Tag Archives: Family

I’ve forgotten how to do this.

11 Sep

What’s that?  No, I’ve not forgotten how to blog.  Although, truth be told, I’m out of practice.

I’ve forgotten how to do yard work.

Stop laughing.

Over the summer of excessive temperatures, I was either working seven days a week (which continues), or I was traveling.  Between my son and I, our goals were to keep the front yard mowed so the neighbors wouldn’t picket, and keep the back yard mowed so we wouldn’t lose the dog when he went out to take a pee.  My little square foot garden thirsted away.

That was it.  My son left for college a month ago, and I was left on my own. 

So, I’ve planned to take the time I could this fall to get the yard cleaned up.  Clean up the branches that the oak trees keep depositing.  They’re determined to come down one at a time.  If you’d like to facilitate a quicker removal, I have a PayPay account.  But I also plan to clean out the flower beds that have been grassed in, and clean out the dry stream bed that no longer really works for rainwater control. 

It’s a beautiful day, I got out sort of early.  But the question was, what to do first?  I used to spend all day working in the yard, mulching and weeding and planting, etc.  No so much anymore.  And when today, I encountered a problem with the weed eater, I was stuck.

No, I didn’t quit.  I just took care of some other things.  But it made me realize I was out of practice.  The next step of yard work just didn’t come easy.  I had to stop and think it through.  Who knew that yard work could be so paralyzing?

Still, it was good to be back out there.  While I didn’t accomplish as much as I hoped, I do have a grasp now on what has to be done.  So on those rare evenings when I’ve got an hour or two to spend outside, I’ll be productive.  I can take on smaller projects and move forward.

After all, the leaves will be changing soon.

How a Montgomery County, Virginia UPS driver ruined my family’s evening…and maybe week.

7 Sep

My wife works in sales. Periodically she has to ship training materials to locations around the state. This is one of those weeks.

Last week, she went to our local UPS Store to ship a package from Richmond to Montgomery County. It had to be there today. If it’s there later than 7:30 tomorrow morning, it’s too late. So she paid the extra rate for guaranteed delivery by close of business today.

Around 1:00 p.m. today she called UPS to track the package. She was told that before noon the driver had attempted to deliver the package but that the addressee was no longer at that address. He. Was. Wrong.

So, when I got home after 6:00 p.m., she was STILL trying to get an answer from UPS. In the course of conversation she determined that the driver never actually went inside the building. She clarified the address.

Apparently that was a mistake.

Seems UPS took it as an “address change” which automatically delays the “guaranteed by close of business today” for 24 hours.

Huh?

Another hour or so on the phone with no luck.

To his credit, the manager of the local UPS Store got on the phone and located the package. The trainer should be able to go to the airport tonight to pick up the package.

If not, my wife has to get up at 3:00 a.m. and drive to Montgomery County.

Oh yes, we’ll be getting those shipping charges back.

And using them to send things from FedEx.

And Can It Be?

18 Aug

My Class Hymn at Asbury College University.  And yes, I have a special reason for posting it today.

Remembering Aunt Clara

25 Feb

It’s odd the trivial things in a day that can bring a rush of childhood memories. Tonight on my way home the knob on my truck lights came off in my hand. Until I can get it fixed, I now have to install and remove it anytime I turn the lights off or on.

As I drove down Midlothian Turnpike, my thoughts turned to my great Aunt Clara.

Aunt Clara was the youngest of my grandfather’s siblings. Born in 1905 in rural Southwest Virginia she lived in the family home place her entire life. No electricity, no indoor plumbing. Water was either from the well or from the mountain spring that ran into the zinc tub on the porch.

Since I was one of the youngest of the cousins, my memories of Clara are vague. I’d visit there with my grandfather as we walked “around the mountain” picking blackberries along the way. We’d often come home with butter that Clara had churned, made from the milk of the cows she raised.

Fiercely independent, chopping her own wood, growing her own vegetables, Clara had no need to go into town. In that small frame house she cared for her mother, my great grandmother, until she passed in 1955, three years before I was born.

Clara lived on in the house, stubbornly refusing to move to a more convenient home. Cousins tell me of her remarkable memory. She knew the names and birthdates of all the great nieces and nephews without ever having to write them down.

In her later years, family finally convinced her that she was eligible for Social Security payments. Several months after she was deemed eligible, they had to convince her to cash the checks. She had no need for the money.

But they helped her use the money to put electricity in the house. She didn’t think she needed that either. That’s where my memory came tonight.

Visiting Clara after the electricity was installed a cousin asked her why she didn’t have the lights on, but was still using an oil lamp.

Clara said, “well, I can turn the lights on.” So she went to the fuse box, installed the fuse and threw the switch.

