Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Spending Money in the Great Depression

Much of the media coverage today is about how to spend our money. How do we get out and stay out of debt? This is a subject I heard and hopefully learned a little about early in life!

When I was a child, my mother, Ieula Ann Dick Baird, not only cooked all the food I ate but made all the clothes I wore. I have written about her "cooking from scratch " and about sewing in the 1930's.

As I have told in other stories, the Boll Weevil destruction of the cotton plant, the major money crop for Southern farmers, added to the general struggle to survive in the South continuing from the Civil War until after World War II.

My father, in failing health, made the difficult decision to give up farming, to take a job in a nearby textile factory and move his family from the farm to town. He died when I was nine.

I started to school in Porterdale Georgia, a Bibb manufacturing textile town about 40 miles Southeast of Atlanta in 1929.

At age 10, I was thrilled to become a member of the Girl Reserves! The Girl Reserves, a forerunner to Girl Scouts, was one of the efforts of Bibb Manufacturing Company to benefit it's employee's families.

The Girl Reserves provided many "firsts" for me. The first time I saw the Atlantic Ocean was on one of the annual trips with the Girl Reserves. The first train trip! The first time I stayed in a hotel! The first time I was given "spending money!"

The Girl Reserves were making a journey by train from Porterdale Georgia all the way down to Savannah!

My hard working , widowed mother gave me one whole dollar to spend for the week. I came home with presents for everyone in the family and sometimes had money left! I do not remember what I bought for my siblings, but I always bought four yards of cloth for a dress (at ten cents a yard) as a gift to my mother. There was no sales tax in those days so I had sixty cents left after buying Mama a present.

Mama always acted so pleased to get the cloth, it took me years to realize that yard goods were not the nicest present one could possibly buy for a woman. I remember when Charles and I were first married, I would always buy 4 yards of dress material for his mother when a gift was in order.

It took a few years for me to realize that cloth was not a suitable gift for every woman. Every woman did not sew. My mother-in-law did not sew.

Mama also made use of washed and bleached flour sacks to make clothes, as did many of the women in our neighborhood. These bags were cut and sewn into undergarments, slips and panties.

Flour was sometimes sold in patterned cloth bags as were feed sacks. These bags (especially the larger feed bags) were made into dresses and blouses.

In my earliest memory people bought flour in 25 and 50 pound bags and often made bread two or three times a day. My mother made 40 biscuits every morning for years for her family which included 5 boys. She also made cornbread and/or biscuits for the late afternoon meal, called "dinner." So these empty cloth bags were put into use for needed clothing.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Random Thoughts about Courtship in The 1930"s

Random Thoughts about Courtship in The 1930"s . What do you think about the quote, "the Poet looks at the world like a man looks at a woman" ? One man responded to this quote in the "Word A Day" column by saying "Does that mean poets are afraid of the world?"

One day, when the first of our five daughters was a teenager, my husband watched the smiles and excitement as she talked on the phone with a young male school friend. He remarked, "I wish I had known when I was a teen that girls were waiting at the phone for boys to call."

When he was a kid, he told me, he thought he had to persuade girls to go out with him. He said he had no idea girls were waiting close by the phone for boys to call.
I am told that these days girls do not wait by the phone but initiate the calls themselves. They tell me further, boys do not call a girl that does not call them first. Does this mean males are afraid of females?

Recently I wrote a post about a time when my mother was a fatherless child in the stricken South during reconstruction after The Civil War. Before the South recovered from the terrible destruction of war, it was also faced with the Boll Weevil's destruction of cotton fields at a time when cotton was a major money crop in the South. Then the Great Depression.

But men and women loved and respected one another. Life seemed good in our little corner of the world in spite of all the deprivation. The Christian gospel of Grace brought the beauty of much "graciousness" into our community. The Christian gospel preached by Methodist Circuit Riders and others, in spite of any flaws they may have had, brought about enough "civility" that we could build civilization in our communities. We worked hard and played hard.

I have written about cooking from scratch and how clothes were made at home with long hours of sewing with needle and thread and/or a foot operated Singer sewing machine. No fast foods. No washing machines. Clothes were rubbed by cold chapped hands on a "rub" board and hung to freeze sometimes before they would dry on an outdoor clothes line.

But it seems relationships between male and female was not so complicated.

My husband, Charles, and I were teen agers in the thirties. I can testify that the thirties were not a time when boys were afraid of girls. If they were afraid, they were brave enough to call anyway. (Incidentally, a call was a knock at the door. There were few telephones in homes in the South. It was during World War II before telephones were in many households.)

The teen aged boy I married tells me that when he looked across his school gym and saw me, he said to his buddy nearby, "I am going to ask that girl for a date." A good line? He said he and his friends were taking a look at all the girls on my side of the large gymnasium. The basketball game was in his school's gym playing my school's team. We lived sixteen miles apart.

Are some couples just "meant for each other"? It so happened that Charles had relatives living in my town. I was a school friend of his cousin, Clara. Clara and I were not close friends but did visit back and forth occasionally. One day, a close friend and I happened to be visiting with Clara when Charles and his family came for a Sunday afternoon visit.

Charles was still a teenager and did not have a car but managed to get back to my town on occasion. It was a time when hitchhiking was common, When Charles was unable to hitch a ride one time he actually walked the 16 miles.

His friend, Bill, finally owned a car (with a rumble seat) and the problem was solved. Charles brought Bill down to my town and introduced Bill to my best friend, Julia. Problem again. Bill and Julia got married two months later. So Charles was back to hitching a ride when he could not borrow his Dad's car. Was Julia and Bills marriage so soon after meeting a bad mistake? Not in this case. The marriage lasted over 50 years until Bill's death.

One late afternoon, Charles came down to a pound party. What is a pound party? During these "depression years," the hostess would invite all the kids to her home for a party. Everyone who came, pitched in with refreshments by bringing a "pound of cookies" or fruit or part of a cake or whatever they had on hand. The hostess made a large pitcher of something to drink...punch or cool-aid or ice tea. We played games that would be called "mixers" today, These games would have the boys and girls talking to one another. Parents were nearby but basically out of sight.

