By Judy A Knox


Excerpt from Dewdrops of Grace by Judy A. Knox

I find myself continually amazed at how God shows us His love and grace through ordinary, everyday circumstances. Little examples of his care and protection come along almost every day, but every now and then one incident will stand out, becoming a tangible touchstone to remind us that whatever we’re facing today, God already has an answer. When I come upon a difficult situation, I stir up my remembrance of times in the past where He met my need, and this strengthens my faith that He will take care of the current problem as well.

Continue reading “A PRESENT HELP”


By Judy A Knox (written in 2015)

The assignment was to write about a waitress’s Saturday night at the local bar and grill.

You never know what’s going to happen at the Rowdy Riders Bar and Grill. For instance, last night started out just like any other Saturday night, the usual crowd – a few locals and all the bikers. Out-of-town guests looking for a meal and/or a drink would usually drive right on by when they saw all the Harleys parked around the place. The bikers do get a little noisy sometimes, but for the most part they’re nice enough once you get to know them. Waitresses put up with a lot sometimes, but at least I had developed some rapport with these guys. I prefer waiting on them than some of the other people who come in.


Coming or Going — After March


by Judy A. Knox

Written in Illinois for an assignment in 2015 (my first snowbird year) called: “Springtime in Arizona”

Well, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it, and this year it fell to me: being the first “Joy of Writing” snowbird to fly the coop and migrate back to the chilly Midwest. This assignment reminded me of those “what I did last summer” compositions our teachers had us write every year when school resumed in the fall. Each of those teachers probably thought she’d come up with a new and different assignment for us, but it was what we actually came to expect.

Continue reading “Coming or Going — After March”

All things are difficult before they become easy (Fortune Cookie)

By Judy A Knox

ONE DAY in the spring of 2012 I was talking with my friend Marilyn. She played the harp and had been taking lessons for several years. She said it would be nice if the two of us could play some music together. “Maybe you should take a few lessons on your piano to refresh what you know, and then we could play our instruments together.” I told her I had never been good at playing the piano, I was not coordinated enough to get all my fingers to do different things at the same time while looking at the music.

“Well,” she said. “Maybe you should take up some other instrument where you only have to play one note at a time.”

We talked about different possibilities and ended up with the cello because I had once upon a time played the string bass in junior high. I thought it would be similar to that, making it easier to learn. I found a teacher who lived near me who enjoyed teaching adult students. She taught high school students mainly, but she said she really enjoyed her adult students. I rented a cello and went to her house for a preliminary lesson and get-acquainted session, and she agreed to take me on.

First thing I found out was that a cello bears little resemblance to a string bass. The way the notes on the strings are arranged, the finger positioning used on said strings, and the way you hold the bow were all completely different from what I had done on the bass 50 years ago. A cello is more like a large violin than it is like a small string bass. But she determined that I would be able to learn and play the cello so we scheduled the lessons.

Every part of learning this instrument was hard. You had to hold the bow just so, and move it across the strings just right, otherwise believe it or not even a cello can screech. You had to watch how you held your arms, where you put the cello between your knees, how high off the floor it was, and how to adjust the pin to hold it up there. Every part of your body was involved in one way or another and had to be doing everything just right.

After a few lessons I was pretty sure I would not be able to do this, but my teacher assured me that I was coming along very well, and that pretty soon everything would become second nature. I don’t know if that ever really happened, because I never did really truly master holding the bow. My fingers just simply would not do what they are supposed to do when holding and moving the bow. But I was able to get pretty good sound out of it, I was able to find the right notes on the strings, and I was moving along pretty well through Suzuki book #1and a book of exercises. Then came my first recital.

I had never had to play in a recital before. None of my piano teachers had ever required me to play in a recital. This was making me very nervous, although I was kind of excited because my family all wanted to come and hear me play. My daughter even brought some of her daughter’s friends along.

