Saturday, October 30, 2010

Celebrate Saturday

Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.

Accept my teachings and learn from me,

because I am gentle and humble in spirit,

and you will find rest for your lives.

The teaching that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light.

. . .Jesus speaking in Matthew ll, v28, 29, 30, New Century Version

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama

Violet Beatrice Gean Stricklin
October 26, 1917-November 11, 2007

It's my mama's birthday.

The Earth revolved and seasons changed ninety times while she was here.

Uneducated, but wise.

Beautiful, work-roughened hands never still.

Her life was taking care of her family, and that she did well, even when the road was hard.

She did massive amounts of laundry on a wringer washer; her clothes lines full every sunny day expect Sunday.

She could coax nutritious vegetables out of tired clay soil, rising with the sun to do battle with weeds.

Her quilts still warm our beds and our hearts.

Known for her incomparable biscuits, she made enough in her lifetime to completely fill a Cracker Barrel.

More familiar with pain than joy, she endured.

She lived to see adult children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.

We are educated, talented, well-traveled, scattered.

She lives in all of us.

In heaven, we are promised a mansion, blissful rest.

I'll bet my mama's has a clothesline, white robes waving in the breeze.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed. Proverbs 31: 27,28

Friday, October 15, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Pickin' Cotton

I was about ten years old when we first heard of a cotton picker---a big red machine that would pick cotton for you. We laughed at the idea. We could not imagine a time when we would not pick cotton. We didn't know how big the world was.
It was only a few years later that the machines completely replaced hand labor, which we viewed as a blessing too good to be true; surely something would go wrong and we would have to pick cotton again.

Because this cotton picking era ended before I was an adult, I didn't really understand the hardships of cotton farming that my parents and their parents endured. They worked from spring to late fall to produce a crop that might or might not be sold for enough to pay the bills and have a little extra. I would like to say that the good years were enough to keep them going, but it wasn't that at all. Cotton farming was all they knew; what they kept doing because there was nothing else to do. Good years just made their lives better for a while.

Farmers today defoliate the plants with chemicals, then wait until every cotton boll is open before they start the harvest. Back in the day, a cotton field sometimes had several pickings. Cash starved farmers picked the first fluffy fibers as soon as possible. This usually occurred in early September, just before the fair came to town.

Children like me were not worried about the price of cotton at the gins, or whether enough rain fell during the growing season, or too much rain fell during the harvest. We worried about making us some money to spend at the fair. We willingly went to the cotton patch on Saturday to earn all we could; if we wanted to go to the fair, we had to work for it.

I remember how the sharp edges of the open bolls could scratch our arms and legs and cause us to bleed around our cuticles, how our young backs and shoulders would start to ache before lunch time finally came. At the end of the day, we sat on our full cotton sacks and waited for the "weighing up" when we would learn if we would be able to ride scary rides all day long at the fair. Some of the older ones made enough to stuff themselves with cotton candy and caramel apples, too.

Our culture can change so quickly. Picking cotton is as foreign to my grandchildren as a laptop would have been to me when I was ten. Change may be good, sometimes bad, but always certain.

Even now, when driving through the cotton farming section of our county, the smell is familiar. I can almost feel the strain to my lower back.

And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Deuteronomy 7:13

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thousand Word Thursday

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:14 KJV

Monday, October 4, 2010


It is hard to find words majestic enough, beautiful enough to describe October.

October is wind chimes singing in the cool northwest wind. Clean linens wave in the breeze, storing the smell of October for days when we are needy. Under an incomparable blue sky, trees don their showiest apparel for a grand finale before they stand naked, limbs drooping with winter.

God has blessed us with a glorious harvest, and the pantry shelves and freezers are bursting with summer's bounty. We watch the squirrels in the backyard as they frantically gather hickory nuts, sensing a barren time ahead without any weather forecasts. We stack the stalks of spent okra and rake the detritus of tomatoes and squash as we plan next year's garden.

Sweatshirts and flannel pajamas have replaced shorts and tees, and we add quilts to the bed. We snuggle under them while the open windows invite breezes to cleanse the stale air-conditioned air that we have breathed all summer. The ten o'clock train whistle cries lonesome, so clear with the windows open.

It is special, living in a small part of this temporary planet so beautiful that it takes the breath away. Think about how loving our Father is. He knows our lives are so short, so limited, yet he designed this for us, just to make our stay here comfortable.

Our home in October.
Breathe it in.
I'm so very, very glad to be here.