It so happened that it was at a pound party when Charles asked me to marry him. One of the games that early evening, had couples to take a walk together. The walk was along a well lighted street with modest frame houses close together and people all along the short walk. Not a great deal of privacy.

While we were walking, he suddenly turned to me and asked, "Will you marry me?" My reply was, "Oh, I am too young to even think about marriage." Charles said, "I do not mean, marriage right now. Could we be engaged? " In retrospect, I suppose it is laughable to think of our innocence and ignorance. But as young we were, we talked quite seriously about what we expected in marriage.

As they say, the "the rest is history

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

School Days, Dear Old Golden Rule Days.

School days in the late 1920 and early 1930 could well be described as “School days, school days, dear old Golden Rule days.”

Golden Rule days? Yes. We learned about the "Golden Rule" and other Bible lessons in public school in the 1930's as well as in Sunday School.

When I was in what was then called, "Grammar School", we "went to chapel" three times a week. We referred to the school auditorium as “the chapel.” No wonder, atheist and agnostics want to rewrite American history!

In chapel we sang church hymns and patriotic songs. We stood to place our hands over our hearts and pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. We prayed the Lord's Prayer. We memorized whole chapters of scripture and repeated them in unison.

Some of Bible readings I learned in school included, Psalm 1, Psalm 23, Psalm 24 and Psalm 100. We memorized and repeated in unison, I Cor. 13 and Romans 12 as well as the Matthew and Luke account of the birth of Jesus.

In 1930 I stood on the stage in Chapel and told a Bible story. In my mind’s eye, I see myself as a seven-year-old, walking up the steps to the stage on the left of the large school auditorium. I remember beginning the story by saying in rote fashion, “Once there was a sick man. He was so sick he could not walk. He was so sick he could not sit up. But he had four friends who took him to Jesus

I do not know why I remember so clearly walking up the steps to the stage and the words of the beginning of the story. The rest of my recitation is foggy. It is a familiar Bible story found both in Luke 5:18-25 and Mark 2:1-12.

Mark and Luke tell us the paralyzed man had four friends who took him on a mat where he lay to the place where Jesus was teaching. When they could not get into the house because of huge crowds surrounding Jesus, these four friends carried the crippled man up on the roof of the house, pried off enough of the tiles to let their friend down through the ceiling. Bible scholars tell us this did not damage the roof on the house. They placed their paralyzed friend on his mat at the feet of Jesus.

esus told the sick man to “stand up, take up your bed and go home.” The man got up, picked up his mat and walked away praising God

The large school auditorium floor slanted down toward the stage and had theater style individual seats that lifted up so we could pass by. The floor of the auditorium was oiled clean and smelled of polish.

We walked in long lines to chapel with each class sitting together. Then standing to sing and participate in all the educational, patriotic, moral and Christian chapel activities .

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thirteen Things You Do Not Know About Me.

Thirteen Things You May not Know, nor Want to Know about Me?

My niece Jane Lathem of Cozy Reader fame wrote “Thirteen Things You May Not Know About Me.” I was challenged to answer the same questions.

Many of the 13 things on Jane's list apply also to me. How about you? Are they "relative" things or simply human attributes?

1. You may not know that I was afraid of the dark as a child.
I still do not like to sleep in complete darkness. As far as I know there were no “nightlights” in the 30’s but a small kitchen light burned all night at our home. My mother said that before electricity she always burned a lamp with the wick turned low at night. She started that, Mama told me, when she had small babies that required feedings and diaper changes in the night.

2. As a child I was painfully shy.
I am still an introvert but I finally overcome shyness by seeing it as “self-consciousness," the emphasis being on “self," thus related to selfishness and sinfulness. “Sin” can be defined as anything that hurts or damages a person and thus something one needs to dismiss from ones life.

3. I like to write. Did I mention that I am also a philosopher, or a person given to philosophizing? Also I have liked to write and have written "poems" since early childhood.

4. I agree with Jane.
I have never eaten sushi!

5. Siblings? The siblings nearest my age were three brothers. My youngest brother was five years older than I so he played mostly with our brothers. So I, as the youngest daughter and the youngest child of nine, was virtually raised like an only child. Translation: SPOILED!!

6. Having dinner with A celebrity? I have never met nor had dinner with Jeff Foxworthy as did Jane! But I did have dinner and a friendship with Guy Sharpe!Guy was recently voted into the Georgia Hall of Fame . I found the photo of Guy with his dog in the article about the Hall of Fame awards)
Guy was music director and choir leader at Park Street United Methodist Church. He and his wife Virginia were both talented soloist and in church with us the four years we were at Park Street (1975-1979). Guy came over to College Park and sang a solo at the Funeral Service for Charles in 1986. Guy Sharpe, as all Georgians know, was a well known and popular Atlanta Weatherman television personality! Guy was, in fact, offered the opportunity to go national as a TV Weatherman, while we were with him at Park Street. But he chose to stay in Atlanta.

7. I have never appeared on a national talk show! I was interviewed and seen on an Atlanta Television Station in 1993 during the four years while I was pastor of East Point Avenue United Methodist Church. Does that count?

8. Broken bones? Jane broke one little toe. I broke both arms! I fell backward, getting tangled up in a vacuum cleaner cord. This means I spent 6 weeks with one arm in a cast and the other arm in a splint. Fortunately my husband was still living. As one can imagine, when he was home, we became very close! He even went to the bathroom with me and once put curlers in my hair after shampooing it one day. That was a riot but fun!

9. My feet grew one size with each of my children? I started out wearing a 6 1/2 and I went to a 7 with my first pregnancy and to a 7 1/2 with the second. Fortunately my feet did not continue growing with every child at that rate. I ended up with seven children and now wear a size 8 ½ shoe.

