April 29, 2009

Psalm 91

This is a post that I did last year, but somehow, it just seems so appropriate for right now.

I find comfort in it, and I hope you will, too.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

April 26, 2009

Bitter Or Better

I've been writing quite a lot about some experiences in my life. Some of them have been funny. Some happy, and some downright tragic.

I think all of us have that in common. Life is not always "just a bowl of cherries" as the old song goes, so we've all had our share of good and bad, and have had the tragedy, too.

Some of us allow what's happened in the past to color every aspect of our lives. Some, more than others, because we are all different in our emotional makeup, and much of it is a result of our particular background, or upbringing.

I went to a therapist once, and he was amazed at the fact that I wasn't mad about anything. "Why aren't you mad?" he kept asking. "You should be mad. You have every right to be mad!"

But I wasn't. I'm not. I don't know why. Maybe, it is just because I am a forgiving person. Maybe, it is because I understand that people, for the most part, do the best they can. It may not always be the best, just the best that they can do. How they live their lives, and how they treat us, is a direct result of their own upbringing. It is a cycle that is sometimes broken, but sometimes it isn't.

Maybe, it is because I understand that we can't change our past. We can't change the fact that people don't always love us, or think well of us. Maybe, it is because, in spite of everything that happened to me in my past, I decided to become better, rather than bitter.

Much of what we feel, on a daily basis, is a direct result of how we react to the way others treat us. I read somewhere that life is ten percent of what happens to us, and ninty per cent, how we react to it. I have to admit, though, that sometimes my "reactor" just doesn't want to cooperate with me...so maybe I am angrier than I realize!

I'd hate to think that this is so.

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

~Ecclesiastes 7:9~

April 21, 2009

Alabama Herbalist

This is a picture of Alabama herbalist, Buford Stitcher. I met Buford (that's what he asked me to call him) several years ago. I had a little store at a local Trade Day, or flea market, and he had his regular place where he set up, there.He traveled around, selling his herbs at various flea markets in the area, and I had met him at one of those, a couple of years before.

He was an interesting person to talk to, very friendly, and the perfect Southern gentleman. I can't recall seeing him dressed any differently than he is in the picture, either.

The following is from an article featured in Alabama Folkways/Center For Traditional Culture, which is a division of the Alabama State Council on the Arts:

When he returned to his family farm in later life, he said he began to have a lot of questions about the old herbal treatments. "I got to thinking about it more and more-- what I grew up with. Who’d done this and who’d done that and how the ailments were healed just by simple, little herbs. It could be bark, roots, leaves, or just weeds. It’s amazing how they work," he said. "I would talk to elderly people about different remedies they had used."

In his quest for more knowledge, he met the late Tommie Bass of Leesburg, Alabama. Bass, by then, had gained national recognition as a traditional herbalist. Stitcher visited Bass frequently in order to learn from him. "I spent eight years with him in the woods and the mountains and he taught me his ways. A lot of them were like mine. A lot of them were different."

Among the medicinal lore that Bass passed on to his student, were his recipes for a skin salve and a liniment, both of which Stitcher makes and provides to customers.

His business, based in Wedowee, is called Little River Botanicals.He advises people to consult a doctor first about a medical problem. "That’s one thing Tommie the old herb man taught me. Said, ‘Don’t you ever diagnose anybody. You let the doctors do that. That’s what they’re for.’ ""We can’t claim this to take the place of modern medicine. I don’t mean to do that," he said, explaining that he goes to doctors for his own medical care. "This is what I like about herbs. Anytime you give the body something to help heal itself, more than likely it will."

Stitcher enjoys educating others about the traditional uses of herbs and is invited all over the state to talk about plants and their medical lore. He brings labeled samples of many of the plants he’s collected and holds each one up for his audience’s inspection, as he discusses its identifying features and medicinal properties. He cautions against using a plant unless one is absolutely certain of its identity. A mistake could be dangerous.

