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Archive for February, 2013

The Art of Reading

Do you remember when you read your first words? Remember how good it felt? For me, I have to go back to the 1950’s when I first learned to read. I can still remember reading, “See Jane run, see Spot jump.” It was a whole new world for me. Words became my friend. That was a strange mix for someone like me, as I was not a very good student. I went through my school years believing that making ‘C’s’ was good enough. It required only a certain amount of the effort that I was willing to give. The only exception was the English Classes, in high school. I did ok in math, (I seemed to understand numbers), but it was English Literature where I excelled. It was there I was introduced to novels. I fell in love with books. I would completely digest them. I think I stunned a couple of my teachers, Ms. Powell and Ms. Braun, with my graphic book reports. I did great on content, but was always marked down on penmanship. It is bad today, but worst back then. But books became my passion. I spent a lot of time in the school library. I even skipped a few classes to go to the library. In the end I received a good education from high school even with the ‘C’ average. Those two teachers opened a door for me that I have never closed. I guess that is why I married a school teacher.

Today I read 30 to 40 books a year. I’ve always have one or two going. They educate me about the world around me. I travel to our past, present and future through them. I can get emotionally involved in the situation and consequences that the characters experience. Right now I can set on my porch and relive the old west by just thinking of the many characters in the books of Louis L’amour that I’ve read. And I have read every one of them, several times. I have been ship wrecked on an island with the Swiss Family Robinsons. I’ve spent time in the court room with John Grisham’s Characters. One of my favorite books, (I have many), is ‘Land Remembered’ by Patrick Smith, in which I traveled in early Florida with the MacIvey family. I have lived the adventures of 007, Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne, the camel club, Rangers McCrae and Call and James Patterson’s Dr. Cross. The list is endless. Reading is better than any movie to me.

Recently I got hooked on the character, Jonathan Crane in ‘The Son’ series, by Doug Dahlgren. Doug was a couple of years behind me in high school. I claim him as a great friend. I’ve read all of his books and can’t wait till the next one is out. He is one gifted writer. I guess his stories must have been building inside of him for many years, because he didn’t start writing till after he retired from the business world. His books are political thrillers that will grab you and not turn you loose. In the Son series, Crane is kind of a dark hero that you can’t stop cheering for.

Doug and I share the same political views. Now, that’s another thing that reading has done for me. I have become a news junkie and read 10 to 15 news articles each day on the net, (speed read). If you want to put your emotions into high gear, do that! You have heard of the “Love hate relationship,” well the news is one for sure. I will tell you this though, it has shaped my views on our government and politics. I know I am a better informed voter because of my reading. Through reading I have a better understanding of our country’s value system and my emotions will run amuck sometimes from some of the decisions that our government makes in that regard. Facebook is another media that I love to read and I often use that great social network to voice my opinion about such.

Yes, reading is my passion and I end this by saying the Bible is my all time favoriate book. I read it everyday, and have read the entire book, and doing so again now. I have my favoriate Christian Authors also, such as C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Tim LaHaye and his ‘Left Behind’ series. I love ‘The Prayer of Jabez’ by Bruce Wilkinson.

So, there you have it. You now know I love to read, and if you have read this, then maybe you do to. If so, then you should thank a teacher also…

David Butler
2013

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And on the eight day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “Some men are sinful and evil abounds and must be punished, and I need a caretaker for them.” So God made a correctional officer. God said, “I need somebody that is upright, honest, who is willing to work 12 hour days making sure that those with damaged personalities  stay behind the fence, and are fed and clothed. I need someone to protect staff and protect the inmates from each other, and get the sick and injured treated by medical staff.” God said, “I need someone to listen to their stories, put them to bed, wake them up, make them work, lock them up when they don’t, stop their fights, prevent their suicide attempts. And in the some cases, I need someone to do a cell extraction when the inmates cover themselves with blood and fecal matter and refuse to come out of their cell.  I need somebody that can think on their feet, spot trouble instantly, make the right call, and go in harms way without hesitation.” God said, “I want them to do all this with only a can of pepper spray, a body alarm, handcuffs and a radio for protection.” Then at the end of their shift they would go home and love on their family like never before, because they have seen the worst that humanity can be.

He said, “And I know there will be times when they will be short handed and even have to work double shifts or get called back in to work. And sadly I know there will be times, due to being short handed, one of the officers I made would find themselves in a dorm or on the yard alone, and they would wind up giving their last full measure. The ultimate sacrifice. It is for these that My Son said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

God said, “I looked down on my correctional officers and saw that it was good.”

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Corinth Baptist Church Style.

