Take Time to Fish Between the Cracks

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Sunset from Sunset Marina on Toledo Bend near Many, Louisiana.

Bloggers Note:  Every week there are stories and information that I want to tell in my message but there is simply not enough time.  My message this past Sunday “Going Fishing” from Mark 1:14-20 was like that. This story by Terry Higginbotham was left on the cutting room floor.  But it is worth the read.  Please note: this is not my work.  The original author is Terry Higginbotham copyright 2004.

 

The summer of 1972, my brother and I were filling cricket and bait buckets for Mr. K.C. Bray at the Sunset Marina on the Toledo Bend Reservoir just south of Many, Louisiana.

It was just another hot, humid, July in the southwest Louisiana. Each day the same as yesterday and with almost certainty the same as it would be tomorrow. The wind was so still that the Spanish moss barely rustled in the old cypress trees. But these were the type of days I liked, cause the fishing would be good. Good fishing meant good tips.

Lil’ Brother and I never did make a lot of money, but enough to keep us just short of even on our account at Mr. K.C.`s store. Our daily provisions consisted of two cokes, a moon pie, a Miss. Dailey’s fresh made sandwich, and all the crickets we needed to catch our supper. By 7:00 p.m., every evening we would have our 3 bream apiece. We would gut `em, stick `em, and cook `em over a little fire we would make on the bank near our tent.

Lil’ Brother and I had spent the last two summers camping on the banks of the Bend. We fancied ourselves as a modern day Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. We were accountable to no one and responsible for only our daily bread. Don’t get me wrong, we were not bad kids nor did we come from a broken home. We had loving parents, grandparents, and friends. We were just lucky enough to grow up in a part of the world and in a time that allowed us to live free, truly free.

Our parents would come to the Bend on the weekends and we would get a reprieve from our day-to-day attempts to “survive”. We didn’t know until years later that mom and dad gave Mr. K.C. money to cover our supper in the case fishing ever went bad. They would bring us fresh clothes, comic books, candy, and fresh tackle for our nightly fishing. They would stay for the weekend then head for real world late on Sunday Evening.

On Friday night we would all go down to the dock. We would sit for hours talking about the week’s events. Lil Brother and I would tell about our adventures. Dad would tell us stories about the jobs he was on. Dad was an ironworker and we were fascinated by his stories of “walking in the air”. To us he was a superhero. Saturday we would spend the day fishing, swimming, and skiing.

Sunday morning was spent at “church”. We would go down to the dock, bait a couple of hand lines. We would then lower the hand lines through the cracks in the dock. The really big fish would rest in the shade, just under the dock. The best way to get to them was to fish through the cracks where the two floating partitions of the dock joined. While Lil’ Brother and I would fish for the Big Ones, Daddy would read to us about becoming “Fishers of Men”. Some of the best times of my life were spent belly down on that old dock, coaxing those big bluegills out with worms and crickets. As I look back on it now, it wasn’t because of the fishing but because of the time spent with Dad and Lil’ Brother.

Recently my dad came to visit. I was in the midst of a major project and wasn’t spending much time with him. Maybe a few minutes in the morning and an hour or so at night, before I passed out from exhaustion. On his last night, I finally got to tell him about the new boat I just bought. About the rods and reels, tackle, and accessories just waiting until we got a chance to go fishing. I told him about the cabin on Toledo Bend that we were going to rent, as soon as I got enough time to go. I told him about how excited the kids were when I had brought home new rods and reels for them, last month. He seemed to enjoy the talk although he seemed very quiet and almost sad.

My dad left that next morning. As we shook hands, he drew me near and presented me with an old box. He whispered, “The secrets to a happy life are in here”. Dad was always a little strange when it came to good-byes, so I just smiled, waved and watched him slowly drive out of sight.

The small box was worn red with a small picture of a man battling a giant bass. Below the picture was the caption “Sunset Marina Toledo Bend Many, Louisiana”. I slowly opened the box and smiled as I became aware of its contents. Truly these were the “secrets of life”. In the box was a small bible with a bookmark with Matthew 4:19 printed on it. It had been a while but I did remember, “Follow Me and I will make you Fishers of Men”. Beside the Bible was a small hand line wrapped in a piece of paper with my dad’s handwriting scrawled on it. I unfolded the note and smiled as I read the simple key to a happy life.

“Son, Make time to fish through the cracks”.

Today isn’t just another hot, humid, July day in southwest Louisiana. Not quite the same as yesterday and with almost certainty the same as it will be tomorrow.

“Hey Jon, throw dad another moon pie”.

“Just a minute dad, I think Erin’s got another one”.

“Be careful not to lose him, it’s a little tricky getting ’em back through the cracks”.

“Hey dad”.

“Yeah, Jon”.

“Was fishing this good when you were a kid?”

“Almost”.

(c) Copyright 2004 OuachitaGroup All Rights Reserved

Owner of HuntStats.com and The OuachitaGroup, Terry Higginbotham, is an avid hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman. He runs a research project studying the Whitetail Deer and the American Wild Turkey. Information from this study is available online at HuntStats.com or by email at: articles@HuntStats.com

New Every Morning

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A few pictures of the author’s daylilies from the yard.

