Sunday, August 28, 2011


I have been wrestling with thoughts on the earthquake and now the hurricane. I've prayed and know I'm called to write stories. Jesus is the Story-teller and we are all involved in His story, the Greatest Story Ever Told. I'm not a theologian, although I've been studying the Good Book for almost 50 years, beginning with my best teacher, my dad.
It was after we moved to 432 Main Street, I was on the floor of the blue-green carpet by the stone fireplace on a Sunday. My father asked me, "What did you learn about in Sunday School?" That day, it was the woman at the well(John 4). Dad proceeded to get the Bible story book out and tell more about this woman. I have since loved this episode. Any song about the well, the Living Water, holding a special place in my heart.
Dad always helped me learn. He loved God and His Word, continually studying. I had a sermon for youth Sunday, he critiqued it after I wrote it. I had a question, he answered it. My freshman year of nursing, my roommate challenged me about the Virgin birth. Just a year earlier, the first test tube baby had been born. Dad compared those two, just to say, sex is not necessary for procreation. God just did it first and best.
As I think more about these current events, I can't say,"Yes, definitely, this is God's judgment." That is tricky philosophy for sure. But it is interesting that for years, they have been called "Acts of God" by insurance companies. And can we ignore weather in literature? Just this past week, I read the account in Bram Stoker's Dracula of the captain's log of his ship's passage to England with the count on the vessel. The next morning, in my path through Acts that I have been following this summer, Paul's dangerous sea journey to Rome was the story. Because of the darkness of the night before reading, I could truly imagine the events on Paul and Luke's boat- 14 days at sea, being tossed about and no food.
So, weather plays such an important role in literature- the wind changes and Mary Poppins appears or goes away, a cyclone whisks Dorothy to the land of Oz, Snoopy, in Peanuts, always starts his story,"a dark stormy night" Frank Peretti uses the gathering storms as the result of the angels and demons fighting. We are just pawns in the weather, aren't we? Watch the wind rip apart a house. Observe the footage of an earthquake in a store.
How about titles,The Winter of Our Discontent,The Hurricane by Rose Wilder Lane,Summer of My German Soldier are a few I remember right now. The whole book mentions a weather or season phenomenon. I can now think of so many summer stories that with the coming of fall, life has changed. I think of the beginning of World War II and events in my own memory that I will share at another time.
So I can't say that these current events are God's judgment on America, but they have been dramatic. I've also been doing a Bible study on Amos and in chapter 7, God withheld judgment from ancient Israel, even though she didn't repent. In my mind's eye, I saw God's Hand holding back disasters, but my question is, "Is His hand lifting?"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 10 easy ways to make sure your kids won't be Chri... 10 easy ways to make sure your kids won't be Chri...: Want your kid to walk away from God?  Here's a sure-fire formula, my friends.  Follow this easy-to-use guide to turn them away from God  and..
This is a problem we have in our churches. There are some interesting comments about this post. I think we need to discuss it, but also pray about the youths leaving church. It is sad enough that college students go through the season of testing and we pray. I think we need to pray more. That is where my heart is, the college students. But there are new statistics that we are even losing the kids as early as junior high. And just the other day I heard that only 20% of the post college students return to church. Now that is sad. It used to be 80%.
I'd love to hear your input on keeping children in the fold as it were. Steering to follow hard after Jesus. We need to pray for our kids.
I just know Jesus promised,"The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church." The question, "Is the Church just opening those gates and letting people go to hell?"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Don't Feel Earthquakes

I'm torn what to write about this evening. I thought about my memories and keeping with the flow of the blog, first day of 6th grade, but then there is this earthquake, that I didn't feel again. I didn't feel the one from Kentucky when I was a kid. I didn't feel the one in New Hampshire in 1983. I worked nights at Wentworth Douglas Hospital in Dover and I guess the building was pretty steady. It awoke David, he thought it was a SAC plane from Dover Air force Base. I thought I was dizzy in the Greenville one when Mary Ellen was four. Her grandparents had her at the Shenango Dam Campground and Lyle thought she was shaking his chair. Even in California, a small quake, I didn't feel because I was in a car. Today I just learned about it on the internet.
Katie and Mary Ellen both felt it at their different schools. No one was home, I wonder how the dog reacted. Or the cats.
Well, I think it is too early for the kids to be back at school. It wasn't until high school that we started before Labor Day. It was like the 28th of August and we just groaned. Had always been the Wednesday after Labor Day.
My mother told of how they spent the whole day, Labor Day, at the Great Stoneboro Fair, closing it down. Then the long drive home, 30 miles or more during the Depression, back country roads to Sharon. Getting up early for school the next day, she struggled out of bed. Grandma Evans lined them up on the porch when they lived on Wengler Ave., instructing them to breath in that fresh country air. Cows were still in the fields when Mom lived there.
My husband's niece Hannah endeavored on her first teaching day in Culpepper, VA and they were sent home, as the epicenter was only 45 miles from them. She is having an earthquake party tonight.
Another day I'll continue with my sixth grade experience. It shook me up but I don't feel earthquakes.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Movie Theme Songs

