Category Archives: Editorial

Aunt Hester’s General Store: The Calm After the Storm

Tornado warnings one week and then the closing of I-75 for a few days the next . . . we’ve had a few busy weeks, haven’t we, Campbell County? Since the General Store is located right in the heart of Downtown LaFollette, I had a bird’s eye view of all the traffic the other day. I know that several of our local businesses, who deliver food orders, probably found their business down for those days. Thankfully, it seems to be over for the most part and instead of having hundreds into the thousands of big rigs rolling through our streets, it’s almost too calm.

I personally appreciated the professional way all this traffic was handled by the LaFollette Police Force. They did an excellent job. And so did members of the Fire and Street Departments along with an elected official or so, who worked right along with them. They kept those trucks rolling right along. A friend of mine, who works for TDOT told me that there was great communication among all of the mayors and police departments.

Many of the Cracker Barrel Gang managed to come to the store and share their adventures with me. Jellico Jane braved 25W several times and except for a few snags, she was trucking right along with the others and she drives a VW. She, Jacksboro Josh, LaFollette Lou and I, watched, drank coffee, and discussed some politics, or what resembles politics in these parts.

We all agreed that the Sales Tax increase was a lost cause before it was defeated at the Ballot Box. We also agreed that there was no way it wouldn’t be put on the ballot again and that there would be attempts to either raise Property Taxes or slap something more onto the infernal Wheel Tax.

Jacksboro Josh asked a question that set us all to thinking and it was: “Did you all see in the paper where they published the Delinquent Taxes and did you notice they were for 2009?”

“How much is owed?” asked LaFollette Lou.

“Didn’t say. And if that’s what is delinquent from 2009, what do you think is delinquent for 2010 and 2011?” He answered and asked.

All of us commenced to thinking and sipping our coffee and I believed instead of trying to answer his question, we’d rather be hopping a ride out of town, on one of those big rigs passing by. I broke the silence by commenting that it was growing clearer and clearer, that as a county, we’ve stepped into such a deep pile of equine droppings that it will take a whole lot more than a Change Order to get us out!

Jacksboro Josh blurted out, “Can you believe the finagling that goes on with these Change Orders? I’ve got a small business and when I bid a job, I go over it again and again and do my best to make sure that the price I’m quoting is as close as it can be. I give my customer the bid and I break my back making sure that it’s not going to cost any more than I’ve quoted. Sure, there’s been a few situations where I come upon a problem that was unexpected and even then, because of my experience, it’s never more than a few dollars over the original quote. These people getting these bids from our government in Jacksboro, quote a job, get the bid, and they turn over one shovel of dirt and have to stop and let everyone know, it’s going to cost more than expected. And what happens? Somebody writes a check for the overage, called a Change Order, when the contractor has only turned over one shovel of dirt! I might be a hundred dollars off the mark! Not these experts, they always seem to need thousands more! Then when they’ve turned over four more shovels of dirt, there’s another problem, and another Change Order!”

Again, silence and sips of coffee followed. I thought to myself that there’s coming a time, here in Campbell County Government, when they will not be able to take any more from the taxpayers and then we’ll have to suffer the consequences for not making sure that we stopped the wasting of so much ink and paper to write those Change Orders!

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.

Jeremy’z Journey: ‘Have you Ever’… realized whose heart you’re breaking?

