We’re BBBBaaaccckkkk!!! Part 3

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On Sunday, The plan was to go to the church I grow up in then spend the rest of the day with my dad and his side of the family.  While as they say “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, so was the case with my plans.

I am not sure if it is the same way with most southern churches but every southern church that I have been apart of is this way.  Long services, as I have stated before the plan was to go to my childhood church Amazing Church of God in Christ, Well there was a little detour.  We left the hotel our way to church and what should appear but a sign “Natchez Parkway” and fond memories flood over me from my childhood.  I then think to my self that I would just show Merriann the reservoir that I fished a lot as a child then on to Church.  Let just say that we didn’t make it to church.

This is the Natchez Trace Parkway, was a little Native American trail that starts in the center on Mississippi and stretches all the way to Tennessee.  But now is a highway that follows the same route.

This is a Ross Barnett Reservoir.  Where I spent many wonderful days as a child and young man.  Some of our friends have often asked what life like without the Puget Sound, or the ocean.  The Ross Barnett Reservoir aka “The Reservoir” fills that same place in the lives of those who live without a bay or ocean.  We fish here, play here, we watch the sunset here, and camp here.  This is beautiful country.  I got to add some additional memories to this very special place with Zoe.

Hiding from Mom’s camera.

Anyway after playing here for a little bit it was too late to make it to church so we decided to go visit with my Dad’s side of the family.  Onward to Thames central, Sunny Hill, Deateur Mississippi.  I am not hundred percent sure of the story but here it goes.  My great, great grandfather was a slave during the Civil War.   The south lost (yeah), and slaves were set free in the Confederate States but not the border states.  And since Mississippi was a Confeterate State (the capital of the Confederate States of America, mind you) my great, great grandfather was set free.  But with nowhere to go the land owner made a deal with his former slaves that if they stayed and worked the land with him, upon his death they would get a share of the land.  When he died his promise was kept and my family got a portion of his land on which they still live today.  I am not sure if anyone knows the correct amount of land, but Sunny Hill is at the center of it.  And here is where my family’s home base is.

There is Big Daddy’s (my Granddad) house.

It is run down, and no one lives there now.  But one of my Aunts who lives in Denver is talking about moving back to Sunny Hill and knocking it down and building her house on the same spot.   As we walked around the old center piece of my family’s history, Matthew 6:19-20 (“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.) came to mind.  My Great Grandfather built this place, and poured his time, energy, some of his treasures into this place to raise his family in.  And now we (his family) have let it go to rust and the moth has come and destroyed it.

We then visited my uncles and aunts in Decatur in which I didn’t get any pictures of them.  Which is par for the course, of this trip.  Oh well.

Then we headed to visit with my Aunt Lynn and Uncle Eddie.

The End of day 3.  Are you tired yet?  We were.

~ Greg

We’re BBBBaaaccckkkk!!! Part 2

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Well the next day we began our first round of visits.  First there was my father, Robert.  The plan was to spend the Friday and Saturday with my mom and step dad and the last few days with my dad but since we had to drive right by my father’s place I thought that we would just stopped by say quick hello.

I was so excited!!! I got to take a girl to my old room.  It was the first time for something like that even though that girl is my wife.  Oh well it was exciting just the same.  And yes I forgot to take a picture of my home when I was a baby in or even the room.  Sorry about that but maybe next trip.  We drove around my old nieghborhood and I shared with Merriann for the first time some of my childhood memories.  After begin away for over 11 years it was truely amazing the amount of fond momeries that I had there as a child.  I started to feel really old because my children may never have the chance to roam our neigbhorhood the way that I did as a child.

Well, anyway after a quick little visit it was off the Papa and Nana’s house. 

Since my parents have never been able to visit with our kids before it was an awesome feeling to get to see them bond with Zoe and Zeke.  And the smiles, man they were smiling from ear to ear the whole time that we were there.   Then there came all my baby pictures.  I am not sure which my mother enjoyed more showing Merriann those baby pictures or watching me squirm as she started in on all those pictures.  But a short while later with my Step Dad was off to the my college’s (Jackson State University) football game.  (He had gotten us on the coach’s list to get into the game if we wanted to go.)  My mother then proceeded to tell me that we were going to be going to show off her grand kids, so off we went.  The first stop was Mrs. Dorothy’s house.

