A week ago, my youngest grandson and I did a long hike at Circle B Bar Reserve on the northwest shore of Lake Hancock. He wanted to walk Marsh Rabbit Run and was very disappointed to realize it was closed at this time of the year—due to adult alligators protecting babies. Connor decided we would walk Alligator Alley Trail instead. I hated to disappoint him. But I told him I wasn’t too keen on it. I think it is listed as about a mile long. With the ninety-degree temperature, I knew it’d be a very warm hike, and I worried about alligators. Alligators don’t read! And a huge mama gator might decide to raise babies somewhere besides Marsh Rabbit Run! But Alligator Alley Trail was open to the public. So I gave in to his insistence and pretended to believe what he said—that he could outrun and beat up any alligator that came along. Never mind that I knew I couldn’t outrun the reptile!
We ended up walking very fast … actually I think it’s called trotting! That’s because more than halfway down the trail a big gator scared some people coming toward us. Water and mossy trees were on both sides of the narrow trail. The gator had hidden in tall bushes along the bank. It plunged sideways into the water—kaploosh!—when those people paused to take pictures of sweet baby gators! They shrieked and ran in our direction, not caring that they almost knocked eachother into the water. We didn’t stop … determination ruled. We ducked, scooted past the crazy camera people, and flew along the trail, rather than turn back.
My grandson muttered and panted under his breath as he jogged at my side. “I made a bad choice. Memaw, I should’ve listened to you. I just WANT to get back to the parking lot! Oh, God, please help us!” I’ll admit that I had to smile in satisfaction at his heartfelt confession.
When the trail curved away from the lake and continued under oaks and other foliage, we slowed down and talked about how worried we had felt. At that point, I spotted a turkey hen. We paused in the sandy trail to watch. She cautiously stepped out of the scrub, heading directly for us with two half-grown offspring. She came within five feet of us, edging closer as we stood shock still. She kept tipping her head sideways, peering up at the mossy oaks and dazzling blue sky.
I murmured to Connor, “She’s watching the sky for danger. And I bet she knows it’s safer being near us. She only has two babies with her. She’s lost some to predators.” The loud call of an osprey came from the lakeshore, and the voice of a red-shouldered hawk sounded from the woodsy area in front of us.
The hen crossed the dirt path we stood on and entered the tall grasses on the other side. Her youngsters followed, blending with the grass. But within moments, the nearby call of a hawk made the hen hurry back toward us. How did she know we might represent safety? Once she and children were hidden, we moved on—longing for a tall, cold drink. It was a wonderful end to a hurried hike through uneasy territory.
Sometimes in life, we wander off where we really shouldn’t be. Even though we watch things around us and tense our bodies for flight—we aren’t always safe. God created us with the ability to sense danger—much like the mama turkey knew a threat sat high in a tree over their heads.
If we tune in to God’s voice, love, and strength, we can recognize the perils and sins of life and hurry back to the shelter he provides. Life within the circle of his presence is better. He spreads his protective wings over us and calms the quaking of our soul.
We can move back under the safe haven of his word and love. We can call our children and grandchildren to follow us, teaching them that the Lord loves us—wants to provide for their needs. “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 KJV
Can you remember a time when you were in trouble and God provided a refuge? Why do people run from God instead of fleeing toward him? Please scroll down and leave your comments. They are very important to me and others who read this blog.
© Karen Campbell Prough 2013
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IN THE DAY OF MY TROUBLE
A beautiful lake. It is a serene picture and photo worthy. Who wouldn’t want to wade out and enjoy a peaceful swim–a time to just float on your back and let the sun warm your face.
Sometimes life is that way–beautiful and worth of every activity we can cram into it. We dive into situations and don’t pay attention to the things that might hurt us or harm our loved ones. We don’t pray for protection. We just keep swimming out beyond the shallow, reflective pools. We believe in ourselves and our abilities to handle any situation.
As we travel through life, things can turn ugly, and we immediately need help. Perhaps, we’ve gotten too close to a bad situation and back-paddling isn’t going to work.
There is a verse we can rely on. “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” Psalms 86:7 KJV
Thank you for stopping by and reading my latest blog post. God bless. Please scroll down and leave a comment. The alligator that my grandson and I spotted last week was huge, but he was a good ways from shore. Other people stopped to stare at him. He doesn’t show up in the photo, but he was impressive!
