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A Spoonful of Sugar

October 7th, 2013 | Posted by David Brenneman in Meeting Friends - (0 Comments)
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When Brenda found herself in the hospital with a hip problem, she was not sure what to do with herself. Someone suggested she write a book about her life as a British nanny. So with the help of others, Ms. Ashford, aged 92 wrote the book about her life.

At eighteen she was trained to serve families as a nanny. The author grew up in a very loving home, so she was well suited to take care of children. As a young woman she did have dreams of having her own home and children, but after two unfortunate relationships, that did not happen. Instead she took care of the many children of other families.

Years ago in the homes she worked, parents did not see their children very much during the day. The children would spend time with the parents maybe for an hour in the evening. The rest of the time was the nanny’s responsibility. There was a schedule. Get the children up, washed up, dressed, fed, out for fresh air and play, down for naps, lunch, the afternoon, etc. When bedtime came, the children down, there was washing, ironing, cleaning, and….. The nanny was to have time off on the week- ends, but that didn’t always happen.

Ms. Ashford loved her children. In her writing you learn her ideas about raising children. They need lots of loving and cuddling. She never had children of her own, but she helped to raise many children who are friends today. She still keeps an open house at the retirement place where she lives and always has something on hand for tea when these friends drop by. Many do. 

– Ruth Martin

Wildflower Hike

September 16th, 2013 | Posted by David Brenneman in All Posts | Meeting Friends - (0 Comments)
Back row 2
Dutchman’s Breeches are supposed to be near the entrance to this trail,” said Brenda.’
“Here it is!”, yelled Hilda. We rushed over to take a look, and there was an abundance of foliage, “But, there aren’t any blooms,” she added sadly. We began looking it up in our books to make sure we had the right plant. It was the right foliage. “Let’s just keep looking,” Hilda said encouragingly.
In our search to find the Dutchman’s Breeches, we found, Jack in the Pulpit, Great Chick Weed, Garlic Mustard, purple, yellow and white Violets, purple Dead Nettle, May Apples galore, Bird Foot Violet, wild geraniums, and a variety of baby ferns just pulling their tight little heads out of it’s curl.
I was poking around and found the tiniest Jack in the Pulpit, I have ever seen. I noticed something white a distance away. “What’s that over there near that stump? It looks like Dutchman’s Breeches!” Brenda made haste to check it out, but it was just the end of a stick!

“Hey! Yelled Brenda, you won’t believe it, but here’s a plant with a bloom!” Hilda and I rushed over and sure enough there was stalk with two dried up blooms and one tiny perfect white bloom that looked just like a pair of Dutchman’s Breeches. You would have thought we had found a gold mine, as we oohed and aahd over the one tiny bloom. It was almost a miracle with all the many plants that were there, that we found only one tiny bloom. We figured God made it just for us! Since there was an abundance of plants, Hilda placed it gently into her wildflower book, marking the territory that it was found.

We checked out every inch of the area and jotted down all the in- formation in our book of the flowers we had seen and headed back to the car. Brenda said, “I was told that there are some burgundy colored Trillium in this area.” But in our search, we couldn’t even find pink ones.

As we made our way back down the narrow road toward the Parkway, I spotted some burgundy Trillium near the Fish Hatchery Road. We all missed them going in. I yelled to stop. We got out to view the perfect specimens. Non of us had seen Trilliums of this color before so Brenda took pictures and again we jotted down the sighting in our books.

“That was a real treat,” said Hilda. “And a bonus for the day,” added Brenda.

We relished in the sightings of the day as we drove down the Parkway. The evening was till young, so we took our time going back. We planned to stop and take a look at the Bleeding Heart that grows out of a rock near the Twenty Minute Overlook on the Parkway.

All of a sudden as we went around a bend there, in the middle of the road, was a beautiful bay horse. He was young and sleek, with his head held high and ears perked up, standing as still as a statue. Brenda braked quickly. We were overwhelmed at seeing a horse standing in the middle of the road with no saddle or anything to indicate that anyone had been riding him. He did have on a bridle. He walked slowly to the side of the road, stopped, and looked at us. Standing with his feet planted firmly in the grass, he did not move. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t have a rope of any kind to capture him. None of us felt we had enough skill anyway to do that, so we just sat there until he moved. He took off trotting down the Parkway, thankfully on the side of the road, at a slow pace.

