Papaw’s Lesson From The Watermelon

“You shall teach them diligently to your children,

and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,

and when you walk by the way,

and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Deuteronomy 6:7 

           Photo By:       Mathew Steinhoff

Photo By:
Mathew Steinhoff

I was sitting on the porch swing with a close friend discussing special moments in our lives. Her Papaw grew watermelons and like many garden plants, a melon is the result of a very large and yellow bell-shaped flower. It blooms, wilts and falls off the vine. In a short time you notice a marble size ball on the end of that same stem. Don’t get excited, there is a good chance that marble may fall off as well; the survival rate is 50/50.  Once this future delicacy grows to the size of a golf ball you can begin to see how well your crop is going to produce.

When my friend was six her Papaw took her into the watermelon patch and let her pick out her own melon. She picked one that was about seven inches long. As the two knelt next to it, Papaw picked up the tiny melon and gently placed it in her hands. She leaned back on her knees and held it in her lap while he took out his pocket knife and lightly carved her name on the side of the melon.

Why is my name so small?” she asked. The name was barely visible.

“Because you are so small,” he answered. “When this melon grows up, so will you.” He smiled at her and continued, “In order for this melon to be the best melon ever, you have to nurture it. That means when you come to visit you have to pull any weeds that are nearby, so they don’t sap the nutrients and moisture the melon needs. You will also need to take this rag and wipe off any dirt and keep it clean and shiny. That will make it the bestest and sweetest melon you ever had. The greatest part is that it’s all because of the way you raised it.”

She smiled and went on just being a little girl. Every week she went with Papaw to cultivate her melon and watched it leisurely grow to maturity. As they drove the old tractor to the field and walked into the patch, there was one thing she looked forward to. You see, as the melon grew her name grew with it. Her enthusiasm grew and she could not wait to see how much her name increased in size with each visit.

 I had to try this myself. I was so excited and impatient I didn't let the watermelon fully mature.    :-(

I had to try this myself. I was so excited and impatient I didn’t let the watermelon fully mature. :-(When the time came to harvest the melon, the name was so big she could see it from several yards away. She was proud of her name standing out among all the other melons. From one end of the dark green melon to the other, her name was engraved in big bold cream-colored letters. She helped Papaw carry it and as she climbed up on seat he placed the melon on her lap. She smiled all the way to the house. The rest of the family was waiting at the picnic table in the back yard ready to chow down on sweet melon. Everyone was patting her on the back and rubbing her head saying, “Way to go!”  My friend was privileged to make the first cut and pick out the first piece, a memory she has never forgotten.

 “Train up a child in the way he should go;

even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

When our children are born and we scribe their name on a birth certificate the cultivation and nurturing begin. It is our duty to keep the bad weeds away so that they receive the nutrients we provide and keep those things away that sap strength and sweetness from them. The almost invisible names we engrave on their heart, when they are but marble size, stand out among others in the world and speak not only their name, but ours. Our children impart integrity, truth, honesty, sincerity, value and even God’s love to places where these virtues may not be present. When presented to the world they become an illuminating path to God’s love; an everlasting memory carried for eternity.

Someday, our family of believers will welcome us to the big table in the back yard of heaven, slapping you on the back and saying, “Way to go!”

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Secrets the Seasoned Ones Wish To Tell

Written By:

The Great Plains Poet

Grandpa Don ~ better known as Opa

Grandpa Don ~ better known as Opa

Our “seasoned one”, Grandpa Don

Five different faces stared across from each other at the butcher block farm table that sits in my simple home. Coffee mugs of all shapes, colors and sizes were cradled in each hand as I watched the other’s expressions lift, fall, and convey their emotions. At my weathered table, sat four generations of the Lord’s people. Each had been through trials and elation. All persons seated knew some form of sorrow or joy; the marks of life that each person must endure.

The one thing this gathering had going for it was experience. It was etched upon each person’s face as they were relaxing in my dining room the size of most homes bathrooms. The closeness of the space brings an immediate intimacy. There is no escaping to a corner and being alone with one’s thoughts at my kitchen table. You must engage.

After pulling in a few draws of my cream-laden coffee, I watched, and most importantly, listened to all the conversations being shuffled around. The frenetic pace at which each story and colloquialism were spoken was exhausting for a scrambled mind like mine but, I treasured it greatly. For I consider it an honor to watch generations of firm believers speak of political concerns, charities, dreams, prayer requests, and of the direction the Lord is taking each one. This was an experience I held dear.

The graduated lines on the carafe of caramel colored liquid became more exposed as the bounty it held began to reach the bottom. Opposite the table from me was a soft-spoken man of God I called Grandpa Don, but my son has come to know him as “Opa”. The fingers on his tan, weathered hands held a blue leather-bound “boy-focused” bible that was my son’s. I saw concentration set his brow as he thumbed slowly through page after page. It appeared that he was searching for his favorite scriptures while intently looking at the various notes my son’s bible contained. Sheepish grins and softly uttered “hmm’s” would denote passages that seemed to strike a chord within him. Trying not to intrude on his “moment”, I watched him carefully, not to pry or to intrude, but to learn. For in this stooped older man was much wisdom and a seasoning that only comes from a life well lived and totally given over to the Lord.

