Monday, May 31, 2010

Ring those golden bells........

My first year of school was at Andy Woods Elementary in Tyler.  I had a brand new dress for each day of the week and I was so excited.  It was a big school for a 1st grader.  We didn't have kindergarten back then nor did we have color TV.  It hadn't been invented yet.

Miss Knife was my teacher and I remember her long black hair and her red lipstick.  She was so pretty and so nice.  I really liked her.  I remember how much I loved her telling stories in our story corner. Every morning one of the kids in my class would hold the flag while we said the Pledge of Allegiance.  Amazingly enough we said a prayer before lunch.

I don't remember the lunch room but I do remember the bathroom.  I left my birthstone ring on the sink when I washed my hands and forgot about it.  When I remembered it, I went back to get it and it was gone.  Somebody stole it.  I loved that was silver with two pink hearts. I guess crime back then was as rampant as it is today.

I had a rough year my first grade.  I remember having to do a lot of make-up homework because I missed so much school.  I had my tonsils removed and I cut my foot on a broken coke bottle jumping the rows in my grandparent's garden. It cut the main artery and I nearly bled to death.  My parents took me to the hospital where they gave me blood because I had lost so much. I had only gotten about pint when my parents thought I'd had enough and took me home.  God must have had His hand on me because I lived through it.  Thankfully my parents were given a second chance at parenting when they had my brother.  I was the guinea pig...bless my little heart!  He got to have a normal childhood.....thanks to me.  I'm not bitter anymore.

I'm not sure when we moved to Chandler but having to change schools my second year was interesting.  No more sweet Miss Knife, my beautiful teacher.  Instead I had an older lady for a teacher, Mrs Lindsay.  She was gruff and tough and I was afraid of her.  I remember being at recess after lunch when she came out with a hand bell, like the one on Little House on the Prairie, and she was ringing it over and over.  I didn't know why she was doing that but I soon learned that this little country school didn't have the kind of school bells we had at Andy Woods. 
Our class had two grades in it.  While Mrs. Lindsey taught the first grade, the second grade was reading or working on a paper. One morning the first grade class was having a spelling test while we were reading. Mrs. Lindsay was in the middle of the test when she stopped and said, "Rat! I see a rat!"  Because this school was old and creepy, I responded to the warning of a rat being in our room.  I jumped up in my chair and stayed there until I realized that "rat" was one of the first grade spelling words and Mrs. Lindsay's sentence for it was, "I see a rat!".   I never wanted my mommy more than I did at that moment!  The whole class was laughing at me sitting so prim and proper with my feet planted firmly in my little chair..........I certainly didn't want the rat to get me but I think the rat would have been a better fate.

It was at that moment in time that I realized Mrs. Lindsay actually knew how to laugh.  I really wasn't sure she even knew how........until then.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rewind the video, please.............

I have two precious grandchildren who have been the light of my life since their birth!  Sometimes they are little angels and other times they are very challenging.  My granddaughter is the strong willed one and my grandson plays the "clueless" part.....which I don't fall for one minute!  He reminds me a lot of myself at his age.

One evening, a few years ago, they spent the night with me.  It was probably a Wednesday night after church.  After they had gotten their baths I walked into their bathroom to pick up their wet towels.  To my panicked surprise there were matches all over the floor.  Grant it, I should have never had matches in a bathroom where kids are, but be that as it may, I picked them all up and headed to their bedroom for the "talk". 

"Which one of you got into the matches?", I asked.  "Not me." Alissa said.  "I didn't do it.", Peyton said. "Well, somebody in here had to do it because I know I didn't!"  Then I gave them the lecture of how dangerous it was to play with matches and how one strike could burn Nana's house down.  Then I asked again, "Who was playing with the matches?"  I got the same reply from both of them "I didn't do it, Nana!"

Finally, I told them that it would be much better for them if they just confessed rather than me finding out who did it...."and I WILL find out." I told them.  I got no reply from either of them until I said, "Okay...I'm going to my bedroom to pray about this and Jesus will tell me who did it."  When I turned to walk away  Peyton, who believes me when I say I have eyes in the back of my head, began to fidget.  He said, "Nana, wait a minute.  Let me rewind my video from today."  He took his little finger and pointed it at his ear and began to move it in circles like we used to do when we thought someone was crazy.  He rewound his video with his eyes moving back and forth as he muttered little sounds...."Ooh,  hmmm,  okay.....hmmm.  Well....Nana, I.....might.... have done it."  Well, praise the Lort!  A sinner has come home!!!  It was all I could do to keep a straight face!

A week or so later when they were back at Nana's house to spend the night again, I was doing the usual routine of picking up their wet towels.  What looked like hair spray or something was all over the bathroom mirror!  I asked a simple question my precious grandkids, "what is this all over the mirror?", and got the oddest reply from my grandson!  "I didn't do it, Nana!!  You can ask Jesus and He will TELL you I did NOT do it!"

