GOD GARDENING ~ a personal experience


Anyone who knows me knows I love gardening.  My garden is Eden to me.  I have planned it to attract birds, bees, squirrels.

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I’m not really accomplished at it, not really a green thumb here as the compost pile can attest to. Lots of failures in terms of trying to grow something and having poor results.  I remember the first time I tried to have a pot plant. I was 17 yrs. old.  My first apartment was over a garage and it was so rickety the dresser mirror slapped the wall when a person walked across the floor. It was downtown Alexandria on Fisk Street, the rent was $40/month, and my landlord was Mr. T.W. Moreau. But it was home for me and I loved it. I wanted to make it my own by having a real live potted plant. I went downstairs and dug up some dirt, put it in a pot, and planted a piece of ivy someone gave me. First of all, Mr. Moreau wasn’t happy about the hole I dug, and secondly, I had no clue about a plant’s basic needs like light and water. Or potting soil. Funny thing now that I look back on it, I didn’t have a clue about a much of anything!

A lot has changed since then. I can call myself a gardener about as well as I can call myself a writer and an artist. I use too many quotation marks, commas, and colons. I start over with a painting as much as I have finished results.  Ha!  The painting I’m working on now, I had to wipe out 4 times before I got what I wanted and that was just the undercoat!  That’s just what I do. That doesn’t mean I have reached the pinnacle of what the world deems success, it just means that I have done what my heart desired. I have learned to nurture.  I’ve learned to garden.

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There are shortcuts to gardening and maybe everything else. I have found over the years that the rules of gardening correlate to the rules in life. For example, the species of humans must have community, friends if you will. Gardening is like that. All your friends want to give you a piece of theirs. You accept seeds or a plant from one friend, then another, then one more.  And before you know it – a little piece of all your friend’s gardens now live at your house. You water when it’s dry, throw a little Miracle Grow around when you think about it, pull a couple of weeds every time you go outside – then voila, people think you have a green thumb. It’s simply not true. You just have very good friends. My garden has my mother’s and Aunt Kat’s hostas. Faye, Sylivia, Deborah have shared a multitude of flora and fauna with me. Sue gives me a start of a Night Blooming Cereus every year. Every year, yeah, because somehow I manage to…. Well, I don’t even want to say it. I have daylilies galore. They keep multiplying, kind of like friends. A shortcut, but one with staggering success if you put your heart into it. My heart is into it because of my grandmother. She had a real greenhouse. I can remember the smell and her constant attention to it. It represented something akin to love and security to me.

Over the years I found that gardening is like loving God. Yes, it is. He who made all things. He who loves. He who nurtures. You wouldn’t believe how thankful I am for that! Gardening has revealed Him to me. He provides just the right amount of whatever is needed by His creation. Don’t you just love that? Please let me show you how He works this into our very own lives:

We’ve kind of had a struggle the past three years. There has been major illnesses for both my husband and myself. I have kicked it in the butt but my husband is seriously ill at the moment. We are two (barely) old folks who love each other very much, fight like cats and dogs (it’s in our DNA) and share every aspect of our lives. When I hurt, he hurts. When he hurts, I do too. Sometimes we have worldly needs that might take some creative financing. You know, the limited (barely) old folks budget thing because of medical bills, etc. Here is something I have learned; it is not necessary to worry about these things. Period.

A couple of months ago, I was commissioned to paint a picture for a Christian organization called the ACTS (Adoration, Community, Theology, Service) retreat community. To my surprise, I found it easy to come up with a composition reflecting the theme to match the future retreat for women as requested. Must have been the art angel sprinkling grace dust upon me. I don’t know. Anyway, I painted two pictures and over the weeks it took, I made it clear that this art was a donation to the community because my own spirituality had grown due to them. I love the ACTS organization. They are amazingly talented in revealing the love of the Lord to one and all. Finally the day arrived when two reps from the community, Charlotte Wasmer and Father Derek Ducote, came to assess my simple paintings and make a choice as to which one they would choose.  Fr. Derek asked Charlotte which one she wanted. She quietly said “I want both of them”. I couldn’t believe it and was so happy and humbled. We had a great visit for a couple of hours before they left taking both paintings with them. It was wonderful.  They gave me a beautiful card of sweet gratitude signed by several ACTS personal.  Before long, I got a text from Charlotte saying she left a love offering and I would know it when I saw it.   What!?   I found the envelope. I got chills when I opened it. I took it to the living room where my husband was lying down. I told him “you have to look at this”. He said he didn’t need to. I told him more firmly, “you have to look at this. I told you God would provide.” He took the envelope and his mouth dropped open.

