“You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the lands which you shall possess.” Deuteronomy 5:33
Pop was born with a sense of adventure and growing up in a family of 6 brothers and 1 sister, he learned to fend for himself early on. Even though he didn’t always use the best judgement, he always went, with gusto, into the task at hand.
Having a love of motorcycles, he seized the opportunity to buy a motorcycle dealership when he was very young. And, his love for motorcycles and the open road have filled his soul all his life. He set about to make his dream of seeing the world come true…just he and his motorcycle…and lots of faith in God.
His first trips took him north through the Unites States and Canada on the AlCan Highway, to Fairbanks, Alaska. One hundred miles north of Fairbanks is Circle, Alaska…the northernmost point of the Northern America Highway System…The End of the Road. Heading southward, he arrived at the End of the Road once more…40 miles above the Panama Canal.
After he was satisfied that he had seen the End of the road…he set his sights away from the USA and into 15 foreign countries. If he could ride his motorcycle there from Dothan, AL, he did. But, if not, he shipped it in and then picked it up and rode throughout the countries. Many times, he would exit the country the way he came in…and leave the missionary with a newfound and reliable method of transpiration. Kenya, Tanzania, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras are just some of the countries he spent time in. Not speaking Spanish, he quickly learned the most important words to safely navigate his way. A place to sleep, a place to eat, and a safe place for his machine. Many nights he kept it in his motel room with him ! He made a total of 7 trips, 5 solo and 2 with a buddy. Most lasted for 2-3 months. And on every trip, he wore boots….these boots to be exact…
These boots were made for riding…and hiking through jungles…and catching alligators in the Amazon River. They were made for wearing while missionaries homes were tinkered with by the ‘missionary man’ from Dothan, AL. He calls himself ‘the missionary to the missionaries’. Always traveling at his own expense and providing his own tools and work gear, he left tiny snatches of his heart throughout South and Central America, and parts of Africa. His work over the years included building radio stations, churches, helping visiting medical teams, traveling with the missionary on the field to remote villages to check on new churches, pray with them and encourage the ‘brothers’. He fixed cabinet doors in missionary residences, repaired washing machines so they wouldn’t scoot across the floor, and built rabbit hutches for a young missionary kid. He patched roofs and fixed doors so they would swing freely. He went to be a friend to those who were called to serve. He befriended missionary kids and made lifelong friends.
These years were full of close calls, brushes with near death, and an angel visitation. But, for a man who felt a calling on his life…he viewed it as one big adventure. My Mom supported his trips and we daughters were in awe of the man who would pack a few bags of supplies on the back of his Honda, tie them down with several bungee cords and take off for parts unknown.
Some called it folly, others a great witness and testimony. But, he calls it “just one little man doing his little part in the great big world.” There are missionaries all over who know today that they were cared for and loved and respected by him and his family. If they had a need and it was in his power, he met it. God’s grace and protection abounded everywhere he went…and the stories he can still tell could fill a book…which I hope to write one day.
This is my Daddy…my Pop… and if you want to know more…just ask him. But, you better be prepared to sit for a mighty long spell! They are as fresh and alive in his 88 year old mind as they were when they happened!
Happy Birthday, Pop! You make me proud!
I was really just trying to be funny. And, now I feel guilty. Because this is a wonderful, day! My neice, Lori, and Suzanne and Levi all came to swim this morning. I went outside to sit and watch for a while. I love seeing Sweet Levi practicing his swimming and getting braver and more confident in the water. To our surprise, Alex came out and said he wanted to get in for a while.
Those of you who know us know that this is a rare treat! Usually he is not even well enough to get out of bed. But, God granted us a beautiful day…blue sky, white clouds, little breeze…and He granted Alex the strength to enjoy it! You can not even imagine how it makes my heart fill with joy to see him able to enjoy himself for a little while. Of course, his buddy, Finn, will not leave his side…even if he is in the middle of the pool! So, here comes Finn, too! It is amazing how he never takes his gaze from Alex’s face!
Lori helped him get in and down into the water, but once in…the limitations are gone! He can move freely and without falling. The bouyancy of the water supports him and he can swim and float and play. Just enjoy the day!
Since I was only a ‘watcher’ today, I had brought my camera out with me to snap some pics. Now, me and technology…even cameras…do not go well together. This was my newest camera that I got when an unfortunate ‘accident’ happened to my last one at the beach. When that occurred, Adam went with me to get another one. He picked this one out and said that I would like it, because, ‘it would not break if dropped and would not die if it got wet’. But, here’s the thing. Every camera I have ever had immediately died when it was dropped…whether on a tile floor, a dirt and rock driveway, a sand dune, or a hardwood floor…or into a dishpan of water. I have had much experience with cameras.
