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Home Sweet Salisbury

At the bottom of the ramp off I-85 our truck slowed to a stop. In the shade of the wide bridge we waited for the light to change as the well-manicured landscape beckoned us to relax. Soft plumes of decorative grass waved a gentle sweet welcome against sturdier trees while bright art promised that our lovely little town remains. After 3100 miles of travel from North Carolina to Illinois then Corpus Christi, we finally returned home to Salisbury, NC.Salisbury 034

Home.

I had no idea how much I would miss her. Often I take her downtown stores for granted, assuming they will always thrive whether I shop or not. But then we visited the new home of our eldest daughter where she and her family have been called to ministry. Illinois farmland stretches so far that she told us we’d know we were there because we’d be able to see the curvature of the earth. Freshly mown fields of corn and wheat in the current harvest make such a pretty backdrop. However, downtown Ramsey is empty. I suppose the little boarded up shops once thrived too, but no more. The folks there were absolutely wonderful, so very welcoming and friendly. Such hard workers and they’ve taken the sweetest care of our daughter’s family. Thankfully the church there is thriving. But drive they must to the nearest shops twelve miles south.

The next leg of our road trip took us to Texas, all the way to the Gulf Coast. Corpus Christi invited us to walk the bustling city which displayed art, craft booths, and local bands during the monthly ArtWalk. Our son-in-law Shane amazed us with his hidden super-power of parallel parking. Elbow to elbow we moved through the streets with several thousand of our closest friends. Once we realized the futility of pushing our two year old grandson in a stroller, his dad hoisted him onto his shoulders.photo (22) There he could see and hear the kid who played in his own “One Man Band.” He was surprisingly talented with a touch of crazy which makes everything more fun.  I couldn’t help but think about all the events like this in my own hometown that I chose to ignore. What fun I surely missed!

Beautiful “Home Sweet Salisbury” with her charming shops, friendly people, lovely landscapes and interesting art. I can’t imagine life without her. Sure she’s a touch crazy at times.

Okay perhaps a lot crazy. Maybe that’s why I relate so well.

But isn’t she beautiful?!

 

For more pictures click here 

Not pictured is Hap’s Hotdogs, a must when in Salisbury.

[By the way, we say SAWS berry.]

 

Literary Bookpost has Just the Thing!

Literary Bookpost has
Just the Thing!

The Wine Shop and  The Stichin Post

The Wine Shop and
The Stichin Post

Salisbury 058

Artist Joe does beautiful work from a photo.

Artist Joe does beautiful work from a photo.

Love Quilts

“This was my grandma’s quilt. She always wrapped me in it when I was sick. But don’t worry. It’s been washed.” The tattered old blanket had obviously been laundered at least a hundred times. Batting escaped its worn edges as thin patches of fabric from yesterday’s clothing told a story. Shane gave it to me to use while we visited their home. I felt so loved. In fact, the reason we were a thousand miles from home and happy to sleep on their couch all started with a quilt.

Shane's Grandma's Quilt

Shane’s Grandma’s Quilt

A few months earlier my hubba David and I took a little day trip to the Blueridge. Part of the fun included scanning the landscape for barn quilts. These colorful pieces began popping up first in Ohio when a daughter wanted to honor her mother, a master quilter. So she painted a huge quilt pattern to display on their barn. You can read her story at http://barnquiltinfo.com/history.html. Now barn quilts are showing up all over the countryside.

“I’d love to design and paint a barn quilt.” I mentioned on the way home.

“You know we don’t have a barn, right?” replied my wise companion.

“Then I’ll paint a shed quilt. It will be smaller and much easier to manage. In fact, I might paint one for each of our girls.” My eyes glazed over as colorful images and delighted daughters danced in my head.

“Since we’ll have to ship them to two of the girls, they can’t be too heavy…” cautioned the one who often gets stuck with logistics.

Tra-la-la-la-la… I was too busy dreaming to bother with petty things like delivery. Once we were home, I started the design.

Each daughter has a favorite color. Amanda has loved pink from her youth and even had a pink kitchen before she met Shane. Hannah loves the colors of fall and especially orange. Stephanie has loved some form of turquoise even after the bridesmaid dress fiasco of 1997. I am all about robin’s egg blue. So here’s what I came up with.Q2

You’ll notice the black background. That’s David’s color which is appropriate because he’s the one who holds us Clarkgirls together. Though it’s fairly simple, that’s also by design. We like to keep things uncomplicated. We worked a couple weeks getting four of these finished. I couldn’t wait for our daughters to see their surprises.