The day of the recital came, and I was understandably nervous. I had practiced and practiced and practiced this song, called The Hunter’s Song. I got about one line into the song, when I realized my accompanist was going faster than I could go. I had been told she would “follow” me, and was unaware of the fact that she was hard of hearing and could not hear the cello while playing the piano. We had to stop and start over. I got through the song OK after that. However I did not sound great. All the other students, most of whom were grade school or junior high age, were playing really well on much more difficult songs. It was the most one of the most humiliating experiences I have ever had.

I was ready to quit, but did I really want to quit in defeat? No. I was going to master this. That recital was in November, and in January I came to visit my sister, who plays the violin, in Arizona for a few days. My niece, who also plays the violin, was so excited that I was coming that she had rented a cello for me to play so that the three of us could get together and do music. They had also bought song books of very simple versions of Christmas carols for playing together in a group. We spent lots of time working on these songs. Because they were very simple it was fun. I thought OK, this is for me. If I can get into a group and play where the attention isn’t all on me, I think I might really enjoy this. That spurred me on to keep going with the lessons.

By the time of the next recital, I had advanced fairly well through the first suzuki book. I chose a song that I wanted to play for the recital. My teacher did not think that was a good idea because I already knew that song, she wanted me to learn something new. I function really well when people are encouraging me and leading me forward. I am not so responsive to being pushed. But I really did try to learn this new song she wanted me to do. This recital was also very embarrassing. This time my family didn’t even bother to come because of what had happened the first time. They probably thought they were making me nervous. I’m sure that my daughter and my son wondered why in the world I was even bothering to play the cello when I had so many other things to do.

By this time I thought if I could just get good enough to play with some group it would be fun. And it was shortly after that second recital that I was invited to join the worship team at my church. The key for me to be successful in playing the cello is to stick to music that is not really hard for me. And so this worship team experience was really good because it wasn’t hard, I felt like I was making a good contribution to the sound of the group as a whole, and the attention was never on me.

In 20 15 I became a snowbird. I would get together once a week or so with Kaylynn, viola-playing friend I had met through writers group, and with my niece who played the violin, so I was getting some practice even though I was only taking lessons when I was home in Illinois. I told my teacher that I would not play in another recital. She didn’t believe me, and I almost played in a third one, but was rescued by a huge snowstorm that caused the whole thing have to be cancelled. When she rescheduled it, I said I was not going to participate.

My second snowbird year Kaylynn had found a group of people who got together just for fun to play music and I joined that. It was called Desert Darlins. We had so much fun, and the group actually got good enough that we found ourselves being invited to perform at various nursing homes, birthday parties, even at Fountain of the Sun. Eventually I advanced to a certain point where I realized that this is probably as good as I will ever get. It’s good enough for the things I want to do with it.

I will never be playing in a Symphony Orchestra, and I will absolutely never perform solo in public, but I have this thing in my life that brings me great pleasure. It was worth the effort and time that I put into it in the early stages so that I could get to a point where what I do now is easy for me. I realize I am being very lazy as a musician, but I AM 80 years old and it is simply not a priority. I realize this is a mystery to real musicians who are continually trying to improve their technique and increase their repertoire. But that’s their problem. And Marilyn, who started all this? She moved to Oklahoma and I moved to Arizona. We never have gotten to play together,


By Judy A Knox

Alice had always been a very curious young lady. Before she ever started walking, she would crawl around on her chubby little knees, exploring her surroundings. Curiosity, they say, killed the cat; and while Alice wasn’t a cat, her parents had to keep a watchful eye on things to avoid hazards.

During her early school years, Alice’s teachers enjoyed having her in class because she was an eager learner. Even in fifth grade her interest in everything around her was an asset. Fortunately her family lived in a small, rather old-fashioned town where there wasn’t much trouble to get into, providing a safe environment for children to grow up in. Green grass, modest homes, a few businesses and churches made up most of the town.

However, there was one place that always intrigued Alice because her parents, like those of her friends, had warned her to stay away from – the woods just east of town. “I just want to go there once and see what’s there; it can’t be that terrible,” she said one day to her friend and next-door neighbor Sally. “Just once! Want to come with me?”

