Archive for July, 2010


Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

All the fun, food, and fireworks of the Fourth are now in our rear view mirror. However, certain events surrounding Memorial Day still occupy space in my frontal lobe. That fact, in itself, is quite remarkable, given the passage of a few weeks since that holiday.

Memory is a wonderful blessing. One that we should never take for granted. It can quickly vanish. Like yesterday, while focused on the battery strength of my two cell phones, I asked my bride what she did with the house phone. To which she sweetly replied, “I think that’s what you’re holding in your other hand.”

That was the second time something like that happened recently. The first time, I spent about thirty minutes looking for my glasses. Could not remember for the life of me where I laid them. Just happened to find them when I passed the bathroom mirror. There they were, right there on top of my head!

In fact, memory is what Memorial Day is all about. A time set aside to honor and remember our veterans and their sacrifice as they served and fought to protect our way of life. You know, all gave some – some gave all. Proud to be an American, the country where, even with all its faults, people from other countries are always trying to get in.

But back to the main road. A couple or three things happened this most recent Memorial Day weekend that sent me tripping down memory lane. First, I received a letter from our insurance company’s audit firm. Seems they needed some information. Don’t they always need more information!

Anyway, reading further, I learned that they wanted me to remit immediately certain information certifying that the spouse I had listed for coverage on my policy was indeed a true and legal dependent. And that I was not trying to fraudulently pull the wool over their eyes by claiming a spouse that was not my own!

That almost put a permanent grin on my face. But we won’t go down that side road right now. Very simple, said they, just send us two qualifying documents. And oh, by the way, one of those documents must be a copy of your marriage license. Now, I’m not amused. I’m worried! Here I am, the guy who couldn’t find his glasses on top of his head. And these people want me to find our marriage license? Surely, this must be a joke!

But, since the words Second Request were stamped all over the envelope, the only plan I could come up with was to head for the county courthouse. Praying that they would be open on a holiday weekend. And that prayer was answered!

After listening to my sad story, the sweet lady in the Probate Office said, “Just fill out this form and pay five dollars.” If she hadn’t been in a glass enclosed booth, I would have hugged her neck!

It wasn’t long before she returned with a ‘CERTIFIED TRUE COPY” of our duly signed and notarized marriage license.

Maybe it was because it was Memorial Day weekend or something, but as I sat and waited for the dust storm to settle as the lady searched her files, my memory flew like a jet airplane down all the dirt roads and interstate highways since that August day almost 46 years ago when one country boy and one mill-hill girl made it official. And now I had the document to prove it to the folks at the insurance company!

That same day, my bride and I attended the high school graduation of our first-born grandson. Now get this, ‘cause my memory’s working overtime, Kirby’s graduation was 49 years to the day and hour that the afore-mentioned mill hill girl and country boy had, themselves, received their high school diplomas!

This Remembering Weekend continued at church on Sunday as Don Gibson, our Minister of Music, sang one of my favorite songs, When He Reached Down His Hand. Before Don had finished the first verse, I was remembering that Sunday night service 56 years ago when Jesus reached out His hand and led a ten-year-old country boy down the aisle at Utica Baptist Church as the congregation sang Just As I Am, without one plea, But that Thy Blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

And then two weeks later, they removed the floor of the choir loft for Rev. Harvey Walker to baptize us. Some things you just don’t forget.

Then Don’s song on Remembering Day Weekend was followed by Pastor David Gallamore’s inspiring sermon from the 4th chapter of Joshua about the 12-rock memorial the Israelites set up for future generations to remember where God led them across the river.

You wanna know what I remember about that? God is the God of the rocky roads as well as the smooth highways! He didn’t promise that there wouldn’t be any rocky roads in our travels. He just promised that he’d be there with us. Just like He told Joshua (Josh. 1:5), He’ll never leave us or forsake us.

That’s why it’s always good to remember the Savior who suffered and died for you and me. And to appreciate that even more every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper in His memory and honor.

And, oh yeah, this Sunday we’ll have the blessing of seeing our nine-year-old grand-daughter Sarah-Parker Martin baptized, as she has recently asked this same Savior we serve to come and live in her heart.

I think she’ll probably remember that at least until she’s as old as her Papa!



Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

I noted with more than just a little interest the results of the Fourth of July Hot Dog Eatin’ Contest on Coney Island. I enjoy an occasional ‘tube’ steak myself, especially if the chili is done right. And, of course, down South, our hot dogs have ‘accessories’ like ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, and maybe topped off with some sweet pickle relish.

In my younger days, before the ol’ digestive system slowed down, I’ve even been known to turn a good hot dog into a slaw dog with a heapin’ helpin’ of good sweet slaw. I’d better stop right here ‘cause I’m already droolin’ on my keyboard. And it’s not time yet for my daily dose of fiber-loaded, spoon-size, mini-wheats.

Back to the main road. Before ESPN came along to televise this important national sporting event to the rest of the world, it always amazed me that the winner up there in New York was some skinny little guy that probably wouldn’t push the scales past 140 pounds if he was soakin’ wet.

As Daddy used to say back home on the farm, the little guy would have to put rocks in his pockets on a windy day to keep from being blown away. I always wondered how in the world could those little guys pack 60, 70, sometimes 80 hot dogs into their stomachs in such a short time. Personally, my limit is two. Sometimes three if I haven’t had my daily allotment of the afore-mentioned fiber.

It was enough to stagger my cornbread-eatin’ imagination to think that some little guy who was so skinny he’d have to walk twice to make a shadow, could pack away that many hot dogs. Why, even this year’s winner said he was disappointed that he could only stuff down 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Only 54!!!

But thanks to ESPN, I now realize that a hot dog on Coney Island is not the same as a hot dog at Route 4, Seneca, South Carolina. I was shocked to see the visual evidence. Up there, their hot dogs are nothing more than a weenie-in-a-bun. And, to top it all off, in the contest, they’re allowed to dip the bun in a glass of water before they start chewin’.

Well, any farm boy worth his cathead biscuit knows what happens when you put bread in water. So actually, what you have is a bunch of guys about the size of a weenie, stuffin’ their faces with watered-down bread and chewin’ on weenies.

If they really wanted to be called a Hot Dog Eatin’ Champion, let ‘em chow down on some foot-long  delicacies load with good chili and topped with all the trimmings that we love. Without soakin’ their buns in water.

This is just me talkin’ now, but I think they ought to change the name of their contest. With truth in advertising and all that, the FDA or some other alphabet government agency should make those Coney Island folks call their little deal a weenie-eatin’ contest.

Still, all things considered, I can imagine a volcanic gastric eruption just from wolfin’ down four or five dozen weenies in ten minutes. You have to give those guys a little credit. If you don’t think so, the next time you’re in the grocery store, swing by the meat counter and pick up a pack of weenies. By the way, I’ve never understood why weenies come in packs of ten and buns come in packs of twelve. But just wrap your hands around five or six packs of weenies and see yourself swallowin’ every one of ‘em before you get to the checkout counter.

I could never win that contest on Coney Island anyway. For one simple reason. Before I finished the very first one, I would be able to hear Mother’s words of caution ringin’ in my ears – “Slow down, son, are you goin’ to a fire? Where are your manners? How many times have I told you to chew every bite 20 times before you swallow?”

But the story of this year’s contest on Coney Island had an interesting sidelight. It seems that a former champion wanted to be in the contest so badly that he crashed the party. By all accounts, he is said to have run up on stage as the crowd chanted, “Let him eat, let him eat!”

He just couldn’t stand to be on the outside lookin’ in once he had ‘tasted’ glory. But he didn’t have the proper credentials. He had not taken the necessary steps to have his name entered in the contest. Nobody’s fault but his own. He had the invitation. He could have been in the party with everybody else. If he had only signed up before the entry deadline. But he didn’t, so he was unceremoniously thrown into the meat wagon, pardon the pun, and hauled off to jail by New York’s finest.

Which brings me to this point. We’ve all been invited to a great feast. In fact, every single person in the world is invited. The Great Banquet Table is being prepared as we speak. The invitation reads, “Whosoever will may come!” In fact the One who has issued the invitation is so very patient because it’s not His will that any should perish (Matthew 18:14).

But be very sure of this – the day will come when it will be too late to enter. If our name isn’t on the list when the Lamb’s Book of Life is closed, we’ll be on the outside lookin’ in – wishin’ we could have been there, too (2 Peter 3: 9-10), as we’re hauled away to a ‘jail’ of eternal fire from which there will be no one to go our bail. How about you? Have you responded to the Invitation? Is your name on the list and in the Book?

If so, you’ll know what He means when He says, ‘HOT DOG!! WE HAVE A WINNER!”