Let’s Fix this Country…

June 17, 2013

As I sit scrolling through the daily news, I am amazed at the mess this country is in. And it appears to be getting worse with each passing day. Most people want to blame it on the end of time coming, as the Bible begins to fulfill its prophecy and maybe they’re right. Or maybe as a society we have lost our way and just need to put a few things in perspective. So, I’ve prepared a top ten list of things we could do to get our country back into shape:

10.   An Eye for an Eye punishing a person who has committed a crime in a similar fashion. Example: caught stealing, your hands are cut off, you break someone’s leg, then yours gets broken as well. You murder someone, then your death will come in the same manner. Sound inhumane? Maybe…but it works. There’s no sense in anyone who has committed a violent crime and sentenced to death to remain on Death Row for 10 years. That cost the taxpayers millions. Our jails and prisons are overrun with repeat offenders. And why not? Free rent, free food, etc. Many repeat offenders will get out of prison, only to break the law again to get put right back in because its just easier. Third world countries have been practicing this method of punishment for years, and it seems to be working quite nicely for them. Quite frankly, I think being a “civilized” country has made us soft.

9.   Limit Politician’s terms to one– There’s a saying out there “If you’re not a crook when you go into office, you’re a crook when you come out”, and its mostly true. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but it seems these days that taxpayers are losing their voice as a whole. We sit by and watch helplessly while the people we voted into office pass laws that we don’t agree with, but no one seems to listen, so who else are we going to gripe to? And these same politicians seem to forget that they work for us, that we are the ones who put them where they are now and our tax dollar that pay their salaries. Limit this to one term and you won’t have to worry about any of this.

8.  Limit Political Leaders vacations – How many times have we watched as our President has taken very lavish vacation after vacation? Not just him though, this is a common practice with past Presidents. During Bush’s eight year term, he was said to have taken 879 total days vacation. Clinton and Jimmy Carter are said to have spent the least amount of days on vacation. Since Obama took office November 2012, he has already racked up 48 vacation days. The most recent will be a trip to Africa, which comes with a pricetag of 60-100 million to the American taxpayers.  The average American family gets 10 vacation days a year, and not all of them are spent away from home. If it’s good enough for them….then it should be good enough for our political leaders.

7.  Lower the cost of diesel fuel– I remember a day and time when diesel fuel cost about 20-40 cents lower a gallon than regular and now it as average of 20-40 cents higher. And why exactly did this happen? Oh sure, we get all kinds of speeches about it, reductions in sulfur content, environmental regulations, blah, blah. But in reality there is no excuse for this kind of increase. The truth is they are taxing it to death. In all honesty, the United States has enough crude oil to be self-sufficient, even though the government would never admit it. And every time there is a natural disaster anywhere near the vicinity of an oil refinery, we pay the price at the pumps. Lowering the cost of diesel fuel will reduce freight charges, therefore slashing your prices at the register, wherever you go. This will begin to heal our disastrous economy. It may not be much, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

6.  Religion– The nation was built on Christian beliefs. “In God We Trust” was our motto and now we have to walk on eggshells when even discussing religion. Why? Why should Christians have to bite their tongue every time to keep from offending anyone? If you ask me, it should be the other way around. If you belong to a different religion, that’s fine. To each his own. A person’s choice of religion is to be respected, not used as a source of ridicule. But like it or not, you cannot deny the fact that when God was in the picture, and the Bible was used as a handbook for life, this country ran a lot smoother.

5.  Media hype– Our media is killing us…literally. How many times have you watched as the media sensationalized a mass serial killer? And what was the end result? Giving them exactly what they wanted. The fame they never had. Most gunmen that have stormed schools and malls ended up taking their own life at the end. Why? Because they are cowards. They were nobodys in life, so they want to be remembered for something. Now, being remembered as a killer isn’t much, but to some people, something is better than nothing. And in the aftermath of the tragedy, the media spends weeks and months trying to dissect and analyze these killers to figure out exactly what made them tick. Who cares? They were crazy, let it go. If the laws were changed to never reveal a gunman’s name, then you would see a sharp decline in mass killings.

4.  Child behavior– How many of you spank your children? This number is staggeringly low. Oh, I’m not saying beat them, I’m just talking about a good old fashioned whupping. A hand to the backside, a belt, or even a fresh cut switch will cure many things. You can shake your head “No” all you want, but it’s true. This method of punishment is not inhumane or abusive, it is necessary. Kids will push as far as they can on a daily basis, just because they can. Its encoded into their DNA. For those of you in disagreement, yes, this means your child too. And all the amount of “talking”, reasoning,  groundings, and timeouts are going to get your nowhere. A child will never respect you until you make them and respect comes from fear. “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child”. Simply put.

3.  Put Prayer Back in School- This goes along with religion and child behavior. Over the past two decades, the number of school shootings have grown tremendously and many innocent children have lost their lives. Think this is a coincidence? Not even a little bit. Schools used to be the safest place for a child to be, and now it’s the scariest. Shootings, killings, rapes, kidnappings, bullying, gangs, drugs, etc. I could go on for days. Back in the day, no one would have ever considered hurting a child. Now it seems to be way of life. Who’s going to protect our children when we can’t? That’s right…God will. All you gotta do is let him back in.

2.  Speak English– Press 1 for English. That’s crap. This is America, Jack. You wanna be a U.S. Citizen, that’s fine, but talk the talk. When you visit any other foreign country, you have to learn their language, and that’s the way it should be here. End of story.

