Category Archives: Family and friends

Happy Birthday, Trixie Averill! Celebrate by Wishing Her a Great Day!

Trixie! We worked together in Virginia politics for years so it’s a great pleasure to remember her on her special day – October 27. Please join us in sending her birthday wishes!

Here’s a sample of the hundreds of photos I took of her over the years – activist, campaign worker, 6th Congressional District Republican Committee Chairman, State Central Committee members, 6th District Committee member, longtime magisterial district chair, Director for Americans for Prosperity, candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates …

… mom to Amy and Marcus … and Olivia, Katy Rae, Colin, and Little Mac, and the new one whose French name I cannot remember … and wife of Dan who has supported her endeavors, travels, and everything else that goes with an outgoing wife!

Thanks for ALL the memories and hard work, GOP Girl. Happy birthday, Trixie!

Trixie Averill – Past Chairs Tourism Excellence Award – 2015
Republican Party of Virginia Convention – Harrisonburg, 2018.
With Lt. Gov. John Hager and RPV First Vice Chair Mike Thomas

with Donald Williams (left) and Ben Dessart, State Central meeting, Staunton
Happy birthday, Trixie! (from left) Mildred Scott, Dexter Gaines, Dolores Switzer, Trixie Averill, Lynn Mitchell
Trixie and Gov. Bob McDonnell on his last day in office, State Capitol building
I very well remember this day at The Greenbriar for the U.S. Senate debate between Sen. Mark Warner and GOP candidate Ed Gillespie.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell, 2000-2021

Homeschoolers: Introduction to American Government at George Mason University with Bill Bolling

GOVT103: Introduction to American Government

Hurry! The deadline to register is August 15.

A new homeschool dual-enrollment history course can help you get a leg up on college. Earn three hours of transferable college credits through the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University—at nearly half off the regular tuition price!

Introduction to American Government is a fascinating course, presented by Virginia’s former Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and George Mason University visiting professor! HEAV has worked with the lieutenant governor during past legislative sessions. He has been a supporter of homeschooling families during his extensive service to the Commonwealth.

This is a unique opportunity for homeschool high school students to learn from a conservative who knows the inner workings of government by personal experience. Developed specifically for homeschoolers–and limited to homeschoolers–his online course is essential for anyone who wants to learn more about how our government operates…or sometimes doesn’t operate; how the political system operates…or sometimes doesn’t operate; and how to be a responsible citizen.


Homeschool Dual Enrollment


Click here to register!

Click here for instructions for completing the online application. They are detailed, but they will tell you exactly what to do.

  • Step 2: Pay all required fees for the three-credit hour course. (See STEP 2 on attached directions)
  • Step 3: Submit your student’s official transcript to Rachel Cleaver at (See STEP 3 on attached directions). 

If you have any questions about the applications process, please feel free to contact Rachel Cleaver at


The homeschool dual-enrollment course will consist of weekly video lectures, which your student will access from the secure Learning Management System (Blackboard) at George Mason University. Students will have a unique GMU email and student ID that will enable them to access the Learning Management System.

These video lectures will be supplemented by a weekly Zoom meeting to discuss course content. Zoom meetings begin on August 26 and take place on Thursday mornings from 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m


  • Critical Thinking and Political Culture: Becoming A Responsible Citizen
  • Constitutional Democracy:
    Promoting Liberty and Self Government
  • Federalism: Forging a Nation
  • Civil Liberties: Protecting Individual Rights
  • Equal Rights: Struggling Toward Fairness
  • Public Opinion and Political Socialization: Shaping the People’s Voice
  • Political Participation: Activating the Popular Will
  • Political Parties, Candidates and Campaigns: Defining the Voters Choice
  • Interest Groups: Organizing for Influence
  • The News Media and the Internet: Communicating Politics
  • Congress: Balancing National Goals and Local Interests
  • The Presidency: Leading the Nation
  • The Federal Bureaucracy: Administering the Government
  • The Federal Judicial System: Applying the Law

A Valentine’s Day Message For My Children

A Valentine for my children…

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together … there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.” – Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

‘Twas Two Weeks Before Christmas

Our tree, Mom’s chair, the bookcasethe family memories that make the holidays precious.

