Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
For the past month we have been bagging groceries to pass out in the parking lot. Former blogs have attested to this. We were told yesterday that we are going back to running the food trucks in the neighborhoods, instead of just out of the church parking lot. However, we still have to bag the groceries. Usually when we take the food truck into the neighborhoods, we set the food out in boxes on long tables and everyone can pick and choose what they want. Evidently this is unsanitary. So, we have to keep bagging.
When we were told this, everyone nodded....except for me. (Was I always a rebel? Our preacher, Paul, thinks so!) Anyway, I stated what I thought was the obvious. When we go to the grocery store, which we are still allowed to do, who knows how many hands have touched everything in the store! And unless we spray everything with clorox before packaging, who knows how many hands have touched the stuff we give out?
And so, I will go on bagging groceries for who knows how long and am planning on going over to the warehouse and post signs that say: "ATTENTION ALL MICE. PLEASE STAY OFF THE FOOD ITEMS WE ARE PASSING OUT UNTIL ALL DANGER OF THE VIRUS IS PAST."
With the spraying of bleach and the signs warning the mice, we should be ok.
For the past 4 weeks, I have been working alongside a wonderful person. Her name is Denise and her children, who have been coming with her, are Lily and Justin. We work side by side every morning in the warehouse bagging food. She has to go back to work on Monday, so she told me she wouldn't be back to help.
It made me sad. During these 4 weeks, I have grown to love this family. (Her husband David has been working through all of this, so I haven't met him yet. I hope to meet him soon!)
When she left today, she hugged me. She told me she has never been a huggy kind of person, but this virus has made her miss it! So we hugged, and told each other we love each other.
The amazing thing about this story is that I would never have met Denise had we not been working together these past few weeks. Another amazing thing is that she goes to church with me! She sits on the far left, while I sit in the middle.
I have learned many lessons these past weeks, and most of them good lessons....lessons I needed to learn. Some things that have happened, I already knew deep down, but it just solidified my belief. The thing that was brought home to me working with Denise, is that church HAS to be more than sitting in a pew on Sunday. Not only did I have a job to do every day, I met a wonderful person (several wonderful people actually,) that I would never have met. Our goal was to package enough food for over 300 people every day, but the Lord saw to it that I ended up getting far far more than I gave.
I will miss you Denise. I pray that in the future we will have many more opportunities to serve together and that other people will step out of their pew and join us. My life is richer because you are in it.
Every day during this corona scare, we have been bagging groceries for anyone who wants them. We bag in the morning and hand out all afternoon. We have everything from fresh produce, to those already packaged meals you can now buy at the Grocery store or have delivered to your front door. I have never bought them because they are very expensive. Yet, we are giving them out free to anyone who asks.
I compare that to places in the world where it's a battle every day just to get fresh water, much less fresh produce and pre packaged meals!
Yet, we complain. We complain because the toilet paper aisles are empty. We complain because we can't get our hair cut. (My hair is so long,I look like a wampus, as my Mother used to say. Does anyone out there know what a wampus is? I don't!)
We complain because we MIGHT get a virus and there MIGHT not be enough tests available to know whether or not we really do have it.
I am SO tired of my spoiled, rich, comfortable attitude. I have lived in a tent in the desert in Mexico, and even then, I had shelter and slept under $5 Mexican blankets I had bought to protect me from the cold desert nights. Most of the houses around us were built out of cardboard or pieces of tin.
I have seen what poverty is in another country, but even at that, I have not seen the worst. I have heard that India and Haiti make Mexico's poorest areas look like a resort.
So, I get up every morning, take a hot shower, pad into the kitchen for a hot cup of coffee, then go bag groceries....actually for people who ALSO got up and took a hot shower, and had a hot cup of coffee. Yet, they have less than I do. Some don't work because they don't want to, but some are not able. I know that. My job is not to judge. My job is to help feed the hungry and give hope to the poor. God's job is to judge.
I pray that He doesn't judge ME too harshly.
Here you go Prisha (love, your son): Wampus
T.D. Jakes is one of our favorite preachers. Scott Whitmire, whom a lot of you know as sweet baby....what his wife, Lori calls him, texted us. (He calls her sweet angel pie. I know. Sickening isn't it?...)
Anyway, Scott wrote us yesterday and told us to listen to T.D. Jakes sermon from this past Sunday. We finally got it to work late last night. I'm so glad we did. He preached to an empty auditorium, but he certainly wasn't lax in any sense of the word. If you get a chance listen to him.
He talked about the woman at the WELL. Then he talked about the WATER at the well. Then he talked about the WORD and lastly...WORSHIP. All day I have been thinking about this sermon. I hope you will listen to it.
I see myself encountering Jesus at the well. He sees inside me and knows everything about me. He offers me living water...water only He can give. But more importantly, He needs me to drink deeply of His Word.
If I think I need to go to a building in order to worship Him, then I need to rethink what worship really is.
This time away from sitting in a pew and listening to someone else preach and someone else sing, has given me new insight into worship.
I long to meet Jesus at the WELL. I long to drink deeply of that WATER He offers me. I long to immerse myself in the WORD and learn to WORSHIP Him in spirit and in truth.
Today all I am writing is Psalm 49 from The Message Bible. Enjoy
Listen everyone, listen...
earth-dwellers, don't miss this.
All you haves
All together now; listen.
I set plainspoken wisdom before you,
my heart-seasoned understandings of life.
I fine-tuned my ear to the sayings of the wise,
I solve life's riddle with the help of a harp.
So why should I fear in bad times,
hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
demeaned by the arrogant rich?
Really! There's no such thing as self-rescue,
pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
and even then it doesn't guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
against the Black Hole.
Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
And to think they named counties after themselves!
We aren't immortal. We don't last long.
Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.
This is what happens to those who live for the moment,
who only look out for themselves:
Death herds them like sheep straight to hell;
they disappear down the gullet of the grave;
They waste away to nothing---
nothing left but a marker in a cemetery.
But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death,
He reaches down and grabs me.
So don't be impressed with those who get rich
and pile up fame and fortune.
They can't take it with them;
fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they've arrived
and folks praise them because they've made good,
They enter the family burial plot
where they'll never see sunshine again.
We aren't immortal. We don't last long.
Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.
The rest of this is from me: Prisha....lest you get discouraged by that last paragraph...go back up and read the part that talks about God snatching me from the clutch of death. He will, you know....if you trust Him.
Today in my blog, I just want to quote scripture. This was in my reading for today, and I couldn't say anything any better!
" Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless----that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here's what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you're worth.
God looks on all this with approval,
listening and responding well to what He's asked;
But He turns His back
on those who do evil things."
THE WORD OF THE LORD (First Peter 3:8-12 the Message Bible)
When the boys were little, my favorite time of day was bedtime, when we were all under one roof....safe for the night. Tommy usually put a record on our old turntable, for them to listen to as they went to sleep. "You've Got a Friend". ("You just call out my name and you know wherever I am, I'll come running.")
I would make many trips in to check on them after they had gone to bed, to be sure they were still tucked away, safe and sound.
My second favorite time of day was morning, when I could feel their little bodies still warm from sleep. Sometimes, they would wander into the kitchen on their own, but if we were going somewhere, or later when they were in school, I would go into their room and sing to them. Here is the song I sang....
"Wake up, wake up, you great big sleepy head.
All right, all right, I'll jump right out of bed!"
John boy would "jump right out of bed." Jason would grunt and turn over!
Last night, Jason spent the night. Gillian had a friend over and he needed to sleep in order to make it to work today, so he came over. He and John boy were still talking when I went to bed, but sometime in the night, I found myself tiptoeing to his bed to check and make sure he was safe. I still do the same thing to John boy. However, this morning, he had already left for work when I got up.
I knew that, in reality, I could not keep my boys safe growing up, even when they were inside with me for the night. (I read once about an airplane that crashed into a house while everyone was asleep! Guess they thought they were safe too!)
I love the feeling though, of all of us being under the same roof, together. No matter what is going on outside these walls, inside there is peace. There is contentment. There is love.
My younger son Jason (who hosts this blog) wrote a statement in his blog today about "being done dying"....that he had "done it for 3 years."
I love that. It started me thinking about the fact that all of us are on the docket to die. However, we can take care of that by giving ourselves completely to the Lord and by being buried in baptism and rising to walk in newness of life! Of course this body still has to go through what we call death, but our souls will never die if we have given ourselves completely to the One who has conquered death!
