Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Traveling Backward & Forward on the Hodgepodge

1.  What's one thing you're excited about in the coming month?

Since this Hodgepodge seems to be centered on travel, my answer to this question fits right in.

We will be flying out on July 1 for Northern Indiana to celebrate our great grandson #2's first birthday.  It's hard to believe both of our baby boys are a year old already.

2.  What was your life like when you were ten years old?

I am currently compiling a series of posts about our family and the growing up years.  I hope it will answer questions future generations won't think to ask.  If you'd like to follow along, this is a link to the first post with a link to the 2nd.

We lived in rural South-Central Louisiana in the earliest English Settlement west of the Mississippi River.  I was a tomboy who liked to roam the woods, climb trees, ride my bike, hunt with my daddy, play games and be with my younger sister and friends; also enjoyed playing dress up, writing and painting.  Life was all good.

3.  What's something from your childhood you still enjoy today?

Being creative and the occasional chocolate fudge bar.

4.  What state (that you haven't been to) do you most want to visit?  Tell us why?

We have not traveled to the upper western states but have plans to spend the month of September exploring Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, then return through New Mexico back to Texas.  We will use the Lewis & Clark Trail as an starting point.  After suffering through the excessive heat here - expected to be over 103 degrees with heat index over 115 today - we are hoping for some more pleasant weather that time of year.

5.  Do you like to drive?  Tell us how you learned to drive.

Yes, I love to drive and am the primary driver in our family.  We laughingly say that when I drive, only one of us has to drive at a time.  My dad taught me to drive and started with a standard transmission.  He was an excellent teacher and stressed preventive driving as much as the basic mechanics of operating a vehicle.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

LSU beats Florida in Game 3 of Men's College World Series to win national championship

Way to GEAUX LSU Tigers!  What a game you played, but we are most proud of the men of integrity all of you seem to be.

Monday, June 26, 2023

The Lazenby's Story - Bayou Chicot Part 1

As explained in my previous introductory blog post, Dad had accepted the call to pastor the Calvary Baptist Church in Bayou Chicot, Louisiana.  Our family moved from North Louisiana to this South-Central village in 1949.

By this time, the World War II postwar prosperity was starting to get underway.  There were new and bigger cars and even the first Volkswagen Beetle - The Peoples Car, was introduced that year.  Televisions and other fancy goods began appearing in people's homes.

Although prosperity was obviously apparent to some parts of the population, they hadn't yet arrived in the Lazenby household in Bayou Chicot, Louisiana.

The parsonage, owned by the church, was a small two-bedroom, one-bath house.  That meant there was a lot of sharing beds, small closets and bathroom space.  Being that the house was conveniently placed at the church's back door,    also meant that the pastor was on call 24/7 and there were no excuses for the family to miss whatever might be going on.

It was on a very warm day in 1949 that my three-year-old sister and I fell in love for the first time.  Two college boys from the Chicot church came to help us move into the parsonage. Cecil Griffith and Ronald Johnson were direct descendants from original Chicot settlers, but that fact certainly wasn't the attraction. They were so handsome and strong, and went out of their way to be friendly with Gin and me.  This five-year old was swept off her feet and remembers it vividly to this day. 

Gin and I did feel a bit betrayed when both boys married a few years later, but also felt vindicated that they had married well and that we had loved them first.  Our families always remained close and they both still hold a special place in these old women's hearts.

I am going to tell you a secret that you can't tell any of the old folks who were there.  Being that close to the church meant that we had additional space to play, without being irreverent of course.

Gin and I loved the deep baptistry and even used the left-over water to play in after a baptism. During the hot summers, we wished there had been more souls saved.  I loved to play (carefully bang) the piano and thought I was making music until I tried to repeat what I thought was pretty for mom and dad.  It was never the same the second time and the hymn I thought I was playing was never recognizable; it even sounded like banging to my own ears.  Mom and Dad always listened though and told me to keep trying.

We helped Dad run-off and fold the church bulletins each Saturday.  It was a lengthy process that involved him creating the original on his old Underwood typewriter, making a stencil on the blue jelly spirit duplicator, and then running the copies on the Mimeograph machine.  This was not only a time consuming task but a very stinky one.