[About seven years ago I took a break from holiday planning, gift wrapping, and addressing Christmas cards and, as visions of my own version, er, sad attempt, of “The Night Before Christmas” danced in my head , I sat down and popped out a few verses before getting back to work. It’s Christmas in the Shenandoah Valley….]

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas and all through the house
Every creature was stirring including the mouse.
With plans for family, friends, and neighbors, too,
To celebrate together … there was much left to do.

Last touches on the tree, a wreath on the door,
The presents were bought except perhaps just one more.
Gingerbread baked in the oven with care,
Looking forward to when our guests would be there.

Cleaning the house and planning the meals,
And scanning the ads for those last-minute deals.
Gift wrap was piled deep on the floor
To decorate gifts and candies bought at the store.

A Shenandoah Valley Christmas is what we’ll celebrate
With everyone here, this holiday’s sure to be great.
Two weeks left, we’re almost done
Then it will be time to enjoy all the fun.

December 2013

Christmas Offers a Time to Show Appreciation for Those in Our Lives

When I was a little kid, Christmas was a magical time to pick out a special something for my sisters and parents to show how much they meant to me. Today the same applies for family and friends who are the reason my life feels complete.

While growing up in Bon Air across the James River from Richmond, shopping opportunities were few for two young sisters with limited financial resources. There were the Buford Road Pharmacy and the Bon Air Hardware, both a short one- or two-block ride on our bicycles, so that’s where we did our shopping.

Two very patient older gentlemen worked in the Bon Air Hardware and I’m sure they probably chuckled to themselves as my sister and I walked among the rows of familiar plumbing supplies, carpenter needs, and other materials necessary for the upkeep of a house. Our young eyes wandered up and down the shelves as we searched their contents, hoping to find just the right gift for our parents, that was within our price range. The gentlemen offered kind suggestions for us neighborhood kids carrying only a couple of bucks in our pockets.

I say the gift was for our “parents” but it was usually more suited for our mother, and our good-natured Dad just got his name on the tag.

One year I decided on a paring knife for them. A paring knife. The cost was within my paltry budget so I proudly took it home to wrap but it was so small that I decided to find the biggest cardboard box I could to wrap this prized gift to make it seem more impressive.

I rolled the knife in tissue paper, placed it at the bottom, and then proceeded to stuff the box with wadded-up newspapers. It must have taken an entire roll of wrapping paper to cover the thing and, of course, it had to be topped with a bow.

If my mother was disappointed on Christmas morning, she never showed it. Looking back all these years later as a mother myself, I know the corny saying is true … it is not the gift that counts but truly the thought. I had wanted to be able to give more so the box seemed to represent my desire and the lonely little paring knife was the reality.

Christmas cookies 1
Christmas cookies

There was the year one of my younger sisters wanted the Magic 8 Ball that was all the rage. I scraped together enough money to get that one special gift for her and stored it in the closet of our shared bedroom. Unable to contain my excitement, we ended up playing with it before it was wrapped and put under the tree. Ah, the impatience of youth.

My sister and I made a coupon book one year for our parents with each page representing something we would do when presented with said piece of paper, i.e., washing dishes, babysitting our younger sister, and other chores that we were actually already assigned to us. I don’t remember ever having a coupon redeemed, perhaps because we were already expected to fulfill those obligations around the house.

I find gift-giving to be easier with those we know well. A friend may have expressed a like for a particular quote so it gives pleasure to print and frame the quote and gift-wrap it as a surprise. I truly enjoy finding something that fits the person, although sometimes falling flat on my face with my selection, and sometimes over the years I’ve had to resort to the ready-made one-size-fits-all category.

When funds are short, ingenuity goes a long way. During the years when my children were growing up and we were a one-income family and very pinched financially, homemade gifts were necessary. If you don’t think you can be creative, try coming up with something made by your own hands for someone you love, respect, or appreciate. After all, it is meant to be a reflection of how you feel about the person and gratitude for their place in your life.

