Mother’s Day reflections

Blessed beyond measure is how I feel every Mother’s Day because I not only have my birth mother, but also my step-mother who has been in my life for about a quarter of a century. My heart goes out to those whose Moms have gone to their eternal home. Of course, celebrating with Jesus has to be the best thing ever! That fact doesn’t keep our hearts from being sad though.
Motherhood is one of the greatest blessings. I actually cried out to God because I wanted a child. I did not know on that day He was already answering my prayers and I was pregnant. There is nothing like it in the world until you hold your grandchild for the first time.
Until I had my first child, I always thought I wanted about a dozen. That changed after the first one though but I did still wanted a fairly large family. Growing up, I only had the one brother and I wished for others, especially a sister. In the neighborhood, I was the one everyone asked to babysit and I started at the age of 11 as I was mature for my age. I just loved children, especially babies. I still love babies; bratty children, not so much!
Children in those days respected grownups and when taken out into the public, they weren’t acting out and running around a restaurant or a store willy nilly as the case is today. We rarely got to go out to eat or to a store and if we had misbehaved, it probably would have been the last time ever. Children were, well children and had to act accordingly including not being in on adult conversations. Adults made the decisions for them until they were actually old enough to make a real decision for themselves — usually around the age of 11 or 12.
I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I was 15 and then only sparingly. I could not date until I was 16 and had to take my little brother on most of them. I really didn’t mind that much except on those times he decided to be a pain.
Once you have a child of your own you discover motherhood is not what you imagined. Certainly not the same as babysitting a child. Fortunately, my first child was the dream child, no problems and easy to get through the various stages. The second one made up for that and for a while I thought that would be last one for me but once the rough spots were over, I was up for it again.
Fortunately, I never really had any problems other than being uncomfortable and morning sickness. I was able to keep playing sports and do everything I was already doing and the time passed quickly.
Talk about quickly, the time from the day they are born until they are grown, flies by and they are getting married and having kids of their own before you can turn your head.
I always worked a full time job but being in newspaper was able to attend events and even take them on assignments at times.
I did the best I could and balancing everything was not the easiest of tasks. My own childhood was not that great and I really had no role model as my Mom just did the best she could as well. I realize it could have been worse. I made many, many mistakes along the way and you learn with each child. With the first one you are overprotective and worried about every little thing. After the third one, you know they are not going to break and that they have to experience things for themselves.
I hope that my children forgive me for those mistakes and regardless, that they know I love them unconditionally. Each child is different and brings a different set of opinions and ideas to the table. You can’t parent each of them the same way either and figuring out what you need to do can be overwhelming with a difficult child. You just have to give them to God and ask Him to guide you.
I wasn’t as strong in my faith when my children were growing up as I am now and I wish I had been but no use having regrets. Our children don’t always turn out like we hoped, but they have their own lives to live. We are who we are today because of everything we have encountered and I know God has been with me all the way and He has protected my children.
Boys and girls have very different personalities. My son, the third child, was all boy and a climber. It was never a surprise to find him on top of something. He also liked to take things apart. When they are teenagers you tend to worry more about your daughters as well.
After the third was about three, I found I was pregnant with twins and I knew that would be all the children I would ever want. God had different plans and I not only lost them but another as well. Don’t know about other mothers, but I know I have wondered about them from time to time had they lived. God did bless me with one more daughter after several years though and she was a dream baby as well.
After her birth, the world started to change and not necessarily for the better. It’s gone downhill every since. I see how things have changed in my grandchildren. David and I have 14 across the United States so we don’t get to see them all very often. In fact, don’t think we’ve ever been able to get everyone together at the same time. We love them all very much though and we do have two whom we see regularly.

Today, May 9th, would have been my Bigmama’s birthday. She has been gone about 37 years but I still miss her. She died way too soon at age 69. She taught me how to make homemade biscuits, potato salad and cole slaw. How I miss her chocolate pie; it was the best thing ever and I can’t recreate it even though I have her recipe. It’s just not the same. But one day, I will see her again and get one of her hugs.
Wishing all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day and hugs and prayers to those whose mothers are in heaven and to mothers who have lost children. ©2019

VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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Things that drive me crazy

We all have our own list of pet peeves. It’s as individual to us as we are all unique. Some things which annoy us also make us laugh at times and on some days I suppose it depends how we are feeling whether something really bugs us or not. Personally, I know when I’m having a bad day or not feeling up to par, things tend to bug me a lot more.
People can especially get on our last nerve at times, though I try to not let them. There are some, though, that just irritate you regardless. For me it is people who think they know everything but in reality they don’t and usually don’t even know what they are talking about at all. I have to deal with these on a regular basis it seems.
Some of the know-it-all folks are also arrogant and want to have the last word. It’s an ego trip thing and it drives me crazy. I try to avoid them at all costs but can’t always.
Those people who are either too negative or complain too much really drive me crazy. Negativity and complaining people drain every bit of positive energy from you if allowed to do so. If you hang out with them too long you can come to join them in their misery. They don’t like it when you try to insert something positive or offer a solution.
I put those in the same category who cannot make a decision on their own and want to go back and forth on an issue even if it is a minute one. Make up your mind already please!
People who disrespect the elderly or won’t give them their seat when none are available. I was taught to respect my elders, but apparently many weren’t. Why should a person 20 years older than you be standing when you are perfectly capable of being on your feet. It would probably be good for some of them to stand for a while anyway.
People who take up two parking spaces come close to making me want to cuss. If you don’t know how to park, then practice until you get it right. If you are doing it to protect your vehicle, then park further away where there are no cars and get your exercise in by walking.
Those folks who are not handicapped but park in a handicapped space make me want to fight, especially at restaurants and other retail places. I don’t quite understand why there are so many handicapped parking spaces at places like Lowe’s but I’m not going to complain about it.
People who talk loudly on their phone or play something loudly on it are just rude. Of course, I will give leeway to the elderly because you never know if they are hard of hearing, but if you’re not, don’t let other people be privy to your conversations and don’t invade their space with loud videos or music in a public place.
I feel the same way about people who post their private business all over social media. First of all, no one else wants to know it and shouldn’t know it, but if you have a problem with someone posting it on social media only escalates the situation. Plus it makes other people who thought better of you raise their eyebrows and reconsider if they really want to know you or not. Private and personal is just that and shouldn’t be broadcast to the world. It also makes you look petty and small. Come on, go and talk with the person. If you can’t do that, write a letter but don’t post it.
People who don’t smile back or acknowledge you when you speak to them is also one of my pet peeves. I make it a habit to smile at everyone. If there’s ever a day I don’t, it means there’s something terribly wrong with me.
People who don’t have the same opinion as you who won’t agree that it’s okay to disagree and still get along are no fun. Differences are what makes the world go round.
People who always play the victim and think it is totally okay for the government to not only tell them what to think and do, but to take care of them has become too common. Too many these days don’t think for themselves.
If you are anti-gun, okay, don’t buy one but let me be pro-gun and just maybe I’ll protect you with mine if it comes down to it. If you are pro-vaccine, that’s great for you but let me be anti-vaccine without trying to make me feel guilty. The government forcing us to vaccinate is a lot more dangerous to me than not vaccinating.
Okay, enough about people, as they are not they only things which aggravate me. Computers that crash, usually at the most inconvenient time make me want to shoot them. Or if they are running slower than the tortoise.
I receive too many emails in the first place, as I have four accounts to check including work. So unnecessary emails drive me bananas like those trying to sell you something. Or those scam emails you receive. Or someone sending you something irrelevant every single day just to be doing it or maybe because they don’t have a life? You can add spam phone calls to this list. Thankfully, I found an app which targets them and they don’t get through most of the time but there is no app for the office phone line.
At home, the hairdryer cord always gets twisted and every so often, I have to hold it up high and let it unwind. Surely, they can make one that doesn’t do that.
The ‘gofund me’ accounts bother me as well. They take part of the money and nowadays people start one for everything, not just for disasters.
So that’s part of my list. What’s yours?©2019
VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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Much to ponder in today’s world

Some days there is just not enough coffee in the world to make the day any better. We don’t have an IV at the office but there are days I wish we did. Coffee just seems to make things better but starting the day off right with God is even more important. Even on those days when coffee is not working for me God is still good all the time and I’m thankful to be upright and breathing.
Seems like lately the weather is on steroids! One thing you should have realized through all of this is that even the weather people aren’t sure and they aren’t in control. God controls the weather.
There has been lots of rain everywhere which has brought flooding. It is said that April showers bring May flowers, so we shall see. My garden sure is loving the rain. Using raised beds this year which you need to water more, so I’m thankful for the rain.
Patti Temple, the chamber and Historical Society are gearing up for the annual Jugfest, so be on the watch for activities around this event. We will be doing a special section again and hope local businesses will participate. Patti does a great job and we really appreciate her and everyone else who volunteers and gets things done.
Congratulations to the new Planning and Zoning Director, Jake Watson. Jake is no stranger as he was once the EMA director. I’ve known him for a long time including from his restaurant manager days and Jake, is, in my opinion, a good guy. He’s very well-rounded and capable and it’s great to see him in that office. He hit the floor running, I was told.
At last week’s joint meeting of the city and county to discuss the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), Brenda Carrol was in attendance as was Lesley McNary from the Development Authority. Lesley is energetic and very interested in moving the county forward. Was great to see Brenda looking so well these days.
If you haven’t tasted the strawberries at Dickey Farms this year, what are you waiting for? They are really sweet. It’s worth the trip just to get some ice cream. You don’t need an excuse for ice cream ever, I say!
The city’s new police cars are certainly an asset. Brand spanking new and you helped pay for them with SPLOST funds. Congratulations to the city on the cars. Chief Ty Matthews’ smile seems broader these days because of the cars.
There is some talk of a new business or two coming to town and that would really be exciting. We really need to support these local businesses. You don’t have a right to complain if you don’t support them. Lack of support is one reason the grocery store left. Other options are in the works, but whatever transpires will need support. Take pride in your community and support businesses, including this newspaper. We are also a small, local business.
Next week is the National Day of Prayer and all of us certainly need to be on our knees praying more. America needs more prayer than ever.
Our government cannot fix us and politics does anything but heal us. God is the only thing that can. If you believe anything else you will never feel whole or peaceful.
I am one of those who is grieving over the division in our country today. It is winning on many fronts and there are some who pat themselves on the back for being part of the division.
Division/disunity, does nothing to honor Christ. In fact in Luke 11:17, Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction and a house divided against itself falls.”
As Christians, we are not exempt from this principle and neither is America, our family, church, business or friendships. If you know a subject is divisive, then perhaps, at this point in time, it shouldn’t be discussed until things settle back down. You certainly shouldn’t be adding fuel to the flame. My grandmother always said the more you stir something, the more it smells and that is the way it is today. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.
We can be a part of the solution by praying for America. We may be fed up with everything that’s going on but that doesn’t preclude us from offering prayer. Prayer should always be our first choice in every situation, not the last. America needs to experience the next move of God across the land.
Before every great movement of God in the Bible and even in history, prayer preceded it. So when praying ask God for a great spiritual awakening across out country.
With all that’s going on we can be part of the solution by loving one another. God commands us to do so. Instead of the “me-too” movement we need a “Love each other” movement that begins with Christians. It can begin with each of us individually.
In today’s chaos, Christians especially need each other more than ever. We’ve got to stand together and rally for the fact that the Bible is God’s infallible Word. It is total truth and without error. Salvation comes through Christ alone and we should be taking the word to those who do not know Him.
We need prayer warriors to rise up, gather together and be the light of Jesus in this world which gets darker by the hour. We need unity and we need to quit fighting over trivial matters.
Our faith should not waiver in the current eroding of culture. As Christians, our future is not in the hands of the government; it is in the hands of the one true God. For a great move of God, we have to unite in our prayers and ask God to heal us. I’m praying and I hope you join with me.©2019

VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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Considering the Cross

Easter celebrations from my childhood were all about family. We started the day out in church together, then would enjoy a meal together, sometimes at my grandparents’ home.
I didn’t mind the frilly dresses and lace socks too much, but there were times that they did itch.
After lunch, of course, we posed with Easter baskets and would find the eggs which had been hidden. Some years we would meet at a park convenient to most of us and all the kids would hunt eggs together. Always seemed like there was at least one egg that was never found.
As the years went on there were more plastic eggs to hide for convenience I suppose. Plus, there were just too many boiled eggs for us to eat. Stains from dying could stay on your fingers for weeks to remind you of all the fun.
As I got older, I began attending sunrise services. There’s just something moving about watching the sun rise over the cross. It reminds you that if you believe in Christ, life is eternal.
One year, we had a sunrise service at our house with the kids, grandkids and my parents. That is one of my favorites. David presided over the service and then we had breakfast afterwards.
It’s a shame families don’t take as much time for get-togethers as they used to do. It’s kind of taken a back seat and we stay too busy doing this or that; things which don’t matter as much.
In reality, Easter isn’t about the chocolate, the bunnies, the eggs or spending time with family. It’s about Christ’s death and resurrection which provides our hope. Studying Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection, we can find valuable lessons to take away and keep in our hearts.
Christ’s death was necessary. It makes me cry thinking about the torture and the pain He endured for me. Something I certainly didn’t deserve but He thought I was deserving. Had it not been for the cross, we were condemned to hell. The cross was the only way that we could ever be right with God. He paid the price for our sins so we didn’t have to pay for them.
Jesus was mocked and scorned, even on the cross. We all have a sin nature. Some people think they are good enough and don’t need the salvation Jesus gave us on the cross. From the cross we see that even with knowledge of what the cross meant for us, not everyone will accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
No matter how far in sin you’ve gone, the cross teaches that all are redeemable. Even the thief on the cross who knew he deserved his punishment but Jesus did not.
The thief had come to the end of himself and realized Jesus could provide salvation. Jesus saw the man’s heart and that what he said was genuine. Sometimes people have to come to the end of themselves to accept Christ.
Christ’s death on the cross teaches we can go straight to the Father; He’s open and accessible to us. Before that the priest would go into the temple once a year and present a burnt offering for the sins of the people.
The veil of the temple tore in two at His death, opening the way since Christ atoned for our sins, for us to enter into the most holy place for ourselves. A human mediator was no longer needed.
Not only did the thief give his life to Christ, one of the Roman soldiers who was standing at the foot of the cross, realized that Jesus was who He claimed to be. There is always room for more.
Jesus on the cross, teaches us to forgive those who hurt us; don’t remain a victim by holding grudges.
He teaches us to reach out to others and to take care of the people who depend on you. No matter what we are going through, we shouldn’t be blind to the needs of those around us or expect others to suffer because we are suffering.
From the cross and Jesus’ words, we learn that we should direct the hard questions to God. Jesus asked the Father, why He had forsaken Him. When we question why, God is the only one who can pour healing into your heart and help you make sense of things.
On the cross, Christ acknowledged His humanity and we should too. He said He was “thirsty”. No matter how strong we think we are, there are times when we are not self sufficient and need help from others. Needing help and asking for it, is a lesson in humility.
We can’t add anything to Christ’s death on the cross. It covered every sin, from the cradle to the grave. It was finished then and there.
There are some people and even some seasons in our lives when struggles seem to be never ending. We can have peace in all situations when we commit the outcome to God, just as Jesus said, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” in Luke 23-46.
This was an act of trust meaning he was surrendering control to the Father It wasn’t a defeat, his work was finally completed.
But before Jesus could turn it over to God, he had to pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done,” in Luke 23:42. When we get to that point, we have sweet, sweet peace and freedom.
The cross calls us to come to Jesus, yes, but it is also calling us into a way of life, to let God have his way in everything. I do not understand those people who are not humbled and brought to tears when they consider the cross. Yes thinking about Christ on the cross pains me, but oh it brings me so much joy and peace. When you understand it and ask God into your life, the peace is immeasurable.
Enjoy your Easter celebrations and pause at least for a while, to consider the cross and all it means. ©2019

VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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Community is the greatest thing

One of the things I love about this job is getting to attend ribbon cuttings and grand openings. You get to see people you don’t see all the time and meet new ones as well. It’s just exciting when new businesses open and it gives you hope for the vitality of the community. Community support is the backbone of keeping your community vibrant and moving forward.
This past Saturday was the grand opening and ribbon cutting at Greenway Farms, out Hwy. 80. Of course, I already knew Kerry and Robin and know they are genuine, good people. They have partnered with Joy and Steve Hunt and I finally met them Saturday.
Funny thing is, I already knew Joy’s mother-in-law, from my many years in Fort Valley. I also knew Linda and Tiger Smith and their daughter, Nicolanne. I finally got to meet “Lucycat”, Nicolanne’s daughter, who is more precious in person than the photos I’ve seen on social media.
In addition, Judge Bryant Culpepper, also from my Fort Valley days, was in attendance along with a couple of others. Judye Sellier was in attendance and it’s been a while since I’ve seen her. Judye is one special lady and always lets me know how much she appreciates what we do.
Our representative Robert Dickey attended and we certainly appreciate all he does, not only in the Legislature but also on the farm. Betty and Charlie Harris were in attendance and I love seeing them. They are always so pleasant.
Jay Andrews and his wife, Pam were in attendance and people are always wanting to talk to him about one thing or another in the city. Other locals I recognized were Dan Hudson and family and of course our own Patti Temple from the chamber was on hand.
The food we eat and how it’s processed is so important to our overall health and it’s great to be able to have this available locally. It certainly helps that the people there are so wonderful.
Though the day started off rainy and dreary the rain held off and the opening was well attended and I’m happy for Greenway Farms.
Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black attended and spoke. He has always seemed so down to earth to me and his words rang true. He mentioned the fact that we need to unwind from the phone as well as talking about Georgia Grown and Greenway Farms and the importance of agriculture.
Melissa Slaughter, From the Bog by the Grace of God, was there with her locally grown plants and herbs. A newcomer to the area, Melissa has endeared herself into my heart and I have come to love her. She is the one who brought the “Thank you Jesus” signs to our area and I can attest that she loves Jesus.
The only negative of the day for me was the fact that people and their cell phones are so rude when taking photos. We still need to be courteous to others. One lady really infuriated me by getting right in the way of everyone trying to get a ribbon cutting photo. Of course, this was not any fault of anyone involved in getting the day going, but it is one of my pet peeves.
My hubby keeps telling me we need to take a step ladder so we can get above them and after Saturday, I believe he’s right. For newspaper purposes, cell phones do not take good enough photos as the resolution is too low and I have forbid my employees to use them unless it is the only way to get a photo.
But that had nothing to do with the good folks at Greenway Farms. Even their marketing people were courteous when taking photos.
I tried the Boston Butt and it was out of this world, as were the garlic pickles. My hubby liked the bread and butter ones the best. I also sampled the coffee from Heartland Acres Homestead in Dry Branch, which was also good. Heartland also has microgreens.
It was just a good day of fellowship with down home folks who remind you there are plenty of wonderful people in our communities. All the bad news going around in the world, makes you forget that at times, so it’s good to be reminded.
Greenway is in hopes of expanding hours down the road and I pray that works out for them. Maybe sometime in the not too distant future, they might think about a satellite location in town for those people who can’t travel the six miles to them.
You can not only get meat without hormones or antibiotics that is pasture raised, but fresh eggs, honey, jellies, pickles and more.
Greenway Farms is part of the Georgia Grown program which is a marketing and economic development program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Their No. 1 goal is to aid our agricultural economies by bringing together producers, processors, suppliers, distributors, retailers, agri-tourism and consumers in one powerful, statewide community. All products are grown or produced in Georgia.
For your health and the health of your community and state, make an effort to buy locally grown food. Your body will thank you for it.
Congratulations to Greenway Farms. If you missed it Saturday, they are open every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and located on Hwy. 80 West about six miles out. ©2019

VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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Getting your hands dirty

There’s just something about putting your hands in the dirt that makes you feel grounded. This past weekend, we began preparing our garden and are doing raised beds for the first time.
We had two of our granddaughters helping for two days. Mind you they are seven and ten and so you might think they weren’t that much help, but they were. In fact, they seemed to enjoy getting their hands dirty. Mostly because that meant they could then use the water hose to wash the dirt off and somehow manage to get wet and wet each other as well.
Still, they helped put the garden soil in the beds, make it even and put the plants in the holes. Then they watered. When we took them home one of their parents asked if they wanted to help with the garden again and they both said an emphatic “yes”.
The older one also tried to help Grandpa with the chicken pen but it became too much of a chore. We still have things to plant so maybe they will return and help with more planting. We should be teaching the younger generation about planting gardens and growing your own food. It’s an important lesson.
I’ve loved gardening from a very young age. My grandmother lived on a farm and there were always vegetables and fruits to pick during each season. I didn’t really get to help with the planting then. We had a small garden at home which I did help with from time to time.
As an adult, I started having my own garden. Working on and in the garden is therapeutic at times. Reaping the harvest from all that hard work is also rewarding and refreshing. You get to see results from the work. But the reward doesn’t come without lots of work. I think it runs in my blood though, because most of my gardens have been successful.
Going to raised beds this year we didn’t have to prepare the soil as much as usual since we added garden soil from bags to the dirt we hauled from the yard. But next year, it will be back to tilling the soil gain before planting. It just comes with the territory if you are going to garden.
Nothing in life worth having, really comes without work. Part of that work is in preparation. Preparing yourself and doing what is necessary for the task at hand.
You can compare gardening to life in many areas. First you do need a vision or plan for your garden. If you do it willy nilly and hope for the best, chances are it will not produce as much as otherwise and you could have disastrous results. It’s the same with life: you have to at least semi-plan for some things to be successful.
Prioritizing what plants you will grow is also important. Certain plants shouldn’t be planted together. I tend to want to overextend myself in how many varieties of vegetables I will plant. I always have to check myself and prioritize to plant only those which we will utilize or share with others because space is limited. In life, we must prioritize what’s important or we can become overwhelmed. Putting God at the top of your list helps with everything else on your list.
With a garden you reap what you sow. You can’t reap watermelon if you don’t sow watermelon seeds. In life we should be sowing seeds of kindness and compassion. If we want blessings, we should strive to bless others. Also in life sowing can mean working on a degree, house, family, etc. You have to put in the effort to reap the rewards.
A garden needs constant tending. You just can’t plant it and let it go. Weeds have to be removed, the soil fertilized and it must be watered if there is not enough rain. That can require getting your hands dirty. Your life needs constant tending too. We must watch out for weeds like spending too much time on the internet, procrastination, neglecting our health and adding unnecessary tasks.
Gardening requires patience as from the time you plant until the time you harvest does not happen overnight. You must trust the process and in life you must trust God.
It’s not always easy to get to the harvest. You can run into obstacles you can’t control, like too much rain which can create problems in your garden. In gardening you must be flexible as you do in life because you are not in control. No matter what happens we need to keep moving forward.
If you’ve taken proper care of your garden, you’ll reap a bountiful harvest. Some years, of course, may be better than others. If something was amiss in your garden strategy this year, you can adjust and do it differently next year. If we live our lives properly as our Father in Heaven wants us to live, we will reap the blessings of a joyous life. No matter what mistakes you might have made today, you can readjust and try again as God’s mercies are fresh every day.
Are you properly preparing your life daily by spending time with your Creator? It’s the best way for a harvest of blessing and peace. Happy gardening. ©2019

VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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Tooting our own horn

