Thursday, November 25, 2010

Banquets here and there, now and then....

Today is Thanksgiving. We still have the same wonderful family tradition that we did when Duane last ate Thanksgiving dinner with us, and that is that the whole family gathers at my sister and brother-in-law’s house. (This picture of Duane was taken on Thanksgiving Day in 2000 at Aunt Sally and Uncle John's house.)  I will bring baked squash and pecan pie. Actually, two pecan pies, because last winter in Florida, I bought a bottle of orange syrup, and on the side of the bottle is a recipe for Orange Pecan Pie, so I made that and a traditional Southern Pecan Pie, as my recipe books call it. There will also be pumpkin pies, apple pies and various other desserts, along with all the other wonderful things - turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and numerous delectable side dishes.

In my mind, and through my photo albums, I can go back through the years and visit Thanksgivings past. I can see my grandparents and parents, back in the days when we were much younger and much more carefree. And then I like to wonder and ponder about what our loved ones in Heaven are doing on a day like this. I'm sure it's way beyond anything that we can imagine!

This makes me think of a banquet described in the Bible. Isaiah chapter 25 describes God’s banquet for His servants in verses 6 through 9. The Living Bible says “Here on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the Lord of Hosts will spread a wondrous feast for everyone around the world - a delicious feast of good food, with clear, well-aged wine and choice beef. (Another version says “finest meat.”) At that time he will remove the cloud of gloom, the pall of death that hangs over the earth; he will swallow up death forever. The Lord God will wipe away all tears and take away forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The Lord has spoken - he will surely do it! In that day the people will proclaim, ‘This is our God, in whom we trust, for whom we waited. Now at last he is here.’ What a day of rejoicing!”

The Amplified Bible adds that this feast is symbolical of His coronation festival inaugurating the reign of the Lord on earth, after the background of gloom, judgment and terror. Jesus talked about a magnificent feast too. In Matthew 22:2, He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son.” If you read the story in the next few verses, you will find that the king ended up inviting everyone, but not everyone wanted to come.

Just think of all the wonderful feasts that are going on around our nation today. What a perfect day to think about the feast that the Lord All-Powerful, who is also our Father God, will put on for His Son. It will make all of our feasts, no matter how abundant, pale in comparison, and we are all invited.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Choose to laugh....

I wrote this within about a month after Duane left us: “Many of Duane’s friends wrote letters, poems and spoke tributes to him during the days we were mourning his loss. We honored the friends’ requests by leaving their written messages and expressions of love with him, but their words have created in me a desire to assemble a collection of memories that could be put in a binder or booklet. I would call this “A Tribute to Duane” or perhaps “Moments with Duane” so that his family and friends could know how much he meant to others. It would be a keepsake that we would treasure forever, a book of remembrances. I can even envision including these in a binder with all of his drawings.

Many of you asked us to let you know what you could do for us, so this is what we are asking: Please write down any special memories that you have of Duane or anything you would like to say to him or us and send them to us. Too often, we do not comprehend the specialness of those who have been loaned to us by God, and this will help us know of the impact he had on your life, or of the memories that you have of him.”

I’m going to start sharing some of those memories I’ve collected with you, the readers of this “Tribute to Duane” blog. This first one came from Duane’s cousin, our nephew, Joe Hunt:

“I want to first let you know we have been praying for you both. Duane’s death has been difficult to cope with and understand, but to know we will someday be with him again for eternity is comfort that only we as believers in Christ enjoy. I wanted to share a memory I have of Duane for your book.

(Note: I think Duane was probably five or six in this story, not seven or eight as Joe says.... they were 12 years older than Duane, so if they were in high school, he had probably just started school.)    

One day Chris and I (probably when Chris was watching Duane) took Duane for a ride in an International Scout I was driving at the time. Duane was seven or eight and we were in high school. Off we went, and our first stop was the Crooked Creek Road state shed. We thought we would try driving the Scout up a sand pile. As we attempted this silly stunt, Duane was laughing away in the back seat. Just as we started up the pile and the sky came into view through the windshield, it stalled and we rolled backward until the rear bumper stopped us when it hit the ground. Duane was still laughing away and Chris and I had joined in laughing. Well, to get the truck unstuck, we rocked the vehicle back and forth, and Duane continued to laugh and giggle away. We finally got unstuck and Duane finally stopped laughing. He really had a good time that day hanging out with his older brother and cousin. We really enjoyed being with him on that day as well. Duane’s untimely death has reinforced in me the importance of today and what we do with it. The importance of our faith in God, cherishing time spent with family, and staying busy doing the things we enjoy most with those close to us.”

Thanks for sharing that story, Joe.  I can just hear Duane giggling and then you two laughing heartily.  That was excellent closing advice, too.  I like to say, "Live with no regrets."

(Here's Joe and Chris at about the age they were at the time of this little caper!)

Is there anything that can give you more joy than the sound of a child’s laugh?  You just can't resist laughing when you hear a baby or young child laugh.  I love the sound of it.  That sound is one of the highlights of my days when I babysit our grandchildren. Laughter is so good for the soul.

