Tag Archives: family

Remembering Aunt Nancy

I posted this on my Mixed Genes blog on February 12, 2016. In honor of Aunt Nancy’s 70th birthday today, I wanted to repost it here…

Last week, on February 1, 2016, my Aunt Nancy (Mix) died. It’s taken me almost two weeks to be able to begin to write.

My earliest memories have Aunt Nancy interwoven throughout them. In that time when Mom and Dad had separated, and yet before my brother had been born, there was a time when Mom and I lived in an

Dayton & Nancy 1963

Dayton & Nancy 1963

apartment in Coudersport. I remember being all dressed up because Grandma and Grandpa Mix AND AUNT NANCY were coming to visit. I remember constantly checking the window to see if they had arrived yet. I loved visiting Grandpa and Grandma, but I was EXCITED to play with Aunt Nancy. To this day, I can remember her smile… and her giggle.

Part of my love of reading and books have an early Aunt Nancy memory as well. I only had a couple of weeks of first grade left and she gave me a Children’s First Dictionary for my birthday. I read that thing front to back and back to front. And she had me read words and kids’ definitions to her as well. I knew that she had trouble seeing, but it was still years before I understood that she could no longer even see me at that point.

In the time when I was home from college, we would still read books together. In fact, we had taken one of our road trips down to Olean to the Christian Bookstore and I read the titles as we walked down the aisles of the store. We discovered one by an author I had never heard of named Janette Oke. She decided the one we wanted was her book Once Upon A Summer, following an orphaned adolescent boy named Joshua. I remember we tossed around what a cool name that was, and I thought maybe I might name my son Joshua someday. And over the next couple of weeks, we would sit in the living room and I would read the book aloud.

It was such a great idea that Grandma and Aunt Nancy would read Janette Oke’s novels together for years and years.

Every once in a while, Aunt Nancy and I would take off for a store or a mall. Olean, Erie, Elmira. After Gay and I were married, we added the Altoona and Johnstown malls to our itinerary as well. Everything went pretty well, except for two problems we had to overcome: I could guide her wherever she wanted to go except the restroom. So I would check out what the mens’ room looked like, describe it to her, and suggest that the womens’ room was probably similar. She never got lost and always came back safe. The other obstacle was trying to explain to Grandma Mix that she could be safe “out there.”

Probably one of her favorite activities was talking on the phone with Aunt Roena.  She also loved spending time with her family. Every so often she would sneak up behind me and put her ALWAYS COLD fingers on my neck and just giggle. Of course, I tried to return the favor as often as possible.

According to the Bible, in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Eventually Aunt Nancy came to the realization that the time to leave the nest had come and gone… and there was a gradual sinking and growing depression… and then confusion… and eventually delusions.

Monday evening, after I got the call saying she was gone, my wife, Gay, commented that there was once a movie entitled: “When Stella Got Her Groove Back.” Not that either of us had ever seen it, but Gay could just envision Aunt Nancy arriving in Heaven as “When Aunt Nancy Got Her Giggle Back.”

Almost twenty years ago, for Aunt Nancy’s fiftieth birthday, Gay wrote a poem for her. Here it is…

An Ode to Aunt Nancy

Here’s to a lady born as a Mix,

Whose birth as a girl gave her brothers a fix!

Nancy Jo Anne they gave as her name,

And spoiling her rotten was their favorite game.

Tea parties with Ted, cleaning the pens,

4-H blue ribbons for prize-winning hens –

Her life on the farm was simple and sweet,

The love of her family made it complete.

But to her, life was not always kind;

A childhood ailment left her sight blind.

Not one to be stopped by what it brings,

She clearly saw life through other things.

Her listening ears heard more than was said,

And in giving wisdom her loving heart led.

Not one to go out much, never too fancy,

To each generation she is known as Aunt Nancy.

Her lap has held babies, by count, quite a few,

And they came to know her loving heart, too.

Her giggle, her smile, her sense of humor,

Her ability to know the truth from a rumor

Has enriched our lives with her sense of wit

(Sometimes she doesn’t know when to quit!).

She’s hard to surprise this aunt who knows all

And loves to go shopping at any old mall.