Journalism, like people isn’t what it used to be. It’s constantly changing, not always for the better. Society itself, is also changing and definitely not for the better.
One of the things I love about my job is that it is never the same each week. Yes, some things are the same tasks like page layout but you are not putting the same information on the page each week, so that makes it different to me. I’ve left the business a couple of times because it can be stressful and people cruel, but God has put me back every time. I finally gave up and accepted I’m where I’m supposed to be in a career.
Because of the change in society, we sometimes get grief we do not deserve; sometimes because people don’t understand what we do at all. They think we can just put anything and everything out there as a story and for us (with ethics) that’s not what we do unless we can verify facts. Even if you know something to be true, if it can’t be verified, it can’t be published.
As a young journalist starting out, of course, I also wanted to help change the world for the better. I thought that if the public knew what was going on with their government, they would be more educated and could participate in the community to make it better. As it turned out, it doesn’t work that way because you can’t make people be engaged. They have to want to be engaged in their community and what’s going on in it. Some are, but there are lots others who are not.
Still, I believe in journalism and community newspapers because we are writing a history of the communities we serve and years from now people can go back into the archives and see what was going on during various years. From time to time we have people come in to the office who want to look at some of the archives to look up something. When they find it, I feel a sense of pride because we did our job.
Every week there may be ups and downs but no matter what we have to try and do our jobs to the best of our abilities. We don’t always get an A but it’s not from lack of trying.
This year, we entered five items in the Georgia Press Association Awards program. In 2012 our Christmas Edition won first place. This year we have been notified that three different entries have won. We don’t know what place we’ve won but a house ad about subscription won, as did our Letters to Santa edition and our Honoring our First Responders edition. It will be the end of May at the GPA annual convention before we find out which placed where. That means three out of the five entries won something. Entries are judged against all newspapers of the same size throughout Georgia. That’s exciting and encouraging. Judges felt we were doing something right.
We were excited when we got the letter but it is also a testimony to our readers and advertisers as well. Our advertisers make this paper able to publish, as do our subscribers.
I’m the only full time employee here and think we do an outstanding job with such a small staff. I’m pleased to say they are loyal as well. I’ve been here now 12 years, Kristi has been here for five years and Linda for four. Robby our delivery man has been with me for eight years. It means a lot to keep the same staff because you become more familiar with the community the longer you are involved.
The things we know or have learned are not always pleasant or good, but there are a lot of good things as well. Sometimes you have to step back because you get bombarded with too much negativity, I recently had to take a hiatus from one meeting for a couple of times because I wanted to slap one of the councilmen for his arrogance and superior attitude. I know too much about this man and his actions just infuriated me and he thinks he knows things which he really doesn’t. He still thinks he is the smartest person in whatever room he happens to be in and that’s okay, as everyone else knows better. I have been able to go back and get over my irritation with him, thank goodness.
We have to adapt at times, which is not easy, when there is a change in staff or administration in the entities we cover. The new faces have to be retrained and you have to start over in acclimating them to what you need from them and what you expect. It’s also a balancing act to remember that friendship and work need to be separated. We don’t have much of a problem with this but the friend does at times. In this business, you have to accept the fact that your friends and enemies change on a weekly basis, depending on what’s in the paper that week. Yes, sometimes friendships suffer or are lost, but then again you wonder if they really were friends in the first place.
Those in office still think sometimes, the public doesn’t need to know certain things. We beg to differ and believe because it’s the public’s money that is being spent, they have every right to know. I have also found over the years that everything that comes out of elected officials mouths, can not be trusted, so I take nothing at face value. Seeing so much secrecy at times and striving to get to the bottom of things when officials are blocking you every way you turn, can take its toll of us at times, because we are, after all, still human.
We hope that when we do receive these three awards that you will be proud of your community newspaper as well. We don’t do it for recognition but as you know, it’s always great to be recognized and appreciated for things that you do. We look forward to finding out where these three entries placed. We are especially happy about the First Responders edition because it’s our favorite each year as we give recognition to those so deserving. We’ll let you know when we find out. Thanks to all those who support and encourage us. ©2019
VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

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