Comforting words…

I woke this morning with a grateful heart. My life, if viewed upon a big screen, would probably seem insignificant. I don’t possess a stellar IQ, my contribution to the furtherance of humanity has been minimal. I’m not a genius. No one will stand around the water cooler and whisper, “I wish I was that guy.” My knowledge of the world can’t fill the smallest chasm in said earth, but I do know some small amount of Scripture that I learned as a small boy.

When life pressures me, I lean on the written word of God Almighty. Take Psalms 23:1: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” What a great comfort it is to know that the Lord will provide me with what I need. To know that He walks with me. One of my personal favorites is Psalms 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble.”

I have always told people, “I don’t need any help getting into trouble, I can find it all by myself.” It is of great comfort to know when I am in trouble, God is in my corner. He is my refuge from the storms of life. There is an old gospel song whose lyrics go something like this: “He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.”

No matter what transpires in this life, Jesus has the future well in hand. He is soon to return, and I want to be ready to meet Him.

God bless you all.

High Heat…A short story…

“Mississippi in the summer time is unbearable.”

Mary Jane Richter sits on the back porch and muses about the humidity which threatens to siphon the oxygen out of her system. A life-long native of the aforementioned state, she is acclimated to the bi-level threat of suffocating heat and smothering humidity. “I sure am thankful for the heat though, it keeps people from noticing my tears.” Mary Jane uses an old hanky to wipe the sweat and tears from her face.

“What’s the point in showering, when you just gonna be soaked after five minutes on the porch?”

Her hazel eyes watch as a worn out Chevy Cheyenne pulls up in her driveway. Jimmy Wayne Richter, Mary Jane’s twin brother, steps out and staggers toward the porch.

“It sure is a hot one lil bit. It’s hotter than Satan’s rump out here.” Mary Jane nods her head. “Yep. Whatcha doing here, Jimmy?” Jimmy Wayne, or JW, as he is known to those who might feel some tinge of regret at his passing, shrugs.

“Can’t I come see my baby sister?” JW’s black teeth glint in a mirthful smile. Mary Jane forces a smile back. “Sure, but weren’t you just in Parchment for a triple homicide? Or did I dream that whole nightmare about my brother being given three consecutive life sentences?”

“I got out early for good behavior,” Jimmy Wayne chuckles. “I can’t stay long, sister. Places to be an all that.” Mary Jayne runs her fingers through her black hair. Her hair is now streaked with gray, soon it would all be gray.

“Yeah, I understand. What do you want, JW?”

“Dad’s ole shotty still shoot?”

“Yes.”

“I need it and as many shotgun shells as you got.”

“It’s hanging on the rack over Ma and Pa’s bed.” JW walks into the house and the screen door slams shut. From the back porch Mary Jane can hear JW rummaging through the drawers looking for shotgun shells. Heavy footsteps announce JW’s presence at the screen door. “Eight shells? Is that it, MJ?”

“If that’s all you see, that’s all there is, JW. If I had known you would be breaking out of prison, I would have bought some.” JW nods and cradles the shotgun in the small of his arm.

“By God, I hate to ‘grab and run’ sister but the law will be this way in a minute.”

“Yep. Good luck, JW.”

“Love ya, MJ.”

“Love ya, too.”

JW crosses the yard and reaches for the driver door, when a shot rings out. The high caliber round slams into JW’s chest and punches him to the ground. Mary Jane pushes herself from the rocker and walks out to where her brother lies.

“Ugh-”

“Shh, Jimmy. Just listen. Did you really think after you got my children Denise an Lil’ Ricky involved in your scheming and dirty living, I would let it go? You killed my children, then you stop by here for help?”

“Ugh-”

“Stop trying to talk. I’ll spell it out for you. The Sheriff called me and told me you broke out. He asked if I would take care of you. You know, give the taxpayers a break an all that. I told him not to worry about it. So, you’re gonna die here, JW.”

