Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's Snowing In Tennessee

Our street, looking southwest. Our mailbox is by the utility pole.

Our house from the left front. I am standing in the street

Yes, I know - it's no big deal to people in Watertown, New York where our baby daughter lives.
This morning I put on my coat and hat to go out to play - I invited Frances to play with me. She said, "NO!" So - I invited her to come outside and just watch me play but Frances said, "I can see you through the window!"

The grape arbor which I just planted in late summer does not look like it will ever live again. But who knows?

I'm reminded that Tennessee does not get heavily pummeled by snow each and every year. In my older life it does not seem we have near as much snow as we had when I was a small boy growing up. I remember a snow when we were living at Campaign, TN when I was about 7 or 8 years old. If I remember correctly it was 18" deep. Dad went outside and helped us three boys build an Igloo out of snow blocks. What fun-filled days those were. Mama had no dish-washer (unless you counted my brother Wilmon and me). So when the dishes had been washed in the beat up old zinc pan, the water was thrown out the back door. When it snowed and turned cold it made an ideal ice-skating place. I loved to back off from it, run up to the ice, jump and slide as far as I could. That was about two feet - or maybe as much as three - but to a 7 year old boy it was like having an olympic sized skating arena. I loved the outdoors. Summer and winter. I wanted my Brother Wilmon to enjoy it with me. So I begged him to come out and "skate" with me on the ice and snow. He was cold-natured. He bundled up in his warm wool coat and sweater and stayed inside. I pleaded, "You don't have to skate. Just come out here and watch me! It's so much fun!!!" He said, "I can see you clearly through this kitchen window! Go ahead and skate. I'll watch from here!" Of course Frances has heard me tell that story many times so she knew exactly what to say.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Benevolence and Accountability

These pictures are of the Botswana, Africa Ministry Center under construction. It is one of many building projects which I was involved in. It is now complete. It was made possible because of the giving spirit of many Americans.

Americans are the most benevolent people in the world. Prosperity hardens some hearts...but most who have reached some degree of success in America want to give to those less fortunate than themselves. However, most givers want to know where there money is going. Ideally - one dollar given would equal one dollar in the hands of the hurting. Realistically - it just ain't so. Probably less than half will reach the pocket of the poorest and neediest. It just stands to reason that work should be rewarded. There is much work going on behind the scenes in order to deliver the aid to the people.

Does that mean there is corruption? Maybe. But then again ... Maybe not as much as you think! We must consider that from the funds donated there will have to be a portion spent to administer these funds. Some will be spent for labor. Another portion will have to be there to purchase food, generators, bedding, mosquito nets - or whatever the basic needs are that we (the benefactors) are providing. Then transport of the items is not free. Cargo-carrying Airplanes or Cargo Ships will have to be hired, personnel to operate the vessels, laborers to load and un-load, construction equipment and supplies to reconstruct docks, warehouses, roads, etc. and etc. will have to be funded. Even if a pilot with his own plane shows up and says, "I will give you the use of my plane and I will not charge for my services", you still would need to buy fuel for the transport and pay any un-expected costs incurred such as labor for loading and un-loading. The Marines and Sailors and foot-soldiers will be paid by our government...but their presence in Haiti means they are not available to perform other jobs at home. Persons will have to be hired to perform those "other jobs". Plus there are a myriad of things that will have to be paid which are un-expected and/or currently un-known.

When I was working for the Missions Department of our church, auditing (monitoring) projects was a part of my portfolio. All of this sending aid to impoverished Haiti reminds me that I am relieved to be retired. My heart goes out to the poor people of Haiti and to all those who are responsible for getting relief into their hands. God Bless America for it's Caring Ways.

In this picture, many bicycles are being given to African preachers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Situation in Haiti

The URL below is directly to a video produced by the General Offices in conjunction with the COG World Missions Department, giving an up-date of events in Haiti from the perspective of the leadership of the Church. Dr. Tim Hill, 1st Assistant General Overseer and Dr. Douglas Leroy, General Director of World Missions give this report of what has happened and what is planned by way of assistance to the churches in Haiti.

This is the best way to donate to this very needy cause.

