A Visit on the Bank of Greer’s Ferry Lake

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Lots of life questions hound me, so that I am unsure of many things. Of this one subject, however, I am positive; my life has been unusually blessed by an outstanding, talented family, and by many friends who possess sterling qualities. Two such are the Rev. Jesse Emerson and his charming wife, LaDoyne. A couple of weeks ago, we were privileged to spend part of two days with them at their lovely home whose acreage leads down to the waters of Greer’s Ferry Lake in Clinton, Arkansas.

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Although Brother Emerson does preach from time to time, they no longer are in active ministry and feel blessed to have found this home where they can spend their retirement years.This giant cup holding a magnificent plant speaks to the theme of their lives–I could tell.

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20150321-untitled (46 of 67)Beautiful voices yet, with perfect harmony. At the end of the meal they sang a sweet song–something about where has our youth gone? We grinned and clapped.

20150320-untitled (17 of 67)She was pulling these from the oven when we arrived.

20150321-untitled (55 of 67)Under this magnificent tree, two white lounge chairs await the languid summer days when the Emersons sit and bask in the cool breeze off the lake. Their family often come to visit and to play in the water.

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20150320-untitled (34 of 67)We talked of sun rooms, and storms that ripped out windows, and looked at treasured old books. We spoke of our enduring friendship and recalled the long ago days of their preaching at our church when we pastored. We spoke of motor homes and recalled they lived in one for years as they crisscrossed the United States doing the work of an evangelist. We spoke of health issues and families and friends; of aging and of progress and of regression. Upstairs they have fitted out three rooms they refer to as the Prophet’s Chambers. Consisting of a tiny living room that looks to the lake, a minuscule kitchen, and a comfy bedroom, they open this area from time to time to missionaries and other ministers who need a place to stay for awhile, to catch their breath, to regain their equilibrium.

And then it was time to go, and we left with hugs, and smiles, and promises . . .to keep.

I cherish those days, and guard carefully my friendship with such dear and precious people. How truly blessed I am.

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And what of you? I would love to hear of your friendships–whether we have mutual ones, or you have others to tell us about.

Leash

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20150219-untitled (35 of 45)Usually I walk Winston along our street, sometimes going into the woods that is a part of Thousand Pines Christian Conference Center here in Crestline. Yesterday, though, I put him in the car and drove the mile or so down to Lake Gregory, where, in an area near the San Moritz Lodge, we accomplished our morning walk.While he nudged small stones, and snuffled around fallen leaves, trying to sniff out at least one of the myriad animals who prowl about the area, I reveled in the day. Getting on toward the end of February, the weather should be described as storms of snow and rain; instead we’re having Spring, and although I’m wanting the cold weather, I’ve decided (since I can do nothing about the amount of heat or cold that stacks up about me) to enjoy these gorgeous days, and to avoid too much whine about the other stuff.

Winston walks on a leash. A leash that I control. I snap it on him, and take it off him. I’m in charge of Winston, and I tell him where we’re headed, when to go, and when to stop. Sometimes he obeys me. Others times not. Sometimes he doesn’t want to come for the leash and he’ll dance around, and tease, but before we head out for the walk, he is securely tethered by his leash–the leash that is in my hand.

20150218-untitled (2 of 45)I  wear a leash too. Despite, though, how closely you look about my neck or how thoroughly you peer about my shoulders, you will not see my harness. It is invisible, rests easily about me, yet is highly effective. I’ve worn my leash a long time now, and should it slip away, should it be lost, I would suffer. My leash is of The Spirit. My leash is the Holy Ghost. I cherish this restraint, for it guides me through this very treacherous life, along roadways littered with stumbling stones, through neighborhoods of evil report.

With David, I cry:

Prepare my goings in your paths and do not let  evil rule over me. Psalm 119:133 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

And to my Savior, I lift my hands, and extend my body for the leash for He has said:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. Psalm 32:8

20150218-untitled (3 of 45)We care deeply for Winston, we provide for him, we pamper him. Despite being the smart little rascal he is, without us he would lose his way. One day he would frolic away to the camp or to the lake, not remembering the coyotes that prowl our woods and our streets, nor the occasional huge cat who might very well rest in the limb above his furry little head.

