The Hallowed Halls of Democracy

There will be many stories, opinions, and theories floated around our country regarding the events of January 6th, 2021. Blame will be passed around like the mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.  However, one aspect of that Wednesday we should agree on is that it will never be forgotten.

For the better part of my writing career, I have tried my dead level best to promote kindness and understanding.  When I write, I always envision God as my boss whispering, “Write from your heart, write healing stories, and weave it around my teachings.” 

Sometimes I know I failed, but I sincerely tried.  

Most of the time, I have steered away from politics, except to calm the reader or encourage each person to view the other side.  My best friends know how I stand on many issues, but publicly promoting my personal views was not in the best interest of all.

One of my editors questioned me one day, “When you write about our political environment, how do you seem not to offend either side?”  My answer is, “Hey, I am just trying to heal a big ole’ divide I feel is dangerous.”

The boiling pot

Our country has endured so much this year.  Every month has scared the dickens out of us as we attempted to hide from the coronavirus, inflaming political ads and arguments.  The virus and politics dangerously mixed with casting doubt on mask-wearing, statistics, and science.  Again blame, distrust, fear, and vitriol swirled in a kettle, becoming hotter and hotter until we could almost feel the sting of a burn. 

Fingers pointed, friends fought, and enough tears fell to fill buckets.  Yet, not enough weeping put out the fires brewing.   How much pain did we want to endure to seal our individual stances, prove our positions, and declare our patriotism was greater than our neighbors? 

Soon after dawn broke on January 7th, people posted on social media their theories on who was responsible for the assault on our Capitol. Who turned the protest into violence? Conspiracy theories reached a new low without basis in fact, only rhetoric. 

It must stop

Just a few hours after being sincerely frightened with the uncertainty of who was breaking into our nation’s house, Congress stood together and declared, “This must stop!”   The first thing they have said in a long time that made complete sense.  It must stop. 

We can accuse a group with whom we do not align with or hate for climbing into the hallowed halls of our American home, or we can call it what it was and still is.

Hate, anger, blame, ungodliness, and evil climbed those Capitol stairs in unison, and we are all responsible.  Patriotism is not found in our souls’ harshness but in the depth of our hearts. It is caring enough about each other to not tear down but build up. It is not condemning someone’s vote, but the glory in each American’s freedom to cast a ballot.

Democracy is kept alive by finding common solutions and coming to the table together before giving up. It is not about sparing and fighting in our individual, selfish, deep-seated corners.

God’s words matter

 We have lost over 370,000 citizens to COVID-19 this last year.   They should be our unifiers.  Their voices need to rise from every grave and shout, “Stop the madness and help each other get well!”

 Their muffled cries have been drowned by discord among those living.   And their lives reduced to percentages and numbers because our compassion failed.  

I pray every citizen would put the swords of conflict and animosity away.  Honor our veterans, our forefathers, and our children by being good, decent people. Now is not the time to declare who is right and who is wrong.  It is not the time to be just boastful Republicans or Democrats.  Today, we must be Americans first and foremost.  

We must understand it is the time to heed the calming voice of the Almighty, who pleads with us, “Will you please, just love one another.”  It is that which will get us to the table of healing.  It is God’s words that will douse the fires of hatred and honor the hallowed halls of Democracy.

A Parade of Human Kindness

Last year brought forth not only a killing pandemic but shined a light on the best and worst in all of us.  We experienced it all, from the discord found in the political environment to the medical community’s united front.  The good, the bad, the love, and the hate, resided side by side.   Neighbors, friends, and family members fought over politics and who was right and who was wrong until there is now talk of another civil war. 

I am sure it will continue for a while because there is so much bitterness, but I witnessed something this weekend that renewed my faith in the best of humankind.  Sometimes life unfolds to reveal a bit of healing and a glimmer of hope that appears divine.

Some people seem to love strife.  Some enjoy controversy and spread distrust to gain fame and fortune.  Others put their fellow citizens in harm’s way to make a point or prove a theory or for power. Humans can become evil, malicious, and selfish, but that is not what I saw on the 2nd day of January 2021.

