Thoughts on life from Pat Oaks
When I was a little girl, Fountain City was inundated with Mimosa trees. My sister, Teresa, and I called the pink blossoms powder puffs...hence, the Powder Puff trees! I don't think I knew it was called a Mimosa until I was much older.
We had one in our backyard that was quite large. It was large enough that my Daddy built me a tree house in it. I spent at least part of every summer day in my tree house. Of course I stayed in it through the fall as well, as long as the weather permitted.
I don't recall the dreams I had in that treehouse. I just know I had them. I loved books, so spent a lot of time reading in my tree house....books like "Little Women," "Little House on the Prairie," and "Secret Garden." "Girl of the Limberlost" and "Freckles" were also on that list, along with every single Nancy Drew mystery ever written.
I do believe I thought I could write like the authors of those books, and one dream I did have was that I would become a famous author. My first poem was written in that tree house. It wasn't written in the summer or the fall, so I guess I was spending the spring in there as well! Truth be told, I probably climbed up in the winter!
Today, we walked along the Tennessee river on a beautiful trail here in Knoxville that had powder puff trees everywhere you looked. As it always does when I see one of those trees, my mind, my heart and my sense of smell went back to Fountain City Tennessee in the 1940's.
My first poem...
Spring is in the air.
Birds are singing everywhere.
Butterflies and bees,
Flowers and trees.
At night, with the cool breezes blowing and the bright stars glowing
The moon waits for the sun to rise, as it brightly shines up in the skies.
Morning is come! Hear the hummingbirds hum?
Dew is on the ground.
Birds wake up from their nests made of down.
Can't you tell it?
Can't you smell it?
SPRING is in the air.
What were we doing before the world spun out of control, and all of us tumbled down the rabbit hole with Alice?
We were doing what we always do. We were getting up, going to work, going to the store, cooking meals, doing the dishes, changing the sheets. All of the things that make up our days here on this planet. Matthew talks about people doing that very thing when the Son of Man arrives back here for the second time. In Matthew 24 we are told to be vigilant because none of us knows when the Son of Man's arrival will be. One version says, "we have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up."
Sometimes I think I am more afraid of all the stuff going on around me than I am of the Son of Man coming back. If I let all of what is going on around me scare me, and all I focus on are those circumstances surrounding me, and I don't stay watchful for the Son of Man's return, then that will be far scarier than the corona virus.
The Master is going to show up when we least expect Him. It would do us good then to focus on His return rather than the plight our nations seems to be in at the time. We would do well to listen to Alice.
"It's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then." (Alice)
"Who in the world am I? Ah that's the great puzzle.."(Alice)
"If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does." (The Duchess, Alice in Wonderland.)
"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." (The White Queen, Alice Through the Looking Glass.)
All of us can wish for things to go back as they were before March and the Corona Virus, but we can't go back..
We need to decide who we are. Are we children of the most high God or are we just pawns on a chess set?
Through all of this I have wished time and again that all the politicians and media would just mind their own business. But since I am pretty sure they won't, I need to go on to the next quote and try to imagine 6 impossible things before breakfast!
I had an e mail from a neighbor who lived next door to me for 16 years on Crestwood Road in Fountain City, Tennessee. She lives in Kentucky now, but every time we write each other one of us or the other (sometimes both) talk about "when we lived on Crestwood," and how "you are the best neighbor I have ever had."
Not only was Crestwood Rd. a wonderful street to live on, we had wonderful neighbors! All of us were friends. All of us looked out for each other. We even blocked off our street at Halloween so the the kids could run back and forth from house to house safely.
But none was as good as Swannee who lived only a few feet away from me. Hardly a day went by that we didn't cross that little patch of grass to each others back door. Whether it was to borrow something or just pass the time of day, we always seemed to gravitate toward each other at some point during the day.
For some reason, we call each other "Margaret." One day she called me on the phone . She said "It's me, Margaret!" From then on, we called each other Margaret! One day I called and Tom answered. (Tom was her husband and has since gone on to be with the Lord.) I asked for Margaret. I heard him say..."hey Margaret. It's Margaret."
Swannee (Margaret) has a birthday this month. When I mailed her card, all kinds of feelings washed over me. Birthdays that I had on Crestwood, when I would walk outside in the morning and a huge potted mum would be sitting on my picnic table. Other mornings, when it was no special occasion, and I would walk out the door and see a half of a watermelon sitting in the chair, or a half of a cantaloupe. Some days a box of strawberries. One day a box of spring rolls! Don't ask me why she chose spring rolls, but those were the best spring rolls I have ever had! I started buying them at Kroger until they quit carrying them! It figures!
I thought of a scripture this morning that goes along with the story of the two Margarets. It's found in Luke 11:5 (The Message Bible)
"Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up and I don't have a thing on hand.' The friend answers from his bed, 'Don't bother me. The door's locked; my children are all down for the night; I can't get up to give you anything.' But let me tell you, even if he won't get up because he's a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he'll finally get up and get you whatever you need."
THIS Margaret knows for a fact, that my friend, Margaret, would have gotten up on the first knock. She not only would have given me bread, but everything I needed left over from her supper so I could feed my traveling friend a sumptuous meal!
I've decided that I am going to let George write my blog for today!
"Myths which are believed in tend to become true."
"In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it."
"The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history."
"The people will believe what the media tells them they believe."
"Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
"Big Brother is watching."
Many years ago, when I was in elementary school, we had what we called "Doll Day." The day we went back to school after Christmas, all of us could take the doll we got for Christmas to school. We each stood in front of the class, showed our dolls and told the doll's name. The boys, of course, brought trucks or whatever it was boys got back then. For some reason though, all of us, including the teachers, called it "doll day."
When I was in the sixth grade, (I was 11 years old,) I got up to go to school after Christmas break, so excited to take my doll to school like I always had. When I walked into my classroom with my doll cuddled close, NO ONE ELSE HAD BROUGHT THEIR DOLL.....or their truck or baseball or baseball glove or ANYTHING!
I ducked my head, shuffled to my desk and shoved my sweet dollie underneath my seat.
After school I grabbed my doll and ran home. Of course Mother thought it was hilarious. I didn't. I was very very sad. I figured there must be some sort of unwritten rule that after the 5th grade, there was no longer a "doll day."
Of course I can laugh about it today, but when I told the story to Tommy and John boy, they both got tears in their eyes. Instead of an 80 year old wife and Mother, they saw a little blonde haired, innocent 11 year old girl running excitedly to school, clutching her doll.
We have been working in the warehouse bagging food for the food truck with a man everyone calls Pastor John. He and his wife have been in ministry for many many years. One thing he has been doing for several years is working in the school system. He checks on teachers and children and if there is anything they need they know they can go to Pastor John. He doesn't preach in a located ministry anymore, except to fill in (which I think he is doing right now) but he is still in ministry! Almost every day you will see him working in the warehouse or at one of the food trucks.
The other day he told me he used to weigh 250 pounds! This man is maybe 5'5". (That's a generous estimate!) He told me he was diabetic but isn't anymore since he lost all that weight. He probably weighs 120 now!
When we first started seeing John come to the warehouse he wore a mask. Since none of the rest of us did, I guess he decided he didn't need it either.
When I hear stories of people who are "high risk" I can think of no one really, who is higher risk than Pastor John. As Paul Harvey used to say....here is "the rest of the story."
John is on dialysis 3 times a week and has been for the past 6 years!
Pastor John is the man with his arms at his side with glasses, white shirt, and gray pants.
Olive Beaupre Miller The Treasure Chest of My Bookhouse (Chicago: The Bookhouse for Children, 1920)IV:81
The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom. I have often told people that if all of us just tried to live by the teachings in Proverbs we would have a good life.
Sometimes I wonder how the Lord puts up with all the silliness going on in the world today. It almost seems that sanity has completely been thrown out the window with the bath water! I don't listen to the news, but if I did I would feel like flinging myself out that same window just to escape all the silliness around me. Occasionally someone will tell me something they heard on the news and my reply is usually, "Just when I don't think it can get any sillier, it does."
I could get on a bandwagon here and start naming all the silliness, but instead will tell you a story. It's called The Three Sillies.
ONCE UPON A TIME there lived a farmer, his wife and his daughter. A stranger happened to wander by and was invited to stay and eat. He accepted and because the daughter was very beautiful, he said to himself, "this girl is very beautiful. I will try and make her my wife."
The Mother was fixing supper and asked the daughter to go into the basement and bring up some cider that they had stored in a big keg in the basement. The daughter was gone for a long time, so the Mother told the Daddy to go down and check on her.
The Daddy stayed a long time as well, so the Mother told the young man she would go check on them. After awhile when none of them came back, the young man decided he would go down and check.
All three were sitting beside the keg of cider crying. Overhead in the ceiling was a hatchet buried in the wood. The young man asked the daughter why she was crying. She told him that when she came down to get the cider and saw the hatchet buried in the ceiling, she got to thinking...what if that hatchet fell while she was drawing the cider, and what if it hit her in the head, and what if it killed her and what if she never fell in love and married! What a horrible thing that would be.
He asked the Daddy why he was crying. He said the same thing. What if his daughter came down to get the cider and the hatchet fell on her and killed her and she never got married and never had any grandchildren for him.
Well....so it goes. You probably know what the Mother said.
The young man left there very sorrowful and said that he had never met any sillier people than these three. He said that if he did, he would come back and marry the girl.
Now, in my opinion, in the time we are living in, he would have had no trouble finding sillier people than those three! In fact, he probably would not have journeyed even a day away before he encountered silliness to make their silliness look pretty intelligent! Proverbs 13: 16 says (in the Message Bible) "A commonsense person lives good sense; fools litter the country with silliness."
Norman Rockwell, "The Right to Know" illustration for "Look" magazine, August 20, 1968
Private Collection | ©Norman Rockwell Family Agency. All Rights Reserved.
The Sunday after the shooting in Atlanta, I sat in church. It was a solemn morning in one way, since the shooting had just happened, but it was also a morning to remind us that we are not of this world and our residence is in the Kingdom of God. It would be nice if His will was done "here on earth, like it is in Heaven," but since it isn't, when you get a little taste of His Kingdom, like we did Sunday morning, you rejoice!
I looked around at all the skin color and all the diversity, and just felt at peace and content. We have been doing greeting in church since we started back, by standing up and waving at each other. Not this Sunday! Everyone was hugging and kissing and no one thought about what color someone's skin was. We were all children of God. Loved by Him and loved by each other!
On Sunday night, once again, those different skin colors met to pray...for our nation and for the world.
This morning as we went to work at the warehouse bagging food, yesterday stayed with me. I can't explain it. It truly is "the peace that passes all understanding" that the Bible talks about. It seems to me that every day I see the Lord's hand in everything that happens around me. I remember when the Lord parted the sea for the children of Israel to cross over. Moses said to the people "Don't be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today." (Exodus 14:13)
Every day since this virus scare has started, I have watched God do His work. I am not afraid, nor have I ever been. If I get the virus and go on to be with the Lord...I say with Paul, the apostle....that is far better. (Philippians 1:23)
I was talking to Tommy and John boy and Audrey (visiting us) this morning, and told them a story. I have it in my book The Little Big Apple, but they thought I should put it in my blog.
Several years ago, we were in Mexico building a house for a young couple with a baby. The lot was completely devoid of trees, so we had to eat our lunch out in the sun every day! When we finally got the roof on the house, we were all sitting inside eating our sack lunches. Every morning before going to the site, we packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some chips and cookies.
Tommy and I were sitting on the newly poured concrete floor, leaning against the new walls, opening our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I looked across from us, and Joel David Mathis (who was around 11 years old at the time) was sitting with his legs crossed, leaning against one of the beams. He wasn't eating. In fact, he didn't even have a bag!
I said "Joel David, where is your lunch." He looked at me with those big sad eyes and he said "Oh Pat. I got so distracted by the pancakes at breakfast, I forgot to make me a lunch!"
I just started dying laughing! Of course we shared with him, but I will never forget that sweet boy sitting there on that concrete floor in Mexico in 115 degree weather, saying he was distracted by pancakes.
We have other memories of Joel David in Mexico....some of them going back to when he was barely old enough to say a complete sentence. He is a grown man now, but if he is ever distracted by pancakes again and is anywhere close by, I will gladly share whatever I have with him!
Every house we have lived in has had the most glorious light coming in all of the windows. We have been blessed with light shows at different times during the day. This morning was no exception.
It rained during the night, and the window at the front of the trailer was covered in tiny droplets of water. The way the light was hitting these droplets, it looked like the window was covered in diamonds. There was even color reflected in some of them! SO beautiful!
Tommy and I were talking about light and how much it enhances our lives. It just makes me happy! When there has been an especially dark day or even week, and the sun comes out, you can almost see people smiling all over town! You get your first cup of coffee, walk into the living room and enjoy the light show.
We also talked about how light shows up things that you would not ordinarily see. It shows up dust on the table. If shows up mud on the floor. It shows up wrinkles on my face!!!! It shows up streaks on the mirror, even after you thought you had cleaned it!
Lots of evil takes place in the darkness because people think no one can see. However, there is One who always sees. He sees the dirt and the grime and the streaks that no one else sees, because HE IS light. There is no place dark enough that I can hide from God. Even the dark thoughts I have cannot be hidden from Him.
I John 1:6,7 says, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."