I have to admit.....I must have made an impression on him, because the Nana that's always had eyes in the back of her head, NOW has a direct telephone line to Jesus.............and I DO, my precious kids!  Don't ever forget it!

Laughter is the best medicine indeed!!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Angel of Mercy.....

My great-grandmother, Sarah Ann Beam (Mammaw), was an amazing woman.  In her younger years, with seven young children twelve years old and under, she lost her husband.  Back then, a woman with children and no spouse usually wound up loosing their children to foster care.  It was a blessing and a relief when her father and mother-in-law were gracious enough to welcome them into their home. 

My grandmother, Nina Mae, was one of the twelve children. She's the first one in the picture that's dated 11/24/1926.  She married Milton Andrew Wallace who became a minister. He and Grandmother moved to Chandler in 1944 after God called them to be there.  They pastored a little white church next to the railroad tracks.  I grew up in that church and I often refer to it when telling my stories. 

As long as I can remember, my Mammaw Beam lived with my Grandmother and Granddaddy Wallace.  I would get off the bus at their house and Mammaw would fix me some toast.  There was a picture of her and my great-grandfather on the wall in the bedroom.  I'd never met him but I often stared at the picture pretending I was there and wondering what it would have been like to have lived back then.

The thing I remember most about my Mammaw was how she gave to the poor.  I remember Mother taking her shopping for shoes and coats for a family with seven small children.  All she had was her Social Security check but I'm sure she probably spent it all on them.  I guess in her mind she never forgot how someone extended mercy to her.

Many other times I saw her do the same for other children and it made a huge impression on my life.  I'll never forget how she fasted every Thursday.  We would have a nice dinner that she helped prepare but she wouldn't eat it.  Instead, she read her Bible and prayed.  She never complained about it.  I often wondered what she was praying about.  But now that I'm older, and have kids of my own, I know she must have been praying for her children.  Stephanie was only a baby when Mammaw died.

A few years ago I wrote a song about her called ANGEL OF MERCY.  It is copy written and was recorded by The Wallace Sisters.  Here are the lyrics:

Mammaw's picture on the wall has been there for years.
I still think about her now and then.
She was a lady and a mother; but more than all of these
She was an angel and a friend.

If she had it she'd give it away.
If she needed, she knew how to pray.
She was an angel of mercy to everyone she'd meet.
A saint workin' for Jesus every day.

Mammaw took care of the poor; the young and the old.
I still think about her heart of gold.
If I could be some like her;  I'd hope that I would be
As loyal to my Lord and family

Cause if she had it she'd give it away.
If she needed, she knew how to pray.
She was an angel of mercy to everyone she'd meet.
A saint workin' for Jesus every day
A saint workin' for Jesus every day

.....A Tribute to Sarah Ann Beam

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jail House Blues.....

If I ever had to take a polygraph test and the question was asked, "Have you ever stolen something?"...I would have to say "yes" or I would have sent the needle spinning. If there was ever a prison for 6 year olds I would have been sentenced there. I can hear the judges gavel and his gruff words saying "GUILTY"...... oh, wait a minute! That was Mammaw Beam! Let me back up to the beginning of the story.

I guess I was about 6. I had spent Sunday afternoon with my Aunt Nita and Uncle John. Their daughter didn't live there anymore but her room was still in tact. As a kid, my favorite thing to do was open drawers and go through someone else's stuff. To me it was like going on a treasure hunt. I certainly found a treasure chest that day. Oddly, the thing that totally mesmerized me into becoming the "mini-me" of the Pink Panther", was a small hand full of tiny colored clothes pins. I plotted and planned and was successful in removing the treasure from the treasure chest......I did it! I got off scott free. Until I went to church that night.

I sat on the second pew behind Mammaw Beam. We sang the old hymns, gave in the offering plate then Granddaddy Wallace preached the sermon. At the end of the sermon was the altar call. Back then everybody had a reason to respond to the invitation and the altars were full. I think that's where I messed up. I stayed in my seat.   All was clear, I was almost home free when my great-grandmother met me eye to eye. She was getting closer and closer and I felt my cheeks turning pink. She sat down beside me and asked me if I had anything to pray about. I looked at her with my wide"innocent" eyes and said, "no mam". She asked me again and I responded the same way. How did she know? Did she have a direct line to God? If I tried to run would she catch me?

I guess I blacked out or fainted because all I remembered after that was having a come to Jesus meeting with my Mammaw's hands planted firmly on the top of my head......and her words asking God to forgive me. I cried and cried and cried at the altar that night............ because I knew I was going to have to give my little clothes pins back.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Put your hand in the hand...........

