Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
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.
This blog has no punch line, no morality lesson....actually no lesson at all. Just a memory I thought you might enjoy.
When I was a senior in college, one of my best friends lived just outside Washington D.C. Her Dad was a chaplain in the army and she had lived all over the world. Her name was Joy. Another friend of ours owned a red convertible. Not sure of the make.
I always went home for holidays, but that year, Joy invited Beverly (red convertible owner) and me, to go home with her for fall break. I asked my Mother if I could go and could hardly believe it, or contain myself when she said yes. My Mother was very protective of us and rarely did we get to go anywhere, much less 10 hours away to Washington D.C.!!!
You cannot imagine how excited I was! The only places I had ever been were Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, N.C., Georgia and Florida.
The trip was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be. We stayed with Joy's family, but went into D.C. everyday. One day the other two girls wanted to go study at the library and I said "no way"! So, I went exploring on my own. I was barely 20 years old and here I was walking around the nation's capital on my own. What a thrill! I passed some boys on the street who whistled at me and I just grinned and waved. I had NO fear!
Another day, Joy and Beverly were with me and we were walking around the outside of the White House. They were ahead of me at the back of the White House when all of a sudden President Kennedy himself came out from behind some bushes. It looked as if he were just out for a stroll and some fresh air. I yelled at the girls...."hurry and come back here. It's President Kennedy!" They laughed at me and said, "sure Combs!" (My last name.) So I stood at the fence gazing at the President of the United States, and all of a sudden he glanced up.....and waved!
Yep. I had a small moment in my life with just the President and me...all by ourselves. I waved back and he turned and walked back to the white house.
Needless to say, the girls were upset that they hadn't believe me!
We had other adventures that week but the most exciting was my encounter with John F. Kennedy.
Every Wednesday night you will find us underneath the 640 bypass bridge serving food, playing piano, preaching or doing a multitude of other things. I usually work at the dessert table with two other couples, Becky and Stanley and Alexis and Cameron. Most of the time the five of us are there. We have to cut cakes, put them onto plates and serve them. It takes awhile to cut all those cakes!
Last week, none of the 5 of us were there! A rare occurrence but it happened. Becky and Stanley were on a mission trip to Romania. It was good to see them back and the first thing I asked Becky was, "how was your trip?"
I will try to remember, as best I can, her words...."It was terrible! I was so miserable! We had gone with medical people so everyone had a job but me. They put me with little children coloring and reading the Easter story. I am not good with little children! To make it worse, it was Easter and I missed my family terribly! I felt sorry for myself almost all week until the last day. They asked for someone to give a testimony so I volunteered. While I was talking I saw several people crying. I felt like the Holy Spirit was telling me that this is why He brought me to Romania!"
I know Becky and I know that she has a heart for the Lord and for serving Him. Sometimes though, it is difficult to see what He is trying to do with us!
After that conversation, the next morning I was reading in my "Joyce Meyer Bible" in Joshua. She always makes comments in the margins. In the first chapter Moses had died. The Lord allowed the Israelites to mourn him for 30 days. After that God told Joshua that it was time for him to take his new position. (Joshua 1:2)
The comment that Joyce wrote in the margin was this:
"Because Moses had done many things for Joshua and the Israelites, before he died, they needed to learn how to handle new responsibilities after he died. They may not have felt prepared to step out into new things, but God knew they were ready. It is actually a good thing when we do not 'feel' ready, because then we are more likely to totally lean on God. If we feel self-sufficient , God can't really use us."
New things always seem frightening, but soon they will become old things and God will have another 'new thing' on the horizon of our lives. We need to grow accustomed to stepping out into new things. The more we do, the more we realize that we don't have to be comfortable to be obedient. In order to take hold of a new thing, we must let go of the old and allow ourselves time to get acquainted with the new.
Do not be afraid to release and walk away from what God is finished with; He has wonderful new things waiting for you!"
My prayer...."All you command us we will do and wherever you send us we will go." Joshua 1:16