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Car Shopping

I guess we’ve all been through the car-buying experience.  I’ve never liked it.  I always feel like the salesmen fight over who gets to wait on me because they can spot a sucker a mile away.  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a good deal.

To make matters worse, I come from a family of successful car buyers.  There are family stories like my Dad leaving the dealership and getting his car just to be chased down by the salesman finally willing to accept his lowball offer.  I’ve tried to be the hard negotiator but it doesn’t work for me.  So I’ve just decided to enjoy the process and at least make the salesman work a little bit for my business.  I ask questions.  I don’t “dicker”.  But I have learned over the years to not get emotionally attached to things.  And I’ve learned how to say “no”.

Many years ago when I got my truck, it was my dream truck.  I had talked about it for years.  I knew the color I wanted and the accessories I wanted.  We would drive on car lots and I could talk myself out of buying a truck because what they had wasn’t EXACTLY what I wanted.  I played this little game for a couple of years.  You know what happens when you play with fire.  One evening we drove on to the car lot, and there it was.  RIGHT COLOR, RIGHT SIZE, RIGHT ACCESSORIES.  It was perfect.  And even though I tried to talk myself out of it, Betty told me to get it.  It got so bad that the salesman quit talking to me and started addressing all of his remarks to Betty.  In fact, her name is first on the title!

Well, now we’re shopping for Betty’s dream car.  She had one picked out, but as it turns out they quit making that model last year.  So, we’re shopping!  The other evening we test drove a new car.  The salesman was being a typical salesman chatting about everything under the sun while smoothly gathering pertinent information about us.  He was a professional.  I was picking at Betty and she was picking back at me.  I’m sure the salesman didn’t know exactly HOW MUCH was picking so I thought I would let him know that Betty and I really love each other.  I told him we would soon be married 34 years.

Without hesitation the salesman said, “God bless you, sir!”

Betty said, “Excuse me!”

I just laughed . . . and laughed . . . and laughed.

I’m not sure if Betty will let me go back to that salesman or not.

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Remembering William

William Puckett, my Father-in-Law, passed away January 9th.  All who knew him miss him.

Betty received this email from our college friend Donna.  It took a while before I could bring myself to share it.  As I read it, I see William on the tractor, or in the apple house, or up to hls elbows in one piece of machinery or another that needed fixing.  I see the wisdom in his eyes and that special smile he had just for Shirley.  So, I share it now with you so we can once again remember together.  Thanks Donna!

Subject: Nevrdun News – The Lifter of My Head
Date: January 10, 2012 6:24:03 PM EST
Years ago he would drive down off the mountain to get his daughter from
college so she could go home for the weekend.  She was (and still is) a
good friend so I had the chance to head back up into the hills with them.
What a privilege to get to know and love their wonderful family.

A few years after we married, the Lord led us to Northeast Tennessee.
That meant we were still “just down the mountain,” only now on the
opposite side.  Most every year we made the pilgrimage up to their place,
bringing home bushels of apples and pumpkins.  We brought home other
things too ~ pleasant memories and mental snapshots of beautiful mountain
scenery to be pulled out time and time again and enjoyed in our mind’s
eye.

He started having some physical problems and suffered significantly, yet
he never complained.  He slowly started losing his limbs, the amputations
making him a much smaller man, but only in a physical sense.  His faith
remained strong.  It was difficult for his wife to see him suffer so
much.  Encouraging her with his gentle, kind, loving voice, he said,
“Well, Shirley, we have to take what the Lord gives us.”   To this day
whenever I am going through a difficult time I remember his words and I
remember these, “When God sends a trial with one hand, He gives grace
with the other.”

He stepped across the threshold to eternal life yesterday.  I wonder if
he ran into the arms of Jesus.  I know he didn’t need the wheelchair as
it was left behind.  He has been through the valley of the shadow of
death and now he is back on the mountaintop.  I think he’s feeling right
at home.

His large, close knit family has brought his body home.  I mean
literally, home.  There it will remain until the burial on Thursday
morning.  The shell that held the soul and spirit of the family patriarch
will be surrounded by those who loved him and cherished him.  They’ll
laugh and cry and laugh and cry and then laugh and cry some more as they
grieve together, remembering the good times, skimming over the bad,
instilling in another generation bits and pieces of the family story that
will be passed down through the years.  They’ll encourage each other,
just as he would have wanted them to do.

At the wedding of one of his grandchildren he was in a wheelchair.  Prior
to the ceremony he was wheeled down the aisle and transferred to the pew
where he would be sitting.  After the ceremony his youngest son retrieved
the wheelchair and took it down to his father.  What happened next is one
of the most heart rending pictures of dependence I have ever seen.  This
big tall mountain of a man who no longer had any legs, raised his arms
and put them around his son’s neck.  And then his son gently lifted him
and placed him in the wheelchair.

Our friends are not the only ones grieving today.  Perhaps you are too.
Maybe there hasn’t been a physical death in your family but maybe you are
experiencing the death of a dream or have suffered abuse making you feel
as if your emotions are dead.  In our helplessness, God’s Son, Jesus, is
there to lift us up.

