It would be hard for me to imagine walking away from all I knew to travel to India to begin a thirteen year run as the wife of a missionary, especially in 1874, but that is exactly what Mary Barr Uhl did. Mary was a somewhat distant cousin on my husband, Bob’s side of the family…specifically the Knox side of his family. The beginnings of her future mission were actually laid by when she was still a child. An elderly relative, Dr John Scudder laid his hand on her head and stated his wish for her to become a missionary. I’m sure that for a little girl, being a missionary meant very little, but as she grew, perhaps the words stayed with her. Sometimes, when we think about something like that for so many years, events in our lives line up to put us in exactly the right position to fulfill just such a mission, without our really thinking about it very much at all. Such was the case for little Mary Barr.
Mary Barr was born in Savannah, Ohio, and was educated there and in Springfield, Ohio. As was the case with most girls in those days, becoming a teacher was the degree of choice, and so Mary Barr became a teacher. As time went by, it’s possible that the desire of the elderly Dr John Scudder to have Mary become a missionary, faded into the past to a degree, until she met Lemon Leander Uhl. Leander as he was called, was a pastor in the Lutheran church. Dr Uhl was a graduate of Wittenberg College and Seminary in Springfield, Ohio, and did his post graduate work at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The couple married in the fall of 1872, and Dr Uhl became a missionary in the India field of the General Synod, Lutheran Church. Thus, the desire of Mary’s relative, Dr John Scudder, became a reality. Leander and Mary would spend the next thirteen years in the mission field in India. Mary and Leander arrived in Guntur, India in March of 1873. Mary opened the first school for girls of the upper classes and the first Zenana work for the same classes. She carried on both forms of mission work for many years. Mary’s perseverance and dedication won her great respect in that country. She was an untiring worker among the Telugu Hindus, and aided her husband in the Anglo Vernacular School by visiting the young men students in their homes.
Mary and Leander’s only child, Grace was born in Guntur, India during those missionary years. That is another thing I can’t quite imagine…having my baby so far away from my mother, and the doctors that I trusted in the United States, but by then, perhaps Mary felt comfortable with the help she had around her. It didn’t matter really, because she had no choice. You can’t stop babies from coming when it’s time. You just have to go through it. For Mary, childbirth went well, and she had a beautiful little daughter. It was by the grace of God, and so they named her Grace. While I’m sure that giving birth in a foreign country might have been an event filled with apprehension, the life they gave their daughter was one of many experiences. Not only did Grace experience life in another country, but she experienced schooling in many places. Grace would graduate from the College of Liberal Arts of Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mary Barr Uhl’s life took many turns that might have seemed far fetched to a child, who had been told of the desire of an elderly relative, but in the end, the desire of Dr John Scudder, that little Mary Barr would become a missionary had come to pass. Her life was not ruled by this man, it was just his desire…that became her desire too. Perhaps he saw something in that little girl that told him that she would be a great missionary. I suppose we will never know, but Mary did indeed, become a great missionary, and spent many years serving God in that capacity before retiring and returning to the United States. She died on March 26, 1926 at the age of 80 years, having fulfilled her destiny.
My dear granddaughter, Shai, it seems like just yesterday that we were so excited about having a Leap Day Baby. Little did we know then, that our little Leap Day Girl would also be our only granddaughter. Time has flown by so quickly, and I can’t believe that at 4½ years of age, you are going to be graduating from high school. Like most kids, it seems like just yesterday that you were born, but while time has indeed flown by, you have managed to age much slower than most kids…not a bad thing for a girl, because as we all know, women want to fight age with everything they have.
All kidding aside, we are so proud of all you have accomplished. You have reached a milestone today…one that will change you forever. High school graduation is the real completion of your childhood. You are no longer a little girl, but rather a woman he has earned the right to make her own decisions and plans, and set her own goals. I can’t believe that this day is really here. You really should be just a little teeny girl…a real 4 year old, and yet here you are…a grown woman. You talked with me about your plans, and when I listen to you, I hear a wise woman. You may not know exactly where you want your life to go, but you know where you don’t want it to go, and sometimes that is as wise as knowing the destination. Your journey will take you step by step toward the woman you want to be, and as long as you let God lead you, you will have great success.
