Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
What are you thankful for? What makes you happy? What brings you joy? All questions all of us need to ask ourselves continually.
I was under the bridge last night, where I am every Wednesday night. The homeless population was down this night…the night before Thanksgiving. Maybe it was because the week before we had announced that we would only have sack lunches. Our cook at Lost Sheep is sick and hasn’t been able to fix the hot, sit down meal that we usually have.
The girl who answers the phone at the warehouse tested positive for covid, so they sent all the workers home. They didn’t have anyone to cook the hot dogs and stuff the sack lunches, so they called us to come and do it. They already had the bags out….300. Each bag got two hot dogs, which had not been cooked. .
Anyway, I digress. While I was under the bridge last night, John boy, who always plays and sings, was singing “Mary Did You Know”. I noticed one of the homeless girls with her eyes shut swaying to the music with her hands uplifted. She didn’t know the words, but would mouth “Mary did you know,” when John boy got to that part. She looked totally and completely happy and at peace. This girl has a lot of mental problems. Not sure if the street has taken it’s toll on her or what, but she definitely has problems. Yet…she always seems happy and she always thanks me for food that I did not buy and most of the time did not prepare. Very few down there DO say thanks.
As I left the cold of the bridge for the warmth of the car and later a hot shower, I kept thinking about this girl and how happy she seemed. I told Tommy about it and he sent me this quote by Mother Teresa:
Born in Serbia of Albanian parents on August 26th 1910, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu became a nun, at first in Ireland and then at Darjeeling in north-east India, where she adopted the name Teresa. She longed for permission to move outside the convent walls to work with the poorest of the poor in India. She received permission to teach in Calcutta (now Kolkata), and began to work among the slums of the city in 1948. In 1950 she established the Missionaries of Charity along with twelve other sisters; it grew to include over 4,000 sisters.
She became universally known as Mother Teresa, and in later years she received great recognition and various ‘peace prizes’. At the same time she challenged all kinds of people to compassion and discipleship through her media exposure. ‘Do you know and love the poor,’ she asked. ‘If you do not know them, how can you love them?’ She remained radiant throughout, and commented pragmatically, ‘The surest way to preach Christianity to the pagan is by our cheerfulness, our happiness. What would our life be if the Sisters were unhappy? We would do the work, but we would attract nobody.’ She went to her reward in heaven on September 5th 1997.
I often see the homeless joyful and happy. Sometimes I go down under the bridge or out on the street and i am not so happy. In fact, there are times I don’t want to go. I always come away happier than when I went though.
John boy said when he got under the bridge last night, he spoke to a man and asked how he was. The man immediately replied…”couldn’t ask for anything more, brother.”
What are you thankful for? What makes you happy? What brings you joy? Can you say today “I couldn’t ask for anything more?"
Some people may be wondering what in the world they have to be thankful for this year…2020. A strange year indeed. It seems as if bad news is permeating our country. Sometimes I wonder why I just keep getting up every day and going about my daily business of doing what I do each day. Why am I not in panic mode?
The answer is simple…”My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”
I have that hope, but it doesn’t mean that bad things aren’t happening all around. In fact, last night I told someone that I felt like Jacob because I wrestled with God all night long. (I’m glad he didn’t make me lame…I have enough trouble walking as it is!) I prayed and cried and begged the Lord to heal a dear dear friend of mine who found out yesterday that she has a malignant tumor. She has young children and a husband who love her dearly and whom she loves.
Her response to the news? She is praying that her family will be a witness to everyone because of the way they are handling this devastating news. Above all else she wants to glorify her Lord. She wishes it weren’t happening of course. So do I. I would give anything if this had not happened. But with my friend, I am praying that above all, HE will be honored.
I am praying for healing. I am expecting healing. I stand with Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego in the old Testament who were thrown into a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to a false god. I believe my God is able to save….BUT IF NOT…I am still going to serve Him.
By the way. God DID save them. They didn’t even smell like smoke! HAPPY THANKSGIVING. We serve a great God.
Tommy is doing a Monday night Bible study he calls Meandering Through Mark. One scripture we have studied (Mark 5:18-20) tells the story of the man who had been delivered from demons to go home and tell his people his story. Every time I hear this scripture quoted, I go back to a little church in Fountain City who met in an old restaurant. The building is still there. My family were charter members of this little church. The Christian Church of Fountain City.
