Words to live by:

"With man this is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I took a trip to an old memory...

I took a trip today to an old memory.
 It was an absolutely beautiful day!
 I took a ride out to the reason I sit in this town today...
1973...My dad was transferred to Ft. McClellan , Alabama.
 My father was serving faithfully in the United States Army...with Vietnam in the recent past, we were beginning a new adventure.
 Little did we know, it would be the beginning of much of our future.
My dad had gone ahead of us by a few days, and had gotten our new living quarters secured.
 As we drove onto the "post", I remember driving with wide-eyes through the strange roads, in search for our new home. We passed rows and rows of thriving army barracks...green and white. That's what I remember most, the colors.
Everything was green and white...everything.
I remeber seeing men and women dressed in "BDU's", as they were called, scurrying around throughout the rows of barracks...the men and women that served our country.
 I knew they were to be respected...even then, as a young child.
I was 8 years old and I remember sitting in the front seat of that old station wagon: the typical paneled sides- family style (sorta like the one on the Brady Bunch).
My brother, Michael, was 4 years old and my mother was a young and snappy 29.
Wow, it seems like just yesterday when we turned onto Morton Road... 
 3635A Morton Road.
We had moved from Atlanta...from a residential neighborhood in the outskirts of the big city,
 into an army base in rural Alabama.
It was quite different, but somehow...
 it was rather exciting. 
We pulled into the driveway...we were home.
These days were humble.
The memories flood my mind as I write.
The baby rabbits I caught in the back yard patch of woods...
                          the "fort" I built in those same patch of woods...
                                          the bicycle wreck I had as I hurdled around the curve up the street from our house (the wreck that gave me the scars on my fingers that I can still see as I type)...
                              the lemonade stands at the end of the driveway...
                                        the tennis courts...
                                             the commisary...
                                                     the P.X....the bowling alley...the movie theatre...
it was an entire world of it's own.
 We lived on base for 3 years, and in these few years: 
my other brother, (Chad) was born, 
I witnessed my first death (of my friend Whitney's father),
I made many multi-cultural friends,
and we decided to make Anniston, Alabama our permanent home.
We lived on the base for 3 years.
I went to school on the base (3rd grade--Mrs. Hipp...she was the one who called me out in the hall to tell me I had a new baby borther. 4th grade--Mrs. Campbell--great friend then and we've recently caught back into each others paths, and Mrs. Davis were my teachers--i don't guess I'll ever forget them)
My dad died in 1986 and is buried at the military cemetary of Ft. McClellan , Alabama.
It was a memorable military service, the day after Christmas in 1986...
The 21 Gun Salute---Folding and presentation of the American Flag to our family, and the song "TAPS" played on the bugle...I remember the tear dripping off the face of the soldier that played that song. He didn't even know my father, but he was a brother...in arms.
My father would have been very proud of that day, in honor of a man who served his country for 23 years...served in Vietnam and received the Silver Star and Purple Heart (among many other) prestigious medals...it was a sad, cold wintry day in that McClellan cemetary...
but somehow,
 I know my father was smiling.
I visit him a few times a year...he's not there. But I go there anyway...
 just because.
Ft. McClellan closed it's gates in 1996.
It was a sad day.
The distant sound of the military bugle is reminiscent in the old Buckner Circle. 
It belted out it's magnificant sound every work day afternoon at 4:15.
 If I was in the car with my father during this time, we would pull the car onto the side of the road wherever we were...he would honorably get out, dressed in his starched officer's uniform, and stand at a saluting attention until the flag was lowered.
I was so proud of him at this moment.
It was reverent, honorable, patriotic...it was the way it should be.
I loved that my father served our country.
I love that old base..why, it's the reason I live in this town...
and as I drove through the faintly familiar roads today;
my heart, soul and mind remembered days gone by.
It was really a good drive.
 It's o.k. to remember those days.
Smiles and Tears and Memories...
The last thing I did was walk around an old pond...it was the pond I fished in as a young girl.
There was a children's fishing tournament one Saturday morning--1975 to be exact--
I was 10 years old.
My little brother was competing.
I was bored.
So I picked up an old rod and reel, and began to cast.
I ended up winning that tournament...
I still laugh when I think of the faces of all those little boys when I received my trophies.
I won the category "most caught fish" and "biggest fish caught".
I can still hear the shrieks from me and my mother as I reeled those fish in...!!!
Today, I sat on the edge of that pond and looked into the water..
.there were a million fish swimming right up to the edge where I was sitting.
 They were still there...35 years later.
As I stared into the water and saw the reflection of a 45 year old, middle-aged "child", I caught a slight glimpse of a small little girl with the future in her hands...
or maybe it was the glimpse of an old rod and reel....
I swirled my finger in the edge of the water and watched the fish swim swiftly away.
Oh, they'll be back...
and one day...
so will I.