Just came from our Mercer County/Shenango Valley Senior Follies show, Movie Magic. These shows get better every year. I love that the Hickory High School Drama Club assists and gets a number. I endorse the interaction of the generations. And scary as it is I'm almost a senior.
I thought back to the late 60's, early 70's when so many movie theme songs made the radio. I still mostly saw the Disney movies. Mom complained once that,"The only movies we see are Disney." But we did start attending some more mature movies. In fact they were rated "M" like "The Prime of Miss Jean Brody" with the ever memorable song,"Jean." Mom thought it would be OK for me because it was about a girl's boarding school. I still haven't let my girls see it. Well, it just hasn't come up on the q for Netflix.
The band played a good amount of them tonight,"Love Story," "Laura's Theme-Somewhere My Love,"(I thought of Grandma Evans missing June), a whole Burt Bacharach selection, "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,""Alfie," "What the World Needs Now," but no "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"
These movies and songs seeped into my culture. Everyone made reference to the horse head in the bed, that the anticipation when I finally saw "The Godfather" on TV grew. My parents watched that one by themselves at the movie theater. I must have been at a friend's house.
Who didn't hear that grown men cried during "Love Story?" All comedy shows that we had on our TV, like Carol Burnett, incorporated the popular movies in the sketches. I didn't live in a bubble, so these movies affected me.
The summer of 1972 I did see "Nicholas and Alexandra," and that led me to love anything czarina. Those lovely girls fascinated my eleven year old romanticism. I didn't know the story so the ending proved to be a startling shock to me. I went home and devoured the World Book Encyclopedia for information on all of that era.
All those songs drifting from the radio, some so haunting or sad and others more happy, like "Raindrops" What that had to do with Butch and Sundance, I don't know. A simple little interlude between brutality, I guess. But we loved singing it.
Years later I have enjoyed most of those movies. I don't think I've seen "Alfie." Not sure I want to do so, although I love Michael Cane.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Late August 1972

The sting of Debbie's rejection still throbbed in our home. We adjusted to being three again. The end of August, the nights come sooner with the air a little cooler. Summer winds down for fall. I geared up for sixth grade, the last year of elementary school. A group of us walked over to the school to check our teachers posted on the door.
I walked a lot. I wrote copious letters to friends from camp, making the trip to the post office downtown at least two times a day to check for letters. Kim Gilligan from Brookville, PA, stayed in touch well into our high school years. I didn't like being downtown by the Islay's wall in the evening. The friends and gang that hung with Debbie sat there smoking. I felt an 11 year old self consciousness. I knew I didn't fit in with that group, never really did. I missed the fun of Debbie.
The pool was not the same either. Water cooler, less people there. I missed my school friends. One lived very far out of town and we just didn't get together during the summer. I believe they didn't come to Sharon for their shopping, probably went over to Lincoln Knolls in Youngstown when it was still thriving.
This was the first full year we were allowed to wear pants. Shopping at the various malls, for pants, sweaters, blouses and some dresses. Eating out. I don't remember this year's particulars.
A time on the cusp of change. I knew life was changing. I was changing into a young woman and I still wanted to cling to my dolls, yet love awakened this year at camp with a boy named Mark, just with hand holding and arms around each other, no kissing and no letters returned.
I didn't know what this school year would hold as none of us know, but I felt it would be vastly different than fifth grade, as I was not the same little girl Mr. Jones alluded to in his talk with my parents about having a girl like Debbie in their home. Yet, I'm glad Debbie was there for my mother's generation didn't talk about female issues or love for that matter and my sisters weren't around. I gathered some insight to what I would face.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Eastwood Mall

I entered the Eastwood Mall in Niles, OH through the main entrance. As I came to middle concourse, I swirled back in my mind to Woolworth's and the cafeteria there at least 40 years ago. We spent many Saturdays at this mall or Southern Park Mall, mostly the dark short Saturdays of winter. We ate at Woolworth's cafeteria one evening and Barney Bean, the local host of a kid's cartoon show, also chose this establishment to dine. I was beside myself. He just nodded and had a vague smile as he sensed we recognize him, but we didn't bother him. I didn't even ask him to make a picture of my initials. That was the special thing he did for the one person's birthday on his show. I never got to go to a recording of his show. The other Girl Scout troop in town did, though.
Now Woolworth's is fancy little girl shops with fake chandeliers. An E-quarium entertains now on the east to west wing by Macy's, which used to be Stauss's, Straus, Kauffman's, the finer department store. I wander down the north hall, the movie theater is gone. Now if you want to relax, there are stuffed chairs and TV with Jerry Springer. I enter JC Penney's. I look toward the west entrance where the restaurant is now the children's department. Ate pie with Sandy Flowers one time there.
My book store is there, but is no longer Walden's, where Dad bought me the whole set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Mom picked out book labels for me there with a black cat sitting on a pile of books, yellow and black, very dignified-Ex Libras. I was quite proud of those stickers to put in my books.
I continue my journey. I think it is so neat they have a train for the kids, now. When Katie and Mary Ellen were young they had a carosel, two tiered. I round the corner where the Gap was. A rite of passage was when we as teenagers were allowed to drive to Eastwood Mall by ourselves. I came over to buy my favorite Levi's- 28X34, so I could cuff them.
Fudrukker's is where York Steak House had been. David and I had our engagement dinner here after buying my ring at King's Jeweler's. Had flaming cherries for dessert. Whenever I scan this, I'll share the picture of how happy I was that night, in my rabbit fur jacket I bought at Fashion Bug.
When we shopped over there, food was always involved, even if it was just Baskin Robbin's where the License Bureau is now. That felt like a cruel joke today. Mostly we went on Saturdays as I said, but sometimes we went on cool summer evenings, when Dad got off work. I remember going on a Sunday, when nothing was opened but Thrift Drug. The mall seemed so mysterious in the half light.
Mom loved to shop and Dad didn't mind taking us. He sat in the plastic built in chairs and rested. We put our bags with him and go spend more of his money. He joined us in bookstores and sometimes Spencer's Gifts, which is still there.
This what I got today, the two CD's at the bookstore.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lyon Family Reunion

