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Last week, we paid a visit to the Friendship Oak. This impressive tree can be found on the Gulf Coast Campus of the University of Southern Mississippi along highway 90 in Long Beach.
For more than 500 years, this Live Oak has withstood the elements, including many hurricanes with their fierce driving winds blowing salt water from the Gulf of Mexico just across the street.
Some of the limbs reach upward toward the sky while others simply look tired and weighed down touching the ground.
I can imagine people lounging under the tree, spreading out a blanket and taking a rest while looking up through the limbs and leaves to the sky.
Brides and grooms have chosen to have their wedding below these branches because of its beautiful setting and to symbolize how their relationship started and grew.
A platform was once built in among its branches as an outdoor classroom. It is difficult to understand how students could have kept their minds on their studies in this majestic place. The platform was washed away by one of the hurricanes and hasn’t been replaced.
When the tree suffers from disease or a twisted branch, arborists tend to its needs by trimming off the branches and applying ‘tree medicine’ to its wounds.
Only God knows how long this massive tree will stand.
On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the tree.
It began as an ordinary acorn the same size as others. Maybe it was planted by a squirrel for safe keeping. With time it sprouted, the trunk grew bigger, the roots deeper and branches reached out for more light.
Makes me compare the tree to my life.

Friendship Oak

Soup and Friends

There is nothing like homemade soup to bring comfort and warmth on a cold damp day. We all have our favorites. Mine are Santa Fe Soup and Potato. Wayne likes my Chicken Noodle best.
Every December, I set aside a day for lunch with friends.
I call two or three and tell them the date and they pick up from there by calling others. Often, there will be a soon-to-be-friend that I don’t know yet who comes. I love it that my already friends know that it is completely OK with me.
We have a good time “catching up.” It is always a surprise who comes. There have been as many as 23 and as little as 8.
Our schedule is very flexible. Friends come and go as they can with the first arriving at 11 a.m. and the last leaving about 3 p.m.
They insist that we keep the same menu, two kinds of soup, Potato and Santa Fe. They bring everything else.
Most of us don’t see each other at any other time during the year now. At some time in our lives, we saw each other often. Shelia and I saw each other daily when the kids were small. Carol and I saw one another sometimes twice a week when we were on the Women’s Aglow board in Mobile. Cheryl lives across the street. We wave in passing as we scurry to work or church, pick up each other’s mail, and keep a watch on our houses, but we seldom get to visit.
Friends really don’t care whether my house is spotless or not, they just like being together at my house.
I suggest you try some version of this with your friends, neighbors, or co-workers. It is one of my favorite times with friends.

Several have asked for ‘my’ recipe for Santa Fe soup, so it is now in the Recipe section of the blog.

The Object, Fish

I was thinking about my Dad the other day. He was born on September 15, 1927 and died on May, 23, 1998. On his tombstone, instead of a dash between the dates, there is a small fish. That little fish was put there because between those dates, he did a lot of fishing.
One place he liked to fish was Doctor’s Lake. A lake filled with bream, white perch and crappie. It was no easy task to get there, but to him the rewards were worth the effort.
He would get up around four, drink a cup or two of coffee from his favorite brown Melamine cup, its inside stained from many years of holding strong hot black coffee. When he finished, he simply rinsed it and set it on the counter. After all, he would be drinking from it when he got home. Nobody ever thought about drinking from that cup.
Sometimes he would reach in the refrigerator and remove a brown paper bag full of Catalpa worms he had gathered the day before.
The rest of his gear was already in his wooden 14’ Stauter built fishing boat along with canned cokes, Vienna sausage and crackers.
There was always a friend, or brother, or a son-in-law, or a grandchild with him.
They drove the 50 miles up Highway 43 to Bates Lake Marina, launched the boat and took off up the river as fast as that little 25 HP Evinrude motor could go.
They would then cut their speed and take a little stream into a dense area.
Daddy would have his eyes focused as they crept along.
When he spotted the little aluminum boat he had hid in the thick growth, he stopped and they loaded everything they brought into it.
He and his fishing buddy would then pick up the small loaded boat and carry it for a few yards until they came to another body of water, Doctor’s Lake.
They put the boat in and sculled around the lake. They fished the day away.
A friend once said the name of this momentous event was fishing. Nothing about the name mentioned catching.
However, when Daddy went fishing on Doctor’s Lake he never returned home empty handed.
As the day was ending, they would travel in reverse order until they reached home where they cleaned every fish and fried them in a cast iron pot filled with grease set on a homemade cooker.
The reward for a good day of fun.
Thinking about this, I looked at it through the eyes of some of our spiritual journeys. We take off fast on this journey with a load of stuff thinking we know exactly what we should do as Christians. Sometimes, after a time of Bible study, prayer, and listening we find ourselves on a path we thought we would not take and with only the gear necessary, “trust in God.”
The reward of the Christian journey, having fun with God.

Yolanda

Yolanda

A few weeks ago, Wayne and I found ourselves in a rare situation, having a little free time. We decided to veer off the main path on our way home from Tuscaloosa. 

Along the way, we stopped to look at some old wagons and take a few photos.

As we were about to move on, a young woman stopped to ask if we knew where there was a gas station because she needed gas and had no idea where she was.

With only a little knowledge of the area ourselves, we made a plan. We would follow her until we found gas. If she ran out, we would take her to get gas and bring her back to the car.

It took a while but we found gas at an unlikely place. She filled her car and we stood beside her, protecting her from fear.

She said she had seen others, but was afraid to stop because she was concerned for her and the baby’s safety.

Her name was Yolanda. Her husband was working out of town and she and their baby went to visit him.

Her GPS had taken her on a different route as she returned home. That was why she was almost out of gas with no knowledge of where she was.

She thanked us and we were on our separate ways.

The main purpose of our side trip, we thought, was for relaxation and the pleasure of seeing some old wagons.

Instead, it was to be a help and comfort to Yolanda and her baby.

When God sends an angel to help, I am always grateful and excited that He loved me enough to rescue me.

When God allows us to be the angel to someone else, I am humbled.

I Peter 5:6 (NAS) Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.

Blooming

As I post this, we are in the middle of the heat of a southern summer. Those leaves outside are not changing because it is Fall, but because of the heat, brisk showers, and more heat followed by the steam-like vapors that have permeated the existence we have been living for weeks. With daily temperatures in the high 90s, a 92 is celebrated as a cold spell.

Some say it is the heat that has us sluggish, while others say it is the humidity. I say it is the heat and humidity mixed together.

Looking out my window, I see the Ginger Lilies. They are parched and some are lying on the ground. Yet they are blooming. Their clusters of white blooms turn upward releasing their gardenia-like fragrance.

If this is true of this plant, how much more of us?

When we are parched, in need of nourishment, looking half dead, we can still bloom, and give off a sweet smelling fragrance … while our faces and hearts are turned upward.