Lights of Grace




bill cover

Family is a dichotomy of love and hate – especially true in the relationships of siblings.  Both emotions are steered by the conditions of their lives as they grow up.  There were six of us children, growing up as “army brats”.  That meant that every two years we moved to a new state.  As a result, we became each others best friends because we had to depend one-on-the-other to be the constant in our lives during our formative years.

Then as we grew up we drifted into forming individual lives, only coming together as a family unit on holidays.  That is until life began to bring us back to those feelings from our childhood when we were the only ones who recognized and who truly understood what the others were feeling.  It is those very feelings that cause us to join in God’s word in Isaiah 40:1 “‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God”  bringing forth the unconditional comfort of family.

Today, my guest blogger is my oldest brother, Bill.  When we were kids, he let me stay up late and watch The Twilight Zone with him on Friday nights, followed by those scary Godzilla movies on Saturday mornings, and laughed with me while watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, enabling me to face fear with the knowledge that better times always come.   When I was only nine and weighed 75 pounds, a bully at school stomped my foot, causing me to cry.  The next day at school, Bill walked up to the bully, stomped the bully’s foot and said, “Don’t ever do that to my sister again!”  And the bully never did, nor any other bully because words do get around.

Bill is the one who, when I was home with a very bad case of the flu, signed me up for cheerleader tryouts; not something I had even considered.  He then became my campaign manager by again signing me up to run for student council – also not on my “bucket list”.  He helped me write the words to my campaign speeches and encouraged me to reach all the way to my toenails and to pull up the courage to share them in front of the student body (I was very shy).  Imagine my surprise when I succeeded at both and both are two of my best high school memories.

He is the one, as I struggled with the decision to go to college after getting married said, “Just try it.  Take one class, make it your favorite subject – and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back.  You just need to know what it’s like.”  As usual, he knew me better than I knew myself.  Not only did I graduate cum laude from his favorite – The University of Alabama, I went on to obtain my Masters Degree.

He is the one who is calm in the storms of our lives as siblings today – all with words of peace, faith and hope, – and a whole lot of prayer.  I want to share the words of this man who backs them up with actions, making a difference.


BillWords by Bill Brewer

“I guess, just about everyone has heard the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I, for one, have never embraced this saying, because words do have meanings and they do have consequences.

What if you had printer in your home and as you went through each day each word you spoke was printed from the printer, page by page? What would be there for you read when you got home? Would you share it with everyone or just shred it?

Then, what if for one day each word that you spoke would travel across the screen of all television sets in your hometown? Could you then go out and walk in public with your head held high? Or would you hide and only come out when it was dark?

In a spiritual way, each word we speak appears on the screen of God’s television. When each of us talk to people we meet each day, we should always strive to use words that God would approve of.  Always remember that a word of kindness and encouragement, especially to a child, could give hope to a person that had none before, or give that child the needed encouragement to excel.

A single kind word or act to someone close to you, or even to a stranger, could show them that someone cares. So as you start each day ask yourself. “What will my printer say about me today?” But more importantly, when the day ends, we need to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus say about the words we spoke today?”

Bill, husband to Kathy, father to two daughters and grandfather to five grandchildren, brother, friend, veteran, refers to himself as “Just a God loving country boy.”

And so he is.


Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Hope and Grace from His still waters. cLBreeden
Hope and Grace from His still waters.

Yesterday was my grumpy day. We all have them. We all need them.

I missed an exciting trip with great friends to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque because of some electrical problems in my house after just returning from a Caribbean cruise with some wonderful friends although it kept my house from burning down although I developed a cold that is getting worse a week later which now requires a trip to see my wonderful doctor while my wonderful dog actually pooped in the hallway because I didn’t take him out because he refused to go out in the rain and then couldn’t play golf because of back problems so went to see a wonderful movie (The Intern) with a wonderful friend which made me optimistic until I watched the evening news which consisted of the devastating floods in South Carolina a high school football player dead after a head injury an airline pilot dies mid-flight Taylor Swift has a dance party with Dylan Barnes to “Shake It Off” and Tom Hanks returns student ID to Lauren of Fordham University while local news is same ole’ same ole – children missing shootings leave three dead house burns down leaving family homeless and McDonald’s now serves breakfast all day.

Breath taken.

I acknowledge any editor would cringe at how that first paragraph is written but THAT is how it’s  running through my head. When I faced each of these things and heard each of the news items I could only do one thing. Pray. I asked for God’s mercy and grace and gave thanks for those things that needed thanking for, through a combination of tears and smiles, leaving it up to the reader to decide what belongs where.

But today is a different day. I woke up at 6:33 a.m. with the following running through my mind:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
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 anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

These words are from the King James Bible, Psalm 24, Song of David, also not written in today’s standard either. I first learned this psalm when I was in third grade. Yes, you read those words correctly.  I learned them and recited them each morning followed by standing proudly, right hand over heart reciting the Pledge of Allegiance just before math class.

So I share them today, instead of my own words because, in spite of being written in about the 1500s they have withstood the test of time continuing to provide hope and comfort.

