Tag Archives: Evergreen

Leaves Turning Color

It is Fall – my favorite time of the year. All around me, the wonderful leaves of the hardwoods are changing colors. Now, it may not be as bold as someone the northeastern part of the country, but it is very vivid and spectacular…

Blue Ridge in the Fall – Stock Photo

There are the deep yellows. Trees of red that pops. And so many in transition with colors all along the palette. But I do live in a little village called “Evergreen” – so there are quite a lot of trees still keeping their needles and leaves as that ever constant green – pines, firs, and more. And mixed in all of this are the brown leaves, leaves that have turned already, or went straight from green to brown, like all the Dallas, Texas trees I remember.

Yet also, another category – empty trees. Trees that have lost their leaves. Maybe they are trees that are sick or dying and no longer have any foliage.

But as I drive around, my eyes are drawn to the colors, to the wonderful artistry God has given us this time of year – every year. This is just one of the great pieces of God’s creative nature as His glory is manifest in all of creation.

Life is like the drive around – our eyes are drawn to the colors, the wonderment. And in doing so, during this time, we often neglect the evergreens. Evergreens – ever faithful to life – ever showing us robustness through storms, cold, snow – ever green.

We feel disappointed in the brown leafed trees – as if we missed their moment of glory and wish they had waited for us to see it. It’s like we can disregard them until next year.

We try to blot out the empty trees – not really giving much thought as to their vitality or usefulness. They make us feel cold, shivering, isolated. Hiking in the winter is often filled with forests of little but these trees, so I walk along wondering what they would be like if it wasn’t so … barren. What good is being barren except maybe a source of firewood? (still a source of heat in this area.)

Awe for the lively colors. Neglect or taking for granted for the faithful evergreen. Disappointment for the brown. Avoidance of the barren.

Wait, is this about life or about leaves?

In life, we are drawn to the glam. We live vicariously through the idols, the stars, the athletic G.O.A.T.s. We long for the life of the rich and famous, even if just a glimpse. This is not new. Remember Robin Leach and his show.

LESSON ONE – the bright colors, the flash in the pans, are temporary. You only remain that way so long before you yourself loose your color and fall to the ground.

And we neglect the steadfast, the workhorses. My wife is a certified EA, has worked for C-Ring execs, at Fortune 100 companies. Her work is that of the steadfast, sure, and dependable. Not the flashy offices. Not the burning bright, on their way up the corporate ladder, flash in the pan – but a faithful, trustworthy evergreen. Too often, she and others get overlooked just because there is no corner office, no name on the building, yada yada yada … you get it.

Calvin & I at Bryce NP

LESSON TWO – the world is full of faithful, steadfast people that keep the machine going. Be thankful and appreciative people.

We are disappointed in the browns. Ignoring where they are now and wishing for the past. How often do we see old entertainment idols that didn’t age well. We long for the good old days. How long can The Rolling Stones still be a trend setter?

We do this too. What picture do you use for your LinkedIn? Is it current, with a little (or lot) of grey, before the pandemic poundage that was added, and so on? Or is that a shot of five – even ten years ago. Guilty as charged.

God placed you here right when He wanted. So you are the age He wants you to be. Appreciate it. Yes, the mountain top experiences may be in one’s past, the athletic feats may no longer be viable; but if you are here, you’ve got something to do – now. Share your knowledge. Learn from others that have gone through life. Maybe you’ll be a better person because of the knowledge you can glean.

LESSON THREE – God placed others here right when He wanted. So we are the age He wants us to be. Appreciate it. Learn from these who’ve been there and done that.

And lastly, we avoid the hurting, the barren, those that add little to the panaramic scenario – Who knows why they are like that. Maybe they are in a dry season. Maybe they have been hurt, wounded, shaken. But in regards to people, they are still people. And as people, we are to show the love of God.

LESSON FOUR – Sometimes there are people in our lives that add little or nothing – but they still need to know they are loved. They still need to know they are not alone. Don’t ignore them.

So, go ahead, look at the snazzy, colorful, picture worthy leaves of Fall – but never forget, the colors are temporary. And there are a lot more trees around that do not need to be ignored.

—— Cover Photo at Lake Holliday

((PART III)) A Stolen Essay – A Wonderful Work – An Ode to Evergreen

This is a creative essay that was written by the most peaceful, wonderful, talented, and graceful wife any one could ever have. I read her class assignment and decided to share with y’all but I am not sure she knows I’m doing this. So if you see here, try to act surprised. It will be spread out over the next couple of days. The story is fictional, but some of the places and event took place. It was based on those events ….

