It may seem strange to have so many One Little Word reminders in my life. Remembering to pray should come naturally and not require all the visual nudges I have placed strategically in my sights. I find, though, that my word permeates my life more when I am constantly face to face with it. Pray. An action verb that bears repeating. Again and again.
To some, I may look like a Holy Roller. Anyone who knows me well will assure folks I’m not.
I wear a bracelet with a prayer verse on my arm, place a small prayer card over my visor, have a painted rock on display at my work computer and a sticker on my laptop, have a black wooden word cutout in my kitchen windowsill, and a painted tile in my bathroom window. Despite the high visibility of my word, there are days I need it to flash like Swarovski-studded Christmas tree lights to remind me to engage in conversation with God – to listen, to ask, to seek direction, to ask forgiveness, to beg for an attitude adjustment or for Him to help me hold my tongue in this phase of 56-year-old-female life when what comes up comes out in hormonal hot flash bolts of venomous scorpion-stinging lightning.
Five days shy of six months (from August 10, 2022 to February 5, 2023), I hit my weight loss goal. Optavia made weight loss convenient with my busy schedule and kept me satisfied so that I was never climbing the walls with hunger. Easiest weight loss plan I’ve ever done, hands down! I pulled out my starting paperwork and reflected – I needed to write down the new weight and measurements on the day of celebrating success. I’d used blue ink at the start, so I grabbed a black pen and began noting the new information next to the old.
My husband asked if I was going to celebrate with a big piece of cake. I resisted that temptation (somehow). Since travel is my greatest motivator, I’m planning a trip instead! Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky will be a scenic place to take a hike sometime mid-February when I am on winter break. I’m looking forward to taking photographs and seeing new places.
For today, I’m celebrating success with a simple Cherry Coke Zero.
When my phone rings in the early morning hours, I don’t panic and wonder what in the world has happened. A feeling of calm prevails. Things are as they have always been. There’s Dad.
I have a story I need to tell while it’s fresh on my mind, before I forget, he tells me. I grab my pen, the closest piece of paper, and listen, feverishly writing all that he shares.
It was back in the old days in rural Georgia when I was preaching at Ohoopee, he began. This was down around Highway 19, where you’d go through Wrightsville, meander over to Tennille, and then on out to Sandersville, where there were cotton fields everywhere and all the roads were red clay. And Ohoopee was a church of miracles. A cured drunk who loved the Lord led the singing, and the first time I stepped in there, they were singing “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” only he pronounced it Jurdan’s. And, as they say, “he weren’t wrong.”
There was a fellow by the name of Noah in the church, married to a lady named Nora, and Noah was having trouble finding where to dig his well. He needed help finding water. And back in those days, people were people and folks’ existence was all about helping their neighbors out.
Another couple in the church, Elvis and Helen, heard about it.“I’m coming over to hope you out,” Elvis told Noah, and when I heard that, I went over there too.
It wasn’t uncommon in those days to hear regional idioms and think of them as words misspoken, but these weren’t misspoken words – this was intentional language packed with meaning. Elvis was coming to hope his neighbor out.
Elvis said he had a divining rod – a hickory branch – that he could use to help him find water. Now Kim, believe what you will, but Elvis walked the grounds with that stick, and suddenly it tremored. I saw it with my own eyes. Right there, he said, was water. They marked the spot for the well and dug right there.
“Where exactly was this spot?” I was curious and had to know.
They called this area Possum Scuffle, he explained. It was back over in Harrison by Raines Store where they called it Deep Step and Goat Town, where a lady named Margaret Holmes had a cannery for black eyed peas and collards. They were the best you could get then and still are today.
“I believe you, Dad,” I assured him. “I’ve read about this. It’s a real thing.”
I had flashbacks to visiting the Foxfire Museum in Clayton, Georgia at the foot of Black Rock Mountain last April, where I saw in the holler the ways of a simpler way of life with a harder work ethic and more relying on God to bless the land – and people depending on each other – and wished that part of the world still existed.
Who am I to doubt a divining rod?
Now, I’m telling you all this because I’ve had one of those mornings where I’ve been playing with words, and I know you do the same thing, he continued. I’m still dwelling on the shipwreck passage in Acts 27, and there’s a Biblical connection I’ve discovered. Luke is the most likely author of the book, and he describes the ship being in a storm out in the Adriatic Sea near Malta. They used stabilizing ropes. In mariner’s terms, these are called hawsers. Today, we also call them helps, or help ropes.
I began to see where he was going with all of this. “Ah, I see. So hoping someone out is like using a help rope. Help is a hope rope.”
Exactly, he confirmed. Hope ropes tie it all together and make things possible. In Acts 27, the imperiled ship could have been dashed, save for the hope ropes.
That’s exactly what we need today in our communities – – to hope our neighbors out. We need to adopt the mindset of rural Georgia thinking back in the good days when folks extended not just a hand, but their whole selves – – divining rods and all.
In 2012, we celebrated the high school graduation of one of our daughters and the college graduation of one of our sons. I rented the old opera house in downtown Griffin, Georgia for the event, and we sent out invitations for family and friends. The guest list was eclectic, even with the family members present. Since we’re a blended family, there were grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides.
I gave a great deal of thought to the ways to help avoid awkward silences and encourage lively conversations and landed on using a tablecloth. I bought a white vinyl cloth, a roll of clear cellophane tape, and a small book-style photo album from the dollar store and set about brainstorming my memories as I built a question bank for a “Which Graduate…?” conversation table.
First, I cut apart the photo album to separate the pages. On the front side of the flap, I posed a question: Which graduate once got suspended from school for starting a fight when someone stole his/her sandwich as a joke?
