COLLARDS & HOG JOWLS, PART VI, 1-1-15

Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

Ed. Note: Five years ago today, Jan. 1, 2010, we went to the Woodshed with a childhood memory entitled “Collards and Hog Jowls.” Then and now, it remains one of the most commented upon of all our remembrances of growing up on the farm at Route 4, Seneca, SC, in the 50’s. Each succeeding January 1st, in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and now 2015, we’ve changed the dates a bit, but basically repeated the story. Today is no different. For the 6th consecutive year, that love ‘em or hate ‘em relationship with something that you have to hold your nose to get ‘em in your mouth is the subject of our visit to the ‘shed’ on this first day of 2015.

If you’re a regular reader of the Woodshed, you’ll probably remember that our attention was first drawn to this ‘smelly’ subject of hog jowls and collard greens by our long-time good friends, loyal “Woodshed-ers,” and former school bus rider, Cathy and Randy Williams, as Randy was stinking up not only their whole house, but watering the eyes of all the animals in the woods all over the great northwest of Oconee County.

I haven’t heard from the Williams household this year. Maybe they were told to cease and desist by SPCAN (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Neighbors). However, confirmation that we should stay the course on this pungent subject has come overnight and today from two different sources. I’m thinking there might have been some kind of conspiracy up there in those northern woods. While there seems to be no dead polecat aroma emanating from the Williams household, possibly due to the aforementioned SPCAN sanctions, I’m told that they’re sending investigators to another site just across the ridge from the Williams.

I’m guessing here, again, but those SPCAN (almost sounds like spit-can!) private eyes were tipped off by a simple social media message (or cry for help) from a computer located in the cabin in the deep northern woods belonging to Pete and Nancy Cumbee. It was such an innocent message – “my whole house stinks” – and one that could have been caused by wandering skunks. Or maybe Easter eggs that were never found. But given the proximity of the Williams site to the Cumbee site, I’m going out on a limb and guessing that the SPCAN detectives didn’t have to follow their noses very far to find the incriminating evidence at the Cumbee Cabin. After all, this ain’t rocket surgery, folks.    On a windy day that smell has been known to burn the paint off houses as far away as 50 miles.

My second confirmation, ironically, came in another social media message. And would you believe – this one from someone I’ve known since the day she was born. Yep, our #1 and only daughter Kim was quoted as saying she hopes there’s something to that old superstition that ‘whatever you do on the first day of the year, you’ll be doing all year long.’ Wonder where in the world she could have heard such foolish thinking. But since she and a friend are lolly-gagging down the road toward the beach, I can only guess that she hopes she can be lolly-gagging down the road toward the beach every day of the New Year. And why does that not surprise me? That girl would live at the beach if she could. But, of course, modern gurus say that parents are responsible for training the minds of our babies, so I guess we shouldn’t have let her play in her sand box every day of her life. Anyway, her brother Jeff would probably beg to differ with her, especially since he’s spending the day ‘0n the clock’ as opposed to her lolly-gagging.

I just don’t buy into this ‘first day of the year’ hogwash anyway. So, to Randy and Pete and all you other stink-eaters who have to put a clothes pin on your nose to get something past your lips hoping all the while that eatin’ something akin to road kill will bring you good luck, I have a news flash for you. A stomach pump is real. And it’s bad luck. Why in the name of Sam Hill do you think that stuff only grows once a year? Call it Woodshed math or old-age head-scratching, but I can still put two and two together and come up with four.

But I have a confession. Take a deep breath. Here it comes. If I had any inkling of an idea in this well-worn dirt road country boy brain that what my MHB (mill hill bride) and I are doing on the first day of 2015 would continue for the other 364 days, I would tell Randy and Pete to load up a two-horse wagon of that stinking stuff and bring it to me ASAP. I’d hold my breath as long as possible and dive into the mess head first ‘cause I surely hope and pray that this old-timey flu-induced quarantine and accompanying heavy antibiotic fog are gone before the first full moon.  After all, the neighbors are beginning to wonder why our friends are throwing food under the garage door and running away!    

Now, with a few date changes, herewith is COLLARD GREENS AND HOG JOWLS, PART VI, Jan 1, 2015.

It was just a little wooden sign about two feet high by the side of the road. But it might as well have been one of those double-decker lighted billboards. It was in the shape of an arrow pointing down a dirt road. And painted in red on the sign was one word. Collards. Funny thing about words. You see or hear the right word at the right time, and before you can say ‘hog jowls and black-eyed peas,” you’re in another time and another place.

Every New Year’s Day since I was old enough to eat cornbread without gettin’ strangled, that’s what we had for dinner (the noon meal) back home at Route 4. Black-eyed peas, hog jowls, and collards. And if we turned up our noses at this ‘finger-lickin’ feast, we’d get Daddy’s standard speech. Something about coins and greenbacks and good luck. But a farm boy can only take so much ‘yuck.’ So, one New Year’s Day, I got brave. Or just plumb dumb. On hindsight, it might well have been the latter.

I think it was Jan. 1, 1955. There probably were a lot of problems in the world back then. But the only problem this country boy could think about was how he was goin’ to be able to digest this stuff that the catfish down in Coneross Creek could smell when Mother fired up the kitchen stove. The problem was that we didn’t just have it on January first. Daddy could grow collards on that red dirt farm where kudzu wouldn’t even grow. And if he thought that two rows would be enough, he’d plant half an acre. “Just to be on the safe side,” he’d say. And I’d pray, “Lord, please let the worms and rabbits eat every bit of that stuff.” But it didn’t work. Wrong kind of prayer!

So, collards and hog jowls made regular appearances at our table. Maybe that’s why on that particular New Year’s Day, I should have been eatin’ instead of thinkin’. As Daddy looked down both benches at the kitchen table and saw nothing but facial expressions that resembled pretzels, he goes into that speech for the umpteenth time about how we needed all the good luck and coins and folding money we could get. And he emphasized every single word by pointing his fork at each and every one of those pretzel faces!

When he stopped long enough to get another mouthful of collards, I should have done likewise. But I just couldn’t help myself. “Daddy,” I said, “if that good luck story was true, we’d be rich by now.” You could have heard a pin drop in that kitchen. Except for Mother choking on her collards. And Daddy gettin’ up out of his chair like he had been shot out of a rocket.

On the way to the woodshed I was privileged to hear his other speech about how we should be thankful for having a roof over our head and food on the table. I didn’t interrupt this speech, but I’m thinkin’ that I really was thankful. So very thankful, in fact, that we didn’t have any boiled okra on the table.

So, today is Jan. 1, 2015. But before we get too deep into twenty-fifteen, let’s take a quick look at how we did in twenty-14. We chewed on a bunch of problems, didn’t we? This world is in a mess. And I’m not talking about a ‘mess of collard greens,’ either. Seems like everybody you run into these days is in a ‘stew’ over something or the other. Like Mother used to say when we’d complain about something, “If it’s not one thing, it’s half-a-dozen.” But the current heartaches, hurts, and hunger are very real and seem to be reaching epidemic proportions.

What’s the answer? I don’t know what it is. But I do know where we can look. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we ask Him to give us our ‘daily bread.’ And we readily accept the bread that feeds our physical needs. But what about the Bread of Life? This just me, but I believe that way too many folks in the world today, some of ‘em in high places, have twisted their faces and turned up their noses at the Bread of Life – God’s Holy Word.

We get choked by chewing on problems instead of potential. While we could be getting daily nourishment for the soul by ingesting and digesting daily doses of His Word. Everybody I know would love to get rid of bad memories and tough circumstances that the world has seen in 2014. Don’t raise your hand, but I wonder how many people in the free world will actually read the Bible every single day of the New Year beginning today. Talk about a New Year’s resolution! There’s one that could change the world if we’d just stick to it. Call it a r-e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n, not a resolution were the instructions from my pastor Rev. David Gallamore in a recent sermon.

In the first chapter of Proverbs this morning, I found some bad news and some good news that I had not seen and/or heard before. First the bad news. Just when we think we’ve heard and seen all the evil that the devil can produce, something else happens to further convince us of the depravity of mankind.