20150219-untitled (40 of 45)Sometimes he’s in danger and has no sense of it at all.

And so Winston wears a leash, as do I. For sometimes I’m in danger, sometimes I head toward the wrong path, sometimes ungodly creatures lie in wait for me, but I’m safe, for I yield to the leash.

My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled. Psalm 17:5

Nah.

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“Like your shirt,” Andrew said to the gentleman who had entered the restaurant after we had been seated. It was Sunday after a great morning worship service. We were down in San Diego with Andrew and his clan.

20150215-untitled (23 of 28)We all liked it; at least the adults did, and for the youngsters who20150215-untitled (24 of 28) didn’t know the story it was a perfect teaching moment.

“We have the advantage of history, know how the story ended, but Rosa did not that day.” I added to the conversation as the gentleman sat down near us.

A friendly gentleman,after we had discussed the Rosa Parks story for a bit, our conversation turned to church things, and he told us where he had attended that morning, and we related that we had been to a chur20150215-untitled (25 of 28)ch just across the way. Andrew rose from his seat to point through the window where the church was visible. We invited him to visit, told him he would like it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he visits The Anchor one day.

After he left us, we continued to discuss the Rosa Parks story, and someone said: “Make a good sermon.”

And so it would . . . or just a simple little piece of writing.

One day Rosa Parks had endured enough, and when that bus driver told her to get up and give her seat to a white person, she refused. Yes, she refused. She was arrested. Still she did not retract her stance.

Nah. Rosa Parks 1955

There comes a time for each of us to speak directly to satan.

Nah, don’t think so. Not today.

He has bound us long enough, lied to us, refused to let us have the freedom that should be ours. He is despicable. Evil. No good thing comes from him. He is a foul, grubbing master who lies, deceives, defrauds and tricks. The very air about him is putrid. His breath is rancid, his intent of hell itself.

We often hear the scripture quoted “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The reference is James 4:7 and it actually reads, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Resist. My research tells me the word resist here is from the Greek word anthistemi, which means to “take a complete stand against”or a “contrary position”and “refusing to be moved.”

I’m determined to take a contrary position to satan, to look him square in the eye when he approaches me and adamantly refuse to follow him. James, though, emphasizes that the only effective way to do this is to submit myself to God. I must learn of Him, understand His ways, and walk carefully and diligently with Him.

Madly, our world careens out of control. The scent of destruction fills our nostrils as the sound of battle plugs our ears. The sight of chaos shadows our eyes as surely as does a blind drawn against a cold midnight. We are in desperate need of God. Help us to have the courage and the spiritual insight to resist satan as he leers our way. Help us to say No.

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And to you, the very nice man in San Diego who wore the Rosa Parks shirt, whom I may never see again, thank you. Thank you for the reminder.