10. None of my OB/GYN doctors had a famous brother like John Birch, as far as I know? I had a different doctor with each of my seven pregancies, not by choice (theirs or mine) but because of several moves.

11. Singing voice? My singing voice is good (it is a family thing). But my voice was never as beautiful as Jane’s! One of the most welcome compliment I ever received and I gladly relate here is that the Music Director at Grantville UM Church said my voice range was perfect! She encouraged me to sing solos while I was pastor there but I did not continue. So you have to take my word for it. I did sing in the Candler Choral in seminary! Does that count?

12. Formal Education? I went back to school after my children were grown and earned a Bachelor and a Master's degree after age 60. I aged into the study of Gerontology and was also certified in Gerontology at Georgia State University.

13. I am a preacher? The last thing I ever wanted to be or expected to be was a preacher? I have been a Christian believer as far back as I remember and a definite experience and decision at age 11. For a long time I postponed the call to preach that both my husband and I recognized as early as 1975. But I am a woman? It is a problem to some. One awesome day in 1986, the Lord opened a door and pushed me into the pulpit and into Christian leadership. God has enabled me to do and to do well the task He called me to do! I retired only becaue I reached the age of mandatory retirement. I would like to have more invitaions tp preach and have never tired of telling the Story of God's amazing love and grace!"

Mary Magdalene...

This post is in response to a post from Carol of The Median Sib about women pastors.

Ann Graham Lotts was invited to speak at a gathering that was predominately men. When she stood up at the podium to speak, several rows of men stood up, turned their chairs around and faced away from her in protest.

When Ann went home, she knelt in tears to prayerfully seek the Lord's guidance. She was led to the passage in the Bible when Mary Magdalene was told my the Lord Jesus Himself to "go and tell the disciples..." So Mary Magdalene was the first evangelist to tell the Good News of the resurrection.

Below is an article in this months, Today's Christian Woman. Basically the article is to address the current interest in the Da Vinci Code fictional movie that has mixed truth with fiction in such a way as to jump on the band wagon of a political stance seeking to diminish the influence of the Christian world view. It was written by Liz Curtis Higgs and entitled, "Mary Magdalene; Meet the real friend and follower of Jesus."

Was Mary Magdalene the wife of Jesus, the mother of his children, or the Holy Grail, as The Da Vinci Code claims? Or the repentant prostitute of Jesus Christ Superstar, throwing herself at the Master's feet and singing, "I Don't Know How to Love Him"?

According to Scripture, Mary Magdalene was none of the above. And more than the above.

We find her story in all four gospels, where she's mentioned by name 14 times. This is significant, since many women of the Bible are nameless.

Here's her eye-opening, one-line biography: "When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons" (Mark 16:9). Possessed by Satan, she was repossessed by Christ, then privileged to witness his resurrection. Oh! She has a story, all right—but not a scandalous one.

There are seven Marys in the New Testament: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Clopas's wife; Mary of Bethany; John Mark's mother; a diligent worker; and James and Joses' mother, who's also was called "the other Mary."

Two thousand years of art and literature haven't helped Mary Magdalene's cause. She often is depicted as the unnamed prostitute who washed Jesus' feet with her tears (Luke 7:37-50), or the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), or as Lazarus' sister—who was from Bethany, not Magdala and as the woman who anointed the Lord's head with costly perfume (Mark 14:3-9, John 11:2). Fascinating women, all—but not Mary Magdalene.

The real Mary Magdalene led the faithful sisters in financing the Lord's work "out of their own means" (Luke 8:3) and following Jesus wherever he went.

For her devotion alone, Mary Magdalene serves as a fine role model for twenty-first-century believers. Follow her to the tomb on Easter morning, and you'll learn the greatest lesson Mary Magdalene has to offer.

When Mary Magdalene "saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance" (John 20:1), and Jesus told her to "go and tell", she hurried to Jerusalem and convinced Peter and John to see the empty tomb. I might have started with a lesser disciple, but this leader among women went right to the top. Clearly they respected her, because they wasted no time running back with her.

Finding it empty, the two disciples returned to their homes, while Mary remained weeping outside the tomb, unwilling to abandon her Lord. Such faithfulness was soon rewarded. Two angels in white appeared, followed by a stranger whom she mistook for a gardener, until the moment he spoke her name: "Mary" (John 20:16).

Her response was immediate. And it was not "Honey" but "Rabboni!" The meaning is "my great teacher," and the nature of their relationship is clear: teacher and student, leader and follower, but not husband and wife.

Before Jesus returned to his heavenly home, he had an assignment for Mary Magdalene: "Go … to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God' " (John 20:17). Did she ever! With her own eyes, she'd seen him. With her own ears, she'd heard him. With her own hands, she'd touched him. And so she proclaimed, "I have seen the Lord!" (John 20:18). A personal, undeniable testimony, setting the example for us all.

Two thousand years ago Mary Magdalene heeded the command of Jesus to go and tell. May we follow in her footsteps, seeing the Christ with new eyes, then declaring his glorious truth to a world longing for answers.

Digging Deeper

1. According to Luke 8:1-3, what facts do we know about Mary Magdalene and her relationship with Jesus?

2. Following Christ can and will cost us everything, as Matthew 10:37-39 testifies. How do those verses exemplify Mary Magdalene's life? In what ways might she serve as a role model for you?

3. Like Mary Magdalene, we are called to go and tell the world that Jesus is alive. Read the following verses—Acts 20:24, Galatians 1:10-12, and 1 Thessalonians 2:8—then offer a prayer of commitment to share that Good News.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Post Script about Women in Ministry.

People have asked me what my parents would think of me as a pastor. My father, was a Christian man who died when I was 9. The memory of him on his death bed for the last year of his life had a profound and positive influence on me in wanting to be a Christian. I have no idea what he thought about Christian women's place in the church. But as an intelligent and thoughtful man, who read the Bible and quoted whole chapters of Scripture on his deathbed, He would know that when Jesus said, “whosoever,” He included women.

