Thursday, December 24, 2015

WHAT IF I HAD BEEN THERE?


A few evenings ago I was in the livingroom, looking at the Nativity I have had for years.  The little shelter is made of wooden pieces and the characters of ceramic.   A tealight flickered behind the angel and as I watched, it seemed that the ceramic figures came to life.  

And I began to wonder..."What if I had been there?"



WHAT IF I HAD BEEN THERE?

What if I had been there
On that first Christmas Day
Would I have offered shelter
Or turned weary ones away
Would I have offered comfort
A warm crusty loaf of bread
Would I have given all I had…
What would I have said?

If I had heard a baby crying
Or heard a Mama's prayer
What if I had been there
What could I have shared
What if I had been there 
To kiss His tiny face
What if I had been the first 
To claim Amazing Grace?

What if I had been there
On that sweet night so still
What if I had been
A shepherd on a hill
Would I have gone running
To the stable's glowing light
Would I have made a difference
In one family's life?

What if I had been there
A so-called wise man from afar
Traveling long and in despair
Chasing some great star
What if I had been there
And had brought a gift of gold
Would it have been a selfless gift of love
Or a gift to save my soul? 

What if Mary had needed me
Would I have helped a stranger
What would I have given
A  Baby in a manger
What if I had been there
To see that newborn lamb
What if I had been there
To find out who I am?

What if I am there right now
And see the need each day
What if I know someone
Who struggles in every way
What if I live near a child
Who goes to bed with hunger

What if I do all I can
So I never have to wonder:

What if I had been there?
What if I had been there?

WHAT IF I AM THERE RIGHT NOW?



WHAT IF I HAD BEEN THERE?
by:  Sister Saxon - 2015


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

BOOKS!



BOOKS and TOP PICKS!

Yeah, I’m a critic – who isn’t?

Some of the books I have read in 2015:

STEPHEN KING:  ON WRITING  (Mr. King's memoir on writing)
GIRL ON THE TRAIN
BETTYVILLE
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
THE GOLDFINCH
THE PECAN MAN
IN COLD BLOOD
CUTTING FOR STONE
THE WONDER GARDEN
THE NIGHTINGALE
BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (again)
THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING (again)
FLANNERY O'CONNOR Complete Stories (again)
EUDORA WELTY’s Stories (again)
THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER (again)
UNLIMITED ACCESS (again) this is good – written by an ex-FBI agent who worked in the White House during the Clinton Administration.  If you are considering voting for a Clinton for ANYTHING, I highly recommend reading this first.
MUSIC FOR CHAMELEONS
COLD MOUNTAIN
GLIMMER TRAIN SHORT STORIES - the 2015 volumes

 My Top Picks:

THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING was written by Carson McCullers, a Southern gal.  I have read this little jewel several times and it is just beautiful!  I've also seen the movie - it is an old black and white film and so delightful!  The novel was written ‘way before Miss Harper Lee wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird” and what I noticed when I read the two books again this year was that there are some similarities in the stories. Enough to actually make me go “Hmmmm….”

BETTYVILLE
I literally made myself put it away each night to avoid coming to the end.  True story and a true work of art that you don’t want to miss!  I know why I like it so much – it stays with you and makes you want to be a good person - I mean a really good person!  Thanks, George Hodgman!

COLD MOUNTAIN is a wonderful movie, but the book is stunning - so beautifully written!  The characters are marvelous, especially Ruby.  I didn’t want it to end – I wanted to know more!

FLANNERY O’CONNOR and EUDORA WELTY absolutely never get old…


The rest of the books were pretty good – except ‘Girl on the Train’ kind of made me nervous...

Blessings to you!
Joanne


Friday, September 4, 2015

CARDBOARD AND A SHARPIE...


My husband and I “discuss” this subject quite a bit.  You’re familiar with it, I am sure.  A person stands on a street corner or intersection with a cardboard sign indicating they are hungry, broke, homeless, or all three.  The penmanship on the sign is usually good and is it done with a marker.