1.  Welfare Assistance– This is my biggest pet peeve and I could go on for days about it. The people who are living off of government assistance these days who do not really need it is unbelievable. Roughly, 49% of Americans receive some type of government aid and pay no income taxes. You do the math on this one. So, here’s the bottom line on how I think things should go.

  • The screening process for any government aid should be more extensive and thorough. Even the cost of hiring additional employees to perform these screenings would still save this country billions.
  • Mandatory sterilizations for those who remain on government assistance, while still on government aid. Many women plan to have more children just so they can draw a larger check. There is no excuse for this. Don’t believe me, walk into a Wal-mart on the first or 15th of the month. These people are eating better than we do.
  • If help is needed, then have a plan. Put these people in need on a 2-year plan. Give them everything they need to exist and improve their lives on a long-term basis for two years. A place to live, food to eat, a secondhand car to drive, and teach them a trade or provide them with an education that will allow them to be financially independent. But after the two years is up, then they are on their own. Two years is more than adequate period of time to change your life.

 

America, it’s time for a change…a GOOD one!

 

 

Precious Memories

June 10, 2013
It’s a beautiful Summer morning in early June as I sit on my front porch listening to the birds and watching the squirrels dash from tree to tree. The sweet heady scent of mimosa stirs a hint of nostalgia in me of summer days past. My mind drifts back to my carefree childhood days as I close my eyes and let the memories overtake me. Back to a day when my needs were simple and the days seemed endless with possibilities. We didn’t have much…but we didn’t need much either.
I was raised in a community called Ophelia, just off of Hwy 48 over the Randolph County line. A place that sit in the middle of nowhere, which many people never even knew existed, but to me it was everything. My whole was there and it was all I needed. Our community consisted of a small church ( Mt. Prospect) and loads of family. A place where the blacktop ended and the dirt road began.  I can remember walking that dirt road barefoot countless times.
Mt. Prospect Church
Mt. Prospect Church
Our summer mornings began early. My grandfather always had a very large garden of just about every vegetable you could possibly imagine. I can still picture him now coming in from the heat with sweat dripping. He never wore a shirt, just work khakis and a straw hat with a visor. Papa rarely wore shorts unless he was going to the creek to bathe with his bar of Dial soap in hand. My cousins and I would tease him about his white legs in contrast of his deeply tanned torso. For those of you who are not familiar, Dial soap is the only bar soap that floats.
I was Pawpaw’s sidekick on many occasions. Back then, I thought it was because I was his favorite, but I think he made us all feel this way. Oh, how I loved riding on the tractor with him or just being beside him as he picked vegetables. I called myself helping him, but I’m sure I did a lot of hindering, although he never complained. He loved to lounge under a huge shade tree that sat right beside his house, where he would enjoy a freshly rolled cigarette from Prince Albert in a can or a chew of tobacco. If he was sitting enjoying the shade, everyone just kind of seemed to migrate to him. Sometimes there would be many sitting around just chewing the fat while us children would play a game of freeze tag or hide and seek.
Pawpaw was always humming or singing a gospel hymn as he walked along. The one I remember most was “Singing His Praises all the day long, I’m going that way”. I can still hear his beautiful baritone voice now. Papa loved to sing. He was the song leader at church and also part of a gospel quartet called “ The Yates Family, that consisted of my two aunts, two uncles, and Pawpaw.
My Pawpaw Yates and his daddy, known to me as Granddaddy Yates were song leaders at church. This picture was probably taken in the early 80's
My Pawpaw Yates and his daddy, known to me as Granddaddy Yates were song leaders at church. This picture was probably taken in the early 80’s
Pawpaw would ride us to the nearby little country store called “ Malva’s” in his old pickup truck  where he would always buy us a piece of “blow gum”, costing just one penny at the time. We would all pile in the back of his truck as the wind would whip in our face.  I can also remember him letting us walk on his back to “crack it”.
Back then, there was no internet or video games, we made our own fun with nothing but our imagination. We would set out early morning and sometimes stay gone until we were called in at dusk. Even then we were still reluctant to go home. Our days would consist of roaming the roads and woods with nothing particular in mind, sometimes on a bicycle and sometimes on foot. Back in these days, you didn’t have to worry about being kidnapped or many other dangers that befall children in this day and age. I look back now and think I would never let my children roam so freely. But, then again, things were different back then.  
My cousin and I, Richard, were the same age so we would play together almost every day. We would entertain ourselves in various ways. Whether it was by go cart riding or going to the cemetery in search of lizards to shoot with our BB guns. It was a contest, whoever filled their mason jar up first with dead lizards was the winner. At night, we would catch lightning bugs and put them in a jar as well.
Going to “the creek” was always a treat. We would beg endlessly until Daddy would take us. I can remember him getting mad about us pestering him so much about going, but in truth he loved it as much as we did. Our swimming hole consisted of bend in Fox Creek with a huge tree that had a rope swing on it. Not sure what age my daddy taught me to swim, but I know it was preschool age. I loved to swim and was fearless in my endeavors. I was jumping off the rope swing not too long after I learned to swim. If we had enough people present, we would have a mud battle. There was always a large mudhole nearby that never seemed to dry up. Sometimes we would be so covered with mud, you could only see the white of our eyes. Some of my best memories are of this place. Our swimming hole no longer exists, covered by water when they backed it up with the construction of Harris Dam.
I was blessed with many cousins to play within our small community made up of strictly family. Large Sunday dinners and holiday gatherings would fill my grandparents’ house to a point where it would literally burst at the seams. After our meal, with weather permitting, there was usually some type of extracurricular outdoor activity to participate in. Softball, Kickball, football, or some type of ball. Sometimes we would even make up games to play. Red Rover was also a favorite pastime. Time seemed to stand still on these days. I look back on these days fondly…
lots of family
lots of family
As I grow older, these memories are even more precious to me. As much as I loved my parents, it was my grandparents that made this time so special to me. There’s just something about grandparents…
So, to all the grandparents out there, I will finish with this advice. No matter how small the time you have with your grandchildren, make it count, because I promise you it will stick with them for many years to come. Their memories will last a lifetime and beyond, because one day they will share their memories with their grandchildren. These special times can shape and mold their lives and with any luck, will instill family values in them they will pass down to future generations. Legacies have to start somewhere…

