Sunday, October 11, 2015

How Well Do You Accept Change

Sunday, October 11, 2015


How Well Do You Accept Change

By Peggy Toney Horton

The summer of 2015 appears to have moved on; taking its place in the annals of “Summers Past” as autumn commences to delight us. In a short while, the excitement of the holidays will be upon us, and soon after, winter will usher in a few months of cold, gloomy weather.

Many people are dismayed by such a prediction, just as I am in May when I hear all the cheerful chatter about approaching hot weather. Yes, listening to peoples’ plans for vacations on sandy beaches, trips to faraway places and other kinds of forced merriment for the summer months depresses me. But it seems one must love summertime like the majority of the population, or else he or she appears peculiar, as I do to some of my friends and acquaintances.

A few actually get nasty when I speak of my love for cold weather and snow!

But, I don’t have to think about that today. It’s October — my favorite month of the year, and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest! Not one single soul, no matter what he or she says, can ruin it for me!

October reigns supreme in my book. Though I was born in springtime, I’m quite certain I wasn’t fully awake until October.

God gives us many good gifts—because He loves us. He surely must have been in an especially loving mood when He created autumn! What could be more exciting than an October day? It’s your birthday, Fourth of July and Christmas all rolled into one!

But it’s a distinct change. To some, the very word seems overwhelming. Although I’m not usually quick to accept changes myself, I welcome this one with open arms.

As autumn begins and temperatures cool, the most noticeable change is a colorful display of leaves. The hills are speckled with color. Reds, oranges and yellows stand out amid dull greens and browns. Warm sunshine, less intense than it was a month ago, highlights the beauty of the mountains.

Hopefully, there is also a shift within the spirit of each of us — a sense of fresh energy and excitement. Visible changes should remind us that all is evolving. Seeing God’s dramatic handiwork in nature should trigger an awareness of our potential for positive change.

As our surroundings are altered, we can choose to accept, to adapt, to appreciate and best of all, we can choose to learn and grow. Nature shows us that we die to the old and are reborn in the new. When we see leaves changing color and dropping from tree branches, we know that this will be followed by new growth in springtime and we see that, just as in nature, we must let go of what was, in order to grow anew.

As we evolve in spiritual understanding, we must release the past and welcome the richness of the present in whatever form it takes.

Sometimes the world seems to change too quickly or events in our lives become intimidating or confusing. When that happens, we have only to turn to the power that never changes — our one constant: God. As we connect with the love of God, we know that all things are possible and we can face the world with courage and confidence — no matter what the season.

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro and can be reached at

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Copyright © 2015 Charleston Gazette 10/11/2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Learning a New Trick


Sunday Gazette 08/23/15, Page FO2 
Learning a New Trick
By Peggy Toney Horton 
Special to the Sunday Gazette-Mail 

