Thursday, August 17, 2017


Science was never my favorite subject, except when it involved plenty of math.  Somehow I have managed to store away a few of those theories learned all those years ago. I well remember the theory of centrifugal force.  When I looked up the correct spelling, I noticed it is an apparent force--not really a force at all.  NOW apparently the writer of that misleading statement has never ridden on the round about on the playground.

If you didn't sling someone off--you needed to at least make them so dizzy they could not walk when they finally stood.

I have discovered scientific principles of my own over the years.  There is the infamous yo-yo theory of raising children.  You get them grown --somehow in one piece---and send them out the door to start lives of their own.  Before you could turn around good---they are walking BACK THROUGH the same door with all their stuff and more.  You throw them out and they come back.  We have worn out furniture moving it in and out of our house.

I am very familiar with the theory of inertia.  The scientific community would define this as doing nothing or remaining unchanged.  My simple definition is becoming a "Couch Potato".  At various times in my life, I have become somewhat of an expert in this practice.  Doing nothing comes quite naturally.

Then there is the late in life discovery of the law of implosion.  It is a direct result of the theory of inertia.  All things will collapse inward if not maintained.  My body is a great example of this.  We come into this world as soft-mushy bodies with little strength.  I seem to be on a mission to return to this original state.  Before you turn around good, you are a toothless-wrinkled babbling baby sucking down pablum.

  I am currently experiencing the boomerang theory.  Ruston launched me out over four years ago.  I have reached the top of the arc--and am slowly making the turn and heading back.  I am returning from whence I came. The phenomenon known as gyroscopic precession is the key to making a returning boomerang come back to its thrower.  I call it the "There's NO PLACE Like Home Theory.

In one short week--I will be making the return trip and landing exactly one block away from where I launched.  It will be good to be home!  Home on this earth---but my eternal home rests with God and it is still to come.

17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts,
 living within you as you trust in him.
 May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love;
Ephesians 3:17

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


The fabulous family and I just returned from a week at the Texas beach.  Our beach trips began a LONG time ago.  We journeyed to the Florida beach and spent a week with our dearest friends The Thompson's for over thirty years.  I have an entire books of stories to tell from those years including the all night evacuation trying to get away from an approaching hurricane.  

Over the years many things about our beach trips changed--the house, the beach, who could come, what we ate...  One thing remained constant--our mutual affection for one another and it being the best week of the year.  We were ---a study of an aging family's dynamics and change was inevitable.  When we are all together there is always some memory of beach trips from the past that comes to the surface.  It was a magical time.

Life is filled with changes---the kids all grew up--they have families of their own and the beach trips ended as the shape of the family became different.  Three years ago #1 Daughter decided to reinstate the beach trip for our clan.  She arranged the dates, made the contacts, and pulled together our first trip to the TX beach.  This year was our third trip as a family to the Texas beach and #1 Daughter has become our official trip planner.  

We do a lot of the same things we have done for the past 40 years.  There is something to be said for traditions.

And new activities are added--sometimes for only a short season.

Many things change over the years, but the tradition of the beach trip lives on.  Camille took the initiative to make sure we continued to gather together and enjoy this time as a family.  It is my favorite week of the year.

The Word speaks of raising a child in the way he should go and they will not depart from it.  I am pretty certain it was not referring to an annual beach trip, but this trip is very indicative of exactly what it speaks.  As we grow our families--the things we do together become an important part of who we are.  We begin laying the foundation of what is important at a very early age and with repetition comes the desire to stay the course.  I never stopped to consider all those years ago that I was planting a seed of the importance of family time.  And yet all these years later, the seed not only took hold but has sprouted into a beautiful family tree.  Sometimes we just have to be obedient and trust--He way is always the best way.

Another year of beautiful family memories made on yet another sandy beach.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Recently my neighbor and I were discussing some services I need performed.  She told me about this organization who will come to your house and perform these services for free--absolutely no cost to you.  Pardon my skepticism but in today's world I find it difficult to believe anything is free!  There is always some price tag attached to everything.

