Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
My favorite season is here. I want to slow it down. I want to hang on to every day as long as possible. Maybe that's why I have trouble sleeping at night! Maybe heaven will be one continuous month....OCTOBER.
Tommy decided to put together a walking week. He has talked about it for years, and it finally came to fruition. We are staying at Appalachian Christian Camp in Unicoi, Tennessee with some friends. Everyday we get up, have devotions together, and go on a long hike. We come back in the evening, have supper together, devotions again, then some play board games. Tommy and I fall into bed, exhausted.
Tommy has been having back problems, so is wearing a back belt. Yesterday was our first day, so we hiked The Roan, as we call it - Roan Mountain. It's pretty much straight up. The rest of the gang went a lot further than we did, but at least we made it part of the way. My cousin Judy had bought us hiking sticks several years ago, and we bought 3 more so we would each have two. What a difference that makes! I am unstable on level ground anymore, much less a steep mountain path!
I didn't see many more (if any) people my age on the path, so I spent a lot of time thanking God that I was able to hike at all! I would not have missed the beauty of yesterday if there was any way I could make it...and I did. WE did.
Today we are doing another grueling hike to Laurel Fork Falls. I will go as far as I can, and hopefully will make it all the way to the falls. It's about a 5 mile round trip, as was yesterday's hike.
I am writing this to encourage all of you to try and make dreams come true. A hiking week has been a dream of Tommy's for many years. It might have been nice had it happened before I turned 80 and he hurt his hip, but we are doing it! Many would say they were too old. Many would say they don't have time. Many would say all the planning (food ) was just too much.
Looking back at all the plans and dreams that have come to pass in the lives of Tommy and me and John boy and Jason, I can see what a difference it has made. Tommy is a firm believer in putting stuff on the calendar that we want to see happen. To say "I don't have time" is not a reason. If you put it on the calendar, it will happen, unless something drastic happens. Most of the time though, our calendar plans have happened.
We often include others in those plans, as we did this weekend. I always wonder, when we plan an outing like this, if something will happen to make a difference in all our lives. I can honestly say that most of the time it does. Whether it is an incident that happens or something someone says, I look back and reflect at how my life has changed because of the adventures Tommy has planned.
Honestly, if it were up to me, I would stay home with a good book. I am SO glad it isn't up to me. I am so thankful I married a man who, like Jesus, says "follow me." Life has been so much more exciting!
To my readers: I have been bogging my writing assignments from a book John boy got me called 642 Things to Write About. Here is another assignment....
"You swallowed your pride and did something you didn't want to do. Your friend wants to know why. The two of you are driving around an almost full parking garage looking for space for the friend's oversize pick-up. Write the scene."
OK! If you really want to hear this, I'll tell you!
Cal (my grandson) and I were at the church camp in Unicoi He wanted to ride the zip line. He was about 12 or 13 at the time. He was scared. I told him it was a piece of cake and I, Prisha..(what he calls me) would go first. I really did not want to. I was afraid I weighed too much and would snap the wire! I was afraid if I did make it to the platform, I would chicken out. I had to climb a telephone pole to a tiny platform then jump.
Finally I swallowed my pride, went up the pole and jumped! It was exciting and scary and amazing, but most of all I was proud that I did it. I was 70 years old. I wanted Cal to experience the thrill of a zip line, but he was still too scared!
Now, Babe, pull into the next parking space or I am going to have to use a zip line to get out of this truck!
p.s. I turned 80 last week so in order to keep my record as the oldest person to ride the zip line at camp, I need to go back and do it again!
"Write a scene in which a woman is fired after only a week on the job. Just a week earlier, the same person who is now firing her was very persuasive in convincing her to take the job"
"I am WHAT?" Brooklyn exclaimed! "Only a week ago, you convinced me to come to work for you, even when I was hesitant. Now, all of a sudden, you are letting me go?"
As Brooklyn walked away from the building on 72nd Street and Broadway, a deep sadness filled her. Even after wondering about taking this job in the first place, she had felt herself falling into a pleasant routine. She had looked forward to getting up and going to work. She had enjoyed the walk home each day in the coolness of the fall afternoons.
Today, on her walk home, she kept sighing and wondering why she was fired.
She went over and over everything that had transpired in the past week and all she could come up with were positive experiences.
As she walked into her tiny apartment, stepped out of her shoes, and laid the keys to her apartment on the table, she merely glanced at the sign of the fish on her key ring.