When Drinking and Driving Comes Into Your World

June 4, 2013
You hear about drunk drivers all the time, yet you never really think something like this can ever hit close to home….and then without warning, it does. And just like that, your world is changed forever.
In late March, my seven year-old granddaughter was the sole passenger in a one-vehicle automobile accident with a drunk driver…her father. Thankfully, she wasn’t injured, but if you could have seen the condition of the vehicle, you would have thought someone was killed. They say it was a miracle…I say it was God watching over this sweet child.
the truck Rylee was a passenger in
the truck Rylee was a passenger in
Her father suffered a head injury and had to be transported to a Birmingham hospital, but later recovered from his injuries. His blood alcohol level was over three times the legal limit. You may not think there is much of a story here because my granddaughter was not injured, and while she may not have suffered any physical injuries, her innocence was shattered forever. It was a cruel awakening for such a loving child as this.
The wreck scene
The wreck scene
Much like many young girls, her father was her hero and the unconditional love she felt for him made no room for imperfections. With one adult’s terrible error in judgement, a child’s life would never be the same again. She was introduced to terms such as DHR and supervised visits. She was confused as to why she could not see her father or talk to him. Strange people came to visit her and ask her personal questions about home life. It was such a confusing time for her and my heart broke for her as I watched her grasp for understanding in the aftermath. She became withdrawn and would not even talk about her father, I guess for fear she would get into trouble.
Her father was charged with a DUI and no child endangerment charge was ever filed. I even went to the State Trooper who worked the accident and asked him why child endangerment charges were never filed. He told me he could not charge him with anything else but DUI, and that he had done everything he could in the manner by getting DHR involved.
The really sad thing about it is that my daughter’s parenting skills were put to the test by getting DHR involved. It was her home that was disrupted by inspections at random times. Questions were asked and eyebrows were raised about my daughter as to how she could not have known he was inebriated when he came to pick his child up for weekend visitation. It’s a question that tortured my daughter’s mind as well, as she would beat herself up about it regularly in the next few weeks. She swore he acted no different than any other time, which finally led her to believe she had never actually seen him sober. She continues to have nightmares to this day over what could have been…
the following morning when Rylee's Aunt Rhonda gave her a new tablet because hers was shattered in the crash
the following morning when Rylee’s Aunt Rhonda gave her a new tablet because hers was shattered in the crash
Just last week, only two months after the accident, we were informed that the father was moving to another state and that the state of Alabama (DHR) was dropping the case. He was free to go and would retain all normal visitations. When my daughter asked how this could happen, she was informed that it was out of their hands and that he had complied with all regulations. Our minds were stunned with this turn of events.
I’m not placing all the blame on DHR, I’m sure they followed the guidelines following this case. I’m not even sure who I can blame, but something in our system needs to change somewhere along the way so we can keep our children safe from the evils of the world. How are we supposed to protect our children to the best of our ability if our hands are tied with legalities?  We wake up in the morning, not knowing how the day’s event will unfold, but the one thing we do not is that we will do everything on our power to keep our dear children safe. It is our job as a parent and something we are supposed to be allowed to control to an extent. And when that control is taken from you, it leaves you with a feeling of helplessness you can never explain.
sweet Rylee
sweet Rylee
I give thanks to God for watching over my sweet granddaughter on this fateful day, because in the end, it is He who is in control. It is Him that I turn to now in my daily prayers to continue to keep her safe when we cannot. After all, our faith is what we cling to everyday in our daily struggles.

“It’s not Good-bye, It’s I’ll see you later” Brianna’s story

May 20th, 2013
As the first Graduating Class of Central High School of Clay County made their entrance into a packed gymnasium of family and friends Friday night, there were cheers, applause, and tears. It was history in the making…
Brianna Andrews poses with fellow classmate
Brianna Andrews poses with fellow classmate
Her long, beautiful mane of golden, blonde hair was easy to spot among the sea of navy gowns, and a small smile formed at the sight of her as the threat of tears began to blur my vision. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I had already had the honor of seeing my two daughters graduate and had thought that part of my life was over. It’s funny how God works sometimes…
The first time I laid eyes on Brianna Andrews, she was a adorable little five year old with big baby blue eyes, and cute little dimples that showed when she smiled a toothless grin. She was such a precocious child, as she had already named herself the lady of the house, taking fierce care of her little brother, Michael, and her daddy.
Michael, Brian and Brianna
Michael, Brian and Brianna
At three years old, Michael’s speech was hard to understand, because of the missing front teeth from an “unfortunate” Superman incident, but Brianna could tell you every word he was saying. She could also tell you everything her daddy was thinking at any given time, because his moods could be hard to read sometimes. She loved them both with everything this little doll had in her. It was very refreshing, yet could get testy at times too.
 For example, when Michael would get into trouble, which was frequently, she could not bear to see him get a spanking. She would cry when he would cry, and beg her daddy to stop. When she was in the 3rd grade, Brianna learned about calling 911 after having a police officer visit their class and speak to them about all of the dangers that can befall a child. That same night, Michael got in trouble and her daddy had to take a belt to him. Brianna cried and begged him to stop, saying she was going to call 911 if he didn’t.. Her daddy wasn’t very thrilled about it, but I had to leave the house because laughter would not have been welcomed at this point.
Brianna very rarely had to be punished, she knew when she did wrong and she would literally take her own course of action in this field. For instance, if she made bad grades, she would go to bed without dinner or retreat to her room without being told if she had done wrong. Apologies weren’t easy for her, so at times she would write you a special “I’m Sorry” letter that would  always end with “ I Love You”. These letters  would  mysteriously appear under your pillow or on your desk. I know, because I still have several of them. She didn’t share her feelings with you much, but she would always ask about yours.
To say she was a daddy’s girl would be putting it mildly…and still is. She was perfectly content to spend a quiet day with him, versus staying at a friend’s house. She loved going places with him, even if it was just to the store and back. If he was in a good mood, she was in as well. If he hurt, she did too. Her empathy skills in this area were amazing.  I know it is not uncommon for children to worship their father, but he remains her hero today even still.
father and daughter...birds of a feather
father and daughter…birds of a feather
I have had the privilege of watching this sweet girl grow into an even more beautiful young woman with an extremely bright future ahead of her. I had never intended on becoming a stepmother, but I think God knew I needed something a little extra special in my life.
I’m not going to sit here and say we didn’t have any problems, because that would be a lie. Being a stepmother is hard, for there are invisible boundaries there that cannot be crossed without some repercussions. But I was fortunate in that area, because I always had the support of my husband, Brian to enforce any rules I laid down. But not once did I ever hear “ You’re not my mother” from either one of them, a very common retort from stepchildren.
 As I watched her exit the gym floor on her special night as a 2013 CHSCC Graduate, diploma in hand, those beautiful baby blues still sparkling and dimples showing from ear to ear, my pride for her overwhelmed me and I thanked God for allowing me to be a part of her life.
She left us on Sunday, her car loaded down with boxes, as she begins a second chapter in her life, a journey that is as exciting to her as it is scary. She never looked back as I hugged her bye, because I knew she was too emotional at that point. She will still come to visit as much as she can, but not as much as she would like. She says she will come back one day to pursue her career as a paramedic. I’m holding her to that….
“ It’s Not Good-bye… It’s I’ll  See You Later”

Special Gifts for a Special Patriot!

Jason, also known to many as "Huggins" with Oxford Coaching staff
Jason, also known to many as “Huggins” with Oxford Coaching staff
May 27, 2013
What a glorious Memorial Day weekend! Whether you were vacationing, grilling out, or just doing yard work, you had to admire the spectacular weather. Like many, we headed south for the weekend to P.C. Beach where the ocean was fabulous. The water was the clearest I had ever seen it. There’s just something soothing and mesmerizing about watching those waves roll in. Kinda serves a type of therapy for me…

jason soft ballIt was also nice to see the show of patriotism as we rode through many towns. I cannot count the number of flags I saw on display in honor of our fallen heroes. Regardless of what you did this weekend, I hope you remembered the true meaning of this day. We wouldn’t be enjoying the freedom we do today without their sacrifice.

 I understand the very first Memorial Day Service that took place on Sunday, May 26th at the Veterans Memorial Park had a nice turnout. Special Thanks go out to Lonnie Schlosser and the Clay County VFW Post 9581 for their hard work in making this event a success. I hope it is the first of many…
Memorial Day brought about a surprise to one former Clay Countian. Mr. Jason Hendrix of Oxford, AL, a tremendous patriot for all Veterans, was honored with a special keepsake. Lineville Native Nicholas (Nic) Hunt, of the 167th Infantry Unit E-Company in Talladega, AL presented Hendrix with an American flag signed by all members of this unit in front of a small crowd at the Veteran’s Memorial Park. This flag was also paperwork certified from commanding Officers to have been carried through several missions in Afghanistan. Hunt had returned home with his Unit recently from a nine month deployment in Afghanistan. This was the very first face to face meeting for Nic and Jason, although they chatted regularly through Facebook during Hunt’s deployment. They met through a mutual friend, Nic’s father, Jim Hunt, and struck up an instant friendship.
Rep. Steve Hurst, Jason Hendrix, Nic Hunt, and Jim Hunt
Rep. Steve Hurst, Jason Hendrix, Nic Hunt, and Jim Hunt
  The location of this informal ceremony, seemed most fitting with four generations of Jason’s ancestors written in stone on the Wall of Honor that stood in the background. Some of Jason’s relatives had even driven quite a distance to see such a special family member honored in such a way. Representative Steve Hurst also presented Jason with a special commemorative coin from “The Sooner Sailors” on behalf of Retired US Navy Chief Petty Officer Chris Peyton, of Moore, Oklahoma, in recognition of Jason’s patriotism. Hendrix was overjoyed to have received such invaluable gifts. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.
Jason's holding his priceless flag
Jason’s holding his priceless flag
 Jason may have never served in the military, but he holds a deep respect for those who do and comes from a long line of great men who have: his father, Garry Hendrix, both grandfathers, Felix Hendrix and John F. Sprayberry, Great Uncle Euless Sprayberry, Jesse Lee Sprayberry, William Clayton (Johnnie) Sprayberry, and Otis Rooks, as well as numerous cousins.  And finally, possibly his greatest influence,  his Uncle Bill Sprayberry, retired Chief Master Sgt of the U.S. Air Force. In fact, it was his Uncle Bill who instilled Jason’s desire to honor Veterans each year on Memorial Day by distributing American Flags to the graves of family members and also friends of family members. Each year around Memorial Day, Jason and his Uncle Bill would travel to several different cemeteries for the placement of these flags. After the flag was placed, they would each salute the fallen soldier in honor of their service to our country.
Jason salutes a fallen soldier
Jason salutes a fallen soldier
When his Uncle relocated to Oklahoma, he passed on this tradition to Jason, who has taken this task very seriously, and has not only continued it, but his list of visited gravesites has grown tremendously. This is a tradition that he holds dear to his heart for more than 10 years now. Although many have offered to provide financial assistance to help pay for the flags, Jason always covers the costs alone, an act of kindness that should never go unnoticed. Jason says it is a true honor to be able to do this for those who gave so much for our freedom. Jason also has collected a great deal of military memorabilia over the years.
41 year old Jason is loved by many. He is employed with Wal-Mart and gives his time graciously to others voluntarily through extracurricular activities. He has been an honorary “Coach” with the Oxford Yellow Jackets Football team since

Jason with former Alabama player Tyrone Protho
Jason with former Alabama player Tyrone Protho

his high school days, where he is affectionately known as “Hug” or “Huggins”. He has also been an assistant Coach for girls’ softball with Oxford PARD, and coached Upward Basketball at Grace Baptist Church, where he also serves as an Usher. He is considered a great friend to all who know him. Jason is also a HUGE Alabama fan.

Jason has distributed these flags to numerous cemeteries that cover four counties, but most of them in Clay County.  So, if you discovered an American Flag on the grave of your loved one who served in the military and wondered about it, chances are Jason Hendrix placed it there!

Prayers for Benny…

 May 13, 2013
Mother’s day weekend was a busy one for me, but a good one. Friday night, I was glad to see such a great turnout for Chief Benny Davis wrestling fundraiser at the Lineville Armory. Special thanks to Larry Patterson in his organizational efforts in putting this event together. The large crowd was very well entertained with comical performances from the wrestlers.  Also, a big  thanks to Kevin Moon and Mike Coleman with their amusing performance of their wrestling debut of the night. Moon was declared the winner of the match up, but he may have had some help with an act of diversion . All’s fair in the world of wrestling though, right? Anytime you can see Moon in a dress, it’s always entertaining. I understand that’s happening a lot more these days too…
On Mother’s Day, I was treated to a special brunch by my husband at The Cheesecake Factory, which was delicious as usual. The gorgeous day was a bit cool, but filled with abundant sunshine. It was if God himself had decided to smile down on all mothers…
After our meal, we made the trip to see Chief Benny Davis, who is still listed in critical condition in the UAB Burn/Trauma Unit after almost four months.
We were pleased to see him awake and alert, although he remains on a vent. He was unable to talk because of the trachea, but what we couldn’t make out with lip reading, he jotted down on paper. Doctors are hopeful the trachea can be removed in a couple of weeks and his children are excited about this because they desperately miss the sound of his voice.  When he is able to go without oxygen for 48 hours straight, he will be removed from the vent. He has been able to make it only six hours at present time.
Benny Davis
Benny Davis
I teased him about getting too attached to that place and although he managed a small smile, I saw his eyes well up with tears. I can only imagine after being such an avid sportsman and outgoing person how hard it must be for him to be laid up for several months. His frame is no longer swollen with fluid, in fact, he seemed rather thin.  He really seemed to enjoy our visit. It is important that we remember his daily struggles in prayers, not to mention his family, who all try to make a daily visit. And one or more is there every single day. His father, Cecil drives from Columbiana, AL every day, a two-hour round trip to sit with his son for a few hours. I told Benny he had some pretty good kids and he smiled and jotted down “They do real good”.
Before I left, I told him how much we all missed him and were still praying for his recovery. Teary-eyed again, he gave us a thumbs up sign and wrote down “I miss everybody”. We told him we would treat him to a big fat steak and an ice cold Pepsi when he comes home, which got another smile and big thumbs up. That man misses his Pepsi…
What this man and his family has endured is nothing short of a nightmare. It’s the kind of situation no one dreams of being in, and when you are actually living it, there are no words to express how it alters your life forever. He is expected to make a full recovery eventually, but how and when is not known at this time. He has lost a chunk of his life that he will never be able to get back.
I ask again that you please keep this family in your prayers. They have been through a traumatic ordeal and the road to recovery is still a long one. A fund has been set up at FirstState Bank of Clay County for anyone who wishes to donate to the needs of this family. Call any Branch: Lineville, Ashland, or Wedowee for more information on how you can donate.  His children have not been able to work regularly and making those trips to Birmingham can get expensive every day. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop turning just because you have a life crisis. Life goes on and bills still have to be paid.
Sometimes in life, we get so wound up with our busy daily routines  that we forget there are some out there who lives are at a standstill. At any given time, this could happen to us. Don’t ever  take anyone or anything for granted. I’m sure if Benny could speak right now, I’m sure this is the advice he would give us all…

Clay County Etiquette

May 6, 2013
Live-work-play-slide-2
Every county has their way of life and Clay County is no exception. But I’ve taken the liberty of jotting down a few tips for you, just in case you are new to the area. You can thank me later 🙂
Clay-County-logo
Clay County Etiquette
Mud– Familiarize  yourself with it. Most people don’t like mud, but here, we embrace it. We work in it, park in it, roll in it, and play in it.  It is not uncommon to see trucks riding down the road outlined in mud with nothing but the windshield visible at any given time.  We even make mud biscuits. How many of you have ever eaten a good ole’ mud biscuit when you were little…or drunk? Raise your hand…no don’t, it’s a dry county, after all….
Fresh Game– No, we ain’t talking about sports, that’s a whole ‘nother subject entirely. We talking about every outdoor species known to man that gets caught in the crosshairs. And if it’s big enough to be considered a trophy, it’ll get slapped on top of a truck for the day and driven around to be proudly displayed.  If we shoot it, and it can be skinned, we gonna eat it. Deer, turkey, squirrel, dove, snake, frogs, and boars, etc. We got it all here, and we ain’t afraid to try it…once anyway J
Fishing Yeah, we got fish too. Lots of fish. We fish all day and then come home and fry it up…Clay County style. Lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams, we ain’t scared to fish anywhere. If the weeds are too high for comfort, we fish with a gun nearby, just in case something slithers up to us. Then we just shoot it…and eat it too. Hey, it’s protein J
Firearms– Here in these neck of the woods, we are very serious about our protecting our assets. We strongly believe in the 2nd Amendment and we ain’t afraid to put it to the test. You trespass on our property or show intent to harm, there’s a good chance you might be carried off in a body bag. So, if you enjoy having all your body parts…then heed this warning. We don’t provide warning shots….
Sports– What can I say about this category? Uuummm, everything. We live for football here. In fact, we even move holiday celebrations to accommodate the big games. Here, you’re either for Alabama or Auburn, there is no in-between. Pick one and stay there. You can’t straddle the fence on this one…it’s for your own protection, believe me. There’s a law in Clay County that you can shoot someone if they change sides. Now, I ain’t never seen this happen, but I heard a few things. When the Iron Bowl is on, you can pretty much drop a bomb in Lineville and Ashland and nobody’s  gonna get hurt. Businesses close, and phones are turned off. If you wanna rag someone about the score, make sure you know the person you’re ragging, or you’re gonna lose some friends, or family , or teeth for that matter…and possibly even an eye. Just sayin’
Food We take our eatin’ very seriously here. If it’ll lay still long enough, we gonna fry it up. Any small animal is not safe when we hungry. Just put it on the grill and wrap it bacon, cuz bacon goes with everything. The bigger the varmint , the bigger the get together.  See Fresh Game for more tips on this category.
Parties– Yeah, we like to party here and we can make a good time just about anywhere we go. On a river bank, lake side, camp site, or just in the back yard. Put on some Hank and crank up the radio and you got yerself some good ole’ fun. But we like our local boys just as well as Hank or George. Kevin Moon and Jonathan East tunes can be heard at just about any shindig. And we like it that way…In fact, we expect it.
Politics– Ugh, I hate politics, but unfortunately, we got too much of that here. You gotta watch this category, cuz we also got gossip and these two can be intertwined in a way that really stirs up some crap. And you can also lose an eye and some teeth on this one too, if you ain’t careful. Seen it happen J
Volunteer– This is a big word around here. If you live in this county, you have been one of these at one point in time. Where do you think our Football team got their name? We got 17 volunteer fire departments and a volunteer rescue squad. We got organizations, clubs, and non-profit organizations. Our county relies heavily on volunteers and they don’t disappoint either. You got a crisis, and they are right there with you, rolling up their sleeves and jumpin’ in to help. It’s a great place to live. Gotta be careful on this category too, or you will find yourself so far in the volunteer status that work will interfere with it.
Fun– The sky is the limit on this category. We may not have a mall around here, but we got all the fresh, clean air you can stand. Just step outside and take a whiff. You can’t find that in any big city. Here, we make our own fun and we got all the resources you need. Mountains, valleys, lakes,  and dirt roads. Riding four-wheelers,  river-floatin, hunting, fishing, mud riding, walking, running, swimming, camping…I could go on for days. It’s just a great place to live. But again, be careful cuz we grow on you like a fungus and you’ll soon  find yourself a citizen J
People– Clay County folks are the best people you will find anywhere. We are a typical small town where everyone knows everyone’s business. Sometimes good, and sometimes not so good. But generally, all round great people that will give you the shirt off their back if they think you really need it. On the down side, don’t think you gonna run to the store in your pajama pants with no makeup on and think you ain’t gonna see somebody you know. It ain’t gonna happen. I’ve been to the grocery store for one thing and ended up staying gone for three hours.
Religion– Yeah, we got religion. In fact, we take our Bible very seriously. We like to call it “Handbook for Life”. Anything you wanna know, it’s all right there. You got a problem, look it up. I promise you, there’s an answer there somewhere, but whether you choose to follow that answer is up to you. You don’t need Google for that. We go to Church, we tithe, and we pray…all day everyday. You got a problem you can’t solve, you pray about it. End of story.
Now, all of this may sound like Redneckville to you, but we just call it home in a Mayberry sense. Any banjo tunes you may here are strictly for fun and not to be fretted over. Come check it out for yourself…you might just like it 🙂
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Remembering a Dear Friend…

April 30, 2013

Carolyn Alderson Jackson
Carolyn Alderson Jackson

It was January 3, 2012 on a cold, rainy, very foggy night when I made the trip to Cheaha Mountain to visit with my very dear friend, Carolyn Alderson Jackson. Carolyn had been battling breast cancer for three very tough years, and was slowly losing the war. She and her family had rented a chalet there, because it was one of the things on her Bucket List. The fog was so thick on this night that I started to turn around several times before I got there, but I’m glad I didn’t.

