Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

December 18, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:13 am


Let us remember that Jesus is the “reason for the season”.  We can rejoice in His birth, life, death and resurrection.  Jesus makes the difference in our lives and brings life, hope and peace to all who believe in Him.


One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village

The child of a peasant woman

He grew up in another obscure village

Where He worked in a carpenter shop

Until he was thirty.


He never wrote a book

He never held an office

He never went to college

He never visited a big city

He never traveled more than two hundred miles

From the place where He was born

He did none of the things

Usually associated with greatness

He had no credentials but himself.


He was only thirty-three


His friends ran away

One of them denied Him

He was turned over to his enemies

And went through the mockery of a trial

He was nailed to a cross between two thieves

While dying, his executioners gambled for the clothing

The only property he had on earth.


When he was dead

He was laid in a borrowed grave

Through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone

And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race

And the leader of mankind’s progress

All the armies that have ever marched

All the navies that have ever sailed

All the parliaments that have ever sat

All the kings that ever reigned put together

Have not affected the life of mankind on earth

As powerfully as that one solitary life.


May God bless you with a joyous Christmas season.

December 12, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:50 am




Christmas time brings back wonderful memories of happy times during my childhood days.  Since my Dad was a minister, the month of December focused on a variety of church activities.


We got into the Christmas spirit early and put up the Christmas tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Our tree was filled with treasured ornaments.  Some were handmade by my sisters, Jane and Clara.  The old fashioned bubble lights and shiny icicles were like putting the icing on the cake. They gave our tree a beautiful sparkle!


Mom started the tradition of making a handmade stocking for everyone in the family as sons-in-law and grandchildren became a part of the family.  Stockings were added for each new addition.  Mom took the time to hand embroidery the names with green thread to make the red stockings more beautiful.


Jane, Clara and I took delight in putting up Mom’s manger scene.  Each character looked authentic.  Now our manger scene is more than 75 years old and still holds a special place in our heart.


Another Howell tradition was to hang a wreath of mistletoe above  a prominent doorway.  When someone got caught under the mistletoe, we would rush to give them an unexpected kiss.


Every year, we looked forward to the annual Christmas pageant at church.  When Jane and Clara were youngsters, they played angels in the pageants.  Then when I came along, I also donned a tin foil halo and sparkly wings that were made by our mother.  I now treasure a photo of being dressed as an angel which was made when I was 8 years old. The photo was among the keepsakes of Pansy Adickes and was given to me in recent years by her daughter, Sharon Crowell.

Christmas parties were also fun for us but one that stands out in my memory was the Christmas in August party that my mother gave for the church children.  She would make her own Christmas tree out of chicken wire and pine limbs since August was not the time for Christmas trees. The children would bring a small gift to send to a missionary in South America.  The gifts would arrive just in time for Christmas.


Above all, the most important part of Christmas was sharing God’s love with others. We got joy out of sharing the story of Jesus with our friends and loved ones.  We got special joy in selecting a gift that represents Christ’s love.


Let us remember that Jesus is the “Reason for the Season” and let us be sure to put Christ back into Christmas.

December 4, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell-12/4/13

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:28 am


The arrival of December brings Christmas into focus.  Most of us are scurrying to do shopping for our loved ones and friends.  Parents are busy trying to help Santa Claus find the perfect gift for their children.


December was originally the tenth month and was named for “decem” which means “ten”.  It was later changed to the twelfth month of the year.


In the Northern Hemisphere, December marks the beginning of winter which brings rain, wind and snow.  December 21 is the shortest day and the longest night in the year and is known as Winter Solstice.


The gemstone for December is turquoise, the flower is the narcissus and the Christmas flower is the poinsettia.


Here are some funny superstitions for December:


Marry on December third

For all the grief you ever heard.


If you take a candle to church, don’t bring it home.

Blow it out and leave it there.


On Christmas Eve, all animals can speak.

However, it is bad luck to test this out.


A child born on Christmas day will have a special future.


Wearing new shoes on Christmas Day will bring bad luck.


If a girl raps on a hen house door on Christmas day and

A rooster crows, she will marry within the year.


