Covering my angst with the soothing wisdom from my mother's prayer journals

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It’s Great to be A Tennessee Vol!

035I Said It’s Great

To Be

A Tennessee


Cheering for the Tennessee Vols is one of my favorite pass times. My favorite Vol wore #36 as a member of several championship teams from 1966-1970. Because he coached for over twenty-five years, he attended his first game as a spectator when he was in his fifties. He had no clue it was a social event and worried that the fans were not as focused on the game as he was.

My thought was, “Thank goodness!”

I was accustomed to watching his games with other coaches’ wives. Watching with my coach was, well, a whole new ballgame. We made the necessary adjustments, and have for many years enjoyed home games in Neyland Stadium.

Saturday we both attended the UT/Florida game but he attended with his three brothers while I got to go with my daughter.

By now everyone knows Josh Dobbs completed five second-half passes for touchdowns. It was Tennessee’s first victory against the Gators since 2004. The atmosphere was electric the second half, but the first half resembled a disaster movie and I’m not just talking about the game.

As we wound higher up the ramps to our seats, the walkways resembled scenes from a disaster movie. Many early bird fans overheated and sat or lay along the way. At least four times we plastered ourselves against the walls of the narrow passages so emergency vehicles could get through.

The anticipation of a girl’s football weekend totally eclipsed any recollection of the usually sweltering atmosphere of Neyland every time Tennessee plays host to Florida.  I also forgot I was three years older than the last time I was required to access seats in a section nearest heaven, but anytime I get to gallivant with a daughter, I’m in.

With enthusiastic Florida fans to the left of us and rowdy Rocky Toppers on the right, we watched as the Tennessee Volunteers gained momentum for a win that took them one step closer to the predicted SEC playoff game in December. Though it is a long season with worthy opponents ahead, Saturday the Vols looked like Champions in that checkered arena.

Football requires commitment from the fans as well as the players and winning is how we are all rewarded. As a teacher, I can’t resist a teaching moment. Lessons do abound in losses, but I prefer to teach from a win so FYI:


  1. There is no reason to pass out or freeze to death at a game so Google the temps. Assuming you’ll be fine might eventually put a burden on your companions. Take precautions. You many look cute in those jeans and cowboy boots, but you’ll look sad passed out from heat.
  2. Arrive at the game sober and stay that way. If you’re drunk you will be a pain in the rear for someone who may embarrass you or themselves. Everybody around you paid good money for their seats. A drunk does nothing to enhance the experience.
  3. Have faith. Josh Dobbs didn’t give up on his receivers. He came out the second half and threw to guys who couldn’t catch cold the first half. Some fans lost faith after Florida’s two TDs in the first quarter and went home. Look what they missed. Those who stayed till the end shared an amazing experience.
  4. Appreciate the power of redemption. At halftime the receivers asked Coach Jones for another chance. “Coach, throw to me.”
  5. A wise coach forgives past mistakes and allows for redemption.
  6. Step up and refuse to be beaten. The entire team responded to the coach’s challenge at halftime.
  7. Take on responsibility not excuses. Juan Jennings was one of the receivers asking for another chance. Josh sent that chance his way. Juan later said, “When I saw the ball coming I knew it was all on me.” A life lesson would be, “You may have dropped the ball many times, but you can still be spectacular.”

Mother wrote in her journal, “A reminder: Keep dreaming and believing and expect impossible things to happen In your life because sometimes the unlikeliest thing can come true in the twinkling of an eye.”






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Benefits of Gratitude are Scientifically Proven – Increase Your Doseage

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An article in Psychology Today listed seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:

  1. It opens the door to more relationships.
  2. It improves physical health,
  3. Gratitude Improves psychological health.
  4. It enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  5. Grateful people sleep better.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.
  7. It increases mental strength.

I know all the above, yet I often pass up opportunities to practice appreciation and have had the same feeling one of our grandsons shared after opening Christmas presents several years ago.

He sat amid the shreds of red and green wrapping paper looking forlornly at a pile of age appropriate and unnecessary gifts. Feeling concerned I asked, “Didn’t you like the things you got?”

He replied, “Yes, but I was hoping for more.”

It was an honest answer and I understood because the Christmas of my fourteenth year left me with the same adolescent disappointment. There were so many things I wanted and so few gifts at hand. My ingratitude reflected my immaturity.

I’m not sure when I began seeing the glass half full rather than half empty, but I know Mother was an agent for that change. She recognized a blessing and was quick to point it out. Our trips back and forth from my grandmother’s house were full of oohs and aahs over every pastoral scene down HWY 45 South even though we’d made that trip hundreds of times. As a child of the Depression, she could have easily become bitter and negative, but she intentionally chose gratitude.

When our beautiful baby boy arrived with severe mental and physical challenges, he became my gratitude guide. Though I was a reluctant participant at first, his gleeful shrieks and unfailing persistence made me realize how much most of us take for granted. We were grateful for any hard won achievement no matter how small or how long it took to accomplish.

When he was three he woke us in the night humming Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. No words, just a perfect melody. The next Christmas Mother gave him his first of many radios that became his lifeline.