Yesterday Mary Ellen received her National Geographic. The cover story was "Can We Fly?" Right away, I said, "I wonder if Grandpa's cousin, Pete, will be in it." Sure enough, a teeny weeny picture of him, about an inch high, tucked in the print with a blip,"1961 Bell engineer Harold Graham straps on a hydrogen peroxide fueled Rocket Belt and flies for 13 seconds."
Pete was my father-in-law's first cousin, his mother, Laura was the sister of Paul Lyon. We also knew that miniscule photo was him, because he gave an 8x10 to Lyle, his favorite cousin. I think they all got that caption. When he died, though, he left some money to Ellen, not Lyle. I got to read his will, written in his colorful style.
Pete showed up at Parker Dam in Pennsylvania sometime during the first weekend in August for the Lyon family reunion. Usually, at the air stream trailer with his cup for coffee. Each year a different woman with him, except the last few years, where Millie was the lady. He looked like Jack Palance and had that gravelly voice. He was younger than my father-in-law, teenager at the weddings, cooking up trouble with another cousin, Ermil Dill. These guys were great.
The Lyon family reunion started after too many funerals and not enough just getting together for fun. So after World War II, the cousins decided to meet at Parker Dam, since their parents were from this part of the Alleghenies and camp for their reunion. And were there cousins. Esther Dill, another sister of Paul, had 7 or 8 kids, and each of them had at least 4, but mostly more. Melvin Dill from Bedford, Mass had 7 children, as I think did his brother, Harry a.k.a Junior, as well. Melvin's wife thought she was done at 4, she told Ellen at one wedding, but Melvin winked. Three more came along, but the last one was Eleanor Nancy Dill- E.N.D.
Camping the whole weekend provided a chance to visit more. Children could play. It was funny, sometimes a child not of the clan would be camping near by. "Are you a cousin?" and find out, no it wasn't a cousin. Parker Dam, a quiet, small campground,for the longest time did not have electric sites. But my in-laws got around that with the air stream. Even this big crew wanted Ellen's fudge around the campfire, an expanding circle each year.
My first one was before we married in 1980. It was David's grandfather's last one. I think all the Lyle Lyon kids were there. We were much smaller family then, and Kathy was there, too.
Saturday was the big picnic with the food people made in tents. I don't think most of them were campers any other time of the year. We packed it all up and went to one of the pavilions by the dam. Parker Dam was a big dam for holding back what amounted to a larger farm pond. High in the mountains, the water being spring fed, was a great cool off on those hot sunny days. Only paddle boating on this body of water. We ate, then there was the big baseball game and some of the cousins were very competitive. Even my father-in-law played in the mid 80's. I have a picture of him running the bases. After the baseball game was time to swim. This was the order of the day. Sometime during swimming, people explored the nature museum at the beach. The ice cream was good at the concession stand, so usually, we had a cone, too. Hard to believe with all that excellent food- roast beef sandwiches, gumbo soup from Jeff Dill living in the south, Ellen's custard among an array of other marvelous offerings, we wanted ice cream, too.
People straggled back to the campsite, either in cars, or over the big rocks in the spill way. It was the quickest way to the campsite, if you had the nerve. Left overs for supper or hamburgers and hot dogs. Later in the evening, another camp fire with all that entails, s'mores, cookies, fudge.
I loved to go down by the lake at night with the moon shining over it. Parker Dam is quite enchanting sitting high in the mountains.I sat under the pine tree shadows.
I must say we haven't been there in a few years. It's not the same with Ellen and Lyle not camping anymore. It is a two hour drive up and back, a tiring day. The drive back hangs like a pall on the festivities. The girls get busy with Senior Follies or working. David doesn't relish a drive when he just had a long drive the day before and another the next day. But I hope next year we can plan it better and go, maybe camp. Because I really love the Lyon family reunion.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Is What I'm Talking