We discuss this a lot because my husband always wants to stop and give them money.  We don’t carry much cash, but if we have any on us, my husband will give it to the person with the sign.

I don’t like it.  It makes me nervous, particularly when I see the same person in the same spot more than once.  I have tried to convince my husband that we should make some little cards with phone numbers of local shelters and churches and hand these out instead of money.

We have also discussed that some of these people may be driven to these intersections by someone else – maybe a slave owner – and forced to collect money and turn it in at the end of the day.  I hear these things go on in this country all the time.

Yesterday I was doing some errands and I saw a lady on a corner.  I drove past her at the stop sign, but about two miles away, I was still thinking about it and the “discussions” we have at my house about this.  And I really wanted to know if she was being forced to stand there and collect money.

And, lo and behold, I heard something say, “Go back and see.”

Just like that:  “Go back and see.”  Now, even though I wish He would, the Lord doesn’t talk to me on a regular basis.  But I had the feeling that this situation was okay for me to investigate and that I wouldn’t have any trouble.  It was a peaceful easy feeling – like the song, you know?

So I turned around and went back.  I parked my car in the parking lot behind the lady, got out, and went right up to her.  No fear.  Now that I think about it, I don’t know why I did this.  I yap quite a bit about things, but I would never have thought I would actually do something like this.

PLEASE NOTE – this was at a busy stop sign within a small shopping area.  There were cars coming and going at all times – I was in no way out of the sight of other people the whole time this was taking place.

All in all, I was with her around twenty minutes.  The whole time I was talking to her, I was moving – kind of dancing around on the curb - and watching for other cars and making sure someone was around.  I was attempting to get information – to see if she was homeless and to see if she needed to know the location of a local shelter.  AND to find out if she was being dropped off there to collect money for someone else.  Her sign indicated she needed money for her kids and for food.

This is some of the conversation (a lot of it was repetitive):

Me:      “Hello.”

Her:     smile

Me:      “Who made your sign?”

Her:     puzzled look

Me:      Who wrote your sign?”  (Gesturing to the sign as though I was writing...)

Her:     pointed to herself

Me:      Please read it to me

Her:     puzzled look

Me:      “What does it say?”  (I shook my head and looked puzzled and pointed to the sign.)

Her:     “Oh!  Need help.  Kids.  Money.”

Me:      “You wrote this but you cannot read each word to me?”

Her:     no answer…

Me:      “Who dropped you off here?”

Her:     puzzled look

Me:      “How did you get here?”

(This went on for a minute or two and finally she indicated she had walked.)

Me:      “So you walked here?”

Her:     “Yes.  Walk.”
Me:      “Walked from where?  Where did you walk from?”

Her:     …gestured all around her (no particular place)

Me:      “Who is making you do this?”

(This went on for a minute or two and finally she decided she needed to answer me regarding this matter because I wouldn’t let it go.

Her:     “No – just me!  Only me!”

Me:      “Is someone beating you and making you do this?”  (I make beating motion with my hand.)

Her:     “NO!  It is just me!”

THEN she pulls a piece of paper from her purse and on it is written in perfect penmanship:  SENSOR

Her:     “Need money – for my car.  Car broke.”

Me:      “You have a car?”

Her:     “YES!  SEE?”  She points to the word SENSOR on the paper, excitedly, like she has made me understand.

THEN, for several more minutes, I asked questions such as, “Where are your kids?  Where is your car?  Where did you walk from?  Is someone beating you?  Is someone forcing you to do this?  Who wrote this sign for you?”

It was with a certain clarity I had (don’t know where it came from) that she understood everything I was asking and it was kind of hard for her NOT to answer my questions and to pretend that she didn’t understand…

Finally she indicated that she was going to call her husband and he would come to tell me that she was not being forced to stand on the street with a sign.

So, now she had a car.  And a husband.  I asked her why her husband was not with her.  She explained that he was somewhere looking for a job to get money.  “They told him to go there for a job,” she said.