As I thought this over, I remembered a recent conversation about services for the homeless.  The shelters in Fort Worth are run by faith based organizations.  They provide, showers, a couple of meals, and a safe bed for the night.  It seems to me asking that everyone attend a chapel service is not really a hardship.  No one asks you to walk the aisle, but in return for room and board you are expected to attend a 30 minute chapel service.  In my mind this is not really a price, but in another's mind it is 30 minutes of time given in payment for a place to stay and a full stomach.

Timeshare salespeople are notorious for offering "free stays" at resorts --all you have to do is attend their "information seminar" to hear about the resort and all the amenities.  A two night stay in a world class resort and all it has to offer is yours for the small price of 3 hours of your time and a high pressure sales spill.  Can I tell you how many clients I have had who regretted falling prey to the sales pitch and the hidden cost that often come with these programs?  It was NOT a free vacation after all!

And then there is the retail on line gimmick of "Free Shipping" enticing us to buy things we probably do not need.  We seldom consider the fact that if we are willing to dare the retail outlets, there is never a shipping charge.  We pay the price on the sales sticker and often that comes with a discount.  Shipping is NEVER charged.  Yet we think it is a great deal when they will forego charging us shipping on line--but instead it is free.  But is it??

Most things come with a cost--if not fiscal--then physical.  We normally must give something to get something in return.  It is the way of the world.

BUT---grace---it is truly free.

Salvation is a free gift which comes through faith that His grace is enough.  Ephesians 2:8  We only have to profess "We Believe" and it is ours for the taking.  Works are not expected, tithing is not required, and we could never be good enough.  It truly is free---really!

23 Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal;
 24 yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him
 if we trust in Jesus Christ, 
who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.
Romans 3:23-24

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


If you zoom in on this picture, you will see Hero--The Wonder Dog and his temporary pack.  He is visiting with Memaw & Dude Jennings for a few days.  The Jennings have a boxer and a lab and when Hero goes to visit he sets about establishing he is the boss.  Dogs are pack animals and there is a hierarchy in the pack.  The Jennings dogs are a male and female-so Hero has to merely pull the wool over the male's eyes to become the alpha.  His bluster and indignation have fooled the other into thinking there is more to him than there is in reality.  

After the matter of who is in charge is settled, they settle down and enjoy each other's company--all under the watchful eyes of The Jennings.  The truth of the matter is---most of us do not enjoy or desire a solitary life.  We humans tend to form our own packs--groups--cliques--circles---in much the same manner as our canine friends.  The question becomes---who are we choosing to make up our pack?

Many times--though not all--our families are our packs of origin.  The basic family unit is close first cousin to wolf pack at times.  As I think over these family dynamics, it is strikingly apparent we all have roles to play in these family packs.  When my mother passed way, it was a startling realization that I was now the matriarch of our James family.  It is not a title I really sought, but as the senior female, I became the heir apparent.  I am fortunate in the fact that I love all the members of my family pack.  Many experience friction and discord within their families which lead to the break down of the basic family nucleus and loss of the strength which comes from the pack. 

We also tend to have packs of friends--co-workers--the like minded in our lives.  These groups are a little more loosely formed, but can also serve a tantamount role in our lives.  I have a group - pack of friends I began running with over 20 years ago and we have morphed and grown from that original love of running.  A group of believers began many years ago as a small group.  We have added to our group over the years and lost others.  We all still stand in solidiarity as followers of Christ.  This is only the beginning of the groups I am a part of--almost everyone circling around common grounds such a children or interests.

All these groups are an intricate part of who we are.  We are influenced by those we surround ourselves with.  Our packs are a good indicator of who we are--our integrity--our beliefs--our very being.  Hero is limited in the packs he associates with by me.  We as humans have the freedom to pick and choose our packs--our groups.  May we all be of good intent when we associate ourselves with groups by choosing wisely those we surround ourselves with.  As wise King Solomon said a long time ago--  

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


While in Idaho, we took some time to visit a museum.  We are not usually ones to visit museums, but this particular museum is the small town of Wallace, Idaho's nod to historical cultural anthropology.  For you see The Oasis is a former bordello--NOT from the 19th century, but the 20th--closing its doors the final time in 1988.  Closing the doors might be an understatement--it was more like slamming the doors while vacating on the run.  For you see after a long and financially successful run, the feds were on to the whole scheme.  Madame Ginger had been able to run this illegal house with the help of the local constables--after all they were well paid behind closed doors so they would  close their eyes to the comings and goings through the doors of the town's rest stop.  After all is an oasis not a rest stop?

