Some thoughts on giving thanks

Give Thanks“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” ~William Blake

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” ~H.U. Westermayer

“Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.” ~W.J. Cameron

“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” ~Robert Caspar Lintner

“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~Thornton Wilder

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.” ~William Jennings Bryan

Happy Thanksgiving–don’t forget to share your blessings.



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A Thanksgiving Week Challenge (and book giveaway)

FOODWelcome to the season of over-eating. First, there’s Thanksgiving with all its abundance. And since everyone else is eating too much it kind of gives us all permission to indulge. What’s one more bite of pecan pie when you’ve already exceeded your caloric intake for . . . the week?

Then the build up to Christmas. Cookies, candy, “special treats.” Just log onto Pinterest and check out all the holiday recipes. I, for one, can just about eat my weight in that toffee you make from Saltine crackers.


There are plenty of people in this world who are not only not indulging, but who are desperately praying for enough food to feed their families. And plenty of them are right here in my/your neighborhood. Children are going hungry. Food pantries are turning people away. People are choosing between eating and heating their homes.

And the good news–the fabulous, wonderful news is–we can do something about it. In Miracle in a Dry Season Perla helps feed the community of Wise, WV, during a terrible drought. You and I can do the same.

Here’s the challenge: Take a photo of yourself with a donation for your local food pantry and post it to my Facebook page between today and Sunday, November 30. On December 1 (my birthday!) I’ll randomly select one donor to receive a signed copy of Miracle in a Dry Season along with a copy of Every Waking Moment by Chris Fabry–another West Virginia author.

Together, we can help feed the hungry. Happy Thanksgiving!

Matthew 25 – 37-40“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

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Curling Up with a Book Weather

Although winter doesn’t officially start until mid-December, we’re definitely feeling the season’s approach here in the Appalachian mountains. Tuesday’s forecast high is 25–eek! There are a few spots of color still lingering on the mostly bare trees, but it’s clear that fall is waning fast. The wind is growing more fierce and my overstuffed reading chair with its cozy throw is looking more and more inviting.

Time to do some serious reading!

Here’s what’s in my stack of things to read as winter begins to nose around the house and sneak through the door every time we open it:

  • Secrets of a Charmed Life – Susan Meissner (I’m nearly finished and it’s FABULOUS.)
  • Love’s Fortune – Laura Frantz
  • Shrewd: Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus – Rick Lawrence
  • Lizzy & Jane – Katherine Reay
  • Out of the Storm: A Novella – Jody Hedlund

An embarrassment of riches! Of course, my stack is even taller, but these are the ones at the top. I get nervous if I ever find myself without something to read “next.”  So what’s in your stack of books for winter reading? What have you read lately that you’d recommend?

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Appalachian Thursday–Civil War Veterans


The cemetery were quite a few Phillips were laid to rest.

In honor of Veterans Day this week, I thought I’d reach back a little further and honor some of the Civil War veterans in my family. I’ve already written about my most direct descendant, David Phillips, so this time I’m going to share some of David’s first cousins. The sons of William and Mehitable Gould Phillips.

Franklin – The eldest son was a member of Co. E, Sixth West Virginia Cavalry, late Third Infantry. He was wounded and captured, but lived to father ten children by two wives. He died November 26, 1899.

Herbert (Cudge) – The fourth son was taken prisoner at Franklin in Pendleton County on May 25, 1862. He was sent to Libbey Prison and was never seen again. He had one child–Jerome.

James – A member of Co. E, Third West Virginia Infantry, James was killed at the Battle of Cross Keys, Virginia. It was around the same time Franklin and Cudge were taken prisoner.

Lafayette – Another member of Co. E, Third West Virginia Infantry, Lafayette survived the war.  He married Elizabeth Cogar and had seven children. He died November 13, 1907.

Lothrop – His first enlistment was in Co. E, First West Virginia Light Artillery. He re-enlisted in the First West Virginia Cavalry. He survived the war and had eight children.

Mortimer – Somehow, Mortimer ended up in the Sixth Illinois Infantry. He died February 28, 1885, in Illinois.

In 1976, Mona Phillips Morgan wrote this:

The New England patriotism of the Phillips family was renewed in its Upshur County branch during the Civil War. We are proud to say no Upshur County Phillips had to be drafted in that war. There are thirteen Phillips names listed.

Most of the Phillipses were fond of hunting and fishing. They did not strive for wealth although they lived well, and had plenty to eat and wear. They were honest, law-abiding people who always stood for the right and were ready to defend and protect the flag of our country.

They had a common purpose, that of building a nation under God. They had high hopes for their descendants.

As do I.