Knowing how determined Alice could be once she had set her mind to something, Sally didn’t try to talk her out of it. “Let me think about it, OK? Maybe I can get a group of kids together and we can all go,” she said, thinking of the old saying, safety in numbers.

No, don’t tell anyone. One of them might tell their parents or some other grown-up and they’ll spoil everything.”

Pretty soon they had their plan in place. Quite a clever scheme, actually. Right after school, they would start walking in their regular direction toward home, but slowly, so the other kids would eventually pass them. Slowly, they ambled along till everyone was well ahead of them. Then they turned, unnoticed, in the direction of the woods.

Ugh!” declared Sally, as they slogged through the mud along what was supposed to be a path, and ducked under scratchy tree branches. Violets along the side of the path offered the only break in the monotony of trees and mud, trees and mud, and the path was full of hazards – broken branches, bugs, probably snakes too although they never saw one.

What’s this?” Alice said as they suddenly came upon a big X formed of two tree branches crossing right in the middle of the path.

X marks the spot,” replied Sally, having no idea what it might mean.

Yuck! This mud is sucking me in!” cried Alice, and Sally had to use a tree branch to pull her out (fortunately having seen such a rescue once in a movie).

Zowie! You should have listened to us,” exclaimed Alice’s mother as the two girls, covered in tell-tale mud, came trudging home.


Group Writing

Friday, the end of a long, hard day at work. Shelly had just slipped into her comfy clothes, and then settled into her comfy chair and put her feet up, when doorbell rang. She made her way to the door and opened it. Walter what are you doing here her body tensed.

“Can I come in? We need to talk.”

“Why? she said. We’re done. I don’t want to talk.”

“You will when you hear what I have to say,” Walter said, pushing his way in. He smiled but his eyes were cold. Shelly hugged her soft sweatshirt around her as she stepped back.

“Look, Shelly, I need you to help me and it will help you, too. My brother died and left me an inheritance, but my other brother is contesting me for it.”

“But how can I help? I don’t understand.”.

“It’s not a normal inheritance, Shelly. This is awkward, but I’m begging you. He left me…” Walter paused as if trying to figure out exactly what to say.

“What is it, Walter? Just say it!”

Walter looked at his feet and then, red faced, looked at Shelly. It’s…” But the words wouldn’t come out. He collapsed to the floor in a heap.

“Walter, get up!” She began shaking him and he started moaning. She could smell the liquor on his breath and knew he’d stopped at the Half-Pint Lounge before coming to her home. Gradually, Walter sat up. “Finish what you’re saying, Walter.”

“Can I have a drink first?”

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”

“Please, it will help me get this out.” Shelly grudgingly poured him two fingers of Scotch and continued staring at him.

“Well, get on with it.”

“My brother left me a brothel.” Shelly stared at him, stunned. Walter was a Catholic priest.

I guess I didn’t expect that, Walter. I will have to think about this for a minute. It’s a little complicated, you’re right. You know there are good people at a brothel too. They are all worth saving. Maybe you have a new group to help. It will be a challenge, but you can do it. Maybe saying a little prayer instead of having a drink is a starting point. What do you think?”

“It will be a challenge, to be sure. But you see why I need your help.” “For sure you need help, but why me? What do you need me for?”

“Well, I will be busy dealing with lawyers and judges and such, trying to get legal possession of the business; but meanwhile, I need someone to run the brothel. I thought of you right away with your background. I figured you would know what goes on in a brothel and how to manage the girls, and the customers. You could be Miss Kitty to my Matt Dillon— just until we get this cleared up.”

Shelly stiffened. She felt her face turning hot. How dare you! I should never have come to you for counseling. I should never have confided in you. I’ve never been so insulted!”

Take it easy lady,” he said. “Calm down. It’s just a business.The girls are a little different, and they can be hard to handle sometimes.”

Shelley slapped him hard across the face. “You can take this job and shove it!” she yelled, as she pushed Walter out the door.