Too Heavy

mountainlongings

ImageWhen Jase was three or four or so he and I made a trip to the local grocery store to buy just a few items.  As we walked in I grabbed one of those small hand held baskets.  Jase looked up at me and with a big grin and in all seriousness said, “I wanna carry it.”  Of course, being the good daddy I am, I let him.  As we walked he carried the basket with no problem.  Then I started putting things in the basket.  First a can.  No problem.  Another can.  Ok, he can handle it.  As I kept adding things to the basket it kept getting lower.  As it got lower Jase got slower.  Each time I’d add something I’d ask, “Do you want me to carry it?” 

“No,” he would say, “I got it.”

This went on until finally the basket was more or less on…

View original post 103 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Autographed Napkins

mountainlongings

When I Was A Kid my mom kept a small knick-knack-keepsake box on our living room coffee table. Its sides were about 9 inches by 9 inches and it was about 4 inches tall. It was an oak color with a decorative top. I don’t really remember what the decoration on top was. To tell the truth the box wasn’t all that attractive. I have no idea where it came from or where it is now. I do know that Mom still has it somewhere. It’s an important box. Not because it’s expensive or a valuable antique. It’s important to Mom because of what’s inside.

Inside Mom’s little coffee table keepsake box is a collection of autographed cocktail napkins. It isn’t a huge collection and I don’t remember who all signed those napkins but Mom treasures them. I believe they were all country western singers. Mom worked for a few…

View original post 132 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Too Heavy

ImageWhen Jase was three or four or so he and I made a trip to the local grocery store to buy just a few items.  As we walked in I grabbed one of those small hand held baskets.  Jase looked up at me and with a big grin and in all seriousness said, “I wanna carry it.”  Of course, being the good daddy I am, I let him.  As we walked he carried the basket with no problem.  Then I started putting things in the basket.  First a can.  No problem.  Another can.  Ok, he can handle it.  As I kept adding things to the basket it kept getting lower.  As it got lower Jase got slower.  Each time I’d add something I’d ask, “Do you want me to carry it?” 

“No,” he would say, “I got it.”

This went on until finally the basket was more or less on the floor.  Jase looked up at me and with a look of defeat said, “Daddy, will you carry it?  I can’t do it.”

“Of course I will” I replied with a smile, “I was just waiting for you to let me.”

As I said those words God spoke to me.  There were so many things I had added to my “basket” that it was getting too heavy for me to carry.  I could hear Him say, “Do you want me to carry it?”

And there, in the middle of the grocery store I looked up at my Father and said “Yes.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Full Moon

feetMy brothers and I spent much time in the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas with my Granddaddy and Grandmother when we were kids.  Granddaddy’s brand of camping was somewhere just north of primitive.  We had a popup camper trailer but no electricity or running water.  The only man made amenities at Bard Springs were in bad disrepair and unusable.  When we camped near the edge of Albert Pike, where there were usable amenities, we never used them.  I honestly don’t remember ever bathing in all the years we camped in Arkansas.

One year my youngest uncle went with us.  I know he washed his hair that week at least once.  He was one of those guys that wanted to have 80’s rock star hair so it was important that it be washed.  Bard Springs had, up on the side of the mountain, an old hand pump that was fed straight from a spring somewhere near Antarctica.  When the water came out it was just above freezing.  It was cold enough to set a teenage boy back a year in puberty when he washed his hair in it.

It’s funny how you remember certain things that seem trivial and unimportant and forget things that truly matter.  Of all the years in Arkansas I remember Granddaddy bathing one time.  We had left Grandmother at the campsite and Granddaddy, my twin brother and I had driven to a low water crossing, or carwash.  My brother and I were off chasing minnows and crawdads, skipping rocks and just being boys.  We weren’t paying much attention to Granddaddy.  He had parked pretty much in the middle of the carwash and had been standing near the back of the truck. As we were playing one of us turned around and saw it: a full moon.  Granddaddy, standing in the middle of the car wash, in the middle of the day had dropped his overalls and boxers to the ground and had begun bathing in the small stream of water going over the carwash.

