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Smile Awhile
March on

A couple of weeks ago Ronnie  announced that he was going to Lexington to participate in a march in support of Earth Day.  I also support Earth Day, but driving two hours to walk a mile or two with a bunch of people I don’t know isn’t my idea of fun.
“Do what?” I asked, incredulously.
“I’m going to march for science,” he replied.
“Okay,” I answered, “but I didn’t know anyone had a problem with it although I never much cared for botany.”
“Good Lord, Sara!” Ronnie yelled.  “I’m talking about global warming and how we are destroying our planet.
I knew I was “playing with fire” years ago when I told him that I didn’t care if he wore his hair in a ponytail, but now I was rethinking it all.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”  I said, as I looked into the fiery eyes of a liberal.
“The polar ice caps are melting and the coral reefs are dying, Sara!” he exclaimed.  ‘I’m going to march to show my support.”
“Can’t you just write a letter to the editor?” I asked.
“No, I can’t,” he said.  “I need to be their physically.”
“You might get thrown in jail,” I answered, snidely. “That would upset your Mother.”
If looks could kill I would have been a dead woman.  But I couldn’t believe he was actually going to march.  After all, a march is a lot of work.  I barely have the energy to go to the bathroom and Ronnie isn’t an athlete himself.  I just found it hard to believe Ronnie wanted to participate in the flesh.”
“Didn’t you ever protest about anything?” he asked.
“Well, actually I did,” I confessed.  ‘I once wrote a letter to the Coca Cola Company when they removed saccharin from the diet drink Tab.”
“Oh, give me a break!” he shrieked, as he shook his head.  ‘I bet you had them shaking in their boots.”
‘I’ll have you know they sent me a coupon for a dollar off a six-pack,’ I said triumphantly.
          Although he was pretty disgusted with me, I still thought maybe he didn’t have to show his support in that manner.  Since he is an excellent writer I thought he could best show how he felt about global warming by writing letters to newspapers and to our politicians.
‘By the time they could respond to it we might lose the entire Atlantic seaboard” he answered. “And California may slip away.  We are already losing our crop pollinating honey bees and mosquito eating bats.”
Whether you agree with global warming or not, we haven’t been very good to our planet.  However, after everything was said and done, you would have thought Mother Earth would have been kinder to her children who came out to celebrate her special day because  it poured the rain all afternoon.  But maybe it’s like Ronnie said, “She has a lot to cry about.”
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!


Poison Oak
Two words that really mattered

The first eight years I went to school, we started our day by saying the Pledge Allegiance to the flag. But, whenever my class stood to say the pledge, we never uttered the words “under God.” I might mention also the little faded flag that hung limply from the corner of the blackboard had only 48 stars because neither Alaska nor Hawaii (or as the Attorney General calls it “that little island in the Pacific”) had neither become a state yet.
Anyway, saying the pledge was no big deal on those long-ago weekday mornings. And, at least as far as I could tell, as we stood and crossed our hearts, no one seemed to care one way or another if everybody spoke up loud and clear or just mumbled through it. Matter of fact, even if some students said nothing at all, no one questioned their patriotism.
To recite the pledge or not to recite the pledge didn’t become controversial until 1954. That’s when Congress added “under God” to the heretofore simple patriotic document. As would be expected, that did not present a problem of any kind to those around me since, by and large, I lived in a religious-oriented community. It was, however, a bit awkward at first to remember to insert “under God” after going all those years straight from “one nation” to “indivisible.”
Words do indeed matter, but when those two words were added, I was part of a high school freshman class that had little or no interest in politics, and sadly, probably even less of religion. And even though over the next four years we took classes in history, government, and citizenship, we could never have imagined how adding these two little words could have changed things so drastically.
A bit of research tells us that the pledge -- which  by the way, had already been changed a bit before 1954 -- had been written by a Baptist back in 1829. The original began “I pledge allegiance to my flag,” instead of “I pledge allegiance to the flag.” It is said the man who first penned it,  Rev. Francis Bellomy, opposed the change. I’ve no idea to whom he complained, but I can’t imagine that he formed a group and marched on Washington.
Apparently,  most of the complaints stem from the fact that the Constitution forbids our government from endorsing religious views or practicing any establishment of religion. Therefore ever since Congress changed the wording, court cases and protests, one right after another, have popped up all across the nation.
And with our country being what it is, I expect the protests and demonstrations will continue from time to time until another Congress -- not likely in the near future because this one couldn’t agree on what day of the week it is -- caves in and, fearing it might lose a vote or two, decides to remove “under God” from the pledge.  
I guess it is what it is, but just so you know, as for me and mine, we like it just the way it is.


Education and Common Sense
What will they think of next

I’m grateful to report that my son, who had serious open-heart surgery on February 15, went back to work yesterday  with no ill effects. He reported that he walked 3 1/2 miles after that and was pretty tired.
We talked a good while and he told me about a custom the juniors and seniors in his high school have regarding the Junior-Senior Prom.  As a 34-year veteran of a high school, I know that THE PROM is a BIG DEAL. A date to the prom is more precious than gold or precious stones. Nobody wants to sit at home on prom night when they could have gotten dressed up in a formal gown, put on makeup and eyeliner and sampled the way the beautiful people live.
But in Steve’s school, the boys have a custom of making a production of inviting their dates to the prom.  My step-grandson, who is a wonderful reader, a great trombone player, a junior in high school, with a steady girl friend that he has been dating for several months, has devised a spectacular way to invite his girl friend to the prom.
The plan is that all the girls in the soccer team (except the girl to be invited) are to lie down on the soccer field in the shape of the letters P-R-O-M?  The young man is planning to be the dot in the question mark, standing there holding flowers!  They haven’t quite figured out how to get the invitee to stand in the bleachers so she can see the letters in the invitation.
I told Steve I didn’t think a whole soccer team could keep a secret from a close teammate, no matter how hard they tried, so she would be perfectly willing to go to the bleachers to view the spectacle.
I don’t think my publishing this will impact the surprise any, as this will not be published anywhere that any of those students can read it. I haven’t mentioned my grandson’s name, because I have not asked his permission to share his scheme with thousands of my best friends.
I am impressed with how clever the plan is, and I am sure that the lucky girl will be proud  to have the most ingenious prom invitation in the whole school.
This makes me wonder, when he decides to ask a girl to marry him, how will he top this?


Downhomer
Easter here and Easter gone

This so quickly gone Easter has served to remind me of things that I am thankful for, and things which have grieved me. I mourn for my Savior’s death on that cross at Calvary, but I am thankful for His resurrection. The truth of this needs no swelling words that I might write, for the facts speak for themselves. It doesn’t really matter if you believe it or not. The bottom line is that sooner or later every single person will know the reality of that event, some with great joy, some with a terrible fear and trembling. I Thank God for the grace that makes it possible for me, yes, even me to be among those who will one day be able to meet Him with joy unspeakable and full of glory! In the years before this Easter of 2017, we grieved for the loss of several of our good friends and neighbors. Then as I looked back down the trail of time, I began to see just how many had actually gone from us; those living right around our own little area that we knew and had a somewhat personal relationship with.
There was Robert Collins who passed away in 2010. Then in 2011, Betty Collins Spriggs, whom we all knew and loved died, and in 2012, Charlotte Collins Price. Following these, in the marching of time, Merle Taylor (Mrs. Londis Taylor) died, then Roger Collins in 2013. After that, just this past year we lost my friend Virgie Gilliam who was also my daughter-in-law Vanessa Parrigin’s aunt. Next Roger Staniford died. Roger, or Hobe, as we called him, worked in the building trade with my brother Albert Lee Hall. Hobe was a good friend to many, was to me as a brother, and we all hated to see him go. Then we also said goodbye to Mabel Collins who was greatly loved by all of the Spriggs and Collins families. Next, William Price died.
William and his wife Charlotte lived right down the road from Walter and me. Consequently we often saw the two of them whenever we traveled that way, either coming or going. After Charlotte passed away, William had to carry on. Doing so, he always seemed to take strength from working in his vegetable gardens. That we lived in such close proximity to him insured that we were blessed by an overflow of that garden produce which William raised. I can’t begin to count the zucchini, the tomatoes, the cucumbers and the mustard he gave us. A couple of years before William died; I heard that Brenda Walker, who was a church friend and sister in the Lord, was craving a mess of mustard. So I asked William if I could share some of what he gave us, with her. His answer “Of course!” was as I expected.
At that time Brenda was suffering with cancer. However, its effects in no way hindered her enjoyment of the fresh mustard that primarily came from William. We who were involved in this second-handed giving were very glad for our part in it. Then after Brenda died, I told William: “There is a lady from the Hammond-Whitehouse area who has carried your name to the Lord!” Now William also has gone.
Next after William, my almost cousin David Dennison died. David was a first cousin to my cousins Lonnie and Priscilla Penix, and by association and by fallout was as a cousin to me. We all loved him; remember him with grief at his going but with a great joy for his homecoming.
Now what does any of these things have to do with the topic of this column? Just that in the midst of life there is death. In the midst of death there is life. We know this by what Christ did for us that first Easter; that from His death, from His resurrection there is an assurance of new life, a life that we will spend in whichever of the two places we personally chose to go.
Abba, Father.


