Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Letter To Marina

Dear Marina,

I saw on Facebook today where someone had written these words:   "I believe that certain people come into your life for a reason, they change your life when you don't expect it."  

I didn't write those words but I wish I had because they make me think of you. 

A long time ago, I prayed God would give me a child, and 17 years ago, He did something better, He sent me an angel. 

He gave me you. 

I loved you before you were born, and when you came into this world 17 years ago today, the moment I first held you in my arms I realized that God had given me a wonderful gift...a beautiful treasure to watch over while here on earth.  

I love you beyond measure and I am so proud of you.

Thank you God, for giving me such a wonderful gift as Marina.

Happy Birthday Sissy.  I love you.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Remembering The Life Of Mark Twain

Mark Twain died in Redding, Connecticut one hundred years ago this April 21. He was 74, and in failing health, his heart — his tobacco heart, he called it — so weak that he interrupted a restful cruise to Bermuda to return and die at the house on a hill built for him just two years earlier.

"Mark Twain is dead!" cried The San Francisco Examiner. In those four words America announces to a weeping world the loss of her foremost literary man.

It had been a quarter of a century since Twain's classic "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," but Twain remained the country's most famous and beloved writer, the slouching, white-suited, frizzy-haired humorist and storyteller. The records of Twain's final days were in bold headlines, with Twain's doctor providing updates carried by news outlets around the world.  "Yesterday was a bad day for the little knot of anxious watchers at the bedside," The Associated Press reported just before his death, adding that health concerns had led Twain to cut his smoking from 20 cigars a day to four.  No deprivation was a greater sorrow to him. He tried to smoke on the steamer while returning from Bermuda, and only gave it up because he was too feeble to draw on his pipe. Even on his deathbed, when he had passed the point of speech and it was no longer certain that his ideas were lucid, he would make the motion of waving a cigar, and, smiling, would expel empty air from under the mustache still stained with smoke.

Twain had suffered a decade of trials. He lost his beloved wife, Olivia, and two of his children, a tragedy that led Twain to vow he would never write again. Bad investments had forced him out of his eccentric Victorian mansion in Hartford and brought him to Redding, where he lived in a Tuscan-style house he named Stormfield, in part for his story "Extract from Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven."

Mark Twain, the pen name Samuel Langhorne Clemens concocted for himself, was a serious man who couldn't help but make folks laugh. He told wild tales, wrote merciless parodies and made poetry out of his rustic youth. When he was near death, he became obsessed with Shakespeare and the latest theories over whether the Bard even existed, and tickled that so little was known about the life of a writer he acknowledged as his superior.  "When Shakespeare died in Stratford it was not an event," Twain wrote. "It made no more stir in England than the death of any other forgotten theater-actor would have made. Nobody came down from London; there were no lamenting poems, no eulogies, no national tears, there was merely silence, and nothing more.  A distinguished man should be as particular about his last words as he is about his last breath," he noted. "He should write them out on a slip of paper and take the judgment of his friends on them. He should never leave such a thing to the last hour of his life, and trust to an intellectual spurt at the last moment to enable him to say something smart with his latest gasp and launch into eternity with grandeur."  Twain's final words were brief, abbreviated, unwritten, uncertain. Laying in his death bed, he indicated a couple of unfinished manuscripts and whispered the words, "Throw away." Hours later, he held the hand of his remaining child, Clare, told her goodbye, and added, apparently, "If we meet ..."  What remained was a "fluttering sigh, and the breath that had been unceasing through seventy-four tumultuous years had stopped forever.

Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ parents lived and owned a vast amount of property in this area shortly before his birth. Just before 1825, John Marshall Clemens and his new wife, Jane, settled at Gainesboro, Tennessee. By 1827, the Clemens' had moved to a brand new settlement known as Jamestown, where John practiced law and was elected circuit court clerk.  John Clemens practiced law in Fentress County.  He also owned a general merchandise store. Soon after the birth daughter Margaret, the Clemens' moved to Pall Mall, where John was the Postmaster. Then, in early spring of 1835 the Clemens family moved west to be near Jane's sister in the new and more promising land in Florida, Missouri.  It was there that America's most famous author, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was born.  John and Jane Clemens were still residing in Fentress County only five months and twelve days prior to the birth of  Samuel, so obviously Mark Twain was conceived in Fentress County.

