Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
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)
John Thomas Oaks - Age, 30 minutes
When John Thomas was a baby we went to visit a friend named Inez. She taught first grade in a school where I taught music. It was close to Christmas and I knew that Inez would have her tree up. John boy was barely walking, and I am pretty sure he was around 13 months old. The reason I remember that is because I also remember what he had on and that was the age he would have worn that outfit.
Before we left for Inez’s house I told John boy where we were going. I also told him about the tree. John thomas started talking at 6 months so by 13 months he was using sentences. He understood exactly what I told him.
I said “John boy…Inez will have her Christmas tree up and it will have pretty ornaments on it. You can look all you want. However, if you are tempted to touch anything, put your hands behind your back.”
To this day, the scene of him standing in front of her tree with his little hands behind his back, will be forever engraved in my memory.
I got this from my Mother. She always prepared us BEFORE we went somewhere, as to her expectations for our behavior. After we were grown she told me that if you prepare a child before the fact, it saves a lot of misery for both the parent and the child.
We have a book to tell us what our Parent expects of us in every situation with which we are faced. If we pay attention, it will save a lot of heartache. It’s called The Bible.
I have heard this phrase my whole life. I think I understand it better today than I ever have in the past.
We recently tore down the mobile home we have had for about 35 years. It was time. Since we are living in Knoxville, I had double of some items like sheets and pillow cases. I had a pillow case in Knoxville that didn’t have a mate. I hated it because I really like the pillow case. I just assumed the guys had left it somewhere in all their travels. When I packed up our tailer stuff, I found the mate! I brought it home and told Tommy I was glad I had found it and why.
Many years ago I taught music in a school that still had all 8 grades. Since I taught every student in the school, I really “racked up” at Christmas. I always went home with a haul. Most teachers only got gifts from their one class. I got them from 3 classes per grade…8 grades! It took me several trips to my car when I went home for Christmas break.
Every now and then, I would get a present that the student, or the student’s parent, had put some time and effort into. The pillow cases are one example. They were hand made and carefully and beautifully stitched. I have carried those pillow cases through moves too numerous to mention. They have withstood who knows how many washings. I wonder just how many heads have laid down upon them. I like to think they lulled some to sleep smelling of the out of doors where I always used to dry my pillow cases and sheets.
Tommy asked me if I remembered the student, but sadly, after 53 years, I do not. I wish though, that somewhere out there, a Mother might read this, and remember sitting up at night carefully cross-stitching a set of pillow cases for Miss Combs. I would like to think she remembered that I loved her child and tried to teach him or her to love music as much as I did, and do.
I expect these pillow cases will be here long after I am gone. I hope that the next person who puts them on a bed will look at them and appreciate the effort that went into making them. It makes me want to put more thought into gifts I give.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES…
is the title of an old Disney movie. It’s also a book by Ray Bradbury who got the quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I don’t remember the movie at all, but have remembered the title for years.
This is how I feel most days now. I told someone the other day that we should prepare ourselves and be ready for whatever is headed our way. I don’t mean stockpile food, but have a backpack, packed and ready by the door. I think they call them "go bags" in the military.
Now, I think I am changing my tune. I read something in Psalm 11 today that made me think I should not, and need not run.
Psalm 11:1 (The Message Bible)
I’ve already run for dear life
straight to the arms of God,
So why should I run away now
when you say,
'Bows are bent, the wicked arrows
aimed to shoot under cover of darkness
at every heart open to God.
The bottom’s dropped out of the country,
Good people don’t have a chance?”
But God hasn’t moved to the mountains;
His holy address hasn’t changed.
He’s in charge, as always, His eyes taking everything in, his eyelids
Unblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood
inside and out, not missing a thing.
He tests the good and the bad alike;
If anyone cheats, God’s outraged.
Fail the test and you’re out,
out in a hail of firestones,
Drinking from a canteen
filled with hot desert wind.
God’s business is putting things right;
He loves getting the lines straight,
Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
we can look Him straight in the eye.
This story has absolutely no point…no ending for you to take away with you and make you think for the next days and weeks ahead….no moral whatsoever.. Just a fun story.