Two weeks or so before, I threw a fleece before the Lord. If you don’t know the term, it means asking the Lord to provide for a specific need. I needed new tires on my car. I asked for that. And I trusted.

The envelope contained $400. The tires cost $398.

If that’s not GOD GARDENING, I don’t know what is!

Do me a favor please.  Will you pray for peace?  Please.  So much is going on in our country, government, world.  Let us all turn to God.

 

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Do me a favor please.  Will you pray for peace?  Please.  So much is going on in our country, government, world.  Your prayers are very much needed.  Let us all turn to God.

 

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HONOR FLIGHT FOR VETS – THE UNDER APPRECIATED


Would it be possible for a daughter to be more proud of her father?  I think not.  I am proud to tell you that my father, TSgt. Bill Thoms Sr. (USAF ret.) was among 40 war veterans chosen to make an Honor Flight.  Veterans of WWII, the Korean conflict, and Vietnam war boarded a flight out of Austin, Texas on September 7, 2018, destination Washington DC.  The goal:  giving these under appreciated vets a chance to view, touch, and acknowledge the war memorials erected to serve as a reminder of hard-fought freedom, a service they provided with their blood, sweat, and tears.  Oh, I know that’s a cliche, but do you see the truth in it? Can you imagine what these men and women went through, what they saw, how they felt?  I can’t.  Although I was raised an Air Force brat, all I knew as a child was that Daddy was always gone somewhere across the world.  I was too young to understand the whys and wherefores but I do remember the fear that plagued the hearts of my older brother and I while he was at war.

Dad is a veteran of Korea and Vietnam wars. He offered 22 years of his life to the United States Air Force.  He served his country with an uncommon pride. He was a good leader and teacher who had a heart for the young airman he ‘sarged’ who were away from their families and were decidedly homesick.  He would bring them home on weekends and holidays to ease their angst.

Another thing about Dad, he loves his family.  His grandson Will accompanied him as his required guardian – as if he needed one!  (Even at 87, Dad is amazingly with it.)  It was just as important and moving for the grandson as it was for the grandfather.  How lucky was Will and what an awesome opportunity!  I’d be willing to bet these two share memories that will have a lasting impact on the rest of their lives.  No doubt, no doubt at all.

Please enjoy the following pictures of this dream-come-true trip made possible by Honor Flight Austin.  It is a privilege for me to share them.

 

 

 

 

 

Dad and Will getting ready to leave.  And no, that’s not a hat on Dad’s head.  Honored to accompany the Vets was Brian Manley, Austin Chief of Police.

dad escort Honor Flight Escort

 

 

 

 

 

dad in the middleLook at these wonderful Vets!  Dad is the 4th one in the second row.

 

 

 

 

 

Dad getting chummy with the President.  The Air Force Monument, and the boys in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

IMG-1367 Air Force Memorial with the Pentagon in the background.  He served them and he served them well.

 thumbnail_IMG-1363              Dad proudly sitting in front of the WWII memorial, Texas pillar.  Too young to serve in that war, but proud nevertheless.

viet nam mem  The Vietnam Memorial Wall.   His opportunity to see it is long past due.  Bless his heart.

thumbnail_IMG-1373 Air Force Monument.  I can imagine Dad just about burst at the seams when he saw this one.  For many years the Air Force was his life.

tomb of the unk solAt the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Dad is the 3rd from the left.

Please note the link I have included.  It is from the Fox 7 news in Austin, Texas.    Really good viewing that shows the Vet’s parade, etc.

http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/honor-flight-brings-40-veterans-to-washington-dc

AND THEN THERE WAS THE WELCOME HOME!

 

 

 

 

 

On the flight back to Austin, our vets received letters from loved ones and friends thanking them for their service.  Lots of love and tears were aboard that flight.  Once they landed in Austin, look out!  Please enjoy the following, it’s well worth the view.

 

 

I understand that all veterans deserve to be recognized.  Each and every one deserves to be saluted for their contribution, their sacrifices.  They deserve to be honored.  And by the way, I do include our men and women in the Middle East even as we speak.  I thank them all for their service.

Bill, Scott,and I, with our spouses, as well as all your grandchildren, want to thank you, Dad, for your service.  I do believe that serving your country was the most extraordinary and accomplished thing you have ever done.

Please pray for peace.  This blog post should convince you that we should pray and pray hard for peace in the world.  We’ve lost too many soldiers and loved ones.  It’s a sad, sad thing.