Mrs' Dorothy and my brother BJ

Mrs Dorothy and my brother Brian

Mrs. Dorothy is one of my mother’s life long friends.  I spent many, many, many days at this wonderful ladies’ house.  I think that I may have eaten as many dinners at her house than my own.  So it is safe to say that she is a close family friend. 

Well after hugs, and of course eating, my mother kicked Merriann and I out so that she could baby sit.  Yes we jumped at the chance.  We were going to go to the big game so that Merriann could see what all the hype was about.  (You know the south and football.  The old saying Saturday is for football and Sunday is the Lord’s)  But since it was the deep south meaning it should have been warm (yes. 70+ degree is warm to us) she didn’t bring a heavy coat. But instead it was and I quote “freezing, bone chilling wind” cold, we skipped the game a went sight seeing from the warmth of the car.  First we went by my old high school, Callaway High School.

Then to the New Capital building.

Then to the Old Capital building.

Next the Governor’s Mansion

and finally The Mississippi Fairgrounds

That was the end of our date/sight-seeing trip in Jackson, Ms.  It was time to go get the kids and put them to bed and get ready for another action packed day, the day with my father.

Still in Texas

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Just wanted to share that we are still in Texas. I forgot the camera cable to hook up to the computer so I couldn’t get online.  We are at Merriann’s sister’s place today and she has a internet connection.   Yeah!!!  There is nothing like roughin it.  So had a little time for a post.   So when we get back we will update everyone then.  The funny thing is that I gave Trina a hard time about her updates on her trip home and I haven’t been able to practice what I preached.  So Sorry Trina.

Love you guys and God willing we see you soon,

Greg T

We’re BBBBaaaccckkkk!!!

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We are back from our family cross county tour.  Merriann got to finally meet my whole family. Zoe and Zeke got to meet their grand parents, aunts, uncle, great aunts and uncles.  It was a overall very good trip.

We touched down in Dallas, TX on Friday about noon and after about 2 and a half hours of getting the bags, getting the rental car, feeding the kids, etc. we were on our way.  It was pretty nice weather of about 65 degrees given Bellingham was about 50.  Anyway we then began our long track to my hometown in which I thought that it was going to take roughly 6 hours,  but oh no with 5 o’clock traffic starting at 3, restroom breaks, feeding breaks (for Zeke) it took nearly 9 hours to make it to the hotel in which we were going to be staying in.  So it was safe to say that we should have sleep hard,  but oh no Zeke didn’t sleep well so Merriann and I didn’t sleep well.


We stayed at the Hyatt Place in Richland, MS.  The hotel was really, really nice. Starting with the big screen TV, it was awesome, but the cable was out the first night, but we were tired so we didn’t care anyway.  It was the first hotel that we were able to check-in without having to talk to anyone.  They had this little ATM like stations that you just slide your credit/debit through and you verified your information, it gave you 2 keys and bam you where done and off to your room.  It was pretty quick I must say and the checkout was the same way quick fast and on your way.  So that was it the end of day one.  Merriann or I will add the rest of the story later.

Veteran’s Day

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Taken in 1994, here are my Sister Tessa and Brother BJ with me

It is very interesting to me that as I am get older, being a veteran means more and more to me with each passing year.  Could it be that as I get older I get to see those young men and women whom where small children just a few short years ago take up the cause of service to my country, and my family’s, and friends protection?  Yes, that is part of the picture. Another part is the great sense of joy it is for me to have joined and served this country, my home of the free, and land of the brave.  One of the funny things about this is the change that has happened in my life after becoming a follower of Jesus the Christ, I have truly am thankful that others have laid down their lives for their families, and in turn for me, a friend.  It often gives me Goosebumps to think that someone that I wouldn’t or haven’t known, and didn’t and won’t get the chance to know loved his or her country (and in turn me) so much that they would give away the one most importance thing they have on this earth, their life so that others could have the chance to live free.

