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red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?

Heavy Wings

Last year I read a story about birds on the Galapagos Island. Over time, this one group of birds have lost their ability to fly. Flying was their primary, God given gift.
But they stopped using it.
There were no predators on land to keep them alert and competitive, therefore no reason to use their gift to rise above natural enemies.
The waters around their home are rich with fish, so these birds have developed their secondary gift/talent, diving. They are strong, swift divers.
These birds were made to soar. Instead, they waddle.
They wasted their gift. Their wings are heavy… no longer wide enough, their muscle no longer strong enough, to lift them off the ground.


The birds have all the fish they desire. They are fat and content to piddle around on one island. But they aren’t experiencing the life God desired for them.

They wasted His gift.

Don’t clip your own wings. 🦅

Speaker…you’re no lady.

After making a show of ripping up the SOTU speech, Nancy Pelosi told a reporter it “was the most courteous thing I could do”.
She said to another, “there is not one bit of truth in those papers”.

The names of the Americans in this photo were mentioned in, and printed on, those pages.

I wonder how 100 year old Tuskegee Pilot, WW2 Veteran Charles McGee (who was promoted last night to Brigadier General by President Trump) feels about being referred to as a lie? And his grandson, who stood beside him.

Or Kelli and Gage Hake, the widow and 13 year old son of Christopher Hake. Their husband and dad, Christopher, was killed in Baghdad in 2008. But according to Nancy, there is no truth in that.

Kobe’s Redemption

Redemption.

It’s available to all of us.

If we ask forgiveness and turn our back to the life we lived before… if we cherish the forgiveness our family and God offers us… then we realize the value of redemption, and we make changes.

From that point on, we choose to make deliberate, life changing choices.

It appears that’s how it was with Kobe.

His wife stood by him.

During his public humiliation, we watched a twenty-two year old woman sit stoically by her man. We saw the pain reflected in her eyes, we saw anger in her pressed lips. But she forgave him, even as his poor choices played out on Court TV and the nightly news.

He asked for her forgiveness.

She gave it.

And to show his gratitude for her willingness to give him another chance, he made a public, televised profession of love and commitment. To her, to their family. And he stayed true to the commitment.

— “You’re my backbone. You’re a blessing. You’re a piece of my heart. You’re the air I breathe.” Kobe spoke those words as tears spilled from his eyes. “And you’re the strongest person I know, and I’m so sorry for having to put you through this and having to put our family through this.”

By all accounts, from then on, he turned his face and heart toward his family.

He spoke of sitting in carpool lines to pick his girls up from school. Not because it was expected, but because he wanted to.

In retirement, he coached his daughter’s basketball team.

A man not dedicated to his family won’t commit that kind of time to his teenager’s activities.

Within hours of his death, ugly comments began surfacing about that time in Colorado. The indiscretion, made when he was twenty-four years old, started bouncing around like a foul ball.

None of us are sinless. Yet here we are, holding that ball.

It’s no secret how I feel about unfaithfulness in a marriage. Adultery breaks people into a million pieces.

It hurts children.

Shatters lives.

When Kobe’s indiscretions were broadcast nightly on the six o’clock news, I hated him. When I saw his beautiful young wife’s pained expression, I hated him more. It was all too similar to my own marriage.

Like her, I had forgiven an adulterer and had decided to stay. Concluded my family was worthy of a second chance.

But in my marriage, after I offered forgiveness, adultery became stuck on a rinse and repeat cycle.

I assumed it would be the same for Vanessa.

I was wrong.

There is a big difference in a man (or woman) who commits the same hurtful act over and over again, regardless of the pain caused to others… and one who sees and feels the pain he caused his loved ones and then chooses to change his ways… Chooses to make amends and heal wounds.

I believe Kobe made it a priority to heal the wounds he inflicted. His surviving children will remember a loving dad who put them first. His wife will know she was loved and adored.

That’s the kind of legacy all men should strive for.

“His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision.” Ballestero

Danita Clark Able, author

DanitaAble@yahoo.com

Because of the Brave 🇺🇸

I live in the greatest country in the world. 🇺🇸

I don’t say this boastfully. It’s a statement of thankfulness and gratitude. Every time I hear our National Anthem, I’m reminded of the sacrifices of generations of warrior men and women.