He has quite a repertoire. He will hum a few bars of one of his favorite songs then stop and wait for someone to finish the tune. It’s our version of Name That Tune most often played when we’re traveling. Recently his first request was Jingle Bells. My Bass Singer and I immediately identified that tune and commenced a hearty rendition.  It pleased Matt and when we finished he followed with Jesus Loves Me.

As we responded to that lovely song, a little blessing was revealed in the form of a sweet spirit of gratitude, laughter and joy. I didn’t “hope for more’.  This was more than I deserved.

In her journal Mother wrote, ”The only genuine source of happiness is God, and we receive lasting joy only through expressing gratitude to Him. Seek God and live as he directs you and true joy will soon follow.”

Making gratitude a daily practice confers a whole host of health benefits from improved immune systems, to feelings of connectedness.  I just have to take regular doses.






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Take Care of Thanks – A Grandson’s Lesson



While looking through some of my appointment books from past years, I came across the following entry written in March of 2007:

I am worn out! My first graders are falling apart and there are a thousand teaching duties each day.  I want to do them well, but they must be done while I give “differentiated” instruction to all eighteen of my six year olds.

 It’s too much, and every time I open my mouth I’m griping.  When I don’t open my mouth I’m thinking awful things that make me worry about my spirituality and my sanity.

As I read Matthew 23:26 pondered how to clean my heart and mind one of our four year old grandsons,  approached carrying his sister’s cast off baby doll.

Holding it out to me he said, “He wants you to keep him.”

“What’s his name?” I asked.

“His name is Thanks. Take care of him.”

Well, as they say, from the mouths of babes. This precious little boy had brought an epiphany.  I’m supposed to keep Thanks.

Just as I would care for a child, keep him in sight at all times, feed, love and nurture him, I must tend to Thanks so that he will grow and be strong.

Well I am just as busy as ever, but since I took on the care of Thanks he has helped me to think on the good things so I gripe less about my duties which, as it turns out, are actually mostly blessings.

Mother wrote in her journal, “God gives in abundance. He takes whatever we can offer Him in time, ability and resources and multiplies its effectiveness beyond our wildest expectations.”

Caring for Thanks has helped me see that though I have many tasks to do, He has given me the resources to do them and I am blessed.



Starting Today With Mustard Seed Size Faith


Not long ago I found a tiny mustard see encased in a plastic charm. This was a gift from a friend when I was in seventh grade, for some reason Mother kept it in her jewelry box which I now have.

It’s funny how a familiar scripture can suddenly take on new meaning, and as I looked at my reclaimed gift, I marveled at Jesus’ wisdom when He said faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. I start many of my days with mustard seed faith. Today was a mustard seed day.

Along with a cup of coffee, I brought a tiny faith to Mark’s gospel where I read about the rich young ruler. Mark 10:17 is where I planted my seed and there it grew.

The young man in this passage is always referred to as the rich young man, but this morning I realized he was a seeker whom Jesus looked at and loved. Jesus knew his heart and his circumstances. Jesus was not surprised at the young man’s desire to follow Him and enter the kingdom.

After a short conversation, Jesus gave this seeker explicit advice, “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Verse 22 says that the guy went away sad because he had great wealth. This is where my mustard seed started to grow. I watered it with a few sips of coffee and reread Mark 10: 21, “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Our Master knows the value of every creature and He knew the material worth of this man and his worth to the kingdom. The young man had a choice, this morning the Holy Spirit took my tiny faith and revealed enormous possibilities.

What if, like the widow with her jars and oil in 2 Kings 4, the rich young man determined to give until all he had was gone, and what if each time he thought his wealth was depleted he received even more to share. What if he gave to the poor again and again yet he received more and touched hundreds, maybe thousands of lives.

This morning instead of reading about a selfish man of wealth, I saw possibilities. That is what Jesus saw and, “He looked at him and loved him.”

That verse touched my heart and I substituted “him” for my name. “He looked at Mary and loved her.” Then I went through my whole family name by name . . “and He looked at ______ and loved (him/her)”.

The gift of faith reflects God’s omnipotent power. Every word Jesus speaks forms thoughts that are higher than I can imagine. The Mustard plant grows to a remarkable size in comparison to its seed, and this morning I planted my little seed in scripture and it grew til my heart was overflowing with gratitude at life’s possibilities.

Mother wrote in her journal, “God can do the miraculous. Trust Him to provide the resources. He can take what little we have and turn it into something great.”

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Restored – Furniture, People and St. Peter



One of my favorite words is restoration. I love old stuff and when I scan my house I see many old pieces of restored furniture.

The steamer trunk my Aunt Gina retrieved, repainted and gave to me is a treasure. My grandmother’s buffet from the 1940’s was once painted an off- white then years later touched up to stand proudly on a kitchen wall.

While having lunch with friends I was reminded that detours can be restored to direct destinations. A boy on crutches took a fall in the middle of the restaurant. He looked embarrassed, but unhurt. Before anyone moved to help, two strong hands reached down and lifted the child to his feet and in a second handed him back his crutches.