Eternal Father, we praise you for helping us get through these man-made conflicts that break hearts and destroy humanity.  Thank you, Lord, for these Vets who serve their country.  We ask, Lord, for your compassion and mercy for the days ahead.  We pray for peace!  Amen

GOD BLESS AMERICA

Please note:  Photo cred goes to Tina Lea of HONOR FLIGHT AUSTIN.

 

Verla Mae


I find that having a blog is something like having a diary and making it public on purpose.  Sometimes it is hard to stay in the boundaries of what is ok to share with the world and what is not.  There is a fine line.   I get confused.

Today’s post is ok to share with the world.  Some might find it surprising but I want to share with you about my former mother-in-law.  She recently passed away and was laid to rest yesterday.  My hubs and I went to the wake the night before and I, at last, was able to introduce him to many of my former family, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  My ex-husband’s family is large.  I was nothing more than an immature kid of 18 when I married into it.  The marriage didn’t last long but the relationships did, at least, I think so.  To this day I still feel a sense of family when I am around them.

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Verla Mae White.  1926-2018.  Her funeral Mass was beautiful, a real testament to the lives she touched and blessed.  Her pall bearers were her grandsons, my two sons included.  They were all so handsome and grown up.  And they were proud to lay their ‘Granny’ to rest.

She was a wonderful woman, married for a lifetime to Artis White, bore him five girls and one boy, and was a very faithful Catholic woman with a special devotion to the Blessed Mother.  She was kind, laughed a lot, loved to dance, and adored her family with all her might.  Verla Mae made the neatest biscuits.  They were about 5 inches across and flat.  We called them flying saucers.  Man, they were good!  I loved to watch her make them.  Her small hands making a well in a mound of flour, baking soda and powder, add milk, pull out a handful, shape and pat, pop on the pan and into the oven.  I loved them with jelly smeared on the top.  You couldn’t split them for buttering, they were too flat but they were delightfully crispy on the bottom.  Makes my mouth water to think about them.  There was only one thing she cooked that I couldn’t eat – baked chicken and dressing.  She would bury the chicken under mounds of cornbread dressing and bake it that way.  The cornbread dressing was delicious but the chicken had no color at all.  It came out as white as it went in and looked like – well, dead chicken.  My then-husband said it tasted fine but I couldn’t put it in my mouth to see if it was good.  I understand that she did change her way of baking chicken and dressing years later.  She didn’t have to.  No matter what she cooked everyone knew the finest ingredient she cooked with was love.  And many people loved her.  In fact, her family, meaning brothers, sisters, cousins, and their off-spring, often  visited her home knowing a good time was inevitable.  She had a way of making everyone feel like they belonged.  I remember in the ‘old days’ many weekends and every holiday was spent in the ‘middle room’ of her home playing music, dancing, and cutting up.  She strongly believed in family.

I can honestly say if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be Catholic.  It’s true.  When her son told her he wanted to marry me, Mama said “she’s not Catholic”.  That sealed the deal and led to my baptism and confirmation.  Bless her heart, she stayed on her knees for her children and their spouses.  I could have learned a lot from her if I wouldn’t have been so stupid when I was young.  A few years ago, I was blessed to see her when I visited her church on a Sunday morning.  She told me then that she always has loved me and always will.  She said she never stopped which is amazing when you consider I left the family way back in 1981.  That was the way she was, the way she is.  Love doesn’t die, it doesn’t pass away.  It is the only thing you can take with you to the afterlife.   Maybe I can learn from her after all.

Wow, those were some good days.  Too bad I didn’t appreciate it then as much as I do now.  Of course, I believe that now is the best time of my life, but there is no harm in looking back and selectively enjoying what was.  Granny’s funeral gave me that, especially with all of my kid’s first cousins, the pall bearers.  It was so good to see them all together.  They still call me Aunt Nancy.  One of them even told me he had good memories of spending time at our house as a child.  He said I was his second Mom back then.  My heart melted, flipped, and rejoiced when he said that.  It was a wonderful revelation.

One more thought afforded to me from seeing this family in reunion was brought about by the sense that my boy’s first cousins, second cousins, etc, seemed to look at me with a different than normal intensity.  At least it seemed so to me.  I figured it out later.  Yes, I did and it was a shock.  Just as I had looked upon Granny, her husband, and her remaining siblings as being ‘old’, now too were the younger ones looking at me and my peer in-laws as old.  Let me say ‘older’ instead.  But nevertheless, we are next in line.  Oh heavens.  How did this happen!?

