Life Stories

I blew up the microwave!

One moment after I pressed the timer, it was humming away. Then suddenly, I heard a loud explosion.

The door flew open, and the plate I placed on top of the bowl flew out and shattered on the floor, followed by the clear bowl filled with eggs and water.

The sight and sound was startling, to say the least.

My husband and I jumped up to see what happened and saw the eggs and broken glass on the floor and the baseboards.

We were both making poached eggs. He was cooking on the stove, and I prepared mine in the...

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The Benefits of Silence

My daughter invited me to spend the weekend at a family cabin on the Chesapeake Bay for my birthday this year.

It was so quiet. The only sounds were our voices, birds chatting, water splashing against the bank, and wind scattering the beautiful, colorful fall leaves on the ground like puzzle pieces.

Exactly what I needed after suffering from a concussion at the beginning of the summer.

The unfortunate accident happened when I was working in our garden. I was bending over, pulling some weeds. My grandson called my name, a...

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It’s time to take a break

When you come to a stop sign or red light, you stop and look both ways. Likewise, at a yield sign, you pause and look both ways. It keeps us safe.

The same thing happens when we take care of ourselves. We must know when to stop, pause, and take a break.

After spending two weeks with my husband in the hospital this year, I noticed the words, Pause, Reflect, and Heal, on each patient’s door. Of course, I’ve seen this before, but it felt like a message to me this time.

When we never feel rested, overwhel...

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Lessons From Papa’s Garden

Lessons From Papa’s Garden

Our children and grandchildren were visiting for the weekend, and they all love mashed potatoes. So I told my husband we needed some more potatoes for dinner.

He said he would get some. Then, he asked our grandson, Donovan, to come with him as he walked out the door.

Going to the store with their Papa is always fun because they know he will buy them a treat.

So he jumped up and ran to the car while my husband was walking around the back of the house. When he realized he was walking...

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What is Your Love Language?

It only took 40 years for my husband to realize that bringing me coffee in bed was one of the ways that I felt loved. But, of course, he’s not a coffee drinker, so the smell and taste of freshly brewed coffee in the morning is not a big deal for him.

After we retired, we bought a 26 foot RV and traveled out West to Alaska. It had a small table, a chair, a bathroom, and a tiny kitchen area next to the bed. So, only one of us could be at the cooking area at a time.

One morning while I was still sleeping, he woke me ...

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Sharing the Season

One year, while we were living in south Texas, I received a box in the mail from my son. The package was about 12X12X12 inches but felt very light. I couldn't imagine what was in it.

The post office had marked it fragile, so I was careful as I removed the tape and slid the lid off. I heard a rustling sound when I moved the box. The gift was wrapped in soft white tissue paper with a tiny piece of tape holding it together.

I carefully eased the tape away from the paper and opened it.  An earthy sweetness rose up to meet a...

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Memorial Day

For seventeen days and seventeen nights, John McCrae, a soldier in World War 1 and a surgeon during the second battle of Ypres in Belgium, said that he and his comrades never took their clothes off or boots, except occasionally.

"In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds, he said. Yet, behind all the noise, we could see sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and the terrible anxiety lest the line should give way."

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was a soldier, physici...

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A Helping Hand

One day I was coming out my front door and looked down on the walkway in front of me to see a little Sparrow lying on the pavement, flapping its wings, trying to get up. So I looked around to see if other birds might be a part of this little creature’s life.

I saw nothing and leaned down to see if I could pick it up. I waited to see if it would try to get away, but it didn’t. Instead, it became very still as I slid my hand under its little body and lifted it to my chest.

I checked to see if it broke a leg or wing, b...

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Things work out

The phone rang at 8 AM. My son, Jay, said, "Hi, mom; I wanted to let you know I will be praying for you and dad today. I'd like to have coffee with you." I said, "Thank you, son. We'll have coffee together soon." He said, "Well if you will open your front door, we can have coffee now."

On the first day of radiation treatment for breast cancer, he decided to surprise me and drove two hours to be at my house in time to have coffee with me.

While we were having coffee, I told him that the morning before he came, I felt anx...

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Dangers in the garden

“Please, God, don’t let my Papa die this week. That’s all I got to say. Amen.” That was my 9-year-old grandson’s prayer when he had to take him home early because my husband had to be admitted to the hospital.

It started a few weeks ago when I woke up and heard my husband stumbling through the dark hallway. I got up quickly and went to him. He didn’t seem to know where he was, and when I tried to help him, I realized his skin was hot, and he didn’t seem to know who I was.