To Read Part I … Go Here
To Read Part II … Go Here

——————- Here is the conclusion to the essay …

Hamilton Store

Near to the Evergreen Post Office was the J. K. Hamilton General Store, which became Evergreen’s community center because everyone liked going there and spending time with one another. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton worked in the store and created a place of support for those who were away from loved ones. It was the place where children caught the school bus, and the women stayed to visit or engage in projects. Occasionally, when Daddy was on his way home from working in the tobacco fields, he stopped by the J. K. Hamilton General Store and picked up supplies and stayed a while to socialize or catch up on news. As a special treat, he brought home delightful lemon drops, my favorite.

Coswell Drive-In

The next item Bella pulled from the hope chest was a red ticket. My eyes are not as good as when I was younger, so I need a little help. Then I saw the words, “Coswell Drive-In.” It was a ticket stub with a still-legible written date and movie: 1955, “To Catch a Thief.” I specifically wrote the date and movie because this was a special night that I did not want to ever forget. Robert and I had just started dating. I was a mere young lady of 17, Bella’s age. He surprised me this evening by taking me to the popular Coswell Drive-In, also known as the Coswell Corn Field because that is where it was. Though I remember the movie, it was not the movie that made this evening so special. When I was with Robert, I knew in my spirit that one day I would marry this handsome, thoughtful man. Five years later, we did marry. He would not admit it, but he was sentimental. He gave me his grandmother’s wedding ring as a symbol of his deep love for his family and wanted to me to be part of it. This ticket stub is a reminder of that first wonderful evening. Bella called it a magical night.

Farmville Visit

Bella then opened an envelope containing an article about the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visited Farmville, Virginia. When I was a teenager, I had a dear friend who went to Carver-Price High School, and I went to Appomattox High School because we were unable to go to the same school in the 1950s. When we learned that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was coming to Farmville in 1962, there was great excitement in the community. This newspaper clipping is a reminder of the season of our nation and the coming end to segregation. It was not too many years later that segregation began to take place in Appomattox.

B&W

Bella then recognized a recent article about the B&W nuclear power plant coming to Lynchburg. Since this region has multiple universities, young scientists and business professionals moved to Lynchburg to work there. Several young graduates from church work at B&W. The article is a remembrance of how Lynchburg is growing and helping the economy.

Undeserved Blessings

Bella opened a photo album containing memories of what happened a few years ago. It was the event that remains sensitive to families because of what transpired that day in February 2016. We reviewed pictures of the destroyed homes and the fallen trees. I pointed out to Bella to notice the people surrounding the families and the work crews. The Baptist church and parsonage were places not damaged and where those without homes could stay while they found another place to live or rebuild.

The Ruritans were one of the first to come to help clean. After the Evergreen school closed, it became the location of the Ruritan Club in 1956. The Ruritans built the club to engage in Evergreen activities and join other communities in activities and projects. The help we received from the Ruritans and the Amish in the region was amazing to watch. It was something we did not deserve.

There are countless stories of undeserved grace-full blessings received after the tornado. Unexpected, grace-full treasures continued to be found weeks after the tornado. A church member lost two precious necklaces that she was sure were forever lost. Miraculously, three weeks later, they were appeared entwined together and wrapped around a small pole. It was an amazing time seeing the heritage of the community had not changed. As homes rebuilt, churches had individual dedication services for each family moving into their new home.

Christmas Celebration

To celebrate the opening of the Christmas season, Evergreen has the tradition of the tree lighting the first Saturday of December. The community gathers to enjoy tasty treats, sing carols, and hear a word from the pastor. It is a blessed time to remember the grace we have and the joyful time celebrating the coming of our Savior, the one who has bestowed upon us the grace we do not deserve.

Photos

Bella pulled a brown envelope from the chest. As she opened the envelope, I shared that these trinkets may not mean much now, but they were our legacy. Photographs slipped from the envelope—photos of family members and friends. After she pored over each one carefully for minutes, she turned to me with tearful green eyes and said, “These are precious treasures of grace.” She excitedly saw herself in these pictures. She recognized the beauty of my mother in her. She admired her father’s smile that he inherited from his grandfather. As she dried her tears, she expressed how she felt such indescribable love for the legacy that she was experiencing.