“But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift
up my head.”  – Psalm 3:3

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It’s time once again for the annual Church Christmas Play.  When I was a child I hated this.  I hated every part of this.

Is hate too strong a word?  No, not really.

I hated memorization and I had to memorize my part for the play.  I hated standing in front of people (but I think I’m over that now).  I hated reciting my part.  And I lived in fear of flubbing my part.  If you’re not familiar with what “flubbing” is, it’s when you do something so poorly that people remind you of it for weeks, even years, to come.  If you’ve never flubbed, be thankful.  If you’re a child preparing for the Church Christmas Play and if you’re worried about flubbing, well, they told me that it builds character.  Don’t believe that line for a minute though.  If it were true I would have the character of Abraham Lincoln.

Now that I’ve reached adulthood I have a choice about the annual Church Christmas Play, if I want to participate or not.  But now that I’ve reached adulthood I’ve found a part that I actually LIKE in the play.  And once again I’ve been asked to play this part.  This year I’m the . . . narrator!  Everything about this part appeals to me.  First, it’s OK if I just READ my part.  I don’t have to memorize a thing.  And I’m not reciting, I’m READING.  I get to be d-r-a-m-a-t-i-c, I r-e-a-l-l-y like that.  There’s not may funny lines for the narrator, but I do pretty well myself with the material I have.  For instance, the very first words in this year’s play are for me, the “narrator”.  Just two simple words . . . “Good Evening!”  But with a little creativity . . . how would Dracula say it?  “Guod Evee-ning!’  Changes everything don’t you think?  Or what if Gomer Pyle were the narrator?  “Goooooooooooooooooooooooood Evenin’!”

And for the record, the Pastor’s wife said I could read it ANY WAY I WANTED TO!

Thanks Miss Jennifer.

Funny, but I didn’t wind up where I set out to be.  When I was young I had some ideas about what I wanted out of life, what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live, and even what I would do when I retired.  BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER, I want to say without hesitation or qualification, I LOVE where I’m at.  It’s far better that I deserve!  But, when I was young . . .

I wanted to move to the beach.  Instead I married a girl from the mountains who loves the mountains.  We’ve compromised on the piedmont.

I wanted to go slow about having children.  My wife wanted a family right away.  Our first child was born 14 months after we got married.

I wanted two children.  My wife wanted four children.  We have four children.  (You can just imagine the grief I’m going to get from Child Three and Child Four.)

When I was young I dreamed that at retirement I would buy a motor home and tour the country.  Now I think gas is too expensive, roads are unsafe, motor homes are too costly to maintain, community bath houses are not cool, never did much camping anyway, and building a fire is just too much work.

As it turns out, I like my life the way it is.  If I had really wanted all those things I would have worked hard for them.  Instead I got things more precious than I could imagine, even Child Three and Child Four!  (Love you guys)

Now, looking at the list, you might be inclined to ask if I’m henpecked.  I know what my wife would have me say, but that’s another post.

A New Thing

I surrendered to preach 40 years ago.  I’ve served as an Associate, taught Sunday School, and did whatever else needed to be done.

A few years ago Daniel surrendered to be a preacher.

And a year or so after that Jonathan also surrendered.

If you don’t understand the use of the word “surrendered”, then you’ve never been chased by God until you just give up.

The first of this year I knew I needed to do something for the “preacher boys”.  So I created another blog, and then let it sit for a while, and then added a bit of this and a bit of that, and let it sit a while longer, and FINALLY got it ready to share it with you.

The plan now is to share with you a daily devotional.  With my radio background it just seemed obvious that it should be a short, audio clip.  And that’s what it is.

So, you’re invited to go to . . . www.aplainpath.wordpress.com

You can sign up and have each day delivered to your email.  Jonathan had the first one.  I’ll put Jonathan and Daniel out there as many times as I can, and I’ll just fill in the days they don’t.

If it’s good enough, share it with your friends.  If it’s not good enough, keep it to yourself.  🙂

It’s Grand!

September 22 is David’s birthday.  He’s two years old.

Have I mentioned I love being a Grandfather?

 

Paul Harvey wrote this, but I wish I had.  I’m sharing it with you in the hopes we’ll ALL share it day by day with the children and grandchildren that make our lives so grand.

“We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.

For my grandchildren, I’d like better.  I’d really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated.

I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car.

And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen.

It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother/sister.  And it’s all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when they want to crawl under the covers with you because they’re scared, I hope you let them.

When you want to see a movie and your little brother/sister wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him/her.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.  On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don’t ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won’t be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one.

I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books.

When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a boy/girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole.

If a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandma/Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle.

May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it’s the only way to appreciate life.

Written with a pen. (Copied on a computer.) Sealed with a kiss. I’m here for you. And if I die before you do, I’ll go to heaven and wait for you.”

Puckett Cabin

IF the weather cooperates, I’m going to take Betty to Puckett Cabin.  We’ve talked about going up on the Parkway for years to see Puckett Cabin.  Betty will have a chance to connect with her ancestors.