But that’s not her only shopping pleasure:

The Avon Book is full of wonderful treasure!

And so, on this day, fifty years from her birth,

We celebrate her life, her love, and her mirth.

By G. Mix, 6/24/96

Obituary of Nancy J. Mix from the Olean TIMES HERALD

Obituary of Nancy J. Mix from the Olean TIMES HERALD

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A prayer for those with hurting hearts this Mother’s Day

A wonderful response and also preparation for Mother’s Day… Especially for those who find pain in this day. I didn’t write it, but I think EVERYONE ought to have a chance to read it!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I see you sister. I hear the pain in your voice, I see the tears welling up in your eyes. As we are approaching a holiday that celebrates mothers, your hearts are in mourning. There is darkness, ra…

Source: A prayer for those with hurting hearts this Mother’s Day

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Personal Mission Statement

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”                                  —Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)


If you’ve been around United Methodist Churches much, you know that our pastors move around. In fact, we are only appointed to our communities one year at a time. So every year we are asked to fill out paperwork as to how things are going with us and our families, as well as with our churches. We do it every year, and only occasionally are we asked to move to a new community appointment. This year, though, one of the questions really challenged me. It read: “What is your personal mission statement?”

What is MY personal mission statement? What is it that gets me up out of bed and keeps me going? Personally, I started with the roles I have; the relationships I have. Specifically, I’m an individual made in the image of God, by God, to be in relationship with God. Also, I’m a husband to my wife, a father to my children, a grandfather to my grandkids, a pastor to a congregation, and a volunteer with some other groups. I’m also other things, but how do I sum up all of that in a personal mission statement?

A quick definition before I go further… One of our foundational beliefs is that every single person that’s been baptized is called by God to minister to others for Him. We are ALL “ministers.” Some of the ministers are called to be doctors, some bankers, some ditch diggers, some politicians, some garbage collectors, and some to be “pastors.” My role as a pastor is first, and foremost, to be a “minister” like everyone else who is called by God to whatever profession. With that, here is what I submitted:

“My personal mission statement is to be so connected to Jesus Christ as a minister, worshipper, and leader, that wherever I might be, I can equip other ministers in their areas of ministry, starting with my own family.”


So I, like you, am a “minister” expected to live out my life in such a way that people I encounter in my daily life will see Jesus in me. In order to pull that off, I have to be in relationship with Him… talking to and listening to Him and reading the Bible so that I can really get to know Him. I need to be connected with Jesus Christ. That also means that a major part of my calling is to worship Him. Also, because I am a pastor, I have leadership responsibilities in the church.

The second part of my statement highlights that my ministry is not just in one geographical area or in one setting. I am to be the same kind of Christian at school activities, at sporting events, at restaurants, at social events, at the garage, at the fire hall, and at church. And by doing so, I hope to be able to help, encourage, support, and equip the other Christians I encounter to be able to step into whatever their ministry is. That also means I need to be willing to go wherever God might want to send me.

And while I’m at it, not as a pastor, but as a Christian, I look for opportunities to share God’s love and Christ’s forgiveness with anyone I run into that doesn’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior yet.

The last part of my statement emphasizes that my ministry, like all other Christians, requires that we be in ministry with our own families first. So many of us Christians, especially pastors, get so busy with all of the other things in our lives that we lose our own families. Our spouses and children are to be the first priority for all of us. For most of us, we haven’t always done so well with this.

“O.K. Preacher,” you might be thinking, “that’s nice, but what’s it got to do with me?” I hope you’ll take some time and think about the different roles and relationships you have, and the people and places you go day in and day out. Pray and ask God what He’s asking you to do as you go to those places and encounter those people. Most people have a different job than I do, so your mission statement will probably look different than mine. But we do share some of those other relationships: wives, children, parents, volunteers, and more.

Tell me, what would YOUR personal mission statement say?

***This post appears as my pastor’s newsletter article in the November 2014 edition of The Flame, the monthly newsletter of the Clarks Mills United Methodist Church, Clarks Mills, PA***

***This post also appears on my mixed meditations blog at http://www.mixedmeditations.wordpress.com ***

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mother, Virginia Milne, was born on this day 68 years ago. She died on August 8, 2008. 

