The grass is always greener

October 30, 2013

When you are a child, all you want to be is grown-up so you can do whatever you want to do without any type of restrictions. You have all kinds of unrealistic expectations of how one day,  you are going to travel all over the world, drive nice cars, and everyday will be nothing but 24 hours packed with non-stop fun. Of course after you have reached your adulthood, you realize that even though there are advantages to being an adult, it is nothing like you had envisioned. Being a grown-up comes with its own set of rules that include things like paying bills, raising a family, and just trying to keep a roof over your head. Responsibilities seem to overwhelm you sometimes. All of the sudden, being a child doesn’t seem so bad after all. Every time you see one playing happily, you find yourself thinking how nice it would be to have those carefree days back. When there were no responsibilities other than school, homework, and chores. You actually feel envy inside at the very thought of it. That’s why they say hindsight is 20/20, not only in this case, but in many other areas as well.

Teenagers are perfect examples of little humans you can never please. They always want more. New clothes, cell phones, a new car, and always, always money. As parents, we love our children dearly, so our goal is to make them happy by giving them everything in our power. But the real kicker is on top of everything they want you to give them, they still want you to allow them 100% freedom to do all of the things they love, with no restrictions while you foot the bill. If you attempt to put your foot down, they get furious with you. Why can’t they have cool parents like Sally’s (hypothetical name)? Sally’s parents are always so nice and very rich. They bought her a new car and she can go wherever she wants with no curfew. You find yourself wishing you had her perfect life. What you don’t know is that Sally’s mother is a closet alcoholic, and her father cheats on her repeatedly. They fight almost every night with little thought of how their behavior is killing their daughter. Sally would give anything to have YOUR life, complete with the restrictions you hate so much with parents that love her. And one day you find out the truth, when you are delivered the sad news that Sally has taken an overdose and you don’t know if she is going to make it.

Nancy married her childhood sweetheart when she was 16 years old. They have been married for 12 years and have three kids. For over a decade, she has wiped snotty noses, played taxi cab, and had dinner on the table every night. Along the way, she and her husband seemed to have lost that spark. Oh, they still love each other, but the romance seems to have flown out of the window through all the crazy, daily chaos. Nancy wishes she could have the same kind of marriage that her best friend Tracy has. Tracy and her husband go out once a week, they travel places, she goes shopping, and gets a new car every year. They seem like the ideal couple. What Nancy doesn’t know is that Tracy’s marriage is completely a front for her husband to be in good community standing. Tracy’s husband does not care about her, he only cares what people think of him. At night, when they are alone, he closes himself off in his study so he can concentrate on his work. They never even have a conversation unless they are in the presence of others. Nancy would be surprised if she knew that Tracy was actually envious of her marriage and she would trade places with her in a second just to have one day in Nancy’s mundane life , where she would know she is loved.

All three of these examples are just cases of how the grass is greener on the other side and we have all been guilty of it at some point in time. We always seem to want more; more money, more time, more freedom and more love. As humans, we never seem to be satisfied with what we have. But the sad thing here is that while you are so busy wishing for more, you are wishing your life away. You are missing out on the here and now. God never meant for you to have every single thing you wanted in life, He wants you to be content with what He has given you.

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The best person to talk to about life is an elderly person. Because they can tell you a lot about hindsight. They have lived it, and now that their years are getting smaller, they can tell you that it’s just not worth it. They will tell you in the end, it is about good times with families and friends and making memories to last a lifetime. The kind that will make you smile every time you close your eyes and think about it.

This, my friends, is real life, this very moment and you only get one shot at it, so make it count. Where you are right now and who you are with is it. Nothing else really matters but knowing true happiness. Stop looking at the glass as half empty and see it as half full. So, let go of all the “ what if’s” and embrace what you have. I promise you will find an inner peace take over that will enrich your life in a manner you have never dreamed possible.

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As for the grass being greener on the other side…well, you know what they say about that…

Think Pink Ladies!