It’s been a long time since Betty and I have taken a trip that wasn’t connected in some way with visiting family.  But this trip (only a few hours) will be just us, just for us, just because we want to.  When I was a kid I couldn’t wait until I was all grown up so I “could do whatever I want”.  And although I’m MUCH older now, I’m still waiting to “do whatever I want”.  Does ANYONE get to do whatever they want?  Now, I’m not complaining.  I want to be needed.  I even want to be a responsible adult.  (Quit laughing, I really DO want to be a responsible adult.)  And before you get any ideas about talking with Betty, yes I DO a lot of what I want.  But there’s a lot of things I want to do that I may not have the chance to do.

I want to go to see the scar in the Pentagon.  I’m going to do that next.  I was going to be there Sunday morning September 11, 2011 but just found out that they are closing the area so those that lost loved ones ten years ago can have a little privacy.  I will gladly plan my visit some other time while praying for them and their loss.

I want to see the Grand Canyon.  I think I would like to ride a donkey down to the bottom of the canyon.  I don’t think there’s a donkey alive that will be good with that, so IF I get to go out west I just might have to save up for a helicopter or airplane ride.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

I want to go to the NC coast in the winter time.  I’ve been in spring, summer, and fall.  I want to see how different the ocean is in the winter time.

I want to go to Disneyworld with ALL my grandchildren.  We’re working on that one.  It will be AWESOME!  I can hear the laughter now.

For now, I want to take Betty to Puckett Cabin.  We’ll spend a little time together, chat about the little things that make up our life, and maybe dream about our next trip.  With Betty, I enjoy the journey wherever it may lead.

Guess What!

I don’t understand why, but I’ve had more feedback about my last couple blogs than I remember EVER getting. I guess retiring my faithful old tie touched some chord in folks. Perhaps they too had a favorite “go to” piece of clothing that crossed over that line between “fashion statement” and “not good enough for Goodwill”. And trust me, you don’t EVER want to be that guy that the attendant at the Goodwill pickup point has been warned about. “Now Bob, I know it’s your first day, but there’s something I need to tell you. If you see this guy drive up, be polite, but don’t put his donations with the other stuff. His goes over here in the ‘special’ pile.”
Just sayin’!
But the good news is . . . I got TWO NEW ties. Actually I got THREE NEW ties. “How did that happen” you may ask. Well I officiated at Jimmy and Rachel’s wedding. Jimmy got me a really nice tie for the ceremony that matched what everyone else was wearing. Cool! But Linda read my blog and felt the need to replace my faithful tie with TWO new ties. They were my favorite color (gray) to match my hair and disposition. I love all the ties. My only concern is this. Now that I’ve received compensation for blogging, does that make me a professional blogger?

Seasons

It has been busy around here. My little garden has an uninvited guest. I am the unhappy host to a family of groundhogs! I first saw “dad” just after my green beans sprouted. He was sitting just outside the fence admiring the beautiful, tender crop. Then a few days later he came IN and helped himself to some tender zucchini greens. Shortly after just as the green beans were blooming, he invited his family, “mom” and the two kids, in for an early afternoon salad buffet. They ate all my green beans, both zucchini plants, AND my cucumber plants, with assorted tastings of selected tomatoes. The groundhogs so far have eaten more out of my garden than I have.
I’ve walked the fence regularly and filled in every place they dug under with bricks or cinder blocks. They are determined, but so am I.
Tonight we ate tomatoes from the garden. I could almost hear the groundhogs complaining that WE were picking from THEIR garden.
Oh, did you know, groundhogs can climb trees? Paul got a picture of one IN the tree. I’ve read that they have to be well fed to climb trees. That’s my groundhogs!

I know it’s silly to get attached to inanimate objects. But I’ve had this tie for a LONG time. If I didn’t have it when I got married I got it shortly after. It was my FAVORITE color, gray (with a pattern that had a touch of red). And it may not have been silk, but it felt silky to me. I loved the way it always tied just right, and hung just right. Some ties fight you when you tie them. They just won’t come out right, either too long or too short. And when you finally get it JUST RIGHT, there’s not enough left to tuck into the loop behind, so this “tail” keeps peeking out. Not THIS TIE! It was PERFECT.

I didn’t wear it much in the last little while, it had seen better days. There was the hint of a stain that didn’t come out completely from the cleaners. And worst of all, it had developed a “droop”. Or maybe you would call it a “pooch”, perhaps a “sag”. The material had lost the battle with gravity (as all things eventually do) and instead of hanging straight and flat, well, I’ve got enough of a pooch without the wide part of the tie adding to it!

The tie was the centerpiece of my wardrobe. It went with everything. I know, my color palate is limited, black, white, gray, an occasional pastel, and a touch of a red accent. SO I guess you could say I built my clothing choices around that tie.

And now the time had come. I pulled it out for ONE MORE time. But I just couldn’t bring myself to put it on. It had served me faithfully. There should be some ceremony for an article of clothing that had been there for you for so many years, some last words you should say, something! I stood there for a moment trying to think of what would be appropriate. Finally . . .

I threw it in the trash.

I miss that tie!