Friday, February 25, 2011

Daddy was a preacher

Prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. James 1:22-25

Hugh Ousley was meticulous about his appearance. For example, he would often come into a room and say “Do you know how old these shoes are?” I would pick a number out of thin air and make my guess. “No. I bought these Florsheim dress shoes before you were born. I keep them polished and take care of them, and they still look brand new.”

Sundays, he wore a white shirt-- the cuffs and collar of which were heavily starched and laboriously ironed by my mother. The last touch to this article of clothing was a pair of cuff links.

He was a walker and always wore dress slacks and a fashionable hat (think Humphrey Bogart) – felt in the winter; straw for summer wear. He had very thick, straight hair, and always took pride in being presentable no matter what the occasion. His frequent trips to the barber shop kept him feeling presentable.

However, occasionally, he would stand before the congregation, read the scripture from the first chapter of James, and while holding his Bible as if it were a mirror, muss his hair enough that he appeared to have just risen from a toss-and-turn night of sleep. Then he would remove from his pocket one of his combs. The combs were all black, about six inches long, with a diagonal slant. The narrower the comb, the closer the teeth were spaced. Again holding his “Mirror” he would clutch his comb at the narrow end, reach up, and perfectly part his hair. Then, he would switch to holding the other end of the comb and restore his hair perfectly. Without missing a beat in his message delivery, he would call on the congregation to be using their Mirrors more. Lest we forget.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


For those of my readers who have never had a friendship like mine with Joanne Roberts, let me say you have missed one of God’s greatest treasures.

When we met, she was just newly married…raised as a Catholic….married to a Southern Baptist. Though I had been married much longer than she, Joanne was always the leader. She knew about budgeting and housework and cooking and being the perfect hostess. She and Ron lived in a tiny apartment; she washed their two windows, inside and out, almost daily until she took a job at a nearby bank.

The occasion of our meeting was a potluck at the Juneau Church of Christ when Ron brought his fresh-from-their-honeymoon bride to worship with us. We were packed like sardines at tables that completely filled the kitchen. John and I were sitting at the table with our backs to the window; Ron and Joanne were stuffed across from each other two tables away. Seems to me that John had to clamber over a couple of tables to introduce himself.

Ron was searching for a place of worship and had not found what he was looking for in either of the Juneau Baptist churches. We invited them for dinner the following night, and they accepted. The evening conversation was the usual – hunting, fishing, recipes, families, jobs, etc. But before they left that evening, we had decided they would come to our house every Monday night for a study of God’s Word. The first several weeks, John used a series of Jules Miller filmstrips to lead our studies. But each Monday, he and Ron would get into longer conversations on the Bible, always going to the Word for answers and more questions.

Joanne and I eventually excused ourselves and went to the living room. We became well acquainted, and I learned so much from (and about) her. It was not at all unusual for us to visit until the wee hours of the morning and call each other almost daily. For the first time in my life, I realized one does not have to talk all the time to be friends; we could talk out a subject and just sit silently and be perfectly content. Joanne came with Ron to support his desire to study. But just about the time Ron was thinking of being baptized, Joanne had been listening to the studies enough to realize they applied to her as well. It was a sunny day when Jesus washed their sins away. Bob Waldron baptized them.

She was always in charge whether it was leading a scrappy bunch of men beyond the trails to the top of Mount Juneau or lifting spawning salmon over an obstacle to help them on their way or teaching a children’s Bible class. When Joanne and I planned the baby shower for our friend Kathy’s firstborn, I fell apart because the baby came early so Joanne moved the party to her place and took on the entire occasion, without complaining. There is photographic proof that four of us young-married ladies hiked to Dupont. Joanne led the pack; I pulled up the rear, carrying our bear-protection rifle. Of course, Joanne was the only one who knew how to aim. I suppose any of us could have shot the gun, but so glad we did not encounter a bear to test that theory. The only wildlife encounter were the mice gnawing on my hair during the night.

Did I mention Joanne was beautiful? I know I mentioned it to her…just before they moved away. Whether dressed for a hike with a red neckerchief covering her hair or giving a talk to a group of ladies, she was knockdown gorgeous. She had the most perfect posture, the kind my father always prodded me to practice. I said, “Joanne, I have never said this to you, but I want you to know something. You are beautiful.”