These funny superstitions have been passed down from generation to generation.  Hopefully, they will make you smile.


Walt Disney and Clara Barton were born in December but the most significant person ever born was Jesus Christ. 


The most favorite Christmas carol was Silent Night which was first rendered on December 25, 1818 having been composed by Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber.


Silent Night, Holy Night

All is calm, all is bright

Round yon virgin, mother and child

Holy infant so tender and mild.

Sleep in Heavenly peace

Sleep in Heavenly peace.


Silent Night, Holy Night

Son of God, Love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus, Lord at thy birth

Jesus, Lord at thy birth.


May the days of December fill your heart with Christmas joy.


December 4, 2013

November 27, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:38 am


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year.  It is a day for family gatherings and is the most American holiday that we celebrate.  Like the pilgrims of 1621, we should stop to give God thanks for His bountiful blessings.  Sometimes we forget how blessed we all are to live in a free country where we can still worship as we choose.  We can be thankful that we can still pray.  Although we may have lost some of our freedom to pray publicly, we can still pray privately and make our personal petitions and praises to God.


One of my favorite Bible verses is “In everything, give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” I Thessalonians 5:18.  In every situation that we find ourselves, we can find a blessing from God if we take the time to look hard enough.


Some of the things for which I am most thankful are that God is my Heavenly Father.  He gave His only son Jesus, to bring love and hope to the world. Those who put their trust in Jesus can have eternal life and the assurance of a Heavenly home after death.


I am thankful for Christian parents and two loving sisters who taught me to love God, home and country.  I thank God for friends who have greatly enriched my life.  Friends brighten the days just by giving a bit of their time. I am thankful for the fellowship of my church family who pray for me.


I thank God for flowers, trees and all the beauties of nature that God has given to me.  We can all be thankful for health and breath of life.  Every morning when we wake up, we should take the time to thank God for allowing us to live one more day.  No matter what our health status is,  we can be thankful that we are still alive and feeling as well as we are.  We can all be thankful for food and physical sustenance that we enjoy from day-to-day.


These are just a few of the many blessings for which I am thankful.  I encourage everyone to take the time to give thanks to God this Thanksgiving for the blessings that God bestows upon us to make a life on the bright side.


November 27, 2013

November 21, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:42 am


November 21, 2013 is designated as The Great American Smokeout which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.  It is a day when smokers are encouraged to stop smoking with the hope that they can quit the smoking habit for days, months or years to come.


Tobacco usage is done in three different ways – chewing, inhaling or smoking.  All of these are detrimental to our health. Chewing tobacco can cause oral cancer.  Many young men will suffer oral cancer due to the chewing of tobacco.


Inhaling smoke is harmful to the lungs.  Secondary smoke is loaded with chemicals and toxins and can be as harmful as if it was inhaled.  Cigarette smoking is the top cause of death and disease that can be prevented.   I watch my friends who are young mothers leave their duties to go smoke at the same time every day. I think to myself that they are not only hurting their bodies, but are hurting their children by smoking and endangering the lives of their own children by smoking.


Every cigarette that is smoked by a smoker causes the loss of 11 minutes of his life.  Smoking is a slow suicide.  Smoking causes fifty different diseases, twenty of which are fatal.  The more a smoker smokes, the more addicted he becomes.


If a pregnant women smokes, her unborn child can suffer. The child is subjected to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  The pregnant women could suffer miscarriage and other bad effects.


Surgeons often ask a smoking patient to abstain from smoking for at least a week prior to surgery.  Smoking prohibits protein production which is necessary for healing.


Smoking can cause a patient to have emphysema, bronchitis or chronic obstructive lung disease.  Ninety percent of lung cancer is directly related to cigarette smoking.  Thirty percent of cancer fatalities are caused by smoking.  Smoking can also cause cancer of the mouth, bladder, kidney, stomach, esophagus, larynx and pancreas.


If you don’t light up, you can have a longer life on the bright side.

November 14, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:22 am


November brings beautiful fall weather to East Texas.  Trees begin to turn hues of red and orange.  Thoughts turn to giving thanks to God for His blessings.


