Category: Guest Missive 2022

Where You’ll Find Me… by JoAnn

When I die, I believe I will go to Heaven. I hope that all the people I have loved on earth will follow me there when it’s their time. I have daydreamed about this quite a bit. It’s something that gives me a warm, peaceful feeling in my soul. I am not afraid or anxious in any way.

I firmly believe in the afterlife as described to us in the Holy Bible. I chose the path to follow Jesus Christ as a young girl. He has never left my side, even when there were times I tried to leave His. Throughout my life, he has been my shelter, rescuer, guide, and best friend. He is my Heavenly Father, and I look forward to meeting Him.

I want to share with my loved ones what I believe I will be doing when I get to Heaven. I imagine it to be a vast place, and I want them to be able to find me when they get there. These are the things I dream I will be doing the most in my Father’s home.

You will find me walking among the great and small animals—a majestic Lion by my side. We will walk through meadows of wildflowers and golden wheat. The sun shone down on us, making a kaleidoscope of colors.

You will find me walking along the sandy shores of Heaven’s ocean, watching all who never saw its magnitude on earth enjoying the sight for the first time. Adults will be playing along with the children and building castles in the sand.

You will find me swimming in the ocean. I will be riding on a Whale’s back, and Dolphin’s schools will race beside us. We will dive to the sea’s magical depths and greet every creature that lives there.

You will find me having a reunion with my loved ones who are there too. We will spend time together doing all the things we have always dreamed of doing. We will be laughing and enjoying each other’s stories.

You will find me walking hand in hand with Jesus. We will be deep in conversation as He answers all the questions I have waited so long to ask.

You may find me in a Heavenly classroom where I and others will learn what could not be told on earth. This will be a school like no other imagined.

You will find me sleeping on a cloud. The most beautiful rest I have ever known. My painful body now gone. I am light as air and at perfect peace.

You will find me dancing with the angels, waiting for my wings to be made. I once told the Lord all I wanted was to be an angel for Him.

I know this may not be biblically correct, but it is a dream I have held close to my heart. Perhaps its only purpose has been to help me through this world for another season. I’m okay with that. For I know my Lord promises to build a glorious home for me. A home waiting through Heaven’s gate. I know that whatever awaits me there, I will be eternally happy.

Can’t Take It With You… by JoAnn

It appears that I am still in the downsizing phase of my life. Just as I think I’m nearing the end, it becomes clear that I still have plenty to go. I have written about this before, and with each missive, I have thought it would be my last. But here I sit, mulling over how to lessen my load yet again.

Since this task seems to be never-ending, I decided to get some help. I reached out to a Facebook group whose members are going through the same thing I am. Many of them have it a lot worse than me. They are in the phase I was in many years ago. This group helped me to know that I am not a bad person for having too much stuff! Just about everyone on this earth has too much stuff. The members encourage others to vent about their stress, ask for and give tips on how to handle the problems in downsizing, etc. It is sad to hear of someone struggling to rid their home of items they have had for many years. Even more tragic is the mental hold these objects have over them.

Old folks used to call it “breaking up housekeeping .”Since I’m an old folk myself, I finally realized what they were talking about. It’s getting rid of all the things you used when raising a family and now no longer need. You no longer need the boxes upon boxes of items that you mentally labeled “just in case .”No one but you is in your home to use them. So the chance that they are still needed is zero. And as far as someone else in your family wanting the items, that is at zero too.

It was a hard pill to swallow that one of my three daughters or two granddaughters would probably not want any of my collectibles after I’m gone. But I had to face the truth. When my own mother passed, she had hundreds of collectibles accumulated over the last 20 years of her life. I now own 1 of her items. The memories are what I hold dear. I never knew I would feel that way until after she was gone. The things just don’t matter. Oh, I am sure there are others who collect antiques and rare items that are handed down from generation to generation. But usually, that’s not the case.

So I finally realized that when I leave this earth, I cannot take my earthly possessions with me, and no one I leave behind will want them! So I am holding on to items that make me happy NOW. All others are either thrown away or given to Goodwill. My youngest daughter has graciously been helping me sort through and clean as I go. My home will never be the large house where I raised my children. I will likely remain in a small apartment like I am now, and I do not want clutter. Let’s face it, too much stuff is too much.

Through this long process, I learned something vital: to not just “organize” your clutter but get rid of it! That was the most freeing lesson I have learned thus far. I used to think I needed to buy as many plastic totes and bins as I could get my hands on. All I was doing was organizing stuff I would never use again—what a waste of precious time. Getting rid of it is so wonderful. It really takes a load off.

