Gone Fishing

Our youngest grandson asked me if we could go fishing when Nana got out of the hospital. I told him we would go fishing very soon, but had to get Nana well enough for us to leave her for a few hours, which he understood.
I remember going fishing with my dad when I was a child. We would drive from Greenville to Lake Greenwood and park our ’57 Ford Fairlane near the pier and tackle shop. Dad would always rent the children a cane pole for fifty cents and we would all fish overnight. I can still hear the crickets, tree frogs, katydids and bull frogs. And I remember the mosquito bites. Mother would fish too, but some nights she would get sleepy and she and I would curl up in the car for a nap. My brother Jerry would always catch more fish than I because he didn’t take a nap time. Vienna sausages and potted meat on crackers was the night’s menu. Potted meat smeared on crackers is especially good if you have a little earthworm residue left on your fingers.

The water had a magic glow from the pier lights and I imagined what it would be like to jump in at night….something I  did later as a teenager (no parents around for that trip.)
I have a memory of when dad brought home a large catch of catfish. Mother taught me how to nail the head to a plank, cut the skin and then pull it off with pliers. Hope you are not queasy yet, because the description of gutting comes next…Quite an experience if you have never done it.

Oh well…I can still smell the smell…It never leaves your nose.

As Anthony was growing up, we took him fishing in the neighborhood pond, and Joy’s mom, Memon, later helped him learn the exciting surprises of pier fishing at the beach.

One day in about 1980 at Lake Greenwood, Memon and Anthony fished off the bank while Joy and I swam. Anthony was young enough and did not need a license.  Memon was over 60 and did not need one. When we finished swimming, Joy and I walked up to help Anthony untangle his line. While I was holding the rod for just a minute or two, a little green boat puttered up with two game wardens on board and they asked me to flash my fishing license to them.

The next day I paid my fine and learned no lesson from it.
Some things in life are just not fair, but funny years later.

“Peter. John, and James in a sailboat out on the deep blue sea”….Sing it with me now.
Are you a fisher of men?

No Man Or Woman Stands Alone


John Donne penned the famous “No Man is an Island” poem as a part of a sermon in the 1600’s.

I guess because it was a popular choral tune for school programs in the 1960’s, I have always liked Joan Baez’s rendition of this thought.

Her first two stanzas go like this:

No man is an island,
No man stands alone,
Each man’s joy is joy to me,
Each man’s grief is my own.

We need one another,
So I will defend,
Each man as my brother,
Each man as my friend.


I think the advent of social networking has brought this theory back to light. I have found great support in family, and in friends old and new on Facebook.

I saw on the news last night that there is a new diagnosis by some psychiatrist called “Facebook Depression.”
I think that we can add just about any adjective in front of depression like Sneaker Funk Depression, Cereal Choice Depression, Red Light Depression, and many others. I’m
really stuck on Red Light Depression because I see lot of people lost in thought while waiting out a  traffic light.

Anyway, let’s get back to Joan Baeaz, who was more of of social activist than a social net-worker.
Her lyrics seem to bring about a thought with which many might agree.
As I sat in oncology at the hospital yesterday I met another acquaintance who is affected by cancer. It seems we are all tied together in thoughts and prayers when it comes to
sharing the effects of a disease or disaster. I think it goes beyond, “Misery loves company.”

I think it lends more to the fact that God wants us to share and celebrate with each other whether it includes laughter or tears.

I love the company. The misery can go to people who sadly wall themselves in.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God     2nd Corinthians 4:15

I took the Road

Walking down the road those days, looking for the easy ways,
I found there’s no give-aways, only dirt to dig.
Looking  for the only one, looking for the love and fun.
Wishing for some race to run, wishing I was big.

Dreaming up the world I’d see, Looking for that harmony
I saw thing’s that weren’t for free, only steps to climb
Looking for someone to hold, looking for escape from cold
Thinking I’d never grow old, heading down the line.

I took the road that Robert Frost said take,
The one that’s less traveled. The one without heartbreak.
I took the road that artists paint so clear
The one with all the rainbows and very few dark tears.
I took the road that led me to you my friend
So take these last miles with me,
This road, This road will never end.

Txt me Papa!

We love to watch children learn. That is why Joy and I went into education… and our son and his wife teach, as did our moms.

We especially enjoyed watching our son Anthony develop a love for music and the music industry. I was riding with him yesterday and he was playing a CD of a new project he is working on with someone famous, who I am probably not suppose to mention yet.

Our oldest grandson Jarron has developed a love of theatre and acting and can’t be stopped now. With his looks and talent…well Pops is bragging now!  He follows in the steps of his dad and me. I worked with over 100 productions over the years with wife Joy by my side involved in some way. This was mostly community theatre and school productions, but we worked with some wonderful people, some who are famous in the entertainment world today.

Now….back to learning. Our middle grandson Tabor is a diligent twelve-year-old learner and loves animals. He will likely become a veterinarian . If not, he can become anything!