Leaving a Grace-Full Legacy

The families of Evergreen have endured pain during the times of war and tragedy. They persevered and found joy. They believe in the power of love and faith. Evergreen is a small town of “families” with big hearts, ready to serve and help. There is deep love for each other, even when tensions are high. People are bound to one another through work activities and faith. It is the Evergreen way of life. It is an extension of the Evergreen founders. It is going back in time and experiencing what the founders of Evergreen felt and how it has passed to generations. They had a strong faith and left a legacy.

As I shared these stories with Bella, I conveyed the hope that she continues the legacy. I pulled the last two items from the chest. One was a blanket that covered her when she was born. I told her how her birth was a blessing, and that prayers covered her before she was born into this world. I gave her the last item, a journal. The journal was a book of prayers and personal notes to her, my Bella. I challenged Bella to fill this chest with her special memoirs and continue the legacy by recounting the numerous ways her life becomes grace-full so she could share with the generations that follow how much God has blessed and showed grace.

I challenged Bella to fill this chest with her special memoirs and continue the legacy by recounting the numerous ways her life becomes grace-full so she could share with the generations that follow how much God has blessed and showed grace.

A Journal of Prayers

A Stolen Essay – A Wonderful Work – An Ode to Evergreen

This is a creative essay that was written by the most peaceful, wonderful, talented, and graceful wife any one could ever have. I read her class assignment and decided to share with y’all but I am not sure she knows I’m doing this. So if you see here, try to act surprised. It will be spread out over the next couple of days. The story is fictional, but some of the places and event took place. It was based on those events ….

Treasures of a Grace-Full Legacy

Introduction

An ordinary day in which daily chores were on the list. Little did we know that within a few short hours, lives would be forever changed. The tornado hit Evergreen, Virginia, three years ago. There was devastation of the homes of so many families. Only one person from this precious community lost his life. The day was traumatic for many people, including me. It was a disaster, and it was a blessing—a blessed disaster. One special piece contained memories that are precious. Without it, much of our family history would be lost—maybe forever. That blessed disastrous day was grace-full because of what transpired in the days that followed.

Before I share the story, let me introduce myself. My name is Sarah Grace. The name, Grace, has passed down throughout the generations. My grandmother is Alice Grace, my mother is Caroline Grace, my daughter is Victoria Grace, and my granddaughter is Bella Grace. Every time a daughter was born, it quickly became tradition that Grace was part of her name. One day I asked Grandmother Alice why Grace was such the chosen name. She told me, “Sarah, we have something we do not deserve—Grace. No matter what the family endures, grace is the lifeline and an ever-present reminder to generations that whatever we receive, we do not deserve.” Though I did not understand as a youngster, I look back and understand. Everything I have is undeserved. Even in the midst of pain or sorrow, God extends His sufficient grace. Throughout my 81 years of this grace-full life, I have seen countless avenues of grace. Within this small community of Evergreen, it was grace that permeated the families of this community. We have built a legacy of undeserved grace.

Evergreen Beginnings

My grandmother told me stories when I was young about how this rural, sleepy town of Evergreen, Virginia, began in 1854. She was keen on history, and I loved hearing her stories. She had a unique, dramatic giftedness when she told stories. Grandmother Alice explained how the effects of the Civil War remained evident in the area. Yet, the residents had a spirit in them that would not let them give into the fears all around them. Today, when I slowly walk these streets, I remember what Grandmother Alice told me.

Families in Evergreen have been here for generations. Our family walked to the Baptist church at the end of the street to worship. The walks were enjoyable because we met the neighbors on their way to church. The Baptist church and the Methodist church are within steps of each other. The ladies in their fine dresses, the men in their tailored suits, the girls in their fancy petticoats, and the boys with their nice shirts and trousers with suspenders.

Spring was especially enjoyable because the birds serenaded us with their praises to the Lord, and the cows and donkeys soon followed in the chorus. Even though I am now more mature in age, I still walk the area and reminisce about playing with the other children or swinging on the tree swing by the Methodist church.

Vocation

People of Evergreen were primarily farmers, merchants, or owned their own business. Fathers and mothers worked side by side on their farms and with local businesses. During the war, there were women who worked outside the home as teachers, nurses, or led organizations by promoting community and helping those in need. Families relied on the profits of the harvest or sold cattle as their primary sources of income, and they learned to rely on God to provide for their needs. Since farming is hard labor, some families hired people to help work the farm. My parents grew tobacco and raised cattle for income. During harvest time, we worked day and night to get the produce to the local markets and distributed to our church members who needed food. Pipe making was a good business in Evergreen, and we partnered with tobacco companies and merchants. Plus, we had a large community garden that the families shared providing fresh fruit and vegetables.

a tobacco farm in rural Virginia, very much like the area in Evergreen

The Missing Piece

Now, back to the blessed disaster. My home had minor damage compared to others. Windows and a portion of the house were destroyed. As I scanned the remnants, as much an 81-year-old woman could, I discovered a special large piece was missing. I became distraught because it was priceless …


((Continue reading tomorrow … if my wife doesn’t catch me using here essay … lol))

((a link will be added after it is posted))

The Love Won’t Last

They call it the Itty-Bitty Farm and the big blue house. It’s right at the railroad tunnel in the downtown of the thriving metropolis of Evergreen Va (population 102 I think, if that). It’s at the corner of Old Evergreen and Friendship.

I’ve met the new owners. A great little family with three kids and some new chickens. Recently they posted on social media that farming would be easier if it wasn’t for keeping the weeds out. That could be said of life as well. But let’s move on. Someone did a unique act when mowing the yard this month.

In a world where words are plastered on to monuments, painted directly on to the city streets, and seen showing up all over the globe – words that used to get our mouths washed out with soap – this creative yard mower made a special endeavor to put a four letter word in his yard.

He mowed – LOVE.

This gesture – this powerful reminder – this declaration that love is more powerful than hate – this proclamation that this is what makes our lives richer, fuller, and better … this gesture is temporary. As the grass grows (or dies in this heat), we will see the love fade. Already, as I drove by today, the word is getting more difficult to make out.

The reminder is love is not a one time event. We don’t say we love our wives once and expect that is enough. We need to constantly keep investing in love to those around us.

Jesus said to love the Lord our God with all hearts, souls, mind and strength. We are to love our neighbors as ourself. This action is continuous, perpetual, and non-stop.

If the Itty-Bitty Farm wants love to be seen for more than a week, efforts will have to be made. And if we want to show the world we love them, efforts will have to be made. And I believe the efforts will be worth it.

I love my Evergreen!

Small Town – Big Hearts – a Parade for the Pastor

So my wife is keeping secrets from me. Fortunately, they are not the bad kind of secrets. It was the birthday kind. And more.

Apparently the church was conspiring. In the middle of of the COVID chaos, the congregation was planning a parade of appreciation. Through a secret Facebook page and event, they coordinated a collection of fire trucks, hay trailers, decorated trucks and cars, a gorilla driven convertible, horses, and a motorcycle. Candy was thrown, cards and gifts were given, and I was even showered with vegetables (plastered with more like it.) And of course, bubbles and silly string.

It was a joy to see families out with faces of smiles, hear laughter, sense the joy of fellowship. One person hugged me. So I banished Jack from church for three weeks. (JK)

Virus fatigue is a real thing today. People are starting to venture out and explore. Yes, we remain vigilant. Yes, we respect others’ personal space and level of comfort. Soon, we will be gathering again – maybe done a little differently then 2019. So this parade was just as much for each one here as well as me. But I am so thankful.

Teachers, first responders, care takers , postal workers… heroes one and all. Parents, grandparents, guardians … each one deserving gratitude for how they’ve adapted and cared for little ones.

To whom do you need to say “thank you”? Don’t delay. Maybe not a parade. Start with a text, call, letter.

But a parade, today it was mine. And I say thank you.


And if you see a Jack, run. He hugs.

Going It Alone

He is all by himself. The place he calls home has nothing in the immediate area. But hundreds pass by during the day and through the night. Eleven months a year, most don’t even pay him any attention. But this is his month, this is his time, and for these few weeks he has an important job.

He is the Evergreen community Christmas Tree.

No ornaments. No garland. No sign to point to him. But still he sits there year round waiting for this month of joy, celebration, tradition, and community. And Saturday, all the eyes were on him. With scores gathered, candlelight and carols, cocoa and cookies, hayrides and hotdogs … the moment came and the lights that had sat in excited expectation were lit up.

Now, he sits in the field, and his lights shine in the darkness. Alone.

But not alone. He has hundreds of lights that encircle him. They shine and sparkle in the morning mist. They highlight the inverse conical shape of the tree. And they draw the eyes of every person that passes by.

You see, there is an advantage to being alone in a field. If he had many tree brethren around him, his light might be blocked, his moment he waited for might not be seen by those that pass by. If all his brethren had lights too, then this individual tree might have gotten lost in the crowd.

Sometimes in life, we don’t know why we seem all alone, we feel isolated and even ignored. If this is you, let me share two encouraging words …

First, you need to know that in the silence, in the darkness, and in the unknown – God is still at work. He is protecting, providing, and putting all things into place. While your waiting, remember He is working.

Second, God can use the lessons you learn from the loneliness so that you can reach others going through similar circumstances. It may be the very isolation you sometimes feel that God wants to use to reach others. The tree shines in the field, all alone, but it helps remind me God can use even me when I too feel alone.

May I shine where I am planted … and may He use my light to brighten those that pass by … and may He get the glory out of it all. God is at work!

Reviewing My Performance

Tonight, I have a meeting. I am meeting with the Pastor Search Team – the very team with which I worked with from almost a year ago. I now am the pastor of the church, but it seems a bit awkward that the Search Team is still meeting. Well, not too awkward. But to some, it may seem if they are still searching. Are they? I don’t think they are.

It has been six months, and they have been tasked with the responsibility to see how things are going. They will review me (every preacher loves to hear critiquing of the worship/sermons, yeahh). Have I upset people? Sure. But if I haven’t upset a few, then I am probably not doing my job. After all, I am called to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted.

But I can also share my feed back as well – not that I have any issues. What I will be sharing are more dreams, more visions, brainstorming some ideas, and sharing where I feel God is leading me and the church.

Now, you can find plenty out there on vision-casting, evaluations, church growth, etc. But that isn’t my point right now. My point is trust. Do I trust them? Do they trust me? Has trust been built? How can we deepen our trust? These are all good questions. But the real key is – Do I trust God?

If everything you are, everything about your profession, your identity, your character, your performance, your personality, your style, et al, if everything was being laid out and discussed – how would you feel? Me, I learned long ago to be the person I am and not try to masquerade anything. Take me as you find me, peeps

It has been said that what you fear is where you trust God the least.

– C Groeschel

Trusting God is critical. It entails surrendering our fears, our worries, and our doubts – and recognizing the sovereignty and provision of our Lord. It has been said that what you fear is where you trust God the least. Give it all to Him

You may not be under a personal or professional review, but we all have issues. I encourage You to trust Him in and through whatever it is you’re facing. And from the words of one who really through times of testing and trials (Corrie ten Boom), I give you the closing quote …

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God!

Corrie ten Boom

Kiddies, Candy, and Craziness

Palm Sunday. Tornado Watch. Windy Gusts. Put those together and you’ve got a great day.

Evergreen had a great Sunday service. We had over 200 in worship … 1st since I’ve been here, I think. Kid’s singing ‘hosannas’, palm branches waving, adult choir specials, organ solo, colors of the cross, and so much more as God’s people remember His love on the cross … and that’s why we praise Him (among the many reasons, that is).

Then the afternoon. Right in the middle of my normal Sunday afternoon nap, we scheduled our kids’ fun activity of “The Hunt.” We watched the weather, for Appomattox was under a weather storm/tornado watch.

Face painting, cookie decorations, slushees, cotton candy, poster coloring, noodle battles, hot dogs/bbq, crafts, outside play, and fun fun fun. Around 75 kids, at least that many adults, and you’ve got a riotous grand time. Some stayed home thinking the weather was gonna win today … I know they’ve seen the pics and now realize they missed out.

Now, a few opportunities for lessons for our kiddies. One kid took a dive when all the youngins got released for the egg hunt. A skinned knee didn’t stop him though. It was sweet to watch the little ones find eggs and share eggs with other kids.

Candy was shared (not too much, but plenty of sugar in the cotton candy, cookies, and slushees).

A highlight was the crazy game with our 3-5th grade. After the craziness, a leader shared about how many think what Jesus did for us was crazy; but what the world sees as crazy, we know it was because of love – His love for us.

And for a special moment, even Peg Leg Pete made an appearance. Quite a day.

This blog doesn’t do too much but share the joy of a great day. But that’s okay, sometimes we just need to share with others things that make us find joy.

What makes you happy, and with whom will you share it?