Unfortunately, I sometimes feel as though it doesn’t come easily for me. I often think that if there was one word to describe me, it just might be “melancholy.” I do believe, though, that when I realize I am feeling blue, I can choose to change that.  To quote a popular TV speaker, Joyce Meyer, I can "think about what I'm thinking about."  I can deliberately find a funny movie to watch.  I can determine to focus on the good things in life.  I can choose to, as my Sunday School teachers taught me, count my blessings. November is an appropriate month to focus on thanksgiving and counting our blessings. Not only do I believe it’s important to do that, but I believe it is to my detriment if I do not choose to be thankful and instead choose to focus on that which makes me feel melancholy.

"A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing,
but a broken spirit dries the bones."  Prov. 17:22, AMP

If I want to be well and healthy and strong, I must develop and maintain a happy heart and a cheerful mind.  I can choose whether to focus on the people who will not be at the family table for Thanksgiving, and the things in life that didn't turn out the way I wanted, or to be thankful for the hard-working faithful husband that I have had for 43 years, our remarkable sons and their lovely wives and our four delightful grandchildren, our warm and sturdy home, and remember that Duane is still with us and always will be, though in a different way than before. I could make a very, very long list of all the things for which I can be thankful.

"All the days of the desponding afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and foreboding], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast
[regardless of circumstances]."  Prov. 15:15, AMP.

I choose not to have anxious thoughts.  I choose to laugh and have a glad heart! I choose a continual feast!  (I think I can hear Duane saying, "Yay, Mom - you got it!")

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Masks at Halloween are fun. We didn’t have many Trick or Treaters tonight. The neighborhood kids have grown up; there are just a few little ones now. We were visited by a Transformer, Tinkerbell, a skeleton, a pirate, a cowboy, one little character that I forgot already what he was, and a couple others in sweatshirts and no mask. Oh, and a vampire (a pretty one, at that!). Part of the fun of having Halloween Trick or Treaters is trying to guess who the little folks are, and getting them to laugh. And telling them not to eat all of their candy in one night.

Most of the masks on Halloween night are worn by little people. But big people often wear masks all of the time, and it’s not for fun. They wear masks because they want to hide their real self from other people. Maybe they think other people wouldn’t like them if they knew the person that they really are. People even pretend in church. “How are you today?” “Oh, fine, just fine,” they reply, while inside they are falling apart. I have done that. We probably all have. Maybe we think the person asking doesn’t really care or wouldn’t be able to help anyway. Maybe it hurts too much to talk about it, so it’s easier to deny it. Maybe it’s really very personal and we just don’t know who to trust.

Sometimes people pretend because they were taught as little children not to cry, especially little boys. “Big boys don’t cry,” fathers tell their little boys, because that’s what their father told them. That’s just plain wrong. Children need to be allowed to express their emotions, both boys and girls. There is nothing wrong with crying, in fact it is healthy. Emotions that are denied will manifest themselves in some other, harmful way. Stuffed down long enough, they will cause other emotional problems, or even physical problems.

Duane sometimes wore a mask. He gave the impression of always being happy-go-lucky, the friend who always wanted to be there for his friends, holding them up, counseling them, encouraging them, making them smile. I love the stories that friends have shared with me, stories such as when he called a friend during a thunderstorm in the middle of the night because he knew she was afraid of them, or when he comforted another friend after the loss of a loved one, or when he walked a friend home from work as often as he could. But inside he had a lot of hurt. I know because sometimes his friends told me. Sometimes I saw it myself. I saw him betrayed by friends and misunderstood by adults who should have known better, and who judged him by outward appearances instead of looking at his heart. He carried hurt that had been done to him and he carried hurt that had been done to others.

He’s free of those burdens now. But I wish he would have learned that he didn’t have to carry them then. He had received Jesus as his savior, but he hadn’t learned how to turn the burdens over.

"Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads,
and I will give you rest.  Accept my teachings and learn from me,
because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest
for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept
is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.” ~Jesus

Matthew 11:28-30, New Century Version

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Midland years concluded, at least for now....

While in Midland, we were fortunate to be able to attend the Manire Family reunion.  It was always held somewhere in Texas or Oklahoma, so this was the only time we went.  My mom and dad were there too.  Bertie Sue Manire Lind was my father's mother. Darren, Chris and I, with Duane on my lap, are in the front row, and Mike is in the top row, about middle, peeking between two men.  I am happy to have a lot of Manire family history.  Two years ago, the daughter of one of my father's first cousins (he's in this photo too) found me on and she and her husband came here from Texas to visit.  What a treat that was.  When we met, we had a lot of the same family pictures, and it seemed like we had known each other all of our lives.

This is our home in Midland, after one of the rare snow accumulations.  After one other snow storm, the boys made a snowman that looked like E.T.  Remember that movie?  E. T., The Extra-Terrestrial.
Chris, Darren & Duane at Monahans Sand Dunes.

Horseback riding at Fort Davis.