The girls fled in a hurry  only taking the clothes on their backs and a few personal items.  The Oasis was left just as if they would be opening up for another 16 hour day.  Clothing, bed linens, timers, price list, personal items, and beds--all exactly like they expected to return the next day.  The next day for The Oasis and the oldest known profession were over.  

As we toured the "business" was explained to us.  The girls worked 16 hours shifts--7 days a week--no exceptions.  They were rotated every six months to keep fresh faces in the line up.  There was a chain of brothels through out the west--using girls as their merchandise--and creating an always changing rotation between cities.  The "girls" made over $100,000 a year and the madame in excess of $1,000,000 per year.  It was all very disturbing---very dark---causing me to weep deep in my heart for the loss of innocence--loss of integrity--all for money which you did not have time to spend.

It was the same mourning I experienced in Amsterdam when we walked through the red light district.  The Word addresses women selling themselves---remember Rahab to begin with.  The thoughts which kept running through my head was why would any woman turn to prostitution?  Desperation has to be one of the top reasons.

Human Trafficking is a "hot topic" among The Faithful currently.  #1 Daughter is working with an organization and giving presentations to prevent children from falling into the trap so cunningly woven by those preying upon the vulnerable.  It is not always a choice--it is often a trap--and once the trap is sprung--GOTCHA!  Young girls--and boys are violated and used as human merchandise by the lowest of the low.

As I thought through this, I realized we all think--it could never happen to me--or mine.  I challenge you to consider if there is anything you would sell out for?  Is anything so important to you that you would compromise your very integrity for it?  Fame, fortune, success, power---anything?  Selling out does not always involve our bodies--instead it can be the very core of who we are.  

The experience of touring this museum, though greatly disturbing, was also a huge wake up call to the potential for moral failure in us all.  ONLY with God's help and protection--only with the protection of those who love us and hold us accountable--only by sometimes walking down the right street and not making the wrong turn are we able to avoid the tragedy of becoming a victim.

Once again God has orchestrated a circumstance to remind me of my responsibility to those He places in my path.  He reminds me it could have been me.  He reminds me--He loves us ALL--even those caught in the web of man's depravity.  What can we do?  Pray--take a stand--be on the look out--and allow God to use you-if He will to take care of His sheep.  It is all so deeply disturbing to know this goes on all around us--we must not turn a blind eye.

Confess your faults one to another,
 and pray one for another,that ye may be healed.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
James 5:16

Monday, August 7, 2017


Recently I watched the movie, "The Last Word".  Now I must admit I normally watch movies strictly to be entertained.  There is nothing I like better than a trip to LaLa Land!  Shirley Maclaine's performance as an OCD control freak with personality issues a mile long spoke to me and left me thinking.  I was entertained, but I also was left pondering what my legacy will be.

One of the take away's from this movie is to always looks beyond the surface.  Maclaine's character comes across as a brash-brassy woman of power.  The first glimpse of her exterior demeanor leaves you not liking her--even one tiny bit.  As the obituary writer begins to peel the layers away, she discovers the under layers of good things which make Shirley who she is.  The rough -brash- rude powerful woman did not become successful by accepting the mediocre of herself or anyone associated with her.  While we all enjoy knowing the sweet little old lady next door, that sweet little old lady will leave a legacy only to those who she comes into direct contact with.  There is certainly not one thing in this world wrong with that, but with a big personality and need for perfection from everything and everyone surrounding her, sometimes the legacy is much further reaching in the one who is not only not sweet--but can be down right in your face rude.

