- ► 2011 (9)
- ► 2010 (18)
- ► 2008 (24)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Saturday morning (Dec. 1st) I went to the cabin and spent the night. I did not realize it but there is a bear/hog hunt on right now or I would have taken a rifle. The road was heavy with traffic with hunters and their dogs. One of them told me that his group had already killed two bears and a deer this year. It's quite a site to see. Son-in-law Rick came up and spent most of the day with me but left about 5:00p. It was a very quiet and pleasant night. I felt so cozy inside the cabin with the gas heat on and sleeping in my sleeping bag. I cooked beef tips for lunch Saturday, plus had bananas, grapes, raw carrots, jello, oranges, plus cookies for dessert. Sunday morning I fried bacon, two eggs, cooked grits, and had decaf coffee before going to Church at the Towee Church about 3 miles from the cabin.
A youngster about 14 years old (Colby Goforth) was there that morning to sing Southern Gospel style. I've never heard better. I think he will do well if he pursues this as his career. He had professionally done soundtracks, played on a boom box with the church's microphone laid down in front of it. Just 32 total people present (according to the old-fashioned Sunday School board which hung on the wall up front) - but you would have thought he was singing to a concert crowd. I liked this kid. He sings with a group known as The Master's Messenger's. Yes, they also asked me to sing, so I did one of David Beatty's songs, "It's Different Now".
When I got home Sunday afternoon I found Frances wrapping gifts for the children and grand-children. The table was full, the counter was full, and gifts were sitting in the floor. Our daughter had come Saturday and took her Mom to Wal-Mart to Christmas shop and Frances talked of what a great time they had together shopping. I went to bed at 10:00 and she was still happily busy wrapping. She showed me a child's tea-cup set that we had bought one of at a "tent sale" for $10 - she found at Wally World for $4! LoL. With all our bunch (daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, we have 24 to buy for. It's fun for Frances - but I don't like shopping. That is - unless we are goiong to the sporting goods and/or tool store.
What do I want for Christmas? Really? Well, I think Frances is working on that. What I really want is to find out what Frances wants for Christmas......well......in fact she has already told me and I'm working on that. Isn't it exciting? I just love all the joy I see in other people's faces. I love the music, the decorated trees, the gayly wrapped packages, the gifts I give and yes, the gifts I receive. I also love the Christmas story, which is the story of Christ. There is a new "rap" Christmas "Carol" out there this year called "Christmas with a Capital C" It makes a statement about some of our traditional values which I like. You should hear it.
You can hear it by clicking on <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAckfn8yiAQ> .
Friday, October 12, 2007
Found this on You-Tube. In fact there are lots more of these things posted there. I don't know how to pull the song off You Tube and put it on this blog, but this music is so great. I know that Daddy and Uncle Fred would have had a blast.
By the way - Lowell, does Steven have a Blog?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
"THAT literary genius, Robert Louis Stevenson, though hounded by handicaps and pinioned with pain, turned tragedy into triumph. His battle with tuberculosis lasted years; then came the master stroke -- blindness; later came sciatica with such an iron grip that the moving of a muscle was excruciating pain. In this derelict condition, Stevenson, the writer, was ordered to bed, and there the doctor strapped up his right arm to immobilize it. Writing meant agonizing pain. Days later the doctor came, only to be staggered at Stevenson's determination to work. The wellspring within was gushing forth. Then the doctor speculated, "Bitter things will be written and dark shadows of pain translated into verse." How wrong he was! Under this duress, the brilliant author of Treasure Island gave the world the glittering book, A Child's Garden of Verse. When a man can carry Stevenson's load and still sing, he is worthy of any man's admiration."
