A Woman’s Work

PHOTO PROMPT © Valerie J. Barrett

The wood stove was stoked, already red hot. Anna had filled the kettle with water. The steam indicated it was time to pour the water over the coffee she had ground at sunrise. She looked forward to sitting down for a few minutes, savoring the richness of the brew.

The old iron was heating, nearly ready to attack the sprinkled laundry waiting to be pressed to attention.

Later, she would use the ladle to stir her apple butter. The aromas of coffee, freshly ironed shirts, and apple butter would lull her to sleep later, a day well-lived.


Sunday Morning Coffee: Life is a Vapor

James 4:14 

14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Image result for james 4 14

Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking that our lives are the most important things ever. We focus so much on what we want, when we want it, that it is easy to lose sight of the reality that our time on this earth is very short in God’s economy.

There’s an ad on television right now that really bothers me. It’s an ad for getting restaurant food delivered to your door. That’s not what bothers me. What I don’t like is the music that accompanies the ad: “I want it all, and I want it now!”

I think those words reflect an attitude that is becoming more and more prevalent in our thinking, when we really, as believers, should know better. It is an entitlement sort of attitude. If we want it, we should have it. Right now!

That’s not a good way to rear children. In I Kings 1, we are given the record of Adonijah’s attempt to claim the throne against the stated promise of God. In the account we read that David never (I’m paraphrasing here) got up in Adonijah’s face and read him the riot act. David never stood in the way of this child, or any of the rest of his children. He was not a good father.

And Adonijah ended up dying for his entitlement attitude when he tried to claim David’s harem, which belonged only to the king’s successor.

We couldn’t give our kids all that they wanted, the minute they wanted it. And I suspect that even if we could have, we wouldn’t have. It’s just not good for kids to demand and receive. They never learn the value of anything, and they turn out to be sneaky and spoiled, like Adonijah.

I guess this post would classify as a “stream of consciousness” piece of writing. It comes from several different moment in my week, so if it seems a bit disjointed, that’s my excuse 🙂

Don’t be entitled. Don’t teach your kids that they should always get everything they want. Our lives are nothing more than a whiff of steam, quickly made and quickly gone. Teach yourselves and your children this: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last!”

Our Story: 50 Years #8

Wedding Day! June 7, 1969, we said “I Do!” And we did, with all the ups and downs, joys and sorrows that go with a long marriage.

My last semester of college was a whirlwind. Every day was filled to capacity, and more. I had set up a calendar for the wedding, listing all the things I was responsible to accomplish. I have always been organized, but this was a whole new level. Graduating, planning a wedding for one week after graduation day–and I spent most weekends at home, helping out at church and spending every spare moment with Terry.

In February, the senior class had scheduled a trip to Buck Hill, in Minneapolis, to spend a day skiing. Terry was an expert skier, and he met us at what he always referred to as “Buck Bump.” You have to understand, there are no mountains in Minnesota, and Terry had skied in Aspen, Colorado many times. He’d volunteered to be on the Rescue Squad, thereby getting free ski time when he wasn’t helping people who had injured themselves. So he was going to teach me to ski that day, and I could hardly wait.

On the way home, one of the guys in the bus said to me, “You sure got along in a hurry with that ski instructor!” I laughed, held up my ring finger, and said, “Yes, we actually fell in love and got engaged!” Took him a couple moments to get it, and then he laughed too. Funny, I’d forgotten all about that until just this minute.

So. Graduation finally came, and one humongous goal was achieved.

Another crazybusy week, and suddenly THE DAY had come A few of the wedding photos:

And, FINALLY, after Terry endured the whole wedding fuss-and-feathers, we’re off for a week in in Terry’s favorite place: The woods of northern Michigan. I liked it too, by the way. Beautiful, except for the endless rain 🙂

I think I’m going to let this be the final post of this series. Today, 50 years later, I am beyond thankful for the life we’ve had together. Again, not without the lows as well as the highs. That’s life. You make a commitment, and you honor it. You learn to live with each other. You love God, and you keep Him central.And you don’t let the love die. It changes, because life happens. Children, jobs, illness, unexpected ups and downs. You do it together because you promised you would, and you hold on to the love.

And you remember to be thankful.



Old Patrick kept the house in shipshape order. The blue shutters and railings reminded him of the sea, and the flowers cheered him on a rainy day.