My mother, also a faithful Christian, although not as active in the local church as was my father, was hard working and intelligent. She raised me and loved me and was devoted to me and to all her children. Mama died when I was in my fifties. I think Mama might have been somewhat uncomfortable with the thought of me as a preacher. Mama tended to be critical of women in what she considered the limelight in any way.

But Mama was not one to take Bible verses out of context or easily influenced by public opinions. She would have been OK with it, but certainly not "proud" of it. As a matter of fact, I have never been “proud” of my calling.

I have learned that a woman preacher, generally speaking, has to be twice as committed and work twice as hard to get half the credit as male pastor with the same dedication, talent, intelligence and energy. I gave up more than a little popularity when I answered the call to preach. I have learned more than I wanted to know about forgiveness.

If I may editorialize, I think that where my parents are now (where the scales of tradition and pre-conceived ideas are removed from their eyes -- and where the Bible is understood in the original language and all things are clear) they would know that when Jesus said, "Whosoever will", our Lord had no subordinate list for women.

As far as women preachers were concerned, Mama did speak very highly of Mrs. Carlock, (Elizabeth Harris's mother) who was a preacher and the wife of their pastor. She was said to be a “better preacher” than her husband, and Mama thought they both were good ministers of the Gospel.

I remember also Mama relating to me about a Missionary speaker commenting of the Corinthian passage that says, "Let your women keep silent in church ...If they would learn, let them ask their husbands at home." Mama said that the missionary (a very dedicated male Christian missionary doctor) said that in Paul's day, women (like children) were not educated and sometimes asked questions out loud in church. According to this missionary, the women in his mission field did the same. They might yell out to their husbands, "John, what did he mean?" This missionary said he often felt like Paul at these kinds of interruptions: "keep your women silent, if they would learn anything, let them ask at home -- or at least at break time!" and let everything be done decently and in order." (I Corinthians. 14:40.)

In other words, the missionary said, this passage did not mean that women had to keep silent. See Galations 3:28, Luke 8:1-3; Acts 2:17-18; and Romans 16:1 for other relevant passages. If women kept silent in church, silent would also mean not sing, teach, speak, testify, preach or even say hello, whisper "no" to a noisy child or get down on her knees and pray, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.”

That often quote passage simply meant to teach your women (as you teach your children) order and manners in private for public behavior so they will not interrupt the meetings.

Galatians 3:28 settles the question! “There is no longer Jew nor Gentile, there is no longer slave nor free, there is no longer male nor female; for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Of course, when Mama related this missionary talk to me, I had no personal interest in women preaching. It was certainly the last thing in the world this girl would ever expect to do. I am still amazed that the Lord would call me to preach. I am even more amazed that I ever found the grace and mercy to answer such a call. I am in awe as well as joy that the miracle of the Lord’s blessings has been and continues to be on such a call. I am told that one man at Trinity said, "I never believed women should preach until I heard Ruth Shaw." Of course, the fact that the Lord has blessed my preaching is not the issue but a correct understanding of the Biblical teaching.

It was interesting to me what someone told me what my brother, Tom, said when he heard I was preaching. Tom remarked that it was an answer to Papa's prayers, for Papa was said to have prayed that the Lord would call one of his sons to become a preacher. "Imagine", Tom said, "the preacher in the family turned out to be his baby daughter!"

I think my children already know this, but perhaps a personal word about women in ministry would be appropriate for posterity. It has been a part of my story since 1954 (when wives stood with their husbands when they were ordained) but more directly (the preaching part) since December 1986.

I have no personal agenda in preaching. I am in it because of a compelling call from the Lord. Certainly not Mama called nor self called nor "husband called" even though Charles recognized my called to preach about the same time I did. He recommended me for license to preach in 1976.

While I do not understand the hostility and arrogance of some people who preach against "women preaching." I am more in harmony with those who oppose my ordination out of their misunderstanding of the Scripture and their interpretation of God's will than with those who applaud me out of loyalty to a humanistic social agenda.
Ordination is not a women's rights issue. Ordination is not a right to which any of us are entitled. It is an unmerited call and an unexpected gift of the Lord's mercy. It is not a call to authority but of servant hood.

This is a Post Script to a piece I wrote in 2004 about what the Bible has to say about Women as Preachers, rather than what "tradition" has said or what has been preached about women's place in the church. It was written in reply t0 a man who identified himself as a preacher. He wrote a letter to the Rome News-Tribune,(published May 19, 2004) , stating that women preachers violated the clear teachings of Scripture and were a "cancer" on the church. He did not give any scripture references on this subject? I wrote "Women Preachers" also published in the Rome News-Tribune and on my Ruthlace Web Log.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Wit's End Corner

My mother was still in her forties when my father died after being bedridden for a year. My father was a man of strong faith and knew the heartache and possible hardships his wife and children would have to endure after his death.

A few days before Papa died, he gave my mother a poem entitled "Wit's End Corner" he had cut out of a monthly magazine and gave it to Mama and told her to keep it to read. Both my parents were readers. As tight as money was during the depression, they continued to subscribe to publications.

I thought about the poem sometime ago when reading a story about a musician who played keyboard and sang at a Starbucks shop near Times Square in New York.

It was a cold day so a large group had crowded inside the shop to enjoy the warmth and the music. It was a fun time and was beginning to be a profitable day for the musician as his basket for tips kept piling up.

The music was mostly from the 40s to the 90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During an emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know Me by Now," the musician noticed a lady sitting nearby singing along with him and swaying to the beat.

After the tune was over, she walked over and said, "I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?" "No," the musician told her. "We love it when the audience joins in!" Then he added, "Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?" She accepted his invitation. She was told to choose a song and asked,"What are you in the mood to sing?"

Finally she asked, "do you know any hymns?" He replied, Hymns sure...I cut my teeth on hymns.. Before i was born, i was going to church."