“Have you ever loved somebody so much it makes you cry? Have you ever needed something so bad you can’t sleep at night? Have you ever tried to find the words but they don’t come out right? Have you ever… Have you ever,” – Brandy
Most people can say that they have had one love – that special someone – who didn’t work out in their life. Even though you really wanted it to, that someone you tried to, or wanted to, hold on to just slipped through the fingers. Maybe you were too young, maybe you weren’t ready, or maybe you just didn’t realize how dumb it would be to let this person get out of your life. Maybe situations around the two of you were too much for the other person to handle. Maybe you just thought the situations were too much for them, but that special person didn’t care, they wanted you all the same.
Unfortunately, that has happened to me twice.
The first person I am guilty of forsaking is Jesus Christ; the other, is the woman who has now – after many years apart – agreed to marry my dumb-self.
Seriously, I have no doubt that God put us in each other’s paths all those years ago because we were His plan for us. But because I’m an ignoramus – and as I explained a few columns ago had decided that I had to be in control of my own life – I fouled it up. I threw His perfect and wonderful plans for my life out.
Over the years, I’ve often wondered what my life could have been like had I not let her go. I’ve also wondered the same about my life had I not let go of God. Those two thoughts alone are enough to shatter an otherwise good-night’s-sleep.
There wasn’t much I could do to salvage the one relationship, however, I could save my relationship with Jesus just by turning away from my ways, swallowing my pride and asking for His unwavering, unconditional forgiveness and help. (Also in a previous column for those keeping up, it took years to come to that realization.)
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” – Luke 17:3, 4 (NIV).
That’s Jesus talking people! In the context, He was telling His disciples how they should be willing to forgive. But He was also showing hoe He will unquestionably forgive us if we truly seek His forgiveness.
While I had lived many years without Christ, and seemingly had it all together, I knew I was missing a very special love, and embrace, and grace and forgiveness by not being near to God. When I finally swallowed my own misery that I had created, I once again felt His love, His embrace, His grace and His much-needed forgiveness in my life.
He also saw fit to bring that one special person – my one-and-only earthbound love – back into my life. She had received the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ at an earlier age than I. Truly loving God, and also truly loving me on this Earth, she offered me forgiveness and the love that had always existed between us.
How can she love me like this, an idiot-ignoramus? How do I love her the way that I always have? How do any of us truly know what “love” is? It’s because He first loved us. If not for His love for us, none of us could know or experience love. There would be no example of true love, because Jesus showed us true love.
As I read the rest of Brandy’s lyrics, I realized the words could stand as a modern-day version of Jesus’ love (minus the poppy “baby” parts of course). The words could easily represent what Jesus was saying to all of us while He lived on Earth.
“Have you ever been in love, been in love so bad, you’d do anything to make them understand? Have you ever had someone steal your heart away, you’d give anything to make them feel the same?”
God loves you that much!
He loves you enough that He would send His only son to Earth to die for you, for all of us ignoramus humans. Jesus died to create a way for us to be forgiven of our sins, so that we can come back into His embrace.
“Have you finally found the one you’ve given your heart to, only to find that one won’t give their heart to you?”
‘Have you ever’ thought of how it breaks God’s heart when you deny Him?
Fathers and mothers, you know what it’s like when your children rebel against you and your teachings, and man it hurts. How would it feel if your children outright denied you? Would you be up at night? Of course you would! Sometimes just a small amount of our children’s rebellious nature is enough to keep us from sleeping a minute.
‘Have you ever’ thought of how your rebellion, my rebellion, all of our rebellion keeps God awake at night? ‘Have you ever’ thought of how denying Christ breaks God’s heart?
We all have known Earthly heartbreak, but can you imagine how many times each day God’s heart is broken into pieces by us?
“What do I gotta do to get you in my arms? What do I gotta say to get to your heart?” – Brandy.
Jesus was persecuted His whole life, He was. Beaten, tortured, thorns forced upon His head and brow, pierced with a spear in his ribs and side, He was. Nailed in His hands, nailed in His feet, He was.
Crucifixion wasn’t a quick death either like some might think.
Bleeding from many wounds, thirsty from brutality and parched by the heat of the sun, He was. Forsaken and left for dead, He was. Withering into death, not only for His friends and relatives but for all of humanity, He was. Laid in a tomb, and forsaken again, He was. Brought back to life by the mighty hand of God, His father; brought to the exalted right hand of God, He was.
Willing to forgive us all for forsaking Him, willing to forgive us of all our transgressions and bring us closer to His side, forgiving and forgetting all we have done against Him and each other….. He is!
Now I ask you, in a reprisal of the lyrics: What does God have to do to get you in His arms? What does He have to say to get to your heart?
And now I ask you: What else can He do or say that He hasn’t already done or said? How much more love can He possibly give you, than what He has already given?

Aunt Hester’s General Store: A Quick Update

Well Darlings, in case you were hiding under a rock for the last few weeks, you didn’t know that Tuesday, March 6th there was a vote here in Campbell County to pass an addition to the Sales Tax. As folks were voting for their choice of a Republican Candidate for President, they also could vote yes or no on raising the Sales Tax here in Campbell County.

The Campbell County Commissioners tried, but failed, to convince us, that we should give them some more money to waste. Instead of finding a way to stop wasting money, they thought that it would be easier to just raise the Sales Tax. Well, it didn’t work and the voters said, “No.”

Guess what happens next? They’ll probably try to raise Property Taxes since they can’t seem to figure out a way to save money. Get ready My Darlings, two years in a row this county has failed to get a clean audit from the State of Tennessee, and for a year, nothing has happened in Jacksboro but spend, spend, spend.

Will write more about what is happening in the General Store in a few days. In the meantime, start paying close attention to what is going to happen in our Campbell County Government and don’t be surprised if you find out that there’s a whole lot more going on than you can begin to suspect. To give you a hint, your children and grandchildren will not have a chance of beginning to pay off the debt.

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.

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Aunt Hester’s General Store Returns

It’s been a month of Sundays since I’ve had time to sit down and let you know what has been going on here in the General Store. It has been a busy month with all the things going on in Campbell County and America.

Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to keep up with what is happening and changing. Although, nothing has seemed to change with our Campbell County Government as once again, it has failed to get a clean audit from the State Auditors. Darlings, talk about a mess! It amazes me that, we as citizens of Campbell County, would allow our State Legislators to decide just how much our elected officials should be paid. Paid for not keeping things straight? Try that where you work and see how long you last.

In a county where the average income is just over twenty-thousand dollars, we are allowing many of our elected officials to be paid almost triple that amount. And with their benefits, that adds even more. Yes, they should be paid for doing a good job, but it seems that here, they get paid for just showing up! There doesn’t seem to be anything that can be done to stop paying folks for not doing their jobs.

You and I both know that this hanky-panky business has been going on for years and we keep electing folks to do better and over the years, they only seem to do worse. And to allow those characters in Nashville to spread this misery and to make sure that when you get elected, that you join the club named: “Over-Paid Public Servants” is where the mess needs to begin to get straightened out!

There’s folks sitting down there in Jacksboro, who you elected, that make sure that most anyone related to them get a job there as well, qualified or not, and then they make more money for doing nothing than can be imagined! Do you believe for one moment that anyone working for the government works a forty-hour week?!

Then the Federal Government is worse than most of our local governments. Oh sure, President Obama was his Obama Care, to lift us out of our medical miseries. But, how come all Federal Employees are exempted? Because their medical benefits are being paid for by the government. Yet, his Health Care Bill, would make it mandatory, not just on a state by state basis, but on a National basis, that YOU must have insurance or you will be fined. There are already more than 400 exemptions to Obama Care as he attempts to cover his backside with unions and such.

The Supreme Court of the United States, is going to rule on this “Mandatory” insurance in a few months. If they rule that it’s unconstitutional, then it’s back to Square One with a National Health Insurance because Obama Care can’t function if we, as a nation, are not mandated by law to have Health Insurance. We’ll see what happens.

I wonder how things would go, if Government Workers, making so much more that the average income, would feel about this insurance thing, if their insurance was not being almost totally paid for?

Time has flown, and I haven’t had time to tell you about all the activities going on here at the General Store. I’ll try to catch you up the next time you visit with me.

Just remember. It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.

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Jeremy’z Journey: Lock your doors! But why?

