Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
I can't remember where I was or who I was with, but I dreamed I was going to watch a movie with friends.
When we got to the place where the movie was being shown (it was not a theater) I rushed in so that I could be first and get a front row seat. I glared at anyone who got in my way!
As the dream progressed, something in my brain clicked and I thought, "What in the world is wrong with me? I need to stand back and let everyone else be seated first, and then find my seat!"
"The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
They say that things happen in threes. Since spring, I have had 4 very significant things happen.
First my dear, sweet Maggie darlin' (what I called her) went to be with the Lord. She had asked that I speak at her funeral, so I did. I have never done that before, but I decided that if Maggie wanted it, then I could and would do it.
Maggie was one of those friends whom you know beyond the shadow of a doubt will "never leave you or forsake you". In all the years of her friendship, I never one time doubted her love for me. I miss her. I got a rose from her casket and it sits in a vase on my desk.
Just a few weeks ago my wonderful "Annea" went to be with the Lord. Her name is Andrea, but I always called her Annea. (Another dear friend's daughter is named Andrea. She and John thomas are the same age and when they were babies, he called her Annea...hence MY Annnea got her name!) That friend left this earth several years ago. We had been friends for over 50 years!
Annea and I talked via email almost every day. I never had to wonder if I should say or not say certain things because I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she would always have my "6". I got a rose from her casket at well and it is in the same vase on my desk next to Maggie darlin'.
The next to go to meet Jesus was my cousin Barb. I never knew life without Barb in it. Our two families were like one when I was growing up and like Maggie and Andrea, my cousin loved the Lord and served him her whole life. Watching the lives of these 3 girls had a huge impact on me and are a huge part of the reason I follow Jesus.
Last in the list, is my dear friend, Hank. We buried his body just this past week. For the past 20 or so years, we have held a revival at a church in Dot, Virginia. Hank has been to every one of those meetings. He and his wife, Kay, have loved us and cared for us as if we were part of their (huge!) family! (And we ARE!)
Hank was an elder in the church and his wife and I are like sisters. Every year she cooks enough food for us to feed an army. Both were always quiet with gentle spirits.
When we went to Hank's funeral, Kay hugged me and sobbed that she didn't know what she would do without him. I feel the same.
All of the 4 people above have left a huge hole on this planet. I expect from the air it looks like a crater! They have also left a crater like hole in my heart.
I wonder what kind of hole I will leave. I want to love like they did I want to serve like they did. I want to make a difference like they did. I want to see them again.
John boy and I are reading Pilgrim's Progress, the second most read book in the world next to the Bible. I read it years ago, but am finding it even better today. We recently saw an animated version of it, and it was excellent.
I am barely into it, and have come to the part where the pilgrim, Christian, comes to a slough. He and a fellow traveler (Pliable) fall into it. It is called the Slough of Despond. It is a place where all the fears, doubts and discouraging apprehensions in a person settle. "It is not the pleasure of the King that this place should remain so bad." (Isaiah 35:3,4) but many have been swallowed up in it!
There are, however, "good and substantial" steps that have been placed at the slough, but because this slough "spews our it's filth" these steps are hardly seen.
Wow! What a word for the world we live in today. Everywhere one looks it seems there is a slough. It is encouraging to know, however, that there are steps (if we but have eyes to see) that lead out of the slough! Praying for all of us to see those steps!
Is slavery abolished?
Not if you are a Christian! The Bible says, "Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done; He came to serve, not to be served---and then to give away His life in exchange for many who are held hostage." (Mark 10:43-45 Message Bible)
And don't wait to be asked. If you see a need jump in and start serving. Do you think a slave asked his Master if he needed help with something? No! He was constantly on alert...watching carefully to see what his master needed.
Recently we were carrying equipment and props into a church building. (a common occurrence with us!) Several young men (about 4 as I recall) were sitting just inside the door. They asked if we needed help. We said it was ok that we could do it. I know I know...we should have said SURE...but we kind of thought it was obvious. I am used to being a "roadie". It's what we do. We carry in, set up, perform, then tear down.
I am not saying we were not at fault. Maybe we should have said we needed help. I am just saying, don't even ask. Just jump up and start helping. I believe that after awhile you will begin to understand this verse more than you have ever understood it.
Being a slave or a servant, requires work. It requires being uncomfortable. It requires a bit of sweat and strain and inconvenience. But, I believe most of all that it requires watchfulness...attentiveness...,and, especially...copying the Master, who has set the example. Do you know of another Master of slaves who has ever set the example? We have that kind of Master. Let's follow Him!
Several months ago we took some friends on a picnic to Watauga Lake in Elizabethton. It's one of our favorite places and we have had many picnics in that beautiful spot.
I always take a pretty red and white checked table cloth and flowers for the table. If the bush with purple berries is in bloom at the lake, I wait till I get there and break off a couple of branches from that for my "flowers." (I actually bought one of those bushes for my yard many years ago. It's called Beauty Berry, if I remember correctly. There is one that blooms in winter called Winter Berry--with red berries. I want to get one of those too!)
Anyway, back to the picnic: Steve and Cindy Bates went with us on the picnic, and she couldn't get over that I brought flowers for the table. She went on and on about it. I, of course, having done it all these years, did not give it a second thought.
This weekend, the guys went to Cindy and Steve's church in Wise, VA. I couldn't go because I was taking care of Jason's animals while he was in California visiting our Grandson. When they came home, Cindy had sent me a beautiful Begonia already potted! What a treasure! I am sure she figured out how much I liked flowers from the aforementioned picnic, but she had no idea how excited I would be to get this beautiful potted plant.
