Family Reunion

   Yesterday, I had the chance to attend a family reunion from my mom’s side of the family. We all went back to Franklin Baptist Church which has been in existence for well over a hundred years in the little farming community that is named after my family.

   We had a delicious meal after which we honored the oldest man in the family, Ausmus Betts. Several stood and told stories and said nice things about him. He is a very down-to-earth type of fellow, and was really touched by it.

   After a while, as usually happens, some of the “old-timers” start telling tales about the early history of the family. One in particular came to light that I thought I would share with you.

   During the Civil War or, as some of the older ones called it, “The War of Northern Aggression”, our family was living in the low country of South Carolina. Sherman had just finished razing Georgia in his infamous “March to the Sea” and decided to turn his attention to South Carolina. It was his intention to severely punish the state who had been the first to secede from the Union.

   Aunt Pet, one of my ancestors, and her family lived in the area between Savannah and Charleston. Being poor farmers, they had very little, but Aunt Pet had a pet pig of which she was very fond. When they received word that Yankee foragers were approaching she told the children to go tie the pig to a tree in the swamp behind their house.

   After a while, a platoon of Union soldiers came up to the house. Upon the sergeant’s orders, a couple of men went into the house to search for food. After a moment, the men came back and told their sergeants, “Sarge, there’s nothing here, these people are just as poor as we are. Let’s just leave them alone.”

   Just as they were preparing to leave, something agitated the pig and he let out a loud squeal. The soldiers went into the swamp, found Aunt Pet’s pig, killed it and ate it.

   During the family business meeting, we voted unanimously to continue the family grudge against the Yankees for another year.

Things That I Don’t Like About Sports

   As anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows, I am a big sports fan. There aren’t many sports that don’t pique my interest when I have the opportunity to watch them. Hockey would be a notable exception as would soccer unless, of course, one of my sons is playing.

   There are some things that are emerging in the wide, wide world of sports, however, that I find disturbing and down-right irritating. If you will allow me to vent, I will afford you the same courtesy in the comments.

   1.  I can’t stand the term “swagger“. Teams and athletes feel like they must have “swagger” (whatever that is) to be effective in their contests. Usually this amounts to nothing more than an overabundance of charisma, taunting and intimidation of the opponent. Just play the game. If I want to watch grown men act like children, I’ll watch the presidential debates.

   2.  Contract renegotiation. Player A signs a contract for six years for an ungodly amount of money, becoming the highest-paid player in the league at his position. In the following off-season, players B and C sign contracts for larger amounts of money. Player A now sulks, complains and lollygags until his team renegotiates his contract to once again make him the highest-paid under-achiever in the league. I would say to these people, “Get a life. You make more in one game than Joe the Plumber makes in a year. Play the game and hope McCain gets elected so you can keep the fruits of your whining.”

   3.  Contract year. We now have the scenario repeated over and over through all professional leagues where a player suddenly steps his level of play way up because his current contract is about to expire and he is preparing to enter the lucrative waters of free-agency. Whatever happened to giving it your best shot every play of every game? Pete Rose may not be a paragon of virtue, but it is a travesty to deny “Charlie Hustle” access to the Hall of Fame while these slackers march toward the realm of legends. We’ve come a long way from the Babe’s incredulous statement, “You mean you’re going to pay me to play baseball?”

   4. This one always cracks me up. A running back breaks free for a twenty yard run or a wide receiver catches a pass for a big gain. A safety will bring them down hard and then jump up and start beating his chest. Are you kidding me? The guy just schooled you and your team for big yards! Tackle him for a loss and then you have reason to celebrate. Better yet, just tackle him and then walk back to your huddle and act like you’ve done the job that is expected of you.

5.  Then you have goings-on like the Baltimore Ravens putting bounties on opposing team’s players. I realize this has been going on for some time, but what Mr. Suggs and company need to realize is that the NFL is not the mafia, it is a GAME! Players who engage in such practices should be banned from the sport for life. These activities should be ranked right up (down) there with drug and steroid abuse.

Thanks for letting me get these things off my chest. I feel much better now. Please feel free to share your thoughts.

Intriguing

   Does Joe the Senator know something we don’t? According to this report from ABC news, the Democratic VP hopeful seems to be either a prophet, or have inside information.

   File this one under, “Things That Make You Go, ‘Hmmmmm'”.

HT: Russ Childs

Busy

The last few days have been a non-stop parade of fellowships, committee meetings, funerals, classes, church services and other activities. They have left me with little time for writing and the few times I have had a moment, the old noodle just wasn’t percolating.

I’ll be back.

In the Boondocks

   Last week was the week of fall break for schools in our area. Although we home-school our sons, we try to follow the local calendar and so we took time off as well. Wanting to get out and enjoy the mild fall weather and get away from home for a little while, we decided on a camping trip to one of our wonderful Georgia state parks.

   After calling around to a few parks to the north and west of us, I found that their campgrounds were all filled for the weekend. Turning my attention to the east, I found the Stephen C. Foster State Park in Okefenokee Swamp. When I called I was greeted by a very friendly lady who assured me that there were plenty of campsites available. She warned me, though, that if we were coming I should bring everything I needed with me because there was absolutely nothing around where she was. I reserved a spot and we began to load up our Jeep for the trip.