Proverbs 1:29-33, New International Version (NIV)

29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD.
30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

Some preachers in some churches don’t use the word ‘revival’ much anymore. Back home at Return Baptist Church, you could always count on at least two Revivals a year – one in the Spring and another one in the Fall. And they lasted for seven days, I might add.

God is a gentleman. He won’t stay where He’s not wanted. And in this great nation founded on His principles, we used to want Him in our family, in our schools, and at work and play. And if there’s ever to be any hope for a return to the America we once knew, that hope goes by the name of R-E-V-I-V-A-L. And that’s the promise we find in the last verse of Proverbs, chapter 1:

33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Life doesn’t come all wrapped up in pretty paper with bows and ribbons, but every day is still a gift from God. How we choose to use it for His honor, glory and pleasure will determine whether or not we leave a stench in His nostrils like three-day-old collards and hog jowls.

God, please bless America in twenty-fifteen! Give us enough good ol’ horse sense to know that true revival starts in the heart of the one we see in our mirror, so that we, your people, don’t continue to be mule-headed stubborn.

Even if it comes to eatin’ a mess of collards and hog jowls.

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AN OVERDUE THANKSGIVING DAY THANK YOU NOTE

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

 

Note: In his Thanksgiving message to our church at Rock Springs Baptist, our pastor, Dr. David Gallamore, focused on Psalm 100, one my Grandmother’s favorite Scripture passages. Pastor’s message knocked the rust off a few of my dormant brain cells, and sent me back down that old dirt road to the Woodshed, remembering the impact of a sweet, simple, Southern lady, and a Thank You note to her that we wrote when our first book was being published. I share it again today with the prayer that it might cause a pause for all of us to give thanks for all our blessings. As the girls sang at church, God really has been so good. Thanksgiving Blessings to you and yours from the old dirt road country boy and his mill hill bride.

Dear Grandma,

In my lifetime, I’ve been negligent in writing so many thank you notes to people who have blessed me with their special gifts. But, as you used to say, this one ‘takes the cake.’ As you no doubt know by now, God has seen fit to orchestrate the release of my first book during the Thanksgiving season. And, since you gave your life on earth to the teaching profession, I must beg you to please excuse my English, but ain’t it wonderful how He works His plan in our lives to bring Him honor and glory.

But before I start chasing rabbits, back to my confession. This thank you note is about sixty years overdue. Boy howdy, my MHB’s (mill hill bride) blood pressure would be off the chart if I did that today! By the way, Grandma, one of my most treasured possessions is a picture of you wearing white gloves at the wedding of this country boy and his mill hill girl back there in ‘64.

Speaking of pictures, there are two of you in Woodshed Wisdom, Vol. 1. In one of them, you’re young and beautiful at age 21. In the other, which I also treasure, you’re even more graceful and beautiful at age 84. I believe the writer of Proverbs might have had you in mind when he wrote about the splendor of gray hair (Prov. 20:29). So, even though I never thanked you as a cotton-haired country boy, this rapidly balding ol’ man sends this heart-felt thank you note.

The memory of you in your rocking chair and me, sittin’ up straight, I might add, in a high back wooden chair on the front porch of your little house on the hill, is as fresh today as the ‘maters and ‘taters we grew and ate back there on the farm at Route 4. And even though I would much rather have been scarin’ some squirrels and rabbits and birds with my slingshot, I knew better than to argue when you said, ‘Go in the house and get The Good Book.’

Grandma, I know in my heart that had it not been for your insistence that I read to you from The Good Book, there quite possibly might not be a book today with my name on it. You always said you wanted me to read to you from your favorite Book because of your failing eyesight. But, oh, how I realize now that you knew and believed the truth that God’s Word would be a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105) to help me see the road ahead long after I no longer walked down that dirt road at Route 4.

Because of your vision, I know that the Bible is the greatest book ever written. I’ve also come to realize that you not only loved His Book, but you lived His Book. And that brought Thanks-living to every day of your life, holiday or not. Even though you were a pauper in the eyes of the world, you were rich in God’s eyes beyond human imagination. And to think that you chose a life of pouring that wealth all over a bunch of unruly farm boys and girls, just humbles my heart and soul today.

In fact, I woke up in the pre-dawn hours of this Thanksgiving morning with a song in my heart. I can’t carry a tune in a water bucket, but one of the memory verses you made me memorize was Psalm 98:1, ‘Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done great and marvelous things.’ You also taught us that the devil likes to make us think about what we don’t have, and there was a lot that we didn’t have back there at Route 4. But what we did have was a grandmother who loved the Lord and lived that ‘attitude of gratitude’ way of life, thankful for the air we breathed, the water we drank, and, even those ‘maters and ‘taters we ate.

Your ‘thanks-living’ way of life became your witness, always telling others how good God had been to you throughout your life. Grandma, that’s a lesson that’s taken me many, many years to learn, but one that I promise to remember in whatever books God allows me to write. Like you always taught us, ‘Whatever you love, you’ll tell others about.’ Yes, even cornbread and milk, but especially the Lord who provides it!

So, Grandma, as I close this long overdue thank you note on this Thanksgiving Day, so many decades removed from your front porch, I’m so thankful that I can still see you leaning back in your rocking chair with your eyes closed and a mega-watt smile lighting up the place as I read to you one of your favorite passages from the Greatest Book ever written:

Psalm 100 King James Version (KJV) 1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Thank you, Lord, for my Grandma.

Emily Henrietta Compton Martin 1884 – 1970

 

***Editor’s note: For an autographed copy of Woodshed Wisdom, Vol.1, send $15.00, plus $3.00 shipping and handling to: Freeman Martin, 310 Andrew Pickens Dr, Seneca, SC 29678

 

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FIREWORKS, FLAGS, & FREEDOM

Before July fades into August, followed by frost and freeze warnings from the weather man (excuse me, weather person), followed by jingle bells and ho-ho-ho, here are a few thoughts, questions and wonderings about our most recent Independence Day Celebration. Do you ever wonder if those folks who put their ‘John Hancock’ on our country’s Declaration of Independence back there almost 240 years ago had a few firecrackers that they could shoot to celebrate this freedom that those 13 colonies had declared? 

Did they have any barbecue and homemade ice cream? And maybe some flag-waving patriotic music? And a little gospel preaching by a pastor wearing a straw hat and standing on a trailer? And did they have the presentation of the colors by the Color Guard with the Pledge of Allegiance to our nation’s flag, the Pledge of Allegiance to the Christian Flag, and the Pledge of Allegiance to God’s holy, inspired, infallible, inerrant Word? Followed by the most awesome display of fireworks lighting up the night sky that could be seen from two counties away? The short hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention for three days!

Just the mention of fireworks takes me back down that dirt road to the farm at Route 4. The closest thing to an ‘explosive’ that we ever had were the caps that came with the cap pistol that we boys got one Christmas as a ‘joint’ present. Something about Mother and Daddy’s headaches stemming from the ‘explosion’ of five thousand caps in one afternoon from that single cap pistol is still lodged in the ol’ memory bank.

Another time when Brother Oliver was a teenager, he brought home something that we only knew as “devil-chasers.” You lit the fuse and watched it squirt around all over the barn yard about two feet off the ground. Don’t know if they still make those things or not. But the rest of us brothers said they were appropriately named. Especially after the second or third one that Brother Oliver lit with one of Mother’s kitchen matches caught him in the back of his leg as he was running toward the barn for cover.  Suffice it to say that was the first and last time for devil-chasers down on the farm.

The only other time in our entire childhood that I remember something that lit up the night was when somebody, I think it was Brother George this time, snuck and spent a quarter on a box of sparklers. Well, when he lit one of those sticks and pointed it at Brother Wade, it scared ol’ Wade so bad that he set an Olympic speed record as he ran to the barn, climbed the ladder, and hid in the back of the barn loft. Until I picked up the spent sparkler by the wrong end. Then Wade had a good time laughin’ at me as I stuck three fingers to the bottom of the water bucket at the well.      

