A Baptist Girl’s Ash Wednesday

I grew up attending a Southern Baptist church in rural north Louisiana.

My family attended the First Baptist Church, which was the biggest Baptist church in our tiny town. The population was barely 500 people, yet there were at least four other Baptist churches in the area: Bird’s Creek Baptist, Kidron Baptist, Wallace Ridge Baptist, Pisgah Baptist.

It seemed like everyone I knew was also a Southern Baptist.

But if they weren’t Baptist, then chances were pretty good they attended one of the many Pentecostal churches. And there were just as many Pentecostal churches as there were Baptists.

As an elementary school child, I never really understood the difference between Pentecostal and Baptist beliefs  … that is, other than the obvious one. Pentecostal women wore long dresses, had long hair and never wore jewelry or make-up; the men always wore long pants and long sleeves shirts, even in the middle of the hot, humid Louisiana summers. Oh, and Pentecostals believed in raising hands, speaking in tongues and other mysteries I never could quite wrap my childish brain around.

Still, I understood that at its core, Baptists and Pentecostals weren’t all that different. We believed in the same Jesus. We just expressed it differently.

But Catholics … well, that was a different story. I really didn’t understand what Catholics believed.

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I had only one Catholic friend growing up.

Somehow we never did talk religion with each other. She moved away in the sixth grade.  I never did have another close friendship with a Catholic until after my 30th birthday.

Catholicism baffled me. Somehow, even though we talked about the same Jesus and read the same Bible stories, our religions were so different that it felt like we didn’t worship same God at all.   To me it was this huge mystery, too sacred to touch, too frightening to ask questions about.  Yet, more than anything else, I wanted to unravel it to discover everything that was hidden underneath.

Growing up, all I knew about Catholics were that they went to Mass and not church. They prayed to God and Jesus, but also to Mary and the saints. There was this mystery called Confession. And then there were all the different sorts of clergy: fathers, priests, nuns, cardinals, bishops, and the Pope who ruled over them all.

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Much of my understanding of the Catholic faith came from the musical The Sound of Music. Oh, how I loved that movie! It came on TV at least once every year, back in those days before VCR’s and DVD players.

I was always fascinated by the main character Maria, who desperately wanted to love God enough to be a nun, but couldn’t manage to keep all the rules.  I identified with that longing, so much so that I often pretended that I would grow up to be a nun … even though deep down I knew good Baptist girls didn’t become nuns.

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A little over four years ago, I married my husband Jon and moved to his home in the middle of Cajun Country. If you know anything about Cajuns, you know that they are all Catholics. In fact, their religious beliefs is the very reason they were exiled to Louisiana in the first place.

The city of Lafayette has always been home to Jon. Like me, he grew up a good Baptist, our childhood faith stories mirroring each other’s almost perfectly. However, he lived in the shadow of the Catholic church, part of the Protestant religious minority. As a result, his understanding of Catholicism was much better than mine.

We had only been married a matter of days when Mardi Gras season officially kicked off. My previous Mardi Gras knowledge was very limited … essentially parades, beads and King cake. I also knew that it would all culminate on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras day itself.

Jon had already spent most of that winter in and out of the hospital, literally fighting for his very life.  As the Mardi Gras season came to a dramatic close, Jon was back in the hospital. All day on that Fat Tuesday, the nurses bustled in and out of his room, beads and baubles around their necks.

“You missin’ the parades this year, Sha?” they playfully teased Jon.

I could tell that Jon was happy to be away from all of the Mardi Gras madness, but I grumbled because I was missing out on my first real Mardi Gras in Cajun Country. All I wanted was a chance to experience it for myself, to unravel a little more of the mystery.

But Jon wasn’t sympathetic to my desires.

“Paige, it’s just a bunch of people in costumes throwing out cheap beads. Trust me, the most you are missing is catching a couple of plastic cups … and if we are needing more cups, then you can just go buy some.” 