“Ugh-”

Clamping a sweaty palm over her brother’s mouth, Mary Jane Richter smothers JW to death in the shade of a towering white oak. As JW convulses, MJ leans back against the tree. Her sweaty shirt sticks to her body and she watches as her youngest son walks out of the tree line with the 30-06 used to wound JW.

“Well, JW wasn’t wrong. It’s hotter than Satan’s rump out here.”

Thank you, TAC…

I just received my certificates for my placings in the Spring Writing Competition. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to submit my work and compete with some of the best local writers in my area. I look forward to writing and competing in other contests in the future. 

I placed second in the short fiction category and third in poetry. Thank you to the Tishomingo Arts Council for hosting the competition. 

Sorry…

Today, words were said and I heard little. Things were done, and I didn’t notice.  

I apologize for doing a disappearing act on those whom frequent Freeman’s Front Porch Musings. It has been a couple of traumatic weeks. My world was rocked and the ensuing insanity has been an adjustment.

I am back to writing. Thanks for being a reader.

Tater Salad, Jesus and family…A short story…

“It’s a hundred today, Sue Anne if it’s ten. Even the cows are tired.”

Sandy-haired Sue Anne leaned on the cattle gate and gnawed on the blade of grass stuck between her teeth. Her blue eyes are shaded by her LSU hat. Sweat dribbles down her neck, and she swats at a mosquito who is trying to get a free meal.

“Yeah. Look at ‘em lazy cows, hiding out there in that shade. Maaaa, you lazy bums.”

Johnny Cruz, sat on his bike and spat on everything. Johnny’s hero is The Outlaw Josey Wales. Johnny is the product of Sue Anne’s aunt’s wild lifestyle. 

At one of the church’s ‘dinner on-the-grounds’ Sue Anne’s momma Beth, got into it with her sister Twila, concerning this unplanned addition to the family. 

“There ya go, Twila! Look at you all knocked up. You got no idea who the donor is do you?”

Twila balled her tiny hands into fists and her dark eyes showed the rage building in her heart. 

“We at the house of God. You gonna throw my mistakes in my face when the Lord will forgive me?”

“Getcha preggers stomach from over the tater salad you crazy broad.” Don’t nobody mess with the potato salad. Pregnant or not, we Mississippians will fight to the death over our comfort food. Of course, this is all water under the bridge. Sue Anne is 14, and Cousin Johnny is 13.

Sue Anne’s daddy has gone on to be with the Lord. He died at 38. He was a railroad worker. One hot day he passed out on the tracks and a train did him in.

After the company called Beth and gave her the news, she carried on something fierce. Wailing and thrashing, overturning tables, Sue Anne thought her momma was having a coronary. The old folks at church call it a conniption fit, but the preacher calls it a sin.

“Oooh Lord, you have put too much on me to bear!” Johnny and Twila sat on their porch and listened to Beth as she moaned for several minutes before Twila spoke.

“Well, she either got saved all over again, or somethin’ bad happened.” Twila slipped on her flip-flops and headed down the long, winding dirt driveway. Johnny pedaled his bike next to his mother.

They found Beth out in the yard, nary tear stained her cheeks. Instead, she clutched a stack of papers close to her chest. She waved them at Twila.

“That stupid redneck finally did something right. He took out a 400,000 dollar life insurance policy to provide for me and Sue Anne.” Sue Anne watched as her momma giddily pranced into the house. Looking at Twila and Johnny, Sue Anne shrugged. “Daddy always said momma’s religion only went so far. Her hypocrisy though went straight through to the bone.”

“You need anything,” asked Twila. She pulled off her flip-flop and swept the bottom of her foot off. Sue Anne shook her head no. 

“Nah. It’ll be alright. Momma may have a stroke or somethin’ if she gets more good news.”

“Well, y’all holler if you need anything.”

“Aunt Twila, do you think momma loved daddy?”

“Child, does it matter? You’re daddy is cold and in the ground.”

Sue Anne reaches down and plucks a blade of grass and began gnawing on it.

“Naw, I don’t reckon it matters anymore. Promise to shoot me if I act like momma, won’t ya?” Johnny punched his cousin on the shoulder.