For a long time now, my husband and I have wondered: what is all the hullaballoo about cell phones? Everywhere you go – to the mall, grocery store, or just taking a walk in your neighborhood, you pass people – youngsters and adults alike – with   their heads down, looking at a little device in their hands called a “smart phone.” Some will look up long enough to smile or say, “Hi,” but others never look up – don't even see you. One wonders why they don’t run into trees or telephone poles, or walk in front of moving vehicles.
“What are they doing?” you ask.
It seems that literally everyone is so caught up in texting that they can’t go anywhere without their texting device. If you suggest to a family member or friend that she might leave her smart phone behind while the two of you go shopping, you’re told in no uncertain terms, “I couldn’t do that!
Someone may try to reach me.”
When did everyone become so important?
I remember a day when you could be gone from home from daylight till dusk and never receive a phone call. Texting wasn’t even a reality then. If there were any important events that you needed to hear about, you heard about them when you returned. And the world went right on turning.  Most everything could wait until you got home.
Although there was that one time that my youngest daughter called the Sears store she knew I’d be shopping in, and had me paged to tell me she was in the ER because she had cut her hand badly while washing a glass! When my name was called on the PA system, followed by the message, “Call your daughter immediately,” I must admit, I panicked! However, by the time I got to the ER, she’d been taken care of, which proved she could have handled it without giving her mother heart failure!
Nobody had ever heard of a smart phone then!
Now that I’ve had my rant, it’s confession time. A few months ago, I became the proud (?)  owner of a Smart Phone!
It wasn’t something I needed – or even wanted for that matter, but for the past year, my grown children have been complaining because their mother was “out of the loop!” In order to communicate with me, they had to pick up a phone, push a button and wait for me to answer – and give up at least twenty minutes of their precious time to talk. Sometimes they could get away with e-mailing, but even that took time away from other things they’d rather be doing.
What an inconvenience!
I’m not dissing my children; really, I’m not! They’re kind, generous, caring children and I love them dearly!  I understand that times have changed drastically in the past ten to twenty years.
 But everyone is so busy these days. I’d give half my life if I could pick up a phone and talk to my mother for twenty minutes. Or five!
Ah, well, as the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” So that’s what I’m trying to do. I say “trying” because this texting thing is not as easy as it looks! I type every day on the computer with no trouble at all, but have you ever really looked at the size of one of those keyboards on the new phones? They’re tiny! My fingers just don’t fit. Most of my words come out looking like “mstz[p or xtorn’t” The first time I tried to show off my texting ability to my daughter, I wrote, “This iw fim” (This is fun), “Loo” (Lol). 
Trying to sign off with my son, I typed, “Lat” the first time, “Latre” the second time and, while I was working on the third try, he helped me out by writing, “Later.”
"Yeah, tha'st it," I wrote.
So, as you can see, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but they all tell me to keep practicing.
“You’ll get it,” they say.
And I text back, “I hopr yor rigjt!”
Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro and can be reached at  
Copyright  ©2015
Charleston Gazette


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Breakfast: the most important meal


