Tribute To My Dad

The following is my Father’s Day Tribute to my Father who passed away on June 11, 2013

 

Patch of Clovers

by

d. washington-jones

2008

            The five o’ clock traffic was heavier than usual.  I had already begun to exhale as I made my way slowly down the interstate.  I didn’t even seem to mind the slower traffic; even this gave me a chance to rest my mind.  Josh, my second oldest, pressed his head up against the window as if he were going to be in prison for the next few days.  But for me, it was going to be a little slice of heaven.  I could already envision what it would be like to sit in the old rocker on my Dad’s front porch and rock away the stress and strain of the past few months. My work load had doubled and from taking the boys to football practice, games and everything else, my body was completely exhausted.

            While some people are popping valium, all I need is a dose of my Dad’s front porch and a cup of his famous coffee.  Somehow, in my mind, that would make everything that I have had to endure for the past three months disappear.  I had told Dad that I’d try to get away early, but who was I kidding?  It was four o’ clock before I’d ever left the office.  Naturally, I would have something thrown on my desk at the last minute or have to answer a chronic, last- minute phone call.  I was caught in traffic, the kids had not finished packing and one of them, my youngest, was running a low grade fever.  I felt his forehead, gave him some Tylenol and threw everything they hadn’t packed in the trunk of the car.

            “We’re going!” I said slamming the driver side door.  “I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for weeks and I’m not going to let any of you ruin it for me.”

            “But Mom, how will my girlfriend know how to reach me?” Trey, my eldest son asked.

            “You’ll survive son.  You know, absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

            “What?” he asked peering at me in the rearview mirror.

            “Never mind, just know that a few days away from your girlfriend will not hurt your relationship.”  It was not my intention to console him.  How long had he been dating this one now?  Thirteen months, 6 days, 2 hours and 15 minutes. He’d never missed a beat in reminding me, nor in telling me how much he loves her.  I wasn’t even allowed to have a boyfriend at fourteen. ‘They start early today,’ I thought, ‘too early.’ If they only knew, there ain’t that much love in the world! At least not for me; it seemed that I had given up hope.

            “Seatbelts!” I bellowed just as we pulled out of the driveway. No, I wasn’t about to allow their foul moods to affect my weekend.  Somehow everything would be better the moment I sat in one of the rockers on my Dad’s front porch.

            “Mom, can I play a game on your cell phone?” asked Josh, reluctantly.

            “Sure, but I forgot to put it on charge and the low battery light is on,” I muttered as we pulled onto the interstate.  Josh relinquished and leaned back in his seat and pressed his face against the window.

It would only be an hour and half now. Thirty minutes had already passed and I had heard almost every complaint in the book.

            “What good is a cell phone where we’re going anyway?  You can’t even get a signal way back in the woods where Grandpa lives.  It’s like being in the dark ages.  His home phone only carries a 30 mile radius and he doesn’t even have cable,” Trey said as I watched his disgust from the rear view mirror.

            “Some people seem to see that as a simpler way of life,” I added.  I could tell that he was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to connect with his friends either for the weekend.  Personally, I was relieved that I’d get a break from the constant ringing of the phones. I just wanted to put my feet up, lean back and bask in the warmth of the sun or sit out on the porch and watch the stars at night.  Just the thought of it was enough to quiet my spirit.  How had I allowed myself to get here?  My divorce had been final now for over four years.   I wasn’t lonely, I was just tired.  When my ex-husband and I started having children, we had not planned to have me do all of the work raising them by myself.

            “Are you feeling better, Joey?” I glanced at my baby for a moment in the rear view mirror.

            “Yes, Mama,” he answered.  My baby was not a baby anymore.  Where had all of the time gone?  It seemed like yesterday and I was pushing him in his stroller.  He was a big baby, but you’d never know it by looking at him.  I was floored when the nurse said, “You have a 10 pound 3 ounce baby boy!” ‘Oh, my God,’ I thought, ‘I’ve just given birth to a college student.’