He said, "How about 'His Eye is on The Sparrow.'" The lady was silent a for a minute and then said, "OK, lets do 'His Eye is on The Sparrow."

She slowly put her purse down, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop and began to sing : " Why should I be discouraged?
Why should the shadows come? "

The audience of coffee drinkers were transfixed. Even the noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped to listen. The song rose to a conclusion:
"I sing because I'm happy,

I sing because I'm free.
His eye is on the sparrow
And he watches over me. "

The applause crescended to a roar and continued while the musician embraced his new friend and told her she had "made his day."

She told him, "Well, it's funny that you picked that particular hymn. " "Why is that?" , he asked. "Well ,"she hesitated again, "that was my daughter's favorite song". "She died at age 16 with a brain tumor two days ago."

She smiled through tear filled eyes as the musician hugged her. She said, "I am going to be okay. I'm just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing God's song." She picked up her bag, gave the musicain her card, and then she was gone.

My mother sang "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" and other hymns in the kitchen as she prepared meals and cleaned the house. Her loud and happy singing in the kitchen sometimes embarrassed me as a teen ager when I would have friends over. Today it is one of my happier memories.

The man ended his story by saying, "When you get to your wit's end, you'll find God lives there."
Those were the words my Father told Mama. When she died at age 88, the hand written poem , was still in her box of keepsakes. The poem is in her handwriting and now in my keepsakes. She must have copied from a dog-eyed printed copy frm the church newspaper.

Wit's End Corner
Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner
Friend with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember-at "Wit's End Corner"
Is just where God's power is shown.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember-at "Wit's End Corner"
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner"?
Your work before you spread,
A mountain of tasks unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember--at "Wit's End Corner"
The Burden-bearer stands.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner"?
Then you're just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at "Wit's End Corner"
Is the "God who is able" proved.

Poem by Antoinette Wilson

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Letter to President Obama

Below is an editorial that appeared in the Griffin , Ga newspaper,written by Pastor Herb Flanders of the United Methodist Church. I think the criticism of President Obama, by many who voted for him and were happy to see the first African American as president goes back to his criticism of America when overseas. It said more about him and his many Anti-American friends that it does about America!

Dear President Obama,

As I gather the Sunday before Memorial Day to worship with two United Methodist congregations I pastor in Griffin , Ga , I'll think about some of your recent comments.

I'll be thinking of what you told a crowd of about 2,000 in Strasbourg , Germany , as you spoke of our nation's views of Europe - "Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."

The gray, balding heads on the people who worship with me attest to their years of toil and labor on this Earth. They are, as Jesus said, the 'salt of the Earth." They are grandmamas and granddaddies, blue collar folks who worked hard to build a community and raise families, to give to others when they had precious little for themselves. They continue to do these things today.

Salt of the Earth they are and heroes to boot. When this nation called they answered with a resounding 'yes' and went where Uncle Sam asked them. A couple of months ago, we laid John Busbin to rest.

Like you, he visited Europe on behalf of the U..S. He beat you there by 65 years and spent his time marking and clearing mine fields, not giving speeches. Rather than being arrogant, dismissive or derisive, John partnered with the French and others to meet a common challenge. Others did the same, sailing on ships, slogging through mud or soaring through the air because evil and tyranny were well on their way to taking over the world.

I wish you'd come May 24th and sit with these folks as we sing America the Beautiful and America . I'd like it if you could sit up front with me when Maxine Bunn and Jerry Turner do a medley of military service Hymns and the veterans or spouses of deceased veterans stand when their branch's hymn is played. They grab hold of the pew in front of them to pull themselves to their feet. I know I'm in the company of giants.

I'd love for you to meet Janie Worthy and understand those tears that still glisten on her cheeks each Memorial Day Sunday.

Janie married John Pershing Botkin in August 1943. Their daughter Gail was born Aug. 10, 1944, three or four months after John shipped out to Europe . Janie, 19, went to St. Mary's , Ohio to stay with her in-laws after Gail was born. One Sunday afternoon in early December, farm families began to call each other as the postmaster's Model A made its way down the country roads. They knew that car carried news that would shatter a family and were trying to figure out where he was headed. He stopped in front of Janie's in-laws' farmhouse. Her daddy-in-law walked out to meet him and learned that John was killed in action Nov. 11, 1944, serving with the Army in Alsace . Cpl. Botkin never saw, held or kissed his little girl. As a father, you can empathize with Janie's salty tears.

Perhaps if you could come you'd see why your words hurt so many so much. America may be many things and she certainly isn't perfect, but heroes with whom I share my life have hardly been arrogant, dismissive or derisive of Europe . They've given themselves to save Europe when Europe couldn't save itself.

So, Mr. President, get out of Washington for a weekend and take a trip down to Georgia . We'll feed you some barbecue over in Williamson and I'll introduce you to some friends of mine, some everyday giants and ordinary heroes.

God bless,

Herb Flanders

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Seven Rules for Daily Living

1. Wake Up !!
Decide to have a good day. "Today is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalms 118:24

2. Dress Up !!
The best way to dress up is to put on a smile. A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks. "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance; but the Lord looks at the heart." I Samuel 16:7

3. Shut Up!!
Say nice things and learn to listen.
God gave us two ears and one mouth, so He must have meant for us to do twice as much listening as talking. "He who guards his lips guards his soul." Proverbs 13:3

4. Stand Up!!...
For what you believe in. Stand for something or you will fall for anything.. "Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good..."
Galatians 6:9-10

5. Look Up !!...
To the Lord.
"I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13

6. Reach Up !!...
For something higher. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him,
and He will direct your path."
Proverbs 3:5-6

7. Lift Up !!...
Your Prayers.
"Do not worry about anything; instead PRAY ABOUT
EVERYTHING." God answers Knee-Mail.
Philippians 4:6

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sew and Sew

Among my early memories of the late 1920's, is my mother sitting at her old Singer sewing machine, peddling away! Sewing was a vital part of her daily chores. She made her clothes, (dresses as well as cotton slips).
Mama also made most, if not all of the dresses and slips my sister Mary and I wore. And early on she has sewed dresses for my two older sisters as well as shirts for my five brothers.

