Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 3 - P.M. On to Mackinaw City via Sault Ste. Marie and Ontario

Day Three has two parts....we had the morning in Traverse City and then the afternoon/evening in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Mackinaw City.  It was so exciting to see the Big Mac (Mackinaw bridge) from a good distance away.  It is a five mile suspension bridge and one of the largest in our country.  The bridge connects the lower part of Michigan with the Upper Peninsula (U.P.).  It also connects Mackinaw City with St. Ignace.  We passed right over the bridge and continued on to Ontario.  The day was gorgeous and we still had several hours of daylight left.  The one thing I really wanted to see in Sault (pronounced Soo) Saint Marie was the lock system.  I was so excited.  They have a lock tour by boat where you actually go through the locks, but alas our time was limited. did not bother just gives me another reason to come back to Michigan.

We actually did get to see a boat go through the process.  It was at one point when we started over to Ontario and finishing the locks when we headed back over the bridge.  I must admit it was pretty impressive.

This was the bridge that lead us to Canada.  Get this...the speed limit was 25 mph and the people were actually doing that!  I found that amazing.

This was the toll road (and one of the only ones we were ever on that lead us to the Upper Peninsula.  They are serious about keeping the Trolls (nickname for someone from the Lower Peninsula) out I believe. 

Waiting to get our passports stamped.  Mandy had just gotten hers and was so excited because this would be her first stamp.   The rest of us have quite a few from our trips to Europe.  When we got to the window the little guard said he would not be a'stampin' our passports because they don't do that anymore.  Mandy was so disappointed....but while he was asking us if we had guns, knives, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, et al....he stamped all our passports.  So we now have a Canadian seal on our books.  We asked him if he would recommend a good place to eat and he gave us some directions...but when we got there...the restaurant did not look very appetizing....and there was a huge cloud forming between us and Mackinaw City.  We drove around a bit, stopped at the Ontario Welcome Center, made pictures to document our presence and headed back to America.  The American Customs people thought it was a little weird that we had driven all that way from Alabama just to hang out in Canada for less than 30 minutes.  Go figure...we are GRITS...and you can never tell what we will do on a whim.

Mandy and Mary found a cute little Mounty and talked him into having his picture made with them.  Mandy also exchanged some currency so that she could have some Canadian money for her scrapbook.  By the time we got ready to leave the sky was very angry.  A tornado had touched down somewhere around Cadillac, MI....we passed through there at some time on this day.

That is NOT a night sky...that is an afternoon sky that is very angry. 

My favorite stop in Mackinaw City was the old Mackinaw lighthouse.  By the time we got back the angry sky had broken up into fluffy gray skys so we drove by the Mackinaw fort and stopped at the lighthouse for a photo op.  It was also a good place to put our feet into Lake Huron.

We got Kat's sweet husband, Brian to go online for us and give us some motel numbers to call so enroute back to Mackinaw City from Canada we made reservations at the Clarion.  It was great to have a plan so we could enjoy the last few minutes of daylight.

What a serene scene.  Can you believe that it is after 8 p.m.  The sun never seemed to go down until after 9.  We checked in at the Clarion and they gave us a recommendation for supper...we were starving and it was almost 9:15.

We ate dinner at the green topped building and it was really good.  Our waitress was quite taken with the drawls and really had a good time with us.  We walked around town a is 9:45 in this picture....and that is at night.  Day 4 we are taking the ferry across to Mackinac Island to spend the day.  We will officially become a "fudgie" tomorrow.  Come back and visit me tomorrow because Mackinac Island is something else.  If you are looking for a wonderful get away...for a special anniversary....or just to rekindle that old flame....this is the place.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 3 A.M. in Traverse City

Oh I love Traverse City.  I could so live in this town....of course I would say that about all the places we have visited....but this place is the greatest.  We got up early, ate breakfast at the hotel and hit the road headed for the Mission Lighthouse.  I was excited about the lighthouse because I have always had a secret desire to be a volunteer lighthouse keeper.  The trip up was fabulous.  The scenery was breathtaking and we loved every mile of it.  We saw some interesting sites along the way to the lighthouse.  We got there at 8...and were disappointed to see that it did not open until 9.  But....I was talking with a man working there and he gave me some information about being a volunteer lighthouse keeper, like himself, and allowed us to go into the light house.  How awesome was that.  Eric, the lighthouse keeper, then took our picture standing facing him witht the shoreline behind us.  This lighthouse is no longer used.  There is a new one off to the left of this one way out in the waters of Lake Michigan.  BTW, it sits on the 45th Parallel.

