Category Archives: Family

Weekend Survey

Christmas is in the air!

Most of us have many traditions that we observe during this time. Some are old, some a little newer. For the enjoyment of all and the sake of getting better acquainted with one another, would you mind sharing with us some of your traditions? Perhaps an old and a new?

 Our family has always opened one gift on Christmas Eve. (That was an old one.)

On a newer note, for the last three years we have begun using an Advent wreath. It has led to some very meaningful times of family worship.

How about you?

Do I Look Like a Threat to National Security?

I’m serious. I’m a patriotic, law-abiding, tax-paying, voting citizen of the good ol’ US of A. I have ancestors who have fought in every war in our nations illustrious history. My forefathers were among the earliest colonists. I still get chills when I hear the “Star-Spangled Banner”. I am an American.

Which is why I was shocked and humiliated on my recent trip to Washington, D.C. to find myself being pulled aside and searched in a very personal manner.

As most of my readers will know, my brother, his family and mine got together at his home in Virginia a couple of weeks ago. We had a great visit and saw some incredible fall foliage. While we were there, we had planned to tour our nation’s capital together. One of the sites on the itinerary was the U.S. Capitol building.

I took great pains in preparing for the day to deliberately eliminate items from my attire that might arouse suspicion. I left my pocket knife in the hotel room. I chose not to wear my shotgun shell studded belt since it has a lot of extra metal on it, opting instead for a plain black leather job.

I had already passed through a number of metal detectors without incident. We went through the very thorough security checkpoint to enter the capitol building without a hitch. Just innocent tourists seeing the sights and pointing them out to our kids.

Having obtained some passes to the Senate gallery from our tour guide, we decided to drop in and see our tax dollars at work. We dropped off those items, such as cameras, etc., that were prohibited at the check room and proceeded to yet another security point.

The rest of our group went through with no problem and I assumed that I was okay as well. As I approached the gate, I noticed a box of disposable rubber gloves on top. It seemed as if a few were missing. The forefinger of one stuck ominously out of the slot in the box. It seemed to fold over and point itself at me as I handed my keys to the guard.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said, “You can’t take these into the Senate.”

“Are you serious?” I asked. “These are keys.”

At my use of the word “serious”, his left eyebrow arched slightly as if to say, “I never joke.”

“This is a battery-operated, electronic device,” he replied, pointing to the remote keyless entry thing-a-ma-bob that opens the door to my Jeep. “You can’t take battery operated, electronic devices into the Senate. Please take it back down to the check-room.”

Feeling a bit foolish (although, I don’t know why) I made my back down the corridor to the check room. The attendant grinned when he saw me.

“Back so soon?”

Wordlessly, I handed him my key ring.

“Ah,” he said knowingly, “Happens all the time.”

Feeling a little less confident I once again approached the security point. The two guards, one male and one female, were eyeing me suspiciously. The rubber finger sticking out of the box of gloves seemed to be getting longer. I took a deep breath and walked through the gate.

Sure enough, it lit up like a Christmas tree and emitted a loud tone that caused several heads in the corridor to turn and look at me as if I should be on the next boat to Guantanamo.

“Sir, please step over to the side and raise your hands,” the female guard instructed with all the sternness of a fifth grade English teacher reprimanding a little boy for saying “Ain’t”.

Right there, in front of my family and the world, I stood with my hands in the air as she swept me from head to toe with a battery-operated electronic device that for some reason made me think of these guys.

As the device passed over my right pants pocket, it gave a loud “Beep”. I flinched, expecting to be vaporized at any second. The guard’s eyes went to the box of rubber gloves.

It was at that moment that I had an epiphany and discovered what James meant by “effectual, fervent prayer.” Thankfully, God intervened and the gloves remained in the box.

“Sir, what do you have in your pocket?” She asked coldy.

Before I could stammer out that I had a pocketful of change, she suddenly decided to FRISK me and began grabbing handfuls of my leg.

YIKES!!!!

“It’s change, it’s nothing but money,” I was finally able to gasp.

She finally became convinced that I was telling the truth and let me pass, but my humiliation was complete.

Can you believe that? It was money, legal tender that had been validated and minted under the authority of the very people I was going to see working (?).

Then, after all of that, we entered the Senate and saw a grand total of five Senators on the job. I have a hunch the other ninety-five were hard at work coming up with a bi-partisan plan to further humiliate their constituents.

Now, I realize that security is important. One of the most basic rights guaranteed to American citizens is the government’s protection of the innocent’s right-to-life from those who would threaten them.

That makes me wonder, how strictly do they search the Senators before they release them upon the general public?

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope to get caught up on posting about what has been going on in my life the last couple of weeks after the holiday.

