I’ve heard trouble comes in threes. I had one such day on Monday, the second day of the new year. I however, do not say it was a bad day. No day is bad since it is one more window of time the Lord has provided with much potential, and always full of blessings. Even if we can’t see them through the mud on our panes, they are there. I was blessed with the laughter and chatter of two little girls in my house that day. My great-niece and our neighbor’s little girl had a play day and they never missed a moment, filling the house with activities for the dolls and imaginary pets. I stayed out of their way and got a kick out of listening to the scenarios they created. Oh yes, I was about to tell of my trio of troubles that day.
First, as I finished ironing a shirt, (and it just had to be one of those long ‘boyfriend style’ shirts, light blue and white) I missed the hanger and dropped the shirt into the wax warmer plug-in that WAS beneath the ironing board. The scented wax was red. The red wax was scattered along one sleeve and shoulder as well as the hem. Luckily it dries quickly and seemed like it would peel off, but no, I soon saw that the color and waxy feel were not giving up. I decided to put the shirt into the freezer and hoped that would cause the wax to chip away cleanly, and the warmer found another receptacle in which to reside. I finished my ironing and made lunch for the girls and myself. A while after lunch they wanted popsicles and I sent them to the freezer to make their selection. The shirt! They hadn’t found that to be an obstacle, or even something to report to me. You’d think finding a shirt folded up in the freezer drawer would seem odd to 7 and 8 year olds, wouldn’t you? When I remembered it, I hurried in there to find the shirt wadded up and moved aside, but no worse off. The wax hadn’t let go, either. Spot remover and rewashing took care of the situation just fine; so the blessing is that I’ve moved a potential problem that could have involved a not so easily laundered item.
Later on the girls wanted to watch a movie. Upon return with the DVD from another room I was met by a kitchen floor full of milk splattered over an area of about five by ten feet and a little blond-haired girl down on her hands and knees trying to wipe it up with a single paper towel. I couldn’t think of where to start so I heard myself exclaiming, “I just don’t understand – lunch at the dining room table was over – where did this come from – I thought you were waiting for the movie – Izzy please just go back and get a bunch of paper towels for me.” She brought both, yes, both the remaining two towels on the roll. I decided to get their movie going before tackling the clean up, just to find the stupid DVD/TV/Remote team weren’t playing nicely together and it was getting rather warm about that time. Finally the movie Frozen was playing and I thanked Izzy for trying to help clean up, reminded her of the “only covered cups for the living room” rule, and fetched my mop and bucket. My blessing? Izzy had dropped the cup on her way into the living room, not on the sofa one foot away, not on the rug beneath the table where she started, and hallelujah! not on the king sized quilt tent covering the breakfast table two inches from the edge of the spilled milk. Floors, chairs, and walls can be wiped down and little girls can be happy again. As I finished the second mopping, the thought popped into my head that troubles come in threes.
Now, the incident that got my blog brain going happened when I took the girls home. Neighbor delivered to her parents, and niece delivered to her home, I was contemplating going home for a nap versus stopping to visit my dad. The idea of getting home prevailed as I was leaving the final drop off point. Then my phone rang and my dad said, “What happened to you?” I asked, “what do you mean?” He replied, “well, you just took off without saying anything, is something wrong?” “Daddy, I’m just leaving Jessi’s driveway; I haven’t been by your house”. Pause. “Trisha, we just saw your car out here in our driveway, and it looked like you were on your phone so we waved at you and waited, but then you just backed out of the driveway and slowly drove on down the street.” He was so sure of what he’d seen that I almost questioned my sanity (after all it had been a full night and day with my guests) but I assured him that no, I had not been anywhere near his driveway. I told him I had thought about coming by to visit, but was not dressed to be seen, hair uncombed, and felt like going home for a nap. To which he uncharacteristically said, “we don’t care what you look like – we’d just like a visit”. By then I was nearing their neighborhood and felt like my car was going to turn in his direction even if I didn’t, as if a force was exerted by the puzzling experience and I looked forward to hearing details of what they saw that made him think it was me. We visited for about an hour, more or less, and they both explained in detail how she had looked out one window, told him I was in the driveway, he looked out a door, waved and stepped back inside to find in a few moments that the car was leaving, and the two of them said I had to be called right then to see if something was wrong at home perhaps. All of that at the very moment I would have been traveling toward the state highway on my way home. Later, as I actually was driving home after my visit, I encountered a clean up crew about half way home where there had been a fairly serious accident. My blessing? I don’t think I have to explain that one for you. I have a chill just retelling it. Now, arriving home, engine turned off, I heard the third trouble for the day. My right rear tire was spewing loudly and I found a piece of metal in it. Obviously I picked it up on my way home, probably where the accident had occurred. The leak was slow enough that I had time to drive it over to my husband’s shop where he could take the tire off under shelter and, long story short, it was a $12.50 repair the next day. A piece from a windshield wiper is what the repairman said it was.