When I was a little girl, we would go to Virginia to visit my grand parents. They lived about a hundred miles from us. Invariably while we were driving up the road, and we came upon a white horse, my Daddy would say “see a white horse..see a red headed woman.” Then he would glance in the back seat at my little red headed sister and say “well, there she is!” Of course my sister loved that and none of us ever got tired of his little joke.
We passed a white horse the other day and I told Tommy and John boy that story. They asked if it was an old tale and did I know where it came from, so I looked it up. It is actually an old superstition and the New York Times wrote about it in the 19th and early 20th century. The only difference is that Daddy had it backwards. If you see a red headed woman, then you will see a white horse.
The funny part of the story is that the day after I told them that story, we were watching Charles Dickens David Copperfield. It’s a mini series we got from the library. At one point David is sent to live with a man who has a servant with red hair. The servant is a man. David arrives in a horse drawn carriage and the horse is white. After David goes into the house, the red haired servant goes out to pet the horse.
As I said…no big revelations here, just an interesting story. Sometimes quirky things like that happen and it makes me wonder why…Why did I tell that story to the guys? Why did we see the red haired man and the white horse the very next day in a movie?. Who knows?
Read about this myth by clicking this link:
On most Wednesday nights, you will find me under the bridge of the 640 overpass in Knoxville. By the end of December, it is usually bitter cold. Not last night! It felt like spring! It had gotten up to 60 degrees yesterday and it didn’t feel much cooler than that last night.
For the past month our cook at Lost Sheep Ministry has been sick, so we have been passing out sack lunches on Wednesday, along with blankets, toiletries and last night, warm hats, scarves and gloves.
I was passing out the sack lunches last night, with a new volunteer, Kim. The crowd wasn’t as large, so some people got 2 and even 3 lunches. For some reason, we got more thank you's than usual. As one older lady walked through, she took her lunch from Kim, walked past her, looked straight at me and gave me the best compliment I believe I have ever had in my life.
She said, “thank you Miss Maxine.” If it had been 16 degrees (and it has been before) instead of 60 I would have immediately warmed up.
In that moment, I thought two things. First of all…Maxine has not been forgotten. Second….if someone had said, “thank you Mother Teresa” I could not have felt more complimented.
I hope that Maxine heard that interchange “down under the bridge” as she always used to say, and that she somehow knows that people still love and remember the woman who started this ministry almost 30 years ago. I am proud to have been mistaken for her!
My dear friend of over 54 years died this week.
The last time I saw her she didn’t know me. Then the shut downs happened because of the virus, so I haven’t seen her since March.
I met Ramona at the first church Tommy and I served in Meadowview, Virginia. We started going there when Tommy was in college. It was about 3 and a half hours from the college, and every weekend we drove up to preach. When he graduated we moved there.
Ramona loved children but didn’t have any of her own. Finally, in April, 1969 she adopted Andrea. In November, 1968, John Thomas was born. Once when Andrea and John boy were about a year old, I made them matching outfits and we took them to one of those photograph places you used to see everywhere…the mall, grocery stores, K Mart…you name it. John thomas, of course, threw a fit, but we finally got the picture. I think I threatened him with severe punishment if he didn’t smile! So he did! ( John boy called Andrea, Annea and to this day that’s what we call our sweet girl!)
I had always heard that you couldn’t have “best friends” if you served in a church. I had one. Ramona. We could talk about anything, and we did. Even after we left Meadowview, I could call Ramona and it was as if we had just seen each other the day before.
I have so many funny stories about her. She used to say she was going to end up in a mental facility because her Mother had some problems and she just knew that’s how she would end up. She did. However, we laughed about it at the time. I told her I would probably have the room beside her.
She called me once and told me she wanted to tear down the outhouse (privy) at her Mother’s house and she couldn’t get anyone to help. Would I come? Of course! So the boys and I drove to Meadowview and she and Annea and Christopher, whom she also adopted and was about the age of my Jason, met us at her Mother’s house to tear down the infamous outhouse! What fun we had! It wasn’t as easy as we had thought, but we did it. At one point the kids all came running out from inside the outhouse yelling “there are dirty words written all over the walls in here!”
Of course there were! Ramona had 3 brothers!
Ramona was a wonderful cook. We often ate at each other’s house and when we ate at her house, it was always special. Once they came to eat at the parsonage with us and I had spaghetti…out of a box and out of a jar. I also had bought garlic bread, not homemade like she would have had. Her husband’s name was J.R. She and I called him Jamie. Jamie went on and on about how delicious my spaghetti was. Finally Ramona said, “Jamie, if you say one more word about her spaghetti out of a box and a jar, you won’t get banana pudding for a year." He hushed.
Ramona was the organist at the church in Meadowview and one Sunday a man sang a solo who couldn’t sing. Everyone in the church knew he couldn’t sing, but he didn’t and he loved to sing! About half way through his solo, I looked up at Ramona and had to get up and take John boy out, pretending he was disturbing.
Another time, we had a quartet in to sing a special. They were from another church and were really awful. This time Ramona was sitting in the back with Andrea, and I was also back there with John boy. He started to “disturb” again, so I got up and left. About 2 minutes later, here came Ramona with Andrea. She was almost crying she was laughing so hard. She said “I thought I was going to have to pinch Andrea to get out of there!” We just walked on down to the parsonage with our” misbehaving" children and hung out there till church was over!
She also got me into writing. She had several stories published and she encouraged me to do the same, so I did.
Right now, looking back, I am wishing I had kept a journal through the years about our friendship. Ours was a friendship that when you try to write about it and share it with someone else, it just doesn’t come to life like it does in your mind. MY mind is like an old slide show of slides from 50 plus years.
—the night Tommy was performing a marriage ceremony in Ramona’s living room for one of her wild and crazy brothers (and they were!) and the doorbell rang right in the middle. I was closest to the door so went to get it before the person on the other side rang it again. It was the paper boy and in a loud voice he said “COLLECT!” That same night, Ramona was in charge of hitting the record button on the tape recorder and instead hit “play”. All of a sudden, loud, blaring music started, that was NOT wedding music!
-the time I went by her house because her Mother had died, and her brother David yelled at me as I was driving away. He was behind the hedge waving his pants in the air!
-the time her brother Joe took me on a wild ride on the back of his huge motor cycle. I was terrified and we only went around the block.
-all the phone calls through the years when one of us would call and the other would invariably say..”I was just thinking of you!”…and we were.
-all the stories of our children we shared. She wanted children so badly and no one loved their children more than she did. She tried to be such a good Mother and was. She was almost too good, because they got away with a lot! She cherished each and every moment with them.
Once, when Christopher was very small, she was up on a ladder in the living room painting. Someone started ringing the door bell. When she finally climbed down off the ladder, sat the paint down and went to the door, it was Christopher. She was SO angry, she just “lit” into him. “Christopher, I was up on a ladder. I was painting. You can open the door. Why are you standing here ringing the doorbell."
Christopher’s eyes filled up with tears and from behind his back he pulled a pitiful little bouquet of flowers he had picked for her. Immediately Ramona said, “Oh Christopher! I am so sorry. That was very mean and hateful of me. Can we do this over?”
Immediately little Christopher smiled a huge smile and nodded. Ramona, shut the door, went back inside and actually picked up her paint can and climbed back onto the ladder. When the doorbell rang, she climbed down, sat the can down, opened the door and with a huge smile said ,”why Christopher! What a surprise! What are YOU doing here!”
Tommy uses that story in sermons. He says he wishes we could all get a do over like that.
I could keep going, but I think you get the picture. When I called Ramona I always said the same thing…”Romina, Romina, my sweet Romina!” (from Andy Griffith)
When I heard she died I said “oh Romina Romina, my sweet Romina.” Then I asked the Lord to receive my wonderful friend unto Himself. I love you Romina, Romina, my sweet Romina.
P.S. As I was sitting in the room where they had Ramona’s body, her youngest nephew came in with a blanket. Ramona had made him promise to wrap her feet when she died so that her “piggies” wouldn’t get cold. I watched while the funeral director took the flowers off and raised the lid at the bottom of the casket. Then this sweet nephew carefully wrapped her feet. It was a tender moment.