RSS Feed

An Old Wagoner

“This untutored son of the frontier was the only general in the American Revolution on either side, to produce a significant original tactical thought.” John Buchanan, in The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas (1997), p. 316

Leaving home at seventeen, Daniel Morgan left looking for a better life. He worked on farms, sawmills, and finally as a wagoner. Saving his money, he bought his own Conestoga wagon and team to haul supplies for other people across the frontier. His wagons carried salt, flour, ammunition, etc.

museum exhibit of Conestoga wagon

Morgan must have saved a lot of money, because the wagon cost $250 and the team of four horses and harness $1200 more.

During the French and Indian War, he hauled military supplies for the British. Not only was he known as a crack shot, but also as an outdoorsman. His quick temper and brawling nature also traveled with him. One day he angered a British officer. After the lieutenant hit Daniel with the flat of his sword, the wagoner knocked him out with one well-placed fist. Punishment for striking an officer was 500 lashes with a whip; Morgan endured this punishment and, of course, was court-martialed. From this point on, Daniel Morgan nourished a hate for the British.

He returned to the life of a wagoner and even called himself, the Old Wagoner.

Then came a few years of settling in Virginia on a 250 acre farm that he called Soldier’s Rest and marrying Abigail Bailey. He quit wrestling and became a tobacco farmer. A woman of manners and education, Abigail had a good influence on Daniel.

On July 14, 1775, he formed a rifle company, and he fought against the British until he and his men were captured during the Battle of Quebec. His reputation proceeded  him. When asked by the British to become a general for their side, he responded, “I am not a scoundrel. My services are not for sale!” After spending eight months in captivity, he was exchanged. Returning to New Jersey’s shore, it is said he fell to his face on the ground and exclaimed, “Oh, my country!”

His reputation as a leader spread; he was just and fair, and his men respected him.

Another story is told about his leadership qualities. Two of his riflemen were straining to move a rock in the road. Watching from the side was an officer, who Morgan questioned, “Why aren’t you helping?”

The officer replied, “Sir, I am an officer.”

Morgan loudly responded, “I beg your pardon! I did not think of that.”

Immediately, Morgan jumped off his horse and helped the two riflemen.

Daniel Morgan during the American Revolution - National Park Service

At age 44, he resigned his commission because Congress refused to give him a promotion. He worked his farm and kept up with war news for a year. Charleston, SC fell to the British, and then General Horatio Gates lost at Camden; Lord Cornwallis was moving the British army to the north. To subdue the Patriots, farms, homes, and crops were trampled in Carolina.

Plagued by sciatica issues that produced extreme pain in his back and legs, he returned to the field at the request of General Nathaniel Greene to command a corps of light infantry in SC.

Morgan’s orders read, “…You and your militia will harry the British and keep me advised of your movements and those of your enemy through your scouts….”

And the English Colonel Banastre Tarleton received orders from Cornwallis, “Wipe him (Morgan) out! Catch him and smash him!”

And the chase was on! In a week of cold, sleet, and rain in the Upstate of SC, two soldiers fought to claim victory over each other. But, as Greene said, Great Generals are Scarce–there are few Morgans out there.

This weekend at the Cowpens National Battlefield (, there will be a two-day celebration of this battle that I have given you a bit of a back story for. Reenactors will camp on the grounds for two nights and be ready to share how the 18th century soldiers lived. Activities for children, an excellent movie telling the story of the Battle of Cowpens, and tours of the battlefield will be available to share this battle’s highlights.

It is a weekend to enjoy family fun and to remember the men and women who fought to make 13 colonies into the United States of America. Perhaps I will see you there.

Image result for quotes from battle of cowpens



Spartanburg Snow

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
Since I grew up in upstate Spartanburg, South Carolina, I have seen a few snowfalls, though never enough to suit me.

My dad enjoyed sledding with us in the snow. Our backyard on Penarth Road had a short slope to entertain us when we were younger. As we got older, he would take us to nearby Shoresbrook Golf Course, and we never wanted to leave. The hills Through the years, we would sled on biscuit pans, cardboard boxes, and finally  a sled.

Image result for quote on snow

In my sixth grade year at Pine Street School, it snowed on Wednesday during  the month of March for three weeks, and school would be closed for the rest of the week. I can remember Daddy carefully driving and sliding up the hill to let Critt and me out, and we weren’t sure if we were going to get there. We had to trudge through piled snow, over our heads, to get to the school building.

