Winter Talent Showcase Taking Place Tonight At Athens Bible School

Members of the group “Corndog Cemetery” rehearse while a young patron looks on.

Athens, Ala. – According to one of the event’s organizers, Scott Richardson, there are 16 acts set to take the stage in the Rollings-Lovell Auditorium on the Athens Bible School campus during the Winter Talent Showcase tonight at 6:30pm.  Final preparations were being made last night as The North Alabama Chapter of the Hutchinson Bell, who is hosting the event, gets ready for a large crowd.  The event not only serves to entertain attendees, but is also a scholarship fundraiser for North Alabama students who want to attend Florida College located in Temple Terrace, Florida.  Although the Talent Showcase itself is set to begin at 6:30pm, Swamp John’s plates will also be available from 3:30pm-6pm.  The cost is $12 per plate.  Organizers say that while the Talent Showcase is free to the public, a $5 per person donation is suggested to help their scholarship fundraising effort.  If you are looking for something fun to do in a family-friendly environment, look no further than the Winter Talent Showcase tonight at 6:30pm.  While you’re at it, go ahead and let Swamp John’s take care of supper for you as well!  You’ll have a good time while supporting a great cause.  You can mark it down!

Fond Memories of Athens Elementary School

Athens Elementary School located in Athens, Alabama.

Mrs. Addie (Woodruff) Wilson passed away two years ago on January 6th, 2015.  The following is my “Letter To The Editor” which I wrote after attending Mrs. Woodruff’s funeral on January 10th, 2015.  At Athens State University, a new semester has begun.  Many of our students are studying to be teachers.  For them, it’s important that they remember how important the profession is that they are pursuing.  For current teachers, it’s important that they remember why they are doing what they do.  A teacher has the ability to affect a child for the rest of their life.  The following is a good example of this.  For all of my teachers, I am grateful.
Athens, Ala. – On Saturday, January 10th, I attended the funeral of my kindergarten teacher from Athens Elementary, Mrs. Addie (Woodruff) Wilson. As I sat in the services, I couldn’t help but reflect back to a 5-year-old boy, crying at the classroom door on his first day of school, who grew to love his kindergarten teacher. As my teacher, Mrs. Woodruff was kind, understanding, and patient.
All three of these qualities were just what I needed at a turbulent time in my young life. In my years at Athens Elementary School, I found these qualities in many of those who worked there. There were many outstanding influences at Athens Elementary School. It was a wonderful place for a young student to learn and grow.
I was blessed to have such a caring principal as Mr. Brett and caring teachers like Mrs. Woodruff, Mrs. Thornton, Ms. McFarland, Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Poole, Mrs. Garrett, and many others during my time at Athens Elementary School. At 35, I still think about the many great people who worked at Athens Elementary this many years later.
All of them were not teachers, some of them were support staff such as the janitors, lunchroom personnel, and the people in the front office.
There’s a saying that goes like this, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I hope this serves as a reminder to those who work in our schools how important you are. How you make the children feel will carry on throughout their lives. No matter your position in the school, you can be a powerful influence for good.
I’m grateful for people like Mrs. Woodruff and so many others like her who have had a significant impact on my life. They are very special to me.

Seeing Through The Fire By Thomas Keese


Thomas “Tom” Keese on his wedding day in 1991. L to R: Eugene Rigsby, Mary Faye Headrick, Brent Siota, and Tom Keese

Yesterday, we lost a dear friend in Thomas “Tom” Keese.  Tom came to Athens, Alabama, in the mid-1980’s.  He attended Calhoun Community College on the “Lynn Headrick Scholarship” and worshiped with us at Jackson Drive.  Along with other college-aged men like Tim Sutton, Phillip Owens, Brent Siota, Lane Alexander, Eugene Rigsby, & many others, Tom Keese was part of the extended Headrick family.  Although he was several years older, Tom took time with my brother and I.  As a seven year old, the best I could do to show Tom how much he meant to me was to name my cat after him.  About the time he was in Athens, Tom was having some physical difficulty.  It wasn’t much longer before he would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).   As a tribute to him, I want to share his own words with you today.  In his message, you’ll see what brought him comfort as he faced the challenges of MS.  Tom is no longer suffering and that is a comfort.  One of the last things Tom said to me when we visited with him back in December was “Fight for me!”  Tom’s Christian legacy lives on.   My deepest condolences to his family.    
Although it was more than 30 years ago, I still remember distinctly our Driver’s Ed teacher’s instructions about how to conquer our fear (among inexperienced drivers) of a bridge near Comfort, TX. Although there are few of them around anymore, this bridge was half a mile long and had two very narrow lanes framed by steel girders. His advice to us was to focus on the caution light on the other side of the bridge. It made no sense to us at the time, but when I actually took his advice, it worked. The principle, looking past our current circumstances to what the future holds also works.
Now I want to deal with my present circumstances. I have been dealing with excruciating pain a result of having MS for the last 28 years and the resulting immobility. In the midst of that pain there have been very few things that will bring me comfort for my mind to dwell on. When you find yourself in the midst of this type of adversity, my advice to you is to focus on the other side of the bridge, look through the fire. One of the things I consider is to look forward to the period of time after the pain medication has taken effect. I will recite to myself Paul’s words from Romans 8:18, “the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Another passage which brings me comfort is 1 Peter 1:6, 7:
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…”
The trial of our faith, i.e. adversity, is many times painful. We should view it as burning away those impurities in our lives that will only hinder us from reaching our goal. Those impurities in the gold must be burned away. One way to look at this, when I endure this pain, is that it helps me like no other experience to see more clearly the things in my life that do not matter.
Preparing for Trial
I have encountered and continue to encounter brothers and sisters in Christ who deal with adversities far greater than mine. I recently heard it said that physical pain is easier to endure than emotional pain. I firmly believe that’s true. You may be dealing with the death of a loved one or the unfaithfulness of children who have turned their back on the Lord. The best time to prepare for adversity is before it occurs. If you have not dealt with severe trials like this it’s only a matter of time.
Memorize Scripture
The best way to receive comfort from God’s word is to have it stored up in your heart. Just listening to the Scriptures being read or to sermons has brought me great comfort during my darkest hours.
Develop a Habitual Life of Prayer
It should be of great comfort to us that God has encouraged us to bring our problems before his throne. Philippians 4:6, 7 with many other passages urge us to pray about those things that are causing us worry. To me it is so humbling to realize our God who has created universes and solved problems so much more complex than what we are dealing with wants us to bring our problems to Him.
In Daniel chapter 3, Daniel’s three friends had every confidence that God, if he so chose, could deliver them from their fiery trial (Daniel 3:6-30). Yet, they also realized that He might not choose to deliver them. Facing the prospect of a very painful death, they saw through the fire. Likewise, we also must look past our trials of this earth which are so minuscule in comparison to our reward in heaven