Category: Guest Missive 2022

The Conversation… by JoAnn

I believe in the power of prayer. It is a massive part of my Christian walk. I was saved as a young child and have been praying ever since. It has been a daily ritual for all of my life, just the same as getting dressed. Christians refer to it as putting on the armor of God. I strive to remember to pray as soon as I awake each morning, sometimes before I even open my eyes. I once heard a speaker say that you should pray before your feet hit the floor. I agree it’s a perfect way to start one’s day.

Prayer helps in many ways to guide me through the day. It calms my anxieties and gives me the confidence to face whatever is on my schedule. I have a terrible flaw of procrastinating. It’s something I really struggle with. Prayer helps me to feel more eager to accomplish a task.

Prayer isn’t just for me. I also love to pray for others, especially my family and friends. But you don’t have to be family or a friend for me to pray for you. I don’t even need to know your name. When I see someone needing, I automatically want to pray for them. The way I see it, I may be the only person in that individual’s life that is praying over them. I feel a responsibility to help another by lifting them up and praying for them.

All I need is to choose to place you in my heart. Once I do that, the conversation begins. The one between myself and my Lord. That conversation will go on for as long as it needs to. I don’t mean I will sit with my hands clasped together, speaking a formal prayer for you for hours on end. Once you are in my heart, a prayer goes up in your honor each time I think of you. But it doesn’t end there. The conversation will go on.

It doesn’t matter to me what your faith may be. It’s one human being helping another. It’s a positive action that can do no harm but only good. I don’t tell of this to boast or shed light on my good deeds. I just wanted to share my personal story with anyone who might be interested.

I have met many people in my life who believe in the power of prayer just as much or more than I do. I try never to miss the opportunity to pray for someone when the Lord brings them to my attention. All you have to do is be more aware of your surroundings. You will begin to notice people in need if you look more closely. And it will give you a great sense of hope to know you are doing something positive for someone else. All you need to do is start the conversation.

Blowing In The Wind… by JoAnn

Last week I went into town to get my annual flu shot. As I drove by the clinic, it looked rather crowded. So I decided to drive to the park across the street and wait a while. It would soon be 2:30 pm. School lets out at 3:00, and the clinic is usually quiet just before. I hoped to catch a lull and get my vaccine then.

As I sat in my car, enjoying the beautiful Fall day and all the lovely scenery the park held, I heard an intrusive noise. I looked around and realized a park worker was using a leaf blower. I don’t think I have ever heard a leaf blower that wasn’t obnoxiously loud, and this one was no exception. And as my luck would have it, he was heading in my direction.

The thing that struck me odd about this whole incident was the fact that the wind that day was high. Mother Nature was blowing leaves all over the place. They were whirling around in their golden splendor faster than your eyes could keep up with them. They were pressing up against the tall chain link fence around the park’s ball field. They made a crunching sound as they drug across the parking lot. It was impossible to tell if they fell from the trees or had long been blowing in the wind. That was the windy Fall day we were having.

I began to laugh about the park worker. I turned to watch him more closely. He tried so fervently to blow the leaves into some order. Of course, he failed to make even one pile. Just as they were somewhat brought together, POOF, they were whirling into the air again with the wind. Each time it was like Mother Nature blew another breath into his attempt at order.

I could see the disappointment and aggravation on the worker’s face as he kept blowing the leaves into the same pile over and over again. Trying different techniques, but nothing could hold them into place. I was tickled by his actions and couldn’t hold back the laughter. I felt guilty, but it was all so comical.

I sat there for over 20 minutes watching this poor man fight those leaves! As I drove back across the street to the clinic, his leaf blower was still attempting to break the sound barrier. My attention shifted to a needle being put into my arm, and I forgot about the park worker.

Later that evening, I remembered what I had witnessed in the park. I still felt guilty for laughing at the man. He was trying so hard to do a good job, and I giggled at his failure. I just couldn’t understand why he kept trying. Why did he think he could beat nature and its wind? I kept thinking of a term my mama used. She would say, “I don’t think he has good sense!”. Probably not politically correct today, but she used it when describing someone who maybe had mental challenges. She meant no harm, of course. Back in her day, little was understood about the challenges we know volumes about today.