In Mark Twain’s autobiography, he says "The vast plot of Tennessee was held by my father twenty years in tact. When he died in 1847, we began to manage it ourselves. Forty years after, we had managed it all away except 10,000 acres and got nothing to remember the sale by. About 1887, the 10,000 acres went. My brother found a chance to trade it for $250.00."

Today in Jamestown, there is a Mark Twain inn and restaurant, a Mark Twain post of the American Legion, and the old spring near the courthouse square where John Clemens got his water, and the log cabin where he lived, is preserved as Mark Twain Park.

By the way, did you know that Halley’s comet was visible from earth in the year Mark Twain was born - 1835?  That same comet was again visible the year he died in 1910.

*Part of this story was taken from an article written by Associated Press national writer, Hillel Italie.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Freak Accident

It happened last week as a 33-year-old man was cutting a tree on his farm at Hilham, Tennessee. When his chain saw bound up in the tree, he got another chain saw. As he began using the second chain saw to free the first one, suddenly the tree began to fall. As it did, the tree started splitting down the middle and then, out of nowhere, the bottom of the tree broke loose hitting the man in the back of his head, killing him instantly.

Man Making

Man Making
(Nothing is worth the making if it does not make the man)

We are all blind until we see that in the human plan 
Nothing is worth the making if it does not make the man 
Why build these cities glorious if man unbuilded goes
In vain we build the world unless the builder also grows

Growing Up

J.D. and MiKayla at Easter

Elijah on his way to an Envy Of The Coast/Fall Out Boys concert

Now Driving.....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


My beautiful daughter, Marina, phoned me yesterday saying, "Hey dad great news, I'm coming to see you!" And sure enough, today she showed up like she said she would....only this time she drove herself here. That is going to take some getting used to. I didn't tell the boys she was coming so she could surprise them, and what a nice surprise it was. She is on spring break and had a couple days free from her job. Oh, did I mention she drove herself here?

"But time makes bolder, children get older and I'm getting older too...."


A Tribute To A Friend

Today we say goodbye to my friend, Tim Witham.  I will miss his laughter.  He always had something funny to say.  I've made a lot of trips to the hospital the past few years and he was always there to greet me.  If I tried to talk to him about his health, he always managed to avoid talking about himself and would instead talk about what was wrong with me.

There were a few times when he did talk about himself, and I know that the only consolation in his passing is that he is no longer suffering.  The bible says that in Heaven God will wipe away all our tears and there will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.  What great comfort and joy. What a blessed assurance!  This is great news for each of us, including Tim who suffered for so long.

One great memory I have of Tim Witham is the night Coach Dunlap put him in a basketball game.  I can't recall which game, maybe Rockcastle County.  I only know that with a couple of minutes left to play, Tim goes in and when the ball is passed to him, he dunked it.  This was back when dunking was not allowed in high school basketball.  Tim knew that.  He knew he would be whistled for a technical foul, but he did it anyway.  I am glad he did it, because it was something that Tim was able to talk about and laugh about for the next 28 years.  I always brought it up to him and he would re-tell the story over and over and over, and we would always laugh about it. No matter how often I brought it up, we always laughed about it. The years and years of laughter spent over that dunk far outweighed the technical foul.

Shakespeare said cowards die many times before their deaths.  The valiant never taste of death but once.  Tim was strong and encouraging.  He stayed positive right up to the end...and he was valiant.  He also fought his battle with great fortitude.  I think that word best describes Tim and his situation.  "True fortitude I take to be the quiet possession of a man's self, and an undisturbed doing of his duty, whatever evil besets or danger lies  in his way," said philosopher John Locke.  Someone else said the fortitude of a Christian consists in patience, not in enterprise which the poets call heroic. Fortitude implies a firmness and strength of mind, that enables us to do and suffer as we ought.  It rises upon the opposition, and, like a river, swells the higher for having its course stopped.

I was thinking just the other day of a quote I had read, and it seems only fitting that I close with it.  "Only the dead know the end of war." Tim fought bravely.  May he now rest in peace.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Wow! It was almost one for the small schools who never had a chance to be there. What a classic championship game, but ya gotta love those Butler Bulldogs....especially when one lives in the land of 'We Hate Duke, Even Though It's Been A Hundred Years Ago Since THE Game!' This game may not have ended with a 'Milan Miracle,' but it sure was close to being one.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

Visit The Hour of Rescue to read The Vision, my special Easter message just for you!

Thanks for your prayers.  Keep 'em coming!
The Notorious Meddler

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...