An Interesting Birthday With Cousins

National Cousins Day isn’t until July 24th, but I want to share a “cousin” story with you now.  This particular story has been on my mind because it is the topic of a personal essay assignment for my English 101 class this semester.  It is also an opportunity to add something to this blog, which has not been touched since January right before the semester started…  my apologies.

This assignment has been turned in, but is not yet graded, so please excuse any errors.  There might be some slight exaggeration about the puking (you’ll see), but I did make a women drop her jaw and her phone at the same time…




An Interesting Birthday With Cousins

                The latest Facebook post from my family goes like this:

Heather (Cousin 1) shared Ancestry’s photo.


Happy National Cousins Day!

What is your favorite childhood memory that includes your cousin(s)?


Heather (Cousin 1): One memory I have is probably not Frankie’s favorite. I remember clearly the walk out on the wet limb of the tree and the chaos that ensued after that!

Frankie (Me): It wasn’t my best day, but it sure is a fun story to tell now!

Ellen (My mom): I was so happy when she did her first cartwheel after that.

Heather: It is an amazing story.

Rhonda (Cousin 2): Heather, I remember you saying maybe they are not broken.

Frankie: Always looking on the bright side, Heather!

Heather: Frankie oh yes that describes me perfectly. I’m always spreading rainbows and sunshine! Now that I think about it I wonder where that optimism came from?

Frankie: Maybe you were just hoping we could still play “runaway kids” the next weekend…

Rhonda: Can’t say it was my favorite memory but it is one I will not forget.


I remember the day very clearly. It was August 24th, 1985, my twelfth birthday. It had rained that morning, but in the early afternoon the sky started to clear and even though everything was a little wet I was still going to have my party. You only turn twelve once, you know. It was not a fancy party, not a ton of guests, no extravagant decorations. It was a farm party. Not farm themed – we did not do themes. It was a birthday party on a farm. There was farmland involved. Cousins were involved. Growing up on a farm usually means cousins are your first friends and sometimes your only friends until high school. Farmland is normally big open places lined with trees. One of those trees just happened to have a treehouse in it. We called it a tree house, but it was more like a tree covered-porch. It was small, covered by a tin roof, and only had a simple railing around the edge. No walls.

Over the last few weeks my dad had been in the process of building our new house and had gotten as far as the poured walk-out basement. This meant that there was a house-sized hole in the yard that was open on one side and that side was nothing but mud. Because of the mud, a path of plywood and lumber had been thrown across in a makeshift path so that we could get from the tree house back up to the driveway.

Well, the cousins finally arrived and the fun began. Farm parties do not usually involve gifts, but there is always food. So we ate our dinner (to those of you who have never been around farm people that means lunch) and had cake and home-made ice cream and with sticky hands and faces headed down to THE tree. Not only did it have the tree house, but it also had a tire swing, and was at the edge of the “wilderness” area; the part of the property that was not farmed and had grown up in brush. As we arrived at the tree we all picked a spot in which we liked or could have fun. My brother, Jason, and my youngest cousin, Heather, and a much younger neighbor took turns on the tire swing. The older cousin, Brian, decided to go off into the “wilderness”. He had some exploring to do. The middle cousin, Clint, another neighbor, and I climbed the ladder to the tree house. As it usually goes with middle school kids there was some bragging and some daring and some “No you can’t!’s” thrown around. Finally, as proof of bravery, I was forced to climb out on the limb on which the tree house sat. I had done this before and had no fear, what-so-ever. So, I climbed over the railing of the tree house, walked straight over to the trunk, and hollered, “See! I told you so!” I then turned around to walk back… and slipped.

Remember how I had said it had rained? Yup – that happened. I had been on that limb dozens of times and had never had a problem. But, it had always been dry. Today there was a problem. My cousins had shown up. As I fell the 15 feet to the ground I remember thinking the cousins would never let me live this down. I was doomed to be made fun of forever. I landed in the mud. Hands first, kind of like a cat. I got up, embarrassed, laughed a little because of the embarrassment and looked around at my relations. They were looking at me strangely. That’s when I finally noticed that something hurt. I looked down to where the pain seemed to be, lifted my head, and screamed like I had never screamed before. Now, when I think of it I know with absolute certainty I could have won a “best scary scream” contest. I have always had good lungs and most people say I am loud on a regular day, but this was different. I remember feeling myself take a huge breath and filling my lungs to absolute capacity, then forcing all that air out through my vocal chords with all the energy I could muster. No one moved. My cousins and my younger brother had no idea what to do, so they just stood there and waited for me.

It is very hard to describe what I looked like that day, so I drew you a picture:

clipart broken arms

The red arrows point to the broken part of my arms. The skin was not broken, my arms were just bent in too many places.

When I realized I was on my own, I moved my arms to a position in which they could sort of support themselves. They had started to feel like severed appendages that were just dead weight. I cried and I walked and I walked and I cried. It seemed like forever, but I eventually made it over the plywood and past the basement hole (the huge mud mess that we talked about previously). As I got to the driveway I saw the adults standing there, in shock. I am sure all of this took less than three minutes, but with the adrenaline pumping it was the longest three minutes of my short, twelve-year life.  The grown-ups finally jumped into action and I was in the backseat of my aunt’s station wagon, with my dad and another cousin, within seconds. We were headed to the local emergency room and my dad and cousin were trying to keep my arms from moving too much on the way. It did not work. I cried.

Finally, at the hospital emergency room, we did not have to wait. (When your injuries make other patients puke in the hallway, they move you through triage very quickly.) The nurses took me to a room, put me on a bed, and asked what happened. As my dad and I explained a message was sent to the bone doctor. Within minutes of arriving, I was prepped and ready for surgery. The anesthesiologist told me to count backwards from 100. I think I made it to 97. That is all I remember from that afternoon.

