Friday, August 14, 2009


Welcome to my Table, Friends and Strangers! Some of my friend Shirley's cornbread's in the kitchen in the iron skillet...made with bacon grease....That last ingredient may have made some of you dubious, but onmygosh her cornbread is amazing, especially with fresh crowder (dang, that word wasn't even in my Spell Check WRONG is that?!) peas and turnip greens...or green beans....or cold milk....or.....yummm....

I was reading my own profile and wondered whointheheck wrote those words. Has that ever happened to you while looking back upon past writings--and were struck with the "God lives here-ness" of the space they created? That is why we MUST write, MUST create, MUST go boldly where no one has gone before. WHY? To let God shine in our spaces. To let God live in between our lines. To let God inspire our deflated lives---and then invite others to our Tables... to eat cornbread and maybe be struck by the "Light"ning. Below is my reference:

"I use words to make a living as a speaker and a writer. Hearing Billy Collins, the famous American poet, read selections of his work, I had a vision: With the backdrop of Mr. Collins' standing at the podium, in my mind's eye, hundreds of words were moving and blinking on and off like summer fireflies in the trees at Rose Hill. As I sat in my theater seat, a thrill rushed over me like I had not experienced since childhood--pure, unadulterated joy. All I had to do was capture the lit syllables with the glass jar of my mind and then place them on a page to shine every time someone stopped to watch. Bingo. Watching, waiting, writing down the Light. Welcome to my world, Friends."

"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow/
Praise Him all creatures here below/
Praise all ye, heavenly host/
Praise Father, Son and Ho-ly Ghost." Ahhhh-mennnnnn (closed mouth, for all A Cappellas:-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What Will Be Remembered When You Are Gone?

Welcome to the Table, Friends and Strangers. Claim a chair (the two white ones are what Nannie called her "dollar down, dollar a week" chairs with which Papa and she set up house) and rest your weary self. There is some Church of God chocolate pie in the kitchen near the oil lamp. "Why, " you may be asking, "do you call the pie by that name?'

Well, a boy I knew was a Church of God preacher's kid; and his momma's hair was teased so high, I always wondered how she could achieve such altitude. When I first saw the meringue on the pies at Dotson's in downtown Franklin, I couldn't help but christen it in memory of a high-rise hairstyle that still mystifies me to this day.

Besides, it's one of Mrs. Elizabeth's favorites. Thanks for all the prayers and cards that some of you kindly sent for her recovery from breaking her leg (see earlier post of "Everybody Needs a Little Help" for details and address). She says she is going to walk again, and it seems that a big, ol' slab of chocolate pie makes the medicine go down in the most delightful ways, for all you Julie Andrews' fans.

My title is a serious question I have been pondering since I learned that a dear friend, Allen Still, had been killed on August 6 when his bulldozer flipped and pinned him. Knuck, as he was called by many, was a hero because he chose to put his rig into a ditch on a narrow road so to avoid running over an on-coming truck with three men inside. At the scene, those men were calling Allen their "angel," I was told, and that they would never forget his dying sacrifice for their sakes. However, knowing Knuck like I did, you can bet he was confident he could cheat death once again and got the surprise of his life when he went to Heaven, instead of Flat Creek Road!

When this heavy equipment operator was arguing why he didn't need to buy life insurance, he quipped, "You're gambling that I'm not gonna make it, and I'm gambling that I am!" However, he did buy the policy that day, and thank God he did. (NOTE: Take care of your own people as soon as you can find an agent. I would have sworn Allen Still's indomitable spirit and love for his family would have kept him on this earth for decades to come. If Allen could be taken so suddenly, we all must be ready, too.)

If you didn't know Knuck, he was one of those Southern men whose accent and vocabulary choices might make a lesser person think this fellow wasn't a formidable foe. Au contraire! Such a conclusion didn't bother Allen; as a matter of fact, he told me one day that he preferred it that way because it's was a whole lot easier getting the high ground advantage when the opponent dismissed the slow, dumb guy. I'll never forget the laugh we had in sheer delight of the many times we had been misjudged by arrogance but won the match in spades.