I came to the conclusion that perhaps that worker in the park had mental challenges and had been hired to do a job he was capable of doing. Maybe he was doing this to earn a much-needed paycheck. I no longer felt like laughing at him but felt proud of him that he showed up for his job that day. Regardless of the weather, he showed up and did his job to the best of his abilities. He never gave up! Not even Mother Nature could keep him from trying. That was very impressive, to say the least. I hope he received his pay that day for his efforts. It saddens me when I remember the disappointment on his face. It obviously was important to him to do a good job.

Many of us could take a lesson from this hard-working man. I don’t know about you, but I would have never tried to pile up leaves on that windy day. I would have laughed if someone handed me a leaf blower and expected me to wrangle together even one pile. However, this guy had a job that day, and he was going to do it to the best of his ability, no matter what! I hope he went home with some money in his pocket and a sense of accomplishment—well done, Sir.

Where’s The Turkey?… by JoAnn

My favorite dinner of all time has got to be the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Complete with a delicious roast turkey and all the sides the kitchen counter, stove top, and dinner table can hold. Bring it on!

Don’t get me wrong, I love ham. I’m a southern girl, and I’ve eaten quite a bit of smoked pork in my lifetime. And being a southern cook, I realize that ham is much easier and more economical to cook for a holiday dinner. But what if you are invited to a big holiday celebration and realize there is a HAM in the oven instead of roast turkey? Just please, not for Thanksgiving!

Is it even Thanksgiving day without a turkey roasting in the oven? The aroma of all that deliciousness wafted throughout the entire house. I would rather postpone the day altogether and celebrate when a turkey is available. That is how serious I am.

Growing up, I would awake on Thanksgiving day to the smell of roast turkey. My mama would have been up for hours already, getting an early start to a morning filled with cooking. The distinctness of the turkey, along with the smell of my favorite dressing, was something I looked forward to all year. My mama made the best dressing I have ever eaten. It was so very flavorful and never dry. I have never been able to duplicate it. She had a special flare to her dressing. It was the star of the dinner, and no turkey was complete without it.

Perhaps my upbringing, once again, spoiled me. How could I ever embrace any other type of Thanksgiving dinner when the one my mother provided us was so perfect. Of course, my brain returns to that beautiful memory and longs for an encore. And while I raised my own family, I did indeed try my best to replicate my mama’s Thanksgiving dinner. I did a decent job most years, and no one ever complained. However, my older sister nailed it! She wasn’t even the one interested in cooking growing up. Yet she can make a holiday dinner most reminiscent of our mama’s.

After my daughters were grown and I became an empty nester, the holiday cooking torch was passed along to my oldest at her request. She loves to cook and has a family of her own to impress. She does an excellent job. Yes, I miss cooking sometimes, but the older I get, the more it becomes a job rather than something I enjoy. My daughter still enjoys the dance of it all. Watching her makes me long for the days when cooking a big dinner for loved ones was a joy. I miss it.

Wherever you are on this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you find joy and a full belly. And you can relive a little bit of the wonderful memories you have of past holidays. I am looking forward to being invited to a loved one’s home, and I expect to be hit with the fragrance of roast turkey when I walk through their door. I will also try to prepare myself for disappointment if I’m hit with the aroma of smoked pig instead.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Letters of Love… by JoAnn

The handwritten letter. A thing of the past that kids nowadays know virtually nothing about. I have written hundreds, maybe even thousands, of handwritten letters in my lifetime. It used to be my favorite way of communication. A hobby that I loved and truly enjoyed.