Duane is climbing up his Daddy's leg.  I'm sure he's thinking, "If I can just reach it, I'm sure I can fix it."  That was our Mercury Grand Marquis  - what an engine that thing had - a 460 Interceptor engine, Mike says.  Good thing I didn't have to drive more than a few blocks to work; it got about eight mpg.  Talk about power!

Chris had a newspaper route, delivering The Midland Reporter Telegram.

Here's Chris giving Duane a ride on his bike.
This is the family portrait that we used for our Christmas card in 1984.

Duane's second Christmas.  Darren (or was it Chris?) told me a (sort of) funny story that I don't remember ever knowing about.  By this time, I felt comfortable letting the three boys stay without me for short periods of time.  One time around Christmas when I wasn't home, Duane was standing by the Christmas tree and he started giggling.  He told the boys that it tickled.  After he did that a time or two, big brothers investigated and found that there was a Christmas bulb missing from one of the sockets.  Duane was sticking his finger in the socket and getting a bit of a shock.  To him, it tickled and he thought it was funny.  Chris immediately took a bulb from a spot higher on the tree and filled that empty socket.
What a happy boy was Duane on his second birthday!

I wish I remembered the name of the lady who babysat for me.  She lived across the street from us and she had a trampoline in her back yard.  Oh, what fun the boys had on that! 
Darren and Duane at the park.

Here's the little Texan sitting on our front porch.


After five years in West Texas, I had finally made lots of new friends and was settled in the best job I'd ever had.  However, Mike, Chris and Darren never really liked it that much.  When my father's cousin, who lived in Texas, found out that we were moving to Midland, she said, "Midland!  Why, there's nothing there but mesquite bushes, sand dunes and oil derricks!"  Well, she was pretty close to correct.  The guys loved to fish, and we had to drive over two hours to find a lake to fish in, and then there were no trees to sit under, just a few....yep, mesquite bushes.  The boom started to slow down and the economy wasn't as fantastic as when we first went there.  We had kept our mobile home in Pennsylvania, and so we made the decision to come back "home."  In later years, Duane wanted to return to Texas, but he never did.  After all, that was "home" to him, at least if you define "home" as where you were born.  So anyway, here we are, all loaded up in a U-Haul truck and trailer, on our way back to Pennsylvania.

I was really torn emotionally about leaving Texas.  Although I had missed family and friends in Pennsylvania, I loved my job, I loved my church, I had some really close friends, and I really now felt at home there.  Maybe it was something from my Grandma Lind's genes, but I was happy in Midland.  However, I trusted God to work it out, because.....
"We know that in everything God works
for the good of those who love him."

Romans 8:28

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Midland years....

I posted some of Duane’s baby pictures a while back, and some family pictures taken during the same time period. Today will be another time of sharing the family album, bringing us up to the time that we moved from Texas back to Pennsylvania. It was difficult deciding which photos to share; I ended up scanning 24 photos. I’m wondering if I should have titled this blog “Memories of Duane” instead of “Tribute to Duane.” In my mind, “memories” is less restrictive a word than “tribute.” I find myself thinking, “Well, how is this photo a tribute to Duane?”, especially if the photo is one of Chris or Darren that I want to include. I don’t think you mind, though, do you? Family and friends who missed those early years do enjoy seeing the photos. They have told me so. Anyway, the subtitle says "Memories from the life of Duane David DuBois........"  So then, I'm covered!

This is an aerial view of Midland, Texas when we lived there.  It seemed like a big city to us, but really it wasn't.  When we moved there, the population was about 70,000.  Now it's about 108,000.

This is what it looked like when a dust storm was approaching.  The top part of the picture was white clouds, and the brown is the dirt rolling in.  A few minutes after I took this picture, the entire top of the photo would have been brown.  Guess what we had when it rained during a dust storm.  A mud storm.

The first job I had when we moved to Midland was as secretary to an allergist.  For a now-forgotten reason, I decided to look for a different job after a couple years.  I had noticed an advertisement in the paper placed by an insurance agency, Mims & Stephens.  It wasn't a job ad, just a general advertisement for their agency.  Because most of my working experience had been for an independent insurance agency in Jeffersonville, NY, and because it was only a few blocks from where we lived, I decided to go pay them a visit.  I went in and talked to David Mims (top row, right side) and low and behold, he was looking for someone just like me.  That was a divine appointment.  I know it was, because I had seen their ad, I went on a whim, walked in without an appointment, they were not advertising the position, and yet they were looking for someone with my qualifications.  Their 72-year-old bookkeeper was getting close to retirement, the office had converted from manual records to computers, and she did not want to learn about computers.  In fact, she was so reluctant to learn, that she had not balanced the bank statements in several years.  Oh, she had done it manually, but nothing was entered into the computer system.  I loved bookkeeping, I loved a challenge, and I took the job immediately.  I still say that if there is one perfect job created for each person, that was mine.  I was hired as Financial Manager and was later promoted to Office Manager.  David became like a brother to me, not just a boss.  Oh, how I cried when we decided to move back to Pennsylvania in 1985.  I did not want to leave that job.  For many years, David continued to tell me that he would hire me back if we ever returned to Texas.  Since Mr. Stephens retired, the business might have been Mims & DuBois by now.  Seriously.  As for Mike's work, he worked for Scooter's Plumbing.  It was a good job and Scooter was a good boss.

