This writing is dedicated to the Davis family who provided the hunting trip of a lifetime for my Dad, my brother, and my husband. It turned out to be much more than just a hunting trip. It became the memory of a lifetime for Dad and these guys. We miss you Dad. 09/15/1931 – 07/23/2011
Once upon a time there were three hunters. (Well actually there were only two hunters and one great adventurer.) These three men had an urge to take off one December on a journey to a hunting lease down in southwest Texas. This lease belonged to friends who were kind enough to offer a southwest Texas hunting experience for my husband, my little brother, and my dear, sweet Dad.
There is no comparison between hunting in southwest Texas versus hunting at the farm in East Texas. I have personally sat in stands at both places.They each have a beauty all their own, and they both offer serenity as well as the chance to see a doe or buck. In East Texas you tend to be surrounded by lush woods possibly overlooking a clearing. Your eyes must be well tuned to all movement as deer are stealth experts in that part of the woods.
The lease near the small town of Sanderson, Texas, has a beauty all its own. Sitting in the stand one can see for miles with low brush and tumbleweed being the main source of vegetation. Its rocky, desert like terrain with the mountains of Mexico lining the horizon lend a wild west feeling to the beautiful, open land. What appears to be still and lifeless at 4:30 in the evening mysteriously becomes a hotbed of activity within the hour. Mommas bring their baby fawns out to play and cautiously lead the way for those bucks who seem to instinctively know they are the prize of the day. The surrounding ground becomes covered with rabbit and quail scurrying around looking for dinner and playing in the open. It was a memorable trip for me, and one I could hardly wait for my Dad to experience.
My grandfather was not a hunter. He raised cattle and farmed. He always enjoyed visiting with the hunters in the area around the farm, but he felt that a farmer didn’t have the time to waste on hunting and fishing for pleasure – even if you did eat your kill. He concentrated his time on his crops and his cattle. As a result, Dad never did get into hunting or fishing…well, that coupled with the fact that being a full-time minister along with keeping up the farm did not leave much time for fishing and hunting. I think that is one of the joys opened up to him whenever my little brother came along. Andy had loved it from day one. Dad enjoyed watching the pleasure it brought to him, possibly living vicariously through Andy’s experiences.
It was not easy talking Dad into taking the trip. It was evident he wanted to go, but unbeknownst to us, he was already having issues and was concerned about bathroom accomodations. He was especially concerned about the nine hour trip. After much coaxing from my little brother and reassurance from Charlie that they would take their time and stop whenever he needed a break, Dad agreed to go. Once his mind was made up, he never looked back…and I am so thankful he didn’t.
He reminded me of a giddy little kid the morning they got up at 4:30 AM to head out. Giving Mom a quick peck on the lips and swat on the rear, he promised to return late Sunday evening. His answer to her warning to behave and be careful was a grin, a chuckle, and a retort that she had better talk to the two boys he was riding with. Sometime later that morning he called Mom asking her if she could hear him clearly. Thinking they were in an area with low signal, she replied that he wasn’t breaking up at all. Dad’s reply? “Well, you know I’m riding with Charlie, and as fast as he’s going, I figured it would take a little while for my voice to catch up with real time!”
I don’t know if the Davis’s will ever know just how much their kindness in allowing that trip truly meant to my Dad, my brother, and my husband. That was one of the last trips Dad was able to enjoy, and he had the time of his life. He came back with stories galore, but his favorite was the one about the older man whipping the younger man’s behind over stealing a seat at the hunter’s feast. I am not sure whether something like that has ever happened before or will ever happen again, but it truly cracked him up.
God saw fit for it to snow while he was there, and that was another source of joy for him. Dad was never one for especially liking to have pictures taken of himself. On this trip, however, there were several times he would pose somewhere and ask Charlie to take the picture and “send it back to the girls.” One of my favorites is the one below where he was hamming it up by the Davis road sign at the lease.