Mother always had to make the unleavened bread for the Lord's Supper.  I can't tell you how many times the Lord's bread was a bit overcooked and required a few extra seconds to chew before drinking the fruit of the vine that came from the local grocery store.  Nevertheless, this was a favorite time for Gin and me because we got to drink the grape juice in the little cups that had not been used.  Did I mention not being irreverent?  Not us, because we were very grateful for this observance as small children because it was the only time we had such a delicacy.

Our house was also right across the little dirt road and two ditches (where crawfish were often caught with a small piece of raw bacon on the end of a string) from the school that housed grades 1 through 12.  In the fall of 1950, I started first grade and Gin got into trouble the first few days for trying to follow me.

The first high school in Chicot was built in 1937 and it was in that building that we both started school, and it still stands today. Many of our teachers had been teaching long before this building existed.  Yes, to us they were very old.

It didn't take long for Mother to realize instead of God taking us to the heathens, He had instead taken us to our new family.  The people who lived in Chicot were actually descendants of the original settlers who had migrated from Europe through the early American Colonies into this new southern land of plenty.  More on that in another post.  These precious people soon became uncles and aunts to me and my sister and best friends to our parents.

In 1951, Daddy bought a brand new Studebaker car and Gin and I thought our family had finally arrived.  We still didn't have a television or a washing machine or dryer, but that was alright because not many of the people around had those either.

It was while taking an imaginary trip in this Studebaker that Gin, who was five and had already made a public decision to accept Jesus as her Savior, told me that I, who was 7, needed to make that decision too.  It was something the Lord had been convicting me of and I knew I needed to ask Him to be my Savior.  I did, and the following Sunday I walked down that country church aisle to my Daddy's smiling face and told him I had asked Jesus into my heart.  Gin and I were baptized together a few weeks later.  And yes, Daddy let us play in the left-over water a couple days before draining it.

It was also in 1951 that we held the first of many Colvin family reunions at our little house in Chicot.  Because of its central location it was the perfect meeting place for the siblings and cousins to meet.

A happy Mama with nine of her ten children

Mama with eight of her too-many-to-count grandchildren

In January 1952, Mother and Daddy gave us the sweetest little baby sister, Sarah Ruth. Gin and I were thrilled.  With 7 and 5 years difference between us and Sarah, we quickly recognized that Sarah was without doubt the favorite child.  She got away with most anything that we would have been corrected for.  Now all of a sudden those very things were adorable.  We now understand that is just the way it is supposed to be with the third child and especially if she really is adorable.

 About this time the house was enlarged to accommodate a growing family, which was a blessing for all of us, especially Mother.  We also got our first television set and always watched Saturday night boxing and knew the Gillette song by heart. 

In 1953, our Mama died leaving a huge emptiness in our home and the precious people of Chicot stepped in as grandparents as well as aunts and uncles for Sarah.  She shared these thoughts:

"The memories I have of Bayou Chicot are few but have been lasting.  My earliest memory is climbing into the bed with my grandmother for her to read over and over my favorite book, "Lucky Miss Ticklefeather."  It had been published the year before I was born, and Mama never minded reading to me.  It was during these early years that I established relationships with church member families, especially the Whittingtons.  I gained grandparents and cousins while being "adopted" by Mr. Delmont and Mrs. Elaine, adding another daughter to their three, Sherry, Darlene and Jennifer."

It was from his mother, our Grandmother, that Dad got his love for reading.  She told us she read every single book in her school library twice before graduating.

Our Pappy, Dad's father, died in 1948 after which Grandmother lived with her oldest son, our Uncle G and his family in Bernice.  A couple times a year we would travel north to see the family and to bring her back for extended visits.  These were always fun trips for us because it gave us time with our only Lazenby cousins, Jerry, Mike and Sue and we dearly loved our Lazenby family.

It was Mike, one year older than me and Jerry, two years older, who taught us how to eat watermelons right in the field.  No spoon or plate required.  I hope to not embarrass him with this story, but as a small child, Mike wanted to be a log truck.  Yes, you read that right.  Not the driver, but the truck.  He was fascinated by the big trucks that passed their house loaded with huge logs.  He graciously took a lot of teasing about this through the years.

Mike and I were always accused of being the trouble makers of the foursome and I have no reason to question that.  So who could have known then that Mike would one day be a teacher, principle, and serve as a superintendent of schools. Jerry would own an engineering firm, building major highways and large construction projects all over the country. They both serve as deacons in their churches and have beautiful families.