But, Alex, seeing the camera, and being in the water, said “Give me the camera, and I’ll make some pics of Levi under the water.” (Well, he might as well have said, “Why don’tcha just throw your camara up against that brick wall?”) “Oh, I don’t think that’s a good idea, Alex”, I countered. “Mother, I told you it was water proof! Besides, this is the most’ Tonja-proof’ camera Adam could find!”, he said. “OK…but it’s coming out of your pocket if it drowns!”, I told him.
And, I hobbled and staggered over to the pool and handed it to him. I cringed and closed my eyes and said a quick prayer….and wonder if I had totally lost all the good sense I once had. He snapped pics, and they played and Levi swam and Suzanne and Lori and Alex and Levi laughed. Finn would dive for toys and Levi tried to wash off his spots! It was pure joy! What a blessing for me to just sit and take it all in! God is so good, friends. Days can get weary and hard and unhappy things can happen. But, right in the midst of it all…God comes in and just throws a big ball of HAPPY into the mix and things are seen in a much better perspective!
And, on top of that…Alex made some great pics…UNDERWATER!!!!
“YEAH! THE CAMERA IS FINE!!!!!
Then, my sweet boy, Adam, graciously gave me some time on his day off to come over and get Finn to the Vet for me. He was past due his shots and meds, and needed a good pedicure! It is hard for me to get him there on a good day…but with this cast…would never happen! Another blessing on this day. Thank you, Adam for blessing me with your time and strength today.
When you encounter the everyday, the ordinary, the annoying…do you see it for what your eye beholds quickly? Or do you stop and take in the glorious wonder that is the natural world? Perhaps these few pictures will show you a different way of seeing this mundane little weed we yank out with a vengence and toss in the trash pile.
If you truly look…
Early Saturday morning, Suzanne and I turned our car toward Birmingham. The occasion…Jackson’s sixth birthday party. We arrived before lunch and let Jackson dive right in to the presents we had brought from family in Dothan.
A stop for a quick photo with Lulu, and then off to the YMCA for an afternoon full of festivities!
The weather was just perfect for the party. There was a wonderful tented area in the back for the cake and ice cream, and around a corner was a pool just fit for a group of 30! kids to spend a warm…quite warm…afternoon! Jackson had requested a Lego Star Wars Party and Tina went all out to insure it was one of a kind! Following are the cake…yes, it’s ALL edible! Then the cutest accessories for the table that Tina fashioned herself!
Colorful table cloths and loads of balloons finished off the decor! It was a little boy’s dream!
Then, on to the pool…
Ian was called into duty by Jackson….
…and to help little Levi…
Someone HAD to do it…the ladies were too busy getting aquainted and visiting…under the only shade in sight! It was wonderful spending some time with some of those who are so close to Tina.
A picture of this new sweet family…
We were all hot and tired, so pizza was the order for supper. Tina kept the boys entertained while we waited for the delivery man to arrive. ( Levi couldn’t wait, and we had to dig out some chicken nuggets!)
Then none of us lingered long…our beds and couches were calling us all! Levi was the first to awake this morning and that meant soon we were all to follow! A few quick pictures and it was time for Suzanne to drive us back to Dothan!
Cousins…on Jackson’s sixth birthday…
My own two sweet ‘daughters-in-love’…
I grabbed a quick moment with my boy…
As we travelled, Suzanne and I replayed the fun we had at the party and the sweet time we had visiting with Tina, Ian, and Jackson….
Levi, however, had a better way to spend the time driving home!
“God has given us these times of joy.” Nehemiah 12:43
Oh, how I wish you could hear what I am hearing right now! I’ve just put Levi to bed for his nap and his singing is bringing me to tears!