Our youngest grandson Hewson texted me this week from school. (He can do this because he attends the school we own and his mom is his teacher.) He asked me if I knew who invented the door knob. He wrote me back with excitement that he had Googled and at least found the name of the man who patented the door bell. Hewson wants to become a bounty hunter! Watch out world.

It made me think for a minute. What questions would I have texted my grandfather if such a thing existed when I was ten years old. That would have been great to have had Google, Facebook, and texting to communicate back in 1960.
“Hey Papa Gravley….Did you know that Dick and Jane can see Spot run?”  Ha
The Dick and Jane readers…. Loved them…No wires attached…and I learned to read and learned to spell without technology.
C U L8DR!

BUT GOOD PEOPLE WILL GROW LIKE PALM TREES; THEY WILL BE TALL LIKE CEDARS OF LEBANON. Psalm 92:12

A Little Learning

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again.
Alexander Pope – attributed early 1700’s

This quote which was often hashed around by my dear absent-minded professor Dr. Ellis in 1971 basically tells us if we dabble in a subject, we endanger ourselves into a false humility and state of egotism. On the other hand, if we imbibe into deeper knowledge, we come back to know our real selves.
I am sure you have been to the doctor in the last three years and he or she made a comment about a diagnosis or medication and you went straight home and hit Google. The next day you were babbling out medical terminology and had visions of a stethoscope around your neck and a new diploma on your wall.
Well, go ahead and confess at least to yourself . Ha!

Francis Bacon said something similar to Pope, but he alluded to the fact that  a little knowledge may lead man to atheism, while a fuller helping would lead man to religion. (My interpretation)

I believe God has a fuller wisdom for man. Paul speaks of the secret wisdom that will be revealed to us through the Holy Spirit.
You can Google the wisdom of God and learn, but some things will never come to you through your computer.

Drink deeper!

Read 1 Corinthians Chapter 2 and 3 for a fuller knowledge.

NOW WE DID NOT RECEIVE THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD, BUT WE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT THAT IS FROM GOD SO THAT WE CAN KNOW ALL THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US. 1 Corinthians 2:12

Uh Dr. Ellis …Here is your hat you left in class on Friday!

Keep The Change!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had a neat poster in my classroom several years ago. It had a picture of a baby with his nose wrinkled and the caption said, “If something stinks, change it!”
That poster was a great starting point of discussion for students who needed advice.
Sometimes change is good.
Changing jobs and moving to a new location are high up on the list of major stress factors, but some change may be needed in your life in other ways.
I am never proud to say I smoked for a few years back in the 1970’s through the mid 1980’s.
I stopped in 1986 when Anthony was getting ready to turn 15. I decided that if I saw Anthony smoking, then I would have no grounds to preach to him about the dangers of smoking. It was very hard to do because I have an addictive nature, but I quit cold turkey in June of that year and never looked back… until I got my tumor diagnosis this year and all my medical records were suddenly glowing with the words, “history of smoking.”  The proudest part of that statement is the word “history.”

What do you have in your life that needs to be filed under the word “history?”
Maybe it is greed, jealousy, or something addictive that takes you away from the good vibes of healthy living.  Maybe you are addicted to a hobby that takes you away from your family.
I know I still have some stinky things to change, but God will help me.  again.
He will help you too.
“…GOD IS BEING PATIENT WITH YOU. HE DOES NOT WANT ANYONE TO BE LOST, BUT WANTS ALL PEOPLE TO CHANGE THEIR HEARTS AND LIVES.”   2 Peter 3:9

Premium Sodie Crackers

My dad was from Brevard, NC and grew up in a home without running water or a bathroom. Both of my parents  grew up in large families and they had little to eat.  Mother’s family farmed, but Dad’s family depended on the wild of nature very often, so squirrel and dumplings was a staple in their home.  In his early twenties, Dad served our country in the army and was in the invasion of North Africa where he was captured by the Germans. He spent 22 months in Stalag II B as a POW.  He  worked on a farm detachment raising crops to feed the Germans. He told his children very little about his hardships there. I recently ordered a report on the conditions of Dad’s Stalag and cried as I read it.
Dad told us of the brown mystery soup they were fed and told jokes about how they would steal potatoes from the ground and eat them raw.
As I grew up, Dad and Mother made sure we were well fed. I went with Dad every week to cash his $89 mill check and then on Saturday he would take me to Winn Dixie (He called it the Dixie Store) and we would buy groceries for the week. He also bought his children treats – a multi pack of Hershey Bars and a multi pack of Juicy Fruit Gum. I never felt hungry like  my mom and dad did as children.
After I was married, Dad and Mom would visit us weekly. They always brought us canned goods, toilet paper, and saltines. (Dad called them sodie crackers.)
I am thankful for the love of my parents. I still love sodie crackers and eat them daily. I just wish Dad had some when he was a child and a POW.

It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what you grew up eating, Jesus came for all people in all situations.

