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red clay ponderings

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He Still Loves Me

 

 

Looking back, I have a clear image of what God was trying to do for me. But on that day, all I could see was despair and uncertainty.

Surrounded by packing boxes, I sat on the floor of my master bathroom and slowly moved the contents of my cabinets, into the boxes. I had no idea how long it would be before the boxes would be unpacked. I didn’t know where I would store the boxes. All I knew for sure was that I had to be out of my house in a matter of days. Where I would go and what I would do, once I left the house, was part of the uncertainty.

Months before, I had divorced after twenty-four years of marriage. It had been an abusive, dysfunctional marriage and leaving it was a relief. But loss of any kind is painful. Letting go of a dream is difficult. The unknown can be exciting, but at that time, in this situation, it was daunting. I had no income. The year prior to my divorce, a mystery illness had forced me to end a career with a major airline. During the dismantling of my marriage…I had been awarded our home. But I soon learned the house was not mine. The home we had built years before, the home I had planned to pass on to my children someday, had been transferred to my former in-laws. And there was nothing I could do about it. Realizing and accepting this, was devastating. Agonizing acceptance of the inevitable, was what had me on the floor, packing soap and shampoo into boxes.

That day in the bathroom, I was more uncertain of my future than I ever had been before. Life felt unbearably heavy and frightening. I berated myself for making so many poor life choices. How had I gotten to this place in life? Overwhelmed with life and the task in front of me, I stopped packing and leaned against the cabinet. Through large windows, I watched as trees moved slightly in a soft breeze. Sun filtered through leaves and branches, casting shadows across the white tiled floor. I had always loved this view of the field and trees beyond the bathroom windows. It was all so familiar, and inconceivable, that these things would soon become accessible to me in memory only.

I was deep in thought, but not really thinking, when my phone rang. The voice on the other end was a friend from childhood. We had recently reconnected on Facebook but had not seen each other in thirty years. “Listen”, she said, “I can tell you’re struggling. I know things are tough. But I have an idea that can change your life, get you back on your feet”. She went on to tell me about a new company she had started working with. “It’s founded and created by the two women doctors who created Proactiv”. She gave me a few more details, but I said I wasn’t interested. I told her I didn’t think her business was for me. In truth, I was deeply interested, for various reasons. There were a few things about this girl that I knew for certain: 1. She was intelligent. 2. She would never align herself with a company unless it was one of integrity. 3. She was wise, not one who could “have the wool pulled over her eyes”.  I knew, without doing the research myself, that what she said about her business was true. But I didn’t believe I could be successful in a direct marketing business. My self-esteem had been battered for two decades, I felt worthless, undeserving and inadequate. I could not see myself selling skincare to my friends. Honestly, I really didn’t want to link arms with a bunch of women who had life all together, because that would only amplify my copious shortfalls.
So, I thanked her for thinking of me, wished her well in her new endeavor, and went back to packing up my life.

The next week, I drove away from that house, that life, and set out in my car to visit my son in Chicago. After that, what I would do was anyone’s guess. I had no plan. I lived the life of a vagabond for the next four years. Traveled from stated to state, staying with family and friends. My former sister-in-law let me sleep on her sofa. I lived in one friend’s basement and another’s guest bedroom. At age fifty, I had become dependent on everyone else. When I grew weary of asking people if I could stay with them, I slept in my car. It was difficult. It was humiliating. (To be clear, no one made me feel that way. I did it to myself.) During those years, I would frequently remember what my friend had said to me that day on the bathroom floor, “….it can change your life….get you back on your feet…”. I had tried different things to earn money during those years, but nothing panned out. I wrote and self-published my memoir. I hired my time and my car out to drive people to the airport. This kept a few dollars in my pocket, but nothing I could depend on. Occasionally, a customer would fail to pay, and my 140-mile round-trip to the airport became a loss of time and money. It was on one of those occasions, that I cried out in frustration to God.