A big birthday

My friend turned a page on an age that day.  Several years ago, when I turned her age, she, and a few other close friends, hosted a luncheon for me with family and friends.  Folks hugged, shared a meal, and laughter roared as they told old stories.  My friends went overboard, but I will always remember that wonderful day.

I never thought I would not be able to do the same for my pal on her birthday over three years later.  Two other friends and I tried to come up with safe ideas to celebrate this beloved woman.

January 2 is not the best day for a birthday anyway, even when there is no pandemic.  No one gets their picture in the paper for being the first baby born on the day after New Year’s Day.  Many times, one’s birthday presents combine with the Christmas gifts.  Plus, folks are so tired by January 2nd, they most certainly do not enjoy the idea of throwing a party.   

How could we safely celebrate a good friend who was born on the day after fireworks lit the sky without a festive, large gathering?  Of all the people I have known in my life, she is the one who seems to know everyone.  I laugh at the number of friends she has.  I could not keep up with them all if I tried, nor could I write that many Christmas cards.  There is just something about her genuineness and kindness that draws one to her like a magnet.  She is far nicer than I am, but she hangs with me anyway, puts up with my rants, and forgives my many foibles. 

“What have you done?”

I have seen those car parades where people safely celebrate a birthday or a significant event during the pandemic, so we thought that might be a good idea.  I emailed many folks and I told them to spread the word that on January 2, 2020, there would be a surprise parade for Deborah.  

We did have the little luncheon with just the four of us, but we used a ruse to coax her outside the front of my house precisely at noon.   Around the curve, my husband drove the lead in his bright red car topped with balloons, and when Deborah saw it, she looked puzzled.  As far as one could see, car after car rounded the curve. Many, adorned with more balloons and signs, held several passengers while countless horns blew as they inched closer. 

“What have you done?” Deborah shouted as she ran into the street.  People presented her with cards, gifts, champagne, and air hugs as each one greeted their surprised friend. 

I watched as the smiling faces seemed to relish where they were, who they were celebrating, and the complete and utter joy of being a part of creating happiness for a person they loved.

Those who participated have differing beliefs, attitudes, and personalities, yet their diversity did not break their mutual bond of friendship.

Perhaps, we can avoid civil wars if we remember we find happiness when we unite to create joy for one another.

January 2 became a day not many will forget, including the girl who said, “It was the best birthday ever!”  As for me, I was able to watch the light of human kindness shine on the best parade of my life.            

Relinquishing My Christmas Crown

Yesterday was Christmas Day 2020.   Today is the day I will abdicate my throne as the Queen of Christmas.  I ponder such a thought each year after Santa visits because I am usually bone-tired, but this is different.  Perhaps, it is not fatigue from cooking or cleaning, but rather a tiredness from a year when all things seem exhausting and good news is in short supply.

My lack of positive energy could be due in part to my two-year-old refrigerator. It broke three days before Christmas and will be on the fritz until January.  Thank goodness we had the old workhorse fridge in the garage for extras.  But, what a pain!

The same day the refrigerator broke, friends came to sing Christmas carols in the evening.  When the doorbell rang, my daughter’s dog began to bark and headed for the door.   When the big friendly pup tried to escape, I held him by his collar.  Once he saw those smiling faces and heard the word, “Hark…”  he bolted just enough to throw me off my small porch stoop and into the bushes where my head ran into a brick wall.

I am still here

  The cracking sound of my head hitting bricks was so loud, the carolers heard it and assumed I was a goner.  But alas, I am still here.  Yes, I am battered and bruised in places I forgot existed, but to my amazement, I am back to picking up dog toys, cookie crumbs, and glitter after a day of ease. I guess Mama was right about me being hard-headed after all!  

So, Christmas came and went, and I am ready to quickly pack it away for the first time in my life. Today, I started boxing my many decorations.  Because I am the Queen of Christmas, I typically wait until the neighbors begin to complain about the reindeer still on the porch around Easter.   However, this year, putting away Christmas early seemed the right thing to do.