YOUR HEART WILL BE WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS  Luke 12:34

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Sometimes we are all better at giving advice than we are at observing and listening.  As parents, we are experts at this. My mom and dad gave me lots of advice, but were always eager to hear what I had to say. They made me feel comfortable telling them what was on my mind. They never belittled me for having thoughts and theories.
I often reflect on my own parenting and listening skills. Anthony was our “buddy” and friend as he was growing up and we did a lot of things under that scenario, but certainly knew when to draw the parenting line.
One story from which I learned is this one.
Anthony, as a young boy and into his teens often came to us rubbing his neck saying that he felt like he had two adam’s apples. We would brush it off and tell him that it was just a natural knot in his throat.
We learned from this, that even a child really knows his or her own body and how it feels. When Anthony was 19, he went in for pre-surgery for his tonsillectomy  and asked the surgeon to check his double-knotted adam’s apple. The surgeon was quick to say, “You have a thyroglossal duct cyst and that needs to come out. I suppose you have felt that for a number of years.”
Needless to say, Joy and I were shocked to hear that he would now have two surgical procedures,… and he had quite a hard time of recovery.
I also think of things that students would try to tell me, and I would learn later that maybe I  had not really heard the real message they were trying to get across.
Are you hearing, or are you listening? They are really two different things.

LISTEN CAREFULLY TO WHAT WISE PEOPLE SAY; PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT I AM TEACHING YOU. Proverbs 22:17

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Whoever created that often quoted bit of advice was…WRONG!
If you had an open discussion with anyone about this topic, I think you would find any 3 year old,  30 year old , or 90 year old would totally disagree with this proverbial error.

I have a scar on my forehead where a neighbor girl named Janice popped me with a rock out of anger one day when I was about 8 years old.  I laugh at the little crater scar now as a fond childhood memory.  As I remember it, it hurt very much and blood ran down my face as I ran home to Momma for comfort. But even though it left a scar, it did not leave a resentful or hateful feeling in my heart or mind.

On the other hand, I have stirring memories of being picked on a few times and remember the words that were said. Their long-term forces are deeper than the scar on my head. One particular boy, rode his bike through our yard and yelled out calling me a bad name. The pain of those words seemed to stay with me in a more influential way than being hit with the stone thrown by Janice.

I don’t have any lifetime psychological issues with any of these childhood memories, but as I analyze over the last few decades regarding people I have dealt with, I find words that were said in many ways left a  deeper impact than any physical pain that could have been inflicted.

I am sure, that as you think about it now, you may agree with this.

My wife Joy offers this bit of advice on a banner in her classroom. “Think before you blurt!”

I’m starting with the man in the mirror.

WHEN YOU DO THINGS, DO NOT LET SELFISHNESS OR PRIDE BE YOUR GUIDE. INSTEAD, BE HUMBLE AND GIVE MORE HONOR TO OTHERS THAN TO YOURSELVES. DO NOT BE INTERESTED ONLY IN YOUR OWN LIFE, BUT BE INTERESTED IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS.  Philippians 2:3-4

Are You a Potato, or a Rutabaga?


In my 60 years, I think I may have eaten one whole rutabaga…If you add up all the bites.

I guess I think of it as an “old-fashioned” vegetable that Mama Runion, Mama Gravley, Memon (My wife’s mom,) or my mom would find as a treasure if someone gave them some. They would dream up a table full of food to go with the rutabagas. And I, along with most young people of that day, would find a way to only eat the chicken and macaroni…and, “No thanks to the rutabagas.”

In researching, I found that rutabaga literally means, “root bag.” Now who wants to eat a root bag? It seems that it comes from Sweden and there along with parts of the UK and Australia, it is called a “swede.” I believe if Mother had said, “Son let’s eat some swedes today.” I may have dug in.

But think about the potato. We have a brand new bag of great looking russets right now and I am thinking of all the possibilities…Baked, boiled, french-fried, hash browned, mashed, or just lightly peeled and thrown in the crock pot with a junky-lot of good items….mmmm.

My dad always said he was a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. My dad was a potato and I think he taught me to be a potato too.

When I tell people I have a degree in English, they think that is all I know. They think I will correct their pronoun usage, but can’t discuss the founding of the thirteen colonies, or can’t plant great tomatoes.

Maybe you are proud to be a rutabaga surrounded by well-seasoned others. But my wife, and son, and his wife,  and I are teaching our grandchildren to be potatoes. And they are delightful ….No longer “tots” though. I had to throw that in. They are so quick on wit and humor, we will be talking about potatoes all afternoon.

God I thank You for rutabagas. They are feeding and sustaining life for some people, somewhere today.

But I thank You for my potatoes and those who taught me to be versatile, and useful to many in many ways.

MY CHILD, LISTEN AND ACCEPT WHAT I SAY. THEN YOU WILL HAVE A LONG LIFE, I AM GUIDING YOU IN THE WAY OF WISDOM. AND I AM LEADING YOU ON THE RIGHT PATH. Proverbs 4:10-11.

Would you need salt and ketchup with that?