March 2017
Simple Times

“You Better Grab a Hoe”

If you pray for potatoes, you better grab a hoe,
Better think before you ask, cause the Lord is more than show,
If you want the Lord to help you, be aware of what you say.
Cause He may walk in wearing overalls
And need your help today.

If you pray for the hungry, you better gas up your stove,
Better scrounge up some vegetables, multiply some loaves,
Intentions good won’t feed them, kind words won’t satisfy,
When the Lord walks in with His apron on
Will you be there to peel and fry?

If you pray for the lonely, you better gas up your car,
Cause the Lord may want to hitch a ride, to places near and far.
Excuses give no comfort, no they won’t do at all,
If you decide to stay at home, when the Lord wants to make a call.

If we pray for each other, we better unlock our doors,
Better open up our hearts, and love a little more,
For whatever we do to the least of these, we do also unto Him.
When the Lord wants to give His children a hug
Will you put your arms around them?

If you pray for potatoes, you better grab a hoe,
Better think before you ask, cause the Lord is more than show,
If you want the Lord to help you, be aware of what you say,
Cause He may walk in wearing overalls
And need your help today!

This song, by J. Robert "Bob" Bentley, has inspired thousands since the Blount County attorney wrote it in 1990.

 

Darline Kandalec hoeing her strawberries and squash while sitting in her wheelchair.

   

"I was inspired by an old gentleman in overalls who began a talk on Christian actions with the line, ‘If you pray for potatoes, you better grab a hoe,’ Bentley explained. "I wrote the whole song while he was giving his 25-minute talk."

Bentley, whose family owned the local Oneonta radio station from its beginnings in the early 1950s to just a few years ago, recorded the song on a CD played not only on that station but throughout the nation. It’s still a favorite in his home church and throughout a wide circle of folks.

The upbeat message certainly has a serious meaning, not only about being willing to help others, but about having faith AND helping oneself.

My neighbor, Dewey Johnson, said it reminded him of a story his father used to tell about an entire church who met to pray for rain during an awful drought. Only one man brought an umbrella. It was easy to see whose faith was strongest!

Darline Box Kandalec doesn’t really know Bentley, other than in the ways folks in a rural county know about one another. But she still has a copy of his CD in her Susan Moore-area home.

But Kandalec does more than listen to the words occasionally ... she could literally be that person in overalls grabbing up her hoe!

Although, at the time of this writing, she had just undergone her 17th surgery in the past three years (and has endured over 50 surgeries in her lifetime for various health problems), she is not one to wallow in self-pity.

She has raised much of the food she and husband Joe eat. Drivers by may be surprised to see a woman in a wheelchair energetically hoeing her strawberry and squash plants or standing above the wheelchair, braced on a walker, trying to reach the hottest red peppers growing on a plant well above her head!

"I hope people riding by and seeing me out here sometimes can forget about their own difficulties and can be empowered to do more things for themselves," Kandalec explained. "What I’m able to do, what abilities I have, come from my God on High.

Joe Kandalec helps with the harvesting.

 
   

"I want to give people hope. You can’t have a pity party."

Kandalec lost her mother shortly before Christmas, but she strives to emulate her mother’s work ethic and get-by attitude. She has worked hard to get her Yankee husband Joe to enjoy many Southern dishes he’d probably never even thought about, and she delights in growing peppers so hot they test even his iron mettle!

In a Dec. 1 social-media post, she explained what a typical day in her house was like when she’s feeling like getting things done.

"A few days back, I picked my pepper plants clean of those the cold had not harmed or I hadn’t let dry on the vines that I plan to use for seeds. I had two of these plastic dish pans full of peppers and several hot varieties.

"Tonight, I canned Joe seven jars of salsa. My canning times were always with my mother until she was no longer able to do it. I think I would make her proud of this. I still have half a basin of mixed peppers in the refrigerator.

"The jars have all been sealed, the kitchen cleaned up, and my pressure canner cleaned up and put back up. This stuff SURELY will make this man with the iron stomach have some tears streaming from his eyes ... but he still won’t be able to get enough of it!"

But while the Kandalecs have eaten of their bounty all summer and fall (there were winter crops of big-headed cabbage, broccoli, kale and more growing in January!!!), and Darline had put up much more by freezing or canning, she has even bigger hopes for the future.

A neighbor has said he will till a spot on his bigger acreage for a small community garden.

"We have to get back to neighbor helping neighbor," Kandalec explained. "If we could all work together in our little neighborhood here and grow some things others really need, it would help out some. Everybody needs a little help every now and then.

"And I plan to expand what I’m growing right here as well."

She credited her lush plants to composted chicken manure Joe hauled back to their home in five-gallon buckets from a friend’s farm. But she also credits God’s Grace and a lot of hard work for the balance.

The former longtime bookkeeper, talented singer and pianist doesn’t think her lifestyle of hard work and good eatin’ are anything special.

"We just try to use what the Good Lord gives us and give the credit to Him."

 

Suzy Lowry Geno lives on a small homestead in Blount County and can be reached through Facebook or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..