So, I spent my first Mardi Gras in Cajun Country sitting in a hospital room, trying to be content to watch re-run episodes of Swamp People on the History Channel.

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The next day was Ash Wednesday. Instead of being greeted by giddy nurses wearing beads, this morning everyone who walked into the hospital room seemed much more somber. The lively spirit from the day before was completely gone.

I questioned Jon about it.

“It’s Ash Wednesday,” he responded. “The party is over. Now it is time to repent.”

Late in the morning, my friend Catherine stopped by the hospital to check in on us. At the encouragement of my husband, Catherine decided to whisk me away for a few hours. Lunch, window shopping, but mostly time with a good friend were sure to cure my sagging spirits.

As we walked down one of the long passageways on our way out of the hospital, we passed by the chapel, where an Ash Wednesday service was just about to start. The next thing I knew, Catherine and I were seated inside.

And when we got up to leave, we both had an ash cross marked upon our foreheads.

photo credit: wikipedia.org
photo credit: wikipedia.org

It was well-after 1 pm by the time Catherine and I walked into a little sandwich shop for lunch.  The lunch crowd has mostly left, and there weren’t but just a couple of other customers. As Catherine and I approached the counter to place our orders, the man behind the counter (who was clearly a Cajun) commented on our ash crosses. He went to great lengths to assure us that he was going to an afternoon service later in the day to get his ash cross as well. Soon, he was peppering us with questions about our plans for Lent.

Catherine, who had grown up Catholic though now practiced a Protestant faith, chatted easily with this friendly man, while I stood by silently, feeling like a mute impostor of sorts.

My mind raced frantically. What was I doing? Did this even represent my personal religious beliefs? I’m a Baptist, for crying out loud.  Good Baptists don’t put ashes on their foreheads. I’m nothing more than a pretender!

Throughout the rest of the afternoon, those ashes burned against the skin along my forehead.

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Several hours later, I walked back into the hospital room. Jon looked up at me and raised his eyebrows quizzically. “I see that you went and got yourself some ashes.”

I hung my head, not really sure how to respond.

Jon grinned. “It’s okay, Paige. There is nothing wrong with putting ashes on your forehead. In fact, it represents a beautiful truth. Without God and His forgiveness, our lives are nothing more than heaps of ashes. But, when we give our hearts and the ashes of our lives to Jesus … well, He takes that and turns it into something beautiful for His glory. Wearing ashes on your forehead is just an outward symbol of your belief in Jesus, and not something to be ashamed of at all!”

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Four years later, I can laugh about my first Ash Wednesday. 

Since that day, I’ve made more than a few Catholic friends here in Cajun Country. I’ve discovered more about their beliefs, comparing them to my own.  I’ve come to the understanding that we do, in fact, follow the same Jesus, proclaim the same Savior, desire to know the same God. Our expression of faith might be vastly different, but the basis of our faith is the same.

I’ve also learned to treasure Lent, something that my Baptist faith never taught me to do. What a blessing it is to spend forty days focusing my attention on intentionally living my life so that I grow closer in my relationship with Christ!  Easter means so much more after this period of sacrificing and fasting and preparing my heart for the glory of Resurrection Sunday. It’s a worthwhile practice and I’m blessed each time I diligently consider how I might spend Lent seeking God.

Today is Ash Wednesday. While I won’t go get ashes smeared into the shape of a cross on my forehead, I will spend the next 40 days seeking God a bit more diligently. I am grateful to my Catholic friends who taught me how.

After all, even a good Baptist girl can celebrate Ash Wednesday.

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Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  ~ John 4:16

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The Story of the $26 Grandchild

According to my grandfather, it cost him $26 (plus the cost of a new car) to get to get to see his first grandchild face-to-face. That grandchild just so happens to be me.

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I suppose, like another the first grand baby, my arrival was a pretty big deal to each of my four grandparents.  My maternal grandmother drove from TX to NC to be with my mother for the big event. She arrived before my expected due date, September 1st.  But apparently I wasn’t in any sort of hurry.

