It’s almost Thanksgiving. We’re planning the big feast, looking forward to family gatherings, and enjoying the children’s glee over a school holiday. We’re soaking up the beauty of chrysanthemums and pumpkins. And we’re making thank you lists.
Making thank you lists is fun, it’s rewarding, and–it will destroy depression and pity parties!
Making a thank you list always leads me to a huge sense of gratitude to the Lord God. I’m thankful for salvation, for family, for beauty around us, for church, for friends, for answered prayers, for unanswered prayers, for the ability to read, for Bibles, for the laughter of children, for the scent of pumpkin pies baking–and the list goes on. I’m thankful for family members and church leaders who urged me as a child to memorize poetry and Bible passages like Psalm 100.
I’ve been brushing up on Psalm 100 lately and becoming amazed as always. How incredible is it that in our own homes we can enter into His gates with thanksgiving! I have no better Thanksgiving message for you than to remind you of the wonderful words of Psalm 100. I challenge you, if you have not already, to memorize all five verses. Make it yours, so you’ll have it wherever you go and whenever you need it.
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
The peak of leaf color in the North Georgia mountains was past. Family members had reported it was the most beautiful fall ever and, though we’d missed the best, were sure we’d still enjoy fading colors–even on a rainy day!
We drove towards Helen from Clarkesville. The Nacoochee Valley is beautiful whatever season it is. Riding past the little steepled white church on the right and the historical Indian mound on the left, I was swept to other times when, as a little girl, our family took this trip. Also, I was reminded of the many times I traveled this road as a student at Young Harris College. Along the way towards the Chattahoochee River we exclaimed over bright gold hickory trees, a few tulip trees with golden leaves still clinging like birds against the sky, and red oaks standing brightly amongst the gold.
Our first stop was at Nora Mill. This mill and granary hugs a curve and stands on the brink of the Chattahoochee River where the waterfall still gives power for grinding corn into meal and wheat into flour. We purchased a bag of yellow cornmeal just so we could make cornbread at home and remember the quaint mill and its companion river, white water and all.
Driving around curves and finding wonderful views of trees still bright, we arrived in Helen. It is a busy little town even in off seasons, many happy tourists visiting quaint alpine shops. The German theme is captivating, drawing thousands to its Oktoberfest every fall. We were glad to catch it on a quieter day. Glimpsing the beautiful murals on sides of some original shops, we talked about our artist friend, John Kollock, who brought new life to this little mountain logging town. He had been in service in Germany and envisioned turning Helen into a Bavarian village. Years later I was so thrilled when he illustrated the second edition of my book, Stone Gables.
We had intended to drive to the intersection with state road 76 which would lead us to Clayton. But by the time we arrived at that intersection we had decided to go on up to Lake Chatuge, Hiawassee and Young Harris. Charles had sensed my strong pull towards Young Harris where I’d spent such happy college years.
On one side of a ridge the trees were almost bare, but on the other side the foliage was still full and bright. I reveled in every burnished gold beech tree or stray red sourwood. But I was absolutely enthralled when we came around a curve to see a mountainside carpeted in color. At times the sun came out long enough for shadows to dapple the mountainsides, a sight that had always thrilled me.
At Young Harris College we drove everywhere cars were allowed. Of course it was exciting to see all the handsome new buildings, new library, dining hall, sports facilities and all. But I treasured the sight of the buildings I could remember, the little chapel in particular. Young Harris was a junior college when I was there in 1961-63 but is now a four-year college. But the dormitories I lived in are still there backed up against the mountain. As we circled about I vividly remembered faces of many who had helped shape me, like Mrs. Dowis with whom I worked at the Henry Duckworth Library, Mr. Clay Dotson who taught political geography trying to make us understand what was happening in Vietnam, and Miss Hunter who took such kind notice of me though I was a disaster in her algebra class. Driving on beyond the college we saw llamas grazing and, farther on, little Cupid Falls still merrily tumbling along as if years had not passed.
As we traveled on over to Clayton we took some side roads just to see what we could see. Everywhere there was beauty, the sun coming out at intervals, then the misty rain again making the colors seem to bleed into each other.
Past Clayton towards Dillard we stopped for lunch at The Cupboard, a favorite restaurant of our family’s. We jabbered about what we’d seen all along the way as we ate delicious hot bowls of chicken pot pie, the special for Saturday.
The ride back to Clarkesville on 441 took us along the dear familiar landmarks like the Tallulah Gorge. The color wasn’t as magnificent as it had been earlier, but it was beautiful. I’m remembering a time many years ago during another chapter in our lives when we, our children, and special friends climbed down into the gorge, explored rock formations and hiked along the river before climbing back out. It’s hard to believe, looking at the awesome steep gorge, that we ever did that!
As I write this I can enjoy again the beautiful sights on that misty mountain ride–the slopes of color, the distant blue mountains, amazing changes along with the old at Young Harris College, the hickories and beech and red oak all along the way. I can see the drift of clouds on the mountains, the white water of the Chattahoochee flowing past Nora Mill, the tiny steepled white church in Nacoochee Valley. And I picture the church near Hiawassee where we stopped for a midmorning snack. The church was surrounded by autumn color including a brilliantly red pear tree. We viewed it all through a rainy windshield.
Returning to Clarkesville, we were grateful for and delighted with the comfortable apartment where we stayed with Michelle and her childen, Katherine and Joseph. Michelle’s husband, my nephew, Nathan Knight, is presently on assignment with the National Guard in Mexico at the embassy.
What a gift, that rainy misty ride in the North Georgia mountains! Even after the peak was well past it was wonderful to us.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17
Candi’s three hens are laying beautiful brown eggs. These are pet hens Candi has grown from chicks who would sit on her shoulder. Now Candi is sharing eggs with us. Amazing!
Seeing those perfectly shaped eggs made me think of the years when I was the egg girl at our house. I learned many lessons about timeliness, faithfulness and not telling Mamma the hens hadn’t laid that day when actually I’d broken them all. I learned that chickens can get salt poisoning when their feed is too salty and someone forgets to water them. Mamma was very sad about losing those hens. I learned how baby chicks are so soft and adorable and how, when allowed out of their safe pen, they become adorable dinner for a swiftly pouncing hawk.
But I learned something else from those chickens. The rooster was always happy when morning came. He crowed before it was even daylight. I could never feel cross about his crowing because he sounded so happy. Just happy for another day.
But the hens sounded happy all day grazing the yard for worms and such. They made a certain chuckling sound as they meandered along. It almost sounded as if they were talking to each other. I didn’t know what they were saying but I was sure they weren’t grumbling about having to hunt for worms. It sounded more as if they were playing while they worked. When it was feeding time they had a wonderful party. They jostled and pounced on their scattered grain, playfully competing with each other over the bountiful feast, sometimes getting raucous in their eagerness.
But the happiest sounds of all were when the hens announced freshly laid eggs. There was a certain utter joy expressed by a hen as she cackled loudly that all chickens might know she had produced another marvelous, perfectly formed brown egg. It was a sound of great enthusiasm no one could miss.
Thinking about Candi’s three hens, I thought beyond the happiness of hens making a day’s super production and all their other daily delights. I thought about us. We have far more to be happy about than those hens. But do we raise our voices in hallelujahs and let those around us know the good things the Lord has done for us?
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the lines “The world is full of a number of things; I think we should all be as happy as kings.” The question follows, are kings really happy? Mr. Stevenson, might we be allowed to change your lines a little? “The world is full of a number of things; I think we should all be as happy as hens.”
All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15