Service!  That is was the word veteran means to me.  Service to another for no other reason than to be of service to others. 

When I first joined the U.S. Navy, whenever Veteran’s Day would come around I would think that it wasn’t a big deal.  I was getting paid to be there, the rewards like college funds and seeing the world, and learning a real world skill far out weighted what I saw as the poor pay, bad housing, being away from your family, and the loss of Constitutional Rights among other things.  I believe this is true from most Vets that are not on the front lines of the battle.  But once you go to the sword’s edge you don’t return the same. How could you?  Life means more to that person than those who have never seen it snuffed out.  The trade off of life for simple “stuff” changes your mindset and out look on life for good. 

Service is the heaviest burden of a veteran, what does the service does cost you.  It will always cost you something, free, long deployments away from family and friends, your mind, or even your life.  I am one of the very lucky ones.  I didn’t have to give the greatest gift, that of my life.  In the movie “Saving Private Ryan” there is a scene in that movie that sums up what it mean to be a veteran in my mind.  The plot of the movie was that in the military of WWI and WWII there was a policy that no family should lose all their sons to combat and Pvt. Ryan was the last of his brothers alive in active service.  The scene after the squad has gotten Pvt. Ryan to safety and he is leaving the battlefield in which 6 or 7 of his friends in the squad where killed so that he could go home. In that scene Tom Hank’s character reminds Pvt. Ryan that many people died so that he could go home, and not to waste his life.  That fictional character was commanded to not waste something that was very precious, something that is so precious that others gave up theirs for his.  Man, there goes those Goosebumps again.

So I honor you men and women who give us your precious service!

The True Meaning of the Wizard of Oz

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In this time of trouble with the stock market, jobs, and war.  I have been looking and trying to learn from our country’s past.  I have been looking closely at the 1920’s and 1930’s because I believe that this is the closest example of what we are going through now.  Well anyway I ran across the the Wizard of Oz.

It just amazes me how creative people are.  We often use stories to give warnings and cautions.  Like C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia to tell about Christ and his relationship with man, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to tell about war and the personal price we pay (even for just wars).

That is the case with Franklin Baum’s classic, The Wizard of Oz.  Baum lived at the time of the Populist movement for the free coinage of silver and wrote a book about what was going on around him.  The Populist Party was a small insignificant party around the late 1800’s to early 1900’s that was made up of mostly farmers.

The U.S.’s currency was backed by gold at the time which made it worth more and made it harder for farmers to pay back their debts.  William Jennings Bryan, a Democratic nominee for the presidential election took their platform up and ended up killing the party by using that for his campaign.  Being from Nebraska, he wanted to help out his fellow statesmen, and by proposing to back the currency with silver, that would devalue the money so that it would be easier for them to pay back all of their debts.

Frank Baum saw all of this and ended up writing his story based on the events taking place. Dorothy was based on a well known female Populist leader.  The scarecrow was based on the farmers who were considered too kind for their own good by producing more food than was necessary.  The tin man without the heart represented the bankers and merchants in the east who were lending money to the farmers and who were against helping the farmers even though they needed their food.  The cowardly lion was considered to be William Jennings Bryan who was considered a pacifist because he was against entering World War I in later years and resigned from his government post because of it.  The yellow brick road symbolized the gold standard and the silver shoes (changed to ruby to show up better on the movie screen) were the silver movement.

President McKinley was the Wicked Witch of the West and Grover Cleveland was the Wizard.  And the Emerald City represented the “greenbacks” or dollars that were backed by the gold.  The monkeys were the Philippines (country) or Filipinos (the people).  President McKinley wouldn’t recognize the Philippines as being independent and used them for his own personal gain, a place to restock ships and to land. The monkeys were the witch’s servants.

Some people don’t think that the Wizard of Oz is symbol of this.   But it is fun to just think about.