As I drove around the base today, I took several pictures to savor the memories of a time I choose not to forget...

The Old Pond

My dad...well, he's not here. He's in heaven.
He knew Jesus.

The entrance to the military cemetary...something odd about that open gate...it seems so "final" once you walk inside.

There's still beauty in the still, quietness of that old place.

Springtime doesn't close ...

I just thought this was so fresh and pretty...reminiscent of frogs and tadpoles...new life.
I could almost hear the distant voices singing the old hymns of years gone by...what a joy to see this old church tucked away...but then again, what sadness that it's life was over.

Just a memory of an old, rugged cross...how sweet the sound of Amazing Grace.

I saw this old window on the side of the church building and thought of children peering inside the church during the old-time picnics. I could almost hear the laughter and shrills while they were playing a game of tag...boys chasing the girls with old toad frogs of course.

This old door was barracaded with vines, weeds and winds blowing in the distance. I looked at the outstretched vines coming through the walls of the door as if to say, "there's still life here"...

Reminds me of an old Haiku I am working on for class:
The summer river,
 Although there is a bridge, my
 horse goes through the water.
                                                           Seems a bit sad to me...
An old back door to a whithered building.
The reflection of the beautiful sky in the window pane reminds me that God built us a masterpiece to savor.

A tattered bridge that once was covered by soldiers footprints and combat boots. There are no more footprints on this bridge, but I remembered our Armed Forces still fighting so that "I"/"WE" can enjoy this beautiful country.
I loved the way God exposed this radiant beam of light into the threshold of this door. It was opened and closed so many times by people of another time. The radiant light still gives us hope.

An old walkway grown up with vines and weeds. But looking forward, to the light at the end...

The old walkway turned upsidedown...beautiful architecture...and that previously mentioned green color.

The old pond again...the bridge that leads to a tiny island with a lonely 'green' bench. Serenity.
Another view of the old church...notice the "green" cross. Like I said; everything was Green and White. A picture is worth a thousand words...
God is near...
One more good-bye...

Branches...a reminder of the many roads we can choose within our short time on this Earth.

The end of a beautiful day...what a blessing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Oh...I know there is.

Here goes:
Talking with a wonderful friend today...
we were discussing...well, something dear to my heart.
I hate to admit it, but this one might step on some toes...
it stepped on mine...
and I was the one doing the talking.
Sometimes, it's uncomfortable to admit when you're wrong.

The conversation started because of the lesson I was
teaching last night.
For last nights lesson, I studied 1Samuel about King Saul...
that poor thing. He just didn't get it.
He is quite the example of...
most of us.