I am happier now than I have been in a very long time because I have finally gained control over this part of my life. It truly does become a burden. If you know someone who is struggling with this problem, do them a favor, and offer your help. Never judge; just lend a helping hand wherever they need it. The more my daughter helped me, the stronger I became, and now I don’t need her help to decide whether I need something or not. I can easily let go and feel happy about it.

My Hero… by JoAnn

Summertime was a time to be free from shoes, homework, and schedules when I was a little girl. My older sister and I would spend as much time outdoors as we could. We had a beautiful property to run and play on as much as our hearts desired.

When it got too hot, we would go into the woods surrounding our home and play in a cool, shady spot. We would play house in the dirt, pretending to bake pies and cakes. We always had a grand time. It saddens me that today’s children will never experience such a simple activity. It made us better human beings by allowing us to be more appreciative of the little things that life can offer.

Along with the fun of being outside all day, there were also learning experiences. The occasional wasp sting would undoubtedly slow our fun down. A lightning storm would send us running for cover as well. But the most fun-busting thing of all was the unwanted guests that would cross our paths.

I have loved animals all my life. But when I was little, I encountered a big Ground Hog standing up on his hind legs, which scared the beans out of me. This happened to me several times one summer. My Mama & Daddy finally made me realize that if I just shouted loudly, I could scare the Mr. Ground Hog away. I still was not amused when he made his appearance.

Our mailbox was down the mountain, at the end of our long, gravel driveway. It was a little steep walking down and even steeper climbing back up. The walk provided some good exercise for sure. I loved having the chore of checking the mailbox. I never received mail, but that didn’t keep me from dreaming that maybe something would be in the mail for me.

One day while making my way back up the steep driveway, I was greeted by yet another critter. This one was not big and furry but instead long and slithery. You guessed it, a snake. It was lying under the wild blackberry bushes that grew on the fence line. The moment I saw Mr. Snake, I screamed. The loud noise must have disturbed him because he began moving towards me. I began to run as fast as my chubby little legs could take me, screaming for Daddy as I ran for my life. Daddy was always outside working when we were out playing.

The snake began to chase me. I ran so fast to the top of the driveway. By then, not only was my Daddy there, but Mama had run out of the house too. Daddy already had a hoe in his hands. He began hitting the snake with that hoe until it was no longer moving. I was still crying and inconsolable. Both parents kept trying to assure me that the snake was dead, but I did not believe them. So Daddy took the snake up with the hoe and down toward the pig pen he went, telling me to watch what he was doing. When he reached the electric fence around the pig pen, he slung the snake onto it. The snake immediately started sizzling and smoking. I calmed down.

My Daddy became my hero that day. I saw him as a superhero in a comic book. I thought he was the bravest, strongest man I could ever know. He went above and beyond for me that day. The story may sound gross to some, but it is a story I keep tucked away in my heart. I know a lot of people who weren’t raised on a farm or in the country would say that Daddy shouldn’t have killed the snake. What else was there to do if it were chasing a child and about to strike? This is just one of the many stories that explain why I loved my Daddy so very much. He wasn’t perfect by no means, but the things he did right out-shined all the bad!

Thank you, Daddy, for being such a great hero to me.

A Friend For A Season… by JoAnn

I believe people come into our lives only for a season. They have a purpose for crossing our path at an exact moment. For some, their season is a long one. Some may come and go briefly. I believe this to be true, especially for friends.

It took me many years and heartache to understand this concept. I remember feeling so sad when I would lose a friend for any reason. I would cry and mourn the friendship. Most of the time, I would feel either betrayed by that friend or guilty in thinking I had done something wrong that made them no longer want me in their life. These were painful lessons for me. I am thankful that I have since learned.

I have learned to look back on these friendships with gratitude and fondness. Grateful for the lessons I learned from that relationship, joy for the good times spent with that friend, and love for the wonderful memories they left me. I no longer hold anger or resentment that the friendship no longer exists. People just move on. That is life, and it’s natural. There is nothing wrong with it. There is nothing wrong with me.

I am most grateful for the privilege of knowing that individual for our time together. Looking back, I can see why we crossed paths at that particular time in our lives. It is evident that they were either there to help me or I for them. That always makes me happy.

