Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Thanksgiving. The giving of thanks. I wonder how many times today folks will sit down to partake of a feast and ‘dive right in’ without giving thanks to the Giver of all good and wonderful gifts. And might I suggest, it doesn’t matter if it’s a baloney sandwich at the kitchen table, or a family reunion with ‘forty-leven’ different casseroles and a turkey the size of New Hampshire.

Back home on the farm at Route 4, there was never a question of whether we would eat in the kitchen or in the dining room. One and the same. Unless we had been sent to the back porch to finish our dinner because we reached for a drumstick before Daddy said ‘Amen.”

I always wondered how Oliver and Wade would already be gnawing on theirs when I opened my eyes. So I decided to watch ‘em one day while Daddy was giving thanks. Ah, ha! I caught ‘em! But then, when I told on ‘em for not bowing their heads and closing their eyes, Daddy looked at me and said, ‘Well, Mr. Detective, how do you know that they didn’t close their eyes?’ Welcome to the woodshed!

You know those red neon “OPEN” signs that you see flashing in the windows of many stores today? Didn’t need one at the shed. ALWAYS open for business, 24/7, 365! And not being grateful would earn you a front row seat. In fact, there wasn’t even a door at the shed. If it had one, it would have been one of those revolving kinds.

But every trip to the shed always came with this prediction – ‘Boy, someday you’re gonna thank me for this!’ Yeah, sure, I thought. I’ll be thankful when I can sit down again with only minimum pain and agony.

And you should have heard some of the things our folks could be thankful for. Dear Lord, we thank you that the cows didn’t get out today and eat up everything in the garden. Dear Lord, we thank you for the rain today, even though we had to move the hogs to higher ground to keep them from drowning. On that one, I always wondered why He didn’t teach ‘em how to swim. I guess He just wanted to teach me that there would be days when I find myself knee-deep in the muck and mire of life.

And there were many other prayers of thanksgiving. Dear Lord, we thank you that the well didn’t go dry during all the hot weather. Dear Lord, we thank you for not sending the boll weevils and the pine beetles to visit our farm this year. Dear Lord, we thank you for plenty of firewood to keep us warm and stove wood to cook our food. And there were many times when the only thing that was cooked in the wood burning stove was a big ol’ pone of cornbread.

And if you ever took leave of your senses and thought about complaining out loud, you got this sermon-at-the-shed. ‘Boy, you just better be glad that you’ve got a roof over your head.’ Now, it had more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, but what was under that rusty tin roof was what I’ve come to be thankful for. And do you find it just a little amazin’ that a lot of folks today, me included, find comfort in the sound of rain on a tin roof?

With that thought in mind, me and my bathroom mirror buddy decided to make a list of things ‘under our roof’ today that we can be thankful for. And if you make a list of the things under your roof that you’re thankful for, I’d be thankful if you took time to share them with me. And I think it’ll put a smile on God’s face when He sees your list. So, ready or not, here I come.

All time number one, today and forevermore – I’m thankful that God loved a little ol’ skinny, dirt-road country boy so much that He sent His own Boy to die on a rugged old cross. And when Jesus and me meet face-to-face, we’ll have gold dust between our toes instead of red dirt.

And while I’m on the subject of love, I’m so thankful that God created and sent to me a woman who loves me almost as much as He does. Even when my feet stink from tromping through life’s muck and mire. The two things that keep me out of the ditch and in the middle of the road are, number one, His love and what I can do to pay Him back. And secondly, her love and what I can do to pay her back.

And I’m thankful that He saw fit to give us two wonderful children and three precious grands to love like there’s no tomorrow.

I’m thankful for being born in the United States of America, ‘one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’  

I’m thankful for grandparents and parents who taught us by example that tough love always outlasts tough times. And even when their backs were against the wall, it meant that their faces were turned toward us. I’m thankful for those other eight brothers and sisters and the threads each one sowed into the fabric of our life.  

I’m thankful for fifty-year friends, yesterday friends, and tomorrow friends.

I’m thankful for a Bible-believin’, Jesus preachin’, blood-washed church, pastor, staff, choir, orchestra, and Sunday School class. And all the others that are cut out of the same piece of cloth.

I’m thankful for being taught that what goes into our stomach is not nearly as important as what comes out of our heart.

But since we’re on that subject, I’m thankful for fried apple pies, homemade ice cream, blackberry cobbler, cathead biscuits, sawmill gravy, corn-on-the-cob, skillet-cooked cornbread, and chocolate cake.

And, Dear Lord, I’m so thankful that I could hug your neck ‘cause I don’t have to eat boiled okra. That makes me so thankful, I’m about to have a spell. I feel like David when he wrote Psalm 100.

It’s only five verses but so very appropriate for today. So all together, let’s read out loud. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know ye that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Thanks-giving lasts for a day; Thanks-living lasts for a lifetime.