On Eagle's Wings

On Eagle's Wings
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31


Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Memories - My Husband

I think I'll keep him!

Brace yourself! I'm about to do some very serious bragging. So excited to get to share Monday Memories this time about our husbands. You can have some fun recalling those special times and joining Retired Not Retired right here.

So just 'whar in the world do you suppose a girl in Texas might meet her guy? No Whar But Texas!!! Honest Injun! Although the two never met, it was to my Mom's dismay, and to my Dear Heart's embarrassment sometimes, that we met in a dancehall! I'm just glad we were both there at the same time!!! No Whar But Texas was a country western establishment where you could just go have some fun two-steppin! It was my first time there and I was going to learn how to two-step. He was there just chilling! He took me around the dance floor that night and then breakfast after. To our amazement, we discovered we lived within about a mile of each other and had probably even passed each other in the same Safeway grocery store. 

I had no idea when we met what a roller coaster of a ride and adventure we would have because he is sometimes a bit of a wild and crazy guy! Often it has been somewhat of a circus! Oh well. I am the cautious, he is the risk-taker in our home! I'm sure you can see from these photos that he has a twinkle in his eye.

From the very beginning of our meeting, he was the kind of guy who pursued and wanted to spend every spare minute together. He also wanted me and his kids to mesh, and we did! They came with us on our second date, and I remember thinking this has to be a nice guy - he loves his kids so much. I was right. My guy has a dear and sweet heart and is a generous man.

After we were married, I found that he was an energetic and industrious worker with many talents who always has to have some kind of project going. From building a beautiful deck that was a little overwhelming in the beginning to a beautiful work we enjoyed for years.

He worked hard on building a windmill to conserve energy. He also likes conserving his own energy so he rigged up his lawnmower with a rope to a stake so the self-propelled lawnmower would mow the yard while he did the edging and weed eating. Clever, huh? People driving by always slowed down to do a double take. This year he was very into aquaponics and hydroponics. Suffice it to say, it's always something.

I also found that his gift-giving leaned more to the practical side rather than the sentimental, although I have to say that the fact of his caring is quite sentimental. My first birthday gift from him was no - not flowers, candy, clothes or jewelry. It was an automatic garage door opener, of all things! He was concerned for me having to walk from my car outside to the house. For the past 18 years, my birthday gift each year is a housekeeper every other week! What better and more practical and usable gift could you ask for? Not only does this gift help me, but it has blessed our housekeeper tremendously (who also happens to be one of my closest and dearest of friends.)

On the other hand, there were some crazy, quirky little things that made me wonder! One evening (before the deck and hot tub) I arrived home from work to his "surprise" for me! He had hooked up a hose to the hot water tank to fill up our ski boat parked in the back yard with hot water for a "hot tub!" HA! So we were the weird family sitting in our boat full of hot water in our back yard! 

He's a man's man! Very proud of serving thirteen years in the National Guard as a Lieutenant, graduated from Officer's Candidate School Airborne. Although he graduated with a degree in Economics, his choice of career was to follow in the footsteps of his Dad and become a firefighter. Now his son is also a firefighter, being  the third generation of captains from our family with the Dallas Fire Department.

This guy loves flying and it was his dream to learn to fly, so he took lessons and got his pilot's license! He said that when he flies, it brings tears to his eyes. Although I was his passenger (hostage) on those little Cessnas several times, it was not my dream to fly! So what did he do? He put together a gyrocopter because he researched and believed it to be the safest way to fly and was convinced I would love it someday when we had a two-seater gyro! NOT!

This is a gyrocopter!
What do you think?
He actually crashed in one of these and wore long-sleeve shirts for a couple of days to hide his arm from me! The scar is still there.

Sports we enjoyed together were snow skiing and our ski boat. When we moved out near the lake, he bought an amphibious ATV so we could ride around the lake AND ACROSS the lake! And, of course, my first trip out with him, we got stuck in the mud and had to walk home through creepy, swampy lake area filled with chiggers, critters, and snakes.

