Been Away for a While


Hey ya’ll. I’ve had a lot more going on that I have ever anticipated. I’m a school bus driver and been on a summer route a bit, but more than anything else, my wife and I were planning a mission trip to Kentucky to deliver food and supplies to families that lost the only viable income from coal companies pulling out of the hills.

I’m back from there now and the ministry I work in has me mowing lawns for folks who can’t for one reason or another. Mostly elderly and single mothers who can’t afford to pay some else to do it for them. I also mow the church lawn, which is about three acres. And then there is my own yard as well that I have to mow as well.

This post is written to summarize the trip to Kentucky, though.

We left for Kentucky on Sunday morning, July 7th. We arrived there late in the day, just before dark. We set up our living quarters in the church and pastor’s home for the week. There were 34 of us from my church. Kingdom Culture Church from Richlands, NC is a very God centered church with the motivation to help people see Christ in this earth.

Monday morning we sorted the huge trailer load of clothes, canned goods, toiletries, shoes and such. A group of us struck out for Lexington in three trucks, including myself to buy food such as pinto beans, rice and such other things. We spent the majority of the day there and came back with over $3000 worth of goods.

That evening, I came into the church and laid down briefly, but God kept spurring me to get up and do what was needed for the evening after dinner. So before dinner I found some help and we started putting about two to three pounds of beans in freezer bags from the 50 pound bags, so we could distribute portions to each person, family or group equal amounts. Others saw what we were doing and started doing the same with the rice. We had 18 to 20 50 pound bags of each to divvy up. We got everything bagged and organized to go out the next morning.

Tuesday morning we load up with hygiene items in bags, can goods bagged up and the dry beans and rice. We load up in our five trucks and vans with all 34 of our people and start out. Our pastor said for those of us who are inclined to do so to perform security measures for the rest of the crowd, so I’m a CCW holder. There were about five us armed. The areas we go to are full of drugs, drug dealers and even drug lords live in the area.

The second stop we got out and had about four or five ram-shackled mobile homes. Only one actually looked livable. Still, as I stood in front of the deck while the rest delivered food, I noticed a nice healthy marijuana plant growing right in front of me that was about chest high. On the way back to the trucks a group of women found a woman strung out on drugs in an old shack. They tried to trade food for her loaded syringes, but she was not giving up her drugs. It was so sad.

I’m summarizing, so not everything I saw is written here. But one other place we stopped was a house with nine children being taken care of by one woman, who had taken them in because their parents were on drugs. In her side yard was a van with tarps on sticks off the side of it where a woman and her son were living in. Neither place had power or running water. This was the case with many places we stopped.

We had to bring our own water in bottles and jugs, since the water in the area is contaminated with coal particles that has seeped into their water supply. Over time drinking it would make one sick and if bathed in over time would turn your skin blue. Most every creek and river we saw ran so muddy it was not clear any where I looked except down the hill behind the church and still it wasn’t totally clear.

We had church services on Wednesday night and Thursday night at another church where a young girl in a wheel chair rose up and walked for the first time in over a year from a disease that had taken away her ability to walk.

We visited an area by a river where homeless were living. We fed them, cut hair and rendered first aid to one who had been assaulted the evening before. There was so much there that I don’t have time to write it all down. I’ve already cried while writing this over the pictures I’m going to put with this post.

We also visited a homeless shelter for adults, boys and another a home for girls. In all it was a very busy week. I wish I could write it all down here, but I am getting emotional about it. I know I’m going back again. This time with my wife, who was unable to go because her daughter in law was having her baby that week.

The girl with short hair was in a wheelchair, but she was healed and got up and walked.

Saturday morning we left very early and I got home before one in the afternoon. I was glad to get home, yet my heart aches for those we left there is those hills of Kentucky.

One of our workers stands before a van where a woman lives with her son in the heat
Morning devotion
Bagging pinto beans
Taking supplies and food to the homeless
Haircut for the homeless
The homeless collect food in cans they can scrounge
Homeless camp next to a river
One of our stops. No power or running water
Homeless camp
Posted in Christian Mission, God's Calling, Love, Memories, Mission Work, Ponderings, Prayer, Priorities, Salvation, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Investment, Spiritual Investments, Work | Leave a comment

Lay Your Burden Down


I was just sitting down to my computer and I play Christian music 95% of the time and the song by Hillsong “Starts and Ends” began to play and the phrase “Lay your burden down” caught my attention.