Brenda turned on her emergency blinkers. We all prayed a car wouldn’t hit him or cause an accident. Luckily, only a few cars passed, but they looked at us as if we were crazy herding this horse down the Parkway. We knew we were close to the Rock Cabin cutoff and decided if we could get him there, he might just stay there until we could get some help. Arriving at this cutoff, we found cars parked there for hikers and hoped some- one might be there that could help. Unfortunately, no one was there, but the horse stopped running and started to graze in the field of grass.


We made haste down to Love to a friend’s house to call a park ranger. Hilda was able to contact the Forest Department and they said they would get right on it.

We knew that some friends of ours in Love had horses, so Hilda called them to see if the horse be- longed to them. Getting an answer- ing service, she left a message. We had done all that we could do.

As we made our way home, the evening sun was setting, casting eerie shadows in the hollows of the mountains. We rehashed all the excitement of the day, praying that the horse would be rescued and not cause any accidents. They dropped me off at my house. It was almost dark.

That night, Brenda called and said the horse did belong to the family we called.
They had received our message when they got home making haste to the spot where Hilda said we left him. Sure enough he was still grazing there.

Some pretty remarkable circumstances surrounded the events of the day. I wondered if it was all circumstantial. One thing I learned through the events of the day, you never know what you might see on a wildflower hike! 

-Bunny Stein

Mission Possible

September 11th, 2013 | Posted by David Brenneman in All Posts | Meeting Friends - (1 Comments)
The year was 1999, the month April and I was on a mission trip to Tunisia. Everything about the trip had gone like clockwork. The money for the trip had been given to me miraculously and each step of the way I, along with everyone on the trip, kept saying that we could see the hand of the Lord leading us through the desert.

Jay and his wife Joan lived in Tunis and worked at the University of Tunis as English teachers. Jay, who was bilingual, speaking both English and Arabic, was born in Malta, but had been educated in Canada where he met and fell in love with Joan. They were raising their three children in Tunis and ministering the love of God to the students and neighbors who lived in the same apartment complex as they did. In fact as we stayed at their apartment, it was not unusual to hear a knock on the door at any time of the day or night with people ask- ing for food or clothing. They were never turned away! It was the first steps of gaining the trust of the people and as Jay said, “And since Jesus fed the hungry, prayed for the sick, and clothed those who needed clothing, how can we do less?” This was the belief that they followed. Once during the late evening I heard a knock on the door, a man was asking for shoes. Jay took the shoes off his feet and gave them to the man.

We had made several stops along the way during our journey, giving food and medical supplies to Berber settlements in the Sahara desert, and were planning a visit to the town of Matmata to share some Bibles and other supplies with members of the underground church. We worshiped in the van as we sped a long, excited that we were going to be able to bless the faithful in this area that was controlled by the Muslims.

We had traveled about an hour or more when we noticed that a military vehicle was coming up fast upon us from behind. Jay told us not to be afraid. He said that he was not surprised to see them, that we only had to show our passports and stay calm. We were all traveling on teacher visas, so we should have no problem explaining that we were touring the countryside with a guide. When the military vehicle pulled up beside us they signaled for Jay to pull over. I have to admit we began to sweat, not from the heat, but from fear. The soldier in charge told us to get out of the vehicle immediately. He seemed agitated right from the start. We all got out and stood by the van as he checked our pass- ports. Other soldiers stood in front of us with rifles pointed at us like we were criminals. He began to argue with Jay in Arabic and pushed him. Jay told us to get our luggage out of the van that everything was to be checked. We panicked a bit knowing what was in some of the bags…. Bibles and other Christian material.

Just as one of the soldiers began to open a bag a black Mercedes Benz pulled up and a tall handsome man dressed in a business suit got out and quickly began to question the soldier in charge. He told all of them to go over to his vehicle and wait for him. Then he turned to Jay and spoke to him in Arabic. I could see Jays face lose some of its ten- sion. The man in the suit smiled at us and motioned for us to load the bags back into the van and get back inside. He then walked over to his vehicle and opened the trunk. He took several bottles of cold water out of a cooler and offered it to the soldiers. As they drank the water he walked back over to the van and in perfect English told John to drive away quickly that everything was taken care of. After we were a bit down the road and saw no vehicles following us we breathed a sigh of relief and asked Jay what had happened. He spoke very quietly and slowly. “I have no idea who that man was. He just told me he was sent to protect us and that he was going to take care of everything. He told me that we would be safe and for us to leave when he gave us the okay. I believe we have just encountered an angel.”

