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What #SmokiesStrong Really Means

smokiess

There will be no pictures of the shelter with this post. Words should be sufficient. Words, dripping with fear. Thankfulness. Faith. Exhaustion. Praise. Love.

I could maneuver the shelter upon my arrival, primarily because the smokers were outside mingling with other shell-shocked Tennessee residents, visitors, volunteers, press, and politicians who are tasked with several press conferences a day. They had already checked in, grabbed a bite, used the facilities and were trying to process the tragedy.

Greeted by a vest-wearing Red-Cross volunteer, I escorted my 82-year-old Father- In- Law to the “residents” section, a roped off area designated for those who would spending one night, or several. Souls who either had no home for the night, feared the worst, or who had received confirmation that their home had been reduced to ash. Ash that had blown from atop of old Smoky through the town of Gatlinburg at a rapid clip of 87 miles per hour.

My Father-in-Law was shaken, couldn’t remember his address. The dogs were still in the house, or so I had been told. His wife’s dogs. His wife whom we buried only a couple months ago. There was no warning, no evacuation notice, just a rap on the door, and an officer who grabbed him by the elbow and placed him in the back of the patrol car.

Flames were at the property line.

Flames were down the driveway.

Flames were on both sides of the main road.

Flames. Flames and wind that sounds like the ravenous demons from hell were walking the earth seeking whatever they could devour.

This video, allows you to listen to the fire. Listen to the wind. Listen to the screams of Mother Nature in what can only be defined as The Firestorm of the Century.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da5LAmb7D0s

I watched this in the wee hours Monday morning, and at 23.34 minutes something came into view that caused me to fall on the floor . . . the image of the City’s Christmas decorations outside my Father-In-Law’s community.

So it was in the late night and early morning hours that I fell to my face with the “Mustard Seed” prayer. “Lord, your word says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can say to the mountain, ‘move’ and it will obey. Well Lord, a mountain of fire is coming. It is here, at the door of my Father-in-Law’s house. God all I can say is help. Move that mountain from us. In the precious name of Jesus The Christ.”

We were not lucky, we were blessed. But this isn’t a post about me, this is a post about how we come together when the world and nature knocks us to our knees. Because sometimes you must lose all in order to find yourself.

We registered at the shelter and I placed my name on the contact sheet for the Humane Society who was still seeking volunteers to go door-to-door searching for pets. My Father-in-Law’s pets were inside, in a crate, ready to go, but the evacuation had made pet-taking impossible. Complicating the Humane Society’s ability to search, looters had hit downtown Gatlinburg and, as a result of that evil act, the National Guard arrived locked, loaded, and serious about protecting homes and business owners. Curfew from 6am-6pm. As an aside, watching Black Hawk helicopters land and witnessing National Guard travel past made us feel scared, protected, and proud to live in a country where the military keeps us safe. So many emotions, so much to process. We are a military family, and God Bless everyone wearing a uniform and badge.

I settled my Father-in-Law in front of the television with a banana and a cup of coffee then set out to find the ladies room but not before taking in the site before me. It wasn’t just the Red Cross at the Rocky Top Sports Center, churches were holed up in a small area distributing toiletries. Rocky Top Staff kept the bathrooms pristine, even changed the welcome mats as I watched. Hot meals, continually. Volunteers almost arguing to help.

“Can I get you a cup of coffee?”

“Would you prefer tea?” another asked.

“I’ll make it,” they responded in unison in a way that begged, please let me help you. Please understand that this simple cup of tea or coffee is so full of love the container is about to overflow.

Portable showers.

Laundry services: “Leave your laundry with me.”

“No me. . . I’ll do it.”

“Let me get this for you.”

“What do you need?”

Love. Love. Love. I have never witnessed so much love.

Upstairs were rooms piled with clothing, shoes, diapers. The only thing missing were trash bags or some type of container with which to transport what you collected. The moment someone asked for a trash bag, a volunteer lit out on foot snappy quick.

Your need, their command.

Books. Puzzles. Word searches. Bags of popcorn (a brilliant donation as children settled in with books and puzzles and nibbled on popcorn).