What is a picnic? A picnic is a celebration of human spirit, culinary diversity, and adventure. Picnics are personal, and no one does it better than we Corinthians. We choose the foods we serve, and the venue. What better venue to have an old fashioned American Picnic than at the Lighthouse at Saint Marks, Florida. And of all days to be there, we chose by chance the day the Park was having its annual Wildlife Heritage & Outdoors Festival. Hot Dog!

Our picnic was planned several months ago, and the day finally arrived. Little concern was given to the news of the cold front due in, as we’re always careful to dress for the day after consulting the thermometer and being told of the geography objective. The crowd gathered at the set time to be at the church and began to compare dishes that were in the picnic baskets, which insured no one would go hungry. There was fried chicken, potato salad, fried spam, chicken salad, pea salad, to go with peanut butter and honey sandwiches. We had turkey and ham along with fruit cups and apple pie. We finished it off with all kinds of chips, soft drinks, water, and coffee. Yum yum, is all I can say. Of course, there is always someone that didn’t get the memo and brought Subway Subs. Tsk tsk.

All was loaded onto the bus and after Cindy passed out fresh hot biscuits, to every ones delight, Michael asked God for traveling mercy, then Gary put the bus on the road. After a brief stop at the Red Onion to pick up Brandon, Sara, and kids, we were on our way. We had two chase cars behind us with BJ, Candi, Kaylee, Katelynn, plus Bill and Gail. The trip on the bus is a great social event where we discussed any and everything. After we left I-10 and Wacissa on Hwy 59, we traveled through some of the most beautiful undeveloped country in Florida. It never changed even after getting on Hwy 98 for the nine miles to the road that took us to the park and lighthouse.

Our first surprise was when we got to the welcome center to find there was a festival going on. We had stopped there for a bathroom break, but stayed and visited all the booths that were set up. There were exhibiters of fly fishing, fly tying, cast netting, woodworking, local archaeology, and my favorite, the story of how the whooping crane was brought back to the refuge to name a few, but the big hit was the silent auction they had in the Barred Owl Room. I think everyone on the bus put in a bid or two. The wild life exhibits were some of the best I’ve seen, and don’t forget the Bradford Sausages! Even though our wonderful picnic lunch was only about an hour away, the temptation was just too much and many were consumed. We promised ourselves we would be back before two to check on our bids.

We finally loaded back on the bus for the short trip to our destination, the beautiful and historic lighthouse. The short drive produced many oh’s and ah’s as we passed through the forested swamps, and the fresh and brackish water marshes on the way to the pristine salt water estuary that was teaming with water fowl. Marsh ducks of all kinds were everywhere. God really turned up the beauty as we rode on. Then we rounded one turn and there it was, standing as it has for over two hundred years, the Lighthouse! What a beautiful sight to see for us inland landlubbers. Its alabaster white color stood out in the sunshine, and you could hear the shutters going off on the cameras.

We had to park the bus at the boat dock and walk the rest of the way. The short walk allowed us a closer look at the marsh ponds and the ducks. Then as we neared the lighthouse there he was, basking in the sun on the bank across the canal. The Florida Gator! And a very large one at that! He must have been 10+ feet long and was very fat. It was pretty obvious that his diet included Peking Duck. Again, the shutters were clicking away.

At the lighthouse were more exhibits. There were two Civil War re-enacting groups there, one for the confederates and the 2nd & 99th Regiments, which was the United States Colored Troops (USCT). We enjoyed talking with them. I for one didn’t know it was colored troops that attacked the bridge. The Coast Guard Auxiliary had a very old boat on display that was in mint condition. But the cream de la cream was that the lighthouse was open to visitors. The Lighthouse Keeper was in uniform and gave a great presentation on the history of the lighthouse. We also got a lesson on how they lived with our visit to the living quarters.

Later we drove back to Picnic Pond to have our picnic. To be hungry, ravenously hungry, while in this place, proves to us that fresh air is wholesome and that nature encourages vigorous appetites. We shared in every ones lunch as we bonded with God’s wonderful nature. The observable evidences of His creation were everywhere. The Festival’s theme to ‘Connect People to Nature’ was working with us.

We got back to the welcome center just in time to check our bids and up some of them. At the end of the auction the winners collected their bounty and we loaded up for the trip home. I had my photo that I won plus those I bought along with the two flies that were tied just for me at the Fly Fishing Booth. What a great day. Thank you Saint Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge. Thank you, God, for this part of your beautiful world.

David Butler
2013

Question? Do you think the American picnic is what it used to be? If not it should be. I plan to do my part in making it so…

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