Football is fun to watch, and some even say it’s a fun game to play.

It’s a good sport.

But watch this video, and take good notice of the men and women in uniform. They aren’t playing games. Notice their “boss-man”, the Commander in Chief… the President of the United States of America. He’s not playing either.

Then, listen to the crowd of Americans cheering for their country, when they see their colors and hear the song of their nation.

Thousands of people, many from opposing school loyalties, coming together. From my seat at home, it seemed as if every heart in the stadium was beating in unison. Multiple colors and hues of people, from all walks of life, religions and cultures…

proudly cheering for America, the land of the free and home of the brave.

What a beautiful sight to see and hear. ♥️🇺🇸


https://youtu.be/hekGnlFzXF4

Kodak Moments

One day, you’ll wake up to some unexpected news.

You’ll receive word that while you were sleeping…running…playing…working…

someone who loves you, quietly left your world.

You’ll stand in disbelief. Even though, all along, you had told yourself to expect it. And perhaps you had, somewhat. But the finality of it will encircle you swiftly and tightly, and with such force, you’ll believe it will crush you. The loss will press heavy against your heart and lungs, so mightily, that it will push the breath out of you.

Emptiness like this is something you have never felt before. You won’t be able to put words to it.

And then, the If Only Chorus will begin to sing to you.

It’s a loud, boisterous chorus, too.

You’ll mentally kick yourself.

There will be no more chances to say or do a nice thing… No more opportunities for a “Kodak Moment” photograph. No chance to say “thank you for loving me”.

Your casualness will mock you:

“Come see me sometime”, they said.

“Ok, soon as I can…”

You will long to hear those old, often told stories, just one more time.

You will replay the last time you saw them, and you’ll wish for one more day to do things differently. One more chance to be more attentive, to stay in the moment.

But one more day is done.

So, this upcoming year, let’s find time for them. Pick up the phone and call them. Even if they’re old and quirky.

Go visit them. Even if you know that five minutes from now, they won’t remember being in the room with you.

Take a minute for a photo; a conversation. Ask them questions about their life.

Right now, the gift of your time is for them.

In the future, it will be a healing memory for you.

One day, when your own days begin to slow down, you will regret all the seemingly insignificant moments of life you let slip away. Capture as many moments as is possible.

I hope you create a lifetime of memories, everyday.

Sincerely,

Danita

“The quality of strength lined with tenderness is an unbeatable combination.” M Angelou

Mary Frances

In the fall of 1979, twelve year-old Mary Frances Stoner stepped off her school bus and minutes later was kidnapped, from her driveway.

She was driven away from her home, raped and murdered.

Her story is on Shotgun Road Podcast. The title of her episode is:

November 30, 1979

Incidentally, the actual road… Shotgun Road.. is just a couple miles from the location of her kidnapping and murder.

Shotgun Road Podcast can be found on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and most other podcast platforms.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/shotgun-road-podcast/id1473029154

#Friends ♥️

It’s been two years since I wrote the following post (11/12/17). But thanks to Facebook memories, it appeared in my Timeline today. And I’m thankful it did. Because it reminded me of the many wonderful people I have in my life.

Yesterday, I thought I was holding it together pretty well. I was feeling all the emotions that come with being mom of the Groom… a groom who is the baby of the family, and also the rock and glue… still, I was doing good. A few people even complimented me on my composure. 🤔

But then…

as we lined up for entry, Matt and Joe Laughridge, two of Garrett’s closest and longest friends, both spoke gentle kindness to me, as they always have, and I began to feel the tears building.

A few salty drops managed to escape my eyes.

Before we started down the aisle, Matt said, “I’ve got you. I’ve always got you”.

And I began to taste the liquid salt.

As he escorted me to my seat, I looked over the congregation of guests, and I saw something that broke the dam.

I saw Love.

A lot of love.

Love that rescued. Love that offered a place to sleep. Food. Hope. Promise. Forgiveness. Friendship. Peace. A listening ear. Transportation.

Unearned love, given freely.

On both sides of the aisle, people who love my son, turned compassionate expressions toward me. And each time my eyes landed on a face, my mind played a video reel of the roles they’ve played in our lives.

Someone whispered, “you’ve raised a good man”. I could no longer see through the tears.

