Category Archives: Chester County Independent

Flashback Friday 10

Flashback Friday 10

We’re ending the first month of 2018 already! It may be the new year, but if you’re like me, you’re becoming weary of the winter weather. The Flashback for this week is from almost exactly 20 years ago. It was published in the January 29, 1998 edition of the weekly Chester County Independent in Henderson, TN. Reading back over it, I was reminded of the beauty of our amazing landscapes and how “the very stones would cry out” to glorify God in our silence (John 19:39b ESV).

As you read this week’s column, take a look around you at all the beauty you have in your life. I know it’s cold, and we’re getting tired of it, but spring will come. Rejoice in the good things of this season of our lives.

How Majestic is Your Name

tops-of-pine-treesWhat I love about pine trees is their majesty. They stand straight and tall, boughs uplifted to the heavens, as if in praise to the Almighty. When I look at a pine tree, I am reminded of one my favorite choruses by Michael W. Smith, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. O Lord, our Lord, we praise Your name. Oh Lord, we magnify Your name; Prince of Peace, Mighty God; O Lord God Almighty.”

The words to this song make me want to stand up tall as the trees and “shout unto the Lord with the voice of triumph.”

I recently experienced my first ice storm, and saw pine trees in a new posture. As I drove to work, admiring the exquisite adornment of the countryside, I thought what a symbol of worship the bowed pine trees were. Instead of arms raised high, the trees were bent under the weight of the ice, as if in humble subjection to an awesome God.

ice on pine

As I think back on the memory of those ice-laden trees, the words of another chorus overflow my heart:

“I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you. Oh my soul, rejoice. Take joy my King in what You hear. May it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.”


Flashback Friday 9

Flashback Friday 9

It is so interesting for me to dig back and reread these 20-year-old columns. It’s fun to be reminded of the things my kids were saying and doing, and to recall my own struggles and fears and know how far I have come. The first fear expressed in this column from 1998 is fear of speaking in public. Now, as a public speaker, I don’t even remember having that fear.

But some things stay the same. At the end of this column, I quote Psalm 27:1 and call it my mantra. A few short months ago, I started my first doctoral level class. We were asked to share a scripture that would help us through the obstacles to come in this four-year intensive online program. I shared the same verse that gave me courage when I left home for the first time, when I became a parent, when I went through divorce, decided to leave a secure job for the unknown, and now embark on earning a doctorate.

I hope you enjoy this flashback. And please, share in the comments what helps you move through your fears to find victory on the other side of the battle.

A Child Shall Lead Them

I’ve heard it said that children “inherit” their parents’ fears. If that is true, the real Geoffrey Taylor and Jeanna Elizabeth Alexandra Cooper probably will become subjects of a switched-at-birth-made-for-TV movie.

So far, my children show no signs of fear of speaking in public. At a recent trip to the doctor’s office, 3-year-old Geoff kept the entire waiting room entertained with tales of “The Magic School Bus,” “Kratt’s Creatures,” “Arthur,” “Bananas in Pajamas,” and “Barney.”

They show no concern for what others may think of them. Last week 23-month-old Jeanna walked up to a stranger in the bank and informed her, “I’m Jeanna. I’m pretty!”

Financial worries are alien to them as Geoff begs for Matchbox cars from “the Wal-Mart Car and Gum Store,” and Jeanna continues in her baby adopting endeavors.

Fear of bodily harm completely surpasses them as their fingers and toes web together and gills sprout behind their ears.

As they perform somersaults and mid-air flips, jump from counter tops and slide off of desks.

As Jeanna shouts, “Higher, higher,” and pumps her legs in the “wing.”

As they hug, kiss, and pat every dog, cat, lamb and goat they see.

At the end of eighth grade, I had my first “panic attack.” I stood in front of the “enormous”Torrington High School and begged Christ to return before I was forced to encounter such fearsome obstacles.

I was certain I’d be taken up in the rapture before I had to face the frightful four – high school, college, marriage, and childbirth. In just 11 years, I succeeded in all four, and the only downside has been those extra 30 pounds I still blame on my children.