“You okay?” his dad asked.

Looking restored the boy said, “Okay!” and followed his father to their original destination.

St. Peter speaks of restoration in 1Peter 10:11, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Simon Peter, the big, strong fisherman, decided to accept Jesus’ invitation to, “Follow me”.  Peter witnessed the life of the Savior first hand. He heard Him teach, pray and saw the miracles performed. Peter laughed with Jesus, ate with Him and helped Him feed a multitude.

Peter, a respected man of character with strong ties to his community, became a follower and a student of Christ. As Peter learned his role in the kingdom, he also came to know his Master. But Jesus, being God, knew not only who Peter was but who he would become. Jesus knew too that Peter would break and need restoring.

When Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus wasn’t surprised, but Peter was devastated! Our messes devastate us – not Jesus. Though our failures may set us back, they don’t disqualify us from a relationship with Him.

If Jesus is our Savior, restoration is always possible and often necessary. It usually takes place after a hard lesson and before a shinning moment.

Mother wrote in her journal, “When truly wise people turn to Jesus they can depend on Him for guidance.”

We can always be restored and not just back to the original but to something even better than before. God has something special when we’re ready.


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Life, The Journey to Our Promised Land

Deuteronomy 4:14

And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments that you might observe them in the land you cross over to possess (The Promised Land).



Each of us has a journey to The Promised Land. It’s called Life and God intends for us to boldly claim our futures. He gives us judgments and statutes (rules and regulations) that prepare us for success, but without Him we won’t attain the lives He planned.

A comment from a friend has been running around in my head for a month. In essence she said, “You cannot do everything it says in the Bible to do.”

We were with a group who loves a lively discussion on politics and religion. We are diverse in our thoughts and opinions, but we agree to disagree and still love each other. So when my friend made this comment, I considered her point of view.

She’s right. The Bible doesn’t provide my daily itinerary, but as I read it each morning, I see it as a map (or GPS) guiding me to my Promised Land. I need it because I can easily lose my way.

Yesterday I shared an article on a timely topic which drew a reply from a Face Book friend whose ideas I respect. He disagreed with the author of the article and very kindly questioned its wisdom. I pondered his point of view.

Because I believe God puts people and situations in my life for a reason, I embrace these folks, along with many, many others as vessels He uses to broaden my horizons and check me now and again.

Having traveled this far on my journey, I want to make the trip easier for my kids and grandkids. I don’t have the luxury of assuming the next generation will automatically follow my faith path.

Mother wrote in her journal, “When you leave God out of your life, you may be shocked at what you are capable of doing. We will lose the battle if we gather the spoils of earthly treasure rather than seeking the treasure of heaven.”

This shrunken world has brought a multitude of options and opinions that bombard and perplex. All I can do is offer my map, the Bible and my Guide, Jesus.

Dear Lord, Help us effectively apply your map to our lives  so we reach the Promised Land you have planned for us. Be our Guide. Amen




No Weapon Formed Against Us Can Stand -He Fights for Us

stock-photo-17681810-go-monopoly Last year I bought a Monopoly game to have on hand for the grandkids. They love it the most when they can beat their Papa and me. Recently our grandson set up the Monopoly game board and doled out the appropriate money. Before the first roll of dice, he decided I should be the banker. At first I thought this was a wise choice on his part, but I kept forgetting to give myself $200.00 when I passed Go. He never forgot to ask for his stipend.

He bought, bought, bought while I made like a fiscal conservative and saved my money only to give it over in rent. When I wasn’t paying rent on properties with hotels, I was drawing from Chance and Community chest and required to pay city taxes or fines.

When he did land on property I owned, I always had to check to see what amount I was owed. My opponent knew the value of his assets by heart.

After a while, in an act of kindness, he lowered the rent of one of his properties to accommodate my remaining funds. I was out of cash and had only three color sets with houses on them. With the acumen of a real estate mogul, my grandson systematically acquired each of those.

During the game I make three observations:

  1. My mind is not the steel trap it once was.
  2. Based on our Monopoly experience, all the grandkids will prosper.
  3. It only takes a few wrong choices to end up bankrupt.

Life is like that. It only takes a few foolish turns to wind up in a tight corner. It’s hard to regain lost ground, but God is a God of second chances who fights for us. (Joshua 23:10)

How does He do that? Well He can go before us to open doors of opportunity. He might introduce us to someone who has a word of wisdom or a helping hand. His Holy Spirit hovers near to show us just the right scripture for a particular situation. And He can work miracles on our behalf.

The mighty God who fights for us can provide miracles of protection and healing. He can renew a broken spirit, and thankfully, He miraculously gives undeserved grace that’s greater than any of the mistakes we might make.

The song from Travis Cottrell’s worship album says it perfectly, “We will stand victorious! You fight for us.” No weapon formed against us will stand whether it’s a poor financial decision, an embarrassing social media post or anything else. All that’s required is faith in Christ and a repentant heart to be kept by the power of God.

In her journal Mother wrote, “Victory depends not on strength or numbers but on obedience and commitment to Him.”