We were not naïve or necessarily innocent boys but nothing in our 10 or 11 years of life experience had prepared us for the sight of our Granddaddy’s naked butt.  We quickly turned away as if we’d just seen Medusa and our lives depended on not looking and remained frozen for the remainder of his washing.

Until today my brother and I had never spoken of that horrific event.  He says he doesn’t remember it.  Lucky.

In hindsight (sorry) seeing Granddaddy’s naked backside really wasn’t that big of deal.  It reminds me that God made us each unique and beautiful in our own way.  It also reminds me that, as scripture tells me when speaking of the small, unimpressive, young, pre-king David, that God looks at our inside, our hearts, not our outside.  In a world full of star athletes with perfect bodies, glamorous movie stars and pop stars ad nauseam, I wish more people could learn and live these truths from Gods word.  That God made us and His creation is perfect.

Posted in beauty, christianity, culture, devotional, faith, family, inspiration, life, lifestyle, misc thoughts, musings, people, philosophy, random, relationships, religion, social, spirituality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Left

thMy Granddaddy’s brother and sister in law lived on the edge of a Mayberryesque town in the foot hills of the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas.  DeQueen is an unmemorable place.   There is really absolutely nothing special that makes it stand out from all the other sleepy one stoplight towns across the south.  Well, unless your great uncle and aunt lived there in a small wood frame house a block away from a creepy old cemetery.  Here, where I live, most cemeteries in town are beautiful.  They have lush well manicured lawns and are shaded by ample large oak trees.  They are very well maintained places that a person can go and feel peaceful and comfortable visiting the resting place of a loved one.  The cemetery near my aunt and uncles house was not like that.  It always seemed … dead.  The grass was dry and brown and crunched under foot.  There were many large trees scattered throughout:  Oak, pecan, sour gum and others.  It seemed they had more leaves on the ground than on their branches.  It was an older cemetery and had many grand tomb stones.  Some were large gray lifeless memorials to people no one remembered.  Perfect for some boogie monster or ax murderer to hide behind waiting for an innocent child to wander by and become their prey.  Here and there on a crooked branch high in a cottonwood or perched atop a towering monolith would be a plump, foreboding crow.  And at the least appropriate moment he would holler out a raspy, slightly off key, “Caw, caw, caw!”

On the occasions my uncles accompanied us on our annual summer treks to Arkansas, they always seemed to think it a great idea to take my brothers and me to visit that scariest of graveyards.  We would walk the block or so down a worn asphalt road lined with uncut grass and adorned with various blue and yellow wild flowers.  Then as we passed under the cemetery sign proudly arched across the entrance drive, it seemed the sky instantly clouded and the air chilled with a brisk breeze.  As we approached the back side my uncles would convince us younger and much less devious boys that this would be a great place, if not the perfect place, to play hide and seek.  After much prodding and persuading, all but one of us would hide.  “It” would sit behind a large old grave marker, close his eyes and begin counting.  Once the uncles were sure everyone was hiding and not looking, they would swiftly run back to our aunt and uncles house leaving us alone to fend for ourselves against whatever evil might be waiting.   This was one of the most frightening things in my life.

I’ve preached several funerals over the years.  The graveside service is always the hardest and most emotional part.  It’s there that we realize our loved one is really dead. We are surrounded by so many graves and markers.  Theirs right in front of us.  It seems so final… so permanent.  It’s during these moments I’m able to share the reality found in scripture that if Jesus has redeemed us, our loved one, that this, here, is not the end.  Unlike I was left in the cemetery by my uncles, we will not be left by our Father.  I share these words from 1 Corinthians 15:

We will not all fall asleep,
but we will all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye,
at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
and we will be changed.
53 For this corruptible must be clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal must be clothed
with immortality.
54 When this corruptible is clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal is clothed
with immortality,
then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
55 Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
56 Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Posted in christianity, culture, devotional, faith, family, inspiration, life, lifestyle, misc thoughts, musings, people, philosophy, random, relationships, religion, social, spirituality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ajax and Ivory

Certain aromas, smells, seem to bring memories and emotions, good and bad, rushing to our minds.  Some smells conjure thoughts that force an instant smile and sometimes a giggle.  Others may carry with it a heartache, longing or tear.  Smells are powerful things. 

