April 22, 2010
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1. My Uncle Bill
3. Making New Friends
My Uncle Bill.
I’ve always been proud of my uncle, Bill Iles. He is one of my heroes and has always been a wonderful encourager in my life and especially my writing career. (He gave me my first journal in 1973. I’m now on journal #50.)
The photo above is from last month’s Better Homes and Gardens, page 86. It features a New Orleans house with one of Bill’s landscapes above the mantel.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Yesterday, I spent the morning training vines. Two crops in my garden are “vining.” My English Peas as well as pole beans.
The small tender vines or tendrils are curling out, looking for something to latch onto as climb up toward the sun.
So I’m “training them.” As the vines lengthen, I’m carefully placing them against the trellis fence. Others need the encouragement of a bamboo stick, stake, piece of wire/string, or broken bitterweed stalk to find their way to the fence.
They just need a little guidance at this early tender stage. And that guidance must be firm yet gentle.
Firm in that some will need repeated training. In spite of my work, they’ll fall loose from their anchor and I’ll re-do it. That’s part of gardening.
Gentle in that if I break the vine in guiding it, the vine won’t grow and produce its fruit.
Once rooted and properly vined, it’s my job to get out of the way and let them grow. The warm April sun, rain we’ll be blessed with today, the fertilizer I’ve sown, and the elimination competing weeds with my trusty hoe, will all result in peas and beans on those vines during May.
The writer of Proverbs understood about training. He was referring to training children, not Kentucky Wonder pole beans.
The principles are the same.
Children need firm but gentle guidance. That guidance must be repeated repeatedly. (If you’ve ever tried to teach a 2 year old to say “thank you” you understand repeated/repeatedly.)
You keep training and re-training that child until one day “it takes” and they’ve got a lifetime habit of being grateful and polite to givers.
As parents who love children, we want them to grow in good soil.
Fertilized with a loving home where roots can grow deep.
We fiercely protect them from the weeds of this world as best we can.
We watch the blessings God gives: just like the rain and sunshine, He grows children too.
Those children, although trained, will sometimes sag, come ‘unvined’ and wander off the trellis.
This just means our training is still needed.
I’m not sure you ever stop raising your children.
I’m glad my parents never stopped.
Even when they probably wondered what this wild Dry Creek vine named Curt was growing into, they didn’t stop.
They knew something I’ve learned: Children grow up. They make mistakes. They wander around.
But the Proverb writer, inspired by God, promised that if a child is trained properly, they’ll come back.
It may take a while.
It may not be visible at all times.
It is a promise. Not a promise I made up.
It’s straight from God’s word. As Yogi Berra said, “You can look it up.”
It’s right there in black and white. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child…”
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out to the garden. The wind blew during the night and there’s probably some baby pea and bean vines that need re-training.
Making New Friends
I’m often asked “What’s the best part of being a writer?”
My answer is simple. It’s getting to meet new friends in new places.
Being an author means you get to make friends you’ve never met personally. It is a privilege.
They sent a letter to our local paper inquiring about our area. In response I sent some of my books. Now I have readers and friends there. That is what it’s all about. Their thank you letter was scrawled with “I love Louisiana.”
As we say down here, ‘Nuff Said.’
Friends I’ve made this week:
Anna, as a girl she wrote a soldier throughout WWII. After three years his letters stopped. She still wonders if he died in the war. With a shaking hand she wrote his name. If anyone would like to help me find he or his family, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew, a young logging contractor who makes his living working in the piney woods. I could immediately tell he is solid, dependable, and deep-rooted. Just like our Louisiana pines.