Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jesus and Dirty Harry

Random thoughts about Christmas:

Parking lots incredibly jammed.

Ridiculously long lines in all the stores.

Sales clerks haggard and overworked and tired of answering stupid questions.

Cashiers numb with exhaustion. Sick of ringing people up or dealing with their unswipeable cards.

People everywhere shopping, and when they’re not, they’re eating or punching numbers on a small screen.

Husbands in tow while their wives or girlfriends spend all their money.

Chirpy Salvation Army bell ringers greeting you with “Merry Christmas!”

Fat people everywhere. Fat people eating as they shop or work their phones or talk. So fat, some of them, that they more wobble than walk.

Wide-eyed, bothersome, money-hungry people trying to flag you down from their kiosks in malls.

Massages--$90 for 45 minutes.

Men salivating in Victoria’s Secret.

Knife peddlers.

Fragrance peddlers.

Okay, enough of the dreariness or mundaneness of this special season.

So easy to forget the true meaning, as they say, of Christmas.

Christmas marks the birthday of Jesus, the Son of Man, sent by God, and born in a lowly manger in a smelly stable in Bethlehem, to rescue all of us.

What an unlikely beginning!

Everyone on the planet wanted then, and still craves today, access to God. Jesus, who shared a barn at his birth with horses or camels or whatever other livestock they had 2,000 years ago, is our open access. The Son of Man is the great key to making our life complete and full of joy—not only on this Earth but also in Eternity.

Dirty Harry said “Make my day.”

Jesus said (I’m paraphrasing) “Make my day by coming to me. And in return, I’ll give you the promise of Eternal Life.”

Jesus—the great, stunning, empowered rescuer. The one and only savior of humanity.

A Christmas song captures the magic of his birth and life:

“Fall on your knees.

“Oh hear the angel voices!

“Oh night divine.

Oh night when Christ was born!”

Lest we forget what Christmas is REALLY about.

Merry Christmas, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, mothers and dads.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dr. Jacob Mbuga Matovu

We said good-bye a few days ago to my good friend, Jacob Matovu. He fought hard the last few years to stay alive, but finally, on Nov. 16, 2013, could fight no longer.

As he lay dying in Watauga Medical Center in Boone, N.C., I am told he had a priest and his family by his side. He was serenaded by the music of Celine Dion and Reba McIntyre.

Not a bad way to go out of this world.

I had visited him a few days earlier in ICU and he squeezed my hand, mumbling "Hello Larry."

Jacob was from Uganda, Africa. He had taught mass communication at Appalachian State University for 25 years before retiring in 2010.

He and I met in the graduate program at the University of Iowa.

Ironic how it works out.

He went to school and I connected with him in cold, snowy Iowa. I reconnected with him several years ago in cold, snowy Boone.

These are some of the things I remember about Jacob:

1. When I arrived in Iowa in 1981, I knew not a soul in the entire state, save for Ken Starck (previously at the University of South Carolina where I earned a master's degree). Ken, always a good friend/colleague, had become director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the UI. It was scary and unsettling being way out there in the Midwest--pretty much all alone with no family. And then I happened upon Jacob. If he could live and work in Iowa--so many thousands of miles away from his family and loved ones in Uganda--so could I!

2. Jacob once presented a research paper on African drums as a form of mass communication. It was part of his work toward his Ph.D. I sat there entranced as he spoke about something I knew absolutely nothing about. (I had heard drums beating in Tarzan movies years earlier, but Jacob definitely expanded my understanding of this vital form of communicating on the African continent.)

3. Jacob loved to eat. He shared many meals with my family in nearby Tennessee. My Dad (who passed away in January 2012) had never met anyone from Africa, and he was especially intrigued by Jacob's stories. Dad knew a bit about the vicious Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and he always wanted to know more. Jacob obliged, and Dad loved it.

4. Jacob once took a group of Appalachian State University students with him for a "study abroad" experience in Uganda. He wanted me very much to join the group and teach journalism in his home country, but I declined, saying: "What on earth would they think of a little white man in Uganda?" Jacob's response: "They would love you, Larry."

5. Jacob loved his family, his homeland of Uganda and his church (St. Luke's Episcopal) in Boone. And that's where he was laid to rest last week--just a few feet from the church's main entrance. It was cold and windy that day, but it seemed somehow fitting. I met him in the cold. We buried him in the cold. In the background, maybe a mile or two away, a marching band played merrily. It was "game day" for the ASU football team. My friend from Uganda would have smiled at the incongruency of saying last words over his burial site while the band played on.

Farewell, Jacob Mbuga Matovu. I will never forget you.

Friday, November 1, 2013

What happens to our time?

I'm retired now (have been for several months) but life keeps me busy. So where does the time go? A chunk of it is gobbled up by shopping.

I'm talking mainly here about shopping at Walmart. Today, I visited a Walmart in Johnson City, Tenn., and confronted, as I always do, a jam-packed parking lot, exasperated, tired fellow shoppers and long lines at the checkout registers. An aside: Why is it that Walmart has a dozen-plus checkout lanes but only two or three of them are active?

Here's an attempt at documenting what you must do to buy $67 worth of groceries at the big box store. Nothing scientific here; just my personal take, based on my shopping excursion today, on getting what you want done at Walmart.

Step-by-step shopping at Walmart.

1. Get in car
2. Start car
3. Drive to Walmart
4. Find parking space (not always easy)
5. Get out of car and lock it
6. Enter store and get shopping basket
7. Take out your list (if you have one) and traverse the store (can be several blocks of walking), and get your needed items
8. Find checkout lane where line seems manageable
9. Roll your cart into that lane and wait, wait, wait… Read trashy tabloids while you wait.
10. Watch others in line ahead of you slumping and moaning and sighing in frustration, waiting for their turn at the checkout register
11. When it’s your turn, extract your items from shopping basket and put them on checkout line conveyor belt
12. Watch tired, miserable checkout person ring each item up and put in bag(s) for you
13. Scan your debit/credit card
14. Choose debit or credit. If debit, enter your secret code. If credit, sign your name. (I just scribble mine. Who cares how sloppy or neat you are?)
15. Hit “Okay” at bottom of read-out counter where you scanned your card.
16. Get your receipt (and some useless coupons for items you'll never, ever buy.)
17. Smile when tired, miserable checkout person says “Thank you and have a nice day.”
18. Put all your bagged items in shopping cart.
19. Roll/push shopping basket to your car in parking lot.
20. Unlock the car
21. Load all your bagged items into your car.
22. Start car and pull out (carefully), exiting crowded parking lot.
23. Return home.
24. Stop car. You'll inevitably have an urge to hit the bathroom!
25. Unload all your bagged items from shopping trip, and try to assure your barking dog that he'll have your attention very soon.
26. Put stuff you bought on shelves or in cabinets or in the refrigerator or wherever…
27. Sit down and say (like George Bush famously did on that aircraft carrier) “Mission accomplished!”
28. And then, of course, you have to cook or otherwise prepare the food items you purchased, do the clean up and throw away leftovers. Days later, you’ll make YET ANOTHER trip to Walmart and repeat steps 1-27 above. Long as you're breathing, steps 1-27 are repeated over and over and over…

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No need to be perfect

I heard an interesting sermon a few weeks ago at a church in Tennessee. The pastor, Tom Oyler, noted that Christians are not born on Krypton and therefore don't have superhuman powers.

Instead, Christians are weak, weary, flawed, imperfect in so many ways.

And when we become (in our view) hopelessly flawed and isolated, we run the risk of losing our faith.

But not to fear.

God welcomes us, pardons us, relieves us, heals us. We find God not just as bystanders sitting and listening in church but through connecting with small groups of caring others.

Bottom line: Join some sort of supportive group to help you get through your depression or flaws. Find sustenance and counsel from others. Don't fight the fight alone. As Oyler put it--and as Pastor Mike Lowery of Impact Community Church in Rock Hill, S.C. has frequently stressed: As Christians, we don't shoot our wounded. We welcome our wounded. We wrap our arms around them.

One caveat: Share your trials and heartaches with the right people and for the right reasons. Do not share your pain with just anyone.

So how to know where to find that trusted person or persons?

Pray, pray, pray.

Friday, August 16, 2013

He suffered mightily

By now you may have heard about Thor the bulldog.

But in case you haven't, read the story below by my former student, Jennifer Arnold, a reporter for the Herald-Journal newspaper in Spartanburg, S.C.

Thor died from the effects of being left in a car (albeit parked in the shade and with the window cracked) when his owners visited a store.

They were gone only for a few minutes, but that's all it took.

The heat inside their car caused Thor to go into shock. He must have fought mightily to stay alive, but he was doomed when those car doors slammed.

He panted. He barked and whimpered pitifully. He struggled to keep breathing. And when officers freed Thor from that locked, sweltering car, the 57-pound bulldog was found with his tongue "lolling out," according to the story. He was too weak to drink water.

I am sure Thor's owners are devastated and that this had to be one of those accidents that'll haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Some folks in Spartanburg who read Ms. Arnold's story are not so quick to forgive or overlook. One reader, for example, commented: "The dog's owner . . . was present when the dog was left in the car. While she's now whining about how "horrible" she feels about this, she's not feeling a fraction as horrible as the poor dog, with its swollen brain, felt in its final hours. As the dog's owner and guardian, she's even more culpable in this than the owner of the car is. Have the Spartanburg cops charged her, and if not, why not?


Here's the complete story (published earlier this week in the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, S.C.)

