Humble Rewards of the Profession: The Granddaughter Has It! Tuesday, May 23 2017 

18700748_10155359983107888_7936898281869691341_oSarah and I were delighted this evening to hear the reports of our third grade granddaughter’s Huntsville Elementary Awards Day ceremony.  Our little straight-A girl shined!  Happy Papa-the-writer couldn’t be prouder that among her recognitions was the Aspiring Author Award.  Maybe she’s a chip off the old creative writer block!

I’m not surprised at all, because since she was a toddler, she showed imagination and creativity.  As a teacher and writer, I can tell those who have “it” and those who don’t.

Payton Elizabeth HAS IT!

Write on, Payton!

I can’t wait to see what bright promise lies ahead as she grows and develops her gifts.

Cajun Girls and Black Pot Magic Tuesday, May 16 2017 

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Smothered okra with chicken thighs and sausage: Distinctly Cajun!

I always tell my son and my son-in-law that the happiest decision they ever made was to marry a Cajun girl. I did!

One of the blessings of marrying Cajun happens in the kitchen, often with a cured black cast iron pot.  Such pots are common to other regional cuisines in the Deep South and elsewhere, but prairie Cajuns have unique black pot dishes.

Like smothered okra with chicken and sausage.  I grew up in the rural Deep South, and growing up, I ate my share of okra—-mostly fried—-but this dish is Cajun!  Sarah learned the recipe from her mom, who sometimes varied the recipe by adding shrimp.

I hadn’t tasted this delicacy in several years—-maybe more—–so when Sarah prepared it yesterday, we had an exciting and tasty culinary visitation with the past.

In conclusion: Cajun girls do it right.

Blessed Mother’s Day Saturday, May 13 2017 

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A photo of the family a couple of years ago.  Mama’s still there, and she looks just about the same!

It’s the eve of Mother’s Day 2017, and I just got off the phone with my 91 year old Mama, wishing her a happy Mother’s Day.

At my age, I’m blessed that she is alive and still living independenly, enjoying relatively good health, even though she just had gall bladder removal surgery.    She’s tough!

Almost all of my peers are not so blessed.  Their moms are gone.

To God be the glory!  And the gratitude.

“I Have Decided . . . “ Sunday, May 7 2017 

to follow Jesus!”

Familiar words to an invitation hymn we sang in church years ago.

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This child knew what she was doing!  We loved teh tee-shirts.

What a reward today to share with my family in our granddaughter’s decision to follow Jesus as she was baptized following morning church service!

Even more gratifying was witnessing her excitement, evidenced by the beaming smile on her face as she entered the baptismal.  This nine year old was ready!   She also realized the gravity of the ceremony and the eternal consequences of her decision, as much as a nine year old can.

Her grandparents are proud.  Generation to generation bears witness to amazing grace!

And the salvation beat goes on!

Where Have All the Daddies gone? Thursday, May 4 2017 

I was blessed to be raised by a genuine Daddy.  I hope my kids would say the same (although they called me “Papa” in the Cajun style.  Papa in Cajun = Daddy in English).

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This is a daddy????

So what’s up with this public service commercial that’s running lately, encouraging biological fathers to take a few minutes of their time each day to be a dad?  In the commercial, here’s this heavily tatooed dude with a muscle shirt and streaming locks  singing “I’m a Little Teapot” with his daughter (Don’t tell me this guy represents responsible manhood that strives and works and achieves to support a household!)

My Daddy took more than “a few minutes each day to be a dad.”  Being Daddy was his calling, his life’s work, his highest responsibility.  He learned the role from his daddy, my grandfather, and passed it down to me.

So where have all the daddies gone in this culture that wages war on family? in this generation that eschews marriage? in this age that doesn’t value commitment to family relationships?

We have become a society adrift in the sea of self-satisfaction.  Our children will suffer.

Daddy and me

Now this (on the left) was a Daddy!

 

 

 

Medicare: A Dubious Rite of Passage? Saturday, Apr 29 2017 

18156884_10212498159030385_6277947346653732132_nI led an English I class last week in a thematic unit on rites of passage.  Then yesterday I got the letter in the photo from LSU Human Resources letting me know it’s Medicare time.  That magical 65th birthday is coming up in July.

I confess that explaining rites of passage as represented in a fictive short story plot to ninth graders was so much easier than understanding a true-to-life rite of passage, especially when that rite traditionally signals the advent of old age.

It must be time to look to the hills, from whence cometh my help.

Me? Old?  Never!

Easter 2017: The Great Plains Crawfish Boil Saturday, Apr 22 2017 

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Anyone who didn’t know any better  would assume the scene from this photo unfolded in some place like St. Landry Parish, Louisiana.

