Category Archives: Compassion

I Need You

Photo Bombed!

Photo Bombed!

I did not realize how much I did. It is true. I need you.  God I really need you. 

I have lost some decent friends to death in the last three years.  Life is not easy.  

As I rewind I know I need you. Starting over like the seasons do year after year, I am left alone knowing my story is so intertwined with you. It is a beautiful tapestry of love. 

My autistic son getting ready for a big splash!

My autistic son getting ready for a big splash!

I came home from a funeral today and while watering my plants, I sense your presence. Its from the gush of the water in my  hose  startled, I hold on and start spraying my flowers.  I think about my autistic son jumping in the lake and I sense your presence.

Water brings life. It is interesting when we are in the desert of life, we may be numb to pain.  When we are touched by rain, we wake up. I know I have. In the desert- I felt alone.  When watering and being rained on, I bow my head and wondered why I could ever think of not needing you. 

Needing Jesus everyday

Needing Jesus everyday


The state of being normal as defined by cuddling with my furry friend and breathing a bit slower this week. May we look at our animal friends today and thank them for their unconditional love. I don’t know about you, but when I spend time with my Linus- I laugh more!








Come Now. Let’s Settle The Matter

LukeRemembrances of my past came with strong waves of emotion this week. It was as if an avalanche had hit me and I was buried alive. My son had lost his best friend and memories of this past year came crushing down. How many things does it take in my life to die before I will wake up? I was reminded of long ago of my dad’s death, then the loss of my precious childhood dog of 16 years, and more recently a truly beautiful friendship. How do we deal with life’s blows?
In the beginning of this year I began a study on renewing my life to those things that matter most. It hit me that as I saw the simpler things in life beginning to bless me, my heart was becoming wonderstruck. The wonder of nature brought me closer to God. The wonder of expectation opened doors for me. The wonder of prayer is rejuvenating me. Now this week the wonder of friendship is my focus. As I began this study a couple of months ago on the purpose of wonder, I invited five other women on this journey with me. We have been meeting every two weeks and opening our hearts to lead more intentional lives with each other and those around us.
Have you ever thought about how important relationships are in our lives? God made us to be in fellowship with each other for the good and the bad. In fact, friendships have been an important and integral part of my life. I realized how my son who lost his best friend through death has no choice but to move on without him. I have choices in my friendships. As this study began this week in the context of my life’s struggles, I could hear a calling in my heart–Come Now, Let Us Settle The Matter. Stop holding people at arm’s length.
The wonder of friendship and my study of it over the next two weeks I believe will be pivotal as I help my son and myself grow in this area. Reminding myself that no two friendships are the same is important. It is also vital to realize no two people are alike and we must accept people where they are at. If a friendship is not meant to go deeper than do not. Start adjusting your expectations and choose to love people right where they are at. Learning to love people unconditionally should be a pattern worth pursuing. It sure seems worth the effort.
One thing we can remember is that friendships do not happen over night. It takes time to cultivate just as a gardener plants her field, she must nurture it daily so how friendship must be also. I have a lot to learn from a gardener. Today though I wanted to share a few important thoughts on the human mind/soul/spirit that have begun growing in my heart and I hope it resonates with you today:
1. Be You.
2. Don’t Hide.
3. Be Honest.
4. Don’t Procrastinate.
5. Be Intentional.
6. Don’t lie.
7. Be Appreciative.
8. Don’t Do Nothing.
9. Be Alive.
As you think upon these ideas and especially the last one–No One gets out of this world alive so while you have a chance live your life on this earth to the fullest. Come Now, Let’s Settle The Matter and saturate those around you now with your friendship and love.

Pioneer Woman

In this photo behind me lived the pioneer woman in rural Kentucky.  Read her true story.

Jen Nova (Jennie) Jenkins was born in rural western Kentucky November 26, 1882.  Jennie was my great, great aunt and a pioneer woman who was the embodiment of the “gentle woman” as told to me by her great granddaughter Joyce Hankins Candela. Women for centuries were seen as second class citizens and most men considered them as property.  This led to extremely difficult lives for women of this era.

Jennie was born to a mentally fragile woman by the name of Sarah Blankenship.  Sarah was not married to Jennie’s assumed father whose surname was Calvert.  The Calverts were some of the founding settlers to the United States migrating to Kentucky.