I am thinking at this moment that I may just save this blog in draft form and come back to it to change, correct, refine and polish it for some time. So...What I really want to do is write the song about those who taught us to sing and to laugh...even in painfully bad times. Of course we all have those bad times or maybe I should call them "blue days". I'm not sure when I first became aware of them, but have known for a long time that I did not always feel so chipper. For example, one of my pet peeves has been song leaders at church who want us to jump like a jack-in-the-box from the first word of the first chorus or song that they lead. I don't feel like singing - sometimes. If I do sing on those days, I'd rather sing the "blues". This genre of music seemed to be popular among African slaves when they were first bought and brought to the America's. Some of it became known as "soul" music. Why sing if one is blue? Well, it was better than moanin' and complainin'! Let me explain it as I experienced it.
Long ago when just a lad, when I was feelin down and sad,
And just to be honest I didn't know why, but felt like I just wanted to cry.
When a voice from above me, looking down,
Said, "Son! just lift up your head and sing
Cause if in life I've learned anything
It's that when you feel down you should stand up and sing!
And the old man would sing - of his Heavenly Father!
He'd sing of His Love, of His Grace, and of Hope bye and bye!
Yes, the old man still sings, of our Heavenly Father!
And soon I'm gonna join him, In the Sweet Bye and Bye
(More to come in the future on this song)
In his unique way my Dad made a lot of other people feel good about themselves and about life by his "singing attitude". My observation is that when the blues remain hidden in our souls it turns into depression. But when the sad feelings are brought out into the open, in the light of God's son-shine, they can then be easier dealt with.
Today is September 29, 2007 and I've decided to put this on the Cabin page. Early this week I had a particularly rough day and felt that some of my colleagues had really mis-interpreted some of my suggestions and treated it with great condescension. I was physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of that day. I decided that what I needed was a "coke" - for "everything goes better with coke", right? Upon opening the fridge door and seeing that there were none left, I shouted to Frances that I was going to the store to get a coke. "OK", she responded. "Would you also pick up a birthday card for our grand-daughter Gracie?" "Sure!," I said. While standing at the card counter, a beautiful young lady whom I assumed to be in her late 20's or early 30's approached me and asked, "Is your name Brannen?" When I answered that I was, she said, "Well, I'm Melissa, John Colbaugh's daughter, and I want to tell you something that your Daddy used to tell me. When I was young I was very shy. Your Dad worked with my Dad at the Monroe (Louisiana) church and I would always walk timidly into the church hallway with my head down. Your Dad would get up from his chair in the office and come out into the hallway to meet me. He would bow his body and meet me head on until his head bumped my head lightly and say, "Hold up your head, Melissa! You have NOTHING to hang your head down about!"
When I returned to the house I told Frances that I had just had a message from my Daddy and also from my Heavenly Father!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Let me share my earliest experiences with the FAX and the Personal Computer... In December 1988 we were visiting family in Monroe, Louisiana. One day we took the women out to the mall to shop. Dad and I wandered into a Radio Shack store because of my interest in amateur radio and all other kinds of gadgets. When we looked at a strange "phone" and enquired about it, the salesman said that we could write with a pen or pencil on one sheet of paper and that the phone/fax on the other end would print out whatever had been written. I remember asking, "Can you demonstrate this by calling from one fax machine to another?" It was shocking, awesome, wonder-ful to see this thing operate. When the girls finished shopping and we showed them what we had discovered, Frances and I decided that day that we had to have one of these machines to take with us to Africa. It was astounding that we could call a number at home and then transfer a letter via "fax" that would be printed out 10,000 miles from where we would be living.
As for the Personal Computer, the only one I had seen prior to that time was a Commodor 64 which we had bought for Tabitha as her graduation present from high school. That grand machine stored 64 kilobytes of memory. It amazed me that by connecting that computer to a "dot matrix" printer with a color ribbon we could print out a picture that actually looked something like the picture on the box!!! About a year later, just before we left to go to Kenya, East Africa, the Missions Department decided to buy us a personal computer. It was un-believably full of memory storage capacity. It had 20 mega-bytes of memory. "Fred, that's all you'll ever need for Kenya!" said the chief accounting officer in our missions department.