I heard this author today on the radio and I thought this is what I'm talking about.
I'm reading Jubilee Trail. The heroine, Garnet, goes to a dying man, who has helped her along the Santa Fe Trail and later to birth her baby, care for her in recovery. It comes out he was a trained doctor in the Army, but was too drunk one night to assist wounded in an Indian attack on a fort. She brings along a Bible. After they talk awhile, not much because he is dying, she asks him if he would like her to read something from the Bible. He choses the Shepherd's psalm, 23. After, they are conversing and he asks if she reckons if God will have him. He's been talking to God, you know, but not praying. He didn't know any special prayers. She thinks God will accept him. I do, too.
I guess that is why I feel strongly against Jesus being moved from the public square. Or as I used to say, how can we have anything to rebel against, if church going is lost? But back in the 1840's during the setting of this book, religion was in the foreground. People had some idea of Jesus. If we don't have the Bible, how could we comfort a dying friend? How can you know to talk to God, if you've never heard the Bible?
As Rick Richardson in this interview says, the Holy Spirit leads all into truth. We have our stories to tell about our relationship with Jesus. That's all it is. Is He the best thing in my life? Is that relationship the source of my joy? Do I show the story of His love?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Saturday Night

I don't know quite how to put my thoughts from Saturday night's Valley Alive into words. I felt compelled to acknowledge God in my writing. I thought how even a year ago, few people knew my writing aspirations. I had to prove to myself that I could finish a story, I had discipline. As I thought back on my postings, I feel I have lifted Jesus up. I want to.
I worry, especially after reading the How to e-book and listening to a free webinar on getting published, that the difficulties are great. Sharing a computer with the family, working full time, and having minor health problems or just being tired are some obstacles. I'm spunky, yet I can despair. I believe, yet doubt in subtle ways.
My writing was in the dark, quiet of my mind. Some knew. I asked a few friends to pray for my keeping at it. Two years ago, it was getting up at 4, so I would have an hour to write. Then it was,"Is an hour enough?" I had to be isolated. When Mary Ellen went to FL for National Fine Arts and Katie was still at Institute of Art in Pittsburgh, I felt free to write in the evening.
Now, sometimes with the blog I write even when they are in the room, either reading or watching a movie. I have more time to write now they are not small and they know I write.
I feel as I put my desire out there and have had some positive feedback, my wings are drying off. Saturday evening, I felt the Lord is my Patron. He has put this dream in my heart and my ability with work that He has opened my eyes to see He is cheering for me.
I have so many ideas of stories to honor God. I hope even these life stories, especially of my dad and family will show that a life in Jesus is fun, adventuresome and to be cliche', quite rewarding. I am sure without a look back that this is what I'm to be doing. Telling through stories a life lived with Jesus.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lewis Family Reunion

The second Saturday in August was always our Lewis family reunion. Grayce Campbell had it at her cottage on Conneaut Lake. Grace's mother, Myrtle Lewis Thompson, was my grandfather, Frank Lewis's first cousin. Just so your head spins a little more and your eyes glaze over with relations, it was the closest we got to my dad's cousins. I don't believe he had any first Lewis cousins. Dad's brother didn't want to have much to do with these relatives because they didn't help out in the Great Depression when their mother was widowed. As my mother and father said, they probably had enough for themselves. Hard to say, but I enjoyed the Lewis relatives and relished seeing the wavy hair in different hues of sandy blond to red.
Myrtle lived downtown in the Thompson apartments. I had a hard time figuring out these relations, if you've read, I had a lot of Thompson in my family. Myrtle married a Thompson, not related to either of my grandmothers, who's maiden name was Thompson, again, not related. Yeah...Grayce's first husband was also a Thompson, but I never met him. I just knew her son, Jack Thompson, yet Grayce was married to Bruce Campbell by then. It took me many years to figure this all out. I hadn't realized Myrtle's maiden name was Lewis for awhile. I visited her sometimes. When I was 17, sporting one of those famous 'fros in the 70's, she said I looked like my grandfather. I always heard he didn't get his wavy hair until he turned a teenager, and I followed that pattern. The 'fro was just an enhancement.
When I was small, Myrtle and other old people sat in chairs on the patio facing the lake. One I believe was Elmer Lewis. I ran around and played in the enclosed dock on their beach. Betty Lewis Black had done the genealogy and it will be at the Marion, OH library. One of the many trips I'll make some day.
One year, Diane swam out to an island not too far from land, but far enough. She reported a "frogman" grabbed her ankle or something like that. Diane fill in...if you please. The seaweed was thick and green, but I still loved the water. A canal edged the side of their property with a curved foot bridge over it. Quite enchanting.
We seemed to not go for awhile, then returned in my later teen years. I really wanted to know my relatives. I visited many once I learned to drive both on Mom and Dad's sides. I pushed for this, although I didn't have to push hard.
Returning to the reunions had a comfort as nothing seemed to change. From the off color sayings in the bathrooms, like the ones you see at roadside shops in tourist areas, the dock, the bridge over the canal and the old people sitting on the front patio.
Later, even after I was married and then took my girls, nothing changed. The Twizzlers in the long glass jar on the counter in the small kitchen separating it from the common room, all windows encompassing the lake. The old people now, though, were my mother, and the cousins my dad's age or older.
We all took lots of food to pass and ate in the yard. The food protected from the sun set up in the garage, with water ski equipment hanging from the rafters. After eating way too much and visiting with everyone you could, the swimmers chose one of the four bedrooms to change into their suits. Grayce's daughter, Jill, took us out in the pontoon boat to the middle of the lake. Conneaut is one of the largest fresh water natural lakes in Pennsylvania and deep. Mom recounted every year how someone always drowns in this lake, but thankfully never during reunion. I guess some years were cool or rainy, but not often. Usually, Pennsylvania had one of those late summer very hot days. To dive into that deep cool lake water from the side of the pontoon boat was one of the greatest reliefs and pleasures I've experienced. No thick green slimy seaweed floating out there. The bright sun beat down on our heads as that cold water sunk into our pores and we breathed delight.
Food put back out after the afternoon of activities for supper. Everyone was so pleasant. No bickering or family fights or slights seemed to surface. We loved watching the children thinking, now who do they look like. Walter Reno, who's mother was a Lewis, is in a picture I took. He is standing just like my dad stood, with hands on his hips. He is short and slight, like Dad's brother and their voice inflections and mannerisms are similar.
Grayce died years ago after having some dementia. Reunions ended when she really started losing her memory. One year they had it at the Reno farm in Hermitage, but that was when I lived in New England and couldn't come home for everything. My niece Megan, now a mother of two, was just a little girl of maybe three at that one.
Three years ago, Walter and Naomi celebrated their 50th wedding reunion at Hickory VFW. That is the closest to family reunion. A week later, my mother died. Many e-mails flew back and forth then.
Walter's sister Dorothy's class was the first graduates of the Hickory High School that then became the middle school. Mary Ellen was the last class to leave that school.
I see Walter sometimes in the mall or around. It's a piece of my Dad's family. I'm amazed at the familiar traits I see.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My First E-Book

