the great prune escapade

The other day, my grandparents, both in their 80s,  went to the grocery store in their small town.

Nanie waited in their stylish red minivan while Papa went in to the store. “Now remember,” Nanie said, as Papa climbed out of their minivan, “Get some prunes. Be sure to get the ones that are individually wrapped and taste like candy.”

My grandparents have always been extra conscious of eating healthy foods that promote healthy bowels. Their motto is “in one’s golden years, it’s critical to have a b.m. (bowel movement) in the p.m.!”

Papa went into the little grocery store. I can just see him in his Carhart Jeans, his favorite red flannel, his very used cowboy hat, and his wallet he carries on a chain like they do in those old movies. Because of his streamlined physique, the chain on the wallet nearly drags to the ground.

Upon seeing a boxboy, Papa asked, “Do you have any prunes?”

“Yes, I’ll show you,” the boxboy said, leading Papa down the aisle with the boxed prunes.

Papa grabbed a box of prunes off the shelf. Then, taking his cute little wrinkled self through the store, he exited through the automatic door. He didn’t even pause to stop at the check stand, but walked into the parking lot and to Nanie, who was waiting in the minivan.

Meanwhile, the boxboy was in a quandary. He had followed Papa, apparently alarmed that Papa would exit the store without paying for the prunes, but unable to figure out a way to gently apprehend an adorable and innocent-looking elderly gentleman with twinkling blue eyes.

Papa walked up to the window of the passenger side of the minivan and asked Nanie to roll down the window.

Still figuring out how to use modern technology, Nanie instead opened her door.

“Are these the prunes you want?” Papa asked.

“Yes, Johnny, those are perfect.” Nanie smiled her precious Swedish smile at the thought that Papa had correctly chosen the individually wrapped prunes that tasted like candy. She was so proud of him.

“All right, then,” Papa said.

“Johnny?” asked Nanie. “Why is that boxboy across the parking lot looking at you with suspicion?”

“I have no idea,” said Papa, because he truly had no idea. “Maybe because he’s the one who helped me find the prunes.” After a pause, he added, “I’ll be right back, Ruthie.”

Papa walked back into the store, past the boxboy (without even so much as a glance), and went to the nearest check stand. Taking out some money from his wallet on a chain, he paid for the prunes. Then, walking again past the perplexed boxboy (without even so much as a glance), Papa returned to the minivan.

I love stories like these. How precious Papa is! The funniest thing of all is that Papa is a former police officer with the San Diego Police Department. He apprehended dangerous criminals on a daily basis, some who were caught stealing things much more valuable than prunes.

But Papa had no intention of taking something without paying – he’s honest to a fault and has never broken any laws in his entire life. He only wanted to ask his wife of nearly 60 years if the prunes he picked were the correct ones. He was a man on a mission to get his beloved wife her favorite healthy treat.

After all, he’d probably purchased the wrong brand in the past and after so many years of marriage, he had become a very wise man. He had learned his motto the hard way: ask first, then purchase.

Papa has since gone home to be with the Lord. Such memories as the one above truly have more meaning when someone you love is no longer here. While I am sad that he is gone, I know that someday I will see him again.

I encourage you to take a minute to appreciate the grandparents in your life. They are truly treasures, irreplaceable and precious gifts from God.

Before you go, check out these other posts:

for writers: tips, advice, and encouragement

forming your own Sisters in Christ group

mom-approved movie listing

the best county fair entry ever

lessons from the garden

the importance of avoiding false teaching

28 verses for uncertain times

Real-life Funnies

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
And now we interrupt this blog for some real-life funnies!

1. A case of mistaken identity.

The other day my daughters and I were at the local YMCA where we spend most of our time. I’m seriously thinking of just moving in with sleeping bags and suitcases since it already feels as though we live there due to my girls’ nonstop athletic activities.

The day was long and we’d just finished with practice. As we walked through the crowded hallway, I saw a man I knew from church. “Hi J.R.!” I exclaimed. “How are you?”

He smiled and nodded. “Fine. And you?”

“Doing good,” I answered.

It wasn’t until we arrived home and I was cooking dinner that I realized something very disturbing about the acquaintance from church named J.R. I had called him the wrong name! His name wasn’t J.R. It was Nathan!

2.  Nicknames for classmates who are boys.

The other day my oldest announced to me that our youngest was in trouble for calling the boys in her class at school names. “Doodle,” I asked our youngest, “What were calling the boys at school?”