November has many other important events.  We have our Veterans Day on November 11 which is also known as Armistice Day. 


November 2013 will also mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Those of us who are old enough to remember November 22, 1963 will never forget the tragic death of our President.  I was a high school student at the time and I happened to be in Superintendent R. L.Chapman’s study hall. We already knew that a teacher had heard on the radio that something had happened in Dallas.  Mr. Chapman allowed me to turn on my transistor radio so that when they announced that President Kennedy had died, we were all shocked.  It was a day like President Roosevelt said about Pearl Harbor Day.  “It was a day that will live in infamy.”


Three U S presidents had November birthdays James Garfield, Warren Harding and Zachary Taylor.  Famous authors, Louisa Mae Alcott, Margaret Mitchell and Mark Twain were all born in November.


November was originally the ninth month of the Gregorian calendar but when January and February were added, it became the 11th month of the year.





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The flower for the month is the chrysanthemum.  The symbols of the chrysanthemum are optimism and joy.  November seems to be a perfect time for some flowers to bloom.  I have a Confederate rose-bush that blooms every November.  One year I took the time to count the more than 300 beautiful white blossoms on that bush.


Another favorite holiday for food lovers is Thanksgiving.  It is traditionally time for turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie.  Sports lovers are glued to the television to watch their favorite teams play football.


This Thanksgiving, let us make it a priority to give thanks to God for His many blessing and for giving us a life on the Bright Side.

November 6, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell – November 6, 2013

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:01 am


The song, Jesus Loves Me was probably the very first song that most of us learned how to sing.  The simple words are dear to the young and the old.


Whether or not we are two years old or 102 years old, Jesus Loves Me brings comfort and joy to us.  I personally cannot remember when I did not know how to sing Jesus Loves Me.


I remember going to the funeral of the 5-year-old granddaughter of Wayne and Nettie Reeves.  I was about 6 years old at the time.  The minister who gave the eulogy stopped in the middle of the service and sang all three verses of Jesus Loves Me.  That was an unforgettable moment in my mind and I determined that when I die, I wanted to have Jesus Loves Me sung at my funeral.


During the years of my childhood and teenaged years,  the song  still holds a special place in my heart.  When my Mother was facing the last day or two of her life, I would slip into the Intensive Care Unit of St. Elizabeth Hospital in the wee hours of the morning and quietly sing Jesus Loves Me to my mother.


Years later when my Dad was sick with Sundowner’s Syndrome, I would sing Jesus Loves Me to him to calm him and bring a bit of comfort to him.   The words seemed to calm his restlessness.


Now that I now make my home in Hemphill Care Center, I have discovered that my friends who are in the winter of their lives, still love Jesus Loves Me.



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The song is often requested during the singalongs at the Care Center.


Jesus loves me this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong

They are weak but He is strong.


Jesus loves me, This I know

As He loved so long ago,

Taking children on His knee,

Saying let them come to Me.


Jesus loves me! He will stay

Close beside me on my way.

He’s prepared a home for me.

And someday His face I’ll see.


Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.


Jesus Loves Me – the truth that Jesus Loves Me can give us a life on the bright side.




November 2, 2013

Road Hazard

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:22 am

A 12-foot-long alligator caused more than a bump in the road for a Splendora family Thursday night, Oct. 30.

Michael Groh, his wife, Robin, and their son, C.J., were traveling southbound on US 59 between Cleveland and Splendora when they ran over the alligator near the San Jacinto River bridge.

“We couldn’t miss it,” said Groh. “He was all the way across the lane.”

Groh said that the impact with the enormous reptile caused the Toyota Tundra truck he was driving to rock back and forth until the vehicle finally righted itself.

“We were going about 65 miles per hour,” he said. “When I hit him, the head part gave way but his body didn’t. The truck felt like it came up off the ground.”

Though he was not happy to have accidently killed the beast, Groh felt some relief that it was his vehicle that hit it instead of the smaller Honda Civic that was traveling behind him.

“A lady behind me was in a small car. I don’t know what it would have done to her or her vehicle had she been the one to hit it,” said Groh, adding that his vehicle had not been damaged.