Cataracts Removed from Frances' Eyes

Frances is now asleep in her recliner. We were at the DiStephano Eye Surgery Center this morning at 7:00 for cataracts to be removed from Frances left eye. She has such beautiful eyes. Eyes are the windows of the soul. I love to see this woman smile like she smiled when we heard a noise outside our kitchen door, opened it, saw the Fed-Ex truck driving away and realized it was this vase of flowers sent by dear friends Rob and Kathy Davis who now live in N.E. Alabama. It's wonderful to have such caring friends as they are. It's wonderful to have a wife with such captivating eyes!

I think you should see the lillies when they opened fully about a week later. I am still challenged when trying to download pictures and get them into the proper place. They always want to go to the top of the page and push askew what I've already worked so hard to properly place. O.K. Here goes. Well, still won't be manipulated without a lot of effort - but guess it's worth it. Aren't the flowers wonderful?

Today after surgery it was almost 9:30 when they finished the work on Frances left eye - and she was hungry since she had been fasting from midnight last night. So we went across the road to Chick-Fil-A for a breakfast sandwich. It surely was good - so good in fact - that she sent me to Chick-Fil-A to get her a bowl of Chicken Soup and a Fruit Cup for lunch just a few minutes ago. Those chicken bites were just what I needed too. Eye-drops have been applied and Insulin shot given she is now resting.

Only ONE more month of eye-drops to go! Hurray!!!

O.K. Gotta finish preparations for dinner and a Bible Study with some of my kids. I think I'll make Pizza tonight. "Make"? Nahhhh. Just call Pizza Hut!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Great Grand-Kids

Last night Julian Atticus Cartwright, our great-grandson, came for a short visit with us old folks. We enjoyed him so much. I think the highlight of my joy was when he peed in his diaper and all I had to do was hand him to his Mother. But, I thought, she isn't big enough to have to be taking care of a kid. She's our grand-daughter - after all! I could hardly believe the speed and efficiency of this grand-daughter. She's just a child herself at only 24 years old. Oh My!

Then I remembered that at 18 years of age I was carrying a .45 Colt hand-gun and an M1 Garand rifle, protecting the people of the United States. It's too scary to remember - but I was actually marching up and down the docks of New Orleans in one of the most dangerous areas of the city (Canal Street, near the French Quarter); sometimes from 4:00p til midnight; sometimes from midnight to 8:00a in the mornings when I was younger than this grand-daughter. Was I afraid? Not most of the time. After all, I was fully armed ... and had been trained for three months (13 weeks) at Cape May, NJ, how to tie 18 different knots - how to swim with a ten pound weight in one hand - how to climb a rope 20 feet in the air - and yes, how to shoot. But looking back - I shudder!

I did have a few dangerous events happen. One of which was the time I had to disembark from a "rust-bucket" and the Captain refused to give me a Jacob's ladder. The ship had emptied it's load and was now sitting high in the water. The 40 foot Coast Guard patrol boat pulled up under the gang-plank (which was already hoisted and ready to sail). I crawled down under the gang-plank to drop onto the bow of the boat...but just as I loosed my feet and was hanging with my hands under the gang-plank, the boatswain lost his position because the ship was moving. He yelled, "Hang On Brannen!" I yelled back, "What do you think I'm doing?" When he did pull alongside again, I dropped onto the boat, knocking the boatswain's mate against the machine gun mount and nearly killing us both. We were both as pale as a sheet, but laughing. I laugh now. But I was scared silly at the time.

This gives me pause to wonder. Will my great grandson grow up into a man who is ready to fight for his country? What perils lie ahead of him? And my great-grand-daughter? (I should say great-grandsons and great-grand-daughters.) What can I do for them to prepare them for the future? I know of nothing better than to pray for them and to teach them the principles I found in the Bible (especially the King James Version) for as long as I am able! Go ahead. (Snicker. Snicker.) I laughed too at my KJV statement - but that's what I grew up on and that's just what came out.