I was glad he was feeling better, but I began to feel guilty about leaving so quickly after checking his temperature.  But why did everything always have to be about them and their needs?  Soon we’d be at my Dad’s.  I’d decide then to do something different if I needed to.

            “Are we there yet?”  Josh asked without moving his face from the window.  I knew I was going to hear that sooner or later and as I had planned, I ignored it.

I loved going to the country.  It was like something out of a Dickens’ novel, something so picturesque and surreal.  Actually, it was like going back in time.  Dad still canned fruit and vegetables and he even had a few farm animals too.  It’s funny how when I was younger, I couldn’t wait to leave.  Now I cherish the moments when I can return.  The boys soon fell asleep and I savored the peace and quiet for the rest of the drive.

It was dark when we finally arrived and got settled in the old house.  Dad was eager to see us and greeted us at the stoop.  You could tell that he had been waiting, but he would never admit it.  My room was just as I had left it years ago, down to the very same wall paper.  What was I thinking then?  I loved pick and brown and white polka dots.  It was a phase I guess and I was reminded of it each time I returned.  Funny, it still gave me a happy feeling inside.

On the mantel were all of my trophies and numerous framed certificates hung on the wall over the fireplace.  Even though my Dad never said he was proud of my accomplishments, I had often heard others say that he was always bragging on his daughter, the professor.  This would always make me smile and shed a few tears.

The first day that we were there seemed to go by so quickly.  The boys spent most of their time in the backyard playing basketball.  I was glad that my dad had set this up for them because it kept them busy and just far enough away to give me the space I needed.   Dad and I spent most of the time in the kitchen fixing some of my favorite meals.  He had caught some fresh fish and wanted me to try it.  I loved fried catfish and  homemade French fried potatoes.

By the end of the day, he took me on yet another one of his tours of the garden and grounds.  He had planted plum, peach and even fig trees in the yard that all seemed to stand at attention as we walked by.  His garden was dressed with English peas, Irish potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes.  I was amazed at how the tomatoes were planted and strung across what seemed to be a perfect rectangle graced with precision to the smallest detail.

On the fence row was a blackberry vine that my Dad said was, “tamed.”  For a moment, I stood staring at his glorious works of art on his dirt-filled canvas.  It was amazing how much I could see the sweat, labor and love that actually went into the creation of his topiary masterpiece.  This was not my first tour, but something about it always made it fresh and new.  Perhaps it was how Dad pointed out each plant or tree like a mother who had given birth to each one or in how he acted as though I  didn’t know  what they were.  Maybe it was how he took such pride in having someone to admire his handiwork.  That was the easy part.  I knew that I stood in the presence of a master gardener and it was not difficult for me to nod approvingly, look amazed, or even sigh at the extraordinary beauty that surrounded me. After the tour, I felt a bit tuckered out and couldn’t wait for the rockers.

I leaned back in the old chair and took another deep breath.  The roses were extra sweet as I closed my eyes and painted a mental picture for later.  It was all just as I remembered it, the roses climbed up the trellis and up the side of the house like the members of a marching band and tapered off at the roof stringing down the sides.  There were trees as for as you could see and hummingbirds, fluttering away at the stoop.    The old rocker made a screeching noise when you rocked, but that didn’t bother me at all.  I couldn’t pay for the way I felt in any psychologist’s office.  I sat on the screened- in porch and enjoyed a cup of Dad’s famous coffee.  I had learned years ago that it wasn’t the coffee that made it so special because I had the same brand at home.  It was the hospitality.  Dad took his time and prepared and served the coffee.  This always made me feel extra special because I knew that he prepared it just for me.

Dad sat in the twin rocker on the other side of the porch.  We exchanged very few words at that time.  It was as if he knew what I was thinking.  I wondered if he knew what this was doing for me.  We just sat and rocked in an almost synchronized manner.  He and My Mom used to sit like this for hours.  Sometimes he’d even fall asleep in the old rocker and now I understood why.