God knows how I feel. At that moment it caught my ear. I was feeling somewhat burdened by life. I’ve always felt I had to be in control of everything around me to in order to have stability.

Lately, I’ve been changing my thought patterns to rely on God to take care of me and just do as I know is necessary. I hope I’m conveying this correctly. God has been building in me the tangible work of faith and hope. Faith is an important component of our knowledge of God.

Faith relieves us of the burdens because in it we lay down our cares for this world.

One thing that concerns me is that lately I’ve been dreaming of friends and relatives who are deceased. I take these dreams to have meaning.

The one I had last night was of a school friend with whom I went through all twelve grades with. She died several years ago, but I don’t know the circumstances. She was always vivacious and happy.

The last time I saw her was not long after we had graduated. She had married and had just had a child. I went over to see the baby and her and we talked about good times and her funny story about how the doctor said he wanted to talk to her about birth control. Her response was she didn’t just want to talk about it, but do something about it.

In the dream it was just before our class reunion and she came to visit me at my old home place. She came with one of my brothers. She looked okay, but as the dream progressed she started looking distressed. My brother told her they had to go and as she came past me on the way out I noticed her skin was growing ashen and a vein was standing out on her forehead. Her hair greyed. I told her as she left that I hoped to see her at the reunion, but somehow I knew that was not possible. Just a small side note. The brother that told her it was time to go is also deceased.

I started these type of dreams about a week ago and I’ve felt strangely different in my wake times.

I know for a fact I’m beginning to lean more on God. I am forever thankful for what He has been to me. He has been gracious and giving. He is truly my source. Bodies grow old, but the mind has not aged. It is forever learning and growing. My spirit is stronger now more than any time in the past. Who I used to be is forever fading into mere memories of who I once was. I have a strong sense of who I am transcending into.

He has told my wife and me that we have things to do still. We’re preparing to go on our first mission trip together. The people we will see are desperate, hungry and lack about every convenience we take for granted. And they live right here in our own country in the coal mining communities of Kentucky. The mines are closed and it has left them destitute. Drug lords have moved in, yet they can’t even afford to buy drugs, so they make Drano their drug of choice. Teenage girls sell their bodies to make money for food for their families.

I think in some way what I’m experiencing is preparing me to handle situations that we will encounter. I have to lay down my burden in order to see theirs more clearly and untainted by my own issues. I have to see them with God’s eyes. My heart is beginning to feel their burden. The tears of my spirit are beginning to flow for them.

Posted in Abundant life, Christian, Christian Mission, church, Death, Dreams, God's Calling, Love, Memories, Old Age, Ponderings, Sadness, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Investments | Leave a comment

God’s Plan = Predestination


Appointment now (beforehand) of your future. It’s a guaranteed action into the future of the believer if they follow after the knowledge of that calling or

God's Plan for You | United Church of God

appointment. It develops hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people), This comes from Eph 1:18 Amp

Predestination is, most times, is looked at as a fated future that will happen regardless of what path we take. Well, that may have a ring of truth to it in a way. God’s path for an individual is charted by His calling on that life.

In Him also we have received an inheritance [a destiny—we were claimed by God as His own], having been predestined (chosen, appointed beforehand) according to the purpose of Him who works everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His will Eph 1:11 Amp

Then there is “free will” involved. The individual has choices. So how does this play out?

“O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river.” Isaiah 48:18

“All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power.” Ecc: 9:10

The Bible also says: “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage.” Prov. 21:5

Free will is a precious gift from God, for it lets us love him with our “whole heart”—because we want to.

He said to him: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ Matt 22:37

I love the description of “commandment” in verse 36. It says of it as an “authoritative prescription”. Just what the doctor ordered, I’d say. I’m going to leave that for you to go back and look at.

God does have a plan for your life. To me “plan” is another way of saying predestination, yet we have free will to make the choice to follow it . . .or not.

If it is unacceptable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Jos 24:15

I chose to follow God, because I know His plan will bring peace to my life and because I want to. So by my free will my life is predestined or as you could say, planned out.

Posted in Abundant life, Christian, church, God's Calling, Love, Ponderings, Possibilities, Priorities, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual, Spiritual Investment, Spiritual Investments | Leave a comment

Grandmother


Someone asked the question as to what one remembers about their grandmother. My dad’s mom and dad lived next to us when I grew up. My granddad died when I was seven and I loved him dearly. But grandmother was special as well.