When I woke up later that evening, I was in a fairly comfortable hospital bed with my arms in casts. My mom was there. It was quiet. There were cards and toys sitting around the room. There were balloons, as well, floating in front of a window that showed a sky I would not get to enjoy for at least a month.

It was quite a day. It was quite an interesting birthday. And as you can see from the Facebook post above, this is an event that is still being talked about 32 years later. By my cousins.

I knew I would never live it down.

Nobody Sinned

Ok…  if you know anything about the bible at all, you will know there’s something not quite right about the title.  But that’s what Jesus said.  Right there in God’s word.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.   John 9: 1-3

Now, according to Romans 3: 23, everyone has sinned.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,   

Everyone has sinned.  The bible is very adamant about that.  Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, 1 John 1:10.

So what does Jesus mean when He says no one sinned?  Here’s what I think…

The disciples question, “who sinned… that he was born blind?” Wasn’t a question about who was doing something wrong.  They wanted to know what caused this man’s blindness.  The disciples – like us – wondered why “bad things happen to good people.”

Jesus gave them an answer.  I’m not sure the disciples totally understood at the time.  It takes most of us years and years to understand, if we ever do.  The answer is simple.  God has a plan.

So, yes, these people had sinned in one way or another.  We know this because EVERYONE sins.  But their sin did NOT cause this bad thing to happen.  Whatever caused the man’s blindness probably has a wonderfully simple scientific answer, that today, the doctors could have told his parents at the time of his birth.  Maybe his retina didn’t develop properly.  Maybe his optical nerve was detached or never attached to begin with.  It doesn’t matter.  What truly matters is “that the works of God should be revealed in him.”  Then Jesus showed everyone the works of God by healing him.

“I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”     John 9: 4-5

Maybe you know someone who you feel has had a bad lot in life; someone you feel did nothing wrong and they are being punished.  I want you to remember these verses.  Then look for the works of God in their life and in the lives with which they come in contact.  Look closely and you will see the works and the glory of God.




For Margot, who is perfect in God’s plan and shows His works and glory every day.

All Babies Are Blessings

I found out recently that I’m going to be a grandmother in about seven months.

It wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped an announcement like this would be due to some “unsavory” circumstances.  1) My daughter is only twenty.  2) She is not married.  3) The “sperm donor” is (and I’m trying not to judge here…) not a nice person.

But God, in His infinite wisdom, showed me something today that has me rejoicing and excited about being a grandmother at the age of 44.

For You formed my inward parts: You covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, The day fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.       Psalm 139: 13-16

If this is true, and I believe the bible to be the true and living word of God, then God has a plan for my grand-baby.  Not only for my grand-baby, but he had one for me when my mother got pregnant at the age of sixteen.  God had a plan for my son when I got pregnant and wasn’t yet married.  And now God has a plan for my daughter and her child.

I don’t know what that plan is exactly.  Maybe I will never know.  The important thing is God knows.  He formed and protected us in the womb.  He knew we were growing and developing even before our mothers knew they were pregnant.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made!  Every one of us!

No child is ever a mistake!

All babies are blessing!


Minestrone Life…

I want a Minestrone Life!

I bet no one has ever said that to you before, so I guess I should explain…

The story goes that the ministers in Italy would travel around the countryside giving sermons and helping to feed the poor and sick wherever they could.  The ministers would use whatever was available in that particular season along with some salt and pepper to make soup and, voila!, much less starvation. This hodgepodge soup was cheap, filling, and good.  The people who benefitted from this soup started calling it minestrone for the ministers and thus you have the story of Minestrone.

Now for a little more research based information….

Minestrone is a wonderful tomato based soup.  It was originally a very humble dish made with leftovers or just whatever was on hand at the time.  It was intended for everyday consumption with the idea of being (like it says above) cheap, filling, and good.  In Italy it is part of what is known as “cusina povera” – literally “poor kitchen,” meaning poorer people’s cuisine.  The name minestrone came to mean, “that which is served.”  In modern Italian it is also used to mean a hodgepodge of things.

I, personally, like the first story.  And, just so you know, the second explanation doesn’t totally negate the first…  they could both be true.  I just didn’t find a whole lot about it on the internet.

Anyway, back to why I want a Minestrone Life.

First of all, I LOVE FOOD!  Yes, I am yelling that sentence.  Go back and read it again in a yell if you must.  Food is one of my favorite things. (And now I’m singing…)  Sunday dinners at Grama’s house, baking cookies in a gas oven on a stormy night by candle light when the power is out, Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, hor d’oeuvres on New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day and any other occasion on which I could possibly have hor d’oeuvres, and then there’s BBQ on the 4th of July, not-to-mention get-togethers at church and family reunions!!!  Oh my goodness, I’m so excited!!  (And I’m singing again…)

So, uh, I like food….  and music…

Second, I tend toward chaos.  I have a whole lot of small pieces of big things in little places in closed drawers on tall shelves in my room on the third level in my apartment.  Yup…  That’s what I said.  So, using whatever is available, using what is on hand, that’s kind of my style.  And so much fun!!

Lastly – but definitely not least, I want to be a ministering spirit.  I want to help others when I can.  I want to encourage people to live well and love always.  And, more than anything, I want to help others learn about God and the wonderful relationship we can have with Him here on this planet and for eternity.

Well, that is what I mean when I say I want a Minestrone Life.  It is very simple, but very rewarding.  I hope that you will join me as I explore God’s word and new recipes and the chaos of my craft closet drawer shelf cabinet box.