113186572 October 22, 2013
We women spend the majority of our lives worrying about how we look. And somehow we just never seem to be pleased with our hair, makeup, clothing and especially our bodies. We spend a great deal of money on all of the above and we take great pride in looking good. And we never think about anything bad happening to us…that only happens to other people, right?
Imagine you are getting out of the shower one night before going to bed and as you are drying off, you discover a lump just under your arm. Of course, you feel instant alarm followed by reassurances that it couldn’t possibly be cancer. You spend the night tossing and turning with very little sleep. The next morning, you keep the secret to yourself as you halfheartedly attempt to follow your daily morning routine of getting your children off to school, dress for work, kiss the husband bye as you begin your twenty minute commute to the office. Along your commute, you start to think to yourself that maybe you were overreacting the night before and there has to be a logical explanation as you  silently vow to change your eating habits and get more exercise.
 A few days pass by, and even though you have vowed not to let the lump bother you, but your hand reaches for it all the time and you swear it has gotten bigger. After a few more days of agonizing, you break down and go see your family doctor, who tells you not to worry, that it’s probably just benign. Two days later,  As you are sitting in his office awaiting the biopsy results, your mind is all over the place. Out of the corner of your eye, you can see him entering the door with a folder in one hand and a grim look on his face as his eyes won’t quite meet yours. Your heart is pounding out of your chest as he takes a seat in front of you finally looking you in the eye with a sympathetic look. You barely hear his dreaded words “ It’s cancer” due to the ringing in your ears. Worst case scenarios play out in your mind as the faces of your husband and children flash before your eyes. You feel as if you have just been handed a death sentence and even though your doctor is reassuring you that your odds of beating it are good, you cannot seem to grasp reality. You make it out of his office with a false smile and rubber legs, and practically run to your car before you collapse inside as you finally release all of your heartache and anguish. The hot tears cascade down your cheeks accompanied by big gulping sobs. Your mind is a whirlwind. Why is this happening to you? You are only 34 years old.  What are you going to do? Who is going to raise your kids? How are you going to make it through this?  
Breast Cancer Survivor Beth Jackson with firefighters honoring breast cancer awareness month at Trinity Hospital
Breast Cancer Survivor Beth Jackson with firefighters honoring breast cancer awareness month at Trinity Hospital
The days that follow are like a nightmare. The double mastectomy, the chemo and radiation that seem to make you deathly sick and extremely tired, the many trips to the doctor’s office and hospitals. Your family and friends are a wonderful support system yet even the constant attempts to cheer you up become hard to take. How can you ever talk to anyone honestly about how you feel? How you no longer feel like a woman with nothing but scars in the place that used to be a source of great pride. Your once beautiful mane of golden hair is now gone, leaving you looking like some sort of freak.  Your husband has been great, but he won’t even talk to you about it. Even your children tiptoe around you like they are going to break you. All you do is wish for some sign of the crazy, chaotic life you once led before the cancer reared its ugly head. This disease has wreaked havoc all over your body, from head to toe, inside and out and you feel as though you can never recover. Will you ever get your life back?
Donna Mathews and her grandson Jaxon (behind sign) during her battle. She is now cancer free.
Donna Mathews and her grandson Jaxon (behind sign) during her battle. She is now cancer free.
How does this woman’s story end? Well it could go either way. Some survive and some don’t. But the path along the way is always the same. Much like a tornado, there are spins and turns, leaving behind a path of destruction and carnage that can sometimes be repaired and sometimes not. Either way you will never be the same. Because once breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter has touched your life, you are changed forever. I have seen many great fighters prevail over this deadly disease and I have also watched many courageous warriors lose their battle. Win or lose, they have all inspired me and made me see that life is what is happening now, and not to waste another day. Don’t wait until you can finally afford that family vacation to make the most of the time you have left. Because in the end, it’s not about what kind of car you drove, or how much money you make. It’s about family and friends, laughter and love, good times and making memories to last a lifetime.
My blessed friend Carolyn Alderson Jackson who lost her battle with Triple Negative breast cancer in January 2012
My blessed friend Carolyn Alderson Jackson who lost her battle with Triple Negative breast cancer in January 2012
May God bless our cancer survivors and those still present in their fight: Beth Jackson, Deloris Rush, Tonya Bush, Nancy Sprayberry, Donna Mathews, Cindy Hyatt,  Rhonda Taylor, Sue Schoggins, Angel Gibson, Dodi Colburn and Nadine Kennedy.
Bless those Angels in Heaven who lost their battle, but their souls live on in our hearts every day: Kathy Gates, Carolyn Jackson, and Nina Hanners.
Perhaps one of the greatest cancer warriors ever, Kathy Gates, who also lost her battle with breast cancer, but her courageous spirit still lives on.
Perhaps one of the greatest cancer warriors ever, Kathy Gates, who also lost her battle with breast cancer, but her courageous spirit still lives on.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I have seen some very touching tributes this month that have warmed my heart. Now the month is almost over, but I would like to encourage you to remember these great ladies every month because theirs is an everyday struggle. You never know when cancer may affect your life.  Remember to Think Pink!
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The Circus is still in Town

October 15, 2013

I don’t usually do back to back political rants, but in times like these, how can it not be on your mind day in and day out. With all of the uncertainty in the air, there just seems to be utter confusion everywhere you turn. And anger…lots and lots of it.

Last Tuesday evening, I received my dreaded information packet from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I, like so others, was fit to be tied when I discovered my health insurance was going to almost double for even less coverage than I have now. I had already been on a tangent (as you all may have read last week) about the government shutdown, so this only fueled my fire even more. Folks, I am not a wealthy person. I live from paycheck to paycheck just as most of you do, so this very substantial increase to my monthly budget is just not something I can afford.

How are we, the taxpayers, supposed to survive when we are paying out more than we are taking in? I mean, we are getting hit hard everywhere we go. From the increase in utilities, to the grocery store, to the gas pumps, and now finally with health insurance. We are a tax poor nation. Well, for those of us who work anyway..all of these added expenses and most of us have not even gotten a raise in a couple of years. Companies are cutting their work staff, only to result in an increase in workload for the skeleton crew left behind. And all these jobholders hear for their extra time and efforts are “Just be thankful you still have a job”. And yet everyone wonders why the morale is down everywhere you turn.

When I was recently divorced, I worked two, sometimes three jobs to earn my way. I have worked in textile factories, been a food server, and cleaned houses just to make a living. No one gave me anything. I wanted to make my own way.  I was not above a little manual labor to pay my bills and everytime I wrote a check out, I felt a pride in myself that money can’t buy. Failure was just not an option for me. And I did all of this without a college degree, so if I can do this as a single mother, then I know anyone else can.

Because my kids were raised around a strong work ethic, both of my daughters are extremely hard workers. So, if a child is raised in an environment where they are dependent on government aid, then they will grow to be dependent on them as well because it’s all they know. If you don’t believe that, just look around.

The fact of the matter is that our government is making our citizens lazy. They want you to rely on them for income because that is a form of socialism. Case in point: I’m guessing everyone heard about the alleged  computer glitch with the EBT cards over the weekend. Don’t kid yourself, that wasn’t a glitch. It was a test to see how it everyone receiving EBT benefits would react in the event the funds were no longer there. They can say all day long that it was just a glitch, but how many times have you ever heard of any kind of glitch where food stamps are concerned? Never…

Moving right along in day 15 of the shutdown, I hear that there is some progress slowly being made. Well sure, I mean we only have two days left before we suffer nationwide catastrophic failure to the likes of which our nation will ever recover. No rush or anything…

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But what exactly is involved in this so-called progress? Here is the House’s counter offer: House Republicans will move their own debt ceiling and government funding bill, GOP leaders announced in a closed meeting Tuesday. The bill will delay Obamacare’s medical device tax for two years, install income verification for Obamacare subsidies and have language to cancel health insurance subsidies for members of Congress and the presidential Cabinet. Government funding will run until January 15 and the debt ceiling will be lifted until February 7. Folks, it’s like putting a bandaid on a gushing wound. This temporary solution will only get us through the next few months before the problems arise again. You cannot borrow from Peter to pay Paul. It just never works.