Now, some would say that if I hadn’t stopped at Dad’s, I wouldn’t have damaged the tire; and that things don’t happen for any reason. Others might say the timing was too close and if I hadn’t stopped I could have been involved in the accident myself. We never did figure out who has a vehicle so much like mine that my own dad thought it was me. Some say we entertain angels unaware. No matter which camp you’re in, I say I am one very blessed woman; a daughter of the King, and of a very good daddy too.
“I walk with the King, through pastures so green; by quiet waters still to do His good will. He lighteth the way, from darkness to day, I’ll hold to His hand, I walk with the King.” (words and music by Alton H. Howard) I’ve always loved that song.
The whole thing really stirred my heart with that “providence of God” thing we wrestle from time to time. Whatever we do in word or deed, we are to do all in the name of the Lord. So I don’t want to sound ungrateful by denying His hand in how things turned out. Neither do I want to say everything is guided by or happens for a purpose. Too many things happen that we just cannot find a good reason for and I think partly, stuff just happens. Minor things like flat tires and major things like loss of life; no apparent reason. But, the more I think about God, the more He engages my life, and the more I am influenced by His will. Those little voices in our heads that make our decisions are guided by something, the influences in our lives, kind of like ‘out of the heart flow the issues of life’. So deciding to spend time at Dad’s really was something I had been considering because of several influences. One, various proverbs from the bible caution us to respect the elderly, appreciate time spent on others, and so forth. Then there’s the blessing from God of still having a parent around to visit and still learn life stuff from him. Thirdly, because I love that Jesus said the kingdom of Heaven is ‘of such ‘ as little children, I love spending time with them and learning more of those traits. So in those three ways God did orchestrate my day. I guess what I can take away from all that is to train those voices that you hear to be good ones, and then listen to them. It could save the day – or not. Think what you will, I’ll always believe an angel or the Lord Himself was guiding me that afternoon. A good day, or a bad day? Definitely it was a good day!
The fizzle is out of my soda pop, or to us Southerners, my coke. Come to think of it, the snap is out of my crackle in a lot of ways. Four days after Christmas now, dust has diminished the shine of decorations and scraps of paper remain of the pretty presents under the tree. The cookie box is about empty, the half eaten cake is in the refrigerator, and the empty stockings lie deflated.
Having taken the first nap today that I’d allowed myself since too long before the holidays, I awakened very thirsty. I had come into the house earlier with that super sleepy feeling I get from riding in a sun-filled car, and went straight to Mama’s old chaise in my sunroom, moved Mr.Gray Cat’s blanket and stretched out in the bath of sunlight all over my back. About an hour and a half later I awoke suddenly, remembering something I had promised I would do right after lunch; and it is now 2:45 pm. Shaking the sleep from my head and the adrenalin from my heart, I poured a glass of Diet Coke over crushed ice, looking forward to that sparkle and sizzle to get me going. I thought I might sit for a moment and plan my strategy for de-decorating over the next few days; then proceed with today’s assignments. My heart sank as the flat brown liquid just sat there, no fizzle nor foam at all; just that yucky sweet taste and I’m reminded of so many things – like my memory – that seem to have gone flat lately, or at least lost their luster.
