All posts tagged friends

Not a Traditional Thanksgiving

The Hyltons have always been adventurous when it comes to food. My kids ate squid and mussels at a young age. In fact, one of our favorite meals to cook together is mussels fra diavlo. Sure, we love turkey, but not necessarily on the fourth Thursday of November.

Sarah is with her other family this Thanksgiving but Micah will be here on #peeledpoplarfarm.

We’re not sure of the menu. We’ve talked about everything from BBQ ribs to Chinese food. Doesn’t matter, we will be together, and may even have a few visitors.

What I am thankful for is not necessarily traditional, either. Sure, when my kids were little, we went around the table and asked everyone what they were thankful for. The expected answers always appeared: our family, house, food, dogs. All good things, yes.

But today, I’m taking a break from the traditional Thanksgiving blessings and am thanking God for a few unusual things.

First, I’d like to thank Him for things He has kept from me. Like friends. Not that I don’t have friends here in North Carolina, but they are new and we are still in the be careful what you say mode. (At least they are.)

Because of lack of friends, Tom and I have become better friends. No, he won’t go Black Friday shopping with me, but we often talk while watching re-runs of our wood stove while lounging on the couch. That is a good thing. (Except the whole lack of Black Friday shopping.)

Because of my lack of friends to confide in, I’ve had to take my thoughts, worries, and fears to the Lord. I’m glad about that, too.

The second thing I am thankful for is that I’m a nobody. Most of you already knew that, but I didn’t. I actually thought I was doing God a favor by following Him. Shoveling chicken manure in old sweats has a way of defining that.

Recently, I read of an American Christian who traveled to a foreign country and attended a secret church. In that church were men bent over from years in the rice fields.  They were not allowed an education because they were Christians. The writer also mentioned a woman who had her child taken away because she followed Christ.

In my book, these people are somebodies. But it really doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the Creator of the universe thinks. And He is pleased.

The third thing I am thankful for is God. In my Bible reading today, Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name be glory. Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.

I’m glad the Almighty isn’t at all like me. He is unique. One-of-a-kind, Holy, and completely worthy of praise. And He is loving and kind and truthful.

I pray you will have a blessed Thanksgiving.

I’ll let you know if it’s ribs or Chinese this year. Or maybe we’ll have mussels.

Is There Baseball in Heaven?

“Next year,” I remember hearing as a young girl. And I wondered about that.

Always this phrase came on family vacations while lounging around a campfire, perched on rickety lawn chairs, or makeshift  stools fashioned out of logs. I’d be sitting alongside my childhood friend, Jimmy Shiels, who was like the little brother I never wanted.

Our parents remained best friends throughout our childhood, so we vacationed together. We would either camp at a state park, or stay at a camp for our furlough from our parents’ ministry as Salvation Army Officers. Camp Lake, or Army Lake became our desired destination, both located near the Chicago area.

And I loved it.

Jim and Nel Shiels were my godparents and my favorite people over thirty.  They were very different from my parents. My father, Ray Wert, would rather fish or hunt or be outside while Jim Shiels would rather pick up a good book and tease his best friend, Ray. Mom came across as tribal leader but in real life, she followed my boisterous father along, listening and  occasionally adding her opinion. Aunt Nel could have taught camping. She cooked the best roast I think I’ve ever had, and she did it in a heavy pan, buried beneath the ground, covered with hot coals. I can still remember the taste.

So when I overheard snippets of conversation between the adults about the Cubbies, I took notice.

“The Cubbies aren’t doing so well this year, are they Raymie?” Uncle Jim would interject.

“Nope. Maybe they need to replace their manager,” my father would add.

“Or maybe the whole team,” Nel would add. And they’d all laugh. I’d laugh, too, although I didn’t understand it. I just knew the Cubs were as much a part of our family as my unwanted little brother.

Usually, while vacationing at an Army camp, we’d participate in a softball game. Or at least most of the Clan would. Jim held the prestigious position of commentator. He would position himself in a shady spot and advise Raymie on his batting stance, or how he should have swung at a high pitch.

Those were the best times of my young life.

Fast forward a few decades. Instead of Mom and Dad lounging in lawn chairs, they rested in the matching lift chairs that adorned my living room. The Cubs game blared on their outdated TV set while I cooked or cleaned up after dinner. Eventually, I joined them not only in the living room, but as a bonafide baseball fan. Then Tom began to join us. First, we cheered for the Cubs, and when Joe Maddon joined the Rays, we cheered for both. The Shiels lived hundreds of miles away and the Clan could no longer vacation together, so the Werts had to “settle” for watching the game with the Hyltons.