She thought for a moment and replied, “I know; and you have no idea what a burden that is in life.” She was not vain; there was just no hiding the fact, even from herself.

She loved the outdoors, and frequently borrowed David and/or Patty Cake for an afternoon. My memories abound. When I read in scripture about the love Jonathan had for David or Jesus’ love for John, I praise God that I have a friendship like that. It is a rare calling and requires one thing that people do not give these days. That thing is T.I.M.E.

I have twice cried buckets for my precious sister. The first siege was when she told me she and Ron had made a decision to forego the six-figure income they had come to Juneau to buy into. They had decided to attend a preacher-training school in Denver, Colorado. Before they moved away, I took my children to California so that I would not have to face our “Goodbye.” When we returned, they were on their way to Denver, where, they completed the schooling and adopted baby #1. then moved to Texas. They added four more boys to their family and, eventually, moved with their five boys to Chile, where they continued to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. When they returned to the USA, they moved to the town where we reside.

The second siege of tears has already required more than one bucket. About 5 years ago, Joanne had a kidney with a tumor attached, removed. Last year, she found a lump on her breast and underwent surgery, chemo, and radiation. She lost her beautiful hair but kept her eyelashes and eyebrows. She missed her annual mission trip to Mexico. As soon as her treatment was complete, she began making plans to make sure of the supplies. Because she was fluent in Spanish, my friend was in charge of shopping and feeding close to 100 folks who take a few days to build houses for people living in abject poverty. On January 23rd, Joanne missed worship because she had a really bad headache, and after enduring a miserable pain for two days, Ron insisted she see a doctor. The rest is a blur of information gathered wherever and however I could get it. The MRI revealed seven (7) tumors on her brain. Medically, she received 3 hours of radiation daily for 3 weeks. Heavily sedated for the pain, she slept almost all of the time. I was allowed to sit with her briefly. She knew I was there; she knew who I was. She opened her eyes and told me she loved me so much.

I told you she was always a leader. Joanne Cimmiyotti-Roberts continues to lead the way for all of us to live our lives in service to God, not looking back. She is now among the souls described in Hebrews 12:1, cheering us on.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Larry Story

Our Bible study group was discussing babies one evening when Larry chimed in he had a story to share.

It seems that when his parents told him he was going to have a baby sister or brother, Larry's reaction was, "I don't want a sister or brother, but I would like another grandparent."

For the full story of who Larry Schoenborn is, go to my hubby's blog.; then take a look at his January 18th entry.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January 12th-- A Day to remember

Today is a day for celebrating the birth of our wonderful firstborn. We do not know much about Jesus mother, but we do know that she treasured His growth in her heart. I know just how she felt. We carefully chose the name David Matthew for its meaning – Beloved Gift of God; and, indeed, that describes this “child.”

He came the very day such charts in those days predicted. I think that may have been the last time he was on time. As a baby, toddler, and even early school boy, he loved to sleep. He was (and still is) a perfect older brother. He would come home from kindergarten every day and organize the neighborhood preschoolers to teach them what he had learned in school that day. I seem to recall that neighbor Amy spent a lot of time out of the “classroom” sitting on the floor in the hallway.

When he was a little older and his little sister started school, he asked me “Why is she so smart?” and I answered, “Partially because you shared with her the exciting things you learned.” He said, “I wish I hadn’t done that.”

He is such a good Dad to his lovely daughters, even taking them on clever and wonderful “dates.” He loves and cherishes his wife of almost 18 years. His website is and his blog is awesome To say I am proud of him does not do justice to the word pride.

Best of all is how he continually lives up to his name.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Memories are made of this

In the exercise class I am taking, we end almost every session with a song. Loss of voice is very common among PD folk. Today being Veteran's Day, our instructor thought we needed to sing something patriotic. She chose You're A Grand Old Flag for our exercise. First, the class takes turns reading one line each. Then, in unison, we all sing it without words..i.e. ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah, etc.