Celebration With The Anchor

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The phone call had come from Mary Williams of Apostolic College in Tulsa, where Jerry and I had met. “Would you be interested in going to California to teach in a church school in Pasadena?” So began a major move for us; in California all our children would be born, Jerry would pastor two churches here, and our lives for the most part would be lived out in this beautiful state . . .where we yet live. 20150215-untitled (1 of 28) Jerry’s sister Sophia lived in San Diego at the time, so one of the first churches we visited, and where we attended for a short while just before Michael was born, was Revival Tabernacle, pastored then by the inimitable David F. Gray. This past weekend the church, now called The Anchor, commerated both their 70th year since the founding by Brother Gray, and their 50 years at their current location. Jerry and I drove down and thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday morning celebration with this fine group of people. Revival Tabernacle/The Anchor is one of the more influential Apostolic Churches on the West Coast, with a long history of sending out ministers to found additional churches in the area, and in other parts of the United States, even to other parts of the world. 20150215-untitled (10 of 28)A tribute both to the congregation and to the leaders is that in this long history only two pastors have served these people. James Larson, who served under Brother Gray before assuming the pastorate is a talented, precious minister of the Gospel. His humble and chariasmatic way befits this high office. He is a man of prayer and of The Word. 20150215-untitled (5 of 28)Chris Higginbottom is the vibrant music director who enhances The Anchor by his talent, his passion for his job, and his faithfulness. 20150215-untitled (9 of 28)   Iris Bisbal is 79 years old, and is among the group of faithful “old-timers” who have attended Revival Tabernacle/The Anchor since its early days. On Sunday morning, with a strong, still magnificent voice, she sang the glory down. Amazing woman of God. 20150215-untitled (3 of 28)Among the several guest ministers who attended the Sunday morning service were Carl McKellar and Bernard Elms, who each delivered timely messages. Both these men attended Revival Tabernacle as youngsters.20150215-untitled (20 of 28) Of particular interest to me is this shot of my son Andrew, who along with other ministers was called on to speak a few words during the morning service. His father sits on the platform, an elder minister now, Brother Larson stands in the pulpit, and behind all is a projected image of Brother and Sister Gray, along with Brother and Sister Larson taken at the time the mantle was passed from Brother Gray to Brother Larson. 20150215-untitled (19 of 28) The future? What does it hold for those younger ones coming behind? 20150215-untitled (17 of 28)I’m convinced that the solid foundation on which Revival Tabernacle/The Anchor is built, along with the calibre of its leaders, elders and younger ministers, insures that this church will continue to move upward. God’s Church is not pallid, crippled, or lifeless; rather His Church is vigorous. His Church thrives. Congratulation to Pastor Larson and the entire congregation of The Anchor on such a stellar history. My prayers and support are with you.

Words From Winston

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Occasionally Winston and I discuss his part in my blog writing, and with sad brown eyes he emphasizes that a great period of time has passed since he has been allowed access to my computer, and he feels quite sure that many of you are wishing to hear from him. Sometimes as I sit on the couch in my living room and type on my computer, he sits beside me, and when he lifts a fuzzy white paw toward the keyboard, I know he is feeling creative, and is wishing I would let him have a turn.

Because of his very black face into which his dark eyes are plunged, Winston is hard to photograph. Yesterday, though, I snapped a few good shots of him, and when I loaded them today I decided this would be a fine moment to let Winston tell you about them.

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Winston here! Sir Winston of Crestline, I’m sure you recall.

My people have a thing about the trash. Well, I suppose I have a thing about it too, but they have quite a difference in opinion about the trash from mine: They even go to the extent of placing the trash baskets on top of the toilet fixtures in the bathrooms, so I can’t share them. The kitchen one is a compactor which I haven’t learned to manipulate, but the study! Oh, the trash can in the study is wonderful, and even though Mistress pushes it under the desk I easily get under there and knock it over. It’s a glorious place, mostly filled with paper, envelopes, used up pens, and cellophane pieces, along with an occasional Kleenex or paper towel. 

Early yesterday I visited the study, and when I left I looked behind me, and there scattered about was quite a trail of wonder; papers gathered all about the black plastic wastebasket I had tipped over. I knew Mistress would not like it, but I just couldn’t help myself, and maybe if I could figure out how I could scoop all the litter back into the can, but I just don’t know how to do that. Later, as I sat atop the stretched-out legs of Master who was reclining in his favorite chair, I had some moments of reflection. Mistress had taken me to the vet on Monday for boosters, and I was thinking about beautiful Dr.Nicole Stanclift, and all those stunning nurses . . . just remembering how sweet they all are, and how I didn’t bark, or yelp too loud when I got the shots . . .when I noticed Mistress heading toward the study.

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Now Mistress is not mean to me, never has been, but sometimes she gets really upset when I do a couple of things I shouldn’t, and she makes a loud voice. Same mouth as her regular one, but the sound that comes out scares me a little bit, and I know then I have done something wrong. Same thing with the trash can as when I nip at her to play: She says, “No Winston. You don’t bite.” and I try to tell her I’m not really biting, but I’m just wanting to play. I think she understands that for I hear her explaining to people about my nipping. The thing is I love Mistress and I don’t want her to be mad at me, and about the trash . . .I just don’t know what comes over me . . .

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One thing I’ve thought about is that I am so beautiful, and my people love me so much that sometimes when I’ve been a little naughty, I remind them of how lovely I am . . .like wagging my gorgeous fluff of a tail really fast, and looking at them in a very sweet way with my deep doggy eyes.