My granddad, grandmother, my dad and his two sisters

She could do anything. Sew clothes, make butter from cow’s milk she squeezed out herself. She chopped off chicken’s heads and made fried chicken or chicken n dumplings, but my favorite thing was that gritty dry version of chocolate fudge with pecans. She had a toaster in which I would toast almost a half loaf of bread on Saturday mornings after spending the night and drank coffee.

When I was young houses didn’t have running water. We were fortunate to have electricity by the time I came along. Time moved right along back then. Grandmother cooked on a wood stove in my first remembrances until the wonder appliance in the form of a gas stove came into being. She had an old Fridgedaire refrigerator. We had the same one.

After granddad died she had a well put down and she had a pump put on it with a single spigot on the sink inside. Running water. Wow. Still no bathroom facilities. It was still an outhouse. In her case, she had a two-holer. We only had a one-holer. Grandmother was cutting edge. She was the first with a TV. It was an RCA that sat on a swivel pedestal. I loved going to her house to watch Romper Room, Captain Kangeroo and cartoons.

I would sit some nights after she’d skimmed the fat off the milk and sat with it in a gallon jug bouncing it on her knee till it turned to butter. She’d pour it into a wood mold that would create a flower in on the top of the butter after it had hardened and she took the top off.

That old house had a lot of memories. It’s not far from being a total memory now. My dad’s bedroom was a small enclosed part of what appeared to have once been part of the back porch. It was barely big enough for a bed and small dresser. I slept there many times.

The “Old House”

I’d stay with her on Saturday nights, too. She was a Sunday School teacher and I’d watch Saturday Night At The Movies on TV while she sat in her chair and studied her lesson until she fell asleep. I’d watch that old TV till the National Anthem finished playing and the station signed off for the night.

My grandmother eventually had a man. she later married, refurbish the old house we lived in and moved there after my dad built us a new house with running water, a bath tub and toilet. We’d made the big time then.

Jamie Lamm was a good man to my grandmother. They grew much older together. He passed away from Alzheimer’s and two weeks or so later she passed on from heart failure. She was near eighty years old.

My last time seeing her was at the hospital a few days before she passed, but I did see her the week Jamie died. I looked at her and asked her how she felt. She said she was tired. I think she was ready to go. There are not many women like her any more.

Posted in Christian, Days in Small, Death, Family, Memories, Old Age, Ponderings | 1 Comment

Giving It All To God


Do you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Unfortunately, I have felt that more often than not. But I’m learning. . .still.

Daily Verse Reading – Heb 4:1-5,11 | Daily Bible Readings
Hebrews 12:2

I can remember times, places and reasons, when I reached the point I could not carry the weight any more and let it go. That’s when I sensed God picking up that very thing I carried and it dissolved into nothing. The worry of it was gone.

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Hebrews 4:9-11

My previous post on the work ethic I gained from growing up is partly the reason I still find at times that it is hard to not try to do it on my own and do it to the fullest. God, my Father, has made a way that is much different.

If we listen to God as well as we like to talk to Him in prayer we’ll find He does speak and He will reveal the way that is less difficult. Sometimes the answer to what we should do isn’t what we want to do, but if we do it, I can assure you will lighten the load from you shoulders.

I’m an organizer to the point of what I consider as OCD. Everything has to be in a certain place and symmetrical. If it’s not it drives me crazy. If I let go to let God do it I have to have faith that it will be even more so in His way.

My first big remembrance of His way came when I had a fledgling business in the early 80’s. The owner of the building I rented sent men up on the roof while I was gone on a ministry trip. The removed the sealant and roofing. You guessed it. It rained for several days. I came back to a good quarter inch or more of water on the floor and all of my inventory was wet. I tried to hold my head up and work through it. I remember it still raining and the water dripping everywhere. My glasses were covering in droplets of water. The second day with it still raining I went to my phone and called my wife. With tears in my eyes I told her I give up. I was closing the store. I couldn’t do it any longer.

In a matter of an hour word had gotten out and the neighboring business offered to take some of my stock in the back storage area. Another business offered to take whatever they could hold into their storage area. Another man came by and offered me a new building to set up shop in out on the main highway (better location in fact). A friend of mine that owned a garden center called and said he was coming over to help me. Folks, when I gave up God stepped up. All of this was His doing. I reopened a couple of weeks later in a higher traffic area in a new building.

