Growing up there were some things I didn’t want others to know about me. One was that we lived in an old farmhouse heated with wood and coal with only two somewhat, sometimes warm rooms. I never slept in a heated room during winter until college. We rarely wore white because without a water softener
Growing up there were some things I didn’t want others to know about me. One was that we lived in an old farmhouse heated with wood and coal with only two somewhat, sometimes warm rooms. I never slept in a heated room during winter until college. We rarely wore white because without a water softener the Indiana limestone water from our well would turn white clothes “tie-dyed” tan. I only told others where I lived when necessary because our family farm was down a narrow gravel road between two small “towns” that didn’t have a traffic light or even a stop sign on the roads through. It’s interesting that although now I realize these things don’t matter and that country living even inspires magazines today, back then I felt ashamed about such things. Too bad the song recorded by country music artist Barbara Mandrell, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” wasn’t recorded yet!!
I knew Mom and Dad did their best for me, and I certainly didn’t want to live anywhere else, heating with wood or not. Some of my good memories with my dad are when we would take a wagon pulled by “Mighty Mouse” — Dad’s name for the grey 9N Ford tractor — to the woods or local sawmill and collect firewood to saw up and stack. A big day for me was when Dad “turned me loose” with the chainsaw. This was especially notable because my older brother a few years earlier had cut into his knee with the same saw. (After surgery and a week or so in the hospital he still limps.)
My mother said we had an ancestor who served with the Continental Army and wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge. She would periodically get invitations to join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), would show us them and then put them away somewhere. That made me feel proud of my distant relative. I never missed a chance to “contribute” this tidbit to any history class that was covering anything remotely related to the founding of our nation. Some other “proud” events for me were when the feed silo and grain bins were built by the barn. The silo was how I gave directions to the farm — “Look for the ‘Silver Shield Silo.”
In high school, our small high school was “consolidated” (swallowed up) by a bigger city district. Although we all got along well and made many new friends, the little towns around the farm felt even smaller and less significant to me. Conversations seemed to be about events at the school and in the larger towns. I never “talked up” the little towns and gravel roads around the farm. It’s amazing that so many of us (well, at least me) spend seasons of our life feeling bad about ourselves when, if you stop and look at “the details,” there is no reason to!! In fact, if you were to give the situation to others, some wouldn’t mind and might even write a song about it.
During this Christmas season, I learned a few things about Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus. It was small, population 100 to maybe 400 tops. The name “Nazareth” means “’branch.” From the prophetic Book of Isaiah, written 800 years earlier, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse (the father of King David); from his roots, a Branch will bear fruit.”
The expectations of the Israeli nation then, were that the Messiah would be mighty in earthly power and grandeur — no doubt that he would be from a “big city,” commanding thousands. Quite the opposite happened, however. It is recorded in the Bible that Nathanael, who became one of the 12 disciples, when first hearing about Jesus from Philip said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Many others in that region rejected Jesus, “His own received him not.”
I am thankful that Jesus came into, lived and left this world in humility. He knows how we feel. He was born where there was no heat or running water at all. I had it good!!
If I could go back in time, just once, to the 8:00 a.m. gathering (hang out time) before class in the high school foyer, after one of my “city” friends in a white shirt would finish saying “Yep, boys, I live at 846 Asphalt Avenue, Slick Town, USA, I drive a ‘68 gold Camaro with chrome rims, and we dine out every night”, I would reply “I live on Rural Route 1, USA, it’s down two miles of one lane gravel road with cows on it some days, I drive a tractor named “Mighty Mouse” and eat mustard and sardine sandwiches with my dad in the woods, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world”.
- January 16, 2019