Until then, have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the time with friends and family. Indulge in the traditional feast and collapse on the sofa in a turkey-induced coma and sleep through the football game of your choice. Wake up and enjoy a second piece of pumpkin pie.

Most of all, take the time to be thankful for all of the many blessings that our gracious Father pours out upon us daily. He is so much better to us than we are to Him.

 God bless.

Getting Out of Town

Things have been slow here at Heavenly Heartburn for the last few days and are about to get a little slower.

I’m going on vacation.

Yeehaw!

Going to see my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Randy in Walterboro, SC, then on up to Farmville, VA to visit my brother and his family for a few days. We hope to see a little of Washington, DC, while we are in the neighborhood.

After that, we will be returning to Augusta, GA, to attend the Georgia Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. (Just typing it makes me tired!)

I will try to give you a full report when I return. In the meantime, if you think about it, say a prayer for us.

Bits and Pieces

It’s been quite a weekend. On Friday, I took my two sons along with my mom and dad to St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge. We had attempted to go the week before, but had to postpone the trip due to sickness.

We had a great time and saw a variety of birds including, wild turkey, bald eagle, osprey (a really big one), white ibis, glossy ibis, wood stork, egrets and herons of several varieties (including a beautiful great blue heron), kingfisher, pelicans and some blue-wing teal. We also saw a deer as we were leaving. Migrating butterflies were everywhere and we were able to see a really nice rainbow.

On Saturday, my wife and I went with some friends to see the Seminoles beat up on North Carolina State. It was a great game, even though the weather was a little wierd. We had a lightening delay of about 49 minutes, but when we re-entered the stadium, there was a beautiful double rainbow arching over the field. (I wonder if there is any significance in that? hmmm).

We had a wonderful day at church yesterday. There was a great spirit in the services and the fellowship was sweet. Last night we had several members share some scriptures that they had been reading and talk about what they were learning from the Word. It was really great and some edifying thoughts were brought out. On the way to church, we saw yet another rainbow, making it the first time in my life that I have seen rainbows on three consecutive days.

I also want to share with those of you who might be interested about a blog that some friends are running right now. Keith and Julie Parker and their son race are the son-in-law, daughter and grandson of Cleve and Judy Dixon who attend Pine Park Baptist Church. Keith recently graduated from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. They are in the process of adopting a little boy from Viet Nam. Julie is keeping a blog of their trip and the process. You can read about it here. Please keep this family in your prayers as they travel.

I hope you have a blessed day. Come back soon.

Weekend Survey

The family and I are going to go down to St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge (pictured in my header) to do some hiking and birding this afternoon. We have plans for a picnic supper and hopefully the bald eagles have returned after the summer.

As majestic as the eagles are, however, I would have to say that the bird that fascinates me the most is the Great Blue Heron. These birds have some amazing beauty and I never get tired of watching them hunt for supper in the wading pools with the sun setting in the background.

So, with that in mind, this week’s survey is for the birds. Which bird is your favorite?

God bless and have a great weekend.

Oh, yeah, the ‘Noles are gonna take Alabama down hard!

The Great Yellowjacket Caper

   From time to time, I enjoy writing about the outdoor adventures that I experience with my two sons. One of our favorite activities is squirrel hunting. We really enjoy hunting them, and eating them is fun, too. It seems like just about anything can happen when you are in pursuit of these fuzzy little critters. With the fall season fast approaching, we are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to go after a mess of ’em.

   The events of this story took place about five years ago on my grandmother’s farm. She lives about 45 minutes away from us and we enjoy going over there and hunting, fishing and just generally knocking around in the woods.

   My oldest son, Clay, was 6 at the time. One Saturday morning, I took him and (another little boy who was 4 whose name I promised not to mention–hereafter known only as “X”) squirrel hunting at Nana’s (my grandmother) place.

   It was a balmy fall morning, slightly overcast and the squirrels were active. We had already bagged two or three in the location where we had started and decided to move around a bit since Clay and Gl X were getting antsy.

   We started making our way through a stand of oak trees when I happened to look up at the sky and saw a bald eagle flying overhead. This was the first (and only) bald eagle I have ever seen on my grandmother’s farm and I began to move more quickly trying to get a clearer look at it as it flew slowly over the watermelon field that was between the woods where we were hunting and Nana’s house.  The boys were trying to keep up with me and I didn’t want to get too far ahead of them, so I found an opening in the trees that gave me a clear view and stopped to watch the eagle fly away.

   It was then that little X hollered that he was stuck in some briars. Clay, being a helpful brother, stopped to help him get untangled. I began to make my way to them, when suddenly Clay yelled, “Yellowjackets!”

