My earliest recollection of my Grandmother Harrill goes back to about 1948. There was a picture of a guardian angel hovering over two little children crossing a treacherous body of water on a rickety bridge hanging high on the beadboard wall in her sitting room. She would gather me onto her lap and explain to me that we all have a guardian angel to watch over us. My little blue eyes were filled with wonder as I listened to her.
I remember the aroma of snuff on her breath as she told me about Jesus. I recently found out that in the late 1800s and early 1900s the picture I have attached became popular across the Appalachian area of North Carolina. That famous painting hung in every grandmothers’ home across the mountains and foothills, as it did in Grandmother Harrill’s home. My grandparents lived on a farm in a small community in Rutherford County, North Carolina…Caroleen, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Grandmother’s name was Mary Margaret Judith Susan Hannah Randall Harrill, and everyone either called her “Mag” or Maggie. She had a very strong impact on the lives of the people in her little church in Bostic, North Carolina…Concord Baptist Church. She loved the Lord with her whole heart and was not ashamed of it. She had a passion for lost souls and missions. When her church built their new educational building, they named it the “Margaret Harrill Memorial.” I am honored to be named after her…Margaret Carolyn. In my home today, I have many reminders of her…her kitchen table that my great-grandfather made, many crocheted pieces, a silver brooch, and many pictures of her. But my greatest treasures of all are the memories I have of her. My heart’s desire is that I can leave a legacy like she did.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 18 when He was teaching His disciples the parable of the lost sheep, that we as believers have angels watching over us. Matthew 18:10…”Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Also in Psalm 34:7a we find these powerful words: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him.”
As Christians, we not only have God the Father…we have Jesus our Intecessor, the Holy Spirit our Comforter, and angels all around us. Who could ask for anything more? We are blessed.
All of North and South Carolina is hunkered down for the upcoming hurricane…lest we forget the past…Hugo and Hazel. Our beautiful states were blasted with winds, tornados, and rain like we had never seen before. It was like being trapped in a cage with destruction taking place all around us. We might compare those storms to the Blitz when the Germans bombed Britain in the 1940s.
High winds blew the windows out of our new home in Monroe…wrecking havoc on our furniture, my organ, and my piano. Sheet music and books I had collected over my lifetime were being drenched with water as I stood helpless watching the rain soak our beautiful new hardwood floors and our furniture. The curtains were standing straight out from the wall because of the wind. Hoyle finally was able to tiptoe through the broken glass and rescue my music, but the organ and piano could not be moved.
Our little family, Hoyle, Lori, Julie and me, found a safe haven in the hallway. We rode the storm out until dawn. We could hear destruction taking place all around us as we were hunkered down that night. When we were able to go outside, we realized our neighbor’s detached garage was missing. They lived across the road’s from us, and that building had been totally demolished… no sign of it anywhere in their yard as we looked out across the road. It was gone! We soon discovered it had been blown to bits by a spin-off tornado and carried on the wings of the wind to the creek bed below our house. It had bypassed our home by only inches. God protected us that night!
I remember, as a little girl, experiencing the effect of Hurricane Hazel. She brought high winds and a ton of rain where we lived in the Charlotte area…rain, rain, and more rain.
As fear consumes us during the next few day, may we remember who’s in control. During His time on earth, Jesus calmed the storms and stilled the waters of the seas. He’s still in control. Remember the words He spoke to His disciples, “Why are ye afraid, O ye of little faith?” And he rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”
And He’s still in control today…never forget that! He still calms our storms, and He is the “Master of the Sea!”
“Peace Be Still”
It was 1946…World War II was over, and a new era began in America…the year of the “war babies” or the “baby boomers.” Soldiers came home from the war, and there was a population explosion in the United States. I happened to be one of those babies born that year. The end of the war ushered in modern day history.
I’ve seen many things come and go in this great country during my life time. President Harry Truman was our Commander in Chief when I was born. The country was still reeling from the effects of that great war. Lives were lost and many young men did not return home. A neighboring lady, Collie Benson, often told me stories of her dear husband who died in that war. Since I grew up in the parsonage at Wilson Grove Baptist Church, the cemetery for the church was just across the road from our house. Often I would slip off and go to the graveyard. I remember that man’s picture being on his grave marker. As a little girl, I would stand fascinated looking at his tombstone wondering what a war was like and why he had to die.