Alligators and other animals are on the move right now because of recent rains and the approaching winter season, according to Texas Game Warden Aryn Corley.

“This time of year many animals are looking for places to spend the winter, but the rain has them moving about, too,” he said. “It is likely a confluence on those two things.”

Corley said that people should not be overly concerned if they spot an alligator in natural areas.

“Their natural tendency is to be afraid of people,” he said.

A nuisance alligator that is too close to a home, school, church or business is another matter. These reptiles should only be approached and handled by trained wildlife experts.

If a person finds a nuisance alligator, call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) dispatch center at 281-842-8100. For questions and concerns about orphaned or injured wildlife, a list of wildlife rehabilitators can be found on the TPWD website, www.tpwd.state.tx.us.

October 30, 2013

On the Bright Side – Mary Howell

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:02 am

            Hemphill Care Center welcomed family and friends to the third annual community appreciation event which was hosted by the corporate owners. More than two hundred hamburgers were served to the guests. The event was enjoyed by the young and the old. The children had fun playing on the giant slide and trampoline.

The following Monday we were entertained by the Lakes Area Hospice Clowns who distributed bags of candy to us.

The Resident Council selected Quincy Martindale from Affinity Hospice as the Volunteer of the Month, Nelly Sheppard as Resident of the Month, and Patty Helmer and Rose Sparks as Employees of the Month.

A party was held October 11th to show appreciation to our Food Service workers including Rene, Mamie, Linda, Katherine, Julia, Becky, Colette, and Alla.

The Care Center expressed appreciation to the Hemphill and Pineland Volunteer Fire Departments by providing meals at their respective department meetings. This was in recognition of Fire Prevention Week.

We say thank you to our October Bingo sponsors: Kelli from East Texas Home Health, Hemphill Church of Christ, American Legion Post #197, and Parkway Baptist Church.

We extend our sympathies to the family and friends in the loss of their loved ones Albert Blackerby, Frances Martin, Norbit Tatom, and Perkin Thomas.

During October we worshipped with the following churches: Hemphill First Baptist Church, Fairdale Baptist Church, Bethel Chapel Baptist Church, Community Fellowship Church, Hemphill Church of Christ, Parkway Baptist Church, Gravel Hill Antioch Baptist Church, Bethany Baptist Church, Burkeville Baptist Church, and the Harvest Assembly of God Church.

Happy October Birthday wishes go to Jeanette Cupit, Margaret Conway, Lora Wilson, Carolyn Lyons, Mary Howell, and Dwain Rhame. Our birthday party was hosted by Harbor Hospice.

We look forward to our October Fall Fest which will begin at 2 pm Thursday October 31st. We welcome family and friends to come celebrate with us. We also look forward to children coming by for tricks or treats. We will have fun seeing the little ones dressed up in their Halloween costumes later that evening.

May God bless you and yours with a life on the bright side.


October 30, 2013

October 24, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 5:54 am

Breast Cancer Awareness month is October!  This is intended to make all women everywhere aware of this deadly disease that will strike one in eight women in their lifetime.  It claims thousands of lives every year and can also be deadly to men.  It can occur in females of all ages even in youths but mostly strikes women over 40 years of age.

Many women will survive this disease if it is caught early and treated aggressively.  Women over 40 are urged to get yearly mammograms and perform self-breast examination.  There are many new modalities of treatment which have been introduced in recent years.

Every family has been affected by this dreaded disease either as a family member or a close friend.  My two sisters have both been touched by breast cancer in recent years.  Clara is a 19 year survivor and Jane is approaching her five-year goal.  Clara had a grim prognosis but God healed her and she is a living testimony of how wonderful life can be.  Jane also enjoys life to the fullest after her bout with cancer.   Clara frequently helps others who are battling this disease and feels this is the reason she was allowed to have the disease and survive.  She has shared her testimony with groups and frequently walks in relays.

Our family lost a beloved family member this year to Multiple Myeloma.  We were again made aware that cancer is no respecter of persons.

Let us be in prayer for those whose lives have been affected by breast cancer and other cancers.  Let’s support those who are still battling this disease by lifting them up in prayer daily and encouraging them to live life on the bright side.

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