I remember one friend I had for a season of about ten years. She was the first friend I made when we moved to Tennessee. I was nine months pregnant with our third daughter when we rolled into town. She was the town’s mail person. She had a friendly and loving personality. Each day she would deliver our mail to the front door and take the opportunity to check on me. Come to find out, she was a mother of 5 young children. I hit it off with Kathleen from the very start. We continued to grow a relationship that, to this day, I hold dear to my heart as one of my most valuable friendships. Kathleen helped me fit into a new town where I was a stranger, and everyone already knew everyone. It was a rough time for me. Kathleen helped me to navigate living in a small town and how to embrace it gracefully. She introduced me to her friends and extended invitations for lunch with the girls. She was also there for me when I needed a helping hand. Later, when we bought a house, it ended up being directly across the street from Kathleen and her family. My kids and hers, of course, became friends. We would wave and talk across the yards at each other. We would admire each other’s flower gardens and go to the nursery to pick up more. We attended school functions and church together. We had a wonderful friendship as mothers, women, and neighbors.

But things move along in life. When she divorced, and her kids were all grown, Kathleen decided to move away. I, unfortunately, had to do the same. It was a hard pill to swallow for me. To this day, I miss her. At first, I felt betrayed when she moved and didn’t keep in touch. But then I learned how happy she is now with a new husband, a beautiful home, and grandchildren. I realized she had been put into my life for a significant season. I was blessed in abundance for having had Kathleen for a friend at the time of my life that she showed up. I believe with all my heart that God placed her there for a reason. Many reasons. She did her job, and now her season is over. I have nothing but love and fondness in my heart when I reflect on my friendship with Kathleen. She is top of my list as one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

I have been blessed with several lifelong friendships. Those are the rarest of all and should never be taken for granted. It truly is a blessing to have the privilege of knowing and caring about someone for a lifetime. That season is never-ending.

I consider each and every one of you that takes the time to read my writings a friend. Thank you! You are indeed appreciated.

Season of Fertilization… by JoAnn

I live in a farming community. Summer is jam-packed for all. This week seems to be the “Season of Fertilization.” Every farmer within sniffing distance of my nose is fertilizing their fields.

I had been out of town for nine whole days. I had access to a lovely backyard with tons of birds singing and playing. I even had several days when the temperatures were like Spring. It was a wonderful little retreat. But when I returned home to my rural county, P U, it stank!

The first town I entered in my county, the stink was so overpowering. I kept asking myself the million-dollar question, “What is that?!” I kid you not, it smelled like a cross between road kill and a busted sewer line. Both of which had been simmering in the 90+ degree weather all day. It literally made me gag a few times. Needless to say, I couldn’t get through that town fast enough.

Did I mention that I currently do not have a working AC in my car? So all my windows were down due to what is playing out to be a never-ending heatwave. Here I travel, windows down, a stinky wind blowing through my hair as the humidity makes me feel like a hot, damp sponge. I must have been a sight. By this time, I couldn’t have cared less about my appearance. I just wanted to get out of this smelly sogginess and get to my hometown.

The next town I had to travel through before my own had no smell. If it did, it was so much of an improvement over the last one that my nose gave it a pass. But when I hit my sweet little town, my nose hairs fainted. “What in the world is that smell?” were the only words that could make it through my brain. It was even more overpowering than the first round of stench. And this smell, I could not figure out anything to compare it to. I was praying for God to get me home by this time. Surely the smell would stay out in the fields and not invade my apartment. I was right. The horrid stench was gone as soon as I got closer to my home and away from the farming areas.

The next day, my daughter stopped by to return something she had borrowed. Somehow in our conversation, she mentioned that they had noticed a horrendous smell on their way home the day before. They had their Great Dane in the car, so they thought it might be him. They all laughed when they realized the poor dog wasn’t to blame. Apparently, someone told her the smell that is going around is that of the fertilizer that farmers have sprayed on their fields, which is made from chicken droppings and byproducts. And with that, the mystery of the awful smell was solved.

I immediately remembered a local news story a little while back about a commercial chicken farm being built in a neighboring county. They would be supplying chickens to the Tyson plant that is nearby. I remember the news story was about how the property owners near where the chicken farm was being built did not want the farm near their homes because of the, you guessed it, smell!

So this experience answered two questions I had previously. Whatever happened to that chicken farm people were protesting? Well, it obviously got built. And the second question, would it really smell all that bad? Unfortunately, I know the correct answer for that one too! P U.

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