I have watched thirteen great men over my lifetime occupy the high office of President of the United States. I definitely don’t recollect anything about President Truman, but I learned later in school that the war came to a close after Hiroshima. My first memory of Dwight David Eisenhower goes back to 1954 when I was in third grade. He came to Freedom Park in Charlotte. One of my little classmates at Clear Creek Elementary School was able to go to the park and see him…I was so jealous…why not me?
My memories of John F. Kennedy go back to the early 1960s when he was chosen to be the Democratic nominee, and I sat in front of our old black and white television fascinated by his youth and beautiful wife. I didn’t know much about politics back then, but I was fascinated by Camelot. I vividly remember his senseless assassination and where I was that day. I was typing a term paper in the typing room at Parkwood High School.
Then, the whole world watched with sadness as Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as Kennedy’s replacement aboard Air Force One, and Mrs. Kennedy stood beside him in blood stained clothes. It was during that administration that Hoyle and I were married. We watched with dread and fear as the draft was put into place. All the while, the conflict in Viet Nam escalated. In 1966 we moved into our first home.
America watched as thousands of her finest young men were sent to that war-torn country…South Viet Nam. In 1967 I watched my husband sign up, and he was in the mass deployment that took place between 1965 to 1967 under the Johnson administration. That was one of the most difficult times in my life, and I blamed President Johnson for the war. We had to rent our home during that time to keep from losing it. As time went on, I understood more about the war. I soon realized that the United States actually entered the conflict under President Eisenhower in 1955 when he sent military advisors to South Viet Nam to train the army there. That caused me to rethink the hard feelings toward the president. I then watched as my husband, along with his comrades, come home to a nation that didn’t really appreciate their sacrifice.
Then came Richard Nixon, and set into motion the end of the war in Vietnam, but he will long be remembered by Watergate and his resignation. He resigned before he could be impeached. Gerald Ford then became our Commander in Chief, and one of his first acts as president was to pardon Nixon. He then carried out the process of ending the Viet Nam war. Jimmy Carter became our next president, and will be remembered as a peanut farmer from Georgia who reformed the welfare system, and my memory of him is his strong faith in God.
Next was Ronald Reagan who will long be remembered for his famous one-liner, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” He was followed by George H. W. Bush. During his presidency the fall of the Berlin Wall took place. After four years of service, he was followed by Bill Clinton and the scandal that took place in the White House. He was the second president in the history of our nation to be impeached. He did many great things; it’s sad that the scandal overshadows his term in office.
When I think of George W. Bush, my mind goes back to 9-11 and the devastation in New York City. But he will be remember for instituting the largest tax cut in American history. Then came our first African-American Commander in Chief, Barack Obama. He will be remember for bringing an end to the Great Recession and the death of Osama bin Laden.
Now we are in the present day administration of Donald Trump, a multimillionaire and business man. He came on the scene with his “Make America Great Again” tagline. He is still in his first term of office, and we will only know his important accomplishments at the end of his presidency. So far he has created thousand of jobs, and the Dow Jones has reached record highs.
All of these great men have been a part of my life for 72 years. I’ve not always agreed with their policies or their lifestyles, but they were “MY PRESIDENT.” I highly respect that office, and each man has contributed much to our country over the years. I’m truly proud to be an American.
Those of you who know me or have read my books know that I have no problem telling you how I feel about something, but I never force my beliefs or opinions onto anyone. If you choose to read my writings…that’s great, but if you choose not to read them…that’s okay, too. Many, many years ago, during a heated discussion, I attempted to force my beliefs on someone, and it just didn’t work out at all. I decided to never do that again. So, I simply don’t argue faith or politics anymore.
Oftentimes, discussions will take place, and I find myself in situations that go against what I believe or what I accept as true. I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can express myself freely, but still, I only tell someone my views if I’m asked or drawn into the conversation. It’s just not my nature to bulldoze myself into a dialog without first being asked. When I do speak, be prepared for what I have to say. I have had situations when a person or persons confronted me on a one on one basis…in particular, on the telephone. Now that a different story. If that happens, the person calling me must be prepared for my response. I’m passionate about what I believe, and since I’m 72-years-old…I think I’ve earned the right to say exactly what I want to say. If it’s about faith, I know what I believe to be true, because I have access to the Bible, God written Word. I have confidence in my beliefs; they are always Bible-based…even my views on politics. If a belief or a political view doesn’t line up with Scripture…then I don’t accept it. Period! No questions asked.
