Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
I consider this past Tuesday the highlight of my year! This was the year that everything seemingly fell apart. It was certainly a year to remember. More memorable maybe than the polio epidemic some of us lived through in 1949 when I was 9 years old!
The Word tells us to give thanks in all things! (I Thessalonians 5:18) The Message Bible says "Be cheerful no matter what!" That's a tall order. That's something I tend to push to the back of my mind, especially when I am in the middle of what looks like an impossible situation.
Much of 2020 has seemed like one of those impossible situations. I digress. Let me return to Tuesday night.
Zykeese Welch was baptized! For a year we have been meeting with a group of boys who live in our neighborhood. They started coming when the virus first hit. Our church had a youth group who met to play ball in our gym every Tuesday night. That stopped in March 2020. About 8 of the boys asked if they could keep coming to our house to play games. We said yes, but that we would have a Bible study before.
So, every Tuesday night, we get together to eat, study the Bible, pray and play games. Our adopted son Tyler comes quite a bit as does Kathryn...the only girl besides me!
We have been studying what it means to be a Christian and a Disciple of Christ. Zykeese decided he wanted to become a follower of Jesus. Our preacher Paul and Joe ,another member of our church, filled the baptistry and we met over there Tuesday evening. Keese is a born leader so we believe he will do great things for the Kingdom!
Afterwards we came to the house to eat. John boy had put confetti on the fan blades in the living room, so when everyone was inside, we turned the fans on and confetti filled the room! We then sang "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow!"
After we had eaten, Tommy asked everyone to tell Zykeese what he meant to them. Then we each prayed for him. I wish you could have been in the room that night. I can't remember when I have felt the presence of the Lord like I did then. I continue to be blown away by these boys each week, but never like this past Tuesday! I pray that all of them will stay on the path they are on now and look forward to spending eternity with them!
I look back and think, had it not been for all that transpired this past year, we might not have had that moment last Tuesday with Zykeese. There is no way of knowing. Of course this has been a scary year. Of course bad things have happened....lots of them! But God brought good out of the bad, so I for one will continue to "give thanks in all things!"
When I was a little girl, we had skates that we used on the city streets of Knoxville. They were the kind of skates you just slid your shoes into and tightened them with a key. We wore the key on a string around our neck and off we would go. There was a sidewalk 2 blocks down from us that went for several blocks so that's where we would skate most of the time.
In the winter, though, we didn't like to skate in the cold. I don't know why, because ice skaters do, but for some reason we didn't. We lived in a tiny little house but the kitchen was long rather than square. On cold winter days, Mother would let us skate in the kitchen! It had a linoleum floor (kids don't even know what linoleum is today!) so it didn't scar. We would start at one end and skate to the other, then back and forth until we decided we were bored with that activity!
Why did I write about that in my blog? Mainly because I started thinking about it the other day, and how amazing it was that our Mother, who was very very strict, let us do it! Even though I knew my Mother was strict and I would never dare cross her, I look back and realize what a blessed childhood I had. She would also spread a sheet over chairs to make a "tent" for us to play under in the winter when we couldn't go outside as much.
I wonder how many people can say that they got to skate on their kitchen floor growing up? I did and I count myself blessed.
Our church hosted a community egg hunt this morning in the field beside the church. There is a huge government housing project on the other side of that field. We thought it was going to be too cold, but it turned out that the temperature was just right. Afterwards we served hot dogs, chips and cookies in the gym.
Our preacher, Paul, had bought several bicycles and several Easter baskets to give away. Everyone was given a ticket when they came in, and if your number was called you won one of those prizes.
As the numbers kept being called the larger bicycles were taken. There was one small one and one larger one left. A boy sitting at a table with his Mom and several other children, had a winning ticket. He came up to get his prize and he chose the smaller one. When Paul asked him why he said it was for his sister, who was sitting at the table with him. Because he was so unselfish, Paul told him to go ahead and take an Easter basket.
It's rare to see such a giving spirit in one so young. Everyone in the gym cheered for him though, so I believe a lesson was learned today. Hopefully it will make others want to give rather than always being on the receiving end. After all
..."it is more blessed to give than to receive!" Acts 20:35 Happy Easter! "HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Last night, under the bridge, was downright balmy! I think it is the prettiest night we have had for a long time. It stayed light until we were finished, so we didn't have to use the big lights we take down there in the winter. We had them there just in case, but I expect it is the last time we will take them until the time changes again in the fall.