I just read my sister's blog about her visit to Flat Rock, NC, home of the famous poet Carl Sandburg. I'll let him speak for me this morning with a quote: "It is necessary now and then for man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; To sit on a rock in the forest and ask of himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?" In a paraphrase of an old commercial from TV, "We've come a long way, baby!"
That's one of the main reason's I bought the cabin at Pumzika Acres in the Cherokee Forest. I really look forward to going there more often for that kind of reflection when I retire. For now, we are on our way to "The Cove" and a three day retreat with our Assistant General Overseer, Dr. Tim Hill, and his "Covenant Ministry Team". I'll give ya'll a report after it's over...but for now gotta get up and get going as we still have another hour of driving to get to our destination.
This afternoon we are in the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove near Asheville, NC. Here in the quietness of our room (which is deliberately designed with no TV set) I tried the question that Carl Sandburg said should be asked of oneself ocassionally by asking Frances to tell me who she is. After talking for 30 minutes or more I observed that she had not told me who she is, but had told me about her children, her brothers and sisters, her Mom, her friends. I am about to conclude that asking who a person is may be one of the most difficult questions of life. When Frances began to indicate that she felt I was picking and being irritating - I decided we needed a bucket of ice. Now Frances is stopping me (has stopped me in the last 10 minutes at least three times) to read to me what Billy Graham has said in some of his observations about life and death. Is this an indication that it is easier to read what someone else has said than to come up with our own observations?
Thursday, September 6, 2007
"My text today comes from Matthew 20:1 'For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.' The speaker then mentioned his conjecturing thoughts about this householder with a vine-yard. Now the key to understanding here is to pronounce this as two words; Word number 1 is VINE, and word number 2 is YARD. So that's not a vineyard. It's a vine yard. "Vines all over th place. Well," he allowed, "the man probably had 20 or 30 apple trees - and maybe some pear trees - and coulda even had some peach trees here - but the bad part was that these here vines was a coverin' the trees and a killin' th' fruit. And that's whats wrong with a lotta Christians today. God has planted some good fruit trees in their lives - but they keep a lettin' them vines choke out th' fruit from their lives!!!" Thirty minutes of program time, and most of it was consumed with this theme about the vines that grows in Christians apple and pear and peach orchards. "When there are too many vines you don't have an orchard - you've got a vine yard!" Whoop! I'd like to hear T. Tommy Thompson get hold of that and preach it!
That reminds me of a few other choice exegetical efforts I've heard over the years. One of the recent ones was a preacher in East Tennessee as my friend Dr. E.L. Williams and I drove along together. The preacher read from the scripture where four men carried a lame man up on the housetop, tore away part of the roofing, and let their lame friend down through the roof in front of Jesus. The passage is found in Mark 2:2-3 "And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.  And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four." The preacher read it this way "...which was BORNED of four." His comment that followed almost made me lose my teeth! "Now", said he, "This here man was borned of four. Now I don't understand how that could happen, but the Bible said it and I believe it. Of course we all know he only had one Mama, but the Bible says he was borned of four! But let me tell ya. These men wasn't all bad. At least they had enough sense to get the lame man in front of Jesus! And that's what you oughta do. You need to get people in front of Jesus! That's what somebody done fer me. They got me in front of Jesus!"
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
We talked of the time I had tried to follow Junius across a fallen log across a creek, slipped and fell, but managed to lock my legs around the log which caused me to wind up head-down with my .410 gauge shotgun hanging down, almost touching the creek. I held so tight to that log that I had leg cramps after Junius was able to pry the gun from my white-knuckled hands and help get me up-right. I remember inching my way laboriously along to finally get across the creek. Junius remembered a time when myself and some others had gone through the woods ahead of him and he heard shooting and shouting in the direction we had gone. When he arrived he was surprised to find us shooting at "Coots" (ducks) way out on a pond. My memory was that we killed two of the coots and Daddy waded out into the pond and collected them, then we tied their feet together and hung them over the radio aerial on the old '41 Chev to take them back home to Tennessee. I don't remember whether Mama cooked the coots or not...but she might shed some light on that one. We talked about Yankeetown, Grandpa's boat - the May Bee, "Cousin" Manuel and Alice Jones, and many other things. "Cousin" followed by their first name was the correct way of kids addressing their parents' first cousins.