Time for one more just-thinkin’-out loud question…Does independence give us the freedom to do as we please, say what we please, go where we please, any time we please? Somebody selling fireworks was asked by a customer the other day, ‘how long is the fuse in that 6-foot firecracker?” And that got me thinkin’. How long is our mental fuse? Or what does it take to make us explode and shoot off at the mouth, potentially hurting anybody close like a cherry bomb going off in your hand?

The lady in the  long line at the big box store was giving the young clerk a piece of her mind, and in fact, she had given away so many pieces that she didn’t have much of a mind left. The customer behind her remarked, ‘she must brush her teeth with gun powder.’ She was completely free to do that, of course, because this is American, land of the free and home of the brave. But as the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:13, “don’t use your freedom to indulge in your sinful nature.”

And aren’t you glad that God has a ‘long fuse’? Slow to anger and rich in love is how David described Him in Psalm 145:8. And one more word of advice from the wisest man who ever lived, “Above all else, guard your heart because it is the wellspring of life,” (Proverbs 4:23). I thank God that I was born in America, free to do as I please, but maybe Solomon was saying that we should post an armed guard at the door of our heart, which is our mouth. If we bite somebody’s head off, and they turn around and bite our head off, all we’ve got is two head-less monsters. Yes, in America, we can usually do as we please. But when Jesus comes on our scene, he changes our ‘pleaser’ so that we want to do what pleases Him.

Anyway, back to the fireworks show. My MHB (mill hill bride) and I, plus a few thousand of our closest friends, spread out on the green grass of the hillside below the church, and witnessed our church’s Annual Fourth of July Celebration Spectacular. Excuse me, but I just gotta chase a rabbit down a side road. You remember a story from Vacation Bible School about another hillside where five thousand hungry folks, plus women and children, sat down to eat. Now, granted, they didn’t have barbecue, slaw and baked beans, plus every flavor of homemade ice cream know to mankind for dessert, like we did at church the other day.

Another side road, please… my friend Buddy Jack Seaborn, BJ for short, told me he and his guys spent all day and night before the 4th cooking up about a thousand and six hundred Boston Butt pork roasts! That just short circuits this ol’ DRCB’s (dirt road country boy) hard drive and fries my software when I try to imagine the Miracle of that all-you-can-eat fish sandwich supper that Jesus fed those hungry folks with…and all from a little boy’s lunch bucket that held five little loaves of bread and two little fish. And, get this, there were 12 basketfuls of leftovers, even after all those thousands of people were full as a tick. Those hungry folks on that hillside that day were anything but independent. Actually, they were completely dependent upon the only Person in the whole world who could satisfy their hunger.

Totally dependent on the One who willingly died to give us freedom leads me to wish you ‘Happy Dependence Day.’

Today and every day of the year.

  

        

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TBT (THROW BACK THURSDAY)

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Woodshed Wisdom, by Freeman Martin

(TBT) THROWBACK THURSDAY

I enjoy seeing all those grainy, old black and white pictures that people post in the social media. I’m sure you’ve seen ‘em if you spend any time at all in front of your monitor or on your pods and pads. And even as I see these words pop up on my screen, I’m in the ‘throwback’ mode. If Mother and Daddy could read these words right now, they’d probably think their number 4 child had fallen out of the barn loft and landed on his head. Seriously, folks – just thinking the words ‘pods and pads and posts and social media makes this ol DRCB (Dirt Road Country Boy) wonder if he can get back up on the main road anytime soon.

Most of the TBT pictures I’ve seen involve babies, cars, or weddings. Can anybody out there splani-fy that for me? Coming up on our 50th anniversary, my MHB (Mill Hill Bride) has organized a search party to find our wedding album. You know that book of about a dozen or so black and white eight-by-tens that were never suitable for framing? That’s why they put ‘em in a notebook and pack ‘em away in the attic or garage. Can I just chase one rabbit down a side road, please? Growing up back home at Route 4, Seneca, SC, we never even heard the words attic or garage. Except for when Daddy’s pulpwood truck broke down. Then he’d have to call Uncle Tack or one of the other neighbors to take him to a garage or a junk yard to find a replacement part for the one that broke. And that kind of garage wasn’t connected to the ol’ farmhouse in any shape or form.

And speaking of vehicles, I see a lot of cars featured on TBT. Sure do wish I had a grainy black-and-white Kodak Brownie snapshot of my ’47 Chevy Fleetline. Or better still, if I still had it, and kept it running, it would sell for enough to buy lots of taters and maters for me and my MHB for a long time. Or how ‘bout that ’57 Ford Fairlane 500, 2-door hardtop? What a beauty! Baby blue and white, no posts when you rolled the windows down…yes, I said, rolled the windows down. And that AM radio tuned in to Randy’s Record Mart in Gallatin, Tennessee, or to WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Kids today have words for things like that. I think they’d probably call my ’57 Ford a chick magnet. I know from personal experience. After I quit running and let my MHB catch me, we traded that beauty (the car) for a ’57 VW. I think I just felt a memory overflow my eyes and run down my face.

Not to say that I don’t like TBT. I think it’s good. Sometimes those grainy black and whites throw us up on the Pulpwood Truck Time Travel Machine (PTTTM) and haul us back to something we had forgotten. Something we once had that brought us joy, laughter, and fun. And then we moved on down this road we call life with all of its curves, uphills, downhills, potholes, detours, and construction. Tempus Fugit – that’s the only two words I remember from Miss Judith Beatty’s Latin I class back at SHS. Time marches on and waits for no man.

We get caught up with ‘keeping it between the ditches’ on this road called life, while the memories of what we once had are crowded away, pushed into a faraway corner of our cerebellums by jobs, children, grandchildren, parents, death, debt, divorce, disease, high gas prices, taxes, etc., etc., etc. But if we focus on nothing but the short-term memory, we stand a chance to let these head-aches, heart-aches, and belly-aches we run into on this road called life run us off the road and into the ditch. And when we’re stuck in the ditch, it’s so easy to forget just how good God has been to us.

I remember a story we heard many times in VBS (Vacation Bible School) about a little boy who grew up on a sheep farm way back yonder many years ago. He made himself a sling-shot and got to be pretty good with it. As one big ol’ bully found out. This little guy had a bunch of brothers, too. His daddy had eight boys and he was the youngest. Probably picked on like crazy! I love those VBS stories. Side road, please. Get those boys and girls in VBS. They’ll never forget the stories they learn. Not to mention the cookies and Kool-aid!

Anyway, this little boy grew up watchin’ his daddy’s sheep. After all, he was the baby of the bunch. And his big brothers always had lots of other more important things to do, of course. I’ll bet they had some knock-down, drag-out fights amongst themselves while they were growin’ up. But Somebody had their eye on the little guy – the runt of the bunch of Jesse’s boys. He even fought and killed a lion and a bear. And, you know what? It made him strong. Sorta like basic training for the fight of his life. He even became a pretty good singer. And a musician, too. And man-oh-man, could he play that harp! Another side road – he also became a pretty good writer. And a king, too. I’m sure you’ve heard of a book he wrote. The title of it is PSALM.

And one day while he was using his head for something besides a hat rack, David sat down and remembered where and what he had come from. I don’t know if it was a Thursday or not. If it was, it might be the first TBT in recorded history. He made a list to jog the memory of his fellow Israelites and to remind them just how good God had been to them.

 

A Psalm of David.

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Do you see yourself and your loved ones in some of those verses that David wrote? Me and my MHB are in just about every word on that page. Didn’t I tell you he was a pretty decent writer? And now can you remember just how good God has been to all of us as we look back down the road called life? So here’s a thought. Put five dollars with it and get you one of those expensive lattes or frappes or whatever they call ‘em.

Please, Lord, that’s a side road for another day. I don’t have time to go there now. But maybe, just maybe, on some future TBT, we can all remember that He’s had our back every step of the way, through every detour and pothole, even while we were fightin’ the ‘lions and bears,’ like He did with little David. And rememberin’ how He had His arm around us back then will help us get up out of today’s ditches and move on down the road called life.