Though your plans are keeping you close to home right now, I still feel a loneliness in my heart, because in my memory files, I can still see the little girl you were, and I miss her. You had a way of ruling the roost when it came to your brother and your cousins, Chris and Josh…when you were little anyway. They have become much more your allies now…and your friends, not just your brother and cousins. I remember the times…not so long ago, when we painted your tiny little fingernails, and you felt so grown up, then you told me that mine were “a meth and I better fixth them” if they were chipped. You were a born shopper. As a little girl, you could not see the problem with that. You told your mom to “just sharge it!!” That was a statement that always brought us a laugh. You were the type of little girl who simply never saw the problem with things. In your mind there was always a clear solution…except when other people didn’t agree with your solution. Then, oh my gosh…we met the Drama Queen.
Now, suddenly…right before our eyes, the Drama Queen is drifting away. We almost never see her anymore, and in her place stands a beautiful woman, who is ready to take on the world with style and grace. You have such new found confidence, and with your take charge personality, I know that you will be successful at whatever you do. I want all your dreams to come true, but for the selfish part of me, I hope that your dreams won’t take you far away, because I would miss my girl terribly. We are so proud of the woman you have become. Words can’t fully express just how proud. We love you so much. Congratulations on your high school graduation my dear granddaughter, Shai!! Way to go!!
Every Easter families gather together to eat a big meal and enjoy each other’s company. Most of us use just about any excuse to have a huge meal filled with all the best dishes we can think of. The meal often consists of ham and brisket at our house. And of course, what Easter dinner would be complete without eggs in some form…usually for breakfast and dinner. All those eggs the kids colored had to be used in some way, after all. In our family, the eggs are called angel eggs, because for obvious reasons, we don’t like the term deviled eggs. I really don’t want the devil involved in anything in my family…even the eggs.
But, more importantly, as Christians, we come together to remember the sacrifice our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ made to save us from our sins. We were in a horrible mess. We had all sinned, and there was no way out of going to Hell…not that we could manage anyway. Nevertheless, God is a loving God, and His children really are His life. He devised a plan to save us from the mess we were in. He sent his son, Jesus, who left His home in Heaven to come to earth, as a man, to live a sinless life, and then to die on the cross anyway, because it was the only way out for us. A sinless man had to die to pay the price for a world of sinners.
I saw a post yesterday on Facebook with the message, “Friday happened, but Sunday is coming.” That is so true. There is nothing we can do about the fact that our sins caused the need for a Saviour, Jesus to come and die to save us. That is in the past, but our future is eternal in Heaven, because of the selfless act of our Saviour. It is God’s love, grace and mercy toward his children that allows us to walk away from the punishment we all deserved, and live forever with Him. We can never thank Him enough for sending His Son. We can never thank Jesus enough for choosing to come and die in our place. All we can do now is rejoice!! Friday happened, but Sunday came three days later, because God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son!! Jesus willingly paid the price, defeated the devil, and the rose again to proclaim that victory!! Sunday is here!! He is risen!!! Jesus is alive!! Rejoice!!
Today, I give thanks to God for all of the wonderful family and friends he has blessed me with. What would life be without all of the wonderful people in my life. This day is not about the turkey and stuffing, or the days off from work, but about all the ways God has blessed and enriched my life. The blessings He has bestowed on me are too numerous to list here, but be assured that they are to the level of overflowing. My extended family has grown exponentially this year, and that has been a blessing beyond words. To all my cousins, the new ones we have found, and those who we have known all along…you are a greater blessing than you will ever know…I love you all.
I am especially thankful that all of my family members are healthy again, and those who haven’t been are getting better and better every day. Being in good health is vital to life, and so I give thanks to God for good health for me and all my loved ones.
I thank God that in a time of recession, all of my family members have jobs. We don’t think too much about jobs, until the economy goes bad, and then that is a very important part of our thoughts, but God has protected our jobs, and blessed us all financially.
On this wonderful holiday, it is my hope that all of my friends and family are as blessed as my family and I have been. Praise God for all His goodness, grace, and mercy in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!
Bob and I have reached another almost unheard of landmark in our marriage…38 years together. Of course, at this point in our marriage, we reach another almost unheard of landmark every year. It’s not that we are the only ones to ever reach this landmark, and in fact, I know several other people who have reached this one and beyond. It is simply that in a world where marriages have almost become disposable, those of us who manage to endure are rather rare.
When people have been married a long time, it seems like everyone wants to know what they attribute their marital success to, and everyone has some profound way that they managed such an amazing feat. Personally, I don’t think there is really any such thing as a perfect formula. Every marriage is different, the two people in the marriage are different, and the circumstances are different. What might work to keep one couple together, might just tear another couple apart. Therefore, I simply choose to say that by the grace of God we are still together. We aren’t perfect, but God loves us, and he has helped us through the difficult times and brought us to this place.