There are odors that always take me back to childhood visits to my grandparent’s old frame house in Paris, TX.  There was a plethora (yes, I know what that word means) of fragrances in and around their house.  There was a well worn, musty brown rug that stretched wall to wall in the living room.  There were the distinct, pungent chewed cigar bits that scattered the driveway and various ashtrays throughout the house.  Dogs.  Cats. The swamp cooler.  Each with its unique distinguishing scent.

Yet, with such a bouquet of aromas the two that I can recollect and smell with out smelling are Ivory soap and Ajax (I seem to recall a song by Paul McCartney and Mr. Clean called Ajax and Ivory).  My grandparent’s bathroom, the only one in the house, replete with showerless claw foot bathtub, always overpowered its occupant with the crisp blending of Ajax and Ivory soap.  Even today I love those two scents whether separate or in aromatic harmony.  They bring back warm memories.

The Bible, in Revelation, tells of a bowl of incense being the prayers of God’s saints.  I can picture in my mind as the smoke from the incense wafts up to God’s face He closes His eyes and inhales the full bouquet of prayers of millions of His saints.  May it bring you peace and comfort to know God not only hears your prayers but that they are a sweet aroma to Him.

Posted in christianity, culture, devotional, faith, family, inspiration, life, lifestyle, misc thoughts, musings, people, philosophy, random, relationships, religion, social, spirituality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snuff Glasses

I don’t dip snuff or chew tobacco nor do I condone such things.  I’m not passing judgment here, whether partaking of tobacco products is morally good or bad.  I’m simply stating I don’t do it.  However, there have always been members of my family who have dipped or chewed and some even smoke.  When I was a kid I thought snuff came in a can and chewing tobacco in a pouch.  My first job was in a small Affiliated grocery store.  It was there that I learned, while stocking shelves, snuff also comes in pouches and glass containers.  I held that glass of snuff in my hand realizing I knew that glass all too well.  I spent many days of many summers at my grandparent’s house in Paris.  And on many of those days I drank milk, cool aid and water from one of those little snuff glasses.  You see, Grandmother had taken and repurposed them.  They were just the right size for the little hand of a little kid.

I like that word “repurpose”. It means to take a thing that is used for one thing or is no longer useful for its original purpose and make it useful for something else.  God does that. He takes lives that have been wasted, used up or neglected and repurposes them.  He’ll clean them, repair and mend them and make something beautiful and useful.

Posted in christianity, culture, devotional, faith, family, inspiration, life, lifestyle, misc thoughts, musings, people, philosophy, random, relationships, religion, social, spirituality, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Voice in the Night

The end block of 17th street in Paris, TX was generally a quiet place at night.  There was the occasional train rumbling by down where the street dead ended into the railroad track.  A stray cat, random raccoon or opossum would sometimes excite all the neighborhood dogs into a barking frenzy.  At certain times of year the woods across the street sang out in a cicada symphony.  Other than that it was pretty peaceful at night.

It was rare that anyone walked past my grandparent’s house on the last block of 17th street at night.  There were only about four houses past theirs.  If anyone was going past my grandparent’s they were either headed to one of those houses or they were lost. Because there were so few who walked by at night Granddaddy felt comfortable sitting on the front porch… in just his boxer shorts.  He was kind enough to keep the porch light off.

Let me describe Granddaddy for you so you’ll have an appropriate mental picture.  Granddaddy’s nick name from his army days and what most of his friends called him was “Short Barrel.”  He was short, round and mostly bald.  He always seemed to have a couple days worth of stubble and often an untrimmed moustache.  Granddaddy chewed cigars and wore horn rimmed glasses.  I hope you got the image.