This holiday season was not the same for most of us.  As much as I tried to focus on the glory found in Christ’s birth, the day was still unusual and challenging.   People everywhere are worried about income, food, and a killing virus.   We live day to day, hoping that we will survive financially and our loved ones stay healthy.  Most every day of 2020 tested our strength and faith.  It is difficult to comprehend how many have lost so much in one year.  

Time to pause

On top of a pandemic, we are bombarded with misinformation, scare tactics, and competing theories.  In my opinion, the far right and far left need to take a sharp turn and travel toward the middle of the road.  Neither of the far sides is leading us on the correct path to healing.  Mostly they are just inciting anger and fueling distrust, which is extraordinarily sad.

After taking two ibuprofens for my achy head on Christmas day, I was alone in my bedroom applying makeup to cover those pesky dark circles and bruises.  As I listened to Alexa play “Ave Maria,” I knew it was time to pause and talk to the Lord.

“God, I believe I am going to stop wearing my Queen of Christmas crown.  The world has gone to the dogs, and the dogs are driving me into brick walls.  I seem to have lost a little of my faith in humanity due to the viciousness of the vying political parties and people in general, including me.  Folks are hungry, yet I pitched a royal fit over my food filled refrigerator that is on the fritz.

 Many of my family members live in Nashville.  They watched as bricks fell over their streets and fear gripped their Christmas day, while I worried about my brick cracked head.  How silly and how selfish I am.  Forgive me, Lord.”

Polishing the old crown

So, today, peace fell over me.  As I packed away the fancy ornaments and labeled the boxes for 2021, I realized there is much to throw away from the year 2020.   However, we must be careful not to box up love, kindness, and compassion.  We need those to clearly hear with joy and elation, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” when Christmas returns in 2021.

Hate, anger, bullying, and distrust drive our heads into brick walls, and we lose faith.  And that we simply cannot do.  If we do, then what was the point of Christmas?  I feel the Lord is calling us to stand in the light of the angels, to heed the call to believe and forge onward with dignity, courage, and hope.

Today, I will put away the grief 2020 caused and polish my old crown.  I will lay it in the lap of the newborn King where it belongs and where good news and peace always gloriously reigns. 

How Do We Retrieve Our Spirit?

It is nearing the end of December 2020, and soon the world will erupt with gladness that this year is almost over!  A glimmer of light appears at the end of dark tunnels.  The television will no longer shout horrid campaign ads, and children’s laughter will soon return to school playgrounds. Hopefully, when Christmas returns in 2021, we can openly embrace our families, witness smiles, and thank God we survived the worst year in America’s history.

However, before we look ahead to 2021, let us return for a moment to Christmas Eve 2019.  How many of us gathered around our decorated trees with family and watched magic sparkle in a child’s eyes?  How many families attended a candlelight ceremony at our churches or sang carols throughout the night?  We worried if our sweater gift for Uncle Charlie was the right size, or would little Katie’s new school backpack be the one she desired? 

It was a typical Christmas Eve for many, and in our innocence, we never dreamed there was a menace lurking in the shadows that would soon create devastation and death around the world.

A long ago Holiday

In one year since that seemingly long-ago Christmas, our lives have completely changed.  Our innocence has faded.  Uncle Charlie died in the spring from the virus, and Sarah’s new backpack was barely used.  

When we rang in 2020, none of us knew it would be our last party, the last dance, and the end of large gatherings for the rest of the year.  For over 320,000 Americans, it was to be their final year.   We did not understand how life could change on a moment’s notice and the amount of grief we would experience. 

Violence, a caustic political environment, conspiracy theories, anger, and distrust yielded more pain, and a sense of doom begin to sweep our country.  Could we find our way back to a Christmas or New Year’s Eve when our only thought was “Joy to the World” and yearly resolutions?

A hopeful future

Perhaps, it is time to say goodbye to the things that ended our festive spirits.  A vaccine will attempt to rid ourselves of the pandemic, but it will take personal responsibility to mend our hearts.  If we want to embellish the hope that Christ’s birth brought us years ago, we must lay down our selfish anger. It is ugly, sinister, and will destroy us.  The horrible, nasty political divide in our country is nothing short of abysmal.    

  None of us are assured of a tomorrow, but how we behave today will determine whether we are a country filled with bitterness or the America of our ancestors.   If we truly desire to see a hopeful future for our children, we must resolve to be kind, compassionate people today. 

Now, millions of our citizens are hungry and need food, yet we give millions of dollars to political campaigns.  Some pray to God to aid our land, yet they write ungodly hate-filled tirades on social media filled with threats and vile.  So, what will future generations say about the priorities of the America of 2020? 

 Christ came to us to stop the pain God’s people endured.  He came to counsel us as to how to live abundantly while encompassing God’s mercy.  The Lord taught us that love is powerful, and hatred is evil.  He was crucified on a cross because people chose to not trust His word.  Hate and distrust killed Jesus.  Do you not believe it could kill us?

Retrieving our spirit

 Can we retrieve the joy of Christmas eve 2019?  Yes, I believe we can.  We just need to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out if we want to be known as good, kind, benevolent people or folks driven by rage, selfishness, and revenge?  I doubt when you ask yourself that question, you will choose the latter.

If we are ready to say good riddance to 2020, let us all simply behave better.  Even when we wholeheartedly deem we are right about whatever we believe in, the truth is we are never entirely correct.   No one ever is. 

2020 years ago, Christ arrived to save the world.  He healed the sick, fed the poor, and called on all of us to love one another.  Would we not have a more peaceful tomorrow if we honor the young man who died to save us all by adhering to His teachings?  Feed the poor, heal the sick, love one another, and love God.  He was the only one that was ever absolutely right. Ring in the New Year with hope, peace, and love.  Allow our children to remember us for our humanity and not our division and anger.  This is how we will return to the spirit of Christmas in 2021.

Mending the Broken Home and Heart

When I was a little girl, my friend Martha owned the prettiest dollhouse on the planet.  Lucky Martha was an only child whose father managed the local five-and-dime store.  Naturally, she would have excellent toys!

There must have been some magic at Martha’s house, because to this day, I still recall her enchanted dollhouse I longed to call my own.  

Several years ago, I decided, since Santa never brought me a dollhouse like Martha’s, it was high time I should own one.  I purchased a kit, built it piece by piece, shingle by shingle, and donated it for a charity auction.  My dollhouse raised a significant amount of money for Breast Cancer research, so the dollhouse magic continued.

I never dreamed I would attempt such a feat again, but a broken dollhouse landed in my lap.  A family member received a tattered hand-me-down house for her daughter, but it was too much for her to repair.   

“Lynn, since my daughter has a newer dollhouse, would you like to restore an old one?” 

 “Well, ok, I guess, bring it over,” I reluctantly replied.

House to Home

The large two-story pink house sat in my office for months with its damaged door, missing shutters, broken bits and pieces of furniture, and mismatched walls.  Each time I glanced at her in the corner, a wave of sadness crossed my heart. 

When I finally began the process of restoring the house, my husband asked, “What are you going to do with that old thing when it’s finished?”

“I’m not sure, but I will probably donate it to charity around Christmas,”  I answered with a total lack of enthusiasm.

The more the house began to transition to a home, the magic started to return.  Room after room became its own sanctuary with hand-sewn tiny pillows, braided rugs, art, and window treatments. 

Each area from the nursery to the kitchen enjoyed a touch of Christmas with red, green, white, and black splashes.  A Christmas tree adorned the living room, complete with miniature packages waiting to be ripped open.  A white cake with red berries sat on top of the stove to cool while tiny coffee cups rested on the breakfast table.

“Now, what are you going to do with this?” My husband asked again as the dollhouse neared completion.   

Mending love and hope

During the long hours of restoring the old house, I envisioned a little girl seeing it for the first time.  Every stitch, and with every stroke of paint, I saw a child’s face and knew it was to belong to one little person whose belief in love and hope needed mending.

My friend, Michele, is a volunteer for CASA, the initials for Court Appointed Special Advocate for children.  These extraordinary volunteers and leaders represent children from broken homes placed in foster care.   These are children who have suffered from abuse or neglect and necessitate a voice in court to tell their story.  They are the innocents who need to be kept out of harm’s way and guided to a safe and productive future. CASA becomes the protectors for the girls and boys whose hearts are broken and require healing from their worlds’ harsh reality.

“Michele, do you know a little girl in need of a special gift for Christmas?”  After Michele saw the house, she took pictures and sent them to CASA’s local office.  The CASA teams carefully researched to find the unique child who longed to find a glimmer of hope and belief that Christmas is magical. 

This last week, Michele and I loaded the house in the car and took it to the CASA office.  I was pleasantly surprised to meet many CASA leaders who came to see the mended home.  Pictures were taken as I told the dollhouse’s story and the little girl I envisioned receiving it.

The real magic

Without divulging too much information, they explained, “We have decided it will go to a young girl and her little sister who we felt would best benefit from this gift at this time.”

Months earlier,  I purchased a family for the dollhouse as an extra present.  It included a mother, father, a little girl, and her older sister. 

I smiled as I looked at the dollhouse for the last time.  The old neglected house was now restored to its original beauty.   There is hope in everything broken if only we take the time to mend them.  However, the real magic lies in the CASA teams and the countless volunteers who work tirelessly to protect over 435,000 foster children today whose dreams are broken.

What better way to restore Christmas joy than to rebuild hope in the heart of a child?

For more information or to donate,  locate the CASA office in your county that advocates for Foster Children. 

The Mystery Church in the Valley

Occasionally, I find myself believing I can do anything regardless of abilities or talent. So, in other words, I probably think to highly of myself.   My brain is sometimes fooled by lofty dreams. 

Every few years, my mind wants to believe I am an artist.  My friend, Gerri, is an artist, and so was Van Gogh.   When I view authentic art, my eyes remind  me I should just stick to painting by number with crayons. But because I am stubborn, I again pulled out the old paintbrushes and pretended to be someone other than who I am.    

My friend Deborah and I love old country churches.  When I travel to where I was born in Tennessee, there is an overlook off the side of a curvy mountain road, which always beckons me to stop. No matter how many times I view the bucolic scene below, joy fills my soul.

Peace in the Valley

 A white church is nestled among hardwood trees and farmland.  Its distinctive spire topped with a simple cross, reaches toward heaven.   As my eyes span over the valley, I  can almost hear the old hymn “Peace in the Valley” echo in the hills to calm weary souls.  I have viewed this vista in all seasons, and even when the green hills turn to gray, it is still beautiful.

For some unknown reason, this year I decided to try painting old churches.  I found a Christmas card showcasing a country church, which I attempted to replicate on little wooden plaques to give a few friends.  They are purposely small, so my pals could hide them when their guests arrive and put them away after the holidays. 

Soon, Deborah believed she too could paint churches.   “Come on over, and we can do this together! Look on the internet to find a church you like and copy it.” I happily declared.

She walked through my back door with her idea and a printed copy of the church she wished to paint.   It looked familiar with its aged siding, arched windows, and bell tower below a simple cross.

By the end of the day, Deborah’s brain healed itself of foolish dreams, and she pronounced, “I am no painter! What was I thinking?” With a wave of her hand , the unfinished attempt of painting the old church was left for me to complete. It seems I still possessed silly illusions of artistic grandeur. I was not yet healed of such madness.

Wreaths and ribbons

I examined her unfinished church and oddly decided to turn it into a Christmas scene. I added snow, wreaths, and red bows on the adjoining fences. The print showed a lamb standing in the front of the church, and after I painted him, he was perfect. However, I was somewhat sane enough to acknowledge I was still living in some self-imposed sugar plum land.  Lucky Deborah had escaped.

Once it was finished, I returned the Christmas painting to Deborah and wished her a Merry Christmas.  She loved it, and so did my husband, but the scene haunted me.  Why did I turn it into Christmas art, and why did the lamb seem perfect and easy to paint?

A few days later, Deborah and I were shopping.  “Oh, my goodness, Lynn, come here!”  As I approached her, she held up a box of Christmas cards.  It was the same scene I drew with snow and wreaths plus red bows were on the fences. There were two lambs instead of one, and the caption was, “A Christmas Prayer.”

The perfect lamb

Soon afterwards, I began to decorate my tree.  Each ornament was wrapped in tissue paper to protect them year after year.  I picked up a large round one, and when I did, its price tag fell out of the tissue.   I must have bought it at the end of the season last year and packed it away.  When I carefully removed the paper to see what it was, chills crept up my spine.  The ornament depicted the church Deborah had copied, the one I finished as a Christmas scene and was now on Christmas cards.  I have no idea where I bought it or why.

However, I know that this mystery church reminds me of the church I love in a Tennessee valley.  It is not a dream that the lamb is perfect because He is.  The scene turned to Christmas because the lamb came to us, offering peace.

And an old hymn continues to echo its way into my heart and hopefully into yours.

“There will be peace in the valley for me, someday.  There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord, I pray.  There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble I see.  There will be peace in the valley for me.”

WELCOME!

Welcome to my new site! Here you will find stories, both old favorites and new ones which I will change often. I will also write a post when something strikes me or I need to share important news.

You can send me a note, a question, or a request. I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime, keep reading, be inspiring, and change the world with kindness.

Blessings,

Lynn

No Matter What, Be Thankful

On Friday, the 13th day of November 2020,  someone famously sarcastically exclaimed, “What could possibly go wrong?”  Even though it elicited laughter, the truth is, most of us recognized we might want to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, breaking any mirrors, or walking under ladders. 

Today, we are fatigued from worry, sadness, and in many cases, loneliness. Many have lost loved ones due to the pandemic and others, have lost jobs and income.  We have suffered the slings and arrows of a bitter, contentious election that disrupted many relationships and hardened our hearts. 

Now, it seems as if the COVID Grinch is trying to sabotage our traditional joyous holiday season.  What else could possibly go wrong?  None of us should be surprised if there is a turkey recall or a limit on yams or cranberry sauce the week before our 2020 Thanksgiving!

So, how are we suppose to elicit gratitude around our Thanksgiving tables this year?   How do we find happiness amid such sorrow?  Where do we toss our bitterness, division, and heartache?

There is an answer

The answer is found in one word: God.  We can all say we believe in a higher power, attend religious services, and tap our prayer emojis on our phones, but there are times we are each called to “use” our faith.

When we face daunting hardships and seemingly hopeless tomorrows, we can either succumb to defeat or turn to our faith.   The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances.  My take on that is we are to find gratitude amid a pandemic, loss, uncertainty, and insecurity.    

A good friend of mine was shocked by the sudden news of a possible cancer diagnosis.  As I held her while tears ran down our cheeks, I found myself extremely thankful that she is a part of my life. God gave us many years of love and laughter, and I pray there will be many more.  However, I am thankful that she is blessed with the personality and strength to forge forward and fight.  She will “use” her faith to travel the rocky road she is to navigate. 

There is a moment of gratitude in every situation, even as tears fall, and life is upended.  Perhaps, we just need to recognize them.

Much to be thankful for

We fight over politics and elections, stomping our feet and gritting our teeth.  Yet, we raise our flags and take pride in our country, being the land of liberty.  God gave us a gift in the men and women called to service who maintain our freedom allowing us to openly pray to Him.  Our hearts should be filled with gratitude even as we stomp our feet and grit our teeth.

As a pandemic sweeps our world and fear grips our souls, there is much to be thankful for: The doctors and nurses who risk their lives caring for those suffering.  From the grocery clerks who stock our shelves to farmers who supply our food. The first responders who rush to our aid and the scientists striving around the clock to find cures and treatments.  So many people who are diligently working; the least we can do is be thankful.  

A question

Often, I question why some folks do not have faith.  Perhaps, if folks study and contemplate the diversity of the individual skills we possess, they might change their mind.  If we were all born to become doctors, then who would put out the fires?  If we all were meant to be firemen, who would cure the sick?   The vast network of talent and skill knitted together for the survival of mankind was not generated by a computer but by the hand of the Divine.

There is a moment of gratitude in every situation. When we can see the light of God cut through uncertain darkness, we discover hope.

This Thanksgiving may not resemble a Norman Rockwell painting for most of us. Instead, perhaps, this is the year we turn to the guest seated at the head of our table and, with a resounding, heartfelt shout, exclaim, 

“Dear God, thank you for you!”  Thank you for being with us, for teaching us that trusting you is how we find gratitude, joy, and peace.  It is how we love, how we forgive, and how we forge on with strength.  Your grace and mercy are immeasurable.  Please help us to believe that in all circumstances,  we are to give thanks for the blessings you bestow upon us.”

The COVID Grinch may try to sabotage the holidays, but nothing can steal our hopeful joy when faith provides us with grateful hearts. 

THE HEALING POWER OF A HOMEMADE PIE

Comic strips often entertain us with not only a funny moment but occasionally the cartoonist will introduce a bit of insight within their colorful panels. Such was the case when Jan Eliot provided such wisdom in her comic strip called, “Stone Soup.”

One of the characters is Alix, a nine-year-old precocious girl who is sitting at the kitchen table watching her Grandmother rolling the dough for a homemade pie.

Alix asks, “Gramma, why do you like to make pies so much?”

Her Gramma explains that when she was a young mother, they did not have much money, but she and her husband had an orchard abundant with pears, apples, and peaches. So, when they could afford only rice and beans for dinner, what lifted the spirits of her family, was a delicious homemade pie for dessert.

After hearing her Gramma’s explanation, Alix replies, “In other words… before Prozac, there was pie.”

Gramma ends the story with this statement, “That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!!”

Growing up, I recall my Grandmother making pies to deliver to folks who were physically ailing or mentally going through a difficult time. She regularly baked my brother his favorite chocolate pie and would always make a blackberry cobbler for my mother when the berries were in season. I don’t think I ever visited her when she didn’t bake a pie out of love or compassion for someone.

I remember one summer day, my grandmother’s friend, Mrs. Harris, was ill. First thing on a Saturday morning, we visited Mrs. Harris bearing an apple pie full of concern and affection. Before we left, Mrs. Harris was giggling with her friend before hugging me goodbye.

The tradition of pie giving was passed down from those ancestors who resided in the Southern hills to hearts who needed a pie’s restorative power. Aunts, mothers. grandmothers, a few uncles, and even some grandpas inherited the gift of producing a mouthful of joy. My Granddaddy couldn’t make a pie, but he sure could mend a mortal soul with his homemade peanut brittle.

My mom could roll out the best pie crust on the planet. Plus, she had the artistic talent to create the perfect lattice top over her delicious fruit pies. She would serve them warm with a dollop of ice cream. Mom could dry tears and melt hearts with her delicious creations. I once dubbed her the “Queen of Pies,” and to this day, I believe she undoubtedly was.

Friends and family frequently question me, “Lynn, why do you insist on baking homemade desserts? You can go to Publix and get a great pie or cake and not have to go through the trouble!”

My answer is the same, “It’s not the same!”

Generosity, compassion, and joy are only found in the work you go through to create them. Not everyone knows how to bake a pie, but they sure know how to gather flowers, write a sweet note, or hold a hand. When we use extra energy to lift another’s spirit, whether it is through baking a pie or going for a visit, we deliver healing. When we go to the trouble to love, we give hate trouble.

Our world is a busy place where texting emoji hearts, sad or smiling faces, makes it simple to share our emotions. We are “convenient” happy. Whatever makes our lives easier is becoming the norm. However, our days will become more comfortable only when our society becomes a less hateful place.

A peaceful world can exist only through loving each other enough to create a pie made of sincere compassion, prayer, and understanding. Comforting another is not about easy, it is about sacrifice and empathy. There is no emoji in the technological world that shows the recipe for genuine kindness.

“Before Prozac, there was pie,” Alix declared. I suffer from clinical depression, and I understand needing medications for this illness. However, if my family and friends had been too busy to hug me, pray with me, or cook my kids’ dinner through some of those wicked dark hours, would I have made it? When those compassionate souls took the time to physically aid me, they helped me see a sunny day was on the horizon.

