My Favorite Hillbilly

Do you remember the show The Beverly Hillbillies? THAT’s my dad’s family minus the Beverly Hills part! (He is pictured in the back row, 4th from the left)

He was raised in Arkansas during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. They were sharecroppers, meaning they worked HARD and had very little to show for it.

My dad was born 91 years ago today.  Isn’t that incredible?! He and his twin sister, Evanell, (3rd from the left)were the youngest of six children born to James and Nellie Polk. Wow… I never noticed until writing this down that Evanell was named after my Grandma Nellie. AND… my dad was named JL which means the twins had rhyming names; JL and Evanell. Hah! NEVER thought of that before! JL was his full name, not a nickname or abbreviation. In fact, his best friend was GW! (Pronounced Gee Double Ya!!) I’m using the past tense because my dad changed his name when the family moved to California. NO ONE out here had initials for names so he legally became Jack Lee.

His two older brothers, Roy and Charlie, moved west first, sending money home and encouraging them to come to California where there was a lot more opportunity to earn a living. So… they loaded up the truck and they moved to…not Beverly!  My dad tells stories of leaving their tiny two room house where anywhere from 8-11 people were living at any given time, and driving west, camping on the side of the road each night. Some real Grapes of Wrath type stuff!

My dad has faced a lot of loss in his life-time. All of his brothers and sisters have passed away, with the three girls dying at very young ages. Velma was probably early 20’s and died during childbirth.  Opal and Evanell both lost their lives to cancer in their 40’s.  So tragic! And… my mom died of cancer at age 46 after 28 years of marriage.

He has also lost some body parts along the way due to cancer (you can read about it here, here, and here) but that has taken a while to slow him down. He really could be the poster child for how to go through cancer well!

Seriously!

My dad has done SO many things well: lived well, loved well, and frankly, aged well. He is a man full of faith and lots of fun. Just last week he was telling Jessica a few stories from his teen years when she asked him if he was a ‘lady’s man’ back in the day. He quickly replied, ‘No, no. That’s why I didn’t get married til I was 31.”

He loved my mom through her many life struggles of dealing with her past, including bouts of depression and low self-esteem. He nurtured her, helping her in any way he could. I KNOW it’s because of his example that I married Eddie. My dad set the bar high for how a man should love his family and I wasn’t willing to settle for anything less.

There are so many stories I could tell you… from crazy Ozark days setting a field on fire, to having company over every Sunday night after church to play Rook or how he won the heart of his current wife, Sue. (Hmm…Not a lady’s man?!) But… I just want you to know…

…my dad has loved ME well. He invested in my life, giving me the best of his time and providing for all my needs. He has lived his faith out and represented Jesus so well!

While my dad may have never attained a Beverly Hills lifestyle, my favorite hillbilly has had wealth beyond measure. From the family he grew up in, to the family I was raised in, Jed Clampett’s got nothin’ on JL.

Happy 91st birthday Dad!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taxes and Birthdays

I don’t know how it goes in your family, but over here, tax season is absolutely no fun for a couple of reasons.

First of all… April is my birthday month and that’s a good thing. What complicates this, is owning a business and ALL the prep needed to be done to be ready to file our taxes.

So… are you following my line of thinking?

I don’t want ANY mixing of the two— my birthday and preparing for taxes.

Every year, starting in January, I begin hinting to Ed that it would be nice to have our taxes completely done before my birthday. Last year he met with our tax lady ON my birthday and then we went out to dinner.

Technically he had them done before my birthday celebration, but NOT exactly what I had in mind.

This year I decided to be extra clear, and again, starting in January I said, “Do you think it would be possible to have our taxes done before my birthday… as in… EVERYTHING organized, handled, done-deal, no meetings-still-to-happen?”

In other words, I was asking for a tax-free birthday.

Eddie assured me this could easily happen.

Well… January, February and half of March came and went with no activity in the tax department. I could feel my tax-free-birthday-wish being encroached upon, so I began probing (slight possibility Ed would use the word ‘nagging’- which would be completely inaccurate) as to the plan for getting our taxes done. He explained he would work on them the last week of March and meet with our tax lady on the 31st.

Tax prep makes for a long, miserable week.

Ed handles all the business paperwork and I do the personal stuff. Translation: He spends about 30 hours working on it and I spend… well… ummmm….  probably 2… at the most.

At the March 31st meeting, Ed was told he was the tenth person out of 200 clients, to come in and meet with her. He took that as high praise for how incredibly early he was in getting his taxes done.

Not exactly helping my “tax-free birthday” cause!

A few days later was my birthday and… let’s just say it wasn’t entirely tax-free. Eddie called 4 or 5 times with tax questions for Jessica AND we had to drop off more papers to our tax lady on our way to dinner.

Oh well.

I tried!

I’m just so incredibly grateful to be married to a hard-working, super-caring, over-the-top thoughtful guy!

Even taxes can’t change my mind about that!

Ed just informed me that this year we have until the 18th to file because of the weekend and Easter.

Who knew? He really WAS way ahead! Hah!

How about you? Are you ready for April 18th? How early do you get your taxes done?

Disclaimer: Any and all answers could potentially be used next January as I start the tax-free birthday persuasion talks yet again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Little Piggy

Jessica was leaving the livestock scale, walking back toward the pigpens. As she approached, I was trying to decipher the look on her face. Sadly, her eyes met mine as she reported, “270 pounds.” It was officially devastating.

It had been a fun-filled day getting to this point with some of our favorite friends. My children, Jessica and Cory, had raised hogs for 4H. We had laughed our way through the morning – not only packing up ourselves- but driving house to house loading up the eight pigs that would be entered in the fair.

Getting pigs to cooperate in any way, shape or form- let alone walk straight into the back of a trailer- can prove to be very entertaining.  One of our friend’s hogs put on quite a show as it charged back and forth escaping our grasp.  We chuckled while chasing it, redirecting it back to the goal.

The kids had worked hard over the last four months preparing for this day.  Pigs have to weigh between 200-260 pounds to qualify for this fair.  Mind you, they can gain 20 pounds a week and lose 10 pounds a day if under stress.  It is rather a game to get them to the target weight.

Eddie had really researched the best approach to take, talking to many friends and experts in the field.  Jessica’s pig seemed to be right on schedule.  The last month as her pig started to climb rapidly in pounds, she- along with Ed- made the needed adjustments to be sure the animal would not be too big.

We weighed her pig, Kevin, at home before leaving for the fair.  He weighed 270, ten too much.  Eddie tentatively felt it would be okay.  Everyone had assured us that the hogs would drop 10-15 pounds traveling the hour to the event.

Kevin did not drop an ounce.  We were completely baffled, especially after hearing how another pig in our group lost 30 lbs. over the last twenty-four hours.

A few of us gathered around Jess, offering comfort as best we could.  Not only would her hog have to leave the swine barn immediately, she would not be allowed to participate in all the planned activities.  There were to be two days of different showmanship events, concluding with an auction on the third day- which is the most anticipated time of the week.  AND… to top it all off… it was Jessica’s birthday!

As all the ramifications began to hit me, especially the one of not being able to sell the pig- I noticed a friend of Jessica’s making her way over.  Bridgett is a wonderful young lady who has experienced having a pig not make weight.  She approached Jessica and said the most profound words… “Well, Jess, it’s all part of the journey.”

That struck a chord in me as I began to make all kinds of spiritual and practical applications.  We are all on a journey where the only thing we can actually control is our response to it- our attitude and our faith.  Bridgett was encouraging Jess to embrace the adventure, hang on and see what happens.

Jessica had some options with how to respond.  She possibly could blame her dad, questioning his methods or she could choose to trust that Eddie would work this out.  Also, she was now stuck at the fair for the next five days with no pig to show, watching her friends participate in everything she would miss.  Depression or poutiness could easily be a natural response.

Isn’t it the same with us when our journey takes us to an unexpected place?  Questioning God.  Blaming God.  Becoming depressed.  Angry.  With each twist in the road there is opportunity to express faith in our Heavenly Father.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  That is the ultimate verse on faith.  God plans to give us hope and a future.  How much do we trust Him when it appears things are not working out?  Do we believe what the verse says?  God knows the plan.  All we need to know is that He knows.  He knows the plan, the journey.

So… while it is “all part of the journey,” – it is really all about HOW we journey.  HOW are you doing?

And… just to tell you the rest of the story…   Jessica’s attitude was exceptional.  She cheered on her friends, even stating that she was glad it happened to her and not to Cory.  A few times she acknowledged she felt sad, but she knew that her dad would work something out.

Eddie did find a buyer for “Kevin.”  It was somewhat miraculous in that the buyer was willing to pay a good price for the pig, which meant Jess actually made a nice profit.  Makes me think of the “all things work together for good” verse!