More than likely, we have all heard someone tell us to stop wallowing in self-pity and keep going—no matter what. They urge us to walk forward in life and not falter.
In other words, take to the road and trudge in the right direction!
Ugh! That can be a lonely path.
It may involve hiking around vast complications. Let’s admit it. Life has a bad habit of tossing unwanted stuff in front of us. Hopefully, during trials, we learn to grab the good, cherish it, and skirt around the avoidable bad occurrences.
But while dealing with adversities, we also add to our bundle of knowledge and skills, gain confidence, and eventually see the top of the mountain. And along with many prayers, trials, and errors, we can achieve the ability to process our past and see where complications drove us forward or changed our course. And we might be able to figure out how to improve our future steps.
But what is another result of nurturing that determination to keep climbing—instead of wallowing in self-pity?
Learning to persevere provides us with the skill to reach out to others and urge them forward. What a huge gift from God!
Nobody has all the answers for every situation, but you might have the right response for people placed in front of you—those who need your encouraging words and gentle understanding, in order to handle the trials of their lives.
We cannot ignore this gift. Let us smile and give our know-how to others.
“My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” Psalm 63:8 KJV
Scroll downward and leave a comment! Thank you. My son and grandson are featured in this blog–walking a trail together. Alligators and snakes are the topics. 🙂
© Karen Campbell Prough
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Then we got a cold snap. I feared the caterpillars would suffer harm, so I collected all of them. I put them in a jar for the night and gave them a supply of leaves. As the weather warmed the next day, I transferred them back to the stems of the plants. They continued to grow.
Two days ago, during another chilly morning, I went outside to fill the chickens’ water containers. But there was a caterpillar underneath the first loop of the water hose. Nope … that’s not a good place to establish even a temporary home.
I carefully removed him. He was cold, stiff, and not moving. I brought him in the house, put him in my “caterpillar jar” with some sticks, and sat the jar in an inch of warm water. He finally started wiggling and crawled up the side of the jar, got on a stick and crawled downward. Last night he attached himself to the stick and hung upside down. But he chose to hang close to the bottom of the jar! That’s not a wise place to hang out.
This morning I checked on him. He hung there, wiggling slightly. I thought, yep, he’s ready to shed his outer covering. I took the dog out and came back in. The caterpillar had thrown off his old, dark rags, and he hung there in a new green suit. I missed seeing the transformation! But I continued to watch him.
The chrysalis wiggled, and I wished I could see inside, to see the amazing process take place. With each wiggle, the green casing changed shape. The top thickened and rounded, the length shortened. A gold dotted line brightened around the top like a crown. The chrysalis grew fatter, firmer, and smoother. It took about thirty minutes, and I snapped pictures.
Now, the chrysalis hangs from the branch, much too close to the bottom of the jar. I will tape the branch higher up in a day or so, so the butterfly will have room to lengthen and flex its wings when it hatches out of confinement.
How like human life. We’re like that caterpillar—often going the wrong direction, hiding in the wrong spot, sinking to the bottom of life, and trying to do things on our own.
God picks us up, warms us with his love, and offers forgiveness. He places us next to his heart and watches over us as we begin the transformation. It quite often takes a long time for us to change, to wiggle through circumstances, throw off the old life, toss away bad habits, and drop the stained and wrinkled garments of sin.
Then life takes on a new, bright appearance. But we are still growing, developing a heart for God, and changing with his guidance. We appear different. People have no problem seeing that we’ve left the old life behind. Some watch us with awe—remembering how we once crawled through life, getting into tight spots.
We mature under God’s direction. And there is coming a day when the shell of this earthy life will split asunder and we will awaken in radiance and beauty. We’ll experience the newness of our appearance; past woes will be tossed aside. We shall lift off this earth to soar in the heavenly realms, higher than any butterfly has ever gone.
“In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.” Colossians 3:10 NLT
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it touches your heart and makes you realize that God wants the best for us.
© Karen Campbell Prough
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Sometimes danger hides in how we, as mere humans, handle situations without God’s help. Many things are better left untouched, because when we proceed without seeking wisdom, pain and distress can be the result. People suffer all their lives from unwise choices and jumping in where they shouldn’t be. They reach and mess with things best left alone. Beautiful framing can hide a lethal bit of poison.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there can be a different set of problems. Life has risks but refusing to step beyond our enclosed world will limit the wonders that God set in place for humanity to experience and share. There are things in this world that scare people and turn out to be harmless. We can compare it to the fact that some unfamiliar creatures of nature might appear disgusting but can transform into a token of wonder and beauty.
