Archive for category Columns

Living on Purpose: A closer look at the Great Commission

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I love to write (and talk) and all who know me will agree that I am not a man of few words. As a windy minister, it only seems logical that I would be involved in the world of communication. For the last few years I’ve been writing “Living on purpose” and it’s truly been a pleasure. I just want to say that I sincerely appreciate all of you that take the time to read the column and the many thoughtful and encouraging emails that I receive each week. I’ve been writing sermons, articles and music for a long time which eventually branched into a weekly blog. From there it evolved into being accepted as a regular weekly columnist with my local newspaper two and half years ago and has now expanded larger than I could have ever imagined. Just like shooting basketball or playing the piano, God’s grace works together with our faith and diligence. However, I also realize that sitting in front of the computer everyday can only take me so far which is why I must listen and daily depend on Him to somehow use me to relay what He wants to say. It’s amazing how the Lord can use our gifts and talents for His glory even if it’s something like the gift of gab!  Read the rest of this entry »

Life Without Fathers

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

There’s something about being a writer that makes people confide in you. Why tell a writer, who uses life as raw material, your deepest secrets. But tell me they do, and sometimes their secrets break my heart.

I’ve known women who confided how much they hated their father. They had reason, they say. Several told me how hard life was with an alcoholic father. Others talked about how abusive their dads were, and some felt their father never gave them all they expected.

The extent to which these women vilified their dad shocked me. One woman changed her name legally so fervent was her hatred. She made up her mind to never speak to him again and never did. She didn’t even attend his funeral.

A brunette with brilliant blue eyes told me she faked love for her dad her entire life. Another woman never missed a chance to put her dad down. No matter what you discussed, she would work the conversation to a place where she could insult him. That stopped when he died. Only then did she consider that life had been tough on him. After all, life shapes us as surely as winds shape dunes. Only after he died did she realize he had had a hard life. For the first time, I saw tears in her eyes when she brought her dad up. It was too late to say, “I’m sorry” or “I love you.” The train had run.

Today, none of the sad women have fathers. They’ve all passed on. I write about these unfortunate women and their fathers because I think about my dad all the time. He passed away November 15, 2003. Unlike the women who heaped scorn on their dads, I realize, more than ever, that Dad gave me a wonderful life. I look across the years with the knowledge that I was loved and that I loved and respected my father. And I still do. Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I’m sure that many of you remember the man who portrayed the friendly neighbor in the popular children’s program known all over the world as Mister Rogers. Who can forget the childlike song that asked the question, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” With the macho crowd, he was labeled a sissy and downright creepy but to children, he was always a nice, polite, and comforting role model. There have been many false accusations about him through the years like the rumors about him having to wear long sleeve sweaters to hide his offensive tattoos. But these have all been proven to be nothing more than overactive imaginations and a display of how cruel our human nature can be. How sad to witness the moral convictions of our society falling so far away from God’s standards that when someone is acting normal the world believes they are weird. This reminds me of the scripture found in Isaiah chapter five that warns, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that exchange darkness for light, and light for darkness; that trade bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Unfortunately, this is another example of how the harsh attitudes of the oppressors are always seeking to bully and criticize decent individuals who are trying to make the world a better place.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Wisdom and knowledge are two different things

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

When it comes to having spiritual wisdom, it’s not how much we know but how much we understand. It’s one thing to have bags of information seeds stacked up in the barn of our mind, but more importantly, how many seeds have been planted and nurtured to take root within our heart? The devil and all of his helpers have worlds of spiritual knowledge but they do not allow it to penetrate their conscience and change who they are. Likewise, humans can also learn and accumulate information and then select what they believe because each person has been given the gift of free will. So, when it comes to spiritual knowledge, just because we read about how to live a victorious Christian life does not mean we will automatically be converted into a victorious overcomer. We must absorb His Word through our brain and into our spirit all the while learning how to surrender our will and discipline our flesh. Whew! These powder-puff sermons about strolling through life enjoying the overflowing storehouses of blessings are deceiving, to say the least. In reality, the true Christian life is not easy, in fact, the more serious we become the more difficult it will be. If we are genuinely born again, our spirit is connected with God’s Spirit and we have a wonderful opportunity to channel His energy into our being. If we can prevent our old corrupt nature from talking us out of it, we can be saved from ourselves but it’s going to take a burning passion and a total commitment. Being a follower of Jesus means we are accepting a golden opportunity to transform the way we think which will literally change who we are.  Read the rest of this entry »

