Let me tell you about my big brother. His name is Earl. He believes in Jesus and is a Christian. He is nine years older than me so we were never really kids at the same time. When I was a toddler he was a kid. When I was a kid he was a teenager. When I was a teenager he was an adult. So needless to say, with the age gap, we didn't exactly play well together. There were times I thought I could never hate anyone more. There were times I wished he wasn't so bossy. We argued and we fought. We used blackmail threats to ensure we kept each other's secrets (I probably have more on him than he does on me, though...just sayin'.). There were times I was sure we would hate each other forever. But now that I have caught up and we are both adults, things are different. We have conversations. We may not always be in agreement, but it doesn't end up in a full blown WWE match in the middle of the floor. Despite all the pains growing up, my brother was always there for me. He still is. He has been there for me in good times and has never once balked at helping me through the bad times. His arms are gentle enough to give the best hugs ever, his shoulders are strong enough to help carry anyone's burden, and his heart is big enough to love unconditionally. I can only pray that my brother knows just how much he means to me. I am truly blessed by God to have such an amazing big brother! I love you, Earl!
Sitting in the park one day
Not so long ago.
I overheard a child say
“Dad, where did America go?”
I sat there thinking back in time
As teardrops filled my eyes.
A million thoughts raced through my mind
And I heard the dad reply.
“Well, son, it wasn’t very long ago
That America was grand!
Good seeds were all we had to sow
And love filled up this land.
But somewhere in the days and years
Good and evil went to war.
And as we all faced many fears
America was shaken to her core.
If you stood for what was right
The price was high to pay.
It seemed that people lost their sight
And many fell along the way.
This great land that we once knew
Has lost her grit and brawn.
She’s been silenced for me and you
So, son, that’s where America’s gone.
But if we during these hard times pray
To regain the strength we lack
God will bless us once again
And America will be back.”
~Ruth McDonald Mair~
Over the last several weeks I have heard many people say that they cannot wait for 2020 to be over. I hear them say what a horrible year this has been and that hopefully 2021 will be much better.
No matter how difficult 2020 has been, I cant help but be thankful for this year. I am not one to easily alter my "routine." But this year I learned that not only can I make alterations, I can embrace the opportunity to learn from from them.
When I walked out of my office on March 23, I truly expected to be back there with my coworkers in two to four weeks. Nine and a half months later, we are all still working from home, holding staff meetings via Teams, and overcoming obstacles together all while being distanced. I miss seeing my coworkers in person each day, but I believe we have all become stronger as a team, not only professionally but on a personal level as well.
My church was shut down for many weeks, but that did not deter my church family. Our pastor took the lead, and with so many people willing to help, our services were live-streamed in a very short time. We are now able to attend in person, but the services are still being streamed for those who cannot attend in person. We have no hymnals, but we still sing. Sometimes I feel the singing is actually louder, maybe because with no hymnal in hand there is no reason to be looking down while singing so our voices are actually lifted, the way God intends. We don't pass the offering plate, but we are still able to drop off our tithes and donations to support our church and the mission fields. There is physical space between us as we sit in the pews, but I believe the spiritual connection is stronger than ever. Many physical changes have occurred, but God has remained steadfast.
The above examples are only two areas of my life that were affected by the turmoil and struggles that COVID 19 presented. However, in the midst of all this, my eyes and heart have been opened to see that no matter how bad or good a year happens to be, God gives us the year to embrace life and make the best of all we have. He likes to grow us through our challenges.
In closing, I want to send many thanks and much love to each person who has touched my life in 2020. It is my prayer that we can all complete the upcoming 2021 journey together.
Wishing you all peace, happiness and God's continued blessing in this new year.
Ruth McDonald Mair
Another family circle is now complete in Heaven. My Aunt Hazel was called home last night. She was the last of ten siblings to climb those golden stairs and walk through heaven's gates. While it is a sad time for the family left here on earth, there is a family rejoicing in Heaven this morning.