Have you ever contemplated why we have locks on our doors?
Let me phrase that a better way: Have you ever stood outside your car door, beating your fists against the doorframe and window, checking the handle again as if beating on the door magically unlocked it, all while watching the keys dangling in the ignition?
Now, we’ve set the scene.
At that moment, did you scream and ask yourself, “Why in the blankety-blanking bleepety-bleep did I lock the door?”
Well, I have. I’ve been there, several years ago, luckily. It hasn’t happened to me in awhile.
After a few enraged minutes, mostly enraged at myself although displaying it outwardly, I thought to myself: Why do they even put locks on doors? Why do we even need locks at all?
Like a burst of intelligence, God answered me with one word: “Sin!”
Think about it. If there were no sin – that is, if sin didn’t exist on Earth – there would be no reason to lock your doors. There would be no reason to shut your windows other than it being cold outside. Your wallet, purse or your kid’s Nintendo DS would be safe in plain sight between your car seats.
As a kid, I remember hearing adults’ comments of, “Lock your doors and windows, so-and-so got out of jail.”
For that matter, if it wasn’t for sin, so-and-so wouldn’t have a jail to go to, because there wouldn’t be a crime committed by a so-and-so. Even further, the rest of us wouldn’t be gossiping or watching the news about the so-and-sos, if not for the existence of sin in our world.
“For every living soul belongs to Me, the father as well as the son, both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die,” – Ezekiel 18:4 (New International Version)
Some religious groups have begun an inner-crusade against preaching that mentions “sin.” Some can’t handle the pastor talking about Hell – aka the devil’s home address, aka the place where sin was crafted before it was introduced to humans here on Earth.
Someone very close to me recently told me, “That’s why I don’t go to church, because as soon as you walk in the door, they start preaching at you.”
Well…. They don’t call him a preacher because he paints fences.
If a discussion about sin and the mention that God can forgive your sin makes your feet feel hot – let me tell you, man – the heat your feeling is the heat coming from 666 Satan’s Lane (I don’t know his real address, just guessing here). It means that things are not “ok” with you and God.
If a man, who happens to not be a fence painter, mentions sin and you get twitchy. That’s your soul – your spirit – hemorrhaging as it is trying to leap back to where it belongs, which is near God’s side.
Now to those who need to come closer to God and ask for forgiveness of your sin, which is given through the free grace of Jesus Christ, I want you to know that I’m not “preaching at you.” But you should understand that I’m not painting a fence either! I am concerned about your soul and where you will be when your earthly flesh gives out.
Back to my question: Why do we have locks? It’s because we have sin. Sin keeps us from being able to grab both door handles, jerk the church doors open and step into the full love and grace and fellowship of God.
“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine,” — ! Timothy 1:8-10 (NIV).
If not for sin, we wouldn’t need locks, or laws, or jails. But you cannot guard yourself from the sin of others, nor should you allow the sin of others to interfere with your relationship with the One who made you – God. Do not let someone else’s choices “bring you down.” Do not let someone else influence you to “do as they do.”
In the words of your mother – and all mothers, “If so-and-so jumped off a bridge would you?”
It doesn’t take a burst of intelligence to know right from wrong, and it doesn’t take a Wiseman to follow the guidance God puts before us.
If all were righteous, there would be no fear of leaving our doors unlocked. Sin may find its way into your home and steal your DVD player. Sin doesn’t care about locks, because sin has no regard for anything but sin itself. Sin doesn’t care about locks because it has a crowbar. Sin doesn’t care about locks, because it will smash your car windows to get your stereo, or your innocent child’s video game.
But there is one lock that sin can’t break. There is one lock that sin always tries to get around – one lock that sin wants to pry open with a crowbar.
That is the lock God puts on your heart when you accept Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that can only come from Him.
“Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life,” – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV).
That verse isn’t talking about eating a fat-free diet. It isn’t talking about lowering your cholesterol by eating Cheerios.
That verse is a warning to all of us to “above all else,” guard your heart from sin.
We pray to God to forgive our sin and ask Him to lock sin out of our hearts and lives. We pray God that you will help us to not allow sin to pry its way back into our hearts. Guard our hearts, Jesus, and protect our “wellspring of life.” For without our wellspring, we have no connection to you Lord. Amen!