Before I left home for a large college in Florida, I discovered a verse that has become my mantra. Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

My husband and I tell the kids that they have nothing to be afraid of because God and Jesus always are with them and protecting them. God says “fear not; for I am with thee,” (Isaiah 43:5a).

Maybe Geoff and Jeanna have more to teach me in some areas than I have to teach them.


Flashback Friday 8

Flashback Friday 8

I kicked off the new year by listening to an audio book called, “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick. I thought Mr. Pepper might have some strange quirks about his personality that the author called curious charms. It didn’t take long for me to realize the charms were part of a bracelet Arthur finds when he cleans out his deceased wife’s closet. He takes on the challenge of tracking down the origin of each charm and learning about a part of his wife he had never known. The book is a beautiful story, sprinkled with humor, of grief, healing, and restoration. As I listened to the adventures of this widower while tracking down the origins of a tiger, an elephant, an artist’s palette, and other charms, I was reminded of my own charm bracelet. Actually, I have several, but my first charm bracelet came from my former mother-in-law, who is still a dear friend. Twenty years ago she read this column and it’s closing paragraph. That Christmas, I received a lovely gold charm bracelet with the first two charms attached.


As a Navy Brat, I’ve seen both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and most of the land between them. I’ve stopped in the middle of a summer softball game to stand, hand over heart, as the “Star Spangled Banner” played and the flag was lowered at the end of a day on a Naval reservation.

I whole heartedly believe that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. I realize there are a multitude of problems in our nation. I’ve been known to grumble about a lot of them. But there still is no other place I would rather live.

When I was in high school, someone made a rude remark about my sister. I immediately defended her. The person said, “but you’ve said the same thing about her yourself!”

My brilliant response was, “Yeah, but she’s MY sister.”

That’s the way it is with family, and that’s the way it is with the U.S. We can fight and gripe, but an outsider better just keep his mouth shut.

“From sea to shining sea” are monuments symbolizing our nation’s ideology and the men who have led us in those ideas. From the Liberty Bell to the Washington Monument, we are reminded of our greatness.

Our country also has many symbols commemorating our freedom. As Americans, we may be selfish with our parking spaces, but when it comes to freedom, we want the whole world to have what we have. That is why we have monuments like the three soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima, the Vietnam Memorial and the Statue of Liberty.

The first two monuments recognize the lives that were lost in defending democracy – for ourselves and our neighbors.

The Statue of Liberty symbolizes our willingness to share our bounty with those who could not find it in their own homelands.

I have never seen the Statue of Liberty. But someday, I hope to stand at her base and read the inscription – “Give me your tired, your poor …” I don’t remember the rest of how it goes, but it reminds me of another symbol of freedom – the cross.

While Jesus was still on this earth He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28, KJV).

Then He died for our freedom.

Each little trinket on a bracelet represents something of importance to the one who wears it. If I had a charm bracelet, the first two symbols I’d hang on it would be miniatures of the Statue of Liberty and of the cross.


Flashback Friday 7

Flashback Friday 7

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Flashback Friday.  I’ve recently met several deadlines and enjoyed a few big events, and now find myself in a bit of blissful reprieve for a few short weeks before we jump into the holiday season. So I thought I’d take some time to schedule some Flashback Friday posts.

Today’s post is the very first column I ever wrote.  I showed it to my editor, Sue Hite, at the Chester County Independent and asked for feedback. I thought it was funny, encouraging, and meaningful, but what would Sue think? I sweated it out until she told me to run it on the Obits/Religion page as the first installment of my own weekly column.

Reading it back today, I still think it’s funny, encouraging, and meaningful. I wrote this the year I turned 30. Twenty years later, I’m balancing on the brink of celebrating the half century mark of my life on this planet.

Guess what…

I’m still making the same mistakes.

I think I’m making them a lot less often, and with a lot more grace and style, though.  But  those wayward Israelites still annoy me.