I took his te...

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Capturing the Moments

We were getting ready to leave our daughter’s house after the holidays. I walked into the room as my daughter and husband were talking to each other. She was seated at the piano, and he was standing tall and lovingly beside her.  

The window light from behind them was soft and very complimentary. It was an endearing scene, and I thought I would get one more great photo before we left.   

My husband started to walk away, and I said, “Stop, let me take a photo!” Each of them looked at me and, simultaneously, sai...

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Recovering Hope

For a moment, it all came unbalanced. The sad and the angry became heavier than the happy and good I gave in. The tears came, the anger raged, and my heart pounded.

Then someone asked for my help. I heard them and moved dutifully toward them. They sounded anxious, and I reached out to assure them.

With that gesture, I felt a shift in my heart. The sadness and anger lightened. The happy and good became stronger. The balance hesitated a moment, and then it became equal.

In fact, by the time I finished talking to a friend w...

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Turn on the light

My nine-year-old grandson understands the Coronavirus pandemic, where it started, and how it has affected his world. Recently, when we had our Zoom visit, he said that most people dying from the virus are older. I remembered once when he asked me if his Papa and I were old. So, I thought I’d find a way to assure him we were OK.

“I’m writing a story on how light helps us to see better in the dark,” I told him. “Are you afraid of the dark?”

“Sometimes, when I think I see something...

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Happy Mother’s Day Rosie

Rosie knelt, felt the pecans in the grass, and then crawled around on the ground, collecting them and depositing them in her bucket.

She is legally blind and couldn't see the nuts when she was standing. Her vision, which had been damaged by scar tissue as a child, was clear enough to make out objects, but she had to get very close to see the details.

When she held the pecans in her hand, she used her sense of touch to tell the difference between good and bad ones.

She could feel if there was a tiny insect hole or...

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Dear Mr. President

My husband is a quiet man, the kind that when the storms come, outside or inside, he’s steady as a rock. While trying to figure out how to fix everything and everyone, he usually has three things to say. Deana, leave it alone; this, too, will pass. Why do things happen, or what will you do about it?

I think the quarantining is getting to him, and like everyone else, he is ready for it to end. So he sometimes edits my columns, checks my grammar, and reminds me to check the facts.

However, I think he may be stressing out a ...

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Winter Blues

I found a plush, warm, gray sweater that seemed to wrap itself around me with deep pockets and tried it on. It felt so good, but when I looked into the mirror, I saw my husband behind me shake his head no. “No?” I asked. “Why not?”

“Because it’s gray. Choose a colorful one. You’ve had a lot of gray days lately,” he said. He was right. I loved watching the snow falling this week and the beautiful, mysterious mounds it creates, but not getting outside enough affects my mood.

I have ...

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75th Holocaust Remembrance

“The time will come when we will be people again, not just Jews!” – 11 April 1944.

More than one million children under 16 died in the Holocaust during World War II. Anne Frank was one of them.

This excerpt came from her diary while hiding in the secret annex of her father’s business. She wasn’t writing a book or an important document–just a journal that kept her occupied and helped her to cope with a difficult time in her life. Finally, however, in 1947, her diary, saved during the war by on...

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Thank You Notes

Inside the small white envelope was a little card with a bear and flowers on the front. When I opened it, a note in a child’s handwriting read, “Thank you, Mrs. Landers, for the movie tickets. We’re going to see Lizzie McGuire. I appreciate your letter. P.S. Thanks.” Signed Sami (with a flower over the I).

It was a thank you note from a child. I sent movie tickets for a story that we published of hers for a contest.

When I finished the note, I thought about how wonderful it was that her mother ta...

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Please Read Me a Story

One of the best memories I have from my childhood is the time my mother read to me. When it was cold outside, we sat on the couch late at night with the fire blazing in the fireplace. I leaned against her shoulder and watched the lines on her face disappear as she used her voice to mimic the characters in the book.

She laughed and pretended to cry to make the story come to life; sometimes, she looked younger than me in those moments. It was our particular time together to read and talk about books.

It could have bee...

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The Power of Sharing our Family Stories

I had never traveled anywhere alone. I know riding a bus from Macon to Atlanta, Georgia, with strangers was not long-distance, but it was frightening and exciting for an 18-year-old.

My mom died when I was 13, and I lived with my brother and sister-in-law. The trip was a graduation gift to visit my aunts, who I hardly knew. They thought it would be good for me to hear my mom’s stories and learn what she was like as a young girl.