*****A little explanation, first. Levi enjoys a cartoon called The Little Einsteins very much.
It is one of his favorites. Not mine though. I think it is quite poorly made…even though it is a Disney cartoon. But, the concept is amusing and appropriate for him at his age. Four children explore the world…the whole world…on their rocket. The rocket is powered by the music they make. Tapping a steady beat, clapping fast or slow, singing high or low, playing various musical instruments are all ways to make their rocket, (whose name is Rocket), go! They choose a piece of classical music each time to base their melodies on. They then make up words to fit to the music according to their exploration. Where they go in the world is based on a famous artist’s work. They show the painting and then enter it to find their adventure. Then at the end of each cartoon, the credits go to the composer’s work and the artist’s work. Clever concept, as I said. But it surely could be done with better graphics and animation.*****
Now, none of that matters a whole lot, because Levi loves it and I find it among the less objectionable of the many cartoons that are offered to our children these days. And, so we watch it…daily. Today’s episode was about a big jet that had the power to change the seasons. The children were ready for springtime, as they had a flower ready to plant outside. But, the big jet had other plans. So there was lots of room for talk about the various seasons. Eventually, they all ended up back in spring time and the little tulip got planted and they were all able to sing this little song…“Oh, yes, oh, yes, it’s springtime! Oh, yes, oh, yes, it’s springtime! It’s springtime! Oh, yes, it’s springtime!” Powerful lyrics, huh? They sang it several more times as they powered Rocket back to it’s hiding place next to their home. (We never see any adults or parent figures…’cause I’m sure they don’t know their children are flying off all around the globe!)
When sweet Levi hears a song he likes, he tries his best to sing along. Because singing along with a song or music is difficult for an apraxic child, he will miss quite a few words. He’ll get some in the right place, but he usually ends up several beats after the song ends. That is if he’s singing along with a song…if he’s singing it acapella, then he nails it just fine! We have been so very pleased with his progress in the area of singing. He is doing way better at this point in his therapy than we or his therapist thought he would be doing. It’s not the singing itself that is the problem…It’s singing at the steady rate with which the music moves along. But, he’s definitely a music lover and he’s going to conquer this hurdle. Our faith is strong on this.
I changed his diaper and gave him another drink of milk and put him to bed. An extra hug around the neck and a sweet kiss, and he stretched out and waited for his blanket to be put over him. One more kiss…then I turned on the monitor and shut the door. I grabbed a glass of tea, and sat down to look at the computer for the first time today. And, then I heard it…loud and clear over the monitor...“Oh, yes, it springtime! Oh, yes, it springtime! It is! It is springtime!” Not word for word, but pretty close for a new three year old! ” It springtime! It springtime! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh yes! It is! It is springtime!” And, the correct melody, too!
Then, he began singing his own version…and added in quite a few extra words…
“I see trees….love Lulu….Pa, Pa, Pa…Uncle Ian… Tina… Jackson…love Mommy…love Mommy. It’s springtime! It’s springtime! Birthday party….bloons (Balloons)…Oh, yes, it is springtime! W…X…Y…and Z. It’s springtime! Daddy, rescue…Daddy Redbird…..It is springtime! “A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I J, K, LMNOP,Q…R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z. Now…said…A…B,C’s…won’t…sing with…me? W…W…W…W…It springtime, It springtime, It is. Yes, Mam, It springtime…” (This was over about a 6 minute period).
As I grabbed a pencil and tried to keep up with these wonderful lyrics, I was laughing and crying at the same time. How sweet are these words? These are the things that are in a little boy’s heart on the day after the day after his third birthday. These are the things he knows for sure. These are the things that cause his heart to break forth in song. It reminded me of my mother, who, no matter what chore she wold be involved in, would invariably break out into a song of praise to God, or a hymn or a song of worship. It was IN her and it had to break out. It was a gift…not to those within earshot…(even though she had a lovely voice)..she wasn’t singing to us…I think it was an unconscious gift of praise to her Creator!
“…Sing to the Lord a new song…” Psalm 149:1
And, I think what I heard today, from Levi, was, in his own way, an unconscious gift of praise about the things that make up his wonderful world. Surely, it had to have made God smile. For these words he sang speak to love of family…of our natural world…the fun he had at his birthday party…his growing mind.
“God has given us these times of joy.” Nehemiah 12:43
And, it caused to me vow anew that the things he hears from television and radio and CD’s and books while he is in my care, are all words that bring about joy and peace and goodness….words that point to his Heavenly Father. For we as his parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins should see to it that he hears enough of the words that build up and teach, that there is never room for those which are not pleasing to take root. It is the same for your children and grandchildren, as well.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that
your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 NLT
WHEW! It was a busy weekend! After coming home from a week at the beach on Friday, Saturday was Levi’s third birthday party and Sunday was a wedding shower for Tina, my new daughter-in-love. Funny how so many good things can happen right at the same time, isn’t it? Here, then, is the documentation of this blessed time spent together with family and friends!
First, Levi’s birthday party. Suzanne chose a theme of ‘Things That Go’ and did a wonderful job of decorating the house for a festive party!
Oh, it’s so hard to figure out how tohold up three fingers instead of two!
Oh what fun! John Thomas, Jackson, Levi with Aunt Lori exploring all the new goodies! There was also a precious little girl, Libby, in attendance. Cake and ice cream, children playing, visiting with family…memories are made of this! Happy Birthday, Levi!