People stopped to admire his place, even taking pictures with their cell phones. Never occurred to them to get his permission.

Neat and orderly, a place for everything. Until one day he lost his jacket. Not in the appropriate closet, not anywhere.

To his utter dismay, he found it when he went down the front steps, hanging on the railing post. Right where he’d left it.

But he couldn’t remember leaving it there.

Never Surrender!

PHOTO PROMPT © Susan Eames

Haruki stayed hidden in his cave on the island for many long days. He lost track after a while, and when he knew he would die if he didn’t find food, he began to venture out every few days.

The quietness bothered him. For endless months there had been bombs, screaming, bleeding, and rifle fire. Now, the silence was eerie.

One day, he dared to climb a tree that leaned far out over the water. He watched for hours. Nothing. No Japanese, no Americans.

Back in his cave, sleep eluded him.

Was the war over?

Note: The last known Japanese soldier to be found was Hiroo Onoda. He walked out of hiding in 1974, nearly 30 years after the war ended; he died in 2014 at age 91. He stayed hidden rather than to risk the total loss of face in being captured by the enemy.

Note #2: I chose to see him as peering through small binoculars rather than using a cell phone. A cell just wouldn’t have worked in my story 🙂

Our Story: 50 Years, #7

With our engagement official, there were decisions to make. Foremost, I had to decided what to do about finishing college. One year to go. The problem for me was that I was still paying down my bill from the previous year. A good summer job had helped, but I really didn’t want to start my senior year still paying on my junior year.

You have to remember, this was over 50 years ago. A semester for me, at the private Christian college I attended, ran to maybe $600. Seems like a pittance compared to what young people pay these days. I worked my way through, as many others did, and lived on a shoestring. There was no undesignated money. Every penny was spent before I even put my check in the bank.

I had 27 class hours to graduate, and I wondered if I could do it all in the second semester. I would continue working during the fall semester, finish paying off the previous year, and start my last semester free and clear.

We talked about it together; consulted my mom and dad, and prayed for wisdom. Terry was concerned that my load would be too heavy, but I had already consulted with the school, explaining my situation, and they agreed to work with me to make it doable.

So I stayed home. Terry and I both worked in downtown St. Paul, so he was able to take me to work and pick me up. I took a couple of correspondence courses at home, to help decrease the class load when I went back in January. Those courses cut the hours from 27 to 21, and one class would be a once-a-week seminar in British Literature. I thought I would be able to handle it.

We drove to Terry’s childhood home in Iron River, Michigan. He still thinks it’s the best place in the world. Maybe not the town, after all this time has passed, but he loved the woods and the freedom he had up there. He has always thought he had an ideal childhood. That was the first time I met his parents. They introduced me to his grandmother, as well. Nana was a wonderful lady with a joyful spirit. She had come over from Germany when she was only 16, to marry a man to whom she had been betrothed as an infant. He was at least 20 years older, if my memory is accurate. They settled in Chicago, where Terry’s mother grew up. His dad was born and had lived all his life in Iron River.

We promised to come back over the Christmas break, and what a delight that was! Terry’s dad was a well-known graphic artist in the area, and he loved doing Christmas scenes. I wish I had photos of those that he did outdoors, but I don’t. The inside, though, was also a treat. These old photos don’t really do it justice:

This piano has graced our homes for 50 years. Terry’s parents gave it to us as part of their wedding gift.

That Christmas trip was also my first time ever riding a snowmobile. Great fun!

That’s me in the yellow snowsuit. Looks kind of like a banana with a belt 🙂

The building in the background was Terry’s dad’s hunting camp. It was rustic but homey and very comfortable, out in the middle of the woods exactly where Terry thought it should be 🙂

We also got a start on wedding plans. I wanted to get as much settled as possible before I went back to school, where free time would be scarce. So it was a busy fall, and the time went very fast. I was headed back to school in January almost before I knew it.

Game Over!

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Sofia hated the blindfold. She hated to be spun around. And she hated this silly game.

The donkey wasn’t fond of it, either. For years, donkeys had endured being stuck with all manner of sharp objects, feeling helpless.

But Sofia whispered to the donkey as she approached. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Well, then, DON’T!” yelled the donkey, as he jumped off the paper and dropped to the ground, suddenly full-sized. “NO MORE! I will not endure this any more, ever!”

Children were screaming, running in all directions.

“Game OVER!” brayed the donkey.