The story: (quickly)
He was chosen to rule God's chosen people...the Israelites.
He was an attractive man.
He was smart...uh, that's debateable. Well...he was indeed a winner of battles.
And with his power, looks, and sauve' manner...he fought many battles, and won many battles.
But he had a problem:
the more He won...the more he began to think of himself, be proud of himself, fool himself...
the more he lost sight of His main purpose...
Toward the end of his reign, he was told...by God (by way of Samuel)...to fight the Amelikites and detroy them ALL...and ALL of their possessions (livestock, etc.)
He listened.
Well, kind of...
Samuel, was the go between person between Saul and God, so Samuel gave Saul the messages from God himself...
wow, what a job!
So Saul went off to fight this battle...yes, he won, again.
But he only did things halfway.
He did destroy the Amelikites, but instead of destroying ALL as God had said, he CHOSE to bring home a trophy--- 
the Amelikite leader and some of the best livestock. 
This would really impress his people...if he brought home these riches to show off.
Was he forgetting the instructions?
Oh dear.
When confronted by Samuel (as directed by God)as to why he did not obey...he said: "I did obey, I killed them...well, all but the Amelikite King and the best sacrificial animals...but I'm going to offer them, as offerings/sacrifices to God."
Oh did I forget to add: that before he gave his side of this story, he had built a statue of himself in honor of...
He was very proud of his accomplishments.
HIS accomplishments.
Samuel was furious with Saul's excuses and knew what he had done...Samuel knew what God had instructed and held Saul accountable for his actions...and replied: "Isn't it better to OBEY than to sacrifice?"
Samuel knew the answer to this...for he knew what God thought.
And unfortunately, Saul also knew the answer to this...

We are so much like Saul...
As much as I'd like to say I have never done such, I simply cannot.
We are so good at "choosing" what to hear. Even from God.
We decide which part of obeying we will do,
what's convenient,
what makes us look good,
what will get us the most prestige...
God gives us rules, guidance, leadership. He tells us what to do...and what not to do.
(Here's that word again...)
But he also gives us...CHOICE.

Sometimes it seems that we begin believing our own excuses...and sometimes- even our own lies.
We sorta just live the way we want to, what we think is best, or easier...and we don't think about simply being obedient.
Is it hard to obey?
Should we obey God?
Emphatically, yes...no doubt.
Will we answer for the wrongs we do?
Emphatically, yes...no doubt.
Is this my opinion?
No. It is HIS WORD...not mine.
Like Saul; we get caught up in our accomplishments, what makes us look good, our "looks", proving how prestigious we are, what we can do better than others,...
we are consumed with...
We try to "FOOL" ourselves into believeing that a little white lie, or a little sin here and there is fine...why we can't be perfect can we? 
We can "fudge" a little...we can be very convincing....
But guess what?
You, me, all of us...can believe that for as long as we are here...but it's simply not right.
God doesn't say: "well, ok...go ahead, try it just once...you've been good for awhile, you can take a break."
We can try to convince ourselves all day long that it'll be fine. Rationalize it in our minds that it HAS to be done this way,
we HAVE to cheat a little,
we HAVE to lie,
we HAVE to gossip,
we HAVE to steal...
on and on.
Are you getting it?
I don't think I need to go on...

But sometimes we really don't get it do we?
It's not about us...
If we go back to Genesis...we'll see that God created us in his image, to give him glory, to worship Him.
That's it.
He created mankind...
for Him.

I'm not trying to downgrade everyone, including myself...
I just know that when we OBEY and do things HIS way...our lives are so much more fuller and richer.
Richer than money and fame.
I've been on both sides, I know.
It's worth it.
It may not seem fair...that's us being selfish (again).
It may not seem right...that's us being selfish (again).
It may not seem fun...that's us being selfish...and just plain dumb (again).
It may not seem easy...well, sometimes, it's not...
It's just what is supposed to...

The end of the story:
Saul got fired.
He lost his kingship.
He lost the very thing that he was so proud of...the thing that made him so ... duh...great.
Be careful...
cause, all that???
What we think is so great?
There just might be something greater...
KNOW there is.

These are my thoughts.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yes, Those were the days...