Next on his list was a motorcycle which I had to learn to ride! And, after that, a Harley with a side car. Are you getting the picture here that he wanted me to go along? I'm really sorry that most of the things my Dear Heart wanted to include me in were just a little scary to me. 

Our most fun adventures together have been to travel. You mention a trip and he is always ready to go. We have been fortunate to have traveled twice to Israel, several countries in Europe, Greece, Turkey, Canada, Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico and almost every state in the U.S. His excitement on a trip is HYPER for the first three or four days before he is able to settle down. When we were in Paris, he would arise at 5 every morning to take the metro all around the city to see the sights on his own before returning to our hotel to join the tour.

He is a forgiving man. I have made lots of boo-boos in my lifetime with him, and one that stands out is when I put regular gas in his diesel VW. That was an expensive repair, but when I called him crying about it, his remark was simply, "Don't worry about it! As far as I'm concerned, you can do no wrong in my book!" 

He is tender-hearted and a guy who will watch shows with me like Call the Midwife or Downton Abbey and cry like a baby. He is also the guy who stands at the back door of the church to help the Moms and Dads get their little ones inside. He sees to getting the paraplegic in a wheelchair down to the sanctuary at church. He helps with dishes and laundry. And he is the one who took care of his Mom as she suffered for many years, and his brother in his last months. Sometimes he will make a trip upstairs to where I'm reading or doing something and make me stop to listen to the words of a song and tell me with tears in his eyes that is how he feels about me. His verbal expressions of love and thankfulness for me are frequent throughout the day.

Of course there are those times when he is not so perfect? Oh yeah! He can push my buttons sometimes.

But I count myself blessed!

We have been retired for the past four years now, and it has been a big adjustment for him because he loved the camaraderie of the fellowship with other firefighters (and I think being Captain - I have to remind him sometimes he is not the captain here!) Being a guy who loved planes, it was his good fortune to be assigned to aircraft fire and rescue at the airport.

I have always stayed busy with things to do with my friends and Bible studies, but I'm happy for him that he has found a group of retired buddies who call themselves the McRats and his calendar is pretty full with activities now.

We have weathered a lot of storms together over the past 28 years, but I am thankful that the Lord has brought us through them all and made us stronger in our faith and our relationship.

Okay! 'Nuff said.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

That's Entertainment!

It's been a very Christmassy kind of week. Beginning with last Saturday, we saw and heard and thoroughly enjoyed the performance by the Alley Cats following dinner with friends.

The Alley Cats have been performing for 27 years together. They are an acapella group of four guys who can sing anything and everything and are entertaining with great talent and sense of humor. 

"Tight harmonies, universal humor, and unbelievable a cappella energy = The Alley Cats ... Currently, the CATS are the opening act for Jay Leno in Las Vegas.

If you ever get a chance to see them ... Take it. 

I did a little Christmas shopping and dealt with returns and mix-ups!

Went to the 12 Days of Christmas at the Dallas Arboretum with a few dear friends.

There were 6 geese a laying
beneath the trees behind us.

There is a partridge in a pear tree somewhere!

9 ladies dancing

Five Golden Rings
(The seals are balancing the rings)

And then finally Friday night ... drum roll ... the long awaited Gift of Christmas at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. I have been waiting since grand kids were born to take one of them with us to enjoy the spectacular performance by Prestonwood Baptist.

This is a top-notch production with every thing you could possibly imagine. Hundreds of singers, dancers, different styles of music, live nativity with camels, donkeys, zebras, flying angels and ... Fireworks! Everything about Christmas! Shout for joy!!!!!

You just have to see and hear it to believe it! We took Kate with us and my concern had been whether it would prove to be too much. I bought the premium package and chose seats about 6 rows from the orchestra and stage. We had angels and Santa Claus flying over our heads, drummer boys drumming overhead, laser lights, dancers in front of us, fabulous costumes, truly wonderful. I have seen the Rockettes perform, broadway musicals, and concert in Vienna and would choose Prestonwood over any of it!