So, what if we ran our household the same way the government runs the country? It would result in bankruptcy and losing all of our assets. Can you continue to borrow money when you write bad checks and have horrible credit? Not in a million. They would laugh you straight out of the bank.

the road to D.C. jammed with traffic
the road to D.C. jammed with traffic

Meanwhile in Washington D.C., thousands of protesters have made their way to our nation’s capital to voice their disapproval of the mess our country is in now. From bikers to truckers to veterans, the road to D.C. has been steadily jammed with traffic. I would just like to personally say to these protesters: Thank You for standing up for our rights. You make me proud to still be an American in times of strife. If everyone would band together like you all have, then maybe, just maybe, we would make an impact that would be heard around the world.

Michelle Obama works her overrun garden
Michelle Obama works her overrun garden

But on another note, I hear the squirrels at the White House are eating very well off from the ripe vegetables and produce of the First Lady’s vegetable garden, since the gardeners that remain have been limited to removing trash and watering the lawn. Lucky for them there was some live produce around for them since all of the nuts seem to have moved indoors.

Hope you all have a great week!

Government Shutdown

October 7, 2013
It has one week since our nation’s leaders gridlocked and forced our beloved country, once the Land of the Free, into a government shutdown. Since then, our nation’s own  capitol has become the scene of utter chaos. And why would it not? These incumbent “leaders”, as they would like to call themselves,  have turned our country into nothing more than a joke with no punchline, a three-ring circus is you will.
government-shutdown
What’s really sad is while we continue on this downward spiral, all eyes of foreign countries are on us, and they tune in every day to watch and listen as things grow more and more out of control with each passing day. I’m sure they pop a bowl of popcorn before they sit down in front of the television to watch the best reality show ever as the events unfold. They have probably even placed bets on how long our country will be at a standstill.  
In just one short week, we have had a woman with her infant child strapped in a car seat ram the barricades in front of the White House with her vehicle, resulting in her demise from being shot to death by police. We have had a man set himself on fire on the White House lawn for an undisclosed reason,  Elderly WWII veterans who are trying to run over the barricades blocking the Veterans Memorial Park in Washington D.C. with their wheelchairs. Every day something even more crazy is added to the list of Government shutdown repercussions. And I have a feeling we ain’t seen nothing yet…
Lady rams barricades at White House and is fatally shot by police.
Lady rams barricades at White House and is fatally shot by police.
Basically, what this boils down to is a pissing contest between the Democrats and the Republicans, leaders that WE voted into office because we felt confident they could make the best decisions for our country. Who is benefiting from this power struggle anyway? No one, that I can tell. Both sides are so busy pointing fingers and refusing to even meet the other even halfway. They should both be spanked and put in a timeout for their childish behavior.
And who sits in the middle of this power struggle, laughing silently to himself as our nation falls to pieces? Why, the ringleader himself, your President with that same knowing smirk on his face, the one that says “I’m winning, and there’s not a thing you can do about it” ….You can disagree all you want, but it’s a fact, Jack.
 How has this man kept from being impeached?? That’s a question we people ask every single day who can see inside his ever-changing lies and broken promises. A question that should have been answered  when he left  U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens out to dry, along with four others who were murdered in the Benghazi attacks. I’m sure if these people could talk now, they would tell you the same thing.
  This man may have been born American, his first loyalty lies with his Muslim heritage and he has proven it time after time. If you can’t see it, then I’m sorry. It should be as plain as the nose on your face unless you have gotten used to living in denial. This man wants this nation to fail and he is succeeding. It was his plan all along and is becoming more apparent with each passing day.  So, if you support him, it brings up a question of loyalty to your country in my book.  
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It disturbs me that many don’t seem to be alarmed by the events that have yet to unfold with this shutdown. So far, it has started off slowly, with the closing of national parks, some government programs frozen, and workers on furlough. It almost seems like a vacation to some. Yet, as the days go by, you will see things grow considerably worse. In fact, if there is not an agreement of some sort by October 17, 2013, our nation will suffer catastrophic failure. Funny thing is, we are still having taxes deducted from our paychecks. This defies all logic to me. Meanwhile, all we are hearing through leaked comments from Congress and Senators is who’s “winning”? I’m sorry,   I didn’t realize we were playing a game…
 The real story here  is not the government shutdown, but rather the insistence by President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry  Reid to foist Obamacare on the American people. If you have not done your homework on Obamacare, then you need to, it will change existence as we know it.
 “The Affordable Health Care Act” has been glorified by its creator to U.S. citizens, but the truth is, if enforced, will end health care reform as we know it. Not to mention raise individuals’ health care premiums, cut workers’ hours, make it more difficult to find a job, and force many Americans off their existing health coverage.
The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced participation in abortions by members of the medical profession.  
The Bill will also eventually force private insurance companies out of business, and  put everyone into a government run system. All decisions about personal health care will ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats, and most of them will not be health care professionals. Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled by the government. It’s also interesting to note that Congress will not be affected by Obamacare that will be enforced on us because they have their own private insurance.
obamacare-cartoon
This partial shutdown has a price tag of approximately $300 million dollars a day, as if our debt was not already staggering enough.  On January 20, 2009, the day Obama took office, the debt stood at $10.626 trillion. The latest posting reflects an increase of almost $ 7 trillion. Who owns the biggest part of the U.S. debt, or to break it down into layman’s terms of “Who’s your daddy now?” That would be China and Japan, each country holding well over a trillion dollars of our deficit. Those ‘Made in China’ stamps not looking so bad anymore, now are they?
And all the while the circus is in town, we Americans have once again lost our voice. No one seems to care what the taxpayer wants anymore. Our arguments as to what WE want as a whole cannot be heard for the bickering between the Democrats and the Republicans. But slowly out of the ashes, there have been a few shows of patriotism that are slowly breathing life back into our people. The first was with the 2 Million Bikers rally, the second came when WWII Veterans rolled into Washington to oppose the closing of the Veteran’s memorial, and the third will happen this weekend when truckers will strike saying they are tired of the government corruption and will shut down America. Not what everyone wants, I know, but what else can you do to get your point across? As much of an inconvenience as this will cause everyone, I can’t help but admire these trucker’s efforts. Americans are getting tired of being ran over, and we are ready to fight back.  
Veterans arrive in Washington to protest closing of Veterans Memorial
Veterans arrive in Washington to protest closing of Veterans Memorial
This country is in horrible financial condition, but it can still be saved, with the right leader. So people, I am asking you to please educate yourselves on the fine print. The future of this country is in serious danger, and you need to be prepared for the worst. Because it will get a lot worse before it gets better, I promise you. My 90 year old grandmother is one of the smartest women I have ever met. She made the remark when Obama was running for office, that is he was elected, he would destroy this country from the inside out and she was exactly right. Too bad we can’t have a wise grandmother run the country…

Daily Struggles

October 1, 2013
 Sometimes in life we get so wrapped up in our busy, chaotic lives that we forget there are others out there who are suffering and need a friend to confide in. I, myself, have been guilty of being negligent to other’s misery many times, although I try really hard to be a good friend, sometimes it slips by me. Until God intervenes in his own special way to remove my blinders and show me that I need to spend my time more wisely and focus on the things that really matter in life….
helping hands
I talked to a good friend the other day who was grieving over the sudden death of her son. I tried my best to console her but you could just see the heartache in her eyes that seemed to reach inside to the very soul of her. I felt her pain and left her with a heavy heart because I could not remove this despair from her life.
The next day I talked to friend I hadn’t seen in sometime. We chit-chatted about everyday topics, and after some time the conversation deepened into our personal lives. She confided to me that she was a chronic worrier, and suffered from some mystery illness that plagued her everyday with different symptoms. She said there were some days she had to struggle just to get out of bed.  I felt helpless to her problems that made mine seem so small, but I did all I could do and that was listen. 
That very same evening, I spent an hour on the phone with another friend who was undergoing a very nasty divorce that seemed to be consuming him.  Again, I tried to cheer him up and tell him things would get better, but he seemed desolate. Again, I felt his pain because I had been where he is before and even though I had overcame these feelings with time, I still remembered what it was like to be where he was…
Being a good friend and listener  is important to me, because sometimes that all people needs is a good ear,  a strong shoulder to cry on and maybe even a few laughs along the way. And then sometimes your presence is all that is required. You never really know what a person may need to get them through the day so it’s best to handle everyone you come in contact with kindness and compassion. You may feel you never gain anything by extending this courtesy to strangers, but you don’t know what struggles they are facing in their life, so your kind words and smiles may be a positive turning point of their lives.
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They say out of every life situation you should learn a valuable lesson. In my line of work, I have seen many heartaches and sorrow; People who had lost loved ones, had all of their worldly possessions destroyed by storm and/or fire, battled diseases and lost the good fight, had their lives turned upside down through tragic circumstances beyond their control, just to name a few. You see in life, tragedy does not discriminate, so you never know when those close to you may be affected.
 My lesson in all of these struggles I’ve witnessed are that life is precious and in the end, your family and friends are all that matters. Everything else is replaceable. You can sit and worry about your bills all you want to, but it’s not going to change anything. All you are doing is wasting precious energy you could be using in different areas. There’s not one person who can look you in the eye and tell you that helping someone in life is like food to your soul. It can give you a satisfaction like nothing you have ever known. All you have to do is take the time to make it happen.
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Those of us who are struggle with money issues all dream about being rich and famous so we can fix all of our problems. Those of us who are fortunate to have financial wealth in their lives have problems that money can’t fix. The grass is always seems to be greener on the other side….
Replace your struggle with effort. It takes effort for our human journey. It takes effort to get up in the morning and choose to be happy. Everyday upon awakening I thank God for allowing me live to see another sun rise and I try to make a conscious choice to be happy, healthy and abundant . Because I’m not perfect, I may fail in this mission on some days, but when I lay down at night I say a prayer to be a better person if I am allowed another day. Life is not meant to be a struggle. We are here to make experience life fully and live in peace, harmony and joy. Anything less than that should not be acceptable. It is always about choice. If you choose each moment well, you will find real freedom and a life free of struggle.
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Bottom line here is, we are all battling our demons in life and we always will be until you let go and let God take control.  And even then, you will still have your share of problems, but you can’t let them consume you. God never said it would be easy, but He said it would be worth it. Your daily struggles are futile and that’s not the way God intended that it be. He gave us everything we needed in life to get by, so simplify your life. You don’t NEED everything you think you do, all you really need is love.Make a Difference
  So, be that friend, be that person who extends a hand in times of need, be that stranger who makes polite conversation in public places. By reaching out to others who need it, you can enrich your life in  ways you could never even begin to imagine. Just make the effort…it could change your life

A Way of Life

September 24, 2013

Rejoice in the day the Lord hath made…Well, that’s what I did this last Sunday. And what a beautiful day it was! Brilliant blue skies with cotton clouds and an abundance of sunshine. The afternoon may have gotten a little warm, but even still a pretty much perfect day.

On Sunday afternoon, my family had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Burrell family at their home near the Mellow Valley community. The picturesque setting they call Sheperd’s Hill immediately gives you a feeling of warmth upon arrival. But I knew I was going to be something special when I saw that it sets just off of Roll Tide Lane.

We were greeted warmly by all and given a personal tour of the grounds. From the herb garden to the livestock to the blacksmithing, it was a very informative, educational, and refreshing tour.

If you’re not familiar with the Burrell family, then you are truly missing out. This family is incredible. Just being around them makes you say “Now, this is a family who has got it all together”. And family is everything to them. They have six children, and will soon welcome their ninth grandchild into this world. Their home captures the true essence of what everyone pictures in their mind and the perfect family atmosphere. Lots of love and laughter in a warm, welcoming environment.

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If you met the Burrell’s on the street, then you would probably just take one look at their attire and think to yourself “Oh, they’re just Amish people.” Which is untrue, by the way. They call themselves Plain Christians, although slightly modified.

People seem to draw their own conclusions about people who choose this lifestyle. It just seems cut and dry to them, you just live off the land and you can’t straddle the fence. They never even seem to try to grasp why people may even choose to live this way. Well, the Burrell family will be more than glad to tell you about their way of life and why they chose it…

About 15 years ago, the Burrell family would not have stood out in a crowd. They were your average family, her husband held down a full-time job, she was a homemaker and were raising their children to the best of their ability. But there were not happy with given family and church situations, so they began searching for answers. They tirelessly studied their Bible, without any footnotes or commentaries that so many people rely on in their quest for newfound happiness and inner peace.

When their extensive research led them to the possibility of adopting an alternative lifestyle, they did not want to be right. Reluctantly, they slowly they began making the transition to a Plain Christian lifestyle, all the while asking God to send them a sign that they were headed down the right path.

The first time the ladies of the family dared to venture out in public with head coverings, they were shocked at the positive attention they received when they approached by many people who were curious as to their beliefs. And as their transition into this lifestyle deepened, they were convinced that God was slowly leading them in the right direction. It never failed to amaze them how strangers would approach them out of sheer curiosity and lead to a full-blown conversation. Some would leave them in tears and thank them for being bold enough to follow God’s word.

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No, they are not Amish, Mennonites, or even fall under the category of full-blown Plain Christians. “We just want to serve God and live a life that we feel is pleasing to him.” But they have decided that there are some means of modern technology that has its advantages, and actually benefits their daily existence.

For instance, when you walk into their home, you will find the air to be quite pleasant, if not a little cool because Angie keeps the thermostat turned down low due to a heat exhaustion incident she suffered several years ago. They drive cars; they hold down full-time jobs, have internet access and a TV. However, I think it is important to point out they do not watch broadcast television, only carefully chosen movies every now and then. Angie even has a Jacuzzi in her bathroom. Paul works in the IT department at Alabama Power, a position he has held for almost 25 years. They don’t apologize for any of these luxuries either because they are happy with every aspect of their life now.

They use the internet as a tool to reach out to others with their lifestyle. Their website: www.sheperdshillhomestead.com has a vast amount of knowledge about their daily journeys, heritage skills, sermons, etc. They have home church services in their living room where anyone who wants to attend is invited, with crowds from 10-50 people present. Their services are streamed through their website where they have had people as far as Scotland tune in. There is no love offering taken up, in fact if people want to give a donation, the Burrell’s tell them of a local charity they can give to.

They even have homesteading weekends where people sign up for a three-day experience in heritage skills. They give demonstrations and exhibitions at local events. And it is not a money-making scheme; in fact they barely break even on many of these activities they oversee. “Our goal is to share our heritage skills to teach others, not to profit from.”black

What changes did their new lifestyle bring to them and was it worth it to them? Well, Angie says sometimes Paul tells her he will hear her laughing out loud in her sleep, not that she remembers any of it. “I can remember a time when there was little sleep, because I was just afraid all the time”, says Angie emotionally “ To think that I have progressed to a point that I have found such peace and joy in my life that I can laugh in my sub-conscious state amazes me everyday”.

“Blacksmithing, candle-making, balm mixtures, wool spinning, basket-weaving, quilting, all of these heritage skills that we partake in everyday just reaches into the soul and brings a type of satisfaction that modern life can never even begin to touch. There’s something in a lifestyle like this that truly connects you to a creator that loves you” says Angie. “It’s a kind of peace that money can’t buy, says Angie as she points to her simple frock that drapes her body and says “ This is just a little wrapping, it’s what’s on the inside that really matters”

wool

“God created us to be creators. He gave us everything we needed to live off the land. We just had to work for it. When you go to work to a job where you don’t produce anything, it leaves a void inside that can never be filled” daughter Sarah says. “It’s about finding a balance in your life in seeking to lead a life that is pleasing to God and to find fulfillment. If most people aren’t producing something with their hands, then they are probably not going to be a very happy person”

To say that I was very impressed with this family would be putting it mildly. I left this visit feeling a sense of renewal of life. With all the bad things happening in this world, this family had seemed to find something that others were desperately seeking; a harmonic balance of happiness, peace, and best of all, they found God. They walk with him every day in every aspect of their life and it shows on their faces. Is their life perfect? Why no, but whose life is? But they have enough faith in God that they know as long as they follow Him, He will provide a way. They know because they live it everyday.

It takes a special kind of courage to take the leap of faith they did and change your entire existence the way this family did. I have the utmost a respect and admiration for them.