Freezing rain, sleet, and snow made for continuing hazardous conditions; it was hard to get used to a full week of school at the end of the month.

Image result for march 1960 snowstorm

I believe the above photo gives an idea to the amount of snow.

There was humor amidst the problems of transportation and cabin fever.

A classic mountain story, possibly true, possibly not, comes from this great series of storms. A Red Cross team discovered an isolated cabin and landed their chopper to see if the family there was alright. They went up to the door and knocked, and were greeted by an elderly woman. “We’re from the Red Cross, ma’am,” one said. “I’m sorry,” she replied, “but we can’t give anything this year. It’s been a hard winter.”

Having shelves lined with canned vegetables, cows in the barn, chickens in the coop, wood stacked on the porch, and vegetables in the root cellar, those living in the mountains didn’t have to rely on the crazy run to the grocery stores for the proverbial milk and bread.

When John and I married in 1979, he told me he was on the snow patrol at Hoechst; that meant nothing to me, until he was called to duty. There were about 50 volunteers who drove shifts to pick up workers to keep the plant running, and he was a volunteer. These men, no women, first drove company cars with chains, and then cars with front wheel drive. Long hours included picking up workers, delivering them to the work site, and receiving a new list. In a time before GPS, there were no coffee or lunch breaks; staying in the roads and finding hidden homes were the main thing. The drivers put their lives, as well as their passengers’ lives, in their hands and the wheels of the vehicles they drove.

Once more this weekend, freezing rain, sleet, and snow appeared in our yards and on our roads. Arriving during the night, this wintry mix spilled its blanket.

I am a little snow crazy and have always been. Watching it fall brings a sense of peace, and seeing it spread its covering inch-by-inch amazes me. Both the tiny and fluffy flakes all work together.

When I woke up yesterday, John opened the blinds and brought us a cup of coffee to savor. What a serene way to start the day, and I so appreciated my husband’s making plans to start our day off in such a special way. He truly blesses me and has for 37 years.

As I look by on a few snow memories and forward to this new year, I am sure that there will be ways I can also bless others. This is my goal for this year: to keep my eyes and heart open to the needs of those I come in contact with.  Would you like to join me in intentionally being a blessing?

2 Corinthians 9:8-11 says, Besides, God is able to make every blessing of yours overflow for you, so that in every situation you will always have all you need for any good work. As it is written, “He scatters everywhere and gives to the poor; his righteousness lasts forever.”  Now he who supplies seed to the farmer and bread to eat will also supply you with seed and multiply it and enlarge the harvest that results from your righteousness. In every way you will grow richer and become even more generous, and this will cause others to give thanks to God because of us.

“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Day”

It was for “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” that the film “Song of the South” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. James Baskett/Uncle Remus sang the lyrics with a smile on his face and a lightness to his step as he walked down a morning path.

Just watching this video makes me remember how contagious this song is. Guess I will admit to singing along.

Shall we accept this challenge from a simple song to look at each day in a positive way?Why not?

Our son Scott and I used to sing “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” at the top of our lungs, as I drove him to school. We always had smiles on our faces!

As Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

One day at a time, we can choose to help make 2017 a Happy New Year! Will you join me?



Our Christmas Blessing

Image result for photo of blessing others

Last week on Christmas Eve, I received a phone call from one of our octogenarian friends. He and his wife wanted to come by for a visit, and I excitedly said yes.

He was called to the ministry in South Africa 51 years ago, and this couple has served on that continent and in the US. She is an expert in all things created with a needle, and he is a teacher of the Word. I truly love to listen to their British accents and hear their usage of uncommon British terms. Their smiles are contagious, and they greet all with love and friendship. Sharing a cup of tea and cookies with them in their home has been a treat for us.

Image result for cup of tea

Listening to their stories of how our Lord has led and blessed them is a journey of faith and bent knees.

When Ed arrived at our home, Mirth wasn’t with him. Unfortunately her legs were giving her trouble that afternoon. I served coffee, rather than tea, and some peach cookies made in Charleston. Our conversation drifted from the present to the past and back again, led by this man, called by God to preach His word. He told us about growing up in Africa and shared a taste of the diverse communities there. (John and I both love history, and this was all new to us. Ed painted pictures of a world completely foreign to both of us.)