July 19, 2015 

 Page 6 B  


Breakfast: the most important meal


 By Peggy Toney Horton 
          After a lengthy divorce and vicious child-custody battle, Janet, a young mother with two small children was almost ready to throw in the towel. It had been a difficult two years and although the children were still with her, she didn’t have a job and things were tough. She hadn’t worked while she was married. Her husband made enough money to keep them and preferred she didn’t work. That was fine with Janet. She liked caring for her children and enjoyed experiencing their first words, first steps and other firsts herself instead of hearing about them from someone else.
But, with the divorce, things had changed. She needed a job. And with only a high school education, she was limited to minimum wage jobs. She applied everywhere, but nothing happened. Child support wasn’t enough to pay the bills and feed them and her pride wouldn’t allow her to ask for help. She fought against a feeling of desperation but never lost faith that God would take care of them, praying constantly.
It was the middle of winter. The children, Ethan, 8 and Emily, 4 asked to sleep with their mother so they could stay warm. She allowed it. Huddled together in the queen-size bed, they slept warm and cozy until about five a.m. Who knows what woke them, but they were suddenly all three awake. It was still dark outside.
Emily spoke first. “I’m hungry,” she said. “Me, too,” echoed her brother. Their mother put an arm around each of them and said, “I’m a little hungry myself,” but even as she spoke the words, her mind raced. She couldn’t think of a thing to feed her children. They’d eaten the last of the cereal yesterday morning and there were only a few slices of stale bread. The child support check that was supposed to come yesterday didn’t – so she wasn’t able to go to the grocery store. She prayed the check would be in the mailbox this morning!
“I want the two of you to stay in bed while I go see what I can find to eat,” she told her children.
“Okay,” they said.
In the kitchen, almost in tears, she thought – What will I do? My kids are hungry and I have nothing to feed them.
After looking through the cabinets and finding only canned milk, some spices and a few crackers, she opened the refrigerator. There was about a third of a gallon of milk and a half stick of margarine. At least they could have milk to drink! No eggs. No bacon. Tears began to well in her eyes as she opened the freezer door, expecting it to be bare, too. But, to her surprise, she saw a package of fish sticks and a plastic bag filled with corn on the cob.
She hurriedly placed the corn in a pan of water, threw in some salt and put it on the stove burner. She then put the fish sticks on a baking sheet and slipped it into the oven, turned it on and set the timer. Then she went to the bedroom to get her children.
“Get up and wash your hands,” she said. “We’ll be eating in a few minutes.”
“What’re we having?” asked Ethan.
“You’ll see,” she said. “It’s a surprise.”
In the kitchen, she told them to sit at the table. She placed napkins and forks in front of them and poured two glasses of milk.
The oven timer dinged and she pulled the tray of fish sticks out, divided them up on their plates and gave each of them an ear of corn slathered with margarine and sprinkled with salt. The food was steaming hot and smelled delicious!
While the three of them ate the unusual breakfast fare, they talked about a variety of things and giggled as kids and mothers often do. At that moment, nothing else mattered except enjoying a meal together that was filling their empty tummies – and they were happy!
But that’s not the end of the story. Spring came and the young mother found employment. Things began to look better, although, even with child support, a minimum wage job wasn’t enough to make ends meet. But Janet didn’t worry. She always had faith that God would take care of her and her children.
Yet, one afternoon, she found herself in nearly the same predicament as before. Dinnertime loomed. The cupboards were almost bare. The next day was payday but today, she had only a couple of dollars. But instead of worrying, she said to the children, “It’s a beautiful day. Let’s go for a walk.”
They stopped watching TV and ran to the door – always eager to take a walk with Mom. About halfway around the block, there was a beautiful church. Janet slowed down to read the marquee, which read: “Today’s To-Do List...Thank God!” Just then, something on the ground caught her attention. She picked it up and found in her hand a folded $20. bill. She couldn’t believe it. “It’s probably ‘play’ money,” she said. But it wasn’t! Unfolding it, she saw that it was not only one $20. bill, but there were two folded together! Forty dollars! Looking up to the sky, Janet obeyed the words on the marquee. “Thank you, God!” she said. “Once again, You have shown me Your loving mercy!”
As years passed, Janet and her children often reminisced about the walk that led them to a much-needed $40 right in front of God’s house. But even closer to their hearts was the memory of one cold, dark January morning when God provided frozen fish sticks and corn on the cob for their breakfast.
They would never forget it!

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro and can be reached at

Sunday, April 12, 2015

When Adversity Comes: Why Me?

April 12, 2015
Page 7 E
When Adversity Comes: Why Me?
By Peggy Toney Horton
     Sometimes I find that shortly after I have read or studied a particular subject, I am presented with an opportunity to use my newfound knowledge to help someone. Though this has happened many times, it surprises me each time it occurs. I am awestruck by God’s perfect timing and have no doubt that He is in control.
     Recently, a friend who had just lost her mother, was separated from her husband, and is faced with serious health problems herself, told me that she had been taught that God would not put more on her than she could bear. She is convinced, however, that He has done exactly that. Her question: “Why me?”
     I deemed this an “Aha!” moment because, only the day before, I had delved into a study about why God allows adversity, and was able to share with my friend some of what I had learned:
     When adversity comes, we are forced to face problems and pressures that are too big for us to resolve. In this way, God gets our attention. If life is good, we tend to ignore Him. Becoming self-satisfied, we incorrectly assume that if nothing is wrong, everything is right. However, God wants a relationship with His children, just as we long for a close tie with ours, so when we are so involved with earthly pleasures that we don’t have time for Him, He sometimes uses adversity to bring us around.
      Faced with new difficulties, we can’t continue to pursue our goals, tasks, and relationships in the usual manner. We have to stop and evaluate our situation, ask God for wisdom, obey His Word, and trust Him to bring the help we need. Troubles point out our weaknesses and prompt us to rely on God in ways that we wouldn’t unless we had significant needs.
     C. S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Problem of Pain, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
     Think about what God did to Saul, who later became the apostle Paul. As he was traveling to Damascus to arrest believers, God struck him down with blinding light. Thinking his blindness was permanent, Saul was now ready to listen to God. Realizing that Christ was the Messiah, he immediately began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God (Acts 9:20).
     Such is the influence of adversity. When we are preoccupied with our own interests and desires, we cannot see the need for His involvement in our lives, but things change quickly when trouble strikes. Challenging times have been known to bring even the most stubborn of us to our knees.
     If God has allowed adversity to befall you, He may be trying to get your undivided attention. He wants you to trust Him. He wants you to talk to Him. He desires a relationship with you. Seeing all things, perhaps He knows you are about to make a bad decision and wants to help you avoid it. Whatever your circumstances, rest assured that God has a purpose for everything He does. He may even have something exciting in store for you.
     The good news is, although He sometimes allows us to have difficulties, God responds to the cry of His children when they suffer. “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17).
     Surprisingly, my friend listened to my little sermon with genuine interest. When I had finished, she wiped tears from her eyes and said, “Well, He certainly has my attention!”
     Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro and can be reached at