In fact, here’s my TBT for today – words penned by Johnson Oatman, Jr. over a hundred years ago. I think I’ll just load all four stanzas into my VBS musical ‘water bucket’ and splash around in it all day.

1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

 (Chorus) Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done; Count your blessings, name them one by one,  And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

 2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by.

 3. When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold. Count your many blessings, money cannot buy Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.

4. So amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

 Note to self – make every day of the week Throw Back Time. 

 

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My prayer is that God will be glorified in all that you and I do, and that you will be richly blessed for your gifts to take the Word around the world through the internet. And don’t forget to forward Woodshed Wisdom to a friend.

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE NAME

PLEASE NOTE:

 

 You’re receiving this edition of Woodshed Wisdom from my email account, freemart61@hotmail.com. If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel to use my email account. Even so, you may still log on to our website, woodshedwisdom.com, to view or use any of our website pages such as Comments, Books, Donate, Prayer Requests, etc.

 

We apologize for any inconvenience this temporary delivery issue may cause. Now, here comes another ‘wheelbarrow load of woodshed wisdom.’ Be blessed.

 ++++++++

 

 Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

 

Have you ever heard somebody say, ‘I’d liked to have been a fly on the wall while that was going on.’ Well, I never found myself wantin’ to be a fly, but sometimes I do wish I had a little more techno-sense. I would have had a hidden camera rollin’ and one of them high-falootin’ infra-red remote microphones aimed right at my back porch.

What in the world was going on, you ask, on my back porch? Thank you for asking. It was the First Ever M.H.K.B.F.F.R. Before you call the guys in the white jackets to come get me, let me see if I can ‘splani-fy’ what was happenin’ on my back porch. For lack of brain power, I’ve just assigned those initials – MHKBFFR, Mill Hill Kids Best Female Friends Reunion.

When they make the movie, and they should, the opening script will be “Long ago and in a galaxy far away…,” or maybe it’ll be “Once upon a time, there lived on a mill hill in the South three little girls who became best friends.” Come to think of it, I like that one better. Even though mill hills, in the sense they were known in those days, really are long ago and far away. Can I get an Amen on that?

I know, get off the side road and back up on the back porch. OK, those three cute and cuddly little mill hill girls, Ann, Judy, and Helen, became the best of friends, having the time of their lives doing what mill hill kids did back then, or so I’m told. Character building and mentally challenging activities like ridin’ bikes, climbin’ trees, throwin’ rocks at boys who were ridin’ bikes, and even slippin’ off and hidin’ in a culvert to take a drag off of one of their daddys’ unfiltered cigarettes. Side road, please. Can you just imagine how that would have turned out if they had these modern day e-cigs?

Anyway, what’s remarkable is these three little mill hill girls grew up, left the mill hill, went off and got married. One of ‘em even became my MHB, but that’s beside the point, other than the fact that this MHKBFFR took place on my MHB’s back porch. What is remarkable is that these three grown-up mill hill girls each had a little girl of their own, Linda, Kim, and April. And as this MHKBFFR unfolded on my back porch, you had the three original mill hill girls PLUS their daughters, who are in their own galaxies far and away from the mill hill world. And they’re all together for the first time in about fifty blue moons. So, now do you understand why I’m wishing I had a little more techno-know-how!

Of course, I’ve watched two of the three daughters grow up, Kim in my own house, and Linda just across town. But Miss April arrived at this back porch reunion all the way from Texas by way of Tennessee. And, boy howdy, did they all do some talking. That’s like saying that a duck likes water. Hello! What should I have expected when three sets of mothers and daughters get together for the first time ever in recent memory?

And as April was tracing her roots from Texas back to the mill hill, I heard a comment that sent me day-tripping back down that dirt road toward my roots on the farm. She said, “I was born in April, so they named me April.” Uh, oh, I’m in a full gallop down that dirt road now. And I’m wondering why Daddy and Mother didn’t use that same naming system back there on the farm in the 50’s. With nine kids, we could have covered almost all the months of the year. Even with a couple born in the same month, that could have been easily solved with something like, November #1 and November #2.

But, no, they had to start with their parents (our grandparents) and work their way through aunts and uncles and cousins, naming this farm nine for favorite family members. That’s how I came to have three last names that, even today – three score and ten later, I have to explain how they got out of order….favorite uncle first (Freeman), mother’s maiden name (Brown) second, and family name (Martin) last.. I’ve spent more than one intense session at the woodshed when one or both parents overheard me say, “They shook the family tree and some nuts fell out!”

But I’m proud of all three of my names. And so thankful for family tradition. But it sure caused Mother some headaches when we had stepped on her last nerve and she had to call the roll to get to the one she wanted. And when she landed on it, you knew that if she called you by the three names listed on your birth certificate, you might be headed for the woodshed!

Something landed in my inbox the other day called the Top Ten Girl Baby Names in the U.S and its counterpart, the Top Ten Boy Baby Names in the U.S. Interesting how naming babies has changed in seventy years. Check it out. In the pink corner, you have bouncing baby girls named Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, and Mia in the top six. Those are all very lovely names, but I was left scratchin’ the old bald top wonderin’ if it’s the modern day movie star influence, or maybe we’ve gone way, way, way back in our heritage, like to 1492, and started naming girl babies after the different Queens of Spain who loaned ol’ Columbus some gas money.

Just kiddin’….no hate mail, please. As I said, they’re very sweet names. In fact, #7 in the girl group is my oldest sister’s (and my Grandma Martin’s) name – Emily. Good to see some things don’t change. Rounding out the top ten for the girls were Abigail, Madison, and Elizabeth.

On the blue side, the Top Ten names for boy babies sounds like I’m reciting the books of the Bible that we had to memorize in Vacation Bible School back home at Return Baptist Church. Yes, we actually did something constructive, before we got expelled from VBS for drinkin’ all the kool-aid and eatin’ all the vanilla cream-filled, three-packs-for-a-dollar cookies. Coming in at #1 on the boy baby list was Noah, and rounding out the list was Daniel. In between were Liam, Jacob, Mason, William, Ethan, Michael, Alexander, and Jayden.

Regardless of their names, I hope and pray that these and all other boys and girls grow up to know the One Name that’s above every name that’s ever been or ever will be. A name that someday will cause every person all over this world to take a knee. And someday this Name will be on the tip of everybody’s tongue ‘cause it’ll be a household word and every person in the world will be talking about it. It won’t just be the first name on somebody’s top ten list. It’ll be the ONLY name whereby men, women, boys and girls can go to Heaven.

Philippians 2:9-11

New King James Version (NKJV)

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

At our church we have this humongous pearly white banner with gold letters on it that comes down out of the ceiling. It only has one word on it – JESUS. When it descends from above, even my goose bumps have goose bumps. And the short hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. Right now it serves to remind us that, indeed, when God calls time, the One named Jesus will descend from Heaven to Earth just as He left. We’ll look up when we hear the shout and the trumpet. But if you don’t already know the Name that’s above every other name on earth, it’ll be too late.

You won’t even have time to have goose bumps.

+++++

Donate

If you have been blessed by this trip to the Woodshed and would like to share your blessing, please pray daily for this ministry to touch lost souls who don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.

Secondly, if you feel led by the Holy Spirit to help take Woodshed Wisdom to the world through the internet and would like to make a regular monthly gift or a one-time gift, or both, please designate whether it is a one-time gift or recurring monthly gift, and send your gifts by mail to:

WOODSHED WISDOM

c/o Freeman Martin

310 Andrew Pickens Dr. Seneca, SC 29678

One-time gift of $ _____________, plus monthly gift of _______________.

One-time gift of $ _____________.

Monthly gift of $ ______________.

My prayer is that God will be glorified in all that you and I do, and that you will be richly blessed for your gifts to take the Word around the world through the internet. And don’t forget to forward Woodshed Wisdom to a friend.

Share

THREE LITTLE WORDS

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

 It was an innocent question really. One that I’m sure she had asked thousands of times before she posed it to us. And by now her words were rather flat from over usage and sorta flung over her shoulder in our general direction. But, in her defense, the waitress – excuse me – the hostess had no way of knowing that the three words her brain had been programmed to ask everybody coming through the front door, would light the fuse of such a mental explosion.

