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Mud, crushed granite, and memories

Tom Poland

Posted September 13, 2022

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

Nostalgia pulled at me hard. On the second Sunday in September, I decided to see three things that were no more. And so I drove up Georgia Highway 79 to mom’s old homeplace. Gone. As I approached the Broad River Campground, I turned in. I’d walk the shoreline and see land that had long been drowned.

Basking turtles pay Old Glory respect.

The Broad River looked like a creek. Grass grew from earth exposed anew to sunlight. Far out there a large fallen tree emerged from low water. In its limbs a large bird appeared to flutter. A great blue heron? No, a U.S. flag. Old Glory leaned at a steep angle but was flying nonetheless. Today was no ordinary Sunday. It was the day the towers fell. Embarrassment swept through me. How we forget.

I trained a long lens onto the fallen tree. My imagination leaped to Iwo Jima. Seven turtles mounted the tree as if intent on raising the flag.

My next destination would be where the Georgia Guidestones had stood, blown up July 6. A few days later heavy equipment razed it, a danger to people they said. Lesser towers. Gone.

I needed to see where they had fell. I drove up Highway 79 through the granite capital of the world to Highway 77. I parked near the cyclone fence guarding nothing. Surveillance cameras were trained on me. Just like that a man pulled in by me. I expected that. An investigation is ongoing.

The fellow told me he’d never been here. My imagination got the best of me again. “I wonder if he’s the fellow who blew ’em up.” Then I thought, “Probably a GBI agent come to check me out.” We talked a bit, and then he left. It was curious, this fellow’s brief visit.

I stood where the 20-foot-tall granite columns once stood. Some 237,746 pounds of blue granite turned art, turned philosophical. Gone. I studied the ground—nothing but flakes of granite, like spalls from some ancient tribe. Grass strung green strings across the spot visitors’ feet had long kept clean. Earth was reclaiming hers.

Rendered ordinary, where the Guidestones stood

Then my mind receded. I was 24 when I began teaching at a college. I was a green banana, naive as they come. One day, a U.S Army colonel turned history professor took me aside. He had worked in the Pentagon. I deemed him wise; he judged me wide-eyed and green I’m certain.

“I want to teach you something,” he said, “and I never want you to forget what I tell you.”

Through the thick lenses of his glasses I could see years of discipline in his eyes, early mornings, and war. I saw disappointment too. It was his last day at the college.

“Yes, Colonel?”

“People are no damn good,” he said. Then he repeated it. “People are no damn good.”

Standing in the midst of what had been the Stonehenge of the South, I knew what he meant.

Back home from my Sunday of remembrance and a flag in a dead tree awaiting water to drown it yet again, I did some thinking. Then I did some reading about the Guidestones’ destruction. A telling quote leaped off the screen into my consciousness.

“The stones would probably have survived a nuclear war,” said a local historian, “but they could not survive Southern culture.”

I like the Guidestones. I put them in a book, magazines, and newspapers. I took people there to see and photograph them. It was as close as I’d ever get to Stonehenge. I hear there’s some support for rebuilding the Guidestones. Like the Phoenix, if it rises again, will it survive the Southern culture? I know what the Colonel would say. Maybe you do too. I suppose we’ll see. Maybe.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Living on Purpose: Will we follow God or the world?

Dr. William Holland

Posted September 9, 2022

By Dr. William Holland

Christians are accountable to love and pray for their family, and friends, and against evil everywhere, but unfortunately, many have lost the enthusiasm and the burden to ask God to set them on fire for His glory. If Christian leadership is afraid to declare war against Satan and evil strongholds and principalities, how can they be inspired or have the faith to become a living sacrifice for God? When there is no difference between a spiritually blind world and those who claim to be God’s front-line warriors, society falls deeper into spiritual darkness.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is what God uses to prick the conscience of those who are spiritually lost, and His disciples are accountable to pray for the sensitivity to know when a divine appointment is being arranged. When Christians become distracted with their plans and pleasures, prayer is neglected, and we know when conviction and the reverential fear of God are ignored, sin increases and becomes bolder. This is exactly why Satan and his demons spend every moment trying to prevent Christians from seeking God’s instructions and accomplishing His will.