             I don’t remember my Dad as the person that I see today.  When I was younger, he seemed cold and distant.  Back then, he was always working and seldom played or even talked to us.  He was a strong disciplinarian and quite frankly, we were all afraid of him.  Since my Mom died over 12 years ago, I have learned to cherish these precious moments with my Dad.  I now know that my siblings and I couldn’t possibly understand what it was like then to have to provide for a family.  He worked very hard to provide for us and since I have become the main bread winner, I understand how you sacrifice and how difficult it is to juggle parenting and provision. Though the years have been relatively good to him, he moves around a little slower, but he has never lost his quaint since of humor.  For now, he didn’t have to say a word.  I didn’t want to talk.  I just wanted to sit and rock.  This was my rock and roll concert.

            It was day two and so refreshing to still breath in the nice country air and take the time to exhale too.  Dad could not know how important this was to me.  Today, my Dad is my friend and whether he knows it or not, he has always been my hero.   After all, whose kitchen table did I cry on when my marriage was falling apart?  I remember crying uncontrollably.  He consoled me by telling me that my life was not over and reassured me that I could make it.  That was five years ago and he was right.

The sun had began to make it’s decent behind the trees.  Soon there wouldn’t be much daylight left and I’d be making the trip back home.

By this time, the boys, who had been playing in the back yard, were standing over me and whining about when we would be going home.  “Soon,” I said.  I realized that they did not quite see the beauty of our visit and quite possibly could not wait to get back to the video games and TV back at home.  Sadly, I was able to see a bit of myself in them when I was their ages.  I wanted to break out of the country too, and now it means everything to me to get back to it, even if it meant just a little bit at a time.

“What are these flowers?”  I asked my Dad, ignoring the boys as I stepped off of the porch and pointed to a lovely grouping of purple flowers that had escaped the earlier tour.  I had already seen his garden of azaleas, four-o clocks, morning glories, petunias and what seemed to be a sea of ivy.

“Oh,” my Dad chuckled, “those are voluntaries.”

“Voluntaries?” I repeated.

“Yes,” he said with a suspicious grin.  “They just popped up on their own.”  I joined him in that smile.

“Come here, boys,” he called to my three sons urging them to take leave of the porch and stop their whining for just a single moment in time.  “I want to show you something.  Do you like four-leaf clovers?” he asked.

“Yes, sir!” my youngest responded excitedly as he jumped from the porch to the ground.

“My friend says that he found a four leaf clover in his yard,” my middle son added following him with the same precision.

“Well, how would you like to see a patch of four leaf clovers?”

“Yea!” they all said in unison as my Dad took us to a small spot of greenery bedded between the rose bushes and cape jasmines on the left side of the house.

‘A patch of four-leaf clovers?’ I thought.  Surely my Dad was exaggerating.  Could such a thing exist? I think I had read somewhere that the Irish thought of them as being a sign of good fortune, but only  one out of 10,000 clovers would have four leaves.

 “Look right here,” he said pointing into the very center of the patch.  “Look closely, you’ll find one.”  By now, the boys were on their hands and knees fingering through the clovers as if to find buried treasure.  What manner of experience was this?  And yet, the boys’ faces were filled with wonder and anticipation.  Trey seemed to be trying to find one even harder than his younger brothers.

“I found one!” my youngest son said gently clutching the leaves as though they were made of glass.  “So you did,” my Dad said, “So you did.  Now go on,” he coaxed the others.  Could there be more than one there?

“I found one!” my middle son screamed.  Now, even I was starting to believe something truly wonderful was happening.  I leaned over and began to help in the search and when my oldest son found his four-leaf clover, I joined in to search for one of my own.  I’d seldom if ever actually found a four-leaf clover and especially not after someone else had.  My Dad never lost faith.  “You’ll find one too,” he assured me.  I searched among the tender leaves trying desperately now to believe that it was possible.  He’d been right so far.  Could he be right now?  Would I find one too?  It was starting to get late and we were quickly losing sunlight over the old house.  What was I doing?  I looked up at my Dad and I could see his expression.  He had not  given up hope.  My heart shrank inside me.  Had I given up hope for better things to come in my own life?  My youngest son found yet another and my faith was heightened.  I was nervous as I spread the leaves of the clover that I held between my fingers.  One, two, three, four!  It had four leaves!