The bus arrived late that night at a bustling bus station on Peachtree street, but no ...

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My Vietnam Soldier’s Story

My husband was a cook in the Vietnam war. One morning after praying for God’s protection for himself and his comrades, he felt he should go into the mess hall early to prepare for his baking duties. He had to convince the head cook to do his work during the evening meal. Typically, he started baking after dinner and worked late while the soldiers stayed in the lighted building to write their letters and play cards. After finishing his kitchen duties, they all had to leave because it was his job to close the facility.


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When I noticed the two women getting out of the convertible in front of the hotel, I had a feeling there was going to be an awkward moment. My husband spotted them the same time I did and proceeded to do exactly what I was hoping he wouldn’t do.

“Excuse me, ma’am,“ he called out. The two women looked up curiously as they stepped out of the car. “Are you aware that you’re parking in a handicapped parking place?” he asked. I was sure everyone in the parking lot and possibly all of those on South...

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You’re Almost There….

"When it was over, I lay spent and exhausted on the cold, hard earth…never to be ranked with the average and mediocre..." This is a quote from one of our late presidents; my daughter sent me when I was toiling with one of life's many problems.

She continued with, "In essence…I am a winner and will not say it's over until I have given everything. Until there is nothing left in me to give. That makes me special and unique." I keep these words close to my heart and remember them when I struggle or want to feel my childrenR...

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What are the things that really matter?

I ran across a good illustration this week that paints an excellent picture of how important it is to stop and think about what we do with the hours in our day. It was about a philosophy professor who wanted to teach his students a lesson beyond the classroom.

When his students begin to arrive for his class noisily, the professor stood patiently at his desk with just a few items in front of him.

After the bell rang and the young men and women settle down, he wordless picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill ...

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My Sister is My Hero

My sister Juanell is my hero; I called her Nell. Her name was never in the newspaper, and she was never on television. She didn’t finish school because she was a wife and mother by age 16. When she was 26, her husband walked out on her after giving birth to their seventh child. Frances was born with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome(LGS), a rare and severe type of epilepsy in childhood.

I was a child when Nell was an adult. I watched her go through many hard times. Some of those times, she was angry because life was hard on her, b...

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It is never too early to talk to your children

The subject was drugs. My son told me he thought his children would receive good information about drugs in their schools, but it was still the parent’s responsibility to talk about it at home.

I agreed and reminded him that we did the same for him and his brother and sister. “I know, Mom,” he said carefully. “But you were too late.”

Trying not to show how dumbfounded I was, I asked him what he meant. “By the time you asked me about drugs, Mom, I had already tried them,” he said as gent...

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How Not to Order Mexican Food

My husband loves Mexican food. When we lived in south Texas, he worked very hard to learn Spanish. As a hospital chaplain and a nurse, we needed to know how to speak and understand Spanish to better communicate with our patients.

One afternoon, not long after we had completed our Spanish classes, he picked me up from work early. He said he wanted to go to Mexico for some Mexican food. We only lived about 20 miles north of Progreso, a Mexican border town.

I pointed out the fact that we had great Mexican restaurants right...

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Breast Cancer Awareness

If you find a lump in your breast or underarm area, you should see your doctor immediately.  The good news is that most lumps are noncancerous.  Sometimes they will go away on their own, which is why your doctor may schedule a return visit for three to six months.

However, sometimes the lump or change in breast tissue may be cancer.  You must go to your follow up visit.  If, at any time, you feel like you need a second opinion, you should probably get one. My friend, Jill, did, and she is alive today 21 years later. My sister, Juanita...

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The worries of our children

We often use the expression: “I feel as carefree as a child.” But children are not always carefree. In fact, children have many worries, and one of them might be unanswered questions and fears about the Coronavirus.

When parents are worried about the many impacts this viral epidemic is having on their lives, their jobs, and maybe even their health, children are listening and worrying too.

According to legend, Guatemalan children tell one worry to each of their hand-made Worry Dolls, placing them under their ...

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Take time to enjoy mornings

One morning I was getting the children ready for school. It was the usual busy morning with the kids running around to find their socks and school books. I was late for work, and the bus was due soon. I felt my job as a mom was to make sure everyone was nicely dressed, fed, and thoroughly prepared for the day ahead.

I’m not even sure what I was making for breakfast. I know it was fast. The children were not moving as quickly as I thought they should, making me irritable. As many mothers do, I gave orders left and right.Read More

Going Back to School at 54!