This is Darren and Duane on our front porch.  Can you tell he was happy to have a little brother?  Well, I suppose he could have just been smiling for Mama, but I know that he was happy to have a little brother.  So was Chris.  They were a big help in taking care of him.  They even babysat him on occasion when Duane got a bit older.  Chris was 14 when Duane was 2; that's old enough to babysit.

Chris and his buddies on his 12th birthday, July 3, 1983.  Left to right, Dennis Vasquez, Eric Burke, Chris & Chris Ledbetter.  Chris L. is holding our cat, Sam.  Sam was half Siamese.... what a beautiful cat.  We brought him back to PA with us.

Chris, Darren & Duane - Duane's first trip to Pennsylvania, August of 1983.  We were thankful that we had our mobile home here, because we were able to visit home each summer. 

Duane with his great grandparents, Ed & Icle Houghtaling, August 1983.  How blessed my sister and I are, to have the parents and grandparents that we have.  Thinking of them led me to thinking about gray hair.  (Well, I have that too!)  Did you know that God talks about gray hair?  The glory of young men is their strength; gray hair the splendor of the old (Prov. 20:29).  And this:  Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you (Isaiah 46:4).  I'm going to stand on that one!

Back in Texas, this is my good friend Bernice who lived a block or two from Mims & Stephens where I worked.  She babysat Duane (on her left) and her nephew Scott.  I was able to go to her house for lunch, spend it with Duane and watch "Days of Our Lives."  That's the only time I ever watched a soap opera, and I got hooked on it.  When I started dreaming about the characters, I realized it was time to stop watching!

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8). Soap operas do not fit that description!

I took the kids to a rose garden in Midland and took at least a dozen pictures, with the intent of making our own Christmas cards that year.  This is the one that I used.  All good-lookin' boys, huh?  Good genes. J

The school system in Midland was not a pleasant experience for Chris.  Starting in the fourth grade, they did forced bussing in order to assure an equal balance of races in the schools.  So every year, he got bussed to a different school with different students.  We were there for five years and he went to four different schools.  Chris was a lot like me (quiet, it took him a while to get to know people), and I can still remember how hard it was for me when I had to go to the "big school" in Hancock in fifth grade.  That was just one change.  He had to do it every year.  Darren was more fortunate.  He went to the neighborhood school for K-3 and then had to change for fourth grade.

Happy First Birthday, Duane - 01/22/1984.  Of course, we celebrated with a party - friends, cousins (Mike's sister and family were there too), cake, ice cream, presents.

And the first steps.  Look at that happy face!!  We were all watching, clapping, cheering Duane on.  "Yay, Duane - good job, keep going!"

I'm convinced that's how Father God watches us, too - cheering and saying, "You can do it!  Don't give up."  He doesn't get angry when we fall.  He just wants us to get up, dust ourselves off and try again.

Darren played with the Little League, both in Texas and Pennsylvania.  My dad took this photo, along with many others that day.  Looks to me like this was a grand slam!

So that's half of the photos I scanned; I'll save the rest for the next post.

I hope you're enjoying this little trip with me down memory lane.

~ Memory is the diary that we all
carry about with us. ~

Oscar Wilde

Friday, October 1, 2010

Duane and children....

I had a dream about children last night. It caused me to begin to think about Duane and how he loved children. That made me remember what my sister Sally wrote when I asked people to share memories of Duane with me. Here is part of her “Memories of Duane:"

"It seems that Duane was always full of surprises, right from his very start. This is the way that he entered the world, as God’s little surprise bundle. I didn’t get to enjoy Duane as a newborn baby, as he was born in Texas. But when he did get back home to Pennsylvania, it didn’t take long to see that he was just bubbling over with just plain fun. He loved to have fun!

One of the times that I enjoyed seeing him have fun was when the family got together for Christmas or Thanksgiving at my house. His cousins, Dan and Emalee, would also be there, and Duane, even though he was older, just loved to play and have fun with them. Hide and seek, the old-fashioned standby through the ages, was the game that was enjoyed by the cousins together. Duane would hide in the most undetectable places that he could find. And did the dust bunnies ever fly! He probably pulled dust balls from every crevasse of his body for a week after one of those hide and seek games! He would wedge his chubby little body under my bed as far as he could and just lay there, waiting to be found. That in itself was a surprise, because this is the place where I stuff everything that does not have a proper storage place. I never could understand how he could cram himself in there and get back out, without help! And they say that Houdini was the master of escape! There were always screams and giggles to be heard from the kitchen when Duane was finally discovered by someone. Maybe the screams and giggles were just from watching Duane escape from beneath my bed as the monster dust bunny!!?? What fun!!