Homelife for Jennie was unstable.  Her mother Sarah borrowed money to put food on the table to feed the family. James Jones ( J J) Jenkins an elderly man who had accumulated quite a bit of wealth gave her a loan.  At the high watershed of his wealth according to census records he owned 2000 acres. When he demanded repayment, Sarah could not.  For reasons not completely understood by all,  Sarah chose to give her ten year old daughter Jennie away as a servant to him as payment.  J J Jenkins agreed to this.  The outstanding loan was for $100.

J J Jenkins was a widower with five living grown children.  This was an easy way for him to get a servant.  After all he had been a slave owner in the past.  In 1892 at the age of ten,  Jennie began keeping house which included cooking, laundry, and taking care of  J J and his grown children.  Jennie was a mere child doing servant work with no respect.

When Jennie moved in with J J  in his familial  homestead, they lived in a log cabin.  The cabin set back 200 yards from an old graveyard that would come to hold the Jenkins’ ancestors including  J J ‘s  parents, brothers, his first wife, and many more.  The cemetery was above a creek bed in separating the cabin from the dead.

The unobtrusiveness of this cabin gave the illusion of easy maintenance.  It was nothing of the kind.  In this rustic log home, a tall stack of wood by the fireplace accented one wall.  It was expected Jennie would keep the home warm, gather the crops, cook the meals and sew clothes.  At one point,  J J forced Jennie to cut her long auburn hair off so it did not impede her duties.  Jennie’s  granddaughter Joyce states her grandmother held onto the three foot long ponytail in case she would need to sell it to a wig maker.  She was keeping it as security for the future, however, by the time Joyce married Jennie gave it to her granddaughter as a gift.  The faded ponytail is cherished to this day. 

 By 1894, it became apparent to Jennie that J J wanted more from her.  Eventually at the age of 12 on September 20, 1894 the two legally married.  However, the legal age for marriage was 14 so J J wrote she was 15 years old.  Jennie may have not understood the forms since she was did not read at this time.  J J stated he was 68.

Marriage certificate documenting ages of couple.

By the 1900 census, Jennie and J J were living without any of his previous children. The census indicates Jennie had taught herself to read and write by then.  The census also indicated how big the Jenkins ownership of land was with  family members owning surrounding land  on their own farms. The census seems to indicate Whitnell Jenkins property being divided up between his living children.  There were Calverts living next door which could have possibly been grandparents to Jennie. Thomas Jenkins the youngest son of J J was near by on his farm and then there was Polly Jenkins the widow of J J’s oldest brother George on her homestead and Sara Hobby his daughter on another. The older brother was near Lewis Jenkins.  Grandchildren were living near by with the surname Masons and then my own line my great grandpa William Farr Jenkins, a nephew to J J living on a farm with his huge family.  Numerous family members were continuing to live off Whitnell Jenkins original homestead earned from the War of 1812. 

1900 CENSUS documents the Jenkins Family nearby each other. page 1.


1900 CENSUS continued.


1900 CENSUS continued.

Before the 1910 census, J J and Jennie had four children with three surviving.  As J J ages he became more dependent upon Jennie.  In fact as told to me by Tom Jenkins one of only two living grandson’s of J J’s in an apparent attempt to look younger,  he dyed his gray hair black.  After dyeing his hair, he went to work in the coal mines and while sweating, the dye ran into his eyes causing blindness.  

J J succumbed on Sept 24th 1909 after 15 years of marriage.  Jennie had just turned 27.  She could finally give her real age. 

When J J died , Jennie was left with no means of support.  Perhaps Kentucky State laws did not protect wives yet. For whatever reason, Jennie was on her own. One family member did send her son Leman  off to boarding school and he received a high school degree.  Jennie’s daughters weren’t afforded the same luxury.  After Leman returned from school, he decided to move to St. Louis, Missouri and eventually Jennie joined him with his sisters Clara and Ruby.  Jennie owned nothing yet she was now FREE from the oppressive life she led. She never complained.

Left to Right Ruby Mae, Clara Mae, and Alvin Clinton Hankins

Jennie’s journey allowed her freedom to help herself and take care of her children as she wished.  Being in an environment now of her own making even led her to teach herself to read.  When reminiscing about her grandmother, Joyce said, “She never owned a thing, yet seemed to own the world with all the love she shared with me.  I will never forget as a little girl Jennie sitting on a glider rocker singing while I laid my head on grandma’s lap.” 