Mary DeMuth is a gracious writer, not holding anything back. Last month, she offered a free E-book, 11 Secrets to Getting Published. I finished it a few days ago, but was in the middle of my Preachers series and had already interrupted it twice.
From the first words, I knew this book would be so helpful, like a friend sitting down with you, explaining the business. I heard Mary a few years ago on WCRF/MoodyRadio/ Cleveland, being interviewed for her new book, then, Thin Places.Thin Places: A Memoir I ordered it, devoured it and passed it on to my friend who teaches junior high girls. I believe she can speak to some of these girls going through the sexual assault and insecurities of this age.
I got on her e-mail list and about a year ago, before I finished my first story, she shared then how to query a book proposal and I printed it, feeling very insecure about the whole publishing process.
This e-book has all the information, encouragement and downfalls of the publishing world. Easy to read, yet technical in places, like the size font needed for different articles.
This is no rose color glass picture of writing. It is hard work, a hard business, years to pay your dues for sometimes little return. Except, if you have to write, this explains the stage, the play and the players. This leads you through the labyrinth of the publishing world. The most important nuggets I panned was first to write, write, write and then to always look for friends. Don't think of competition, but give back. Mary is a Christian and her lavishness shows this. I can't wait to meet her sometime at a writer's conference.
Mary has also suggested on giving away her book to someone who likes her facebook Just mention you read it about it on my blog.
Any writers would benefit from her experience. Take her up on this offer.The 11 Secrets of Getting Published

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Preacher to Pastor

Young adults were mingling about the large room in an old mansion on State Street in Sharon, PA. We had just had a Bible study. I was probably one of the youngest at Break Away. My mother had read about it in the paper. I just graduated that spring, working afternoons as a nurse's aid at Clepper's, a nursing home farther up State Street. I had a Monday evening off.
A rather short balding man broke into conversation with me. Excitement filled me as he mentioned he was from Emporium and I had just heard of that. I wanted to go to a district meeting there in the fall as I was planning on running for a state office in an organization I belonged the next summer. Politicking even at a Bible study, is there no shame? He was impressed that I had heard of the small north central Pennsylvania town, but that I had no idea it was 3 hours away from Sharon. His mother was also involved in this organization.
Ray Lyon, new in his ministry, just finished his first year at Wheatland UM church. Jim Tweardy, a Presbyterian minister from Covenant Church in Sharon, headed up this young adult ministry in one of the homes owned by the church, as well as an outreach at Penn State Shenango. Being a good Christian girl, I was looking for a good Christian man.
When I got home that night, I ran upstairs to my parents' bedroom, plunked down on the edge of their bed and told them how I met a young single preacher! But Ray is 8 years older than I and at 18, just too big a gap. I hadn't even started nursing school, yet.
By the end of summer, a taller man with thick black hair and an aloof air about him caught my attention in the same mansion. David Lyon, visiting his bachelor brother, who took no time to cook or eat(often, Ray passed out on his visitations), or buy groceries, was forced to come to this Labor Day picnic or starve, as he had just left college. I caught David's attention with my tenacity to get up on water skis and the incompetency of the young men trying to teach me. Later that week, he invited me boating with his friends coming from Pittsburgh and Ray, on Ray's boat. The weather turned cold in that week and I wore a sweater, instead of a bathing suit. I never have learned how to get up on skis, quit 20 years ago.
The Lyon brothers, used to mountain reservoirs, not shallow lakes like Shenango hadn't realized there was a sand bar in the middle of the upper basin, north of the causeway. Ray drove the boat onto that sandbar. One side you couldn't reach the bottom with the boat hook, the other, the water hardly covered the tip. Ray got out to push the boat. The friend, Donald, an art major, photographed the Rev. Ray walking on water, for it surely looked like that way out in the middle of the lake. Ray quipped, "Make sure my congregation sees that picture!"
So was the beginning of a fun and longest relationship with a preacher. David has often called him,"The right, righteous Rev. Ray." He's also know as the "late Rev. Ray." or "Ray who?" Now in later years, the congregations have gotten to call their ministers, "Pastor" That took Ray some getting used to. "I don't know about this Pastor Ray..." he muttered.
Ray gave the sermon at our wedding. He has married several of his nieces and nephews. He is a vivacious top, seems to be always spinning, but not out of control. He has a wonderful wife, Kathy, who also graduated 2 years ahead of me from WMHS, the helpmate he needs.(Wonderful Middlesex girls). Ray is great at visiting, which seems to be a dying occupation among the new breed of preachers, I heard.
Ray is being upstaged by his great nephew, Jacob, in the praying department. When Jacob turned six, his prayers just seemed to take off. A little boy tormenting his cousins one minute, a little man of God the next when asked to pray.
Ray showed his sister, David and I where he heard his call to ministry on 6th Street, just a few blocks from his Emporium home. A ninth grader, he ignored it for a while. But as a man of God will tell you, you can't run from God forever. Ray is guided by the Holy Spirit and he gives his all to his ministry.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Preachers- Part 6

I don't want to ignore Rev. Hicks, who came after Rev. Berryhill did his interim for the period between Rev. Hatch's death and Rev. Hick's arrival. I did mention him in my post-Pray-ers. Rev. Hicks formed my teen and young adult years as much as Rev. Hatch influenced my young years and also taught my communicants class. I joined the church under Rev. Hatch, while my dad, the greatest former of my Christian life was in the hospital. That is another story.
Rev. Hicks and his wife and three teenage children arrived in W. Middlesex from Aliquippa, PA. When I first heard he was coming before I knew his name, I had hoped it was Rev. Lightbody, as he was from Aliquippa and had three teenage children, about the same age and sexes. Lightbody's were the family I fell in love with my last year at camp. No disappointment for me, though. John, his son proved to be a great friend and that was better than any romantic entanglement.
Rev. Hicks performed our wedding, along with Rev. Ray Lyon. He also baptized both of my girls. He drove my mother to Cleveland Clinic once a week to see my dad, who had leukemia at that time. I rode along once with Katie, a babe in arms. The stories do overlap as life does, too. Rev. Hicks also a neighbor, I graduated with his son from high school. Dad couldn't keep up with his lawn mowing, "Oh, John's at it again!" Rev. Hicks, a small man, loved sports to play and watch. He described himself as a conservative man, and labeled Rev. Hatch as moderate, commending the church on accepting different styles. A quiet man, yet also showed a passion growing in his later years. He did the Presbyterian altar call every Sunday, always making sure we knew it was relationship with Jesus, not being a member of a church, "If you're not sure, come talk to me in my office."
Rev. Hicks visited often when you were sick, either in hospital or at home, as well as when you weren't sick. Often, I came home for lunch when I started home care, finding Rev. Hicks talking to David on our couch. He visited in our home when Katie was to be baptized. He explained why Presbyterians believed in infant baptism and the symbolism to circumcision. He also told me the greatest privilege a parent can have is to lead their children to Christ, with illustrations of when his children came to Jesus.
My mother became so embarrassed after Rev. Hicks visited Dan, who told him he was not going to go to church. Rev. Hicks comforted her, by saying, "I'd rather have people be honest with me than tell me lies." He is such a comforting man. He helped me when I had some problems and in his quiet way encouraged me. He understood after my father died and I was alone at church with two little girls why I had to go to another church. No one knows how hard that was, but I know God led me to where I am now. Rev. Hicks gave me his blessing. Plus his youngest son attended this church, too. The Sunday after he retired, he came to my new church and Pastor Ken acknowledged him from the pulpit.
You see to Rev. Hicks the important thing wasn't being a member of his church, it was your personal relationship with God.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Preachers- Part 5