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The Beauty of Authentic Friendship

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The magnificent view from the living room of Berl and Lavelta Stevenson, where on Thursday and Friday we three couples had dinner and breakfast. We Stevensons, Hodges, and Buxtons are uniquely blessed, for now in our 70s and 80s, we have been friends for decades, and three times a year we rotate, entertaining the others in our homes.

20150129-untitled (17 of 43)20150129-untitled (22 of 43)20150129-untitled (20 of 43)On his neat infrared cooker, Berl grilled thick, boneless pork chops, which had first been marinated by Lavelta, and which were nothing short of delicious.

20150129-untitled (26 of 43)20150129-untitled (11 of 43)We ladies admired Lavelta’s new dishes she had bought from a neighbor who was moving. The lady’s mom had hand-painted these, but her children did not want them, and she could not keep them. Each cup and dessert dish had a different fruit depicted, and on the underside of the cups were written appropriate lines. Mine read, “You’re the berries;” Jerry’s read “You’re the apple of my eye.”

20150129-untitled (30 of 43)We were seated for breakfast on Friday morning, when Berl said, “This may cause us to eat cold food, but I want to say a few things.” He proceeded to tell how much he loved all of us, how he respected us, and how through the years, we had been nothing but Christians in his eyes. His words were quite touching. Then he asked us three ladies to say a few words, and before we were finished, we were all crying.

20150129-untitled (39 of 43)20150129-untitled (42 of 43)We are not youthful any more, and some of us are struggling with serious health issues, but our love and affection for each other has not waned, and our dedication to God and to His work continues to be what centers us. How blessed we are.

Of Christmas Past

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On my Facebook site a few days before Christmas, I posted the following:

Year by year it became increasingly obvious that it was easy for some of our family to gift each other lavishly. Year by year it became increasingly obvious that to exchange gifts with their siblings and ever-increasing number of nieces and nephews was financially straining for others. Year by year all of us concluded that Christmas had become too mercenary, and that despite our words to the contrary, the season had become centered more and more on gifts, rather than on the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Last year, to contribute to alleviating the situation, we began a tradition that I believe helps us to celebrate Christmas as it really should be done. We continue this year. We have agreed to limit gifts among Jerry and me and our children, the siblings, their spouses, and their children to: handmade items, something we already possess, a purchase from a thrift or a 99 cent type store. It’s a challenge, satisfying, and lots of fun.

Today I want to show you a present I received; absolutely wonderful, but well within the rules of the “game.”

20150116-untitled (4 of 10)This was from Andrew and Shawnna, an oil painting on canvass they had bought some time back at a thrift store. It is stunning, the streaming light from the buildings and the streets remarkable; truly made me catch my breath when I first saw it. The painting is large, and I had a difficult time deciding on a place to hang it, but finally chose this spot in our study that leads to the back deck.

20150116-untitled (5 of 10)20150116-untitled (7 of 10)Attached to the painting when they bought it for $10.00 or so, was this paper that indicates the previous owner had purchased the piece in 1972 and had paid $145.00 for it. The name Beltrane is noted–not sure if that is the artist’s name or the buyer–rather suspect it to be the name of the buyer.

20150117-untitled (9 of 10)We will continue with our gift exchanges in this way, for it has proved to be successful, and I believe helps us to focus on Christmas as should be done. The process calls for thoughtfulness and planning. To Andrew I gave a set of DVDs from Because of the Times 2011, which I had watched numerous times. That cost me nothing, and I believe will be a real blessing to Andrew.

Life consists of so much more than frantic shopping, long check-off lists, cards sent because “they sent us one,” maxed-out credit cards that take ’til July to pay off . . .all that kind of thing. Rather, throughout the year we should insist on time to really live, to think on Jesus, on our loved ones, to truly remember the “reason for the season.” What say you?

The Glory and The Gore

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Could there be one among us who after delving into his truest heart can say, Ï regret not a word, not a sentence, nor a narrative I have ever uttered? Surely no such persons exist, and if they do, they must be fashioned of angel down or of gold dust kicked up from heavenly streets.

