On Education

For years I have championed public school. Perhaps in a hardheaded way, because I am a product of public school. Notwithstanding the wonderful memories and relationships that public school afforded me, I would like to take an objective look at the education system.

Wesley started the first grade this year. The pandemic has caused his school to implement some resources that we have known were available, but never thought we’d actually have to use; namely virtual learning from home. Our experience with the first couple of weeks of virtual learning has caused me to do some critical thinking about education. For years I have championed public school. Perhaps in a hardheaded way, because I am a product of public school. Notwithstanding the wonderful memories and relationships that public school afforded me, I would like to take an objective look at the education system.

One of things that I still like about public school is that a child will be exposed to peers in their community. I do think it is good for children to learn how to interact with other children who are being raised with different values, beliefs, and traditions. After all, this is how life will be as adult. The simple principle Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself still takes quite a bit of practice and I think it is best taught to practice as a child.

Exposing a child to the peers in their community is also one of the things I dislike about public school. In my public school experience-especially in Middle School-much of the class time was spent disciplining children who had no desire to learn. I imagine that this is one of the greatest challenges for a teacher. Some of the same troublemakers that I watched purposefully disrupt class are now troublemakers in society. I see them from time to time when they make the news for criminal activity. So the time taken away from my education to discipline an incorrigible student was essentially wasted for everyone. On the other hand, learning how to deal with difficult people has come in handy many times in my adult life.

Perhaps there is an advantage in attending a smaller school. My wife is always surprised when I recall any of my teachers. She attended a much larger school than I did, and remembers her teachers as impersonal if she remembers them at all. There were only about 45 students in my graduating class and I had known most of them since kindergarten. So our teachers-I am related to a few of them-had a better chance of getting to know the students, which I think is a good foundation for a quality education.

It is unfortunate that public education is entangled in politics. Often decisions are made by bureaucrats that probably would be better made by teachers and even parents. You can read Year-Round School for a good example of that.

As a parent I am thankful for the opportunity to enroll my children in our Church’s Christian School. This was not an option for me as a child. In the last couple years of his life, my dad had the chance to work with Cornerstone Christian Academy. He was impressed by the curriculum-Abeka– and the freedom the administration had in organizing the school.

I am currently chipping away at my college education a couple of online classes at a time. It has taken this long because I have never been keen on going into debt for a degree that may or may not land a quality job. Even before the pandemic, online classes were really my only option. After reading some of the posts from my fellow students on the class discussion boards-a common assignment in online courses-I am strongly convinced that online classes are not working for everyone. It is painfully clear to me that many of the concepts being taught are not making sense to some students. More than likely these students will still pass the class with an imperfect understanding of the subject. Which is ultimately a failure.

No doubt we’ve all encountered people like this who may have eventually earned their degree. My dad used to tell a story of a college graduate at work who had made a really boneheaded production decision that cost the company a lot of money and time. Anyone with any kind of sense should have known better. In response to this error, one particularly perplexed blue collar worker shook his head and said, “He been to college though.”

To some degree home schooling is not much different that online college classes. Fortunately, most parents that I know with ambition enough to home school their children care enough to make sure their children are getting sufficient understanding of the subjects. Much can be said about the presence of a teacher who is genuinely interested in the education of a student.

Maybe the highest level of quality of education comes from a private tutor, or someone who is focused on only one student. This would be quite expensive. In many ways I think that this is where a parent is responsible for a child’s education. There are some things that are best learned from a father or a mother.

I grew up in a house where reading and discussion were valued. The arguments we had at the kitchen table were hardly ever about personal matters, but history, science, art, literature, or culture, and often could be solved by referencing the dictionary or the encyclopedia. To hear “Look it up” in a confident tone meant that you were about to lose an argument and be schooled. Even so, we never dwelt on who was wrong, but moved on to the next subject. That, I think, is how to create a culture of learning in the home.

You Are My Brother

What constitutes a brother? The same hair style? The same color eyes? The same likes and dislikes?

by Perry Wells

I grew up in a small country home. I would like to emphasize the word small. It was four rooms and that was not four bedrooms by today’s standard. I had a brother who was a year younger than me. My other brother is fourteen years younger than me. My mom gave him to me for my fourteenth birthday and I have been bearing children since then.

I have had a brother for as long as I can remember. I did not choose my brother, he just came along.