   Yellowjackets, being the sneaky sort of bug that they are, often build their nests in the ground. Leaves can cover the openings to the nest leaving them practically invisible. Unbeknownst to X, when he got tangled in the briars, his little foot was sinking down into a large yellowjacket nest.

   The pandemonium that ensued could best be described by imagining a whirlwind in a henhouse. I dropped my gun and ran back to where Clay was still trying to disentangle X from the grip of the briars, even as the yellowjackets were rising from the nest and circling angrily around them. X felt the prick of the briars and thought the yellowjackets were stinging him and began to scream.

   I told Clay to run for it and grabbed X by his arm, pulling him free of the briars. His shoe (brand new–naturally I had grabbed the wrong ones that morning) came off in the yellowjacket nest. I drug him through the woods with the yellowjackets in pursuit as we tried to catch up with Clay who had suddenly found his high gear.

   We made it out of the woods and realized that the yellowjackets were no longer chasing us, but that the boys had them crawling all over them. Concerned that they might be up their sleeves or pants legs, I told the boys to take their clothes off. They stripped down to their skivvies and for some unknown reason, they turned in unison and took off through the watermelon patch for Nana’s house wearing nothing but their Fruit-of-the-looms.

   I tried to catch up with them (just for the record, I was fully clothed) but they were running in a highly motivated fashion. When I breathlessly arrived at the house, they were huffing and puffing and crying and trying to explain to Nana what had happened.

   After a careful examination, we found that X had miraculously escaped being stung. He had some pretty bad scratches from being snatched out of the briar patch and he had picked up some sand spurs as he ran through the watermelon patch, but was otherwise alright.

   Clay only received one sting. Wouldn’t you know that it was on the very end of his middle finger? He went around the rest of the day showing people the wounded digit. I finally told him, “Son, you either have to show them all your fingers or none of them.” (I didn’t want people to think the preacher’s kid was giving them the one-fingered salute, you understand.)

   Eventually, I went back out there and retrieved their clothes, my gun and other paraphenalia that they had shed in their flight. Unfortunately, the new shoe that X lost had to stay with the yellowjackets. By the time I got back they had adopted it as part of their house and were having a victory party in it.

   There have been times when I have questioned the intellectual abilities of squirrels, but this experience made me wonder if maybe the squirrels had formed some kind of military alliance with the yellowjackets.

   Nah, I guess that’s just me being paranoid.

   Or is it…

Editorial note: This story was approved by all of those involved in the squirrel hunt. X read and approved this article before it was posted.

Let’s Try This Again

   Okay, let’s try this blogging thing again. This summer has been great, but it has provided a lot of opportunities that have pulled me away from the computer. Now that we have resumed our homeschooling, I now have a little more time to devote to throwing my scattered thoughts into cyberspace.

   We spent the entire month of June and the first part of July involved in Clay’s all-star team. His team did very well, exceeding the expectations of a lot of people. Eventually, they finished third in their district which also placed them in the top twelve teams in the state. Congratulations, Cairo Blue!

   The one exception to baseball during June was our VBS. We had a fantastic week. It is wonderful to see how our folks get into doing their work during this time. We had some great classes with one decision for Christ as well as a number of other opportunities to minister to families in need.

   We have had a few family outings that have been a lot of fun as well. We love to visit a number of state parks and a nearby federal wildlife refuge. God has allowed us to make some very special memories this summer.

   In addition to all of this, has been the normal involvement in the ministry of our church. God has blessed as we have seen a number of answers to prayer take place.

   One other reason for my lack of material has been that I have taken up another writing project. When I have felt the creative juices flowing the last couple of months, they have been diverted in that direction. If this project works out, I will tell you about it sometime, otherwise, you may never hear of it again 😉 .

   I hope to get back to a more regular form of posting now. I appreciate all of those who have been so encouraging with your comments over the last couple of months. There are a lot of benefits to this thing of blogging, but to me, by far, the greatest is the connections you make with other people.

   So what have you been up to this summer?

Bits and Pieces

   I haven’t been on the blog much the last few days. My family and I had the opportunity to take a short vacation over the holiday weekend.

   We spent the first night and day in Atlanta, going to see the Braves (they lost), Bass Pro Shops (I love that place) and the Georgia Aquarium.

   We then went over to Warm Springs, GA, for a couple of days of peace and quiet. That is such a beautiful area and nice community. We really enjoyed ourselves and were able to catch up on some R & R.

   I have to toot the horn for my two sons for a moment. They both played on the same baseball team this year. This was the first time this had happened for us and it was very nice. I am happy to announce that their team won both the regular season championship and the league playoff. Congratulations, Clay and Glen! In addition, Clay was selected to the All-Star team for the first time. Needless to say, he is very excited.