But Mama did not consider herself an accomplished seamstress as was Aunt Cora. It was said that Aunt Cora (Mama's older sister) could go into a dress shop, look at a dress, then come home and make a duplicate.

Mama always said she did just "plain sewing." However,I remember the younger women in the neighborhood would often come to get Mama's help with their sewing.

Mama told me she learned to sew, like Penelope , by "sewing all day and picking out stitches all night." She said she just "kept dabbling with it until I got it right." She did "get it right." The finished dress was well done.

I did not realize this until later in life, but my mother never thought of herself as a pretty woman because her eyes did not focus properly. She was embarrassed that her eyes were "crossed." She always wore glasses, but she had a good figure even into old age.

One of the stories I remember from childhood is that of a neighbor lady who came over one day to borrow a pattern to make a dress like Mama had made for herself. After the lady left with the pattern, my father turned to Mama and said, "She need not think when she finishes her dress like yours, she will look as good in the dress as you do."

Perhaps this helps to explain why Mama never found any fault with Papa! I told this story in a sermon one Father's Day in East Point United Methodist Church to illustrate the fact that Christian men usually know how to love and treat a woman. A few compliments go a long way! Following the Golden Rule would solve many of our interpersonal relationships.

Cotton print dresses were the usual daily attire for women in our small town. These outfits had to be washed, starched,and ironed. No drip-dries nor wrinkle-proof material in those days.

I especially remember Mama working against a deadline to get my Girl Reserve Camp dresses finished. Every year, we made a long train trip to Savannah.

The first time I saw the ocean was on one such trip. The first time I ate in a restaurant was on a Girl Reserve trip to Savannah. (BTW The first time I was served fish with it's head still attached on one of our Girl Reserves trips. None of us little girls would eat it and laughed into the night about anyone "eating a fish while it looked at us.")

These Girls Reserves trips were events that required preparation. Mama was always working with some of the other mothers in the neighborhood to get us girls ready for camp. In my memory I see Mama sitting at the old sewing machine and peddling away with Blanche Fincher and other young mothers in the room consulting with one another about how the Girl Reserve dresses and scarves needed to be fashioned just right for the event. The dresses were shirtwaist pattern. Each little girl was to pack two white dresses with blue scarfs and two blue dresses with white scarfs to wear for the trip.

My Song of Praise

Just a year or so before my husband, Charles, had his first heart attack, we were pulling off the expressway to go to our United Methodist parsonage in Austell where we lived at the time.

We saw a man fall down beside the road. We had gotten past him so we had to get to a place to turn around and drive back. Charles asked me to stay in the car until he talked to the man. The man was on crutches with a broken leg in a cast and was falling down drunk.

Charles put him in the car, took him home with us, put him in the shower and helped him get a bath while I washed his clothes and prepared him something to eat. Later Charles was able to get him into a Christian home for alcoholics.

So it is. We came to Jesus just as we are, clothed in the garments of sin, spiritually starving and sick unto death. We are welcomed by Christ (and hopefully by Christians), accepted just as we are, bathed in God's love and forgiveness…transformed and clothed in his Grace - indeed given a place at His table of Grace.

I heard Dottie Rambo tell of praying for a brother who had become alcoholic. He was finally won to the Lord and was the inspiration of one of my favorites of all of Dottie’s songs:

“He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Need
“Amazing Grace shall always be my song of praise
For it was Grace that bought my liberty.
I do not know just why He came to love me so…
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need…

I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary.
To view the cross where Jesus died for me…
How marvelous…the Grace that caught my falling soul:
He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kudzu is King...Where's the Vine Weevil?

"Cotton isn't king in the South anymore. Kudzu is king!" So said Channing Cope
Is there no Vine Weevil to topple King Kudzu, like the Boll Weevil brought down King Cotton?

There's so much fast-growing kudzu vine in the Southeastern U.S., one would think it a native plant.
Kudzu, growing up and down and all around the power post was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Countries were invited to build exhibits to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. The Japanese government constructed a beautiful garden filled with plants from their country. The large leaves and sweet-smelling blooms of kudzu captured the imagination of American gardeners who used the plant for ornamental purposes. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Soil Conservation Service promoted kudzu for erosion control. Hundreds of young men were given work planting kudzu through the Civilian Conservation Corps. Farmers were paid as much as eight dollars an acre as incentive to plant fields of the vines in the 1940s. I remember , as a child seeing one of our neighbors house had a small vine of kudza vine growing on strings to ptovide shade for on their open porch. Channing Cope was Kudzu's most vocal advocate. Cope of Covington, Georgia promoted use of the vine to control erosion. Cope wrote about kudzu in articles for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and talked about its virtues frequently on his daily WSB-AM radio program broadcast from his front porch. During the 1940s, he traveled across the southeast starting Kudzu Clubs to honor what he called "the miracle vine." Cope was very disappointed when the U.S. government stopped advocating the use of kudzu in 1953.

The problem for years now is that it just grows too well! The climate of the Southeastern U.S. is perfect for kudzu. The vines grow as much as a foot per day during summer months, climbing trees, power poles, and anything else they contact. Under ideal conditions kudzu vines can grow sixty feet each year. While they help prevent erosion, the vines can also destroy valuable forests by preventing trees from getting sunlight. Researchers at Tuskegee University, has successfully raised Angora goats in fields of kudzu which would otherwise be considered wasted land. The Angora goats serve as a "weevil" to keep the kudzu from spreading further also while producing profitable milk and wool products. Rhoden says constant grazing of the goats there will eventually eradicate kudzu

Uses for Kudzu: Basket makers have found that the rubber-like vines are excellent for decorative and functional creations. Ruth Duncan of Greenville, Alabama makes over 200 kudzu baskets each year and says she doesn't mind that people call her the "Queen of Kudzu." Regina Hines of Ball Ground, Georgia, has developed unique basket styles which incorporate curled kudzu vines. She weaves with other vines as well, but says that kudzu is the most versatile.