Mankind has always been under attack from the kingdom of darkness and many different evil spirits are working overtime trying to weaken and distort the strength, honor, and faith of Godly men and women who are called by God to stand and engage in spiritual warfare for divine truth. Look around and notice that most men are spiritually anemic and filled with fear and carnality which is a disgrace to God’s plan for them to be strong leaders for His glory.

This deception is intended to hinder those who are called by the Lord to be the head of the family and role models for their children. The church laughed at people like Milton Berle and Flip Wilson, but it’s not funny now, as it was all a plan to plant a seed of accepting perversion. For those who are commanded to take up their cross and follow Jesus, we must be careful with what we accept as normal. The dark side is very subtle and uses a progressive repetition to slowly convince the masses that good is evil and evil is good. The idea is to program the human conscience to embrace the tsunami of lies and propaganda that is intentionally attempting to remove God from our culture.

The vision of the world continues to advance toward global control and we know it will be very difficult for many to resist the temptation to follow this system. I ask that we consider examining and preparing our souls today for serious choices we may face tomorrow. The lines are drawn and each person will decide which kingdom they are going to stand with. Matthew 6:24 states there are only two. Those who love the world will side against God and hate Him, and those who love God and embrace His truth will be hated by the masses. Jesus said in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Who do we love? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” I John 2:15.

My family has told stories about how my great grandfather would walk down the hill behind the house in the evenings and they could hear him weeping and travailing in the spirit to God. He and his wife were God-fearing people who raised 14 children on a small farm and depended on God for everything. How many people do you know who spend time on their knees desiring above all things to have a broken and contrite heart? The Bible says in James 5:16, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.” Fervent means intense and this desperate determination to know God is the only way anyone will be able to endure to the end.

William F. Holland Jr. is a minister, chaplain, psalmist, and author. As a freelance faith writer, his books and newspaper and magazine articles are enjoyed around the world. Dr. Holland’s weekly column, “Living On Purpose” is focused on bringing spiritual hope and encouragement through God’s Word. Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com.

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Aluminum, Glass, Rum, War, & Hemingway: When Timelines Cross

Tom Poland

Posted September 9, 2022

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

The vessels resemble, cousins of a sort, my worn canteen and its shiny glass companion. The two came to me by dissimilar routes. A friend brought me the rum from Key West down where that writer and his six-toed cats held sway. The rum gives tailgating at Georgia Bulldog games a touch of Hemingway as we talk rivalries with War Eagles and Volunteers and make bold predictions.

Shoulder to shoulder, the canteen and the bottle it inspired.

The canteen tells a weightier story. Made in 1942, it hung from a nail on a roof support in my parent’s attic, hung there for more than seven decades. Through the years, the canvas cover vanished. In darkness the naked vessel endured a Georgia summer. Come winter, it chilled, but not as the hip crowd bandies.

“Chill man.” (I’m no fan of slighting the English language. Talk like you have some sense.)

In that attic in a dark spot, the canteen patiently waited for me to discover it and I did. Dad had brought it home from Hiroshima. I brought it across the Savannah to my Carolina home.

On the canteen’s back A.G. M. is imprinted. That stands for Aluminum Goods Manufacturing. The back possesses a big dent as well, perhaps the result of a maneuver where a gun butt struck it, maybe. Something heavy struck it.

Something heavy, that would be Hiroshima. Dad spent a year there and he went to Nagasaki too.

Nagasaki, heavy also.

Dad never mentioned his canteen and I don’t recall seeing it growing up. He just didn’t talk about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and I suspect you and I wouldn’t have either.