Homemade, or maybe handmade sounds better, for me has included everything from hand-dipped candy and festive decorated cookies to evergreen wreaths that I fashioned from greenery on our property, to hand-sewn items to arts and crafts.

One year with two young children and more time than money, I sewed two Christmas aprons for my mom — one red and one green — complete with holiday appliqués. Those aprons hung on a hook in Mom’s kitchen until the day they moved into a retirement home in 2017. Now that both parents have passed, they hang on a hook in my kitchen.

Christmas gifts 4
Miniature wreath made of sweet gum balls.

On the farm where we lived in North Carolina when our kids were born, we had a huge old sweet gum tree beside the front porch that dropped hundreds of sweet gum balls in the yard every fall.

One year I eyeballed those pesky little things — they are prickly — and then smiled. That was the Christmas I collected and made dozens of miniature sweet gum wreaths complete with tiny bows and gave them to friends and family.

Another year I collected, husked and cracked open black walnuts from our trees and gave the shelled nuts as gifts.

I remember years ago when one of my sisters found herself financially strapped when Christmas rolled around. She was living in Colorado and working her way through graduate school with limited resources. Mom bought her an airplane ticket to fly home for Christmas in Richmond so we could all be together and, when she arrived, she came bearing gifts.

On Christmas morning, I opened my gift from her and it was a rattan lamp from her Denver apartment that I had admired. She didn’t have the money to buy items for us so she had shared her own possessions. That lamp still sits in my home.

Christmas 3
Handmade wreath

Maybe I learned over the years that to receive a gift — any gift — is a kindness of the giver who took the time, whether a few minutes to purchase something or hours to handcraft it, because they cared enough to show a gratitude for the people in their lives not only throughout the year but especially during the holiday season (see Gigi Engle’s Why the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the best time of the year).

Now I have to get back to work because there are some gingerbread men in the kitchen waiting to be decorated as gifts for a friend who absolutely loves the holiday spirit that comes through in that personalized holiday treat.

Enjoy the days leading up to a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Originally published in 2015.

Love Thy Neighbor

I was sad today. Not for myself, but for a friend who just found out his dad has Covid-19, and he’s not doing well. In fact, this evening they had to admit him to the hospital.

He’s 88.

The anti-mask crowd will most likely say he’s old, no big deal, it’s his turn, just as they did with my family.

Here’s the deal. The grandparents have spent the past two weeks together with the friend’s family completely unaware that anyone had Covid. In retrospect, they believe the grandmother, who is 84, had it first but it was achiness that they thought had to do with working too much around the house.

You see, neither grandparent exhibited the usual Covid clues: difficulty breathing or other respiratory distresses like coughing. So the grandmother is better but the grandfather, who was thought to also just be tired from working too hard, has progressively become worse, tested positive, had oxygen levels plummet, and is now in the hospital.

And here’s another distress. My friend’s spouse has been battling cancer so now that it’s know the grandparents have Covid, that is yet another worry.

This friend and his family have been diligent about masks, hand washing, not going out, and all the other precautions because of the cancer issue. They’ve done everything right. Every.Thing.

And, yet, they have Covid in the household.

This may not be the right thing to say but I’m saying it anyway. I hope those who are more concerned about their freedoms than other people’s lives by refusing to wear masks are happy.

These anti-maskers who have been friends are not the people I thought they were all these years. Between Donald Trump and this global pandemic, friendships are splitting because of selfish people.

My heart aches for this friend and his family. I cried to learn that someone else was going through the vile virus that is Covid-19. If every family had to deal with this, I guarantee there would be far less, possibly no, anti-maskers.

Love thy neighbor? They’re too busy loving thy selves.

My Grandmother’s Apple Peeling Skill

Yesterday as I was peeling an apple, slowly working my knife around the outside, the apple peeling remained intact in one, long peel.

As my hands worked, my mind was busy going over the day’s events and news, and then it drifted back to the days when I was a little girl who watched as my grandmother peeled apples, watching wide-eyed and chatting with her as only a child can do.

Sitting on the porch, her always-present flowery apron over her dress and a small pan in her lap, she often worked on whatever fruits and vegetables were coming in from the garden. Her weathered hands shelled peas and butterbeans, snapped green beans, peeled peaches, and the fall was for apples.

