"I Love America"

She told us last week that she would be providing the donuts for the Annual Fourth of July Prayer Breakfast, but wouldn't be able to attend because she had to keep her shop open. The donuts and coffee were served before the featured  speaker told an amazing bit of local history about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) training days in Sweetwater, Texas. My eighty-five year old cousin told me later that he remembers standing out in the cotton field waving to the planes of women pilots.

The story and music and flags and veterans recognition moved me to hopeful and proud tears. 

I love America. 

After driving our '69 Chevy Pickup in the parade, we made our way back around to her Donut Shop, where there was the usual long line in the drive-in window. We had a nice visit over donuts and coffee  with friends. We talked about our old cars and family and old cars. 

All the while she was hovering over us with us with  "honeys" and "sugars" and  free donut holes. She says she gives them to her friends, but I suspect that we are all in her special friendship circle.

When she stopped again at our table, I asked her to tell me her story. She said it was long and complicated, but she gave me her shortened version. 

She had been born in the Kingdom of Cambodia to her Vietnamese mother and Chinese father. Her father spoke Chinese, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, French, and English. He was the King's interpreter. He and the King were very close, and she attended school in the palace. When the Communist came in and started a program to redistribute the wealth, her father sent her mother back to war torn Vietnam. He asked an American military doctor to adopt his daughter and take her to America. She was four years old. Her father was killed. Her adoptive parents eventually moved three of her siblings and her mother to the United States. 

She brought us more donut holes and refused to charge us for anything. Of course hubby laid money on the counter anyway. 

As we walked out the door, she finished her story with,

"That is why I tell everyone that
 I love America."

Tiger Donuts, Snyder, Texas.


Just a House

Today I signed my name and said goodbye to an important part of my history. My boyfriend of 50 years kissed me at the front door, but the porch light didn't flash and a little sister didn't jump out of the bushes. There were only a few roses in the flower beds and no potted fern on the porch.

Buying this house and land was a huge step for my frugal parents. All our meals were home grown and my mom told me in later years that they were afraid of not being able to pay the loan.  They loved that old rock house with its red rock, fossils and petrified wood. The original owner told us that she had prayed for an oil well so she could have a new house. When the oil started to flow, she gathered rocks from her travels around the world and built her dream home. Her favorite and most precious rocks are in the porch and fireplace. 

They have been gone ten years. Renters have come and gone. Colors and carpets and lights have all been changed. I wasn't going to be sentimental. I was not. But one day I was there alone cleaning when the house started coming to life. I heard the laughter of preachers, visiting evangelists, relatives, and neighbors around the dining table. The sweet notes and the off notes from the piano practises were there. I remembered the entire summers of filling the freezers with black-eyed peas, corn, green beans, peaches, and apricots. I heard my sister crying as she sat on the low rock wall because she missed the old house we had moved from. The grandchildren sat on a blanket spread on the floor and were served like royalty by their doting grandmother. Oh, the memories.

Today an excited young couple and their four year old cowboy move in. It is their first home. To them it's not just a house, but  hopes and dreams and love. I wish them green grass and flowers and music and laughter. I wish them peacocks and chickens and colored eggs . I wish them fine horses and fat cattle. I wish them the very, very best and a long happy life. 

"Peace and prosperity to you, your house, and everything you own." (1 Samuel 25:6 NLT)


This is Love

It all started when our missions minded full of love daughter had a layover in Amsterdam, on her return trip from Uganda. She brought me a bag of tulip bulbs from the airport gift shop.  One wondering glance at that bag of bulbs and the huge empty flower beds turned into the hubby ordering more tulip bulbs along with a few daffodils. 200 more bulbs. The back breaking bulb planting day was the day the Christmas lights came down. Then on the official first day of spring the flower beds were full of blooms.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but delights in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

And love is tulips. And love is daffodils. 

So, if you pass by my house today, enjoy the love.