As I was growing up our family had huge reunions at Easter and Thanksgiving. These were always held at someone's house, not a rented venue like now days. My mom and aunts would clean and cook for days in preparation of the big event. In attendance would be most, if not all, of my aunts, uncles and cousins...all under one roof. It's funny to think that many people can fit into one house, and even funnier to think that anyone who wanted to stay overnight had a place to sleep! The adults would sit and talk, while all us kids played and had a great time together. When the time came to eat the long-awaited meal, silence overcame the mingling as every head bowed and every eye closed while the blessing was said. I loved those gatherings...it was fun...it was family...it was love.
With that memory alive in my heart and mind, I can only imagine the family reunion that took place last night with Jesus in the center of that unbroken circle and God embracing them all.
Center: Chester T. Southworth, Sr and Rosie Sargent Southworth (Ma and Pa)
Top Left: Chester T. Southworth, Jr and Jerry Southworth, Sr
Top Right: Bryant William Southworth
Bottom Left: George Owen Southworth
Bottom Right: (Standing L to R) Lethie Francis Southworth McDonald, Edna Mae Southworth McDonald, Rhoda Lee Southworth Mauer, Florence D. Southworth, (Seated L to R) Virginia Hall Southworth Wykoff, Hazel Heath Southworth Withrow
The next time you kneel in prayer, pray for yourself first.
Before you grumble to God about the neighbor who seems to not want to talk to your child, ask God to enlighten you. Has this person lost a child of their own, maybe one that was close to your child's age?
Before you grumble to God about the kid that rode his bike through your yard this afternoon, ask God for understanding. Perhaps he was only in a hurry because he wanted to spend a few rare minutes with his dad before he left for his second shift job at the factory. Maybe if he had not taken a short cut he would have missed his dad by mere seconds.
Before you grumble to God about the lady who was taking her own sweet time at the grocery store, ask God to grant you patience. Maybe she was moving slow due to the pain she endures because she can't afford that hip replacement the doctor has repeatedly prescribed.
Before you grumble to God about the new family that comes to church in jeans and t-shirts, ask God to humble you. Those jeans and t-shirts might be the clothes they had in when they recently lost their home and all its contents.
The next time you kneel in prayer, pray for yourself first. Ask God to open your heart, your eyes, your ears and your mind so that you might have more compassion and understanding and that you might see more than what appears to be.
~Ruth McDonald Mair~
The Journey of Life. We are all on this journey. Since no two journeys are identical, I just want to share a few things about what I’ve discovered along the way. I have found that the older I get, the more interesting, intriguing and beautiful this journey becomes. Many things have come and gone in my life. Some things have remained the same while other have continually changed. The one thing I’ve found that has always been with me, never wavering, is my very own tour guide. His name is God.
I’ve been granted so many breath-taking sunrises and sunsets, so many beautiful landscapes that I cannot even begin to count them. The only times I haven’t seen any of them are the times I chose not to look for them. God’s always provided them.
I’ve made some amazing friends through the years. Some of those friendships have lasted what seems like forever. Others have fizzled down to just an acquaintance, while still others have completely disappeared. But I know that each friend was placed in my path for a specific reason. Those reasons may not be self-revealing and I may have felt at times that I had no friends at all. But as I reflect, I find that the only times I’ve felt completely friendless are the times I wasn’t a friend to God. He’s always been there for me…and He always will be.
My family! From having grandparents to now myself being a grandparent, plus living out every role in between. Yes, I’ve lost many family members whom I was not prepared to say goodbye to, but I’ve come to learn it is all part of life…part of growing…and a huge part of loving. And I know that I have a family waiting for me on the other side. God has them in His care and He has always been my heavenly Father. The only time I’ve felt homeless is when I failed to invite God into my home.
Ups and downs? Feast or famine? Oh yes, I’ve experienced all those as well. But for every down I’ve known in this life, God has given me a huge boost up. And for every famine I’ve suffered, God has given me a feast. The only times in life that I have truly felt hopeless are the times I was not looking for and talking to God. He has always waited patiently for me to return to Him.