Frances went with us. We stopped in Benton at the IGA Foodliner to buy groceries (or so I thought) but wound up buying from the delicatessen. So for lunch it was chicken and salad and potatoes and didn't even have to heat up the stove. After lunch I put on my inevitable pot of coffee. We had also taken a watermelon in a cooler - mmmm - so ripe it split ahead of the knife...know whut I mean??? Wow! Good stuff!
Whoa! It's time to go meet Junius and Tricia and Donice & husband for breakfast.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
That night I decided that I would get up the following morning and call headquarters to tell them to stop my shipment wherever it was. My intent was to go back home to the US. I said to Frances, as we lay down on the sponge to sleep, "Frances, I'm sorry for the horrible mess I've gotten you into. But in the morning, I am calling headquarters to tell them we are coming home!" Her response was, "Oh Fred, you know I wanted to be here just as much as you did."
I was boiling with anger inside. I knew that what I was feeling was not a fruit of the Spirit. So I prayed and asked God to help me. I whined, I cried, I complained, I tried to forgive ...... but then I would wake up mad. Why would they treat me like this? Why did they act like they needed me so urgently, but now were acting as if it was my fault that I had left for Kenya before adequate funds had actually built up from the itineration we had done in over 50 churches? It was an awful feeling. The lump in my throat, the load on my shoulder, the growl in my stomach all told me that my world had fallen apart.
During the wee hours of the next morning as I drifted in and out of sleep, I dreamed. In the dream I was on the platform in an African Church. A young girl, about 9 years old, dressed in a beautiful white pinafore dress which stood out around her knees, with her hair braided with two "dog-tails" attached, came out to me with a lei of flowers in her hands. As I bent over to allow her to put these flowers around my neck she kissed me on the cheek and said, "PUMZIKA!" [Pronounced poom-zee-kah, with emphasis on the middle syllable] at that moment I sensed that I was waking up - and that an unusual sensation of relaxation - beginning at the top of my head and coursing down and through my body all the way to my feet - was taking over my body and my spirit! Whew! Oh! I can almost feel it now - even as I type.
I shook Frances awake at 5:30 a.m. and said, "Frances, I don't know what this means. I just know that everything is o.k. and we are not going home. Every thing is alright!" PUMZIKA. Meaningless to me - except that I knew God was giving me peace over this situation. We had had no classes in language. Besides we were told there were 23 languages and 17 tribal dialects in the country.
Next morning, I was riding around with Jack Morris, outgoing missionary, as he oriented me to the location of some of our churches. I asked, "Jack...in all of the 23 major languages and the additional dialects making forty languages in this country - have you ever heard anything like PUMZIKA?" I shall never forget his answer. He said, "Yes, Fred. That is a Kiswahili word, and it is in the simple imperative form, meaning simply, YOU REST!" Now I am not a sissy, but The tears coursed down my cheeks. It over-whelmed me that God showed me His compassionate and loving care for me with such a revelation in the language of the country to which we had been sent to minister.
That is why this cabin, this deer-hunter's shack, this spot which God recently helped me to acquire has a sign in front called PUMZIKA ACRES.
Friday, August 10, 2007
"Oh, God!" I prayed, "Please, God! I know that the anger and resentment I am feeling towards my leaders and towards my church is not right. This is killing me, Lord! Please give me victory in this situation." We were now in Kenya, trying to adjust to the drastic move we had made from being pastor of a quiet country church to now being missionaries in a city of 2 million people on the extreme eastern side of the continent of Africa.