Then he said he felt led to pray, and Ed prayed a prayer of blessing over John and me as a couple. As John and I held hands, as we have always done when praying, my husband’s grip tightened on mine. Ed asked God for strength for us to continue to lead the Christian lives we had been called to. He prayed for our discernment in following God’s call. He recognized our love for the Lord and blessed us for our commitment.

For John and me, it was a time of grace and bending of the knee once again to live a life of obedience and faith. What a Christmas gift to us as a couple! Individually, we have both been prayed for by friends, but not since our wedding, 37 years ago, have we been prayed for as a couple. It will be a Christmas Eve we never forget.

Image result for couple with praying hands

In Colossians 1:9-12 is a prayer of blessing.

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light.

These words echo much of what Ed spoke over us last Saturday, and the words are strong for those “who live in the light.”

As we all look toward 2017, I pray that we will seek our Father’s wisdom an share it with those around us and let “our lives shine before men that they will see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven.

One of my two best friends died unexpectedly in August. The scripture she share on her notes and cards was always the same. By word or by deed, it is the blessing I am thankful for today.

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

Happy New Year!

Hanukkah and Christmas Eve

Jewish children love Hannukah: it means eight days of presents and candle-lighting and the coming of winter break. The menorah, a candelabra with nine branches for candle; fried food, especially donuts and latkes, and a wooden driedel/top are the core of the traditional day.

Hanukkah begins this year on Christmas Eve, for only the third time since 1872, and the first time since 1978.

Hanukkah (Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה, usually spelled חנוכה pronounced [χanuˈka] in Modern Hebrew, also romanized as Chanukah or Chanuka), also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.

The menorah holds nine candles. The center candle is the shamus or servant. It is used to light the 8 Hanukkah candles.
The Hanukkah candles are strictly for pleasure. They are not to be utilized for any useful or productive purpose. The shamus is available, so the Hanukkah candles aren’t accidentally used to light a fire in the fireplace or another useful purpose.
Gift giving is not traditionally a part of the Hanukkah holiday.
Playing dreidel is a gambling game popular during the Hanukkah holiday.
Fried foods are traditional during the holiday, representing the oil used to light the lamps.

During the time of Alexander the Great, Jewish culture began to blend with the Greek culture. Jews who accepted Greek culture at the expense of their religion became known as Hellenists. Alexander and the Jews had a mostly peaceful relationship; the Jews were loyal to his rule, and Alexander didn’t destroy and abuse them.

Around 190 BCE when Alexander left Israel, and Antiochus IV took over, most Jews had assimilated to Greek culture but continued to practice their faith. This was not sufficient for Antiochus.

He began to force the Greek culture on the devout Jewish people by placing Hellenistic priests in the Temple and desecrating it by sacrificing pigs at the alter, prohibiting Jews from practicing their faith, killing their faithful and levying heavy taxes upon them.

A rebel force of Jews formed around the year 166 BCE. They revolted against Antiochus’ government and took back the Temple.

In order to rededicate the Temple, oil was needed for the menorah, but there was only enough undefiled oil to last one night. It miraculously lasted eight days. Hanukkah is the eight-day Festival of Lights commemorating this miracle of the oil.

Even during war, the menorah was lit.

A traditional blessing is said when the middle candle is lit. “Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.” Other blessings follow and end with, “Hanerot Halalu We kindle these lights because of the wondrous deliverance You performed for our ancestors. During these eight days of Hanukkah, these lights are sacred; we are not to use them but only to behold them, so that their glow may rouse us to give thanks for Your wondrous acts of deliverance.”

As I read about these traditions of Hanukkah and realized that Jewish people all over the world will begin their celebration tonight lighting that first candle, I believe there is much to be said about remembering the works of God in our lives. He is always working, whether we see His hand or not. In the Old Testament, over and over Jehovah told the Hebrews to build a memorial of rocks at the different places where God showed Himself to His people, and they did. As stories were told later in the homes of all these miracles, perhaps it was mentioned about the memorials.

When John reads the Christmas story from Luke tonight, we will focus on this miracle. Singing “Joy to the World” we will celebrate God’s gift to us on Christmas. His Son Jesus was born in a manger and swaddled with scraps of cloths. Stable animals, as well as Mary and Joseph, watched this miraculous birth that breathed the breath of heaven and earth. Jesus is the light of the world today and yesterday. And I believe we will light a candle!

Merry Christmas!

“For the Man Who Hated Christmas”

Image result for white envelope on christmas treeNancy W. Gavin writes this story about her husband.

It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes, and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.

Mike’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children – ignoring their new toys – would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope.

Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.


We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. - Winston Churchill

Isn’t this a perfect way to honor someone?

We received an envelope in the mail yesterday from a dear friend who made a donation in our name to a local charity called St. Luke’s Free Clinic. As you can tell by the name, it is a place where those without insurance or means can go for healthcare. Oh, it made our day to see that she had given in our honor.

No, we don’t have a white envelope on our tree, but there are charities that we give to monetarily and with our time, especially at Christmas time. Truly, as the Scripture tells us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Image result for photo of christmas giving

Yes, To a Cup of Cocoa Today!

Image result for hot chocolate pictures

A cold December day is the perfect time to make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy National Cocoa Day. Each year on December 13, people across the country celebrate their favorite cold weather comfort drink.

Hot cocoa is a warm beverage made with cocoa powder, heated milk or water and sugar. The terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa are often used interchangeably by Americans causing a bit of confusion. To make hot chocolate, we use ground chocolate which contains cocoa butter. It’s mixed with hot milk and is actually a drinking chocolate.

Hot chocolate is a richer beverage made from ground chocolate which contains cocoa butter. Mixed with hot milk, the resulting mug is full of chocolate flavor and the fat and calories that come with it.

Hot chocolate is also known as drinking chocolate.

For over four hundred years, Europe and the Americas have enjoyed hot chocolate. It was a drink of first the aristocracy and then the populace. This drink even had its own distinctive serving pitcher. In the 17th and 18th centuries, chocolate pots were mostly made of silver or porcelain, the two most valuable materials of the time. “Chocolate was considered exotic and expensive,” says Sarah Coffin of the Smithsonian Museum. “It was a rare commodity and so it was associated with luxury objects such as silver, and of course in the early days, porcelain.”

Coffee and chocolate pots whimsical and ornate graced the 18th-century table.

From The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Collection.

I have my grandmother’s chocolate pot. It is porcelain and is decorated with pink flowers. Since pink was her favorite color, this makes perfect sense to me. She didn’t own a silver service, but instead had a chocolate pot and coffee pot that she used with various china cups and saucers. Nanna was the one who I enjoyed having a tea party with.

LIMOGES France MARSHALL FIELD & CO. Porcelain Chocolate Pot with PINK ROSES

We sat in her living room, and she would bring in a silver tray loaded with her chocolate pot, cloth napkins, and shortbread cookies. If it was in the spring or summer, she would also include a small vase with fresh flowers on it. As the lovely hostess she was, with her gift of hospitality, she served me first.

For years, I held the cup with both hands, and that cup was only half-full. Being served a full cup of hot chocolate and holding it in the saucer was a turning point for me. I felt like the lady I knew she was.

Looking back to these times, I treasure the memories. Jane Austen and her friends had nothing on us. It was truly our world within a changing world. The tea party didn’t survive into my generation.

Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder. Through the fermentation, drying, roasting and grinding process of cocoa beans a paste called chocolate liquor is produced. Through another process, the cocoa butter is separated leaving cocoa powder. It is this cocoa powder that we use to make hot cocoa. It has very little fat and calories and is mixed with either hot milk or water.

Both cocoa powder and cocoa paste are enjoyed in a variety of combinations, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sometimes a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dash of peppermint makes the chocolate extra special.

Liz Fourez shares this. “I’ve been drinking this new hot chocolate a lot lately, and it is honestly the creamiest, most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Just the right amount of chocolate with no bitterness, perfectly sweet, and so, so creamy… I think you guys are going to love the new recipe!

If you want to make a SINGLE SERVING of hot chocolate, here is the recipe:

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

This homemade hot chocolate mix is super creamy and SO delicious! Make a big batch for the winter or just a single serving.
Author: Liz Fourez
Recipe type: Drinks
  • 3 tablespoons powdered creamer
  • 3 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
  • optional: marshmallows, for garnish”

So let’s enjoy a cup of hot chocolate today to celebrate National Cocoa Day! Sitting down to take a minute during this busy time off the year can be a blessing, whether shared with someone else or not.