The Burrell family have been a feature attraction at Lineville Heritage Day with their heritage exhibitions and we are proud to welcome them back this year. Please join us on this day and look them up. Take the time to talk to them and see for yourself what great people these are. I promise you…you won’t be disappointed…

What A Ride…

September 16, 2013
For those of you who watch CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, or any other major news network on a regular basis, you may be surprised (or not) to learn that one of the most patriotic displays of a 9/11 memorial tribute was sadly overlooked on this day. It was an amazing event that has restored faith in our American citizens and has given us hope that maybe, just maybe if we all band together, we can begin to take our nation back from a government that is leaning more toward communism everyday…
All they wanted to do was honor the victims of 9/11 terrorist attacks in their own way…seems pretty cut and dry, doesn’t it? But when a group of bikers were turned down for a permit by the NPS in Washington D.C., they decided to exercise their 1st amendment and do it anyway, permit or not. “ We’re riding,we don’t need no stinking permit, we pay our taxes!” they said. And ride they did…
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It was called 2 Million Bikers Ride to D.C., although it fell a little short of that number, but still a very impressive turnout. Many of the bikers were veterans, but mostly just everyday ordinary people who took time off their jobs because they wanted to pay their respects to the fallen of the 9/11 attacks.
Bikers from all across the country made their way to D.C. travelling through Arizona, Florida, Maine, Tennessee, Texas and other states to participate in this extraordinary event. Imagine what a beautiful sight it must have been to see a 55-mile stretch of highway, four lanes wide coming out of Los Angeles, Ca. packed with bikes as far as the eye could see.
Had they been issued a permit, they would have just went through with their patriotic ride with very little inconvenience to traffic, but it was the latter that happened. They were told the reasons for being denied a permit were due to traffic control, road closures, and lack of police escorts to manage an event of that size. Sounds reasonable enough, doesn’t it?
However, a second, more controversial reason for the ride was  to protest a permit that had already been issued for an event called Million American March (previously known as Million Muslim March) on the day of September 11th,  the 12th anniversary of the worst terrorist act in our nation. A group of Muslims who call themselves the American Muslim Political Action Committee were holding a rally to protest public backlash against the Muslims since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Their claim is they have been treated differently since these attacks occurred.
After all was said and done, only a handful of Muslims showed up at their rally
After all was said and done, only a handful of Muslims showed up at their rally
The massive number of bikers began rolling into D.C.  early that day, each bike draped with some type of patriotic display from an American flag to red, white and blue apparel or accessories. Some law enforcement had even came along for the ride with a police escort from different states. You could hear the rumble in the background of the 9/11 memorial tribute that took place on the White House lawn that day. It was a sound that screamed “We’re here, you can’t stop me, this is my country and I’m taking it back!” They paid their respects by gathering to sing the Star-Spangled Banner followed by moments of silence marked by the times when the twin towers were hit on that fateful day.  It was a very peaceful ride that spoke volumes to the American people.
Maybe not 2 million, but pretty close
Maybe not 2 million, but pretty close
This one single event has managed to revive our nation in a way that nothing else has ever even came close to in a very long time. These courageous men and women should be applauded for their patriotism and for showing us that there are just some things in life that are worth taking a chance for. I hold the utmost respect for all of these brave souls. It just goes to show you that people who dare to take a stand for something that they believe makes an impression on others, and they will soon follow. And all it takes is one person to get the ball rolling…
The thing that really makes me mad is why on Earth would Muslims be allowed to protest on a day that should remain sacred to all of those whose lives were lost. Any other day would have been fine, but they chose this particular day??  It’s a very selfish act on their part to take this day and turn it around to make it all about them. Even more sad that our government allowed it to take place. Their little plan backfired though when only dozens of protesters armed with rude signs were lost in a sea of motorcyclists. The very thought just makes me smile…
2 million bikers 1
There are many who give bikers a bad name and I am unsure why. I mean, I’m sure there are some bad ones out there, but have you ever actually talked to one? These are some of the best people you will ever meet. They are very friendly, fiercely loyal, hardworking, respectful and true to their beliefs. Not to mention very obviously patriotic. They are the kind of people who will give you their word by a handshake and you can bank on it. Truthfully, they make the world a better place.
My hats off to these incredible riders for their memorable display of patriotism and for restoring our faith in humanity. It just makes your heart swell with pride at the thought of just how great it is to be a true American. I hear this is going to be an annual event from now on and I’m willing to bet these numbers will only continue to grow.
 Maybe we can convince one of them to run for President…ya think??

War and rumors of war…

 