What constitutes a brother? The same hair style? The same color eyes? The same likes and dislikes? No. A brother has the same father and mother. Everyday my dad worked and came home in time for the evening meal. He had a problem in that he thought he owned our little house and the inhabitants who resided in it. He insisted that we all be at the supper table when he came home. This did not mean in close proximity to the table, but seated at the table.

After supper we had to give him an account of the activities of the day, which mostly consisted of school and chores. Farming was an all day job and performing chores could last into half of the night.

Our mother won every fight my brother and I had. She would settle all of the differences we had before my dad came home. It was important to her. She knew he was coming home and everything needed to be taken care of before he arrived. You can believe me when I say we did not want to bother dad with the differences we had encountered!

Now that I am grown and on my own and paster a wonderful church with wonderful people, I have a new set of brothers and sisters. We all have the same Father, who is Jesus Christ. We have the same Mother, which is the Church. And we have all be baptized into One Body, which means we all share the same last name. We need to settle our differences with our Mother as the mediator before our Father comes home. By the way, our Father is due any minute!

You are my brother. Is everything right between us? If I have wronged you, I am sorry. If you have done wronged against me, I forgive you.

We are all brothers, I love you, keep up the good work!

Dear Mom,

Zach just called me and told me that you were unresponsive in the ICU. They are letting four of us come in and see you. I can’t come because I have COVID-19. So I’m writing you a letter.

Zach just called me and told me that you were unresponsive in the ICU. They are letting four of us come in and see you. I can’t come because I have COVID-19. So I’m writing you a letter. My sincere prayer is that you recover miraculously and get on to me for treating you like a dying person. Nevertheless, I think I will not regret this letter.

Since you’ve been sick I’ve missed talking to you on the phone every day after work. You helping me weave together how I’m related to all my relatives. Talking about food and recipes and getting hungry. Talking about Dad and laughing. Talking about church and rejoicing.

I’ll never forget the night that you pulled me aside crying after a couple friends from college, Sarah and Kelly, stopped by the house on their way back to St. Louis.

“Zane, every time I’ve dreamed that you got married, Sarah was the girl in my dreams.” You had never met Sarah before.

Sarah and I weren’t even dating at the time, but you sure got that one right. That hasn’t been then only time over the years that I’ve trusted your intuition, or rather your discernment, and come out the better for it. Thank you.

Some of my earliest memories are of you kneeling down in the chair and praying out loud in the living room while I played. It’s hard to cut up when you hear your mom praying. Thanks for letting me hear you pray when I was a teenager. Thank you for showing me how to pray fervently on my own and how to intercede.

Remember when Zach and I come to you one morning before school when we were little kids?

“Me and Zane been thinking. We want real food for breakfast.” Zach said as I stood there beside him in my big old glasses. He was the spokesman. Apparently pop-tarts or cereal were not cutting it. Both those things have never been able to satisfy me, even when you buttered the pop-tarts. From then on you made us bacon and eggs for breakfast. Or ham and cheese omelettes. Can anyone make a ham and cheese omelette like you? Or those sausage, egg, and cheese “Whop” biscuits. Or when times were tough, a piece of bologna with cheese and eggs on top, or a fried weenie. Thank you for feeding me real food.

You’ve always had a gift at making a place feel like home. And a way of making people feel welcome. And your food was always delicious. I think Lindsay has gotten a lot of that gift from you. I’m really proud of her. I’m sorry that Lindsay and I fought so much as children. She started it though. We really do love each other now. And we love you.

Thank you for loving Dad and showing us what a healthy marriage looks like. What I thought was a normal home-life turned out to be incredibly rare, and I cherish it dearly. It takes a lot character, integrity, and commitment for a marriage to last. You and Dad had what it took. Thank you both for giving us the best home that any parents could offer.

We went to Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Talladega one time and Pastor Jimmy Huggins said, “I feel led in the Holy Ghost to tell somebody that your mom is your ace in the hole. Be nice to your mom, she’s got your back.” Do you remember that? I feel like he was talking directly to me. And he was right. I can’t begin to count all the times you’ve been in my corner. Thank you.

We thought we were going to lose you when Wesley was born.

“I had to fight a bear to keep your Momma at home. She wanted to come up here and see that baby so bad.” Dad said. We were all so worried about you when you were sick in 2015. But God took Dad first and raised you back up to give us five more years with you. I hope it does it again, but I trust it just the same.

Shall not the judge of all the Earth do right?

Gran meets Welsey

When Miriam came you were well enough to leave that morning, Christmas morning, and drive the eleven hours to hold her.

Gran meets Miriam

I think what me hurts me most is thought of Hollynn not getting to meet you. I’ll do my best to tell her how wonderful you and Poppy were, but I know words are going to fail. We’ll just try to love her as much as you would.

I know Zach and Linds used to tease you about me being your favorite child. Boy you sure did make me feel like I was your favorite. I guess thats a mother’s love: making all your kids feel like they are the most important.

I didn’t know that life would so full of death as an adult. I miss being a little kid and you being able to fix everything with a prayer and hug and a kiss. My heart is hurting right now.

I remember when Sarah and I lost our first baby. That’s about how bad I’m feeling right not thinking of losing you. You called me and quoted scripture.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”

I found great peace in that scripture. The longer I live the more I find answers for everything in the Word of God. Even so, there are still a lot of things I’m just going to have to understand better by and by.

We were talking about you the other day and the very real possibility that this may be the time when God decides to call you home. Zach, still the best spokesman, said, “Ultimately death doesn’t mean to God what it means to us.” I believe that with all my heart.

I Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin in the law.

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m going to miss you so much. I feel like a child who isn’t done having company, but it is time for the company to leave. I have so many plans for you and the kids. I will always love you.

Love your favorite child,

Zane Wells

P.S. Give Dad a big hug for me.

P.P.S. Give our first baby a hug too.

The First Vehicle I Drove

This truck was huge. Imagine an old dump-truck with a flatbed.

“You remember the old blue truck?” Uncle Jason asked me the other day on the phone.

Do I remember the old blue truck? Do you forget your first kiss? Do you forget your first dog? Do you forget the first time you accidentally used buttermilk in your cereal?

The old blue truck was an old Chevrolet that had been converted to run on propane. I’m not sure if that conversion would be economically sound with today’s fuel prices but in the early nineties it made a lot of sense. This truck was huge. Imagine an old dump-truck with a flatbed. It was built before commercial driver’s licenses were a requirement, but I doubt you could drive a modern equivalent without a CDL. That’s how I remember it anyway. I’m sure some automobile enthusiast could tell you a lot more than you’d care to know about it. For years I thought it was an International.

I was either in the second or third grade when Pop was waiting for me when I got off the school bus. I had enough time to drop my school books off and “get into my work clothes” before being whisked off to the hayfield.

It was Uncle Jason who showed me how to drive Old Blue. Basically I was given a crash course on shifting between neutral and low. The only pedal I was authorized to touch was the clutch. No gas pedal or brake needed. I couldn’t even fiddle with the manual choke. Just clutch, steering wheel. I didn’t worry about anything else.

And go easy on that clutch, we don’t want this hay falling, but push it in as far as it will go.

Just hold the steering wheel steady and don’t run over any hay bales.

Press that clutch in when you hear us holler, but don’t stomp it.

The instructions always came with an addendum.

Dad showed up at the hayfield around the time he normally got home from work. It was before cellphones were common. So I am imagine there was a message waiting for him to come meet us in the hayfield.

After surveying the operation Dad asked, “Who’s driving?”

“I’ll never forget the look on your Dad’s face when he saw you in the driver’s seat.” Uncle Jason tells me over the phone. I hear him pause to make a facial expression that somehow I can still see clearly, although it is on my Dad’s face and not Uncle Jason’s. It’s a look of shock mixed with pride.

I was so proud as little boy to have driven that big old truck, and to have gotten paid for it. There is a feeling that you can only get by having done work. It is one of the best feelings in the world and it gives you a sense of pride and satisfaction. I did something worth doing today.

Zane Wells, age 7, professional hay truck driver.

“How could I forget Old Blue?” I replied to Uncle Jason.

“Well I passed it the other day on 278, not far from your house.”

“You sure that was it?”

“No doubt in my mind.”

I believed him. But I went and checked just to make sure.

Old Blue
I remember the bed of this truck being taller than me.

Buffets

If Shoney’s was a country backroad, The Golden Corral was a five lane highspeed freeway.