So, why reinvent the wheel? May your day sparkle with His Grace.

Darkness, Rainbows and Light


Sometimes I have a bad day; we all do. Just a few days ago my spirit was heavy with uncertainty and worry. Impatiently waiting as I felt, more than watched, the twilight fade into inky darkness, I rushed to seek the shelter of sleep. Instead of the much longed for relief of slumber, I tossed and turned so much that my very patient dog, Teddie, who normally sleeps right next to me, got up, walked to the foot of the bed, circled several times before he plopped down causing an unexpected ripple from this ten pound poodle/fox hound mix. His rather loud sigh was an unmistakable message that seemed to say, “Let it go.”

My failure to heed that message caused me to continue to toss and turn, watching the red digits of the clock change from 10:04, then 10:07, then 10:10 and so on, until I finally startled awake at 3:13 a.m. discovering those same worries were right where I left them – swirling and churning as again the clock tracked my discontent with the flickering of time 3:14, 3:18, 3:20. The sounds of the alarm roused me, hysterical in its insistent challenge of another new day that covered me with a weariness I couldn’t throw off as easily as I did the blanket covering my body. I silenced this reminder by hitting the snooze button and covering my face with the cool side of the pillow.

After the third attempt to deny the day, I rose and went through my morning ritual by giving Teddie a kiss while absently scratching his ears as I quickly said my morning prayer, “Heavenly Father, thank you for this day for it is another day to rejoice for all who greet it. Thank you for this dog, who represents unconditional love and forgiveness and serves as a reminder of the same love you have for us. May I serve you and make you proud today. Uttering amen, I knew that this half-hearted, shortened version of my morning prayer of thankfulness was only an effort to disguise my dark spirit.

My next step was to open my bedroom curtains gasping as I was greeted by a rainbow peeking above the tree line of the western horizon against a backdrop of ominous dark clouds. I hurried down the stairs and out onto the deck, welcoming the unexpected coolness of this southern August morning. The wind blew with enough gusto to tickle the green leaves of the trees; I relished their rustling response that felt like laughter. I listened closely, certain there was a whisper of comfort in their sound. Not yet able to discern their quiet message, I watched as the rainbow continued its journey, arching above the western horizon in harmony with the sun’s eastern assent.

Picking up Teddie I held him close as I sat in the old rocker, oblivious to its flaking paint and creaks. Teddie flipped over, happily demanding his morning belly rub. I felt as if comforting arms were holding me in their embrace as the reminder from Genesis 9:12-17 (Old Testament) brought me comfort:

“God said, “This is the sign of the promise I am giving to you and every living being that is with you for generations to come. I will put my rainbow in the clouds to be a sign of my promise to the earth. Whenever I form clouds over the earth, a rainbow will appear in the clouds. Then I will remember my promise to you and every living animal.”

“Okay. I can do this,” I thought just as the appearance of a smaller, fainter rainbow appeared next to the first one.

“Hmmmm. You know me well,” I smiled, casting my eyes upward to the rainbows. “You know I often need more than one reminder that you’ve got this. I have shelter, food, good health, family, friends and let’s not forget, the best dog ever who loves me unconditionally.”

As peace enveloped me, I whispered, “Just as you do.”

I buried my face in Teddie’s soft fur, tears of gratitude escaping my closed eyes. Once again, I raised my eyes toward the heavens discovering that the rainbows had disappeared, their reminder having been received. Even so, I felt a loss, wanting them back. I turned to go into the house and rejoiced to see that the eastern sky was filled with the same colors of the rainbows – reds, blues and yellows streaking the sky as the rising sun shared the sparkling light of its rays.

Looking into the twinkiling dark eyes of Teddie I smiled as he braced his fore paws on each of my shoulders and licked me right in my mouth (yikes!), as unexpected as the disappearance of the rainbows.  I laughed right out loud as I rejoiced, “Teddie, did you know your name means ‘gift from God’?”

Teddie being Teddie, jumped down to chase a bird.

Joy filled me as I realized that those worrisome thoughts had vanished just like the rainbows, leaving hope for this moment and for this day with those glowing rays of sunshine; His promise fulfilled.   Just as He said.IMG_20150403_074617301_HDR

*I share my actual pictures are from that morning.


The new school year has either begun or is about to begin. I remember how excited I would be getting paper, pencils, a dictionary, and crayons. I was not so excited, however, getting calculators, compasses, and rulers for the dreaded math classes, because I refused to enjoy math.

Why?  Well, first I’m a girl and girls aren’t supposed to be good at math.  Although I usually made an A in math because, well, why would you not want an A? I simply saw no value purpose for math.  Sure, basic arithmetic is fine for balancing check books, figuring out percentages of 20% off of those shoes I’ve been lusting after, and perhaps the 10% tithe that the pastor occasionally reminded us about, never specifying if it was pre or post-tax dollars. I realize that math is one of the oldest academic fields, but I just don’t see why there has to be so many other kinds, such as:
linear algebra
differential equations
real analysis
complex analysis
abstract algebra (includes group theory, ring theory, field theory, and module theory)
number theory
game theory
functional analysis
algebraic geometry
differential geometry
dynamical systems (includes “chaos theory”)
numerical analysis
set theory
category theory
model theory

See my point?