By Jenny Arnold — jennifer.arnold@shj.com
SPARTANBURG, SC — Lethargic and blind from swelling in his brain, his pink skin covered with small red dots indicating small bleeds under the surface, Thor the bulldog succumbed to complications from heat stroke early Tuesday.
The 18-month-old, otherwise healthy 57-pound brindle and white bulldog was found locked in a car at WestGate Mall Sunday afternoon. The windows were cracked, but it was still too hot for the bulldog, a breed that is particularly susceptible to heat stroke because of its shortened muzzle.
Thor was already in distress when found by Spartanburg Public Safety Department officers, his tongue lolling out and his breathing fast. He threw up as officers broke a window and worked to get him out of the car and appeared to be in shock, too weak to drink water the officers offered him.
Thor was treated by veterinarians at the Spartanburg Humane Society during the day, and by Care Animal Regional Emergency Clinic by night. He died at the Care clinic shortly after midnight Tuesday, said Katie Freseman, spokeswoman for the humane society.
But those at the Spartanburg Humane Society say Thor's death isn't in vain. Messages of hope and love for Thor came from as far away as the United Kingdom, and a donation toward his medical care came from Miami. Before his death was reported, many expressed an interest in adopting him. "The outpouring of support for this dog has been phenomenal," Freseman said. "He's helping us spread a very important message to our community."
The message, Freseman said: Even 5 minutes in a car during the summer is too long. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can turn deadly for dogs in just minutes. "Five minutes in the store can turn into 30 if you run into a friend you haven't seen in a while," Freseman said. "It's just not worth the risk."
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, symptoms of overheating in pets include:
• Excessive panting or difficulty breathing; • Increased heart and respiratory rate; • Drooling; • Mild weakness; • Stupor; • Seizures; • Bloody diarrhea or vomit; • Body temperature of more than 104 degrees; and • Collapse.
Heat stroke causes brain damage and organ failure and as in Thor's case, is often fatal. Pets with short muzzles, like bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to the condition.
Thor's owners, Tony Lee Davis, 33, and his girlfriend, Tonya Middleton, 33, of Fletcher, N.C., told police they were returning from a beach trip with their children and dog. They went into WestGate for a bathroom break, and were inside for about 45 minutes, according to police. Thor was inside a car parked in the shade, with the windows cracked. It was raining at the time.
There are no laws regarding pets locked in vehicles in South Carolina. Tony Davis was charged by the Spartanburg Public Safety Department with ill treatment of animals and released from jail on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond.
Ill treatment of animals is a misdemeanor, and since this is a first offense for Davis, he faces up to 60 days in jail, a $100 to $500 fine or both if convicted.
A second offense carries up to 90 days in jail and/or $800 fine and third or subsequent offenses carry up to 2 years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Spartanburg Public Safety Capt. Regina Nowak has spoken to Thor's owners since Sunday and they are very upset about their dog's death. Nowak said the incident was a tragic accident.
"(Middleton) was just devastated when I talked to her today," Nowak said. "She said, ‘How am I going to tell my kids he died?' They know what they did was wrong. Did they intend to harm the dog? No. Are they remorseful. Yes. It still doesn't change what happened. All around, it's a bad situation." Thor's remains will be released to the family, Nowak said. The charge against Davis still stands but he is not facing additional charges.
For police and animal lovers, Tuesday was a sad day.
"We were all rooting for him," Freseman said. "But if there's any
thing positive to come out of this, it's that he's been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people."

Why did she die?

I never met Anne Doss (pictured with this blog post), but I'm sure she was charming, smart, and well liked. And, of course, she was extremely attractive.

She was a mother and a wife and a respected bank executive with Wells Fargo, and her husband said she was in perfect health and loved to exercise.

But she died the other day at the age of 56 in Minnesota.

No one knows why she died, just that she died apparently from "natural causes," according to a source in the medical examiner's office in Minnesota.

She went to sleep in a hotel room, but never woke up.

How does one make sense of this? Why did God take Anne Doss so suddenly and so unexpectedly?

How to reconcile this with our beliefs and faith in the Almighty?

So senseless.

So sad.

I didn't know you, Anne, but I'll say a prayer for your and your family tonight.

Maybe the message here is that when we go to sleep, there are no guarantees that we'll ever see the sun again.

Here, in case you missed in, is the story about Anne's death in a recent edition of the Charlotte Observer:

Wells Fargo exec from Charlotte dies unexpectedly

By Deon Roberts
Posted: Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013

A Wells Fargo executive who worked in uptown Charlotte died unexpectedly Wednesday in Minnesota, the bank has announced.

Anne Doss, who headed Wells Fargo’s personal and small-business insurance division, was 56.

“It is with great sadness that Wells Fargo confirms that Anne Doss, head of our personal and small-business insurance division, has passed away,” the bank said in a statement Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said Doss died Wednesday morning and that her death was being investigated. The spokeswoman said Doss died at a Sofitel hotel in Bloomington, a city south of Minneapolis. Her death appeared to be from natural causes, the spokeswoman said Thursday morning.

Doss’ husband, Herbert Doss, said Thursday that his wife had gone to Minnesota on a business trip. Her death took him by surprise, he said, because she had not been ill.

“She was in perfect health” and “very into exercise,” he said.

Her husband, who said he stayed in Charlotte while she went on the trip, said his wife had attended “numerous very important” roundtable meetings Tuesday. He said the last time he and his wife spoke was Tuesday night.

“I spoke to her as she was going to sleep,” he said, adding that she sounded fine. “She was perfect.”

Doss was named to the insurance division position in December. When the bank announced the appointment, it said Doss would oversee a team that provides small business and consumer insurance solutions, including for auto, home, renters, life, umbrella and property and liability coverage.

Prior to that, Doss led Wells Fargo’s insurance national practices and special risk group.

Doss had also worked for Wachovia, which Wells Fargo bought in 2008, as president of insurance services.

In addition to her husband, Doss is survived by a son, 30, and daughter, 31. The family lives in Charlotte.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Purity of heart

Mike Lowery, pastor of Impact Community Church in Rock Hill, S.C., has it about right.

In his series of sermons titled "Invisible Minefields," he's been touching on demons that torment, tear down, depress, demoralize, destroy.

We might better understand these demonic spirits as the "Forces of Satan."

Always, inside us, despite how strong our faith, there's an ongoing struggle.

It's waged between the "Forces of Satan" and the "Goodness/Purity of God."

If we let our Godly guard down one iota, Satan will begin to claim us. His is an unseen dark power that will seek to fill us with despair, evil, defeat, difficulty, depression and delusion. Ultimately, according to Pastor Lowery, Satan wants to destroy, obliterate...

So how to defeat Satan, who, by the way, is responsible for all the sin and wrongdoing in our world? How to fight against NOT flesh and blood but against an unseen evil force, a mighty, cunning power of darkness and evil?

We can only defeat Satan with God.

We defeat Satan (who is smart and strategic and scheming, according to Lowery) only by being prepared for the fight of our lives. And we become prepared by putting on our Godly suit of armor.

This suit of armor includes the belt of truth wrapped tightly around our waist. The belt of truth represents integrity. Integrity is knowing and doing the truth.

Know and do the truth. So easy to say. So hard to practice and live by, but that's how we're all to live if we want to get to Heaven.

Incidentally, Pastor Lowery noted that integrity encompasses the moral, relational and sexual dimensions of our life.

Integrity, he also noted, does not mean perfection but it does mean consistency in the way we behave. We are ONE person. We should know and try to do the truth all the time in every situation.

And just as (in Biblical times) Roman soldiers put on a breastplate to protect their heart, we should follow their lead and put on the belt of truth with the breastplate of righteousness protecting our own heart. Eph. 6:14b

Lowery summed it up this morning this way: David says only he with clean hands and a pure heart can get close to God. God can't use us if we are dirty. Dirtiness causes infection. Only the pure heart gets close to God. Know the truth. Live by the truth. Jesus talked about truth again and again... Satan always wants to attack us in the area where we are impure. Mind pollution is far worse than ecological pollution in our world today. If we don't
have a brave heart, the belt of truth and the breastplate of protection over our heart, Satan will devour us.

Mike Lowery: "The greatest prayer warriors I have known in my life are typically people with pure hearts."

Words to live by and die by.

(Photo of Mike Lowery by Larry Timbs)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Farewell to my Mom

Writers have a tough time of it.

We're called upon (nay, expected and cajoled), from time to time, to write about the death of a family member.

Such was the case this morning after losing my Mom, the best mother in the world, yesterday.

I accompanied my brother and sister to the funeral home in Elizabethton, Tenn. We picked out a casket and a vault to protect and enclose her last resting place when she's buried. We worked out the details for her viewing and graveside service. We came to agreement on what kind of spray of flowers we wanted next to her body during the viewing and visitation.

We selected photographs for the video that'll document highlights of Mom's triumphant life.

We touched briefly on what we wanted included in Mom's obituary. All eyes turned toward me. I was assigned to do the writing. What a formidable challenge--bidding farewell to your Mom and trying to capture in words her personality and life's milestones.

I did the best I could.

This is what I came up with. It will appear in this weekend's editions of the Elizabethton Star and the Johnson City Press.

Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs, 87, passed away peacefully Thursday, July 4th, in Elizabethton.

Now in the arms of angels in heaven, she had led a full, exciting, interesting life.

She was the glue and the rock-solid anchor that held her family together. She was also tenderhearted, kind, soft-spoken and gentle in spirit.

Never boastful or loud, even when saddened, she kept some things to herself, preferring always to look on the positive side of any situation and always, ALWAYS holding out hope for a better day.

“This is the Day that the Lord has made! We will rejoice and be glad in it!” she often beamed.

She was a beautiful, loving, caring, strong-willed woman who cherished a good cup of hot steaming coffee in the morning, eagerly read the local daily newspaper, and who always had room at her table for another guest.

She prepared delicious Sunday lunch meals. Always her kitchen door was open for lunch and fellowship after church. Her soup beans, corn bread and fresh vegetables, cakes and cobblers satisfied many a hungry palate.

Her love and affection for her husband, children, sisters, brother, grandchildren and great grands was unconditional.

She was also a gifted writer—a trait she passed on to her others in her family.

At Hampton High School as a teen-ager, she had been a star on the girls’ basketball team.

She was the middle daughter of the late Ed Jenkins who died in 1962. And throughout her life, she had her father’s upbeat disposition in her DNA. She once wrote of him: “His cheerfulness sometimes did more for the sick than their physicians could do. He was a ray of sunshine to the sick, depressed…and a beacon of light for the needy.”

She could have been writing about herself.

Mrs. Timbs, a long-time member of the Lady’s Class at Valley Forge Christian Church, was preceded in death by her husband of 69 years, decorated World War II and Korean War veteran Lawrence C. Timbs. Mr. Timbs, a native of Fish Springs, Tennessee, passed away at the age of 90 in January 2012.

Mrs. Timbs’ brother J.N. also preceded her in death. He died in 1999.

During his career in the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Timbs and his beloved wife Dixie, with a baby on the way or one or more in tow, would criss-cross the country. They resided, among other places, in Smyrna, Tenn.; Niceville, Fla.; Austin, Texas; Nagoya, Japan; Maryville, Tenn; and Colorado Springs, Colo.

When Mr. Timbs retired from the Air Force in the early 1960s, he and Dixie returned to Elizabethton, where Mr. Timbs worked as a seasonal park ranger for the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

He and Dixie next relocated to Newport News, Virginia. They lived and worked there for several years before relocating back to Dixie’s parents’ old home place in the Valley Forge community between Hampton and Elizabethton.

After living abroad and all over the United States, they thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with their Tennessee roots—becoming active in the Valley Forge Christian Church, where Dixie’s father Ed had been an elder and deacon for 40+ years. They gardened, took short camping trips in their VW van, porch sat, bird-watched, enjoyed their children and grandchildren and extended family and got involved in local politics. Dixie, as devout a Democrat as her husband was a Republican, noted with a chuckle that she relished canceling out her hubby’s vote. Both Dixie and her husband readily served for several years as Election Day workers at Valley Forge Elementary School voting place.

Dixie always celebrated the fact that in Valley Forge they had the privilege of living in the shadow of one of the most beautiful mountains in East Tennessee. “Jenkins Mountain (is) 2,000 feet of awe-inspiring scenery,” Dixie wrote in her 2007 self-published book The People of Valley Forge: A Collection of Memories. “You will not find anything more majestic or breathtaking.”

Perhaps it was living so close to towering Jenkins Mountain (named after one of Dixie’s ancestors) that inspired her to write another self-published book, her 2004 A Rugged Trip Up Jenkins Mountain And The Old Barn. In this illustrated, tersely penned little book, Dixie recalls what it was like to grow up exploring, climbing and playing on the mountain with her two sisters Nell and Ruth and with her brother J.N., whom she described as “full of laughter and happiness.”

Dixie wrote engagingly in her book about how she and her siblings got up front and close with all manner of wildlife, including a red-tailed hawk, bear cubs, honey bees, blueberries and huckleberries, wild bleeding hearts, rhododendron, mountain laurel, a great horned owl, a cotton-tailed rabbit, white-tailed deer and “a big black snake that “licked out his tongue and started slithering away” when Dixie, barefoot, stepped on it.

Many days, after playing outside to their hearts’ content
, they ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in their “girls club house” in the barn; Dixie, Baby Ruth and Nell had plastered the inside of it with pictures cut out of a magazine. The little ones also would often dip their feet into the cold clear water of the nearby Doe River.

They were the blessed children of Ed Jenkins (“a man small in stature but a giant in the eyes of those whose lives he touched”) and Maude Simerly Jenkins; the latter, a skilled quilt maker, loved to cook hot-biscuits from scratch and serve gravy and grape jelly every morning for breakfast. Maude also prepared meals for anyone in the community who had a death in the family. God couldn’t have given a child better parents, Dixie often said.

Survivors of Dixie Nadine Jenkins Timbs are her daughter Cheryl Ann Timbs and husband Crawford; son Larry Timbs Jr. and wife Patsy Robinson Timbs; son Edward Timbs and wife Carmen Timbs; sisters Nell McQueen and Baby Ruth Williams; grandsons Hugh Anderson, Josh Anderson and wife Debra Anderson; grandson Zach Anderson; grandson Crawford Timbs III; grandsons Justin Timbs and wife Amanda Timbs and Jesse Timbs; granddaughters Sharyn Calcavecchio, Dorothy Yeung and husband Patrick Yeung, Elizabeth Roberta Timbs, Jamie Timbs McQueen and husband Jason McQueen.

Also surviving are great grandchildren Antonina, Gabriella, Angelo, and Giancarlo Calcavecchio; Lucy Brooke and Cecilia Clare Yeung; Dylan, Keelan Nadine and Brennyn Avery Anderson, Mason McQueen and Jase Bryson McQueen, Khloe Timbs, and Joselyn and Lane Timbs.

Guests may sign the register and attend the viewing 1 p.m.-2 p.m., Monday, July 8 at Tetrick Funeral Home in Elizabethton.

Graveside services will be held at Happy Valley Memorial Cemetery at 2:30 p.m. Monday. David Siebenaler, minister of Valley Forge Christian Church, will officiate. Music will be by Alex Holtsclaw and Frieda Winters.

Pallbearers will be her grandsons.

Honorary pallbearers will be other members of the family. Memorial contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to: Valley Forge Christian Church, 114 VFCC Church Road, Elizabethton, Tenn. 37643.

The family wishes to express their appreciation to the staff of Life Care Center of Elizabethton for their care of our beloved mother, wife, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.tetrickfuneralhome.com and signing the guest book or by fax 423-542-9499. Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton, is serving the family. Office 423-542-2232, Obituary line 543-4917.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rockin' good time at the nursing home

You'd be surprised at the good entertainment you can run across at a nursing home.

Such was the case yesterday at the Life Care Center of Elizabethton, where my Mom now resides.

A husband-wife team (the Tatums, I believe) sang and strummed, and a dining room packed with residents--some of them in wheel chairs, others on walkers, others standing--joined in the fun.

Lots of toe tapping and clapping and even some spirited dancing let the Tatums know that folks loved their music.

Turn up your sound and click here for a clip of the entertainment. Late in the clip you'll notice a lady doing the twist to an old Chubby Checker favorite.

She happens to be my Mom's sister--Ruth Williams.

Take it away, Tatums and Aunt Ruth!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tough things to do

I’ve lived to the ripe old age of 64, and I’m “drawin” (Social Security), as my fellow geezers say.

When you live this long, you learn a few things.

You come up with a hard-to-do or hard-to-master list.

Here’s mine:

1. It’s hard to learn how to play golf with any degree of skill. (I still can’t break 100.)
2. It’s hard to lose weight, without really suffering, fasting, pushing away from the table (whatever you want to call it.)
3. It’s hard to lose a child. Lost a daughter (Elizabeth Brown) in the early 1990s; and her mother and I have never been the same since.
4. It’s hard (EMOTIONALLY PAINFUL) to lose a dog. Roadie, my best friend ever (and shown on the right side of this blog near my profile) died a few years ago. I have two dogs today, but no canine can ever replace my beloved Roadie.
5. It’s very tough to exercise on a regular basis. So many other things in life push exercise aside, but how can you lose weight if you don’t move the old muscles and bones?
6. It’s torturously hard to publish a novel. My co-writer Michael Manuel and I are still on a quest to get “Fish Springs” in print. We are hoping, hoping, hoping…
7. It’s hard to understand the Bible. I keep trying, trying, trying…
8. It’s hard to multi-task. I’m lucky if I can do only one thing effectively.
9. It’s hard to say good-bye, but sometimes we must—for our own peace of mind and for the sake of those we love.
10. It’s still hard AFTER ALL THESE YEARS for me to make sense of why I’m here.

Enough for now. What’s on your top-ten hard-to-do list? Feel free to post your comments below.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why I like President Obama

My son-in-law asked me the other day why I like President Barack Obama. At the time, off the top of my head, the only response I could come up with was "He's not Mitt Romney. He's not rich and never has been. He's much closer to everyday people than Romney."

After giving his question some more thought, here's are some of my other reasons for favoring our 44th president:

Why I support/like Barack Obama

By Larry C. Timbs Jr.

May 26, 2013

1. He’s given genuine hope to millions of people (predominantly blacks and other minorities) who have been oppressed or enslaved or downcast in America for centuries.

2. He’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise boring, white power structure controlled political landscape.

3. Under his presidency/purview/direction, the world’s most wanted criminal (responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans) was captured and killed.

4. He inherited a practically impossible to manage and turn-around depressed, sinking economy, but he’s made significant steps in turning things around.

5. He himself represents the epitome of diversity in America—having had a white mother and a black father and white grandparents and white great grandparents.

6. He does not shy away from tough questions. He answers best he can. He’s totally unscripted and speaks from his heart in press conferences—unlike some top leaders or CEOs in America.

7. He reformed America’s health care system. Now someone with a pre-existing medical condition can no longer be denied health or dental insurance.

8. He has served admirably as our nation’s president during possibly the toughest, most demanding, most challenging time ever (two wars, horrible economy, tragedy after tragedy with assault weapons, bitterly partisan Congress).

9. He never boasts that he has all the answers. Always, he solicits others’ perspectives.

10. He remembers where he came from—as a community organizer and activist in his home state of Illinois. He was not born with a silver spoon (i.e. Mitt Romney); he knows the value of hard work and paying your dues.

11. He is an uplifting, inspirational, gifted speaker—the kind of leader that soldiers would follow through the worst conflagration.

12. He’s not afraid to take an unpopular stand, even if it means he’ll lose votes. (i.e. his support of gay rights).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Singing and preachin' at pig roast

Been a while since I've blogged but must take note of a neat event I attended last Saturday (April 20) in the rolling hills a few miles outside of Greeneville, Tennessee.