Honestly, Allen Still was one of the most intelligent folks I have known. I remember one time when Knuck came over to Rose Hill to figure out how the side porch could be built since it was "code-violating" close to the property's envelope. I was almost beside myself with all the red tape over a few inches, but the problem didn't ruffle my friend at all. "Now listen here," he said after eyeballing the site for just a few seconds. "This ain't gonna be no problem a'tall." Knuck proceeded in lining out diagonal steps that hugged the line--but didn't cross it. Then he grinned in the way that endeared him to so many and said, "Aw, RoseAnne, you would have figured it out on your own, but I was glad to help."

Helping out others is why Allen was on that narrow road last Thursday; his wife, Karri, said he was digging some footing as a favor and was taking the 'dozer to the next site to be ready for a new project. One favor Allen did for my family was to stand in at the last minute to be a pallbearer for my dear momma, bearing up his end while escorting her to the grave. For all the things this bear-sized man did for me, I shall never forget looking over at him that day in silent appreciation, just to see him wink with that slight nod of his head. That was just like him to let me know it was his honor to help.

That was Knuck's way--even to the last kind thing he did in this life by sacrificing himself to save those three strangers.

Since I didn't know Allen had been killed, I missed the funeral and his burial. However, in the land of my memories I will ever see his quick grin and hear his infectious laughter, and see that wink with a slight nod of his head. In the land of the living as we all slip into the deepening night, I shall grieve the loss of my dear, beloved friend--an honorable and noble man--Allen "Knuck" Still.

What will be remembered when you are gone?

Charles Allen Still "Knuck"
(from The Tennessean)

STILL, Mr. Charles Allen "Knuck"Age 47 of College Grove, TN. Devoted husband, beloved father, caring son and friend to all, went home to be with the Lord on August 6, 2009; ahead of our time on God?s schedule as a result of a heavy equipment accident. Graduate of Franklin High School Class of 1980; CEO of Allen Still Bulldozer; member of Christ Community Church, Spring Hill Rotary Club & Bethesda Lodge #201; Allen enjoyed a good story, especially one ending with a long laugh; going for a ride out and about with his sweet family and friends; he invested his time and energy working the land and hanging out with his boys in the family room named "The Pit"; Allen enjoyed fishing, hunting and the great outdoors; he had a fast smile, pleasing disposition and sincere, compassionate soul. Preceded in death by father, Charlie Still. Survived by wife, Karri Winstead Still; sons, Alex & Sam Still, all of College Grove, TN; mother, Ann Still of Franklin, TN. Family & Friends will serve as Pallbearers. Honorary Pallbearers will be Employees of Allen Still Bulldozer, Rotary Club of Spring Hill and Men of Seekers Sunday School Class. Memorials may be made to the Still Family Educational Trust % Green Bank, attention: Jackie Bagwell, [Spring Hill, TN].

Friday, August 7, 2009

Published Two Posts Same Day--oops!

Well, look who's here! You get yourself into this house and park it in a chair and sit a spell.

Just a note: I've been told that when I published two posts in one day, some folks missed the first one, entitled, "Everybody Needs A Little Help," or something like that. When I reread it, I was moved, like someone else had written parts of it.

Has that ever happened to any of you writers around this Table? It's like Inspiration flowed through the head and then hand, and once the piece was finished, it flowed on out to sea. When your own work makes you stop to ponder, that's the best evidence in my Book that there is a God Who Sees and Hears--and Inspires.

Breath deeply and slowly. It's not just good for the body; it's also good for the soul.

Sweet dreams out there in the darkness just beyond my front porch light. If you lose your way or if you can't sleep, you are always welcome here at this Table. Good things happen at the Table of communion.

Living Dangerously--Miss Helen

Welcome, Friends and Strangers! Grab a chair and let's chew the fat (a metaphorical, Southern syllabic sequence that does not exclude vegetarians or vegans).

I just spent an hour trying to find possible avenues to travel in attempts to find--well, to be honest--paying gigs. I am an itinerant teacher with 35 years' experience. Wow, just writing that number makes me dizzy. It also makes me cast a wishful eye upon those who have retirement funds fuller than a polar bear in a new pair of Levis.

However, I am remembering my mentor Miss Helen Wright had no retirement fund, only a minuscule Social Security check, but her bank was FULL of daily stories of God's providing for her physical needs, as well as spiritual and emotional.

"Rose," Miss Helen said, "do you know that God can supply whatever we need with His means, by His methods, for His glory?"

Ever being the scared, self-protectionist, recovering Southern Baptist preacher's kid, I succinctly and sagely answered, "I'm not sure I understand the question."

Miss Helen never chided me for spiritual cravenness. Her dancing eyes would search mine for a moment (I found out later she was praying). With her mantle of storyteller wrapped around her thin shoulders, the white-haired breath of God would began to blow into my spiritual lungs like heavenly CPR.

The story: "Well, Rose, you know I look to the Lord as my Husband, so not long ago all the residents here began to get stirred up as a rumor swept through the place about a fifty-dollar increase in rent. Now many of the folks here are rich. Every day they are checking the stock market reports and listening to the news, always worrying about things they can not control about the economy, always afraid of losing what they have. There is no peace in them."

Miss Helen shrugged her shoulders: "Me? I don't have to worry, no matter what happens in the world. I've had to trust the Lord to supply my needs ever since I quit my job at the Conservatory of Music [now Birmingham-Southern University] and started teaching at Southeastern College. I never made enough money to pay my rent, much less food or anything else. "

I have to admit wondering, "How can one live like that, for all these years?! And now that Miss Helen is old, what job could she get, a greeter at Wal-Mart?" My mouth became dry as the desert sand beneath the feet of the prophet Elijah.

My eyes focused again on Miss Helen. "Rose, some of the wealthier women who know I don't have any money came and asked, 'Helen, just what are you going to do to pay this increase?! We know you don't have any money!"' Miss Helen said conspiratorially, "Old women will ask anything!"

My eyes widened as I asked, "What did you say to them?"

The old firewalker's response was riveting, "I just closed my eyes and said, 'The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.' Then I went to my room, knelt beside my bed and prayed, 'Lord, they are raising our rent. I trust You as my Husband to take care of me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.' "

If this story were just a fiction of my mind, I couldn't write a more surprising ending. The day the retirement facility placed the increase notice in the residents' mailboxes, Miss Helen received the notice and a letter that read: "Dear Miss Helen, My husband and I have been praying for some time now as to how God wanted us to spend money we had been giving his parents every month. We felt like we were to send it to you. So, every month we will be sending you seventy-five dollars. We hope this helps. We love you.' "

Miss Helen was standing now as she finished this marvelous story. "In one hand I held up the notice of the fifty dollar increase in rent, and in the other I held up the check for seventy-five. I said aloud, 'Fifty dollars and twenty-five besides. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!' "

As I sat in my swivel, '70's green chair, Miss Helen grinned at me in her inimitable way and said something that became the normal closing of hundreds of such stories she would tell me in the years to come:

"Rose, can you beat that!"
"No, ma'am, Miss Helen; no, ma'am, I can't."

In my mind those words ring as familiar as the old George Burns and Gracie Allen ending of their show:

"Say goodnight, Gracie."
"Goodnight, Gracie."

Goodnight, Helen, My Beloved.
Goodnight, God.

Friends of this round Table, I hope you have a Miss Helen day.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Who Wants to Quit?

Welcome to the Table, Friends and Strangers. You'll have to serve yourself this morning; I'm too tired to get up from this chair.

Ever want to quit?

Maybe it's a rhetorical question.
Maybe I had one too many glasses of iced tea last night.
Maybe I haven't had time to myself to recharge.
Maybe I can't make everyone happy.
Maybe this is my real life, not a dream or a movie.

Maybe I need Jesus.

Matthew 11: 28-30--"[Jesus said] 'Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.'"

I see four action verbs in those sentences: come, take, learn, find.

If I don't come to Jesus, none of the others will happen. As I read these verses, I realize I try to take and learn and find without ever coming.

I think I'll try coming before quitting.

Would you like some more iced tea? I think I can get up to serve you now.