Shoney’s was probably my introduction to buffet restaurants. It was the same idea as the family Barbecues of my childhood; you could eat all you wanted. Instead of barbecue and all the orthodox fixings that go with it (potato salad, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, deviled eggs, etc.) Shoney’s had a little bit of everything. I mainly got fried shrimp. The first few times I ate shrimp I got sick with clockwork accuracy. It was a shellfish or iodine allergy. We were at Shoney’s once with a bunch of people from church when Bro. Oliver Murray prayed for me before we commenced to eating. I haven’t been sick from shrimp or any other shellfish since that night. God knows I’ve had plenty of chances because I still love shrimp.

Shoney’s had a Salad Bar. My siblings and I would make a salad with croutons as a base. Then we’d pile on diced ham, and bacon bits, smother it with ranch dressing and eat it with those club crackers that come in packs of two. Eventually we started adding lettuce to the base, but it took a long time. I still credit the salad bar as my introduction to green leafy vegetables. To this day I am a sucker for a salad bar, but now I prefer blue cheese dressing.

I remember distinctly the first time Mom and Dad took us to The Golden Corral. It made the Shoney’s buffet look like a snack bar. If Shoney’s was a country backroad, The Golden Corral was a five lane highspeed freeway. The very entrance put you in mind of standing in line to ride a roller coaster at Six Flags. There was even one of those people counters that you have to walk through to enter the dining area. I imagine it was hooked up to a bell in the kitchen that alerted the kitchen commander. DING DING DING DING DING “Family of five just came in! Drop some more fried chicken and throw some more rolls in the oven.”

Ahhh! The rolls. Quincy’s had the best rolls. The waiter brought them out to your table hot and with a buttery sheen on them. I could eat two of them right now. I think the rolls were a tactic to get you to eat less food from the buffet. It never worked with me. There aren’t many things that I’m good at, but I am confident in my ability to eat. I was made for buffets. “Clean your plate.” This is how I was raised. My parents only had to tell me a few times because the idea caught on very early. They were training me to become a heavy weight buffet champion. We even had a piece of furniture in the kitchen called a buffet.

Don’t misunderstand me, I like all the buffets. But if I could only choose one it’s probably going to be a Chinese Buffet. Our family used to go to Happy China in Childersburg after church. It was in an old KFC. My Dad would get that Hot and Sour soup that looks like they dumped all the buffet leftovers into the dirty dishwater and served it up by the gallon as soup.

“It’s good.” He would say as he slurped it out of one of those round soup spoons that you only see at restaurants and rich people’s houses. We have one at our house but we only use it for special occasions. Like when all the other spoons are dirty.

Now there are some purists out there that are probably turning their nose up at the very thought of a buffet. They’ll say the quality of food is better when you order it a la carte. Snooty people are always using French phrases like that to make you feel dumb. They’ve got a point. But ordering off the menu is so restrictive, and I’m not good at making decisions in Chinese. The wonderful thing about buffets is you don’t have to choose! You can eat it all! Although I probably won’t eat those whole baby octopuses. But it is nice to be able to poke them with the spoon to help you decide.

The last place I ate before the pandemic lockdown was a Mexican buffet. What a way to go out. Since then I’ve been worried about the future of buffets. Will buffets become like The Piccadilly Cafeteria where someone fixes a plate for you behind a sheet of plexi-glass? Will you just have to hope that they pick right piece of fried chicken? That won’t do. I pray that I’m wrong, but I’m afraid that we may have seen the last of the all-you-can-eat buffet.

The Last Buffet

That is why I feel compelled to write about buffets. My kids and future generations need to know that at one time in America you could walk into a buffet and fix a plate of pizza, brown gravy, macaroni and cheese, fake bacon bits, sweet potato casserole, and gummy bears and no one would say a word to you.

Nice Things

My sister came over to the house the other day to help make zucchini bread, because I planted to much zucchini. We hovered around Sarah’s KitchenAid mixer like little kids at a science experiment.

“Is it going to sling zucchini sludge all over us?” I asked as she fired up the mixer.

“No. This is a nice thing.” She said matter of factly, and with a bit of discovery in her voice, as if we-not having grown up with nice things-had just had our first encounter with one.

My family used to play this game called Scattergories. It’s a trivia game where a letter die is rolled and each participant has to come up with an answer-that begins with whatever letter is rolled-for a list of twelve questions in a set amount of time. If your answer is unique you get a point but you do not get a point for duplicate or blank answers.