As the trip wound down and they drove into the driveway tired, smelly, and happy as clams, Dad asked for one more set of pictures. Before heading back to Livingston he wanted to take pictures with Charlie and Andy because he “never wanted to forget the trip he was afraid to take but was so thankful he made.” That was the closest he got to the river trip he so wanted to make at Big Bend with all of the guys. After raising three girls, he loved having his son and son-in-laws in his life. There was no mistaking the fact that he loved us all, but I am so thankful for the times Dad was able to have guy time. He so deserved that after all of the estrogen he put up with for so many years.
The wind in my hair and the contrast of the clear blue sky against the trees created the perfect setting for letting go of all worries and cares. Once we reached the creek Charlie killed the engine of the four wheeler. I closed my eyes, inhaled the scent of pine and allowed the warmth of the sun to bathe my face. I drank in the sound of birds singing a symphony to our good Lord, and I allowed my body to relax to the sound of gentle breezes blowing through the surrounding tall trees. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that no human sounds could be heard. Only birds singing, squirrels running across the carpet of pine needles and moss, and ducks flapping their wings as they quickly scattered from their previously undisturbed spot where Rocky creek meanders past a clump of trees and brush. For the first time in a long time I felt calm and free.
I sat quietly watching the leaves dance slowly to the ground and stared in amazement while a woodpecker kept perfect rhythm as it pecked away at an old tree trunk searching for breakfast. Oh how it soothes the soul to return to one’s roots. There is nothing more peaceful than pure and simple country life. Everything moves at a slower pace. Priorities seem to be better aligned, and people tend to regard the value of other human beings by remembering to say thank you, hello, and you’re welcome. Gentlemen tend to still open doors for a lady allowing her to pass through first as they tip their hats as a sign of respect.
Within hours we were headed back to a vastly different way of life. I closed my eyes remembering the serenity of the woods as we crossed over the ship channel bridge, the landscape filled with oil and chemical plants as far as the eye could see. To be fair, I owe a debt of gratitude to one such plant since it has provided a decent paycheck and numerous opportunities for me since moving to the area. I have also met wonderful individuals with colorful personalities, generous hearts, and diverse backgrounds. However, I could not help but ask myself the question, why here?
Three reasons came to mind right away. It took this journey to meet the beautiful girls who have loved and changed our son’s lives for the better. It is through them I’ve had the honor of becoming a grandmother. These precious babies have brought so much joy to this very different phase of my life. In fact, we were returning home in preparation for a special Sunday at church – our newest little grandson’s dedication service.
I walked into church the next morning feeling as if I had walked into an intersection in time. Hearing the welcoming voices of my church family today reminded me of those at Chesswood on the Sunday my Dad held the dedication service for my little brother. I looked around at the presence of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents…the same roles, but different people filling these roles. I thought of my own son’s dedication service, allowing my heart to absorb the fact that today it is my son who is once again the Dad, and me the grandmother.
It was then God reminded me of the special heritage this day represents – a heritage of faith. No matter where we are, no matter the number of miles between us, on Sunday as I sit in church I can rest assured my Mom, my brother, my sisters, their families and I are all in one accord worshipping the same Heavenly Father to whom those birds at the farm sang their songs of praise. We may be in different towns, singing different songs, and praying different prayers, but we are under one heaven singing and praising with the angels in heaven, including my Dad, Randy and Tripp’s Poppy, and our grandparents. This heritage of faith must be taught and lived before these new little lives entrusted into our care.
So why here? Only God knows for sure. All I know is I want to be faithful wherever I am placed for whatever length of time God sees fit for me to be there, and for whatever purpose I am given.
“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” I Corinthians 7:17
I awoke, a peaceful quiet surrounding my dreams. The only audible sound came from the whirring of the box fan at the foot of my pallet. I don’t know why I sleep so well to the sound of a fan. Perhaps it is because the house I lived in growing up had an attic fan cooling those hot summer nights. Or possibly it has something to do with the countless naps taken at my grandparent’s homes in front of metal-bladed oscillating fans. All I know is I carry my box fan wherever I go…winter or summer…Hyatt Regency or Motel 6.