I remembered the love these family/friends have given. The sacrifices made for people they didn’t even have to love…

Some were family… most were friends.

That kind of love is rare. And seeing them all in one place, together, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the realization of how many people truly love Garrett.

And I cried the kind of ugly cry you don’t want to cry at your child’s wedding.

The people there, ages ranging from child to geriatric, love Garrett because he loves back, without strings attached. When one of his groomsmen said, “He’s the most loyal man I know”, I heard soft echoes of “yes, he is”.

I agree. ❤️

Family is a gift from God. Friendship is a bonus gift of love from Him.

This was never more evident to me than it was yesterday.

Photo credit to Cindy Harter Sims , one of God’s bonus gifts to Garrett Able and our family.

🔹 Cindy Harter Photography

Little Red Slippers

My grandmother Crawford would put up her Christmas tree mid-December; a fragrant, local evergreen.

Christmas 1967 was different. She caught the Christmas Spirit early, and had her tree up the week of Thanksgiving.

She had never done that before.

By December 1st that year, packages wrapped in bright paper were nestled beneath the boughs of her tree. One package for each grandchild. Everyone commented, but didn’t complain, on her premature decorating. They wondered “whatever could she be thinking, putting a tree up so early?”.

Back then, most people decorated a week… two at the most… before the Holidays. Setting up a live tree one month before Christmas was unheard of. But there sat the Crawford tree, in the front window, for all of Hickory Flat to see.

One afternoon, around Thanksgiving, I went shopping with her. On that day, she got behind the wheel of her big, blue Chevrolet Impala and I snuggled up next to her. On the bench seat. No seatbelts required.

Lois Emma Benefield Crawford aimed her Chevy Tank in a southward direction on Highway 5, and before long we had left Cherokee County. We were rolling down Highway 41… destination: Marietta.

More accurately, our compass pointed to Kmart and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Browsing around Kmart, we lingered for a while in the shoe aisles. And it was there, that I came across the most beautiful pair of house slippers I had ever seen. Red velvet mules, trimmed in red fur. And they were just my size.

I couldn’t stop looking at them. Couldn’t resist running my hand over the furry red trim, even as it tickled my palm.

She stood very still, and I felt her watching me.

“Neetie, you like them shoes?”

I looked up at her… her blue eyes were intense, like sapphires against her dark complexion. Beautiful eyes. But there always seemed to be a hint of sadness behind them. The kind of sad you see in the eyes of poor people. People who keep going, even though life doesn’t cut them many breaks.

I answered her: “Umhuh …. I think I’ll ask Santa for these”.

We finished up at Kmart and made our way to Dunkin’.

We both had a single donut. She had coffee. I had hot chocolate. We nibbled our treats, sipped our hot drinks, and I talked about those red shoes the whole time.

“If Santa brings me those shoes, I won’t just wear them in the house. They are so pretty, I’ll wear them to school, too. The bottoms are hard, like real shoes. Not soft, like house shoes”.

She laughed a little.

On Christmas morning, I found a package addressed to me:

“To Neetie,

Love, Maw and Papa”.

The wrapping paper was covered with chubby little Santas, all playing in a falling snow. I was hesitant to open the package. Because I knew there would never be another.

Life had changed since our Kmart shopping excursion.

On December 4, 1967, the phone rang. It was late for a phone call. But I wasn’t yet old enough to be fearful of late night calls. So I answered, and heard my grandmother’s voice on the line.

“Neetie, I need to talk to your mama. I love you.”

My dad found her on her kitchen floor, the phone was nearby.

She was gone.

Without warning. Without saying goodbye. Her heart had simply betrayed her, it had given up and quit.

Christmas morning, I sat on my knees by her Christmas tree, and told my mom I didn’t think I should open my gift. She told me the decision was mine, but encouraged me to remember that the gift was something my grandmother had given me, her oldest grandchild. And it was something she wanted me to have.

Carefully, I pulled back the tape. I couldn’t bear the thought of ripping her paper, paper she had selected. In my mind, I could see her at her kitchen table, drinking coffee… wrapping gifts. Humming along with the radio. Her Coca Cola clock illuminating the wall behind her.

I felt so lost.

My chest was heavy with grief when I opened the gift from her. And when the paper was pulled away, I wanted to cry. Cushioned in a blanket of white tissues, lay the shoes. The most beautiful shoes in the world.