Jennie died on her 84th birthday of a heart attack.  She was about to have a party utilizing her first old age pension check when suddenly she began experiencing chest discomfort.  She asked to be taken to the hospital and died within hours of arriving.  Joyce states grandma was a bit of a superstitious woman and would not have wanted to die in her own bed as she would not have liked the family to have had that memory of her.  An amazing pioneer woman again never thinking of herself.

Jennie Jenkins

This author would like to thank the contributions to this story:  Joyce Hankins Candela, Tom Jenkins, Shelia Hart, Diana Hazelbaker, and Peggy Gilkey .  In my research, I talk to many hoping to get the most honest picture of a subject.  It is my hope and wish that I have done this with great aunt Jennie’s legacy. I would caution the reader as you make commentary in your mind of Jennie and J. J. that you remember the culture of their times. Please feel free to comment on this post and we will see you all on my next installment.


A Matter of Life or Death

WWII was behind us. Americans were trying to start living their lives after several years of watching their loved ones go off to war. One bright, cool day on January 7, 1947, Gloria was about to give birth to her precious baby girl. The only problem was that little Rita was almost 3 months too early. Nevertheless ,Rita came into this world in a town known for its ammunition plant that was built because of WWII. This town was Sylacauga, Alabama deep in the Heart of Dixie. Rita was a fighter and born in a time when medicine was making advances never before thought possible.

In fact critical care of premature babies was on the forefront of some of the first ICU type care available to humans.At approximately 3 pounds in weight, Rita clung to life in a commercially manufactured, mechanical incubator that had only in the last few years been accepted by physicians in the care of preemies. Piped into the incubator, Rita’s underdeveloped lungs were fed oxygen that was needed to keep her alive. The standard of care was so far in advance for premature babies that it was actually setting the tone for all critical care for adults and emergency rooms. Little Rita and her parents Roy and Gloria McGinnis were indeed blessed. What was interesting also about the place of her birth was that Sylacauga Hospital had just opened its doors in April of 1945 with the distinction of being the only non-military hospital built in the U.S. during World War II.

Indeed January 7th 1947 was a big day for Rita’s parents. However, Rita was born with her parents having no health insurance, so the Red Cross came in and saved the day and paid the hospital bill ! After Rita’s father Roy reenlisted into the Air Force, he began repaying that bill and in time the Red Cross said he had paid enough and that a grant would pay the rest of the bill.

When Roy returned to military life , he was stationed in Montgomery, Alabama at Maxwell AFB. Rita could now have her care in a military hospital. After Rita was approximately 6 months old, she had her first check up. To the shock of her parents, the doctor said Rita was blind. The military then made the decision to send her to Vanderbilt for further evaluation where the military eye doctor had went to school. The leading eye doctor and professor at Vanderbilt in Tennessee thought Rita had cataracts. He was wrong. With heavy hearts, Rita and her parents came back to Montgomery, Alabama. They then went to see a Dr. Karl Benkwith who in 1945, following WWII, opened the first ophthalmology office in Montgomery, Alabama. He stated that Rita did not have cataracts, but some kind of film over her eyes. Dr. Benkwith told SGT McGinnis he wanted to make an appointment for his daughter with one of the leading eye doctors in the nation. This was Dr. Algernon Reese of Columbia in New York City. Dr. Reese was so well known as he treated stars such as Bob Hope. Roy stated to Dr. Benkwith, “You get us that appointment and we will get there.” The appointment was made.

Roy McGinnis knew he needed to figure out how on a salary of $300 a month that he could get his daughter to New York. He knew the Red Cross had helped him before so he went back to them. He spoke with a Ms. Love who stated , “We will do all we can to get her to New York even if we have to break the bank!” The ball was rolling and the Red Cross was getting things moving.

In the meantime, Roy knew this would not get him down. He had been in alot bigger battles then this one. After all he had been shot down in his bomber plane in Germany during WWII and was a POW in Stalag 17. What more curves could life throw you?

After some time went by, Ms. Love notified the appropriate folks in the military about the circumstances and miracles began to happen to get Rita to New York. The commander in charge of Maxwell AFB or as known in the 1940’s as Maxwell Field where Roy was stationed authorized a flight to Mitchell AFB in New York so Rita could make her appointment in March of 1948. This commander of Maxwell Field and the Air University that the base was noted for was none other then General Muir Fairchild.