Rev. Donald Hatch came with the merger, so in the same 3 year old egocentricity I had with the church building, I assumed he was my special preacher. His sermons are the ones I remember. Not a small man at all, he wore the black somber robes on Sunday, but I was never afraid of him, yet I did respect him. On weekdays, which I saw him a lot because he did work next door, he generally donned suits. His relaxing shirts were plaid- Rick Warren style before Rick cut teeth.
Rev. Hatch and his family were young, which made them more interesting to me. They had one son who died before they came, Samuel. Matthew, a rowdy boy,and a mass of brown ringlets, was two years younger than I. He and I tumbled a lot, especially during the building of that new church. Anne came a few years later, black curls on a pretty face with black eyes. Sharon, a little older than my niece Debbie, had golden curls, and brown eyes. I loved these kids. I loved this family. They finally moved from the South Street manse downtown to next door in the older manse. The South Street manse, a Cape Code, proved too small for this growing family. Much bigger rooms next door and more of them. Their porch had a swing and we piled on it and sang and swang most of the summer evenings. Oh, what glorious times!
In a sermon about set backs, Rev. Hatch told this story about how he met Gail, his humorous wife. He had rheumatic fever before or during his senior year of college, and all plans seemed to fall through. He wouldn't get into seminary as anticipated, needing to repeat his senior year. He felt down. I think his girlfriend gave up on him, too. On the first day of the new school year, he glimpsed this amazing freshman walking in the hall with arm load of books and soon got to know Gail Sears.
Rev. Hatch displayed a sense of humor, too. They took a summer trip on the Dixie Queen. He proudly told the congregation that in a game to guess occupations, the other passengers put forth that he was a bartender. Years later, at a funeral, the priest compared a bartender to a priest, taking confessions. I'm sure they both could tell a person a great many stories.
When I did my first and only solo(so low, you couldn't hear it-groan), I glanced down to see Rev. Hatch smiling up at me. I felt a little better. I had a weak voice, never venturing to sing alone again. I did sing with three other girls in the summer-"Wonderful Words of Life." I don't recall any of us furthering our singing career.
I was never bored in church. I loved the rituals and felt God in them. Even in the summer when the windows had to be opened, with still no breeze, I listened to Rev. Hatch's sermons.
One June day, after he and Gail came back from Hawaii for their 15th wedding anniversary, they were cleaning up to go to New York state to get the children at her parents. Gail showered as Rev. Hatch rested in an easy chair in the bedroom. When she returned to the room, he had had a heart attack, dead in the chair. He was only 40. June 22, 1975.
The church numbed with shock. How could that fun loving man be dead?
I believe my ministry to widows and orphans began that summer and fall. Matthew would enter 7th grade. I, a mature 9th grader, would keep an eye out for him. I visited Gail often while she still lived in the manse. One time as I came in, she looked up at me from the desk with red eyes, "Mollie, Don always did the check book. I have to learn this. Make sure you know how to balance a check book."
This along with some other factors probably played into my independence, making my way to be a Navy wife, wife of a man who worked 7 days a week and now works 6 hours away. Every little experience builds on who we become. I also imitated Gail's spunk, in a time when women were expected to be housewives and mothers, especially preacher's wives.
In the Presbyterian church, we have interim pastors as the church searches for a new shepherd. I believe at the time, we had to wait at least a year. With such an unprepared departure of a young man, this was necessary. A time for healing and waiting is always needed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Sometimes I must say part of being a nurse, hospital or home health, is being privileged to join in a patient's life. Often it is funerals, but today was a wedding. I don't want to say too much because of privacy.
When I cared for people in the hospital, I cared for the families, too. As people approached the end of life or went through a crisis, the family shared memories with me. Listening to these stories was an honor. It isn't a body in a bed or Room 224b. I could never protect myself from caring.
I have been through many calling hour lines, one just last week. I have sat through funerals when I could get the time off work to do so. I have cried with families.
Today, a joyous time was shared with me. I was invited to be part of a celebration. The daughters welcomed me. One showed me the bridal table. They all thanked me for caring.
I cannot express the deep down feeling of love from them I am feeling because they sense my caring. Tears float in my eyes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


A small break from preachers, but on the same line. Today is my sister's anniversary. Her wedding was one of the last in the old church and so I felt it appropriate to write about the churches growing up.
The first one, a red brick, was as I said across the alley from our house. I thought this is the way it should be. I don't remember the sanctuary much, because I was too active to sit in church at the time and my brother became bored with church, so Mom let us come home after Sunday School and he watched me. I remember shaking like a poor man that had Parkinson's a row or two in front of us, across the aisle and I'm sure that sent Mom over the top. Dan and I were home when they shot Lee Harvey Oswald. He was more excited than I was.
The Presbyterian churches merged in 1964, on a national level and in town. We also happened to move to the "big, white house" next to the new church the same time. Being an egocentric, charming three year old, I thought the church just moved with us.
So the first church became the borough building and my memories of it are more of it in that capacity than as my church. The big basement under the sanctuary was the setting for many dinners(Woman's Club Christmas bazaar,) Campers club meetings, bridal showers. A door on Main Street quickly led downstairs with narrow stair case. Institutional green invades my memories of that basement. I do remember ringing the bell with Dan before we headed across the alley, every time I'm in the Emporium First UM church.
The next church was built in 1884, on the highest spot in W. Middlesex. A taller church, the aisles were two, one to the left and one to the right. The bride marched down the left aisle and returned with her groom up the left side. The communion cup holders were in a group of three on the old dark wood pews. I went a few more times to this church and always enjoyed the weddings. I was the flower girl for my sister. The reception line was outside on one of the hottest days in August. The reception then proceeded into the even hotter Fellowship Hall for cake, cookies and punch. Maybe Aunt Eleanor had hot tea. A telegram was read there in the foyer during the rehearsal in the morning from Denise, our exchange student from South Africa, then migrated to England. Quite impressive to a seven year old, who had never seen a telegram before.
A gray painted metal porch was off the kitchen, that was great as a kid. We thought of jumping off it, but I don't think I ever did. Years later, a toddler of one of my friends fell from this ten foot drop and even though greatly pregnant with Mary Ellen, I ran so fast, Katie was amazed at my agility. Under this porch, the beams to hold it up connected by horizontal beams that were only 6 inches off the ground became a balance beam for budding gymnasts.
The basement of the Fellowship Hall held the education wing. Even with fluorescent lights the hall emitted a dingy feeling. The rooms had plenty of light as they were solid windows. The bathrooms, small and enclosed, the girls that 60's pink. I only caught a forbidden glimpse of the boys, it seemed different. The upstairs bathrooms were roomier, but still only one toilet.
The new church,