Having the blessing of good friends to share the season with is so important to me. One such occasion was my college roommate stopping for an overnight visit yesterday. I told her she got the leftovers from all the Christmas goodies, but unfortunately it was more than just the food. Five days of grand dog plus our own puppy, and simply enjoying time spent with family had left the floors strewn, furniture dusty, and the dessert table a crumbly hodgepodge. My energy level as well, was waning. So I decided to take the advice of sage writers and just relax and enjoy the time together instead of being exhausted from cleaning and preparing like we do at the beginning of the season. And, I did enjoy our visit so much! Hopefully she did too, enough to forgive my smelly little puppy and dusty furniture. Judging by the way it was accepted, I’d say the Christmas cake was still good.
This all reminds me of the way we often enjoy our season of being in the beauty of God’s love but in so doing we let the tinsel tarnish and the glow grow dim. In the midst of our blessings we can take so much for granted. Busy-ness, baking, purchasing and wrapping almost wipe out our ability to enjoy the Christmas season. Likewise, business, family and friend activities, recreation – just enjoyment of life in general – can, and often does, take our focus away from the excitement we felt when first giving our life to Christ. Here we are basking in His presence, but forgetting the missions He has given us. I speak for myself betting there are others like me. It was good to just sit back and enjoy family activities, preparing food, exchanging gifts, watching movies and best of all laughing and talking while we end another year of blessings. Meanwhile, a layer of living crawls over all that pretty preparation of decorating and baking, and lack of upkeep is obvious. In my personal life, I want to be more diligent this coming new year to keep my Christianity shining. I want to keep that ‘new Christian’ feeling alive. “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”(Galatians 6:9). Again, to the Thessalonians Paul wrote “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (II Thess.3:13). God’s Word never grows old nor out of season. I want to hear the fizz and see the sparkle every time I open HIs Word; I want to be refreshed by it, preventing me from having a flat outlook on life. I want to taste the sweet perfection of His love and never have a yucky taste in my mouth from the world that the devil drives.
Two days later:
I’ve turned the Christmas tree lights back on today to drive away the gloominess, yesterday’s sunshine hidden by today’s rain. I love the sparkle and excitement of the holidays and tend to hold on to it as long as possible. Eventually the task of keeping it all refreshed gets old, and alas, it will come down and make room for tax preparation, garden planning, and perhaps a puzzle assembly. But in our non-holiday world, the richness of His grace is all I need to drive out the gloom and doom that threaten our joy. With Christ in your heart, you will overcome the tarnish and dullness that Satan wants to wrap around your blessings. Happy New Year friends. As you pour your cup of cheer, whether Diet Coke, wassail, or egg nog, may you recognize your blessings and shine all year!
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
I’ve looked through my posts and do not see if I ever posted this poem. I feel like I did, but I can’t find it. I wrote it one September, possibly late August, and today reminded me of it. Probably five or so years ago, sitting on my front porch watching my friend/like a sister/former patient ‘in waiting”s little boy play, I was in awe of this time of year.
The birds’ cheerful singing with the wind chimes a ringing
Give voice to the breeze as it blows.
Warm air that feels cool, sky as blue as a pool,
Make the day as good as I’ve known.
Little boy Ryan with popsicle lips and butterflies sipping at zinnia tips:
Two special sights to behold.
The greens are much darker and serve as a marker,
With the gathering streaks of gold,
Of the promise that Autumn hovers; and a peacefulness covers
The summer’s long dry breath of air.
Cicadas chip through the still afternoon
And echo my thanks to be there.
Summer and Autumn are two fine girls who argue each year about the world. Summer has taken her time to leave and impulsive Autumn has pushed up her sleeves. Summer with a blush and brown arms crossed, says without me all the gardens are lost. Autumn just laughs with a breezy smirk, and says then I’ll let them rest after you made them work! And besides all that when my colors they see, they’ll feel the cool air and their favorite is me! But Summer not to be easily outdone, said just look at my beaches, and my back porch fun. Why, everyone lives to see summer arrive, to play and vacation and take long country drives. That made Autumn shiver a bit to think that her rival might outdo her wit. But as days grow shorter and Summer gets old, her temperament changes, she’s much less bold. Then Autumn pulls out her canvas of colors, her song of birds and Thanksgiving wonders. And for a time she has won the fight, until Summer awakens on a warm Spring night!