“Have you thought about how we can get these to the girls?” inquired my ever patient sweetheart.

“How about a road trip?” My suggestion shocked even me. The husband of my youth, knowing I don’t even like to go to the grocery store and would happily be a hermit were it not for the grandchildren studied the mystery woman before him. “Let’s pray about it.” He replied as if to say, “I’m game if you are!”

One month later we hit the road.

First we traveled 716 miles to see Stephanie’s new home in Ramsey, Illinois. Oh what kind people and beautiful farmland!

Stephanie & her dad in Ramsey, Illinois

Stephanie & her dad in Ramsey, Illinois

20141014_133058 (1)

Amanda liked hers enough to mount it inside with a photo by David Roman. She plans to complete her gallery wall when she finds something worthy.

From there we took two days to travel 1083 miles to Amanda’s home in Corpus Christi, Texas. What wonderful food and friendly people. However I would caution anyone with good sense to stay away from the craziness that is Dallas traffic. Merciful heavens! But once we got to Corpus, the beach beckoned and all sins committed on the highway were forgotten… until it was time to return to N.C. Turns out the folks in Houston, New Orleans, Montgomery, Atlanta and Charlotte share the same craziness. Holy guacamole! [Which in this context is very appropriate.] What wonderful yumminess can be found in a breakfast burrito from Taqueria El Portro. You’ll surely have burrito envy when I also tell you we enjoyed them on the beach.

When finally it was time to fold Shane’s quilt and say goodbye, we took two days to travel 1283 miles through all the aforementioned cities on the return trip to Home Sweet Salisbury, NC. It’s a good thing we like to keep things simple!

Home Sweet Salisbury

Home Sweet Salisbury

Quilt H 2

Local daughter Hannah’s on her shed

 

Sometimes life can feel much like a crazy road trip where we question if we’ll ever get through it. Then suddenly a lovely path emerges and we realize there’s actually been a plan by our wonderful Designer all along. Through miles and miles of joyful reunions, sad partings, and adventurous burritos we’re finally home, wrapped in love with a story to tell.

As the verse we wrote on the back of each quilt says, “For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith is strong.” -Colossians 2:5

May the sweet Lord speak the same of us as we journey homeward.

 

Hope came out of the blue and beckoned me to wait a little longer.

It whispered, “Things will turn around. What looks like a rough patch now will surely produce something good later. It just takes time. Have a little faith.”

Faith reminded, “Remember two and a half years ago when you prayed for grandbaby Able to live, and now he thrives? Remember when you had no strength to hold him and God provided? Remember praying for a child for Hannah and God gave them two? Oh how He loves You!”

Love beckoned, “For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.” –James 5:11

I wanted so much for those Swamp Flowers to bloom in front of our out-building. But they looked terrible all summer.swampflower1

It’s been at least three years since we lifted umm… rescued these lovely weeds from a roadside somewhere near Cottonville. The wait for the blooming seemed like it took forever. In fact I was close to giving up and cutting them all down. Then one day I spotted a few buds.

Hope.

It came out of the blue and beckoned me to wait a little longer.

Finally one day the weather turned a wee bit cooler and they burst into glorious plumage. Just look at them!

Now if only I could learn to have faith and hope in God’s great love while I’m waiting, maybe I won’t miss the beauty to come.

Lord I believe.

Please help my unbelief!swampflower2

Crime of Passion

The crime was premeditated. A friend of mine has an area planted outside her sunroom with bright yellow wild flowers. She said they’re called Swamp Flowers and can be grown just about anywhere. My soul did covet them.

Often as we rode through the country I’d spot those lovely blossoms in ditches. Didn’t Jesus say something about highways and byways? I took that as a sign to pack my shovel as we headed toward the beach a few years back. On the trip there, I made a mental note of places I saw them growing. On the way home I advised my beloved to be ready. He was my willing partner in crime.

Well… willing might be a little stretch. It was a crime of passion.

As we approached the long expanse of pastureland with no houses in view, I advised my accomplice to pull over. We grabbed the shovel and dug up a few clumps of the coveted beauties. As we made our getaway, I imagined the front of our ugly outbuilding brightened with showers of yellow Swamp Flowers as they spilled over near purple butterfly bushes. Now everyone will envy me!

Muwahahaha!!!