Fruit was scarce, and quickly disappeared when someone placed a bunch of bananas on the table. The process caused me to evaluate previous in-kind donations and what I would contribute in the future. Chocolate, had there been any would have caused a near riot. Simple comforts: socks, lovies for scared children, hugs. Goodness, the hugs I gave (but actually received instead).

After hours of begging everyone I met with a badge, and planning to walk in with four very-tall athletic young men, I found someone who would access the home and retrieve the dogs that had been alone for 4 days. After reuniting the canines with my father-in-law, we then returned to the shelter and felt it pulse with life. Two hundred souls had ballooned to over a thousand who stood elbow to elbow, every single one needing love.

Every.

Single.

One.

Needing love more than anything else on the earth. Just one second of love . . . first, before you tell them Everything’s going to be alright.

Heroes, there are many in #Gatlinburg right now. Those who rescue dogs, fight over who serves coffee, fly helicopters, strap a helmet to their head and stand guard over a town I love. Children who are pulling pennies together to adopt a family who lost everything. Strangers searching the woods for someone’s pet. Blood donors. Fruit donors. Sock donors. This is who we were created to be.

This my darlings, this is who we were created to be, the hands and feet of Jesus that are supposed to love every single day, not just after the fires of hell rain down at 87 miles an hour.The slogan #SmokiesStrong is on the fingertips of many, but we were called to be strong long before now.

Renea Winchester is an author, a gardener, and a giver of hugs. This month she is donating the proceeds from the sale of her short story– A Hardscrabble Christmas – to the Dollywood Foundation who has pledged to support those displaced by the #Chimney2Fires.

 

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

My Friend Katherine

My Friend Katherine

We were friends before Facebook. Before selfies. Before the world got angry.

She was more than my friend. She was my confidant.daffy

She was the original vault. Anything said in her presence stayed locked up tight.

She was a nurse long before nurses were issued cell phones and constantly distracted with incessant paging devices. She had a PhD in compassion and kindness, and God protect anyone who stood between her and her patient (and they were her patients). When she phoned a doctor to discuss “her” patient, the doctor listened and prescribed the plan of treatment she suggested. She  never made a wrong diagnosis with her patients. Care taking was her gift and God himself poured so much kindness and compassion into her that patients pitched royal hell-fits just to get her to take care of them when we worked for the Health Department and Home Health Agency.

She taught me to pump my body full of water before blood draws to lessen any complications.  She was full of little tricks like that to help you, her patient. She took her time with every patient. The watch she wore was for checking your heart rate, never her schedule. She was respected, and that’s a word you don’t hear much these days.

She was Katherine Nordling, and I often called her mother.

Her life was filled with pain. For decades. But she never complained, and I mean never. I recall one particular surgery where the doctor fit a huge metal square-shaped stabilizer, fused it to her noggin’ in order to keep her head from turning as she healed.

She wasn’t supposed to drive, but she did. Somehow managing to get that monstrosity into the car, without ripping her silly head off, because sometimes a woman’s gotta get the Sam Hill out of the house.

She never raised her voice. Ever. She got her point across, clearly, without raising a single tone in her velvet voice. That soothing voice was a balm to my soul.

I’d oft visit her house. We were prone to spend hours on the couch. Shoes off, socked-feet curled beneath us. That’s the kind of friend I need. The kind of friend I will miss.

Friends like that are rapidly disappearing and what’s worse, they aren’t being replaced. These days, folk are too busy taking selfies to give a tinker’s durned about anything other than themselves.

Katherine had 15 seconds of fame. A call for automobiles went out during the filming of the Fugitive in my tiny hometown of Bryson City. They needed a nice car, faux traffic in our tiny town. That’s Eric and Katherine Nordling driving a gold car across the RR tracks through Bryson as Harrison Ford escapes.  You can’t see her, but I know she’s there, in a movie!

She was the first person I called when I thought I was going into labor. She said, again in that calm voice, “I think you should take a shower, and then go to the hospital. Take your time. Don’t be in a rush.”