I sat it beside the back door where I see it every time I go in or out of the house. It reminds me of how God has blessed us with the beauty of flowers, but most of all how He has blessed us with the beauty of friendship. Thanks Cindy.
The mile back
Just this week, my grandson, Cal, moved into a newly renovated apartment in California. He is thrilled and so am I! No matter how old your children or grand children are you never quit being concerned.
We were talking about that this morning. Cal thought he had a washer and dryer but turns out, the regulations where he lives don't allow one, so he has to go to the laundramat.
That made us start thinking about living in NYC and how we had to go to the laundramat. We had a washer and dryer in one apartment, but only one, and we lived there about 7 different times.
John boy started talking about me walking 8 blocks to do laundry, then coming back to our 4th floor walk up and hauling it up the stairs. (I usually went when they were gone on the weekend.) The building we lived in was a fire hazard too, unlike Cal's brand spanking new digs!
I was laughing about the time I was in a zone (or something) and walked up 5 flights instead of 4! John boy said, "that's like going the extra mile, Mom!"
Maybe so. But when you have to walk up 4 flights of stairs, several times a day, one more flight might make one a little frustrated! When I realized what I had done, I laughed, turned around and walked back down...much easier than going up!
Maybe that's what we should do when someone asks us to go "an extra mile". Instead of feeling frustrated or put upon, we should laugh, and gladly do whatever we can to help out. I can promise you, that the walk after that extra mile, will be much easier and you will feel happier and lighter coming back down the road!
Bread and Apples
I am sure that most of us have heard the story of the loaves and fishes in the Bible. Actually there were two different occasions where Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes to feed huge crowds of people. (Matthew 14 and Mark 8)
However, have you ever heard of Bread and apples? In II Kings 4 (The Message version) we read the story of Elisha taking 20 loaves of bread and a few apples feeding a hundred people, with leftovers. That's a story we don't hear often.
How many times have you planned to feed a certain amount of people and suddenly there were more people there than you had counted on? When the evening was over, there was enough food for all, and you even had leftovers. In our family we always say "loaves and fishes" when this happens.
From now on, I think I am going to say, "bread and apples."
Diet Dr. Enuf
Diet Doctor Enuf is one of my favorite drinks. The only place you can buy them is Upper East Tennessee - Elizabethton, Johnson City, Kingsport, Bristol, and Erwin.
We have been staying at Appalachian Church camp this weekend, and went to Erwin to get a few groceries. As we were leaving the store, a semi trailer was parked in the parking lot with one man sitting in it all alone. It was a collection site for Goodwill.
When we drove by, John boy said, "I feel like the Lord is telling me to buy that man a drink." We pulled up to the Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Enuf machines, sitting in a row outside the store. John thomas tried the coke machine first. It was out of coke. Then he tried the Pepsi machine. It was out as well. Third try is a charm, right?
He punched every button on the Dr. Enuf machine. The last button produced a Diet Dr. Enuf. The only one left in the machine!
When we took the drink to the man sitting in the back of the trailer, he thanked us, then looked at the label. "Oh good," he said. "It's Diet. I'm a diabetic."
3 machines. 1 drink. Hm-m-m-m!
Don't purse your lips
When I was a little girl and made a face or had a "sour" expression my Mother would say to me..."be careful. Your face may just freeze that way!"
Of course I didn't believe her! Now I do!
Sometimes when I look into the mirror I see that parts of my face have "frozen". Especially my lips!
I told John boy the other day that I think my lips are disappearing! He said "well, Mom, that does happen when you get older!"
As I looked this morning and tried to put lip balm on them (forget lipstick...there isn't enough lip for that!) I noticed that they seem locked into a perpetual "purse".
I looked up purse in the dictionary. Besides being something you carry, it also means "to pucker or contract, typically to express disapproval or irritation."
I remembered all the times I had looked at my boys growing up with disapproval, or irritation....especially in church, of all places! Ask them how many times I reached over and pinched them for misbehaving in church! I also "pursed" my lips while doing so.
Now, 50 plus years later, my face has "frozen". My Mother was right!
Now I have decided to work on unpursing my face! I am going to practice smiling more..looking with approval rather than disapproval or irritation. I am going to try and work on looking for the good in people rather than the things I don't like about them. I am going to try and make my eyes send forth rays of joy rather than storm clouds!
It matters what your face looks like! I don't mean all of us are beautiful...at least on the outside...but all of us can be full of beauty! I used to avoid grouchy old people when I was a child. I want to draw children in! I need to unfreeze my face! Or at least freeze it into something beautiful!
I also want my lips back!
The bathroom light
Our bathroom has two lights. One in the ceiling and one over the sink. I never turn on the one over the sink. Tommy always turns the one on over the sink.
There is a very simple reason. The sink light shows everything. The ceiling light mutes everything. Sometimes I actually think I look pretty good when using only the ceiling light! (That was a joke!)
I guess I shouldn't worry too much though. According to an article I read recently in Decision Magazine, I am supposed to be dead! The author of the article was Kenneth Cooper M.D. He stated "In America, the average life expectancy (pre-pandemic) for women was 81 and for men it was 77."
I should be dead! I will be 82 in September! Tommy still has 2 years to go!
SO----the next time I brush my teeth or dry my hair, I may just use the light over the sink! For a corpse, I think I look pretty good!