Monday, April 14, 2008

A Soldier Asks God A Question [Exclusive]

The young soldier scratched at his scruffy beard as he listened closely to the musket shots in the distance. Lying low in the underbrush may help dodge the attention of his enemy but the hot muggy weather didn’t do much for his confidence in survival. If his brother in arms didn’t get him then the snakes and mosquitoes surely will. The thought had come to him that death on the battlefield, while dreaded, may be far better than the stench pits for the prisoners.

Why was he fighting his brother? Together they had fought the British, the French, and even the neighboring Mexicans. But now they raise arms over the differences of others. He thought about the family he had left on the dirt farm in the hills back home. He heard tell of the freeing of the slaves and he had known a few rich slave owners back near the river. For his family slavery wasn’t an option. Maybe that was best. So why was he out here waiting for his Yank brothers to either kill him or drag him off to hell?

Maybe if times were different they might meet in the field and travel together back to the old home place to share a pot of beans and some coffee. It was the best he could do, but it sure beat eating tree roots and nuts, praying a squirrel would wander close enough to knife. He dare not risk the sound of a musket for hunting, and what dry powder he had left probably wouldn’t be enough to carry him back to his regiment. He had lost the rest of his comrades at the daybreak fight back on Cedar Creek. For all he knew they might already be marching in chains to Yankee land.

The sun had reached mid day and the breeze gave little relief to the searing heat of Alabama. He had seen a cave spring about a quarter mile back down the hollow that could bring some cool relief. But the musket shots behind him kept him lying still like a rabbit in the eyes of the fox. The rotted cloth of his grey uniform, tattered and torn, soaked up his sweat to the point of dripping. If only darkness would bring cover he could probably make out the fires of the Yanks’ camp and sneak back to the cave. Thoughts of his family crossed his mind and weighed almost too heavy to bear.

Today he fought proudly for God and his family. He knew if the Yanks advanced to Bear Creek his family might not survive the onslaught. He had heard the stories from his companions on what happened when the enemy came upon a Southern farm. Even his small farm would surely be attractive to a weary soldier who had marched from the northern parts of Ohio. Will God forgive us for what we’ve done? Does God even know why we are here?

The thirst had overtaken his parched mouth and he glanced back one more time at that cave with the cool water. The sun delivered its final blow upon him for the turn of his head cause the emblem on his hat to glare. At first it was a sharp stinging pain that settled into a slow burn. He felt the warmth of the new thick liquid overtake his soaked uniform. A musket ball had found its target. One last time he stared to the heavens and asked God, “Why must man hate another and find someone else to raise the sword?” Now only he heard the answer for at that moment God took our soldier home. And yet the battle raged on.

© 2008 Mark A. Daily

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thank You For Another Day of Life [Exclusive]

The sun is rising and we embark on another day in our journey. The dew is fresh and the air hangs heavy with the smell of spring. Birds fly gently beyond a wisp of cloud. God has granted another beautiful day of life. Lord, may we be ever grateful for this new day and may we share one thing that will brighten someone else’s day.

We stand humbled before your creation and know we are accountable for our hand upon it. You have given us the power to build upon it or break it down. Lord, may we do something to enhance its beauty this day.

When the sun gives way to evening may we stand before You thankful with our family and friends. Keep us safe along our journey and when we do reach our destination may we be at Your side proud of what we have accomplished. Amen.

© 2008, Mark A. Daily

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lord, Thank You For My Children [Exclusive]

Lord, thank you for my children, for it is through them that I shall live on without the blemishes I gathered in my own journey. Help me to show them the road without driving for them. Help me to teach them to eat without me cooking. Give me the patience to see them learn so they may excel far beyond my own dreams and hopes.

Lord, thank you for my children. Watch them as they reach beyond the home and learn independence. Guide them home on those nights I sit and wait, relying solely on you to bring them home. Be with them when I am not there to make the choice that they may choose wisely.

Lord, thank you for my children. Give them the ability to spread their wings without looking back on the pains of learning to fly. Give them the sight to see around the corner and know the dangers ahead. And teach them to pray so their faith may grow strong and carry them through the bumpy roads.

Lord, thank you for my children. Give me the ability to be a parent so they may learn from my examples. Let me be the parent I would want them to be for their children. Let them know that a father’s love is unending just as your love is unending. Wipe away their tears so they may cry freely yet smile for tomorrow.

Lord, thank you for my children. Amen.

© 2008, Mark A. Daily

Friday, April 04, 2008

Campfires [CCR]

The spring vacation is a good time for renewing your family bonding. This year we had several experiences that included a trip to my friend’s drive-in theatre, the adoption of two baby goats, and an unexpected litter of kittens from a cat we rescued. The biggest family event was the bonfire. At least my sons wanted to call it a bonfire. We actually built a campfire in the lower pasture. Aaron invited his new girlfriend and the six of us enjoyed a time around the fire. But the night did not forego entertainment.

As a child we built many campfires. You’ve already heard about an ill fated venture into candle making with my cousin. But there were many pleasant experiences with campfires. Often the family would gather during hunting season and camp the night before the big hunt. Everyone would bring something to contribute to what became a chicken stew with a little bit of everything in it. I’m not sure you can find a better tasting stew than one cooked in an old iron pot hanging over a campfire in the middle of the woods.

Rusty Malone and I also had an interesting endeavor with cooking over a campfire. If you grew up around Cherokee and weren’t interested in fishing then something was wrong. So Rusty and I often went fishing. However, this trip resulted in no fish. All we had was plenty of bait, crawfish. We built a campfire and talked about our luck, or lack thereof, when an idea struck. Those folks down in Louisiana cook crawfish. It can’t be that difficult.

Now many folks are reading this information and thinking cooking a lobster and crawfish can’t be much different. The only problem was two teenage boys hadn’t ever cooked a lobster. We only read about it and, at best, saw it on television. But nevertheless, we decided to eat the bait. We built a nice little fire, found us a cooking pot, and began to heat the water. It was our understanding we should boil the critters. But we didn’t know how long. So when the water came to a boil we chunked a couple of the creek dwelling crustaceans into the pot.

I would reckon the crawfish cooked some, but we didn’t know how much. Our curiosity took the best of the moment and we decided it was time to take a bite. Pulling them from the pot Rusty took the first bite after yanking off the tail. It was only customary that I follow his lead but the look on Rusty’s face told me it wasn’t going to be fun. If I remember straight we only took that single bite and the rest of the bait went to waste. But the adventure ended well, we survived.

Back at our campfire over spring break the children brought marshmallows and hot dogs. It would only be tradition to cook them over the open fire. I decided that rather than finding good sticks to whittle into skewers I would buy these metal contraptions from the big box store. They seemed to work well until someone made the fatal mistake of eating a marshmallow directly from the metal skewer device. They survived with only a slight blister on the side of the mouth and I dare not tell on the victim so names won’t be mentioned. But just as we learn about the lessons of the electric fence so we learn about branding ourselves with hot metal rods. But the electric fence is a story for another day.