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Riding Shotgun with a WWII Vet

WWII PilotOur neighbor and good friend Bill is a WWII fighter pilot. He’s also 93. Recently, he invited us to go to dinner with him and we were delighted to accept. He said he’d pick us up and we’d go get a steak–great.

Oh, wait. Did I mention he’s 93? And that he planned to drive us? I was nervous as we started out, me in the passenger seat and my husband in back. I mean, no one’s reflexes are that great after 90–right?

But as we drove along chatting, Bill driving the curvy mountain road with one hand on the wheel, I remembered his stories. He was a fighter pilot, after all, and while he hasn’t flown a plane for quite a few years, he once did. I’ve seen the picture of him standing on the wing of Fickle Flossie. He told us he inherited the plane from a soldier who got to go home and while the painting of scantily clad Flossie was a bit risqué, he opted to keep it.

We made it to the restaurant without mishap and after a good dinner and great conversation he chauffeured us home again. I’d given up being nervous by then. This is a man who risked his life for our country–for the American people–for you and me. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather ride shotgun with.

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Appalachian Thursday–WV Election Exceptions

Saira BlairIf you’re from West Virginia, you never really give up being a West Virginian. You root for the WVU Mountaineers. You celebrate the state’s birthday (June 20). You know and will happily sing the state song (Oh, Those WV Hills). And you keep up with what’s happening back home.

Which means this past Tuesday was mighty interesting for me!

As my husband and I kept up with the races in NC, I also checked those in WV now and again. With the feeling that really, if I’m from the state and care about it as much as I do, I should still get a vote. Oh well.

Now, WV has long been a blue state. Although a largely conservative blue state. (We like to be different.) But as of this past election cycle the Mountain State is turning red. I suspect this is primarily due to the President’s policies relating to coal. Mining is a complex issue, but if you want to be elected in WV, you don’t mess with coal or associate with anyone who does.

But it’s not just that the pendulum is swinging–it’s HOW it’s swinging. The new senator from WV, Shelley Moore Capito, is the first-ever female senator from my home state. And she’s the first Republican senator since 1958–nearly sixty years.

Then there’s Saira Blair, who is now the youngest person in the WV House of Delegates. Are you ready for this? She’s 18. She beat out the 66-year-old Republican incumbent in the primary when she was 17. She plans to defer her spring semester at WVU to attend the legislature’s 60-day session.

I try not to talk politics much (I’ll stick with religion), but this election cycle in the Mountain State was just too exceptional to skip. Regardless of whether you’re red, blue, or some shade of purple, these are interesting days.

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When is busy too busy?

FamilyA show of hands please–who out there is busy?

Ah-ha. I see a lot of hands. And I hear a lot of friends, family members, and co-workers who share tales of their busy-ness with me. And I tell quite a few of my own.

Two members of a missionary family from Turkey spoke at church yesterday. Dad and one of his adopted Turkish daughters came to talk with our church before their return to the mission field.

The daughter is 17. She’s poised, lovely, well-spoken, and an all-around delight. After the service, church members gathered around the table to share lunch with father and daughter. We talked about a variety of topics including the differences between Turkey and America. The daughter commented on how busy everyone in America is. She added that while people in Turkey might be just as busy, they don’t let on. If a visitor comes, they stop what they are doing for tea and a visit. Often a long visit.

Which set me to thinking. What am I busy about? Oh, good things, surely. My job, projects at church, writing and promoting my novels–the list goes on and on. Okay, so I could spend a bit less time on Facebook. Okay, so I could give up television entirely and be none the worse for it. But what about the important things.

I often get into such knots over my to-do list. But I rarely stop to consider what would happen if I didn’t check everything off. If I’m honest, there are very few (like, not any) life-or-death items on that list. If I don’t get the Christmas ask letter out on the date that’s on my calendar . . . nothing terrible will happen. If I fail to make a fabulous dessert for the ladies’ meeting at church . . . no one will mind. If I go one day over on my writing deadline . . . the world will not end.

But what if, when a friend called, I stopped what I was doing to listen? What if, when a child lingered in my office, I gave her my full attention? What if, when I travel to see my family, I left my laptop at home? What if I put people at the top of my to-do list.

I really, really, really wanted to finish the first draft of my third novel yesterday. But I also knew it had been too long since I visited Lawrence and Mabel, an older couple who can’t get out much. His health isn’t good and she lost her eyesight last December. I LOVE these people–salt of the earth folks with great stories and sweet hearts.

It was so tempting to wait and visit them another day, after I’d met my deadline. But instead I hauled myself over there and sat with them for a while. And it was delightful. And they were thankful. And my spirit was filled.

I finished the manuscript that evening, refreshed and ready to spill out a story of faith. I’d have to say I was better for putting people at the top of my list. Now, to do that each and every day . . .


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