 

 By now, your curiosity is about to kill the cat, so allow me to let the cat out of the bag. My Mill Hill Bride and I, on a recent date night, were greeted with the aforementioned three words upon entering one of those nice places where a fellow can take his MHB on a date night. Whadda you mean, you haven’t had a date night since JFK and Jackie moved into the big white house? And you wonder why your ice tea ain’t sweet anymore? Well, you’ve gone and done it again – got me chasin’ a rabbit down a side road. But seriously, folks, this was definitely not a Vienna sausage and Saltine cracker place.

 

 When we’re on a date night, the menu for her must be, without exception, some part of a chicken that’s cooked completely without a hint of salt and with some kind of green and yellow rabbit food on the side steamed until it’s soft and mushy. For me, just be sure you mention cornbread, sweet taters, grits, or shrimp. Or all of the above if you want a generous tip.

  

I’m not saying that the ol’ DRCB (dirt road country boy) and his MHB (mill hill bride) are above their raisin’, but this place had cloth napkins – and they weren’t even white. And – you’re not gonna believe this – they were folded up and stuck in your water glass. But I’m getting the cart before the horse. We only saw this after we’d been waitin’ about 30 minutes and that little black thing-a-ma-jig in my back pocket started vibratin’ and squawkin’ like a mad setting hen.

 

 So I take my date’s hand in one of my hands (remember when you used to do that on a date?) and this squawkin’ box in my other hand, and we make our way back to where the lady was that was rolling up some more of those colored napkins. Lo and behold, she was puttin’ two forks and a knife in every roll-up. And they were real shiny and heavy.

 

 Do you wanna know how you can tell when you’ve taken your special date to a special place? Yep, you’re absolutely right – when they’ve got enough colored napkins to stick one in every water glass. And they’ve got enough forks for everybody in the place to have two a piece rolled up inside some more colored napkins.

 

 Whoa! Hit the brakes. This mental mule-train is out of control goin’ downhill. What were those three words – the question that the hostess asked? Yeah, I know, you’re ready to slap me with a wet dishrag if I don’t get to the point. So sharpen your number two lead pencil and get out your Blue Horse writing tablet – here it comes. TABLE OR BOOTH? You heard right. That’s what she asked. And, quicker than you can say ‘jackrabbit in the swamp,’ it turned an old man into a barefooted boy walking down that dirt road toward the ol’ farm house.

 

 Back home at Route 4, we never heard of anything called a booth that you sat down at to eat supper. For us, it was one big long heavy oak table, two benches and two chairs. So, when the lady turned around and repeated her question – table or booth – it took a well-placed elbow nudge from my date between ribs number two and three to bring me back from my trip down memory lane. Table, by all means, a table, I wanted to shout. “OK,” she said, it’ll be a few more minutes while we get one cleaned off.” I guess she thought we looked like ‘booth’ people, whatever that is.

 

 Suppertime back home was always with the family gathered around that big table in the kitchen, the only room in the ol’ farmhouse that was hot as blazes in the summertime and even hotter in the winter. And not a thermostat in sight on either the fireplace or Mother’s wood-burning cook stove. But when supper was over, there was still work to do. It was time to get up from the table, clean it off, wash and dry the dirty dishes, do homework if we had it, and get ready for tomorrow.

 

 I’m reminded of another family, gathered around the supper table, and when it was over, there was work that had to be done, something to be cleaned up, to get that family ready for all their tomorrows:

 

 John 13:1-9
New King James Version (NKJV)

 

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

 

And just like ol’ Simon Peter, it’s hard for me to understand why Jesus wants to wash my feet. But then, like Peter, when I stop to think about it, I want Him to dump His whole bucket of soap and water all over me, from my head to my toes. Because, unless I let him clean me up good and wash away all the dirt and grime from this world, I won’t be ready to eat supper with Him at that great Banquet Table that He’s getting’ ready right now for all who will have Him wash their feet. And, if I let Him clean me up, He’s promised that He won’t stick me in a booth somewhere over against the side of the wall. No, sir-ree, it’ll be the big table with the rest of His family.

 

Now, that’s a date I definitely don’t won’t to miss.

 

Donate

If you have been blessed by this trip to the Woodshed and would like to share your blessing, please pray daily for this ministry to touch lost souls who don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.

Secondly, if you feel led by the Holy Spirit to help take Woodshed Wisdom to the world through the internet and would like to make a regular monthly gift or a one-time gift, or both, please designate whether it is a one-time gift or recurring monthly gift, and send your gifts by mail to:

WOODSHED WISDOM
c/o Freeman Martin
310 Andrew Pickens Dr.
Seneca, SC 29678

One-time gift of $ _____________, plus monthly gift of _______________.

One-time gift of $ _____________.

Monthly gift of $ ______________.

My prayer is that God will be glorified in all that you and I do, and that you will be richly blessed for your gifts to take the Word around the world through the internet. And don’t forget to forward Woodshed Wisdom to a friend.

Share

THREE LITTLE WORDS

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

 

It was an innocent question really. One that I’m sure she had asked thousands of times before she posed it to us. And by now her words were rather flat from over usage and sorta flung over her shoulder in our general direction. But, in her defense, the waitress – excuse me – the hostess had no way of knowing that the three words her brain had been programmed to ask everybody coming through the front door, would light the fuse of such a mental explosion.

  

By now, your curiosity is about to kill the cat, so allow me to let the cat out of the bag. My Mill Hill Bride and I, on a recent date night, were greeted with the aforementioned three words upon entering one of those nice places where a fellow can take his MHB on a date night. Whadda you mean, you haven’t had a date night since JFK and Jackie moved into the big white house? And you wonder why your ice tea ain’t sweet anymore? Well, you’ve gone and done it again – got me chasin’ a rabbit down a side road. But seriously, folks, this was definitely not a Vienna sausage and Saltine cracker place.

 

 When we’re on a date night, the menu for her must be, without exception, some part of a chicken that’s cooked completely without a hint of salt and with some kind of green and yellow rabbit food on the side steamed until it’s soft and mushy. For me, just be sure you mention cornbread, sweet taters, grits, or shrimp. Or all of the above if you want a generous tip.

 

I’m not saying that the ol’ DRCB (dirt road country boy) and his MHB (mill hill bride) are above their raisin’, but this place had cloth napkins – and they weren’t even white. And – you’re not gonna believe this – they were folded up and stuck in your water glass. But I’m getting the cart before the horse. We only saw this after we’d been waitin’ about 30 minutes and that little black thing-a-ma-jig in my back pocket started vibratin’ and squawkin’ like a mad setting hen.

 

 So I take my date’s hand in one of my hands (remember when you used to do that on a date?) and this squawkin’ box in my other hand, and we make our way back to where the lady was that was rolling up some more of those colored napkins. Lo and behold, she was puttin’ two forks and a knife in every roll-up. And they were real shiny and heavy.

 

 Do you wanna know how you can tell when you’ve taken your special date to a special place? Yep, you’re absolutely right – when they’ve got enough colored napkins to stick one in every water glass. And they’ve got enough forks for everybody in the place to have two a piece rolled up inside some more colored napkins.

 

 Whoa! Hit the brakes. This mental mule-train is out of control goin’ downhill. What were those three words – the question that the hostess asked? Yeah, I know, you’re ready to slap me with a wet dishrag if I don’t get to the point. So sharpen your number two lead pencil and get out your Blue Horse writing tablet – here it comes. TABLE OR BOOTH? You heard right. That’s what she asked. And, quicker than you can say ‘jackrabbit in the swamp,’ it turned an old man into a barefooted boy walking down that dirt road toward the ol’ farm house.

 

 Back home at Route 4, we never heard of anything called a booth that you sat down at to eat supper. For us, it was one big long heavy oak table, two benches and two chairs. So, when the lady turned around and repeated her question – table or booth – it took a well-placed elbow nudge from my date between ribs number two and three to bring me back from my trip down memory lane. Table, by all means, a table, I wanted to shout. “OK,” she said, it’ll be a few more minutes while we get one cleaned off.” I guess she thought we looked like ‘booth’ people, whatever that is.