I would like to think, as his mother does, that if we could see what Duane is doing right now, we would see him in heaven, with the children. He loved to have fun with them, he loved to surprise them. He loved to make them laugh. He just seemed to enjoy being with them so much. Perhaps right now, Duane is with the children in heaven, taking care of them as they play in the most awesome fun house ever created for children. I also can picture Duane sitting in heaven, in an enchanting outdoor setting, with children gathered around, all with sketch pads and pencils. Duane is teaching them to draw as only he can. The next activity will be playing hide and seek with the children, up and down the golden streets, among the mansions that Jesus prepared for all those who believe on Him. I can imagine that over the door are the names of the saints who live at each one. One mansion has the most beautiful flower garden eyes have ever beheld and the curtains are pink. One window is open and I look curiously in. It’s a music room and there inside, a young girls’ choir is singing “How Great Thou Art.” It sounds just like angels singing and it makes me want to cry. I’ve always wanted to be able to sing like that. Someone is playing a grand piano and it is the most glorious music I have ever heard. Over the door the sign reads “Lois.” (That's Sally's and my mom.)  Next door, the mansion is much different, painted with wild colors and there is a play ground surrounding the entire mansion. One section of the yard has a huge snow slope, but it’s not cold, just enormously fun. There are joyful children everywhere playing, running, giggling, and singing songs of praise to their heavenly Father. They have no remembrance of pain suffered in the past world, they only know of the joy of heaven. And over the door, there is a magnificent multicolor neon light that reads, 'Duane.'"

I think Sally really did get a glimpse of heaven, don't you?  That sure sounds like Duane's place to me...lots of kids, fun, laughter, art, a snow slope (have to have a place for snowboarding) and his name in multicolored neon!

One reason I like to have other people write their memories for me is that they often put into words things that I never thought to verbalize. Like Sally saying that Duane was “just bubbling over with just plain fun” and that “he loved to have fun.” That is so true, isn’t it? That was probably obvious to everyone who knew Duane, and it is apparent in nearly every photograph that I have of him. It seems as though he was driven by an inner desire to make people happy, to take away their pain and sadness and to make them laugh. He brought a lot of joy and happiness to a lot of people.

“A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing,
but a broken spirit dries up the bones."
Proverbs 17:22, Amplified

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Duane and the ocean....

Every time I stand looking at the ocean, I think of Duane. I wasn’t there with him when he saw it for the first time, but his brother told me that he just stood there, looking and looking and looking. I wonder what he might have been thinking about. I see him in my mind’s eye, mesmerized. It’s so big. Maybe he was overwhelmed by the bigness, the vastness of it.

Then I imagine him standing there with me, looking at it. I’ll never forget a conversation that he and I had one day about heaven. We were wondering - in fact, we were both beginning to believe, that rather than it being a place “way out there” somewhere, that it just might be….right here (just reach your hand out) within reach….just another realm. So I wonder if he might be right there with me, in that other realm…the one that this realm that we inhabit is merely a shadow of….just on the other side of a veil that I can’t penetrate, where it’s beautiful and perfect and peaceful beyond imagining.
I never get tired of going to the ocean. I think of Duane when I’m there, and I think of Jesus, the One Who created the ocean. I love watching the waves come in and listening to the sound of it. And every time I am on the beach, I think of the phrase “sea billows roll.” I couldn’t remember what song that phrase came from, and it kept going through my mind, so I looked it up online. It’s in two songs - “It is Well With My Soul” talks about “when sorrows like sea billows roll,” and “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart.” That one says, "Since Jesus came into my heart, Since Jesus came into my heart; Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll, Since Jesus came into my heart."  I certainly have had "sorrows like sea billows roll," but because Jesus is real in my life, it IS well with my soul.  I sing those songs as I walk the beach.

As I watch the waves roll in, I think of how God’s love is never-ending.  It just keeps coming and coming and coming. It’s endless. His mercy is endless. His grace is endless.  I thank Him for the ocean and all that I see and experience there.  I thank Him for His presence, for His love, for His mercy.  I thank Him for Him.  As a mother, I still wish that Duane was here with us, but since he's not, I'm thankful that he is safe and sound and fulfilled, with Jesus.  I like to imagine him decorating the family mansion with his artwork. 

So as I walk the beach, I sometimes imagine both Jesus and Duane walking with me.  The Bible says of those who know the Lord, that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord and it says that He has promised to never leave me - so, if Duane is with Him and He is with me, then....Duane must be with me too.  All of us who miss him can find comfort in that.

Here's Duane when I dropped him off at the airport to go to Florida to visit his brother.  I think he was about twelve or thirteen years old.  I was a little nervous, but I had talked to the airline and was sure they would take good care of him. He had a great time in Florida. 

Did you ever lay on the beach, on your belly, and just dig down in the sand, letting the grains run through your fingers?  I do.  When I do, I think about several Scriptures that mention the grains of sand.  Like God told Abraham that he would have descendants as numerous as the grains of sand.  That's a lot of descendants!!

But my favorite one tells me that God's thoughts toward me are more than the grains of sand.  How amazing is that!