She took a cell phone from her purse and made a call.  I don’t speak any languages other than English, but I can recognize several others.  I have never heard a language such as she spoke.  It was very rough and unpleasant to my ear.

While we were waiting for her husband, she pulled pictures of someone who looked like maybe a prophet – she had a couple of those – and then she pulled a picture of Jesus from her purse.  She indicated, with hands pressed together and eyes raised toward the sky, that she was a praying woman and that she loved her some "Jeesit".  She also told me that her two kids, ages 2 and 10, were in Phoenix Arizona (where she was from).

At one point, I told her I was going to call the police so they could point her in the direction of a local shelter.  I turned my head sideways and put my hands underneath my head to indicate sleeping.  She immediately jumped back and said, “NO!”

She continued to point to the paper that said, “SENSOR” and told me it was for her “car.”

There was nothing about her car on the sign.

I asked her what language she was speaking.  After I asked several times, she said, something like sounded like “Romano” or “Romani.”  (This, I later learned is the language of the Gyspies.)

I said, casually, and don’t even know why I said it, “Oh, I thought you might be Spanish.”  She IMMEDIATELY said, “I only speak a little Spanish.”  (In perfect English, she said this.)

In a few minutes, a man came walking towards us.  He looked nothing like her (race-wise).  She was dark-skinned and he looked totally Caucasian.  They both wore, what appeared to be, new clothes and sneakers.  He had a nice knapsack.  His teeth were dazzling white and absolutely well cared for.  Hers were not.

He had a folded cardboard sign in his knapsack.  It appeared to be in the same penmanship but I couldn’t see what it said.

I indicated to him that I was going to call the police to come help them find a place to sleep.  This made him angry at once.  I asked him who made his sign and he mumbled, with his head down, “Amigos.”  I had the sense that he could totally speak English and that they both could understand everything I was saying.  (Amigo is not the gypsy word for friend.)

All of a sudden I turned to her and asked.  “WHERE is your car?”

Just as pretty as you please, she turned and pointed to the parking lot.  “It’s a van,” she said.

“Please show me that it will not start,” I said.

She hesitated and then said, “Come on.”

The man had already turned and was walking away, muttering and angry.  I believe he was cursing me in English.

I followed at a safe distance. 

“Come,” she said.  I also believe she said, “Come get in,” when she opened the car door.  He was already in the van with the door shut.

I replied, “No thank you.  I am fine exactly where I am.  I can see you from here.”  I was watching them with another car between us.

She began to smile.  A faint smile, at first, and then it grew larger.

She got in the van, put the key in the ignition, and it started immediately. 

“That engine sounds better than mine does,” I told her.

Her smile was so big, it was about to break her face.  I think she was about to bust wide open with laughter.  He was not.  He was not happy with me at all.

I waved as they drove away and yelled, “Goodbye – God Bless You.”



I pray that I will never lose my “heart” for my fellow brothers and sisters and that God will give me the same kind of nudging to help in REAL situations – as the help He gave me in this situation when He urged me to “Go and see.”  I will always feel it was to satisfy my nagging worrying about these people and whether or not we are obligated to give everyone who carries a sign some money.  (The topic has really been discussed ‘way too much at our home lately.)

Y’all be careful out there – okay?

Blessings!
Joanne


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Dream I Had...




A few years ago, my beautiful horse, DREAM, had to be turned out to a retirement pasture because of a mistake.

The mistake was turning Dream over to a so-called "Horse Trainer" named Jason Stahl who was a trainer in the area of Edgerton, Kansas.

NEVER trust your horse to someone who has a temper.  I spotted this in the beginning, but was too naive, at the time, to take control and remove my horse from the "training program" of Jason Stahl.

I live in regret every single day.  I think of all the wonderful times I could have had with my horse. 

I had spent many hours with Dream, earning his trust, and I believe, if I had not given this horse over to this "trainer", I would have been able to ride him by myself without the assistance of a smart-aleck scam artist.

May God forgive Jason Stahl for the damage he did to my beautiful horse.  My Dream was shattered.  

I miss you, Dream!

Blessings to all!
Majo


Thursday, January 22, 2015

THE WEEKLY SNOOP



CHURCH BUSINESS


            It was the night of that big thunderstorm last week.  A few of the faithful were gathered around the table in the office at the First Baptist Church of the Redeemed, fixin' to discuss church business. 
            Brother Henry Willenbrink heard somebody beating on the office door and he got up to see what was going on.  He came back in a minute and asked Sister Wylene Jones if there were any diapers in the church pantry. He said some lady was standing out there in the rain with a baby needing some diapers.
            “No,” Sister Wylene said, “and there’s a reason we don’t have any diapers.  Diapers come in all sizes.”
             Sister Wylene is one of those mean Christians.  You know, the kind who knows they are not supposed to sin, but they want to.  People like that get all scrunched up and ugly-looking.
            Brother Willenbrink didn’t say anything.  It never does any good to say anything to Sister Wylene.  Brother Willenbrink took a ten out of his billfold and went back out there. 
            I looked over at Sister Wylene and she had her nose all turned up in the air.  I thought about telling her if she was to walk outside in the rain, she might drown.  But I didn’t.  Then I thought about telling her the day was coming when she was going to be needin’ some diapers.  But I didn’t.  Then I thought about quotin’ that scripture in Matthew, Chapter 25, where it talks about “the least of these”.  But I didn’t.  It never does any good to say anything to Sister Wylene.
            The church business meeting started, but somebody made a motion to adjourn early because of the storm that was coming.  So we did.

Reported by
Sister Saxon


Sunday, January 18, 2015

THE SHE TREE

          
 "Letting Go..."

"The She Tree"
               
            There are several pin oak trees in the yard.  At precisely the same time each year, they began to drop their leaves.  Some seem to eagerly let go, others shed more slowly.  But one morning, I will look outside and all the leaves will be gone from the trees.  They will still stand proud - naked, but unashamed.
            Except one tree.  On the north side, between the house and Coop de ville - the “best chicken coop ever!” - the largest tree stands.  Ferociously clinging to her leaves.  At first I thought the tree was playing a little joke on me because it blocks my view and I cannot fully see the chickens from the house.  I have to settle for imagining the fox creeping in from the woods. 
            But one day I realized the tree stands, fully clothed, all winter, to tell me something about myself. 
            I have decided the tree is female.  She is reminding me of me.  Clinging to the things I should be leaving.  A survivor.  Weathered, and severely proud.  Grasping matter-of-fact-like and then clutching greedily, the She Tree refuses to give in to the wind, the rain, the cold, the sleet, the snow, the birds.  The wind howls from the South side of the house and roars to the North side, bending and scattering everything in its path.  Except the leaves on the She Tree.  She haughtily declares, “Brown is my color!”
            When Spring comes, I see her as an homeless old woman, busily gathering her tattered rags around her, her head still held high.  I see and understand that she could hold on to each piece of rattling crisp parchment forever, if she wanted to. 
            But she reluctantly embraces the green, the new leaves pushing against the old - the moving on.  In her dreams, she wonders if she is wise or just trying to fit in.


Saturday, January 17, 2015


http://southerncolorings.blogspot.com

Mama and Me




This is Mama and me on Aunt Lois's flowered couch.


My Mama was killed in a car accident when she was thirty-seven.  I had just turned twenty.  

I have always felt robbed.  I can never remember a single time in my life when my Mama was holding me or hugging me.  This picture brings me a small bit of comfort.  She did hold me when I was a baby.  But maybe I should be mad when I look at this picture.  Since I don't remember Mama holding or hugging me, maybe she was holding me on Aunt Lois's flowered couch only because she had to.  After all, I was helpless.

I look closely at this photograph.  There is a bruise on Mama's left leg and I wonder what happened.  I wonder if she was kind of a klutz like me, always rushing around, trying to do everything at once, bumping into things, no matter how careful she tried to be.  

Mama had just washed her hair.  She always wore a head scarf when she had just washed and done her hair up in bobby pin pin-curls.  

I wonder if Aunt Lois knew how busy her livingroom looked - with all the different patterns on the couch and the floor and the curtains.  

Although I see patterns all around me, even in Mama's dress, and in a festively decorated Christmas tree in the corner, I see that I am wearing something colorless.  I am plain against a room of swirling colors and designs.  

The Christmas tree looks as though it is reaching out to Mama and me - reaching to annoint us with a touch. 

I look at Mama's arms wrapped around me.  I realize it actually looks more like she was holding on to herself...


To this day, I love a sofa with a floral design.

Blessings to you and yours!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014


GET ON UP, NOW!
(My Five Observations Regarding Mat Boy)


This is a sermon that has been stewing around in me for a while.

I hear so many people moan and complain and whine and carry on about what they don't have and what they wish they had and how all they need is a little of this and a little of that and what all they could have IF ONLY someone else or something else would help them or get out of their way....

In the book of John, fifth chapter, we meet a man who has been lying on his mat for THIRTY-EIGHT years.  

When we are introduced to him, the man is in the vicinity of the healing pool.
1.  Yep - what he needs is in the neighborhood.

Jesus asks him, "Do you want to get well?" 
2.  Hint - Hint - Significant Question:  "Do you WANT to get well?"

Guess what?  The man does NOT say "Yes!".  The man who has been on his mat for THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS starts whining - yes, whining.  He whimpers that there has been no one to help him pick up his mat and get into the pool of water. 
3.  Sound familiar?  Someone else should be helping him.

 He then states that no one will help him get into the pool when the "water is stirred".  
4.  Imagine that - he thinks he has to continue reclining, waiting for just the right moment to try to change his situation.

Further, Mat Boy complains that every time he tries to get into the water, someone or something gets in his way. 
5.   Help him, Jesus - It just wasn't his fault...

Jesus said to him, 

"GET UP!  PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK."

Jesus didn't say, "Here, let me help you up."  He also didn't say, "Let me help you with that nasty mat you've been wallowing on for thirty-eight years."  He also didn't say, "Let me stand here and listen to your list of excuses.  And, oh yeah, Jesus did not say, "You can leave that filthy mat for someone else to pick up and clean up."

He said:  "GET UP!  PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK."

I wasn't there, but I love to think that Jesus lost it and yelled "GET UP!" to the top of his lungs.

How badly do you want your situation to be changed?  Do you really want it to change? If yes, maybe you need to get up and do something.  If no, keep lying on your mat.  Maybe someone will bring you a cool one.  But I hope someone who loves you dearly will scream at you, "GET UP!"

Take a step on your own and watch what happens.



P.S.  If I had a church, I would do sermons like this - short and sweet and straight to the gut - and you could eat your Sunday fried chicken with something to think about.  Just sayin'...


Blessings to All!
Majo

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Ankle Socks and a Johnny Cash Concert…

Today, as I pick at my writings, I am thinking of days gone by and those I miss the most.

I miss Uncle Cecil.

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the way Uncle Cecil put on his socks.  He wore those very thin white socks.  He would pull one all the way up his leg and then, in one fast motion, roll the sock down with the palms of his hands.  It made a fine thin roll at his ankle.  I tried doing that, recently, with one of my pricey trouser socks, and it didn't work as well.  Sock-rolling may be a lost art.

I also miss that, after Uncle Cecil would "take a drink" on Friday night, he would go to the livingroom, put a Johnny Cash album on the old record player, and sit on the sofa, alone, strumming his guitar along with Johnny.  I watched, mesmerized, from behind the door.   My own private Johnny Cash concert on Buttermilk Road in Anniston, Alabama.

Even though he isn't here anymore, Uncle Cecil lives on.  He told me some dandy stories before he went to meet Johnny and the Lord.