So how does this reflect God’s love, when it comes to reaching out to others—perhaps those that aren’t so lovable or approachable? It can be scary. We need wisdom.
Wisdom and the request for God’s guidance can keep us on the right path. Not all the hurts in people’s lives will be erased. But that should not make us withdraw from contact with this world. Should we prevent rejection by keeping to ourselves and hiding God’s plan for man? No. As a human being and God’s child, we cannot foresee what a changed life may look like by our willingness to touch someone’s life in a good way. A beautiful thing may develop.
The plan of salvation is a second step. First, we must make contact. One action or word of comfort, in the name of Jesus, can promote a change in those around us. It will let them see that God’s salvation can be inviting, not scary or unobtainable for them. Our acceptance of others lets them see the possibility of them being accepted by God.
And so, we must step up to help those around us. But perhaps some of us need help today—a bit of reassurance—or words of encouragement and wisdom when we think about this subject. It can be frightening to reach out to others in this day and time. This world is splintering and fraying along the seams of human life. One scripture comes to mind: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” James 1:5 KJV
Another translation says, “If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do … ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.” James 1:5 NLT
Helping others is what God wants us to do—so that part shouldn’t have to be hashed over in our minds. For most of us—it’s the need for wisdom in what we say. But prayer, ahead of time, gives us strength. And remember, actions speak louder than words. Quickly responding to someone needing a helping hand doesn’t have to be proceeded by a thought-out prayer. Being aware of God’s nudging at the time is what fulfills our responsibility.
By asking for wisdom from God, it is easier to reach out and help others—no matter what they look like, what their circumstances, or how frightened we might feel at that moment. Remember to use wisdom but be willing to step out. God gave us the gift of wisdom, and we should be careful where we tread and how we present ourselves to others, but we should never neglect to be God’s example of a changed life.
Thank you for reading this post. Please scroll down and leave your comment. Your thoughts are appreciated. What have you done for God lately? How have you shown love to someone? Every little bit helps in today’s world. Pictures of the scorpion (not a poison one) was taken at a barn in Bell, Florida. I captured it off a wall, by placing a green-tinted drinking glass over it. And then I took pictures. I thought it was a neat results. Did you see what was on the back of the scorpion? Pictures of caterpillars and butterflies were taken of butterflies to show my grandchildren how they hatch.
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Karen Campbell Prough
Darlene lifted a cardboard box from the back of the small trailer. The Florida sun warmed her sleeveless shoulders as she walked around her car and deposited the box on the porch steps. “Whew, I’m almost done.”
A cat bounded past her and went up the steps. It meowed and headed straight for Darlene’s five-year-old daughter.
“Mommy, an orange cat!” The girl dropped to her knees in front of it and held out her hand.
“Brooke! Don’t touch it. Get up.”
“Why?” Large blue eyes emphasized the single word.
“Because—it might be sick.”
The tiny-framed child jerked her babyish hand away from the marmalade cat and jumped up from where she had been kneeling. “He’s sick?” She lifted a heat-flushed face. Her brow wrinkled with concern.
“I didn’t say he was sick, just that he might be. You must be careful with stray animals.” She waved her hand at the cat. “Go home, shoo!”
“He looks nice.”
“Yes, but don’t touch stray animals. Come in the house, now. Mommy has to unpack all the stuff we brought with us.” She bent to retrieve the box. “You look hot. This Florida weather is going to be murder on us. It’s not like back home in Ohio!”
“What’s … stray?” The little girl followed her into the house and pulled the door shut behind them. “Mommy, what’s stray?”
“It means he doesn’t have a home.” Placing the heavy box with others already covering the surface of a round table in the middle of the quaint dining room, she groaned and rubbed her lower back. “Oh … I won’t be able to move tomorrow.”
Brooke shoved an old chair—dated by its metal frame and vinyl seat—to the table. She climbed on the chair and surveyed the boxes. “That’s like us, Mommy. Are we strays?” Her hands pushed tangled blonde hair out of her troubled blue eyes. “Huh?”