Granddaddy was a very social man.  He’d talk to anyone about anything at any time.  Those few unfortunate folk who happened to wander down 17th street after sunset would often be startled by a gruff yet friendly holler from the darkness as they reached about the halfway point.  Most would slow a bit straining to see who was interrupting their trek.  Some would stop and engage the voice long enough to be polite yet wouldn’t approach the house for fear of any lengthy dialogue.  But on occasion someone would stop and listen and talk and gradually come closer to see with whom they were conversing. There on an old metal glider bench with boxers pulled to just under his breast was Granddaddy replete with chewed cigar and horned rim glasses.  Not the most welcoming sight.

In our lives we may have similar experiences; some event, person or thing that from a distant perspective seems innocent enough or maybe even somewhat attractive.  Yet the longer we’re engaged and the closer we get we begin to realize things are not what we thought.  Not as good.  Not at all.  God’s word exhorts us to use discernment and good judgment in our lives… the things we do, places we go etc.  Be careful when you hear those “voices in the dark.”  They’re not always what they seem.

Posted in christianity, culture, devotional, faith, family, inspiration, life, lifestyle, misc thoughts, musings, people, philosophy, random, relationships, religion, social, spirituality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Hen

Three things that come to mind when I think of Arkansas are Wal-Mart, Razorbacks and chickens. If you’ve ever driven through Arkansas you know that the chicken population is greater than the human population. And I mean in number. There are chicken farms or ranches down every road and around every corner.

If you have never seen a chicken farm, the chickens are raised in a fairly narrow yet rather long metal building, usually resembling a Quonset hut. Almost always there is a giant fan attached to one end of the building. I think the fan is used for defeathering the chickens.

As a kid we drove past many chicken farms on our way to our favorite camping spot on top of our favorite mountain. Usually the whole family would ride in my granddaddy’s little Datsun truck. He and Grandmother in front and all us kids in the bed. Granddaddy sometimes had a camper shell on back so the wind wouldn’t blow us out. Behind the truck would be the pop up camper trailer. One year we took the truck and the car (also a Datsun). Granddaddy of course drove the truck and my uncle drove the car. The kids, this year, rode in the car. I don’t remember ever taking two vehicles before this or after this. It must have been Providence, if for no other reason than so I can write this story.

As we travelled those scenic, winding roads through the hills of Arkansas past so many cookie cutter chicken farms my brothers and I were staring out the windows, day dreaming, half asleep, warm wind blowing in our faces, not aware of much. Without notice my uncle snapped us back to reality as he quickly stopped the car while coming out of a rather sharp curve. He leapt out of the car and began chasing a chicken that had undoubtedly escaped the farm we’d just stopped in front of. My uncle, being the accomplished poultry wrangler, wasted no time corralling the poor old hen and depositing her in the car with us, robbing her of her new found , short lived freedom.

At that point it’s not clear who wanted to be in that tiny Datsun less: the country hen or us city boys. She rode shotgun. That might have been the first time any of my brothers or I had ever voluntarily given up front seat. We made the remainder of the trip (45 minutes or so) in complete silence. We huddled together in back not taking our eyes off that hen as if we’d picked up some raptor intent on ripping the flesh off our faces and pecking out our eyes.

Once we arrived at Bard Springs my brothers and I couldn’t get out of that car fast enough. We flew out both doors putting a safe distance between us and the hen. She, however, had seemingly grown content there in the front floorboard. In reality, she was probably scared to death and thought maybe that was the safest place she could be.

My uncle extricated the frightened little chicken from the car and let her roam around as we all set up camp. He seemed sure she wouldn’t wander off. My brothers and I kept one eye on that killer the whole time, certain she was out for blood… ours.

After the popup trailer had been popped up and everything else had been placed in its place my uncle decided it was time to take care of the hen: to prepare her for dinner.

