Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
We have had company for the past couple of days. Dusty, Andrea, Lauren Livie and Liam Elmore from Georgia. Yesterday was just beautiful. In fact we hiked to the top of the ridge behind us only wearing shirt sleeves. Tommy built a fire in the fire pit and I roasted hot dogs for supper. (Liam's favorite food!) I also had a salad bar and a spaghetti bar.
We were eating inside, and it was so warm that Tommy turned the overhead fans on. All of a sudden confetti drifted down! It was a magical moment, and everyone wanted me to put it back up there and do it again!
I knew it was there because we shot off our confetti cannon on New Year's eve. I thought it might come down when I turned the fan on. I just figured it would be later in the spring!
The reason I am writing about this is because confetti is really important to me. So is glitter. They make life happy. If you will notice, everyone around you is smiling when confetti is falling.
At a recent retreat in Gatlinburg, I gave Brynley (one of my favorite little people in the world) a heart with glitter on it. She said that her Dad wouldn't let her have it because it got glitter all over the house. I told her to take it home and rub it all over her Daddy. (Hope you are reading this Scottie!)
Life is good most of the time, but it is SO much better with confetti and glitter!
We have some good friends in Clayton, IN, Gary and Julie Black. Gary preaches at a church there and has been at the same church for several years. About once a year he likes to get away for a week of prayer and study. He usually goes to our trailer in Elizabethton.
Even though we don't have a lot of furniture left at the trailer, we left enough to make it comfortable when we go up. Eventually we are going to have to get rid of the trailer but until then we still use it.
I told Gary that we only have air mattresses to sleep on and he was ok with that.
Another friend, Ronnie Brookshire, called yesterday and wanted to spend the night last night at the trailer, so I told him to go ahead, since Gary won't be there until March. I will have time to wash the sheets and get it ready for him. I was telling my adopted son, Greg Moffatt that Gary was coming and how it was used for a sabbatical for him. I mistakenly wrote "It's a God place for that." I corrected it to read "good" but then I thought, our trailer really is a God place. It has never belonged to us. It has always belonged to God and I hope it always will as long as it stands. When it is gone and we put another structure on our property in the woods, I hope it will be a God place too.
As I wrote that last paragraph I noticed that I said "our property" in the woods. It isn't ours, and never has been. I hope anything that we are given to manage will always be used as a God place.
"The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein...." Psalm 24
My Mother used to quote this to me all the time when I was growing up:
"Life is real
Life is earnest
And the grave is not the goal
Dust thou art to dust returnest,
was not spoken of the soul.
Let us then be up and doing
With a heart for any fate.
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labor and to wait."
For some reason, I got up thinking about this poem this morning. I looked it up to be sure I had it right, and it's much longer. I like the way Mother quoted it to me. She quoted the first and last of the poem. If you want to read the whole poem, it's called A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Maybe it will speak to you today as well.
We had friends for supper last night who work under the bridge with us. We were talking about stories we all have from there. One story was brought up that happened a couple of years ago.
A man used to come down there in a wheel chair. He wasn't homeless...had a small apartment...but he liked coming there to eat on Wednesday night. One night he called our friend Rod over and said he would like to make a donation to Lost Sheep Ministry. He handed Rod a check. Rod thanked him and went about the business of the evening....checking to be sure everything was running smoothly. About half way through the meal he happened to glance over at our friend in the wheelchair and noticed he wasn't moving. At all! He walked over, and the man had died. No one else had noticed. We moved him to the side and called the coroner and an ambulance.
Some might think that is a sad story. I happen to wish I could go that quickly and peacefully. I think the thing that intrigued me most though, was the fact that he gave Rod a check for Lost Sheep. They have been feeding people under that bridge for the past 30 years and have never missed a Wednesday, no matter what the weather is like. In all of those 30 years, no one who is a recipient of the meals, clothing, dental care, medical care, prayer, or any other service provided, has said, I want to give Lost Sheep a check as far as I know.
I also wonder if this man had a feeling that this might just be his night to go and meet his Maker. Of course we will never know until we reach glory, but the thought occurred to me that I need to be generous every day...not just with money, but with my time, my love, my prayers....actually everything that I am. I never know when I will just be sitting at a table or walking in the park, or just going about the daily business of living, and the Lord will say to me, "it's time."
I have inspired my good friend Audrey, whom we affectionately call Awesome, to start a blog.
Several of my other friends, Jami, Annabelle,Teresa, Annette, Deb and Lori, have been commenting to her about how much they enjoy it. In one letter to them she said "writing a blog is very cathartic for me." Deb wrote back and said, "Wow...three syllable words...what does cathartic even mean?"
I wrote back "It means when you throw up while riding in a car. Carthick. She spelled it wrong."
I was telling John boy that story this morning and he said, "Throwing up CAN be very cathartic." Then I decided to actually look up the meaning!
Cathartic......from the Greek KATHARTIKOS...."cleansing"
A purgative drug.
Just wanted my text buddies and the rest of you out there to know just how smart I am.
I was reading I Thessalonians this morning in the Message Bible. The introduction said that the way we conceive the future, sculpts the present, gives contour and tone to nearly every action and thought through the day. If our sense of future is weak, we live listlessly. Much emotional and mental illness and most suicides occur among men and women who feel that they have no future.
Then I read on and in Chapter 3:11-13 I read this: "May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus, clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you.....May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all His followers."
I love that line about love "splashing over" on everyone around you. I confess that I don't always allow the love in me to splash over on everyone around me. I say I love, but often my actions don't show it. When I find I am "living listlessly" like it said in the first paragraph, if I truly examine myself, I can clearly see that I am not letting love splash over on other people. That is the key, really. When I concentrate on others, I tend to be less needy. It's weird but I find that if my focus is on someone other than myself, I am much more fulfilled!!
My prayer today is for you to pour on love to those around you...let it splash on them. Let it drench them. When you do that, you will definitely get wet too!
Every Tuesday night we have youth group at the gym next door to the church. The layout of where we live right now is like this. First of all is the gym. Next is the church building. Next is our house and last is the warehouse. We are smack dab in the middle of where a lot of the ministry in which we are involved is located. All this sits on about 6 acres of land. This land is between two housing projects, or government housing.
A lot of the kids who live in these housing projects, or "the projects" as a lot of people call them, come to play basketball every Tuesday night. All of them are boys. Occasionally a girl or two will happen in to watch, but mostly it's boys. We also have a game table set up in one of the back rooms where those who don't want to play ball, gather to play games.
They stay from 6 until 8. Around 7 we bring in pizza. At fifteen until 8 we gather them together for a devotional and prayer. Most of these young men don't go to church. Most do not know The Lord's Prayer.
A couple of weeks ago, Paul (the minister) talked about the greatest prayer any of us could pray..The Lord's prayer. Last week Tommy continued that thought and challenged them to pray it 3 times a day. Tonight, Tommy continued with that thought, and he passed out copies of The Lord's prayer with a dollar bill attached. He asked them which of the two would last the longest. Again, he challenged them to pray the prayer 3 times a day.
Of course most of those boys are there to play ball. They are there for the pizza. The dollar bill probably meant more to them than the copy of the Lord's prayer or the challenge to pray it 3 times a day. But, my prayer is, that God's word will penetrate the minds of those young people and that it will keep them from harm and protect them from the evil one.
It is dark out this morning in Indiana. We are headed to Tennessee. Tommy doesn't like to drive in the dark, so I have a few minutes before we head out.
I decided to look at my e mail. John boy had sent me a picture sometime in the night. (He stays up much later than Tommy and I.) It's a picture of our sweet boy, Jason Amos, the night he was baptized at Unicoi church camp when he was 6 years old. He is still wrapped in his towel. The tall blonde boy standing beside us, is Tim Robinson. If you read my earlier blogs about my good friend Jackie who went to be with the Lord last week, that is her oldest son, Tim. We were doing camp together when he was younger than Jason!
When I saw that picture of Tommy, I told him he looked like a Greek god...or maybe Roman...except for the really short shorts! I'm surprised I don't fall over with those huge glasses I am wearing! But most of all I see our son in his finest moment. I remember everything about that night. I even remember standing there with Jason all wrapped up in a towel. He was young, yes. But he knew he wanted to follow Jesus the rest of his life.
My Mother used to quote 3 John 1:4 a lot when I was growing up. "I have no greater joy than to know my children walk in truth." I have thought of that scripture over and over as my boys grew up. John boy was also 6 when he was baptized. Both boys still follow the Lord. Both boys still walk in truth.
We are in Indiana doing 3 shows, 3 days in a row, at a cute little antique shop/restaurant. The shop is in the front of the store and the restaurant in back. They have tables set up for about a hundred people. Each table is different. Very cute! They have had a sold out crowd each night with a waiting list.
The first night we did Whale of a Tale (story of Jonah.) The second night we did The Legend of Wiley Jake (story of Jacob and Esau.) Tonight we are doing a sort of Hee Haw type show that ends on a devotional note. Each show required a different set of props so our car was packed to the hilt coming up here and each night we had to tear down and set up again.
We have had great response each night. I don't think people know what to expect when we do one of our shows, so it's good to see the surprise on their faces. Even when people come in they are looking at the guys as if to say, "what have I gotten myself into!" The first night the audience was greeted as they came in, by 2 very fierce looking pirates. Last night it was cowboys. Tonight it is cowboys again, in a different outfit. Nothing is ever predictable with Tommy and John boy!
At one point in Wiley Jake, Tommy forgot his lines. He even had them written on the table in front of him! Then, he couldn't read the lines because he didn't have his glasses ! Finally he just told that to the audience and made up something! That's live theatre folks! The audience loved it! For some reason, our mistakes on stage endear us to the audience, especially if we just admit it and wing it!
If I had been on that stage and forgotten my lines, I would not have been able to sleep that night. To be able to freely admit you messed up and go on with the show, is something we all need to learn to do. All of us forget our lines. All of us need our glasses every now and then. But when we admit we aren't perfect and that we messed up whether it be a large "show" audience, or just the people we come in contact with every day, it gives them permission to do the same!
So, if you run across someone today who messes up, just laugh with them. If it's you, laugh at yourself. The world would be a better place if we all learned to do that.
The costumes, the scenery, the makeup, the props
The audience that lifts you when you're down
The headaches, the heartaches, the backaches, the flops
The sheriff who'll escort you out of town
The opening when your heart beats like a drum
The closing when the customers don't come
There's no business like show business
Like no business I know
Ev'rything about it is appealing
Ev'rything the traffic will allow
Nowhere can you get that happy feeling
When you are stealing
That extra bow
There's no people like show people
They smile when they are low
Even with a turkey that you know will fold
You may be stranded out in the cold
Still you wouldn't trade it for a sack of gold
Let's go on with the show!
I am reading a book about Ulysses S. Grant. His name was actually Hiram Ulysses Grant. According to the book, somewhere along the line, he started calling himself Sam Ulysses Grant. The initials Hiram Ulysses Grant spelled HUG, and he didn't like that. (This may just be something the author made up but I thought it was funny.) Eventually he moved the Sam to the middle of his name. However, if you look it up, most sites say the S. doesn't stand for anything.
This book says that his wife, Julie, and his children, followed him all over the United States while he was in battle. When he was going to be a certain place for any length of time, he sent for them so that he could see them more often. He always found a nice place for them to stay and she never questioned him when he said he wanted her there.
Tommy is in a battle too. He travels all over the country. I sometimes chafe because, like Julia Grant, I would rather have my husband home. If there is room for me to stay with him, sometimes he has me join him. I always go. I get to see what it is like on the battle front. Many times Julia could hear the gunfire she was so close to the front line.
I could stay home and clean house, go for walks, go to church on Sunday and live my life in quiet solitude. But, when I go to the front lines, I am always challenged. Sometimes I am uncomfortable. Sometimes I am frightened, especially if I am out of the country. But, I am always glad I went. I come home with ideas and strategies, and hope for what can be and what will be in the future.
"Sound the Battle cry! Refrain:
See, the foe is nigh, Rouse, then, soldiers, rally round the banner!
Raise the standard high Ready, steady, pass the word along;
For the Lord. Onward, forward, shout aloud hosanna!
Gird your armour on; Christ is captain of the mighty throng."
Stand firm every one;
Rest your cause upon
His holy word.