Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, God gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden and told them to "tend" or "keep" the garden He had given them. The Message Bible says "to work the ground and keep it in order." (Genesis 2:15)
I started thinking about that verse when I was out watering my flowers the other night after the sun started going down. I love that time of day, when the sun is starting to set and the night creatures start talking to each other as they settle down to sleep. I was thinking what a blessing it is to have a garden to "tend." A garden left unatTENDed, won't give forth beautiful flowers, or vegetables. The weeds eventually choke out all the beauty and all that is left is ugliness and chaos.
The next day, Tommy, John Thomas, and I were cleaning the house and that verse came to me again. As I've mentioned before in my posts, each of us have a particular job for our day of cleaning. I thought to myself that once again, we are "tending" what God has given us to enjoy. If we don't tend to our living space, it soon becomes chaotic and downright nasty. Little germs find lots of good hiding places and are just waiting to jump out and attack us the first chance they get.
Things that are not "tended" get lost in all the mess. One finds oneself spending more time looking for things than it would take to put them where they belonged in the first place!
When our living space is tended, we always have a nice straight bed to crawl into at night, because we made it first thing in the morning.
We have clean dishes when it comes time to cook a meal and we don't have to take time to wash dishes before we can even start to cook.
We don't run out of underwear because we washed and dried our clothes instead of letting them pile up so deep on the laundry room floor that we have to wade through them to get to the washing machine.
Once I let my mind go in that direction, I could think of all kinds of tending that goes on in this world that God has given us. Helping our neighbor who has no one to help. Taking care of children in other countries so that they have food to eat and clothing to wear.
Sometimes our mouths need tending, and I don't just mean the dentist. Although it could be that as well! We have a dentist who comes under the bridge almost every week to pull teeth for the homeless. Many times I have had to talk to someone and persuade them to go ahead and have their teeth pulled, because if they don't "tend" to their teeth, it could poison the rest of their body.
I want to be more aware of what I can do to tend the garden that God has put in my care. If all of us do our part, what a wonderful world we will have!
I love to say the names of seasons. Each one feels good in my mouth, as Tommy would say. Some words DO feel better than others when you say them. For example: HOME, BABY, BABBLING BROOK.
Some words don't feel good! ANGRY, VOMIT, TRASH.
When you say the seasons of the year, though, they not only feel good, they sound good. WINTER, SPRING, FALL or AUTUMN and, of course, SUMMER...the season in which we now find ourselves.
I always go back to the summers of my childhood. The sounds of summer are easily conjured up, as well as the smells and just the overall feel. Summer says watermelon, picnics, flowers, hummingbirds, and blue skies. It smells like newly mowed grass and hamburgers on the grill. Sun tan lotion and citronella candles. It sounds like wind chimes and Cicadas. It feels like a new friend you haven't seen in awhile.
If you haven't done it this summer, run outside, just for a minute, barefoot. Stand for awhile in the grass and remember when you kept asking your Mother if it was time for you to go barefoot once more.
"Summertime....and the livin' is easy."
This has been a busy 3 weeks!
First of all, we had 2 shows at a dinner theater in Indiana, and one show at a church. We got home from there, and had one day to get ready to head out again. Jason rented a house in Florida and wanted us to join him so we did. I believe it was the nicest weather we have ever had down there! It was in the mid 80s all week with a nice breeze. Our friends Joey and Cathy told us we needed to go on an air boat ride in the marshes, and after stopping in one day to see us, they left enough money on the table for all of us to go! So we did! It was wonderful. I highly recommend it. We saw gators and turtles and species of birds I had never seen before. They could walk on the marsh grass as if they were walking on water...which they just about were! We would plow through water lilies and even go across the grass and mud of the swamp. It was truly amazing.
We came home and had one day to pack to go to our annual Memorial Day retreat in Gatlinburg. We had a good crowd (around 40) and the weekend was just perfect, as it always is. We came home, unpacked, put everything away, and went to bed exhausted.
We got up this morning with a full day's activities planned. First of all, we had laundry to do. Then, beds to change, floors to mop, bathrooms to clean and on and on. You know the drill. I came into the kitchen to decide what needed to be done first. Tommy and John boy always have their jobs - Tommy vacuums, John boy cleans the bathrooms, I change the beds and wash and dust and any extra stuff that needs to be done. As I stood there I thought to myself, "I need to get my priorities straight here, and do the most important thing first, then work down from there."
So, I grabbed my scissors and marched out into the dewy morning in my house shoes to a bed of Bachelor Buttons I planted last year, which have exploded with blooms this year! In my world, flowers always top my list of priorities! After carefully arranging my Bachelor Buttons, I was ready to face whatever else the day might decide to throw at me!
I hope that you will keep your priorities straight today!
A real picture of the priorities Prisha picked!
Recently, we were at a church and I needed a small table for a prop. We were doing one of our shows. I went out into the lobby and found just what I needed. They had a cozy little seating area with a couch, some chairs and two tables with lamps. I didn't think they would mind, so helped myself.
When we are doing shows and need props that we haven't carried with us, I can usually find what we need at the church. This was no exception. However, I don't always get a story to share. This time I did.
As I leaned over the lamp to sit it in the floor my eyes just naturally went to the top of the lamp where you can see the bulb. Guess what? No bulb! Then I looked at the one on the other side of the couch. No bulb. Hm-m-m-m-m! Interesting, I thought. What good is a lamp if there is no bulb?
I remembered the parable Jesus told when He said that you don't light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand so that it sheds light. A light is meant to shed light! What is the purpose of a lamp sitting on a table with no bulb? Is it merely for show?
There are lots of pretty lamps in our world. There are lots of nice couches, and cozy little seating areas, but if the couch just sits there and no one ever sits on it, what purpose does it serve. If there are pretty lamps sitting on pretty tables, but there is no bulb, what purpose does it have? And if one sits a book down on the table and it just gathers dust, what good is it?
You might say...well, it looks pretty - It looks welcoming - It invites people to sit and relax and perhaps carry on a conversation or read a book.
It all goes back to the light bulb.
Lamps are meant to be lit. If there is no bulb in them, they cannot be lit.
We are meant to be light to a dark world. Let's be sure we not only have our light bulb in but that it is turned on!
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."