After 30 years of being a nurse, I decided to further my education in teaching. We moved a few blocks from the University of Texas, Pan Am, and I wanted to get a teaching degree.

I was 54, and my brain had to open a folder I had put away long ago. The most challenging class I had to take was Calculus.

I was never very good with numbers. Algebra had always been like electrical wires in my brain, connecting the positives and negatives at the right time. However, it may be true that repetition helps, much like giving allergy injec...

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The Power of Compassion

Sympathy looks in and says, “I’m sorry.” Compassion goes in and says, “I’m with you.“

Sympathy looks in and says, “I would like to help.” Compassion goes in and says, “I am here to help.“

Sympathy says, “I wish I could carry your burden.” Compassion says, “Cast your burden on me.“

Sympathy often irritates many words. Compassion helps and hears in quietness and understanding.

-Author Unknown

There is a difference between symp...

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How Sports Teach Young People To Never Give up

It was the last 45 seconds of the game when suddenly a teammate passed the ball into her hands. A Chest Pass is a two-handed pass from chest to the chest without touching the ground in a basketball game.

For a second, she stood there numb, bouncing the ball on the polished hardwood floor. The seconds ticked by until she was jerked into action by the shouting on the sideline. “Throw it, throw the ball!”

A tall guard loomed in front of her face. She moved to her right side, glanced at the round metal ring with the bas...

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Slowing Down and Paying Attention

“Doodlebug, doodlebug, come out tonight, doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire.” The little chant still echoes in my head when I see a familiar cone-shaped track spiraling downward into the soft, warm sand.

My brother and I sang this tune repeatedly while we lured these short, hairy insects from their homes in the warm Georgia sand when we were children, using only straw or a small stick. We placed the stick in the middle of the soft cone-like entrance to their pits and wiggled it around.

After a while, a litt...

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How to Deal With Telemarketers

I am not always friendly to telemarketers. I am ashamed to say that occasionally, I have slammed the phone down and been rather short-tempered about the times they call my house. However, all that changed a few years ago when I decided it was time to reclaim control of my telephone calls.

Like most people, we receive so many annoying telemarketing calls each day–for credit card offers, vacation packages, pledges to various charities and insurance companies–that I spend a good part of my evenings complaining about those irr...

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Children Remember so Much

One weekend I traveled to Tennessee to visit our grandchildren without my husband, who could not get off work. Alex, our oldest, and I went to the grocery store together to pick up something for lunch.

We were getting ready to get out of the car when he said, “Nana, are you and Papa sorry?” Startled, I said, “Sorry for what, Alex?” “Sorry for taking my Grinch toys away from me,” he said. “What Grinch toys,” I asked him. I couldn’t remember that he had any Grinch toys. “The on...

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Happiness is How We Treat Our Families

Think for a moment about how we treat our friends. We laugh with them, share good times, listen to them, and always try to be fair. We comfort them when things are going bad, and we would never interrupt them or allow ourselves to be distracted while talking to them.

We treat our coworkers with respect and would not dare tell them to shut up or accept a kind gesture without saying thank you.

But how do we treat our spouses and children when we get home away from the view of people who admire us?

Recently, I went ...

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Wiggly Messes and Tasty Memories

All the students in the room wore full aprons to protect their clothing. They needed to because they were a group of wiggly 2 and 3-year-olds in a cooking class. My daughter scheduled the class at the local community center for my granddaughter and me when she knew I was coming to help her during their second child’s arrival.

“You’ll love it, mom,” she said. “You and Clare can have some fun together and make cookies.”

Eight little squirming bodies stood on chairs around two long tables with s...

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How to Move Forward in Life

Streams are plentiful in East Tennessee. They trickle down the mountains, run beside the shaded rural roads, and flow joyfully into the rivers. If you sit quietly in a wooded area, you can hear the water spilling over rocks that have become smooth due to the water’s consistency.

Occasionally something huge, like a rock or fallen tree, will trap the busy water and stop it from flowing. It can’t go around; it can’t go over or under its obstacle. The water feeding the little stream feels the sudden halt and detours arou...

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In My Corner of the Field

I grew up on a farm. At the end of each summer or harvest year, my dad set fire to the fields to prepare them for seeding the following spring. My brothers and I helped him by containing the fire in our corner of the fields. We didn’t have vast fields, but this was a low-cost alternative to tilling in the previous year’s crops, and my dad also believed it killed unwanted insects.

Our job was to stand in our designated section of the field with a large wet cloth or a wet broom and make sure the fire did not go beyond our co...

