Friday, September 25, 2015

Playing for Keeps

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time outside playing.  My sisters and I were what would now be called "free range" children.  It was the normal way of most children at that time. Our nation still had a working conscience during those years. We rode bikes, walked to our friends houses, and spent a lot of time unsupervised in the back yard.  Ours was not really a back yard but more like the back woods.  Behind our house was a car shed on stacked brick pilings  with a dirt floor.  It housed the car and had a special back entrance on the side for the tractor. Old  Sundrop, Cheerwine, RC Cola, Grape and Orange Nehi bottles collected along the ledge of the inside wall of the car shed.  An old iron bed, and straight back wooden chairs were stored  there in the open rafters.  The earth was hard packed and oily from all of the cars that it had housed.  It had a musty but comforting smell.  On the outside was on basketball rim where we played makeshift games.  There was a smoke house beside the shed and wooded path that went to barn.  Behind the smoke house was a rusted old swing set with a couple of swings and a glider. The trees along the path were mature and provided an almost complete shade.  Hardly any grass or weeds grew in the section between the house and the barn.  The barn stood by the pasture. It had a slanted metal roof with the loft open on three sides that we accessed by climbing a homemade tree ladder  that leaned against the front wall. It was filled with old furniture, straw bales, a collection of old canning jars.

This was our playground.   We did not have an abundance of toys but we did have something far more valuable, our imagination. The woods, the car shed and the barn became anything that we wanted them to be.  Some days we were cowboys and Indians.  Other days the sticks were used to spear the leaves that in our minds were fish in a stream. We played endless games of  Red Rover and Freeze Tag.  We laid on the ground and watched the clouds and sometimes wickedly ran through the laundry on the clothesline.  We made up plays and acted them out.  But our most favorite thing was to make mud pies.  We imagined trees and branches as the boundaries for our playhouse.  We even dug up moss and made a walkway to the front door of our imaginary house.  Old concrete pipes and some kind of metal grating turned into our oven.  In old jars we collected nuts and pretended to can them like Mama canned the vegetables from the garden.  We spent hours and hours outside in our imaginary world.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways.

It was a great way to grow up, but I did grow up. I still have a pretty active imagination, but I don't stand in the trees and pretend that it is a shelter and that mud is a nourishing food.  I have a strong sense of logic where consequences and rewards are the outcome of behavior.  But it seems to me that much of our culture does not share the same kind of thought patterns.  Every day some new story comes out that seems as though it should be a urban myth, not real news. Why do we live on the edge of reality?  We seem to have embraced the idea that we can create our own reality and that there are not real physical or moral boundaries or consequences.

Never in my adult life have I known such a confused world hellbent on its on destruction.  We rebrand things and ideas and declare them to be "rights" when in reality most of it is rubbish.  We seem to not be able to distinguish between fictional works and truth. Movies, fictional books and songs give us our philosophical mantras that we repeat ad nauseam.

We live in a world where every one does what is right in their own eyes and where we applaud immaturity and irresponsibility.  There is no standard raised before us by which we measure our behavior.  How many more people have to destroy their lives before we realize that we are a most foolish culture?

We have been given a standard of truth and many of us profess it but we seem to fail to possess it.   The true standard can only be found in the careful study and understanding of the Bible.  The Bible cannot be sliced and diced.  It has to be taken as one big book with central ideas and a central story. It has to once again permeate our souls and conscience.

...until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God--a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ's full stature.

The more a culture moves away from true Christianity, the more the culture will become brutal and unreasonable.  The church in America has done an amazing job.  We have beautiful buildings, professional graphic design, tasteful decor, and a place for every age and sage to plug into a program.  It ain't working though because the true church is a living organism, not a successful marketing campaign.  We can't just share truth we have to embody it. We can't just talk about love and forgiveness, we have to embrace it.  We are to be filled with light so that when we walk into a room everything becomes clearer.  We are to be salty and bring about a preservation of lives and relationships.  This is our calling.

We have failed and the world darkens as it is spinning out of control.  In the spiritual world we play for keeps and men, women and children desperately need to come in contact with the true grace of God.

 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;  nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015



Faithfulness in the smallest of things
Choosing kindness over judgment
Serving instead of being served
Contentment with godliness
Love only exists as a verb
Seeing the big picture
Patient Enduring
Living Pure
Seeing the humor
Gracious responses
Believing God's Word
Songs of the Heart
Valuing life

What are some of things that you have discovered that are pearls?

Monday, September 7, 2015


Green Green
Viridescent paint brush of Spring
Green Green
Verdant sea of undulating paddock
Green Green
Emerald Aurora athwart the vista
Green Green
The color of all my peaceful dreams

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hard Work Changes Everything

We have a small garden and can be excited by whatever we find ripe. I have some summer squash, green beans, pumpkin and pears in my freezer from this year's endeavor, but it is not enough to sustain us until the next harvest.