Let me back up a little and explain. I didn’t receive an upbringing in righteousness in the house I grew up in. As a matter of fact, I found myself at 40 plus years old, wanting much in Fatherhood, Nurturing, Kindness, Encouragement and Instruction on how to raise a family… properly that is. This created a problem for me. As a husband and a father, these were skills that I needed to possess and quickly at that. So one day I realized, to my utter disappointment, I had no idea what I was doing as a father and husband.

I knew something had to be done about it. After asking the Lord to show me what to do and by searching his word, he began to arrange people in my life as an example of the Godly virtues I was lacking. Experienced persons would model a needed characteristic and I would put that in my pocket. I would witness an act of loving kindness and I would bend over and pick up its remnant to use later. A faithful believer would speak a word of encouragement and before it fell upon the floor, I would place it in between my cheek and gum and spit it out into my own syllables forming an edifying sentence of my own. What I did was watch and listen to the older ones, the faithful believers who were on the path of righteousness. And I learned that the “seasoned ones” had secrets to tell and I would collect as many of them as I could.

Praying that no one was paying attention to me, I thought of all Grandpa Don had been through as I was moving from keen interest to staring in fascination. Pondering some of the events of his life revealed to me he was one of the best examples of the “greatest generation” I have known. Let me build the foundation that this unshakable house sits on; indulge me for a few sentences if you will.

Connor’s “Opa”, was in a car crash that took his older brother and his father’s life. He fought the tyranny of Hitler with his service in the Navy. His hands worked the ground as a farmer during the difficult and bountiful times in the Great Plains. This man of few words, has buried two wives, and still has smiles for all his great-grandchildren as each one tears around his meager home during visits and holidays. In other words, wisdom and experience is coursing through his veins; definitely a man to be respected, appreciated and learned from.

The tenor of his voice broke the silence as he began to remark at the usefulness of my son’s bible. He thought the footnotes and scattered snippets of wisdom in Connor’s “sword” was very helpful for a young man. Grandpa Don didn’t have to verbally complete his thought before I was already imagining what it was like to study the bible in his formative years. We have many more tools for study at our ready than his generation had. The invention of the internet really has changed the way we study in our ultra-fast, modern world. My wife speaks of a touching memory of Grandpa Don searching carefully through a large heavy concordance and taking his finger down each column until the exact word that was hiding became found. It took great effort and patience to grow daily in God’s word in those days and that effort paid off in his latter years right in front of me.

He spoke a few more comments, but not too many more after that. He doesn’t vocalize very often; making the treasury of his knowledge much more valuable than mine. So, when Grandpa Don has an observation, I stop in mid-sentence, close my mouth and listen; hoping with anticipation there will be a secret he will wish to tell.

There were so many verses to grab a hold of on this subject. I wanted to focus on a verse for people who currently don’t have anyone in their lives that will lead by example and model the characteristics of God for them.

Here’s what God promises: “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:15(ESV)

If you find yourself wanting and don’t feel equipped for the job that you’ve been handed, God will bring people in and out of your life that will impart to you knowledge and understanding married with what you are drawing from Him daily as well.

If you come from a broken home and you feel like you want prayer, please email me at thegreatplainspoet@sio.midco.net or comment on this post and I will lift you up to the Lord which will set in motion the discipleship you need to carry you until you become that seasoned one.

I hope this post reminds us all of the wisdom and experience the generations before us possess. From now on, let us all slow down and look into the caring eyes of a seasoned one… Hoping for secrets they wish to tell.

Please take the time to comment, re-post, “Like” on Facebook and Twitter, and most of all, tell others what you’ve read here today.

The Great Plains Poet, seeker of the Lord’s wisdom from the faithful ones who’ve paved the way.

God bless you all and enjoy the poem below.

Secrets The Seasoned Ones Wish To Tell
by Chris T.

Folks push past them in the line,
No time to slow personal agendas
We talk over them when it is their time,
Missing the facet of knowledge, the wisdom it brings.

We all think we are each experts in everything we do,
Pursuing a self-gratifying existence that’s dull,
Never respecting the experience of a time clock punched,
Letting it bounce off our hardened skull.

Scarcely do we make a trip,
Allowing a tremendous resource to go untapped,
They wait alone and bite their lip,
When it’s obvious to them you’ve missed a step.

We sure show up with their grandchildren in tow,
Demanding a sitter like we’re ringing a bell,
But prudence and patience makes the experienced wise,
Secrets the seasoned ones wish to tell.

Thanks Chris for allowing me to post such a beautiful story and poem!

For more great stories and poetry please visit Chris’s blog here:

http://thegreatplainspoet.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/secrets-the-seasoned-ones-wish-to-tell/

This story was re-blogged with permission.

