Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
This is a strange Easter weekend. No churches gathering, no sunrise services.
I want to talk today about Easter in the past, when there was no corona virus to plague our land.
I wrote my friend Pat out in Steilacoom, Washington about a memory and she shared one with me.
When I think of Easter as a little girl, the first thing that comes to my mind are dotted swiss dresses! My Mother made my sister, Teresa and me, dotted swiss dresses to wear on Easter. (We also wore them to my sister Millie's graduation from college.) Millie was 10 years older than I and 15 years older than Teresa, so we would have been around 6 and 11 at the time. They were matching purple dotted swiss. We also wore black patent "Mary Jane" shoes and white sox with lace around the top.
I remember it being bitter cold, as most Easters are, and I was SO disappointed. Mother made me wear my winter coat to church! How dare she! I was going to be so cute, and that winter coat would spoil the whole presentation of me in my beautiful, purple, dotted swiss dress. I was certain that the whole church would be waiting with baited breath for me to enter. Now my Mother was sabotaging the whole thing! I went on to decide that maybe I could shed the coat as soon as I entered the church building so as to make the grand entrance I had planned all along!
Pat Holtzapple's memory...
"When I was 5 and my sister 7, the preacher had 2 daughters. We thought they lived the life of princesses. They gave us yellow dotted Swiss dresses (hand me downs). I thought that I looked so good, and still think that! Many years later, and I am sure she did not remember those dresses, my Mom said, "you never did look good in yellow."
Too funny! I LOVE Pat's dotted swiss story, even better than mine!
I look back on those Easter Sundays from years ago and even with the obsession of looking cute, I remember hearing the story of the resurrection. As the years passed, THAT story made the story of my cuteness pale in comparison. All of a sudden I was also remembering getting up early to go to sunrise services in the cold.
One was held in the front yard of our little church in Fountain City. Another was at Lynnwood Cemetery in Fountain City. Yet another was at Hampton Christian Church when the boys were little. Jesus (played by Larry Calhoun) came in late and walked up the aisle of the church after everyone was seated. He went up to Tommy and started whispering in his ear. Tommy would then tell us what "Jesus" was saying. He would say things like, He had gone away but that He was coming back and we needed to be waiting and watchful for His return. He then walked out the door behind Tommy.
It was really surreal, because as we went out that door and down to the basement for the breakfast we had prepared downstairs, we passed a closet that had the clothes that "Jesus" had worn, in a pile on the floor of the closet....almost as if He had just disappeared and left His clothing behind.
I love remembering my dotted swiss and my sox with lace and my brand new Mary Janes but I am more thankful for the risen Savior, who came to this earth, lived among us, was crucified and rose again on Easter. I can go to church looking cute any Sunday. (And I do try!) But I dare not forget the real reason I go to church and I cannot forget the sacrifice He made for me over 2,000 years ago.
HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
We went to Elizabethton to mow at our trailer on Friday. When we finished and I went into the bathroom to take a shower, I opened the shower curtain and the whole bottom of the tub was covered with dead ants! (Thankful they were dead!) Right in the middle there was a clump of ants that looked as if they were in a prayer circle.
I wondered if they were praying because of the deadly virus that was attacking them. Tommy had put ant poison out the week before and obviously it had worked.
I was telling this to John boy and he asked if I got a picture. Sadly I did not. I think you can picture it in your mind though. Hundreds of dead ants covering the bottom of the tub with a few of the faithful in a circle in the middle praying. Hm-m-m-m-m.
Once again, things have turned around in just a few short hours. We got up this morning fully intending to move yet again. This afternoon, we totally reversed that decision and are staying in the parsonage here on Breda Dr. We totally misunderstood our pastor and he came by today to tell us that. We thought he had other plans for the house we are currently living in. He asked us to stay. We are.
I am still processing all of it, but wanted to write it out and let the few of you who read this blog know what is going on.
Life is good and we are trusting the Lord to make all our days count for Him.
Remember the old song "Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy?" It truly does do that! I woke up this morning with the sun streaming in all the windows in the house. This place where we are living now (parsonage for the Church of God at Dutch Valley) is on a hill, so we get beautiful sunrises and sunsets. It streams in almost every window, and it makes me happy.
We have a lot of wildlife here. Tommy opened the blinds yesterday and a big ole' Tom Turkey was standing right at the window with his tail feathers all puffed out! We also have deer who come almost to our back door.
I am a person who also loves cloudy days. Seems like they dictate a mood. I am more reflective on a gloomy day.
Mother used to say that she couldn't wait for February to be over because she was always depressed during February. I think it was because her favorite brother, Roy, died in February. He worked for the FBI in Washington D.C. and died very young of a heart attack.
On the other hand, my friend Lori loves February. Her favorite holiday is Valentine's Day and of course it comes in February.
Whatever this day brings, I am trying to say with the Psalmist, "this is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118)
I have been asking myself a lot of questions lately. This morning we watched a sermon by Francis Chan, one of our favorite preachers. He had preached a sermon on Baptism and had a lot of people asking him questions afterwards. He answered them with a question of his own. His question?
"Why are you asking?"
I ask the Lord a lot of questions. Sometimes I feel like he answers me by saying "Why are you asking? Haven't I made it pretty clear in my word?"
I believe it is ok to ask questions, but I can almost hear the Lord sigh sometimes. I can almost hear him say "not again." Some of the questions I ask, I already know the answer. Why then do I keep asking? Perhaps because I think He just might give me a different answer if I keep pestering Him.
I am trying, with His help, to ask fewer questions, but to also really listen when I hear Him answer those questions. I try not to fill the silences with more questions. I am trying to obey and not whine.