It was the fourth annual pig roast sponsored by U-Turn For Christ (a restorative ministry for persons trying to conquer the demons of substance abuse).

Heard some good, uplifting gospel music and fine preaching. Also enjoyed a delicious meal of pork barbecue with all the trimmings (potato salad, baked beans, fresh corn, fruit, chocolate cookies, brownies, soft drinks.)

Turn up your sound and click here for a sampling of the music.

The photos are by yours truly. They capture some of the folks/scenes I saw at the pig roast that day.

Those two suave characters in sunglasses (one in an orange shirt, the other wearing a black jacket) are my brother Edward (who works at the ranch) and myself.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New pope gives pause for thought

Well, we have a new pope. The leader of one-billion plus Catholics is from Argentina and seems to be a humble, well-intentioned servant of God.

That said, he has 24-7 access to a helicopter, lives in a palace-like dwelling in the Vatican, has his own gourmet cook (I am sure) and dresses in long-flowing (expensive, regal) garments. I'd say his papal attire could not be purchased at J.C. Penney or Sears.

All this excessive religious royalty at the same time a Catholic school is being closed in downtown New York City (the very same school that helped shape one of our U.S. Supreme Court justices--Sonia Sotomayor). It's being shut down for lack of funding from the church.

Maybe sell the helicopter and fund the school.

As an aside (while I'm on spiritual topics), one of my favorite pastors, Mike Lowery of Impact Community Church in Rock Hill, had this to say last Sunday about what God's plan is for us. God, according to Lowery, wants us to:
1. Allow Him to love us.
2. Be part of His family.
3. "Become" (fulfill His specific plan).
4. Bless others and be a blessing to others
5. Bring others into His family.

That last purpose might be the most important one, Lowery said, because God is gathering a family that will love and live with him forever. Thus, His purpose in creating us was to move us into His family. But we have free will. It's our choice to accept him or not accept him.

Anyone, Lowery asserted in his sermon at Impact, who calls on the name of lord will be saved.

And remember: Only two things will last forever: truth (the Bible) and our souls. Lowery admonishes us to invest in people and the truth. Build genuine relationships--with God and with others. Nothing else matters, he says. And always remember: Do not look to the world for peace. Look to God.

Lowery also reminded us of what Jesus did with his time and energy on this earth. None of us is as perfect as the Son of Man, but we ought to take heed of his accomplishments. (All of the following, by the way, while not having a place to lay his head at night):

1. Planted a church
2. Equipped servant leaders
3. Assisted the poor. Ministered to them.
4. Cared for the sick. Preacher, teacher, healer.
5. Educated the next generation. "Don't turn the little children away from me."

Food for thought and nourishment (I hope) for the soul.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Legacy of slavery in Timbs clan

My ancestors owned slaves. And a plantation in South Carolina.

I’m not proud of this, but it’s a fact.

Recently, for example, I’ve come across the last will and testament of James G. Timms. (Yes, I know that today we spell my family’s last name “Timbs,” but in the late 1700s and early 1800s, our name was “Timms.”)

Seems that James Green Timms was an ancestor/predecessor/contemporary of my father’s great-great granddad, Amos Timms (born in 1816) of Chester County, S.C.

James Green Timms lived in Chester County, S.C. (then known in court records as the “District of Chester.”

His last will and testament was probated on Jan. 29, 1824. The document apparently can be found in courthouse records in Chester County, S.C. recorded in Book I, Page 86, Apartment No. 67, Package 1040.

Here’ are a few tidbits of interest—quoted verbatim from James G. Timms’ will:

•“I give to my Mother Patsy Timms one Tract or Parcel of Land Containing forty acres more or less Joining my brother Amos Timms land & also one negro Girl named Jane and one Sorrell Mare, one bay mule & five head of Cattle during her life and and at her death I give the Said Land, Girl, Mare & mule & Cattle to my Sister Hannah Timms.”

•“I give to my Sister Hannah Timms One negro Girl named Annis.”

Amos Timms’ will was probated in “the State of South Carolina and the District of Chester” on Nov. 21, 1831. Items of interest from this document—Recorded in Book K Page 203-204, Apartment No 67:

•“It is my will that my Bay Horse (Buck) and my Sorrell Mare (June) and my Cattle be Sold by my Executors & my Stock of Hogs to be Kept for the use of the family—and after Enough of my Present Crop is Reserved for the use of the family the remainder be Sold.”

•“I will and bequeath unto my Belovid Sister Johannah Timms My Plantation or tract of land whereon I now Live Containing one hundred & twelve acres more or less to her and the hers of her Body and if She Should die without any Children Then My Will is that the aforesaid Tract of Land be equally Divided between my Two nephews Thomas Tims Roden and Benjamin J L Powal and farther I will that my Three Negroes Dan Joe & Hannah be Sold at Public Sale and after paying my debts out of the Sale of my Horses & Crop & Catle and Negroes Whatever mony money that may Remain on hands in any maner Whatsoever is to be equally-divided between my Sister Johanna Tims & Thomas T Roden and Benjamen J. L. Powal Equaly.”