The late summer days slowly slipped by, while everyone watched anxiously, wondering if I might be born on my mother’s father’s birthday (September 5th), but that fine day came and went without any indications that I wanted to be born.  Everyone agreed that I surely wouldn’t share a birthday with my father’s father (September 19th), but after a while it the chances were getting better that our birthdays would be very close after all.

Then it happened. On Sunday, September 17th, at 11:28 am, I took my first breaths. It wasn’t long before my dad called to share the news with his parents.

According to my grandfather, he and my grandmother had been to church that morning, and had just returned home, bring back some friends to share their Sunday lunch. The weather was nice that everyone decided to visit and eat lunch on the patio outside.

My grandmother, who must have had a sixth sense regarding my arrival, insisted on leaving the door to the house open just in case they should receive a phone call announcing my arrival.  I can only imagine her delight when the ringing of the telephone interrupted her lunch.  And, of course, like any grandmother, she could hardly wait to hold that new grandbaby in her arms.

Unfortunately, they couldn’t just make a quick trip over to the hospital. My dad’s parents lived in rural northeast Louisiana, and my father, who was finishing up his army days, was stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC.

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Buick-Electra-Hardtop-Sedan-1972-10FDF260501877AI
A 1972 Buick Electra Sedan … not sure what sort of car my grandfather bought that summer, but he has always had a soft spot for a Buick.

 

A few weeks before I was born, my grandparents went car shopping. I wish I could remember all the details of what type of car it was and the asking price, but I don’t. I just know that they determined it was time for a new car and my grandmother had picked out exactly what she wanted, from all the extra features right down to the color of the paint. But in order to get exactly what she wanted, the new vehicle had to be special ordered.

The new car still hadn’t arrived at the dealership by the time I was born. A day or two later, my grandparents went over to talk to someone at the car dealership to see about how much longer it was going to take, as they didn’t want to leave on their trip in their old vehicle. Unfortunately, no one at the dealership knew with any certainty when the new car might arrive. However, the dealership owner did have another car of the same make and model. The only difference was the color … and suddenly that didn’t seem to matter nearly as much.

“Let’s take it, Herbert,” my grandmother eagerly suggested.  She was ready to be on the way to North Carolina to visit that new grand baby. My grandfather quickly agreed and began to work out the deal with the salesman. Unfortunately, things weren’t settled with the bank regarding the car loan, but that didn’t phase the salesman (who I can only assume must have known my grandfather personally).  He shook my grandfather’s hand and said,

Go on now… y’all go see that new grand baby. We’ll get it all these money details worked out with the bank when you get back.

Away my grandparents drove in their new car, without so much as a bill of sale or even a set of temporary paper tags.

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My grandfather made it as far as South Carolina without any trouble. However, he and my grandmother had trouble getting from South Carolina to North Carolina.

As they were traveling through some small town, a policeman pulled my grandfather over for speeding.  But once he got them on the side of the road and noticed the lack of tags, the fact that there was no registration or bill of sale, the cop became convinced he had caught a couple of criminals.

By some strange coincidence, that very day in a nearby South Carolina town, a middle-aged couple had robbed a bank. The robbers had fled in an untagged car of the same make, model and color as the car my grandparents drove.  When the cop saw the speeding car without tags that matched the description of the getaway car, he immediately assumed that he was about to capture the wanted bank robbers.

It wasn’t long before my grandfather found himself standing in front of a judge, the cop wanting to arrest him for bank robbery. My grandfather explained that the only thing he was guilty of was speeding, and fortunately the kind-hearted judge listened.

“Is there someone who might be able to vouch for you? Do you have a lawyer or know someone in a position of authority who might be able to give me reason to let you go simply based on your word?”  

My grandfather knew exactly who to call, and in short order had a local lawyer talking with the judge, explaining that not only was my grandfather an upstanding citizen, but that he was a deacon at his church and an respected member of the community as well.