If it’s about politics—well, that’s a different story. If a candidate’s beliefs contradict or defy scripture…I simply can’t vote for him or her. That’s my right. Politics and faith always overlap. I will discuss scripture more freely than political issues. I’ve seen politics destroy friendships and even cause trouble in marriages, and it’s simply not worth the consequences.
Now, when it comes to my books, I definitely express my Christian beliefs in my writing, but I dare not include political issues in my novels. I’m not a student of political science or government, but I know what’s right and wrong—whether it be a moral situation or a government situation. Like I said, those two always seem to overlap.
As I develop the characters for my books, my philosophy and viewpoints automatically spill over into their personalities. You might even feel like you are talking to me and listening to me speak as my characters express themselves. I’m just a spunky, little old lady enjoying life by writing and learning how to blog. Since I’ve started writing and blogging, I’ve found that I have opened myself up to the world for criticism and disapproval. That being said, I again stress that I’m just what I am…and can’t be anything different. So, what you see is what you get! Some of my characters are scoundrels, yet some are mighty good people. So, I will press on, writing in my little world of make-believe…southern stories that become real as you read them.
No person knows what I’ve experienced in life but me. I’ve had a wonderful life, a full life, and a life of joy! Growing up in a pastor’s home was not always easy and fun. In elementary school, many of the children teased and bullied me, because I was a preacher’s kid. I often heard the comment, “You think you’re something because your daddy is a preacher!” It seemed to follow me every where I went. I grew up in the 50s when little girls from our church only wore dresses. How I dressed became the “standard” by which the other little girls at Wilson Grove Baptist Church were dressed. I even had a dear lady tell me that when her daughters wanted to start wearing pants and shorts they were told by their father, “When Carolyn Digh starts wearing pants, you can wear them.” I’m sure that caused them to resent me. When I got to high school, boys didn’t want to date the preacher’s daughter. But little did I realize that just over the hill next door, a young man was living that saw something in me. He didn’t look at me as the “preacher’s kid” he only saw me as a person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with; we’ve been married for 53 years and have never been happier.
Even today, I’m still that preacher’s kid. And you know what, I’m proud of it. People who remember my father connect with the fact that I’m a 72 year-old PK. My dear husband has become known as “the preacher’s son-in-law,” and my daughter’s have become known as “the preacher’s granddaughters.”
Today, I can honestly say…I’m a stronger person because of the road I’ve traveled. I wouldn’t take anything for my journey in life, and it definitely has influenced my writing. Growing up in a pastor’s home has given me much insight into the character and lives of people. I have used some of the knowledge I’ve gleaned from many of the “church people” to form the personalities of my characters. Not all “church people” are nice.” Daddy used to call them “disgruntles.” They were always crotchety and cantankerous. Notice I used the term “church people” not Christians. One of the problems I observed over the years in southern Baptist churches is family control issues. One family gets into power, and the family across the way gets upset and starts a ruckus or a bruhaha. Most of the time the two factions are kin to each other. Next thing you know, it’s like a political arena. Because of my life experiences, I can almost spot a “disgruntle” a mile away.
Yes, I’ve seen much in my 72 years. If all writers were to be honest, they would have to admit they base their writing on their experiences and what they know. A writer has to write about what he or she has knowledge of. All I have ever known is life in the church and the Christian life. Therefore, that’s what my novels are about. They are packed with imperfect people that God has touched and redeemed.
If you were to walk in my footsteps today, you would find that I have slowed down and learned to evaluate life more through my spiritual eyes than through my physical eyes. Life gets sweeter as the days go by. I can describe a sunset with deeper clarity, because it looks more beautiful than it did in my youth. The birds and the trees are lovelier than they have ever been before, and I can describe them with more detail. Today, I view things honestly and attempt to describe them simply and accurately, whereas years ago, my writing would have had no depth or exactness. So, follow in my footsteps today and you might see life differently.