A call had come in from a rental car company in town. A customer needed to be driven to Atlanta. I gladly accepted the job, even though I had just enough fuel in my car to make it to the airport, not enough to get back home. But the fare would be enough to fill up my car, with $30 left over. I would come out in the positive. I told the caller I would accept cash only for the fare. He confirmed with the customer, and I was on my way. As I pulled curbside in front of the airport, the customer began searching through his pockets. And my stomach began to knot. “I’m sorry”, he said, “I don’t have cash on me. I thought I did.”

Leaving the airport, a guttural cry escaped my throat, “God, I need another way! I’m so tired of living like this. I’m tired of depending on other people! I can’t do it anymore. There must be a better way!” Immediately, I felt a strong Voice deep in my spirit, “I’ve already given you what you need, but you keep backing away”. I knew what He was referring to. Four years had passed since she had first told me about her business, but I didn’t hesitate this time. I picked up my phone, and I called my school friend. I told her I was ready to learn more about her business and her products, and partner with her. I ended that call with more hope than I had felt in a long time. I had a sense of calm and peace that had been absent for many years. Inexplicably, confidence that I was about to get on a different trajectory began to well up in my soul.  Then, I exited onto a service road near the airport and counted the loose change in my car’s cup-holder. I had just enough to purchase fuel to get home.

It’s been four years since I made that call. God has shown me over and over, that even with my flaws, my perceived inabilities, and despite my poor choices…. He loves me. He’s shown me I’m not inadequate. I can do all “the things”, but first I must close my ears to the whispers of deception. And these days, just as I was helped, I help other women find their way back from lost places. My help isn’t only for those who are devastated by life’s circumstances. I partner with busy men and women who want to do more, who desire to live a full life, and leave a legacy of abundance and philanthropy.  I partner with students who want to graduate, debt free. I partner with childless women who want to earn adoption fees. I show single moms how they can build a beautiful life for their children and themselves. I work with couples and individuals who don’t need the extra income, but who wish to give more.

When we pray, even in the form of a loud cry, and ask God for help, He listens. Because He loves us. He may not plop your prayer request into your lap, fully assembled, though. He wants us to use the things He’s given us. He desires for us to put our gifts and talents to work. I’ve found that’s how He answers my prayers. God gave me a channel, a means of helping myself. He pointed me in the right direction, and it took a while for me to hear Him. Still, He has allowed me to pull myself out of the ashes of my life. He’s replaced despair with peace, ashes with worth. Yet, with all that, I believe, more than helping myself, He brought this business model to me so that I can help others. Perhaps, even you.

Isaiah 61: 1-3DRF

If you would like to learn how you can partner with me, please contact me:

Cell Phone # 770-881-1007

email: DanitaAble@yahoo.com

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Rodan+Fields: DanitaClark.myrandf.biz

 

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Be True to Your School

Three years ago, I woke up to a post, made by a friend from my childhood. It was a simple line from a song, a song made famous by Joni Mitchell, back when this friend and I were in elementary school. Her post read, “They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.” Along with that ominous sentence, she shared a link to our hometown newspaper. If the article in the Cherokee Tribune was true, and I had no reason to doubt that it was, we were about to lose a big piece of our childhood history. Our town was about to lose two beautiful works of architectural art. Our wonderful old school building, (most of us called it “the school house” back then, because that’s what our parents and grandparents called it…) had a date with a demolition ball. That graceful lady of a building, was sitting square in the eye of a sniper’s scope. The old Canton Textile Mill Office building (built by the family of our hometown golfer, Bobby Jones… you know him, the one of Augusta National fame), was also going to see the wrecking ball. The two buildings would be replaced, according to the artist’s depiction in the Tribune article, with a parking lot, and a blocked-style, modern building. The replacement building looked very similar to a large CVS or a Walgreen’s Pharmacy.

Privately, I contacted my school friend and inquired of the details. She shared with me some of what she couldn’t share publicly. Yes, it was true, the building was going. The fate was almost certain. She knew, because she was an employee of the Cherokee County School System, and they were the entity responsible for the future paving of Paradise. It was all but a “done deal”.

The news hit me hard. It was akin to knowing in advance, that a loved one was going to be in a fatal fight, but unable to reach them. Incapable of stopping the oncoming slaughter.

I had spent all my elementary years at Canton Elementary School. I was a Canton Greenie to the bone. We all were. We didn’t really know what a Greenie was, but we knew it was us. The What of a Greenie just didn’t matter. We wore the Green & Gold proudly, even as, often enough, kids from other schools, those with tougher sounding mascots, poked fun at us. Sometimes they were kinder, genuinely curious, and phrased a conversation starter with the inevitable question: “So, what is a Greenie, anyway?” The CES girls usually responded with a shoulder shrug. The boys generally had a different answer, “That’s for us to know and you to find out!”

One year, probably in an attempt to stall the “what is a Greenie” question, the cheerleaders dressed six-year-old Patrick Bishop in a Greenie get-up, and called him Canton’s Mascot. He looked like an Irish Leprechaun in the costume. But he put a brave and adorable face to the Greenie. To this day, he is the Greenie I see in my memory.
We were the Canton Greenies.

All the others were the…

  • Woodstock Wildcats
  • Holly Springs Wildcats
  • Macedonia Wildcats
  • Hickory Flat Devils (Green Devils)
  • Buffington Blue Devils
  • Clayton Rebels
  • Free Home Rockets
  • Ball Ground Indians/Braves
  • North Canton Tigers
  • R.M. Moore Braves
  • Ralph Bunche

And in that old Canton Gym, our boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, at one time or another, showed all the others, what it meant to be a Greenie. Even if we couldn’t tell them.

Once we made it to Cherokee High School though, we were all Warriors. Everyone of us. Until the late 1970’s, Cherokee was the only 9th-12th grade school in the county. And at some time in their lives, almost every CHS Warrior had walked the grounds of Canton Elementary. They may have attended one of the other schools, but they had sat on the iron and wood Merry-Go-Round, eating ice-cream, or drinking a Lime Freeze from Landers or Canton Drug, while their mama shopped downtown. They had played, cheered, and attended a basketball game or a Fall Carnival, in the old gymnasium. They had eaten fund-raiser chicken dinner plates, and the best Yeast Rolls in the world, all made by “the lunchroom ladies”, in the school’s cafeteria.
Without doubt, the old Canton Elementary building, and her red clay grounds, held memories for most of us.

And so it was, that Greenies and Tigers, Blue Devils and Wildcats, Rockets and more…. all Warriors, took to the streets of Social Media in a March to Save Our School, save our history….our cotton mill, poultry grower, foothills history…. our childhood school home. Our Classic, Southern, Neoclassical Beauty of a building.

Randy Saxon talked to everyone about our fight. I wrote a blog article and called news agencies. Others shared the story of our impending loss. Soon, Canton Alum, locally and from other parts of the world, began joining our fight. Historians took notice. Meetings were called. Words were spoken. Prayers were said.

Outwardly, the situation appeared hopeless. My son, usually optimistic in his support of my endeavors, attempted to prepare me for the worst. “I don’t think you’re going to be able to save it, Mom. But you can say you’ve tried. You’ve all tried. You’ve done your best.”

We didn’t give up. We came together as a community, even though many of us no longer live in Cherokee County. Randy Saxon was not about to give in without a battle. His mother had led a fight to save the old Canton High School (Building #2, or the Big Building, as we called it when we were elementary students), and he was determined to carry the legacy.

To be clear, our group’s effort wasn’t simply to save our school building. We wished to preserve the historical integrity of downtown Canton. And we did.

Soon enough, you, and we, will be able to shop and dine where little feet used to scurry about. The memory triggering fragrance of old books won’t be there, the dust of chalk will not be visible. But I hope to see some remnants hanging about, in honor of the educators and students who loved their time there.

Principal Shault Coker’s wooden paddle, though it terrified me when I was a first grader…. I would love to see it on display in the hallway, near where his old office was located.

Recently, I commented to Randy, “and to think we could have had a modern building and a parking lot there instead.” He replied, “Yes, I guess we’ll have to put up with this old thing for another hundred years or so”.
Yes, we will Randy. Because of your hard work and love for your hometown, we will. Thank you for your diligent work and outstanding progress. You’ve been the force behind the preservation.