Chinaberry’s Rise & Fall

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

A lovely shade tree, I played beneath its canopy; rolled its berries in my palm. It stood seven yards beyond an old hand-dug well. I sucked nectar from delicate tubes in yellow-green tangles of fragrant honeysuckle just beyond the tree. Little did I know Mom and Dad considered that perfumed vine a pest. They tried and tried to get rid of it. Nothing worked until Granddad Poland brought in goats. They chewed it right to the ground and into oblivion.

Circa 1956, unlike today’s digital-dependent kids, I lived in a green world of trees, vines, and grass, and of all the trees in my boyhood, that shade tree, an old chinaberry, looms large, and now, lo and behold, I hear it’s a pest. My chinaberry’s an invasive? A nuisance?

“Oh shut your mouth, Little China Girl.” Say it ain’t so.

Well, it’s so. Like a bank robber in the Old West, it’s wanted. Bugwood Blog of the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species requests we report chinaberries’ location. Times sure do change; once upon a time Southerners rolled out the welcome mat for chinaberries. I mentioned this to a Southern woman, Dreamcatcher, and days later she sent me a message.

“Every old Southern homeplace boasted at least one chinaberry tree. But like most old Southern cultures it has been erased from our history. Why? The answer is surprising. We are mandated by our government to not only be tolerant of but to embrace cultures and ideas that differ from ours. Yet our government dictates that plant species that are not native to our area are inherently evil and must be eradicated. Life in the backwoods was tough to say the least. Everything had a purpose. The chinaberry tree, aka poor mans shade tree, aka umbrella tree, was very important to a working farm. It provided shade around the homesite. The leaves were used in the dog pen to prevent fleas. The pulp in the berry was used to make a healing salve for sores on cattle. Berries were fed to hogs to prevent worms. The ladies of the house would string the berry seed to make jewelry. You, my sweet chinaberry tree, worked hard for us in the backwoods but now you must die. Such is progress.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Remembering those who gave all

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Memorial means to “remember” and every year on the last Monday in May, we honor those who sacrificed their lives in the line of active military service. On Memorial Day we stop and pay our respect to the ones who were willing to stand in the gap between freedom and tyranny! The First Amendment was not only signed into existence with ink but with the blood of over 1.1 million Americans that have died in U.S. wars along with many more that have suffered from physical and mental difficulties. Over the years, numerous families have suffered loss from war including my own and we have a deep appreciation for the men and women that have served to protect our country. My uncle, Kenny Maye was killed in Korea and I have his tags, casket flag and a rare picture of him. He was only 20 years old in 1950 and his body was never found. Sadly, his existence is nearly unknown and I often wonder about the life he could have had.

We are only a few miles from Camp Nelson National Cemetery and from the highway you can see many rows of the over twelve thousand perfectly lined white marble tombstones. At times I’ve often driven past without hardly thinking about how each of these individuals at one time or another accepted the call of duty. And what is that call? To defend and protect our liberties – whatever the cost! Each one of those brave soldiers was willing to give their life for their country and many did. It is said – “All gave some and some gave all.” Truly, the cost of freedom is beyond the imagination. In March 1775, Patrick Henry said, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” I am convinced this is the heart cry of all the heroes that have given their lives for our country.  Read the rest of this entry »

Money laundering made easier

Jay Bender

By Jay Bender

Money laundering had its origins with crime syndicates.  Former SLED chief Robert Stewart said that one of the dangers of South Carolina’s legalization of video poker was that it provided a state-wide network of money laundromats.

A video poker operator would report receipts for a poker machine, pay the taxes on the money received, and the money would be cleansed of any taint related to the source of funds.  Stewart said in some instances the receipts reported for a machine would have required feeding large denomination bills into the machine around the clock every day.

Where did the money being laundered come from?  Most likely from the drug trade or other criminal enterprises that dealt in cash.

Money laundering in South Carolina has not been limited to criminal enterprises.  In the late 1980s the Carolina Research and Development Foundation received $2 million from the sale of the Wade Hampton Hotel which was owned by the University of South Carolina.  The Foundation also received a $16 million grant from the federal government and almost $6 million in grants from the City of Columbia and Richland County.

The Foundation resisted requests to disclose how it was spending its money, arguing that it was a private corporation.  The Supreme Court of South Carolina, in a 1991 opinion disagreed, and said in essence, “Follow the money.”  Since the Foundation received public money, it was required under the Freedom of Information Act to disclose how the money was being spent.

Once the Foundation’s records were retrieved from the City of Columbia landfill where they had been “mistakenly” deposited, it became clear why the Foundation wanted its expenditures kept secret.  The Foundation was engaged in activities beneficial to the University of South Carolina, but its treasury was also serving as a slush fund to provide gifts and speaker fees to politicians—gifts and fees that might have been considered unethical or illegal even under our state’s lax standards for public officials.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Nothing can be done without hope and confidence

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We spent some time at Cumberland Falls State Park this past week. It’s always refreshing to get away every now and then and behold the breathtaking beauty of nature. The earth is His masterpiece and with all of the magnificent places on the planet, we appreciate the privilege to enjoy His wonderful creation. The trees and flowers are now blooming and we were fortunate to catch a glimpse of many types of birds, a family of deer, squirrels, ground hogs, raccoons, and chipmunks along the trails. The roaring falls is always a spectacular sight and reminds us of God’s amazing power and majesty. After spending a day breathing in the fresh forest air and enjoying the peace and quiet, we ate dinner at the lodge and then retired to our room. Out of habit we turned on the television and discovered there had been another deadly school shooting. How suddenly we were snapped back into the sobering reality of more heartache. Evil can only be stopped when it is removed from the conscience of mankind. Until then, we are faced with the consequences of sin.

The serious Christian is troubled by what is going on in the world but they also realize that God is not panicking or surprised – He is in total control. We also know the Bible predicts that before the return of Christ, the days will become more perilous. So, what can we do? Well, we can make ourselves available to help those in need but there is a condition that many Christians tend to forget. Most people do not really want help. They do not want to hear about God and they do not want to change the way they live. The old saying is true, “You cannot help those who will not help themselves.” Next, we need to learn how to remain calm. The flood of daily negativity can cause fear and anxiety if we become more focused on the chaos than the hope and peace of God’s presence. Yes, there is much wickedness and demonic influence in the world which is why it’s so critical to keep our mind and heart focused on God’s still small voice. This is the only voice that really matters. He is our rock, our refuge, and our anchor that can keep us from being overwhelmed with worry and discouragement. Charles Spurgeon said, Let this one great, gracious, glorious fact lie in your spirit until it permeates all your thoughts and makes you rejoice even though you are without strength. Rejoice that the Lord Jesus has become your strength and your song and has become your salvation.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: We are the caretaker of our thoughts

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I read a book years ago by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale called, “The amazing results of positive thinking” and I recommend it as an inspiration and encouragement to your spiritual life. He explains that our mind is filled with all types of thoughts and persuasions but everyone is held accountable to manage them. We have the ability to resist and ignore the negative influences that hinder our life and to also embrace the suggestions that are positive and encouraging. I remember after studying about this principle, I had an interesting dream. I do not always place a lot of credibility in dreams because sometimes I think they are related with late-night pizza binges, but on the other hand, the Bible reveals that some dreams have been used a legitimate way that God can communicate. Anyway, here was my dream.

I found myself on a dusty construction site and as I looked around, I noticed workers with shovels and they were busy digging up small trees and bushes. Some were driving trucks and others were using chainsaws and in the distance, I noticed a bulldozer was pushing over large trees. They were obviously clearing the land but I was not sure for what reason. I approached one of the workers and asked who was in charge but he just kept walking. For some reason, I sensed in the dream that Jesus was overseeing this operation and so I started searching for him. I was expecting any moment to see him in a white tunic, sandals, and hard-hat, but I never did. Finally, I saw a man that was writing on a clipboard and he appeared to be a supervisor. I went over to him and said, “excuse me, sir, can you tell me where to find the project manager?” As he started walking away he turned his head and calmly said, “you are.” This is the last thing I remember.  Read the rest of this entry »

Work Paths

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Ever stood on Holy ground? Read on.

Monday a fellow told me, “If it weren’t for work, I don’t know what I’d do.” I knew what he meant. For most of us life means work.

Last week I was visiting Aunt Vivian when I told her about the things I’d been working on. “Work makes you feel good,” she said. It does make you feel good. Work is a tonic.

Work was on my mind as I raked up limbs from pruning Mom’s tea olives the other day. It struck me that I was standing on the spot where my working days began. When I was nine, Dad paid me a dime for cutting the grass with an old manual push mower. Paid me right where I stand in the photo. My first “paycheck.” That dime taught me a lesson. You don’t get something for nothing.

As I pruned and raked, I formed a mental list of all the jobs I’ve had. I first worked around the yards and in Dad’s saw shop. Then I worked at Goolsby’s Groceries and later at Central Supermarket in downtown Lincolnton, Georgia. I worked a summer at Reed’s Poultry Plant, a summer at the Almar Rainwear Factory in Washington, Georgia, a summer as a reporter for the old Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation agency, and two unforgettable summers at Elijah Clark State Park.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Trying to make sense of it all

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

To be honest, I probably spend too much time watching and being saturated with the news. I feel the need to keep up with the latest developments so that I can at least have an awareness about current events. However, many times I find myself being absorbed in an ocean of information that is not only meaningless but is also negatively impacting my mental and emotional state of being, (especially when much of it is not true). I’m reminded that I have no power to prevent the moral decline of the culture, but I’m convinced that our passion to help make the planet a better place will always be centered on a relentless dedication to prayer and faith. In today’s stressful environment, the average emotional response is a hopeless sigh and to conclude that we are headed in the wrong direction, but nothing is too difficult for God. As Christians, we called to do more than express an emotional concern…we must have a burden to pray. We can and should roll up our sleeves and demonstrate our faith, but God is the only one who truly can help this world and our prayers are directly connected to His unlimited power and authority.  Read the rest of this entry »

Squatters

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

Looking back, I realize they lived like frontiersmen. A squirrel-hunting boy who skirted their wooded encampment, I considered them bums. Looking back that seems harsh. Down on their luck some would say. Poor decision-makers others might say.

Today, a debris trail of bottomless chamber pots, broken bottles, glass Clorox jugs, and flotsam brings them alive one more time. Untangling the vines and clearing away the pine straw, I uncover artifacts of unusual people. We have hoboes, vagrants, and itinerants. And squatters named Tom and Yank. Yank carried himself with a bit of dignity. Tom seemed withdrawn.

I first saw these brothers in a local country store. They wore felt hats and rumpled, brown garments. They looked like the Darling family of the Andy Griffith Show. Yank had a grizzled beard; Tom was clean-shaven. What I remember most shocks me still: the first time I saw a man with a missing arm. That would have been Tom. Despite not wanting to look, I stared at his stump, the shirtsleeve dangling over it. And then later, Bill Goolsby, a character if ever, told me Yank had shot off his brother’s arm in a hunting accident. I could see the muzzle blast and buckshot tearing into flesh and bone. I winced.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Beauty Of Old Bridges

By Tom Poland

A familiar sight these days. (Photo by Tom Poland)

File this column under “Progress.” I guess. I remain a skeptic of much that is new and better and that includes the new bridges going up across Georgialina. Better is not always beautiful. On both sides of the Savannah you’ll see detour markers. Somebody found a big pot of gold evidently because old bridges have been razed to make way for new ones. Bridge rehabitation they call it. Bridge replacement too.

Going, gone, gone are the old rusty steel truss bridges. Up go the wide concrete bridges. The old bridges? Destroyed and removed. That hasn’t always been the case. If you know where to look, you can find old bridges and when you do, see if you don’t find them elegantly beautiful.

In my explorations of back roads I come across their remains. Ghostly, overtaken by woods and vines, they stand alone. No traffic, save a solitary fellow with a camera. The beauty of old bridges should not be lost so easily. The next time you’re driving down Highway 378 from McCormick toward Saluda look to your left as you cross Hard Labor Creek. Through the trees an old bridge materializes like a spirit. Surreal but real, it hosts a deer hunter’s hut-like stand where old cars and trucks once sped. Hard Labor Creek runs on as if nothing has changed, but it has. Icons fall like leaves.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Wall That Heals Is Coming

Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

This weekend the Wall That Heals will be at one of five Southeastern locations in 2018. April 26 – 29 it’ll be in Lincolnton Georgia at the Curry Colvin Recreation Complex. It’ll be in Camden May 3 through May 6. The Wall That Heals exhibit features a three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. Drive just across the Georgia line this weekend and see it for free. Consider the wall a book, for each name is part of stories of valor, loss, and love, stories of Vietnam. My Lincolnton, Georgia, high school friend, Ernie Guthrie, went to Nam. He saw action and lost a lot of friends over there.

“Out of about 95 men in my company, 31 of them, including three helicopter crew, were killed when one of the three Chinooks we were being transported in was shot down as it approached Landing Zone Judy August 26, 1970, the worst hostile fire helicopter crash of the Vietnam War. For two days all we could do was watch it burn with ammunition exploding.”

Ernie sent me powerful photos of him in Nam, grainy and archival. In one image, a Lt. Washburn and Ernie are taking a break from patrolling. (“Lt. Washburn died at age 32,” said Ernie. “I have visited his grave at Sante Fe National Cemetery. His family tells me he died tragically.”)  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: God does not force us to love Him

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

For those who are interested in the life after this one, there is no doubt some curiosity about where we are going and how to get there. The followers of Christ place their faith in His promises and believe He has the power to save and secure a place in heaven for them. Others who prefer to live their own way are somewhat more skeptical and independent in their thinking. As a minister, I spend most of my time thinking, talking or writing about our spiritual life and most of the time the conversation will include questions about our progress according to God’s perspective. On one hand, the Bible is a simple instruction manual teaching us how to live the Christian life and on the other hand, it’s perceived as a complicated and mysterious collection of messages that most of us cannot understand. This is why it’s crucial to pray and invest our time asking Him for the heavenly interpretation of what He is trying to say. Knowing God personally and obtaining His wisdom is not easy. It requires diligence and perseverance and is much like searching for buried treasure.

I probably attend more funerals than the average person because of how often I officiate them. When families are grieving, it’s very difficult to find words that comfort and I’ve learned that most of the time silence is golden. We do not like funerals or cemetery’s because they remind us of the end of life and especially for those who are not ready to face God, this explains why they choose to avoid them. Funerals are an occasion where we are not only paying our respect for the one who has passed on, but many also sense anxiety as they are reminded of their own fate. I believe it’s good to discuss this because we should not deny that death is a part of living. In fact, a funeral is a perfect opportunity where God can clearly speak to someone’s heart and have their attention long enough to introduce Himself. Yes, we are given a choice to follow Christ but just because we are convicted by our need to surrender our life to Him does not mean we will go through with it. He will never force anyone to love Him.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Old Three-Seater

Photo by Tom Poland

By Tom Poland

On the road again, Augusta, Ga. While giving a talk on Georgialina, A Southland As We Knew It, my book about the past and how life has surely changed, outhouses came up and a fellow asked if I knew where any stood. “I can take you to a couple dozen,” I told him. Maybe more, because some of the old church campgrounds still have a good many. One campground has about a dozen lined up as pretty as you please. And just two weeks ago, I came across the three-seater you see here. While its exterior suffered exposure, the parts that count, all three of them, seemed in good working order.

So, this trio of open spaces cut from longleaf pine begs a question. Did families back in the day really use all three at once? Why not. Multitudes of us line up in public bathrooms at football games and festivals. Thank goodness for stall dividers. Back then, however, I suspect things were more than a tad different.

Families back then, for all their strict ways, might not have been as modest as we are. Modesty took a back seat, if you will, to practical matters. Wee ones had to venture outside when the chamber pot wasn’t an option, and life back then wasn’t as safe as it is today (outside of thugs who roam the land). Mom and dad had to accompany the little ones outdoors. I continue to hear that toilet training took place in two-seaters, and that makes sense. Other reasons come into play too. Even in those hard times people liked to impress others. A three-hole outhouse sent a signal. Luxury. Those accustomed to luxurious living had not just two-seaters, but three-seaters. Three-seaters proved practical too to a large family. Many three-seaters had holes of varying sizes to accommodate people of various ages. Can’t have Baby Susan falling through the generous hole cut for grandma can we. Child safety mattered then as now.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Giving cheerfully and accepting gratefully

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

Success is a popular subject and an exciting attitude that fuels the imagination and drives our motivation. The fervent desire to succeed seems to be embedded within our DNA and I see nothing wrong with an honest inspiration to accomplish certain goals. Even the Bible talks about “pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” and refers to winning and being victorious as a spiritual blessing in accordance with God’s perfect will. Yes, success can be satisfying if our motives are pure but the real objective may be to understand what it really means. It’s not a sin to be proud of our accomplishments, in fact, we pray for our children’s success and encourage them as they pursue their dreams. However, good fortune even though associated with a healthy and normal progressive lifestyle can be interpreted differently according to whether we are pursuing our desires or following God’s instructions.

Wealth is usually associated with accomplishment but true success is not always dependent on money. Finances are a vehicle that can do amazing things when God is allowed to be in control and since He wants to be the ultimate decider of each individual’s direction, we acknowledge Him as the one who allows success to manifest. For those who claim to yield their will unto God, this obedience also includes all decisions including our business affairs. When Christ is allowed to become Lord of our heart we are also inviting Him to be our financial adviser. His vision is to use us as a vessel to pour through instead of us building huge bank accounts and hoarding earthly treasures. Our heavenly Father manages everything with perfect wisdom and holy truth and His plans are constantly trying to weave the paths of men and women together for the good of all. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to be selfish and rebellious and are usually so focused on ourselves that we rarely comprehend or care what God is trying to tell us. Some might say they would be generous and help others if they had more resources but this is usually only an excuse for not giving a part of what they already have. Winston Churchill is quoted, “We make a living by what we get – we make a life by what we give.” It has been said that waiting until we are rich to bless others is a smokescreen trying to hide our lack of faith and love. Mother Teresa once said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” So, we can conclude that giving has everything to do with an attitude of compassion.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: There are real heroes all around us

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We hear a lot about heroes in this day and age. Accomplished athletes are seen as idols for throwing around a ball along with blockbuster fantasies that portray individuals who can fly and use their incredible super-powers to save the universe. However, in the real world, it’s encouraging to know there are humble and hardly noticed heroes all around us. These selfless individuals have no desire to be praised or even recognized. They are a special group of human beings that are not only determined to accomplish what God has called them to do but sincerely willing to sacrifice their life so that others can live. The following story is an example of one of these heavenly secret-agents.

Irena Sendler was a Polish nurse and social worker who worked in the Warsaw health department during World War II. In a short window of time between 1942 and 1943, she along with a small band of co-workers led a courageous effort within the Warsaw ghetto to secretly smuggle at least 2500 Jewish babies and children from facing the certainty of the German concentration camps. She and her team were members of the Zegota, an underground organization established in 1940 by the Polish government for the purpose of rescuing Polish Jews. With permission from the Nazi’s to enter the ghetto to help segregate the city’s 380,000 Jews, she came up with a plan to secretly smuggle babies and young children to safety. They used every idea possible to rescue the innocent, which included hiding them in toolboxes and under gurney’s, sneaking them into ambulances, taking them through sewer pipes or other underground passageways, wheeling them out in suitcases, and leading them out through an old courtyard which led to the non-Jewish areas. She carefully recorded the names of the children on cigarette papers and sealed them in glass bottles which she buried in a colleague’s garden. After the war the jars were dug up and the lists handed over to Jewish representatives. Attempts were made to reunite the children with their families but sadly most of the parents had perished in the Treblinka death camp.  Read the rest of this entry »

Living on Purpose: Being reunited with our parents forever

Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

I went for a quiet walk the other day, to relax and sort my thoughts like the stacks of messages and notes on my desk. While gazing at the clear sky and breathing in the cool air, it dawned on me that it’s been almost two years since my dad passed away. Honestly, it seems like yesterday. I realize that many people grew up without a father and I’m very sympathetic about that. Thank God, there are great step-dads and step-moms that have stepped into difficult situations and have been a much needed tower of strength and stability in the life of a child. Then I realized, that everyone who manages to enjoy a normal life expectancy will eventually outlive their parents. This means that most of us will be required to go through the heartbreak of saying goodbye to those who were always the center of our universe. Whether you have already walked through this valley or if this event has not yet happened, we will most likely be left to continue in our winter years without our mom and dad.

When my wife Cheryl and I were married, our parents were in their early forties and everyone seemed so young and filled with dreams and expectations. I guess this is why we were in shock when her dad passed away four years later from cancer at the age of 48. She remembers as a tom-boy, crawling under cars and watching him work on them. She did not have a clue what he was doing but just enjoyed spending quality time alone with him. Working on an old car was probably aggravating to him, but to her, it was exciting as she was like a nurse trying to figure out what type of wrench to hand him next or more than likely what size hammer he needed. Soon after we married, we rented a little house in town and on Saturday mornings after I left for work, her dad would stop by with donuts and they would have some coffee and talk. Through the years I’ve listened to her mention about how much she misses him and what a large part of her security and safety disappeared. Now I understand.  Read the rest of this entry »

Leaving Your Mark

By Tom Poland

Photo by Tom Poland

Of all the trees down South, beeches and white birches gets picked on the most. The love sick, the egotistical, the passerby, and all manner of folk love to carve sentiments into the trees’ vulnerable white bark. Arboreal graffiti I call it. The temptation’s just too much. People feel compelled to leave their mark. I’ve yet to do that, though if I have I don’t recall it.

In my sojourns across Georgialina I’ve come across beeches and birches with many a name, initials, and whatnot carved into them. I suppose if a tree can have tattoos, then many a beech and birch do. Tattooed trees. Some are lightly scarred. Others heavily. I recall a tree standing near the path to Badwell Cemetery covered with carvings. Seems if a tree is isolated … somewhere in obscurity, the more likely it is to provide a canvas for knife-wielding folk. A bit of privacy is essential to do your work. Of course, trees aren’t the only place people leave their mark. Sit at a railroad crossing and watch the cars roll by … lots of graffiti … often quite clever. People leaving their mark.

Back in March, my brother-in-law, Joe, and I were checking out some aquatic plants growing in the family pond. Or beaver pond. Or mine hole, which it is. Manganese. We walked the edge of the water and as we did I asked Joe if the old birch tree still stood, the one with initials in it.  Read the rest of this entry »