So, I guess in that sense, we all need to keep on dying. Dying to self. Even if it takes 3 years. So many times I have thought that I have overcome some sin or some problem, only to have it crop up again. When that happens, I have to "die" all over again. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever completely "die" to some things. But, I keep trying.
A friend of John boy's wrote a song about his brother called "David has always been dying." That's true of all of us.
Keith Green has a song that says "I wanna die and let You give Your life to me so I might live."
The apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 15:31 "I die daily."
Sometimes, Jason Amos, it takes even longer than 3 years! But that doesn't stop me from being willing to once again, die to that old person that I was, and try, once again, to become a new creature in Christ.
If you'd like to visit his blog that "curates heartbreak": hoarselycry.com
I got so disgusted with technology last night. My phone and my KINDLE both decided to go wonky. I just brought them to John boy and left them. He is my fixer. I think he can always fix anything in the world of technology and he doesn't disappoint. He had them working this morning.
I was telling Tommy and John boy about how simple life used to be before technology. My little ole shriveled up Grandmother actually got a telephone a few years before she died. (She died at age 96.) She had her own "ring" but when all the cousins were there, and we heard someone else's ring....of course we ran and grabbed the phone. Invariably someone on the other end would say, "whoever is listening in, hang up!
I even remember calling her a few times. I can imitate her voice if you want me to, next time I see you. When she answered in her quivery little voice, I would say, "Grandmother." (always Grandmother...not Granny, Grandmaw, Mamaw, Nana or any other cute name....just Grandmother.) "Grandmother...this is Patricia." (always Patricia...not Pat or Prisha or Trixie or Pitty Pat!)
She would then say "Well, Patricia, how are you?" We would chat awhile, about what, I don't remember. I just know I felt better after having heard her voice. We never talked long, but for some reason, it made me feel good to know that after living all those years with no phone, my Grandmother now had one.
Even though Grandmother had about 30 Grandchildren and who knows how many great grandchildren, each of us thought she loved us the best.
When John boy was born, we held a revival at the church where she attended. It was a week long event and we stayed with her in her little house in Hubbard Springs, Virginia. John boy was a chunky baby, and I was afraid to sit him on her lap. He looked bigger than she did! She weighed about 80 pounds.
Another thing I remember Grandmother for was "recitation." When she was in school, there weren't a lot of books, so children learned to recite long poems. I could sit and listen to her for hours recite poetry. My cousin Jack, gave us all a recording of Grandmother reciting some of her poetry.
When Grandmother and Granddaddy got married, they rode horseback all night to another town to elope. Later in their marriage they moved to Oklahoma in a covered wagon.
I started this blog by saying that times used to be simpler. Maybe not. To ride horseback all night to elope, and to ride out west in a covered wagon, is not a simple thing.
So, I guess next time I have technological problems I will say, "Well at least I am not going out west in a covered wagon....with no cell phone!
Our friend Audrey came down yesterday morning to spend Easter with us. She is not company....she is family. Some people just fit right in as if they had always been there. She is like that.
She has been wanting to work in the warehouse with us, and on the food truck, so that's what we did today. We went to the warehouse as we have been doing everyday for the past 2 weeks. Today starts our third week. We have cut the hours for food distribution from noon to 5 to noon to 3. Ross (chief honcho) said he had enough for first shift, so we worked second...1:30-3. Much shorter hours than the previous 2 weeks! Audrey got a taste of what we have been doing, but it has slowed quite a bit now. She still enjoyed it and we loved having her. I told her I would not change the sheets on her bed in case she decides to come back.
As long as I stay here on the hill at Dutch Valley, it seems quite normal to me...business as usual. I get up every day, walk across to the warehouse, bag food, pass it out in the afternoon, come home and take a shower and fix supper. It is only when I have to go to the store that I realize how crazy our world has become. I wonder if it will ever go back to "normal."
Then I wonder if this IS normal. Perhaps I should get used to people wearing masks, and gloves, and shelves in the store sitting empty. The apostle Paul summed it up quite well when he said in Philippians 4:11-13 that he had learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."
I would like for the normal to be no wars, no hunger, no unhappiness, but in actuality, I realize that in this life, I just need to learn to be content whatever is going on.
So, until things "get back to normal" I will just continue with business as usual, trying to live my life in light of eternity.