When skin cancer spread from her forehead to her eye, Clara finally left the mountain for the first time in decades to go to town. What a strange new world it must have been for her as the doctor tried to explain to her the concept of radiation treatments.

Clara died in 1979. The family home place was destroyed by fire a few years later.

But the memories of this simple mountain woman linger and sometimes, like that single fuse, or that broken switch shed a little light and a little warmth on a cold winter day.

Feel good video: GoD and DoG

21 Sep

We'll Talk it Over

1 Aug

I had no idea this video was out there.  My Dad’s sisters (we lost them in 1983 and 2006) used to sing this.  What a testimony from Danny Gaither, who went home to talk it over in 2001.

Why I Hate August 1st

1 Aug

Okay, so may be hate is too strong a word.  Then again, maybe not.

August 1st will always be significant.  August 1, 1978 to be specific.

I was traveling with our college ministry team and we’d just returned from an overnight at a camp meeting.  The week before had been difficult.  I’d managed to wreck one of the two team vehicles.  Minor car damage; no one hurt.  But after our Saturday night concert wrapping up a youth rally at a church in Flint, Michigan. The family of three of the youth attending our event were in a tragic car accident.  Both parents were killed, the three children survived. Sunday morning was difficult as we tried to minister to the congregation of that church.   

Monday we headed up to the camp meeting and returned on Tuesday morning.  I was with two of my closest friends and we were getting ready to do some temporary work on the car that I’d wrecked. 

The phone rang and I heard the voice of my Pastor on the other end.  “You need to come home, your father passed away this morning.”

How could that be?  He was only 49. And, at 51, don’t think I miss the significance of that.

I’d just seen him a few weeks prior when we traveled through Georgia.  He and my Mom made the trip down to see us on tour and we’d spent a couple of days off from the tour in Florida.

After that phone call, I was quickly on a plane back home to Virginia.  One of my friends with me gave me some things to read that he thought would be encouraging.  At the top of one was this verse.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

~ Psalm 46:1

That’s been something of a life verse since then. And it’s been proven true time and time again. Through that horrible week of saying goodbye to my Dad, way too soon. And through the rough months ahead as I dealt with that loss.

The verse gained new meaning some twelve years later when I was diagnosed with cancer. A different situation, yet the same eternal truth.

I think I was somewhere in my 40s when the realization finally clicked with me that we’re not supposed to expect an easy life here on earth. We’re not supposed to be comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, God will and does supply our needs. But this isn’t home.

And one day, when we are home, August 1st won’t be such a bad day anymore.

You can't go home again

28 Jun
The New River, Giles County, Virginia

The New River, Giles County, Virginia

But I tried this past weekend.  Actually I visited my Mom and Stepdad and at the same time took the nine-year-old for an extended summer visit.  He’ll come home later in the week.

It was a good visit, and a good time to be back home in Giles County.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but for the first time in a long time, perhaps ever, I began to see what a wonderful area of the Commonwealth that really is.  Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps it was just sentimental.

But we took a walk along the river down below Ripplemead and I saw the New River with fresh eyes.  Later driving the old school bus route, I saw Angel’s Rest Mountain framed by trees and I realized, I grew up taking that mountain and the surrounding area for granted.

On the way out of town this morning I made the obligatory stop at the cemetary.  I don’t always, sometimes I’m rushed, sometimes it just doesn’t feel right.  My dad and most of his brother’s and sisters are buried along the same hillside.  I stood there at my grandparent’s grave, and my dad’s.  Then I visited with my uncles.  For some reason this time I was struck by the listing of the military service.  I’d known it all my life, but this time there was a diferent resonance.  World War II, Korea, Vietnam.  I realized there was a depth in these men that I never saw as a child or a teenager.  And I was grateful for their service.

Around other parts of town I relived some of my own history.  I thought the town looked a little sad, perhaps a little run down.  Certainly the economic times are no easier in small town Virginia than elsewhere.

For me, it’s always seemed as if I’d left there because there was nothing there.  Granted job opportunities are scarce.  But there’s plenty there.  There’s heritage.  There’s home.

And while it may have taken me a long time to get here, for that I will always be thankful.

School's Out!

12 Jun

Random thoughts on a day in D.C.

13 Apr

uscapitalRandom thoughts…

When I die, I’ll go to heaven, ’cause I’ve spent my time at the Smithsonian with a nine-year-old.

Granted, it was with said nine-year-old, but I’m not sure I’m content with the remodel of the Museum of American History.

We saw the Presidential motorcade taking Obama off to give away more of our money.

No IMAX film or Planetarium show is long enough for a sufficient nap.

Maybe it was just me, but people seemed a bit more pushy and cranky today.  Then again, it was pretty crowded.

Funny though, how one day of riding the Metro would make me nostalgic for living and working in Washington.