Not My Virtue

Patience is a virtue. It’s just not one of mine. Of course, life has written a daily lesson plan directed at teaching me, but I don’t have the patience to learn.

Last year I decided to read the Bible cover-to-cover, however, I lost patience with those thick-skulled Israelites. Moses must have been sure he was leading a group of toddlers. He had to be exhausted after a day of repeating,

“I told you not to build a golden calf!”

“No, you can’t have chocolate chip cookies, you’ll just have to be satisfied with manna from heaven!”

or “No, we can’t go back to Egypt. They want to kill you!”

“And so do I,” he must have whispered under his breath. His ears probably were burning from 40 years of hearing, “Moses, are we there yet?”

I became so disgusted with God’s chosen people. They just never got it. They made the same mistakes over and over. God punished them, and they did it again. They were brought out of slavery, famine, and the slaughtering of their children. Instead of praising God for His mercies, they turned their backs to him. Rather than publishing the first edition of 101 Ways to Serve Manna, they threw up their hands and said, “We can’t stand another day of freedom and free food falling from the sky, we’re going back!”

The Israelites had their every need provided, but they had no patience for the inconveniences they faced along the way.

Of course, I had to go and have an epiphany – bright, flashing lights and arrows pointing to my head. If the story of my life is ever written, years from now someone may read it and exclaim, “The moron! She kept making the same mistakes.”

The Lord has allowed me enormous blessings, but I stumble over the small stuff and scream in impatient tantrums. I’m still not a virtuous woman in the area of patience, but now instead of shouting, “I can’t take it anymore,” I pray, “Lord, let me learn from the Israelites.”

Flashback Friday 6

Flashback Friday  6

Hello my handful of readers! I know it’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything, but that is about to change. I hope you’ll enjoy all new Flashback Friday posts sharing columns I wrote back in the 1990’s for the Chester County Independent and start looking forward to regular posts on Tuesdays. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to the blog and share with your friends.

Now, for this week’s Flashback Friday…

I was out picking chokecherries the other evening, enjoying the cool breeze right before the sun began to set. I stood on tiptoe, reached with my left arm far above my head, grasped a branch and bent it toward my right hand, and remembered the times when I would pick blackberries with my family. This memory reminded me of one of my earliest columns…

Picking Blackberries with God

Many People believe that children are unable to understand the concept of God. After all, few adults really grasp the realities. Jesus told His disciples that it is best to have the faith of a little child. Obviously, we adults don’t give kids enough credit.

The last time my sister called, she asked my 3-year-old son, Geoffrey, what he’d been doing. Around a mouthful of blackberries he said, “us been picking blackberries with God.” A couple of days later we were again picking blackberries and Geoff looked up at me and said, “God’s pickin’ blackberries with us.”

Another popular Geoffism is “God sleeps with us and keeps us safe with monsters.” Every time he says it, he says “with” monsters, not “from” monsters. That’s a pretty important concept. The Bible tells us that God will deliver us from all evil. It never says He will keep the evil away, only that He will protect us through it.

Nearly everyone is familiar with the 23rd Psalm, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (verses 4 and 5). Even in death, God is with us. In the midst of our enemies (monsters), God sets us up at the head tables and fills our cups to overflowing with love and protection.

My sister and her family will be visiting us next week. We’ve been asking Geoff what he will do with his cousins. He says “Jordan and Geoff throw rocks in the mud and pick blackberries with God.”

Whatever it is we’re doing, picking blackberries, throwing rocks, or sleeping with monsters, God is with us, keeping us safe. God promises, “Lo, I am with you always.”

No one has ever told Geoffrey that. I guess he already knew.

Flashback Friday 5


I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out with my two-year-old granddaughter. One day she got my book out and threw it on the floor. I asked her to put it away before we left the room. 

She said, “No.”

I said, “You don’t say no to me. You say yes ma’am. Now put the book away.”

She said, “Yes ma’am. No.”

Close enough.