“Mr. Terry, my sincere apologies for the confusion. It seems that all you owe us is $26 for a speeding ticket. Pay that and you can get back on your way. Oh, and Mr. Terry,  I would suggest finding a piece of cardboard and writing some numbers and letters on it with a marker. Stick it in the window of your back dash. It might save you trouble further down the road if it looked like you had temporary tags, even if they are fake.”

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A couple of hours later, my grandparents had crossed over into North Carolina. They were nearing Ft. Bragg when suddenly their new car got a flat tire.

Sighing, my grandfather pulled over to change the tire. About that time, a cop pulled up behind him, lights going. Looking over at my grandmother, my grandfather wryly said, “I wonder what I’ve done now?”

This time, however, the cop was only wanting to help. In fact, the cop stated that law enforcement in North Carolina had been informed about my grandparents and told that they were not the bank robbing couple. He again apologized for the earlier mix-up, insisted upon changing the tire himself and then escorted my grandparents the rest of the way to the entrance of Ft. Bragg military base.

Not the first time my grandparents got to see me, but the second ... Thanksgiving 1972.
Not the first time my grandparents got to see me, but the second … Thanksgiving 1972.

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Every so often, my grandfather will remind me of all the trouble he went through just to get to see me for the first time. It’s a story he enjoys telling and one I enjoy sharing as well, as it shows a more Mayberry type of lifestyle that has all but disappeared over the last 42 years.

Today, as I have written about my grandfather, he is in the hospital, severely ill from a kidney infection. It’s definitely been a touchy situation, as fluid builds around his heart due to the impaired kidney function. It’s hard to see him so sick, and yet I have hope of his full recovery … that in a few days he will be back at home, driving his car, going to his office and attending church.

So if you have finished reading this, I’d like to ask if you might pray for my grandfather and for his recovery. There is nothing that I’d love more than to celebrate our birthdays together for a few more years to come.

I celebrate my first birthday while Papaw celebrates his 50th ... the first of many birthdays we have celebrated together.
I celebrate my first birthday while Papaw celebrates his 50th … the first of many birthdays we have celebrated together.

House for Sale

 The first time I saw it, I knew I was home.

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Don’t ask me how I knew … I just knew.

I felt it the moment I saw it in the realtor’s big binder of available houses. I felt it the moment I pulled my car into the driveway. I felt it the instant I walked through the front door to take a look around. And by the time I had peered into every closet and looked inside each cabinet, I knew this house was home.

I really think this is the one,” I told my realtor. “but I’m … well, I’m just not sure I’m ready to buy a house.

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As a single mom, I never set out to buy a home. I certainly didn’t feel financially ready for such a big purchase. Yet my hands were tied. If I didn’t do something quickly, my three children and I were going to be homeless.

The home that I had been renting from my parents had been sold, and I needed a new place to live before June 1st. Initially, I hoped to find another rental home, but the rural area where I was living had nothing to offer. I had been checking every listing every day for close to two months, as well as calling anyone I could think of who might have a lead on a home for rent. Nothing.

It was now early April. Time was running out. I needed to make a move … soon. But I had no idea of where to look. I was fresh out of ideas. The only option that seemed to be available was moving to a larger city, away from my job and the security of living near my parents. And I desperately didn’t want to do that.

And then my brother suggested buying a house. The very thought scared me, but with his encouragement I cautiously went to see his realtor. The realtor was friendly and warm, and took the time to share with me how even with my one-income budget I could afford to be a home owner.

Nervously, I finally said, “Well, there is no harm in looking around, is there? So let’s go see some houses.”

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Carefully, I chose three houses to go look at with the realtor … but there never was any other choice. One look at the photo of the little white house in her binder and I was in love.

Built in the early 1930’s, this home was full of character and charm, and I instantly felt at home from the very first moment I put my foot inside the door. The floors were hardwood. The ceilings were 10 feet tall, with original transoms over the doorways. The kitchen was outfitted with a Butler’s pantry. All over the house were pocket doors. In addition to the three large bedrooms, there was an office that had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a glassed-in sun porch.

