Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
Last day of the year
Today is the last day of the year. Tomorrow will be 2020! For some reason, I thought growing up that it had always been 19 and always would be. When I saw something about the 1800's I thought that was back in Bible days! Now here we are going into yet another era. In 20 more years I will be 100! You may laugh at this but my grandmother was 96 when she died. My uncle, her son, was 93 and my aunt, her daughter just died this past summer at 103!
I have cooked all day, along with the help of Tommy and John boy, and tonight we will be having friends in to welcome in this new decade. None of us know what the new year will bring...we don't even know what tomorrow will bring. I pray that all your tomorrows will be blessed and that whatever your future holds you will keep your eyes on the One who DOES know what tomorrow brings. Happy New Year!
We left our New York apartment about noon yesterday and spent the next 7 hours either riding the train, the bus or sitting in LaGuardia airport! The family whose apartment we were staying in were coming in that afternoon so we wanted to be out before they got there. We left it in great shape and she wrote and thanked us for being able to walk into a clean, neat apartment.
We didn't get in until about 11 last night, but for the first time in 2 weeks I felt clean. For some reason I never feel completely clean in New York. We got dirty pretty quickly though, because we jumped right in today and went to the Lost Sheep warehouse to work. I am attaching a picture of Tommy working in the food. That is our main job....keeping the food organized that goes out on the food trucks each week. We send 10 a week out into what we call "food deserts." That means places where it is difficult for people to get to grocery stores who are in the low income bracket.
It was good to be in New York, but it is also good to be here. The picture I sent in an earlier blog says it all....we are exactly where we are supposed to be. I think that will be my phrase for the new year. I pray that all of you will be exactly where you are supposed to be this year. Happy New Year early!
What's next papa?
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
Romans 8:15-17 (MSG)
Today was our last day in the big Apple...or maybe I should say, The Little Big Apple. (title of my last book.) We walked around the reservoir and the weather was perfect. It makes me wonder what kind of weather we are going to get in January. We stopped at a food cart to get falafel sandwiches before we leave. I can't find falafel anywhere like it is in NYC. Nor can I find pizza as good as New York pizza.
A homeless man asked me for $2 at the cart and I told him no but we would buy him something to eat. He ordered a cheese burger and fries. After Tommy told him to wipe his nose (yes, Tommy really did tell him that.... I was thankful) we left our new friend with his cheeseburger. We took our sandwiches down to Lincoln Center where we can sit inside to eat. This place is amazing. It's a big open place with tables and a wall filled with vegetation! How it grows there I have no idea.. I thought at first it was artificial, but it's real. Mostly greenery but a few flowers here and there. Am posting a picture.
Tomorrow we leave. I often feel like Bilbo Baggins in Lord of the Rings when he said "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door, and if you don't keep your feet there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
I always feel like I am on an adventure and have felt that way ever since I married Tommy. Every day he has a plan. It has been this way since day one. When our boys were young, they used to get up every day and say "What are we going to do today, Daddy."
I think we should ask our heavenly Father that every day.
Matthew 5:7 (MSG) says "You are blessed when you care. At the moment of being "care-full" you will find yourselves cared for. "
Tommy read this to me this morning and it rings so true in my life. When I am full of care for other people, I find myself feeling more joyful and even happy. Why is that? It's because my attention is off of myself and on someone else.
Listen to the leading...
Only one more day in NYC. We go home tomorrow. Last night we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was the most crowded I have ever seen it, but still fun. A perfect evening with temperatures in the 50's. At one point we stopped at the side of the bridge for the guys to make a picture of me to send to Jason to use in this blog. (He is putting it together for me.) I looked down on the rail and someone had written in sharpie "you are exactly where you're supposed to be." I thought to myself that often that is true, if you listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
My friend and adopted son, Greg, said something so profound to me the other day though, that I wanted to share it with you. He said that so many of us see things "through our clouded Gollum eyes." He went on to say that we see what the "dark spirits want us to see." I could add to that and say we listen to those dark spirits instead of the Holy spirit. I told Tommy that that would preach. Greg has a regular column so I told him he should spend a whole column on this thought.
Another thing that has stuck in my mind is a movie trailer that John boy showed us this morning. It is worth seeing...not for the language, but for the message. It's a rather lengthy message, but he is saying that all of us are just "polishing the brass on the Titanic." We look at all the material things around us and want all of it. It comes down to the fact that we are all just polishing the brass on the Titanic. It's all going down.
This may seem like a downer of a blog, but it isn't to me. Writing it has been insightful to me. It makes me want to try to always be just where I am supposed to be, and to quit polishing the brass on the Titanic.