Joseph Timms’ first will was probated (again in the “District of Chester” in South Carolina) in September 18?? (cannot make out year)—recorded in Book B, Page 212, Apartment No. 66, Package No. 1039. Items of interest:

•“I give to my son Amos timms one negro man Named Jessee. I give to my Son John tims one Negro Man Named Nathaniel. I give to my Son Joseph Tims one Negro man Named Jeremiah. I give to My Daughter Sarah Estes one negro woman Named Hanah. I give to my Daughter Mary Carter one negro girl Named Dinah. . . I give to my Daughter francis Boyd one negro girl Named Lucey. I Give to my Daughter Elizabeth tims one Negro boy Named Ned & one Negro Girl Named Jude.”

And then, curiously, we have Joseph Timms’ second will (State of South Carolina, Chester District) probated November 1844. (Recorded Book A1 Page 32, Apt. 89, Pkg. 1417):

•“I give and bequeath unto my son Vincent Brown Tims . . . one Negro wimin named Mary and apoart of my adjoining Mrs. Robertson Lands.

•“I give and bequeat nto my beloved wife Winifred Tims a Negro Girl named Lucy and one boy named Ned and a Tract containing fifty and one half acres more or less known by name of the Peetree Tract and Eight..”

Note: Thanks to Lucille Brown of Johnson County, Tenn., for mailing me a copy of these documents this week. Lucille, my second cousin, is the resident historian of the Timbs family.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Manuscript complete

A writer friend, Michael Manual of Hampton, Tenn., and I have accomplished a milestone. A big one.

We have just completed a rewrite of a 1981 self-published book "Tragedy at Old Fish Springs." The book was written by my father, the late Lawrence C. Timbs.

Actually, to be more accurate, Michael and I have completed a rewrite of a rewrite of a rewrite of Dad's book.

That's right: we've rewritten Dad's book three times.

And we've re-titled our final version manuscript. It's called:
"Below the Surface: Secrets, Tragedies and Triumphs at Fish Springs, Tennessee."

Now comes a challenge: getting our manuscript accepted by a regional or national publisher.

Dad always said anybody can write a book, but it takes a genius to get one published.

Guess we'll find out.

But for now--exhilaration at getting a long, tough writing assignment completed. Michael and I put everything we had into this venture--all our heart, soul, guts, mental acumen, imagination, writing skills, patience, endurance, intestinal fortitude, determination, research (and whatever else it takes to create a novel).

Thanks, Michael, for putting up with me and for being my partner in this project.

Now we wait--for acceptance from a publisher.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sermon on self identity

For a long time now, I've been wondering why I am here and what I'm supposed to be about.

Curious, to say the least, since I'm 64 years young.

But I know the end (death) is getting closer. Much closer to the end than I am the beginning of my life. (Please, God, just let me have a little more time so I can finish this novel I'm working on with my co-writer Michael Manuel of Hampton, Tenn.)

Not that I have a death wish.

Far from it.

I want to stay on this earth, living and breathing (sucking air, some folks would pejoratively put it) for many more years.

But, of course, we never know when the end will come, or when we will have sucked our last breath.

That being the case, we should waste no time in making good, smart choices, because, according to Pastor Mike Lowery of Impact Community Church in Rock Hill, S.C., the greatest gift God has bestowed upon us is the ability to make choices. Put another way, summarizing what Lowery preached this morning, what happens in our life is not nearly as vital as the choices we make. That's because our choices make us who we are. They define us. They shape our character.

Lowery cited how Moses (from the Old Testament) lived his life. Found as a newborn baby in a basket (floating on the Nile River) by Pharoah's daughter, Moses could have had all the riches in the world. After all, he grew up in Pharoah royalty--in the Egyptian supreme leader's palace. As Pharoah's grandson, Moses could have chosen a life of fortune and comfort, and one day he could have even been leader of Egypt.

Instead, Moses chose to lead his life as a Godly servant. As a Hebrew, he could see the enslavement, misery and drudgery of his people--for the past 400 years--in Egypt. He chose to be like them (his fellow Hebrews) and forsook his life of luxury to lead them out of bondage.

People of his era must have thought him insane. He could have easily followed the crowd in the palace (been defined by that crowd). But Moses chose to be mistreated, along with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin (under Pharoah) for a short time. As Lowery put it, Moses chose spiritual pain over a ruined life (and ruined eternity) later.

"God never created a human being and doomed him to Hell," Lowery proclaimed. "And if we choose eternity separated from God, it's because we choose to do that."

Moses grew up in royalty but fast accepted spiritual responsibilty for his own life. He was not defined by others. He did not ride along with the crowd. He truly bucked the crowd, went against the grain, took the unpopular stance--whatever you want to call it. And it was tough, hard sailing,

challenging every fiber in his body. What he did was NOT comfortable or easy.

But that's the way it's supposed to be, Lowery said, because "God's more interested in your character and the development of your character than in your happiness or comfort."

Well put, Mike Lowery.