Not enough can be said to even describe the storms of life I’ve endured. But look—I’m still here—and I’m not only surviving, I am thriving! Because after every storm I’ve gone through, God has given me a sense of peace and calm. He has always shown me a rainbow--the sign of His covenant with us. His promise to never destroy all of life with flooding. The waters may get deep and wide, but God is always there, standing on the shoreline, waiting to pull me to safety. The only times I’ve felt scared during the storms of life are the times I took my eyes off God.
Yes, this journey of life has taught me so many things. But the most important—the one that really stands out to me—is to trust God and let him be in total control. He is the most reliable tour guide I will ever know. If you don't already know Him, I would love to introduce you!
Ruth McDonald Mair
Adoption. It is not for everyone.
While there are different reasons a person would adopt someone else’s child to raise as their own, the level of compassion, understanding, patience, commitment and love that it takes to make this happen is the same on all counts.
Some people adopt because, for whatever reason—medical, age, etc., they cannot produce a biological child of their own. Some people have started a biological family and decide the best way to grow their family is through adoption. Sometimes people adopt because the child is a relative who has been displaced through death of their parents, neglect, abuse or abandonment. And the reasons are endless.
Many things need to be considered when contemplating adoption. Single-child adoption or multiple? What age—infant, toddler, older? Boy or girl? Open or closed (meaning will the biological parents maintain contact or no)? If open adoption, for how long—one year, five years, entire life? Tell the child they are adopted or not? If yes, at what age to tell them? What type of background is the child coming from—unwed teenage mom, deceased parents, abused or neglected?
When parents adopt, they bring a child into their home who is not necessarily their blood but is most definitely their heart. They bring not just the child, but they bring the child’s personality and background, which is not an offshoot of their own. They bring the child’s happiness and sadness, accomplishments and fears, emotions and scars, handicaps. They bring ALL of it into their home…the good, the bad and the ugly. They dedicate their lives to molding the child into a well-adjusted, happy, successful adult. They deal with the night terrors, the temper tantrums that no one understands the root of, the child’s fears of being left alone in the dark, the child’s fear of a cow looking at them (yes, this was ME at one time). They celebrate the birthdays, the Christmases, the vacations. They dedicate themselves to teaching the child who may seem unteachable, but if loved and cultivated could become valedictorian or salutatorian someday. They deal with the hearing impairment, the speech impediment, the wheelchair. They cheer from the sidelines. They survive the ups and downs. They do everything a biological parent would do.
The love and dedication of an adoptive parent is no different from that of a biological parent. I know. I was lucky enough to be adopted at the age of three. I always knew that I was adopted, but they were never my “adoptive parents.” They were my parents. They never once gave up on me, although I know without a doubt, I gave them good reason to many times! I have an older brother, nine years older, whom they adopted before me when he was young. We were never faced with any form of doubt that our parents loved us BOTH, unconditionally with patience and commitment, until their dying day.
If there are parents reading this that are raising an adopted child, please stand up. Stand up tall and proud. Take a bow and accept a pat on the back and hear my applause for making the choice to be a family to a child who may otherwise have none.
Adoption. It is not for everyone. But for those who have chosen it, you have made a difference. You ARE the difference.
Divorced families. Blended families. Intact families never touched by divorce. For adult children, figuring out how to please all these people at the holidays, or anytime, can be overwhelming. If you are one of these adult children, I want to point out a few things. First, not everyone who is divorced wanted to be. Second, divorce is not the end of the world. For some it's a new beginning and maybe even a saving grace for some. Third, divorced parents love and want to see their kids, kids-in-law and grandchildren just as much as non-divorced parents. Fourth, no one's parents--divorced or not--are going to live forever. Please believe me, there will come a time when you are going to wish for one more holiday, one more birthday or just one more day, period. But it wont be there...ever again. For some, that last holiday or birthday just may have been this past one, without anyone even being aware of it. Ponder that last statement. Please don't hold divorce against families, and please don't use it as a reason to not even try to get together with them. In closing, please take some advice from this old lady who really isn't that knowledgable, but has learned a few lessons. Time is short. And memories...or lack thereof...will last the rest of your life.