Startled, Darlene stared at her little girl. “Oh, no, Honey! We aren’t strays! We have … this house … and stuff the previous owners left behind. It’s ours. Remember? You went with me to sign all those crazy papers. Come here.” She lifted the girl off the chair and hugged her close. “No, baby, we’re not strays. Daddy’s insurance money helped us buy this little house. And I now have a good job. That means we’re going to be okay! You and me.”
The child squirmed in Darlene’s tight embrace. “Then, can we let the cat stay with us so he won’t be stray? Please?”
“And … he must stay outside.” She set the girl back on the chair and studied the clutter around them. “I hate starting over,” she murmured, suddenly fighting tears. Emotions and memories crowded in on her. In the past, there had been a strong back and willing arms to lift all the boxes and help unpack.
“Mommy? Are you sad ‘bout this house?”
Darlene tried to smile while brushing a tear from her cheek. “No, baby, it’s a mess in here but this is a nice house. Want to help me unpack a few things before you have your bath? We must find the towels and washcloths. Come on dirty face; let’s see if you can find the right box.”
Giggling, Brooke slipped off the chair and ran down a short hallway to a pile of boxes on the floor. She pointed. “Here! This one. You drew a picture of a potty on it. See?”
“You’re so smart. You remembered. Great Grandma Hendricks will be proud when I tell her. We’ll go see her tomorrow. She lives only a few miles away.”
“Does Great Grandma know Daddy went to heaven?” The child’s smooth forehead kneaded into a frown.
“Oh, Brooke … yes, she knows. She feels very sad, but she’s happy because Daddy is waiting for us in Heaven.”
“Does Daddy have cats up there?”
“Cats?” Darlene inwardly groaned. Why do children come up with these types of questions? “I think Heaven might have cats. Remember, I told you the Bible mentions the army coming out of heaven? They’ll be riding horses when our Lord comes back to earth to fight the bad guys, so … why not also have cats in heaven?”
A delightful smile lit Brooke’s face. “Orange cats?”
“Yes … perhaps.” She patted her daughter’s head. “Now, let’s unpack.”
Two hours later, most of the boxes were empty. The remainder of their belongings and furniture would arrive by way of a moving van the next morning. Darlene opened the front door to check the little trailer one more time and almost stepped on the small cat.
“Oops! Orange cat you are living dangerously.”
The cat meowed and jumped to a small weed-filled container near the porch. It resembled a metal water trough. With a huge yawn, the cat stretched and then curled into a ball, as if to say … I’m here to stay, love me or not.
“Oh, thanks, cat. I really didn’t need you adding to my food bill. I hope you eat mice. Because otherwise, you’ll need to find another home—with rich owners.” After skirting around the container that the cat had claimed, she got the last items from the trailer and went back into the house. The sun had dipped behind the tall pines near the house but sunlight still managed to filter through to the small yard. A few palmetto bushes had encroached on the yard, growing in from the surrounding woods.
Brooke jumped up from where she was playing with toys on the floor. “Can I go out on the porch and talk to the cat?”
“Just talk … no touching. Okay?” Darlene set a saucepan on the stove top and smiled over her shoulder. “I’ll fix supper. Don’t go off the porch.”
“I won’t. I’m going to show the cat my big frog.” She bent to pick up the bright green toy. “I think he likes frogs.”
Five minutes later, a scream of fright made Darlene drop a spoon on the floor and run for the door. “Brooke!”
Her daughter stood in the middle of the narrow sidewalk, her hands covering her eyes. Darlene swept Brooke up in her arms and angrily scanned the ground for the cat.
But not twelve feet away, the marmalade cat suddenly sprang straight into the air, avoiding the strike of a pygmy rattler. Landing on its feet, it slapped with one paw and bounded in another direction. The snake coiled, seemingly in confusion, and then sidled sideways toward a clump of palmettos.
Darlene hugged her crying child and carried her back to the porch. “Are you hurt? Did it get you? Show Mommy, please!”
With sobs shaking her slight frame, the girl shook her head. “No, cat jumped over it.” She twisted sideways in Darlene’s arms. “Is my cat okay?”
The cat ran up the sidewalk, gave one meow, bounded into the dirt-filled container, and gazed at them with large expressive eyes that reflected the brilliance of the setting sun. Brooke wiggled out of Darlene’s arms, tears forgotten, and ran to grab her toy frog.
