Tag Archives: Bella

Good, bad, better, best

Here’s how this works: I list something “good,” followed by something “bad,” then, recognizing that life has too many blessings to count, identify “better” and “best.” The list of four somethings may or may not be related.

Let’s begin.

Good: Started today with a good 5 mile bike ride. Bad: The central air unit was frozen this afternoon. Literally frozen. Ice on the tubing. Uh oh. Better: Lunch and afternoon get-together with our girls, Kishia (and hubby Darnell) and Natasha (and boyfriend Korey). Best: Granddaughter Kianna napping on Grandpa and Grammy’s bed, then waking up and smiling and looking for me when she hears my voice.

Good: Watering my parched plants just before sunset. Bad:Andy Griffith died yesterday.

Sheriff Andy Taylor
TV and entertainment pioneer Andy Griffith died Tuesday.

Better: Navigating the Creasy Springs roundabout on a bike creates an awesome buzz of adrenaline. Best: My nephew, Zeke, and his wife, Julie, had their first child on Monday, David Thomas Assel, weighing in at over 9 pounds. His daddy, Thomas Ezekiel, is one of my favorite people on the planet. (Just don’t tell him, ‘cause he has an inflated opinion of himself. Bazinga.)

Good: Preparing brats, chicken breast and my own on-the-grill scallop potatoes for grilling. Bad: Failure to pick up lighter fluid after the last grill-fest. I’m a briquets-only grill guy. Better: Natasha and Korey making a speedy trip to Moser’s to pick up lighter fluid. Best: Brats, chicken, potatoes were magnificent. Also grilled pineapple for the first time. Not a pineapple fan, but apparently it was okay.

Good: Two box fans and a borrowed window unit air conditioner getting the indoor temperature down to 80. At 11 p.m. Bad: Mediacom cable service. No complaints for eight months, but last four weeks or so? Grandpa’s very dissatisfied. Better: Our little dog, Bella, a Brussels griffon, is finally starting to like me. We’ve had her almost three years. Best:Spending most of Tuesday with Kelly enjoying Grandpa/Grammy time with Kianna.

Grammy and Grandpa with Princess Kianna

Good: The Fourth of July. Bad: Too much political and ideological polarization in the country. Better: Agreeing to disagree. Best: Living in the U.S. of A.

Good: Getting four free tickets to Monday night’s “Hot Summer Nights” chamber recital at Broadway Christian Church. Bad: No downside to this one. Better: Remembering Jerry Clower’s routine, “Public School Music Class.” Best: Enjoying the concert/recital/event with our friends Scott and Jane Williams.

Good: Writing a blog entry for the first time in too long. Bad: Going so long without keeping up with Jackson’s Journal, especially after building an audience with “Countdown to Kianna.” Better: Making a commitment to return to a 5-day-a-week blogging schedule. Best: Keeping that commitment.

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Filed under Family, Kianna Allene Brown

Letter to Kianna: What a week!

Dear Kianna,

I learned a lot this week from the tiny house wrens that are raising a brood of even tinier wrens in a backyard bird house. Funny, too, because the bird house is shaped like a cat’s head and the opening is the “mouth.”

I ate breakfast a few mornings on the patio this past week, watching the mom and dad wrens performing an almost non-stop feeding schedule for their babies that I can hear but have not yet seen. Momma Wren darts off to the north and returns with a moth. Not sure why she has to fly so far, unless maybe she’s found a moth “honey hole.” (I’ll explain more about honey holes when we go fishing someday). Daddy Wren flits away to the west and apparently doesn’t go as far as his mate, and he’s more prone to bring a variety of bugs for his hungry offspring.

Kianna, I watched the carefully orchestrated, orderly feeding, and realized the same thing is occurring in thousands – tens of thousands? – backyards, bird houses and trees all around Columbia. And that’s just house wrens. Our backyard is also a day-long feeding site for Frank and Frankie, the mourning doves that we’ve been watching since March, and a variety of finches, sparrows, red birds, robins, blue jays, chickadees and even cow birds, which your Grammy absolutely despises. There’s also a scrawny squirrel and just today a brown bunny hopped onto the patio.

Grandpa won’t be happy if the bunny helps itself to the new green beans and other garden goodies that add color and character to our beautiful back yard.

When I see all the activity of our natural world, I see a grand design and feel a deep appreciation for creation. Kianna, there are some who say (actually, a LOT who say) that the pulse of nature – the tiny birds that build intricate nests and raise their young, the proud call of the red bird, the finch family’s splash of color – is basically the result of a great cosmic accident. Some say that even the feeling of awe that sweeps over me as I watch those wrens – or the flood of emotion that comes from seeing your smile – is really just an accident, a random result of chemical reactions and biological processes.

Don’t believe it.

Someday you’ll hear about The Big Bang, the process that supposedly led to the wrens, the curious bunny rabbit, and your smile. In fact, I recently read that some scientists believe there were maybe a million billion big bangs until there was one that finally brought about creation. You will grow up in a world that is increasingly accepting of this “theory” and exceedingly mocking of those of us who dare believe that God spoke it all into existence. (As if a million billion – or even one – Big Bang is easier to “prove?”)

Someday, Kianna, you and I will have this discussion, but I’m thinking that will be a few years down the road. After all, you turn 4 months old on Friday the 15th.

Grammy and I were off work all last week. We spent a couple of days out of town and celebrated our 30th anniversary. Aside from that relaxing trip and watching the wrens, I can’t remember much else about the week except spending so much time with you. We came to your house Wednesday and Thursday while your mommy and daddy went to work. Then you came to our house Saturday night while your proud parents went on a date.

