friday, July 2, 2010


"Life's Lessons learned at the end of a leash"

Mr. Trouble II: The name itself alerted us to the possibilities of taking on our friend's Boston terrier. I was around the age of six when our family agreed to adopt Mr. Trouble from church friends who were to be deployed overseas. This small black and white bundle of energy with nerves of steel quickly stole our hearts. He adjusted well to our family of five and we soon accustomed ourselves to his antics. The only problem with this situation resulted from Benji, the black cocker spaniel next door.

Trouble, (for short) and Benji, kept up a running battle with each other and I do not exaggerate when I say "running battle". They hated each other from the moment they lay eyes on each other. It was quite a precarious situation to let Trouble out without first checking next door to see if the neighbors deemed it necessary for Benji to also take his business outdoors. If it so happened that both dogs were out at the same time, you could see them squaring off at each other.

Trouble lined up in the corner of our yard, scratching the ground with his paws like a Spanish bull, and Benji, lowered his head in the opposite corner of his yard, as if waiting for the signal to begin round one. In the middle they met like boxers in a ring and CLASH, SNARL, JUMP, REAR, GROWL AND BITE. No amount of hollering from any of us could dissuade them from their battle. After many attempts at various ways of safely and not so safely breaking up these dog fights, we came upon the idea of turning on the garden hose and soaking down the two antagonists. That seemed to do the trick until the next time both dogs went outside without a leash.

I've often wondered what makes certain dogs get along and others to be natural enemies. The same could be said of the human species. You know what I mean; sometimes you just naturally have an aversion to another person for no apparent reason other than they make your skin crawl and your blood pressure rise. I wish I remembered who authored a book about 'irregular people 'in your life. If I recall correctly, it dealt with this issue quite well.

How do you deal with conflict or that 'irregular person' in your life? Some folks naturally enjoy lining up on opposite sides of the yard just waiting for the right moment to:

Jump in and attack, usually with words that bite and snarl or actions that intentionally irritate, clash and cause unnecessary controversy.

Some may remember the old idiom, "fight or flight". Which applies to you?

Is your response to 'ignore it and it will go away?

Then there is the person who hurries down the other isle of the grocery store to avoid confrontation.

Some people just deny it's even a problem.

The Biblical account of David, the young shepherd turned warrior, grieved over his nemesis, King Saul, who sought at every turn to take his life. He tried everything he could to remedy the situation. (See 1and 2 Samuel in the Old Testament)

There are many other pairs of antagonists in Scripture: Cain and Able, Hannah and Peninah, Rachel and Leah, Jacob and Esau. Conflict remains as old as time.

"A soft answer turns away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1 KJV) surely did NOT work for Mr. Trouble and Benji. But would that plus, "Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. "(Luke 6:28 NIV) work with those irregular people in your life? Sometimes it does and sometimes, it just doesn't! I suppose we are to try anyway, no matter what the result of our efforts may be. After we've made an effort at all the remedies we know to get along with no results, we may need to drag out the garden hose and squirt some fresh cold water on the situation. This time of year with 100 degree temperatures, that might feel pretty good if you like that sorta thing. A cup of cold water in the Name of Jesus may just do the trick...or a glass of iced tea, or lemonade or even Diet Coke.

What I learned from Mr. Trouble II:
  • conflict exists (sometimes for reasons beyond our comprehension)
  • confidence in my ability to deal with it depends on the methods I incorporate
  • Christ Jesus IS THE CUP OF COLD WATER SPLASHED IN MY FACE to remind me
    Who is the Master