   We found the park to be located seventeen miles in the heart of Okefenokee Swamp. It was literally at the end of the road, but it was an absolutely gorgeous place to camp. Wildlife was abundant and we saw a large number of deer, along with squirrels, raccoons (who overran our campsite during the night), a fox, a possum, an otter, a variety of birds and of course, alligators (sorry, Beverly, Pogo didn’t show up 😉 ).

   Friday night was very relaxing as we sat by the fire under the moonlight. The only sounds that could be heard were the crickets chirping and an occasional owl hooting.

   On Saturday, we rented a boat and traveled about 4 or 5 miles up various creeks and waterways through the swamp. Gigantic cypress trees towered overhead and reflected in the still black water. Water lilies were blooming as were black-eyed Susans and other wildflowers. At times the waterways became so narrow that there was only a few inches of clearance on either side of the boat as we passed between trees.

   It was an amazingly refreshing time that we hated to see end. We all left reluctantly, counting the days until we can go back.

We Survived

We had a great time on our campout and didn’t get eaten. I’m a little pressed for time today, so I will try to post a full write-up about it later. I’ll just say that it was a very relaxing and profitable time.

God is such a wonderful Creator.

Going Camping

Our boys are on fall break this week. We have decided to get out of the house tonight, so we are going to go camping in Okeefenokee Swamp. If the gators, bears and skeeters don’t eat me, I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

Have a blessed weekend.

Let’s Talk Baseball

Normally, any sports-related post that I might write this time of the year deals either with hunting or football, but I am deviating from that practice to discuss the baseball playoffs.

First, I want to extend my heart-felt sympathies (snicker) to any Cubs fans who might frequent this site. I wish I knew what to say to ease your pain, but since I am a Braves fan, I have no idea of what you are going through. 😉

Second, I’ve got to send some props out to the Rays. I don’t think anyone outside of Tampa Bay at the beginning of the season was predicting them to even make the wild-card, let alone win the division. Every prognosticator I saw was picking either the Yankees (snicker) or the Red Sox with all of them mentioning Toronto as a dark horse just to cover their bets.

I’ve got to send a tip of the hat to Joe Torre. After being dissed and dumped by the Yankees (snicker, snicker) he has to be feeling just a bit vindicated right now.

Who am I leaving out, now…? That’s right, the Phillies. They put together a good year and I’ll be rooting for them to win the NL.

So here are my predictions.

Phillies over the Dodgers in 7. (Good pitching beats good hitting in the playoffs)

Red Sox over the Rays in 6. (The Sox are hot right now, and they have been here before)

World Series:  Red Sox over the Phillies in 7.

My blogging friend, Tony Foeller, has a contest with prizes going on at his place, go over there and tell him I sent you.

“God Is Real”

   For children who grow up in church, it is very easy for them to view it as nothing more than a religion if they never see the evidence of God at work. This fact was brought home to our church in a very real, but positive, way this past week.

   Bro. Jackie and his wife were a dear couple in their seventies. After he had a stroke about a year and a half ago, they moved down from Illinois to live with their daughter. The stroke affected his speech and his mobility, causing him to be mostly confined to a motorized wheelchair and leaving his speech somewhat halting. Additionally, he was dealing with Parkinson’s disease and a number of other ailments.

   Over the last few months, Bro. Jackie had two or three close calls with death, going in and out of the hospital and nursing home.

   Sunday before last, he was able to be in church. It was always a pleasure to see him there. He had a million-watt smile and an obvious hunger for the Word of God. He was one of those people who could make a preacher hurt himself preaching.

   At the end of the service, he motored his way down to the altar and requested that I and the elders of the church pray for his healing according to James 5:14. I called the deacons to the front and we gathered around Bro. Jackie and prayed for God’s hand to raise our brother up.

   That night, Bro. Jackie slipped into a non-responsive state. Over the next three days his vital signs began to slip and it was obvious that the end was nearing. On Wednesday, about an hour before prayer meeting, he went home to be with the Lord. His family, as well as the church, felt a real sense that God had answered the prayer of faith and given him ultimate healing.

   This past Sunday, one of our young boys at church, age 11, approached his Sunday School teacher and told him he needed to be saved. This young man had been raised in church and had actually been baptized at an earlier age. When I talked to him about his decision, he shared with me that his earlier baptism had not been based upon a genuine profession of faith. He further testified that seeing Bro. Jackie come forward for prayer, and then seeing God take him home had convinced him without a doubt that God is real.

   Most of us have seen the staggering statistics about 85% of those church members who reach the age of 18 leave church, never to come back. Could it be that in their entire lifetime in church they have never seen God working in a manner that proved His reality? This is certainly not the fault of God as we know that He responds to faith.

   The answer to reaching our young people is not another program, trip, rally, camp, car wash or (dare I say it?) class. They need to see real faith in the lives of those who are older, real faith that produces real results from a real God.

   This song says it best, listen and be blessed.

Favorite Things About Fall

   As I sat watching my son practice soccer last evening, I noticed a cool edge in the weather. It immediately caused me to perk up, fall is in the air!

   Fall is my favorite season. There are so many things about it that I love: cooler weather, football, hunting, bonfires, Thanksgiving…so many things.

   So what do you like about Fall? Or, if you prefer another season, please share with us why.

   God bless and have a great weekend.