Slipping into my houseshoes I made my way to the kitchen of the one-room cabin seeking a cup of coffee to ease my way into the day. I looked around the room that a short week before echoed with laughter and was permeated with the scent of Christmas. It is amazing how events of the present so quickly become memories of the past. Relishing that thought, I made my way over to the recliner in front of the large windows facing the pasture. I became enamoured with the beauty of the morning mist floating over the hillside. The movement of a red bird over by the old persimmon tree caught my eye, and I watched as it flitted and danced from limb to limb perfectly content to be alive. The warmth of the steam in my coffee cup made its way to my lips, and I slowly relaxed deep into the comfort of the recliner. I allowed my mind to wander back to memories of Christmases past.
Within seconds the recliner was replaced in my mind with a green naugahyde rocker, most likely bought in the 1950’s. My feet barely dangled off the edge as I rocked with all of my might attempting to make the rocker go back as far as possible without turning over. Maw Maw Hood’s tiled floors were polished reflecting the shimmer of lights and silver icicles hanging from the Christmas tree. The smells of the fresh tree mixed with pies and the welcoming fragrance of pine kindling smoldering as Paw Paw started a warm fire in the fireplace were comforting beyond compare.
Melody and I were the only grandbabies at the time, and Paw Paw Hood treated us like royalty. Although he was known to be a little gruff when it came to work or his cattle, when it came to us girls he melted like butter. During the day while Paw Paw was working, we were helping Maw Maw feed the chickens or watching her churn butter on the front steps of the old place. Every so often we would get in a game of Go Fish with her. However, at the end of the day when the chores were done, it was Paw Paw Hood’s footsteps we followed. I loved that man dearly. To this day I can feel the starch in his collar and the slight scratch whiskers whenever he picked me up to give me a hug and swirl me around as I giggled the whole time.
Long before we were ready dinner was over. Soon after, my sister and I found ourselves in our flannel pajamas having said our goodnight prayers and sinking deep into the feather mattress in Paw Paw Hood’s four poster bed. We lay there staring at the ceiling weighted down by warm, heavy quilts. We competed to see who could blow the biggest steam clouds resulting from our warm breath coming in contact with the cold air of the bedroom. The sounds of our giggling reached the living room, and Dad yelled out a warning that Santa was close to flying over the farm. We knew we could not be awake whenever he arrived or he may not be able to sneak our presents under the tree.
We got quiet, and the next thing I knew, Dad and Mom were waking us up with the news that Santa had made it down the chimney! We wanted to run into the living room, but Dad made us wait until he could get in place with the big old 8 mm movie camera (with lights that must have been as bright as the star of David!) Just as the anticipation became more than we could bear, the bedroom door swung open. There stood both sets of grandparents, my Aunt Judy, and our cousins Bonnie and Carolyn waiting with as much anticipation as we were experiencing. My eyes searched past all of the people to the tree where I saw toys and presents galore! I scooted around the tree in wonder to the empty glass of milk and the saucer of cookie crumbs. My hands shook at the thought that Santa himself had touched these items only a few hours before. Just then the sound of the four wheeler brought me back to the present.
What a precious blessing memories are. God knew how desperately we needed these connections to our past moments – moments we are creating every second of every day. My heart goes out to those who are dealing with the dreaded disease of Alzheimers. Please pray for someone today who is dealing with the disease either directly or through a family member. I have several friends whose parents are at different stages of the disease. It is heartbreaking to see them lose their loved one a little at at time to Alzheimers. I cannot imagine someone I love who is a part of my memories being here in body, but absent in mind.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Philippians 1:3
Thank You for the ability to remember the good in our lives. Thank You also for Your power to cleanse and make new those things we would rather forget. Dear God, I pray for all I know who are unable to remember, or who have lost the precious ability to reminisce with those they love who were a part of their life story. Give their family members strength and peace. Thank You for the knowledge that You care for us and for the promise that although we will face trouble in this world, You have overcome the world, and You will see us throught whatever circumstance we face.
In Jesus precious name,
The Way of Love
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
English Standard Version (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalms 34:18
He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.”