dedicated in 1969, I always boast that I helped build. At least I spent many days and sunny summer evenings playing in tall piles of dirt and later pretending the scaffolding and rooms being built were hidden cities. My dad was on the building committee, so I often went along for the inspections. I absorbed the great clean emptiness of the fresh golden carpet in the sanctuary before the pews filled it. I rolled on that floor, just lavishing in openness. I still crave a large sparse space.
I know the church is more than the building, yet they are so interconnected. I played hard at that church growing up. I also observed the people and their reactions to children. I have many good memories of my churches.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Preachers- Part 4

Ray Fenton, I've mentioned before. I believe he made the biggest impression on my dad's Christian life. I have a book of famous sermons on my book shelf that used to belong to Ray. I am going to read them some day.
Ray came from Struthers, OH. He was ordained in the dark brick Presbyterian church on the corner of Bridge St.(OH 616.) His mother ended up living at Park Vista, 5th Avenue, Youngstown, long before I started to work at Senior Independence- Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services,of which Park Vista is also a part.
Ray's wife was Maxine, a registered nurse, I noted her when my mother had her ectoptic pregnancy. The manse was on South Street, across Main St, where we lived and behind Mae and Cliff's(Mayclif) laundry, along the alley that ran between our house and the church.
They served our church before I was born. I know our families had great times at Massenetta Springs, VA, Harrisonburg, VA camp and conference center. I'm sure my sisters can chime in about this. Mom talked often of the great fellowship and the food. They have to go hand in hand. Fresh peaches on homemade ice, now that's what I'm talking about, forget that cantaloupe! I never got there, although it was a fond dream of my parents never forgotten.
Ray persuaded my father to not give up work on Sundays. Dad felt convicted of keeping the Sabbath, and would not go to work nor get paid for missing. Ray told Dad, God also intended for him to support his family. Dad hated to miss church.
Mom also told me how Maxine used her maiden name, Joyce, for one of the girls middle name. Joyce proved easy for that. Dad for a long time didn't like Thompson for his middle name, often when he was in the service, he would say it was Thomas.
The Fenton/Lewis friendship appeared so fruitful to me. Mom definitely looked at these years as good. I wish I had been a part of them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Preachers- Part 3

Rev. Joseph(Joe) Anderson was a close friend of my dad and mother. I believe Dad came to his saving faith under Joe. This story my mother told me. The Presbyterian minister was the first to welcome them to W. Middlesex when they bought their new house in 1947. An alley stood between them and the church. I'm not sure if the first one was Joe Anderson, but Dad started seeking. Mom couldn't tell me a complete conversion story. I saw a picture once in that alley of my dad before he gave his life to Christ, very hard in a leather jacket, I believe a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. The eyes gave it away. He was not the man I knew growing up. One day Joe was at the house and had run out of cigarettes. Dad reached into his shirt pocket, handing a pack to Joe, "Here, don't go to the store, I won't need these any more."
Dad couldn't remember if he had been baptized as a baby, as by then his parents were both dead. His dad killed in a car accident Sept. 1923 and his mother of cancer in 1941 or 42, before Mom and Dad got married. Mom had met her future mother-in-law, but never was a daughter-in-law in this life. So, when Diane was to be baptized, he wanted to be also, with his new life, and so they had a double baptism.
Mom lamented when Dad passed away that she didn't ask Joe to speak at the funeral.
The Andersons moved to Youngstown, the Brownlee Woods neighborhood and he led that church for quite a few years. In 2001, when in my first months at Senior Independence, I was assigned a patient, Ruth Anderson. I had a feeling, I might know her. I asked if she was Joe Anderson's wife and she was! She was exactly as my mother described her, small, petite and very sweet. She told me stories of the manse which at that time was on the east end of Main St.
I connected to the past before I was born and my mother was thrilled at the time, as well. I had another part of my dad, again.