Recently, a news item and an article from a librarian/advocate prompted my thinking about words, about conversations, and about the impact our words have on those about us, our families, friends, co-workers, and even those on the periphery who hear the tones, the volume, the intensity of our words, and often, accordingly, judge our character and our mood.

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When he was 12-years old, for reasons not exactly known, Martin Pistorius fell into a vegetative state. He lost his ability to speak, make eye contact, or even to move his body. The doctors in South Africa where the Pistorius family lived gave no hope for his recovery; rather said he would die. But he did not die. He lived in this condition for 12 years, with his parents attending lovingly to him in every way.

Every day his father would arise at 5 a.m., dress Martin and take him to a care center. In the evening he gave his son a bath, fed him, and put him to bed. An alarm was set to go off every two hours through the night, when one of his parents would rise and  turn Martin’s body to avoid pressure lesions.

Today Martin is fully aware, has recovered to a great extent and has written a book about his experience. In his book, “Ghost Boy: My Escape From A Life Locked Inside My Own Body“, Martin tells what he remembers from those 12 years. He says he thinks he began to wake up about two years into his coma. He tells of being aware of those around him, what they were saying, even as no one had any idea he could hear them. Sadly, Martin also heard his mother tell him, “I hope you die.” Joan Pistorious feels guilty about this and even though Martin now says he understands it came from her own desperation and sadness for his bleak existence, at the moment he heard those words he felt alone, and completely abandoned. (Credit to MartinPistorius.com)

20150112-untitled (14 of 25)On the last page of the January/February 2015 issue of Poets and Writers Amy J. Cheney who is a librarian at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center in San Leandro, CA. tells that her job includes arranging for writers to go to her facility and speak to the youth who are there. Recently Rod Glodoski “led the young people in a life-changing experimental workshop that explored verbal abuse. He asked them to remember names they were called by family, teachers, and so-called friends. The list the kids generated included lazy, worthless, a mistake, slow, lowlife, good for nothing, fat, ignorant, ugly, conceited, crazy, crack baby, and retarded–not to mention the standard curse words and the mean racial and sexual put-downs.”

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Literature tells us that while a person may receive scores of compliments and positive words, it is the negative one that he will remember. There lies glory in words; a sentence that soars as a majestic eagle or that floats as a pristine swan on warm blue water. Yet also is found gore; the bloody, painful, and deadly word that may shatter into pieces a tender heart.

As I considered the writing of this piece, I recalled a poem I learned when I was in grade school. I quoted it to Jerry (missing a few words), then researched it to find the name of the author, whose name I had forgotten. It is an important piece, reminding us of the value and the endurance of our words. May they be tender ones, tinged with glory.

The Arrow and the Song

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
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Of Home, Family, Friendship, and Food

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Our house is on the large size, rather more than Jerry or I need in our later years, but for the most part we enjoy having it, for often we have others here with us in Crestline, including our family of four children and all those who now trail along with them, including grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Friends. Neighbors.

20141225-untitled (79 of 114)We’re into our fifteenth year of living in these beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, and I’m not exactly sure in which one of those years we met Robert who lives down on the part of Wabern that merges into the woods. We were walking when we met him–sure of that–for it was years before we coaxed him into our home, so our relationship was cultivated as we walked past his house, and as we lingered to talk if he happened to be outside. I estimate his age as being in the late 40s, he’s of a reserved nature, of few words, and he shows a kind spirit. During these years Jerry had a serious heart attack even to the extent of a cardiac arrest in the ambulance as it headed to the hospital, and of course over the years, we told Robert of Jerry’s severe accident in 1994, and sometimes we discussed his residual problems, so maybe because of those things Robert assumed a posture of gentle concern for Jerry. Robert’s dark hair is styled into a ponytail that flows down his broad back. He is a recently retired operating room nurse. Sometime throughout these years, he married Jennifer, a charming, friendly young woman.

Much goes on at our place; a fair amount includes Winston, our grandchildren, and food.

20140805-untitled (62 of 187) 20140821-untitled (165 of 187) 20140824-untitled (171 of 187)Some of our oldest friends, both in age, and in the length of friendship, are Sam and Lil White. They live in Arizona now, and because he understood they would be by themselves for Thanksgiving, Jerry drove to Arizona and brought them to our home. They are each 92, vigorous in mind, but failing in their bodies. When Jerry had helped Lil into the house, she immediately sat down in a chair near the door and began crying. “What’s wrong, Lil? Why are you crying?” I asked.