The canteen’s been dry a long time. Seventy-five years I figure. I want to drink water from it, some “cool, cool water” as Eddie Money sang. To do so, I must get it to a usable state. Might it hold some degree of radioactivity? I don’t think so. Once I get it clean as a whistle, I’ll take it afield when I’m on some back road capturing a story for you, my reader.

Now, that bottle of rum. Quite a different story. It’s named for Hemingway’s boat, Pilar, the one he used to fish the Gulf Stream. Legend holds that during World War II he set out in Pilar, armed with a Thompson machine gun, to search for German U-boats. (That would be submarines, oh-so-cool hipsters.) Lots of stories swirl around Hemingway and Pilar, and I’m sure he swilled many a rum on his 38-foot fishing boat.

Swirling and swilling … It’s been said that drinking and writing go together like pen and paper and Cormac McCarthy claims that drinking is among a writer’s occupational hazards. Faulkner would agree. So would Truman Capote and Scott Fitzgerald and let’s not overlook Edgar Allen Poe or Dylan Thomas.

“I drink to make other people more interesting,” said Hemingway. I read that Hemingway drank dark rum, and whether he went into the Gulf Stream hunting submarines or not matters not to me. What matters is that right here timelines cross. The US Army’s World War II canteen inspired the bottle that holds Pilar Rum. The boat that gives the rum its name took part in World War II a tad, we’ll conjecture.

And what about this rum? Pilar Rum’s ad men describe it as having “complex notes of rich maple, dark chocolate, ripe fig, and candied orange.” Hemingway wouldn’t have written that. It’s sissified. No, he’d have written, “Just open it, swig, wipe your mouth, and kiss a pretty woman.”

After giving Dad’s canteen a thorough cleansing, I’ll fill it with Pilar Rum. That spirit distilled from sugar cane products needs to wet the innards of its marketing progenitor. I’ll bring the bottle along too. I’ll tell my bulldog-barking friends that although it’s 7,782 miles from Key West to Hiroshima, a taste of writing and war are just a swig away. Glass or aluminum, take your pick.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Old Island Haunts: Add Hazel’s Café to the list

Tom Poland

Posted September 6, 2022

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

Old island haunts. The fever to develop islands didn’t destroy all of them. In a few instances, someone decided, “Not for sale.” And so you can still find old stores, cafes, and restaurants on islands tethered to bridges. The Pelican Inn at Pawleys Island comes to mind and so does Pawleys’ Sea View Island.

Otherwise, when I think of weather-beaten boards, fading Coca Cola signs, and tin roofs, I see dusty lanes in the countryside where old Coke stores watch life go by. I see a small-town café that still dresses as it did 50 years ago. So, coming across Hazel’s Café on St. Simons Island surprised me.

Hazel’s Café is one of those places that bring the camera out. It’s a place that makes you curious. When I got back to my Carolina office, I looked up Hazel’s Café and found a fine feature on it in The Brunswick News, Larry Hobbs’s “Hazel’s Café a throwback to Island’s past.”

Hazel’s Cafe lives on down St. Simons Island way.

I learned from Hobbs’s feature that the store was an African-American enterprise. Hobbs’s words … “Hazel and Thomas Floyd opened the cafe in 1947, banking on the post-war economic boom to generate business. Boy, did it. Hazel’s Cafe already was an iconic relic when it finally closed its doors to customers in 1978, some 40 years ago. (Now 44 years)

“Thomas was from Hazlehurst, arriving on St. Simons Island after serving in the Army during World War II (1941-45). He was a darned good cook. Hazel was an island native, ready for a change of pace after having worked in Brunswick’s Liberty Ship yards during the war years. Together, the couple whipped up a recipe for success that would feed the community for three decades.”

Hobbs got to go inside the old café with Amy Roberts to whom Hazel was a cousin on her mother’s side. The place still looks like it did when it was thriving. The place is being preserved, and that’s a story of its own. Fred Mars, owner of Pane in the Glass, (Yes, you read that right) bought Hazel’s Café with the goal of moving his business there but new zoning laws got in the way. So, on college football Saturdays Georgia Bulldog fans bring the red and black to Hazel’s Cafe. “They are the guests of St. Simons Islander and diehard Dawg fan Fred Marrs,” wrote Hobbs.

Marrs bought Hazel’s Café in 1994. “We grill out back and have a lot of fun with it. Mainly, we just watch Georgia football,” said Marrs.

Hobbs closed out his feature in a way that puts a smile on your face. “Inside Hazel’s Cafe, little has changed except for a couple of modest flat-screen television sets, a billiards table and some track lighting. The many black and white photos of the island’s yesteryears include a portrait of the old proprietors, a handsome couple indeed.

“The home Hazel and Thomas lived in remains standing next door, used today for storage. Fred intends for this little piece of the island’s past to stand for a long time to come.

“It’s going to be willed to my daughter and she said she’s not going to do anything with it,” Fred said. “It’s just going to be Hazel’s. It’s one of those things you keep forever.”

One of those things you keep forever—the smiles part. I added Hazel’s Café to my list of old island haunts. Thanks to Larry Hobbs and Fred Marrs, the mystery of the beautiful window-box flowers is solved.

Football season is here and “Go Dawgs” and no small amount of barking will be heard along Demere Road down St. Simons Island way in a throwback place called Hazel’s Café. Long may it prevail.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Living on Purpose: God builds His temple with living stones

Dr. William Holland

Posted September 6, 2022

By Dr. William Holland

As a Christian faith writer, I am blessed with God providing me with spiritual insights and considerations to relay to others. He creates opportunities for me to share, however, what I do is not anything more special than how millions of other Christians are serving Him, and I humbly acknowledge that most are more talented and effective than myself. I’m just a small piece of a large puzzle, one voice among many who is pointing toward the one who has all authority, who created everything, and knows everything.

I can honestly say that I’m consumed with writing about God and the Christian life, and my testimony includes that I did not pursue or plan this way of life. I know it sounds unusual, but writing came to me through a spiritual experience when I was a younger man and since that time it has been a sacred part of my life. I received two prophetic encouragements that were confirmed and I’m very grateful to God for His calling. Writing is the first thing I think about when I awaken, and in the evenings I have a pad and pen on the table next to my recliner to scribble my thoughts while our English Bulldog Teddy snores in my lap. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as saying, “You do not write because you want to say something; you write because you have something to say.” I am a truth seeker and must spend a portion of every day meditating, praying, reading, and writing. If I ignore a thought and plan to write it down later, it’s often like a dream that fades and will eventually dissipate. I’ve learned over the years that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I must write it down or I may lose it.

Throughout my working career (yes, I’ve been a bi-vocational minister), I would jot down ideas, as many times I would be humming a tune and a complete song with verses and chorus would just suddenly come to me. Later at home, I would play and sing this new song as if I had known it all my life. I typed and recorded them at home as demos so that I could remember them. Many of these original songs have been recorded in professional studios as the Lord helped me create several full-length CDs along with YouTube videos that are available for those who would like to listen to them. Over the next few years, writing music evolved into writing devotions and sermons and became the foundation of what I do today. I’ve played the guitar since I was a kid and have ministered in churches, nursing homes, prisons, homeless shelters, weddings, funerals, revivals, and such throughout my life. As a former worship pastor in several churches, I’ve always enjoyed leading others into God’s presence.

So what drives every Christian to serve God? I believe He gives His people spiritual gifts and they receive inspiration from the Holy Spirit who empowers them to accomplish His will. Whatever the Father has placed in the heart of His children, it is to fulfill a divine purpose. I Peter 2:5 says, “You are like living stones being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Christian pastors, teachers, singers, and evangelists are messengers of the gospel of Christ which is the power unto salvation to all who will believe. As we confess Jesus as our Lord and believe that God has raised Him from the dead as Romans 10:9 -12 explains, we all become “living stones” within God’s eternal temple.

This analogy of God’s family being like stones or bricks in a wall reveals that no one is considered more important than anyone else. As each stone supports the structure, they individually become unified with the body of Christ. Listen to Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him, you are also being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” “Jesus, thank you for shedding your blood, and resurrecting so that we might be transformed into a living stone for your glory. Amen.”

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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The Feared Invader

Tom Poland

Posted August 30, 2022

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

Let’s talk invasive species. One will bite you. You can bite the other. You can eat it, but given time it will entomb all you possess. Fire ants or kudzu? Which do people fear most?

I believe kudzu tops fire ants as being more feared. Kudzu fascinates people in a morbid way. It stirs folks up with such ease, you’d think Hollywood would have cranked out a kudzu horror film by now. Like a Midwestern dust storm, kudzu covers all in its path.

For now, an imperiled lane runs through a sea of kudzu.

Fire ants with mounds missing center holes? Dust them with Spectracide or AMDRO and go on about your business. Want to get rid of kudzu? Round up some friends, and apply Kudzu Root Powder or Brush Killer. (See what I did here?) Or you can mow the vine for ten years or more and kill it. Some claim baking soda will do the job as will vinegar.

I’ve never seen fire ant mounds and kudzu together … hmm, but I saw a field studded with fire ant mounds eighteen inches high. It evoked a scene from a Western where teepees populated a plain as far as the eye could see. Bring in kudzu, and you’ll see nothing but a green rolling sea.

Even as kudzu chokes the life out of pines, dogwoods, and other plants, it fashions a landscape of beauty. Its green is vibrant. Its soft curves and mounds evoke snowfall, green snow. Its sheer dominance invokes awe. We see no other plant take over the land as kudzu does. We know where abandoned homes, stores, and barns have surrendered to the green menace, the conquistador, though busho (bu-shō) Japanese warlord would be more apropos for this invader from Japan and Southeast Asia.

Kudzu blooms’ fragrance brings to mind grape juice. Vanquished fire ant mounds leave mud in their wake. When winter sets in, kudzu looks like soggy brown crepe paper, the aftermath of some celebration turned funereal. Come winter, fire ants burrow deeper into the soil to avoid the cold. Come spring, fire ants and kudzu experience a resurgence.

I’ve seen many a person kick a fire ant mound just to annoy the pests. I asked people a simple question. Would you crawl under a mound of kudzu to see what it’s like? To wit, some entertaining responses came in. Exclamation points weren’t spared—Pull a vine in Blairsville and a vine in Tybee Island moves too! Noooo thanks! I’m sure kudzu hides many snakes! There is a large red hill near me covered in kudzu with paths and tunnels. One path had a cultivated area with tall plants growing in it! I don’t think it was okra. I won’t be walking thru thick kudzu as I don’t care for unseen snakes, chiggers, ticks, holes, boulders, tree branches etc. Undoubtedly the Lizard man was made of such.

One response made me curious to take the green plunge—“It’s an incredible world underneath! A large path of forest was covered near the house I grew up in. There were deer trails that led into the green-cast world. Crawling on hands and knees in sections and walking along others, it was like a green cave being held up by all the dead shrubs and small trees. I’m willing to take up the challenge again with my GoPro!”

Kudzu is here to stay and it has become part of the Southland’s lore. Like some underworld, this green overworld hides secrets. Why somewhere unseen may be a village forgotten by time, engulfed in green as it is.

Kudzu. Is it coming soon to some unsuspecting acreage near you? Time will tell.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Drowning The Past: What We’ve Lost

Tom Poland

Posted August 30, 2022

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

I spent a lot of time on Clarks Hill Lake (Strom Thurmond Lake), during my teenage and college years. I camped, boated, and skied, but over the years lake fun amused me less and less. Today I prefer rivers. A river will take you somewhere. A river will soothe you with its river song. A lake? It laps against the shore, a miniature Atlantic surf sound. Better than nothing.

High but not dry, the old silo looks over what was once farmland.

Almost everyone—but not everyone—loves lakes. Many people seem to view impoundments as natural, like they’ve always been here. Outside of kayakers, fly fishermen, and naturalists, few mention rivers. Maybe that’s because we live in a region known for manmade impoundments. Clarks Hill Lake, Lake Russell, Lake Hartwell, Lake Murray, Wateree, the Santee Cooper Lakes, Lake Greenwood, Monticello and on and on. Lots of dams in the Southeast.

Dams back up rivers and perform as designed. Damming the Savannah River helped control the flooding of Augusta. It also brought hydroelectric power and a bonanza of recreational opportunities. Fishermen love the lake. Campers love the lake. Developers and realtors really, really love the lake. The taxman really loves the lake, but enough of this petty whining. It’s true that the Savannah River flooded Augusta, but the waters always receded. Once an impoundment covers the land, it stays. A lake is a permanent flood, and that brings me to what we’ve lost. What we’ve drowned.

About a year ago I spied a silo standing in Clarks Hill Lake. Several times I walked down to the waterline to see how a boat-less guy could get to this silo that looked a castle turret with a parapet. Then, despite the rains of late, the lake dropped some four feet. I saw a way to get to the silo, on foot through mud, over rocks, through beer cans, bottles, and other refuse that’s out of sight and out of mind when the lake’s up.

I don’t know the silo’s history, yet, but boaters who cross the lake here motor over what might have been a hayfield, a pasture, a place that caused a farmer to lay awake fretting. What else might lie beneath dammed waters? How about dead shoals where rocky shoals spider lilies once bloomed with their white fragrant blossoms and stalks green as bell peppers? How about the Rembert Indian Mounds up Elbert County, Georgia, way? How about the lost towns of Petersburg, Lisbon, and Vienna?

Stone bridges, stone houses, old steel bridges, Indian villages, and cemeteries? That and more lie beneath water, for the list of what we’ve drowned is long and distinguished, an archaeologist’s dream. The silo this column mentions? It stands above water for a respite, for some breathing space, a monument to all that’s out there deeper, so deep it will never see the light of day again, nor will you see it.

Lakes provide beautiful sunrises and sunsets but I especially like rivers that run free. Among my favorites are the Chattooga, Georgia’s Broad River and Little River, South Carolina’s Edisto and Black Rivers. I like, too, a creek that runs more like a river, Stevens Creek over in McCormick County.

Treat yourself. Make your way to a poem of a river at daybreak. Stand on its bank and listen. The water roars and hisses as it froths and foams over and around rocks you cannot see but know are there. Then in the faintest light, milky-white filigrees twist and braid and murmur and whisper to beget inner peace as no other sound can—the soothing silence of white water’s white noise.

If it’s easier, stand by the lake of your choice at daybreak, and you’ll hear birds and lapping waves. As the sun climbs, look out across that watery plain and wonder what’s beneath the water, for we’ve drowned a lot of our past, but now and then, like that silo, and like Petersburg, Georgia, ruins remind us of what once was.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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Living on Purpose: Words can be forgiven but not forgotten

Dr. William Holland

Posted August 29, 2022

By Dr. William Holland

We will never rise above or go beyond what we believe and what we speak. It’s a spiritual revelation to comprehend that words have power and where there is privilege there is also responsibility. I realize that we have much to pray about, but this request is crucial if we are to live a holy life of integrity and respect. “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” Psalm 141:3. Since what we say is what we think, it would be wise to monitor what we listen to and what we speak. Communication not only shapes our views while influencing our thoughts and behavior, but words also expose who we really are as we can learn a great deal about a person when we hear them talk. The word fire produces a variety of emotional responses when used in different environments. For example, pleading for fire when we are rubbing two sticks together is a positive response especially when we are camping out in the cold weather and are hungry. However, screaming the word fire while in a crowded theater brings a negative reaction of fear and panic. As James chapter three points out, an evil tongue may be small but it can destroy the world.

Words can accomplish God’s intentions and carry us to amazing places, but, unfortunately, they can also lead us into situations we wish we had never known. As children, many of us quoted this little rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us” which was a courageous stand as we were being threatened or made fun of, but we realized after we grew up that in most cases, words were actually more emotionally painful than if we had been physically assaulted. There’s a good chance that you remember when someone said something that caused you to feel rejection and pierced your soul. Maybe negative words from a parent, teacher, coach, a friend, a bully from school, or the neighborhood, and unfortunately these painful wounds will always be remembered. Thankfully, some individuals change over the years as they recall the bad things they have said and are convicted to apologize and make things right as they realize that foolish people say foolish things.

On the other side of the two-edged sword of words, it’s astounding to understand they also have the power to bring inspiration, encouragement, and healing. In Proverbs 16:24, the Holy Spirit relayed to king Solomon that highly sensitive people are discreet and careful to use good judgment with their speech while the uncaring do not plan or consider what they say. We know this is true because we have been comforted by God’s promises of hope and from those who deeply care about us. In the ancient world, honey was the sweetest substance available, and Solomon was intentional with his imagery as he penned these words, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” We have the opportunity to filter our speech through the Holy Spirit, but it’s our choice to apply spiritual principles or ignore them. The person who is wise and desires to walk in the awareness of God’s presence will learn to have control over their carnal nature. Our emotions are only interested in pleasing our flesh, but God’s will is about His desires and how He wants us to live.

One command associated with obedience to God is to develop spiritual sensitivity and self-control which are included in the fruits of the Spirit. As a result of choosing words wisely, our communication can become an important relay of God’s message. The Lord wants His people to reveal His character, and listening to individuals who follow His voice motivates us to embrace this beautiful way of connecting with others. Those who disregard spiritual discernment and do not care what they say are quite familiar with the flavor of their foot. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29. Let us consider that what is in the well will come up in the bucket. In this light, we realize that negative and destructive words are not the tongue’s fault as it is only a servant to the mind and spirit.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Holland’s new book, “Receiving Our Healing” Learn more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

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Blink Book Review #12: In the Shadow of the White House by Jo Haldeman

Reba Campbell

Posted August 24, 2022

By Reba Campbell

The 50th anniversary of Watergate this summer struck a real chord with me bringing back snippets of news stories from the summer I was eleven and heading into the sixth grade.

An NPR podcast got me curious to dig a little deeper into that dark time in our nation’s history where trust in government was at a low point (sound familiar?). After reading news stories, listening to several podcasts, and browsing through a number of books on the subject, I settled on reading a memoir by Jo Haldeman, the wife of Nixon’s chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman. She wrote the book in 2017 when she was 88 to make sure her grandchildren understood their grandfather’s role in history.

Jo Haldeman was a devoted California housewife, stay-at-home mom of four children and LA native in 1968 when her husband, Bob, was picked to be Richard Nixon’s chief of staff. Jo embraced the family’s move to DC and her role as the wife of a senior White House official, tending the home fires by day and accompanying her husband to ritzy black tie events at night.

This book is her story of how Bob, a former advertising executive from California, ended up at the center of one of the nation’s biggest scandals and how his demise impacted not only the nation, but also – and more importantly — his family. It also gives some human insight into some of the eccentricities of President Nixon and the foibles of his administration.

What drew me in the most about this book is how Jo chronicles the transformation of her gentle-spoken family-focused husband into a chronic workaholic who claimed, even after his conviction, that he knew nothing of the Watergate break-in. This is not a hard-hitting political tome exposing the underbelly of the Nixon administration. Rather it’s one person’s perspective on a piece of our nation’s history that I remember just enough of to want to know more. Next on my list is revisiting “All the President’s Men” that I last read for a journalism school assignment in college.