Had breakfast today at our favorite diner, Washington Square Diner in the village. We met an old friend from the very first time we lived in NYC in 1997. It was good to catch up with him. He was born in Brooklyn and has lived in Manhattan most of his life. He says he is tired of the city life though and is going to move to Portland, Oregon when he retires.
I still love NYC, but it seemed different this time. Maybe it's me who is different. We didn't go to a play because the prices are so steep now. I told our friend, Chris, that I was afraid NY was going to price itself out of business. He said that it was funny I said that because there are many empty spaces now, but new buildings keep going up!
I have learned to say, with Paul (of the New Testament) to be content in whatever state I am in (both literally and figuratively) and have decided that I will listen more closely to the Lord and just see where we end up. I look back on the decisions that we made purely because it was something we wanted to do, as opposed to what we felt the Lord was leading us to do. I can tell you with no hesitation, that when we listened to the Lord, we had no regrets. I have also learned that contentment is a state of mind, not a place.
So, this New year, I want to listen more to the leading of the Holy Spirit and see what adventures He has in store for me . Would love to hear what He is telling you. Looking forward to 2020! (Guess what? In 20 more years I will be 100!)
Return to the "normal"
Another day in NYC. Only 2 days to go before going home. Another day of reflection, since we, as usual, did a lot of walking. It got colder the longer the day went, but we still walked home through Central Park right at dusk. We had heard of an old cave in the park that very few people know about and it was a bit difficult to find. We found it! It has been sealed off because of a lot of things that have happened in it through the years, but it was exciting nevertheless to find it.
I spent most of the day today just thinking and talking to God. I want the direction of my life to count these last few years I have left. I wonder about the things that are really important and that really count as far as the Kingdom of God. Even though I am anxious to get back home, this has been a good time for me...really for all three of us. I think about all the things that we get upset over..the things that really "tick us off." In the grand scheme of things, I am thinking that even though it may be harder not to respond to those things, the more I can keep my mouth shut the better off I will be. The Bible says that even a fool is considered wise if he (or she) keeps her mouth shut! (or words to that effect.)
So, in two days, I return home. I return to the "normal". I return to what I know. I don't have to wonder which direction 79th street is or which side of the park I am on or if a certain bus or train goes where I need it to go. At home, most everything comes automatically. Of course after awhile in NYC the same thing begins to happen. The one thing that remains constant is that God is still on the throne and He will work all things out for my good if I keep loving and following Him.
A very different Christmas
This has been a very different Christmas for us. We are in NYC in someone else's apartment on the east side of New York City. We are in our second week here and it is Christmas Day. I brought all my recipes to make my usual Christmas fare but Tommy and John boy decided that we would just eat at a New York diner instead, so we are.
For the two weeks that we have been up here, one of my main prayers is for the Lord to send anyone to us that He wants to, who may need us. So far I have no exciting stories, but we have 3 more days here so anything is possible.
It has been a week of mostly walking. I would guess that we have put in anywhere from 6 to 8 miles a day. That's easily done up here. The one good thing about being on the east side is that the bus stops right in front of our apartment. We have never had that before.
In all the walking, for me, there has been a lot of reflecting. Reflecting on my life... what it has been and what I want it to be in the few years I have left on this planet. I know my days are numbered and often, while walking up here, I have thanked the Lord that he is giving me the strength TO walk. At 79 years old, I don't see a lot of people my age doing that.
Also in my reflections I have wondered if I ever really reflect on the great sacrifice that Jesus made for me all those years ago at this time when we celebrate His coming into the world. I appreciate what He did and thank Him, but deep down I wonder if I really "get" it.
I think one thing this trip has done for me is make me realize that home is wherever Tommy, John boy and I are. I really wish Jason and his family could have been with us too, but I am grateful for what I do have, I didn't decorate for Christmas this year...well maybe a tiny bit. And, I didn't fix Christmas dinner. If I were in jail right now, or in a 3rd world country, that wouldn't be possible, so I am realizing that that isn't what makes Christmas. Of course I love the memories of times past when I did do all of that, but it isn't what makes this season special.
Another thing I have noticed on this trip is how much I hear songs about the birth of our Lord. Songs that praise and glorify Him. It's funny too, how people are starting to say Happy Holiday instead of Merry Christmas. I guess they don't realize that holiday is "holy day." Look it up in the dictionary! I'm not going to tell them that though!
I really don't know where I am going with this, but Jason (younger son) wanted me to do a blog. I got up this morning and decided on this Christmas day, 2019, I would start. If I keep it up, it will be interesting to see what 2020 brings. I pray it brings joy, happiness, peace, contentment but most of all Jesus to all of you. Merry Christmas! Pat, Prisha, Trixie, Pitty Pat, sweet p, sweet thang. (only a few of my nick names.)