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Joy Within Us

March 8, 2015
Page 5E
The Joy Within Us
By Peggy Toney Horton 

   At this time of year, when days are short and often dreary, it can be difficult to feel joyful. It’s quite possible that winter’s darkness triggers not-so-happy memories of the past in some who are already sick, lonely, or depressed causing them to give up, thus the reports that more deaths occur in January than any other month of the year.
   And fewer during the holidays!
This would indicate that elderly, depressed and lonely people “hold on” for “joyful times,” like Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. But when the holidays are over and they see no more enjoyment in sight, they “let go” during the darkest days of January.
   How sad!
   Joy is our natural state of being. When we experience it, all else falls away, all worries, all doubts. We are one with the Creator! When we are expressing joy, we feel intimately connected to God.
   Many activities connect us to the joyfulness that is deep within us. Being enveloped by the silence of a snowfall may fill us with quiet elation. It is a great gift to witness a sunset, hold the hand of a loved one, behold the innocent face of a newborn child and then to express heartfelt gratitude for that moment, that person, or that inspiration.
   Lighting a candle, saying a prayer and blessing a meal can all be sources of happiness. True and lasting joy comes from within—from God, the Source of every joy.
   When we receive good news or hear from a dear friend or a child calls our name, we immediately feel a sense of satisfaction. When we watch a funny movie, hear a good joke or recall a humorous event, we respond with laughter.
   Yet it is when our hearts are touched by a revelation of God’s presence that our joy is complete. The joy of God is our strength, a bliss that cannot be disturbed by outer circumstances, for it is an intricate part of the nature of God.
   We do not create our own happiness; there is a reservoir of sacred contentment instilled within our souls by our Creator. It’s up to us to express our inner joyfulness. As we do this, it moves through us as waves of enthusiasm that flow into our thoughts, conversations and actions. The more joy we express, the more gladness of Spirit rushes in to fill this reservoir and then spills over into our lives.
   Joy is within us no matter what circumstances life may bring. Knowing that conditions can change in an instant, we find happiness in knowing that life is eternal. We also derive pleasure from times in silence, during which we may realize our oneness with God. This is when we discover joy in the beauty God has created around us: the rain’s gentle patter, the sun’s warmth and light, a flower’s sweet perfume and a child’s uninhibited laughter.
   Joy is only a thought away. When we are feeling sadness, fear or anxiety, let us remember that the choice is ours to keep our mind and heart attuned to the Holy Spirit – for every thought, word and action is an expression of the Spirit within.
   True joy is deeper than any sorrow and stronger than any disappointment. We trust this power within to help us overcome sorrow, anger or grief—to remind us continuously that life is good.
   When we awaken each day to an awareness of God, we awaken to joy!
    Peggy Toney Horton can be reached at