I knew I wanted to buy the house, but I was nervous about making the final decision to go through with it.

Take your time. Think about it; pray about it. And when you are ready, give me a call.” The realtor gave me a warm smile as she shook my hand and we parted ways.

That was on Tuesday evening. Two days later, I brought my dad and mom by to see the house and get their opinion. After getting a brief tour, we stood in the yard under one of the large shade trees watching the children as they played nearby. My mom was the first to comment. “It’s really lovely, Paige. I can’t think of a reason why you shouldn’t buy it, but it needs to be your decision.

My father agreed. “After all,” he said, “You will be the one paying the mortgage.”

Part of me had hoped they would tell me what to do. Part of me was glad they didn’t. Even though decision-making has never been my strong suit (just choosing a restaurant can at times be a difficult task for me), this decision was still mine to make. And even I knew that I needed to make the final decision for myself.

Six weeks later, I was unpacking boxes.

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My  kids and I only lived there for a year and a half … but we did a lot of living in that time.

There were six birthday parties and two Christmases and a couple of rare Louisiana “sneaux” days.

Julia turns 7 years old!
Julia turns 7 years old!
Christmas 2009
Christmas 2009

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I bought a drill of my own, and learned to hang my own curtains.  Always before, someone had hung curtains for me, but in this home I proudly hung the curtains for myself.

(Some day, maybe tomorrow, I’ll share the story of how God told me I was not allowed to complain about my feelings of being unsettled when I wasn’t settled enough to even hang up a few curtains.)

Julia's girly butterfly room with the bright happy hideaway in the corner. I hung that in addition to the pink curtains ... there were 8 windows in her bedroom!
Julia’s girly butterfly room with the bright yellow hideaway in the corner. I hung that in addition to the pink curtains … there were 8 windows in her bedroom!

My new drill and I got along so well that I hung up a few hooks for backpacks …

The backpack nook ... about as organized as I ever got!
The backpack nook … about as organized as I ever got!

and added a shelf above my washer and dryer.

My new laundry area. Of all the places I've ever washed clothes, this one was my favorite.
My little laundry area. Of all the places I’ve ever washed clothes, this one was my favorite.

And then there are my two special memories from my little white house on the big corner lot.

The first one was the day I discovered the blueberry bushes. Oh, finding those blueberry bushes was like this enormous hug from God because I’ve always wanted to have a house with blueberry bushes in the back. When I bought the little white house, I didn’t pay any attention to three big bushes on the side of the house … but about two weeks after I moved in, I discovered them. Huge, enormous bushes, covered in the most delicious blueberries I’ve ever tasted. No doubt, it was God’s way of telling me He loved me. (Perhaps one day I will blog about my special love for blueberries, but that probably won’t happen tomorrow.)

Julia fills a bowl with blueberries from one our special blueberry bushes.
Julia fills a bowl with blueberries from one our special blueberry bushes.

And the second memory I love is how Jon and I shared our both our first kiss and our second first kiss in the living room of this house. (Now this is one story I’ve blogged about before. If you haven’t read it, you can get all the details here … but sorry, there is no photograph to go with that one.)

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I married Jon on the last day of 2010. Two weeks later a moving truck took all my belongings out of my little white home, and a renter took my place.

For four years, I’ve been renting my house. Mostly I’ve hated being a landlord, and that’s not at all because of the renters. Mostly God has granted me good ones. No, I hate renting out my house because I’m ultimately still the one responsible for the property.

My dad used to help us with the management of my house, serving as my property manager if you will. But after his death 3 months ago, Jon and I have had to take all of those tasks. And it quickly became clear to us that the house was like a millstone hanging around our necks. Instead of a pleasure to me, my sweet little house on the big corner lot has become a burden. It simply too much of a struggle for Jon and I to manage the upkeep of that property.

We discussed whether or not we should put the house on the market, but I didn’t want to run off my renter and end up trying to cover two mortgages. It was hard to know what to do, and honestly I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place.

