Sunday, August 30, 2015

Visiting Great Uncle Tom while Betty Takes a Ride in the Green Truck

Growing up we had chickens, a pig, and a cow.  The last cow we had was named Betty.  I had not started school and was the last one at home.  Betty spent her days staked out in our pasture and she had a place to stay at night in the barn where she had a  built in manger in the corner of the room..  Every year she would have a calf that had its own little stall in the back of the barn.  Daddy would take Betty out by the barn to milk her in the evenings. I loitered around to watch and probably just to be with Daddy.  He would sit on the milk stool and sometimes  she would swish her tail in his face and some times she would  knock the bucket of milk over.  His "cuss" word was jack leg it.  I loved Betty.  I loved her big brown eyes and her soft brown coat.  I don't think Daddy felt the same way.  I loved all of our farm animals, even the pig.  That is the way of little girls.

Mama was on a mission though to rid our lives of farm animals.  They ruled what we could do, especially cows.  They had to be milked twice a day and it limited the things we could do as a family.  Mama finally had the ammunition that she wanted.  Studies came out saying that raw milk could be dangerous for children.  It was much more sanitary and scientific to get your milk from the local dairy.  It needed to be pasteurized. Daddy saw no need to do this, besides he would have to give his hard earned cash to the milk man.  He pinched pennies and dimes and nickels squeaked if he had to spend them.  He had his own cash cow that ate the grass, gave him milk and a freezer of beef if he bred her.  So crazy that we have come full circle now where people are looking for raw milk because of the health benefits.  Betty developed some kind of issue with her milk sac and Mama won the day.

They made the decision to sell Betty.  Of course they never consulted me in this matter and they wanted to protect me from having to see Betty leave our little farm.  Daddy took me on a little day trip so this little secretive deed could be done without my knowledge.  He loaded me in our 1959 Black Chevrolet V8 winged Sport Coupe that smoked, coughed and spurted down the road.  He took me that  bright clear  morning to the  Unity community where most of his extended family lived.  Unity had a small white clapboard church that was built by my relatives. Daddy had double cousins as a result of several Davis children finding their spouses from the same family of Rodgers. One of my distant cousins looked like Loretta Lynn and another cousin owned a pet spider monkey. One never knew what to expect when Daddy decided it was time to go back to Unity.  This particular day Daddy went to great uncle Tom's who lived alone in his sparsely furnished two story white farm house.  He was a white haired lanky old man probably in his eighties by this time.  We sat at the kitchen table and Daddy visited with Uncle Tom until I guess he figured that enough time had past for the dastardly deed to be accomplished.  Uncle Tom gave me a little bag of candy as a treat and I probably sank into the back seat and slept most of the way home.  We arrived back at the house in the afternoon to see a huge faded green truck backed in the driveway.

Mama and Daddy's little trick had not worked.  The truck had come later than they anticipated.  This was not the days of cell phones or of calling anyone long distance.  It had to be a real emergency to do something of that nature.  Of course my older sisters knew the score.  They knew that Betty was going to be made into hamburger and they didn't mind telling me the facts.  I was heartbroken and for a long time refused to eat hamburger for fear that it was Betty.

My parents were trying to protect me and really parents are not obligated to spill the beans about everything to their children. Either way I was going to notice that the cow was missing. They were just trying to soften the blow.  But it does make me think that nothing is really hidden.  The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.  

Since the fall of mankind we all have gone into "hide your sins mode.'  Adam and Eve tried to cover with a few fig leaves. We cover with our carefully built reputations and degrees, we fake at work that we are adequate for the task, we pretend that we are successful by living in the nicest neighborhood and driving the most expensive car that we can afford, and sometimes we just outright lie.  Lying is a national epidemic and past time.  Politicians caught just shrug their shoulders or say what the particular audience at the moment wants to hear.

 The Ashley Madison list of cheating spouses has been in the news exposing those who wanted the excitement of infidelity.  Some of them have come clean and admitted their guilt and some are still in denial.

 But we all live in full view of  One.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  He sees every single thing and He knows all of the motives of our hearts.  We do not have the ability to create a facade when we are dealing with God.