We, by brothers and I, had never seen a chicken killed. We weren’t real thrilled with seeing it now. My uncle fetched his razor sharp hatchet and went to catch the hen. However, the hen, which earlier was easy to catch, seemed to know what was coming. She ran and fought and jumped and flew to escape the man with the ax. We had such a good time watching (but not helping) my uncle chase that little hen until he was completely wore out. Finally he gave up on the hatchet and retrieved Granddaddy’s .22 caliber pistol from under the seat of the truck. The hen was one step ahead. Each campsite had a picnic table sitting on a concrete slab. She had found sanctuary under the table of the site adjacent to ours. She seemed to know he wouldn’t dare shoot the gun at her as long as she stayed on the concrete. She was right. After a while he gave up and replaced the pistol in its hiding place and we left her and went about other activities.

When she finally felt the danger was no longer eminent the little hen bolted from under the table into the underbrush of the hill that ran down to the creek. There she remained just out of reach until she disappeared never to be seen by us again.

I’m sure I’m reading a lot more into that hen and her plight to live than what’s really there. I know this beyond doubt: she had a will to live and be free. I picture in my mind that one day in a long, steamy, overcrowded Quonset hut in the midst of thousands of other chickens destined to be dinner, one little hen for some reason lifted her head. And when she did she happened to look up between the blades of the giant fan at the end of the building and she saw sky. It was so brilliant and crystal blue and clean. Completely different than all that she had ever known. As she was transfixed and couldn’t remove her gaze from the beauty she now knew, a hawk gracefully glided from one side of the opening to the other… now, for the first time her heart was free. She had purpose… she wanted to be free and to soar.

Somehow, she managed to escape that farm and my uncle’s attempts to make her a meal. She tasted freedom and life and nothing, no one would take it from her.

People often remain in spiritual bondage and death, like all those chickens in all those farms. Heads down, pecking and clucking never knowing real life and freedom. Lift your head and find that Christ has given you life!

Posted in christianity, culture, devotional, faith, family, inspiration, life, lifestyle, misc thoughts, musings, people, philosophy, random, relationships, religion, social, spirituality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rotary Phones

When I was a kid and my brothers and I would spend a couple of weeks at my grandparent’s house during the summer, sometimes mom would miss us soooo much she would call on the phone just to hear our sweet little angelic voices. Or, more than likely, she would call to make sure everyone was still alive (meaning my grandparents).  Although we had nothing to say, my brothers and I liked talking on the phone.

Things, phones, were different back then.  I can remember two telephones at my grandparent’s house: one on the dining room wall by the kitchen and one on Grandmother’s vanity in her bedroom.  These phones were both rotary.  If you’re not familiar with rotary phones, well, they have a dial on their face rather than buttons.  Also, these phones are “hard wired” to the wall.  What this means is that the cord from the phone to the wall is permanently attached.  You can’t unplug the cord from the phone or the wall.  Today’s phones have a cord that plugs into the phone and into the phone jack on the wall.  This makes it possible to move the phone from room to room throughout the house.  In fact many, if not most, telephones today are cordless.  This nifty feature allows you to carry a cordless handset telephone not only throughout the house but also into the garage, yard or shed! 

It gets better!  Most people today not only have cordless phones that allow more communication freedom at home, they have mobile telephones that allow communication from almost anywhere!

Back to my grandparent’s house and telephones.  If you needed to talk to anyone on the phone at their house you were restricted and limited in your ability: either you sat at Grandmother’s vanity in the bedroom or you sat in a dining room chair against the kitchen wall.  You also had almost no privacy.  Even if you closed my grandparent’s bedroom door your conversation could still most likely be heard in the living room.  Because of this you were careful what you talked about… no real personal stuff. 

I’m grateful to have a God who is omnipresent.  In case you don’t know, this is a big fancy word that means He’s everywhere at once. Kind of a hard concept for our little minds to grasp.  I like having a God that big.  His being everywhere means that He’s always were I am. I don’t have to call Him long distance to talk to him.  I don’t even have to make a local call.  In fact I don’t have to speak out loud! God is as close as a thought.  I can “voice” my prayers in my head, anytime, anywhere and He hears every syllable of every word.  I’m glad my God is bigger than Ma Bell.

Posted in christianity, culture, devotional, faith, family, inspiration, life, lifestyle, misc thoughts, musings, people, philosophy, random, relationships, religion, social, spirituality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment