Tuesday, July 31, 2007

For those of you wondering how G'ma Opal is doing,
I have an update. She is doing fine. We were down
playing cards the other day and she and Kent were
comparing their arthritic feet. Each was trying
to get a one-up on the other.

She has come down on the side of both his mother
and mother-in-law in not liking his beard. I, on
the other hand, have always liked him in a beard.
The grey only makes him that much more distingushed

I asked G'ma how the mice situation was going. She
said that at the beginning of the month she killed
four or five, but now she has a nice big black snake
that Uncle Jim put under the house and it seems to
be taking care of the population. A black or king
snake is a good solution. You don't have to invest
in cat food and yet your mice are kept under control.
Personally, though, I think she misses dealing with
the mice on a daily basis. She is still setting the

She mentioned that she had called her son Ken earlier
that day. They talked for a long time. Then she said,
"I don't know how big the bill will be, usually I wait
and call during the week to his business on his 1-800
number." Savvy ole' thing.

Finally, she mentioned that she had made a list of the 10
women that used to ride the senior citizen van to town
and to Poplar Bluff together a few years ago. Out of
the 10 she is the only one left. I think she was feeling
a little lonely. I reminded her that she still has us,
but, she was melancholic all the same.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Luke 10:2
The harvest truly is great,
but the laborers are few;
therefore pray he Lord of the harvest
to send out laborers into His harvest.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I will never promise to liveblog again. Restricted use
of the single computer that was being shared by all 15
persons on the trip, a busy schedule that left little
or no time for the shared use of said computer, and just
general tiredness are my excuses...take them or leave
them, there they are.

We fell in love, again, with the people from Torre Fuerte
church. I shared a little of the concrete work that the
men in the group worked on. The Bible School was equally

Last year there were 20-25 children daily. We decided to
prepare crafts for 48, but were thrown into a bit of a
tizzy by having 60-70 daily.

What was most wonderful was seeing the same children that
were there last year in addition to the new ones. In the
older class last year there were only two girls. Both
prayed to receive Christ. Not only are they still part of
the church, but their families are as well. Numbers are
not the key, but rather continued growth in Christ is. This
year the older class had over a dozen children. May God grant
them new life as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Busy. Too busy to liveblog this mission trip. Here, though,
are a few pictures from the work.

The guys have been preparing to pour a concrete roof. It will go over
classrooms and a kitchen.

Mexican workers did the actual running up and down the ramp with
the buckets of concrete.

Everybody is proud of all that was accomplished.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

You know you live in Mayberry when you are in G'ma
Opal's yard and the neighbor who lives on down the
gravel waves as she drives by, and then she suddenly
brakes and backs up, pulls into the drive, leans out
the window and says, "Why aren't you in Mexico? Is
something wrong?"

Further proof comes when she, after your snakebitten
Joel explanation, says, "Did you know Junior D. (I'll
keep the last name private for his sake) had a huge
heart attack today?" Then she pulls out of the drive
and in 1-2 minutes Aunt Jenny pulls in, hops out of
her car and says, "Junior D. had a heart attach today
and is in the hospital."

Anne Shirley says if you go in your bedroom at midnight,
and then you pull down your shade and sneeze, Rachel Lynde
will ask you the next day how your cold is. Mayberry, and
our gravel road in particular, is a tich like that...no,
it is very like that.

The wildflowers are all purple and yellow and white. There
are purple coneflower, and there are these purple spiky things,
and there are purple flowers that resemble Queen Anne's Lace.
I'd like to make a bouquet out of the three colors of wildflowers.
It would be lovely and, I think, quite artistically pure.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

UP and Down the Gravel

It's been exciting here on the gravel this week.
We were in the midst of whirlwind preparations for
getting our family off to Mexico when a bit of a
glitch arose. Joel got bit by a copperhead. That's
what comes of a family of boys who all like snakes.
(Princess Hattie likes them too.) But I still get
to brag that my little people (all quite a bit taller
than me, except for Hattie-and she will pass me up
within 2 years) have never had a broken bone nor a
single cavity!

Joel had to spend Wednesday-Saturday in the hospital
and so we had to make some quick decisions on the Mexico
trip. We were able to move one ticket to a later date,
so Kent and Hattie flew down on Friday, as planned, and
Billy and Tyler flew down on Saturday. I will go later in
the week if everything stays well with Joel. He is, so far,
doing very well. We just need to watch and make sure that
his hand doesn't swell again. I tried to talk him into
letting me get a picture of his hand and arm. They were
amazingly huge. He said he'd rather not, so you do not
get to see what a copperhead bit arm and hand look like,
at least not today.

Friday night, as we were in ICU, I looked out the door and
my first cousin, once removed, was standing outside the
room next to us. They had just put her brother, Johnny
(better known as Blue) in the room next to us. They, my
cousins, are also Joel's nearest neighbors. Their property
backs up to ours. Neighbors on the gravel and neighbors in
the hospital. Small world. And then the room next to theirs
was also filled over the few days we were there by two families
from Mayberry that we know. I think that they were trying to
keep all the Mayberrians in one small section, maybe so we
wouldn't contaminate the Big Town folks. This particular
hospital is about a 45 minute drive from our house. There is
a very small hospital in Mayberry, but they send anything of
any consequence on to other places.

Last night I visited G'ma Opal. She sent me home with a jar of
her most delicious hot pickles. I can't wait to eat some. She
said, on an unrelated subject, "I don't have feet, the first 18
inches of my leg are just turned down."

Uncle Jim found an old hand plow in the barn (which is STILL
standing) and has been derusting, painting and fixing it up
beautifully. I'll get a picture of it when it is finished. He
is waiting for some handles he ordered that are steam bent.
That is how the original handles were made.

So, to sum up. We had an exciting week. God is in control and
we trust Him for all He puts in our lives. Live-blogging from
Mexico will have to wait a few days.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Down the Gravel and Beyond

A last Mayberry update before I head down to Mexico
with several of my family and church members. We are
going down to Cuernavaca to work on a church building
project at Torre Fuerte church. Last year we poured a
concrete floor and helped with VBS. We also worked on
the Mission Retreat center, Chula Vista, that we were
staying in.

This year will be much the same. The ladies will
concentrate on VBS and the men will be working with concrete.
They are adding some Sunday School rooms to the church
and the guys will be working on the walls and roof. I
am going to try and update on the Mission Trip as we go.
I'll have a new title...Laurie the Live-blogger.

But back to Mayberry...G'ma Opal and Uncle Jim came over
Monday for lunch. We also had my folks and a few of Hattie's
girlfriends. She, Hattie, was having a combo birthday
party. 'Twas fun. The Princess turned 10; Kent BBQed his
famous chicken; I had ribs in the crockpot and G'ma Opal
brought fried squash and cantaloupe. Of course there were
other side dishes and the cake and ice cream.

G'ma said, "I can't remember anything anymore."

Kent replied, "At least you remember that you can't remember."

Then G'ma smirked and said, "I always heard you couldn't lose
your mind unless you had a good one." She also bragged on my
cooking and said, "I've not had a meal that good in a while."

High praise indeed from the daughter of Hattie Simon.

We take turns going to the nursing/boarding homes in Mayberry
on Sundays. (The churches in town take turns.) We usually are
assigned to one of the three facilities about once a month.
This month we go twice. Hattie said, "It's a Blue Nursing Home
Month." See, she listens Pa and Jim to your talk. She has
Blue Moon down pat and can even expand on the idea.

We've been ballgaming for the last two nights. It seems that
all of Mayberry shows up at the park. Smile and wave...wave and
smile. Chitchat. Feel connected. Find out the latest gossip.
Realize that Hattie has reached the stage in her ball career
where a snowcone after the game does not quite make up for a big
loss. I cherish that as a step in maturity. It does not hurt
her to deal with disappointment. God in His mercy sends the hard
as well as the easy. He knows we need growing up and He is the
one who will accomplish it in our lives.

Oh, one last note. We have guppies. We have lots of guppies.
Kent, bless him, takes the job of disposing of extra guppies
once or twice a week. (They multiply really fast.) Before
leaving for Mexico we wanted to depopulate the tank so they'd
have more breathing room. Catching them in a net is hard.
So, in our brilliance, we put a towel in the tank and were
waiting for lots of them to be above the towel and then we
were going to scoop up a load all at once. We left the
towel in overnight, and unfortunately, we eliminated a few
more fish than we expected. The leftover soapsuds in the
towel from when it last went through the washer and dryer
have poisoned our guppies. There are still loads of them,
but they seem to be dropping off one by one. Stand by
for a guppy update at a later time.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Well! Ever since I mentioned that I no longer was
getting googled for "Tizzy Perm" I have moved to the
top of the google list for that term. I should've
known better that to say those two words out loud.
I stepped out the door into the sultry July night
and I stepped into a sea of homesickness. I became
homesick for the very thing I was experiencing. I
was so homesick it hurt.

A cool wind was blowing away the heat of the day.
Venus glowed brightly just above the western horizon.
The waning moon was not yet risen. The bullfrogs were
in full orchestra, and crickets chirped along with
them but at a higher pitch. Dogs were barking in
the distance.

Fernnook Farm, my own little corner of Mayberry, is
marvelous in July. I missed it last week when I was
at the Lake; I'll miss it next week when I am in
Cuernavaca. It will burn like a flame in my mind
while I am gone and will welcome me with open arms
when I return.

I meant to give an update on all things Mayberrien, but
right now, though I am in the midst of them, I am missing
them too much. So I will wallow in my melancholy and
give the update when the mood swings back up.
A beautiful treatise on the joys of large families by
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is found on WorldNetDaily.

Following is one thought provoking quote, but I urge
you to read the article in its entirety.

"Let's not finesse the response. We all know why.
A world that has lost its innocence has trouble
appreciating beings who are innocent. A world that
has become selfish has soured to the idea of leading
a life of selflessness. A world that has become grossly
materialistic is turned off to the idea of more dependents
who consume resources. And a world that mistakenly
believes that freedom means a lack of responsibility is
opposed to the idea of needy creatures who 'tie you down.'"

Tip of the bonnet to Amy at Amy's Humble Musings
I've set myself a course in church history for the
next several months. First in line is a book I am
working my way through at present. The Spreading
Flame by F.F. Bruce begins at the beginning and will
take me through to the conversion of the English.

Today I found this piece of meat to chew on.
"That God incarnate should enter life by a unique way
...is not improbable, but perfectly fitting. That
God incarnate should live a life of perfect holiness,
marked by works of miraculous power and teaching of
pre-eminent wisdom, is not improbable, but just what
we should expect. That God incarnate should die--
there is something in the highest degree amazing.
Die He did, none the less; but this could not be the
end. When we have seen this act in the drama of our
salvation, we wait breathlessly for the sequel, and
greet it as something divinely natural: this is the
one 'whom God raised up, loosing the bonds of death,
because it was not possible that death should hold
Him fast.'"

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday Thoughts

I Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
His own special people,
that you may proclaim the praise of Him
who called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light,

Saturday, July 07, 2007

In case you are wondering about what's going on in
Mayberry, you have a partner in your wonderings.
I am slightly out of touch. I have been busy taking
pictures of my family and in-laws at the lake.

Doesn't it look like we had fun?

But best of all was returning home to my own little house
and the frogs ferociously loud croaking.

I thank God for recreation and I thank Him more for the
work He sets before us. Work in the home, the family,
the church and the world.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Kent, coming home from Mayberry a few days ago,
glanced into the field and stopped the car.
"What is that out in the field?"

Something was bobbing away and it wasn't the
head of a goat or a cow.

His eyesight is far better than mine and after
a few seconds he announced, "It's a balloon."

So, after pulling up to the house, I asked Hattie
to go and retrieve it from the field. Here's what
she brought home.

It is only fitting, since I am reading an article in
the February 2007 Smithsonian about America's first and
most successful celebrity poet, that I should copy here
a poem of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in celebration of
the 4th.

It is taken from a longer poem titled "The Building of
the Ship."

The Ship of State

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hope of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge, and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee--are all with thee!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Both Biblical Womanhood and Life in a Shoe are having
a contest to win the same set of books. They are the
Ballantyne Christian Adventure Library and are sold
by Vision Forum. They are written by Robert Michael
Ballantyne who was a Christian and a Scottish Covenanter.

If you are interested in entering the contest visit
Biblical Womanhood and Life in a Shoe for the details.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Uncle Jim has been cleaning out G'ma Opal's barn to
ready it for pulling down as it is old and quite
rickety. Recently he found a suitcase in it with
old papers and pictures. What a treasure.

The following letter was in it. It is from my great-
grandfather to my great-grandmother. He wrote it
several months before they married. His first wife
had died in childbirth with siamese twins. He was
in Doniphan (aka Mayberry) and writing to Hattie in
Fern Nook which was 12 or so miles away. And yes,
Princess Hattie is named after her great-grandmother,
as well as G'ma Opal whose real given name is Hattie.
Great-grandfather John was born in 1854. He married
late in life and then had five children. G'ma Opal
was the youngest of the five. So, amazingly, I am only
three generations removed from the Civil War.

June the 16 1901
Doniphan Mo
Ripley Co

Miss Hattie Chappel
My own little darling Hattie
I would have writen before now but was expecting to come up
Though just when I was thinking of coming I took worse and
I could not come
Though the time seemed long and dreary yet my love for you
is the same
It looks rather dark for us now but after the darkest clouds
comes the britest day
I am geting better and think it will permnant this time
Hattie I hope you are injoying your self better than I am
Let me express my simpathy to you in behalf of your ma
I can't write if you see any thing in this worth answering dont
do like I have but write the first chance
Very respectfully
J.J. Simon