Even though He knows us through and through and He sees nothing truly lovely in any of us, He still chooses to value and love us.  His love is so high that He provided a way for our sin to be permanently covered,  It is through the precious blood of His One and Only Son Jesus.  Truth be told, none of us are adequate. The other side is that it is really okay.  The salvation package includes sanctification, where we are being formed into the original design that was to be ours  apart from being part of fallen humanity.  I have been hiding my entire life since my first memory of lying to my friend at four years of age that I had a kitchen play set in the attic. I can tell you that I have moments now of being a genuine above board real non fake person and friends there is absolutely no condemnation, guilt or fear in those times. It is the only time that I am free.  I want my life to be more and more that way, where I walk not in darkness of deceit, but in the light of the One who is Light.
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tractors and Designated Drivers

Daddy owned a 1938 Allis Chalmers tractor.  He used it every year cultivating with the disc, harrowing, and plowing to get the ground ready to plant.  Later on he would cultivate between the rows to knock down the weeds and then later on in the season he would use it it to plow up the potato crop.

  The tractor had a crank in the front instead of an electric starter.  It was the classic Allis Chalmers orange that had faded over the years into a rust October decoration color.  The springs in the seat were about all that was left from the original.  It had a clutch and a gear shift and went all of about 5 miles per hour in speed.
 I have no recollection the first time I climbed up the big back tractor tires to sit  with Daddy as he rode the tractor to the field.  The tractor was housed in a section of an old car shed that was behind the house.  Daddy would have to work every time  to get her cranked.  He often would drive it down to the barn  to attach whatever equipment he needed.  Every spring he plowed up the field and then he used the cultivators and harrow to make the soil even and smooth for planting.  He would then attach small furrow point plows that made the rows.  The tractor was just a part of our life.  We never considered that most people didn't own a tractor or that it was huge benefit to us as a family.

The tractor was also the first vehicle any of us learned to drive.  As soon as we were tall enough to reach the clutch, we drove the tractor.  I think I might have been around eight the first time I got to drive it.  Gail had already been driving it for a couple of years and we would climb up on  the shabby seat, sitting side by side and take a little spin around the property.  We never knew that it was crazy or unsafe for a five year old and a eight year old to drive a tractor.  Honestly it was not really a big deal. We were always pretty responsible about where we took the tractor.  Daddy was not nervously watching us either.  He had work to do.  Almost anytime Daddy brought the tractor up from the field, we would usually take it for a little joy riding.

We graduated from the tractor to the car. The car keys hung on a nail by the back door. We never asked permission and no one ever cared.  We would back the car out of the garage and drive it to the end of the driveway and then back it all the way back to the house.  We did this until we got bored.  We never ran over a sibling, a dog or a cat.  We never hit a tree or ran into the house.

Finally, it was time for driver's education.  By this time we had been driving around 7 or 8 years in the yard. Back in the dark ages when I was in school, driver's ed was paid for through our local school district. For some reason they thought having trained drivers was important.  Mr. Strikeleather, the driver's ed teacher who had a full time job in the district, showed us films of wrecks during class time and then when our designated days came, he loaded three of us into the driver's ed car.  He had nerves of steel or he drank. He did have a beer belly and graying hair.  He took us all over the county in a variety of situations and I am sure he used his extra set of brakes more than once when I was at the wheel.

From then on we could get our driver's permit.  As soon as one of us got that little beauty we became the "designated driver".  Daddy crawled into the back seat with his powder blue polyester leisure suit and promptly entered into passenger mode.  He never said much of anything while we were driving and really seemed to be almost comatose. That sister drove the family everywhere until the next one cued up with their driver's permit.

Daddy hardly ever drove from the time Linda got her permit until I, being the youngest, went off to college.  If we took family trips, there was a sixteen year old at the wheel speeding down the interstate while the rest of us dug into the fried chicken and deviled eggs that always accompanied us on any trip longer than a couple of hours.

We never had to ask to drive any of the family cars.  There was usually two or three of them in the yard.  We drove to school or if we got an after school job, then we were free to take one of the cars.

