Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
I miss a fireplace. For the past 15 years, we had one in the house we rented on Crestwood in Fountain City. We had a fire every day when it was cold enough for one. Maybe even some days when it wasn't. Our neighborhood was full of trees and what wood we didn't bring from Elizabethton, we could usually find on the side of the road in our neighborhood.
There is something calming and soothing about a fire. Some mornings I would get up and John boy would be lying on the floor in front of the fireplace asleep. The floors were wood, so I don't know how he stood it, but he loved sleeping there.
We have some friends who had a fireplace in their bedroom but never used it! I think I could have one in every room!
To me, a fireplace says, peace, contentment, conversation, friends, It also says cozy. Cozy is important. My grandson Cal, doesn't think so though. To him cozy means taking a nap! When he was a little boy, and staying at my house during nap time, I would say, Caleb, let's get cozy. That would mean...let's lie down on the couch and take a nap. One day when I said that to him he looked at me and in his little 2 year old voice said "I don't wike you vewy much Prisha."
Playing was much more important to him than being cozy. I say we can have both. In fact, I have a fake fireplace in my living room now. So if you come to visit, chances are John boy will set up a game in front of it to "play" so that you can get the best of both worlds...being cozy and playing!
Have a cozy, playful day.
We spent all weekend with friends. It's always good when that happens. We actually had church with some of them on Sunday morning. Each of us shared (like they did in New Testament days).
When my friend Audrey shared, she talked about how she used to dream about moving to Hungrary . She said she worked at a restaurant and she would day dream while working, about all the adventures she would have in Hungary. She thought about it while she was waitressing....while busing tables.....while doing dishes.....while taking out the garbage.
Eventually, her dream came true and she moved to Hungary! One day when she was at the flat she shared with a friend, she was taking the garbage out when it hit her! She said it was a revelation and to this day she still refers back to it.
She said that she came to the realization that no matter where you live, life goes on. It doesn't suddenly become magical and all your cares and worries go away .
I think all of us, at some time in our lives, think that if we could just move here or there or get this or that job, or marry this or that person, then our life would be full of meaning and we would be happy. Most of us who have lived a long time (I have) know that this just isn't true. Yes, life can be magical and wonderful, and granted, some places may have more appeal than others. But in the long run, you still have to take out the garbage.
This is Audery pictured with Squacky the Squirrel. She has made several attempts to kidnap him.
John boy is 51 years old! Hard to believe.
When he was about 18 months old, there was a store in Knoxville called Almart, that I used to like to go to with my sister, Teresa. I rarely bought anything, but once I saw a light bulb that flickered. I had never seen anything like that, so I bought it. I still have it!
If you do the math you can see that I bought that bulb around 50 years ago and it is still burning. The only time I have turned it off is when we have moved, and we have moved a lot. I always expect it to not come on when we get to our new location, but it always does!
Where am I going with this? I honestly don't know. Maybe I am thinking that all light bulbs could burn for life, and someone doesn't want them to! Maybe I am thinking that when that bulb finally does burn out, I will be gone too. Maybe I am thinking that I want to be like that light bulb and while it doesn't flicker anymore, it is still burning. I think that's where I want it to go. I don't flicker like I used to, but I'm still burning.
This morning John boy and Tommy came up with the title for my autobiography. Here it is....
I DON'T HAVE MY EARS ON... and
SOMETIMES I THINK WELL...AND THEN AGAIN I JUST DON'T KNOW.
I have had a significant hearing loss in the last few years and my friends and family are constantly making fun of me! I thought you were not supposed to do things like that...politically incorrect or some such! Anyway, my family is the worst. Probably because they are with me more than friends. They told me yesterday that the operative word in this family in recent years has been "what?" I remember when my Daddy did that and how irritating it was. Sometimes I wouldn't answer and it turned out he had heard me after all!
Finally, I did break down and get hearing aids. They truly are a miracle, but if I am in a crowd or there is a lot of outside interference, I still have trouble. If I get up in the morning and forget to put my "ears" on and the guys start talking I say...."wait, I don't have my ears on!"
Years ago, my older sister Millie taught school. She went to be with the Lord in her early 40's. We still quote things she used to say. She was a wonderful big sister. (She was 10 years older than I.) One day she came home after visiting some of the parents of her children. She said that while she was visiting in one home, the Mother said "Sometimes I think..well...and then again, I just don't know." That saying has stuck and we say it often in our family.
Where am I going with this blog? I honestly don't know! I just thought the stories were cute. You say "WHAT?" I say...."go put your ears on!" You sigh and say "sometimes I think...well...and then again, I just don't know!"
On Wednesday night, you can always find us under a bridge in Knoxville...the 640 overpass is right over us. When or if you drive that stretch say a prayer. We feed anywhere from 2-3 hundred people every Wednesday night. (Well...not just us...a host of volunteers.) They get a hot meal, clothing, dental and medical care, sometimes a shower, and prayer.
Last night, when we arrived, our sound van couldn't park because a man was lying on a blanket in that spot. He had a thin pad of blankets underneath him and one on top. Several picked him up by holding the pad and moved him behind the pillar he was lying in front of.
We found out that he had just been released from the hospital because there was nothing else they could do for him. Our medical personnel said he had maybe 2 hours left to live! Of course none of us know for sure how long we have, but that was their opinion. He had kidney failure and heart failure.
Tommy preached last night and afterwards he went over to talk to the man and see if we could call an ambulance to take him back to the hospital. He didn't want us do. We never call for an ambulance if someone says no, and they say no quite often. He asked the man if he could pray for him, and he said yes. I stood there while Tommy knelt on that nasty blanket and put his hand on that man's head and it was all I could do not to cry. I rarely cry but was moved to do so last night.