Grammy and I were with you maybe a little more than 16 hours, but it seemed like much, much longer. You know why? Time stands still when we’re with you. And something else I noticed. At first I thought that you couldn’t keep your eyes off me. Then I realized it’s actually the other way around. The reason I see you following me with your eyes is because I don’t take my eyes off YOU.

Kianna, you are a smart and beautiful little girl: Brown eyes that literally sparkle, a smile that fills everything in the room with joy, and skin that is as smooth and sweet as butter cream and cocoa.

When Grammy and I talked today about all that we did during our week off together, we laughed and talked about you. When we talked about what our work schedules looked like for the coming week, we still talked about you.

Yep, we’re crazy about our granddaughter.

Love, Grandpa

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Filed under Family, Kianna Allene Brown, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Nature & Animals

“And bless this service we’re about to endure”

Countdown to Kianna

Darnell and Kishia (Jackson) Brown’s tiny little human girl is due to arrive in 15, 14, 13, 12 … 11 days.

New mom Kishia reported yesterday that Kianna Allene Brown has run out of room to stretch. But, my daughter told me, “It’s not happening today. I just don’t ‘feel it.’ ”

So the countdown continues …

Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting

Have you ever known a prayer warrior? You know, the kind of spiritual giant who seemed to have a gift of prayer? My lifetime list of prayer warriors is headed by spiritual giants who were women, usually older and sometimes frail. I’m thinking of Faith Baptist Church prayer warriors Mary Peters, Viola Terwilliger and Jewel Smith. I’m not sure it’s right to think this way, but when they prayed, God shushed the heavenly host, leaned with his ear toward the prayer warrior, and listened a little more closely.

My mom has described her mother that way, and I count my mom, my wife and my daughters as prayer warriors. They have unleashed Light during the times when my life was most dark.

I’m thinking of Jewel Smith, wife of Virgil, both of them long since entered into Gloryland. One of the tasks of a preacher was to call on someone to pray to open the service, to bless the offering, to end the service. (The Manual of Proper Baptist Etiquette called for a minimum of three prayers). Sometimes the Sunday morning bulletin had those prayer duties already assigned, which inevitably led to awkward silence when the designated pray-er played hooky from church.

Hold on … sorry. We’ve gone too far in without a song. What was I thinking?

First up is a contemporary worship song, Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Rise.” (For reasons I can’t explain, I sing “I Will Rise” to Bella, our Brussels griffon, when I give her a bath. The song lasts just long enough for a little dog’s bath).

Now for an oldie, an incredible arrangement of “At the Cross,” performed by the Gaither Vocal Band.

Amen.

Wednesday night prayer meeting was different. There was no quota of prayers, but instead a “season of prayer,” where anyone who wanted to pray would simply take one person’s “Amen” as a cue to begin the next prayer. (Everybody knows I’m kidding about the Manual that I mentioned, right?) And there was no set lineup, as it were, for the many prayers that would be said, some with Shakespeare-esque quality and a liberal application of thees, thines and thous, and Brother Rufus Keathley’s legendary prayer starter, “Our Heavenly Father,” drawn out in a way that said, “There’s about to be some serious prayin’ so stop what you’re doing and pay attention.”

As I remember, you had to pay attention longer than at any other time when Bro. Keathley prayed. (What I would give to hear one of those prayers now.)

Sometimes the pastor got the round of prayers going; at other times he’d call on someone. If you were keeping track — and I always was, apparently, because I remember this stuff 40 years later — everyone knew that Virgil Smith didn’t pray out loud very often. If he was called on to pray, with something like, “Brother Virgil, would you please open us in prayer?,” he’d quietly clear his throat and say, “Jewel.”

And Jewel Smith didn’t pray gentle, little old lady prayers. Her prayers often had a storm-the-gates-of-hell edge to them, as if demons and angels were sparring at that very moment.

You never knew how someone would react when they were called on to pray. After all, you might catch them off guard, as if they’re expecting to bat clean-up or hit ninth, but suddenly they’re told, “You’re leading off.”

From 1987 to 1991 I was pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Gasconade County. Ours was a small congregation – 25 was a crowd — and it’s the church where everyone except my bride Kelly brought beanie-weanies for a carry-in dinner one Sunday.

Some things you never forget.

Rosemary Howard was one of those people you never forget. Quiet, unassuming, dutifully doting on her husband, Daniel, and son, Dale. She didn’t look like a prayer warrior and had an otherwise passive demeanor. But, man, could she pray!

But she rarely led off. One Sunday morning as we prepared to begin worship, I requested that Sister Rosemary open in prayer. The look on her face, though, relayed complete bewilderment. I’d caught her off-guard. She took a breath and quickly uttered: “Lord, please bless this service we’re about to endure. Amen.”

Endure?

After the service I kidded her about her choice of words, and she didn’t realize what she’d said. It was a sweet moment … One of those moments you never forget.

Grandpa’s message to Kianna #26

The time is getting so close, Little Princess. I should probably be using this time to tell you a little bit about the people you’re going to meet. What? You want to know a little about Grandpa? Well …

I’m sort of weird. Sometimes. For instance, I’m a really picky eater, and I often smell my food before eating it. I mean up-close smell. Grab a cupcake from co-worker Catherine Martin. Smell it. Pour a bowl of cereal. Smell it. Mmmm! French fries! Smell ’em.

Yeah, weird.

I am also known to laugh out loud at the most random moments, sometimes in non-laughing circumstances. Maybe I’ll remember a “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” as I’m going through the check-out at the grocery store, and I’ll laugh. And not just a little bit or a little chuckle. I might lose it.

What do you know? I’m laughing now. I’m just so excited, so happy. So anxious to see you.

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Filed under Family, Inspiration, Kianna Allene Brown, MIP: Memoir-in-progress, Old Time Religion