Sep 10, 2013

September 11, 2001…A day that no one will ever forget as the world watched the horror unfold on live television. Two hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Center and thousands of innocent lives were lost. One heinous act of terrorism that would change existence as we know it.  In total, almost 3,000 people died in these attacks, including the 227 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard the four planes. It also was the deadliest incident for firefighters in the history of the United States.
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Everyone can still recall exactly what they were doing on that fateful day. There was not one person who was not terrified. No one knew how far the terrorism was going to go. Were we all in danger? Everyone got on the phone and tried to call their loved ones to make sure they were alright. All flight activity ceased around the world. There were Americans trapped overseas and would not be able to fly home for another week. It was the shot heard round the world…
I can remember that day in vivid detail. I was out taking my morning walk and had my headphones on with my radio blasting. My walk usually lasted about an hour. About twenty minutes in, the station interrupted a song to say there had been a freak accident in New York at the World Trade Center. They reported a plane had flown into the building, but there were no details as to why. About 10-15 minutes later, the same deejay broke yet another song with a much more somber tone as he reported yet another plane had struck the other WTC tower. They also began talking about two more planes that they assumed were hijacked, one headed to the Pentagon. My walk turned into a run at that point. I ran as hard as I could back to my house.
fire
 The every first thing I did was call Clay County High School, where my daughter was a student. I wanted to check her out and bring her home where I could have her close just in case things got bad. I was actually wondering in my mind if this was going to be the end of the world. The secretary spoke very calmly to me as she told me not to come get Angela, that it would only make things worse. She assured me that she was fine and they were all watching it on live TV. “We are trying to keep them as calm as possible and if you come get her, it’s going to terrify her,” She told me. So, I finally relented and decided to let her stay. But I knew if one more thing happened, I was going to get her.
My oldest daughter was going to Jacksonville State University at the time, and I tried to call her repeatedly. It would be hours before she called me back. I was an emotional wreck and not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby as both towers collapsed into a pile of rubble. All I could think of was “ All of those people”.
New York City Commemorates 10th Anniversary Of 9-11 Terror Attacks
For the next two days, I was glued to the screen. I think the worst thing I remember was seeing all those family members of the missing the next morning with posters and pictures of their loved ones frantically searching for them. It was if I knew them personally. I felt their pain as I watched many of them break down in tears while trying to talk to the news anchor. Ninety percent of these missing persons would eventually be named as deceased, some of them never even found. I can’t even imagine living this nightmare.
So, now as approach the 12th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, you would have thought we, as a country, would have learned something from this senseless loss of lives. But here we are, on the brink of war yet again but this time for different reasons. At the time of 9-11 attacks, we had a President that was a leader and all of our nation was ready to go to war to avenge their fellow Americans deaths. We were all scared at the thought of where this war might take us, but we had a purpose.
 Now, we just have a President who is by no means a leader, in fact I don’t even think he knows what the word means.
Obama wants to bomb Syria because they used chemical weapons to kill 1400 people, some children. Is that a heinous crime? Yes, it is, but things like that have been happening over there for thousands of years and it’s never going to stop. Fighting is a way of life in these third world countries and our country cannot afford to lose anymore loss of life in wars that we have no place in. How many of these countries do you see rushing to our aid?
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 Only 19% of Americans support going to war with Syria and all of these are probably just idiots anyway. This time we have no say in it and that’s not fair to the American people.
And to top it all off, Obama can’t seem to keep his lies straight with his “red line”. The United States used to be the strongest nation and now, because of our “leader”, we have lost all credibility. So, to all of you people who voted for him, I hope you’re happy with your “change”.
Ground Zero...where the twin towers once stood
Ground Zero…where the twin towers once stood
If he pulls this off, it will go down in history as the ultimate terrorist attack. I mean, what better way to destroy a nation than reign as the top governing body, cripple them financially and then finally destroy their people as a whole with blood shed?
War and rumors of war people…are you ready?

#JustTrust

September 2, 2013
Well, Labor Day has passed and Fall will soon be upon us. It seems weird to think of Fall since Summer finally decided to make a very late appearance this year. The heat was almost unbearable this weekend. But soon the leaves will begin changing and we can look forward to some relief from the heat…
So, how ‘bout the Tide Rolling this weekend?! It may not have been a perfect win, but a win is a win and you take the good with the bad. I got a little aggravated listening to the commentators while watching the game critiquing Bama’s every move.
 Here’s my thoughts on it: This is a TEAM of humans, not MACHINES and there is always room for improvements. There was only one perfect man who walked this Earth so don’t expect there to be any repeats. These commentators can’t stand the fact that an SEC team is ruling the roost right now, so they seem to take every opportunity to knock them. So, our offense needs some work…well, now we know and we’ll grow from that…I promise you Saban is on it already.
Good ole’ Johnny Football must’ve been furious over that little wrist slap he got that made him sit out the whole first half of their season opener against Rice. That punishment was nothing more than a joke. He should be sitting on the sideline throughout at least the first half of the season, if you ask me. This a classic case of fame going to your head and Johnny Manziel needs to be put in his place. His inexcusable antics on the field Saturday earned him a much deserved unsportsmanlike conduct with his gestures of money,  pointing and taunting. His fellow players should have been allowed to put him over their knee and spank him just like a child. This dude’s head is so big I don’t see how he gets a helmet over it.
Manziel taunts the crowd with signs of money
Manziel taunts the crowd with signs of money
 The sad thing is this is one talented individual on the field. He is an amazing player, but his leadership qualities suck. Manziel needs to learn that your talents do not define you as a person. Just because God gave you that particular skill does not mean he can’t take it away from you in a heartbeat. Earn your title, Johnny Football and be the leader you were chosen to be. It’s not just how you play the game…being a true athlete comes from the heart. You should approach each game with raw, eager determination to prevail as a team displaying class and integrity. And that’s something you just can’t buy…
And while Mr. Manziel was showing his lack of class on the field, another quarterback was showing his abundance of class off the field. Alabama Quarterback AJ McCarron was featured in ESPN College Gameday Profile this week. The profile by ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi tells the tale of a wave runner accident that left McCarron severely injured when he was just five years old. The left side of his face was crushed almost to the back of his head. His parents were told their son would not survive these injuries, and if he did he would be nothing more than a vegetable. But through the grace of God, AJ would prove them wrong and recovered from his injuries over time, leaving the doctors in awe of his progress.
Twenty years later, he would come back to Children’s Hospital, the same hospital where he almost lost his life as a child, on an entirely different mission. He would meet  four year old Cancer survivor Starla Chapman, a very special little girl who would change his life on Christmas Eve 2011, a day for miracles itself.
AJ and little Starla
AJ and little Starla
 McCarron was delivering Christmas presents on this day, when little Starla, a huge Alabama fan,  inspired him to wear a rubber bracelet labeled with a quote: #JustTrust, along with another bracelet with the words Team Starla. Just a couple of days later, her situation would turn grave. By December 27, 2011, the chemo had damaged Starla’s heart to the point that she was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
On January 3, 2012, Starla suffered a seizure and died. Medical personnel successfully revived her after two minutes of chest compressions, but her heart was functioning at only 6%; Starla’s doctors placed her in a medically induced coma. The reality facing this little girl was that her cancer and her cure were both killing her, and a heart transplant wasn’t an option due to the cancer. The doctors wanted to move her to Birmingham or Atlanta, but feared that she wouldn’t survive the trip. But survive she did… and by April 2011, her body was no longer racked with cancer…
 McCarron told how he and Starla formed a bond because he felt  they were both miracles. “We’ve both been through tough times,” McCarron explains in the video. “The doctors both told our families we were supposed to die. To me, we’re both miracles.”
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AJ first wore the bracelet in the 2011 Championship game and has become a permanent fixture on his arm, even though Starla has since been declared cancer-free. He also has since been named the child’s Godfather. Their relationship has only deepened over time. Two miracles bonding together….
McCarron wears Starla's bracelet at BCS
McCarron wears Starla’s bracelet at BCS
McCarron is still wearing the bracelet as the Crimson Tide prepares to chase a third straight national championship. His show of support for this child is very endearing. And maybe you could even say it serves as a good luck charm for him as well. Two back-to-back championships ain’t too shabby.
This heartwarming story that has captured the hearts of millions shows that McCarron is a champion off the field, much as he is on. He is a true leader to his fellow players and displays a heart of gold. Isn’t it amazing how all it takes sometimes is just one little person to give you faith.
My hat’s off to AJ McCarron, because even if he does lose, he’ll still be a winner in my book….
 

What happened to Hannah Montana?

August 26, 2013
Random things at any given time set off my thought process and you poor people are the ones who reap the rewards. Hey, at least I don’t have to pay a therapist, right?
This weekend was rather uneventful for me, but in a good way. I got to spend some time with my twin granddaughters Saturday night, which is always fun. Being a twin must be great because you always have a friend to play with. It always makes me smile to hear them in the next room playing, because they have their own little language. They don’t like for anyone to be in the room with them when they play either.  I asked them both if they had made any friends in kindergarten, to which they quickly replied “ Yes”. When then they both named all of their new friends, each of them said the other’s name first. Such sweet little girls!
These girls are a trip :)
These girls are a trip 🙂
I had to make a quick trip to the grocery store late Saturday evening. As I had just pulled up the red light, I heard sirens and saw a fire truck coming up on the intersection. No one was stopping!!! Cars were still going through the intersection just like nothing was going on!
Folks, this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. When you see an emergency vehicle approaching you, please pull to the side of the road, or stop and let them go around you. I don’t care where you are going, it can’t be nearly as important as where they are headed. There’s a reason they use lights and sirens. When you do not yield to an emergency vehicle as you should, then you are putting yourself and responding rescue personnel in danger, not to mention, the person(s) of the call they are responding to. So, please use your head and don’t place additional dangers to the situation.
Give-way-to-ambulance
 I found out later it was a young girl who was having multiple seizures. Now, what if that was your child? Wouldn’t you want someone there as quickly as possible? Please be courteous to all responding rescue personnel. It could be you that needs them one day…
I read a horrifying article about an eight-year old boy who intentionally killed his 87 year-old caregiver in Louisana last week. Just walked up behind her and shot her in the back of the head as she was watching television. The boy claimed it was an accident, but after further investigation, authorities concluded the boy had been playing the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV”, a realistic game that encourages violence and awards points to players for killing people, just minutes before the homicide occurred.  This goes back to why you shouldn’t allow your child to play violent video games and why you also restrict their time on gaming devices.
The scene where the boy killed his caregiver blamed on video game
The scene where the boy killed his caregiver blamed on video game
Video games are fun, I mean I play them myself. But if you child begins playing them at an early age for hours at a time, they lose themselves in them and over a period of time, can begin to think that real life works like the games. Almost every present day mass shooting that has taken place has been linked to some type of violent video game. Now, every child is different and some it may not affect. But I believe this is the number one reason kids are committing more violent crimes these days. It seems that somehow in their minds, they can no longer decipher the difference between reality and fantasy and value of life seems to be lost. For instance, did this boy think that maybe he didn’t really kill caregiver and maybe she would just regenerate lives as you would in the video game?  It’s a strong possibility.
People, please turn off your TV’s and make your child go outside for some fresh air and create his own fun. I promise you, it won’t hurt them at all.
Did anyone happen to catch Miley Cyrus’s very inappropriate performance on the VMA’s Sunday night? If you missed it, be glad…it was disgusting. All I could do was sit there with my mouth open and believe me, it takes a lot to shock me. I think the reaction of Will Smith and his family caught on the audience cam said it all. This is a classic case of good girl gone bad and the sad thing about it is, that’s the reaction she wanted from everyone.
the look on their face says it all
the look on their face says it all
Ninety percent of your Disney or Nickelodeon childhood stars cannot handle the fame they achieve at such an early age, and they seem to lose their mind as they get older. Example: Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes and let’s not forget the train wreck that is Lindsay Lohan. The Disney Channel should be changed to “Celebrity Pre-Hab” if you ask me. The sad thing is there were little children watching their childhood idol, Hannah Montana perform that night.
I can’t help but wonder if maybe Miley Cyrus woke up the next morning in a “slightly altered” state of mind when she suddenly realized she had committed career suicide on live television the night before and began to calculate in her head if her Hannah Montana royalties were going to get her through her retirement. I haven’t heard one single good comment about that performance as of yet.
Miley's raunchy VMA performance
Miley’s raunchy VMA performance
So, did she achieve the shock factor she was looking for? Most definitely, Yes, and much more. She also gained a great deal of disrespect from a tremendous amount from her once huge fan base. I know I will never endorse her again in any way. Thank God, Justin Timberlake came in and saved the day…
This weekend marks the beginning of college football season, which to me means enjoying some Bama football! I hope you all have a safe and Happy Labor Day!

The Nitty Gritty – Clay County News and Events