Now don't get me wrong. I know that the KJV was not the Bible used by Paul and Silas. And I know it's not the only one around - and I know there are passages in it that are hard to understand. However, as Samuel Clemens a.k.a. "Mark Twain" said, "It's not those passages that I don't understand (in the KJV) which trouble me. It's those passage that I do understand that trouble me." I've used and still use many other versions. In fact I have the Bible in Kiswahili. I have the Bible in Spanish. I can read a little from them. They are not KJV's. They are inspired. They give God's words to frail human beings. Not everyone could read the KJV because they do not understand English. It's funny - we know these things - still I recently saw a billboard near here where a new church was being organized which read: "If it ain't King James - 1611 - It ain't Bible". So - children and grand-children and great-grand-children, here is some advice from your Pop-paw: Read and study the Bible. Read whatever version you wish. When and if there is a passage in one of your translations that does not agree with the KJV, then go back and seek once again to understand it. God's word is right. He will not contradict himself. He loves you. He loves all men and women of every tribe and nation and desires for them to repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Home From Haiti

My neighbor, Lloyd Frazier, former missionary overseer and church leader in Haiti, is back at home after being banged up in the Haiti earthquake a few days ago. Frances talked to his wife (Edna )about an hour ago - and learned that they have been occupied with the birth of a new grand-child over the week-end and that's why we could not reach them by phone earlier. Lloyd thanks you for your prayers and says that other than being bruised and sore he is fine.

Lovell and Ginny Cary arrived safely back in Cleveland, Tennessee on Saturday night, the 16th of January, 2010. The picture above was of a happier time when they were our special guests for the Botswana, Africa National Convention. Brother Cary is bruised and sore but has no broken bones. Sister Cary is now suffering from "cracked ribs". The best treatment for this condition is total rest...and (of course) prayer. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for these wonderful friends.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More From Haiti - More Money For Haiti

Today I learned that - besides our personal friends Lovell and Ginny Carey and Lloyd Frazier - there were also other people from the Church of God here in America in Haiti when the quake struck. One was Bishop Jonathan Ramsey, who I believe is currently serving as our Administrative Bishop of the New England States. The Missions Department's blog also posted a list of around 10 others who are / or were / in Haiti. We have learned that the overseer of the Churches of God in that country was killed when a 20 foot concrete wall fell on his car; that was the car that Lloyd Frazier and Lovell and Ginny Carey were traveling in. Lovell and Ginny were last known to be in Dominican Republic. I'm not sure about Brother Frazier. Ginny, we hear, is in the hospital being observed for possible heart attack.

I noticed that two of our former United States presidents appeared on TV today, saying that the best thing we could send was money! It seemed that too many want to send a warm blanket, or boxes of food and water. They went on to say they were going to ensure that the money would get spent wisely. (Hmmm...aren't these the same men who led our country to the brink of financial collapse?) Just askin'. Not accusin'. Just askin'. I know It's an emotionally charged issue. We have to trust somone because we all know that it will be impossible for us all to go and hold the people accountable personally. What a huge task. What a world we live in.

Yet another technological breakthrough has occurred. If I have it right, the Red Cross has already raised $10 million dollars through people calling a certain number on their cell phones. The cell companies will add that $10 to the person's monthly bill. Amazing! So quick and easy to donate. I predict that there will be a problem with the people paying their phone bills - and/or that monies will have to be charged by the companies as a "handling fee" because it may require more personnel to handle the donate funds. I hope not. I really hope not.

Another prediction: The wave of the future for fund-raisers will be cell phone solicitation! ? !

Friday, January 15, 2010


This week a major earthquake hit the island nation of Haiti. Pat Robertson declared that it was because years ago the national leaders of Haiti made a "pact with the devil". Rush Limbaugh, a famous (or infamous) radio talk show host has talked about it, complaining that we have already helped Haiti in the past - at least inferring that the American public is tired of helping in these situations that require benovolence. I do not get tired of being benevolent - but I do not want to be taken advantage of by schemers and opportunists who devise ways to separate good people from their hard-earned and worked for incomes.

The Bible has much to say about earthquakes. There were earthquakes in Jesus day. Paul and Silas were freed from jail during an earthquake. It was of such magnitude that all the doors flew open and the shackles fell off.

I've been close enough to feel the rumblings of earthquake while I was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard in Adak, Alaska. A nearby mountain was an active volcano which we saw, heard and felt the results of on a rather frequent basis.