Photos taken with my iphone just can't capture the event.

We also enjoyed the Christmas buffet before the show. It was perfect!! Soooooooo again I say, if you ever get the chance to see this, don't miss out! You will LOVE it!!

Kate even found something to eat

Kate decorating my leg during intermission
Kate spent the night with us last night and because of the show we stayed up late. This morning we had to get her home early to be in the Christmas parade in her town. Kate is a Girl Scout Daisy and they had a float in the parade. What fun we had watching her waving at everybody.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Volume 201

I missed out on Hodgepodge last week, so I want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to Joyce for being so faithful to post the fun questions week after week! You too can have fun answering her questions right over here.

1. What is one new holiday tradition you'd like to establish, or one you've established recently, say in the last year or two?

Every year I think I am going to establish a date for our family to ALL be together at the very same time to celebrate. The busyness of the season and everybody’s schedules haven’t allowed for that so far.

One tradition I am establishing this year is to attend the Prestonwood Baptist Christmas Spectacular with our grandkids. Kate will be the first as she is now old enough to enjoy it with us. I'm hoping she loves it! Who could not love all that Christmas music, dancing, the Nativity with real camels and other animals, and flying angels?

2. It's the second week of December. Have you sipped a cup of eggnog yet this month? Wrapped a gift? Opened a gift? Kissed someone under the mistletoe? Lit a candle? Eaten a Christmas cookie? Seen Santa in person? Watched a Christmas movie or special? Read scripture relating to the birth of Jesus?

I have never tasted eggnog!!! I did light a candle when I put out my few Christmas decorations. And I am following the advent devotions by shereadstruth.org which have been very good, so I am reading scripture daily related to the birth of Jesus.

3. Do you think it's better to be an adult or a child at Christmastime? Explain.

I think it is better to be a child at Christmas innocent of the commercialism of Christmas and discovering all the joy and fun.

I also think it might be better to be an adult at Christmas understanding more fully "God with us," and the nostalgia of Christmas past, even though there is some sadness attached to that because loved ones are missing.

4. It's often said, 'Good things come to those who wait'...agree or disagree? Why?

I’m stumped. It depends on what you are waiting for. 

to see how everybody else responds!

5. What's the last sweet thing you baked? Did you keep it, take it to a party/event, or give it away?

I baked a double batch of peanut butter cookies to put in the freezer for my husband. He loves the frozen cookies!

6. This question comes to us courtesy of Jhona who blogs over at The Red House at the End of the Lane. Everyone hop over and say hi to Jhona this week! Here is her question... "I heard an actor talk about how he makes a conscious choice to talk to people in elevators. He chooses to connect, make eye contact, and converse. Do you talk to people/strangers when you're in an elevator or any other place where you might have to wait together? Why or why not?"

I smile and speak to others on an elevator or in a line at the store. Why not be friendly while you wait? I have found that people will smile back and respond. Sometimes I have noticed a sad face and asked if everything was okay. People like for you to notice and say a kind word.

7. Are you on the naughty or nice list this year? What put you there?

It has to be the nice list because I always try to remember to say please and thank you!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Online Christmas shopping has not been the best experience this year. Dealing with the mix-ups and returns and goods not received is very frustrating. Time is slipping away. I am hoping that good things will come to those who wait in this instance!
(And sometimes I just don't get how line spacing works here!)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Memories - Christmas

Monday Memories is all about our Christmas memories. How is it possible to condense a lifetime of Christmas memories in one telling? You will have fun recalling those times and joining Retired Not Retired right here.

Christmas! That long-awaited time of year that couldn't come quickly enough for us as children, but now arrives faster than the speed of lightning and seems to follow the month of May!