This morning my current renter called. “I’m giving you my 30 days notice,” she said. “I’m moving somewhere else. I’ve loved it here, but it is time for me to move on.”

And I’m wondering if it is time for me to move on as well and let go of the house I love.  As much as I knew the first time I saw it that this house was meant to be my home, deep down I know that I’ll never live there again.

I’m ready … ready for whatever God wants, whether it is bringing me a buyer or finding me another renter. He knows and I can trust He has this under control.

But just in case you wonder which way I’m hoping God choosing to work in this situation, there is a nice white house on a big corner lot for sale in rural north Louisiana.

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If you’re interested, I’ll be happy to make you a great deal!

Spring Ridge Sundays: A Writing 101 Assignment

This blog post is based on two different assignments from the Blogging University Writing 101 Course. I’m combining Assignments 14 and 15.

The first assignment was to open the nearest book to page 29, pick a word that jumps out at you and write a letter to someone regarding the thoughts or ideas that you got from the word. I chose the word horses from page 29 of These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

The second assignment was to imagine that an event which shaped my life and worldview was being cancelled forever, and write about how it made me feel. I chose to write about Spring Ridge Sunday. Part family reunion and part church homecoming service, Spring Ridge Sunday is a real even held the first Sunday of each May in the rural hills of Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. Though the tiny one room church doesn’t have regular services any more (and hasn’t since the 1940’s), the ancestors of those original members still come and fill the pews to sing, pray and gather in worship on that one Sunday each spring. Every year I look forward to attending as a way to connect my daily faith to the legacy of  God’s faithfulness throughout the generations. (Psalm 119:90) I cannot imagine my little world without Spring Ridge Sunday.

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Brooke,

I suppose you’ve heard the news by now.

Can you imagine beginning the month of May without Spring Ridge Sunday? How can that possibly be?

I suppose I can count on one hand the years I’ve spent the first Sunday of May some place other than Spring Ridge Baptist Church. It’s simply always been a part of my life.

Do you remember the spring we all had the chickenpox? Mother wouldn’t let us go that year. Who could blame her? All of us were still covered in spots which were in various stages of healing. You and I were as mad as the proverbial wet hen. We begged and pleaded, but Mama stood her ground. It was one of the few years we stayed home from the annual Spring Ridge church services.

Hard wood benches. Humid Louisiana springs. Swatting at flies and fanning with the old cardboard fans provided. What was it that made us love Spring Ridge Sunday so much?

Fascination with the old outhouse? Maybe at some point. For a few years I felt sort of like Laura Ingalls Wilder, as though I had stepped back in time. The lack of indoor plumbing was  … well, it gave me an appreciation for more modern conveniences. Thankfully, the charm soon lost all appeal.

Ma’s chicken and dumplings? Oh, definitely! You could only get that particular delicacy three times a year. Spring Ridge Sunday, Papaw’s birthday and Harvest Day Homecoming Service. I can still taste the deliciousness of those dumplings.  I guess it was more than just the chicken pie though. Seeing all that food spread out on the make-shift tables, piling plates high with food, sitting on lawn chairs, visiting with people who I wouldn’t see for another year. Dinner-on-the-grounds was certainly a Spring Ridge Sunday highlight, but not the real reason behind the event.

The sermons? Some years the sermons were encouraging. Other years … well, not so much. I still laugh every time I think about that poor preacher who couldn’t find his text. He flipped all over his Bible, and never did land on the verse he promised to read aloud. Part of the fun each year was guessing what sort of preacher might show up to share God’s word with us. But that certainly wasn’t the reason I wanted to attend those once-a-year church services.

The history behind the service? Well, certainly there are some interesting stories to come out of that small church in the middle of the piney woods. Do you recall how Ma used to tell of the horses neighing whenever they heard the congregation begin to sing the words to the parting hymn, God Be With Us ‘Til We Meet Again? Still, just history itself isn’t reason to go back to Spring Ridge again and again, year after year.