In honor of Mom, and my step-father, Norm Milne, I share this picture from one of the weddings our family has celebrated through the years. (Of course, Mom has her eyes closed!)

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From Caterpillar To Butterfly

My son Josh found a box with a caterpillar magnet in it and asked what it was. So I  showed him my original post from March 2, 2007. Here it is again:

My three year old son Joshua received a package in the mail the other day from our district superintendent. I didn’t think this too odd, since she has made a habit of sending birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day cards with small gifts to all three of our kids. However, Josh was the only one to receive a package this time… and I couldn’t think of what the occasion might be.

Turns out, it was a visual aid learning devise to help small children understand Lent & Easter! Titled “From Caterpillar To Butterfly,” it is a magnetic caterpillar made up of a head (labelled JOY), four body parts (labelled PEACE, LOVE, HOPE, & FAITH), and a tail (labelled PRAYER).


Along with the caterpillar comes a child friendly prayer card with an explanation and a prayer for each week.

On Easter Day, you rearrange the pieces of the caterpillar and get a butterfly! What a GREAT explanation of Lent & Easter!

Josh, who absolutely LOVES magnets to start with is enthralled with this gift! He arranges and rearranges it several times a day… In fact, to walk into our kitchen and look at our fridge is almost to see the little caterpillar move around the fridge. (And when he gets ‘out-of-shape’ I’ve noticed the older girls reconnecting him back into his all-together caterpillar shape!)

The original posting can be found by clicking here.

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Genealogy and Mixed Genes

I have another blog called MIXED GENES, in which I share some of the snippets I’ve discovered as I researched (and still find in current researching) my own family roots.

Check it out!!!

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Best Birthday Gift-The Gift of Presence

Today, in my genealogical blog, Mixed Genes, I highlighted a landmark from the past; namely, the Haynes’ Store in Sharon Center, PA. As I wrote the little bit of narrative to accompany the pic, I found myself reliving Halloweens when we would go to Grandpa and Grandma Haynes’ place, attached to their store. Halloween meant receiving a handful (or two) of penny candy from the store, or after they had sold the store and moved into a trailer on my Grandpa Mix’s farm, it would be Chicken-in-a-Biskit crackers.

Grandma Haynes (Laura Vivien Meacham, but always called Vivien) taught me how to do a game from her childhood in the 1890’s; cat’s cradle. She also taught me how to play the card game FLINCH. She helped inspire me to get involved in genealogy, when she would tell me stories about her parents and grandparents. I especially liked the story of how her grandmother, Nancy Ann (Foy) Meacham came over to America from Ireland on a ship and all that she had to do. (You can read more about Nancy Ann Foy here).
HOWEVER, my favorite memory of all is when I turned 8 years old in 1970. It was the first birthday party that I remember having and I believe the first one ever where I could invite someone other than close relatives.

This picture of me, excited as all get out, surrounded by my great-grandpa and great-grandma. Looking at the photo now, I STILL can feel the excitement and joy of that day. I’m sure they gave me a gift to unwrap, but it is their presence I remember, not the presents.

And I remember that one of the names prophesied about Jesus was that he would be called “Emmanuel;” which literally means “God is with us.” I think that’s why my favorite saying from Jesus is ” I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He gives us the gift of presence!

OK, so this day has been a serious walk through memory lane. But it’s memories like this that help me remember the extreme importance of being there to witness my son in a first grade Christmas play where he just says two lines of about 15 words. And going to Little League practices, and on and on and on. It’s simply the gift of being present that makes the difference. A shared memory. A present of time.

And now, I have a grandson who just turned two just last week. He calls me “Poppop.” His mom, my daughter, is very conscientious and attentive, for which I’m thankful. My wife and I had that role when she was in our home. But now, like my grandparents and great-grandparents did with me, I’m the grandpa, and one of my roles is to be a giver of gifts, like my grandparents and great-grandparents were for me.

And the very best gift I can give is the present of presence.

AND… by the way, I AM present in this picture behind the camera.

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