What particularly mesmerized me about her working with apples was the one, long, continuous apple peel. She started at the top near the stem, and the peel never broke as she worked her way around and down, until she finished at the bottom.

“How do you do that, Grandma?” I’d ask with childlike innocence, sitting on the porch floor looking up at her. It seemed an impossible task and I thought she was amazing, a magician as far as I was concerned, to be able to do something that was so impossible.

An older me eventually mastered the one-piece apple peel that had seemed so difficult when I was young.

All that swirled through my memory as I finished peeling my own apple and, voila! The peel was in one piece … one long, unbroken length of apple peel, and I smiled.

It was a sweet memory, a visit with my grandmother who passed away when I was in 8th grade. I wear her wedding band with my own … she is never far away. And yesterday she was right here with me, probably smiling as I worked.

Memories. Family. The two are inseparable, and both are precious.

9/11: It’s Been 19 Septembers … Remembering That Tragic Day

“Today, our nation saw evil — the very worst of human nature — and we responded with the best of America, with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.” –President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001

When the White House was evacuated on that fateful day in 2001, my sister was a member of President George W. Bush’s administration. My memories of that day — and the danger she was in — are still sharp.

Instructed by Secret Service agents to evacuate and then to flee as fast as possible, women removed their high heels and ran in bare feet as staffers in the White House and Old Executive Office Building raced for their lives. They were fully aware that United Flight 93 was on a path toward the nation’s capital. My sister has barely talked about that day … the rawness is still real … and we are forever grateful to the heroes of Flight 93 who prevented a tragedy at the Capitol or White House. No one is certain which one was targeted.

I will never forget September 11, 2001 … and I don’t want to forget. Nineteen Septembers have passed, and I am still easily overcome with emotion.

That week my husband and I were vacationing in Colonial Williamsburg with our two teenage children. The morning of September 11 we had just arrived in the Colonial area with our freshly-purchased annual passes in hand, when a Colonial interpreter leaned in and quietly told us of the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. We were shocked and asked more questions, and then I quickly stepped off to the side to call my mom in Richmond to see if she had heard from my sister in D.C.

Amazingly, perhaps because her Austin cell phone was still routing through Texas, my sister had already been able to call and reassure Mom that she was okay even as tens of thousands of others in D.C. encountered jammed phone lines.

Reassured of my sister’s safety, we started walking through the recreated early American village, making our way to the Colonial Capitol to hear from costumed interpreters. Our hearts, however, were not on the Virginia history we usually loved. Visitors talked among themselves, strangers speculating about the events that were unfolding north of us, and wondering if America was under attack.

Under a tree on the capitol grounds, the historical interpreter’s animated voice talked about American history but it was difficult to concentrate on what he was saying. After an hour or so we decided to head back to our condo so we could turn on the television and follow the latest news.

In D.C., the White House and U.S. Capitol had been evacuated, and stand-still traffic made escaping the nation’s capital a nightmare. It took hours but my sister eventually made her way home to Bethesda where she then waited to hear news of her next-door neighbor who worked at the Pentagon, also a target of the terrorists. He had fled his office, leaving cell phone and keys at his desk, so with no way to contact family to assure them that he was safe, he began the long walk home from Arlington to Bethesda. He arrived hours later after making his way through the clogged streets of D.C.

Our much-anticipated Williamsburg vacation had suddenly taken a sad turn on that Tuesday in 2001, and all I could think of was going home to the Shenandoah Valley. Tears flowed easily … I was in touch with family and friends … and a patriotic, defensive streak came out in Americans. We were glued to the TV for updates and hated to get too far from the news. There was an uncertainty because no one knew what was next. Everyone was on edge.

With two children, however, who had looked forward to our planned visit to Busch Gardens amusement park on Friday of that week, we made the decision to stay the remaining four days of our trip. We tried to make it as normal as possible for them although we stayed on high alert, wondering along with the rest of the country if there were more attacks to come.