In my day, children learned how to write a proper letter, by hand, in elementary school. A clean sheet of paper and a sharp pencil were all we needed. We strove to perfect our handwriting, first in basic print, then in cursive. I received all A’s in both. I loved handwriting; it was so magical to me. I was a shy girl and had not been brought up in a family that easily expressed their emotions. Either negative or positive. We loved one another very much; we just didn’t go around talking about it. Nor did we express an opinion if we knew it was not the same as everyone else. So talking didn’t come easily for me. I was more comfortable sitting back and listening to everyone else. I had to get to know someone for a good while before I opened up to them.

Writing was different. A letter to a friend or family member was so easy. I wrote to my favorite aunt, several cousins, and many friends, and I even had pen pals. I rarely missed a week that I didn’t receive letters in return in our mailbox. It was such a thrill to get the replies. I was not a phone person. I still am not. But receiving a letter from a loved one gave me a smile that would brighten my whole day. It’s difficult to explain, but receiving a letter made me feel special to that person. They had taken the time to think only of me and handwrite their sentiments while also going through the process of mailing it to me. It took effort, which meant that I was special to them, just as I had tried to make them feel with the letter I sent them.

Everyone has heard of love letters, “Letters of romance.” But I believe all handwritten letters are indeed Letters of Love. A true, old-fashioned way of expressing our feeling of admiration for someone we know is done with love in our hearts. Letters bring joy and warmth to both the person giving and the person receiving the letter.

Today’s emails and texts are amazing! I would never want to give up the convenience of either. They are both crucial to our world’s way of living. But it saddens me that cursive writing is no longer taught in most elementary schools or that it is no longer deemed necessary for a person to have a signature. I believe technology has gone too far with that one. I may not need to sign my name on a paper check to buy groceries anymore, but I believe my children still want to see my handwriting on the birthday card they receive from me.

Maybe I am just too old-fashioned. It has been years since I have received a handwritten letter from a loved one. It has been a very long time since I have sent one myself. That makes me sad. Maybe it’s time I resume one of my favorite old hobbies. Is anyone looking for a pen pal?

AutoCorrect… by JoAnn

Perhaps you know who invented it. Perhaps you enjoy using it every time you text. Or maybe, just maybe, you feel like me and hate auto-correct!

The concept of my cell phone automatically correcting a word that I have misspelled in a text is brilliant. Who wouldn’t want that? I certainly would appreciate the help. I think anyone would. But my problem is that it’s never that simple for me. Am I the only one who gets frustrated with auto-correct?

Having the correct spelling of a word show up for me to choose is terrific. What I don’t like is when a word, or even part of a sentence, is completely changed without my choosing. This means that if I am texting in a hurry and don’t notice the change, it will be sent to whomever I am texting. When this happens, I get highly frustrated.

I am a stickler for proper spelling. It goes back to my days of taking business courses in school, explicitly typing. Yes, the old-fashioned typing where you used the machine called a typewriter and a clean sheet of paper. When a mistake was made, a liquid similar to white paint was brushed over the error so it could be typed over. I always hated how messy the correction looked, so I strove to have the correct spelling. With today’s technology, the auto-correct I did not choose is that messy-looking white paint!

Even now, I want my text or email to look as pristine as my typed letters once looked. Perfect. Auto-correct, with its well-meaning concept, frustrates me more than it helps. It’s like a fly buzzing around my cell phone; only it’s inside my phone where I can’t swat it. Please share if there is a way to remove it from my phone.

The cell phone is undoubtedly my favorite of all my gizmos and gadgets. I would feel lost without it. I think that’s why I get so mad when it doesn’t react the way I think it should. It’s a tiny computer that pretty much does everything. But when it makes a mistake, I can become very unforgiving. Just thinking about it gives me a headache.

We are spoiled, or at least I am. I expect a gadget to perform perfectly 100% of the time. Is that possible of anything? Realistically no, of course not. So why does something that should be a minor problem bug me so much? Too bad my auto-correct can’t correct me.

I guess I will continue blaming my fat fingertip on my texting mishaps and let auto-correct have a break. Maybe I can slow down and use a skinnier finger to type. I enjoy texting too much to cut that out of my routine. So I will continue on, hoping to win the next round with that fly.

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