A hodgepodge of Christmas memories from the past:

My sister and I huddled together by the Christmas tree looking at a big book with lots of pictures. I don't remember the book, maybe the Night Before Christmas? ... Being an angel for the play at church saying the memorized verse, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy!" ... Loving the little brown bears with checkered coveralls that Mama made for us.

Hearing the story of Jesus as a babe in the manger, receiving the brown paper sack filled with hard candy, assorted nuts, an apple, and an orange. We were as thrilled with that bag of goodies as though it contained precious treasure.

Looking longingly throughout the Christmas season at the dolls on display each year at the local grocery store, hoping they would appear under our tree. Unwrapping presents early on Christmas morning to find a beautiful bride doll dressed in her white satin gown and wearing pearl earrings.

Christmas at Granny's house - a stick horse, jewelry set from aunt and uncle, little red and white hats from my great aunt. I'm sorry to confess that I sat in the car for a little while pouting - wishing she had given a toy instead of a hat.

Wearing the hats and holding one of my Christmas dolls.
Unfortunately for the doll in this pic, 
I took the scissors to her hair
and lopped it all off!)
Standing in the freezing cold with knees knocking together as we watched the downtown parade - marching bands, baton twirlers, drill teams, and all the red and green lights and banners strung across town streets.

Singing The First Noel - "born is the King of Is-ri-el" with my Brownie troop and drinking hot cocoa - caroling in the neighborhood - dolls with cradles, quilted robes, petticoats and poodle skirts, Nancy Drew books, roller skates. My Dad and uncle taking my sister and I to the school so we could skate on the sidewalks there.

The year of the roller skates was also the year our whole family went together to the local hardware store to purchase our first ever record player! I remember how exciting that was. The store gave us two LPs, one was a Christmas album of bells and organ music, and a Roy Acuff album, We played those records over and over and never tired of them.

Decorating the tree with all the familiar ornaments, tinsel, and placing icicles one by one on the tree, until finally just throwing a handful on to be finished. It took soooooo long!

Fudge, cookies, big family gatherings and dinner. Six of us loaded in our car to drive to Arkansas in the snow and ice, slipping and sliding around the curves and hills.

Christmas with a few of Mama's family

Visits to Grandpa and Grandma's house with everybody gathered in the living room around the iron wood stove blazing heat from its belly. Feeling the warmth and cheer listening to grown-ups talk and reminisce. Staying overnight with cousins on Christmas Eve night and all the excitement the next morning.
Cousins with Grandma and Grandpa McCoy
high in the hills of Arkansas

Sunday School Christmas parties and gift exchanges, decorated cookies, programs at school, making paper chains with construction paper, popcorn chains, hearing White Christmas for the first time, watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV. Fun songs like All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth!

Seeing my little brother dressed in a robe with a towel on his head, staff in hand, baby doll in the magazine rack wrapped in swaddling clothes. He was the little shepherd boy who faithfully stood guard over Baby Jesus each evening.

My sister longed for a Barbie Doll so Mama bought the affordable imitation Barbie and sewed a complete wardrobe of clothes for her. Wherever did she find the time and patience to stitch all those tiny clothes? I DID NOT inherit either the gift of sewing or patience the way my Mama had it. My sister treasured the gift and played with that doll for many years.

Singing in Glee Club, memorizing lengthy cantatas for all the parents who would come see our performance. The annual hope and disappointment that the pair of roller rink shoe skates never appeared under our tree.

The year Mama and Daddy had a little extra money to give us to buy gifts. $10 to spend (we were rich!!) and the trip to the local dime store to purchase them. The extravagance of spending $5 for a cuckoo clock for Mom and Dad, a gift for each grandparent - little bottles of eau de cologne (stinky stuff), dusting bath powder with fluffy puffs, chocolate covered cherries.

Helping in the kitchen, smells of dressing and other goodies baking; the anticipation of company coming ... addressing Christmas cards for Mama.

The year my best friend (who had a REAL job in a department store) bought me the treasured pair of rink skates. I will never forget that she understood my desire for those skates and how much it meant to me.