This would not be the first time I resorted to pilfering wildflowers for my own purposes. I consider it Roadsidia. If it’s growing in a ditch, it’s fair game. When our daughter Stephanie was planning her wedding, she wanted to use daisies. Not the big pretty kind found in flower shops, but the little ones which grow happily in cow pastures. That may give you some insight into her upbringing.

In North Carolina the DOT plants wildflowers in the medians of the interstate. Each day as we traveled to work I made mental notes of the best looking daisies. Thankfully a co-worker offered to allow Stephanie and her cousins to glean from her pasture. Otherwise the bulk of our family might have been arrested one hot June night in 1997.

I can hear Jeff Foxworthy now.

“If you made your bridal bouquet from flowers grown on Interstate 85, you might be a redneck.”

So it’s been at least three years since we transplanted the Swamp Flowers. This is how they look. Instead of spilling over in abundant plumage, they grow like… umm… weeds. I’ve tried cutting them back to keep them shorter. Mostly I just let them go as if they are still in the ditches by the road. Either way I cannot trick them into blooming. And now they’ve choked out my butterfly bushes.

Be sure your sin will find you out.

Besides, it was the man that God didst give me who did the actual digging.

swampflower1

Lovely

I just held his coat.

Universal Billboards

Wouldn’t it be cool if there were loudspeakers announcing across every country, every nation, every village the wonderful message of God’s love? What if airplanes flew low and dropped leaflets in the language of each person? Maybe a parade could march through every town, playing music which pointed folks to their Creator. In the biggest cities giant billboards would broadcast digital images drawing citizens to God.

I think that’s a great idea. We could saturate the whole world with displays of God’s great power and love. But where could we get the money for such an undertaking?

We could have a yard sale.

Hmmm…

Good thing God didn’t wait for me to implement the plan. It’s already done.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.

The skies display His craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak;

Night after night they make Him known.

They speak without a sound or word;

Their voice is never heard.

Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,

And their words to all the world.”

This beautiful plan to draw mankind to Himself through creation has been in place from the beginning. Even for us who know the Lord well and are used to His kindness, it’s amazing to watch a mama bird caring for her little ones. A star filled night reminds me of how small I am and what an awesome God we serve.

It causes me to understand better why Satan would make such an effort to quiet creation’s testimony. The evolution theory did not originate with scientists. How funny to “reason” that all this just happened because conditions were right.

The Lord of the universe is drawing all to Himself through creation. Let’s be faithful in showing them the rest of the story as given in His Word.

“The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul.

The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

 The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.”*

The testimony of Creation and the Word will not be silenced.

May we be just as faithful!

See Psalm 19*

 

Photo by my sweet daddy, Seabert Pittman.

Between Two Car Seats

Our sweetie Marie turned two this month and is just beginning to verbalize her thoughts. As we took a little trip I was blessed with the space between her car seat and her brother’s. Jesse is not interested in chitchat, but Marie however felt the need to point out all things as we traveled.

“Bike! Bike! Bike! Bike. Bike. Bike… Bike?”

“I see it honey. It’s a bike!”

“Puppy! Puppy! Puppy! Puppy. Puppy. Puppy. Puppy?”

“Yes! It’s a puppy.”

“Ear! Ear! Ear! Ear. Ear. Ear. Ear?”

“That’s right Marie. Grammy’s ear.”

“BIKE! BIKE! BIKE! BIKE! BIKE! BIKE! BIKE!”

Dang guy on a mo-ped. For the love of all things rolling will you please just turn.

“Yes. It’s a bike sweetheart.”

After arriving and unpacking, we piled buckets and snacks and shovels and chairs into a wagon with the kids. Making our way to the sandy shore Jesse set about unloading. He is also two, but as a man he already knows that with great fun comes great responsibility. The surf was too rough for swimming so we dug an ample hole in which to splash. Unfortunately the tide did not co-operate so the new digs sat dry. Jesse took his little bucket to the edge of the ocean and began hauling water. Happily I watched from a folding chair way too low for my ummm… agility, but a step up from the seat occupied on the earlier voyage that same morning.

Marie: “Snack! Snack! Snack! Snack! Snack! Snack! Snack!”

Jesse: “NaK”

Their mom: “Rinse the sand off your hands first. Good job! Here’s grapes and cheese!”

 

Marie: “Bird! Bird! Bird! Bird! BIRD! BIRD! BIRD!..WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

 

In a single bound, mommy snatched sweetie Marie from the clutches of evil, Poppy flung the Strawberry Shortcake beach towel heavenward, and I proclaimed “Oh nooo…” as I fell into the ample hole.

 

“Boo-boo!” announced Marie between sobs. She held her little finger up for all to kiss.

Poppy: “I’d like to have a word with the idiots who feed seagulls on the beach. That’s why they’re so aggressive. Stupid bird could’ve scarred my grandbaby for life. I’d hate to bring a pellet gun with me down here but I will if I have too.”

As he waved the pink beach towel and glared at the hotdog bun waving idiots across the way, visions of hippies circling my husband chanting “Save the baby seagulls” did not seem far-fetched.

Mommy: “Don’t worry baby. Want some more cheese? Here you go. I’ll hold you. Poppy will shoo away the birds. It’s okay.”

 

Marie: “Puppy. Puppy. Puppy!”

Mommy: “Yes! Poppy will watch out for you.”

Marie: “Puppy. Puppy. Puppy!”

 

The stranger who assumed that all mankind understands and loves dogs walked his friendly canine right up to Marie who still held her finger up for proper sympathy. The dog seemed to sense her sadness and began licking her knees and hands and before we could intervene, her little face as well. Suddenly the big furry face in hers was no longer comforting.

Marie: “Go.”

With that one word, Jesse began loading the wagon. That little man will make someone a very good husband someday.

Since I had just navigated myself out of the hole and into the very low chair, I chose to allow him to serve. It’s good for children to understand it’s not all about them. As I sat recovering from the trauma of the rescue, I noticed the tide had filled the hole. The beach was suddenly clean and free of strangers and shovels and buckets and dogs and seagulls from hell. A backward glance revealed the two children had loaded all the toys and sat waiting in the wagon for a lift home.

The September sun warmed my face, somehow penetrating the freshly applied 110 SPF. A light ocean spray perfectly cooled my contented soul. Poppy offered his hand as an invitation to leave this happy place and join the procession homeward. A beautiful word came from the direction of the wagon as our precious grandbabies called me in unison…

“Daaaammm- eeee…”

Guess I should’ve named myself something easier like maybe… bike.

Oh what a wonderful life I live! And when I’m especially blessed, it’s that happy space between two car seats.

backview

Some Miracles Take Time

I was thoroughly disappointed and mad. The date was September 7, 2012. I remember it well because it was the anniversary date of putting our beloved house up for sale ten years prior. Ten. Years. On and off the market, through three different realtors and there it sat. We had even moved out and allowed two different families to rent until their loans could go through. Not wise. Plus I had given God a deadline and He failed me. Besides that, our youngest daughter and her sweet husband had prayed for a child for eight long years. Apparently God had ignored our prayers in that department too. They’d been on the adoption waiting list so long that a new home study was required.

And I was mad.

Did I say that already? Mad hardly covers it. Hurt, disappointed, sad, and royally ticked barely scratched the surface. I began to question the God I claim to love and serve.

Exactly one week later they got a call from the agency. “There’s a baby boy ready for adoption. How about next Friday, September 21st as placement day?”

What?!! It seems the Lord had been working on this little miracle behind the scenes for a while. As the family gathered to meet our new grandson for the first time, our hearts nearly burst with joy as he was tenderly placed in the arms of his new parents. We passed him around and snuggled his sweet cheeks and wondered at the goodness of God. His sky blue eyes opened for a sneak peek into his future and the crazy people who couldn’t quit laughing and crying over his birth.

A few hours later as we celebrated more fully over chicken and dumplings at Cracker Barrel, he slept soundly amidst the noise. Little did he know his day would get even more eventful.

Do you ever get the impression that the Lord likes to show off His great love? This would be one of those times. A birth mother from another area had been praying about the future of her child and knew our daughter and son-in-law would be great parents. Her sweet baby had been born the night before. Would our daughter and son-in-law pray about receiving a little girl?

I’d heard that the Lord’s ways are higher and greater than we can imagine. Now I know it to be true firsthand. Twins! Born three weeks apart but realized and received in our hearts on the same day. Oh God You really are amazing!

Even though our beloved house was eventually lost and God didn’t do things according to my demands or schedule, I think I learned some very powerful lessons. When I grow weary in well doing and wonder where God is and begin to get a little miffed at His apparent lack of care, instantly I’m reminded of our two sweet miracle babies. Long before the blessings were received, He was working on our behalf. Just because I can’t see what’s going on behind the scenes doesn’t mean He doesn’t care.

In fact, the most wonderful blessings take a little time to unfold.

basingers

 

PS: To read the story as it unfolded two years ago click here .

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