Daddy either was the most laid back human on the planet or he had enormous confidence in his children.  I think that it might have been a combination of both and the fact that he really had no huge desire to drive.  Once he picked Linda up from college and was driving on Interstate 40 heading home.  It was probably one of those times when Linda had lost her license from too many speeding tickets.  Daddy got slower and slower until he was barely doing twenty. Finally, Linda asked him if he was okay.  He said, "Oh, I forgot I was driving."

I look back now and I am almost mystified as to the amount of  freedom that we were given with the tractor and the cars.  In the time in which we now live no one would  allow an eight year old to freewheel around the yard and property on a 1938  tractor, unless they wished to be visited by social services.  Even the freedom to drive the car back and forth on the driveway would be considered irresponsible to some.

It was such a different time.  Now we seem so protective of our children physically, but we are so irresponsible when it comes to what we allow in their hearts and minds.  Kids know everything and have seen everything.  Their little hearts are jaded.  We live in a super saturated sexually immoral culture and it creeps into their little souls.  We dress our little girls in outfits that really aren't fit attire for anyone in public.  They have heard all of the "words" on the "family friendly" PG rated movies. They know all of the lyrics to songs about sexual perversions.  Whatever the culture spews forth, we let our kids drink.

I drove a tractor at eight and a car at ten, but we didn't have television until I was in the fifth grade and I didn't know that the radio had anything besides preaching until I was in my teens.  Church is where we went Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.  I never went to a movie theater until I was a teenager.  I didn't know that your basic kinds of sinning even existed.

Am I recommending my personal experience as a guide?  Absolutely not! I believe parents should be physically protective of their children.  We live in a crazy, dangerous world.  I just think that we are so focused on protecting our children physically that we hardly give a thought to the real everlasting part of them, their soul.  Jesus said, Do not be afraid of the one who can kill your body but of the one who can cast your body and your soul into hell.   

If as parents we don't give heed to the spiritual part of them while they are young, both their spirit and their body will be in danger as they become old enough to do things their own way. Every parent has a short window of opportunity to train, pour truth into their heart and mind, and to teach the things of God.  After that window has passed, it takes a  titanic work of grace to have an influence.  It is  possible to give a child every opportunity that the world offers and help them to be hugely successful by the world's standards. But  apart from God and His work they may be physically alive in this world, but they will still be dead spiritually.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Grandma and the Large White

My dad and my Grandma
Grandma lived with us until I was about eight or so.  She was small woman who wore cotton prints, thick hose held up by simple elastic garters, cotton slips, sensible black shoes because she had bunions and a bonnet or a red plaid scarf when she was outside.  She was born in the 1880's.  She married at eighteen and had her first child at nineteen.  For the next ten years she was an invalid.  She contracted scarlet fever and it left her bedridden. Because of her illness and the Depression era, she and Grandpa lost the family farm and ended up becoming share croppers. This caused them to have to leave the small community where both sides of the family lived.  Finally after ten long years, she recovered and had four more children.

Grandma was a devoted Christian woman with strong moral principles.  Her youngest daughter once brought home a Gone With the Wind movie ticket that she had won at school.  This was during the original showing.  Grandma ripped up that evil attempt to draw her daughter into that kind of iniquity  We would laugh now at the mildness of Gone With the Wind.  It was serious business to Grandma.  She was not going to have her girl influenced by those kinds of people. I sometimes wonder if Grandma wasn't on to something. As a culture we let "those kinds of people" tell us a lot more than we should. She lived what she believed.  She talked and walked her faith.  When I was a small child she spent time teaching me about Jesus and I believe that it was her prayers that bore the fruit of a true conversion in me.

She may have spent ten years as an invalid but she got her time back.  She even had a stroke in her seventies but went on to recover from it as well and still worked in the field hoeing beans in her eighties. She suffered from phlebitis in her legs which caused her a fair amount of pain.  In her younger years, I think she was a typical red head with a fiery nature, but by her eighties she was mellow and sweet.

She faithfully worked in the fields helping with the gardening chores and with the farm animals.  She also grew lovely daffodils, sweet william, tulips, black eyed susans, gladiolas, mums, and irises.  She hauled woods dirt in a bucket to keep her beds healthy.  She was an amazing cook and house keeper. She was also a pyromaniac. She built huge leaf fires that she tended with a rake until way after dark. She literally worked from morning until night around our place making up for all of that lost time from when she was a sick young woman.

One time our large white hog broke through the rotten boards in the pig pen.  Grandma got her stick and went after him.  That hog probably weighed twice as  much as Grandma and if he had turned on her she would not have been able to defend herself, but that was not going to deter her in the least.   That afternoon Mrs. Sutton, the lady across the road was having a tea with the ladies from St. John's Lutheran Church. The women  arrived one at a time driving there 1960's  Corvairs, Studebaker Wagons, and  Dodge Darts to see my Grandma in her sensible black shoes and gingham dress and bonnet driving her Large White down the road, calling Suey in her high pitched old woman's voice.  I am sure that this is not the sight that they expected to see.

Grandma never had a permanent home on this earth after the loss of their farm.  They moved a number of times living in Troutman, Mooresville, China Grove, Dunn's Mountain and other little areas where they could sharecrop.  In her last years she lived with us and then with her oldest daughter who was a widow by this time.  In her late 80's she broke her hip and went to a nursing home for therapy.  She even made a remarkable recovery from this and went back to live with my aunt.  Grandma had a strong disposition.  Death had to literally dry her up before she relinquished her life over.  She was close to 95 when she passed away in the spring of 1982.

That little woman was quite tenacious and seemingly unaffected by what people may have thought about her, from unwillingness to let the school tell her how to raise her daughter to chasing dangerous hogs down a public street. She was certainly tenacious when it came to disease, trauma, accidents and even death itself.

We live in the entitlement generation where everyone has a custom made whine and a complaint.  I am so sick of hearing about special rights and privileges.  Grandma's life was not "fair".  The truth is, we all get a raw deal about many things. But what we all are really entitled to is hell.  Sorry if that offends you, but the scripture plainly teaches this.  Anything that we get that is above hell, is an upgrade.  She didn't let the present circumstance prevent her from having a future circumstance.  I think it would be easy to let a ten year illness color the rest of your life.  It didn't. In fact, nothing really seemed to color her perspective. She honestly just refused to give up.

She was not unique during that era.  I want to know what happened to all the tough grandmas.  I want to know how we became the biggest whiners and complainers when we have the most wealth, ease, rights, freedoms and comforts in the entire world.

Most of us need to close our complaining lips and go drive our own metaphorical hogs back down the road.

Do all things without grumbling or complaining...

Saturday, August 22, 2015



Steel, stone, brick and wood
Concrete and asphalt
The city's bone and sinew

Jazz and string and people who sing
Fruit and flower
Spectrum of color
Short, tall, skinny and all
Beautiful smooth skinned young
Little ones in strollers
Wrinkled ones moving in deliberate cadence
Merchants and the merry 
Shoppers who are harried
The life blood of the city.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Lover

I didn't want to go to school
So my mama I tried to fool

I wanted to read my book
I gave a shudder and I shook

She put her hand upon my head
Normal is what the temperature read

She gave me a glass of juice to sip
A smile began to form upon my lip

"Not enough time to make it to the bus
I guess for the day it will be just us"

I got my book  from under the cover
Oh the wicked deception of a book lover!

I often told my mama that I was sick because I really did want to stay home and read my books.  The joke is really on me because I have spent the vast majority of my life either being a student, a teacher in a public school, a home educating teacher, and now I work in a private school.  I can only remember several years of my adult life, where my year was not ruled by the "school calendar".

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


 Yellow has to be the happiest color of them all.
 Sunshine on walls.
 Stellar rays to brighten the day

The old yellow truck
 still brings me a smile
The old man too
He has made me a lover 
of his favorite color

Home Forever

Our dad's house is in the process of being sold this week. The last of the clutter and furniture needed to be moved out. Most of the work has been done on odd days when we could all meet to work through the incredible amount of stuff that had been packed away.  His little house had an assortment of furniture.  An eclectic mix of things that my parents bought in the fifties and things from my grandma who lived with us.  His house has stood empty without heat or ac for the last seven years.  The elements have not been nice to the already weathered furniture.  My sisters went to his house Saturday.  They boxed and cleaned what they could.  My sister's son and a working acquaintance helped them move most of the remaining furniture into the front room.

My husband and I drove up on Sunday and got there just before dark.  I brought the wrong house keys and my husband had to break into the bathroom window.  Don't we all have a place of weakness in our homes that we are afraid to fix for fear that one day we might have to break in?  He shinnied up the back wall and dropped into the bathtub.  I used to be one they hoisted up to do that little stunt.  My days of shinnying up anything are mostly gone.  Praises for a man who has kept his lithe  physique. 

In a comedy of errors one of the sets of keys that I brought slipped through the decking on the front porch to the dark abyss inside the bricked underpinning.  We set on the front porch as we waited for my sister to bring us a new key so that we could lock the deadbolts without having to exit through the bathroom. After she left, we went inside to get our bearings.  By now it was good and dark.  The electricity and the water are turned off.  We found a cozy spot on the kitchen floor, threw down our sleeping mats and summer sleeping bags.  We opened the kitchen windows and settled in for an uncomfortable night's sleep.  My husband seemed to snore happily all night long.  I on the other hand tossed and turned fighting with my sleeping mat and my bag.  The house is rather close to the road and jacked up cars raced up and down the country road way into the night.  I heard a distant siren that started the dogs in the neighborhood singing the "howl much louder and shriller" than you chorus.  Several times I could hear a train whistling and sound of the cars on the tracks.  The cicadas and crickets keep up their own form of humming background noise.  

I slept fitfully and finally around six I woke up for the day.  It was  dark in the house and pretty still.  The house has thousands of memories and it feels pretty much like it did when I was a child.  I went out the back door to be greeted by glorious volunteer rose of sharon bushes mixed in with all of the undergrowth that is seeking to reclaim the property from the meddling of humans.

We went to Biscuitville for breakfast, which was located close to the Penske truck rental.  We picked up the truck and my husband turned into a whirling dervish as we had a long day ahead of us.  We had a couple of issues with the furniture itself.  All of it is old and some of it was already dropping parts before we could get it on the truck.  My parents bought their house in the fifties and worked hard to take care of us, but I can tell you that everything in that house was in the process of corroding away. Petty thieves had broken in a couple of times but the mice had been the greater destroyer.  Weeds, trees, vines dust, mold, wasps, the weather, and rodents have all been busily at work since my dad went into assisted living. He did not want to sell his house, so we respected the wishes of a very old man. .Everyone needs to see what we have seen in our parents home.  It is an eyewitness account that things are to be used not treasured or worshiped.  If you are striving hard to just have more stuff, then stop it.  Strive to take care of yourself and your family.  Other than that, it is an exercise in futility and vanity.  

 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  

I shot a a few pictures of the empty rooms and I looked around one last time.  Time doesn't stand still while you revel, mourn or cry in your melancholy.  My husband was in the truck, ready to pull out.  No time for long goodbyes!  

 That house has been a part of my life for almost 54 years.  It is the most consistent place for me ever. There has been a lot of living, dying, laughing and crying in that little house.   This was a big deal to me go home for the last time.  In my mind, now I really know my parents are gone.  I am the adult now and I am a part of the next generation to do the dying.  

 The important things don't happen with music playing in the background and the scene fading away.  Most of it happens when you are uncomfortable, pushed for time with your back against the wall and not having had enough sleep. In this life the important moments are going to always be framed by the realities of our broken world. 
But one day there will not be any last goodbyes or joys that are mingled with the tears of sorrow and the earth won't try to swallow your labors because you grew too old to keep up the battle.  

It has been a process of letting the house go for the last couple of years.  Yesterday was hard, but it was also freeing.  I have to tell you though,  I've got my eye on a new place and from my understanding, no one or nothing is going to be able to snatch it away. 

Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,
and He will live with them.They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sorrow of the Heart

The year was 1981 and I was just shy of being 20 years old. I was headstrong and waffling in my choices.  I graduated from a junior college in the spring  and was trying to figure out life and where I was going to transfer and finish out my degree.

 My sister Wanda had found out she had skin cancer the summer before.  She went to Duke in the fall of 1980 and had experimental treatments. The summer of 1981,  my sister Wanda went to my oldest sister's house to help her. Linda had broken her wrist and her second child was less than a year old.  While she was there, she was having health issues to the point that my dad had to get on a bus and go drive Wanda and her car back home.  She went to my dad's doctor and got no relief.  Finally, the diagnosis was made.  Her melanoma skin cancer had turned into lung cancer.  By now it was the middle of August.  She received chemo at Duke,  but the doctors gave her no hope.  She died two weeks after the diagnosis was made.

Wanda was girl number two in the family. She entered on the heels of her older sister.  Both Linda and Wanda were red heads and for the first few years they were the adorable red headed duo, until tow headed Gail broke up the rhythm. Linda and Wanda were opposites, except when it came to bullheadedness.  Actually, all of the sisters got a big dose of that.

Linda made the straight A's and excelled academically.  Wanda struggled with her grades but was a feminist, a good writer, political cartoonist and a Tarheel basketball fan. Dean Smith was her favorite coach, George Karl her favorite player.  She would sit in the car with the radio on if that was the only way to hear the game.  She was a completely devoted fan who screamed and occasionally cursed during a game.  She cut out clippings from the sports page and filled a scrap book about her beloved Tarheels and their exploits.

She graduated from the same junior college that I would attend later on.  When she was twenty, she did something so astonishing to me.  She went to New York City to attend NYU.  She was a country girl who had never ever traveled much out of NC.  She made arrangements and she was off on a plane to the Big Apple. When she came home she had tales to tell of crazy cab drivers and Central park, of living with Orthodox Jews who couldn't turn on the light switch during Sabbath, subways, trains, city buses and of a completely different world than I had known.

 She worked at the NYU library and encountered many men from a variety of cultures who denigrated women.  That made her hot.  People from other cultures may think of Southern women as being soft spoken and kind of mealy mouthed.  There was never a more untrue characterization.  Most Southern women with which I been acquainted,  know their own mind and are very willing to speak it.  Our mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and aunts seldom  kept an opinion private.  The men in our family weren't push overs, they just treated women as their equals.  Wanda was appalled at the big city attitude that she experienced toward women.  I think she thought that the city would be more feminist minded than the good ole South.

Wanda had thick auburn hair and a very fair creamy white skin.  She sunburned easily and used Noxema religiously on her skin.  She was just a few credits shy of having a degree in special needs degree in education.  She came home from NY and eventually went to work at the NC school of the deaf.  It was during that time that she found out the cancer had returned.

The raw grief of losing my sister has long passed, in its' place is a deepening sorrow that thinks about what it would be like if she were still here.  Her days on this earth were really short compared to my dad who was almost 96 when he passed away.

Who knows how many days we will have?  All of our lives pass quickly. We are vapor on this earth and we need to take stock of how we spend those days.  Are we living for pleasure?  Are we living in view of eternity?  Are we thinking about what kind of legacy that we will leave behind? 

Very few people remember my sister or would even remember much about her.  That is the way it will be for most of us.  A few will make their mark on history.  But really, who cares about history.  If I make my mark, I want it to be on the people that are mine to love.  My family and my few real friends.  I want those few people to know of my care and compassion for them and that even from the grave they feel my support and they know that I am standing at the portal to heaven cheering them and urging them on.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Dog Days Part 3 Chocolate, Little Bold One

Chocolate and Pal with our son when he was young teen.
Our neighbor that used to live across the street from us liked small dog breeds.  They had a number of different smaller dogs.  Some of their dogs roamed the neighborhood freely.  Sunshine, a white pekingese ended up being adopted by folks at the end of the street.  They took her in and had her groomed.  They thought she was a stray or lost. Another one of their little ones was Chocolate.  She was Shih Tzu mix with dark fur streaked with a little silver.  She was one of the roaming little dogs.  Up and down the street she went sticking her little paws in whatever food dish was available.

Tragedy came to the family across the street and it was just too painful for them to continue living there.  They moved and left little Chocolate.  The animal shelter was supposed to come pick her up.  I do not remember how we found out about the animal shelter, but Chocolate had already made herself at home in our yard.  She hung out with our dog Pal and they seemed as they really enjoyed each other's company.  When the man from the animal shelter arrived, he broke protocol and left without the little dog.

She was ours in some respects, but no one could really own her.  We kept her in the house sometimes, but she was always happier as a free spirit.  I know that sounds irresponsible, but there was not much we could do for her that would keep her from roaming unless we leashed her every single time we had her outside.  I am a country woman and I would not be happy on  a leash.  She wasn't either.  We did take Pal and Chocolate for walks on the leash.  Chocolate took twelve steps for every step we took.  She didn't understand the process so she did the zigzag back and forth in front of us as she walked on the leash.  She was always happy to go no matter where we headed.  Her little head was up and so was her short little tail.

Chocolate had quirks like all animals that we have had.  She chewed on rocks.  She was like a chicken and seemed to need a wee gravel stone in her mouth.  She would go out to the drive and find a little rock that she would keep indefinitely.  Another quirk was her love of water.  If it rained two tablespoons she could search it out and come back in the house soaked.  At times Pal and Chocolate had their digs outside even in the winter.  They each had a snug house that was packed with straw and then their houses went in a shelter that was also packed with straw.  It could be extremely cold and they would come out in the morning steamy warm.  But sometimes Chocolate didn't want to be warm so she would sleep in the cold and have icicles hanging from her frosty little ears.

Chocolate did not know how to play.  When we got her she was older, we never knew how old and she had never learned to play the games humans play with dogs.  Pal our other dog had a small stuffed cow that he loved for us to throw.  He instantly turned into a playful pup whenever we played "cow keep away" with him.  We tried to give chew toys to Chocolate or get her to chase a ball.  If you threw a ball to her most of the time it would hit her in the head and she would walk away with a look of uninterested disgust.

Chocolate was trapped in a small body but she thought she was a Great Pyrenees.  There was no dog of any size that she was willing to back down from.  Large dogs would come in our yard and Chocolate went at them like she was Teddy Roosevelt on San Juan Hill.  In her little mind, I think she was saying, "Charge!"

Pal and Chocolate would be let out in the mornings and some mornings they seemed to look at each other and say, "Let's get out of here." They would trot through the woods on an exploration.  Who knew why some days they were willing to stay home and other days the call of the wild beckoned them?

Pal went first and Chocolate was left alone.  I don't think she ever really recovered.  She still wandered the neighborhood when she had a mind to do it.  Once she rolled in some kind of thick oil and obviously had tried to lick it off.  She was totally out of her little tree after that until she got the oil out of her system.  During that episode she walked into the neighbor's cat as though their was nothing in front of her.

Chocolate was a feisty little free spirit.  Maybe we should have let the animal shelter take her. She probably would have ended up with a prissy little woman and the life as a lap dog.  I am sure she would have been better groomed and not rolled in grease or almost have her little head snapped off by big dogs that she tried to bully.  But Chocolate lived her little life to the fullest.  She wasn't afraid of anything whether it was dogs, travelling to places unknown or even the elements.

I personally do not want to be a lap dog.  I would rather live as much as I can live.  I don't mean that I am endorsing foolishness.  We are all to be responsible people and live wisely.   If you follow Jesus then abundant life is going to be part of the process.  He will take you places that you never thought you would go and call you to a courage that you never thought possible.  Many people think that living the full life means going off and doing all kinds of foolish and sinful things.  I think that is living life in the most stupid way possible.   We have an enemy of our souls and his purpose is steal and take away any possible fullness and true fulfillment. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 

The happiest people I know are the ones who seek first the kingdom of God. You might be like King David and end up hiding out with a bunch of disgruntled nobodies in the desert and then end up in a kingly position or you might be a  Corrie Ten Boom and survive a concentration camp and then go on to travel and minister to thousands of people all over the world.  The normal Christian life doesn't have just one setting. When God calls us, He calls us to the purposes for which He specifically designed each one and that is where we will find our own brand of adventure.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 True Christianity always calls us to have chutzpah and grit.  It is not the persona of pale faced clergy standing timidly in the church door.  It is people like Gladys Alyward, the parlor maid, that became a missionary in China and took orphaned children on a 100 mile trek to safety even when she herself was desperately ill. . It is the story of a shoe salesmen that years after his death, there is the still thriving Moody Bible Institute that has helped numerous people.  It is George Mueller who started many orphanages that he ran completely by faith.   It is the unknown multitude who have found what they were looking for, but found it beneath the banner of a cross. There was never a lap dog in the whole lot.

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Deitrich Bonhoffer

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live
O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
All who gather here by grace draw near and bless
Your name
Chris Tomlin "The Wonderful Cross

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Morning Dew

Red zinnia planted from seeds brighten the garden gate.
These are the thing I saw this morning walking around the yard.
I like things growing and I like to see all of the creatures including the insects.  Hope you enjoy my perspective walking in the morning dew.

Pumpkins growing in the garden turning orange from the stripey green.

Tomatillo  and buggy critters.  

 Writing spider making a web.  This is the time of year for them to  seemingly suddenly appear.  Soon they will be making an egg sac and after September most of them will be gone.
A little serendipity made from beads and a old rusted bed spring.

 Obedient plant that is really most disobedient and will take over the garden.  Beautiful lilac blooms that make hot August seem less hostile.

 Border grass blooming.  I am always surprised when I see the purple blossoms.  August must be purple month.
White crape myrtles that my neighbor gave me before she left country life to be a subdivision girl.  I always think that is a bad decision.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Just a Bag of Potatoes

My dad was one of five kids and there were six children in my mom's family.  We grew up with both sides of the family within 30 minute driving range.  They were not at our house every day but they were involved in our lives.  We had big family meals together, usually at Christmas and other special occasions.  My parents always kept in contact with their brothers and sisters and knew current details of their lives.  It was a strong support system.  I had aunts who picked me up from school, cousins who hunted on our property,  uncles and cousins who roofed our house,  family who would sit in the hospital or give blood.  As a child, there is no analysis of these kinds of things.  I had to be an adult to understand what a gift extended family had been to me.

Daddy's sister Hazel was the middle girl.  She had known trouble in her life, but the Davis' family looked trouble in the face and would just keep taking another step forward.  They weren't mighty people but quietly tenacious. Hazel's first husband passed away in his forties.  She married again some years later, but both she and her husband kept their own homes.  Thea would live at his house sometimes and sometimes he would live at Hazel's.   They were not separated or at odds with each other, that was just the way things worked best.  Hazel had a country home with family property from her first husband.   She had a tidy house and a tidy little car, a job doing some kind of sewing, her church, and her family.  She burned her own trash in the back and had a big garden.  Both characteristics of the whole family.

When Hazel was in her sixties, my dad made plans to take a trip to see my oldest sister.  Linda had three kids. After ten years of marriage, her husband had left her without any support financial or otherwise.  Though Linda lived several hours away, it didn't stop the long arms of the family.  They knew life was tough for her, but they didn't pity her, because they all had experienced their own hard times.  Hazel packed a bag for Linda and gave it to Daddy.  On top the bag was some kind of crocheted cover.  When Daddy got to Linda's he brought in the "bag".  She took the crocheted cover and underneath was a lot of potatoes.  She instructed Daddy to put the bag away in a cabinet or closet.

Several weeks later, Linda was out of money and pay day was a few days away.  She has always been independent and not prone to ask anyone for help.  Food was running low, so she thought about the potatoes. They wouldn't starve, but just potatoes might be a little monotonous especially for little kids.  She started taking potatoes out of the bag and under the potatoes there was whole big brown grocery bag packed as tight as possible with all kinds of food.  She had never handled the bag and had no clue that it was more than just a bag of potatoes.  Daddy probably just assumed that Linda knew that it was more.

God had provided for her through Aunt Hazel.  Aunt Hazel didn't know that Linda would wait to look under the potatoes at just the right time when the need was desperate  Linda had no idea how she was going to feed her kids anything else but potatoes.

So what is under your bag of potatoes?  Sometimes ordinary things that we already possess are really treasures that God has  given us to meet our needs and to satisfy us.  Sometimes we do not realize what vast riches we have in our spouse or our kids, our parents or "gasp" our jobs.  We are a society that loves to carp, whine and complain about everything.  Our culture has been spoon fed the "me" philosophy for over 30 years, and we feel so justified to focus on ourselves.  It is time to look outward.  God is good and He has done great things in our lives.  We have got to start looking under the potatoes.  We all need to dig a little deeper and have eyes to see what we really already possess.  Thankfulness and appreciation can go a long way in making us more healthy and whole as people.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 

...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.