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One Thing At a Time

When my husband asks, “Are you trying to bake that cake again!” I know it is my cue to slow down and concentrate on one thing at a time. It is a gentle reminder that started between us many years ago when our children were small, and our life was full of people and activities.

Right before guests would arrive for dinner, regardless of what a wonderful meal I had prepared, I would inevitably decide to add something else, which often made the moments before their arrival stressful.

Trying to do too many things...

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Cats, Predators or Pets

I didn't notice the big black and brown cat perched on the other side of the fence peering into our backyard.  I was busy watching the gray and white mocking bird with a long black tail dipping its beak into the cool water inside the birdbath.

It is a sight I can see most at any time of the day because our yard is usually filled with birds. We have Sparrows that build nests in the eave of our back porch, doves that nest in the big tree that shade the bird feeders, Woodpeckers hammering away at all hours of the day, and many ot...

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Learning How to Help Your Child With ADHD

“When I was in the first grade, I had trouble concentrating and doing my work, and what added to this problem was that I have a disorder called ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder), and I didn’t know it. I was always hyper, out of control, and getting in trouble. I also had a temper problem. Because of this, I set a goal to improve. The school put me in a program called 504 (to receive extra help), and I also started to take medication. I finally got to the point where I reached my goal. Now I’m in Pre-AP (hono...

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The Power of Touch

It is hard to sleep at night when you are angry with your spouse, especially if you are trying to stay on your side of the bed.

Recently, I had an idea for a column about touch–the importance of feeling human touch. Then, while I was having a massage to help relieve some taut muscles in my neck, the idea came to me.

I was lying on my stomach with my face resting downward in a doughnut hole pillow. My shoulders began to relax as skilled hands targeted the muscles running from my neck to my shoulde...

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Health Fears are Often Unexplained and Overblown

Our daughter was always afraid of the dark when she was little. She would see these monsters looming over her bed or swaying in the night and cry out to us. Her dad or I would go into her room and turn on the light. Then we would show her that the monsters were just pieces of furniture or the curtain moving in the wind of an open window. “See, if you turn on the light, it’s not so scary, is it?” he would tell her.

Just like the scare we’ve had with the coronavirus this last year, she had a scare during ...

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A Child and a Flower

The little town where we lived outside of Augusta, Georgia, was very small. There was an elementary school, flower shop, bank, minute market, family-owned restaurant, and many churches. We knew just about everyone in the community, and everyone knew our youngest son.

He was a friendly child with whitish blonde hair, always zipping around the neighborhood on his red bicycle. Every morning during the summer, he would get dressed, and off he would go for his morning ride. In his travels, he often stopped and talked with our neighbors.

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Connecting With Our Children in the Kitchen

Our kitchen was two steps down from the rest of the house. You took two steps down into the kitchen when you walked through the living and dining rooms. My favorite place to sit was on those steps.

When I was a little girl, I sat on those steps and watched my mother working in the kitchen. She always had flour on the front of her dress and around her beautiful auburn hairline, where she wiped her forehead with the back of her hands.

Some mornings I sat on the stool beside the butter churn with a wood plunger in both hands. I pu...

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Till Death Do Us Part

They were married for 61 years. He told us about their life together. He said he had to wait till he turned 18 before they could be married, but they had been together ever since, except for the 33 months he spent overseas during World War II.

There was another time when he had to take a job away from home, but he always came home on the weekends to be with his family. He worked and brought his money home, and told her where he thought it should go, and she took care of the their home and three boys.

They traveled together. He ...

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Making Room For the Important Things

Recently I heard a beautiful song called “Is There Room.” It made me think of a time when we were invited to a friend’s home in south Texas to share in their family’s Christmas Posada.

Posada is the Spanish word for “inn,” and the Posadas Navideñas recalls the events leading up to the Nativity of Jesus. Las Posadas is a nine-day religious festival celebrated throughout Mexico. It begins on December 16 and ends on Christmas Eve.

It is a way Christian families commemorate Joseph and Mary’...

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Barefoot Summer

Our bare feet grew tough, our hair turned to gold, and our bodies browned and freckled in the sun that pursued us on long hot summer days.

Across the dirt road where we lived, there was an old abandoned building. Bushes, high grass, and broken tree limbs hid it from the road, but we found it and made it our secret clubhouse.

We swept the dust from one side of the room to the other and put a cardboard box in the middle of the vast open space for a table and cement blocks around for chairs.

We hid our peanut butter and cra...

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