I was nine years old when my family became members. We walked to church, about a mile, and never missed. Our first preacher was L.W. Buckley. He was not a young man when he preached for us, but then, everyone looks old when you are nine.
Every single time Mr. Buckley preached he would walk out from behind the pulpit when he finished, stand with one arm leaning on the pulpit, look out at all of us and quote that scripture. As long as I can remember I have known that verse by heart. I can still hear his gravely voice quoting this as he stared straight into my soul, or so it seemed.....
"Go home to thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord has done for thee and how He has had compassion on thee."
Many years ago, I met Maggie who has turned out to be one of those life long friends. We will be friends throughout eternity. That makes me happy.
Maggie is having health issues. That does NOT make me happy.
I am committed for however long it takes, to speak her name to the Father throughout all the days ahead. He is the great physician, and He alone has the power to heal. I am calling on Him to heal my sweet Maggie.
Maggie is the type of friend who is right beside you in whatever crazy scheme you come up with. In fact, sometimes she is the one who comes up with that scheme!
Once we were at a conference and John boy was up front impersonating Elvis. I looked at Maggie and she looked at me. We ran up screaming and fainted at his feet. Another time someone was up singing and we ran up and became back up dancers. She is the type of friend the old joke is about that says "a good friend will bail you out of jail. A better friend would be sitting right beside you in that jail saying 'd* * * that was fun.' " That would be my Maggie.
Right now, I want to bail Maggie out of jail. I also want to sit beside her, only this time, none of what she is going through is fun. I am praying for a miracle. I love you Maggie.
I had never heard of this organization until this weekend!
We are staying at Appalachian Christian Camp in Unicoi this weekend for our monthly prayer weekend. We were walking around the camp and came upon a family working on a project in the woods. When we got closer we saw that it was one of our old campers from back in the day when we led church camp here. After hugging us she explained what she and her daughter and brother in law were doing.
Sarah, the daughter, belongs to American Heritage Girls which is a Christian Girl Scout organization. They have a program like boys in Eagle Scouts where they have to do a service project. She decided to build a fire pit with a circle of swings around it, here at the camp. She finished yesterday! There are 8 porch swings surrounding the fire pit. Last night we took our prayer group down to sit in the swings and pray over the area.
What is so wonderful about this is, that this girl is only 17. She had a vision, raised the money and along with her Uncle and Mother, made her dream come true.
As we sat around the fire last night, and I listened to this young girl's testimony, I felt hope. We are living in a time when so many young people have no vision or goals. This girl not only had a vision and a goal, but with the help of the Lord and her family, she reached her goal. What an example!
My favorite month is almost gone for another year. I would love to live in Ray Bradbury's
October Country. I say with my favorite author Lucy Maude Montgomery.."I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
Jason Amos was born in October. John boy was supposed to be but he was two weeks late so came November 2. November still has enough of October in it for me to love it as well. When John boy was born, they kept you a whole week! I watched a tree change color outside my hospital window.
We have so many wonderful memories of our boys in the fall. We took them on hikes. We hiked year round, but in the fall we tried new trails where we thought the colors would be more brilliant.
We raked up leaves and they jumped in them. I have a wonderful picture somewhere of the boys and their favorite dog, Tiffy, in a pile of leaves.
We built fires and sat around in the evening talking, reading, listening to music....never in front of the tv. Our tiny little black and white only got 3 channels and they weren't very good.
My boys didn't DARE say they were bored! If they did, like my Mother before me, I would say, "oh...you are bored? Well we can't have that, can we? The kitchen needs to be swept, the wood needs to be carried in for the fire, the dirty clothes need to be gathered , your room needs a good cleaning." They soon learned NOT to say those words. And they rarely did.
Some people think fall a sad time. They dread the colder days. They look forward to spring.
I, too, like spring, but fall is my first love. I fell in love in the fall. I had our boys in the fall. I come alive in the fall.
All seasons have their own beauty, but when fall puts on her cloak of many colors , I want to as well!
Robert Frost wrote a short poem called "Nothing Gold Can Stay." I might just have to differ with him, even if he is one of my favorites. When winter comes and the branches are bare, in my mind I go back to a tree covered in gold. When summer is at it's hottest and everything is green and lush, I long for the chill of autumn, so again, in my mind I go back to a tree covered in gold.
The gold and reds and oranges of autumn, CAN stay....in my mind.
So, once again, I tuck the colors of the trees I am seeing now, in an easily accessible corner of my mind. Go out today and do the same. Memorize a golden tree so that it can stay.