“I want to give this to my cat. He chased the bad snake away.” Without waiting for permission, Brooke approached the stray and tucked her toy next to its side. She patted the purring cat’s head. “Hear him? He likes it. Now he won’t be lonely tonight. He has a toy and a new home. He’s not a stray no more.”
Darleen knelt and kissed Brooke’s cheek. “That was nice of you.” Tentatively, she held out her hand to the cat. “What will you name this brave cat?”
“Orange Marmalade—like on my toast. But we better just call him Orange.”
“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” Revelation 20:14 KJV
Thank you for reading my short story. Pictures were taken by my mother. She had cats hanging around her yard. They had been abandoned by people across the street. The story is fiction, not based on any facts–not even ones about snakes and cats. 🙂 Remarks about the story may be left by scrolling downward and filling in the comment space.
© Karen Campbell Prough
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When the battering roar of the storm became a gentle rain, my mother called to check on her parents, Gladys and Orville Reynolds.
The storm had hit the farm.
We piled into the car and headed down the gravel road. We all wanted to see the damage. But from a distance, the empty landscape caused us to gasp. No huge barn stood near the rain-battered fields.
But wait … I realize that I must start at the beginning and tell the whole story.
Grandpa and Grandma Reynolds had been out riding horses when they saw the horizon turn a greenish-black. The Michigan sky deepened into a frightening dark color and boiled toward them, and my Grandpa realized this would be no ordinary storm.
They raced back to the barn, jerked the saddles off the horses, and released the horses to the field. Grandpa opened stalls and shooed animals out of the barn, but the wind howled through the cracking walls. He ordered Grandma to run for the farmhouse. He had one more horse to get out of a stall—a pregnant palomino, named Lady. But Grandma refused and yelled that she wouldn’t leave without him. As the wind swept away her stubborn words, Grandpa knew there was no other choice.
They ran for their lives, the wind tearing at their clothes. They made it to the rear of the house, ran up the cement steps, and stumbled into the back hall. They slammed the door shut and headed for the basement door. But as they hurried past the window facing the barn, they looked out. The familiar outline of the large barn was gone, flattened to the ground by the howling wind.
When we piled out of the car at the farm, a sick, dazed feeling caused me to stop and stare. My childish mind tried to process the total destruction. The barn can’t be gone.
Just weeks before the storm, I had accompanied the men bringing in the hay. I could still hear the rumble of the tractor as my father lifted me to the bed of the hay wagon. My fingers had dug into the scratchy bales and fears of tumbling off the wagon washed over me. I had carelessly stood and watched the approach of the wide-open double doors of the shadowy barn. The smell of dried hay filled my senses as the wagon rolled up the grade and into the barn. I had gazed upward at the perfectly stacked bales to the right. They reached for the distant ceiling. Sunlight had squeezed through cracks in the walls and reflected on dust drifting in the air. Barn swallows had dipped and flown near the roof, and the cheeping of baby birds filled the vast area under the roof. Massive square timbers held the metal roof in place, but each notch in the construction had provided a place for a comfy nest.
I begged to accompany the adults out to the barn. How strange to walk on the underside of the barn’s metal roof and step over solid timbers that were once upright. I heard the sadness in my Grandpa’s voice, a subtle shaking—that meant tears were a possibility.
My mother walked around the debris, her arms crossed at her waist, and hugged tight. A gentle breeze rippled over the destruction, and my mother pointed at something. She motioned me closer, and the pitiful peeping of baby birds drew me to a stack of wood.
Someone handed me a shoebox. I plucked babies from squashed nests, from under timbers, and from protected holes in wooden beams. I wish I could say they all lived. But they didn’t.
Yes, the palomino survived—she was located in the field. The upright walls of the stall testified to the fact that the horse must’ve been knocked down and somehow emerged from under the debris. She got out through a hole left in the demolished exterior wall and had only one raised bump on her back. That winter, Grandpa and Grandma hauled her to Florida in a horse trailer. I wish I could say that the colt lived—but it didn’t. It was stillborn.
Today I pulled a folded sheet of paper from one of my desk drawers. It was the advertisement for the sale of the farm and the auction of all the equipment. I read the list and my heart ached for Grandpa and what he had to give up. The memories still tug at my heart. I wish I had been old enough and rich enough to buy the farm. But I have my memories of Grandpa and Grandma Reynolds and the heritage they left for me to treasure.
