Fountain of Youth

Ashley's Adopted Grannies

Photo © Paul O’Rear

From the time Ashley and Justin were young, they always had lots of adopted grandparents. The picture above is one of my many favorites of Ashley. It was taken at a Valentine Banquet that the young people at church hosted for the “Golden Agers” each year. The three ladies surrounding Ashley are some of her adopted grannies, whom she absolutely adored.

Little Gracie Mae

Harwood and Gracie Collins

Harwood and Gracie Collins, July 1907 (click for full picture)

When I was in junior high school in Alice, Texas, I spent many evenings across the street at Mama Grace’s house, picking her brain about people and dates and places so that I could fill in all the pertinent details on my genealogical charts. Every time I asked a fact-finding question, she would start into a story, often trailing off into laughter as she recounted precious memories of her childhood years growing up in Cass County, Texas.

Heritage of Faith

Grandpa Horace and Mama Grace

Grandpa Horace and Mama Grace

It was Tuesday, May 17, 1994. The east Texas sun warmed the afternoon air as we buried my 91-year-old grandmother beside her husband in Laws Chapel Cemetery on the outskirts of Atlanta, Texas. Grandpa Horace had preceded her in death by more than 25 years. He had been a faithful gospel preacher during his time. Mama Grace was a diligent student of God’s word, and had taught numerous Bible classes throughout her lifetime. These were my Dad’s parents.

The List

My friend PamPam Nelson, a dear friend and high school classmate, recently posted to her Facebook status a thought-provoking list of “to do” items that will make anyone’s life more meaningful. I was intrigued as to the source of the list, so I Googled a few of the list items and found several websites with a nearly-identical list of 39 items, including the items from Pam’s Facebook list. I have edited the list in a few places for increased clarity or meaning, and have included relevant sources where appropriate. I want to share the list with you on the eve of this new year. Some of the list items will resonate with you more than others. That’s OK. Pick and choose the ones that mean the most to you, and resolve to incorporate them into your daily journey. I pray God’s richest blessings on you and yours for a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Sing Your Song

Mighty Joe Young movie poster - Wikipedia

Mighty Joe Young movie poster – Wikipedia

In 1998, Walt Disney Pictures released a movie called “Mighty Joe Young”. The movie was about a huge gorilla named Joe living in the jungles of Africa. Joe is brought to the United States to save him from being killed by poachers, and he eventually ends up back in Africa on a wildlife refuge created especially for him.

It was a pretty good movie. But the best thing about the movie was an enchanting lullaby that kept appearing in the soundtrack throughout the entire movie. The song is entitled “Windsong”, and it was written and sung in the Swahili language.

Listen to “Windsong”.

I was captivated by this incredibly beautiful, soul-stirring composition the first time I heard it. But not knowing Swahili, I had no idea what the song was saying. So I did some research.

Make Your Life Count

Cemetery on a Crisp October Day with vivid Leaves

© Robert Elias –

When you are dead and gone, what will your life have counted for? Will the world be a better place because you were here?

One of my biggest fears in life is mediocrity – just sort of drifting through life without ever really accomplishing anything worthwhile. I don’t want to come to the end of my life, look back over all those years, and wonder, “What was that all about?” I want to know that my life counted for something, that I somehow made other people’s lives better. I don’t want to just take up space.

Every one of us has the ability to make our lives count for something. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, how famous or unknown; it doesn’t matter what side of the tracks you live on, what color your skin is, or whether you are male or female. No one is destined for mediocrity. Your life matters, and you can make other people’s lives better. And the really cool thing is, you have the unique ability to do that in a way that no one else can!

So I challenge you to rise above mediocrity. Make your life count for something. Make the world a better place. Here are four ways you can do just that.

Moral Courage (Part 1)

(cc) Walt Stoneburner - Flickr

(cc) Walt Stoneburner - Flickr

What do you think of when you hear the words “moral courage”?

Webster defines “morals” as: “moral practices or teachings; modes of conduct; ethics”. [1]

“Ethics” is defined as: “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation; a set of moral principles; a theory or system of moral values; the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group; a guiding philosophy; a set of moral issues or aspects (as rightness)”. [2]

So your morals can be defined as “what you believe about what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad, what your moral duties and obligations are, and how you should conduct yourself”.

The Last of a Dying Breed

Horace and Doris Bratcher

Horace and Doris Bratcher

Horace Bratcher is a dear friend. He has been around nearly twice as long as I have, and he likes to say that he has spent his life “collecting experiences”. He is quite the philosopher, and has spent untold hours at the local Public Library reading voraciously, expanding his knowledge, always looking for tidbits of wisdom that he can incorporate into his already vast storehouse, and can then share with others.

Horace comes by my office nearly every day to visit. He almost always has one of those tidbits of philosophical wisdom to offer, usually accompanied by a story. Horace has lots of stories. I have learned much from Horace Bratcher, from his homespun philosophy, and from his stories. Now, it is time to tell Horace’s story.