It turns out that I have been to several of the 45th Parallel places.  I did not know that...or if I did have long since forgotten.  The picture below is Mandy climbing the stairs into the light area.  It was a feat.  It was like climbing a ladder.  I chickened out on the next to the last round.  I hate ladders.

As you can see, Kat and Mary made it all the way to the top.  They were quite pleased with themselves.  The view from the top they said was breathtaking.  I will have to take their word for it.

Going up we thought this barn was pretty neat.  Several of the barns we passed on this road had quilt squares on the outside.  We never did find out why but it was pretty impressive.  The land in the area headed up to the lighthouse was farm land.  On the right side of the road, as far as you could see were cherry orchards, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, hops, and grapes.  There was a winery and plenty of little fruit stands begging you to stop and sample their wares.  We did just that at one of the bigger cherry farms.

The bright red cherries that look like Maraschino tasted like plums.  The dark red cherries were the sweetest things and we devoured a carton that we bought from two young men on the side of the road.  Eric, the lighthouse keeper, told us that they were earning money for school....We bought it...hook line and sinker and bought our first ones from them.  They were delish!  Funny thing...when you see the bazillion signs along the road advertising cherries...when it advertises the dark red always said, "Washed sweet cherries."  If they had the other two - plum like and sour...the signs just said, "cherries."
After the cherry/lighthouse adventure and with one more barn picture(rainbow roof below)maybe
 a couple more odd ones we headed to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.  Mary, Mandy, and Kat were all planning to climb it.  I was going to take photos.  It was too hot for me and not going to happen.  I had seen all the pictures of people falling down the thing and I was not game for that at all.

This was just one level of the dune.  Mary gave up about half way up this section and sported off to take pictures of nature in the area.  I visited with some teachers there with students and some fellow tourists.  After the dunes we headed back to Traverse City to hit a winery, the Cherry Republic, the Pie Factory for lunch, and an Exotic Chocolate place we had seen earlier.  On our way back into town we passed a lilly farm and stopped to see what they had to offer.  This farm had been running for 100 years and the flowers were the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life and there were acres and acres of them.  It was funny...we all took pictures of flowers....but only a few were doubles.  I guess we all have different tastes.  If we could have gotten them home...we probably would have bought some....but we did get brochures and may order some later.  It was really not the time to plant them.  While you are there....the owners encourage you to tour their beautiful gardens around their house.  The shade, the fragrance, and the foliage were so pleasant that we all truly hated to leave....until our stomachs started growling loudly at us.

We ate lunch first at the Pie Factory and not only was their soup and sandwiches good....their pie was to die for.  Mary bought us a triple berry one and it was slap yo' momma good.  I had a Harvest Chicken salad was good...not the best I have ever had...but good.  We then went to the Chocolate place where Kat and Mandy each bought a piece of decadent chocolate.  They had chocolate crowns filled with Crown Royale syrup.  This place is the kind of place you go if you are a bride and planning to give your guests something unusual as a remembrance of your wedding.  After the Chocolate place, Mandy found a store that had humongous marshmellows.  Of course, you can tell we are from the south....we took pictures of them.  We then headed to downtown and the Cherry Republic where we went on a shopping frenzy and the girls stood in cherry pits up to their ankles.  Ouch!

Doesn't this look painful.  It did to me.  After we left Traverse City we headed for Mackinaw City/Sault Ste. Marie and Ontario, Canada.  This was a long day and we packed a ton of sites into our waking hours.  I decided not to overload you with too much.  Tomorrow I will do Day 3 P.M. Traverse to Mackinaw City.  I hope you are enjoying this and if you ever get a chance to go to Michigan...make sure you stop in Traverse City.  It is definitely on my list of to returns to places.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Louisville, KY to Traverse City, MI - Day 2

Our first stop after leaving Davids was like two blocks from his house. We went to the Mary Alice Hadley factory. It is a cute little place where they make cute little dishes. Mary and her whole family collect them....the rest of us don't. BUT...Kat and I did get some cute little cards and a Christmas Tree ornament. Second stop was the Louisville Slugger Museum and oh how cool it was. There is a gigantic bat in front of the cannot miss it. Inside you go through the museum and take a tour of them actually making bats. It was truly fascinating. Thanks Mandy for such a great idea. When the tour was over we were all given miniature bats. I brought mine home to Frank as one of his souvenirs. He loved it.  While we were in the museum we made pictures of the Mandy and Kat holding Micky Mantles bat, sitting in a dugout, hanging out with Babe Ruth and a few others.  We also took turns in a batting cage.  Let me tell you.  I have never been in one and when a baseball shoots out of a gun right at you it is scary....and when there is one times ten coming at right after the other it is a little unnerving.  At least it was for me.  I am from the old days.  We practiced batting with a real live pitcher back in my softball days.

