Thursday, December 22, 2011


As I take each piece from the worn, cardboard storage box, I marvel that it they have lasted so well for almost 40 years. This will be the 38th Christmas that I have set up my special Nativity scene. It’s very traditional with special touches added from my childhood and throughout our married life.
The first piece is the stable, looking a little worn; some of the thatch is coming off the top, probably a lot like the first stable in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph are then placed in the stable along with a cow and a donkey. I also place two special white lambs that I have had since I was a young girl with my first Nativity scene. The Innkeeper stands outside with his lantern, making sure they are settled comfortably. It’s a humble setting for a couple awaiting the birth of such a special child.
Next, I place the Shepherds and sheep into the field, off stage from the stable. I imagine the surprise of those long ago herders who were suddenly given amazing news by the Angels. The good news of the Holy birth came first to humble men in the fields, rather than to the Royalty of the land. They didn’t question the Angels, but left their flocks and went in search of the Baby Jesus.
From my storage box I take out the Angels, an eclectic assortment collected over the years. I place them near the Shepherds and their sheep. None of the Angels came with my original Nativity set, but have been gifts or former Christmas tree ornaments. They are now a special part of my Christmas tradition. Hark, the Herald Angels sing; glory to the new born King!
When we bought the Nativity in one of our first years of marriage, it came with only two wise men. A few years ago Allan surprised me with the third Wise Man as well as an Inn Keeper to upgrade my set. The Wise Men, who didn’t come to the Holy family until some time after the birth, are placed further from the stable, making their way, following the Star. I don’t have a Star in my collection; but it is always there in my mind.
I think it is interesting that the Wise men are not mentioned in the Luke 2 story of the first Christmas but are in the Matthew Gospel. Likewise, the Shepherds are not mentioned in Matthew but are in Luke’s story. Together, the two Gospels tell the story of the birth of Christ.
On Christmas Day the baby Jesus is added to the Nativity. Okay, so many years I don’t wait and have the completed Nativity throughout the Advent Season. But some years, I move the Shepherds and Wise Men closer throughout Advent and on Christmas, the birth of the Christ Child is represented by placing the manger and baby in the Nativity.
We have many traditions and holiday symbols of the season. But to me the Nativity is the most moving, the most representative of what Christmas is all about.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


            Thanksgiving is one of those memory holidays. Whether good ones or bad ones, it’s one of those days you remember and reflect upon. When I was growing up, for example, my mother didn’t really care for turkey. Our traditional Thanksgiving dinner included dressing and mashed potatoes and other good things, but no turkey. We always had a baked hen. Hen’s can be tricky birds and one year that old hen just wouldn’t get done. Hence, one tough old hen created a Thanksgiving memory.
            In addition to giving thanks for our blessings, food, family, and football seem to be the theme of this special American holiday. I’m not a football fan, but I do like preparing the meal and having my family and friends around me. Additionally, for many in our community, feeding the hungry is also a part of their Thanksgiving tradition.
            This year, more than ever, many people have a new personal theme to this day; that of hunger.  The groups in our community who help those in need are seeing an increase in the number of folks coming to them for help. Many have never asked for help before, but loss of jobs, homes and income have brought them to the doorstep of the non-profit organizations. There is a new dilemma this year, however. The needs have increased but the numbers of people who are able to give have decreased.
            In too many homes throughout our county Thanksgiving will be just another day of too little food and too much hunger. With the donations of generous folks throughout Cobb, however, there will be food baskets filling empty pantries. In mentioning some of the groups offering help, I’m sure I will offend others who are not mentioned; just know that it is not intentional if a group is omitted. There is an abundance of generous people in our county and so many groups willing to lend their expertise and time to coordinating the donation efforts.
            One well known group that has been filling Thanksgiving baskets here for 25 years is the Center for Family Resources (formerly known as Cobb Family Resources.) If you would like to make a contribution to them or find out how to receive help, call them at 770-428-2601 or
            Another group of individuals who are often forgotten are those with mental health disabilities. The Cobb Community Services Board is furnishing baskets for several hundred individuals and families for Thanksgiving. To make a contribution for yourself or a group, call Mary Robeck at 770-819-9229, ext. 226. She will even come and collect your canned goods or grocery store gift cards for meats. She is also looking for folks to provide special activities and/or Christmas gifts for individuals or families or groups served by Cobb/Douglas Community Services Board. 
            C.A.M.P. in Austell is seeking donations rather than actual food. A contribution of $10 will go a long ways toward feeding a family at the holiday or throughout the year.   Their clothes closet provides approximately 12,000 gently-used clothing and household items, as well as essential items such as diapers, feminine hygiene products and school supplies. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 802, Austell 30168 or online at They are located at 6289 Veterans Memorial Highway Building 12, Austell or call them at 770-819-0662.
            Last year our son and his wife, Peter and Ann-Bailey, came from Virginia to Marietta on Wednesday so they can run in the Thanksgiving Day Gobble Jog. This is a fund-raising event for MUST Ministries. They are well-known in our community for the help they provide, including food at Thanksgiving and throughout the year. For information about MUST Ministries in Smyrna call them at 770-436-9514 or check their web site at or for the Gobble Jog: , or call the Gobble Jog hotline: 678-218-4521.
            On November 24 we will gather together, thankful to God for our family, our home, food to eat and fellowship with those we love. For us and for many families throughout our county and country, it has been a year of belt-tightening and budgeting, but on Thanksgiving Day we will be grateful for all of our many blessing.