At a recent festival at Landmark Park in Dothan, Stitcher held up a sprig of peppermint and sniffed its distinctive scent. "Anybody that has gas or heartburn, just chew a leaf of this thing and it’s mighty good," he explained. "If you can’t sleep at night, make yourself a cup of peppermint tea and it will calm your nerves."As another sedative, he recommended peach leaves. "If you can’t sleep at night and you’re just hollering at everybody, strip you a handful of leaves and put them in a cup of hot water. Put a saucer on ‘em and let ‘em steep for about ten minutes, and then strain it up and drink it. Then you’ll feel good to everybody. It’ll relax your nerves and settle you down," he said.He recommended drinking a cup of peach leaf tea before bed. "If you’re there 20 minutes and you’re not asleep, get up and make a second cup—but bring your pillow with you. You’re going to sleep."He mentioned catnip as an old-time remedy to soothe fussy babies.

"Growing up in the country, people would come up with a baby just a-screaming and crying. And they would get a leaf and crush it and rub the little baby’s gums and just instantly it would quit crying." It works for adults too, he claimed. "It’ll make us calm and sleep at night. You can boil it and make a tea or rub it on your gums."

"Buford Stitcher’s pharmacy includes hundreds of native plants. And he can recommend one for almost any health concern.For gout he advocates eating collard greens twice a week. Drinking a tea made from Queen Anne’s lace will help you lose weight, he said. Chickweed is another plant that will "take the weight right off of you," claimed Stitcher. "You can eat it green in a salad, or you can boil it and make a tea."According to Stitcher, a tea made from wild blueberry will treat high blood pressure. Smoking rabbit tobacco, also known as "life everlasting," is good for "sinus, head colds, and congestion." Mullein is also useful for treating sinus problems and lung congestion.

"You may wonder why I talk about the same ailment and different herbs," he said. "I have people come to me and they want one herb that does everything. God didn’t make it like that. As a matter of fact he made several herbs for one ailment. Well, why is that? I guess it’s because everybody’s system is different. What works for one may not work for the other one."

I originally posted this December 13, 2007

Tommy Bass, who is mentioned here, is probably the most reknown of all Alabama herbalists. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I met several people who had, and all agreed that he was quite an unique individual.Below is a link to a video featuring Mr. Bass, along with a transcript. If you are at all interested in this subject, you will certainly enjoy this.FolkStreams » Tommie Bass

April 20, 2009

All That Is Required...

Prisoner Tatoo of a Holocaust Survivor

I read something recently about the UK removing The Holocaust from their school curriculum. It proved to be a rumor...a hoax. It was said that it was being done so as not to offend their Muslim population. Even so, there are still those who deny that the holocaust ever happened--Iran being one of the most vocal about it. Radical Muslims are not our friends--they've made that quite clear. Their one passionate goal is to see that all infidels--that being anyone who is not of their faith--are wiped from the face of the earth.

During that horrible time in German history, over six million Jews, and several millions of others, including Russians, those of Polish descent, Christians, and others who were considered inferior, perished. They were massacred, burned, starved, and stripped of all human dignity, all while many were pretending that it wasn't happening.

It did happen, and more and more, in order to be politically correct, we are bending our own convictions, and giving up some of our own rights, so that those of the Muslims, and others are not offended-- and we, as a country, are just going along with it-- in much the same way that Germany went along with what was happening in that country.

Several years ago, I met an elderly man who had survived the holocaust. The tattoo of numbers was still visible on his forearm. Each time I saw that, I felt a little sick...at that, and at the still troubled, fearful expression in his eyes.

Edmund Burke, (1729-1797) an Irish orator, philosopher, and politician said, "All that is required for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing."

I don't want to forget that it ever happened in my friend's country, and I never want what caused that look in his eyes, to happen in mine.

April 18, 2009

Natural Laws Of The Cherokee

These "laws" have been passed down from generation to generation. This is what the Cherokee based their life on. By following these, one would live in harmony and balance with all of Creation.

1. The first thing one should do of the morning is to praise the Creator for your life and all of Creation. Asking Him for guidance through the day and thanking Him for providing another day for you. Recognizing Him as the only one true God.

2. Always keep fresh in your mind that everything has been created by God and deserves respect. Everything God has created has a purpose in life. We should honor these and treat them with kindness and generosity. Always assume that others are in need of something. Offer what you have to give.

3. When you find that you have more than you and your family need, then give the excess to someone who can use it.

4. When you say you are going to do something, or otherwise promise something, you are bound by your words. You cannot break it without permission from the person you have told this to.

5. Practice silence. This shows self-control, true courage, patience, dignity, reverence and internal peace. And by practicing silence you can build these characteristics up through time.

6. Never overindulge or underindulge on anything. Do all things in moderation. And this includes boasting or attracting attention through your behavior. Eating, sleeping, working, learning and so on.

7. Know what helps you and what hurts you. Learn from your experiences and be open to new ones, remembering to live each day in itself, not worrying about tomorrow or living in the past but retaining the knowledge learned. Listen to advice and guidance offered by elders and friends. Listen with your heart and then follow up through prayer to the Creator for His guidance.

8. Always ask permission before doing anything that involves someone else, including all living things. Always give something back in return for things received, including a simple "thank you." Remember that a smile can be shared.

9. Beware of what is inside you and outside of you.

10. Always, always, always show respect. From the youngest to the oldest, from the rocks to the trees, from all animals to all peoples.

11. Never stare at someone and drop your eyes in respect to an elder or teacher.

12. Always give a sign of greeting, even to strangers.

13. Never talk about someone in a harmful or critical way. Remember that what you say it will always come back to you one way or the other.

14. Never touch anything that is not yours without permission from the owner.

15. Respect the privacy of everyone. Never enter into their place or space without permission. Do not disturb anyone's quiet time or prayer time.

16. Never offer advice or ask questions of another without their permission.

17. Never interrupt.

18. When you are in someone's home, follow their customs out of respect.

19. Always treat other things held sacred by someone with respect even though you may not understand why.

20. Treat Mother Earth with respect. Protect Earth as well as all of Creation on her in all ways.

As I read these natural laws of the Cherokee, I was struck with the realization that much of it is exactly what my maternal grandmother, who was Cherokee, taught me. And, of course, my mother, who was taught by her mother.

I can just hear them now--"If you can't say something good about someone, don't say anything at all."

"It is bad manners to stare."

"Always say 'thank you.' "

"Always knock first, and never enter anyone's house unless they ask you to come in."

They always taught me to respect others, and their property, and to be thankful for what I have, and to share with others.

They taught me so much, and so much of it was by example.

They are both gone now, but I thank you, Mama and Big Mama, for teaching me important lessons which have helped me throughout my life. You would be happy to know that I, too, have passed them on to my children.

April 13, 2009

Seasons Of Life

There was an Indian Chief who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that each of them had reported correctly, because they had each seen but one season in the tree's life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season,and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end,when all the seasons are passed.

If you give up when it's winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, the fulfillment of your fall.

Moral: Don't let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest. Don't judge life by one difficult season. Persevere through the difficult seasons and better ones are sure to come.

"To everything there is a season,a time for every purpose under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

*Originally posted August 24, 2007

April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

May this very special season bring you peace, and a renewed hope for the future.

May the peace that passes all understanding fill your heart, reminding you that He cares for you..always.

Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
~A Cherokee Legend~

I don't know a lot about my Cherokee ancestors. I wish that I could have found out more about my grandmother, and her family, but she died when I was quite young. I lived with her until I was nearly nine years old, and I remember that she was a very serene, gracious, woman. I remember that she taught me to know when it was going to rain, by smelling the air, and observing the leaves of a tree.

I remember that she said that I had feet like an Indian, and walked like an Indian--softly, lightly, with one foot in front of the other. She taught me to walk with my head up, shoulders back, back straight. A few years later, I won an award at school for best posture.

She taught me how to make warts go away, and most of all, she taught me kindness. Even at that young age, she told me that I should not say anything about anyone, if I had nothing nice to say--she said that it was better to keep silent.

She told me that we must judge no one until we had walked in their moccasins. She explained what that meant, because she always talked to me, as we walked, or went about doing whatever it was that we were doing. She listened to my questions, and answered them. I wish that she had lived long enough for me to be wise enough to ask her about her family.

I know that I have not always lived up to everything that she taught me, but to this day, I can still observe the signs she taught me concerning the weather. And I still walk like an Indian.

*Originally posted October 04, 2007

April 07, 2009

Sand And Stone

Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point in their journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:

"Today, my best friend slapped me in the face."

They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath.

The one who had been slapped, got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:

"Today, my best friend saved my life."

The friend who had slapped, and then saved his friend, asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you write on a stone, why?"

The friend replied, "When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand, where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone, where no wind can ever erase it."

I think that writing your hurts in the sand, and carving your benefits in stone, might be a hard thing to do sometimes, but it would probably be very good for one's mental and emotional peace of mind to do so.

The thing is, that it's often easier said, than done.

A Story Of Two Pictures (A Re-Post)

The part of history that I read concerning the Apache warrior, Gernonimo, was sad, to me. When I posted that, I, obviously, was unaware of another part of his history depicting the heinousness of his treatment of his captives. I know that he went after his enemies with a vengeance because of what happened to his wife, children, and mother, and I don't know how to evaluate that.

Why do any of us do the things that we do, that go against the values and morals of another? I think in the grand scheme of things that the choices we make in our lives are greatly influenced by past circumstances, whether good or bad. That said, it is still our choice to make.

It could be said that our environment has everything to do with what we become, but if that were completely true, I would hate to think of where, or what, I would be now.

Thinking about all of that reminded me of this poem:

A Story of Two Pictures

Two pictures hung on the dingy wall
Of a grand old Florentine hall-

One of a child of beauty rare,
With a cherub face and golden hair;
The lovely look of whose radiant eyes
Filled the soul with thoughts of Paradise.

The other was a visage vile
Marked with the lines of lust and guile,
A loathsome being, whose features fell
Brought to the soul weird thoughts of hell.

Side by side in their frames of gold,
Dingy and dusty and cracked and old,
This is the solemn tale they told;

A youthful painter found one day,
In the streets of Rome, a child at play,
And, moved by the beauty it bore,
The heavenly look that its features wore,
On a canvas, radiant and grand,
He painted its face with a master hand.

Year after year on his wall it hung;
'Twas ever joyful and always young-
Driving away all thoughts of gloom
While the painter toiled in his dingy room.

Like an angel of light it met his gaze,
Bringing him dreams of his boyhood days,
Filling his soul with a sense of praise.

His raven ringlets grew thin and gray,
His young ambition all passed away;
Yet he looked for years in many a place,
To find a contrast to that sweet face.

Through haunts of vice in the night he stayed
To find some ruin that crime had made.
At last in a prison cell he caught
A glimpse of the hideous fiend he sought.

On a canvas weird and wild but grand,
He painted the face with a master hand.

His task was done;'twas a work sublime-
An angel of joy and a fiend of crime-
A lesson of life from the wrecks of time.

O crime: with ruin thy road is strewn;
The brightest beauty the world has known
Thy power has wasted, till in the mind
No trace of its prescence is left behind.

The loathsome wretch in the dungeon low,
With a face of a fiend and a look of woe,
Ruined by revels of crime and sin,
A pitiful wreck of what might have been,
Hated and shunned, and without a home,
Was the child that played in the streets of Rome.

Origin and Author Unknown

*I posted this, originally, in 2007. It seems that I have come to a stand-still when it comes to writing anything worthwhile, lately. I hope you all can bear with me, until I can get back into the swing of things.

April 05, 2009

Kids Write To God

Dear God,
I went to this wedding and they kissed right inside the church is that ok?

Dear God,
I think the stapler is one of your greatest inventions.
Ruth M

Dear God,
In bible times did they really talk that fancy?

I think about you sometimes even when I'm not praying.

Dear God,
I am Amearican what are you?

Dear God,
Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.

Dear God,
I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.

Dear God,
Please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now.

Dear God,
If you will watch in church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes.
Mickey D.

Dear God,
If we come back as something please don't let me be Jennifer Horton because I hate her.

Dear God,
I would like to live 100 years like the guy in the bible.

Dear God,
If you give me a genie lamp like Alladin I will give you anything you want except my money or my chess set.

Dear God,
We read Thos. Edison made light. But in Sun. School they said you did it. So I bet he stoled your idea.

Dear God,
If you let the dinasor not exstinct we would not have a coutry. You did the right thing.

Dear God,
Please send Dennis Clark to a different camp this year.

Dear God,
Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother.

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:14 KJV

April 02, 2009

The Banana

Today, I read something that stirred the memory of this story which I posted quite awhile ago. Maybe, if you were reading my blog at the time, you will have forgotten it by now, and won't mind reading it again.

I hope it will give you a laugh, or two, and a little respite from the bad news that confronts us on a daily basis...after all Proverbs 17:22 says,"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones."

So, here's my story:

The Banana

Have you ever stolen anything? I have. Well, at least that's what they called it...stealing. It was when I was just a little girl, maybe three or four, and we lived in that house on Canal Street.

Around the corner from the house, which would probably have been Main Street, there was a little grocery store. Hedgepeth's Grocery, or something like that. The people who owned it seemed old to me then--a lot older than Mama, anyway.

I loved that store. Besides shelves of canned goods, and such, they also had display cases filled with lots of pretty things, like little appliqued handkerchiefs, and trays of home-made candy. I went in there, everyday, either because Mama or Big Mama sent me to get something, or just to visit.

One day, while passing by, they had set stuff out in the front of the store, like fresh vegetables, and fruit. I spotted big bunches of bananas, which I just loved, and stood there, picking out the one I wanted. When I had done that, I took off running with my banana. Not running away, but running toward home, all excited at the thought that they were giving away free bananas.

On the way, I met Eugene. Eugene was the love of my life. He lived next door to us. We were going to get married. My mama, and his mama said we could. In fact, Big Mama had a long under-slip that I was going to use for my bridal train. When I tied the straps around my head, in front, the rest of the slip trailed over the back of my head, and down in back, reaching the floor. I was already learning how to make my princess tiara by tying the stems of clovers together, making a circle big enough to fit around my head. They said that we should get married in front of Big Mama's fireplace, but since it was summertime, we would have to wait until it got cold, so we could have a fire in the fireplace, and it would be much prettier that way.

I was so happy to see Eugene, until he said, "Ohhhh, you stole a banana." "No, I didn't," I said. He said, "Yes, you did, and I'm gonna tell your mama, " and ran off in the direction of his house, where my mama was visiting his mama.

Now, I was really scared! I didn't think that I had done anything wrong, but Eugene sure did, and now he was gone to tell Mama. I knew I had to do something, and fast. I went looking for a place to hide, and found it, under Big Mama's bed.

"Janice!" Mama called. I could hear her walking through the house. "Janice Louise, where are you?" I swallowed the last of the banana, and squeezed the empty peel as close to my chest as I could get it.

"Here she is!" The edge of the bedspread lifted. And there was the face of The Traitor, formerly my Future Bridegroom, looking right at me! "Come out from under there...right now!" That was the voice of my mama. I didn't move, or say a word. "Get out from under there, you little heifer!" That was a term of endearment, but not in that tone of voice. I started crying, and then sobbing, as I slid from under the bed.

"Did you steal that banana?" I shook my head. Then what are you doing with that banana peel?" I couldn't speak, I couldn't stop crying. "Well, then, c'mon, you're going with me!

"She grasped my hand firmly in hers, and said, "You're going to go tell Miz Hedgepeth what you did, and you're going to pay her for that banana!" We stopped on the way out, to grab the little hankie, in which was tied my entire life's savings...about five or six pennies.

We went marching up the street, and around the corner to the little store. I was crying so hard, and my face was hot with humiliation. When we got inside, Mama said, "Janice, tell Miz Hedgepeth what you've done." I couldn't speak. Since I couldn't, Mama was glad to. Placing the empty banana peel on the counter, she said, "She stole this banana."

"Why, is that what this is all about? She didn't steal that banana, Sarah. We saw her when she stood there and picked it out. We wanted her to have it." Oh, the love that emanated from my little heart to hers! She knew that I didn't steal it!

Mama still tried to pay for it, but Miz Hedgepeth wouldn't allow it. With that, I took Mama's hand, and we went marching out of the store, right past Eugene the Traitor.

The next time that I went by the store, Miz Hedgepeth called me inside. "Come in here, Janice...I have something for you." And with that, she opened the glass display case, and took out the tray of her home-made potato candy. She took a piece, and placed it my hand. My cup of happiness was running over! Now, I knew for sure that I had been exonerated! That candy must have sold, at least, for two or three pennies! I thanked her, and ran out, popping that whole piece into my mouth, at once, and savoring every moment it took to melt away.

I was just going to say, "Who says crime doesn't pay?" but if I said that. you might think I really did steal that banana!Oh, and Eugene The Traitor, formerly known as my Future Bridegroom? I don't know whatever happened to him.