And, a good night’s sleep and up to get ready for Tina’s wedding shower! I did not get a picture of all those who helped hostess, so I will list them here…Tina Davis, Juliann Black, Rhonda Grandstaff, Patty Johnson, Pam Ellis, Monty Clark, Donna Walker, and Shirley Davis. So kind of these sweet forever friends who helped shower the new couple with such lovely gifts and beautiful memories. The shower was held at Tina Davis’ house…so warm and inviting! It seemed as if there was a constant stream of friends arriving to meet Tina and share this sweet time with us. I can honestly say that each person who attended is extra special to me and my family. Not just for coming to share with us today…but because of the years and years of times we have shared laughter and fun and sadness and good times and bad! I hold all of these ladies…the hostessess and those who attended… in my heart of hearts!
Tina and I along with 3 of the hostesses…Juliann Black, Tina Davis, Patty Johnson…
Ian arrived, with Jackson in tow, to help us load up the presents into their car. We managed to snap a pic of the three of them…even though Jackson was not exactly thrilled about the idea! Little boys…aren’t they just the best?! And when they grow up to be fine men…they’re even better!
Because my parents followed the example of their parents, I was raised in a church family that has provided me with love and support for as long as I can remember. And, because God led me to spend 20 years teaching in a Christian workplace, I have dear lifelong friends there, as well. I do not take this for granted..it is a gift. These friends have loved my children for as long as they have been on this earth…helping us guide and teach them about the things that really matter. I am blessed beyond measure…for friends that are as close as family. And, for family that are also close friends! Thank you, God.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17
And, I love how the International Standard Version interprets this verse…
“Every generous act of giving and every perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17
I left Laguna Beach this morning heading home after a wonderful break from routine. I had only travelled about 15 miles, when the traffic really starting piling up…bumper to bumper…in the pouring, blowing rain! When it cleared enough for me to see, it looked, for all the world, like a house, with a smoke stack was at the head of the line. When the wind died down a little I could see that the little house seemed to be sitting in a big pickup truck! And, honestly…I thought there looked like someone standing outside the house with his hand up…WAVING! Traffic crept along all the way to Bonifay! In reality, only about 30 miles or so, but it felt like 100! Part of the area I was driving in is under construction and the the lanes kept shifting from one side to the other. Two lanes…under construction, weaving back and forth to change roads, rain, wind and tired me. Not the best combination!
Then someone, whose name I won’t share, called me on my car phone and to tell me to “quit poking along! You gotta pass those cars and go!” But that was before she saw the house driving 7 cars in front of us! Surely she couldn’t expect me to pass a house!
Now why in the world does a person driving something like that not realize there is a line of traffic behind him and pull off the road every 8 or 10 miles to allow other to pass by? Would that be so hard? Why, of course not!
Finally the driver pulled off the road at a flea market type place, and as I passed by I saw that it was a PIG, wearing a hat, waving to me from the back. Written on the side of the house was a big sign that said, SMOKIN’ BUTTS BARBECUE’. It was one of those vendors that set up at fairs and carnivals. I had to laugh at the sight of it all!
As I drove on home, still in bad weather, but at least very little traffic, I realized a few things. I was leaving my little cottage at the beach, where I had enjoyed a marvelous week. Suzanne and Adam and Levi were there part of the time…and then someone near and dear to me came and spent a day or two. (If I told you her name, you’d know who was nagging me!) I ate at some great restaurants and shopped and played and talked and laughed and slept late…it was a wonderful vacation. Why should I let this PIG HOUSE steal my joy? Well I shouldn’t.
I have been singing a little song to Levi lately that says, “Be patient…Be patient….Don’t be in such a hurry!….When you get…Impatient….You only start to worry…..Remember….Remember…That God is patient, too….And, think of all the times when others have. to. wait. on. you!” Well! I should practice what I preach, huh?
And, then I remembered something I learned a long time ago. God is in control of my life…and I truly believe He is! Thank Goodness! So, if I am delayed or detoured or slowed down…it is because I NEED to be delayed or detoured or slowed down! I know that! I just forgot for a little bit. He has a plan for me and it is to bring good things to me. So, if He needs to ‘slow me down’…that’s fine with me.
The Bible reads in Romans 12:12…..”Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” That Pig House was my ‘tribulation’ today….but, I failed the patience test. I thanked Him for slowing me down. And opening my eyes…and my mind. And for protecting me and guiding me, even when I get annoyed at my circumstances and forget that He is in control. Oh! How clear and in focus our hindsight!
PS…Joy made it safely home, too!