Kids crack me up. And none more than those in my own family. This Flashback Friday column was first published in the Chester County Independent June 25, 1998. It ends with a perfect example of how my son Geoff has always challenged me.  

Because I Said So and Other Ridiculous Phrases

I’ve never been particularly fond of the phrases, “because I said so” or “because I’m your mother and that’s all you need to know about it.” Rather than instilling a desire to do as the parent says, these words breed anger and frustration. And as I was always quick to remind my parents, God tells fathers “Provoke not your children to wrath…” (Ephesians 6:4a). Okay, probably not a good idea to throw scripture in your father’s face, but hey, I was only in junior high.

I’m the type of person who likes to know why. When someone tells me to do something that seems stupid or unreasonable, I grumble and complain, or just refuse to do it – depending on who gave the order. If the reason behind the request is obvious or explained to me, I willingly proceed. I seem to come by this trait honestly.

When my dad was a young teenager, he spent some time on his uncle’s wheat farm and helped drive truck during harvest. Uncle Amos told him not to touch a certain lever. Rather than explain the consequences, Uncle Amos pulled out Phrase Number One – “Because I said so.” Dad backed that loaded truck into the shed and pulled the lever. As the bed began to rise, pouring wheat all over the ground, Dad’s arm was caught and his wrist was broken. Dad always ends that story with, “If ol’ Amos had just told me what that lever was for, I never would have had to figure it out for myself.”

As a result, my dad was always very good about explaining the rules to my sisters and me. If I couldn’t go to a party, it was a lot easier to tell my friends why I couldn’t attend than to just say my tyrannical father wouldn’t let me.

Throughout my Bible are DC notations. For each direct command (DC) that God gives, He gives a reason. For example, in Ephesians 6:11, He says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that he may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The direct command is to suit up in God’s armour. The reason is to protect yourself from Satan. Not too different from my command to my daughter to get out of the middle of the road to protect herself from speeding cars.

Although my children are small, I try to give simple explanations to them. But last week I caught myself using a new version of Phrase Number Two. I looked my 3-year-old son Geoff in the eye and said, “I’m your mommy and you have to do as I say because God said so. He says, “‘Children, obey your parents.'”

He looked right back at me and said, “And you have to obey God.”


Flashback Friday 3


imageOne night this week I was enjoying a beautiful fall evening by sitting on the front porch and reading.  My son and daughter-in-law’s dogs, Stetson and Milo, were being incredibly good, just sitting on the porch watching the after-work traffic pass by.  I had set the book aside, watching them and thinking what good dogs they were when suddenly Stetson jumped up and ran right out into the street. He thunked against the side of a red sedan as I jumped up, yelling his name. As quickly as he’d darted out, he was back on the porch standing close to my side. The woman driving the red car pulled over and got out.

“He’s fine,” I shouted.

Are you sure? she asked as she walked around to see if there was any damage to her car.

“He’s fine,” the neighbor said. “He just hit the side. He’s alright. Now if it had been head on, that would have been a different story.”

Stetson stood beside me acting like nothing had happened. I was glad nothing serious had! How would I explain to my son that I hadn’t just dinged the running board on his brand new truck? No, this time I’d let his dog get hit by a car.

This incident reminded me of another dog and his traffic accident in 1997.  Like the other Flashback Friday installments, the proceeding column was first published in the Chester County Independent.

A Greater Price

We recently drove to Wyoming to visit family. We took our horse trailer since we hadn’t had room for everything when we moved. My husband also decided that we needed to bring our dogs, Haley and Zeuss. They made the 1,300-some miles to my sister’s house in the padlocked horse trailer.

After two days in Douglas, we continued the one hour to Casper. We thought no further than we were going, the dogs would be fine in the back of the truck. Zeuss kept standing on the tool box, so halfway to Casper, we pulled off the interstate and put both dogs back in the trailer. Tom didn’t padlock it.

During the course of the last few miles we made a sharp turn, crossed a bumpy intersection and stopped at two red lights. While we sat at the second light, I saw the tail of a black dog pass in front of us. Tom realized it was Haley and jumped out of the truck to put her back in the now open trailer.