Knowing what’s happening around us in national politics right now, this book reminded me of the old saying that “those who don’t remember history will be doomed to repeat it” is frighteningly true.

 Reba Hull Campbell is president of the Medway Group, a big word nerd and avid summertime reader. This is part of her summer reading discipline to get off the screen and back to books in a dozen or so “Blink Book Reviews.” She’s challenging herself to keep them to 300-ish words so readers can skim them in a couple of blinks. Reach Reba at reba@themedwaygroup.com. Read previous reviews at Random Connect Points.

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The CCC: FDR's Tree Army

Tom Poland

Posted August 24, 2022

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer
www.tompoland.net
tompol@earthlink.net

If my mother didn’t like something, she’d tell you. If she liked something, you knew that too, and she liked the Civilian Conservation Corps, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Tree Army.” That arboreal moniker resulted from the CCC’s efforts to plant reees, build and improve national and state parks, prevent erosion, control flooding, and help with natural disasters.

The handsome stone Walhalla Fish Hatchery, open to the public.

My mother liked FDR, who didn’t back in the day, but she had another reason for liking his CCC. It put her brothers to work. She grew up with CCC tales and memories. Born as she was in 1928, my mother grew up in the Depression. She would be eleven when the Great Depression ended in 1939. I say she would be, well she was, and when black Tuesday struck October 29, 1929, a hard rain fell as Dylan sang. And it rained and rained. Splattering out of existence among the big black drops of rain were jobs. Yes, jobs dried up even as it rained. Unemployment rose to 23 percent in the United States.

And so, FDR’s CCC took wing March 31, 1933. Its goal was to recruit unemployed men and later out-of-work veterans and put them to work. I don’t recall which projects Mom’s brothers worked on but I know the men worked with two things I love: rocks and trees. To see stacked stone winding with grace along the border of a mountain road is a wonderful thing. To drive the winding Blue Ridge Parkway restores the soul.

After a day on the Chattooga River a handful of years ago, I made a side trip to the Walhalla Fish Hatchery. There, firsthand, I saw the beauty of CCC stonemasons. Constructed from rocks quarried onsite, the hatchery is a thing of beauty and it’s South Carolina’s only cold-water hatchery.

The CCC built sixteen state parks in South Carolina, among them Table Rock, Hunting Island, and Lake Greenwood State Parks. (A museum dedicated to the CCC’s legacy exists at Lake Greenwood State Park.)

In Georgia, among others the CCC built the A.H Stephens State Park, which your author went to as a boy in the 4-H club. The CCC built among others in Georgia Kolomoki Mounds and Little Ocmulgee state parks.

In North Carolina, men in the CCC worked in the Pisgah Forest, a family destination when I was a boy. CCC men brought beauty and function to the Nantahala Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains, another boyhood destination. And Mount Mitchell, a cold place to be come winter with its 6,684-feet elevation. I recall being there in snow. The CCC, part of FDR’s New Deal, planted three billion trees plus, built shelters and trails in more than 800 parks across the country, and in so doing shaped today’s popular national and state parks.

Though a civilian organization, the Army ran CCC camps and their mess halls. Tightly made beds had to bounce a quarter off them, and reveille roused workers. Taps signified sleep.

We’re closing in on ninety years since the CCC and its Tree Army did good things. To this day I know people who recall their dad’s working there. Some built barracks for the men. Some planted trees. Some cooked for the men, a voracious army. Some worked with stone, and to this day brook, brown, and rainbow trout make their way from the shadows of a stone building into streams, then creels. CCC men were making memories, though they may haven’t realized it.

Men needed work and they heeded the call. Some brought trumpets. Some brought fiddles and banjoes. Mayhaps a dulcimer or dulci-more came too and some brought their dogs as loyal company mascots. A spark of hope and accomplishment during a dark time, the flame still burns.


Tom Poland’s website at www.tompoland.net

Email Tom about most anything at at tompol@earthlink.net 

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