Sue and Sarah were close to the same age and were content to play their sweet little girly games as children.  Sarah grew up to have three sons and Sue had three lovely daughters, the oldest of whom died with cancer a few years ago.  Her funeral was the last time we were together.

Monday, June 19, 2023

The Lazenby's Story - Introduction

Our story, as we currently know it to be, actually began way back in 1480 with the birth of Thomas Lazenby in Yorkshire, England.  In the mid 1600's  records show that my 7th great grandfather emigrated from England, and was an early settler of Maryland.  At some point in the early 1700's he was the High Sheriff of Ann Arundel County in Maryland.

My grandfather, Oscar Gray Lazenby Sr. and my grandmother Emma Lester Porter Lazenby lived in North Louisiana - Bernice in Union Parish after their first son O. G. Jr. was born in 1916.  My father, William Porter was born there on May 15, 1919.

On my mother's side, John “James” Colvin was born in Devon County, England on Sept. 13, 1703, according to baptismal records.  He emigrated from Chelsea, England on Nov. 29, 1725, settling in Providence, Rhode Island, Colonial America. My great grandfather, William Andrews Hughes Colvin and one of his brothers were the first Colvins to settle in North Louisiana in what is now the Dubach area.  My mother, Laura Elizabeth Colvin was born there to Lee "Preacher Colvin and Effie Ophelia Cox Colvin on November 24, 1918, the youngest of ten children.

It is their story and hence mine, Gin and Sarah's story that I will be telling in this series I'm calling "The Lazenbys in Bayou Chicot."  Let's get started.

My dad's father worked in a department store there, and they lived in a "dog-trot" house out of town on a red-clay dirt road, characteristic of that part of the country.  I think the original house had belonged to my grandmother's family.

As a young man, Dad had already exhibited exceptional intellect and physical prowess.  Not only did he have an almost photographic memory, and read everything he could find, he excelled at football and boxing in high school. He was very much the outdoorsman.  Truly a man's man.

Dad came to know the Lord as his personal Savior at an early age. As a teenager, he accepted God's call to serve as what he always referred to as "a country preacher".  He never questioned or wavered from that calling.  He used to tell how he would stand on tree stumps and preach to the birds and any other animal that seemed interested in hearing the gospel.

He attended the Industrial Institute & College of Louisiana, now known as LA Tech University in Ruston.  He left shortly before graduating at the urging and promise of financial support by a local minister, to attend the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  For a country boy away from home for the first time, in a totally new world and without the continued promised funds, this was a very difficult time and he returned home before completing his degree.  He did make a friend there though who would later play a very instrumental role in his life and God's plan for him.  Her name was Katherine Carpenter.

It was after returning home that he held a revival in northern Morehouse Parish in the village of Collinston.  This was the beginning of him establishing the First Baptist Church there, which is still an active congregation to this day.  This was also what paved the way for him and my mother to meet.

Mother, the youngest of ten children, lost her father when she was seven.  She was raised by her mother with help from older siblings, in a town just south of Bernice called Dubach in Lincoln Parish.  As a Colvin in this town you were either closely or distantly related to everyone in the area.  In high school Mother was very popular and excelled in all subjects, but especially loved Home Economics.  I found an article in the area paper that declared her as a "bathing beauty."  We have no reason to question this at all.

Mother told of convoys of soldier boys passing through their town and the young ladies would exchange names and addresses with some of them in the early 40's during WWII.  She told of corresponding with several for a short time.  She also had a steady boyfriend through high school and until she met one special guy from Bernice.

Following high school, Mother attended beauty school and upon completion was given her own shop inside a friend's drug store in downtown Dubach.

She loved to tell of her first travel experience with a friend to the New York World's Fair in 1939.  She marveled at the idea of having layers of highways and handheld telephones where one could see the person they were speaking to.  Gin and I could also only dream about these things as children.

Having always been involved in the local church, it was at this time she became very involved in the Women's Missionary Union (WMU) as it's leader. It was this involvement that led her to invite a young preacher boy, who had started a new ministry in a nearby town and was in need of support, to speak at her church.  This was in early 1943.  As they told it, she invited him to have Sunday lunch with her and her mother. They spent the afternoon on the front porch swing and she served him her best baked apple pie.  His favorite.  They were married on November 24, of that year, mother's 24th birthday.

