Open Range 2024 | All HTL Outdoor Event

A Grandfather Hero, Monster Truck and Deer/Dog Hunting

Brothers, Son’s of the Father,

Mom and Bob live in a small three bedroom, one bath home on a couple of acres in rural Georgia. Most of the area around them is country, with older homes sitting under large shade trees. The area has become a mecca for industry over the years, with big players like Duracell and Toyota covering acres and acres of what was previously farm soil. My family has become a part of southern cloth here and this is where we came to end our 2014.

Our intention before we come to visit Grandma and Grandpa is always to spend as much time with them as possible. Mom is a great home-style cook and crafter. Banana nut bread, orange peel bread, soups and more are almost always part of her vast cooking agenda. Her crafting has always been creative and hand made. It is what you would expect from Grandma. Bob is a crafter as well, building furniture, cabinets, outbuildings and more. Most family members have pieces he has built somewhere in their house.

When my mom and Bob moved here years ago from Birmingham, Alabama, the family took roots. My sister Cathy married a local and now her kids have kids here who are married and having kids. This branch of the family tree is flourishing.

The one common thread here is the true southern lifestyle. The family professions include construction workers, factory workers, office and management professionals, stay-at-home moms and even a train conductor. The kids are all well behaved and spend a lot of time outside. One of my great-nephews is the youngest dirt track drivers in the area at just 13; the family goes to the races on Saturdays and tears it up together. He also built a monster truck with his grandfather on his daddy’s side that stands twice my height and sounds like a 737 at take-off. I love that. Tools, hard work, family working together, passing on the heritage of who they are.

The family actually lives on both sides of the line between Alabama and Georgia. Our visit this year included a dog and deer hunt with my sister’s husband Kelly. This is a strong-held, deep-south tradition of deer management. We rolled up to a dozen trucks gathered at an intersection of red dirt and asphalt roads. This was the bulk of the State Line Hunting Club. Men and boys all standing together laughing, harassing each other, planning and fixing things to ready for the next hunt. There were girls here too, and a mom with a baby and a book to read while she waited for the boys. I loved this picture. It was about as southern and real, traditional, and passionate as you will find here.

One of the ways a young man here begins his initiation into manhood is to buy a piece of land. They save up and get a piece to build a house or move a mobile home onto. It’s a matter of pride, and when my sister tells me about her kids getting their own piece of land she is explaining where they are, a milestone in leaving the nest.

I love my family here in the south. I love listening to their heavy accents and southern humor. I love being together and sharing food in their homes. I feel we are truly invited in and welcomed. Not every family can say that. There are so many wounds and demons that keep families apart. So many hurts and misunderstandings that tear at the threads of families. The lies of the evil one are many. He does not fool me here.

Deuteronomy 5:16 says, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Proverbs 1:8 tells us, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” And Proverbs 15:20, “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

Mom and Bob are getting along in age now. They need help around the house and I worry about them often. At 55, for me, family means more than anything money could ever buy. My wife and my kids, Mom and Bob. The gift of being invited into the busy lives of this southern branch of the family tree. I pray each day that the wounds of our family are healed. That everyone knows the Lord as their personal Savior, and that when we leave this place, we will all gather together in heaven. That will be exciting. For me it will be a mix, the perfect mix of family. California hip with a Starbucks twist, a New Mexico adventure theme, a Texas heritage heart with a Louisiana menu, and pure southern drawl and down home warmth. And this is only my side of the family.

My personal goals for this year, just the little things I want to do. Write more. Make a really moist orange peel bread and banana nut bread. Talk to everyone in the family more. Spend a few days in the mountains in conversation with Jesus. Cuddle with my wife. Learn from my kids. Be a really good friend. Take the tag off my ole boots, oil the old saddle in the garage.

Take this year to understand what Jesus is saying to you. Ask Him to speak to you openly and clearly as you make your way down the trail. If you don’t know Him, read Romans 10:9 and ask Him into your heart. There will always be battles, there will always be loss and joy, blessings and hardships. But His commitment to you, to you personally, never changes. God Bless, and Happy New Year.

Host: TJ Greaney
Founder, Kids Outdoor Zone

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