 Not so with my parents.  Daddy grew most of our food and Mama preserved it.  Every year she canned probably a hundred jars of green beans and at least fifty jars of the tomatoes.  An alum bath of cucumbers set in a big covered bucket by the refrigerator.  She peeled apples to be canned or dried for pies.  The peels and cores went on the stove and became the apple jelly.  Tiny beets were made into pickles and the cabbages, peppers and onions were coarsely hand ground to become chow chow or refrigerator slaw.  Corn was cut off the ear and frozen.  From the first crops of sugar peas and ripening cherry trees, the kitchen stayed in full operation.  Often Mama would be standing in the steamy kitchen after ten in the evening  while the last of the jars bubbled on top of the stove.  In the corner of the counter by the wall she laid a thick dish towel.  The canned jars were dried and placed on the thick towel and covered by another dish towel.  The lids made a popping sound as the jar cooled and the lid sealed the summer goodness away from the bacteria.  The rings were removed from the jars to be used in the next canning batch. Every now and again one of the lids refused to seal.  That jar was set in the refrigerator to be used in the next couple of days. It was a marathon not a sprint to keep up with each successive ripening crop.

When the bounty of fall finally ended, the cabinets would be packed with jars and the huge chest freezer would be almost over flowing with all of the food. The new potatoes were kept laid out  under the house.  The dried corn in the field was pulled and taken to the roller mill to be made into chicken feed. The first frost would come and that meant the persimmons were sweet and ready to be made into pudding.

My parents made all of this look so effortless.  They had the skill sets, farm equipment and the sheer determination that we would have plenty to eat.  Daddy worked in a cotton mill and Mama was crippled from an accident that she had six months after they married.  Her injury was debilitating to her general health and often her crippled leg would have cellulitis. She spent a whole month in the hospital when I was around four.  Even with their limitations, they paid their bills and did not receive any kind of government assistance or any kind of disability.

I look back at their ability and willingness to take care of us.  Their lives were not that much different from most of the people we knew.  Some had more money, better paying job or more education, but   most were common hard working people who tried to figure out how to work their advantages and hedge their disadvantages.

They were simple people possessing the values of their day. They knew things, like the harvest wouldn't wait.  When the beans needed to be picked, the beans had to be picked.  The food had to be properly stored or all that effort to produce a crop was lost. They didn't sit around waiting for someone to take care of them.  Whatever life offered them, they had to deal with it.

We live in "mamby pamby land" where everyone has a cause and a complaint.  Protesting has taken on a new level.  Rioters and looters  seem bent on being destroyers.  We have people calling for the death of policemen.  What foolishness is that?  There are so many special interest groups claiming mistreatment..  There will always be people who claim that the world is not giving them a fair shake and then there will be the ones who are too busy climbing past their disadvantages to shake their proverbial fist at the world.  I do not know anyone who has had a perfect past or perfect advantage.  Even our so called advantages can have disadvantages.  Grandma Moses said, "Life is what you make it.  Always has been and always will be."

Intelligence can be increased through learning new things and ideas.  Physical issues can improved through nutrition and exercise.  Skill comes through hard work and practice.  Degrees come from studying and diligence. Jobs come from pounding the pavement and being willing to improve ones lot in life a stepping stone at a time.  We may not all become rich, but we can have a rich life where we can make progress and find a place of peaceful existence in this world.

Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.

If you are a skilled individual, the world doesn't care about your ethnicity, your socioeconomic status, or who your granny was.  The world wants your skill and if you are good enough that skill will help propel you forward. My parents knew that the harvest came through sheer hard work, not through advantage.  Advantage may give one the opportunity but it is not sustainable.

 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 

September Walk

This afternoon we took a little stroll and walked our dog Maggie. She was terrorized by a dog who was willing to break through his electric fence. He tried to bite her but she totally ignored him.  Another little dog tripped and fell on its' little face trying to get off the front porch to harass us. There is humor everywhere!  I love country living and that my feet can take me past little homes filled with character and fields and pastures with grazing animals.  Hope you enjoy going along on our walk today. 
 Interesting old car!
Stray gardenia blossom in September. Love the fragrance!
This house had three Confederate flags.  Since the recent crazy controversy over a war that was fought 150 years ago, there has been an increased number of flags on trucks, in yards, and on t-shirts. 
Mr. Bull gave me "the look" of disdained interest.
Miss Friendly Cow came over to the fence and I was able to scratch her head a bit. 
Butterflies are out making their way to the blossoms for nectar.
Does every pasture have an old Ford truck?
Love the Obedient Plant
This man has animals tucked in every nook and cranny around his place.
I think this may have been a hawk circling.
Another butterfly picture. This one was a little wary of me, maybe because it already had a torn wing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bowed Down

Sitting in your presence, fullness of joy
Your body broken, mine restored
Your blood spilt, my spirit healed
We remember, Lord Jesus, we remember!