Apology Bread

I've never mastered the bread-baking skills of my grandma. Oh, how I wish I'd paid closer attention. She could bake mouth-watering loaves without fail. 

But I think she knew her bread was really a form of love.

I saw this first hand as a child.

Grandpa could be gruff. Highly intelligent and savvy in conversation, he had little patience for those who refused to see his logic. 
This was the case when the screen door banged shut, and Grandpa went to his chair without a word. On a normal day his frown lines were deep, now they were reddened with unspent fury.
I silently crept up to the loft. Grandpa believed a child shouldn’t speak, unless spoken to. From my upstairs perch I watched Grandma take some small pieces of split wood and kindle a fire in her wood cook stove. 
Then I watched as she scooped flour into a large mixing bowl. She didn’t measure, she'd done this hundreds of times before.

I was mesmerized by her rhythmic kneading of the dough. She placed the dough in a towel-covere…

Small Beginnings

Zechariah, the Bible prophet said, “Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” 

Our business had small beginnings 35 years ago and now we’re seeing small beginnings once again…in our entrepreneurial son, Tommy.
It began as a seed planted in the soil of a college project. Then Tommy graduated, paid his dues as an accountant and financial analyst in the big city business world, and when he felt it was time, he approached the perilous cliff of starting a business and leaped.
He’d tell you it was the hardest jump—cringe worthy and desperate at times, but the best leap of faith he’s ever taken. Ask people who own their own businesses, why they do it—somewhere in their answer will be the passionate pursuit of their plans. 

I have a great respect for the hard-working Americans in corporate businesses and those serving in government. But statistics reveal that small businesses are the backbone of our economy.
From 2000-2017 small businesses created 8.4 million j…

Facebook Messenger Thanksgiving Plan

It started with an online message that began, “Shhh, it’s a secret!”  Knowing the sender, she read it and smiled. This was an amazing plan. She made a list for what was needed.
While busy in the kitchen doing her part, her neighbors were busy too. It was an undercover operation—even though social media was used to spread the word. 

In the rural farmland where these neighbors lived, Facebook hadn’t made them more distant; it was actually a great way to know what was happening in their neighbor’s busy lives. 
For most of the farmers, their crops no longer paid all the bills, so they took jobs to supplement their income. They lived in two worlds—going to work in the nearby city and leaving the chores, the planting and the weeding for evenings and weekends. Vacation time was used for their annual harvest.
Then in late October, a layoff happened. One of the neighbors, both the husband and the wife, lost their jobs just as the holidays approached. As farmers, they were used to cutting spending …

More Than A Fire

The chill outside was so brittle cold that your lungs hurt if you breathed in too deeply. Inside, I watched as he carefully selected two small pieces of wood that had been split apart. 
Settling them inside the wood stove, he took a few shreds of paper and wood kindling crisscrossing them over the two pieces.
Satisfied that it was ready, he struck a match and ignited the paper. The damper was open, drawing the smoke upwards. I watched, fascinated as the kindling caught fire, and soon the two small pieces were burning.
He continued to feed the fire, telling me that this was when most wood stove fires could burn up without heating the room. He gradually added two larger pieces of firewood, explaining that it was vital to always have two pieces touching one another.
Looking at me, he asked me to observe how he’d placed the wood. Not smothered together so that they’d smolder and be snuffed out—but crossing over, so that the fire from one would encourage the other to burn. 
Soon the stove warme…

Thank a Vet

If ever there was a country bumpkin, it was Reuben. You’d seldom see him without his coveralls and cowboy hat. He and my dad were best buddies in high school—countless stories of youthful antics were attributed to these two. 
It was said that Reuben could laugh louder than his dad’s pig herds. Upon graduating in 1949, Dad took advantage of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program to help pay his college costs, and Reuben joined his dad full time at his pig farm.

Raising pigs was hard work, but for Reuben’s immigrant family it’s all they knew. When 75,000 soldiers from the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea poured over the 38th parallel, the Cold War became real. 
In Reuben’s family, supporting their new homeland meant sacrifice—Reuben immediately enlisted. He was in the first wave of American troops sent to support South Korea.
When Dad came home for the summer, he learned that his best friend had left for war. News from the war-torn Korean Peninsula was scarce. While D…

Neighborly Barking

Barking dogs. Sigh. My husband has called our neighbors and complained. He texts them reminders when the dogs keep barking. 
I’ve written a complaint letter to them, but never sent it. My tendency is to grouse around my wooded retreat, and occasionally shout at the two small barking dogs. To no avail. They still bark.
Oh, the neighbors are nice enough to try and get them to stop. Briefly. The only time they aren’t barking is when they are inside. 
In fact, as I write this, I can see the little furry face insistently barking at me through the wire fence. She’s just far enough from her house, her owners probably can’t hear her, but it’s all I hear.
I’ve even tried walking along my side of the fence line—ostensibly to get the dogs closer to their home—so my neighbors WILL hear them. Sometimes that works, more often I just get more frustrated.
So today, mid-afternoon, after another round of incessant barking, I walked along the fence towards my neighbor’s home—with two little non-stop barkin…

Work Hard Love Well

When I met Bernadean, she’d already had multiple back surgeries to repair damage from former surgeries that all began when she’d fallen off a ladder twenty years prior. 

To see her energy and work ethic, you’d never guess the pain she’d faced. 

Just after I married her son, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

But with her trademark work ethic, she merely adjusted the gauges of her life to manage mobility while owning and operating two thriving Bible bookstores.

Where did this inner drive come from? Where did she learn how to work so hard?
In a word: hoeing. Bernadean wielded a hoe across acres of vegetables like a surgeon uses a scalpel during surgery. 

She and her siblings were migrant farm workers—following the crops—moving from state to state as needed. 
Yet, as a child, she thrived in school. With 11 siblings, money was tight. She re-purposed her hand-me-down dresses with a flair that came from sewing skills honed by necessity.

She knew complaining about the hard work wouldn’t p…