She spoke often about the ways of the earth, of gardening. She loved roses, iris, and daffodils. She told me – often – that I should come pull up some of her flowers. She knew about my flower rescues, having rescued several herself when she was able. She was a lover of beans: green beans, pinto beans . . . didn’t matter. Last year I was talking about my bean planting and how I had crammed as many as physically possible into my deck planters.-the same planters my husband had built specifically for flowers-Katherine spoke the most charming phrase, “My philosophy is, pull up a weed and plant a bean.”

070We laughed, and every time I pull weeds I remember her advice.

She loved me like I was her daughter, and she knew that there were many times I wished she were my mother.

She moved in with her daughter yet maintained as much independence as possible. She was fierce with that independence, all while knowing that eventually, the degeneration caused by surgeries and steroids would eventually lead her to depend on her daughter. She knew she was failing, knew the moment when her health started taking a slow spiral years ago. She knew because she was a nurse, knew what to expect and that her future was pain-filled.  But, again, Katherine didn’t complain about the pain. It was part of her life, part of the path she had to walk to get her to Jesus.

She never forgot my birthday, ever. She remembered my daughter’s birthday also. One might not think a simple card matters, but I saved every one she ever mailed.

They mattered.

Katherine mattered.

My heart seems to remain in a constant state of brokenness these days. I know that Katherine is with Jesus now. Her fight is over. I like to believe that we-the faithful- get to petition Jesus when we get to heaven; get to send a little help down to those who remain on earth. As I type, storm clouds have gathered. Rain is coming. We have waited for months, suffered through four weeks of wildfires. I like to think that Katherine has whispered in that soothing voice, “Jesus, you know they could use a little rain.”

Because today I planted beans in her honor, a winter crop. Today I decided to rip up the weeds of grief and plant some beans.

Katherine, I love you and I will miss you every day until I see you again.

Farmingcvr

 

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of: Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches (Mercer University Press, 2014. Print only-sadly, no e-book version); In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes (Little Creek Books, 2008) (e-book and print); and Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half Truths from Appalachia (Make Your Mark Publishing) (electronic version only). 

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The War Room

It’s easy to be a person of faith when everything is going your way.

When everyone is healthy.

Employed.

Covered by health insurance.

When the car cranks on a cold morning, and the kids get along.

When the mortgage is paid and latte tickles your nose as you shop in Target.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, we don’t pray a lot during the times when everything is going our way, do we?

What do we do when our world falls apart? What do we do during the valley time . . .?

When the car won’t crank and the kids are sick with something Tylenol won’t cure.

When we receive a call from the husband saying he’s been laid off due to downsizing.

When there is no money and no hope of obtaining any in the future.

When we hear the terrible “C” word.

Those times set our knees to buckling and the faithful either lean into God, or fall eerily quiet.

My friend, Neisha, leans into God harder and more violently than anyone I’ve ever seen.

Yes, violently.

She has a “war room” inside her home. Here she fights battles. Battles against job loss, illness, fear and doubt. She quotes scripture. She prays, on her knees. She never ever gives up. But perhaps more important, she is teaching her Littles that God is faithful.

God is faithful when we pray. He hears us even when we do not see an immediate answer.

Give up is the biggest tactic the devil uses in this war called life. He whispers, God isn’t answering your prayer. Why are you still praying? He convinces us that our prayers aren’t important, that our prayers are selfish, that we are too sin-covered for God to hear us. He whispers Give Up. He whispers unfriend those who do not agree with you politically. You don’t need them.

The devil has divided us. He is a liar and the faithful must dig in.gif

Deep my friends. We must dig deep. Into a faith-built trench so deep that only God can lift us out.

It is easy to believe in answered prayers when God instantly fulfills our needs. But what about the times when God makes us wait?

We do not like to wait.

We want instant miracles, a drive-thru breakthrough delivered before we say Amen.

However it is in the waiting that our faith becomes strong.

Truth be told we don’t want to be strong either.

So when Neisha posted her “God is Able” photo I began thinking, Why do I worry so? God IS able.