Dear 2020 Presidential Candidates,
As the time draws near for the 2020 presidential campaigns to begin, I find myself dreading the onslaught of this season. It seems the mudslinging, name calling, accusations and finger-pointing are all any of you do on the campaign trails these days.
To be frank, I don’t care what you think of the current president. I don’t care what you think of your opponents. I don’t care what you think of Republicans, Democrats, Independents or Libertarians. Those are all opinions—your opinions that I’d rather you keep to yourself. I don’t care which party you are affiliated with—I base my voting decision on who I feel is the best candidate. I don’t care if you had an extra marital affair fifteen years ago—that is in the past and you certainly aren’t the only one who has done this. I don’t care if you attended wild fraternity or sorority parties during your college career—we were all young and not-so-wise at one time. I don’t care if your kids went to private or public schools—they still got an education. I don’t care what’s on your meal plan for today—I have my own, thank you. I don’t care if you went out in public with one grey sock and one blue one, or if there was a wrinkle in your attire or your hair was messed up.
What I DO care about is what you are bringing to the table as a hopeful future president of the United States of America. Tell me what your ideas and thoughts are on getting this country back on track, to get people to stop hating one another, to get the political parties working together instead of constantly butting heads simply because they are not of the same affiliation. Tell me how we can help the homeless veterans, who by the way, deserve SO much more than they currently receive. Tell me how we can improve our school systems to help our students become responsible, productive, caring individuals. Tell me how we can help our homeless population and try and get them off the streets. Tell me how we can help our abused and neglected children. Tell me how we can improve on care for our elderly community.
In closing, I feel it would be a good reminder to leave you with the wise words of John F. Kennedy:
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
As you enter the 2020 presidential race, please base your campaign on those words and the well-being, safety and improvement of the United States of America and its citizens. Please check your baggage, and that of your opponents, at the starting gate.
Thank you. May the best qualified candidate be our next leader.
God bless America.
Ruth McDonald Mair
Well, it’s been 40 years since you went to be with Jesus. If I did my math right, that translates to 480 months or 14,600 days or 350,400 hours. You may want to double-check that for me since we both know math was never my strongest subject. Of course, if I could have had my way, math would not have been a subject, period. But no matter how you look at it or translate it—and whether or not my math is correct--it’s been a very long time.
I was just a 17-year old high school girl getting ready to start my senior year when you left. I had my senior picture taken. I managed to pull all A’s and B’s my senior year, thanks to no math classes. I went through the motions of baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies. I applied to colleges. You weren’t there in person, but I know you were there.
I became a college student. The first two years were pretty calm and quiet But the last two years, I really became a college student. Even though I still missed you, I’m glad you weren’t there to witness the last two years. Well, you weren’t there in person, but I know you were there.
Over the next few years I got married, had three beautiful boys and got divorced. Those were some years of major ups and downs, but I am so proud of my boys and I know you would be proud to call them your grandsons. I got remarried, gaining a bonus son and daughter in the package. You already know my bonus son, David. He’s in heaven with you, and I know the two of you are getting along well. Daddy joined you just six weeks after David. That was my toughest year yet. You weren’t here in person, but I know you were here.
Forty years has brought many changes to the world and to me, but it has not altered the love I have for you. I wish I had been wiser at 17, to know how much you really meant to me, to realize how much you did for me, and to understand the true depth of a mother’s love. I pray it doesn’t take my death someday for my children to have this clarity about me.
I miss you. You are not in here person, but I know you are here.
I love you, Mama.
I currently live in Michigan with my husband, Donald. I have three sons and one daughter as well as four grandchildren. For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for writing. I give God all the credit for allowing me to share my writings with you.