I always work at the dessert table, and I was by myself there since Becky and Stanley are on vacation. We only have packaged desserts since the virus hit back in March, so it isn't as hard. Last night we had candy bars. Before the virus we had cakes that we had to cut and put on plates.
After all the candy was gone, I stacked the two boxes they came in on top of the table to carry back to the truck. One of the homeless women came by and asked if she could have one of the boxes. "Of course," I said. "You can have both, if you want." She said that one would be plenty. Then, she looked up to heaven and said, "thank you Lord."
As she walked away, I have to tell you, I felt ashamed. I thought of all the things the Lord had done for me that day, and I wondered how many times I had stopped to say, "thank you." I go under the bridge every week, and every week someone down there teaches me a valuable lesson. Sometimes it is a lesson I didn't even know I needed to learn!
I wondered on the way home if I spend more time fretting because of the supposed "hardships" of life, than I do thanking the Lord for the blessings. All of which I do not deserve, but He gives them anyway.
Next time you find an empty box, pick it up. Be sure to say "thank you."
We live in a wind tunnel here in Dutch Valley. I have lost 3 outdoor umbrellas to the wind. It happened again this week. This time it was my newest and prettiest! One of the spokes was broken so it is beyond repair. My nephew, Michael, gave me an umbrella and a whole outdoor set of table and chairs, and that umbrella is still intact. The newer one was turquoise (my latest favorite color.) The old one is red (another favorite color).
I told the guys that I needed to throw the turquoise one into the dumpster. When I walked outside, I saw that the turquoise one was still in the table, and the red one was gone. I asked where my red umbrella was and Tommy said "in the dumpster!" "OH NO!", I said, " Run over to the warehouse quickly and see if it's still there. Take the turquoise one and throw it when you go."
Fortunately the red one was still there and all was well. John boy said, " what we have here is a failure to communicate." Tommy said, "there has to be a lesson in this.." I think there is.
Sometimes something that is new and not faded will fool us...like my turquoise umbrella. Underneath the bright color, there is brokenness. Sometimes beyond repair. At the same time, there is the older umbrella with a more faded exterior. The looks are no longer there, but underneath, the frame is still intact and the use for which it was intended is still strong.
As Tommy and I were driving to the store earlier in the day, before I saw that my old faded umbrella had been thrown away, I said to him..."I hate looking in the mirror. Seems like I age more every day." He said "I don't see that. I see someone who can still lift banana boxes full of cans."
So, I guess the lesson in all this is don't be too quick to discard something just because it doesn't look good! Tommy said to add a p.s. Here it is. PAY ATTENTION!
And your son (who is posting this) is adding another p.s. YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!
It has been awhile since I have written a blog. No excuse, just lazy I guess. I have, however, been reading quite a lot. I read at night to help me clear my mind of the day's activities so I can sleep. I just finished a book by Terri Blackstock called The Restoration Collection. It was a continuous story all contained in one book. I read it on my Kindle, so at first I thought it was going to leave me hanging when the first book ended. Then I noticed that I had about 80% of the book left, so that made me really excited.
This book has impacted me like no other book I have read recently, and I read a lot! A supernova knocks out all the earth's technology. About the only people who aren't affected are the Amish. I wonder sometimes just what the Lord will have to do to get our attention. A verse in Isaiah 26:9 says, "For when the earth experiences your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness."
Hosea 5:15 says, "in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me."
When we feel that life is all about us, we become narcissistic. We should know that life is all about God. When we get to that point, our lives will be so much better. Until we declare that our hope is in Him and not in a politician, or in money, or in having "things" I am afraid that God is going to have to send something disastrous to get our attention.
John boy said he had trouble sleeping last night because he read the news before he went to bed. Big mistake! We may have to face something huge in order to turn back to God. If that is so, we need to start now drawing very close to the only One who has the power to save us.
"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand."
Last week Tommy preached down in Rockwood, Tennessee at Eddie, Babe and Dalton’s church. He preached an old sermon from back in the days when we were at a little church in Hampton, TN called “Husbands, Love Your Wives.” Since we wouldn’t be there today…Valentine’s day…he preached it early.
Since that day he has been giving me little Valentines every day that he has hidden in different places in the house for me to find. All are based on the Proverbs 30 “virtuous woman.” I thought you might enjoy reading them. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day……
“Many women think they are cute, but you are cuter than any of them!”
“Many women are cute, but you are the cutest of all!”
“Many women are bed buddies to their men, but you are the best bed buddy of all!”
“Many women are pretty, but you are the most prettiest of all!” (and I never liked anything but a pretty woman!)
“Many women are fun, but you are more funner than any of them!”
“There may be many who cuddle-wiffus, but you are the cuddle-wiffliest of them all.”
“Many women have decorated, but you are the decoratingest of them all!”
“You are Better
Than any other woman! BE MY VALENTINE!”
He then copied the scripture in several versions.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellent them all. (KJV)
Many women do excellent things but you are better than all the others. (NIRV)
Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them al! (MSG)
There are many fine women but you are better than all of them. (NEV)
There are some….indeed many….women who do well in every way, but of all of them only you are truly excellent. (the Voice)
Many women are good wives, but you are the best of them all. (GNB)
There are many fine women in the world, but you are the best of them all! (TLB)
This next one, I made up….
“Many women could have been married to Tommy but I am the most blessed of all!”
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!
This is from a song in The Sound of Music that Maria sings. It has become our motto this past year. I have it on the refrigerator and I wrote it on the wall of the trailer before I tore it down. I am sure a lot of people have asked themselves that this year. Of course one never really knows what a day will bring but this past year (2020) it seems I have asked it more than ever before.
I told Tommy that if it weren’t for the fact that I believe the Lord has ministry for us where we are right now, I might just disappear and go to some remote place and hide until I die or the Lord returns. I have to fight anger when I leave our home. I am not on board with a lot that is going on in our world right now, and it is never more glaringly evident than when I step outside our four walls.
Starting each day reading scripture has helped ground me, but I find myself wanting to run back to the safety of home. Seems I can put all that is happening behind me a little easier there.
Then I get up again in the morning and read…
“Dear friend, listen well to my words;
tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
Concentrate! Learn it by heart!
Those who discover these words live, really live;
body and soul, they’re bursting with health.
Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
That’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.”
The Message Bible Proverbs 4:20-27
I have been thinking a lot about joy lately. Joy as opposed to happiness. There IS a difference and we have all heard THAT sermon!
Joy is hard. You have to concentrate to achieve joy. Happiness just happ—ens. You can be walking down the street feeling down or depressed, or simply melancholy, and bang! All of a sudden happiness just drops down right in front of you! It could be a rainbow, or a bluebird (which is the bird of happiness as we all know) or just a friendly person greeting you as they pass you on the street.
I wrote a story about that last comment in my last book “Little Big Apple.” It was a hot summer day and we were living in NYC. John boy had gotten a pair of shoes in Manhattan and they didn’t feel good after he wore them around the house. I was taking them back to the shoe store. On the way home, I wasn’t paying attention and got on the fast train. When you ride the fast train in NY it doesn’t stop at all the stops like the slow train. (Well, THAT was brilliant!)
When I realized what I had done, I got so mad at myself. I ended up in Spanish Harlem. I got off the train and walked to the other side of the platform. No big deal. Except it was. I waited and I waited and I waited. Finally I decided just to walk home. That’s no big deal, except it was hot and it was about 25 blocks back to our apartment.
As I walked I fumed. What a miserable day! I could have been doing any number of things but instead I am stuck out here in the blazing heat walking home. Mumble mumble mumble.
As I walked across a bridge that spanned a highway, I looked ahead and there was only one other person on the bridge. He looked like a young boy. As I drew near, I saw that indeed it was. He looked to be about 10 years old. As we started to pass each other, he stopped dead in his tracks, looked at me right in the eye and said “well…HELLO!”
Of course I said hello back and we went on our way, but I wasn’t the same person who started across that bridge. All of a sudden, it didn’t seem so hot. All of a sudden I was fairly flying across that bridge. All of a sudden I was HAPPY. Happ—iness, just Happ—ened to drop into my lap. Or, in this case, fall all over me!
I wish I practiced living in joy all the time. I don’t but I try. I am reading through the Bible again, something I try to do every year, and this week a scripture jumped out at me. It is so appropriate for all the stuff that is going on in our world today. I hope it does you as much good as it did me, and I pray that your joy would be made full and complete in Him this day and in the days to come.
Matthew 24:13,14. “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the Kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.” Also, in that same chapter in verse 5 or 6 (hard to tell in The Message Bible) it says, “keep your head and don’t panic.”
The Psalmist also says that “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5 (KJV)
For this, and other stories by Patricia Ann Combs Oaks, click this LINK!
No further words are necessary to explain today’s blog.
“That clinches it. Help’s coming.
An answer’s on the way,
everything’s going to work out.
See those people polishing their chariots,
and those others grooming their horses?
But we’re making garlands for God our God.
The chariots will rust,
those horses pull up lame—--
And we’ll be on our feet, standing tall."
Psalm 20:6 (MSG)