But not so.

 

This scene comes from Easter in Kansas a week ago—-a first for me, and also a memorable affair.

Much of the weekend activity was typical, like going to church and sharing a colossal Easter Sunday luncheon spread with family and friends.  But having a traditional outdoor crawfish boil the day before Easter?  That was unique!  And also delectible, thanks to my Kansas-reared son-in-law, who’s likely the most accomplished Cajun boil chef ever produced on the Great Plains.

The 30 pounds of crawfish were shipped from Louisiana in a live shipping box.  The weather was unseasonably warm for Kansas-in-mid-April but perfect by spring patio-dwelling standards for down home.

On passait vraiment un agrément!

 

A Tribute to Ken Cooper, a Man of True Words Wednesday, Apr 19 2017 

18034163_10213046533704313_4185366411248173612_n-1My friends and I bid farewell this week to Ken Cooper, one of the finest guys who has been for years our friend, our peer, our colleague, our brother: to declare that he was a godly prince of a man falls short of our ability to express a fitting estimation of his character.  In fact, our  words are halting, searching, inadequate, heart-broken . . .  as always in  times of untimely loss.

One acquaintance in recent weeks observed, in the manner of a well-intentioned compliment, that Ken was a man of few words.  I won’t take issue with the spirit of that characterization, because Ken wasn’t loud in the company of his friends (except when our men’s Sunday School class had some outrageous joke or wisecrack to laugh about—-Ken could hoot and jibe with the best of us!).

But I really believe we  do better if we remember Ken as a man of true words.

A man of true words, like Ken, is not a quiet man, but rather a man who knows when, what, and how to speak.  His words are edifying, reflective, sage, and judicious.  In Sunday School class, for  example, Ken was not the most talkative member of our particularly noisy group.  But from week to week,  at timely points in bible study and discussion, he offered observations and commentary that made all of us think, to nod in agreement, or even to marvel “Why didn’t I think of that?”  The insight his remarks showed was dependably deep, original, and true.  His friends and I  agree that he was a student of God’s word with a prophetic knack for expressing  spiritual truth with clarity, practicality, and depth.

We always missed his presence and participation in Sunday School when he was away for long periods at his pipeline work, and we always looked forward to his return at the end of those jobs when he would rejoin the class for whatever period of weeks or months that his  schedule afforded.  His presence and participation enriched  our fellowship.

So we are heart-broken now that he’ll never return to participate in our discussions or to laugh at the good-natured banter and wisecracks that characterize our gregarious fellowship.  We will  miss his companionship, his brotherhood, his character, his gift for true words.

But praise God, we will miss Ken for only a season, because we maintain the glorious hope that assures us of his soul’s security.  While we’ll never meet him again in the fleeting years alloted to us on this side of heaven, we will share eternity in the glorious presence of God, angels, and the host of loved ones and friends already departed.

Till that day when eternity in heaven begins for each of us, we ask God to bless Ken’s memory.  May we guard that memory as precious in our midst, and may it inspire and motivate us to be like him,  men of true words who lean on the everlasting arms of faith.

To God be the glory!

 

Country Roads, Americana: The Character of a Nation Friday, Apr 14 2017 

If the “America the Beautiful” lyricist had composed her lyrics in April, the familiar “amber waves of grain” might  have been expressed as “verdant waves of grain.”  The wheat fields of Kansas in April are as green as spring.  And as beautiful.

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The high plains of America: Charming green in spring.

So we observed this mellow spring day as we made our way across the high plains of Oklahoma and Kansas, preferring  the back road byways over the Interstate highways.  Our route choices may have cost us an hour or so in time, but what we saw and felt of rural and small-town Americana on this windy spring drive across the high plains moved us as Americans.

Rural America shows the character of the nation in unique ways that may seem strange to the urbanscape.  True, more Americans  live in metropolitan centers of population, but those population centers’ majority will never outcry  the simple grandeur of  wide open American spaces and the rural folk whose pioneer ancestors’ sturdy backbones settled and developed those spaces.

The heart and spirit of Americana is rural.  I felt that on these backroads today.

Hangin’ out with friends . . . Monday, Apr 10 2017 

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Of course, the commemorative selfie. We didn’t have smart phones in 1975, but we know what to do with them now, our “mature” ages notwithstanding.

We spent an incomparable Friday night and Saturday morning as guests of our good buddies John and Linda from Sulphur, helping Linda celebrate her birthday at an Olivia Newton John concert in Lake Charles.  Linda and Sarah were BFF’s since fourth grade, and not much has changed in their relationship over the ensuing 50+ years.  We have a blast with them any time we get together.  Tons of laughter, good will abounding. We’ll remember last weekend as long as our memories last.

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