Friday, October 7, 2011


  She is tiny, beautiful, an adorable baby. Lillian Bell Lipsett was born on September 3  at 10:28 on a Saturday evening and captivated us from the moment we met her. She is our second granddaughter but I can tell already that she will certainly not be second best to anyone. Just as each child is special, each grandchild has her own unique hold on our hearts.

Lilly has a determined spirit that has already manifested itself. She is the first child of two first children. I expect she will be strong-willed and assertive in the kind and gentle manner of a Southern lady.

We met her when she was one week old and home with her parents in Arlington, Virginia. It was a hot September day and her parents and grandparents thought it would be nice to take try out the new pram and Lilly for a short walk. Lilly, at her early age, knew it was too hot for an outing. She protested for all of the Fairlington community to hear. It was a very short walk with a happy baby quickly back inside. Her mother captured the moment perfectly for all of us when she told Lilly: “You must forgive us; we’re first time parents and we make mistakes.”

They may be first time parents but they are doing an excellent job already. Lilly's parents, our son Peter and our daughter-in-law, Ann-Bailey Lynn Lipsett, are remarkable parents already, meeting her demands with a calmness and patience that even many experienced parents lack.

Lilly is surrounded by love from her parents and her two sets of grandparents. Her maternal grandparents, Beth and Jon Lynn, of Warrenton, VA, live closer to her Arlington home than we do and are a wonderful support for her and her parents. As for us, her Lipsett grandparents, I see in our future many more trips to Arlington with a stop in Charlotte to visit her cousin Addie

Sunday, September 18, 2011



            All it took was meeting her, holding her in our arms and our first granddaughter captured our hearts. She is not only a beautiful baby; she is a good baby, allowing herself to be passed from loving arms to loving arms without a cry or complaint.
            Addilee Ruth Long was born on August 6 at 10:15 on a beautiful Saturday morning. We almost made it in time for her birth, arriving at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte at 2 in the afternoon. We walked into the room and our daughter, Katie, asked if we would like to hold our granddaughter. As she placed Addilee in my arms, it was love at first sight; at first holding. Addie, as she will be called, snuggled into my arms, bonding quickly with her grandma.
            She was born on a day when the headlines screamed of historic economic decline in America. Enough doom and gloom to make us wonder what kind of world this precious child had entered and what kind of future she will have. But she was also born into a family with love for her and for each other; with parents to protect her and teach her and guide her. She comes into an extended family with a long history of strong spiritual roots and faith that will be a part of her upbringing and support.
            Addie was calm on the day of her birth, not troubled by the headlines. She seemed to feel the love that surrounded her. What will the future hold for Addilee? We can’t pretend to know. But I do know that her mother and father and her grandparents will always love her and protect her. No matter what the financial chaos of the world, she will be rich in the things that matter; the things that money can not buy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Motherhood is one of those things we can define both by our actions and our emotions.

Motherhood: It’s about pacing the floor at 2 a.m. with a crying child, trying to soothe both of you. It’s about pacing the floor just before midnight when your child is out on his first solo date – and driving. It’s about pacing the floor while your child is in surgery, because you need something to do and can’t sit still and time is moving so slowly.

Motherhood: It’s about praying when your child is crying and you don’t know why and nothing you do seems to offer comfort. It’s about praying when your child is away from home that he will return safely. It’s about praying when your child is in surgery that she will be healed.

Motherhood: it’s about praising your child for sleeping through the night. It’s about praising your child for acting responsibly when she’s driving. It’s about praising your child for being brave when facing sickness or adversity.

Motherhood is one of life’s greatest blessings and one of its greatest challenges. It’s the one full-time job we accept having no real training. We are able to learn some of the basic life skills, like cooking and diaper changing and chauffeuring. But most of the special things mothers do come through on the job training. You learn to accept sticky hugs without a wash cloth, lopsided clay vases without art criticism, and words spoken in anger without retaliation. You learn the value of each precious minute of time spent with a child, teaching them, playing with them, and most of all loving them.

I am thankful that I had a wonderful mother to teach me that motherhood is one of life's greatest privileges and joys. I am so very thankful that I have been blessed with the wonder of being a mother; that I have been able to watch our two children grow from tiny babies into fabulous, self-sufficient, intelligent adults.

My message to the two in our family who are about to be mothers: I wish you much joy and happiness and wonder as you spend the rest of your life pacing, praying and praising as part of the glory of motherhood.