“It’s the least I could do, after all, that’s the whole point of family.”

It’s hard to have grace under fire…but we’re trying…

I woke up this morning thinking about the mercy of God. In Iraq, I was asked a question: How can you serve a God who allows bad things to happen to good people? I even wrote part of A Walk in Darkness to answer this very question. However, this question has became pertinent the past few days. It seems to have been flung into my face with such force, it has nearly taken my breath away.

Here’s my answer. 

According to the Scriptures, God promised to never leave nor forsake us. It also recorded that the mercies of God extends from one generation to the next. What it has never said is that we would understand why God does the things He does. The Scriptures do say that our ways are not His, and our thoughts are not His thoughts. Thus, God in His infinite wisdom will sometimes act in ways which are unseemly to us.

We were never promised the easy road nor were we ever promised that we would understand the mercy that God shows us. All too often, I find myself wondering if I am confusing mercy for cruelty or vice versa.  

As it so happens, I may doubt people and wonder from time to time about their faithfulness, but God has never failed me. These trials seem to wear me down, but deep down in the goo, I believe all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

I don’t mean to be ‘preachy’ or stand on my soapbox and decry the evil in the world. It just so happens, I need some encouragement. According to the Scriptures, King David encouraged himself in the Lord. Thus, as long as we have the Lord in our corner, we can overcome anything we may face in this life.

Please continue to pray for me and my family. We do appreciate the continual prayers and support. God bless you all. 

A few thoughts…

No news is good news. I am tired of hearing this crap. All my life I’ve heard this lie. No news could mean any number of things. 

In this case, it means I substitute different scenarios in lieu of actual facts. At some point, things must slack off. There seems to be no brakes on this train.

Have you ever read the Batman book, penned by Alan Moore, titled: The Killing Joke? In an effort to bring Batman to his level, The Joker puts Commissioner Gordon through a series of tests. 

When I first read The Killing Joke, I was at a very low point in my life. The book made sense to me. There have been many origin stories concerning The Joker. Is he a madman? A psychopath? A sociopath? Or a combination of both?

I think he is a normal man, who has seen too much and has no outlet for the thoughts that trouble him. So, he strikes out against a system he feels has been stacked against him.

Kind of like how I feel today.

Still, not every day is a bad day. It has just felt like it for the past week or so. I fully expect things to turn around; my faith is in the knowledge that God is still in control.

Thankfully, I am not in control of anything. Lord knows I would screw it up. So, my comfort lies in knowing that this world is only temporary and one day, I will see my Savior face to face.

Take care.

Old age…

I have begun using a font on my WPS Office called American Typewriter. As it rains here this morning, I told my mom it brought back memories of when I first learned to type. My skills were honed upon an old, ancient even, Royal typewriter. Ever so often the keys would stick and you would have to pry it loose and continue to type. At the end of the page the carriage would return and make a *ding*. 

I kind of feel like that old typewriter. Things stick when it should flow, all too often, the carriage is sent back to the beginning to try again. God, I am getting old. 

According to my brother, Thomas Earl, “You know you’re almost 50, right?” Yes, I am aware. These experiences in life age us, some don’t exact a heavy toll but others…

Tomorrow is a new day, the carriage slides back and we start anew. Hope springs eternal.

Clinging to the promises…

I am at a loss of words. A writer should not suffer from this problem, but here I am. From what I’ve read, writers block is a thing we writers encounter from time to time. That’s not my issue. Rather, I am emotionally drained. As if someone took a blade and cut my guts out.

Too much seems to have happened too soon. From time to time, I have encountered few things that took the wind completely out of my sails, but here I am.

The last week has been nightmarish. I want to wake myself from this vivid dream, to shake myself as Samson when he fell asleep in the lap of Delilah. It’s no use. 

I am too tired to make sense of it all. However, God is our faithful friend, who according to the Scriptures said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So, I am here clinging to the promises of my Savior.

Y’all pray for me and my family. Thanks.