Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
If you are like me, that was one of your favorite stories growing up. I can almost feel my Mother's arms around me in the old green rocker on the front porch, reading that story to me (or telling it...she knew it so well.) Of course, so did I, but I still wanted to hear her voice telling it! I always loved it when that mean old TROLL "got his!"
Last night, we were under the 640 by pass bridge in Knoxville, TN, as we are every Wednesday night, and I thought of that story. I thought of it all the way home, and was still thinking of it this morning.
There is a mean ole' TROLL underneath that bridge. He tries to lure people underneath the bridge so he can eat them. He has succeeded time after time. Last night was a perfect example.
It was the week before Thanksgiving so we had a special meal for everyone. Next week (the night before Thanksgiving) we will give out sack lunches. It was the end of the night, and all the tables had been stored in the large cargo container, the sound equipment was put into the sound van and all the clothing that was left over was stashed in the van that we drive. One lone man was still sitting in the chair that had been at his table before the table was removed. He was dressed all in white (he really was) . He had a long dark beard and from a distance looked like a character out of the Bible. He was just staring into space.
Finally the cops pulled their car up to him and turned on the lights and blared over their speaker..."you need to get up out of that chair." I thought that was a bit much, but I am just telling the story.
He kept sitting. They kept the lights on him. Finally he slowly stood and someone took the chair. He kept standing. He didn't move a muscle. Just stood...and stood...and stood. The lights went off, the cops pulled away, and still he stood...staring into the dark.
Waiting...waiting...waiting, for the TROLL to come and eat him.
I could not find my turkey platter that I had bought years ago in a yard sale for 50 cents! I had kept it sitting on top of a rubber maid in my closet ever since I unpacked my fall stuff, but for some reason it was gone.
I HAD organized our closet recently...something I do quite frequenty. The closet waits until we are asleep at night and messes itself up. At least that MUST be what happens.
Anyway, back to my story. I was looking everywhere for that platter and finally Tommy said "have you prayed for the Lord to show you where it is?"
I said "I am not to that point yet." What I MEANT was that it really didn't matter if I couldn't find it because I don't get as attached to stuff as I once did.
Tommy started laughing..."that will preach!" Then he started saying "are we in ICU yet? Are we at the point where we guess we need to pray!!"
Of course we were all laughing about it, and so I said ..."Lord please show me where my turkey platter is." (I still thought it a rather foolish prayer.)
OK...are you ready? I went back to the closet, looked to the left and there sitting underneath a basket was the platter !! I had put it there when I was organizing the closet.
Almost exactly 10 minutes later, I started looking for a decoration I had gotten for John boy's birthday pie (he didn't want cake this year!)) I looked high and low! I was SO mad at myself!
Then it hit me. Once more I forgot to pray! So I said "Lord where is that decoration? Please help me remember!"
This is the truth. I walked over to my bottom drawer in my dresser (where I had already looked) and moved a couple of items and there it was!
James 4:2 "you have not because you ask not!"
When we moved into the Church parsonage here on Breda Drive, we kept seeing deer trying to climb a tree in the field in back of our house. I finally walked up there to discover a peach tree. The deer ate all the peaches that first year, but I have beat them to it every year since.
I have made some delicious peach pies with those peaches! They are the sweetest I believe I have ever had! You can eat them right off the tree too! No pesticides on those little buggers! Just warm sunshine to ripen them and rain to wash them off!
That little peach tree is probably not long for this world. The deer broke two big branches off this year, trying to climb the tree, and the bottom of the tree looks like it is ready to rot. It also leans to one side.
Yet it still bears fruit. Year after year. I can tell it is struggling but it keeps going.
"The righteous will flourish like a palm (peach) tree, they will grow like a cedar (peach) of Lebanon ; planted in the house of the Lord. They will flourish in the courts of our God, THEY WILL BEAR FRUIT IN OLD AGE, THEY WILL STAY FRESH AND GREEN, proclaiming, 'the Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'" Psalm 92: 12-15
Several years ago we lived in New York City. We had lots of company! I always told people who came to visit that if we got on the train to go somewhere and somehow they didn't make it on before the door closed, they should just stand on the subway platform and I would get off at the next stop and come back and get them.
About two weeks ago I had a dream. I was in NYC and several of my friends were visiting. We all got on the train and as the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station, I looked out the window and one of my friends was not on the train. "Oh no", I thought. "My friend didn't get on the train!" Then I thought to myself, "No problem. I will just get off at the next stop and go back and get her." Then, in my dream, all of a sudden I thought, "No, I can't go back and get her." It was a strange dream and the next morning I told Tommy and John boy about it.
The next week I got word that my dear dear friend of many many years had died suddenly. She was not a believer. She was the one in my dream who did not get on the train.
(Read account of Noah and the great flood in Genesis chapters 6 and 7. Especially chapt. 7 verse 16.)
Once upon a time there was a tiny little weed growing in "the people's" yard.
"How I wish 'the people' would let me grow big and tall like the flowers in their yard," he thought to himself. "I don't take up much space, and I would try my best to be big and strong and bring lots of smiles and happiness to 'the people' if only they would give me a chance!"
So, "the people" seemed to hear the little weed, and left him alone to grow and to become what weeds were intended to become...tall and strong.
The flowers in the garden across from the little weed started to get jealous because of all the attention he was getting.
Every day "the people" checked on the progress of the little weed, and sure enough, he grew and he grew all summer long, Every time "the people" walked by the little weed, who was now becoming a BIG weed, they smiled and even laughed at how big and strong the little weed was becoming. His wish was coming true. He was indeed bringing happiness to all those who walked by him every day.
So, if you feel like you are merely a weed in the garden of God, take heart. Even a weed can bring joy to those around him!!
This past weekend we went to a tiny little town in Southwest Virginia called Dot. It truly is a Dot on the map. We have been going to this church for 23 years every August. The first year we went, we had maybe 20 people in attendance, but I am thinking that it wasn't even that many!
This past weekend, the church was packed! I don't think there was a seat left in the room. There were people there who were there 23 years ago, but there were also lots of new faces! The new faces were mainly young families with children! What a blessing! This church believes in keeping the children in the service too. No kids church for them! I love that. I don't know when we started separating the children from the older people, but I don't like it. Old and young need each other. I saw several of the older generation interacting with the kids and it was beautiful. That's the way it's supposed to be!
We stayed with our friend Kay. I wrote about her husband Hank awhile back. He went to be with the Lord this past year, and there was a huge hole where he always sat. I missed him giving the communion meditation too. In fact, I kept looking for his smiling face everywhere, because he seemed to be everywhere in that building.
I wonder sometimes about the hole I will leave. All of us should wonder that. When something is going on around us whether in the church building itself, on the grounds or in the community, do we spot certain faces in the activities surrounding us?
When I am out on the street among the homeless, it is rare that I don't think of Maxine, who started the Lost Sheep Ministry. I see her interacting with the homeless in a way that I will never be able to do. I want to live in such a way that even when I am gone, my presence will remain.
I had gone on a mission trip. it wasn't my first one, so I knew what was ahead. If some of you have ever gone, you know it is a mixture of good and bad, easy and hard, ups and downs.
This trip was mostly ups for me and I have many wonderful memories.
The first night there, the person who was heading up the trip came up and put his arms on my shoulders. He said, "I have a feeling that I am going to give you the award at the end of week for going above and beyond the call of duty."
I have no idea why he said that to me since we had really not done anything up to that point for me to warrant such a glowing statement. Nevertheless, I poured myself into the week. It was hot (117 at one point) and dirty, but we got the job done the way we had hoped we would and I was proud of our work.
The last night, the person who said to me at the first of the week, that he thought I would be the one to receive his "award", stood up and gave this award to someone else.
I didn't give it a second thought at the time, because I was not there in order to receive an award for trying to do what I felt like the Lord had called me to do, but I started thinking about that incident this morning. I have watched that person through the years and have decided that for some reason he decided that I was not deserving.
When I say that that is ok with me, I mean it. I don't want to do anything I do for the praise of men. I have looked back on those 2 weeks, and tried to analyze the work our family did and all I care about is hearing the Lord say "well done thy good and faithful servant."
We must always do whatever we do "as unto the Lord"....not for the praise of man.
When I was in my early 20's, I worked for 3 summers at a girl scout camp on the mountain above Elizabethton, Tennessee. It was always cold on that mountain. Hence I slept in my Daddy's long handle underwear. I also had several heavy blankets on my bed.
We slept in iron beds in huge tents with wooden floors and canvas sides that we could roll up and down. We didn't sleep in the tents with our girls, which was a blessing! The counselors had our own tent. There were 3 of us in my tent.
It seemed to rain every night in camp Sky-Wa-Mo (Sky, Water, Mountain) and this particular night was no exception. It was not only raining cats and dogs, it was thundering and lightening.
Anyone who has ever worked with girls, probably knows that there is always a "drama queen". This week was no exception. We did indeed have a drama queen.
All our girls were safely in their tents for the night. Their tents were just like ours...large with wooden floors. I had just climbed into bed when a girl from the tent right above ours came running down the hill. She yelled "Emily's bed is halfway out of our tent and hanging out in the rain with her in it!" I looked up the hill and sure enough, there hung Emily...in her bed...in the pouring down rain.
I looked at her, then calmly turned to the messenger and said "tell Emily to either move her bed back into the tent or sleep in the rain all night. I'm going to bed." And I did.
Never ask someone else to do for you what you can do yourself. If you don't want to, then sleep in the rain all night.
Questions for the older generation...maybe 60 and up (or, actually, anyone who cares to take the following survey)
I know there are many more questions for all of us to ponder and would welcome any additional questions. Would also like to hear comments, if anyone reads this! HA!
It was opening night for the 1998 revival of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN on Broadway, starring Bernadette Peters (my only Broadway credit). We had been rehearsing the show for three months, and the after-party was being held at Tavern on the Green Restaurant in Central Park. I had two complimentary tickets to the dinner, so I invited my landlady Alice to accompany me. We parked in a garage a few blocks from the restaurant and walked up the sidewalk in our best evening wear. My tux was a secondhand ensemble my mom had negotiated for at a Brooklyn tailor shop, but that's another story. As we approached the front door of Tavern on the Green, a stretch limo pulled up to the curb right beside us. Alice said, "Could be somebody important!" I said, "Could be!" The chauffeur exited the driver's seat, and opened the side door. Donald Trump stepped out of the back seat and fell in step with us as we walked in. I said, "Hello, Mr. Trump!" He smiled at Alice and me, and said, "Good evening!" Alice looked at me with raised eyebrows and whispered, "How about that?" As we stepped into the lobby, dozens of flashbulbs went off, so I know there's a picture of me out there somewhere walking into Tavern on the Green with my landlady and future-President Donald Trump.