On Friday morning when we arrived at Busch Gardens, a new reality hit as, for the first time ever, our backpacks were searched when we entered the park. Little did we know it was the beginning of a new normal that was to expand and necessarily intrude in the years to come.

At noon, the park ceased operation for a time of remembrance. Patrons lined the park’s walkways and held hands as all bowed their heads in prayer, then listened to and sang along with Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” as it played over the park’s intercom system, echoing off roller coasters and drifting across the hilly terrain. Tears streamed down the faces of strangers standing shoulder-to-shoulder who came together that week not as Democrats or Republicans, not as black or white or immigrants or rich or poor, but as Americans.

After the remembrance was over, as our kids made a beeline for the roller coasters, we worried about snipers in such a high profile area. It may sound silly now but it was, after all, only four days since the terrorist plane attacks and all were aware that more terror could be planned. The day, however, was uneventful, and we, thankfully, headed home to the Valley the next morning.

One memory that sticks in my mind is the sheer number of American flags waving after 9/11 on vehicles, store fronts, houses … I had never seen so many flags flying in the USA. At home I had dozens of American flags but none with me on our trip, and when we checked at Williamsburg shops for anything red, white, and blue, everything was sold out.

I was aching for an American flag. Again, it probably sounds silly, but it taught me a lesson: never leave home again without one.

Back in the Shenandoah Valley, we were in church Sunday morning as a sanctuary packed with friends and strangers sought comforting words even as tears streamed down many faces. The most important thing of all was that we were home. Home.

In the days, months, and years after 9/11, I held my children tighter … my husband and I lingered in conversations a bit longer … family and friends were dear and we pulled them closer. The events on 9/11 reiterated the importance of those around us.

As America went to war in the wake of 3,000 innocent souls murdered and the destruction of 9/11, we held Support the Troops rallies to show our public gratitude to our men and women in uniform who were protecting not only the United States by taking the war to foreign soil, but also our freedoms. We recognized our First Responders, the front line of America’s defense.

For almost nineteen years we have said good-bye to those going to war … and embraced those who returned. We watched close family friends leave for battle and prayed for their safety. We have grieved with military families who lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and flown American flags in their honor. Yellow ribbons have adorned our yards. We’ve sent care packages to troops in harm’s way and embraced their families at home.

We volunteered long hours on campaigns of political candidates who were strong on national security. In the middle of a war on terrorism, it was comforting to have a no-nonsense leader like George W. Bush whose first priority was the safety of the American people. Under his watch, America saw no more terrorist attacks on her shores.

Watching families mourn loved ones, my appreciation and respect for United Flight 93 continues to grow. Each 9/11 brings renewed fear of terrorism attacks, and there’s a hope that we will someday return to the unity that temporarily held our nation together after that grim Tuesday in September.

Never forget.

Cross-posted at Bearing Drift

Don’t Forget To Remember Me

My cousin died today. I wasn’t home when she slipped away and didn’t know until this evening.

It’s been 10 months of non-stop goodbyes. Now another. In good health and always fit, she had a stroke. “A big one,” the doctors said. Big ones often don’t turn out well. This one didn’t.

She lived in the land of my grandparents and great-grandparents, the high mountains of southwestern Virginia in the shadow of Mt. Rogers. Those who went before her, including her parents and grandparents, are all buried there, and she will be, too.

The memories rush into my head … her as a teenager when I was a little kid … the cousins, my parents, and my siblings/spouses climbing the surrounding mountains …

… chasing cows in from the field for milking … wading in the creek … picking cherries from trees along the hilltop … riding the old plow horse … visiting a nearby trout farm …

… sleeping on homemade feather ticks … Aunt Okie’s homemade buttermilk biscuits baked in a woodfired cookstove … jumping out of the car to open the gate to the farm … all the things I loved when visiting those mountains.

Tonight is for remembering and savoring those sweet memories. Too many goodbyes….


A Valentine’s Day Message for My Children

Valentine 1

A Valentine for my children…

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together … there is something you must always remember.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.”

— Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

Too Many Goodbyes

My Texas sister flew out on Sunday heading back to Houston and her life that had been on hold for the 10 days she visited in Richmond. My RVA sister and I drove her to the airport and waved goodbye as she disappeared into the corridors leading to check-in gates and TSA stations before boarding her plane.

It feels I’ve been saying goodbye to her most of my adult life. She left RVA after college and has lived away ever since.

Her purpose for visiting was the memorial service of our youth minister of music from our high school days. Gail was asked to give remarks representing the youth group, and she did a dang good job. We had brainstormed with memories from those days, scraps of remembrances that she captured on paper where she worked to make sure it was exactly what needed to be said.

Then, after the words had been written, she read it out loud to us and reworked the wording, going over and over and over, then printed it out and rewrote it all over again. We timed her to keep within the five minutes that had been allotted. Then one last print-out, one last read-through, and it was ready to go. Her delivery was crisp and perfect, with touches of humor and poignance and love. It was an excellent reminder of a man who had meant a great deal to many of us with the examples he set in his own life.

We three sisters spent the following week after the memorial service visiting the sights and friends in RVA and enjoying time together. All too soon it was over and time for last hugs to say goodbye.

As I drove home that afternoon, the Blue Ridge Mountains growing larger out my windshield and feeling a little melancholy, I thought about the past year and all the goodbyes that had taken place, most notably my mom who died in July from congestive heart failure. It’s still hard to believe she’s gone.

My cousin Jim who died in May from cancer … far too young to be gone.

Bearing Drift senior correspondent and radio personality Rick Sincere who died in November, passing away in his sleep.

A childhood friend’s wife.

Parents of friends.

Mr. Harman. Man of God. Hero. We learned life lessons from the foundation he laid. He was someone who opened his heart to all and lived the Christian purpose of helping those who needed help. “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”

And those who are dealing with life-threatening illness like my cousin who was recently diagnosed with ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

A high school classmate whose birthday is the same day as mine who is dying from cancer. Our birthdays are February 9; she hopes to make it that long.

And so many more.

Far too many goodbyes.

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ “

‘You Have Been My Friend’

In the middle of a boisterous lunch with sisters and cousins today, I found myself at one point staring out the window and deep in thought as the laughter continued around me.

My two sisters and our two older cousins who are sisters … we’ve known each other our entire lives. With my Texas sister in town this week, it was a rare opportunity for us all five to be together.

Our mother and their mother were sisters. They’re gone. Our fathers are gone. With my mother’s death last summer, all the aunts and uncles are gone since she was the last of the 10 Osborne siblings.

So that leaves the cousins. We get together fairly often, but my Texas sister isn’t here for those fun times. That made today special.

I don’t know why today I had that moment of pensive remembrance … and then it was back into the conversation for the three hours we were at the restaurant. All too soon, we parted ways and, all too soon, the Texas sister will be winging her way back to Houston.

But for that brief time I enjoyed being in the presence of those who have known me the longest, know me the best, are the closest to me, and will, hopefully, always be there because I think we’ve made a silent pact that we will be there for each other.

Sisters … cousins … lifelong friends. Family. They will always be there.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.” –Charlotte from “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White


When Yesterday Was Young: Remembering Mr. Harman

His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” –Matthew 25:23 KJV

When yesterday was young — when I was young — there were friends and church and youth group outings, and all the memories from those to last a lifetime. From middle school through high school we were in our church youth group — and it was a big youth group! There were over 100 of us. My dad was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher. We lived one block from church so much of those years was spent at church activities.

We enjoyed youth retreats at Massanetta Springs near Massanutten Resort and presented Christian folk musicals in Nags Head. James River buses would line up in the parking lot to take us Christmas caroling to church members who were ill or elderly. We had Bible studies and community projects and socials at parents’ houses and much more.

They were my friends and my social community. They helped keep me on the right path through my teen years which built a solid foundation for my adult life.

One of the most beloved church leaders from those days was H.D. Harman — Mr. Harman to the youth, Reverend Harman to the world. He was married with five daughters, and two of them were around the ages of my sister Gail and me. When he was called to come to our church, they became involved in all the activities including those for the youth.

Mr. Harman was a big burly man — think Hoss Cartwright on “Bonanza” — who could have been intimidating except we all knew he was a big loveable marshmallow inside. He was our youth minister of music … and so much more. When we were performing the Christian folk musicals “Good News” and “Tell It Like It Is,” not only did our choir consist of over 100 teens but we also had guitars, bass, banjo, piano, and other musical instruments played by the youth who were part of the group.

On weekend youth retreats when we teens tended to be our most rowdiest and pushed the evening curfew, Mr. Harman played the bouncer, so to speak. As the clock neared midnight and his patience waned, he would bounce us right back to our rooms with a firm admonition to go in your rooms and go to bed and don’t come back out!

God bless him for his patient heart. We loved him for it. His big baritone voice would boom out as we all sang — we sang all the time because that’s what we did — and he played along with our talent shows that showcased talent and silliness and fun. As we shared the highs and lows in our lives, he shared from his youth.

We learned the lessons of life from Mr. Harman in the character he exhibited in his own life: kindness, generosity, integrity, fairness, patience, sincerity, devotion, loyalty, determination, persistence, tolerance, optimism, and most importantly, spirituality.

4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” –1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

Mr. Harman passed away in June 2019. His memorial service will be held this week in Richmond and many of the 1970s youth group will be attending to honor this man of God who touched the lives of so many. I’ve kept up with some church pals over the years but some I haven’t seen in decades so it will be wonderful to once again gather and catch up. Maybe an impromptu chorus of “Good News” or “Pass It On” will break out.

Leave it to Mr. Harman to bring us all together, something we talked about doing for years but it never got off the ground.

Thank you, Mr. Harman, for coming into our lives. Thank you for the sacrifices and dedication. And thank you for sharing your life, your testimony, and your character with us.

I imagine that right now in heaven there is a big bass voice singing amongst the angels … one day we will all join him in that choir.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” –Philippians 1:3 KJV

-Bon Air Baptist: Rev. Cochran Has Passed Away (

Making Time to Write

Winter 1

Swoope, Virginia | Augusta County | Shenandoah Valley | Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

I met a friend today at Panera’s for lunch. As we got caught up on the latest things we had done (I had last seen her a month earlier at the Homestead in Hot Springs), she made a comment that kind of caught me off guard.

“You don’t write [on your website] anymore.”

I told her about being busy with Bearing Drift now that I edit for 20 authors and a number of other responsibilities that take up the time I used to have for writing my own posts. I still write, but it’s for Bearing Drift and not LynnRMitchell, and it usually falls into the political template of the site.

As I explained all that to her I lamented that I miss the “fluff,” as I called it — the light-hearted things and subjects I used to write about at my own site. She said she had expected to see photos from Tuesday’s snow. True enough … in the past I would have written about our first snow of winter.

I would have written about watching the snow come with eyes glued to the window and enjoying the ever-growing winter wonderland. I would have written about trekking to the mailbox, and then going for a walk around the yard as the flakes came down.

I would have shared those photos that were shared on Facebook. I would have shown the pics of the young twin deer who were feeding beside the driveway … ever present in the yard.

I would have shown tracks in the snow, and snow-covered nandina berries. The woodpile covered in snow. The deserted firepit. The picnic table with several inches of snow piling up on it. The tiny white twinkly outdoor lights … the wreath on the deck gate.

I miss doing that. But there will be a day again when I’m not heading up Bearing Drift.

For now I love what I do at Bearing Drift and the interaction with our writers and guest posters and political candidates and elected officials, all cultivated from 20 years of involvement and developing grassroots in this community that I moved to almost 24 years ago.

But I may be able to make a little more time to post some “fluff” here at LynnRMitchell. I just need to give myself permission to do so.

“All work and no play,” you know. Enjoy your weekend….


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from

The reason for the season….

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” Luke 2:8-20

The true meaning of Christmas … a time for the Christian world to pause and celebrate the birth of the son of God.

As 2019 comes to a close, it is a time to remember family and friends and those who have special meaning in our lives. While I’m still writing and posting photos at, my new responsibilities as editor-in-chief at Bearing Drift have kept me very busy. The entire past year was busy.

Here’s to a great 2020 and many more years observing, writing, and taking pictures of politics and more. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! News

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