“Oh, my God!  I’ve got one!” I shouted in utter amazement and sheer delight.  You’d think I’d found a shiny new diamond.  Perhaps I’d found something even better.  My Dad nodded.

It had been a wonderful visit.  The boys even played a wicked game of dominoes with my Dad on the front porch before we left. They even admitted that they had had fun and more than that, they learned that fun was not something relegated to a TV or computer screen.  Past the fact that I had a time of relaxing that money could not buy; I had learned a lesson in faith that I would not soon forget:  That all things are possible with God and if you only believe you might be surprised at what he can do in your life.  A life without hope is a life without faith.

Perhaps, I too, will be able to find what I am looking for.  Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places.  More importantly, if you look hard enough, you can see God’s hand in everything you do.  My Dad seemed to know this all along.

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The Runaway Christmas Tree E-Book!!! by: d. washington-jones

The Most Wonderful E-Book of the Year!!!

The Most Wonderful E-book of the Year!!!

It’s the most wonderful time of year, Christmas that is.  We all love the Christmas story classics like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty, the Snow Man, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but imagine sharing a new Christmas story with your Children and loved ones this year and many years to come The Runaway Christmas Tree. Copy and paste the address below in your browser now: http://www.therunawaychristmastree.com.  Teachers will love the book in that it takes less than 30 minutes to read and it keeps the children’s attention.  I love the hugs that I get once the story is over.  It also has a glossary in the back with words to actually teach a lesson.

 

You will love visiting our  landing page to download your copy of the E-book and play games, answer questions or just buy your copy now at the low, low special holiday  price of $3.99 ($9.99 regular). http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0067GMOKK 

Synopsis of Story

The Kent family wants to purchase a real Christmas tree this year.  When they finally pick one from Nick’s Magic Christmas Tree Grove, they get more than what they bargained for.  They wanted a real tree, but just how does one define “real”?  That is precisely what the Kent family is about to find out!

Visit our landing page for more information and fun! http://www.therunawaychristmastree.com.

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He Loves Us!

“I wonder why you care, God- why do you bother with us at all? All we are is a puff of air; we’re like shadows in a campfire.” Ps.144:3 Message

What is Man?

What is Man?

Recently, the Lord reminded me of something that I so needed at the time. That night, I was being attentive to my oldest son who had recently gotten a tattoo.  He knew how I felt about it, but he insisted on getting it and besides, as he has often reminded me, he only gets “Christian Tattoos”. I was concerned about “infection” and even worst things. Sleep didn’t even really matter to me at the time because, if for some reason my son needed me through the night, I wanted to be there. I prayed for him and I kept checking on him to make sure that he was alright and the Lord said, “Do you see how you feel toward your son? That is how I feel towards you.”  I felt frozen as I listened to these words resonate in my spirit. “This is how I feel towards you”.   How excellent, how wonderful, how marvelous was God’s way of reminding me about his unfailing love.  Then I, like David, had a question for God, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him?…  his life is as a puff of air and yet, you have made him a little lower than the angels.” Ps. 8, 144. Why, God, Why?   And in my Spirit once more I heard, “Because I love my children, just as you love your children.” Lesson learned.  We can’t always keep our children from doing certain things, but we continue to love them.  God’s love, like a mother’s love, is unconditional.

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Amazon.Com Book Launch! Today! They stood Alone!

TODAY is the Day!

The Amazon Bestseller Book Launch for
“They Stood Alone: 25 Men and Women
Who Made a Difference”

Buy a copy of They Stood Alone! on Amazon TODAY
(September 25)
and receive more than 20 Free Bonus Gifts! 

Just go to http://TheyStoodAlone.com
and follow the simple instructions.

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Father, I Thirst!