Until today when I attended Ms. Billie’s Watercolor Demonstration Class. This is what I learned:

My mentors Nelle and Lehehia are on the left - they actually think I can paint!  Ms. Billie is on the right.  Stay tuned for my progressive musings as I take her course over he next few weeks!
My mentors Nelle and Leheia are on the left – they actually think I can paint! Ms. Billie is on the right. Stay tuned for my progressive musings as I take her course over he next few weeks!

1. Good paintings begin with a good value plan. Your painting begins by first recognizing shades of black and white in order that those shades may become shades of rich, soft colors that envelop you in the warmth of peace.
2. Have a focal point and paint everything toward that. Everything painted around that focal point is there for the purpose of illuminating the artist message.
3. There are no rules, therefore go ahead and paint outside the lines – in fact you are encouraged to do so. This form of self-discovery allows the freedom to create art without restriction.
4. Always go to the edge of the canvas with lots and lots and lots of color. This seems scary, but by going to the edge comes the realization that we don’t have to jump or fall. We learn that beauty can be brought back from that edge.
5. Allow the paint color to run. Just like life meanders seemingly without purpose, the varying hues and shapes make it a life worth the living.
6. Don’t copy another’s paintings. True artists pull out their own creativity, creating their own joy.
7. Keep your sketch pad accessible at all times and don’t be afraid to use it. While stopping to smell the roses, it is important to memorialize the hues, shapes and flaws of the rose.
8. Take time to step back and look at the focal point using the value plan. Assessing our path along the way serves as a gentle reminder of a purposeful life.
9. Never ever construct without a value plan….of faith, of hope, or of love – all given so generously by God and should be generously received by us.
10. Perspective in watercolor art is a mathematical principle (geometry) and is learned from a square block.

After all, as Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

Aha! Math is an art and that is why math is important.

I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

Remember when we were kids and how exciting it was to go back to school and we’d make a list of all the great stuff Santa had brought us?  Barbie dolls, a red wagon, a BB gun, fruit, candy and a huge ham and cakes of all kinds for Christmas dinner.  Dad would say the blessing and carve the ham.

That is not what my childhood Christmas was all about.  Dad was away in the war and any extra money went to pay for the heat in the house and food like beans, potatoes, bread and milk, not toys.  It seemed like life sucked because I didn’t have all those things other kids had.  Dad eventually came home from the war and the warmth of his presence and his love was worth any sacrifice.

Remember how our mothers were the heart of Christmas, creating it’s meaning for all of us?  The shopping, the baking, the decorating, the wonderful secrets and always, always going to midnight communion which gave us the joyous peace that mothers know it will? But then mother died and Christmas became lonely and fake and life sucked.  At some point, I can’t tell you when or why, I began to do all of the same wonderful things with my children and we began to build on the foundation mother had provided, making it stronger with each new memory we created as a family.  Her legacy gives us joy and peace, keeping her close, and I believe – happy, always.

Then we grow up and realize that life can suck on any given day with or without notice. This hurts and with the pain, memories of what is good and right in our life are swept away by the uncertainty of just how much adversity one can withstand.

In the Charlie Brown Christmas Special where Charlie Brown asks about the meaning of Christmas and Linus, blanket in hand, explains, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'”. (Luke 2:10).

Like Charlie Brown, we may shout, “What’s the big deal about Christmas?”

It seems to promise good things, but bad things still happen.

It appears that many of us may not be sure what Christmas is all about either.

But if we only seek the meaning, we discover it really is all around us.

Linus ends his explanation by simply saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”  If we all could have the faith of Linus, life would still sometimes suck, but we would gain some of that peace on earth and good will toward others as we realize that the good in our lives gets us through those bad times.

God gave us His son, Jesus who suffered and died for us of His own free will:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son… .” (John 3:16).

If we think about that, we can find hope in the will of  people everywhere, every day, who give their lives freely for others so that others might live. A friend of mine gave her husband her kidney so he might live, a sister gave her sister her bone marrow which put her cancer in remission, a young firefighter died of smoke inhalation but managed to rescue an 87 year old great grandmother, troops every day give their lives so we are safe.  The reality of Christmas is the understanding that God doesn’t prevent bad things from happening, but He does provide us with comfort and support as He guides us through the bad times, often using those around us to help us.

In the first days of my widowhood, Kathy, Tammie and Rosita called me every day, ignoring that I often didn’t answer the phone or return their calls.  Still their calls continued, every day, until I began to answer the phone and I began to call them back; God at work through people.

Christmas is about accepting that bad things are just going to happen, and having the faith that God is there every moment.  Anyone can be thankful when times are good, but maintaining our faith and belief in God through the bad times will give us strength to persevere and to eventually recognize and to be grateful for the goodness that still exists in our lives.

And that, my friends, is what Christmas is all about.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: