Monday, October 30, 2017

Trickery





“Where’s them candy sticks? Timmy, you better not of got you some of my candy sticks without me approvin' cause them Halloween beggars will be here tomorrow night wantin' a treat."

      Last year, they turned over my favorite flower pot and took three jars of pickles from my back porch cause I didn't have no treat to give.  Three Halloweens ago, them tricksters painted all sorts of red and black stripes on Lucy, my best friend Molly's pig. Them tricksters is serious about this silliness. And I know for a fact from preacher Massey's cousin's wife, who lives next door to that Scottish Grant clan covered with the devil's spots, that them heathen Scottish people brung this nonsense to this Christian nation. They called it guising on account of them being disguised, and it's just a pretty darn shame they couldn't leave that blessed beggin' custom over there with their own heathen kinfolk.

"Timmy, walk down to Molly's farm and fetch mama six eggs, will ya?"

     I'll bake a cake for them beggars even though I'm mighty tired from this here sicknes the good Lord is takin' his sweet time in healin' me from. 

     I could tell you a few things about beggar’s night you wouldn't believe like two years ago what commenced at Doc Robinson's place. When he was out deliverin' Helen's twins on Halloween night, some tricksters set fire to his office.  Lord help us for your people have done gone mad and headed straight to the devil.  Smashing pumpkins, turning over wagons, and rearranging the scarecrows is right annoyin', yes, and not real Christian-like, but settin' fire to the good doctor's business is taking things a bit too far. 
      It ain't right to gossip, but I'm goin' to tell you all about Molly and then of course what I done for her, bless her heart, when them beggars painted Lucy. This was back when I was kinda healthy and could walk two miles, so me and Timmy walked all the way to her farm with the good book, cause Lord knows Molly and Chester don't got one.  While Timmy was washing Lucy, I give Molly a lesson on doin' proper things for the good Lord if she wanted a bundle of easier life.  And by a bundle of easier, I mean Chester comin' home sober every night.  The verses I used come straight from the book the good Lord used, the King James, the English King James, naturally.

     It tickles me to death to tell y'all that due to my good deed, Molly comes to church every Sunday, although I wished she'd dress a little more godly. And Chester has quit his drinkin' and carousin' all but Saturday night.  I told Molly to make sure that sorry ole Chester picks up some sweets for them silly tricksters every year cause Lord knows these tired legs can't walk no two miles no more on of account of Franklin, my husband who isn't the president even though our house is white but pitiful small and he ain't nearly as smart, done gone and sold our car and won't tell me why.
       He had to ride a train home after he drove up to Chicago and sold it. I didn't kick him out on account of me being a Christian woman.

    
Back to my special sickess which is more important than Molly and her no-count husband.  I don't know what I done to deserve this.  The only thing I can consider is that I ain't always real sweet to Franklin.  But, he ain't always real lovin' and sweet to me neither.  "An eye for an eye," and if he expects a treat of a sweet, lovin' wife, he best be a bit nicer husband. I'm guessin' that's why the good Lord give me this here sickness.  I been remindin' him of all my good deeds and been doin' more and more of them good deeds, too.

     I bet my house, don't tell Franklin, that the good Lord will heal me real soon on account of how I been gettin' His attention with my prayin'. If the good Lord wants me to keep on servin' him and doin' all those good deeds like takin' soup to Mr. Owen after he went and catched a cold from fishin' and giving the widow Lewis grocery money cause her no count son won't, he'll heal me from my sickness. 

    I'll be a prayin' that til he hurries up and heals me.  If he don't heal his good servant Mae, let's see who he gets to cook Sunday dinner for preacher Massey and those eight misbehaving youngins and his sickly wife. What a treat my healin' will be for all the good folks in town I help. I know the good Lord wants treats from me, and he sure knows what kindly tricks I'm pretty darn capable of doin’.



I've Trick or Treated with God and prayed like Mae, with better grammar, of course. If he'll answer with a "yes," I'll serve and pray more.  If he doesn't give me my desires, I may decide to disobey or threaten to stop serving or believing.  I've asked God to prove his love by making something good happen. I like treats and admit I've expected a few from God.


"And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." Hebrews 11:6

God rewards us when we sincerely seek him, then mysteriously, treats are no longer a concern. Our prayers are no longer "if you don't give me...." or "if you give me....." No more bargaining.  Even when we feel more tricked than treated with rewards by the world, we have peace. We don't need to Trick or Treat with God.  God’s reward, an abundant life, is a treat the world cannot give. Of course, an occasional Snicker's bar doesn’t hurt.

Hope & Luke, Grace Pratt and 
Daddy Luke
Katy


Friday, October 27, 2017

Nothing Gold or Baby Blue Can Stay




As summer gradually ends in September, we dream of relief from oppressive heat and antagonizing mosquitoes then welcome a pumpkin flavored and scented October as fall slowly tip-toes in with a landscape so brilliantly painted, people drive, walk, and climb for hours and sometimes days, delighting in its splendor.   


    For me, October brings more than pumpkin lattes and hours of leaf raking.  My favorite month delivers joy and sorrow. This year, my oldest son, Luke, turns twenty-five, and my youngest son, James, turns eighteen, while their mom adds another year, an age known only to her closet friends.

  
Luke & Mommy
Although often ridiculed, I was a mom who kept her little boys in baby blue and overalls until they were unavailable in their sizes.  I didn't consider Luke and James little men when they couldn’t talk, walk, or feed themselves. They were my babies, and I decided to dress them as such. I knew as soon as they wore khaki pants and knit shirts for the first time, they would resemble men in their attire from that day forward. Being warned of the brevity of baby days, I wasn’t ready to trade baby blue for navy or footed pajamas for big boy sleepwear.

Luke
James
    My love for Luke and James strengthens and my joy being their mom grows with each October birthday, but I don't know too many moms who don't miss holding their baby boys, watching their wonder at simple things, or showering them with public affection without embarrassment.

Each October is one year removed from rocking them to sleep, holding their hands, helping them set up train tracks, reading bedtime stories, baking special birthday cakes, and tucking them to bed with a stuffed animal or blanket. 




James

    Robert Frost offers an honest reminder of the transience of life in his poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.

James
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

    Gold, as a hue, doesn't hold in nature. In spring, gold buds on the willow tree quickly become leaves. Golden sunsets last less than an hour.  
     Life in Eden, with its river Pishon, where gold was found, quickly sank to grief with the loss of Adam and Eve’s innocence and their knowledge of good and evil.

     

I miss baby boys in baby blue being blameless, free from deceit and worldly experiences. As boys in baby blue, their worlds consisted of people who loved and protected them.  They hadn't been left out of a crowd or bullied, failed a test, or experienced a broken heart.  Nor had they mistreated anyone intentionally.



Luke's graduation
Univ. SC
James & Katy
Cades Cove, Tenn.
    Today is special, too, though. Luke and I talk about work and football, and he lets me call him Sunshine when friends aren't around.  James and I watch storms and work jigsaw puzzles together, and he lets me call him Jaybird or JayJay.
     Through experiences, they now possess knowledge of the world and make choices while the people who love them most make fewer decisions for them and pray about the scary concept of free will.
       To grow up is to become acquainted with evil, to sin and experience guilt, to become too smart for our own good, become our own gods and rely on our own knowledge.   

 In October, I watch maple leaves turn a rich red or bright orange, then bright gold, but as quickly as I had packed up baby blue blankets and pajamas, the gold disappears.
    The trees are still there, though, and those two sons are still mine.  They've experienced life, sin and guilt for twenty-five and eighteen years, and now their innocence, and ours, is found in God's wisdom and grace, which steps in and declares us blameless when innocence is gone. 



Luke
You wore baby blue and read in my lap.
You found your blanket and took an afternoon nap.

Luke & Ralph
We colored our skies baby blue, sang silly songs and made pumpkin treats.
We played with our golden dog and held hands crossing the street.

James
I folded and stored your baby blue and let you swing by yourself.
I drove you to school and put trophies on your shelf.

You picked out a wall color darker than baby blue and did your homework at night.
You played games with your friends, grew taller and stopped believing I was right.

When the sky is baby blue, we sit on the porch and talk about being old.
We laugh. We cry. Then October fades as quickly as gold.

A happy mom and her sons
Isaqueena Falls, SC
Happy Birthday Luke and James,
Mom


   








   








Friday, October 6, 2017

Carved Cleaned Transformed





A list of what I like about summer: flip flops, flowers.  The end.  My favorite season arrived, and the list of what I love about fall is much longer: boots and football, cool weather and denim, changing leaves and scarecrows, chili and bonfires, apple cake and coffee, fall colors and sweaters, and pumpkins, which I've loved long before they were trendy.  




Having no baking ovens, early New England settlers filled a hollowed out pumpkin with milk, honey, and spices, then cooked it over hot ashes. Luckily, the pumpkin pie followed, and now we've transformed this versatile squash into cheesecake, latte, dip, pancakes, fudge, bread pudding, and ravioli.  So, I kick off my favorite season by meeting my friend, Cindy, for coffee, drooling when another friend, Mary, posts pictures of homemade pumpkin muffins, and finding an excuse to make pumpkin crisp. Although no one agrees, I've declared it the best pumpkin dessert ever made.  

The more pumpkins the merrier and the more creative the better. They've come a long way from sitting on the front porch with triangle eyes, nose and jagged smiles, then rotting shortly thereafter.  If carving is your talent, there are plenty of options. Or, you can transform without the knife. My best creation, Pumpkahontas, made her debut at Anderson Memorial Hospital's 1987 fall festival decorating contest.  I'll never understand why she didn't win: a Native American pumpkin with braided black yarn pigtails and feathers.  What could be more creative? If I had a picture of her, you'd agree.

My pumpkin transformations improved drastically each year: carved initials, designs using a drill. But they never compared to my cousin Amy's perfectly monogramed pumpkins or the  unbelievable Pinterest pumpkins transformed into flower pots or ice buckets, stacked as snowmen, painted as Cookie Monster, carved as a Volkswagon Van, or wrapped like a mummy.

Pumpkins don't have to exist as rotting, front portch Jack-O-Lanterns. Neither do we.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17


Transformation isn't about UNbecoming us.I remain Katy when I (usually kicking and screaming) allow God to change my thoughts, words, and actions. He expects me to be me but wants so much more for my life, like freedom and an opportunity to be new.

Blogger Zack Hunt writes, "Jesus is about transformation, about finding us just the way we are, but not leaving us that way. When the sick come to Jesus, they leave healed. After the lame meet Jesus, they walk home. The blind can see after he touches them. Even the dead come back to life when Jesus calls them out of their tomb."


Just when I think I've arrived and doing exactly what I need to do, God shows me areas that need transformation: attitudes that hurt others, habits that become addictions, desires that leave me empty, and words that don't reflect Him.  

Transformation isn't instant.. A new nature is a lifelong process of digging out seeds of bitterness, pulling out thick tangles of deception, cutting out dark spots of jealousy, scrubbing away pride, adding self-control, goodness, and peace, as He carves, blends, and paints a new person with a new mind and a greater purpose. 

Why rot on the porch when you can be transformed? 

Katy































































Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Daydreaming and Pretending





I have two questions for you. 1. If you could be anyone else, who would you be?  2. Aren’t you tired of that question?

I think about that question because I like to daydream and pretend, but not as much as Walter Mitty.

James Thurber’s dark short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, is considered a masterpiece, and the word Mittyseque has even entered the English Language. It means an ineffectual person who spends more time in heroic daydreams than paying attention to the real world, or more seriously, one who intentionally attempts to mislead or convince others that he is something that he is not. (Wikipedia)

The story’s protagonist, Walter Mitty, has five heroic daydreams while driving to town to buy groceries and take his wife to the beauty parlor.  In his mind, he’s powers a Navy hydroplane, performs surgery, appears in court as an alleged murderer, fights the Germans in World War II, and waits to be shot by a firing squad.

Although Mitty never tries to mislead his wife, whose roll is to bring him back to reality, his daydreams are vivid enough to convince himself that he’s someone else.

As I daydreamer, I’ll answer my first question just for fun.  If I could be anyone else, I’d like to be either a landscape architect designing patios, gardens, outdoor kitchens, and one of a kind, magnificent, award winning, magazine worthy gardens OR I’d like to be a published novelist, with my work being read by more than just a handful of obligated close friends and with at least eighty percent five star reviews on Amazon.

The landscape architect gig is out since the thought of geometry makes me sick and my gardening style is basically this looks like a good place for a new flower bed today. Next week, another portion of my yard will look like a good place, but first I’ll need to finish the bed I started last year.  My magazine will have to be Facebook and my award a hot bath with Epsom salts.

As for being a fiction novelist, I spent four years daydreaming about being published, with about sixty hours each year devoted to actually writing the novel.
Then, I decided to change that question from If I could BE anyone else, who would I be to If I could DO anything else, what would I do? Instead of daydreaming about being someone else, I decided to BE myself but DO something else. I stopped pretending and spent thirteen months and over six hundred hours on a first draft.

This is what I discovered. Daydreaming and pretending were easier and a lot less scary, but they  didn’t take me anywhere.  Doing did.
Katy






















Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Clueless in Love




2002 Hope
Being a recycling nature lover, I was thrilled when my daughter, Hope, joined Planet Patrol in 6th grade. She took it seriously, too. She didn't want us to see Roper Mountain Lights in Greenville during the Christmas holidays.  We assured her their lights burned even if we stayed home.  "But it's too much gas to drive over there."  When we considered driving to a Disney park from our hotel on vacation, Hope absolutely refused.  "That's what the buses are for."  I was proud of her, but one morning driving to school, we had an interesting conversation.

"You know what's a great idea, Mom? School buses."                                                         
"Yes, they are."
"I mean, think of all the gasoline that's saved when people ride the bus. I'm glad people ride the school bus."
"I didn't know you felt that way. I rode the bus when I was your age. Maybe you can, too."
"Oh, no.  I wasn't talking about me.  I'm not a bus rider."
Clueless, what was good for others was not good for her.


Does "what's good for others is good for me" apply to love? Considering the love chapter, 1st Corinthians 13, What if I'm kind and patient to and not envious of the people I love or the people I like, especially when they're kind and patient with me.  What if I only behave rudely when others are rude to me. Is that love?

Imagine the crowd of clueless faces when Jesus spoke of love.
"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."  Mark 12:31


And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way." Luke 6:31

Surely he must mean treat others as they treat me.  What's good for me is good for them.  If they're rude, I should at least let everyone know about it, right?  If they lie to me, surely I can lie to them.  If they control me, shouldn't I control them?  If she gossips about me, she deserves a few slanderous remarks. Others manipulate situations to suit themselves.  Shouldn't I do the same?  If they post something negative about my school, my work, my church, or my passion on Facebook, I'm instructed to do the same, right? 

Clueless in love is not for those of us who believe. 

A few years ago, my pastor gave us a few Occasional Important Reminders. Based on Titus 3:1-8, one of our reminders was to be Magnanimously Gracious People.  Magnus -great, Animus -soul & mind.  Another reminder was NOT TO use our words to heap abuse on people, revile people with our words, be caught up in society's drama, or be contentious.  Instead, we are to be peacemakers, be under control and not fearful, and be considerate of others. link to sermon Occasional Important Reminders/January 26,2014


Love is a tall order. Believer's Bible Commentary suggests that I think of how much I love myself and how much of my activity is centered around the care and comfort of myself, then try and imagine if I showered that same love on my neighbors, everyone I know.  If I think it's impossible for me, I'm absolutely right.  I'm clueless because that behavior isn't natural.  
This love is only possible if I ask God, who is all Love, to guide me.


Happy Valentine's Day, Neighbors,

 Katy




















Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Waiting





Athletic abilities amaze me, so I love to watch football. I enjoy a long pass with a good reception, an interception, and a sack. However, I don’t enjoy time out. In a close game, the seconds seem like hours. But sometimes the big plays or turnovers come after the time outs. 

And half time? I want the second half to start immediately after the band plays to find out what’s going to happen next and who’s going to win.  Players need that rest, though, to hopefully return with renewed strength after adjustments are made.

2014 Hershey

I used to wish for a year without winter, to move from fall into spring. As a gardener, I didn’t want to wait another three months for my spring perennials to show up.



But, the older I get, I look forward to winter, to a still and colorless season. Although nature looks dead, it’s not. It’s dormant: inactive, asleep, suspended, making adjustments.  Nothing grows without rest. Nature is simply waiting.

My yard is brown. My perennials are mostly covered with pine needles.  But the suspended lilies, inactive iris, sleeping hosta and resting cherry trees will grow bigger, fuller, stronger, and maybe more colorful after their rest.



When spring comes, I’ll divide the perennials, giving myself more to enjoy.  Three months isn’t too long if the results are a fragrant spring, bright summer, and golden fall.



Since 2009, The Summer of My Poison Ivy, I’ve reserved walking in the woods for the winter. My late Labrador, Hershey, liked to wander through the woods. My new puppy, Maybelle, does, too. She takes her sweet time, sniffing and inspecting every leaf and fallen branch. Nothing is hidden, so we see details we've never seen before. The leaves are softening the soil, making it more valuable.  The trees are bare, making the sunsets more visible.



2017 Maybelle
Psalm 27: 14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.


Waiting isn’t fun, but it’s necessary, and according to Dr. Seuss, everyone’s doing it.

Everyone is just waiting…mail to come….phone to ring…hair to grow…for Friday night… a pot to boil or a Better Break…or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting…… (from Oh the Places You’ll Go).

Not knowing what comes next can make us anxious and tired, but God strengthens our hearts while we wait. What was hidden becomes visible in the waiting.  Maybe we pray more.  Adjustments are made. Although it seems like a lifetime, we’re only dormant for a short time, and then we see something new, better, stronger, and brighter, maybe in ourselves or our situations.



Keep waiting. There may be a turnover soon,



Katy


 





























Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Campfire Television




My Grandmamma and Granddaddy Brown were avid campers who often took me and my sister, Susi, along.  I have fond memories and miss those times.

We started in a pop-up camper and gradually progressed to a small travel trailer with a table on one end, a tiny kitchen in the middle and a double bed on the other end. Above our snoring grandparents, Susi and I squeezed into a bunk bed where our heads hit the ceiling when we sat up. The close quarters got smaller in the morning when Granddaddy Brown woke early and boiled water for his Sanka.

This suffocating steam sent us outside to explore and play in the dirt and gravel with other camping kids.  We were never bored.  The only time I remember missing home was when Granddaddy kept a running tab in his little notebook of how much I owed him for meals while we traveled from one state park to another.  He knew I was gullible, and although he never kept a tab for Susi, I believed him and hoped my dad would pay him back for my $1.50 breakfast. 

My grandparents traveled with their camping club, The Puddle Ducks, and spent nights sitting in lawn chairs and talking either under an awning or around a campfire.  Occasionally, they'd send us kids snipe hunting.  If you don't know what that is, you've missed a great part of growing up.


When my daughter was a teenager, I willingly chaperoned her youth group, Concord Baptist, on a few rafting trips, and my favorite part of the trip was the quiet, relaxing campfire after an adventurous day in the hot sun. Without cell phones, ipods, video games or television, entertainment for three adults and eleven kids was a crackling fire, where we enjoyed each others' company and combed the woods for the perfect marshmallow toasting stick.

I remembered to buy marshmallows but forgot the graham crackers and chocolate bars; however, a toasted marshmallow between two chocolate chip cookies was a hit and became known as a "Concord" S’more. 

Several of us stayed outside for hours after the Concord S’mores were gone and watched the colorful flames grow then subside as logs burned and flames danced. We watched the logs change, fall, break, then turn to ash. More logs were added, heating our faces and providing us with more quiet entertainment as they slowly burned, diminished, and eventually crashed to the ground, throwing red sparks at our feet.  Real and unrehearsed, witnessing nature's superiority over anything manmade was far better than watching television.


My friends' fire pit
where they enjoy campfire television
This natural entertainment seems to be popular now, not just with autumn bon fires and winter fireplaces, but with cozy fire pits on our patios. It isn't easy, but hopefully we're moving our families away from technology as often as possible.  I don't intend to give up my favorite shows, but it won't hurt to watch a few hours of campfire television more often.


Turn it off and go outside,

Katy
2016 Concord Young Singles
enjoying natural entertanment