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Woodshed Wisdom, by Freeman Martin


I enjoy seeing all those grainy, old black and white pictures that people post in the social media. I’m sure you’ve seen ‘em if you spend any time at all in front of your monitor or on your pods and pads. And even as I see these words pop up on my screen, I’m in the ‘throwback’ mode. If Mother and Daddy could read these words right now, they’d probably think their number 4 child had fallen out of the barn loft and landed on his head. Seriously, folks – just thinking the words ‘pods and pads and posts and social media makes this ol DRCB (Dirt Road Country Boy) wonder if he can get back up on the main road anytime soon.

Most of the TBT pictures I’ve seen involve babies, cars, or weddings. Can anybody out there splani-fy that for me? Coming up on our 50th anniversary, my MHB (Mill Hill Bride) has organized a search party to find our wedding album. You know that book of about a dozen or so black and white eight-by-tens that were never suitable for framing? That’s why they put ‘em in a notebook and pack ‘em away in the attic or garage. Can I just chase one rabbit down a side road, please? Growing up back home at Route 4, Seneca, SC, we never even heard the words attic or garage. Except for when Daddy’s pulpwood truck broke down. Then he’d have to call Uncle Tack or one of the other neighbors to take him to a garage or a junk yard to find a replacement part for the one that broke. And that kind of garage wasn’t connected to the ol’ farmhouse in any shape or form.

And speaking of vehicles, I see a lot of cars featured on TBT. Sure do wish I had a grainy black-and-white Kodak Brownie snapshot of my ’47 Chevy Fleetline. Or better still, if I still had it, and kept it running, it would sell for enough to buy lots of taters and maters for me and my MHB for a long time. Or how ‘bout that ’57 Ford Fairlane 500, 2-door hardtop? What a beauty! Baby blue and white, no posts when you rolled the windows down…yes, I said, rolled the windows down. And that AM radio tuned in to Randy’s Record Mart in Gallatin, Tennessee, or to WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Kids today have words for things like that. I think they’d probably call my ’57 Ford a chick magnet. I know from personal experience. After I quit running and let my MHB catch me, we traded that beauty (the car) for a ’57 VW. I think I just felt a memory overflow my eyes and run down my face.

Not to say that I don’t like TBT. I think it’s good. Sometimes those grainy black and whites throw us up on the Pulpwood Truck Time Travel Machine (PTTTM) and haul us back to something we had forgotten. Something we once had that brought us joy, laughter, and fun. And then we moved on down this road we call life with all of its curves, uphills, downhills, potholes, detours, and construction. Tempus Fugit – that’s the only two words I remember from Miss Judith Beatty’s Latin I class back at SHS. Time marches on and waits for no man.

We get caught up with ‘keeping it between the ditches’ on this road called life, while the memories of what we once had are crowded away, pushed into a faraway corner of our cerebellums by jobs, children, grandchildren, parents, death, debt, divorce, disease, high gas prices, taxes, etc., etc., etc. But if we focus on nothing but the short-term memory, we stand a chance to let these head-aches, heart-aches, and belly-aches we run into on this road called life run us off the road and into the ditch. And when we’re stuck in the ditch, it’s so easy to forget just how good God has been to us.

I remember a story we heard many times in VBS (Vacation Bible School) about a little boy who grew up on a sheep farm way back yonder many years ago. He made himself a sling-shot and got to be pretty good with it. As one big ol’ bully found out. This little guy had a bunch of brothers, too. His daddy had eight boys and he was the youngest. Probably picked on like crazy! I love those VBS stories. Side road, please. Get those boys and girls in VBS. They’ll never forget the stories they learn. Not to mention the cookies and Kool-aid!

Anyway, this little boy grew up watchin’ his daddy’s sheep. After all, he was the baby of the bunch. And his big brothers always had lots of other more important things to do, of course. I’ll bet they had some knock-down, drag-out fights amongst themselves while they were growin’ up. But Somebody had their eye on the little guy – the runt of the bunch of Jesse’s boys. He even fought and killed a lion and a bear. And, you know what? It made him strong. Sorta like basic training for the fight of his life. He even became a pretty good singer. And a musician, too. And man-oh-man, could he play that harp! Another side road – he also became a pretty good writer. And a king, too. I’m sure you’ve heard of a book he wrote. The title of it is PSALM.

And one day while he was using his head for something besides a hat rack, David sat down and remembered where and what he had come from. I don’t know if it was a Thursday or not. If it was, it might be the first TBT in recorded history. He made a list to jog the memory of his fellow Israelites and to remind them just how good God had been to them.


A Psalm of David.

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Do you see yourself and your loved ones in some of those verses that David wrote? Me and my MHB are in just about every word on that page. Didn’t I tell you he was a pretty decent writer? And now can you remember just how good God has been to all of us as we look back down the road called life? So here’s a thought. Put five dollars with it and get you one of those expensive lattes or frappes or whatever they call ‘em.

Please, Lord, that’s a side road for another day. I don’t have time to go there now. But maybe, just maybe, on some future TBT, we can all remember that He’s had our back every step of the way, through every detour and pothole, even while we were fightin’ the ‘lions and bears,’ like He did with little David. And rememberin’ how He had His arm around us back then will help us get up out of today’s ditches and move on down the road called life.

In fact, here’s my TBT for today – words penned by Johnson Oatman, Jr. over a hundred years ago. I think I’ll just load all four stanzas into my VBS musical ‘water bucket’ and splash around in it all day.

1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

 (Chorus) Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done; Count your blessings, name them one by one,  And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

 2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by.

 3. When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold. Count your many blessings, money cannot buy Your reward in heaven, nor your Lord on high.

4. So amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

 Note to self – make every day of the week Throw Back Time. 




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