   Once again, I want to say thanks to all of those who read this blog. Some of you I have met, and others it seems as if we have known each other for years even though we haven’t met face-to-face. I look forward to the day when we won’t need the web to communicate.

The Day I Made Papa Mad

   I had the best of intentions, I really did. I was only trying to help. I did not mean to cause chaos on the farm and make  Papa mad, but I did. As far as I can recollect, it was the only time in the seven years that Papa was part of my life that he got mad at me, his eldest grandson. Most of the time, I could do no wrong, as far as he was concerned, but on this day I blew it.

   Papa was a fisherman (actually, that’s somewhat of an understatement). He fished to eat. Speckled perch, shell-crackers and bream trembled at the thought of Papa even being near the lake. I believe if they could have, they would have jumped directly from the water into his fish cooker to avoid the humiliation of being hooked. He caught fish when no one else on the lake or even in the boat was catching fish.

   In fact, he was so good, that only once in all the times that we went fishing did I beat him. The last time we ever went fishing together I caught more than he did. It caused such such a stir in the community that local legend and Outdoor Hall-of-Famer, Jack Wingate took my picture with my fish and hung it on the wall of his restaurant where it remained for over 25 years.

   It was not unusual for Papa to go fishing 4 or 5 times a week. Since he lived way out in the country and the nearest bait store was several miles away, he developed his own bait supply. He had a nice worm bed where he would throw old coffee grounds and grits. The worms grew fat and sassy and were always in abundant supply.

   He also had a minnow tank that he had made out of one of those concrete vaults that go inside graves in the cemetary. He had located it out behind his tractor shed. It had a hole in the center that served as a drain. Plugging this hole was a piece of one-inch metal pipe. Filled with water and oxygenated by an aerator, it provided a nice abode for about a thousand minnows. They were very happy in their concrete fortress, blissfully unaware of the fact that they were destined to be eaten by bigger fish. They were also ignorant of the fact that outside that tank, the area was infested with about twenty or so cats that hung around the shed.

   It was in January of my fifth winter that the Incident occurred. We had a particularly hard cold snap that left a sheet of ice about an inch thick over the top of the minnow tank. You need to understand that it hardly ever gets that cold in South Georgia, so this was a new experience for me.

   As I looked at the minnow tank, it seemed likely to me that the minnows would not be able to get enough air to breathe. There was no way that oxygen could into the tank through that layer of ice. I could just imagine the ice thawing out in a couple of days to reveal a thousand dead minnows who had suffocated.

   I knew if that happened, Papa would be out bait for the speckled perch that I so dearly loved to eat. In addition, he would have to buy more minnows to restock the tank and that would be a lot of trouble. So, I decided to do him a favor.

   I climbed up on the cinder blocks that the tank was sitting on and leaned over the side with a stick in my hand. I figured that if I could break the ice, the minnows would be able to breathe again and the crisis would be averted. Alas, for the best laid plans of five year old boys! I leaned over just a little too far and fell into the tank, breaking the ice and completely soaking myself. That was undoubtedly the coldest water I have ever felt. It was so cold that suddenly the minnows looked like penguins.

   My younger brother stood there gazing in astonishment as I came up for air, too cold to even scream. All the noise I could manage was something that could best be described as a combination of a shriek, a gasp and a wheeze.

   In all the excitement, I managed to dislodge the metal pipe that served as a drain plug. The water began to pour out of the bottom of the tank, taking a thousand hapless minnows with it. The ground was was literally covered with flopping minnows (They did seem to be happy about the fresh air, although they were probably wondering where all the water went).

   I don’t know how the cats discovered the smorgasboard so quickly, but before I could even get out of the tank, they came pouring in from all directions like good Baptists coming to a covered-dish supper. In the days to come, everytime I would walk by the shed they would gather around me with the expectations that I would provide another feast for them.

    About that time, Papa came around the corner of the shed and saw what was happening. I had never seen the expression that came across his face before. It was a “what-in-this-world-are-you-doing-why-in-this-world-would-you-do-it-how-in-this-world-could-you-do-it” look.

   We went back inside the house. While my mom and grandma tried to get me out of my wet clothes, Papa started telling me how mad he was with me. He told me that I could never come to his house again. I couldn’t even come in his yard (we lived next door at the time). He told me he was going to put up signs that said, “No Trespassing, Scoot” (“Scoot” was my nickname back then). If I wanted to talk to Nana, I would just have to get her to come to my house or either stand at the edge of the yard and talk to her. Of course, in my semi-frozen condition, I thought he was serious.

   After a couple of days, I realized that he wasn’t mad anymore and started going back to his house, but I didn’t get anywhere near that minnow tank.