Earthquake is one of the signs that Jesus' coming is near. Reading the following verses and their contexts: Matthew 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. Mark 13:8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
Luke 21:11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

During this earthquake in Haiti, we had good friends and neighbors who were in Haiti and close to the epicenter when the quake struck. Lloyd Frazier, Lovell Carey and his wife Ginny Carey were there. In fact they remain in that Island as I type. I've seen the Carey's this morning on CNN (news) and they looked very much in need of personal physical attention to me. My wife Frances has talked to Edna Frazier today and she had had a phone call from her husband, who is also suffering from the devastation. Their driver (the overseer of the Church of God in Haiti) was killed by a 20 ft slab of a concrete wall that fell on the car they were traveling in, killing him instantly. The mood here today is sombre.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eye Drops

Now it's eye drops - three of them applied four times a day! I think this may be the worst part of having cataract surgery. I sure do not look forward to that but I know I am going to have to have something done to correct the vision problems I'm now having. Yesterday I went with my friend Eddie Williams to the rifle range where we "zeroed in" his new .270 Mossberg. I had to really squint to see that target at 100 yards, even through the scope. We did get the rifle correct enough that we were shooting patterns in the three inch range at 100 yards so I think we were guessing right.

I have a pet peeve about vision and visionaries who mis-apply a very good verse of Scripture. Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision the people perish; but he that hath the law, happy is he." My complaint is that most preachers never lift up the second part of the verse. The first part is used in such a way that the word "plan" could easily be inserted instead of the word "vision". It's o.k., I guess. But it makes a whole lot more sense to me if one uses the intended meaning of the author of the verse. How does one get vision according to the verse? Not by going to some conference and hearing some man's idea about planning...but by clinging to what one "hath". One who hath the law - happy is he. Why? Because the law gives vision. That is, by reading and understanding the law one can see the pot-holes, rocks, curves, etc. in the road ahead and can take necessary measures not to be destroyed; not to perish. David said, "The entrance of thy word giveth light." When one has light, one can see in the dark. David also said, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet." May the Lord always shine his word on my pathway so that my feet do not step on a rock or in a hole and make me stumble.

John says "Men love the darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." I don't want to walk in the dark. I want to walk in the light. I will not perish if I have the Word of God and cling to it and obey it.

O.K. here is the RX: 1 chapter of Proverbs each morning. Five Psalms each night. Read the Proverb according to the day of the month and you will read them all through 12 times a year. Except for chapter 31. Proverbs for guidance. Psalms for rest.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Today we started putting eye drops into Frances' right eye in preparation for cataract surgery on Monday. She was blinking so bad I spilled the first drop onto her eyelash - but she managed to blink enough that she feels she needs no more. It was funny to watch her reactions. I also need cataract surgery but will wait until hers is finished. She says that's cause I'm nervous about it but that's just not so. I just feel it's more important for her to be taken care of first.

It is so cold here this morning (14 degrees) and things are moving slow. Connect that thought of "col"d with the "light dusting of snow" we had last night and our world is totally in slow-motion, except at the grocery store where people are a-buzz, buying groceries like they knew that tomorrow there would never be another loaf available. But then that occurs every time we have any hint of snow from the weather prognosticators. It's amusing, really.

My kids may be trying to get out of the Bible Study I've offerred them. I called the oldest one and she said her husband doesn't want to do it. He's a Baptist preacher's kid. Hmmm. I wonder if he has heard the stories of the powders we sprinkle on people to make them shout? (Here I wish for the Yahoo emoticons to add. I would put the one of the "big grin" behind that last statement.) I guess I could promise him I would not bring out the "holiness powder"! We did do some things that have caused wonder, if not consternation in the hearts of so called "out-siders".

We've just finished lunch and I came out here to check e-mail. I'm now reading a novel by my friend Jack L. Darnell from North Carolina. It's called "Sticky" and is really an intriguing work if you like the "who-dunit" genre of literature. (I do.) I remember spending a week on the coast of Kenya at Kilifi Creek in an old Britisher's former home. He had a couple hundred detective story books which became my passtime when the sun got too hot to walk the beach. Nothing better than swinging in the hammock with a Danielle Steele or similar novel in hand and falling asleep in the shady winds coming in from off-shore.

Of course it was disturbing to be awakened from my nap by Frances who needed my help to come and kill another snake in the house! Oh what fun!!!

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton