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 Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

 

Have you ever heard somebody say, ‘I’d liked to have been a fly on the wall while that was going on.’ Well, I never found myself wantin’ to be a fly, but sometimes I do wish I had a little more techno-sense. I would have had a hidden camera rollin’ and one of them high-falootin’ infra-red remote microphones aimed right at my back porch.

What in the world was going on, you ask, on my back porch? Thank you for asking. It was the First Ever M.H.K.B.F.F.R. Before you call the guys in the white jackets to come get me, let me see if I can ‘splani-fy’ what was happenin’ on my back porch. For lack of brain power, I’ve just assigned those initials – MHKBFFR, Mill Hill Kids Best Female Friends Reunion.

When they make the movie, and they should, the opening script will be “Long ago and in a galaxy far away…,” or maybe it’ll be “Once upon a time, there lived on a mill hill in the South three little girls who became best friends.” Come to think of it, I like that one better. Even though mill hills, in the sense they were known in those days, really are long ago and far away. Can I get an Amen on that?

I know, get off the side road and back up on the back porch. OK, those three cute and cuddly little mill hill girls, Ann, Judy, and Helen, became the best of friends, having the time of their lives doing what mill hill kids did back then, or so I’m told. Character building and mentally challenging activities like ridin’ bikes, climbin’ trees, throwin’ rocks at boys who were ridin’ bikes, and even slippin’ off and hidin’ in a culvert to take a drag off of one of their daddys’ unfiltered cigarettes. Side road, please. Can you just imagine how that would have turned out if they had these modern day e-cigs?

Anyway, what’s remarkable is these three little mill hill girls grew up, left the mill hill, went off and got married. One of ‘em even became my MHB, but that’s beside the point, other than the fact that this MHKBFFR took place on my MHB’s back porch. What is remarkable is that these three grown-up mill hill girls each had a little girl of their own, Linda, Kim, and April. And as this MHKBFFR unfolded on my back porch, you had the three original mill hill girls PLUS their daughters, who are in their own galaxies far and away from the mill hill world. And they’re all together for the first time in about fifty blue moons. So, now do you understand why I’m wishing I had a little more techno-know-how!

Of course, I’ve watched two of the three daughters grow up, Kim in my own house, and Linda just across town. But Miss April arrived at this back porch reunion all the way from Texas by way of Tennessee. And, boy howdy, did they all do some talking. That’s like saying that a duck likes water. Hello! What should I have expected when three sets of mothers and daughters get together for the first time ever in recent memory?

And as April was tracing her roots from Texas back to the mill hill, I heard a comment that sent me day-tripping back down that dirt road toward my roots on the farm. She said, “I was born in April, so they named me April.” Uh, oh, I’m in a full gallop down that dirt road now. And I’m wondering why Daddy and Mother didn’t use that same naming system back there on the farm in the 50’s. With nine kids, we could have covered almost all the months of the year. Even with a couple born in the same month, that could have been easily solved with something like, November #1 and November #2.

But, no, they had to start with their parents (our grandparents) and work their way through aunts and uncles and cousins, naming this farm nine for favorite family members. That’s how I came to have three last names that, even today – three score and ten later, I have to explain how they got out of order….favorite uncle first (Freeman), mother’s maiden name (Brown) second, and family name (Martin) last.. I’ve spent more than one intense session at the woodshed when one or both parents overheard me say, “They shook the family tree and some nuts fell out!”

But I’m proud of all three of my names. And so thankful for family tradition. But it sure caused Mother some headaches when we had stepped on her last nerve and she had to call the roll to get to the one she wanted. And when she landed on it, you knew that if she called you by the three names listed on your birth certificate, you might be headed for the woodshed!

Something landed in my inbox the other day called the Top Ten Girl Baby Names in the U.S and its counterpart, the Top Ten Boy Baby Names in the U.S. Interesting how naming babies has changed in seventy years. Check it out. In the pink corner, you have bouncing baby girls named Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, and Mia in the top six. Those are all very lovely names, but I was left scratchin’ the old bald top wonderin’ if it’s the modern day movie star influence, or maybe we’ve gone way, way, way back in our heritage, like to 1492, and started naming girl babies after the different Queens of Spain who loaned ol’ Columbus some gas money.

Just kiddin’….no hate mail, please. As I said, they’re very sweet names. In fact, #7 in the girl group is my oldest sister’s (and my Grandma Martin’s) name – Emily. Good to see some things don’t change. Rounding out the top ten for the girls were Abigail, Madison, and Elizabeth.

On the blue side, the Top Ten names for boy babies sounds like I’m reciting the books of the Bible that we had to memorize in Vacation Bible School back home at Return Baptist Church. Yes, we actually did something constructive, before we got expelled from VBS for drinkin’ all the kool-aid and eatin’ all the vanilla cream-filled, three-packs-for-a-dollar cookies. Coming in at #1 on the boy baby list was Noah, and rounding out the list was Daniel. In between were Liam, Jacob, Mason, William, Ethan, Michael, Alexander, and Jayden.

Regardless of their names, I hope and pray that these and all other boys and girls grow up to know the One Name that’s above every name that’s ever been or ever will be. A name that someday will cause every person all over this world to take a knee. And someday this Name will be on the tip of everybody’s tongue ‘cause it’ll be a household word and every person in the world will be talking about it. It won’t just be the first name on somebody’s top ten list. It’ll be the ONLY name whereby men, women, boys and girls can go to Heaven.

Philippians 2:9-11

New King James Version (NKJV)

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

At our church we have this humongous pearly white banner with gold letters on it that comes down out of the ceiling. It only has one word on it – JESUS. When it descends from above, even my goose bumps have goose bumps. And the short hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. Right now it serves to remind us that, indeed, when God calls time, the One named Jesus will descend from Heaven to Earth just as He left. We’ll look up when we hear the shout and the trumpet. But if you don’t already know the Name that’s above every other name on earth, it’ll be too late.

You won’t even have time to have goose bumps.

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