I thirst!It would appear that I cannot move away from the Psalms right now or from David because David had the right idea when he said, “But it is good for me to draw near to God,” Psalm 73:28.   I respect how much the man (who was also KING), recognized that he needed God.  It does not matter which or how many hats we wear; we need God. 

In the run of a given day, numerous things distract us and pull us in so many different directions.  Our nerves become on edge, our patience is thin, and one emergency after another seems to demand our personal attention.  I once heard a minister say that we (Christians) “leak”.  We can only hold so much and after a period of time, we must refill or refuel because we are “poured” out.

We pray and intercede for others on a daily basis and there are those who draw from us or pull from us often.  Have you ever felt “weak” after you have spent even a small amount of time with others, or someone in particular?  Have you expended so much spiritual energy that you become virtually dehydrated?  If our cars run low on fuel, we don’t hesitate to fill the tank, why does it take us so long to realize that we need spiritual refilling?

Each day, we are consumed by the demands on our jobs, the phone, the TV, the soccer, the football games (that we attend out of genuine parental support) and yes, the church. We are constantly going and doing, dropping off and picking up.  There doesn’t seem to be much time left.  So, we therefore, try to “wait” for the right “moment” when we have the “time” and can get “quiet” and be “alone” with God.  It is no wonder that we feel tired, weak and worn.  The needs are still great and we are still expected to perform our daily duties with enthusiasm and vigor. How can we give something that we don’t have and if we don’t “make” the time to spend with God will we ever “find” the time? 

David also said this, “Oh God, thou are my God. Early will I seek thee:  My soul thirsteth for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is,” Psalm 63:1.  Do it now. Just stop, and allow God to speak to your heart, allow him to fill you as only he can.  Do it now!

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He Is My Shield!

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Ps. 46:1

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Ps. 46:1

 

1 I have so many enemies, Lord, so many who turn against me! 2 They talk about me and say, “God will not help him.” 3 But you, O Lord, are always my shield from danger; you give me victory and restore my courage. 4 I call to the Lord for help, and from his sacred hill he answers me. 5 I lie down and sleep, and all night long the Lord protects me. 6 I am not afraid of the thousands of enemies who surround me on every side. 7 Come, Lord! Save me, my God! You punish all my enemies and leave them powerless to harm me. 8 Victory comes from the Lord – may he bless his people. Ps 3.1-8 Good News Bible.  

            As Hurricane Isaac nears New Orleans, I am reminded of when David was being pursued by his son, Absalom.  David penned the words in Psalm 3 in much anguish and intrepidation.  Even though he was fleeing for his very life, he remained confident. 

          Isaac is scheduled to come ashore almost seven years to the day that Katrina unleashed her fury on New Orleans and neighboring areas. Some might question God as to why such an occurrence is happening once again or ask why is this happening “to me”?  David didn’t ask God why he was being hunted down and fiendishly pursued by his own son, whom he loved. He recognized that he had enemies and he turned to God in his time of need. 

          This was not the first time that he was being sought for his life, but David feared God, not man. David was good about that. No matter what was thrust upon him, he stood firm in faith and looked to God for his help. “You are always my shield from danger… I am not afraid of the thousands of enemies who surround me on every side.”   David yielded himself to the mighty hand of God in a state of affairs that only he could resolve. “Come, Lord!  Save Me, my God! You punish my enemies and leave them powerless to harm me.  Victory comes from the Lord.” God knows the enemy’s next move, why not put your trust in him!

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God Goes Before Us and He Won’t Let Us Slip!

God will go before us!

“And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.” Deut. 31:8

Moses wanted Israel to know that he could go no further with them; he would no longer lead them, but that they did not have to be afraid.  From that time on, Joshua would lead them and God (himself) would go before them. God would help them and they did not have to fear or feel that they had been abandoned or left alone.

Sometimes, it feels as if we are out here alone.  We’ve stepped out or moved forward from the grips of Egypt and like Israel, we can’t go back, so we must forge ahead.  Knowing that God is there, working and moving on our behalf is just what we need at a time like this.