“That’s what’s wrong with everyone! Not enough pie!” Gramma happily tells her grandchildren as she holds her beautiful baked pie above her head. What if we brought a homemade pie of kindness to the table of hate and calmed anger with a dose of warmed goodness?

Then our Grandchildren would learn just like I did from my Grandmother; when we take the time to create love, we might just witness healing our hurts one pie at a time.

HER NAME WAS “GRANDPA”

How do you love a child? How do you become the memory that makes someone smile forever?  Does your life exemplify your ethical beliefs and encourage children to follow you? 

There is no better honor than to answer the above questions with a, “Yes.”   The greatest gift we have as adults is children.  It doesn’t matter if we are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or a friend of a child. To love a child and have the love returned is the blessing that is beyond all the riches in the world. Period.

John was three and watching his favorite grandmother make biscuits.  He watched as the flour hit the dough board and dusted the air.  She was talking to him the whole time and laughed as the white powder settled on his eyelashes.

John had been having a lot of trouble with the name “Grandma.”  Since he was born with six grandmothers, he would get them confused easily.  Two great, great-grandmothers, two great-grandmothers, and two grandmothers all living in the same town!  He was the first grandchild.  It was asking too much to remember them all. Out of all those grandmothers he only had one living grandfather.

Suddenly, while standing beside his grandmother in her kitchen, he came up with a solution.

His coal brown eyes opened wide as he tugged his grandmother’s apron, “You gonna be Grandpa!”

 “John, I am Grandma, and he is your Granddaddy.”, she replied as she pointed to her husband.

“You Grandpa and he Granddaddy!” he emphatically stated again.  Then he walked away.

From that moment on, nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren would forever call her Grandpa.

The name would also be representative of unconditional love.  A love that allowed her to be called whatever these children wanted to call her. 

Many people have crossed my path in life, but without question, I have never known anyone quite like her.   

She didn’t just say, “I love you,” she showed it in countless ways.

There was nothing she loved more than children.  For those of us who were in her life, we all knew that to be fact.  When she played or talked with us, she became our age.

She even let us play with the wrinkles on her hand, and make fun of her false teeth until she got new ones.  She laughed at herself and was never embarrassed by any of us.

I can recall many of my cousins and me being in her small home at one time.  She would play games with us all day, fish with us, tell us stories, and stay up way past her bedtime.

Then right before she went to her room to join my sleeping grandfather, she would sit at the end of the hall and read her Bible.

That is how she made us understand the concept of priorities.

When she played games, she would never let any of us undeservedly win. By doing so, she taught us to have the grace to lose and understand the word fairness.

We all stayed with Grandpa many times in our lives.  She would make sure she had everyone’s favorite food in the house.  She would cook until her old apron was soiled and dark.  She taught us that in someone’s eyes we were each special.

Her garden bloomed in July with white gladiolas that reached up to the sun.  She always wanted white because they were pure and heavenly.  She taught us that out of dirt, toil, and care comes beauty.

It is hard for me to write all that she was and did in her 97 years on earth.  I could fill the whole book with words and stories about this remarkable, kind human being.

Grandpa’s laughter continues to fill my heart today.  Her hands calm my soul while her spirit still wraps me in unconditional love and comfort.  


We bring children into our world hoping they will be perfect and amazing.  I think instead we need to be as close as we can to amazing and perfect for them.  To make a child feel loved unconditionally, feel special, feel like we would rather be with them than anything else, is honoring the gift that God gave us in the first place. 

Years ago, I could not decide what to give Grandpa for Christmas.  She had a history of gifts going in her hope chest to save for a rainy day. 

I decided to write a column about her and send it to her county paper in Tennessee.  The newspaper printed the story using an entire page. The title in bold lettering was, “MERRY CHRISTMAS GRANDPA!”

The name my brother gave her all those years ago was now a bold headline, and that was as it should be.

For a child to grow up making us a headline in their heart, a love that will never die long after we are gone, is the best blessing we will give them and ourselves.

“And her children will arise up and call her blessed,” were the words on a cross-stitched sampler hanging above Grandpa’s bed when she left this earth.  No truer words were ever written.