I had been pastoring "the best church in the movement" (that was a phrase used by Brother Brady Hux, one of the older members of the Cedar Hill, Tennessee Church of God and after 7 years of being the pastor there I had come to agree with Brother Hux. After all, they had a beautiful sanctuary located on the banks of the Cherokee Lake in East Tennessee in the heart of bass-fishing, deer-hunting, coffee-drinking people who were mostly like us. The church owned a 5 bed-roomed 2 story brick parsonage with central heat and air which we called home. The church owned a 15 passenger van. All bills were paid and no monthly payments had to be met except the electricity, water, and insurance which were easily paid out of the surplus funds. All of the pastors expenses to state and general meetings were paid. Since this was an urban area and members had farms and gardens the people kept the pastor's two freezers full of beef, pork, and garden vegetables. I had begun to say from the pulpit that I planned to stay in that church until time for me to retire. I would tell the people frequently from the podium how much I loved them and thanked them for loving me and my family and allowing us to be their pastor. They talked like us, they dressed like us, they looked like us! I spoke and read and understood the language used in East Tennessee as much as the members of the church did. But here in Africa it was "difficult" to say the least.
When God had shown us un-mistakably through dreams, through His Word and confirmed it all through circumstances by both colleagues and leaders above us that now was the time for me to fulfill the desire God had placed in me at the age of 16 years to minister among the Bantu tribes of Africa, we said, "Yes! Here we are God!"
Now, only three months into our assignment I was angry and upset and ready to go home. I had carefully arranged my shipment of some essential furniture and personal items to be sent by air-freight and had been told by the company it would arrive withing three weeks of our landing in Nairobi - but someone had a better idea and set out to "help expedite" our shipping plans after I had left the US -- which had resulted in our shipment being delayed and we were still sleeping on a sponge on the floor of our apartment, living and cooking out of my back-pack carried with us on our initial trip. Further, I had called the General Director and after approval from my boss on the phone, had just written a check for $25,000 to pay for our new Peugeot station wagon, only to receive an overseas phone call the next day from the accounting department, saying that my funds would not support that check. I had been hit with the hard cold fact that I had written a check based on a verbal agreement. My leaders had dis-appointed me.
Before sleeping on that fateful night I had apologized to Frances for getting us into this "mess" and promised her that next morning I was going to call the leaders at Headquarters and tell them to stop my shipment - and that we were not going to remain on the field. I felt betrayed. I felt I had been lied to. I was filling up with hurt and anger and bitterness. I knew that these feelings were not righteous ones, therefore my prayer, "This is killing me, Lord! Give me victory!"
Let me say that I do not believe that everything I dream comes from God. In fact I urge caution when people tell dreams they have had and try to apply it as though it were from God. I've seen too many of what my Dad used to call "Pork and Bean Dreams". However, sometime in the wee hours of the next morning after I had decided I would just go home, I dreamed that I was on a platform in an African Church and was being welcomed to Africa. I can still see the lovely child of about 9 years with her beautiful hair tied into "dog-tails" and her beautiful stand-out white pinafore dress, looking into my face with a captivating gleeming white smile, while reaching up to place a lei of flowers over my neck, kissing me on the cheek and saying, "PUMZIKA!" I had never (to my knowledge) heard that sound before. I only knew that when she said, "Pumzika!", I felt the sweet relief of blessed assurance that all was well.
When I awoke I shook Frances awake and said to her with tears streaming down, "I don't understand this. I don't know what it all means. But - we are not going home. I know that all is well!
Next morning, while the former overseer was taking me around the city to see the location of churches and to help orient me to the places I would need to know about I asked him, "Jack, in all the 23 languages of Kenya, and all the additional dialects that make up the 40 languages spoken in this country, have you ever heard something that sounds remotely like, Pumzika?" I shall never forget his answer. He looked across at me and said, "Yes, Fred. That's a Kiswahili word in the simple imperative form and it means simply, YOU REST!
So now -- if you come to see me and I talk to you about "Pumzika Acres" you will know that this means "Restful Place". It's something God did for me that I never want to forget nor to allow my friends and family to forget.