Finally, we get to sing the words at the top of our lungs. Now I can't get the song out of my mind. There is only one problem:

In 1976, our country celebrated its 200th birthday. We happened to be traveling in California on July 4th, the actual day for the big celebration. Our children had learned every possible patriotic song known to man in school that year and kept a steady stream of heartfelt music going for the family as we traveled.

At some point, it dawned on me that the words I was hearing Patty sing did not sound like the words coming out of everyone else's mouth.

Instead of singing "Forever in peace may you wave." She was singing "The hole in the freeway, the grave." Unfortunately, those are the words that stick in my mind when I sing this once loved song.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An excellent hero

This morning, I baked cookies to take to a memorial service for one of my heroes. I know I have mentioned her before, but some things are simply worth repeating. John and I had the privilege of being invited into Forrest and Faye’s home on several occasions. Our first visit was on a sunny Sunday when we were invited, along with a young man and his little boy, to help harvest their corn crop.

As the wheelbarrows of corn were delivered from the well-tended garden, we husked them and removed the silky strings as best we could. The readied crop was then put into boxes to go to the church building for an “all you can eat” corn and melon fundraiser. Within a few weeks, her husband (Forrest) would make a trip of about 100 miles to buy boxes of fresh apples to be sold for another fundraiser. Then, a month later, items she had been making and collecting for the big “Holiday Fair” would be gathered. Often, I felt she may have paid more for what she sold than her asking price . Her focus was to raise money for Columbia Christian Schools and College.

The very first step I took into her lovely house, she warned me, “Don’t disturb the dust; I’m collecting.” At that moment, she became my hero. She often came up with surprising quips. She went to California once to stay with her grandkids while their parents took a trip, and one of the boys got the worst case of chicken pox I have ever seen. She shared photos of that experience.

One summer, a young couple asked if they could have their wedding in our back yard, and we said, “Certainly!” It seems the bride left town for a vacation with her parents a little over one week before the wedding, and the groom knew nothing about plans for their special day. The day before the wedding the bride returned to discuss with us seating, food, speaker system, parking, etc. John had worked all summer to keep our lawn green and to make the setting lovely. The morning of the wedding came and food was delivered. When Faye and Forrest arrived fashionably early, she asked who was helping in the kitchen. That’s when I learned the young bride had not even considered that little detail. Faye put on an apron and commandeered my kitchen for the entire wedding. Since then, the bride has apologized numerous times; she did not realize how labor intensive a wedding can be.

Faye was competent, confident, and gracious, capable, generous, and kind and so very thoughtful of others.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Planned obsolecence

Yesterday, I wore out the sponge on my mop. Naturally, either entropy or Murphy’s Law (or maybe both) had something to do with it because I had just completed the Spic n Span layer. When I went to the basin to get the rinse water, the sponge split and became unusable. “No problem,” I says to myself. “I’ll just take that one off and buy a new one.”

Since we are only 1.5 miles from the nearest WalMart, I decided to shop for the replacement there. I got a parking spot really close to the door leading to the housewares section of the store. After some 10 minutes of winding back and forth on every aisle of that section, I finally asked a worker where the mops might be. She sent me to aisle 10 in the grocery section of the store. “Now why didn’t I think of that?” I wondered.

After that 1/2-mile hike, I was relieved to see an employee stocking that very shelf. She really wanted me to take the yellow sponges, but I knew exactly which one was needed to complete the task. When I arrived home, I went straight to the laundry room to install the new sponge only to discover the new one had two protrusions the old one was missing. Thinking maybe we could get some good metal cutters and make it workable, I went to ask the resident expert on the subject.

He pointed out to me that the old sponge had a threaded screw that was missing in the new one. So, I set that activity aside until tomorrow, which is now today. The refund was easily obtained; they did not even want to know why I was returning my purchase, And, sure enough, there was nothing that even came close to being the right piece. And now we know that Target also does not carry the item. I could buy a completely new mop for only $2 more than the cost of a refill, but what does one do with a perfectly good plastic stick? Even Goodwill will not take that donation.

My hubby thinks we can find exactly what we need by checking every store that could possibly carry mops. Meanwhile, our shoes stick to the floor reminding us of the urgent need to solve this problem. It’s a good thing I have a good collection of rags.