General Fairchild was one of the most highly respected military heros of that time. He was a pilot in WWI and had what many would call an outstanding military career. He no doubt was given the story of Sgt McGinnis’ own heroism in WWII and his POW status. If this played a role in Rita getting to New York, it was never told. However, Roy, Gloria, and Rita were on their way in a c-47 plane sitting in the General’s own private quarters of the plane flying to New York in March of 1948.

Rita was seen in New York by Dr. Reese. He gave a diagnoses of retrolental fibroplasia. In other words a film had covered over the back of her lens thereby making Rita go blind. Dr. Reese explained to her the McGinnis’s that he did not know what was caused Rita’s problem, but he promised he would tell them as soon as modern medicine figured this mystery out. Dr. Reese held to his promise and after several years in approximately 1951, Rita’s father Roy McGinnis recieved the answer from Dr. Reese in the form of a letter. It must be noted here that Dr. Reese had all ready written Roy several times to keep him up to date on the progress of understanding Rita’s blindness. In fact there was nothing short of an epidemic in the late 1940’s of babies going blind. The answer was finally discovered that 1950s and the condition was caused by the use of oxygen therapy to treat the immature lungs in premature infants. A matter of life or death caused the blindness. “It shocks you when you hear this, but what can you do.” Exactly what can you when no one knew?

I hope this personal story was interesting to you. I am proud to tell you that Rita is still alive today. Her father is my step dad and Rita is my sister. Roy expressed to me that he has not shared this story with many people. He states most people can not believe that a 4 star General would allow his own military aircraft to be used in such a manner. However, you see it was almost exactly the same time frame that another military officer by the name of Major Donley was travelling in a C-54. The C-54 he was traveling on was cold and unheated in a trip to from Oklahoma to Utah. There were three active duty military on this plane injured and they were freezing to death because the plane was not heated. It was at this time the major knew he wanted to make a difference and get our military to figure out a more humane way we can take our sick for appropriate care in the best place. After this flight, Major Donley was instrumental in modifying the first c-47 for air evac duty by 1949. It takes a few brave soldiers to do the right thing for our sick. General Fairchild saw the need for the air evac plane for little Rita and Major Donley saw this 2000 miles away in the inhumane way three injured soldiers were taken for treatment. Thank God Major Donley put into action a plan that eventually the military sunk their teeth into. Air Evac saved many a life starting as early as the 1950’s in Korea.

Roy McGinnis 1967 Vietnam


Roy and his wife Hilde McGinnis



Famous Figures in my genealogy lines! Say What!

In my last blog installment, I mentioned I would divulge our famous ancestors.  The time has come for me to “spit” it out.   I must explain for those that may be reading this for the first time,  my husband conducted a research test on his DNA by offering a spit sacrifice to  .  This organization is on the cutting edge of discovery for research that possibly will lead to new  cures for some of the most debilitating diseases in our lifetime including  Parkinsons and Diabetes.

Now to our famous ancestors.  The study’s results were surprising and remarkable that included  four famous people.  But before I spill the beans, I wanted to give you more information on my husband’s other haplogroup.  In my last installment, I mentioned his maternal haplogroup H13a1a1a.  The paternal (father’s side) haplogroup is R1b1b2a1.  Again for further clarification, a haplogroup is defined in general terms as being that part of the family tree of life one arises from.  I also discovered that my husband’s lines are 100% European. Also it must be noted  the haplogroup R is a widespread branch of  human life origins of the Y chromosome.  Y of course for those non- scientifically minded is the male side.  The R’s of the world seemed to appeared first in Southwest Asia and moved across  Eurasia.  I must admit this does not say much as Eurasia (Europe and Asia combined-how cute a  name by some doctor of geography) holds 73% of the population.  However the R1 group in this catagory can be traced back to farmers 10,000 years ago that shaped Europe.  It also belongs to those subgroups such as the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. In specific terms, R1b1b2a1 can be found in our current areas of Germany, Netherlands, and parts of the North Sea area close to England.

It is amazing to discover one’s roots as I hope you can see in this information.  It is also important to note how we all rose to prominance one way or another.  There are four folks that rose with my husband’s line to famous stature that may amaze you…..The names given to us are Napoleon, Prince Philip, Luke the Evangelist, and possibly my favorite Susan Sarandon..Now that woman can act!

Stay tuned for my next installment.  Peace to all and may you enjoy alittle of life’s pleasures through my diverse photography from places I have been:

Cascades Mountains WA state

Long Beach, Long Island, NY

Mt. Rushmore