Gardening has been a part of my family’s life for as long as I can remember. Some of my best memories took place in a garden, picking carrots, blueberries, blackberries, pears, and many other fruits and vegetables. We also spent many hours fertilizing, spraying, and caring for flowers like roses, calla lilies, and many other varieties.

Gardening not only connects me to my family, but also to my faith. The creation story in Genesis takes place in a garden (Genesis 2-3). The night before he was crucified, Jesus prayed in an olive garden, the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). Following his crucifixion, Jesus is placed in a tomb in a garden (John 19:38-42). After his resurrection, Mary Magdalene mistakes Jesus for a gardener (John 20:11-18). In Jerusalem, I visited the Garden Tomb, which could be the place where Jesus was placed, and where people from all over the world gather to worship. In death, many caskets and funerals, are graced with stands, sprays, and wreaths of flowers or live plants as a symbol of life even in the midst of death.

I have several plants in my garden. Roses, bearded irises, Louisiana irises, lantana, gladiolus, and annuals such as zinnias and salvinia to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. But my favorite is the daylily. I like dayliles for several reasons. First, they are tough. My daylilies have survived several moves, transplants, and other challenges that would kill many flowers. Often, they have bloomed in the boxes or bags in which I moved them! They grow almost anywhere, in almost any soil, though they do best with lots of sun. Second, there are many varieties and variations. If you don’t believe God likes variety, look at the daylily! Daylilies can be found in almost all shades of the rainbow (except blue). Some are small (as small as 2 inches), others are large (as big as 10 inches), while most fall somewhere in between. Daylilies have many forms.  Some have eyes or colored edges, others have rounded forms or long, spindly arms (usually called spiders). Daylilies have many varieties and variations.

My favorite thing about daylilies is that they are new each day. The scientific name (hemorocallis) literally means “beauty for a day.” And that is what they do. Bloom for one day. Only. Then they die. When I walk through my garden, one cultivar that was a beautiful flower yesterday is now a dull, lifeless husk. Conversely, one bud that yesterday was only the promise of a bloom has blossomed into a beautiful flower. Here today, gone tomorrow. Just like life. Just like us. The daylily reminds me of what lasts, and what does not. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” Isaiah 40:8. I am reminded, that like the lilies are new every morning, so is God’s mercy. “22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

The next time you see a beautiful daylily, beautiful for only a day, think about what lasts and what passes away. Maybe, like me, you will find a blessing that is new every morning.

What Do You Cling to in the Storm?

What Do You Cling to in the Storm?

A Ruby Throated Hummingbird clings to a feeder outside our kitchen window on a stormy day.

A Ruby Throated Hummingbird clings to a feeder outside our kitchen window on a stormy day.

On Saturday, August 30, 2014 a storm rolled through our village with heavy rain and strong winds.  The airport in McComb, Mississippi recorded a gust of 34 mph and sustained winds of 17 mph (http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KMCB/2014/8/30/DailyHistory.html).  There are probably places where winds like this would be normal, but that is not the case here in my corner of Louisiana.  I had put the dogs out before the storm and was looking out of the kitchen window, where our hummingbird feeder was located, watching the storm roll in.  While looking out of our window, I was surprised to see that the storm had not slowed down our hummingbirds one bit!  All of the other birds, the chickadees, the titmice, the cardinals, the sparrows, were taking shelter and waiting out the storm to feed, but the smallest of all of the birds was still out in the tempest, fighting to get something to eat.  I was reminded of this picture I took several years ago while we were being assaulted by one of the tropical systems to make its way through South Louisiana (I think I took it during Tropical Storm Lee in September of 2011).  As I watched the hummingbirds in the storm, I couldn’t help but wonder what you and I cling to in the storm.

I wish I could tell you that storms would never come, but that is not true.  Growing up in South Louisiana, watching the tropics was a part of my everyday life.  In the 8 years we lived in Tangipahoa, we have gone through Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Lee, and Tropical Storm Karen.  That is not to mention the 3 snowfalls and numerous thunderstorms.  Personally, we are suffering through a storm as my parents and thousands of others in the Baton Rouge area and all across South Louisiana have flooded due to historic rainfall.  Life has changed for many, maybe even permanently.

Of course, there are other kinds of storms in our lives.  Ones that do not involve water or wind or earthquakes.  The death of a loved one, a prolonged or sudden illness, age, loss of a job, or any multitude of other things can shake us to our core as quickly as a California earthquake.  What do we hold on to during these times?  What do we cling to in the storm?

I imagine that we, like this hummingbird, cling to that which is most important to us in the storm.  Family, friends, and faith may be some of the things that we cling to when the wind blows and the rain pours.  As important as friends and family are, they have their limits.  Like all humans, they are limited in time, strength and resources.  But there is one who is not limited by time, strength or resources- God.  So when the storm comes, as it does for all of us, I believe that we should not only turn to friends, family, and the church, but to God.

Psalm 46:1-3 reads “1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” This scripture describe dark and difficult times, much like we are going through, much like all of us go through at one time or another.  But the Psalmist is clear that we will not fear and even ends with these words “10Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.11The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge”.  When tough times come, when the storm comes, cling to faith in God, family and friends to get us through.