The second take away is the rich and powerful can also lead lives of isolation and loneliness.  The lush and extravagant life style enjoyed by those who are wildly successful does not spell success relationally.  Loneliness, isolation, and depression knows no boundaries.  There is a scene in the movie when Shirley washes down a handful of sleeping pills with a bottle of wine.  A desperate cry for help--help she is not willing to accept when it is offered.  Certainly a reminder we all can become desperate.  We all can be lonely.  We all come to a point in our lives when we must examine how we have lived this gift of life we were given.

The third and final take away--it is NEVER too late to change.  The reason my blog is titled "The Final Chapters" is to remind me to live purposefully today.  I recently read of one who no longer wishes everyone  "Have a good day!"  Instead she now reminds everyone to "Have a purposeful day"  Make everyday count!  Be aware of those walking beside you--take the time to listen--take the time to act.  Live life and live it well--as if today is your last day.

This secular movie and message reminded me of God's gift of life and my responsibility to use the gift to its fullest.  Shirley went out dancing and celebrating life.  I pray we all can know when the final word is spoken it will include, "Well Done"!

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!
 You have been faithful with a few things; 
 I will put you in charge of many things.
 Come and share your master's happiness!'
Matthew 25:23

Sunday, August 6, 2017








Saturday, August 5, 2017













































Wednesday, August 2, 2017


It has come to my attention that Hero--the pint sized wonder dog is not trained--he has ME trained!  Currently he is on a tangent of waking me up anywhere from 5 to 6 EVERY morning to go for his first walk.  In case--you did not realize--it is NOT really daylight yet at 5 AM!

Hero is a canine psychopath with an identity crisis.  You see--he does not know he is a dog.  He thinks he is human---but human with canine characteristics.  Having identified me as the Alpha of our small (two) pack, he makes every step I do when I am in his line of vision.  WELL--until it is bedtime and then I am on my own.  After his final walk of the day, he is out for the count and good for nothing!

Unfortunately Hero is anti-social with others of his own type---IE--DOGS and has never seen a cat he didn't hate.  Our walks have turned into walk about's.  We walk about trying to avoid all the other dogs being walked.  When he sees another dog, he immediately begins this spitting and snorting which leads to an exasperated blowing while his hackles are raised and he is straining to get out of my arms.   I am constantly on alert--because he will literally choke himself pulling on the lead to get to the other dog/cat and the solution is ALWAYS to pick him up.   Part of every walk is spent with me carrying Hero--somehow this defeats the purpose of what we set out to do.

AND--he does not seem to realize he is eight pounds - soaking wet!   It does not matter the size or breed of the other intruder in his path---he is going after him.  He has attempted to put the new puppy in his place as well as the Jennings' lab and boxer while staying with them.  Someone has to step in before he becomes a grease spot on the sidewalk.  

Bottom line--Hero thinks he is something--he is not.  He has convinced himself he can take on the world and tries his best to do so---with no awareness of the consequences.  Not satisfied with being an eight pound wonder--he is going for the gold--out for revenge--settling the score--ALL with a huge chip on his shoulder.  Hero is not a fan of "What the world needs now" or "Peace Like a River"--in fact his favorite song may well be "The Theme From Rocky".  

The trouble all begins with Hero's failure to acknowledge who he is--a hybrid cross of a chihuahua and pompano--he is NO attack dog.  Why he wouldn't even qualify as a threat to the neighbor's cats.  Somehow he has lost the ability to see himself for who he really is.  AND the truth of the matter is there is not one thing wrong with the real Hero.  He has been great company for me, barks when someone knocks, and all the kids love him--he is their size!  Hero though is not satisfied with who he is--and instead wants to project the image of being a ninety pound pit bull-attack dog.  He doesn't seem to realize--I would not have let him come live with me if he had been a pit bull---but--cute little Hero has a place by my side.

We humans are often guilty of trying to be someone we are not.  We convince ourselves the image in the mirror is not what it seems.   Perhaps it all started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve could not be satisfied with all they had been given--but just HAD TO HAVE the one forbidden fruit.  We are all a conglomeration of our environment, experiences, genes, and education.  I have finally figured out---who I am is NOT such a bad thing--in fact I am rather proud of God's handiwork when I take it all into account.  Who am I to change the creator's masterpiece in any one of us--but especially me.  So-no pretense-no false fronts-no bravado-- it's just me--as God intended.