For those unfamiliar, below is a link to the article I wrote in 2015.
I’m also including photos I’ve snagged from Randy’s Facebook page. And a video he posted today, it shows the progress being made on the school.

I’m also including a couple of photos of that Greenie I mentioned.

Go Greenies!
Sincerely,

Danita

Bully in the School Yard

https://wordpress.com/post/redclayponderings.com/450

The Last, First Day

Several times over the last two weeks, family and friends have documented their children’s first day of school and posted their photos on Facebook. I’ve enjoyed viewing the First Day photos of their children and grandchildren: candid and posed shots of excited expressions, book bags full of new things, stories of tears shed (parent and child). All of it took me back to my own children’s First Days …Looking at the pictures, I could just about smell new Crayola’s and crisp, clean sheets of paper. Those days ended much too soon for my liking. Yet, other than a little reminiscing, I didn’t think too much about the start of the new school year. Not until yesterday, when my niece Rebecca shared a photo of my great-nephew Carter walking away from her and into his school for his first day of four-year-old Pre-K. It’s a sweet, wonderful photo of our little man proudly and independently taking long, confident strides down a long walkway; a strong, right-handed grip on his lunchbox.

But I saw more.

The photograph provoked an emotion I had not expected. It stopped me in my tracks. Did Rebecca see what I saw? Perhaps, but probably not fully, not yet. How could I tell her what she had actually captured? Should I try to explain what I saw? Sweet, brilliant, handsome little Carter-Man was in the photo, for sure. But there was an older boy there as well. And a young man.

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The older boy held a set of car keys firmly in his hand. The young man walked with casual determination on foreign soil. Both had their backs to the camera. All three were Carter. But they could have been anyone’s son. Or daughter.

In reality, the older two Carters’ were only visible to my mind’s eye, but I saw them clearly. Sixteen year-old Carter. Twenty-two year-old Carter. Time happens that quickly, it really does. Not so much when you’re in the middle of it; during the living of it. In its present form, time seems to dawdle; move sluggishly. It’s after the moment, not immediately after, but later, that you realize how quickly it slipped away from you.

All day I thought of Carter’s photo. I thought of his mommy watching him walk away and I remembered what that felt like. Without being told, I knew she had watched him until he was out of her sight; watching his back… should he need her. I thought of how there will be other days like this, when she and Justin, Carter’s dad, will watch his back as he walks with great anticipation towards future things: cars, airplanes, girls. A bride. Perhaps they’ll watch with Bulldog pride as he walks toward the same revered arches they once walked through; wave goodbye to his back as he moves to another state. And always, they’ll be watching until he’s out of sight, watching his back…just in case he needs them. That’s what parents do…

I shared Rebecca’s photo with a friend and told him how it made me feel. He said he understood: “I felt the same way when I saw this photo of Jon”, he said.

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We have no experience at parenting until we are parents. That’s how it is….we’re clueless in the beginning and for many years thereafter. We’re amateurs….the most intense on the job training you can imagine…for the most important work you will ever do. We make mistakes, because we know no better. In the beginning, we don’t understand how fleeting a span of eighteen years actually is. We don’t realize how abruptly those little arms will outgrow our own; until they do.

I know Rebecca and Justin give lots of hugs and kisses to Carter and his baby sister, Cooper. Most young parents do. Still, to them and all parents, I would give this advice: Give more hugs…lots more. Read more books together. Give longer back scratches. Snuggle longer. Because those little ones aren’t little for long. And one day, a day that will sneak up on you, you’ll be experiencing your last, first school day.

GarrettCostaRica

Addendum:

Carter’s First Day of Kindergarten, August 2014.


Carter’s First Day of First Grade, August 2015.

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Carter’s First day of Second Grade. 8/10/2016

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Little Sis loving the walk with her big brother.  8/10/2016

He wouldn’t allow his mom to walk him in today. Our sweet Carter-Man is growing up.

First day of 4th grade. 8/10/18

My the Lord bless you and keep you, may He turn His face towards you, and shine His face upon yours, everyday. I pray He is gracious to you, Carter. May He give you peace, and protect you, all the days of your life.

♥️, Aunt Diffy

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