Merging and Purging at the Poor Farm

We've been back in Texas for a year trying to merge kitchens, closets, medicine cabinets, garages, and offices from a house in Texas, two houses in North Dakota, a creekside cabin, and an RV. Without a doubt, we have too much stuff

We played a game with coffee mugs. Which is your favorite? Put it in the coffee cup cupboard. Cupboard. That's a nice word I learned to use up north. Which is your least favorite? Put it in the thrift store box. How in the world did we get so many?

When I got to the kitchen drawers that wouldn't open without sticking my hand inside to rearrange, I just dumped them. What I found was shocking: Shocking.

138 toothpicks, 
114 bamboo skewers, 
36 corn holders,
17 bottle stoppers, 
13 metal skewers,
7 lid grippers,
5 bar-b-q lighters,
4 pair of kitchen shears,
4 temperature guages,
4 rubber spatulas,
3 can openers,
3 jalapeno seeders,
3 biscuit cutters,
2 melon scoops,
2 bar-b-q brushes,
2 pizza cutters,
2 garlic presses,
2 pair of Pei Wei chop sticks,
and not one of anything.

But while I was sorting staples, scissors, pens, pencils, and note pads - I had a serious flashback to a day in another life time. I was keeping a close eye on my paper clip at the bank's drive-thru window. I just didn't have many precious paper clips to spare or money to buy another box. That teller had better not keep my paper clip, I thought. 

Was I poor? Did I think I was poor? Today, I think poor is relative.

Proverbs 13:41 says, "When you are kind to the poor, you honor God."

"The rich and the poor shake hands as equals - God made them both!" Proverbs 22:2

Poor is defined as lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society. Maybe it depends on which society. 

1.2 billion people worldwide live on under $2 per day, according to Wikipedia. Two Dollars.  Most of us waste that much every single day. A medium size Dr. Pepper will cost you two dollars and five cents at Dairy Queen.

Today, I can buy a box of paperclips for $2.00 or less or a lot less. Or maybe four boxes or maybe ten.

Ed and Rosa Salo, Mama and Papa to children at the Lily of the Valley Orphanage in Aldama, Chichuahua, Mexico (click here to visit their website) spoke at church about compassion, connections, and rewards. Samuela, who who was the Salos driver on their journey north, was, according to Ed, a bruised, battered, bleeding nine year old, when he came to Lily. He now works along side Ed and Rosa to bind up the wounded hearts of the children.  Our church has supported them for at least 10 years and several years ago, I joined a group from church, to visit Lily. We freely crossed the border with food, clothes, and bedding. Today, no one is allowed to cross with these items. There are so many needs there. The children seldom eat meat. Their buses are broken and they have only one van to shuttle the children to their schools and doctor appointments, and we, as in the church, have purchased a van for them. These children came from the poorest of the poor, and are richly loved and cared for in the safe haven of Ed and Rosa's care.

Mexico, according to a 2013 report, has a 21.3% poverty rate. 21.3% of Mexico's population live on less than two U.S. dollars per day. My friend and neighbor went to Mexico recently. She took my bags of closet cleanouts in suitcases to her family in Mexico. She can cross with them, because the cases are viewed as vacation clothes. She says, "When you are poor, everything fits." Sometimes, she walks across the border and meets her sister on the bridge to exchange suitcases.

Guatemala, Mexico's neighbor to the south, has a 62.4 poverty rate, according to the same report. We have helped His Appointed Time Ministries (click here) a little and seen the needs in person.

Uganda's poverty rate is 88.2%. Do the math: only 11.8% of the population does not live in poverty. Houses are mud and grass. Floors are dirt. Food is very little and medicine is almost nonexistent. We have sent sewing machines, blankets, and schoolchildren sponsorships to Uganda via, His Joy Ministries. Click here to view.

The poverty rate here in the United States is 13.5% according to the 2015 census. I have a suspicion that the poorest of the poor here in the US might seem wealthy in Uganda.

And if wealth were judged by the number of loose paper clips on my desk or coffee cups in my cupboard, then I am truly a wealthy woman. Even without counting those things I am wealthy. I am thankful and blessed beyond measure. Count your blessings.

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