There is ONE question, though, that I will continue to ask over and over again. In fact, I can't ask this question enough. I try each day when I get up to say, "Lord...do you have something for me to do for you and for the kingdom today? If so, will you please show me?"
That is one question that I don't believe the Lord gets tired of hearing.
These last couple of weeks have been surreal - for everyone. In the midst of all the corona virus scare, we have decided to move...yet again. This probably makes about 25 times in the 53 years we have been married.
We moved back to Knoxville 6 months ago after being gone for a year. We missed the ministry with Lost Sheep so much that we decided to move back. We were offered a place to live in the Church of God parsonage, so we moved in last October. These 6 months have been full and productive months, especially the last two weeks. The ministry here is packing food and giving it out every day from the parking lot beside the house we are living in right now. We have had some wonderful encounters not only the last 6 months but the last two weeks.
Deciding that we were going to move was, at first, somewhat disappointing - thinking that we would have to leave the Lost Sheep Ministry again. However, Jason told us about a rental house a couple of blocks from him that belongs to his former boss. Jason actually is the one who renovated the house, so it looks wonderful. We had checked out some other rentals and they were all dumps! Not this one.
To me, this whole experience just points to the goodness of God and how He is taking care of us. Four days ago, we were thinking that we were going to have to leave Knoxville. We weren't upset, just wondering what was ahead for us. Then everything turned on a dime! Jason called his boss and within just a couple of hours, we had a place to go. It's a cute place in a nice neighborhood.
See what I mean about what a difference a day makes? I could have gotten all bent out of shape, but instead I am praising God and wondering why He is so good to me.
Every day has the potential to change the whole direction of a person's life. If you are walking with the Lord, though, it is an adventure that I do not want to miss. I want to be like Abraham who "went out....not knowing where he was going." But because the Lord said to go, he went.
I have quoted Bilbo Baggins from Lord of the Rings before, but I will again. "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."
I may not be able to keep my feet and I may not know where I may be swept off to, but I know SOMEONE who does know my feet and He knows exactly where I will be swept off to....I trust Him, and oh the adventures I have had and am going to have!
I wrote about how my Grandson, Caleb, didn't like to "get cozy." Not so for my granddaughter, Gillian, or "Googie" as we always called her. She loved getting cozy! Still does!
When she was much younger, we used to sit in the swing on the back porch and read, or sing, or just be silly. I have a wonderful picture of us curled up asleep on that swing and for some reason, couldn't find it. If I ever find it I'll post it. Instead I posted another favorite picture of us.
Last night, she came over to make Rice Krispie treats, only she decided we would substitute Crunch Berries for Rice Krispies. We did and it turned out great. We have been watching the Star Wars cartoon series, "Rebels", so went back to watch a couple of episodes of that. We have a twin bed that John boy and I sit on when we watch a movie. Tommy sits in a chair. Googie started out in a chair, but after a few minutes she came over and cuddled up beside me on the bed. We were all "cozy" underneath a soft blanket and I put my hand on her leg and she laid her head on my shoulder. I leaned down several times to smell her hair or just kiss her on the head.
As we were sitting there "being cozy" my mind went back to that summer day when we fell asleep on the swing. ( I really wish I could find that picture!) Now Googie is 18 years old. She was probably 8 or 9 that day on the swing. If I had known the time between then and now would go so fast, I would have held her a little tighter, a little closer. But I will be content with last night, when my 18 year old granddaughter, decided she still wanted to get cozy with her old 80 year old grandmother!
I have stated in former posts how we are giving out food every day at our church. We work from 10-12 bagging it up, then we work from 12-5 giving it out as cars drive by in the parking lot. Today when we reported for parking lot duty, we were told we had to wear masks and gloves according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control.) I'm not sure why, since we have been doing this for the past two weeks without masks. We have been wearing gloves, but no masks. I had to take my glasses off because they kept clouding up. It made me have new respect for surgeons (I am talking to you Celeste!). I don't know how they are able to see what they are doing!
We have friends who run a mission in Nicaragua, Sandy and Joe. They barely made it out on a plane and are quarantined in their home until they are sure they haven't been infected. They said the president of Nicaragua wouldn't let his medical people wear either a mask or gloves because he didn't want to alarm the people!
Do you ever just wonder where all this will end? Who do we believe? Who decides what we can and cannot do? I also heard that the borders have been closed in N.C. and no one is allowed out or in. I must admit I am frustrated, as are a lot of you. I don't worry and I don't fret, but I do wonder how much longer we can go without everything just coming to a standstill.
There will always be germs, and diseases and wars and rumors of war, and I don't think we should be careless or stupid, but there has to come a time when this ends and things go back to normal. There has to come a time when I don't go to the grocery store and just laugh because the shelves that have toilet paper and lysol spray are empty, while the liquor shelves are well stocked....not a bare shelf in that area!
Honestly, I haven't bought toilet paper for a month. Thankfully, John boy got a deal right before all this hit where if you buy 5 packages you save $5, so we did. We bought one package when we were in Florida for two weeks and had two rolls left which we brought home. Other than that I am not going to go crazy buying up all the toilet paper in the stores.
As I am writing this, I just had a text from my friend Lori who lives in N.C. She said the border closing is a lie. Sigh! Like I said....when will it end?
Oh well. Until it does, I will get up each day, don my mask and gloves and pass out food. All our gigs are cancelled, so we are free to do this, for which I am thankful. I am thankful for each of you as well, and pray that you will stay healthy and happy. When this is over, if you don't recognize me without my mask, I'll carry one to slip on just so you will know who I am!