Kat and I hit baseballs, Mary hit softballs and believe me at 90 mph there was nothing soft about either of them.  It hurt!  Plain and simple!  My hands ached for about an hour after we left.  When we were through at the Slugger Museum we made a brief stop for Mandy to get her caffeine fix at Starbucks, which was just around the corner, and then jumped on interstate.  Our next big city was Indianapolis, IN.  We really just passed through this metropolis but we did get to see a lot of the sites from the interstate.  Our objective was to get to Grand Rapids or Lansing and reappraise how far we would go today.  Early afternoon found us in Grand Rapids and since it did not get dark up there til after 10 we decided to press on....but we were hungry and would have to find somewhere to eat.  We saw an advertisement on the side of the road for Rosies and a couple of other places so we decided it was a good exit to take.  There were three restaurants within walking distance of each other and they all looked pretty good.  We opted for a diner looking place called Rosies and are we glad we did.  Rosies is the Rosies that used to be on the Bounty paper towel commercial. You know the one...she was an older redheaded waitress...well...the dinner now has another claim to fame and that is that Guy Fiera from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has been there. How cool is this. I told you yesterday that I am a food channel junkie and this was just the greatest news I had had all day. We ate in this very authentic 1950's style diner and the food and service were good.

After dinner we pressed on for Traverse City. We got there about an hour later and found the cutest hotel to stay in. It was called the Cherry Inn. Traverse City is known for their cherries and other fruits. Not only was the Inn was on Lake Michigan and the lake was awesome. This would be our most expensive hotel for the entire trip.  We conferred in the car, then checked in, found out we had a room with a view of the indoor pool and hot tub - whoopee, and then stepped outside to enjoy the evening air. It was 9:15 and the sun had not set yet. Imagine that. We took pictures of the hotel, the lake, the birds, the ducks, our feet, anything we thought was photo worthy. After our major overdosing on photos we went back inside and used the hotels internet, took a swim, and sat in the hot tub...then went to bed. Tomorrow would be our day for exploring. We would be gettin up early to go to the Mission Lighthouse, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the Cherry many cherries and little time.

paper towel commercial.  You know the one...she was an older redheaded waitress...well...the dinner now has another claim to fame and that is that Guy Fiera from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has been there.  How cool is this.  I told you yesterday that I am a food channel junkie and this was just the greatest news I had had all day.  We ate in this very authentic 1950's style diner and the food and service were good.  After dinner we pressed on for Traverse City.  We got there about an hour later and found the cutest hotel to stay in.  It was called the Cherry Inn.  Traverse City is known for their cherries and other fruits.  Not only was the Inn was on Lake Michigan and the lake was awesome.  We checked in, and stepped outside to enjoy the evening air.  It was 9:15 and the sun had not set yet.  Imagine that.  We took pictures of the hotel, the lake, the birds, the ducks, our feet, anything we thought was photo worthy.  After our major overdosing on photos we went back inside and used the hotels internet, took a swim, and sat in the hot tub...then went to bed.  Tomorrow would be our day for exploring.  We would be gettin up early to go to the Mission Lighthouse, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the Cherry many cherries and little time. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alexander City, AL to Louisville, KY - Day 1

Kat and Mandy - The Warrior Girls
I have not gotten my 35 mm film from Walmart yet but I cannot wait to share pictures and since I have nearly 1500 digital ones I figured it would be ok.  On Day One of the great Michigan Escape 2010 we had no set time to start.  Kat was going to call me as soon as she left her house.  I was going to leave then too and go by and see my mom before we left town.  One small problem with that scenario.  Missi and Clay spent the night with us Saturday night and I got up in plenty of time to fix breakfast for us all.  We ate and enjoyed each other so much that I did not actually leave Rock Mills until they left....which was 30 minutes later than I had planned.  In New Site I called Kat to get her ETA and found out that I still had time to go by and see my I did.  We loaded, gave Mary's husband, Bill, our keys and hit the road.  Our first stop was the Warrior sign on I-65.  It is a Mandy power word so we took pictures of Kat and Mandy making the Warrior sign.   Second stop was Decatur to drop Molly, Mandy's daughter, off with her grandparents.  Quick hello, bathroom stop, and we were on our way again.  Next stop would be the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY.
As you can tell Mandy and Kat had a great time having their picture made in a Corvette.  Heck for that matter so did Mary and I.  It was fun to sit and be photographed.  After the museum we headed on to David and Susanna's.  Thank goodness for GPS units.  We keyed in their address and it took us right to the front door.  I called David from the courtyard to tell him we had arrived and he thought I meant in Louisville.  Louisville is an awesome city.  There is a lot of diversity, rhythm, and pulse.  After we got settled we took David to supper at the coolest restaurant.  If you watch the Food Channel, which I do religiously, and know who Bobby Flay is...then you must know that not only did he do one of his infamous Throwdowns is also one of Oprah's favorite restaurantes.  The place was charming.  I ate a hot brown, dish very famous in Louisville.  It was yummy.  We all had something different and shared bites.  Everything was so good. 