But I didn’t feel joy at receiving them. It’s not that I was disappointed in the gift. I loved the slippers and I was thankful to have them. But I missed my grandmother. I wanted to go back to the day at Kmart. And stay there.

My mom still has the red shoes. They are in my old room. They’ve been around for 52 Christmases now. And I still get a lump in my throat when I think of the sacrifice Lois made, to buy them for her seven year-old granddaughter.

And I wonder if she had a feeling that she would soon be leaving us.

I don’t know. But this I do know… some of us have complained about our people decorating too early.

It’s ok. Let them have some Christmas joy. Don’t shame the family and friends who want to stir up some Christmas memories a little early in the season.

They may know something you don’t.

Merry Christmas 🎄

Danita

Two of Lois Emma Crawford’s great-great grandchildren.

My friend Lorie Hamby’s tree.

She decorated in October that year. She said the lights and decorations made her happy. I said she should leave her tree up all year… “no shame in your Christmas game”.

It was her last Christmas. ♥️✨

Matthew 23:13

I can’t tell you the name of a single Kanye song. But we all know his name. He made sure we knew his name.

~Respect to him for building his own door and walking through it.

Recently he surrendered to another call on his life. Walked through another door.

~More respect to him, for ignoring the critics.

But something is confusing and confounding me.

Christians. They are doubting.

They’re laughing. They don’t believe it’s real.

They are judging.

So my question to you:

Is your salvation real? Is it? Because… correct me if I’m wrong (I’m frequently wrong)… your judgement and critical behavior is non-compliant according to the policies and procedures of the “handbook”.

And woe unto you, if you are a Christian teacher, preacher, missionary, church leader… who judges others… refusing to forgive for past sins, missteps and human failings.

(Matthew 23: 13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.)

How many of us have prayed for a brother, husband, son, nephew, friend… to have a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ? And when your prayers are answered, do you not believe?

I can imagine KW has had a grandmother or a mama, maybe an aunt… praying for his heart to turn from dark to light. No doubt they are celebrating this victory.

Is his salvation sincere? I believe so, but I won’t be the judge. Will he stumble and fall? Yes. We all do. I pray when he falls, a brother or sister in Christ offers a hand and helps him get back up, rather than a heel to keep him down.

✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨

“Dear Christians,

Today we saw the radical life changing grace of God displayed in the life of Kanye West. He released an album proclaiming his newfound faith in Christ that holds more weight and depth than most CCM on the radio right now. This is a man that went from proclaiming “I Am God” to “Jesus is King.”

My hope for the future was short lived when I started scrolling on social media. I was dumbfounded at the amount of hate, judgement, and ridicule from other believers. Friends, the world is watching you. A soul that was lost has now been found, and when the world sees you turn him away because of his past, they feel unlovable and unforgivable. You aren’t just posting about a man you’ll never meet that will never read your posts. You are speaking to every lost soul in your life. Your friends, family, coworkers, etc. You are turning them away.

If Kanye West isn’t redeemable by the blood of Christ then neither am I. The gospel isn’t about living up to a standard or meeting expectations. It is a gospel of rest and grace. It’s a grace that covers all and doesn’t discriminate. It’s the same grace that changed Saul from a professional murderer of Christians into Paul, a champion of the Faith.

Will Kanye West fail? Yes, but guess what? I fail daily and so do you. Instead of sitting and waiting for that “I told you so moment”, use it as an opportunity to show the same grace that Christ has shown you daily.

I believe with all of my heart that we are on the verge of a modern day great awakening. That move of revival isn’t going to come from suit and tie, church pew religion. It is going to come from Influencers like Kanye displaying the radical grace of Christ. It is going to come from churches that abandon religion for true relationship. It is going to come from believers that lay down their picket signs and display the same love that Christ showed during His earthly ministry.

Dear unbelievers, I’m sorry. The words of judgment, hate, and ridicule that you’ve seen today are NOT of Christ. Even Jesus was rejected by the church when He came to earth. In fact, it was the religious elite that murdered Him. There will ALWAYS be a place for you in the Kingdom of God. No matter your past, your failures, or your mistakes, you are LOVED.”

-Written by Noah Henshaw

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