Another time I was told my family had to move from a mobile home lot we were renting, so we decided God wanted us to have a real home again. We found land and we searched and searched and found a modular home sales couple whose business was called Star Homes. They could do the entire package for home and land. I’m making this story short, so if you want more I have to save that for a later time. I had to sell my mobile home before I could close on and move into the new home. I knew how much God said ask. It was $8700. I tried my best to make this work to no avail. We had given up and found another mobile home and we’d even made a choice on a mobile home park to move into. Then I went home resigned to letting it all go.

I laid down to take a nap knowing my hopes had been dashed because I couldn’t make it work. In a bit, my wife woke me up to tell me someone was coming to look at our mobile home. Not just one, but two. The first came and looked at it and gave me $200 to hold it. If they were not back by the next day we were told to keep the money. The next couple came in right on their heels as they left. They looked and offered us $8500. I said I would give them and answer the next day. The first lookers never came back so I accepted the second offer. The mobile home was gone and I got what can only be described as God’s Hand at work, because it came to $8700. And so we moved.

I’ve got more stories similar to this. I’ve learned to give up. God always has a better plan. What I see in the natural is proof of God’s plan in the celestial. Let the weight of life go from your shoulders. He WILL take care of you.

One thing I’ve told my now wife. (Another story) Looking back God has never let me down. I’ll be 69 this year and I’ve never been without a roof over my head, food on my table, a job or a vehicle to get there. God does expect us to put an effort into our lives by doing, but doing it as He directs has made life so much more palatable. There are issues I’m dealing with at this time in my life that would have totally destroyed me in my younger years, but I know God has built into me the knowledge that He is indeed in control

So, it’s simple. Give up. Take that leap of faith and see God pick up where you left off trying. He is the Finisher of our Faith

Posted in Abundant life, Christian, church, Financial Investing, Home, Love, Patience, Ponderings, Possibilities, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual Investments | 3 Comments

Father’s Day


This day of recognition was celebrated as far back as one can tell on March 19, starting around 1508. Many nations celebrate fathers at some time or other during the year. The US didn’t really come into full swing with it till the 20th century to compliment Mother’s Day. So. It’s a “one up” tradition. Moms get something why not dads?

Throughout history I have taken it into consideration that there are many fathers who are good, generous and loving men who nurtured children into adulthood. Same for mothers.

Bibilically, without fathers the family is like a body walking around without a head. I cheer on a woman who takes on the task of raising children in the absence of a man. It is a monumental task to fill both rolls. But the woman cannot dole out the influence of a man. Mothers mother. Fathers father.

Well, enough of that. If someone wants to think otherwise, it’s your prerogative. But you can’t change nature to suit the thought processes that seem to dominate the world today.

An example of mothering in my own mom showed me she tried to fill in the gaps for the way my dad treated me. I am the first born of five boys. My granddad took a shine to me and I to him. We got along marvelously. Then he died when I was seven. By this time my second brother was three and had been a medical study at Duke University because of the newness of cleft palate repair. My dad was over-protective of him and naturally took to him as his favorite.

I’ve made the statement that I was the family farm hand. At the age of seven my dad put me on a small farm tractor and from there I was tending over thirteen acres of beans by my early teens. I plowed ground, fed hogs, chickens, chopped wood, pulled weeds. You name it that was my job. I shucked a lot of corn and then ran it through a hand-cranked sheller. When I was 13 I was driving errands locally in our car or pickup truck and eventually got caught by the local highway patrol for driving without a license and my mom cussed him out for stopping me.

Not only did I work the farm, I cleaned house, made beds, washed dishes and hung clothes out to dry on the line outside. Even took them in off the line in the dead of winter when the clothes were frozen on the line.

I worked hard from the time I was able. Even when my dad gave up farming I worked for some other farmer for money to buy my own school clothes. I was having Social Security taken out of my paycheck as early as 16 years old as a farm hand.

Did you notice? My dad never developed a relationship with me. What I learned I had to pick up from what I observed around me. He was in the home, but I was not talked to unless it was instructions of something he wanted me to do. Rare were the times he’d get out in the yard and hit a baseball to my brothers and me. I was just one of the three others at the time. The fifth brother was born after I graduated from high school.