Picture by Min An from Pexels
In 2007, my entire life changed. I was going full speed ahead as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and an employee of Union County Public Schools. That particular day was spent helping our new superintendent of schools get ready for his first school board meeting. Packets of information had to be prepared for each board member, food had to be picked up and arranged, and the room had to be in perfect order. As the conference room filled with people, I noticed I didn’t feel exactly right. I ignored the fact that I felt bad, but I attended to my duties. As the night progressed, I realized my throat felt strange. I continued to ignore my condition and greeted the public with a smile.
While taking the minutes during the business session, I continued to have that strange feeling…almost felt like I had a fur ball caught in my throat. After cleaning up the conference room when the meeting was over, I made my way home.
As soon as I arrived, I collapsed in bed knowing I had a busy day ahead at work. About 5:00 am the next morning, I awoke with a horrible cough—nothing like I had ever experienced before. That was the day my life changed. I coughed continually; about 6:00 am, I aspirated stomach contents into my lungs. My husband took me to the doctor immediately, and I was diagnosed with severe double pneumonia. Both lungs were filled with congestion, and I was basically bedridden for several weeks. The horrible coughing did not stop.
I went back to the doctor several times, and I went undiagnosed for about two or three months. To make a long story short, my doctor contracted the disease from me and gave it to her newborn baby. The pediatrician diagnosed him with pertussis or whooping cough. Through blood work, they traced it back to me.
I attempted to return to work after a few weeks, but it just wasn’t working out. I was too weak to do anything. While working one day, the doctor called and told me I most likely had had pertussis. She then sent me to a pulmonary specialist who absolutely didn’t believe I had experienced pertussis, but he did the blood test to determine the diagnosis. When I went back to his office, he wouldn’t even come in the room to give me the results…he sent his assistant in. I guess he was ashamed to admit that he was wrong. I had never met such a rude doctor. The test proved I definitely had experienced the childhood disease, whooping cough. Since I was 60 years of age, I decided it was time for me to retire due to the fact that I wasn’t able to perform my duties effectively.
My immune system became compromised, and I contracted mononucleosis while dealing with a severe episode of shingles…the horrible coughing continued. I deal with severe episodes of coughing to this day. I then found out I was suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Asthma. Being homebound, I had to find something to do. That’s when I discovered writing. I had never had an inclination to write. I spent a lot of time alone as a child. I would tell myself stories of make-believe, but I never wrote them down. I asked myself, “Who wants to read my stuff?”
Little did I realize how writing would change my life. To date, I have written five faith-based novels and have started a sixth one. The titles of my novels are Hope Returns, Terror on Waxhaw Creek, Fireflies on Waxhaw Creek, Family Secrets, and Unfailing Love. With God’s help, I’ve tried to turn my situation into a positive thing…basically, I’ve turned “my lemons into lemonade.” I’m now 72 years old and deal with many health issues, but God’s grace has brought me through this valley. I not only write, I research genealogy and always keep a puzzle book or my Kindle near me working all types of puzzles. I’ve found that staying busy is the best therapy in the world for me. The great thing about it is this…I don’t have to leave home to do it. I’ve learned to be content in whatever state I’m in. I’m reminded of the lyrics of an old, old song by Stephen Foster…
Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,
Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away,
Gone from the earth to a better land I know,
I hear their gentle voices calling “Old Black Joe”.
I’m coming, I’m coming, for my head is bending low:
I hear those gentle voices calling, “Old Black Joe”.
I realize my journey in life is nearing the end. When my time comes to leave this earth, I will go down fighting and come up victorious. I can promise you that! God’s not finished with me yet. Stay tuned for more books!
find, refresh, style, storytell, inspire
A boost of courage to live YOUR life!
parenting, health, marriage....life.
working on writing
Carolyn Digh Griffin...Storyteller, Writer, Speaker, Self-Publisher, Blogger
Capturing memories, one hour at a time
Wherever you go, go with all your heart. Confucius
Christian Author and Teacher
Christian Speaker and Author
Debra Pedrow: Christian Author and Blogger
From Broken to Healing to Whole
Musings from Christian Author, Allyson Kennedy
JOIN US FOR INSPIRING WORDS FROM TODAY'S BEST CHRISTIAN AUTHORS
Showcasing Christian Authors Worldwide
Passionately Helping Christian Authors
Carolyn Digh Griffin...Storyteller, Writer, Speaker, Self-Publisher, Blogger