“Happy, Shirley. These are tears of joy. I’m so glad to be here.”

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During the Christmas season nearly every year, Jerry and I host an open house for our friends and neighbors. 20141213-untitled (97 of 119)Usually we have around thirty people or so attend. I cook lots of food.

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This year Robert and Jennifer came. (Not pictured.) As they prepared to leave and as I gave them a small gift, wrapped up in a tiny beautiful Christmas bag, I sensed they were very touched. Something about people loving their neighbors enough and loving Jesus enough to spend a bit of time and money and arrange for a winter’s evening of joy for a couple dozen people touched them deeply. I could tell. I don’t understand it, for lots of people go to lots of parties, and Robert and Jennifer are certainly not backward people. Perhaps I had just forgotten, though, maybe I had not fully understood, how sometimes an open door, a hand on the shoulder, a slice of cake on a fine plate, a direct look in the eye can move another human.

A couple of days later, Robert and Jennifer knocked on our door. They brought a gift, a tiny holly plant wrapped in festive paper, and as we sat together on the couch, Robert said, “Thank you for inviting us. Thank you. We had a wonderful time.” I believe both their eyes glistened.

20150112-untitled (25 of 25)This has been a difficult post to write, and I’m not sure even now, I have expressed what I am feeling. Hope you “get” it. :) Did you? Please tell me.

Tuesday’s Shoes

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After dinking around with a Dillard’s gift card that didn’t work out, Jerry wound up giving me $100.00 for Christmas, and I knew right away what I would buy with those sweet dollars; new dress boots. Rebecca and I went shopping the Monday after Christmas, and at Nordstrom’s Rack she found a perfect pair of boots for herself. I? Nothing. Well, nothing in the line of boots, but at Hobby Lobby where all Christmas items were reduced by 80%, I garnered quite a collection of items until finally I was pushing about a heaped up shopping cart.

A couple of days ago, I was feeling the urge to get out and find my boots, thinking of the after Christmas sales that would be slipping away and such as that, so on Tuesday in our trusty white Jeep I headed down the hill with DSW in Redlands in mind. By email they had sent me a $10.00 credit, and I’ve had luck finding what I needed there before.

I had the clearance rack in mind so I headed toward the back of the store where it is situated, choosing on my way to walk down the aisle where the boots are displayed. I stopped to peer at a couple of styles that interested me, keeping them in mind as I pointed my size 7s toward the bargain area.

No doubt I have blogged before about scripture that indicates women are to look well to their households, to be wise in the “doings” of their homes . . .that sort of thing, and since I am a follower of Jesus, when I’m out shopping and great bargains find their way within the reach of my searching hands, I seem to always recall that portion of scripture. Tuesday was no exception.

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20150107-untitled (1 of 5)These black boots are exactly what I had in mind. Perfect sized heel. Fine leather.20150107-untitled (4 of 5)These brown boots are soft and buttery, and although I had not planned to buy more than one pair, just take a look at that color. Gorgeous.  20150107-untitled (5 of 5)And then I spied this adorable little number that I will wear in the heat of summer.20150107-untitled (3 of 5)Five pairs! All from the clearance rack where each pair was marked down 30 to 40% off the original clearance price. Would you not think that God was directing me in this situation? Tell me now. 20150107-untitled (1 of 1)As I left the store, two large bags swinging from my hands, I clutched the receipt that proved how much I had saved my sweet hubby. He would be so grateful, I felt sure.

I had to run by Rebecca’s before I started home, and as I drove to her place, I considered taking all my shoes in to show her. “Kind of silly and childlike,” I argued with myself. Childlike won. I wagged in the two bags and we sat in her living room, rubbed our hands over the smooth leather and the fuzzy parts, and laughed together.

You may be wondering about the hundred dollar bill. Actually what happened is that it was not quite enough to purchase the five pairs of shoes, even though they were all from the clearance rack, so I used my debit card. Convenient little thing. The big bill? Still in my wallet. Should I offer it back?

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