We were stunned, but not completely surprised by what Jay said, because he only voiced what we were all thinking. No one said an- other word for the rest of the trip to Matmata. We were too busy thank- ing God for His unfailing love and protection.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, under whose wings no foe can reach.” 

– Karen Moore
Court House
Back in 1945 when I came home from overseas after World War II, two buddies and I went duck hunting in South Louisiana. This was to be the duck hunt that I had dreamed about. Little did I know that it would land me in Federal Court in Lake Charles where I would stand alone before the judge in front of a packed court room. At the time of the hunt I was on a forty-five day leave from the U.S. Army Air Force while waiting for my military discharge. My two hunting companions and I had just waded out of the marsh to our car with twenty-nine ducks. Each of my buddies had a limit of ten; I had nine.

Two Federal game wardens approached us to check us out. When one of them asked me about my hunting license I showed him my army dog tags. I said that I was sill in the army and understood that I was not required to have a hunting license.

That game warden let me know in no uncertain terms that I was required to have a Federal duck stamp — even though a state license was not required. He then started writing my citation and told me that I would have to stand trial. At that point, in all honesty, I must admit that I said some things that I should have left out. (About risking my life in thirty-two bombing missions over Japan, dreaming about a good South Louisiana duck hunt, and then running into this situation).

After a few weeks I enrolled in Northwestern State University. I received a summons to appear in Federal District Court in Lake Charles at 10:00 A.M. on a Monday morning. The time came and there
I was, standing in the back of the court room which was packed with spectators. In fact, there was standing room only, due to a big oil case on the docket. I did not know one person in that room.
I felt so little when I saw these words on my summons: “The United States of America vs. James Q. Salter.

I also remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when the Clerk of Court read my name so loud and clear and as I walked down that aisle all alone to face the judge. As I faced the judge, the Clerk read the charges against me and asked, “How do you plead?” I looked up at the judge and said, “Guilty, your honor, but I assure you that I violated the law unknowingly. I had been told that I was not required to have any kind of hunting license.” Judge Porterie asked me if I had been in the service at the time of the violation. I handed him my military papers which included my certificate of discharge and my combat record. After examining my papers, Judge Porterie asked, “What are you doing at this time, Mr. Salter?”

“Your honor, I am enrolled in Northwestern State University.”

“What do you plan to do after college?” asked the judge.

“I plan to teach, your honor,” I said.

“Congratulations, son,” the good Judge said. “Nine of the happiest years of my life were spent teaching school.”

He then read aloud several items from my military papers and said that in his case, sentence was suspended.

“Mr. Salter, if you will sign some papers on the way out, you may leave,” the good Judge said. I could not resist taking a hard look at that game warden as I walked right by him on the way out. When I got in my ‘36 Ford Coupe and headed for college, I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the kindness of Judge Porterie and his attitude toward my chosen profession. This, I hope, was the one and only time that I ever have to face a Federal Judge.

Note: I was saddened to read in the newspaper a few months after my trial that Judge Porterie had died.

James Q. Salter 

I love birds and feed them winter and summer. I know they can fend for themselves more easily in the summer, but I enjoy their serenading in the trees outside my window in the mornings. Therefore, feeding them in summer keeps them close by. Usually the first bird I see in the spring, is the Robin, but this year, the first ones I spotted were a pair of Bluebirds. They were checking out the Bluebird house I have in the backyard. It’s a real battlefield out there every year for the Bluebirds. You wouldn’t think there would be disagreement in the bird world, but the Bluebirds have to literally fight off sparrows and tree swallows for nesting rights. Actually, they have no nesting rights, socially speaking, but I specifically put up the bird house for the Bluebirds, though I’ve seen very little of them since I put it up. I guess they were tired of fighting and found housing elsewhere.