When I, Elizabeth Claire "Libby" was born a year later, Dad was pastoring a small country church not far from where both my parents had lived, called Fellowship Baptist Church.  When I was two years old my sister, Virginia Kay "Gingie" was born.

Dad was pastoring three small churches in North Louisiana and mother was very involved in state-wide mission work.  Mother's mother, "Mama" lived with us and we loved her unconditionally.

Because only one of the churches provided a parsonage and Dad only preached in a church once or twice a month, it was necessary to stay on the field all day between services.  Yes, back in that day there were morning and evening church services.  The Nutt family adopted us and it was at their house that we spent most every Sunday afternoon.  Mrs. Otha made the best fried chicken and their daughter, Judy became our older sister but only by a year.

Many years later in 2003 we renewed our long-lost friendship in Shreveport .

When I was either three or four years old, I awoke one morning completely rigid.  My parents rushed me to the nearest hospital, the Ruston Sanitarium only to be told after many tests that I had polio.  The doctors gave me little chance of survival and if I did I would be "a hopeless vegetable."  These were their exact words to these young frightened parents.  Because the doctor was a Colvin and knew the financial status of my parents, he and the other doctors decided to keep me there rather than send me to New Orleans to the Polio Center.  He later told them that he didn't want to send them down there only to have a dead baby.

My only memory is kicking the syringe out of a nurses hand as she was preparing to give me yet another spinal tap on day 4 of my hospital stay.  And that was the first time I had moved a muscle in four days.

During those four days, it was the people from those three country churches who stayed outside the hospital praying for their pastor's child.  After five days and being declared completely healed, I was allowed to return home.  This was my first miracle.

Do you recall me mentioning Dad's friend, Katherine Carpenter from the seminary in New Orleans?  Perhaps it was through mother's connection with state missions and her friendship with this wonderful woman (Aunt Katherine to us and who latter served as the Louisiana State WMU Director), that Daddy's friendship with her was reestablished and he was recommended to a church in the South Central part of Louisiana.

Bayou Chicot was just on the northern tip of Acadiana - Cajun Land in Evangeline Parish.  Mother used to tell that she couldn't believe God had called them to the "land of heathens."

In the summer of 1949, our little family of five, including our maternal grandmother, moved what meager belongings a country preacher's family owns to the little village of Bayou Chicot. We left the familiar piney woods of North Louisiana to start a new adventure that would last 45 years and provide memories for several life times.  

Bayou Chicot is known as the oldest English settlement west of the Mississippi River.  Our church, Calvary Baptist Church also holds the distinction as "the oldest Baptist Church still in existence west of the Mississippi River."  At the time, this held very little meaning to Gin and me.

It is this story that I want to tell in the following weekly blog posts.  I hope you will want to come along and learn what life was like for the Lazenbys in Bayou Chicot and beyond.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

After the Storm Passes By

I came across this post from a few years back and think it may be as relevant today than it was in 2020.

After The Storm Passes By

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord."
Psalm 31:24

Stressful days are an inevitable fact of modern life and right now, there can be a whole lot of stress.  Some days may feel like we are being stripped bare and all the fears and anxiousness is there for all to see.

When we seek to impose our own wills upon the world - or upon other people - we invite stress into our lives....needlessly.  The ugliness of foolish pride only adds to our stress and self condemnation.

Like the storms that have hit our neighborhood lately ,and possibly yours as well, stress can leave it's mark and the remains aren't pretty.

One day, everything is like a perfectly manicured lawn, and then BOOM!

 Something out of no where hits and all of a sudden, the debris of our lives lie around like mangled steel, blocking our way to peace and contentment that we so desperately desire.

What do we do then?

We look up!

We look up through the ugliness into the light of the One who turns our concerns and our storms into beauty and peace.

"God knows what each of us is dealing with.  He knows our pressures.  He knows our conflicts.  And, He has made a provision for each and every one of them.  That provision is Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in us and empowering us to respond rightly."
Kay Arthur

"Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you:  He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."
Psalm 55:22

"Rejoicing is a matter of obedience to God ---- an obedience that will start you on the road to peace and contentment."
Kay Arthur

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts ---- and be ye thankful."
Colossians 3:15

Today, as a gift to yourself, to your family, and to your friends, claim the inner peace that is your spiritual birthright:  the peace of Jesus Christ.  It is offered freely; it has been paid for in full; it is yours for the asking.  So ask.  And then share.