Through the years, we have been blessed with 2 daughters, Corrie and Amy, and their husbands, Kevin and Travis, and their children Chris, Shai, Caalab, and Josh. Our lives have been filled with much happiness, and a few sad times, but then we all go through loss and sadness. Nevertheless, we managed to cling to each other during the sad times, and rejoice together during the happy times. And we have worked together during the times when it was necessary to pull together to achieve the important goals. We have cared for our children, helped with our grandchildren, and now, we are caring for our parents. Yes, sometimes the work was very hard, and it seemed like we would not win against sickness or disease, but again, by the grace of God, we were able to pull through and not only do the things we needed to do, but have victory after victory along the way. There is such sweet victory when God guides your path, especially in caring for others.
No one knows where the road will go from here, and what new challenges the journey might bring. What we do know is that because of God’s help, we will be together through our remaining years, and every day will bless us more, because every day in the Lord is sweeter than the day before. I can’t tell you any perfect formula for making marriage last, but I can tell you that for me God’s grace and patient leading, His son Jesus’ sacrifice in my place, and His comforting Spirit are the only way we could possible have managed such a feat, because with out God, I know we probably would have failed. So I give God all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise, and I thank He each and every day for the wonderful man He gave me to walk the paths of this earth with. What a blessing Bob has been to me. I love you Bob, and I thank God for you every day.
My niece, Toni has always been a woman of quiet grace. I don’t know any other way to express that really. She is beautiful and yet, she doesn’t think so. Her beautiful face almost always wears a soft smile. She never pushes herself on people, but her sweet spirit seems to draw them to her anyway. I never think of Toni that I don’t think of her looking just like this picture of her, because that is so often exactly how she looks. Sweet and content with life.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, Toni has a funny side too. She can goof of with the best of them, and when she does, she is very funny. Through the years I can remember so many funny times with her. Of course, some of them she might not consider very funny, but then that is normal for any of us. I remember a time when she was about two years old, and I had gone up to visit her family in upstate New York. Her mom, my sister, Cheryl had made milk shakes for dinner, and as they sat on the table between drinks, the top froze a little bit. We didn’t have straws, and poor little two year old Toni was about to find out just how big a problem that can be. She lifted her glass to take a drink, and when the shake didn’t move down the glass to her lips, she lifted it straight upside down…well, you get the picture. Miss Toni Had a face full of chocolate shake, and it was cold!! She took it like a little trooper, but I will never forget the shock it produced in the rest of us. I felt so bad for her. We all have our moments, for sure, and all you can do is shrug it off and move forward…which is what Toni did. Before you knew it, she was laughing and playing again, like nothing ever happened. Toni has always liked being a bit on the goofy side, and most of her antics bring a big laugh, and she is such a good sport about it. You just never know what she might do next.
All kidding aside though, Toni is never happier than when she is with the two men in her life. They are the most important…always. When she is with Dave and James, her face shows the way her spirit feels…peace. Life is good and all is well. Toni recently married Dave, who is the love of her life, and I felt so much joy and happiness for her…for them. They are so good together, and I love how blessed she is. God has been so good to her. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! We love you very much!!
For most people, Christmas is a time of family, friends, and gifts. It’s about showing our loved ones how we feel about them. We gather together and make a big meal, open our gifts, laugh and talk, and in general, enjoy a day off, and all that is great, but sometimes we let ourselves get too caught up in all that, and we forget what Christmas really is about. This day is the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. So many people have politicized this. You aren’t supposed to say Merry Christmas even, because someone might be upset…it might offend them and their religion. But, the reality is that my faith has nothing to do with their religion. I believe in the God of Israel, Jehovah God, because I have seen His grace, mercy, and power at work in my life. It isn’t about my God is bigger than yours, it is about me and my family, and what He has done for us.
As a kid, growing up, I had heard of Christians being persecuted. I thought that must have been something that happened many years ago, because I never experienced anything like that…until the past few years. Suddenly, almost as if I just woke up one day, and found out that Christians and Jews are public enemy number 1. I didn’t change anything. I didn’t throw my faith in anyone’s face, but suddenly they are trying their best to force me out. That is something I just don’t understand. The Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and even the Atheists are allowed to display their symbols, just not people of Christian or Jewish faiths. I don’t understand that. Don’t we have freedom of religion here? Don’t we have the right to practice our faith as we see fit? It is still our Constitutional right…like it or not.