And if my faith is strong then shouldn’t I believe that God IS able.

Dear Ones let me preach (to myself . . . Renea, pay attention), I’ve been giving the devil yards and yards of worry-rope with which to hang myself. I’ve been praying, but I’m starting to get impatient.

Faithful folk shouldn’t be impatient. (Renea, you’ve got work to do).

Faithful folk should pray, Lord, I don’t see your answer but I KNOW it is coming.

That’s what Neisha did. She kept praying. She pushed through the fear, the doubt. She squashed the worry-worm that the devil planted in her head flatter than a pancake. Be gone worry, there’s no place for you here.

She prayed.

gif1

Neisha, in the War Room.

God provided and she took to Facebook boldly professing the answer to her prayer. She posted her GOD IS ABLE photo without knowing that her post challenged me. Her post read See that green highlighter behind my ear? Yep, I’m in the War Room circling answered prayers. That big circle on top is Ted’s job. We prayed very specifically, and Jesus answered specifically!! Many of you are on that wall. So let this green circles encourage you…Jesus lives, he’s real, and he’s still answering!!

After seeing her photo I snatched up a piece of paper and began writing. Today I’d like to share some of the things on my GOD IS ABLE list. Today, I want to encourage you to create your own list. Share with others. We can tie together what the devil has ripped apart.

GOD IS ABLE

God is able to hear my every cry

Heal my broken heart

Sell my house

Save lost loved ones

Handle this political season (He’s got the WHOLE world in his hands)

Send rain to replenish the streams and rebuild the pastureland

Send me more editing clients

Meet my physical needs

God IS able to do more in my life than I could ever imagine.

Dear Ones, what is on your GOD IS ABLE list?  No matter how large the request, God IS Able to meet the need.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of several e-book collections and three traditionally-published non-fiction books including her latest:Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches from Mercer University Press. Find more recipes such as this one in her book. She is passionate about heritage seeds and saving daffodils. When she isn’t digging in the dirt she is hoarding canning jars and reading good books. She also posts on her blog, Bloggin’ Billy’s. Find her also at Renea Winchester.

 

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in A Glimpse into My Life

 

Two must-make, must-eat delicious tomato recipes

Two excellent recipes for the tomato-lovers who are in the middle of their summertime harvest. gravy

Both submissions were accepted by Grit Magazine to appear on their website.

The recipe for Summertime Sauce can be found here

and,

the recipe for Italian Gravy (what we call Spaghetti Sauce with meat) can be found here.

Back to the garden, it’s pickin’ time.

Y’all try these recipes and let me know what you think.

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of several e-book collections and three traditionally-published non-fiction books including her latest:Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches from Mercer University Press. Find more recipes such as this one in her book. She is passionate about heritage seeds and saving daffodils. When she isn’t digging in the dirt she is hoarding canning jars and reading good books. She also posts on her blog, Bloggin’ Billy’s. Find her also at Renea Winchester.

 
 

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What #BeTheChange Really Means

What #BeTheChange Really Means

During the past year-heck, longer than that-before my mother died, I have felt like I have been standing in quicksand, eager to free myself, to break free, but unable to do so. I bet many of you feel the same way.

There is too much . . . just too much going on in our lives, and in this world, for us to process.

Too much hatred

Too much anger

Too much bitterness

Too much fear

Too much work

Too much strife

Too much debt

Too much killing.

And there is too little:

Time

Money

Love

Hugs

Appreciation

Joy

And hope.

Many readers know that I do not have television. I am happy about this, ecstatic actually. Yes I am on Facebook, too much, but I do not watch videos of beatings, killings, or terrorists slaughtering innocents.  We are commanded to guard our heart, and violent images deposited into my heart quickly harms my soul. Be careful little eyes what you see, because once seen we cannot un-see.

Friends, I do not have the answer to why this is happening, but I do know this. . .  Jesus is coming, and soon. I am helpless to change any of the violence and I know myself well enough to realize that if I had television I would plug in and watch, helpless, and pretty soon negativity, bitterness and hopelessness would creep into my soul.

This I will not allow.

I do not watch, nor do I share images or video links of violence on Facebook, nor do I tweet popular hashtags (although I will use them in this blog post for emphasis).

bethechange

Social media is not activism.

Unless you are posting live as you march through the streets of Atlanta for change, social media is the safe (and lazy) way most folk use to puke their opinion, then sit back and feel better while friends comment, or agree by pressing the word LIKE.

Wow.

Really?

We have become a lackadaisical – yet fearful- group of souls, and once afraid we withdraw when what we really should do is release our fear and go forth bravely.

Yes. Bravely. Unplug and do something.

But I changed my Facebook photo to the color of the French flag, you say.

Whoop-tee-doo.

Not to be harsh but no one cares.

#BeTheChange

Be The Change means do something.

Literally.

Physically.

Actively.

Do.

Something. . .  anything other than Like another post.

No, I don’t expect you to stop terrorists, but I do expect you to stop posting on Facebook all day. I do expect you to get up out of your chair and give.

#GiveLove

Use words if necessary.

#GiveHope

Use money if necessary.

Hundreds of small businesses are struggling. Support them. #BuyLocal shouldn’t be just another hashtag slogan. Buy Local falls into the Love Thy Neighbor category. Don’t feel sorry when a small business in your community closes if you have done nothing to help them keep the doors open!

This includes authors and artists who are barely getting by.

#BeTheTruth

Recently I saw an author’s selfie. She was standing in a room of empty chairs. No one had attended her reading (this happens often, has happened to me).

She could have lied. She could have said, “Great event today.”

But she was honest.

She was real. She posted a photo of the empty room and said, “No one came.”

She displayed her fear to us and in doing so she claimed dominion over it. Afterward many commented they had purchased her books. Buy the book of a #lesserknownartist, read it, and then give it away.

#BeTheChange

Children are hungry. Summer is a time when many children do not receive adequate nourishment. Find a church making lunches during Bible school activities. Buy a loaf of bread, or better yet, volunteer to pack lunches. School supplies are also needed. Seek out the poorest school near you and buy supplies.

#BeTheHope

Our elderly are in crisis. If you are concerned about the future, imagine how the elderly feel. They are scared . . . petrified.

Open your eyes.

See them.

Befriend them.

Love them.

Let them teach you how to love (they are experts).

Go to any Kroger or other grocery store on Wednesday, which is usually senior citizen’s day. Watch. Look. Help. The need is great and you, yes you, are powerful.

You ARE The Hope someone has been praying for. Don’t you realize that?

#BeAnAngel

Buy gift cards.

Keep them in your wallet.

Give them away.

Randomly.

To the cashier.

To the waitress.

To anyone you meet over the age of 60.

This is what it means to BeTheChange. You may think a ten dollar gift card won’t make a difference, but I promise you it will.

#BeAnExample

Take your children. Make this an adventure. Make it a game. “Let’s see who we can help today.”

You can do this. I believe in you.

I believe in us.

Let’s teach our children to be givers.

#BeAnomyous

Let’s face it, you know someone who is struggling . . . we all do.

Someone facing job loss.

Cancer.

Someone with a broken family.

You know where they live. Yes, you.

Step outside of your personal circumstance. Send them a card for Pete’s sake. Include a gift card. Order a pizza delivered to their house (how easy is that?). Send flowers. Hide surprises in their mailbox. Cut their grass while they are at work or at the doctor then slip on back home and act surprised when they tell you about it.

#BeTheLight

This week I send you out on a mission. For this mission you need two things: Twenty Dollars and courage. That is my challenge. Take twenty dollars and give it away. Of course you can split it into two tens and double the blessings, of course you can give more if your budget allows. Today, after reading this blog, unplug from the fear and hatemongers and the incessant negative noise. Go forth and be a blessing. Then later, mosey on back and share your story. Inspire others. You have shared the bad news in the world on Facebook and Twitter, go now share something good. Share this post. Share your story. I have a sneaking suspicion that during the process of being a blessing it is you who will also be blessed.