Several years ago, John boy bought me a writing journal. Unlike most journals, this one has a topic for 642 days! I have been trying to do a page a day for awhile now, and thought I would share some of the stories with you. After writing today's story, I decided to post it first....kind of like my blogs...we will go backwards!
Today's assignment was...."Write a short story that is set in Argentina in 1932, in which a teacup plays a crucial role."
THE TEA CUP
As the sun came up over my beautiful homeland...Argentina...I sat on my porch, teacup and tea in hand. I looked across the vast expanse of land that had been my home for as long as I could remember. I was born here in 1842.
Now I was leaving.
I sat in the old swing and sipped my tea out of the same cup from which I had sipped since I was a little girl, sitting here with my Mother.
Mother had a matching tea cup, which I had buried with her. I always felt so grown up sitting here with her...tea cup in hand. Of course in those days, it was more milk than tea!
Now I was old and there were "those" who thought me too old to run the ranch anymore, but what do "they "know?
As I sat sipping and swinging, I looked across the land I had called home for 90 years, and saw...my Mother! Coming for me! Teacup in hand!
How do you find it?
What does it feel like?
What does it do for you?
If you lose it, how do you get it back?
I have thought a lot about these questions lately. Seems like joy is an illusive feeling that all of us want but seem to find so hard to have. Every time I hear someone say "I just want to be happy", or "I just want my children--spouse--friend to be happy", it sounds as if being happy is the ultimate goal of every human being. It's to be had, no matter the cost.
Advertisements even suggest that everyone is entitled to happiness. They imply that if you don't have a certain "thing" you can't be happy. The only way to happiness is to get what you "deserve." The words "happy" and "happen" have the same root. "Happy" is a condition of everything "happening" the way you want it to, which very rarely "happens."
"You asked for it...you got it."
"Don't settle for less when you deserve more."
"How to ask for the raise you deserve."
"Give her the home she deserves."
I could go on but you get the picture. I covet joy....real joy. The joy that only comes from the Lord. Happiness is fleeting. Joy is something you can carry deep inside you all the time, no matter your circumstances. That is what I pray for, both for myself and all of you.
The good thing about remaining joyful is that, every now and then, the Lord throws in a totally unexpected HAPPY! How wonderful is that!
My favorite time of the year is here! Oh...it's still hot outside, but every now and then, I get a glimpse of what is coming---I see one bright red leaf lying on the walking path early in the morning.
I hear a sound that tells me, it's almost here.....the cicadas at night and sometimes during the day!
I smell something on the air that subtlety tells me, it's right around the corner....wood smoke or cinnamon.
I recently had to get a new phone. My carrier said they were going to cut my old one off because it was obsolete! Why do they care how old my phone is! John boy said I could have anything I wanted printed on the case, so this is what I chose.
Cicada 04 . oil on wood panel . Amos Oaks . 2020
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." Lucy Maude Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) My favorite author and my favorite book.
Here are some other Autumn quotes:
"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
"Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!"
"There are two times of the year. Autumn. And waiting for Autumn."
"And all at once, summer collapsed into fall." Oscar Wilde
"Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple."
"Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I was a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." George Eliot
And I will end with this one...
"Like summer I can be hot. Like winter I can be cold. Like spring I can be warm.
Like Autumn I can be......"
Did you ever have something happen to you that made you think of that old old tv show, "The Twilight Zone?" Just such a thing happened to me today.
I was looking for a pen in the car when we were headed to the store, and Tommy said maybe there is one in your Bible, which was lying between the front two seats. I remembered that yes there was. When I pulled it out a piece of paper came out with it. It was a scripture that my grandson, Cal, had memorized when he was 12 years old. I took a picture of it intending to send it to Cal, when all of a sudden my phone dinged that I had a message. It was Cal! He said "got your e mail! I'm gonna call you this weekend! Love u"
I can hear the Twilight Zone music in my head. I had sent that e mail a week ago! Why this text today and why as soon as I found that note and had taken a picture? Some people would say coincidence. Not me. Of course there is no Twilight Zone, but there is another realm. I like to believe that the Lord orchestrated my encounter with Cal today.
Here is the scripture, and the picture of Cal's note. Pay close attention to the spelling of Patience in Cal's note.
"For whatever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus." Romans 15:4,5
A dear friend has been staying with us for the past month. His wife no longer wants to be married. It looks like right now, the divorce will be final sometime tonight. I know that this past month has been hard on him, because he has been living with us. He has been group texting several of us who are his friends (actually we are his family now!), and he made the statement that he was "so grateful to have all of you in my life. You are all truly family to me and I appreciate all of you for the prayers and kind words. I'll get through this and get back to my normal happy self again."
Another friend in our close knit "family" wrote this. "I say this in love....Sometimes we go through such heartache that we can't go back to a "normal happy self" and that's ok. I believe that's when God brings out His best masterpiece in us and truly brings 'beauty out of ashes'. So my prayer for you is to keep seeking God's word and His will and His way and He will take you to a 'better happy self' that only He can do and return to you what the 'locust have eaten.' " (written by Jami.)
I have another friend who is also going through something similar. We have spent the last two days on the phone. I have been praying for both of these boys. This friend wants it to work, as does the first friend.
In situations like the two above, it is really easy to keep dwelling on the past instead of the future. All of us do it. We fill our minds and our words with "what ifs" and "if onlys." Our Jason does this. I told one of the boys this morning, that the past is just that, the past. If we dwell on that it will drive us crazy. I told him that a long time ago, I had decided that there were certain things I absolutely would not do. For the most part, I have stuck to that. If we can decide what we won't do, it makes it easier to decide what we will do.
Of course these boys are sad. They have given so many years to something they thought would last until "death do us part." Instead it's the end of that dream. However, and I have told both boys this, it is the beginning of what can be a wonderful life. It won't be easy and it won't come overnight, but as the Psalmist says, "weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5. I love how the Message puts it, "The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter."
So, maybe this part of your life is ending. The rest of your life is just beginning...and I pray that there are days of laughter ahead for any of you who are suffering right now.
I had a nice surprise last night. My friend Awesome Audrey texted me that she sure did enjoy my blog yesterday. Lest you think i am bragging on myself, she went on to say that our son Jason, had hijacked my blog space and wrote one of his own! I immediately went to my blog page and read our younger son's blog. What a surprise! What a treat! I have to say that this woman who rarely cries, just about lost it! Not only was this a nice surprise, it was a blessing. Sometimes you like to hear how you appear in your children's minds.
I laughed at some of his childhood memories, but have to admit, the "setting the carpet on fire" part either slipped my mind, or he failed to tell me up until now. I suspect the latter!
Living with our boys as they grew up was always fun. Everyday was an adventure...mainly because their Daddy PLANNED adventures for them.
One of the biggest adventures was a bicycle trip from Elizabethton to Knoxville, about 125 miles. We kept telling the boys we were going to do it, but somehow we never seemed to get around to it. Finally one day Tommy and I looked at each other and said, "we promised, so let's do it."
We set the date (not knowing it was the hottest day of the summer) and left early one morning. None of us had helmets and since I did not know it was going to be that hot, we also had no sun screen...but that's another story. We made it in two days.
Another big adventure was a two day canoe trip with Rodney Oaks. I didn't go on that one, but let them off at the beginning and picked them up at their destination.
Everyday was an adventure with our boys, and both of us say we would go back and do it all again.
It should be this way with our Heavenly Father. Just like our boys said almost every day of their lives, "what are we going to do today Daddy?", we should say to our Heavenly Father, "what are we going to do today Papa?"
I normally don't feel the need to rant on my blog, but this one is too good to pass up.
How many of you get a "hankering" every now and then for a nice cold glass of lemonade? Just the term "nice cold glass of lemonade" evokes pleasant thoughts of sitting on our porch in Fountain City as a little girl drinking one of those ice cold glasses of lemonade. My Mother made it with fresh squeezed lemons which left pulp in the lemonade.
John boy got one of those hankerings the other day after we went to the grocery store. Someone had given him a $10 gift certificate for Chick-fil-A. The line was not only around the building and out into the road, but a double line and kids working the curb instead of a person calling at the window. John boy asked if I minded and I said no, that it seemed to be moving pretty fast. We didn't have to wait long, and while we were waiting I said, "how much is a gallon of lemonade?" John boy said, "maybe $3." I said, "well, why don't you just get 3 gallons since we probably won't be back for awhile. He agreed.
Finally our curb girl came to our window. "How much for a gallon of lemonade?", John boy asked.
"ELEVEN DOLLARS!", she answered!
We drove away lemonadeless. John boy said he wasn't even going to spend a gift certificate on an $11 jug of lemonade.
Some things you just can't make up!