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!  They are innumerable!
I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
Psalm 139:17, 18

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Duane's 9/11 drawing.......

“A sin fell on this country on September 11th, 2001 that shattered a city. A sin that showed its head like an ugly dog. The tragedy that was to break this country united it in a way we had never seen, and strengthened our very foundation. Yet through the smoke and death…..WE STILL STAND."
Duane DuBois 9/15/01”

This was Duane’s interpretation of the terrorist attack on the WTC towers on September 11, 2001, drawn four days after the event.

Different people see different things in works of art. After looking at this drawing for a while, it seems to me that Duane was seeing sin as a living thing - note the letters “SIN” appear to have life; they seem to have bodily qualities. The way he drew the letters reminds me of the phrase “sin crouches at the door," found in Genesis 4, verse 7. Cain was angry in this story, because God was pleased with his brother Abel’s offering of a firstborn animal, but He did not accept Cain’s offering of produce from his farm. God basically asked Cain, “What’s the problem? Why the temper tantrum?” God told Cain that if he did well, he’d be accepted, but if he didn’t, then sin was lying in wait for him, ready to pounce. Apparently Cain knew what kind of offering God had asked for, yet he chose to go his own way and offer produce. God told Cain, “Sin is out to get you - you have to master it.” To personalize it, if I know that God has asked something particular of me, but I think what He asks is too hard and decide to do something easier (even if it’s something “good,” as Cain probably thought his offering was good), then “sin” is waiting to pounce on me, and there may be dire consequences. Cain could have repented, but instead he had angry words with his brother, and killed him. Sin pounced on Cain, Abel lost his life, and Cain ended up being a marked man, a homeless wanderer on Earth.

God personified sin in this passage, and that seems to me, to be what Duane was doing in his drawing. He said “a sin fell” and “reared its head.“ It looks to me like “sin” has fingers and is holding something - is it an explosive device? It looks like there is a figure behind the letters, wearing a hood and a robe or a cloak. The American flag is in the background, behind the towers, flames of destruction are there. Sin pounced on us like an ugly dog. And yet, instead of destroying us, it made us stronger and we still stand.

So that’s the track on which my mind traveled as I pondered Duane’s drawing and his words. What do you see, and what thoughts do you have?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Baby pictures....

I seem to be lacking much inspiration the last few days, so I decided to simply share a few photos from Duane’s infancy in Texas with you…..a few family photos.

Big brothers relaxing with their new sibling. I’d say Duane is about a week old in this one.

My dad, “Poppy” and my mom - Poppy and Grandma Lind. Al and Lois Lind. It was nice to have them with us in Texas for a while. My dad had already retired from his position as the Postmaster in Equinunk, so they were able to travel.


Typical photo of Mom with new baby, about 6 weeks old. As any new mom knows, we catch some zzzzz's whenever we can!

This one cracks me up. Duane might not be too happy with me for showing this one. :-)  He was about six weeks old here. Isn't there an old expression, "Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?"  How about "Bright-eyed and bushy-haired?"

And here's the sleepy dad with the new baby.

This is a good one of the DuBois men. I was so outnumbered!! It just wasn’t fair, you know?
Grandma Vivian (Mike’s mom) DuBois with Duane. It was great to have her visit us in Texas, too.

I like this one of me and Duane. He’s 3 months old here.


Here's where we start to see an alert, adventurous baby (can't you see adventure in those eyes?). 

So there's a sample of photos from the first three months of the life of Duane David DuBois in Midland, TX.  Perhaps my inspiration is coming now, as I look at these old photos.  A friend of mine recently wrote to me, "Photography is a walking Philippians 4:8."  I had to look that up and think about it.  The Message reads like this:  "Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds with and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious -- the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."

When you've lived as long as I have (I will never, never, never admit to "old," but I will acknowledge that I have been around a bit longer than some of my readers --*smile*), you've experienced "the good, the bad and the ugly."  The bad and the ugly can make us bitter or better, to use an oft-repeated phrase.  I firmly believe that the choice lies within each one of us, whether to become bitter or better.  If we choose to think on the bad and the ugly, we will become bad and ugly, or bitter.  If we choose to think on the good, we will become better.  So I think what my friend meant was that photos help us to be reminded of the good, the real, the lovely, the just.  When I look at my old family photos, I am reminded of the happy times.  We don't normally photograph the angry times, the sad times, the tragedies, the sicknesses, but only those things that we knew at the time that we would want to remember.  I knew I would want to remember what Duane looked like at birth, at one month, at two months, at three months, and so on.  Even now, when the grandkids are doing something cute (which of course happens every day), I run and grab my camera.  I don't remember nearly as much of the good parts of life that I wish I did (now how I wish I had kept diaries and journals all my life), but I did take a lot of pictures.  And I still do.  And how happy I am that I did, and that I do. 
So, fill your mind with the best, not the worst......
Fill your mind with the beautiful, not the ugly......
Fill your mind with the things to praise, not the things to curse.....
We really do become like that which we behold.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The story behind the drawing.....

An aspect of the grieving process that people might not think about until they experience it is that you lose different things, according to the various roles that the person played in your life. Besides missing my son, I miss the buddy who went to conferences with me. Duane and I went to several prophetic conferences at MorningStar Ministries in Charlotte, NC (they have since moved to Fort Mill, SC). The first couple of times I went to a MorningStar conference after Duane departed (I rarely use the word “die” because he didn’t die, he left us and went to his home in Heaven), I cried like a baby because he wasn’t there with me. As much as I loved being there, and I was with other friends, it just wasn’t the same.

You might be wondering what a “prophetic conference” is. What I mean by “prophetic” involves how God speaks to people today, and how we can hear what He wants to say to others. Some people believe that God doesn’t do that anymore - that He wrote the Bible and that’s all we need. That’s like saying I’ll write you, my friend or family member, a big long letter saying everything I ever want to say to you, and then I won’t have to talk to you anymore. Does that make any sense? Of course not! God wants to talk to us all the time. Well, really, God is speaking all the time - we just don’t hear him, or we don’t recognize His voice.

Some ways He speaks are through impressions that we get, through fleeting thoughts that come “out of nowhere,” through nature, art, music - well, He can speak through anyone or anything He wants. We saw that He was restoring art to His church. During worship at MorningStar, artists were encouraged to draw whatever impressions they received. Duane often had his sketch book with him, drawing during worship. He did it during our own church services, too. At MorningStar, they would have easels set up, up front, and artists would create drawings as the people worshiped. (You can find MorningStar worship videos on You Tube - Duane’s reaction to MorningStar worship was, “Now that’s church!” Their worship bands are mostly all young people and they play all music styles. They could compete with any contemporary band there is.)

While seated at one conference, Duane drew an image that came to him. As I recall, a man sitting near him saw the drawing and was visibly moved by it, so Duane gave it to him. It spoke to him. The only thing I remember is that part of it was a figure like a human embryo inside of a teardrop. One time during worship at our church, a man and his wife were sharing about friends of theirs who were missionaries in Africa, and about the difficulties they were experiencing. Duane drew what he “saw” inside and it was parched, dry, cracked ground like when there is a famine or drought but to one side was tall grain, like wheat, and in the distance there were thunderclouds. He also wrote something on the back. Duane gave the drawing to the couple, who sent it to their friends in Africa, and they said that God had spoken to them through Duane’s drawing and words.

While at another MorningStar conference, one of Duane’s friends told him a story. He told him about an experience he had where he had experimented with a drug (my memory is that it was only marijuana, although I know that pretty much everyone says there is no harm in that) and he had a bad reaction to it, whatever it was. He was frightened, and afraid to tell his parents about it because he thought he would be in big trouble. So he went to bed, crying out to God for help. He told Duane that suddenly his pillow became like God’s chest and his blankets became like God’s arms wrapped around him, and he felt the love of God like he never had before. Duane immediately said, “I have to go get my sketch book!” And he drew the image that had come to his spirit as he listened to his friend. And that’s the story behind the drawing I call “Safe In Our Heavenly Father’s Arms.”

“The Eternal God is your refuge, and underneath
are the everlasting arms.” Deut. 33:27

Thursday, August 19, 2010

God good.....

Did you ever work on a project late at night, right up until bedtime, and then continue working on it during your sleep? That’s what happened to me the other night…the night that I was up late posting my last entry. So now I have to begin this day’s post with the end of the last one.
"You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well…..You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old." Psalm 139:13, 14, 16. (NCV)
Because that last verse says that all the days planned for us were written in God’s book, some people believe that whenever a person dies, they have completed all their days written by God and that they then died according to God’s plan. I don’t believe that. I believe that there are untimely deaths, and every day, people die without having lived out God’s plan for them. Duane's departure was untimely.  I think if a life was lived out the way God planned it, it would be a good, long, full life, and when the person had accomplished all that God had written in His book, he or she would just go to sleep and wake up in Heaven. That’s how I think God would plan our deaths. That would be called dying from “natural causes.”

I’m not saying this to start a debate. I am simply sharing how I look at it. No one will ever convince me that God intends for people to die at the hands of others, as in murder or war (though in this world, war is sometimes necessary), or for them to take their own lives in suicide, or to die in plane crashes or auto accidents or from horrible diseases. All these things happen because we live in a fallen world and the being inside the serpent who deceived man and brought about this fall is still alive and well on planet earth, and people make bad choices and bad decisions. One of the things that "drives me nuts" is to have someone tell a small child when their Mommy or Daddy or sister or brother dies that it happened because God needed them in Heaven. What kind of Father would do that? If an earthly father wouldn’t take away a child’s parent, then most certainly our Heavenly Father wouldn’t! I think people say that because they don’t know what else to say, and they want to say something; they want to offer some sort of explanation. They might just better say that in life, bad things happen. But God. That’s one of my favorite phrases in the Bible. But God will take all things, including the bad things, and work them together for the good of those who love Him. He has done that for me in numerous ways.