Then, on the flip side, I wrote the correct answer (my son’s name). I looked for the crossover opportunities where both graduates’ names were correct. Which graduate once broke a car windshield when they were angry? (both son and daughter)
Next, I laid out the pages in a small inner circle and a large outer circle, then taped the pages down on one side to the vinyl tablecloth, forming a page (flap) that turned back and forth to read the questions on one side and the answers on the other.
The memories I shared were stories that at first had been sore spots but which, over time, had become humorous ways of ribbing each other to the point of laughter. All of them had a story smoothing out the shock value once the full story was told, but it got guests wondering, talking, and chuckling.
For 11 years now, the tablecloth has been folded and kept in our antique oak buffet, but as I’m cleaning out and paring down, I’m sorting through memories and writing about them to preserve them in words rather than continuing to hold on to items in drawers and boxes. It makes parting with possessions easier when I am able to share the joy they brought.
Here are some of the questions from the tablecloth:
Senoia, Georgia. Most people know it as the town made famous by The Walking Dead. On any given night, you can have dinner in Nic & Norman’s on Main Street and perhaps see Neagan having dinner with a friend. That’s what happened to us, only as a non-watcher, I didn’t recognize all the fame seated at the table right next to me until my stepson enlightened me. Plenty of movies have been filmed here, and the titles line the brick sidewalks in brass plaques.
If you were hungry for Shepherd’s Pie, you could eat at Maguire’s, the sort-of-underground Irish Pub where Drop Dead Diva was filmed – and bask in the soft comfort of the green velvet chairs in front of the fireplace while you wait. Their Monte Cristo is a tasty favorite, too.
My sister in law and I went over on a recent Saturday morning to enjoy coffee and breakfast at the Senoia Coffee and Cafe before strolling the shops lining Main Street. She ordered the quiche and a latte, and I had black coffee with a shot of sugar-free vanilla syrup and a splash of light almond milk. Without deadlines or time frames, conversations are a great way to start a relaxing weekend!
When we left the coffee shop, we ambled along the sidewalks and browsed in the specialty shops. In one, we noticed that all of the plants were named after African American women such as Cicely Tyson, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, Coretta Scott King, and others. It makes me want to name all 3 of my plants and put little name cards in their pots so I can talk to them as a person when I water them. I wish I had a more evolved green thumb.
No trip is complete without a visit to the local bookstore, so we found Book Love and spent some time perusing the new releases and the well-loved classics.
And when we were finally tired, we sat in a breezeway and people-watched for awhile before heading home. Saturdays are days to savor the aroma of coffee and the sweetness of unhurried time.
Slow travelers bus, train, walk, and bicycle. We cruise along the roads on bikes, in camper vans, or RVs. Some others cross the high seas in ferries or sailboats….we make stops along the way to inhale and exhale. - Bhavana Gesota, The Art of Slow Travel: See the World and Savor the Journey on a Budget
Last Sunday, my husband and I bought tickets to the Atlanta RV Show.
We don’t need a camper – – we just purchased a 21 foot 2022 Little Guy Max Rough Rider to see if we can become more minimalist campers as we contemplate selling our 29 foot 2010 Keystone Outback. We love them both, but each offers a completely different approach to camping.
What we found out is that we can still keep all the things we love about camping while giving up the extra 8 feet that contains two recliners and a loveseat. We’ve learned a lot about appreciating a simpler way of life by giving up some of the extras. We’re doing this at home, too. Paring down. Lightening up. Enjoying the ride. There is much to be learned by not seeing more, but seeing more of it.
We’ve also learned a few things along the way about purpose and fit – which is what motivated us to go to the RV show. We’re looking with different eyes, thinking of the type of camper that we want to rent when we drive Route 66. It’s on our bucket list – not backpacking through Europe or camping in the Australian Outback, but seeing the United States from the road.
We want to rent an RV with a small kitchen, a wet bath, and sleeping accommodations for four adults who take shifts driving and who all know how to pack a wardrobe that works for two weeks in one small carry-on bag and who know how to savor coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, a sandwich and chips for lunch, and eggs and bacon for supper. We want to watch sunrises, see the changing landscape, and search for the constellations as we stargaze.
We want to become schooled in the art of slow travel – – to breathe: inhale, exhale. To open our eyes with heightened sensory awareness and few possessions along the way and say, “Now this?? THIS is living.”
We took notes of the features we think we need on Route 66. A small kitchen is a definite, so that we can prepare at least two meals each day in the camper, eating out only once a day.
A table would be nice, but isn’t as necessary as the sign on the wall to remind us that the adventure is one to be enjoyed – – including the bumps in the road along the way.
Being able to stand up in the camper is a nice feature, too – – especially for the Johnson guys, who are all tall. Just these extra couple of feet at the top make a big difference.
If you’ve traveled Route 66 and have any words of wisdom for us, please add these in the comments. We’ll be traveling with two other adults when we make the trip. We need pointers, tips, and any landmarks and stops that are must-sees. Your experience and valuable insights are appreciated!
He’s a character, this grandson of mine. I knew it when he was born, but knew it for sure when I saw him zipping around on a Hoverboard at 2, his blond locks flowing in the breeze. We are so grateful for all of our grandchildren, and on this day we give thanks especially for River Dawson Meyer! What a blessing he is in our lives!
River Dawson Meyer
Remote control cars zip around:
Eyes that talk ~
River Dawson Meyer
Don't hand him your phone - - (he's an
Amazon secret orderer)
Oh- and do
NOT underestimate him near dolphin tanks!
Ever so cleverly jumped in ~
Youngster gave new memories to the family picture -
Everyone Smile! They did. Click. Then he dove.
Real chaser of dreams, this one!