My first Christmas married and setting up traditions. Never tiring of singing the tender songs such as Away in a Manger, Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, hearing the truth of O Holy Night, and the thrill of Joy to the World, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, and the one that still sends chills up and down, The Hallelujah Chorus!

The Christmas my husband lost his job.
The Christmas my brother broke the news to us that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma.
The Christmas we didn't think my Mama would make it through.
The first Christmas as a widow.
The last one with Mama.
The first one with my Dear Heart and the joy of finding love again.
The last one with Daddy.

A ski trip Christmas

The joy of Christmas with grand kids.

I love the spirit of Christmas - of peace and love 
and that it didn't end that night Christ was born.

P.S. I don't care what they say about Christmas sweaters. I still love my poinsettia sweater.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Monday Memories - My Dad

Here I am again with my memories and joining up with Retired not Tired to go back to the past and bring up some of those precious times and share them here.

This time, I am writing of my Dad, Conley Sheridan. He was a quiet, shy and reserved person, more outgoing when we were young, but as time went on, I think his loss of hearing, along with the weariness of labor and worry caused him to isolate himself even more than just being a reserved person. Although he always welcomed the times folks came to visit, sometimes when there were lots of people around, he would withdraw to himself.

He was born in 1924 to Sheridan and Gertrude McCoy in a two room cabin in the very small community of Wesley. Conditions in the Northwest hills of Arkansas were very poor with no running water or indoor plumbing. His Dad was a sharecropper and carpenter. Daddy had five siblings, one of whom died from cholera as a child and my Dad himself survived typhoid fever when he was eight years old. He walked to a country school each day that school was in session, carrying his lunch in a lard pail with biscuits and maybe some bacon left over from breakfast. I know they ate a lot of squirrel and rabbit, along with poke salad and collard greens.

Dad fell in love with my Mom after he returned from WWII serving in the Philippines and asked her to marry him. He said if her answer was no, he was going back to the Army. Well, I'm glad she said yes! (I'm not sure when she said yes whether she understood what a difficult road lay ahead, but they were a happy pair.)

This pic was taken on an Army base

Probably showing off for girlfriends

Daddy with his horses on the farm in Arkansas.

They made the decision to move away from farming in Arkansas to Tulsa where he was employed for about 40 years with a steel corporation that made oil derricks. I have no idea what put it in his mind  to go to work there and what made him stick it out through thick and thin, but I'm thinking he saw it as the way out for a man who didn't have an education past the eighth grade and life in Tulsa promised an easier way of life and education opportunity for his wife and children. I am very thankful he made that decision because as kids, our life was good.

He was proud of his work and providing for his family. I can only remember him missing a few days ever from work over the years due to illness. Sickness or fatigue never stood in his way of taking care of his family. One winter his car was frozen up, but that didn't keep him home (and this was just before he retired). He just put on his warmest clothes and walked the five miles to work in deep snow. I learned by example of both my parents the meaning of a good work ethic.

I can see from old photos and I remember well as a child his smiling and laughter, but as I grew up, our relationship became a little more standoffish. Don't get me wrong, I loved my Dad and knew he loved us. He was a dedicated and faithful husband, son and father who had very strong feelings for his family. He loved, but it was sometimes difficult for him to communicate his love.

We looked forward to him coming home each day. It was like a little celebration of sorts. Mom getting dinner ready and herself all prettied up for him and us kids as well. We met him at the door to tell him all about the day's events and, if we had been downtown or maybe walked to the local five and dime, we had some little item to show him which Mama had purchased for us. Pay days were always fun because it usually meant we would either have 5 for a dollar hamburgers from the Lot-a-Burger, or be preparing for a trip to Arkansas to visit the relatives.

Sometimes Daddy would load us up in the car and not say where we were going. It was thrilling to us knowing our destination could have been to get ice cream, or to the local amusement park or perhaps to visit their best friends who had two daughters for us to play with. Other times we would go to a lake or river to wade and play in the water since none of us knew how to swim!

