Archive for November, 2012

PARDON ME

Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

My MHB (mill hill bride) was watching a news story on tv the other night while she was whipping up some sweet potato soufflé and cornbread dressing and chocolate éclair for our Thanksgiving Day feast. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about my pone of sweet cornbread being ground into smithereens for dressing. Anyway, the story on tv was about the White House turkey. Now, hold on just a cotton-pickin’ minute. I know what you’re already thinking. Just back the pulpwood truck up and put it in neutral. This is not about politics. It’s about the turkey on the Thanksgiving table.

The reporter on the news said that it was one of three turkeys that were sent to the White House for approval. One was unlucky. He was chosen to give his life for the cause. The other two were given a pardon and sent to live out the rest of their days in some comfy chicken coop somewhere in Virginia.

Hearing the story of these three turkeys flipped the country boy toggle switch in my mind and, before you could say ‘Gobble, Gobble,’ I was back home at Route 4. On the Martin farm, and please don’t let me hear you humming E, I, E, I, O – heard that all my life – we had six turkeys (boys) and three turkey-ettes (girls). And most days, Thanksgiving or not, one or more of us had ‘our head on the chopping block’ at the woodshed because of some misdeed, usually well-deserved, I might add. And you could just erase the word pardon from the hard drive when you got to the woodshed, if you catch my drift.

Now, see what you’ve done. I’m already chasing rabbits down a side road. Where was I? Oh, yeah, back to the Thanksgiving table. I’ve hit the search button on my ol’ dirt road data bank several times for Thanksgiving Dinner and I just keep getting the message, ‘no entries found.’ I cannot remember any Saturday in the Novembers of my childhood when Mother and Daddy came home from the A & P with a big ol’ Butterball turkey for dinner on Thursday. And that’s the noon meal. Nighttime meal is supper. The name of the picture in my office is “Last Supper,” not Last Dinner. Call me crazy, but if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

We did, however, occasionally have an ol’ rooster fried up for Sunday dinner. Especially if we were having company, like Rev. Dickson and the visiting preacher during revivals, or if we were having dinner on the grounds at Return Baptist Church. And catching that rooster on Saturday night was always a two-man adventure. He’d be hidin’ in a tree which meant that Ollie and me, or Wade and me would have to climb that tree together. One of us would blind him with Daddy’s flashlight while the other one grabbed our Sunday dinner and headed for the chopping block.

I remember one Saturday evening in particular when that rooster got away and we wound up in the woodshed, which meant we ate Sunday dinner standing up. Without Mother’s buttermilk-and-flour crusted, skillet-fried chicken. Get this picture. I was holding the aforementioned flashlight, shining it right in that ol’ buzzard’s eyes. He didn’t flinch a feather till Ollie grabbed him. Then you’d have thought that World War Three had broken out. That rascal started squawking like a bunch of hens when a fox sneaks into the chicken house.

Ollie got scared, threw him toward me, jumped out of the tree, and ran toward the house. I tried to hold the rooster and the flashlight, but after several cuts from his spurs, I dropped him and the flashlight. Long story short, I climbed down out of the tree, fell to my bleeding hands and knees trying to round up all the pieces of Daddy’s favorite flashlight. Out of nowhere it seemed like that pair of number twelve work boots just magically appeared right in front of my eyes. I don’t think I have to tell you who the only person was on our farm who wore number twelve work boots. Or whose goose got cooked that day. And that’s how I learned that fried chicken can be dangerous to your health.

But my MHB and me and the young’uns had a Thanksgiving feast that was fit for a king. It almost reminded me of family reunions of old at Uncle Tack and Aunt Lallie Vee’s house. After I had deep-fried a bird, our daughter Kim cooked for three solid hours. And when she was through, we had a gob of mouth-waterin’ stuff that I had never seen or heard about around Route 4. There was squash casserole, Georgia cornbread, onion casserole, cornbread salad, and green beans, too, to go with MHB’s dressing and gravy and sweet taters and cranberry sauce.

Then Jeff and Sarah-Parker and some special friends showed up with more good stuff like punkin’ and sweet tater pies, and more dressing, and more corn, and more this, and more that. My mind was in a caloric fog. I was so glad to see the teenagers-in-love, Casey and Hope, show up to help us be thankful for this bounty. Thank the Lord nobody showed up with okra. Raised them kids right. No okra in this house. I’m thankful for that. And you know what else I’m thankful for? We had something that tasted sweeter than all the tater pies and cakes and casseroles in the whole world. It’s called FAMILY! Thank you, Jesus, for family.

As wonderful as it was with all that around our house this Thanksgiving Day, it can’t hold a candle to the bountiful feast that’s being prepared for the family of God. And it’s all possible because God chose to pardon me and you by sending His only Begotten Son to die for us on an old rugged cross. Jesus chose to give His life for the cause that day on Calvary. And He endured all that punishment, shame and pain as a free pardon for all our mess ups, goof ups, and various and sundry other sins and shortcomings.

Jesus is still standing there at the door of our heart with our ticket in His hand. Today, while you have time, call on him while He’s near (Isaiah 55:6-7). His gift of salvation comes with a free ticket to that great banquet table in Heaven where there’s a feast every day. So pardon me if I feel like the writer of Psalm 95:1-2. Come on, folks, it’s time to sing and shout and come before Him with thanksgiving. All you have to do is open the door and invite Him to come in to stay.

And, believe you me, that’s a lot easier than climbing a tree to catch a rooster.

******
Editor’s note: Freeman Martin’s first book, Woodshed Wisdom, Vol.1, is now available. For an autographed copy, send $15.00, plus $3.00 shipping and handling to: Freeman Martin, 310 Andrew Pickens Dr, Seneca, SC 29678.

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A THANKSGIVING DAY THANK YOU NOTE

Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

Editor’s note: Freeman Martin’s first book, Woodshed Wisdom, Vol.1, is now available. For an autographed copy, send $15.00, plus $3.00 shipping and handling to: Freeman Martin, 310 Andrew Pickens Dr, Seneca, SC 29678.

Dear Grandma,

In my lifetime, I’ve been negligent in writing thank you notes to people who have blessed me with special gifts. But, as you used to say, this one ‘takes the cake.’ As you no doubt know by now, God has seen fit to orchestrate the release of my first book during this Thanksgiving season. And, since you gave your life on earth to the teaching profession, I must beg you to please excuse my English, but ain’t it wonderful how He works His plan in our lives to bring Him honor and glory.

But before I start chasing rabbits, back to my confession. This thank you note is about sixty years overdue. Boy howdy, my MHB’s (mill hill bride) blood pressure would be off the chart if I did that today! By the way, Grandma, one of my most treasured possessions is a picture of you wearing white gloves at the wedding of this country boy and his mill hill girl back there in ‘64.

Speaking of pictures, there are two of you in Woodshed Wisdom, Vol. 1. In one of them, you’re young and beautiful at age 21. In the other, which I also treasure, you’re even more graceful and beautiful at age 84. I believe the writer of Proverbs might have had you in mind when he wrote about the splendor of gray hair (Prov. 20:29). So, even though I never thanked you as a cotton-haired country boy, this rapidly balding ol’ man sends this heart-felt thank you note.

The memory of you in your rocking chair and me, sittin’ up straight, I might add, in a high back wooden chair on the front porch of your little House on the Hill, is as fresh today as the maters and taters we grew and ate back there on the farm at Route 4. And even though I would much rather have been scarin’ some squirrels and rabbits and birds with my slingshot, I knew better than to argue when you said, ‘Go in the house and get The Good Book.’

Grandma, I know in my heart that had it not been for your insistence that I read to you from The Good Book, there quite possibly might not be a book today with my name on it. You always said you wanted me to read to you from your favorite Book because of your failing eyesight. But, oh, how I realize now that you knew and believed the truth that God’s Word would be a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105) to help me see the road ahead long after I no longer walked down that dirt road at Route 4.

Because of your vision, I know that the Bible is the greatest book ever written. I’ve also come to realize that you not only loved His Book, but you lived His Book. And that brought Thanks-living to every day of your life, holiday or not. Even though you were a pauper in the eyes of the world, you were rich in God’s eyes beyond human imagination. And to think that you chose a life of pouring that wealth all over a bunch of unruly farm boys and girls, just humbles my heart and soul today.

In fact, I woke up in the pre-dawn hours of this Thanksgiving morning with a song in my heart. I can’t carry a tune in a water bucket, but one of the memory verses you made me memorize was Psalm 98:1, ‘Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done great and marvelous things.’ You also taught us that the devil likes to make us think about what we don’t have, and there was a lot that we didn’t have back there at Route 4. But what we did have was a grandmother who loved the Lord and lived that ‘attitude of gratitude’ way of life, thankful for the air we breathed, the water we drank, and, even those maters and taters we ate.

Your thanks-living way of life became your witness, always telling others how good God had been to you throughout your life. Grandma, that’s a lesson that’s taken me many, many years to learn, but one that I promise to remember in whatever books God allows me to write. Like you always taught us, ‘Whatever you love, you’ll tell others about.’ Yes, even cornbread and milk, but especially the Lord who provides it!

So, as I close this long overdue thank you note on this Thanksgiving Day, so many decades removed from your front porch, I’m so thankful that I can still see you leaning back in your rocking chair with your eyes closed and a mega-watt smile lighting up the place as I read to you one of your favorite passages from the Greatest Book ever written:
Psalm 100
King James Version (KJV)
1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Thank you, Lord, for my Grandma.
Emily Henrietta Compton Martin
1884 – 1970

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