I’d like to take a paragraph to point out that I just explained how to play a game in two sentences-albeit they might be considered run on sentences. Even so, Think about the last time somebody tried to explain to you how to play a board game. There were 35 people crammed in a living room. Everybody was talking so loud at once that the music blaring in the background would have been indistinguishable save for the two musicians singing along at the top of their lungs. A kid was tapping you on the knee and the least concise person in the room was giving you instructions on a game you didn’t want to play cause you were more interested in the cocktail weenies on the paper plate that you had to hold because the dumb game was taking up all of the space on the coffee table. But you couldn’t have reached the coffee table from the bar stool you drug from the kitchen anyway. The next time in you’re in a situation like that, I hope you think about me.

Anyway, in Scattergories one of the categories is Items You Save Up Buy. I think this is the best way to describe nice things. You tend to treat things that you save up to buy a little better because they are dearer. I saved up to buy a proper guitar for years. Several times, just when I had enough money set aside, I would decide on a whim to reallocate that money for something else. Like a radiator for a Honda Accord, or tires, or a baby carseat. When I finally had enough money to buy the guitar I was so anxious to make the purchase before there was an emergency that I developed a case of the shivers.

I suppose that there are even nice things that rich people save up to purchase. Yachts and airplanes, that sort of thing.

Most of the people I’ve known that had nice things weren’t necessarily rich, they just didn’t have any kids. Or at least any boys. Boys are much to rough to coexist with nice things. Zach and I broke the heads off all the wooden ducks in the living room while wrestling. That was Mom’s idea of nice things: wooden ducks. She had about five wooden geese and ducks in the living room. Some folks are just born with class.

At least once, every mother has probably said to their children in exasperation over a broken lamp or busted window, “Your Daddy works hard so we can save money and try to have nice things, but y’all are barbarians and we can’t have nice things.”

I remember Zach putting a dent in the top of Dad’s brand new Mazda truck with a softball. Dads can give a completely different “Why can’t we have nice things?” speech. It’s just as passionate as a Mom’s speech, but it is usually the audience and not the orator that is moved to tears.

“When you have three kids that’s about all you have.”

Perry Wells

I’m not saying that you can’t have nice things and kids, I’m just saying that most people can only afford one or the other. It’s a tough choice for many people. Children are expensive. It may even be cheaper to not have kids and just have nice things. Just ask your parents. How many times have you been to someone’s house and sat down in the recliner only to be warned that the recliner doesn’t work because Kid A broke it using it as a diving board, and that they didn’t notice that it was broken until they got back from the emergency room. That’s the funny thing about nice things, people tend to hang on to them after the kids have already broken them.

The fact that my parents didn’t follow through with those threats of death after I had just broken something lets me know that they chose keeping me over having nice things.

Nice things are fleeting. The classiest vehicle on the market will be old and out of fashion when the new model rolls out next year. I quit trying to keep up with the phone innovations back with the iPhone 6. Furthermore, these things are guaranteed to expire.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21

“Children are the only thing that you can take to heaven with you.”

Ultimately nice things are not important. It’s easy to forget that when you’re daydreaming about the next thing you’re saving up to purchase and how happy it will make you. It won’t make you happy. If it does make you happy it won’t last. One day it won’t even matter to you. If you don’t believe me, just visit a thrift store or better yet, the dump. Both of these places are jam packed with junk and trash that someone not to long ago probably saved up to buy.

There are still some nice things I’d still like to have. Perhaps a proper digital camera to take better quality bad pictures for the website store. Maybe I’ll get one some day. I’m not really worried about it. These days I’m more excited about meeting our third child in October.

Rising to the Occasion

Rising to the occasion is doing what needs to be done no matter how hard, uncomfortable, unpopular, or frightening the task at hand may be.

I’m sitting here awake. I just got up from a dream where a few of our kids ( I don’t know who was there, but it felt like church family) were swimming in a river. Somehow, they got on top of a submerged wooden playground that was traveling downstream way too fast. I grabbed a fishing rod and snagged it. It was the most powerful pull that I’ve ever experienced.

I lost the lure when the line snapped. Sarah and some other mothers come to me alarmed about the children. I look down the river and they’re going away fast, almost out of sight.

The unseen playground has picked up speed. I hear the concerned voices raised around me.

Out nowhere, my friend and some other men have grabbed boats to go fetch the kids.

Now my friend jumps into the swift water and rescues Wesley and the other children from the runaway playground.

I catch up with them on the shore about a mile down river past the bridge where my line broke. The hero of the situation walks out of the water straight faced, not expecting any reward. He just did what needed to be done.