After dinner at Lynn's Paradise Cafe we toured Louisville at night.  David took us to see Churchill Downs (which was beautiful, but not anything like I expected it to be.  It is right in the middle of the city....not out on some 100 acre tract of horse ranch - that was a big disappointment) and 4th Street (a famous night spot).  What a bustling town.  I was glad when we returned to the apartment and settled down for the night.

It was a good day for sure.  Monday we would get up, have a wonderful breakfast casserole fixed for us by our wonderful host, David, left David's apartment and stopped at the Mary Alice Hadley factory and then the Louisville Slugger Museum, then headed on to Michigan.  We were shooting for Grand Rapids....but were willing to go all the way to Traverse City if we were able.  Tomorrows post will be pictures from our second day of traveling.  Hope you enjoy my pictoral blog. Who knows maybe you will visit some of these places one day because you saw them on my blog.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sixty Five Roses

I was checking my blogs today and found one that a friend of mine, Trina, had written about someone we both know and I took some poetic license and borrowed most of this post from her.  It is something I feel very strongly about and I wanted my readers to know too.  A couple of  weeks ago a friend of mine  lost her daughter, Kara.  The mother,  Karen and I were colleagues several years ago when Kara was just a tiny thing. Once Karen remarried, they moved to Clay Co., and she got a job teaching there. (It was a definite loss for our school, and a definite gain for theirs because she is an AWESOME teacher!) She and I were close friends and we have stayed in close contact, Kara's dad lived below me when I lived in an apartment before Frank and I got married so I would see her there every other weekend.  Anyways, Kara lost her battle with CF(Sixty-five roses) while awaiting a double-lung transplant. (I think that is correct. I've heard a couple of different things, but someone who is very reliable told me that.) I was so busy getting ready for my trip that I missed the funeral and felt really bad about that.  Today reading Trina's blog made me stop and think about how very fortunate/lucky/blessed I am because there are so many things that Karen will never get to do.
  For example, she will never:

  • hear Kara say, "Mom, he is THE one."
  • be able to ooh and ahh and gush over Kara's engagement ring.
  • help her choose her wedding dress and make wedding plans.
  • see Kara walk down the aisle as her baby girl.
  • see Kara walk back down the aisle as a beautiful new wife.
  • hear Kara say the words "You're going to be a grandmother!"
  • hold her baby girl's baby.
  • cry with her when that baby begins school.
These are things that we so often take for granted.  My heart grieves for my friend right now.  I have a daughter and she is very special to me.  I can only imagine what Karen is feeling right now. Yes, Karen has other children. She has two boys, but there is just something special about a daughter.  After reading Karen's facebook post this morning I know thaton the other hand, Karen is able to sleep at night because she knows

  • Kara is praising her GOD each and every second!
  • Kara is rejoicing with her loved ones who have gone before.
  • Kara no longer struggles with a body that isn't perfect.
  • she will see Kara again someday and that reunion will be so very precious.
A scholarship fund has been set up for nursing students at Central Alabama Community College in Kara's memory. Karen is working to get T-shirts made up with "In It to Win It"---Kara's motto---on them. She was in it to win it, and while she may have lost her earthly life, she has won so much more! I think I'm going to follow Trina's lead and order a shirt!  Done!  I just facebooked Karen and left a post telling her I wanted one!  The sad thing about this is wonderful and sweet as Kara was...her story will never make front page headlines like Lindsey Lohan has.  Our world is so caught up with idols....that sometimes we miss the silent heroes. Watch over us all tonight Kara!  We need it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