“We lost Zeuss somewhere,” he said.

He quickly drove the last several blocks to his mom and dad’s house, parked on the wrong side of the street, and ran to the door, shouting, “Mom, I need your car.”

Tom searched for Zeuss unsuccessfully until nearly 2 a.m. First thing Monday he called the pound and was told a dog matching Zeuss’ description had been picked up at 1:30 Sunday morning.

Tom took $50 and went to bail Zeuss out. It wasn’t long before he called saying he needed more money. Zeuss had hurt his legs when he jumped out of the trailer and been taken to the vet and given an IV and pain killers.

When Tom returned with a perfectly healthy Zeuss, he said, “Well, our free dog just cost us a lot of money.”

I grumpled about the dog blowing our travel budget, until I was able to put things into perspective. The price we paid for Zeuss’ freedom was pretty paltry compared to the price Jesus Christ paid for ours.

One of the first verses children learn in Sunday School is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

God didn’t just give us his son to live among us and teach us His principles. He gave him to die for us.

Adam and Eve had done some pretty serious damage to man’s relationship with God. In order to correct the damage, an atonement had to be made. Since man had caused the breach, he would have to span it, but since the break had been made with God, human efforts were not enough. The solution was for God’s holy son to become a man.

During the time before Christ’s birth, men made sacrifices of lambs to God. Christ put himself in the position of the lamb, and became the ultimate sacrifice.

A vet bill is pretty measly, isn’t it?

Flashback Friday 2

Flashback Friday 2

During a recent visit to my oldest son’s house, he and I were trying to figure out what to have for supper. Both sitting on the couch, staring straight ahead, stockinged feet resting on the coffee table, we took turns tossing out and turning down ideas.

“Waffles would be good,” he said.

“Yep, waffles sound good.”

“Ehh, I don’t feel like making waffles.”

“Me either.”

Still facing the TV, he moved only his eyes to look in my direction. “Do you remember how to make your grandpa’s pancakes?” he asked.

I remembered – in general – nothing specific like how many cups of flour or teaspoons of baking powder. As his daughter raced by, as toddlers do EVERYWHERE they go, he shouted, “Hey Riley, you want pancakes for supper?”

She stopped dead in her tracks, “Pancakes?!” She squealed, clapped her tiny hands, spun on her heel and raced to the kitchen. Ten seconds later she was back with a bottle of syrup. Dinner plans were definitively decided.

So I called my sister.

“The 22-year-old and the 22-month-old want grandpa’s pancakes for supper,” I told her.

She was quick to give me the details I needed to complete my mission. But why am I telling you this, you wonder? Because it leads me to this week’s Flashback Friday post. The following column was first published in the Chester County Independent sometime in 1999. It was reprinted in 2000 in an anthology of devotionals entitled Treasures of a Woman’s Heart,and has a little bit to do with my grandpa’s pancakes.

Early Morning Whispers

I remember sharing the hide-a-bed with two other slumberers each time we visited my grandparents. All decked-out in our footed, fleece pajamas – blue for me, pink for Kerri and yellow for Jerri – my sisters and I would sleep two side-by-side and one across the bottom.

Early in the morning, before anyone else was up, Grandpa Walt would lean over the sofa bed and whisper, “Guyla, wanna have pancakes with Grandpa?” My feet were on the floor before my eyes even opened.

Very quietly in the little two-bedroom house my mother was raised in, Grandpa would brew himself a pot of coffee on the stove and whip up a batch of his famous pancakes. The first pancake or two off the griddle would go to our dog, Skippy, because as all great pancake chefs know, it takes a few passes with the batter to season the griddle.

Two golden, fluffy pancakes smothered in real butter and Mrs. Buttersworth later, I knew that I was the most important child on the planet, maybe even the universe.