Oh well.  It is the way of life.  God’s design is quite complex with the end result intended to meet us where we are.  He knows how we need to see the past through older, more mature eyes.  He knows that age and experience tend to put down strong roots and bear fruit beneficial to many.  It’s kind of like “I am the Vine, and you are the branches”, right?

What a good God we serve!  Rest in peace, sweet Verla.  Thank you for everything and please give Him a hug for me.

vision Mary

Please pray for peace, y’all.  The world is a dangerous place.  Storm heaven with your prayers!

 

As I recover . . .


I thought I would re-post the following from over a year ago.  I’ve got a new post rolling around in my head but everything is still jumbled up from my recent craniotomy so I shall have to let a bit more time pass before I can put two sentences together in a reasonably cohesive way.  Oh, but when I come back!  Wait for it!

https://nantubre.com/2014/07/25/the-motorcycle-mama-and-the-lord/

enjoy, and please pray for peace in the world.  Don’t forget!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award


Many thanks to Mike Lince (Applecore http://globalexplorerclub.wordpress.com/) for sending me the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Yes, it is my first ever, and I am ridiculously happy about it. It’s a big deal to me, kinda like being crowned Mrs. America. Haha, not really, I’m joking. It’s not as big as that. Um, never mind, yes it is.

So, to receive this award, I am required to name at least seven, maybe ten, interesting things about myself including what inspires me. Ok, that’s not hard. If I can’t do anything else, I can talk about myself. The kicker is choosing something interesting to disclose about myself. I think it would be much more interesting if I wrote what other people have said about me. Completely unbiased opinions, of course, and it’s not all good. But interesting? Not necessarily. Maybe insanely funny. Or just insane. Why would I do it this way? Because I didn’t bloom until later in life and grew up without a heck of a lot of confidence. Therefore, it has been my burden to seek out validation of my own worthiness. One could say it is the foundation and inspiration for my late-in-life enthusiasm to pursue goals I have an intense desire to accomplish.

#1. My precious husband and I have been married for 12 years. Being married took some getting used to considering I was single for 20 years before I married him. He said he is very proud of me. My first husband…eh…not so much.

#2. When I published my first novel, my dad said everything I touch turns to gold. Haha, yeah, right. But he was sweet to say it. My mom, may she rest in peace, probably would have said something similar but with more heart. She was my greatest cheerleader and when she died, I very selfishly thought ‘who is going to believe in me now?’

#3. A priest friend said he was very happy to receive a portrait of John Paul II that I painted for him. It’s a fair likeness and I appreciate his kind words.

#4. The librarian in Ville Platte said I must love to read because I sure do check out a lot of books.

#5. Before my God-mother (see this blog post https://nantubre.com/2012/01/30/bessie-delrie/) passed away from lung cancer, I gave her a rosary that I made especially for her. She told me she gave my first rosary to me and I gave her last one to her. It was a deeply meaningful moment between us and I am thankful that she encouraged me to continue my spiritual journey in the Catholic tradition.

#6. I had a long career as a respiratory therapist that took me to a lot of places. I enjoyed it (most of the time) and received an accolade or two from time to time. My proudest moment was passing the National Registry Exam to be a registered respiratory therapist. I was 40 years old at the time. I had good grades although in math and related physics, I was known to put my head on the desk and cry because I’m such a right brainer, I didn’t think I would ever get it. I loved helping people, and most of my patients liked me. But not all of them and you have to expect that occasionally when you work with the public. One time a doctor I thought I knew told me I wasn’t all that good at it. Don’t ask who said that, just know that creep isn’t on my list of favorites. In fact, nobody knows where he is now. ‘Nuff said.

#7. Here something odd – As an Air Force brat, I have lived all over the world, but I’ve never been to Canada or Mexico. Can you imagine that?

#8. Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so. Talk about validation! Not only that, I finally ascertained that because of His love I am worthy and I am capable of accomplishment. I became empowered to begin doing those things I always wanted to. Like write. And create. And love.

The #8 statement is my daily inspiration. Now I want to tell you what inspired me to write Secrets of the Old Ladies Club . During my work in health care, I asked many, many patients of all ages how they feel on the inside. The older people told me they felt the same in their golden years as they did when they were 18 years old. Amazing. From that revelation, I penned the motto of the character named Bethany: “Our bodies may grow old but our souls don’t. They just grow”. Think about it and go with it.

Amen.

very inspiring blogger
Hey ya’ll, don’t forget to pray for peace. The whole world still needs your prayers.