Common names for kudzu include,"mile -a-minute vine", foot -a-night vine"
and the "vine that ate the south,"
Southerners just close their windows at night to keep the kudzu out.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Our Parsonage Adventure.

The Parsonage system in the Church has been both praised and negated by pastors and their families as well as by lay people. especially those who have served on their church "Parsonage Committee."
But the advantages outweighed the negative by providing ready housing for itinerant pastors.
(The picture to the left is David, Beth, Deborah and Carol in front of Trinity Rome parsonage where we lived for 5 years and 6 months. The picture below was taken in the Living Room of Ellijay Parsonage (Terrell, Charles holding 2 month old David, Ruth, Carol, Deborah, Beth. )The picture on the upper right is Joan holding a rabbit in the back yard of the Mackville- Antioch Parsonage. (Rabbit raised for food but never eaten) )
Below on the right is a picture of Terrell, Deborah (on Rocking Horse) and Carol in the Living Room in Griffin's Midway-Sunnyside Parsonage.
Methodist circuit riders rode West with the settlers and helped to build and settle this country.

There has been at least one Methodist Church in every county in the United States. Methodist pastors, have always been and some still are “itinerants,” traveling from place to place establishing and serving churches.

Soon church lay people started building houses so the pastor and wife and children could live in their community during his stay with them, often just one year and usually not longer than four years in the case of Methodist preachers.
The first parsonage my husband, children and I lived in was in Dunkinsville Ohio while he was a college student pastor, serving three churches in the area.
Charles preached at Cedar Creek Methodist Church at 9 a.m. every Sunday. At 11 O’clock, Charles was behind the Dunkinsville Methodist Church pupit every Sunday morning. His wife and children were usually in the pews, after which we were invited to a Sunday dinner with one of the families in the Dunkinsville church. What a generous example of Southern Ohio hospitality!

These gracious people treated their novice pastor and his family with love and respect and we returned the compliment.

Each Sunday evening, we drove 7 or 8 miles from the parsonage in Dunkinsville to the 7:00 Service at Jackson Ohio where the Jackson congregation graciously welcomed us and Charles preached his third sermon of the day.

Charles developed into a good preacher (I was always blessed and never tired of hearing him) during this three times each Sunday preaching during his student years.

The Dunkinsville parsonage in 1952 had “five rooms and a path.” We had cold water in the kitchen sink when we finally learned to prime the pump. Neither Charles not I had ever lived in luxury but neither of us had lived anywhere before without inside plumbing. But the path to the "out house" was paved.

It was a welcomed adventure. We continued enthusiastic at every opportunity to tell the Good News of Christ. We always remembered with a smile, E. Stanley Jones’ words about all material blessings of life as “too good for a ransomed sinner.”

After a year as a student at Asbury College, Charles was appointed to another pastorate to served two churches; Mackville and Antioch Kentucky. For two years, we lived in Mackville's nice Cape Cod style parsonage in beautiful blue grass Kentucky and worked with some of the finest and hardest working Christian people in the world. Charles preached at 10 at Mackville and drove a few miles to Antioch for the 11 o'clock service. He preached and conducted a service every Sunday night alternating between the two churches.

Charles earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Asbury in Wilmore Kentucky in June of 1954, where each ministeral student was required to take New Testament Greek. His Asbury education proved more than adequate when we moved back to Georgia where Charles enrolled at Candler School of Theology Seminary at Emory Universary in Atalnta.

The North Georgia Conference of the worldwide Methodist Church assigned Charles to pastor Midway, Sunnyside- Vaughn, churches in 1954 while commuting back and fourth to Candler three days a week.

The Griffin parsonage was an old house. In fact, while we lived in this parsonage, Griffin High School presented a play about the 1920’s. They put out the word requesting a loan of 1920 furniture for the set. Much of our parsonange furniture was moved to the Griffin High stage!

But it was a wonderful old house with a small building in the back yard called a "Preachers Study." We lived there four years while Charles started and finished Seminary , earning a Master of Divinity degree from Emory and worked with and loved those dear people like family. I still keep in touch with Midway Church people and have been invited back to preach at two of their annual Homecoming Services. Charles was invited back to preach at both Midway church and at Sunnyside many times for Revival and Homecoming preaching.

Since Charles death in 1986, I have been invited to preach at nearly every church where my husband had been the pasor, including Sunnyside United Methodist Church Homecoming as well as the two Homecoming Services at Midway.
It was at the Sunnyside Homecoming service where I had been the invited preacher that an elderly man told me the funniest joke he had ever heard! I was greeting people after the service when he come up with his wife, punched her in in ribs, smiled broadly and said, "This is the first time I have ever heard a woman preach...from the pulpit! " we all enjoyed the laugh!
After Charles was ordained Elder in 1958, (At Glenn Memorial on Emory campus by Bishop Arthur Moore, This was shortlky before Pulpit Robes were worn by Methodist pastors. The men were in dress suits with shirt and tie with each wife standing behind her husband. Dr.Ruth Rogers, also ordained in 1958 as the first in the Methodist Church)

We lived in the spacious and beautifully furnished Methodist parsonage in Ellijay, the beautiful Georgia Mountains. In our 4th year at Watkins memorial in Ellijay, the conference had to make a "middle of the year move" and Charles was appointed to Trinity in Rome in January of 1962.

Although the move from Ellijay to Trinity, Rome included a large raise in pay, we were reluctant to leave the growing Ellijay church family. We served Trinity and lived in their lovely new Trinity parsonage until June of 1968 and was and appointed to Fairburn First. Fairburn also had a beautiful new parsonage and congregation,

Other Atlanta area churches we served and parsonages we resided in were two years at Skyland in North Atlanta. Then four years each at Epworth in the Candler Park area and Park Street in West End Altanta. From Park Street, we moved to Trinity, Austell.