So, today, Christmas Day, I will not give in to political correctness, but I will use my Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion to practice my faith and celebrate Christmas both with my family and the giving and receiving of gifts, but more importantly with a grateful heart. Grateful to my wonderful God, who saw that I would need a Savior, Jesus, because the wages of sin is death and a price had to be paid. Jesus came to Earth, lived a sinless life, and paid that price on the cross, so that I could be saved and have eternal life. There was nothing I had to do but believe in Jesus as my Savior, and there was nothing I could do to get to Heaven on my own. The cross was enough. The debt was paid. How can I not celebrate Christmas, and how can I call it anything but Christmas? I simply can’t. It is not about politics, or whether or not others believe as I do. It is what I believe. Merry Christmas to All, and thank you Jesus, for coming to Earth to save us.
When I first met my nephew, Ryan’s future wife, I liked her, but it was early on in their dating and so often you brush those first encounters off. I guess you don’t get too attached, because in dating, there are those that come and go. Soon, however, it became apparent that Chelsea was the one for Ryan. I think I was surprised at just how fast it became apparent that Ryan was gone on Chelsea. There were a few struggles…such as when she wanted to move back home to Seattle, because we hated to have them go, even though we know that her family felt the same about her living here. Nevertheless, I always liked Chelsea, and that fondness has grown over the years that she has been a part of our family.
I think most of us really come into our own…once we leave our teenaged years behind, and that is certainly what I have seen in Chelsea. She has such a sweet spirit and a wonderful sense of humor. She is a business woman who has worked very hard to bring in a second income for the family while remaining a stay at home mom, which is a top priority with her. She first started out making jewelry, with a flare for the beautiful and sometimes unusual, at Sophisticate Jewelry. She also has a new venture, which is baked goods, at Momma H’s Tasty Eats. I have personally had her muffins, and I highly recommend them.
Chelsea has almost effortlessly worked her way into the hearts of this family, and we all love her very much. She is a good wife and mom, and those two things go a long way toward earning our love and respect, but what warms my heart today is that in the short time that Chelsea has been coming to our church, I have watched her grow spiritually into a strong woman of God. It is a beautiful thing to see. She is in church every week, and many Wednesday nights, literally absorbing the Word of God. Her family is there and little Ethan is always so excited to go to Sunday School, as I’m sure Aurora will be when she is old enough. Chelsea glows with the happiness that can only come from living in the grace of God. Today she did something that many Christians don’t often do. She brought her neighbors to church, and they were excited to come, because she was excited about her church. That is spiritual maturity and continued growth, and that is something to be proud of. Chelsea, I want you to know how much I love and respect you. You are a blessing to our family. I am so proud of you.
During the years of the Great Depression, people had to do whatever was necessary to make ends meet. The backyard garden became a necessity, not a hobby. Hunting and fishing really became a vital part of life, not just a pastime. People had to make their own repairs around the house, rather than hiring it done. People put blankets up for curtains, and made their own clothes. I suppose it was like a move back in time…to the time when their ancestors didn’t have a store to go to, or a repairman to call, so they did what they had to do, on their own. I would imagine that there were a lot of repairs that the repairman would have scratched his head at…just trying to figure out how it ran at all.
While the things the people of the Great Depression era did were a bit unusual, and were an essential part of making ends meet, they were also a part of their independence. They didn’t want a government handout…even when they had to take it, they didn’t want it. They were used to taking care of themselves. Nevertheless, jobs were scarce, and often required the men to travel for work, leaving their wives and young children to run the farm. School became a luxury, because the kids were needed at home to plow, weed, and harvest the crops to put food on the table. Nothing was wasted either. They cooked the feet, tongue, and even brains of an animal for food. They didn’t necessarily kill an animal, if all they needed was the feathers for a mattress. Can you imagine plucking the feathers from a goose while it is alive?? I would be afraid it would come after me, but it was well known then, that the feathers would grow back, just like our hair, of course, cutting our hair doesn’t hurt.
Tough times can make or break a nation and it’s people I guess, but if we are a people, determined to make it on our own, and help this nation be great at the same time, then we can be a nation who can handle difficult times with grace and dignity. If we become a nation of people who are willing to sit back and let the government take care of us, then we will be a truly poor nation indeed.