 

 Suppertime back home was always with the family gathered around that big table in the kitchen, the only room in the ol’ farmhouse that was hot as blazes in the summertime and even hotter in the winter. And not a thermostat in sight on either the fireplace or Mother’s wood-burning cook stove. But when supper was over, there was still work to do. It was time to get up from the table, clean it off, wash and dry the dirty dishes, do homework if we had it, and get ready for tomorrow.

 

 I’m reminded of another family, gathered around the supper table, and when it was over, there was work that had to be done, something to be cleaned up, to get that family ready for all their tomorrows:

 

 John 13:1-9

New King James Version (NKJV)

 

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

 

And just like ol’ Simon Peter, it’s hard for me to understand why Jesus wants to wash my feet. But then, like Peter, when I stop to think about it, I want Him to dump His whole bucket of soap and water all over me, from my head to my toes. Because, unless I let him clean me up good and wash away all the dirt and grime from this world, I won’t be ready to eat supper with Him at that great Banquet Table that He’s getting’ ready right now for all who will have Him wash their feet. And, if I let Him clean me up, He’s promised that He won’t stick me in a booth somewhere over against the side of the wall. No, sir-ree, it’ll be the big table with the rest of His family.

 

Now, that’s a date I definitely don’t won’t to miss.

 

Donate

If you have been blessed by this trip to the Woodshed and would like to share your blessing, please pray daily for this ministry to touch lost souls who don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives.

Secondly, if you feel led by the Holy Spirit to help take Woodshed Wisdom to the world through the internet and would like to make a regular monthly gift or a one-time gift, or both, please designate whether it is a one-time gift or recurring monthly gift, and send your gifts by mail to:

WOODSHED WISDOM c/o Freeman Martin 310 Andrew Pickens Dr. Seneca, SC 29678

One-time gift of $ _____________, plus monthly gift of _______________.

One-time gift of $ _____________.

Monthly gift of $ ______________.

My prayer is that God will be glorified in all that you and I do, and that you will be richly blessed for your gifts to take the Word around the world through the internet. And don’t forget to forward Woodshed Wisdom to a friend.

Share

D-DAY

Due to computer problems this past weekend, some subscribers did not receive the following important message, and the attached Woodshed Wisdom post entitled “D-Day.” If you did receive it, please excuse the repetition. God Bless.

Freeman Martin

 

 A MESSAGE TO WOODSHED WISDOM READERS:

What is it about the power of distractions to interrupt or disrupt our lives? Where do distractions come from? What does one do about increased responsibilities brought on by distractions such as issues of health, age, family, financial, jobs or other matters? Am I the only one who’s ever been distracted? All these and many more questions about distractions have been a large part of my conscious thinking in recent days and weeks.

In the belief that I’m not the only person who’s ever lost focus on our goals due to some kind of distraction, I’m going to be real transparent here. Almost five years ago, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we started writing stories about God’s grace and protection from our perspective of growing up in a large family on a Southern farm in the hard-scrabble days of the 1950′s. Again, under His leadership, we started posting these stories on the internet under the most appropriate title of ‘Woodshed Wisdom.’

Many of you who are reading this right now have told us you also had similar experiences, and you were blessed by reading these stories. That was confirmation of our two-part prayer at the start that God would bless others, and that He would be glorified. And did He EVER come through with an answer to that prayer! We even heard from you and other people far and wide who clamored for a book about these stories of Woodshed Wisdom. And, again, God blessed us with a Christian publisher, and Woodshed Wisdom, Vol. 1 became a reality. Full speed ahead, right? ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’

So what’s all the mental energy about distractions, you might ask? Well, in the last 18 months, my wife and I have seen some of the greatest distractions ever in our soon-to-be 50 years of marriage. And here’s a wild guess. We just might not be in that boat by ourselves, but even the slightest distraction that goes to the top of our to-do list can take our focus. Some would say, ‘just handle it and move on.’ I’m here to tell you, that takes a very strong person. Not many people, even among believers, can claim that kind of strength. On our own, our weakness is great, but God’s strength is greater (Phil.4:13).

Even when distractions require extra attention and time and some lifestyle adjustments, and rightfully so, the devil must be very happy when, in our weakness, we allow those adjustments to take our focus away from God would have us to do or be in our lives with the talents and abilities He has bestowed upon each and every one of us. He PROVED to me beyond doubt that HE would bless others if I just do what He called me to do – tell others about Jesus through the written word.

In recent months, in my weakness, I have allowed my keyboard to go silent. And that must make the devil very happy indeed. But can I just say, ‘don’t be too rough on me.’ He’s still working on me (and maybe you, too.) And in that regard, the Holy Spirit led me, on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, to write some thoughts around the theme of God’s people making D-Day type decisions.

Throughout this time of praying and listening to the Lord, He’s convinced me of this one thing. A D-DAY DECISION IS A DAILY DISCIPLINE! For my own benefit, if for no one else, I’m going to re-emphasize that thought. We have to get up every day and make a decision to move forward, under God’s strength, not ours, doing what He calls all believers to do – tell others about Jesus. And, in doing so, the devil’s distractions can become the devil’s frustrations.

Therefore, here’s my D-Day decision. As often as humanly possible, on whatever God lays on my heart, you will see a resumption of Woodshed Wisdom posted on the internet to those of you who are subscribers. And, God willing, there will be more books. In fact, “Woodshed Wisdom, Vol. 2″ is set for publication toward the end of this year.

So if you will, please suggest that your friends become subscribers. All they (or) you need do is just click the Subscribe button on our homepage (woodshedwisdom.com) and enter their email address. And while you’re on our homepage, if God leads you to be a part of reaching the world in His name through your gifts to this ministry, over and above your tithes and offerings, please click on the Donate button, and follow the instructions. Your gifts will be appreciated and crucial to the success of this ministry. We may never know till we get to Heaven how many lives are touched by your support. Thank you in advance and may God richly bless you!

Here now our weekend thoughts entitled D-Day (although it could also be called ‘D-Day Down on the Farm).

 

Woodshed Wisdom By Freeman Martin

It was June 6, 1944. Many people stayed up all night listening to the radio for news about the Normandy Invasion, which has come to be known as D-Day. In the seventy years that have spanned across our life-scapes since then, this military operation, this D-Day, has come to represent important or significant decisions in our personal, professional, and even in our private lives; time to put into action all the planning and preparation. Or, as a great general would say, “Troops, it’s time to storm the beaches.”

Or, as General Daddy used to say to a bunch of country boys who had never seen a beach, unless you count the banks of Coneross Creek back home on the farm at Rte. 4, when the ‘maters needed hoein,’ the wood needed to be cut, the pole beans needed plantin,’ or the fields needed plowin,’ and all he heard coming from his workers (us) was ‘lame-brain’ excuses, he’d say, “OK, Boys, time to quit talkin,’ and start walkin’.

But wait a minute! Already I’m chasin’ a rabbit down a side road…let me get back up on that tar-and-gravel main road and these ramblin’ thoughts for today. I have a feeling that Cecil and Iva Belle Brown Martin were also awake for most of that night, June 6, 1944, albeit for a different reason.

What else besides D-Day would keep a family up all night on a South Carolina farm seven decades ago? Thank you for asking. Here it comes…pay attention, class. Although it was a very important date in the life of our country, it wasn’t so much the news from Normandy that kept Mother and Daddy (and the rest of their farm family) awake that historical night, as it was the bawlin’ and squallin’ of their #4 child who was exactly ninety days old that D-Day in 1944.

Already I can see some of you letting your minds take you around a curve on this dirt road story. You’re thinkin’, “What were they doing? The country’s at war, things are probably gonna get real tough, and they’ve already got four-on-the-farm. Shouldn’t that have been a D-Day for them?”

Well, I say all that to say this. They had five more after me and my life today was molded in large part due to the privilege, honor, and blessing of being born into this farm family of nine brothers and sisters. Did we fuss and fight, gripe, belly-ache, complain, throw rocks at each other? Oh, yeah! And probably a thousand and one other things that earned us multiple trips to the Woodshed.