In That Great Gettin' Up Morning

Rock Mills decided not to have church last night in lieu of going to Lowell UMC for Revival to hear Greg Reynolds from Brandon speak.  They had all heard him before and loved him.  I had been asked by Bro. Ed Grooms, the pastor at Lowell to sing on Monday we have gone both nights....and to be honest...will probably go back tomorrow night.  Today was a hectic day....I really fretted over what to sing.  I was asked to sing 2-3 songs and you all know me....that means....6....but I was good and kept it to 3.  I got up this morning and practiced for about an hour and then Frank and I went to take care of some business.  We became Randolph Co. residents for real today....we registered to library cards.  But...back to my music tonight....I ended up chosing....4.....for a purpose.  I only planned on singing 3 of them.   So, I did His Eye is On the Sparrow, and Broken and Spilled Out(which is one of my favorite songs....I love the power I feel when I sing it.)....I had Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) in reserve in case M.L Williams, my Sunday School teacher, was there, it is one of his favorite songs...but he was not there so I will do it sometime at Rock Mills.  My finale song was one I have been dying to sing with Still Magnolias...but could not find the accompaniment track for...until today.  Frank and I went to Auburn after we registered to vote to get a book and some goodies for the Time for Children past of the service....and there it is a Gaither Trio song...called In That Great Gettin' Up Mornin' and I love it.  It is a fast song with powerful words.  It is so much fun to sing and the congregation really seemed to get into it.  It was fun to sing with several of my congregation sitting there.....I looked at them and they were all smiling.  Bro. Ed called me the First Lady of Rock Mills when he introduced me to the crowd as, Carol Korb.  I didn't correct him....yep...we will probably go back tomorrow night...and not just because they are making homemade ice cream...yummm....but that is not the reason I want to go.  I have never felt so touched by the words Bro. Greg has been delivering.  Tonight he talked about being on fire for God. I had to stop and ask myself....when was the last time I felt that burn....and it was not indigestion?  I had to be honest with myself and say it had been a while...a good long while...and I WANT THAT FIRE BACK!  God bless you all tonight...and I am sharing the new song with you....enjoy it.  See you tomorrow with pictures.  I am working in the my post will be mid-afternoonish.  I can't wait to share them with you. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Am a Child of God

I am still pooped and don't have pictures together to begin my special blog on the trip.  My friend Bill sent me a great story and I had to share it with you since today is Sunday.  I hope you enjoy this while I get over 2500 of road travel.  A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg , TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a pancake restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, 'I hope he doesn't come over here.' But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. 'Where are you folks from?' he asked in a friendly voice. ' Oklahoma ,' they answered. 'Great to have you here in Tennessee ,' the stranger said..
'What do you do for a living?' 'I teach at a seminary,' he replied. 'Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I've got a really great story for you.' And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair
and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, 'Great .. Just what I need ....another preacher story!' The man started, 'See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, 'Hey boy, Who's your daddy?' Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, 'Who's your daddy?' He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so bad. 'When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?' But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast that he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything
about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, who's your daddy?' The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him Now everyone would finally know the
answer to the question, 'Who's your daddy?' 'This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy...
'Wait a minute! I know who you are! I see the family resemblance now, You are a child of God.' With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, 'Boy, you've got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.' 'With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, 'Who's your Daddy?' he'd just tell them , 'I'm a Child of God..''
The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, 'Isn't that a great story?' The professor responded that it really was a great story! As the man turned to leave, he said, 'You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!' And he walked away..The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over & asked her, 'Do you know who that man was -- the one who just left that was sitting at our table?'
The waitress grinned and said, 'Of course. Everybody here knows him. That's Ben Hooper. He's governor of Tennessee !' Someone in your life today needs a reminder that they're one of God's children! 'The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of God stands forever.' ~~Isaiah

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I came home late last night and didn't checked my email til this morning.  Today I am brain dead but upon reading this email I decided that while I recoup from the 2500 mile trip I would share with you a story that touched my heart.  I don't know if it is true...but it could be.  It is a story of kindness and love.  The story is about Carl.  You see...Carl was a quiet man.  He didn't talk much.  He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake.Even after living in out neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well. Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning.  The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it thought our changing uptown neighborhood with its every increasing random acts of violence, gang and drug activity.
When he saw the flyer, our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up..
He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?" The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled. Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet. Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. "Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday." His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water. Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?" "I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.
A few weeks later the three returned.. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done. Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose,and went on with his watering. The summer was quickly fading into fall Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.. "Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time."
The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl. "What's this?" Carl asked. "It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet." "I don't understand," Carl said.. "Why would you help me now?" The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you,"he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate." He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess."And with that,he walked off down the street. Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago. He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The minister spokeof Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden." The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. Opening the door,the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer."I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said. The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him." The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it. One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday." "Well, congratulations!"said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?" "Carl," he replied. That's the whole gospel message simply stated. Carl could have been anyones dad.  He could have been mine.  The message was a strong one.  I hope you understand what you are being instructed to do.  Love your neighbor....and it is not necessarily the person who lives next door.  Have a great weekend.