Let us boldly fight fear with love. Because as the hashtag says, #LoveWins. Love always wins.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author of three non-fiction books and a collection of short stories. You can order, or download her work here.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Sowing Seeds and Literacy

I can feel my temperature rising, like lava bubbling up from within, but – thus far– I remain victorious in this battle to finish my winter duties. My winter duties have been intense: purging, purging, and after that, more purging. However, spring fever has set in with my dad and when he drops subtle hints such as, “where are my seeds?” my duties take a backseat.

The Winchester Family Farm believes in hoarding, I mean collecting, seeds. As shown in this picture, even when cancer was devouring my mother’s strength, she invested time and energy into saving seeds from the garden. Momma even jotted down a note about the longevity of the tomatoes. Bless her..seeds

But 2016 is a new year, another motherless year, one in which Dad and I are broadening our horizons. This year we will order, as usual, from Botanical Interest Seeds, but we are also ordering from Sow True Seed.

Planting News:

This year Sow True Seed has pledged 25% of all sales to my little hometown library in Bryson City, North Carolina. If you’ve enjoyed a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, you have been in my hometown. And if you enjoyed your stay in my little hometown I kindly ask you to consider purchasing a package or two of seeds, be they tomato, cucumber, or sunflowers. You can plant them in your own garden or donate them back to the library (or send them to me and I’ll deliver them). I can’t think of a better way to spread a little love and simultaneously plant the seed of literacy.
Here’s how it works. Visit Sow True Seed’s website, and when ordering use the code MBL2016 (for Marianna Black Library). You must use the code.Remember last year when I sold daffodils to help a needy family? This is the same concept, only this time we’re buying books and building a library. And since I believe in my readers and their generosity, I challenge everyone reading this to purchase at least two packets of seeds. Every bit counts.

Writing News:
This fall I released Walking in the Rain: A Short Story about a Sacred Place. For those who have been waiting for me to write about my home-town mountains, this short story takes you back to a place my people once called home. Long before the book Bryson City Tales and Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders, my family called the Great Smoky Mountains home. When this world starts getting me down I retreat to this place, to an area locals would call the “way back,” and then I sit, and I wait, and I allow myself to be absolutely still.
If you haven’t been absolutely still in a while I highly recommend you take a trip to the “way back.” If a road trip isn’t possible, please consider reading Walking in the Rain.
For those who have asked, will Farming, Friends, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches be released as an e-book? I regret that Mercer University Press still says no. They do not typically convert non-fiction books into electronic format. No worries, Farmer Billy still has copies on Hardscrabble Road, and I have about eight copies at home. Of course, all bookstores can still order copies for you, and readers can contact Mercer University Press directly to order. All of my other work is available electronically.

What’s Next?
That’s an easy question. I have my eyes on a large patch of daffodils that are directly in the path of an evil dozer. I’ll be digging if you need me. I can feel the fever about to bubble over. After all, a gardener must do what a gardener does and that’s get those hands dirty.

Those who wish to contribute directly to the library can donate to:

Campaign Contributions

Gifts to furnish the new library (FF&E) go to:

Marianna Black Library Fund
Attn: Ms. Deb Lawley
33 Fryemont Street
Bryson City, NC 28713
Make check payable to : Fontana Regional Library

Gifts for construction go to:

Community Services of Swain County
PO Box 812
Bryson City, NC 28713
Make check payable to: Swain County Library Capital Fund

With sincere fondness and appreciation,

Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is passionate about heritage seeds, and saving daffodils. When she isn’t digging in the dirt she is hoarding canning jars and reading good books. 

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

A Broken Promise

A Broken Promise

I broke a promise today.

A big one, to the most important in the whole wide world.

While we live in an age where words have little value and promises are meant to be broken, I pride myself in being a woman of my word. I mean what I say and say what I mean. I believe in truth and honesty, because without both any relationship is fragile and easily broken. My word is my bond and you can take it to the bank, unless . . .

I should probably pick up where I left off a while ago. Subscribers to my blog may have missed my posts (maybe not). I haven’t written much, or updated readers and that is by design. I don’t really know what is going on with my life right now other than I am in a season of change and loneliness.  However, all is not lost, I have a bit of good news.

Readers who purchased my latest release, Walking in the Rain had no way of knowing they were helping me do something I’ve been wanting to do for two decades, take classes to finish my degree. They also were helping a literacy program in Georgia. If you haven’t purchased the short story you may download it here, even if you do not own a Kindle.

It’s not enough that I’m taking two classes, I also work full-time. Every day I get home at 5:45 wolf down food, study, read, highlight in the expensive book, and work on an essay. Everything must be done before the Sunday midnight deadline when all assignments and tests are due. I’m about seven weeks into this routine and so far so good. If you have traveled the route of an adult learned you know the challenges I face. You also know the reward of looking at a grade that you, and you alone, earned.

To everyone who helped me earn enough money to purchase those ridiculously expensive textbooks and pay for classes, I thank you, I am working very hard. In fact, my daughter comes into my room at eleven every night and makes me go to bed.

Sometimes I obey. . .

Now back to the broken promise.

During the last snap of winter a tree fell on the house. Structurally there was no damage, but the mess is, well let’s just say it’s a disaster. We knew the trees (plural) near the house needed to be taken down but there was little time and even less money, and yes, the other trees are still there. Dad offered to do the work, but at seventy-one-years old I really don’t want him dragging around a chain saw unless absolutely necessary.

When a tree falls on your house, absolutely necessary, happens.

I am left with a huge amount of cleanup which yesterday I tackled. With my assignments out of the way, at eight o clock yesterday morning I used mom’s electric chainsaw to cut things into manageable pieces then begin piling for the brush pile. By eleven in the morning I was lonely. I don’t mind the work, but I do mind being holed up with only Kit-Tay, our orange feral cat, for company.  I called dad and asked if he would come keep me company. We lit the brush pile at one and he left at four in the evening.My muscles were cramping and my neck injury was really hurting.  When Dad left he asked, “Do you want me to come tomorrow so we can finish this up?”

“No,” I answered. “I really need to do a better job of keeping the Sabbath holy. I want to start making myself rest on Sunday.”

This morning, however, found me at the brush pile, poking dry twigs into the still-glowing embers.

“I just need to work a little bit,” I said to God. “Just a couple hours then I’ll rest. Today is the perfect day to knock this out before the spring winds kick up.”

It is not lost on me that I expect God to keep his promises. I pray scripture to Him, quoting His words (like He could forget). I pray expecting Him to keep His word, which he does . . . always.

God never breaks His promises. Promise-breaking is my job.

As the twigs lit and flames began to rise God reminded me of my words yesterday. He reminded me of my promise but again I said, “Just a couple hours then I’ll rest.”

Then the clouds thickened and rain began to fall.

Did I stop? Did I say, “I know God, I know. I’ll stop now.”

Nope. I broke more twigs and fed the fire so it would grow hotter and burn faster. I willfully, purposely broke a promise to God, which is the same as lying. I reasoned that because of the high winds there were so many limbs I needed to pick them up and burn them . . . now.

I reasoned that I wasn’t really that sore from yesterday, so a little work wouldn’t hurt.

I reasoned that I am so stinking busy during the week that I only have time right now.

I reasoned that next weekend I’ll be at a book event and I won’t have time.

I reasoned, a lot.

But mainly what I did was lie. I lied to God, the one who created the universe (and little ole me). I expect Him to keep His word, and answer my prayer, but I can’t be trusted to do the same.

Shame on me.

I accept responsibility of my actions. I regret them, and sadly, I will probably have to go around this mountain again because I am so stinking busy, and hurried, and stressed and I want to get this mess cleaned up before spring comes and I am really busy . . . but God never called me to be busy did He?

God calls us to be set apart from the rest of the busy world, and He commands us to rest.

Let’s hope I can spend the rest of the day doing just that. I hope you can as well.

Renea Winchester is an award-winning author, and serves on the Georgia Writers Association Board. Her latest work, Walking in the Rain, debuted on Amazon in the top ten nature essays. Learn more about her here.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2016 in Uncategorized