Bingo! There it is…THE WOODSHED. You can put what I’m going to say now with a buck-fifty, and it might get you a cup of coffee, but here ‘tis. I believe that our Mother and Daddy made a D-Day type decision before #1, sister Emily, was born, and steadfastly refused to waver from it all the way through almost 50 years of child-rearing until #9, sister Anne, was born.

And make no mistake; raising that many kids must have taken nerves of steel, tempered with hearts of love. Did they struggle? You betcha! Sometimes, I’m sure it was like chargin’ up heartbreak hill; other times, and there were some, it was like eatin’ cold watermelon or homemade ice cream in the shade on a hot summer day. But it all revolves around rearing the next generation with respect and integrity.

And, yeah, there was that ‘drug’ problem…being drug to church twice on Sunday, once on Wednesday, and every night of those seven-day Spring and Fall Revivals. They made that choice for us. And every choice we’ve made throughout life can be traced back to that choice. And when we didn’t think it was smart to follow their choice, I’d say something like, “Well, Ralph’s momma and daddy don’t make him go to church every time they open the doors.”

And Mother would sweetly reply, “Just ‘cause Ralph Nix jumps into the fire, do you think I’m going to let you jump into the fire, too?” Kids say crazy things sometimes to test their parents’ better choices. Actually, if somebody opened the church doors just to go in and sweep the floor, Ralph’s Momma and Daddy probably had him there, maybe even doing the sweepin’!

Sadly, as a nation, I think our fishin’ poles are out of the water when it comes to making D-Day-type choices. Has that choice itself made us better people….a better nation? I’ll leave you to draw your own answers to that question.

But there was once an old man who challenged his people, his fellow countrymen, to make a D-Day-type decision for their better future. His brothers and sisters had been down many muddy, dirt roads while wandering around like chickens with their heads cut off for forty years. They were fixin’ (in Rte. 4 language, that means getting ready) to move to a place where they could have cornbread and milk (or honey!) for every meal if they should choose to do so.

And there was this one ol’ man who challenged his people not to forget the One who had ‘put up with all their shenanigans’ for forty years. Remember the One, he said, who had promised, protected, and provided for them, even when they decided to ‘jump into the fire.’ His name was Joshua and his words to his people are at the heart of all choices for all people in our world today.

Joshua 24:15, New King James Version (NKJV) 15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

We all have to make a choice. Not choosing is not an option. The most important choice any of us will ever make is what we choose to do with Jesus. Have you made that choice?

If not, today is D-Day.

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A NEW NIGHTLIGHT

Woodshed Wisdom, 1-4-14
By Freeman Martin

I’m really enjoying one of my early Christmas gifts. Well, actually I bought it for myself – upon the well-intentioned advice of my mill-hill bride. It was the umpteenth time I had cracked a toe or knee on the corner of the coffee table or the dresser or the chest of drawers, which I believe have a life of their own. I have long held the theory that some furniture moves around the house during the dark of the night.

And just when I think my groggy gray matter can remember where it’s located as I stumble toward my 2:00am appointment to the inside facility in the dark, Wham! There it is again – just like stumping my big toe on a tree root back home on the farm. With one exception. Now, all the racket (for city slickers that means noise) and all my moaning and groaning has aroused you-know-who from her deep beauty rest. And I know what’s coming next.

“Why don’t you just turn the light on when you get up,” she sweetly inquires of me and my throbbin’ big toe. “Well, baby doll, sugar dumplin’, I didn’t want to wake you up,” is the best I could come up with on the spur of the moment while in deep agony. “Well, hello, Mr. Big Toe, I’m awake anyhow now.” And here’s the clincher – don’t miss it – that led to my early Christmas present for which I shelled out the magnificent sum of two whole U.S. dollars plus tax.

My mill hill sweetness looked down at me where I had bounced off the wall and lay crumpled on the floor. “Have you ever thought about getting a nightlight?” It wasn’t so much a question as it was a subtle hint that my big toe wasn’t the only thing that would be throbbin’ if this happened again. So now we have a funny (as in odd) blue-colored aura from one end of the hall to the other. And guess what, it’s really hard to get any sleep now. But at least I won’t be waking up my MHB, and that’s a pretty nice return on my two-dollar investment.

Back home on the farm at the end of that dirt road, I would have given the pick of the litter of new pigs plus a year’s supply of eggs to have had a nightlight like that on my daily journey from the barn to the house after finishing my evening chores. And if I happened to be a little late with the chores, as I often was, it was pitch dark. I mean, it looked like ten miles of blackness between the barn and the house. Every swaying tree limb was a giant monster just waiting to reach out and grab me. Even today, some sixty years later, I still think about runnin’ around the farm in the dark just waitin’ for one of my brothers to scare the heebie-jeebies out me just because they knew how I hated the dark. On nights when the moon was hidin’ behind the clouds, it was a scary time indeed.

I guess that’s why I love reading the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. It was an amazing 700 years before God sent a Great New Light to that Bethlehem barn to shine on a world where people were stumbling around in the dark.

Isaiah 9:2 (NIV) The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

In my little pea brain I think, Wow, 700 years! How did Isaiah know this? The only answer I can come up with is this – it was all according to God’s plan. And if He can create every mountain, every ocean, every bird, every frog, every tree and every bush on the face of the earth in six days, and He did, He can sure get the word to His messenger Isaiah. After all, He’s God and He can do anything!

Having grown up around a barn that was so dark at night you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, I try to imagine the darkness around Mary & Joseph and the animals that night when God sent a New Nightlight to the world. Just one dirt road country boy’s opinion, but you and I would be remiss if we let the Light of Christmas fade with the packed up wreaths and decorations.

Isaiah9:6 (NIV) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Lest we forget, Christmas is God’s engraved invitation, written in red (the blood of Jesus) to step out of the dark and into the Light. Are we kneeling in worship or stumbling around in the dark?

Maybe it’s time we got a New Nightlight.

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COLLARDS AND HOG JOWLS, PART V, 1-1-14

Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

Ed. Note: Four years ago today, Jan. 1, 2010, we went to the Woodshed with a childhood memory entitled “Collards and Hog Jowls.” Then and now, it remains one of the most commented upon of all our remembrances of growing up on Route 4. Each succeeding January 1st, in 2011, 2012, 2013 and now 2014 (or as I’ve already seen it written twenty14), we’ve changed the dates a bit, but basically repeated the story. Today is no different. For the fifth consecutive year, that love ‘em or hate ‘em relationship with something that you have to hold your nose to get ‘em in your mouth is the subject of our visit to the ‘shed’ on this first day of 2014.

Confirmation that we should stay the course on this ‘smelly’ subject came recently in the form of an email from our good friends, Cathy and Randy Williams. Searching through the mental database, it’s easy to remember Cathy as that cute little first-or-second-grader who rode the Bus #8 that I drove in my senior year of high school. And, I might add, she was one of what seemed like an endless stream of children that had to be accompanied by ye ol’ bus driver to a nearby house the day that we were stuck in the ditch for about half a day. A good bus driver never leaves his passengers, even when Mother Nature calls. Cathy is at the keyboard now and, with her permission; I’d like to share some of her comments as a preface to our original entry.

“Well here we are again. New Year’s Day and guess what we have cooking?” (I really don’t have to guess, since that smell will burn the paint off houses as far away as 50 miles!) Cathy continues, “Randy got a late start today washing and preparing our greens for the wonderful meal we will partake of later this evening and they just now got up to speed and the instant I smelled that wonderful smell that has suddenly filled our home, you, Freeman, were the first thing I thought about because I remember how bad you dislike good old collard greens. Hope they bring us some good luck this year.”

Well, Cathy, I hate to bust your bubble, but there’s one thing that this ol’ dirt-road country boy has learned in too-many trips to the Woodshed, and almost three-score and ten years that God has allowed me. If you have to put a clothes pin on your nose to get something past your lips, that’s bad luck already. And there’s another superstition that’s as hard to digest as the collards/hog jowls prediction. It goes something like this – whatever you do on the first day of the year, you’ll be doing all year long. Can you just imagine the scene at hospital emergency rooms across the South as thousands of people are brought in every day of the year for stomach-pumping treatment?