From Deuteronomy 31:8, it is important to recognize that God is the one who goes before us.  He is the one who paves the way and will make our crooked paths straight.  I love this scripture because it lets me know that God goes ahead of me, sees what I need and provides for me.  My job is to trust him.  In deeper study, I found the words from this scripture to be even more reassuring that God will not abandon me or relax his grip on me or let me slip.  I have often spoken on this because, in comparison, I may have the greatest intentions of holding you up and not letting go of you.  But in all my good intentions, it could happen.  Picture this. If you were on the side of a cliff and I had a good grip on you, I’d do everything I could to uphold you and even try to pull you up, but I could still fail you.  Not so with God!  He won’t let go of you. He won’t let you slip.  Isn’t that a comforting thought?

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From “Spice to Eternity” by Yvonne Wright Launch Day is Today, August 21st!

  • Yvonne told me that this is the way that she relaxes with this beautiful worship song.  We hope that it will bless you too!
  • There is a place of quiet rest,
    Near to the heart of God,
    A place where sin cannot molest,
    Near to the heart of God.
  • O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
    Sent from the heart of God,
    Hold us, who wait before Thee,
    Near to the heart of God.
  • There is a place of comfort sweet,
    Near to the heart of God,
    A place where we our Savior meet,
    Near to the heart of God.
  • There is a place of full release,
    Near to the heart of God,
    A place where all is joy and peace,
    Near to the heart of God.
  • Fabulous giveaways!!! …..A Kindle device and several fiction and non-fiction books.   For 24 hours only, on Tuesday August 21st, 2012  when you purchase your own copy of From Spice to Eternity through Amazon   A blend of Christian faith, love, joy, and grace along with a sprinkling of Bible verses and a dash of botanical history equal a recipe for perfection.  Sweet in its approach and pointed with its messagehttp://yvonnepatwright.weebly.com

 

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My Soul Desire

 

My Soul Desire

As I listened to Deniece Williams’  version of the song “My Soul Desire” on youtube, the tears began to flow.  As she sang, “Lord, I do not seek to claim the glory, I only wish to be under your control”,  I was overtaken by such an overwhelming feeling of God’s presence.  I have always said that you truly cannot sing that song until you mean that song.  It reminds us that we must give him all of our goals, aspirations and plans.  Afterall, he is the one who truly knows all about us and it is at that moment that our fears of doing what ever he has called us to do dissipate.

Funny how we get caught up in doing things in our own strength and actually begin to believe that we are doing them on our own.  A good indication of this is when fear sets in and anxieties build.  David knew in whose power he would slay the giant, Goliath.  He said,  “This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand….” 1st Sam. 17: 46.  The Bible tells us that David ran out to meet Goliath.  He certainly had no fear. We must be just as assured of the giant slayer in us.  When our fears grip us and the anxieties build, when we are treading upon new territory (things that we have never done before), we must stop and take a moment to remember that “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalm. 118:23.

 

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Why Write?

“…write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Habakkuk 2:2

In 2007, I attended a Christian Writers’ Conference and I knew then that writing was something that I had to do.  It’s not always something that I want to do, but greater than my fears is my need to pass on what I have heard and learned through the years.  There are things that I absolutely must say and there are those who are out there who need to hear it.  This is not just for me, although I must admit, each new day is a learned experience for me in this walk.  I am just so amazed by the things that are shown to me simply because I am willing to ask or seek or knock.  Others sometimes ask me, “how do you know so much about so many things?”  It’s not me!  It’s truly not me.  I ask and God is so gracious to answer.  And when the time comes, I share it.  I don’t pretend to know all of the answers, but I know someone who does, so I point others to him.  I simply point the way, nothing more, nothing less.  At the conference, I shared one of my eccentricities concerning writing:  I constantly buy pens, pencils and I have a collection of journals of all kinds.  Imagine my surprise when other writers told me that they did the exact same thing.  Do you think that this was God’s way of helping us to see that writing is a call on our lives, one that is unmistakeable?  Please comment.

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