Each one of us can turn around in our minds and stare at the past, hear its whispers, and feel its tugs. One piece of paper and a few old slides, which my father took many years ago, bind this story into a solid chunk of the past.
God’s word reminds us of past promises and the hope for the future. Pastors and Christian friends also help us remember the past but urge us to stand fast—for we have an everlasting opportunity in heaven.
One scripture says, “I plan to keep on reminding you of these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth. Yes, I believe I should keep on reminding you of these things as long as I live.” 2 Peter 1:12-13, NLT
We must admonish eachother to remember that God has been with us through the good and the bad. He’s still leading us. A new life waits just beyond the horizon. It’s ours … if we hold firm. What keeps you on the path heading toward Heaven? Please, scroll down. Share your comments in the space below this post. Thank you for reading my blog!
I have to thank my father, Marshall E. Campbell, for the use of his many slides and his paintings that appear in my blog posts. He tells me to use them whenever I want. I have downloaded hundreds to my computer and have hundreds more to go! He wants the family history saved.
© Karen Campbell Prough 2012 Please ask permission before using this copyrighted material. Thank you.
Would people, who know you best, identify you as upbeat and a giver? But have you ever felt hollow and empty inside? Have you sometimes decided that you have nothing more to give to people around you?
I’m sure we have all felt that way during some point in our lives. The feeling may catch us by surprise, sneak up on us, and leave us unable to get up and face the world. Or we may recognize the sensation of emptiness after a challenging event in our life—the birth of a baby, the care of elderly parents, the breakup of a marriage, the accumulation of stress, or the loss of a job and career.
But what if there is no specific cause? What if we can only shrug our shoulders and say, “I don’t know why I’m feeling this way?”
Sometimes we give of ourselves until the reservoir runs dry. To be born a giver can be uplifting but challenges can sap inner strength. A well doesn’t replenish itself. There has to be an inward flow.
Anger and depression can take up residence where once there was joy and vitality. We are human and we all need to feel an inflowing of comfort and a time of renewal. It’s not a sin to pull away from things, including people and loved ones, when constant demands deplete layers of our inner stability and stamina. Even Jesus had to disappear and seek renewal.
We should never feel guilt while stepping out of the picture long enough to gain replenishment. Givers must understand that a time away or hiatus actually helps them continue with the giving lifestyle, which is an intricate part of their personality. They love to give. A Giver can’t be happy if they totally forsake what God has implanted in them—the desire to help and provide for others.
So, keep on giving but don’t cheat yourselves out of a time for renewal. It’s okay to take that little trip, head for the woods, climb on that horse, and ride into the sunset. Run off to the beach, hide from the world for a week … a day … an hour, or go eat at your favorite restaurant in another town. Why not call up an understanding friend and take them to lunch? Totally change your daily routine and do something different. Take a long drive, stop at some quaint diner for lunch, or stroll through a local park.
Remember the scriptures. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 KJV
Be a happy giver and prevent breakage of spirit by taking time out for yourself. God understands you have physical, emotional, and mental needs. A giver shouldn’t feel guilty about slipping away and finding time to mend. So … run away, if only for an hour. Gain strength to fly.
© Karen Campbell Prough
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I did something Saturday night that I haven’t done in a long time and I felt like I almost committed a sin. But the urge hit me and I gave in—squashing the voices in my head that shrieked warnings about unhealthy choices. But I closed my mind to all the fitness magazines in the grocery store and ignored what I had read while skimming through their glossy pages.
I got out the largest frying pan I had and put generous, white globs of Crisco in it. And then I unfolded a small paper bag and dumped in flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Within a short time, I had rinsed and patted dry a big bunch of chicken thighs and legs—with the skin on them. I dropped the pieces of chicken in the paper bag and shook them until the mixture coated every nook and cranny. One by one, I reverently laid them in the hot skillet of grease. Yep … I fixed good old-fashioned fried chicken, yellow rice, green beans coated in butter, and sweet tea. (Can you hear the southern twang in my writing—honey child?)
My husband hovered around the kitchen, sniffing, and saying something that sounded like, yum, yum, yum or the purring of a kitten.