But I’m sure that most of us, at one time or another back in those Camelot days of youth, that had something put on the table in front of us that we turned our noses up at. But, like the Williams boys, we were taught to eat ‘whatever Mother put on the table’ or go hungry. And without a lot of griping or belly-aching. By the way, that commandment was what led to my teaching our cocker spaniel to eat that slimy green stuff that was coming to him through the knot hole in the floor under our kitchen table.

Whatever you do or don’t get out of this, don’t miss the message that I’m afraid is sorely missing in this year of twenty14 that we’re plunging into today. There probably wasn’t a lot of griping and belly-aching from the Williams clan or the Martin clan or the Nix family or the Morgan’s or the Brown girls, or the McKee’s or any other Route 4 country boys about whatever their Mother put in front of them. It’s all about respecting our elders, especially our parents. And that, my friends, is a lesson taught at Return Baptist Church and reinforced at the Woodshed on more than one occasion. You see, Woodshed Wisdom was an effective teacher, no matter if you lived at Route 4, Route 2, Route 5, or even on an avenue where my MHB (mill hill bride) came from.

So, Randy and Cathy and all you others who feel it’s necessary to ‘eat what stinks’, enjoy your collards and hog jowls today. Personally, I hope you finish ‘em off today. I’ve run out of Lysol and my neighbors are beginning to wonder what’s going on down here in our neck of the woods.

On a personal note, please allow my MHB and I to express our undying gratitude for your support of Woodshed Wisdom, Vol.1. Many of you have bought books for yourselves and given them as gifts since our national release date on Jan. 15, twenty13. With much gratitude, we are awed, overwhelmed and humbled by your many acts of love and encouragement as God is opening doors to opportunities for speaking at Senior Adult groups and sharing our testimony about what He has done. Some of you have told me that you’re using the book as a daily devotion. Others have said you started reading and couldn’t stop till you finished it in one sitting. And because of your Barnabas encouragement, we’re excited about the publication of Woodshed Wisdom, Vol. 2 sometime in twenty14. And while we wait, please spread the word – there are several more copies of Volume 1 stacked up like stove wood in the woodshed. To that end, I say with gusto, “May God alone be honored and glorified.”

Now, with a few date changes, herewith is COLLARD GREENS AND HOG JOWLS, PART V.

It was just a little wooden sign about two feet high by the side of the road. But it might as well have been one of those double-decker lighted billboards. It was in the shape of an arrow pointing down a dirt road. And painted in red on the sign was one word. Collards. Funny thing about words. You see or hear the right word at the right time, and before you can say ‘hog jowls and black-eyed peas,” you’re in another time and another place.

Every New Year’s Day since I was old enough to eat cornbread without gettin’ strangled, that’s what we had for dinner (the noon meal) back home at Route 4. Black-eyed peas, hog jowls, and collards. And if we turned up our noses at this ‘finger-lickin’ feast, we’d get Daddy’s standard speech. Something about coins and greenbacks and good luck. But a farm boy can only take so much ‘yuck.’ So, one New Year’s Day, I got brave. Or just plumb dumb. On hindsight, it might well have been the latter.

I think it was Jan. 1, 1955. There probably were a lot of problems in the world back then. But the only problem this country boy could think about was how he was goin’ to be able to digest this stuff that you could smell down at the barnyard when Mother started cookin’ it in the kitchen.

The problem was that we didn’t just have it on January first. Daddy could grow collards on that red dirt farm where kudzu wouldn’t even grow. And if he thought that two rows would be enough, he’d plant half an acre. “Just to be on the safe side,” he’d say. And I’d pray, “Lord, please let the worms and rabbits eat every bit of that stuff.” But it didn’t work. Wrong kind of prayer!

So, collards and hog jowls made regular appearances at our table. Maybe that’s why on that particular New Year’s Day, I should have been eatin’ instead of thinkin’. As Daddy looked down both benches at the kitchen table and saw nothing but facial expressions that resembled pretzels, he goes into that speech for the umpteenth time about how we needed all the good luck and coins and folding money we could get. And he emphasized every single word by pointing his fork at each and every one of those pretzel faces!

When he stopped long enough to get another mouthful of collards, I should have done likewise. But I just couldn’t help myself. “Daddy,” I said, “if that good luck story was true, we’d be rich by now.” You could have heard a pin drop in that kitchen. Except for Mother choking on her collards. And Daddy gettin’ up out of his chair like he had been shot out of a rocket.

On the way to the woodshed I was privileged to hear his other speech about how we should be thankful for having a roof over our head and food on the table. I didn’t interrupt this speech, but I’m thinkin’ that I really was thankful. So very thankful, in fact, that we didn’t have any boiled okra on the table.

So, today is Jan. 1, 2014. Don’t know how long it will take me to get used to saying ‘twenty-fourteen.’ Hey, I just thought of something. Six years from today, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll be saying ‘twenty-twenty.’ That’ll be neat. Easy for us senior citizens to remember.

But it’ll probably be sometime in February or March before I stop writing 2013 on everything. But there’s one thing I do know. There won’t be anything green cookin’ in our kitchen today that the neighbors can smell out on the main highway. Heartburn and indigestion I can do without as we begin a fresh new year.

But before we get too deep into twenty-fourteen, let’s take a quick look at how we did in twenty-13. We chewed on a bunch of problems, didn’t we? This world is in a mess. And I’m not talking about a ‘mess of collard greens,’ either. Seems like everybody you run into these days is in a ‘stew’ over something or the other. Like Mother used to say when we’d complain about something, “If it’s not one thing, it’s half-a-dozen.” But the current heartaches, hurts, and hunger are very real and seem to be reaching epidemic proportions.

What’s the answer? I don’t know what it is. But I do know where we can look. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we ask Him to give us our ‘daily bread.’ And we readily accept the bread that feeds our physical needs. But what about the Bread of Life? This just me, but I believe that way too many folks in the world today, some of ‘em in high places, have twisted their faces and turned up their noses at the Bread of Life – God’s Holy Word.

We get choked by chewing on problems instead of potential. While we could be getting daily nourishment for the soul by ingesting and digesting daily doses of His Word. Everybody I know would love to get rid of bad memories and tough circumstances that the world has seen in 2013. Don’t raise your hand, but I wonder how many people in the free world will actually read the Bible every single day of the New Year beginning today. Talk about a New Year’s resolution! There’s one that could change the world if we’d just stick to it. Call it a r-e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n, not a resolution were the instructions from my pastor Rev. David Gallamore in a recent sermon.

In the first chapter of Proverbs this morning, I found some bad news and some good news that I had not seen and/or heard before. First the bad news. Just when we think we’ve heard and seen all the evil that the devil can produce, something else happens to further convince us of the depravity of mankind.

Proverbs 1:29-33

New International Version (NIV)

29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD.
30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;

Some preachers in some churches don’t use the word ‘revival’ much anymore. Back home at Return Baptist Church, you could always count on at least two Revivals a year – one in the Spring and another one in the Fall. And they lasted for seven days, I might add.

God is a gentleman. He won’t stay where He’s not wanted. And in this great nation founded on His principles, we used to want Him in our family, in our schools, and at work and play. And if there’s ever to be any hope for a return to the America we once knew, that hope goes by the name of R-E-V-I-V-A-L. And that’s the promise we find in the last verse of Proverbs, chapter 1:

33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

Life doesn’t come all wrapped up in pretty paper with bows and ribbons, but every day is still a gift from God. How we choose to use it for His honor, glory and pleasure will determine whether or not we leave a stench in His nostrils like three-day-old collards and hog jowls. God, please bless America in twenty-fourteen! Give us enough good ol’ horse sense to be revived and not continue to be mule-headed stubborn.

Now, butter the cornbread and pass me the black-eyed peas. But send your collards and hog jowls to Randy and Cathy Williams.

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