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 
4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
I Peter 3: 3-4

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


The decision was made--I was moving---and NOW the really fun part of selling and buying a house--not a house--a home!  When I moved  over six years ago from our family home to my first single home in Ruston, I had the good sense to contact my dear friend and truly an angel, Tami Alexander.  To say I was the walking wounded is an understatement, but she was my guiding light in negotiating the entire minefield of making it all happen.

God often uses other Believers to step in and step up when we are struggling and need a hand.  Tami has been God's Angel in my life four times!  She sold my family home, helped me buy my first home as a single, sold that home when I moved to Fort Worth, and now is helping me to buy for my move back to Ruston.  She has been my life jacket in the stormy seas of the real estate world.  

I get ahead of myself---when I decided the move back to Louisiana was for the best, I contacted my neighbor in Fort Worth--who I knew was looking for a house.  I explained I was moving and why and told her I was contacting her first--to see if she was possibly interested.  YES!  NOW--it sounds easy---and in many ways it has been easy.  No one else has trooped through my house, I have not had to be show ready 24/7, but the entire maze of selling a house has had to be traveled.  Inspections, appraisals, agreements, surveys,--the entire ball of fun!  

Add to that fun, the tenants have to be kept in mind.  The apartment is rented fully furnished.  This means keeping it as is and not disturbing the peace of the tenants until they move.  This entails leaving it as is until they move.  In case you have not caught on--I must then also move those furnishings--at a later date!

OH DEAR--now I need a house in Ruston.  Tami tells me the market is tight and there is not much in my price range for sale.  Not to be discouraged, I look at a house---not a fit!  We then look at some lovely townhomes.  I am ready to buy them---this does not work out either.  I finally make up my mind that I will have to move to Ruston and store my furniture until I can either find a house or build a house.   I laughingly quoted that infamous Saturday Night Live skit and declared I would have to live "in a van-down by the river."   Thankfully my sweet brother tells me I am welcome to stay with them until I find a fit.   Hero, the wonder dog will have to stay in Fort Worth with the kids until I get settled, since brother and his wife are allergic to dogs.

THEN---the kids get a new puppy.  New puppy is 4 times larger than Hero and Hero has a back injury.  I am concerned about him getting re-injured, since new puppy is full of playfulness,  so it is not a fit for him to stay with the grands.


I ask a sweet friend could I possibly stay with her and bring Hero.  She never hesitated--"YES"!  What a blessing Ruston friends are.  Hero is NOT social with other animals---I could not stay with anyone who already has a dog or cat.  This friend fit the bill perfectly and never blinked--but immediately said, "Yes".

I go on my hiking/biking trip to Idaho vowing to not even think about the move to Ruston, besides I have it all worked out!  Tami has a family medical emergency in Ohio and is out of pocket also.  For some reason in the midst of all she has going on,  she checks the multi-listing and there is a house she is very familiar with and thinks I will like.  I look---it is almost the same house I moved from when I left Ruston.  I loved this house.  Perfect match.

First House in Ruston

Tami negotiates, and we enter a buy/sell agreement for a house sight-un-seen.  Yes, I have looked at the pictures, but I am trusting my gut and Tami's expertise.  My gut can be indigestion--Tami knows me and knows houses, so I trust her advice.   SO I have a house!  Isn't that the way God operates--WE think we have it all worked out and He shows up and shows out!

As I told Tami in the 12 hour period all of this happened, "God is written all over this."  My sweet friend told me recently she didn't think God was in to the details, but instead left decisions up to us.  All I know for certain is God has thrown doors open and slammed others abruptly in my face.  I think He not only cares about the minutiae of life, but is as involved as we will allow Him to be in our day to day.  We get into trouble when we are not listening or keep banging on the closed doors.

So there you have the story.  In just over three weeks, I will be home again.  Looking forward to life in Ruston!  Watch out Ruston friends--I am ALWAYS looking for blogging material!

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and swisdom and knowledge of God! 
tHow unsearchable are his judgments and
 how inscrutable his ways
Romans 11:33