I thought, what must it feel like to die under a bridge, in the dark, all alone, on a bed of gravel. I don't know, but I know Someone who does.
On Tuesday nights in the gym next to the church and across the parking lot from where we live, we have a group of young people who come every week to play basketball. Most of them live in a housing project next door to the church. We had a good crowd last night...around 20. They play ball from about 6 until about 7:30, then have pizza. At about 7:45, our preacher, Paul, pulls them together for a devotional and prayer before they leave.
Last night, he asked how many in the room knew The Lord's Prayer. None of them raised their hand. He went on to say that even the disciples who followed Jesus everywhere did not know how to pray, so they asked the Lord to teach them. He encouraged these boys (all of them are boys) to learn how to pray. He talked about how if they only say the Our Father part, God will hear and answer.
Sometimes, I don't know how to pray. Sometimes all I can do is say Jesus, over and over. He can go beyond my words though, and hear what my heart is crying out when my mouth can't.
My son, Jason Amos, reminds me if I don't turn in a blog to him every day. I get up knowing this, and sit down and start writing, even when I have no idea what I am going to say. Today is no different. Some days I do have a direction when I start to write, but today I absolutely do not!
Isn't that true of all of us? Some days we get up and we absolutely know what direction we are going that day. We are going to work, or we are going on vacation, or we are going to church, if it is Sunday. But, some days, we are like Bilbo Baggins in Lord of the Rings.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Actually, this is true even if one DOES have a plan for the day. You might step out your door to go to work, and never get there. You might step out your door to go on vacation, and never get there. This could be a bad thing or a good thing.
With Bilbo and Frodo and of course, Samwise, it ended up being a good thing, but lots of things that happened on the way were not good. That's the way it is with all of us. We step outside our door and we never know where our feet will take us....even if we do "keep" our feet.
There is a certain amount of fear in that, but also excitement. If we trust in the statement that "all things work together for good to those who love the Lord," then whatever happens when we step outside will turn out good in the end.
When I was a little girl, I think that I had an almost perfect childhood. We didn't have a lot of money, but I didn't know that. We lived in a tiny house, but I didn't know that either. My Daddy always worked night shift, but he was up by 3 in the afternoon, so he always had time for us. If we went to town (on the bus...we didn't own a car) my Mother would say "Your Daddy will be up when we get home. It will be too quiet for him to sleep!" And he always was! We played right under the window where he slept and never one time did he or Mother fuss at us for being too loud.
There were six of us living in a 4 room house, but it was filled with happiness. When I was about 8 years old, the polio epidemic struck. My Mother's sister and her family lived in one of the hardest hit places of all, Wytheville, Virginia. (you can look it up.) The death rate there was the highest of anywhere in the country. My Aunt called my Mother and asked if she and her family could move in with us until the danger was past. There were 5 of them! What did my Mother say? YES!
I remember that summer being a magical summer. I had my cousins there for the whole summer. My cousin Judy is a year younger than me and we have always been close. We still are! We even went to college together.
Recently I asked Judy where we all slept. I honestly couldn't remember! She couldn't either! I cannot remember where we slept, where we ate, how we all took baths (no showers back then and only one bathroom!) or even if my poor Mother was frazzled....I'm sure she and my Aunt Billie both were! I just remember a summer of playing with my cousins. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world! I still do.
photo credit: Powell Valley Overlook - Wise County, VA Michele Wallace of Maryville, TN
Just returned from a weekend in Wise, Virginia. Wise is in Southwest Virginia, close to Big Stone Gap. If you have never heard of Big Stone Gap, that is close to Norton, Ewing, Rose Hill, Hubbard Springs and Dot. If you have never heard of those, then you need to visit that area. Beautiful area! Very mountainous and gorgeous views, especially when you get to the top of a mountain and look down into the valley below. My Mother didn't think anywhere was as beautiful as Virginia and I am sure a lot of people would agree with her.
The people in these hills are "the salt of the earth." Sometimes they are a little harder to get to know, but once you have made a friend, they are a true friend for life. We have been going to this church for many years now...too many for me to even remember. It is always good to see new faces as well as lots of old ones. And...the children! Wow! It blesses me to see these children being brought to church at such a young age.
This weekend was dedicated to prayer. When Tommy called on someone to pray, the children offered their prayers as well. We could all take a lesson from the children!
We spent all weekend talking about prayer, learning how to pray but most of all praying. This church wants to be known throughout the region as a praying church. I believe it will be.
I am constantly amazed at how often I seek the advice of others over the advice of the Almighty. I want to become more of a praying person, who not only prays, but prays believing that the Lord will answer. Any requests today?
We are in Wise, Virginia at Glamorgan Chapel. We have been coming to this church for many years, so most of the people who go here are familiar to us and many are even good friends. We see some of them often during the year. My friend Cindy has been in my life since we were campus minister and she was a student at ETSU over 40 years ago! She and her husband Steve raised their children in this church. Their children all serve the Lord for which I am thankful. One of them, Ana, is on the World Race right now, where she is on a mission trip to 11 different countries in 12 months. Their son Jordan is in Germany and their other daughter, Kaylie is married to Joel and they have 2 children. They also have Liz and Ameera who are their children by another Mother.
I wonder sometimes about all the young people whom we have met through the years, in campus ministry, churches, youth groups and church camps. Many are still in our lives, but there are many whom I have no idea where they are or if they are still serving the Lord. Cindy and her family give me hope.
Now that I am reaching the end of my journey, I look back and realize that the only thing that matters is people. I am praying for new eyes to see all the people around me and to be open to their needs and concerns. When I am with Cindy, she always inspires me. I want to be like her when I grow up. But...most of all, I want to be like Jesus.