Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Doctors’ Street…

The following article was written following a recent fieldtrip taken by the Goldston United Methodist Church’s writers’ group, “The InkSpots”. We were blessed to have had the unique opportunity to tour the Street family homestead and to hear the stories of healing and faith. We found a treasure trove of inspiration from which to write and hope that someday, this precious gem of history will be preserved for generations to come to visit and be likewise inspired. Thanks to our hosts, Al Simmons and Paul Paschal whom without, this journey would not have 5049398450_bd137a0d54_zbeen possible.


We turned off the main road onto the lane that led past a small pond to the homestead of the Street family. The structures were weathered and gray as one might expect from buildings that were over 100 years old. We were not there to learn as much about the buildings as we were to hear about the people that made them come alive with hope and relief. The family that lived here were as much about the spirituality of living as they were the physicality. The Streets, as they were named, would become known far and wide for their care and perseverance for their patients; this was the homestead of the Doctors’ Street.

2013-08-02 15.17.21Considering the age of the buildings, they were all in very good shape. There had evidently been many hands over the years that had maintained these aged edifices as well as preserving the story of the families that made them the historical structures for which they were known. Large oaks and cedars surrounded the buildings providing shade in areas of the fresh mown lawn. Here, often at the first light of dawn, the doctor would find the yard filled with wagons and in later years, cars, which had parked waiting for the good doctor to awaken. In other words, the grounds surrounding the office and home became the waiting room for patients who made the long trek during the night, being too ill to wait for morning.

The original structure of the doctor’s office was built in the late 1700s and used as a law office of a former governor of North Carolina. The law office would later be used by the first Doctor, Richard Street. The Richard returned from the civil war and took up medicine, practicing initially only in the former law office, and then eventually expanding the building adding on a back structure, shaped as a “T”, that would house additional rooms for examination, pharmaceuticals and an administrative office. It was not known if Richard had practiced medicine in the civil war, but there was an old medical saddle bag on display which was very worn that could have easily have been used on those ancient battlefields. What motivated the young Mr. Street to become a doctor one can only speculate. Having lived through the horrors of war, there were likely more than enough traumatic battlefield scenes which could have easily been the impetus for his lifelong pursuit.

Throughout the doctor’s office, there were large brown bottles of chemicals and compounds used to make medicines2013-08-02 15.02.27 that the doctor would administer to his patients. Likewise, there were volumes of ledgers, medical manuals and various reference materials. I quickly got the feel that Dr. Street was a beacon of hope in the darkness in a landscape of medical poverty. He not only applied his craft but continually strove to further his abilities to do so. When we read the signs outside of most modern medical facilities we read the term, “Medical Practice of…”. In the case of the late Dr. Street, this was not only a statement, but a fact made obvious by his self-imposed continuing education. He was not only the doctor, but also the pharmacist, specialist, surgeon and even eventual caretaker. From the act of bringing life into the world to the act of consoling the families of those patients that he could not save, the dust on the books of memories belied the stories within that a painful heart would have been driven to pursue excellence beyond the weathered walls in which he inhabited. We were made aware that often, his patients would stay for extended periods of time in his home either to recover or to prepare for eventual medical needs like giving birth. As I stood in one of the upstairs rooms of the home, I could almost sense the lives that entered and passed to and from this world in that room comforted by the man they called Doc.

In addition to continuing his self-education, Dr. Street also strove to educate his fellow medical peers by speaking and writing about the need for more “Diagnostic Medicine”. He felt that too many young doctors were coming out of medical school and going into specialized surgery rather than focusing on the diagnostic medical practice. More than once our host and descendent, Al Simmons, found reference in letters to the doctor of how his diagnosis of some rare ailment or disease would sometimes years later be confirmed. In other words, when Doc Street told you that you were sick, you could count on it.

Dr. Richard StreetIn the book cases filled with countless medical volumes, there were also several worn Bibles. My interest was piqued since I knew that many times the family genealogy would have been preserved in the “Family Bible”. Upon inspection of the Bibles on hand, I didn’t find any genealogy information but I did find line after line of scripture references, obviously favorites that someone had written for easy access, either for future reference or when a spiritual chord was struck. I was moved to find that the Street’s were as known for their strong Christian faith as they were for their medical practice. A local church even began in one of the front rooms of the house. This only confirmed my belief that this place was a haven of recovery and health for the whole being; an Eden in the wilderness.

Here I found the true meaning of “Practice”, with regard to medicine. Over the years, through countless struggles to preserve the health of those terminally ill, through tomes of medical literature the good doctor would pour until he had exhausted all known medical knowledge; he then would turn to the Almighty for prayer. Each painful loss only fueled his drive, his passion to prevent it from happening again. Each time, he would become better at what he did, continually striving to better himself, not only as a doctor, but also as a Christian. In essence, he practiced what he preached, and strove to become a better man while here on this earth for it.

As I watched my children observe, listen and record this visit to an underappreciated historical treasure and landmark, I could only hope that in some far away recess of their minds a spark was lit to pursue life in the same manner in which the good doctors had done.  Dr. Richard Street had made such an impact on his community and family that eventually not only his son, but his grandson would likewise follow in his footsteps, practicing medicine and making the world a better place. In life, we often struggle and toil in the moment, sometimes losing focus for what matters most. When our livelihood entails life itself, our perspective changes and suddenly the reality of mortality changes us making us either better or worse for it, depending upon our character. It was obvious from the archives and treasures left behind by the family of doctors that they had all been better for it, and so were we.

What began as a casual conversation with Paul Paschal and I before Christmas of last year turned out to be a discovery of healing and faith. I saw a lady in her seventies turn into a little girl once more and saw teenagers enthralled by the antiquity of a medical practice almost unheard of in today’s fast paced world. God leads us in paths we never can imagine, and last Friday was one such day I’ll not soon forget.


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Zen Miles…

webThis morning I ran ten miles, which in German would be “zehn” miles. It made me think of the Eastern philosophy of “Zen” and how my exercise had a lot to do with the “Zen” of life. I thought of this homonym on the return route, since my zehn miles is an out-and-back course.  A colleague at work and I had discussed this past week how running seemed to cleanse our minds from the stress and chaos from work; thus the Zen.  I didn’t initially plan to run ten, but rather eight miles. As I went along, I eventually found myself willing and able to continue farther with a memory that would spur me to go the extra two miles I hadn’t planned; but that part I will unfold later. The first few yards of my run each day take me down a gravel road through a deep wood, where this morning I happened to pick up several spider webs that had miraculously stretched across the roadway during the night. I could feel these nearly invisible strands of fiber trailing behind me, like the tail of a kite and with the thought of Zen, they became as memories in life that I recall on my run, often invoked by an image or sound along the way as they floated behind.raincrow

This morning my first recollection was of a sound; a Rain Crow.

The rain crow is actually a “Yellow Billed Cuckoo” native to this area but according to an old wives tale,  its call often signifies the prediction of rain by the next day. I first heard of this while visiting the gathering that use to occur at Reno Sharpe’s Store, down the road from where we live. In those days, mostly old men would gather and sit on the porch when weather would allow, sipping on bottles of coca-cola or spitting chew off the porch while sharing the news of the day. It was here I leasharpestorerned of the rain crow and its ability to foretell the weather among many other things in life that are passed down orally; history told in a manner in which it comes alive.

The prediction of rain made me think about the day before when I had just disked up the garden plot, so today would be the day to get the seeds planted. My daughter, Mary and I, would most likely be the ones to do this later this day. We shared in our endeavor to raise a garden. Bringing in the fresh produce was a rewarding to us as anything, especially when it enriched our dietary pallets. This reminded me of the days we would go to my paternal grandmother’s house on Sunday. They were Seventh Day Adventist, so their Sabbath was on Saturday. So when Sunday rolled around in late summer, we would go and help her set out the fall garden, preparing for the hearty plants that would last well into the cold winters of southern Indiana. It would be a family event, one that would get us all out working in the dirt with our hands, then returning to the front porch to drink cold water from the old tin cups she had saved and sharing stories. Telling tales and passing down family history was something we had always known. The trips to the local store only made North Carolina seem more like home.

A trail of web dropped off as I plodded along, the sun rising behind me as I headed westward.

The cool mist of the morning was heavy in the lower valleys today, opening another chapter of life. There was a day when I was a very competitive runner and ten miles was merely medium distance in my training, unlike today wherefog it was definitely my long run. I remembered running on the back roads of Ocala Florida under wide Oaks with drapes of Spanish moss hanging down where misty mornings were common. On those runs along the Turkey Bridge road, a hilly section near my house, I could literally run down into a fog bank so thick the ridge behind me would disappear and the temperature would drop ten degrees. It was an eerie feeling to run up and down this hills that were like islands in the sky separated by white lakes of floating mists.

One more web loosened itself as I rounded the next bend in the road.

My morning Bible study at been all of 2nd Peter. It was written telling people the faults of following false prophets and how retaining hate in your life was unhealthy. The image of all the media and the threat of war in Syria came to mind. People fed a daily ration of hate, people stockpiling weapons, fear growing of government invasion of personal privacy; all of it compounding upon what 2nd Peter foretold of a nation that lost their way and became ignorant of their faith. But here I was flushing this vileness from my mind, not retaining it, so I took in a deep breath of the pure country air and let it go, relishing in the beautiful morning before me as I could hear a flock of crows calling off to my right, another thought another memory I left with them.

I passed the mailbox of Clyde McClaurin; I happened to be running on McClaurin road, which had been named after Clyde’s family many years before. Clyde passed away over ten years ago, so his name on the mailbox stands as somewhat of a memorial to him. The name on the box also reminded me of a time gone by when people weren’t afraid to put their names on their mailboxes. Today, in the world of instant communication and Google Earth, I find people hiding more and more behind numbers and false names in order to hide their true identity, thus allowing them to continue the conversation of hate which I alluded to earlier.

Wanting to stray back to the moment and get away from the world in which we live, I focused once more on the open road ahead.

Not far away I passed a mailbox numbered 1805 and thought of how it might be interesting to write a story about someone that went for a run and how each mailbox number became a date So, as they ran along a road with decreasing numbers, they would find themselves going back in time. I thought of this mailbox next to the barbed wire fence and how it was likely that there wasn’t any barbed wire in 1805, something I’d have to look up before writing that story. I knew from my experiences visiting historic sites in that time frame that split rail fences or rock walls were common, so it was that it was very likely I’d find myself running along old rock walls if I had been transported to the early 1800s. Thankfully the barbed wire fence continued as did my run.

As is often, I thought of the sequel to my book that I was writing and where I might go with it. I’d fixate on the image of each twist and turn and before I realized it, I’d be a mile or two down the road. This mental writing while running is something new to me but its quite rewarding to be able to write and run without worrying about pain or discomfort. I know when I first started back running last summer this was not at all possible because the pain was too great. Thankfully a year later I’m able to run nearly pain free for all of ten miles.

Then it dawned on me, I hadn’t run ten miles since before my mother passed away last December.

darknessThe flood of memories with her death and the visits beforehand came rushing back. I remember the day of her funeral, I went out to run, to try to leave it all for just a few minutes, but it would go away. Her passing was the finality in my life that I knew would eventually occur. Her release from her battle with cancer was a relief in itself, but just knowing there wouldn’t be another time I could hear her voice on the phone; those would be the times that would be missed. That day I ran ten miles and felt like I was in a cloud, but it was a dark one. There had been a dangerous flu going around, one I would eventually become ill with. I wouldn’t be free of the sickness for a couple months; thus the reason my running stopped that winter, and my long runs. It was a dark time and without a way to shed the pain, the months crept along. Today was my chance to put it behind, physically and mentally; ten miles it will be I decided, Lord willing.

One by one, mile after mile,  I left the strands of web behind like the memories along the run until I wasuphillrun approaching that last final hill, the one leading to my house; here to the present. My daughter wanted to run a couple miles with me this morning in order to train for her cross-country at school. This was something I enjoyed and would endure no matter how tired I had become from my long run. Our children are our future. This was the here and now, as the last final cob web fell to the side of the road; this was the creation of new memories that I would reach back for someday.

My mind clear, my soul refreshed and zehn miles under my belt; once more, I was home.

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Talk Me Home…

This past Thursday morning I had the good fortune of having Pastor David “Talk Me Home”.

The term, “Talk Me Home” is a term we people who work the night shift use to describe when you have someone talk to you on the handsfreephone while driving home in order to help keep you awake. Now, before I go any further I want to say that I use a hands-free mobile device, so I am fully functional and capable of controlling my vehicle while driving. With an hour long commute one way, I’ve had to learn to be hands-free with my phone. Also, having worked the grave-yard shift for the better part of fourteen years, I’ve had to come up with all manner of tricks to help keep me awake while driving the dangerous hour-long one-way drive each morning. I’ve written about this before in the post “Into the Open Arms of a Child” , how every evening before leaving for work, I try to make it a point to hug my children good bye and to tell them, “I love you”. For you see, I don’t know if it will be the last time I see them on this side of Heaven or not; that’s just how dangerous the drive home is.

Falling asleep at the wheel is my biggest fear and anyone that has worked third shift for any length of time knows exactly what I’m talking about. Far too many times I’ve woken up to the sound of my tires crossing the yellow line into the lane of the oncoming traffic, only to have the hand of God grab the wheel and swerve me back into my own lane. I’ve blacked out and woken up in my own drive way, not remembering several miles of the last leg of my journey; once again, thanking God for being there to guide me. So often when we find ourselves getting to that point, just before the blackouts start, we either stop and take a nap or we use our lifeline and call someone who can literally “Talk Us Home”.

One morning I was drifting off way too early, so I called my father who was known to be up early at that time. He answered and I immediately told him I needed him to “Talk Me Home.” He gladly obliged and when I would start to fade, he would yell at me, bearcrossinggetting my attention and then he would jump into a new topic to help keep my thoughts fresh and engaged. I was doing pretty good, only missing one turn and thus found myself heading east for the last stretch of my drive. As I approached the morning sun, something was not accustomed too since I usually drove westward all the way home, I found myself squinting into the glare, while still trying to focus on the road and continue talking to my dad. I was drifting badly now but I only had a few yard to go before reaching the safety of our driveway. Just then, up ahead of me I saw something that walked like a cat but was larger than a dog; but he didn’t have a tail. Without having any sunglasses, the image was difficult to see. My mind began spinning around all possibilities. My dad had thought he lost me because I had become quiet, so he began shouting again. Then the thought hit me; BEAR! I shouted back at my dad as I pulled even with the spot where the bear had crossed the road and run into the woods and jumped out of the car to follow him.

My dad screamed, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!”

“Going to go see where the bear went,” I shouted back.

“GET BACK IN THE CAR YOU DUMMY!!!” he shouted back.

Suddenly aware of what I was doing, I paused. “Oh, yea, that’s probably not a good idea is it,” I said, returning to my car, looking back over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t being followed.

“Are you sure you weren’t just hallucinating,” my dad asked after I got back in the car.

“I don’t know..I don’t think so,” but then I really wasn’t sure; the sun in my eyes, exhausted, nearly dead tired and barely awake, it could have been anything.

I never saw the bear again. A couple weeks later I overheard some folks at the local diner who lived about three miles away from me as the crow flies, talking about shooting a bear that had broken into their chicken coop and killed several chickens. So I knew then I hadn’t seen things that morning; the bear had been real.

Now Pastor David probably thought I was one of those people that seemed to be difficult to get away from last Thursday morning; someone who could talk forever. He didn’t realize that after we had discussed our business that I continued to keep him on the phone in order to help “talk me home”. Each time the conversation would wane, I could tell he was trying to sign off, so I would bring up another topic to keep him on the line. It had been a extremely mentally taxing night at work so I definitely needed his support, so he became my unknowing but very willing lifeline. I realized later after I safely pulled into my garage, not having drifted off one time that morning that I was very thankful for the Pastor’s conversation.

Then the thought dawned on me, “It probably wasn’t the first time he’s talked someone home.”jesus1

As a Pastor, I’m sure David has talked to many people in times of need and probably event talked a few folks home, on to Glory. Leading folks to Christ, giving them the opportunity to guarantee their place in Heaven; thus, leading them home, is a 24×7 calling for anyone in the ministry. Thus, I would imagine that both leading to Christ and soothing someone as they pass through those Eastern gates are both examples of how our preachers can literally “Talk Us Home”.

However, talking someone home is something Jesus asked us all to do to, not just the clergy. We were all entrusted with the faith and Holy spirit to evangelize to the ends of the earth his Word. To talk someone home, to tell them the story of Jesus Christ and how he died for our sins, we look to Romans 10:9-13 which tells us, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[f] 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

So someday, either early in the morning or any other time during the day, if you get called by someone who needs you to “Talk Me Home” be ready for it will be up to you to save a friend in need.