I come from a long line of twins. Of five grandchildren, I am the “odd man out.” But I never felt that way. I always told people that I was the special one because I was the only “singleton” in the family. My grandpa had a major role in making me feel that way.

But I’m not the only one he made feel special with those pancakes. Decades, weddings and births later, all five of us still shout “pancakes and hamburgers!” when Grandpa asks what we want for supper. When one of us goes to visit our grandparents, the next time we see one of the others we say in our best “nanner nanner” voice, “I went to see Grandma and Grandpa and I got to eat pancakes.”

Yeah, that’s right, we’re all adults now.

Early in the morning, my Lord whispers in my ear, “Guyla, wanna spend time with me?” So often I blink and roll over or jump up and rush into my day’s activities. But when I do stop to open my Bible and read, especially a psalm or a proverb, I feel like I am the most important person in the universe.

God loves me more than my grandpa does. He doesn’t get up and make me pancakes, but He did give me the man who does.

He loved me so much, that He sent His only son to die a brutal death on the cross, and He would do it all over again – just for me.

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday

Today is the first installment of a new feature here at You Do You, Mama. On my About page I mentioned that I used to write a weekly column for the Chester County Independent during the late 1990’s. I was recently reading through some of them and thought it would be fun to dust them off and share them with a new audience. Being mostly Type A and a linear thinker, I originally thought I would post the columns in order of how they were first published. Unfortunately, I don’t have the dates of all of them. So instead, I decided to post columns as they appeal to me. Since I recently drove nine and a half hours from Torrington, WY to Junction City, KS with only one stop in Kearney, NE, I thought the following column would be appropriate. 

It has been 18 years since I wrote this. A lot has changed since then (I’m no longer married to my directionally challenged former mate) but as they say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” I’m still trying to beat road trip records and friends joke about my iron bladder, but I do enjoy stopping for a great photo opportunity and a meal I have to eat with a fork. Oh, and I’m not sure the current generation is familiar with Rand McNally or map reading. It’s much easier to say, “Hey Google.”

Enjoy this flashback to 1990 something…

Road Tripping through Life 

It is generally accepted that women marry men like their fathers. This is not the case when it comes to my dad, husband, and road trips.

My dad’s time-tested rule is to point the car in the right direction and stop for one of three reasons:

1. The vehicle is traveling under the power of the final fuel fumes.

2. The driver’s bladder is about to burst.

3. The driver is suffering starvation-induced hallucinations. Even then, food is purchased in the drive-thru lane, unless rules one and two apply.

Dad and my sister, Jerri, once made it to Scottsbluff, NE from Memphis, TN in 17.5 hours. Their record progress was slowed only when Jerri, an honor graduate of the R.G. Greenly School of Cross-Country Speed Racing, was pulled over by a Nebraska State Trooper wishing to remind her of loved ones waiting at home.

My husband, however, tends to point his truck in the opposite direction and figure, “I’ll get there eventually.” He does not believe a Rand McNally sponsored map reading course falls into the theology department – he has been known to require 23 hours to cross Missouri. I have a friend who manages to make it to Oklahoma City, OK from Henderson, TN in about nine and a half hours. It recently took us 12 ½ hours just to cross Arkansas.

After 20-some years of traveling the nation with my father, I can travel hundreds of miles without a bathroom break, sleep in an upright position, and pack 900 items in a space designed for 10. After only six years of “road tripping” with my husband, I am still driven by the need to beat Dad’s Memphis to Scottsbluff record. But very slowly, I am learning to appreciate actually stopping to take a picture, browse through a craft shop, or eat in a sit-down restaurant.

My Heavenly Father has a different approach to traveling life’s highway. We do not need to put our trust in Rand McNally or pack those 900 items around. God promises to lead us in our travels and provide for us along the way.

The familiar Proverbs 3:6 states, “In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” Psalm 5:8 reads, “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness … make straight your way before me.”

In each of the four gospels, Jesus tells his disciples “take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff.” We don’t need to supply the stuff. God will meet our every need, and if we’ll listen, through His leading, we’ll get there eventually.