Thank God for people like this.

I’m writing this in the middle of the night because I need to remember it. Sometimes you have a dream and you know that you shouldn’t have finished off all of the weekend’s leftovers before you went to sleep, but sometimes you know that there was something more in a dream. I think this was a case of the latter.

I remember being worried about labor when Sarah and I were expecting our first child. It’s like war, no amount of training can prepare you for the real thing. A friend at church laughed at me when I told him I was concerned about not passing out. He said, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll rise to the occasion.”

I suppose that’s what happens a lot in life. We are constantly faced with difficult situations and we either rise to the occasion and win, or we don’t do anything and lose. Even if we don’t lose, inaction rarely brings a desired outcome. Some of us wait for a hero to come and fix everything, and while it is a nice thought, it hardly ever happens.

Rising to the occasion is doing what needs to be done no matter how hard, uncomfortable, unpopular, or frightening the task at hand may be. It doesn’t take much talent to rise to the occasion, just a lot of courage.

I wonder if David felt like this when he showed up at the battlefield with bread and cheese for his brothers only to find a stalemate with men cowering under the taunts of the champion of the Philistines. In spite of the ridicule and belittlement from his own brothers David rose to the occasion and slew Goliath. Not because of any reward-he didn’t receive one-but because he understood that there was a cause.

Most of the things that I am most proud of where the hardest things I’ve ever done. I will not promise you that rising to the occasion will be fun, easy, or even enjoyable, but I firmly believe that you will not regret it.

Gardening Tips: How to Get Rid of Zucchini

“Don’t leave your window down when you go to the Warehouse Discount Grocery. Somebody is liable to put a sack of zucchini in your car.”

As many of you know, I was volunteered to grow a garden this Spring. It’s been doing pretty good. Except my zucchini. They’re out of control. I’d like to share a few of my tips for getting rid of zucchini.

1. Take it to Church.

People at church have a hard time saying no. Even if they don’t like zucchini, they will smile and be nice. This is a good place to get rid of zucchini. Problems can arise though. People will start to notice you bringing in a grocery sack full of zucchini and they may start to avoid you.

2. Covert Charity

Before you start to lose friends at church, I suggest getting rid of zucchini through random acts of kindness. Nothing makes a thing so fun as knowing you’re not supposed to be doing it. Putting a sack of zucchini in someone’s car without getting caught is one of the most thrilling things about gardening.

You can also set a sack of produce on someone’s door step in the middle of the night. The danger in this is they may use a different door and might not discover the zucchini until they have turned bad-the zucchini, not the people. (I could have reworded that sentence to make it more clear, but I’m feeling rebellious today.) That is the paradox of gardening: you grow things you don’t particularly like and you don’t want them to be wasted.

A sack of Zucchini on it’s way to an unsuspecting family’s doorstep.

3. Sell It.

It is possible to sell your vegetables. You can put up a little booth in your front yard with a hand painted sign that may say something like, “Fresh Vegetables For Sale”. The font should be a bit shaky, similar to the “E995” signs you see for people selling cackle-fruits. That way people know you are genuine country folks and are therefore trustworthy. You may get more traffic if you misspell zucchini. The problem with a booth is you have to always be home to make the transaction, and you may end up having a lot more conversations than you are prepared to have. You would probably have to rely on the honor system.

The other option is to sell your vegetables at the Farmer’s Market. You need the right salesman though. No one wants to buy vegetables from a guy in his early thirties. You need an older man in overalls that is prone to falling asleep in his lawn chair as your sales rep. Or a cute little kid.

4. Eat It.

This is a last ditch effort to get rid of zucchini. I’ve listed a few creative ways to serve zucchini because you can only eat so much zucchini bread before needing to go up a pant size. I can provide recipes for the sincerely interested, but I cannot guarantee that the finished product will be edible.

  • Zucchini Au Gratin
  • Zucchini Ice Cream
  • Zucchini Pie
  • Zucchini Pizza Crust
  • Zucchini Ricota turnovers
  • Zucchini Pesto Patato Salad
  • Zucchini Baked Potatoes
  • Zucchini & Sausage Omelettes
  • Zucchini Tacos
  • Zucchini Soup
  • Zucchini Fricassee

Now I made up most of those recipes on the spot. Aside from zucchini ice cream most of those sound pretty appetizing. The key to eating zucchini is using a little creativity. If you have 4o lbs of zucchini you won’t be upset if one or two recipes turn out to be a dud.