The only thing you have to do is answer that call.

Are you ready?

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To Thirst No More…

Yesterday I came in from mowing out in the heat and humidity and went to the kitchen sink and began pouring a mason jar full of cold clear refreshing water from our well. As I watched the life giving clear liquid fill my jar, IimagesCA493ZJG couldn’t help but be thankful that God provides for us in such a rewarding manner; giving us life sustaining nourishment from the very ground upon which we tread. Too many, this may not even be a second thought, going to the kitchen sink and pouring yourself a glass of water, but out in the country when your life source comes from a well, you live by the old adage, “You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry.” As I stood there admiring the clear effervescent beauty before me, I thought how many people do the same thing with their faith?

In today’s world, amongst all the distractions, temptations and non-stop society, we often see people who pass by their local church to often without stopping. You hear the usual excuses, “Oh, I use to go all the time; I’ve done my time; They’re all hypocrites, so why should I become one too; I don’t need a church to be a Christian, and so on…” But slowly, our Christian base is dwindling, day-by-day. Like the aquifers that feed many of our nations water supplies, they are slowly drying up, one-by-one. Do they realize that if we don’t recognize this fact and act now, that what we now take for granted might someday be gone.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the fact that we are in a daily battle with evil; evil that would gladly take away our right as an American to pursue our faith without persecution. You think the NRA and gun owning public was upset when there was talk of banning an assault rifle, can you imagine what the reaction might be if it were said that they would be closing the doors of hundreds of churches in our nation?

The answer is none, because that is exactly what is happening as we speak.

It may very well appear that our nation and media cares more about losing our gun rights than our right to freedom of religion. Slowly, one-by-one congregations are disappearing leaving behind empty sanctuaries that once held vibrant healthy church families; now gone, gone without a whimper; no outcry here! Are you thirsty yet? Did you notice the flow from your spigot beginning to slow to a trickle?

Amos 8:11-12 tells us ““Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, ‘That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, And” from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, But shall not find it.”

Slowly, we are becoming a people as in the time of Amos, unable to hear the words of the Lord for our knowing makes us believe we don’t need Him. Our busy lifestyles are making it so there is no time for what is important. Mere Christianity is all we need not the pyro technique displays, not the mammoth churches nor the Hollywood sets and entertainers. We need back to basics faith, the kind you held in your hand and read aloud to your children. This is the thirst we must once more yearn for, for to drink from His well, you shall never thirst again.

As I stood there looking at my simple glass of water, my mind went back to the crystal clear springs in Florida where I once visited; snorkeling in their breathtaking cold clear waters. One spring in particular came to mind, Manatee untitledSprings. There a dock juts out into the pool that is created by the spring, where the spring head is nearly forty feet down emitting nearly sixty million gallons of water per hour. Here, standing on this dock, I ran and dove into the water, allowing myself to become immersed in this pristine body of water, becoming one with the water world below; silently gliding along with the fish and plants all swaying in unison.  In a way, my faith has become like this experience in the springs that day. I chose Christ in my life and from that day forward, I dive into my conviction, headlong, becoming one with the Holy Spirit until I’m buoyed by his Grace, the effervescent beauty of his love envelopes my soul and I am revived to once again, come up for air and exalt His name, Emmanuel!

Deep below the surface of Manatee Springs, a cave sits at the bottom of a cliff from which the millions of gallons are expelled, shooting out like a great water cannon creating the flow that turns into the Sawanee River just a few yards away. One can snorkel down the cliff face and then flip yourself into the million-gallon flow and literally take the ride of your life in the flow, being ejected out into the flow, quickly finding yourself yards downstream. When we seek God, really dive into the Word, we too can experience the same “ride of a lifetime”. To what depths of discovery you go is up to you.

Before you can begin to swim you first have to believe and accept Him into your heart. Like my glass of water that I turned up and drank down, cherishing the refreshing life-giving nourishment, you too can bring the Holy Spirit into your life; being revived and reborn. Once you do, the journey into that crystal clear spring of faith is up to you. God will take care of your abilities to swim, all you have to do is dive in and let the rest of the story be one that is already written in the Lamb’s book of Life.

Remember, “You don’t miss the water until the well runs dry.”

“You don’t miss your Jesus until the faith is gone…”

Drink up, and be reborn.

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