The thing about my dad that made me who I am is that anything I ever did was about a fraction of an inch from what he wanted done. I worked harder than anyone else, but always came up just a fraction short. I was in my late 30’s when I got past that.

I knew I was called to the ministry at the young age of 13 and I knew I’d preach, but I’ve found my truest calling is writing. My mom was a writer. My English Lit teacher encouraged me to write. So I’ve been writing since I was in high school.

It was during my late 20’s when I answered the call of God to fulfill what I was called to do. During that time God spoke to me about my dad. He, too, had been called but failed to answer it. One day after I had ridden with my dad out into the fields we parked in the yard. He turned off the motor in the truck as I turned to him and asked the most important question I’ve ever asked of him. His Cherokee dark skin turned pale when I asked if he was called to the ministry. He looked at me and said he’d been, but he’d never even told my mom. I felt sorry for him from then on, because he had the audacity to tell me I’d be dead by 60. I wasn’t buying his story. Not answering God is a life-shortening decision. His dad and his granddad apparently ran the same course. All three died in their late 50’s, although I can say dad made it to 60, but died two months later.

I knew answering God’s call was the key to longevity. I’ll be 69 years old in October of this year and I still can pass a DOT physical for my CDL B and ride a motorcycle. I head up a ministry that mows lawns for free for people who have not the means to do so. My wife and I are going to Kentucky next month to distribute food, clothing and supplies to extremely poor folk in Kentucky. Then I’m flying out to California from here in NC see my eldest son who hasn’t spoken to me since his mom and I split ten years ago. All this I give God the credit and glory for being alive and having a wife now who loves and nurtures me, as I do the same for her.

As dads go, mine on a grading scale would get a D at best. All I got out of growing up was a work ethic that is second to none. That because I still feel I need to go beyond the call, but now because I want to. Not because I’m told I don’t quite make the grade.

Posted in Abundant life, Christian, Family, Home, Memories, Old Age, Patience, Ponderings, Sadness, Salvation, Sobering Thoughts, Spiritual | Leave a comment

An Aside


I have not been regularly posting of late. For that I apologize. I should be more giving in what God gives me, but this post is totally off the side.

I have been a Corvette aficionado for some twelve years. This last one I had was with us for seven years. In the last couple of years it has sat in my garage, not being driven for weeks or months. The battery would die and I’d have to put the charger on it. In the seven years I owned it I drove it a mere 25k miles. That averages less than 3600 miles a year. It was a hoot to drive no matter what, though.

My Libby and I went to a little spot in the middle of nowhere to a place called Yoder’s last weekend for breakfast at their restaurant and general store near Greenville, NC for her daughter’s birthday. I wanted to go to the Harbor Freight in Winterville for an impact wrench and sockets. Next door to that was a Harley Davidson dealer called Boneyard Harley Davidson. Used to be Hometown Harley. My wife asks me would I like to go over and possibly find a hat. I have loads of them, but a I never pass the chance at a new one. So, I agreed. The dealership was having a party with a live band and all kinds of specials going on.

Needless to say I got a hat, but I got captured by a bike on the floor that looked like me. It is a Harley Davidson Sportster 1200NS Iron. It’s a very powerful bike. They were also giving $250 gift certificates for new buyers. Folks, I traded my Corvette for the bike, a helmet, leather vest, hat, free t-shirt for me and my wife. They had me ring a good size bell with blaring music and every employee came by and shook my hand and welcomed me to the HD family. Never in my life have I been so taken aback. We did upgrade the seat to a buddy seat with sissy bar to accommodate my wife. It was delivered this past Tuesday and as of this writing I’ve already put a little over a hundred miles on it and ran out of gas. A passing biker stopped and asked did I need help and a yes got me a pint of gas to get me to a station. I’ve not rode a motorcycle in over 30 years and had forgotten how exhilarating it can be. Even for this old man.

Some younger folks have given me the wild eye, like I’m too old. I may be old, but not the “too” part. Most of my relatives have already gave me the safety speech about watching out for crazy drivers and such. Safe to say all things are possible, but I am ultra-aware of my surrounding as much as possible. I don’t plan on becoming a statistic. I wear my helmet, leather vest, gloves and boots with jeans. I’ve ridden three different size bikes, but this is my biggest. You can safely say, I will be careful.

Posted in Harley Davidson owner, Old Age, Ponderings, Retirement | Tagged | 2 Comments