The Bone Digger

R.W. OLdham - Papa 065_edited-1

Part 1

I went bone diggin’ this past week. It was a lot of fun. The first grave yard I wen….Whoa Nellie. Grave yard??? Bone diggin’??? That’s gooder’n pot luck on cornbread. Laugh out loud! I can just imagine what must be goin’ thru your minds when you mingle those two thoughts. Well, slow the wagons while the cream rises and I will explain myself.

Before retirement I was always too busy working and rearin’ children to have time for all the things I enjoy. I have several passions. I love to collect stories and southern sayings. I love photography and I love to write. When I merge all of these together I come out on top. After I retired last year I decided to do one other thing I have planned for years; I am writing my memoirs. To do so requires a little bone digging and by that I mean looking for my ancestors.

I live in the heart of Dixie and love being a southerner. The South has a rich history and there is lot to discover here. My ancestry is revealing and deeper I dig the more bones I find. I’m goin’ deeper y’all. This is important not just for me, but for my descendants who follow. I want them to know their heritage and that Christ has been at its center for a very long time. I only knew my grandfather (pictured above) the first four years of my life. I know nothing about him other than he was a farmer in Louisiana and that my Dad loved him so much that he stated many how he couldn’t wait to see Jesus first and then hug his dad.

Now you see? I’m not out diggin’ up graves ‘cause the jaws of hell are gapin’ for anyone that’d do that; I’m just diggin’ up bones. I have lots to tell so I will begin this with the first part of several. Following is an article I wrote with another bone digger for our local paper. You can settle your mind and relax while I tell you how many fish make up a mess.

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. ”      John 5:25

After a cousin died I realized that in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. We put flesh on their bones and bring them to life. We dig deep into the past and tell their story knowing that somehow they approve. I have collected stories my whole life. Some I have lived and others I have been told. Oh if only I had listened more closely, more intensely.

 

     It is not a chore; it is a duty, a warmhearted gathering of facts breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. I am the one chosen. It is as if the genes have called out to reunite us for our future descendants. If not documented now, who will record it in the future? Who will hear the story? Who will witness it?

 

            It is as if I am an old soul listening to those who have gone before me. With each new revelation I hear their voice. No one remembers them, or even knows who they were. “Tell our story,” they say, “and, find yourself.”

            With each new death I am reminded of those who went before. Memories bring a smile, while a tear rolls down my face. I stand before my parent’s grave and yearn for just one more hug; just one more conversation to tuck safely in the repository of and share with the future. I am saddened that my grandchildren will never know them, they will never experience the joy I carry with me. I must become their joy.

             While walking through the grave yard there seems this calling from each stone to tell children that they need their story told, too. “Find my children,” they say. “Tell them I am here.” Oh, how I wish I could help, but I have my own story to find.

 

            A friend of my cousin said it like this: Finding the story requires dedication and more than just the facts. “It goes to who I am and why I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can’t let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to achieve. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us so that we might be born who we are, that we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.

 

            This is why I dig for bones. It is not just a genealogy; it is the story of my family. My prayer is that someone will be called in the next generation to pick up the mantle and place flesh on my bones and send forward.


 

Child's GRave

A Child's Grave

A Child’s Grave

 

I hope you have enjoyed this so far. It is hard sometimes to deal with death in a positive pose. It is not my purpose to tell you all my family secrets. Rather, just to have you think of all that your dependents will miss if you do not scribe the stories now, before there is a time when no one will know them.

 

Phoenix Cemeter

Phoenix Cemetery

Note: I took the above pictures in two small country cemeteries found in Ogden and Phoenix, MS.

 

My Grandparent’s Home ~ By: Raymond Bottom

Sept 30 1108

My grandparents’ farm was a wonderland of things to see, do and just enjoy when I was a young boy. Their farm was in walking distance of my home and I visited them at every opportunity to experience activities I couldn’t do at home and to bask in their love, acceptance and praise. “Gone but not forgotten”, the phrase often seen on tombstones, is a fitting description of my youthful days on the farm.

They’re still as fresh as long ago,
The house, the barn, the love and grace,
The open arms, welcoming smiles,
That lived at my grandparents place.

I see them now in memory,
As I ran down the dusty path.
Zigzagging, happy jumping high
My boyish antics made them laugh.

The old plow horse I loved to ride,
The patient cows they’d let me milk,
The baby kittens I could pet,
Their fur soft and smooth as silk.

The things I did, saw and felt
All gone, and yet so near.
My dreams often take me back
Down the path to yesteryear.

Raymond Bottom

Raymond Bottom has 60 years of publishing credits to his name. His very first publication was a poem he submitted to a contest for college students. His articles, poems, and stories have been published in well over one hundred magazines in the USA, Canada, Italy, Great Britain, and Ireland. His latest was in Mature Living, May 2013. He also wrote a weekly column in The Guardian Newspaper in Michigan for over seven years. Ray lives in Brandon, MS and is 86 years old. He never uses a typewriter or computer to write. He prefers to use longhand and his wife converts it to print. His passion is writing and carries a small paper booklet and a pencil everywhere, just-in-case he sees something that inspires him. His joy in this life is the time he spends with his three grandsons, one granddaughter, and one great-grandson.