Hands......though small in comparison with the rest of our being, are significant beyond measure. No matter how small, how large, how manicured or how calloused, hands are a powerful tool. From the moment we're born our hands take on an important roll in our life. A tiny baby wraps it's little fingers around it's mother's and the process begins.

As a child is nurtured and cared for, it's ability to learn swings into action. The tiny fingers that once held on to mommy's have ventured out to hold a bottle.....and we smile with love and affection as the baby learns to pat-a-cake!

Time slips by so quickly as the child becomes a toddler and then a pre-school'er and boy are hands busy now! .....with toys and balls, books and crayons, puzzles, swings and other things. They've learned the art of buttoning a shirt, slipping on shoes and combing their hair; pushing and pulling, playing games; cell phones, i-pods and TV remotes; Nintendo, Wii's and keyboards.

Hands more mature now..... learn the art of affection. Holding hands with their first crush, and sweaty palms before their first kiss; petting a puppy or holding a kitten; rubbing achy shoulders of someone they love or changing a diaper when no one else wants to.

Hands are like puppets. They are controlled by the good, the bad, or the ugly. Hands in the hands of good, honest, and Godly people are like healing and masterful hands of love and compassion. But, hands in the hands of the evil and devious are destructive, frightening and brutal.

Hands say a lot about our character and show others the quality of life we live. Do we shake our fists at strangers or do we take out our wallet when someone is in need? Do we use our hands to defend our pride or do we fold our hands as we say a prayer? Do we use our hands in protest or do we extend our hands to the needy?

The Bible says, "Those who have clean hands and a pure heart will receive blessings from the Lord." It also says, "Lazy hands make for poverty". When Jesus was on the cross He said to God, "Into your hands I commit my spirit". And when we feel helpless.... we're apt to say, "It's in God's hands now," because we truly know........ "He's got the whole world in His hands!".

..............something to ponder.

Monday, May 24, 2010


I guess I was about 4 or 5 when mom bought me a pair of "pixie" shoes. They were black velvet with the toe curled up and a little jingle bell attached to it. When I walked I sounded like one of Santa's Elves. I loved those shoes soooo much.

One Sunday night while granddad was preaching in the little white church he built...I had to go potty. Mom let me go by myself this time. So...I jingled all the way to the front of the church where everyone could see me.... and "hear" me! I made my way to the restroom only to find it very dark in there. My plans were to step up on the potty lid and pull the string that turned the light on. However, to my surprise, someone had left the lid up.........that was the night me and my little "pixie" shoes were baptised...... halleluryer!

Olive Oil............

When I was little I remember sitting on an old wooden pew in a church my grandpa built. I was listening to the ancient hymns being sung with words I could not grasp. I always wondered why the song "I'm Too Near Home" talked about tobacco. "...there's nothing to go back to..." I didn't hear any other part of the song except "tobacco"......well, it sounded like tobacco to me!

My aunt Susie, who is like my sister, used to think "Saybut" was a girls name. "O Saybut I'm glad...I'm glad". And someone wrote a special song for Popeye's girlfriend. "Olive Oil....Yes Olive Oil!" You may know it as "I'll live on...yes I'll live on"

Not only did we mis-interpret the old hymns back then, but we also....for entertainment purposes....changed the words. For example: "Well....I wouldn't take nothin' for my Jersey cow. Gotta milk her tomorrow somehow!" That song was "I Wouldn't Take Nothin For My Journey Now".
When I was old enough to read, my friends and I would make word games out of hymn titles. I'll Fly Away "in the bathroom". Or....When The Redeemed Are Gathering In..."in the bathroom". Mind you, we did not play this game at home or after church....or even before church. No....we played it during the preaching. Sorry, mom! I've long since repented of this one.

I'm sure if you were a mature adult back then and thought the hymnal was "holy" you might not find the humor in all of this. I'm just sayin'.........

I love Jewelry......

Whether silver or gold, diamonds or pearls, rubies or sapphires.....I love jewelry. I wear it everyday. It's like my cell phone.....if I forget it, I will turn around and go back and get it. It makes me feel good. It makes a perfect gift. I save it for a rainy day. I treasure it. I collect it. I wear it on my wrists. I place it around my neck. I slip it on my fingers. I hang it on my ears like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Jewelry....... the perfect finishing touch.

But.....there is one thing far greater than silver or gold, diamonds or pearls, rubies or sapphires. No, it's not SHOES. However, I must admit, shoes make any outfit look like a million bucks! I will give you a few hints......:

It's something we're always looking for.
It's profitable, priceless and desirable.
It's satisfying and it adds life if you find it.
It will protect you, guard you and it's the wisest thing you can possibly do.
It's something we need and it's something we have......
But it's not something we always use.
It's described as a "she"........although, I'm not sure why.'s WISDOM. Happy are those who hold her tightly.