I remember his dedication to help me with my homework when I struggled with math problems. I remember him actually writing my homework for me when my fingers were hurting from biting my nails down to the quick. He helped coach my softball team. He helped me as I learned to ride a bike and I remember the day I told him I was ready for training wheels to come off. Mom took a pic of me on my bike wearing one of his hats.

He and I had the mumps at the same time. I remember seeing him in his overalls and carrying his black lunchbox as he left for work early mornings. Early morning was a comforting time as I could hear him and my Mom talking together while she made his breakfast. I remember seeing him cry the night my brother was born, the weight on his shoulders bearing the responsibility of his family and having just been laid off from work.  I remember him walking the floor in the middle of the night holding my baby brother who had whooping cough and trying to comfort him. (Our house was too small for anybody to sleep through his crying.)

My Daddy was the authority figure in our home for sure and we had great respect for him. We could get away with a little whining with Mama (never ever any kind of back talk with either parent), but definitely no whining with my Dad. His word was final. There were some occasions where his heart would be tender to us and he would back down, but usually a consequence followed an infraction.

When I was eleven years old, my parents were so proud to build a new home, something they had worked hard for over the years.

As I grew older, only a couple of times did we butt heads with each other. Once it was about my curfew with a young man he didn't know. He put his foot down with me, but had a change of heart later in the evening. His heart was soft underneath the sternness. I remember a time when I was looking forward to getting a special dress I had asked for at Christmas. The week before Christmas the youth at church were having a Christmas banquet. One of my friends (who thought she was playing a little trick on me) told me my mama had told hers that I wasn't getting the dress. I cried a lot of tears in my disappointment. When Mom and Dad found out why I was crying, they pulled that dress from its hiding place in the closet for me to unwrap and wear to the banquet that very night. Daddy went out and brought back for me a beautiful corsage to pin on my new dress.

For reasons I will not explain here, my Dad didn't attend church with us, but believe me there was never a time when any of us kids would have asked to stay home from church like Daddy. Sunday mornings for him was resting in his chair enjoying every gospel music show on TV as we scurried around getting ready for church. It was an unspoken rule that Mama and we kids would be in church every Sunday. But it was the prayer of Mama's heart that one day he would join us in worship. Two things about church he really enjoyed were gospel singing and to see one of his kids in a program. He would attend church on those occasions.

After my Mama passed away, my Dad was so lonely, it hurt. My sister brought her daughters often to visit with him. At the time Mama graduated to Heaven, my brother Phil and his family and I were living in Seattle where Phil was recovering from a bone marrow transplant. After her funeral, although Daddy had sworn never to get on a plane, his love for his son gave him courage to fly back with me to Seattle to see him.

Later, when my brother had returned home, a wonderful thing happened. My Dad began attending church with Phil and his family. The year before he died, he made a profession of faith and it was our privilege and joy to see him be baptized! That, my friends, was the answer to a prayer my Mom had never given up praying over the years. Never give up. Even if you don't see a prayer answered, that doesn't mean God's not listening. 

Here are my parents standing in front of their last earthly home. Very sad times for me as I would have to drive away saying good-bye as I headed back to my home in Texas. I will never forget the last time I saw Mama waving good-bye to me from the front porch in this picture. A couple of years later, Dad died suddenly, unexpectedly ... and alone inside this house.

One of my cousins has a country and western store in Arkansas. On the wall he has pictures of people he admired. The top left picture is of my Dad. He would have been so proud.

The melancholy feelings that memories can sometimes bring 

can never cause the love and goodness of their lives to fade in my heart.

Above is a link to a YouTube video of the Gaithers' Homecoming
with Just a Little Talk with Jesus.
I hope it works!

Don't isolate yourself from past hurts from others. Let them draw you to Jesus! He will hear the faintest cry.