Anyway, I hope your garden is growing well. If you don’t have a garden I hope your neighbor’s is doing well. If you don’t have any neighbors…just come to church with me. I’ll bring you some zucchini.

Wrecks of the Week

They happen so fast; wrecks. In the blink of an eye, one careless motion can change someone’s entire life.

I got behind a UPS truck pulling doubles this morning on the way to work. Ordinarily I would have passed him, but after watching him weave back forth into the fast lane and then all the way onto the opposite shoulder a few times I decided it would be prudent to follow a good way behind until the interstate widened to three lanes. These are the kind of drivers that cause accidents. After a while I watched the truck driver run merge into another lane, running a pickup truck off the road and onto the shoulder. I blew the horn because I felt I needed to do something. It could have been a nasty wreck.

They happen so fast; wrecks. In the blink of an eye, one careless motion can change someone’s entire life. In the time it takes to check a text message someone could brake check you and you’ll be checked out for good.

It is rare that I do not see at least one accident per week on my commute. I have spent hours parked on the interstate behind countless accidents, making me late for work, and more importantly late for home. In April of 2019, I was late for work because of a wreck in Birmingham. As we crawled past the scene I snapped a quick picture with my phone, mainly as evidence for being late. When I finally got to work and had a chance to look at it I was struck by how powerful the image was. Since then, I’ve tried to capture a photograph of every wreck I’ve seen. I’ve captured quite a few over the past year, but I don’t even get half of them. Sometimes it just isn’t safe to try take a picture.

My first wreck photograph. I’ve often wondered about that phone conversation.

It is easy to forget that an inconvenience in schedule for thousands may be fatal for one. While someone is furious about being late to a place that they would rather not go, someone else will never get to speak to a loved one again. I try to think about this when I see a wreck.

I share all of the wreck photos on Instagram. They don’t get a ton of likes. I think because people may feel uncomfortable liking such horrible subject matter. Nevertheless, whenever I meet one of my social media friends in person they always bring up the wreck pictures. It is human nature to want to gawk at calamity, that’s why we rubberneck on the highway, even if we don’t smile about it.

I’m not sure how you look at art, but I like to imagine what is going in the picture. These images all tell a story.

I had a flat on the way home from work. I hope that this is the only time I’m ever featured on Wrecks of the Week.

You can find more wrecks of the week on my Instagram account. As always, thank you for your support.

The Art of Ignoring

What’s a slobbering hog to jaybird? What’s a yapping dog to a freight train?

There will always be negative people. They tend to show up to discourage you whenever you’re doing something worthwhile. Like Sanballat and Tobiah did to Nehemiah. The Bible calls these kind of people Sons of Belial (literally sons of a devil). They specialize in running their mouth and not minding their own business.

The paradox of dealing with these people is it seems like you cannot win.

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. Proverbs 26:4-5

Some of the best advice I was ever given came from Pastor Jeff Dillon. He told me of a time that he had been in a difficult situation and people had started to talk. So he called his father-in-law, W.C. Parkey to find out what to do. I think he was hoping for some clear direction on what to tell the sons of Belial but Bro. Parkey simply said, “Rise above it.”

Back when I used to listen to a lot more public radio than I do now, I caught the tail end of an interview with some nameless, faceless celebrity-I think it was a comedian- who told of the first time he got sued. He was pretty disheartened at the news for a few days before he received a phone call from Dr. Phil of all people. He was surprised that Dr. Phil knew who he was, much less had his number.

“Hey buddy, I heard you got sued. Don’t worry about it. You ain’t nobody until somebody sues you.”

I can’t remember the comedian, and I have never watched Dr. Phil, but I have drawn encouragement from that statement.

Anything worthwhile will probably be difficult and is guaranteed to have critics. There are art critics, music critics, and literary critics, but I’ve never heard of a stand alone critic, because they have nothing to offer. They can only criticize what is.

For anyone reading this that is planning on doing something worthwhile-and I hope it is everyone- I want to let you know that there will be someone who has no plans to do anything constructive and will use all their energy to keep you from doing anything constructive.

Don’t listen to them. What’s a slobbering hog to a jaybird? What’s a yapping dog to a freight train? Rise above it.

I’ll leave you with a passage from Nehemiah 6:1-3

Now it came to pass when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breack left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they though to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?