Smile Awhile
Sara Blair

The Cinderella Complex

For the past six months, as I’ve scrolled down my Facebook page, I have noticed more and more advertisements for products that are geared towards improving one’s body image.
One of the most advertised products you see is a cream that miraculously takes away dark circles and bags from under you eyes in a matter of minutes without surgery.  It’s usually a woman doing the demonstration, but as of late, I have seen men espousing the wonderful properties of this magical potion.
From what I’ve gathered there must be at least a hundred different types of these products on the market all declaring that you can go from tired and old to young and vivacious by dabbing a small bit of this elixir on the affected area.  In three minutes (after vigorously fanning a piece of paper in front of your face) you miraculously transform into somebody else that looks like a better you.
The person demonstrating these creams sit stoically before you all the while talking about how you are going to be amazed at how they are going to look in exactly three minutes.  And you know it is three minutes because they have a timer that you watch so that you can actually see the three minutes of you life pass by:  the three minutes that you are never going to get back.
I have to admit, it appears to work.  In those three minutes the person you are looking at appears to be ageless, but how long does it last?  Would it last through an important interview, or would your prospective employer think you had suffered a stroke if one side of your face under your eye started to droop?  Or what if you were out on a date and you suddenly went from looking like Christie Brinkley to looking like Billy Joel?
I’m just a little skeptical.
The other products that are appearing more and more on my Facebook page are undergarments.  These undergarments are made of spandex and supposedly “tuck and suck” your fat up so that you appear to be slimmer; therefore being more attractive.
I actually purchased one of these garments and after I wrestled myself to the floor to get it on, my hips and upper thighs actually looked smaller.  However, the fat that bulged over the waist of the slimmer gave me the appearance of a Shitake mushroom.  And, on top of that, I couldn’t breathe properly without oxygen.
They also have bras that purport to lift, separate, compress and eliminate arm  fat.  After purchasing the bra and the slimmer I couldn’t bend at the waist.  I also had bathroom accidents because it’s takes a lot of time to peel that spandex off.  When I finally removed the undergarments in the privacy of my bedroom, the gust of my fat escaping knocked over my bedside lamp and put my dog in shock.  Any time I get the slimmer out of the drawer Buddy Lee hides under the bed.
All of these products are designed to make you appear to be something that you’re not.  They may help for a short period of time and make us feel better about ourselves for a moment, but it’s tough pretending to be something that you’re not.  Sooner or later, no matter what you do, the warts are going to show.
So, the moral of this story is:  Be yourself. Like yourself.  Beauty fades but inner beauty prevails.  But I still might try that eye cream.
Have a good week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!



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