I think at middle age...oh, around 45-46...somehwere in there, you begin to think back on years gone by. Not that life is ending...or maybe it is. We don't really know the answer to that one, now do we?
Sometimes I like to just think back...as I drive down the road, or while I sit in complete quiet, or while walking down the street...I like to talk to my children about the days that I remember.
Those days really do seem like yesterday.
They really do.
Sometimes the memories are vivid...sometimes cloudy...it's weird that way.
I've written some of those things down for my children to pass on...I've told many, many stories...to many people (thanks for enduring).
I like those memories. Some of them bring a smile, a tear, a giggle...some bring me heartache, some make me laugh out loud...LOL as we say these days.

I remember driving all night (9 hours) and surprising my grandparents in the middle of the night. Not telling them we were coming...knowing they wouldn't mind.  Tapping on their bedroom window at 3:00am, saying "It's me Papa...I'm here!" Never one time was there any other response but pure delight. They'd grab their robe and run to meet us at the front screen door. We'd sit up and talk for awhile before drifting off to sleep...what unconditional love I felt.
Those hugs and tears of joy in the middle of the night were the best.

I remember the evening, at the end of a hot summer day; the day we were huddled together in the back yard for a late afternoon fishing game.
One last cast before dark.
Into the lake I threw that 9 inch green worm.
I reeled it in, ever so carefully...just the way my grand-dad taught me. "Let the worm dive a little, jerk it up, reel, and let it dive back down...repeat...they'll take the bait everytime."
And then..., was I hung?!
The worm was stuck.
It wouldn't move...wait...I felt something.
I yelled for Papa.
He, with his ever-present limp, came running to my side. "You must be hung on that old stump." he said.
I knew I wasn't hung...'I'm not hung! papa! just look!"...and right that moment, out jumped the biggest fish I ever had seen!
It was a monster!
I screamed!
He screamed!
He ran for the "dip-net"--- it was a wopper!
I pulled that fish in like I had done it a million times...when in fact, I was shaking from head to toe.
My precious papa pulled that fish in with the net...I can still see his eyes...as big as saucers. Of course mine were too...but I don't know if they were big becasue of the fish or because I had made him so proud.
It was dark by now...but he got those fish scales out of that old boathouse, and weighed that monster fish. 91/2 pounds!
"COME ON!" he said...and He marched me up and down that street to all his buddies, showing off that fish.
He was so proud...I was proud, that I made Him proud...
I loved that night when I was 9 years old...

I remember so many birthdays when I was young...
somewhere down the line, it became a tradition (for awhile anyway) that I wanted to get a toy doctors kit...the ones that had little candy sprinkles in medicine bottles. I think that was really the only reason I wanted that present...the candy -filled bottles.
This is what I received for several years...
but the "icing on the cake" was actually the home-made 3 layer cake with chocolate fudge icing...topped off with real marichino cherries that held one candle each.
I loved those special cakes my mother baked...
Many years passed without such a treat...
until one special year, when I was surprised with that special cake on my 39th birthday.
The only thing missing was that plastic yellow doctors kit with the candy sprinkle medicine botlles.
Oh happy day.

I remember that old farmhouse, the one with the green roof.
I remember the anticipation as we drove to see my grandparents.
We would drive for what seemed like hours...in reality it was only an hour and a half...I would peer out the window, just waiting to see the tops of those 4 chicken houses. I knew we were there when I saw those silver metal roofs shining in the sunlight.
I remember catching tadpoles in the feeding trough, digging up potatoes from the garden like I was searching for treasure, working in the tool shed with my grand-dad until I decided to liven it up by squirting him with the waterhose and old man "Cagel" laughing til' he almost had a heart-attack, getting canned grean beans our of the storm shelter for supper, and planting rows of seeds in the petunia garden. I remember that ole' black spaniel named "TIPPY", that 1959 yellow cadillac, and catching chickens by the legs...
Yes, those were the days...

These are My Thoughts.