Wildcat Pride

My family moved to Rabun County in the summer of 1964, I was only a few months old when we settled here.

We moved to get closer to family who lived in Toccoa and for my father to become Assistant Football Coach at Rabun County High School.

Since those days in 1964, I have been a Rabun County Wildcat.

Wildcat football has always been a mainstay in our house, Fridays revolved around home or away games and weekday afternoons around practice.

Both of my brothers played football, I didn’t, but the passion for the Wildcats runs deep in my soul.   Even when I moved away, I was still a Wildcat.

I am a Rabun County Wildcat, followed by a Georgia Bulldog, and then no one else.

Over the years we have had some good teams and we have had some really bad teams, but the community has always stood behind our beloved boys in red and white.

Today I see the children, and in some cases, the grandchildren of the boys in red who put it all out on the field when I was in school.

When I moved back to Rabun, I got back into the swing of following the Cats.  Football is a passion in our community and the whole town gets behind the team.

I started attending home games to cheer on the team and to see friends I hadn’t seen in many years.

Rabun County Football is a lot different from it was when I was in high school.

Today it has a college atmosphere with music blaring over the loud speakers, tail gating prior to the game, a student body that is actively involved in the game, a stadium store and awesome tributes to the people who came before and members of the community who have given back.

There have also been a number of new traditions that have been created over the years.  The Wildcat “rock” that every player, coach and student touches entering the stadium.

The “cat walk” where fans, family and young kids greet the players as they enter the field of competition and “ringing the bell” after every Wildcat win.

Over the past several years that bell has been run a lot.

A couple of years before I moved back to God’s Country, one of the stars of my high school years was hired as head coach.

Coach Lee Shaw has brought a whole new attitude to Rabun County High School football.  From day one, Coach Shaw made our team believe they could beat anyone, he instilled discipline, pride and brotherhood into his players and it has paid off.

The players that represent Rabun are undefeated, on track to win their 4th straight Region Championship, they are ranked #4 in the State and are marching towards an historic season.

More than the wins on the field, these student athletes are just plain and simple good kids.  They go out of their way to encourage their teammates, they are role models for the little boys and girls who idolize them in the stands and they respect the history of Rabun County athletics that went before.

The players, coaches and staff that marches onto the field as a brotherhood each week represents us all well.  Their actions on and off the field make us all stand a little prouder.

This year’s Rabun County Widlcats are quickly moving towards a historic run and no matter where the season ends, the 2017 Rabun County Wildcats already hold a special place in the pages of RCHS greatness.

To this year’s Rabun County Wildcats, I say thank you and keep sharpening the sword towards your date with destiny.

 

Thanks to Von Watts for the photo steal.

Dished

These dishes were my grandmothers.  She called them her “evaday” dishes, not everyday, but “evaday”.

When my grandmother passed away my mother took them.

They have been in my parents kitchen since the day my mom took them home.

Last Friday my niece called to tell me she was redoing her kitchen, she said, “do you want these,” before the final word was out of her mouth I said YES!

It’s not that I need the dishes, I have my own.  I have my own “evaday” dishes, two sets in fact, I have my grandmother’s china, I have Christmas dishes, I have more dishes than any one person needs.

I didn’t need the dishes, I needed THOSE dishes.

You see, those dishes represent much more to me than a plate to put food on.  Those dishes represent memories of the two women I loved most in this world, my mother and my grandmother.

The set isn’t perfect, there are some chips and there are six sets of some, four of others and seven or eight of others, but to me, this is a perfect set.

I remember sitting with my grandmother at her kitchen table, mornings when it was just the two of us.  She would drink her coffee and in a matching cup cover the bottom with a few drops of that decaf and fill the rest with Pet milk for me. Over our morning coffee we would talk.

These same plates served our family countless Sunday dinner’s as we crowded around my grandmother’s dining room table.

Fried chicken, chicken casserole, ham, turkey, fresh vegetables from my grandfather’s garden and dessert, my grandmother always made dessert!  But it wasn’t so much about the food, it was more about the family time we shared there.

When my mother took the plates I had already left home, but for years mama would set the table with these plates.

Over the years we have eaten everything on these plates, but the plates really don’t matter, it is about the memories that were created at the tables where they were used.

Memories of family times, times that included laughter, tears, arguments, debates, deep conversation and lots of love.  Like the simple design featured on the plates, we bloomed at those tables where we came together to eat, we grew strong and in our own ways beautiful.

I’ve now washed the plates and will put them in a cabinet in my kitchen.  I don’t plan on using them, it is just comforting to know they are here.

I have a feeling on one of those days when I am desperately missing my mom or craving one of those conversations with my grandmother I will pull one out.

I’ll place my meal on the plate and I will remember and I’ll feel closer to the two women who helped to shape my life and made me appreciate the simplicity of a plate and the incredible gift of the memories they represent.

Stepping Out On Faith

The Church I attend is in the early days of a building campaign.  Today was commitment Sunday where the membership made our pledges for the next two years towards the build.

This in not the first building campaign I have been through, they are never easy and sometimes tear churches apart.  I do not believe this Church will have that problem, we are standing together in a place of undeserved privilege towards not just a new building, but a place where lives will be changed and the Kingdom of God will be honored.

Since leaving my job this summer, and dedicating all my efforts to my retail store, my finances have been unpredictable, after all some weeks are better than others, however I have made a commitment to my tithes and continue to see income that allows me to meet my giving.

A commitment for a building campaign is above and beyond tithes, it requires faith that God with honor the commitment and make it happen.

For weeks we have been building towards today’s Commitment Sunday.  I have had conversations with friends, my Pastor and have prayed about what my pledge should be.

Yesterday I settled on my number.  It was a number I felt comfortable with and knew I could make happen.

I filled in my card and took it with me to Church.

As I settled into my pew, I felt content with the number I had come up with and as I looked around the room, I could feel the anticipation of my fellow congregants, eager for the moment we would walk to the front of the sanctuary and place our pledge cards in a basket.

During Pastor Adam’s sermon, I started to get an uneasy feeling about my pledge.  Could I do more?  Should I do more?  Do I have the faith to do more?

I have acted on faith my entire life.  Faith in my abilities, faith in making things work out and faith that God would provide.

Was my pledge what it should be or was I acting on what I knew I could do and not on faith in what I should do?

Just before it was time to walk forward, one of the elderly women of our Church spoke up and asked the Pastor if she could speak.

Being gracious, our Pastor walked towards her as she stood to take the floor.

In the minutes that followed the lady told us about her childhood of poverty, how many days she didn’t have the ten cents to buy a school lunch.

She went on to regale us with a story of her prowess at horseshoes, he childhood passion.  She told us the story of a friend who showed up at her house one day and bet her that he could beat her in horseshoes.

Her father wagered ten cents on her behalf.

She won the match and now had two shiny dimes for lunch in the coming days.

The next morning, as she attended Church, she had those two dimes in her pocket and as the offering plate was passed she placed both in as her offering.

Her lunch money was now gone, she would do without lunch because of her offering.

As she continued her story she spoke about running for the bus the next morning to take her to school and as she ran past the same Church she had made her offering to, she found a dime on the ground.

And then another.

And then another.

She ate that week and her gift was multiplied.  Her faith made this true.

As the lady told her story, my heart swelled, I knew I could do better, I could step out in faith and become uncomfortable with my commitment.

Before walking up to the altar, I changed my card, I doubled my pledge knowing that God would provide and faith would make it happen.

If God would provide a few cents for a little girl of faith, certainly he will honor our commitments to growing the Kingdom.

Life’s Playlist… Home by Phillip Phillips

Tonight is my High School’s Homecoming game.

Decades later, the game doesn’t hold the same excitement as it did when I was in High School but Homecoming has a whole new meaning.

I never truly appreciated how special “Homecoming” was until I moved back to God’s Country two years ago, it really is a celebration of everyone who came before, those of us who helped make Rabun County High School what it is today.

It’s special to see people who worked at the school when I was a student still there and my former classmates now leading new generations through their youth.

Tonight I will don my red and white and cheer on the Wildcats.  The crowning of a new Homecoming Queen will hold special meaning to the students and all of us “old-timers” will cheer on the future while reflecting on the past.

Have a great Homecoming Rabun County High School, the memories you make today will carry you into your future!

Family Reunion – We’re Going to the Elk’s Lodge

Next weekend my extended family on my mother’s side will gather together for a long planned reunion.

Cousins that I haven’t seen in many years will gather from around the country.

Unfortunately due to other commitments many of us will not be able to attend, but when I think about these events, my mind is taken back to the “Elks Lodge” in Elberton, GA where we gathered many times in the past.

Today, I hope you will enjoy a remembrance of those days that I wrote back in 2009.

For my family that will gather and those of us who can’t, I love you all and send prayers and blessings your way.

We’re Going to the Elk’s Lodge

My family is big on tradition. We follow the same routine for Christmas, birthdays were always a big deal, Thanksgiving dinner has been the same since I was a child and today I cook the same meal in my own home. I love the traditions that were set forth by my parents and in many cases their parents before them.

One such tradition was the Clark Family Reunion in Elberton each summer. Elberton is about an hour from God’s Country, but it is where ma-ma and her brothers and sisters grew up. Known for its granite businesses, Elberton is a big producer of tomb stones. (Somebody has to do it!)

Ma-ma came from a big family and each year the descendants would descend on Elberton, The Elk’s Lodge to be exact and reunion.

Going into reunions I was never excited. As the youngest of the grand-children I didn’t have a lot in common with my cousins. More precisely I was closer in age to many of the second cousins, which kept me in limbo. I was too young to hang with my peers and the younger kids were too young to do much, which left me clinging to ma-ma and mama most of the day.

Reunion would begin early in the morning. These gatherings were pot luck, so mama would get up early and start putting together her contribution for the meal. With mama’s penchant for extreme cooking, she would usually prepare enough for a small army, when it comes to cooking for groups she has never understood the concept of everyone bringing something, she always wants to make sure there is enough just in case someone isn’t able to bring their share.

Daddy wasn’t much into these family reunions, but he would always go and put on a happy face. By the end of the day, daddy would be in full spirit and entertaining the masses with his stories.

By the time mama was finished preparing her dishes the four of us would load up the car and start our trek to ma-ma and gramps house, about 30 miles away. Like mama, ma-ma would over indulge in the cooking department as well. There was always homemade chocolate cake, usually fried chicken, okra, corn from the garden and peas. Ma-ma would prepare for days for the reunions, these events were what she lived for. Getting together with her brothers and sisters and showing off their families.

Sam and I would always get a lecture in the car. No fighting and be on your best behavior, we were NOT to embarrass ma-ma in front of her family.

Off we would go, gramps, daddy and me in the front seat, ma-ma, mama and Sam in the back. Dressed in our new reunion clothes, a Bonneville filled with enough food for a third world nation and two kids threatened within an inch of our lives to behave.

Elberton is about 30 minutes from ma-ma and gramps house, not a far journey, but when it is made in a car that is over packed and over stuffed by six people in dress clothes on a summer day with the sun beating through the glass it isn’t always a pleasant trip. By the time we reached Elberton, we were all ready to get out of the car and stretch our legs.

Family reunions were held at the Elk’s Lodge, a rustic old building just off the main road. Without fail, the first person we would always see standing out waiting for the family would be Uncle Chester. If gramps would have had a twin it would have been Uncle Chester, although they were only related by marriage the two men were the mirror image of each other. Tall, lanky, distinguished southern gentlemen of few words, impeccably dressed with a sly smile and twinkle in their eyes. Gramps and Uncle Chester were the kind of men people gravitated to, not to be entertained but to learn from.

After the parking lot greeting, Uncle Chester would help us unload and move into the Elk’s Lodge. The interior of the lodge was exactly what you would imagine, one big open room with a kitchen in the back, a large rock fireplace, linoleum floors and dark stained panelling.

Aunt Laura Bea would be busily working when we came in. Setting up the buffet with her load of food big enough to feed an army, she would stop the pace of activity just long enough to greet us all with a hug and kiss, always stating what fine young boys Sam and I were.

Like ma-ma, Aunt Laura Bea was short in stature but big in personality. Like ma-ma, immaculately dressed and with a quick catch up story of where all her family was, what time they would arrive and who was bring what. Between ma-ma, Aunt Laura Bea and mama, the buffet was arranged and in place before anyone else could arrive to help.

Throughout the late morning and early afternoon, the other families would arrive. Our glamorous Aunt Frances and her family from South Carolina, the Virginia Clark’s and the Maxwell’s.

As the families arrived and the buffet grew to embarrassing proportions the sounds of laughter would echo through the Elk’s Lodge. Cheeks were pinched, kisses exchanged, hugs enveloped us all and the Clark Family Reunion would be in full swing.

Like other traditions passed down from generation to generation, Uncle Chester would round everyone up when it was time for the feast. Families would encircle the room, all holding hands and Uncle Chester would bless the meal.

Mealtime would find one big family, all mixed together around long tables in fold up chairs, enjoying the foods of our ancestors and recipes from the current Southern Living magazine. Laughing, joking, catching up and reminiscing about the years past and ancestors lost.

After grazing for what seemed like hours, the families would then move to the front lawn, games were played, conversations took place and pictures were taken. Instamatic cameras would be pulled from every purse in the crowd and every configuration of family was photographed. First cousins, second cousins, immediate family, family with grand parents, grandparents with children, grandparents with grandchildren…. pictures, pictures and more pictures. Creating memories that would carry us through to the next year’s reunion.

After a long day, after the last picture was taken, the lodge was cleaned and the last hug exchanged we would once again pile into the Bonneville. Stuffed bellies and empty dishes but most importantly complete, filled with shared moments, family traditions and the love of extended family.