Charles had his first heart attack while serving at Trinity in Austell and a second one two years later at Forest Park , retiring on disability in 1983. (picture to the left is taken ouside the Ellijay Methodist parsonage, showing Ruth, Carol, Joan and Janice dressed for a Wedding Shower for Janice given by the Ellijay WSCS. Notice the white gloves we are wearing. If it had been Sunday, we would probably be wearing hats.)

At our 1968 Methodist General Conference,(meeting every 4 years) we became the United Methodist Church after uniting with the Evangelical United Brethren. In 1968 our family was residing in what became the Fairburn United Methodist parsonage.

After Charles' death in 1986, I was called on to pastor Rico United Methodist Church, a wonderful small church Charles had been serving for over a year after his second heart attack when he had retired on disability. It is a long story told elsewhere, but I served as pastor of Rico UMC while I started and finished work on a Master of Divinity degree from Emory. The Lord, who had called me to preach earlier, had opened this door wide and pushed me through.
I drove back and forth the 30 or so miles three days a week for three years to earn the Master of Divinity degree and enjoyed the classes and the learning opportunity. But my love and top priority was preaching and serving Christ and the people in the Rico community. I was able to live in my own home those nearly four years at Rico. One of the most difficult thing I have had to do as a full time pastor was moving into a parsonage alone. But the beautiful and comfortable old parsonage in Grantville Georgia was truly home to me for the three good years while I was pastor there. It was across the street from Grantville First UMC, a stately red brick church.

I lived in the parsonage three years and we all wanted more years added but I reached mandatory retirement age all too soon! As in many churches, I also served as Church Secretary handling all the church correspondence. Every Thursday I typed a three fold Sunday bulletin, on my own computer in the parsonage and took it across the street to the church office and printed and folded it.

Miss Kathleen Ray, a retired Missionary was a valuable part of Grantville church, teaching one of the childrens Sunday School classes. Kathleen was my close neighbor and became a dear friend and often a walking partner for early moring exercise.

Every weekday morning I walked about a half mile to the Post Office to get the church and personal mail and visited with Grantville townspeople including Baptist deacons who welcomed me to town.
Later in the day activity included visiting and praying with those who were homebound or in nurse care as well as time spent in Bible study and sermon preparation.

Many Monday evenings , I walked down the hill to the Town Hall when I was asked by the Mayor to attend to "open the the meeting with prayer." Before I moved the Mayor of Grantville declared a Ruth Shaw Day with special citations and news articles. (Photo on the right is Ruth in doorway of Grantville Parsonage.)

The Parsonage System: In the late 1970's, the Retirement Parsonages that had been available to retired Methodist pastors for many years were sold and before the turn of the century, our country’s prosperity began to trickle down to preachers. Pastor's began to invest in property for retirement as more and more churches decided to get out of the "parsonage business" and budget a "housing allowance" for the pastoral family to rent or purchase their own housing.

A Bit of Methodist History: Christians were instrumental in building, not only churches but the first schools, colleges,( including Harvard )and the first hospitals! Neither the powerful Greek nor Roman Empire ever build a hospital!

The Methodist Church traces its roots back to 1738 where it developed in England as a result of the revival of Christianity under the preaching and teachings of John Wesley and the preaching and hymn writing of Charles Wesley.

While studying at Oxford, John Wesley, his brother Charles, and several other students formed a group devoted to study, prayer , evangelism and helping the underprivileged. They were first called "the Holy Club," then given the "Methodist" label by their fellow students because of the method they used to go about their Bible study, prayer, fasting and work among the poor.

John Wesley had no desire to "start another demonination " but, along with his brother Charles, undertook evangelistic preaching with an emphasis on conversion and holiness. It is said most early sermons were three simple points. 1. Everyone can be "saved." (No one is "predestined to be lost.) 2. Everyone can know they are "saved." (Assurance) 3. Everyone can live like a Christian (not perfection in ability but perfection in love toward God and others.)

Although both Wesley brothers were ordained ministers of the Church of England, they were barred from speaking in many of its pulpits because of their evangelistic methods outside the church and among the underpriviledged. They began to preach in homes, farm houses, barns, open fields...wherever they found people needing the message of salvation. Huge crowds gathered to hear and receive the good news of Jesus Christ they proclaimed.

Wesley did not set out to create a new church, but instead began small faith-restoration groups within the Anglican Church called the "United Societies." However, the Methodist revival spread and eventually became its own separate church when the first conference was held in 1744.

George Whitefield (1714-1770) was a minister in the Church of England and also one of the leaders of the Methodist movement. George Whitfield is famous for his part in the Great Awakening movement in America. As a follower of John Calvin, Whitefield and Wesley had different understandings of some of the doctrines of the church. The doctrine of predestination, for example.

In 1776 America was in war for it’s independence from England. With England and America at war with one another, John Wesley finally realized he must ordained Frances Asbury and Thomas Coke to continue work in America apart from the church of England.

The historic Christmas Conference was a founding conference of the newly independent Methodists within the United States held just after the American Revolution at Lovely Lane Chapel in Baltimore, Maryland in 1784.

Prior to the revolution American Methodism consisted of itinerant preachers commissioned by John Wesley of the Methodist societies in England. Wesley had been sending preacher/missionaries since the 1760s. With the outbreak of war, most of these preachers returned to England, with the notable exception of Francis Asbury, who began to be looked upon as the leader of the groups.

However, Asbury's activities were greatly restricted because, as an Englishman, he was suspected of not being sympathetic to the patriot cause. During the war, he ceased his circuit riding and stayed at the residence of his friend, Judge Thomas White of Delaware. After the war, Francis Asbury was tireless in carrying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nation.