I have had a rough time writing this past week or so due to the busy holiday season. I hope you all had a blessed time of Thanksgiving with your family and friends. It seems that time passes much too quickly when we are all together having fun and making memories. We all had a great time relaxing and playing together with my family out at the farm once again, and I am anxious to spend time with my in-laws during the Christmas holidays. I never ceased to be amazed at the blessing of family.
As always, it is tough returning to the “real world” of work and taking care of those daily responsibilities that tend to weigh you down. In the midst of taking care of one such responsibility, I had the sobering experience of having my car broken into in the parking lot of a brand new store just a few miles from my home. I have only had my car about a month, and it is one of the nicest ones I have ever owned. I am especially proud of it because we were blessed to get such a great deal on it giving us much more car for less money.
I had only been in the store for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, and I was not prepared for what I found when walking back out to my car. As I looked up and saw the shattered glass, my mind could not comprehend what I was seeing. I even argued with myself that it couldn’t be my car. As I got closer and the reality sunk in as to what had happened. I looked into the front passenger seat to find shattered glass where my makeup bag and lunch kit had been only a few moments before. My console and glove compartment were open, and items were strewn all over. Broken glass had made deep scrratches in the paint on my passenger door.
I knew I had made a mistake by leaving those items out where they were visible, but a makeup bag and a lunch kit? Walking back into the store trembling I faintly remembered earlier having seen an older white car with its break lights on as I was moving toward my parking space. I stopped briefly thinking it was about to back out. When it didn’t, I proceeded to park in the spot next to the car. I also remembered looking over wondering what happened to the two individuals I could have sworn were there just a few moments before. I suppose they were ducking down as to not be noticed.
A female eye witness had also noticed the car as well as a man getting out and following me into the store. She had apparently gone in right after the man and came out before him. She saw the man come out of the store a few moments before me, get into the white car and leave. It was then she noticed my broken car window and stayed around to tell what she had seen. I was told that he was most likely the lookout. Store employees reviewed the security tape from cameras inside the store. The man had been smart enough to walk into the store with a cap on with his head bowed low so that his face was hidden. Unfortunately, the store does not have security cameras installed in the designated parking area where I parked.
As the police officer began taking the report, he firmly reminded me of how dangerous of a situation I could have been in. He also began relaying statistics of how these types of crimes are on the rise. People are thinking less and less of taking from others The officer’s frustration was evident with the overwhelming task of attempting to protect citizens and make a difference while watching the growing problem.
The theives probably do not know or care, but the crime they committed in less than 10 minutes caused $1,000 worth of damage not to mention the value of the contents taken from the car.
Having said that, I am so blessed that was the extent of the damage. The results could have been far worse. I am also grateful for God giving me a direct revelation of His love and guidance through an individual who chose to allow Him to be seen through her that night. While we were waiting for the police to arrive, the store manager came out to have me fill out paperwork their store requires in situations like this. I began crying as the reality was setting in on me as to what had just happened. The manager put her arm around me, and I will never forget what she said. She looked me in the eye and firmly said, “Be thankful, God is trying to tell you something through this.” This made the tears flow harder as I wondered what I was doing that would cause Him to feel the need to tell me something in this way. She smiled kindly and repeated the words. This time they took on a different meaning in my heart. She went on to say, “God does not allow anything to happen to us in order to harm us, but for our good.’
Since that time I have battled with shock, disbelief, anger, and feeling violated. In the midst of it all, however, I keep coming back to what God told me through that precious lady. He is trying to tell me something, and whatever it is will be for my good. This has allowed me to earnestly pray for those individuals. I pray they will be caught and held accountable for their own sake and for the sake of justice. I pray that God will bless them by sending someone into their lives to share Christ’s love and mercy. I pray that God would change their hearts to be givers instead of takers. I pray for God’s protection around my home since they have some of my personal information.
Most of all, however, I praise God for the protection and comfort He showed to me on a night when I was walking through a “sun-scorched land”. He “strengthened my frame” at a time when I felt so discouraged. I am just a normal person with faults who makes mistakes like anyone else. If He will do this for me, He will surely do the same for you.