Aunt Nel joined the heavenly choir first, followed by my father. Uncle Jim was promoted to glory after having to listen to the Cubbies game rather than watch it since in his last years, he lost his eyesight.

Only mom remained. When she turned 95 last September, we had hope that “next year” for the Cubbies would be “this year.” 

But it wasn’t in the baseball cards.

Mom died in my arms on March 22nd of this year, during spring training.

I mourned the loss not only of my parents and godparents, but of a simpler time. A time when baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet were all we needed. A time before “selfies” and social media. Before cell phones and reality TV.

Remembering those happy times, I wonder if there is baseball in heaven. Are Jim and Nel and Ray and Pauline sitting around a heavenly campfire commentating on the game? I hope so.

In fact, I’ll cast my vote for baseball in heaven.

Watching the World Series is impossible for Tom and me since we no longer have a TV. So each evening, we listen to the Series on Tom’s iPad while lounging on our couch. And Joe Maddon as the Cubs manager ? Now there’s Divine Intervention for you. It’s a match made in heaven.

And who knows? Next year may be this year.

Amen. So be it.


Investing in Easter, The Words of the King, Part 1

Within a few short months, I’ll be moving to Mayberry. Our business sold, our house is on the market and we’re supposed to receive two offers today. In Tom’s mind, we’re already moved.

I’m excited about moving, but sad about leaving.

Maybe that’s how Jesus felt as He prepared His disciples for His death and resurrection–His homecoming.

For today’s reading, I’m going to zero in on John 13:33-36. Here it is from the NASB:

“Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.; A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

That’s a pretty tall order. Especially if you look back a few verses and see Jesus washing their feet.

The God of the universe, on His hands and feet, scrubbing toe dirt.

That’s love.

Here’s another passage to keep in mind:

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Jesus did that. Really. We weren’t even His friends. Romans states we were His enemies.

True. Most of us think we’re kind of good. Fact is, the Bible says no one is good and no one seeks after God.

Let me ask you a question, friend; Are you a friend of God? Not by any good works, that’s for sure. Isaiah 64:6 talks about our “good” works. Says they’re filthy rags.

The only way we to become a friend of God is through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Meditate on this:

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

If you’re not a friend of God, make Him one today. Repent. Tell Him you are a sinner. Trust Christ alone for your salvation.

Then, rejoice my friend. Email me. Find a good church that teaches the whole Bible.

Those of you who have trusted Christ, love others.

It’s not a suggestion.

We can love because He first loved us.

Worship with me today by listening to Keith and Kristin Getty:

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A New Life

Who knew that once upon a time I thought olives grew with the red things in them. Now we’re gonna be farmers. One step closer. Read about it on my Grit Magazine “Cultivating a Dream” blog.

Spying at Starbucks

John enters slouched over, his backpack bouncing. His shirt displays an emblem I can’t read, but it’s clean. Almost seems pressed—better than mine.

He comes in daily for a coffee sample. The staff doesn’t know anything about him except that he might have a mental problem. Still they serve him and he’s happy. As soon as he empties his partial cup, he stalks out—head leading his small frame, walking to his next destination.

An employee takes his lunch hour at a table across from me. His meal consists of a blue can of tuna, (maybe albacore) that he picks at while he reads a red-colored book. It’s not a new title. I’m curious and think of asking him. Is it The Great Gatsby? It’s too small for Moby Dick or Les Miserable. Perhaps it’s an old accounting book he saved from a college education he never finished.

He’s close to my age and wears no ring. I wonder why a man my age works here? What is his life like? Where does he spend Christmas?

Another man sits in the comfy purple chair adjacent to me. He wears a jacket with black with red stitching—possibly a motorcycle emblem. Maybe he rides.  It’s doubtful with the shoes he’s wearing. They are black with lime green accents. His white socks rise up under clean blue jeans.

I’m people watching. I’m people wondering. What are their lives like? If I knew them, would they be my friends?

Probably. I once followed someone home from SAMs because I wanted to be their friend. I lost them on a turn. My teenage son was glad. My husband told me, “Pauline, you can’t be friends with everyone!”

But I can care about everyone. I can wonder. I can pray.

I’m going to try my hand at fiction soon. I need characters, so I spy on people.

I see a man staring at me. Studying. Wondering. When he notices that I notice, he looks away

I think he’s a writer, too.