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red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?

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Back in the USSR

When I was in high school, in the 1970s, one of our teachers visited the USSR – the
Union of Soviet Socialists Republic.

When he returned, my government teacher asked him to visit our class and share details of his trip with us.

Two things he shared still stand out to me:

• His official USSR government escort had offered him a lot of money for his denim jacket. Over $200 American dollars.

He told us that people of the USSR were unable to purchase denim. Later in his presentation, he told us request to purchase his jacket surprised him (I can’t remember his name… perhaps Bob Connor), but it wasn’t completely unexpected, really. Prior to his trip, he had been warned.

We all lived in a very small foothills town, but our little town had two textile mills, Canton Textile Mills No1 & No2… “the Cotton Mill”.
These two mills produced some of the world’s highest quality, yet inexpensive, denim. The poor people of our town worked in the mills, and we all wore the denim manufactured there. On his trip to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, the teacher was wearing a $7 “blue jean” jacket, made from the denim of Canton, Georgia.
We asked him if he sold the jacket to the Russian.
“No. I did not”.
In unison, the class became animated: “What?! Why not?!!! That was a lot of money!!!“.
The teacher: “Because it was a set up. I would have been arrested if I had sold anything to them”.

  • Toilet Paper.
    That’s the second thing he told us that I’ve never forgotten.

He had witnessed a very long line of people standing outside a large building. It reminded him of the long lines Americans would form when lining up to purchase concert tickets or to enter a professional baseball stadium. But, he told us, “these people weren’t jolly concert patrons, they were glum. Freezing in the cold, wearing threadbare clothing; they weren’t talking to the person in line behind them. They showed no emotion.”

He wondered what the line was about, and asked the escort.
“Toilet paper rations. Every household gets one roll per month, regardless of family size”.

We were incredulous. “What if they have five kids?! One roll won’t last a month!”
He answered, “no. It won’t. Nor will one small packet of dried beans. Remember that. And always, always, fight for your freedom”.

We asked if he had pictures of the people standing in the line. “No. We weren’t allowed. Photography was limited to certain things. We were told when we could use our cameras.

The Coronavirus is real.
Evil empires are real too.
Stay alert America. 🇺🇸

Granny’s House

Looking at it now, you would never know how much this humble place was loved.

It was where I most wanted to be. There was no place on earth, where I was happier.

The tin roof was the color of pewter. And when it rained, the liquid drops sounded like tinkling crystal against the metal.

The outside walls were roughly hewn boards, always painted bright white. Blue Hydrangeas, strategically planted “under the drip of the eaves”, added a touch of lacy elegance to the front corners of the simple porch. Marigolds waved from clay containers…a hedge of crimson roses separated the yard from the road. A couple of yellow and white metal gliders and a creaky, home built white porch swing, provided ample seating for grandkids to tell stories and share dreams…and a good seat for Granny and Papa Clark to hear them.

This house is still loved. Maybe not by the current owners, but by the ones whose memories still linger there.

Home of Janes H. and Mary Angeline Davidson Clark
Hickory Flat, Georgia (Cherokee County)
Papa and Granny
Papa, (J. H.) Granny (Mary Angeline) and Wallace Clark
Granny and some of her roses. The car in the background, a light blue Ford LTD, belonged to my uncle, Jake Clark.

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

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