And then the memories started running through my mind as the scent of fried chicken drifted from the pan. The memories took me back to childhood, a time when we played outside every evening of the week. The neat houses all down the street had small porches with rod iron railings. Windows were open and every house had a screen door. The summer twilight hovered while all of us children gathered in the narrow street, rode bikes, joined in games, and enjoyed being together as the day peacefully ended.
The aroma and scent of other meals being prepared, in houses along the street, drifted in the air.
In my mind’s eyes, I see my mom finishing a batch of sugar-sprinkled molasses cookies for after supper and sliding them off the cookie sheet unto a paper bag, which had been cut open and laid flat on the counter. The scent of fried chicken, coming from her kitchen, blended with the neighbor’s hamburgers on a backyard grill. Someone’s Italian spaghetti added a tantalizing bouquet of spices to the warm night. The streets lights winked on, childish giggles and laughter filled the air. Young voices lilted and blended with the sound of a distant train whistle. A baby cried out two doors down and a mother’s gentle voice shushed it and murmured reassurance. Older folks stepped out on their porches and carefully sank into creaking rockers. A dog barked and jumped at a fence, yearning to join the children playing a game of chase between shadowed houses. The full moon lifted its face over the trees and turned the yards and bushes into a silvery painting of life, complete with innocence still intact. Neighborly trust and friendship was a normal way of life.
So, from the scent of frying chicken, my world turned back to a time when life didn’t seem so complicated. Children could play in the street and not worry about a stranger snatching them. Doors and windows were open to the warm nights. A neighbor could come up on your porch and call through the screen door to see if you were home, and you could yell for them to come in, without even stopping what you were doing. You didn’t have to lock your front door, if you were weeding the garden in the back yard. Unsupervised children could explore a creek or a patch of woods, build tree houses, and walk to the library or playground with their friends.
Fried chicken … a different time and place. Makes me want to close this blog post with the words, “Goodnight, John Boy!”
But I’ll bring it to close with a scripture. “God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see.” 1 Peter 1:4-5 NLT
Those who love God have hope in his son, Jesus. We can accept or reject the greatest gift that humanity has ever received. Someday, heaven’s doors will be thrown wide open and fear will vanish. You won’t have to worry about anything.
What memories do you treasure? The past has its marks in all our lives, whether good or bad, but our future is in God’s hands.
Please, leave your comments about this blog, and thank you for reading it.
© Karen Campbell Prough 2012
AUTUMN IS MORE THAN A SWIRL OF COLOR
Autumn brings our attention back to the seasons of the year. Yes, spring has its freshness and breathtaking flowers. Summer belongs to the child in us and coaxes us with a persistent call to have fun. Winter can bring the season of coziness and thoughts of warm fireplaces, but autumn brings wonderful relief from the heat of summer and throws color back into our world.
Autumn decorates nature with enriched shades of scarlet, gold, and yellow. It conveys freshness and the replenishment of spirit. Strength is renewed and the winter doesn’t look so intimidating. The coolness in the air brings a bounce to the step and supplies the innate urge to explore and seek out changes in nature. Autumn’s harvest beckons us to store up good things for the winter months to come, so we can make it through the tough times without losing our stride. Without autumn painting a colorful change along the horizon, we would leave the warmth and sunlight of summer, and step into the harsh reality of winter’s bleak canvas.
Can we compare autumn to one-fourth of our life? When moving beyond the middle years of life, a person needs renewal, a refilling of inner peace, and a promised blush of happiness. We must all face the winter, but autumn’s stage can throw back the curtains and reveal the superior rewards waiting for us. We can step out and enjoy the harvest with God’s blessing.
Where are you in your life? Have you realized that God cares about what colors your life? Perhaps, you’ve been living the spring and summer of life—living it the way you see fit. Life doesn’t last forever. Accepting God’s wash of color before life ends means seeing what he can do in your life. His presence adds depth to everything we can accomplish. God prepares renewal. His forgiveness can brush light into corners of our hearts that have been filled with darkness.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV
Thank you for stopping by to read. Please take a moment to leave a comment about autumn.
© Karen Campbell Prough 2012
Pictures taken in upper Michigan, the Smokies, Grayson Highlands in Virginia, Colorado, and central Florida. Can you tell which picture goes with which state? My daughter is in one of the pictures. She was doing homework at the picnic table.
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