I braced myself for the worst.

“Mom, they were swinging on the swings at school,” Doodle answered, trying to avoid the question.

“That’s fine, but what were you calling them?” I asked.

“Chihuahuas,” she muttered.

“Mom, the boys got mad at her,” announced tattletale Sunshine. “They don’t like being called Chihuahuas.”

I spent the next several minutes explaining to Doodle why no one wants to be called a dog…

No matter how cute they are, no one wants to be called a dog.

3. Back for seconds…and thirds…and fourths…

Those of you who follow my blog know that my grandpa, Papa, passed away in December, 2009, and I love sharing memories of him. During one of our visits with my grandparents, Lon took Papa out for lunch at the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Golden Corral. Lon laughed as he recounted to me later the story of how Papa, who was on a restricted diet due to heart disease, took full advantage of the lunch – a lunch without my grandma there to keep an eye on him.

For starters, Papa put a small  baked potato and a piece of meatloaf on his plate. “It’s good to be healthy,” Papa told Lon.

Would Papa’s secret be safe with Lon?

After Papa quickly finished the baked potato and meatloaf, he went for seconds. Lon figured he’d come back with more “healthy”‘ foods…maybe some green beans, salad, or steak.

Not so. Papa had loaded his plate with several slices of chocolate pie. He then returned to the buffet line for chocolate cake…not once, not twice, but several times more. “Now, this is just between us,” said Papa in between bites of chocolate cake. “Don’t tell Nanie [my grandma] about how I’m having a few pieces of cake.”

Lon nodded. Yes, some things were left best between a man and his grandpa.

4. Kids say the funniest things…

I love the things that come out of the mouths of babes. Sunshine and Doodle were playing with their toy horses the other day. Eavesdropping, I heard Sunshine say, “Now, Doodle, you pretend that you are nine-years-old and middle-aged.” My eyes popped out of my head. Since when was nine-years-old middle aged…and more importantly…as one in my 30s, what did that make me? An antique? A fossil?

I’d love to hear some of your real-life funnies! As Proverbs 15:13 tells us,  “a happy heart makes the face cheerful….”

Be sure to check out my other recent humor post about some hilarious names parents name their children in What’s in a Name…

hidden treasures

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

I just love my grandma. Nanie is a tiny 82-year-old Swedish gal with a fiery spunk and a kind heart. Not long ago, we were talking on the phone (she lives 650 miles away) and she was telling me about how difficult it was to go through all of my grandpa’s things after he died. “But,” she announced, “I have discovered some interesting things.”

“Oh really?” I asked. “Do tell.”

“I discovered he has a stash.” 399242_change_1

“A stash?” I was afraid of what she might say next. You see, my grandpa, or Papa, as we fondly referred to him, was a “collector.”

“Yep. As I was going through his things, I found several places of wadded up dollar bills he had been saving,” said Nanie. “He was always making sure I would be taken care of after he was gone.”

I choked up a bit at her statement. You see, my grandparents have never had much money. For Nanie to have found a few wadded up dollar bills placed strategically among Papa’s belongings had been a real treasure.

I even found a note from your aunt and uncle that said ‘Take Nanie out for dinner sometime,’ with a $20 bill,” Nanie continued.

I wondered if Papa was saving that special $20 bill for just the right time to take his sweet bride of over 50 years to lunch at the local diner. Money was hard to come by for my grandparents. Papa had been a vet in several wars and had been disabled and nearly been killed by a drunk driver while working as a police officer in


In total, Nanie’s found treasure didn’t amount to much (not even enough for Nanie to fill her car up with gas), but the fact that her husband, whom she had devoted her life to, had saved up for a rainy day in between the folds of his work pants and winter coats, meant a lot to her.

Sometimes it’s the small things that we do for others, or that they do for us, that mean so much. It’s not the big glamorous things that remind us of one’s love for us.

Awhile ago when I was sick with the flu, my youngest daughter made me a princess crown out of orange construction paper. She had cut out a pink heart and taped it with an entire roll of Scotch tape to the front and had written the words “I love you Mom” on the side. Then she made a matching green bracelet out of construction paper to go with it.

Could my heart be any more touched by her love and thoughtfulness?

It’s the few dollars a late husband leaves lovingly stashed to make sure his bride is cared for after his death; it’s the homemade princess crown and matching bracelet from a little girl to her mom; it’s the prayer someone prays for someone in need at just the right time that means so much.

These things are truly hidden treasures.