The people? Oh, I love so many people who came to Spring Ridge. It was as much a family reunion as it was homecoming church service. But there were just as many unfamiliar faces in the crowds, people I didn’t know and never found the time to meet personally. The ones I really cared about I could always find other ways of keeping in touch rather than continuing to drive 20 miles into the rural hillside of north Louisiana on a particular Sunday in May.

So what is it that made Spring Ridge Sunday so special? Why continue to travel the dirt roads to the old one-room church house, year after year? Why does it feel so wrong to know Spring Ridge has been cancelled forever?

To the best of my reasoning, it has to do with my favorite part of Spring Ridge Sundays … the recognition of the original families who attended the old church. It’s the same each year. As the old church roll is called, those who have returned stand up when they hear the names of those who came before them. Some names are called and no one stands. But not for Jim McGuffee and Minnie Belle Allbritton. The wooden floorboards shake as half the crowd rustles to their feet, paying homage to the faith of two simple people, husband and wife, who raised their children to love the Lord.

The Bible is clear. You can’t get to heaven on the coat tails of your parents or grandparents.  And yet God is promises to show love for a thousand generations to those who love Him and His ways (Exodus 20:6).

This is the reason I love Spring Ridge Sunday. It’s a reminder of God’s promises. It’s a reminder of where my family has come, that I am who I am because someone who lived long before me decided to love God … and because of that decision, I have come to know a personal Lord and Savior as well.

Oh, I know. The cancellation of Spring Ridge Sunday won’t change any of those things. It certainly won’t change my relationship with Jesus Christ or my personal faith in God.

 

Still, I know every first Sunday in May, I’ll pause and give thanks to the generations before mine who loved the Lord. My our generation do the same for those who will follow us.

your loving sister,

Paige

My dad and son Nathan sitting on one of the pews in the old Spring Ridge Baptist Church.
My dad and son Nathan and daughter Julia sitting on one of the pews in the old Spring Ridge Baptist Church. (circa 2007)

 

A Louisiana “Sneaux” Day

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There’s hardly enough to make a even a tiny snowball, but that’s far more than we usually get here in Cajun Country. Louisiana winters aren’t known for being snowy or especially frigid.  Typically it’s just wet and mild.

Not today.  It’s early afternoon, and the temperature outside is a chilly 27 degrees. It’s been sleeting since well before dawn. Our front lawn is one large icy patch, with accumulations of sleet piling up around trees and on cars.

Icy precipitation collecting in front of our home ... a rare sight for our mild Louisiana winters.
Icy precipitation collecting in front of our home … a rare sight for our mild Louisiana winters.

The kids have been in and out all day, playing in the sleet and snow. Their cheeks and noses are red, fingers and toes are numb. It’s been joyous sort of day, spent enjoying every moment of the rare icy weather. I’m sure it is a day these children will long remember. After all, we may not be used to all the cold and snow, but we certainly know how to enjoy a snow day when it does come along!

Nathan built a tiny snowman on the hood of our minivan, complete with a tip of a carrot for a nose and a happy scarf of many colors.  He named his snowy pal "Jimmy."
Nathan built a tiny snowman on the hood of our minivan, complete with a tip of a carrot for a nose and a happy scarf of many colors. He named his snowy pal “Jimmy.”

I remember snow days from my own childhood.  Icicles hanging from the roof of my grandparents home during an especially big freeze one cold winter.  Sledding down a big hill on a large piece of cardboard, squealing all the way down. Coming inside, to a warm house, welcomed by the smell of bacon frying in the kitchen. Nothing my mother cooked ever tasted quite so wonderful as those BLT sandwiches and the hot tomato soup.

Even though it’s so very cold outside, I’m feeling all toasty warm on the inside, just remembering the joys I’ve had in previous winters and in the making of new happy snow day memories with my children.  And in this moment, I’m perfectly content and exceeding grateful for those good memories the Lord allows me to recall, bringing to my mind the wonderful things He has done.

Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done … 

1 Chronicles 16:12