She was surprised and very delighted to see me, and we had the best visit. Carolyn lived in Douglasville and I hadn’t seen her in several months, due to problems with her health and mine at the time. We laughed and talked and then laughed some more.

At one point during the visit when we had went outside to sit on the steps alone, she looked at me and said quietly “So, I got something to ask you”. Knowing her tone had changed, I knew the conversation was about to get serious. “Ok…Is this going to make me cry?” I replied. She then dropped her head and spoke to me in a broken whisper “Will you speak at my funeral?”.

I sat there in shock, not knowing what to say, and finally said “Carolyn, it’s an honor that you would think of me for this, but I don’t think I can, I mean, I won’t be able to”. She said “Yes, you can…I know you can. I have faith in you and I will be there with you”. Needless to say, by this point we were both crying. I told her she shouldn’t be talking like this, because she still had a long life to live. She smiled and said “Let’s face it Tammy, I’m not getting any better.” I still tried to argue with her, but she seemed adamant with her request , so I finally agreed, thinking this would not be a dilemma I would be faced with for at least a year and it seemed to make her feel better. It was the last time I would see my dear friend…

Carolyn passed away on January 30, 2013. She was only 49 years old.

carolyn hair cut Carolyn's grave

The day I received the dreaded call my friend had been taken from me, my first reaction was shock, followed by anger….Sheer anger from the cruelty of losing such a wonderful person who had fought so hard against a cowardly disease such as cancer. If cancer had a face, I would have cursed and beat it many times. But there is no one to release the pain of your emotions to, no one you can convict for the senseless murders of this deadly disease, just no outlet at all other than leaning on your family and friends for comfort. Cancer may as well be a deadly tornado, wreaking havoc on the world, and leaving behind a path of devastation that can never be repaired.

The day of Carolyn’s funeral, I did very well until we all gathered in the room with our beautiful friend for the last time for the final viewing. I began to lose my composure and told my friends there was no way I would be able to speak. They comforted me and told me I could, but I couldn’t seem to gather my wits. Shortly before I was called to speak, I felt a calm sense of peace come over me and I knew instantly Carolyn was with me. I delivered her eulogy with a serenity that I know she was proud of, because her spirit was there with me the entire time.

Carolyn's gravesite
Carolyn’s gravesite

Whenever I think of Carolyn now, I think of her with a radiant smile on her face, because you never saw her without one. She was the picture of life, with a big heart and loving soul that never met a stranger. She would envelope you in her arms from the moment of meeting and take you in much like a stray animal, as any true friend would do. I try my best not to think of her with sadness, because I know her cancer-ridden body is made whole again now…but at times I feel as a hole is in my soul because I miss her so much. It’s a selfish act on my part, but we are all human. When I have a funny story, I still want to call her and share it with her. I can still hear her delightful laugh in my mind. It’s the thing I try to hold onto the most. For I know she would not want me to be sad….

Carolyn became a very serious advocate of breast cancer and never passed up an opportunity to rally for the cure. Pink became her signature color. In fact, it was the color we all wore to her funeral.

carolyn pink

Relay for Life was very important to her. So, this Friday night, I will attend Relay for Life , May 3 at Upchurch Field in celebration and remembrance of my very dear friend’s life in hopes that a cure will soon be found for this awful disease that has shattered the lives of not only its victims, but their family and friends too. I will also celebrate with the survivors, who have managed to beat this disease, which does not discriminate against any one particular person. We will all be there, the survivors, the families and friends of the victims, and all others whose lives have been affected by cancer in some way…joining forces in this fight in hopes we can change the statistics of the future for the better. Won’t you join me??

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Simple Gestures

April 23, 2013

I enjoyed a wonderful meal at Logan’s Roadhouse Sunday evening all alone. I had a very pleasant server by the name of Kelly. She performed her job to perfection, for which I was grateful. To show my appreciation, I left her a very nice note of appreciation and a large tip. I hope this was something that made her smile. Sometimes it’s the smallest gestures in life that make your day…

My daughter and her husband have five kids, with a full-time job and a small business where they work from home, yet they still find time every night before they go to bed to tell the other one what they did that day that was appreciated by them. They also get each child to tell them one thing that day that they were thankful for. Now, this answer may not always be a significant one, sometimes it may be “macaroni and cheese” or “Barbies”, but it makes them more aware of their surroundings.

"When we stand together, we make a word" Granddaughters- Crimson & Clover
“When we stand together, we make a word” Granddaughters- Crimson & Clover

A married couple I know have been together for 30 years now, yet the first thing out of his mouth every morning to her after a kiss is “Good Morning, Beautiful, did you sleep well?”. With a comment like that, how can you not smile? She also puts little sticky notes in his lunch, wallet, etc. that say  “I Love You” and “ Have a Good Day”. Now that, folks, is how you keep the flame burning…

Taking someone for granted can happen very easily, and as a result, divorce ratings have skyrocketed in the past twenty years. Whatever happened to romantic getaways, picnics, and taking your sweetheart out for a night on the town for dinner and dancing? Little things like this tend to break the monotony of life, and leave us with a smile the following day. So, ask yourself…what have you done to make your significant other smile today?

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We live in a busy world where everyone is always on the run and we rarely have the time to visit, let alone really sit down and talk to anyone. Most conversations these days take place via text or social media chat, and lacks the personal touch of actually sitting with someone and enjoying their company. These new habits are ruining our society as a whole. It is taking away our social skills and leaving our children unable to interact with others. All they know is text and chat. Most teenagers cannot even look you in the eye when you are trying to talk to them. And some adults are just as bad.

How are our children ever going to be able to make it in the real world if we don’t teach them proper social skills? Has it become too easy for us to entertain a child by placing a cell phone in their hand? Take special time with your children doing outdoor activities, or even playing board games, something that will increase their social skills instead of leaving them with their head buried in a computer or gaming console. Anything computer related is always enjoyable, but should have a limited time frame. Excessive computer time can rot your brain. Teach your child how to engage with one another and the sky will be the limit for them…Just my two cents, folks….

SpendingTimeWithChildrenIsMoreImportantThanSpendingMoneyOnThem

Local News

I would like to take a moment and congratulate Melinda Wellborn, Lori, McCain, and everyone who took time to participate in the 2nd Annual Walk/Run for a Cure this past Saturday. With 260 participants, a staggering $23,116 was raised for Relay for Life. Absolutely phenomenal!

 

Clay County lost one of its best citizens last week with the passing Mr. Jim McClellan. His name will always be associated as the face of the Clay County Rescue Squad. He was an outstanding individual and his presence will be sorely missed.

I am very pleased to report that Chief Benny Davis continues to make a slow recovery. His pneumonia has cleared up, but remains on the ventilator, which they are slowly weaning him from. He is alert and communicating by writing. It’s a slow progress, but he’s getting better everyday. Our prayers remain with him and his family.

The Prom Date

April 16, 2013

Devontaye and daughter before the prom
Devontaye and daughter before the prom

 

As Devontaye Zackery made his way down the aisle for Senior Lead out at the very first CHSCC Prom with his 2 year- old daughter Samantha as his escort, the crowd erupted in applause, cheers, and finally a standing ovation. Some who didn’t know Devontaye’s story just thought it was a cute thing to do. For others who did, there were tears in their eyes and a smile on their face.

On October 23, 2012, Devontaye lost the love of his life, Terri Jo Brown at the very young age of just 18, very suddenly when a blood clot traveled to her lungs. Terri was taken to the hospital, but further testing revealed her to be brain dead. She was removed from life support on October 26, leaving behind a very stricken fiancé and 2 year old twins, Hadden and Samantha.

Devontaye’s love for Terri goes all the way back to the 4th grade, when he admits he had a crush on her for a long time. He would finally get his shot with her at the age of 14. They were inseparable for two years.

Life is unpredictable at times, especially with young love, and at the age of 16, Terri became pregnant with twins. Devontaye was right there for her. He assuring her he would stand beside her every step of the way, and he proved this to be true. Devontaye moved in with Terri and her parents and immediately got a job to help support them, while both continuing to stay in school.

The twins were born on February 15, 2011, healthy and happy. Life was hectic and came with ups and downs, but it was still good. Terri and Devontaye were happy and loved their little family.  Until that fateful day when Terri passed, and life changed for Devontaye. They were both still in their Senior year at CHSCC.

Devontaye, Terri and the twins
Devontaye, Terri and the twins

This was a very hard time for Devontaye, a time when most teenage guys would have given up and handed the reins over to the parents. But not this young man. He kept working, sometimes pulling a 40-hour work week, on top of being a full-time student. He also joined the National Guard, in which he serves one weekend a month. He is an excellent father, he is there with his children every minute he can be. He takes them to the doctor, stays out with them when they are sick, plays with them, takes them to the park, feeds and diapers them. In this day and time when there are so many absentee fathers, he is like a breath of fresh air. I think he is an exceptional young man and should be commended…

Devontaye and Terri Jo had looked forward to going to their Senior Prom together, but time took that away from them. So, he did the next best thing and took the other love of his life, a little piece of Terri, their beautiful daughter, Samantha. Terri must’ve been looking down from Heaven with a smile on her face….

Devontaye and daughter, Sam receives a standing ovation from the crowd
Devontaye and daughter, Sam receives a standing ovation from the crowd

Most of the time, our lives don’t go exactly as we planned.. Sometimes the paths we have chosen take on a whole new direction that lands us in unfamiliar territory, and we are forced to make a new plan. It doesn’t always mean this is the wrong direction, it just means you have to choose the one that is going to make you happy. For Terri and Devontaye, it meant they had enough faith in their love to know everything would be alright in the long run. There’s a saying “Life is not about weathering the storms, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. I’m sure Devontaye and Terri Jo never thought they would be parents at the age of 16 either, but they loved each other and wanted to raise their children in a loving environment, so they followed their hearts and did just that.

I always smile when I hear someone tell another “I could never be as strong as you”. Well, let me tell the secret behind the smile…

Strong people don’t just happen. They weren’t born that way either. They have just simply made the choice to make the best of what God gave them and that means taking the good with the bad.

Life is not always about laughter, fun and good times. It also includes heartaches, loss, and hardships at times. But that is what it makes it an entire package. God never told us it would be easy, and that is when you have to dig down deep and find strength to carry on. Not all of us make this choice. Some crumble under the pressure. Therefore, there are others that have to step up and take control of the situation, and not always by choice. Sometimes it is just because they are the last ones left standing.

It doesn’t mean these people are void of feeling either. Strong people hurt just as bad as others do. But you may have to peel at the layers sometimes to find this out.

So, the next time you see a “strong person”, let them know how much you appreciate them…It will mean more than you ever know.

The Nitty Gritty – Clay County News and Events