I have had a variety of birds inhabit my surroundings this year like, Chickadees, my favorite, a pair of Cardinals, lots of sunny, yellow American Goldfinch, and too many others to mention here. But the melodious symphony they perform each day is priceless, and well worth the effort it takes to keep them around.

Each year a mother Robin nests on the upper ledge of my double swings in the backyard. Her nest is well made of mud reinforced with twigs, and lined with softer grasses and whatever is available. I saw some cotton string hanging down from the nest on the ledge, and snippets of plastic material.
In my dogwood tree, I have a small mesh bag filled with fluffy cotton for birds to use for nesting material. Up until this year it has been completely ignored. But today I noticed that some of the fluff has been pulled out, so I guess it has finally become a part of the environment, and they are no longer afraid of it.

The only regrettable thing about having the Robin nest on the ledge in the swing is that whenever I enter the swing, she flies out and won’t come back until I leave! Actually, she sits on a branch of the Mimosa tree and fusses at me until my guilt gets the best of me, and I give up the swing to her.

One year, the nest fell off the ledge and only two of the five beautiful sky blue eggs broke. I salvaged what I could of the nest and the remaining three eggs and took a picture of it sitting on the bannister of my back porch with Clematis vines and bright petunias as a backdrop. It made a beautiful photograph. I placed the nest back on the ledge, but the mother Robin never returned to the nest. 

– Bunny Stein 

By the time that we reach the age of most of us who are living in the Stuarts Draft Retirement Community, we have experienced moments of great pain and sorrow. In those moments many of us, as well as millions of others, have turned for comfort to the words of Horatio G. Spafford’s hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.”  The information contained in this review is presented with written permission from the author and publisher: Ace Collins, Stories Behind the Hymns that Inspire America (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003). Perhaps Mr. Spafford’s inspirational story will give us a deeper appreciation of this great hymn.

In the 1899s Horatio G. Spafford was known as one of Chicago’s most successful lawyers and businessmen. Through the years his investments in real estate along the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago had paid off handsomely. In 1871 Mr. Spafford wrote to some of his friends that he felt that he was “sitting on top of the world.” He had a loving wife, four beautiful daughters, a profitable business empire, and a successful law practice.

Who would have thought that the action of a single farm animal could change all of that? That is exactly what happened on a night when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in her barn. This triggered the great Chicago fire. In just a few hours Spafford’s wealth was burned to ashes. He told his friends that all he had left of his business empire was his university diploma.

Although Spafford was devastated by all of this, his financial fall affected his wife hardest of all. Her doctor suggested that a vacation might help her. Spafford arranged for an extended family trip to Europe. Just prior to the scheduled departure, Spafford received a phone call about a pressing business matter in Chicago. He told his family to go ahead and that he would join them later.
Somehow in the middle of the ocean the Ville De Havre strayed into the path of a British ship. Both were traveling at full speed. In twelve minutes 226 people lost their lives. Seven days after the accident, when the survivors landed at Cardiff, Wales, Spafford received a two-word telegram from his wife — “Saved. . .alone.”

Spafford booked the first ship bound for England. As he was sitting out on the deck, the ship’s captain approached him and said, “Mr. Spafford, we are approaching the spot where your daughters now rest.” Instead of being grief-stricken as he had thought he would be, Spafford said that a peace came over him as he remembered the words of his friend, Dwight L. Moody. Moody had told him, “One of these days you are going to read that D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of that; I’ll be more alive then than I am now.” Spafford said that he felt the girls’ spirit around him. 

Rather than cry, he smiled. Rushing to his cabin, Spafford picked up pen and paper and jotted down the words that were suddenly on his heart:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea-billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.


When the Spaffords returned to Chicago they were surrounded by friends and family. One of those friends who came by to help comfort the Spaffords was Phillip Bliss, a vocalist and songwriter. As Bliss listened to Spafford’s poem he was deeply moved. At his home Bliss composed music for the poem, creating a song he called “It Is Well with My Soul.” Within weeks he was singing the new hymn at Moody’s crusades.

Mr. and Mrs. Spafford went to the Holy Land and established a ministry called American Colony. The Spaffords saved thousands of lives each year by feeding the hungry and treating the sick.
We can all appreciate the true Christian legacy that Mr. and Mrs. Horatio G. Spafford left us. 

By James Q. Salter