In my first post, I mentioned that I originally thought of writing a book because my experience was so different from that of the author of a book I was reading. The author had also experienced the death of her son through an automobile accident, and she went through a period of being very angry at God. I never went through that. I never for one instant thought that God had anything at all to do with it. Jesus said that the devil is the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy, but that He, Jesus, came that we might have life, and abundant life, at that. I happen to believe Him. I don’t blame God, I blame the devil. And I intend to live my life in such a way that the devil will be sorry that he ever messed with me. How? By loving people and doing all I can to undo the damage that he has done in their lives. That’s called advancing the Kingdom of God and destroying the works of the devil. Just like Jesus. (If I knew how, I would *insert smiley face* here.)

I have a very simple theology that I call “Theology 101.” Actually, I’m pretty sure I heard one of my favorite author/speakers, Bill Johnson, say it. It goes like this: “God good, devil bad.” If it’s good, it’s from God. If it’s bad, it’s from the devil. Here are a couple of Duane’s drawings that I think illustrate my theology.

You’ll have to take my word for it that this one represents Father God (Papa) holding one of his children (no age limit on that) in His arms. I will tell you the story of how Duane came to draw that one another time.

"The Eternal God is your refuge, and underneath
are the everlasting arms."  Deut. 33:27

Duane didn’t title this one, and he never talked to me about it, but to me, it looks like the effects of the devil in a person’s life.

"He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning...there is no truth in him...he is a liar and the father of lies."  John 8:44

So, think of these two drawings, and remember…………

God good,

Devil bad.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An artist is born....

Our three sons were all different from each other, and I suspect that no matter how many children there are in a family, there are probably no two alike, unless there are identical twins, and I think even they probably have differences. Our firstborn was quiet and one of those rare naturally compliant children (I'm sure he takes after his mama!). For parental wisdom with our second son, I purchased Dr. James Dobson’s book, “The Strong-Willed Child.” (Thinking of my last post about family resemblances, I just ordered the updated version of that book to refresh my memory now that “number two” son has a son with a very similar personality!) You know, I don’t know why, but I can’t put my finger on a specific reason that Duane was so different from the other two. I just know he was.

 But, there were several areas in which they were very much alike. None liked cleaning their room. (Actually, you could barely see their carpet.) None of them particularly liked school. (OK, school was horrible for at least two of them. They just wanted to get through it. Is that a “boy thing?” I liked school and always had to excel, not just pass….had to be #1.) They all were fun-loving, and the three of them together was quite a treat! I thought they’d make a great team for a disk jockey business. And they are all artists. All three began drawing at an early age. Chris studied art in college, he created many highly detailed drawings (especially of automobiles) and now he applies his talents in his construction business. Darren drew smiley stick figures on every wall in the house when he was first learning to draw, as an adult he applied his artistic bent in the study of taxidermy, and now it shows up in his perfectly laid out plumbing projects. He also has writing skills, and I suspect he would excel in drama, too. He has this incredible ability to memorize complicated lyrics effortlessly, including songs like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

 Of course, now that I want to quote something from it, I can’t find Duane’s story book/journal that he wrote at the end of eighth grade. I think he wrote about the coloring contest that he entered at Highlights for Children when I worked there, and that he said that’s when he knew that he loved art. He was three or four years old at the time. I will come across that journal when I am not looking for it. That’s the way it works, right?
I just recently noticed how Duane was “cutting up” in nearly all of the photos I took of him. When Mike and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a family dinner at the Western Hotel in Callicoon, NY, we had a nice photo of the five of us taken. There was Duane in the front with his eyes wide open and crossed as far as he could cross them.
That was an indication of the comedian in him, and if you saw him in “Clockwork,” his acting debut at Hancock Central School, you know how funny he was. He was in the tenth grade, and although he didn’t have a starring role, he made himself the center of attention in his role as Monroe Dunwoody, the family drunk. Here he is, making his grand entrance, bottle in hand, on his way from the door to the floor! I obtained a copy of that play on a VCR tape from the school, and a great friend transferred it to DVD for me. What a treasure!

A former boss of mine used to say that every person is like a box of Cracker Jacks. Each has a prize inside and you just have to find it. Some prizes are more easily found than others. Sometimes the prize is right at the top of the box, but sometimes it’s buried in the bottom. Duane’s was pretty close to the top; he knew what it was when he entered that Highlights for Children coloring contest, and his first grade teachers mentioned his artistic abilities in a note they wrote to me. Throughout his school years, he was always doodling, no matter what class he was in. He had numerous sketch pads, all partially filled. Someone once asked him where he studied art, and was surprised to learn that his only formal training was high school art classes.

 Just as we inherit traits from our parents and other ancestors that cause us to resemble them, so we have things in our spiritual DNA that give us characteristics of our Heavenly Father, or “Papa,“ as I like to call Him. He fashions us and molds us. Papa put some of His creativity inside of Duane and those talents were used to bless people in various ways. I’ll share his art and talk more about that in days to come.

You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well…..You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. Psalm 139:13, 14, 16. (NCV)