I like Fridays, really I do. I like that industrious feeling I get knowing the weekend is coming up and I want to get things kind of spiffied up, the trash is out, new hair cut, stuff like that. As I was going about my calm afternoon’s business today, I had a sudden change in plans. Just too much to let it slide without a recap, I thought why not find a spiritual application to all this and share my ridiculous afternoon. After all, I DID keep my cool. Also, I hear it is good to laugh at oneself. That’s good, because I seem to do a lot of that lately.
Some of you may recall that a year, maybe two, ago I posted a picture of a pitiful little red sauce pan, blackened from being forgotten on a lit stove eye. Med high heat is good for boiling water until the pan boils dry. But on to the events of today.
For some reason, I went into the garage. I still have no idea what I was about to do. I noticed some small round black droppings under the cayenne pepper plant I pulled up yesterday and my husband had hung upside down to dry. These droppings were on top of a small cabinet with a plastic crate atop it, and in front of that a partial 12-pack of canned Cokes that had been there for about two years. Well, I couldn’t have worm stuff around all that! So intending to move said items and quickly sweep up, maybe put newspapers down until whatever is in the pepper plant is finished doing what damage it plans to do, I picked up the carton of Cokes. Do you know what two-year old cardboard that has suffered temperature changes will do with five heavy Coke cans inside? Yes, I do too. CLEAN UP ON AISLE 13, PLEASE!!!
Once I wiped the cola from my eyes, there I was standing in liquid sugar pooling more quickly than I could think of what to do. I have to mention also that I was wearing an air cast due to tendonitis in one heal, and on the other foot was the only shoe I have that balances out the height of the boot so that I don’t walk crooked. Covered in Coke. Concerned that the cola was running under the upright freezer, I grabbed a mop bucket, wash cloth, Formula 409, and the mop and began the cleaning. The more I cleaned, the more cola I found on something else. I promise you every surface in that quarter of the garage had Coca-Cola sprayed over it. I didn’t see the splatter on the door into the house and the steps until I’d started wiping down the wall above and beside the chest freezer, which along with the upright, looks really good now with their newly cleaned surfaces. I moved the welcome mat out to be rain washed as I saw a bank of black clouds rolling in. That’s about the time I began to think of God – the breeze with those clouds was a God send. (Why didn’t I give those Cokes away long ago? We never drink them! I just kept forgetting.)
As you can imagine, one job just led to another. Before I knew it, I had the little two-drawer cabinet taken apart, emptied, and rinsed with the water hose; also the pair of shutters I keep thinking I’ll make a neat project out of someday. About the time I thought I had the job done, I noticed Coke spatters all over the front of our Kubota mule. Now that’s not something I want to leave out in the rain because a good part of my gardening supplies are in it. So, wipe, rinse, wipe again. I’m thinking about that time, I REALLY needed to think of some scriptures. Patience, peace, joy, what are those fruits of the Spirit again? My mind wasn’t working with me. But what I did find the Spirit telling me was, “you have a garage, and it isn’t flooded; you have running water, and one heal that isn’t throbbing; and, you didn’t lose your cool (that’s right sister, I did not go from zero to 60 in a second) so right now, all you need to do is be thankful in everything” (Philippians 4:6).
I decided the quick wipe I gave the side of the car probably left some sticky residue, so I went inside to get the car key intending to back the car out for a rain rinse, though it still wasn’t raining. What met me inside the door was that unmistakable odor of hot metal. Remember the little tea pan? Oh, I had done it again! Before going out into the garage for that still unknown purpose, I had put a pan of water on to boil for tea. As I now ran across the living room, I was thinking, “great! now I’ll track this sticky stuff onto my newly mopped kitchen floor…” Also I was thinking, I didn’t know I COULD run with this boot on. Stove eye turned off, I returned to the garage, backed the car out, and put things back together thinking what an improvement! At least a fourth of the garage looked good! The rest was swept out and straightened up. As I looked around feeling I’d accomplished something after all, I saw a stream of brown liquid running out from under the trash can where I had thrown the cans and carton as my first step in cleaning up the mess. Like they say, you can’t make this stuff up! As I replaced the bag with a clean one, I thought, “I need a couple Tylenol, maybe a Tums, and certainly a shower. I’m finished.”
Shower done, I sat down to look up the fruits of the Spirit, which by the way, came to me easily once I was unwound; but what I did find was a reason to be glad for the unexpected work I had done. A study bible that belonged to my mother has “Consider This” articles among scriptures. This one in particular states “According to this (myth that work is a part of the curse), God punished Adam and Eve for their sin by laying the burden of work on them: ‘In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground’ (Gen. 3:19). That’s why work is so often drudgery…” In fact, the article points out, “The Bible never calls work a curse, but rather a gift from God (Eccl. 3:13; 5:18-19). God gave Adam and Eve work to do long before they ever sinned (Gen. 2:15), and He commends and commands work long after the fall.” While I may have made more work for myself today than was necessary, it felt good to have a clean garage. In it all I was given opportunity to be thankful for my blessings and to pray for those in flooded areas. I was reminded to think about scripture. I have a load of laundry done ahead of Saturday and Monday’s wash in order to get that pair of shoes washed. Who knows, and I never will, what I may have been about to do that would have been worse in consequences – okay, that may be going a bit too far, but who knows. As you start a new work week Monday morning, be thankful for the gift of work, provisions, and abilities. I will also be thankful for lessons learned. Never pick up an old carton until you test the bottom. I should also add my gratitude for a husband who is willing to come in after working hard and eat a plate of left-overs. I had a Klondike Bar. Feeling much better!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Everyone enjoys a little confidence booster every now and then, right? Okay, we would accept a daily dose of it provided it was offered! Today I got one of those little boosts. I received a phone call from a very sweet, and I don’t think she will mind that I say elderly, lady from our community. Not only do I admire her for her stamina through illnesses, losses and aging, but just in general as a real lady. Gail Dunn is the wife of our retired elementary school principal, the mother of three beautiful children and has many grandchildren. With all that and a large extended family, I wouldn’t expect her to take the time to phone me just to tell me how much she enjoys reading my posts. But she did. And that meant the world to me. As I said in the intro to my blog, I just enjoy writing about life, giving glory and honor to God; and if others get any pleasure from it, then that is like icing on the cake. Gail has told me that she would like to see me write more. I needed that encouragement. Sometimes I think about writing a book of encouragement, and then I get distracted, even discouraged. But then a sweetheart like her reminds me that God may have given me a purpose with writing.
I asked Gail about her health and that of her husband. To this she modestly replied, “Oh, fair to middlin’ at least for going on 80 years old”. I laughed because I’ve heard that phrase most of my life and I understand it to mean, “I can’t be an honest person and tell you I am doing well, and I’m too polite to go on about health problems”, and it carries the implication that right now I’m about as good as it gets. I actually heard myself use that very phrase last week. Yikes! I’m very possible becoming that parental (to quote my daughter) generation, with all its ups and downs. More ups than downs when you know someone like Gail.
Mr. and Mrs. Dunn have been pillars of the community for longer than I’ve been a part of it. Quiet, unassuming, but strong in character and always smiling and showing interest in others. Just like asking today about the welfare of our children, they have shown that kind of interest in the hundreds of young people who passed through the doors of his elementary school and the churches they’ve attended. They have opened their home with generous hospitality to many a crowd. They’ve given much-needed advice to young parents, and have been great role models for all those kids as well.
I recall that they used to grow blueberries when they lived “out in the country”, and they often opened their blueberry season to friends. Being a blueberry lover myself, that one stuck in my mind. An impressive encounter with Gail’s husband Ray, was when I applied for a bus driving position for the district where he was principal. Knowing I had not been the most punctual parent throughout my son’s kindergarten and first grade years, he looked across his desk, over the top of his reader glasses, and said, “You WILL NOT bring a bus in late, right?” I left with the position, although on shaky legs. One doesn’t fail to live up to an expectation stated just that way. I wasn’t ever late unless it was due to weather or bus break down. Another very appreciated occasion in his presence was when my son had leg surgery between Kindergarten and first grade, and so started to school with a cast and crutches. Mr Dunn asked me into his office, and explained how children never want to be different. They want to be just like everyone else for the most part; and that the cast and crutches made my little boy feel different, so if he acted different from before, well, he was different. He gave to me a set of tapes made by Zig Ziggler that had amazing parenting and kid advice. He didn’t have to do that. But that’s the kind of caring, concerned people the Dunn’s are.
I don’t know all about their lives, but I do know that Gail lost a sister tragically to an automobile accident; that Gail has assisted many years with their aging parents; dealt with their son’s juvenile diabetes; and did all those behind the scenes responsibilities that make a successful husband’s life easier. Gail has the most peaceful smile and voice you could ever hope to know. Gail and Ray have had their own share of health problems. And, I don’t even know the half of it!! Like I said, we knew them through our children’s elementary school years, and my mother taught third grade under Mr. Dunn’s leadership. We attended church with them at two different congregations over the years. Never did I hear anyone say anything negative about this lovely couple. Their children adore them, and their community admires them. Fair -to-middlin? I don’t think so Gail. I think you are great-and- gettin’ better!! The first two verses of Proverbs chapter three portray Gail and Ray’s life so well. “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.”
I love the next four verses, Proverbs 3: 3-6, in which we are told to keep God’s truth, even bound around our neck, written on our hearts, finding favor and high esteem in the sight of God and mankind. ( Just as the Dunn’s have.) Trusting in the Lord, leaning not on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledging Him, and He will direct our paths. Gail’s phone call reminded me that if she could take the time for such an encouraging call, I can devote more time to writing and encouraging. Several other verses of scripture refer to “writing on the heart”. Gail wrote on my heart today. I hope that out of my heart will come encouragement for others.
We never know what good things God will do with what we give. That little incidental kind thought you have for someone today could be the rope they need tomorrow. So, go ahead and speak that kind thought to them. Life already has too much bashing and belittling. Let us counteract that with encouragement, words of kindness and acts of generosity.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver”. Proverbs 25:11
The man I married is barely recognizable. I mean, who is this man? Oh, he has enough of the same physical resemblance for anyone to know him, with just the usual aging changes. I’m talking about the things he has learned to care about, his preferences, as well as some ‘prefer nots’ if you will. As far as that goes, I’m thinking he would prefer that I not say these things, but then again, he has changed, so maybe I won’t be in too much trouble.
About four, maybe five years ago he was at an auction outside Sedalia, Kentucky where one of my mother’s cousins had raised her family. When he saw this Purple Martin apartment was to be sold, he became interested and had the privilege of meeting and talking to the man who built it. Learning only a minimal amount of Martin care, but with a promise of future contact for more info/support, he decided he couldn’t come home without that big, heavy, permanently-attached-to-an-iron-pole apartment house that I named Dorothy. It reminded me of the Dorothy that was released inside a tornado in the movie “Twister”. So, this man who used to pay absolutely no attention to birds unless it was to shoot them (he was the typical teenager who never had been taught the value of wildlife except for hunting) was now going to play host to a gang of Brazilians. I was impressed.
Six gourds and five Julys later we again are watching another generation of young Purple Martins flying, with approximately 30 pair of adults swooping, gliding, diving, and feeding the young. I had quickly grown accustomed to this man of mine pulling out a chair and just watching, amazed at the show as well as the concert of sounds the Martins make. But tonight was a new twist. All day we knew the babies were on the ground; well at least one or two. Another one could be seen flying outside Dorothy. By the end of the day, only one was still on the ground, and we could see that he wasn’t going to fly. He flopped his way over to a Maple tree and actually tried to climb it. With that much strength, we figured he would eventually learn to fly. Now, this part of raising Martins is not in the literature we’ve read, so assuming he fell out and wasn’t ex-communicated for being a bad bird or something, my husband said, “I can’t go in and leave that bird for something to get it in the night.” I was concerned that it wouldn’t get food, because Martins are fed until they can catch their food in flight. We were threatened by the excited adults flying over us, but have learned that their threats are only carried out against small animals, namely our cat. Said cat has spent the last four days inside because we knew it was about time for the young to leave the nests. They also escorted a Hawk off the property one day. I was then told by this good man that I needed to go pick up the bird and put it higher in the tree and then it might fly, or be assisted by its relatives. That little rascal moved fast! After three tries with my Martin man yelling “pick that bird up and hold on to it!” I finally set him (the bird, that is) upon a metal fence post that was initially used to anchor Dorothy’s pole in cement. See how serious he was about this new hobby? I mean, talk about change, just getting my clothes line posts set in cement almost took an act of Congress. Anyway, as we watched, the little bird never moved. At all. No one came down to help him. And night was drawing near. My Martin man left, drove to the shed and returned on a backhoe. He said, “we’re puttin’ that bird back up on the house so they can feed him. Pick him up, get in the bucket and I’ll lift you up”. That’s about a 15 foot lift. No problem. Again, three times picking up and chasing because I didn’t want to hold tightly and hurt him, so he would escape and fly just above the grass for a few feet, then stop. Third time I was able to get my hold around his whole body, wings and all. I knew from the protest he put up that he had strength and should be flying; we’re supposing he was still too young and just fell out. Again, the whole time, backhoe driver was shouting over the motor, “hang onto that bird!” At last little Martin was placed onto the lower deck of Dorothy, and we backed off. Backhoe driver soon returned and took his post on the patio, watching until at last he said with great satisfaction, “He just got fed!” In a moment, he added, “He just went inside one of the rooms” and with that this father-figure took the bill of his cap, swooped the air, and proclaimed his job done. “I can go in and rest now that that little fellow is safe”, was heard as he walked toward his own house.
Did you picture all those beautiful graceful acrobats filling the sky above us? Strong, able to do what those of the swallow family do, and yet there was that one little somewhat bug-eyed awkward one on the ground; unable to do what those of the swallow family ought to do. The others were busy. They were excited about their new parental responsibilities. They were competing perhaps for nabbing the nearest meal and dropping it off at the proper porthole. To us it seemed the whole bird world had forgotten little Martin. But there was one who would not leave one seemingly insignificant bird on the ground. My man.
Isn’t that the parable of Matthew 18:10-14? “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
As darkness wrapped its muggy blanket around my back, my face was toward the Purple Martin apartments, watching the last ones flying in home. Their yodel-ish chatterings quieting down, the air became still, and heavy with contentment. Their last one was in. And so were we.
I start this post with the following excerpt from one of my earlier posts, “Wild Violets – Our House Blend”. It is with sadness and joy that I write a follow-up.
(2009) l left Hilda Mae’s house that day with tears in my eyes for I knew Mama would never physically be with her beloved cousins again. About three months later as she lay in her last day on this earth, two of these sweet violets came to visit her in the hospital, and their names were the last names my mother ever spoke. As they walked into the room, she looked up, and with a sudden spurt of excitement she exclaimed, “Why! Fannie Sue and Hilda May!”. She smiled weakly, but with great satisfaction. Our cousins sat for a while and visited with me and we spoke fondly of our last visit early that Spring. At the ages of 89 and 87 those precious ladies were still out doing good for others, carrying out the work of their Father. How beautiful the feet of those who go! As grateful as I was then for their visit, that gratitude has grown even more over time, that God brought one of His sweetest bouquets in to Mama on her last day. And then Mama’s visit was over.
Today, May 20, 2016, just eleven days short of her 96th birthday, Fannie Sue Rogers left us to join her ancestors who are sleeping in the Lord. The final one of the four ‘Violets’ in my 2013 post, had been able to live at home until the end of her life. Since their photograph together with their wild violets had inspired me to write, they have been leaving the photograph one by one. As I picture them all together again, I feel sad that the era of true grit in women has almost reached an end. At the same time I feel joy for the knowledge that they really are together, this time in perfect peace. No tears, no pain, no sadness will ever be known again to these four. I thank God that I had the opportunity to know and love each one.
One of the last things Fannie Sue said to me was, “to really enjoy your garden, you have to walk through it every day”. “Even when there’s no gardening to be done there?”, I asked. “Yes, even then, walk through it every day”, she replied. I’ve been doing that, and she was right!
As I close now (almost two months after starting this) I hope each of the marvelous women in all of our lives know how much they impacted us for the good; as well as how much they change the world around them even today. As this world and the people in it change, I long more deeply than ever to talk with my aunts and great aunts, the way we used to talk. It is hot July and the violet blossoms are gone. Their little offspring popping up all around, pushing their way into flower beds and shrubbery everywhere, are waiting for late winter when they begin that pretty purple show again. I’m not sure I can ever measure up to the grand old violets of the generations before me – no, of course I can’t, but in their honor, I will be caught trying. We simply aren’t made of that tough fabric. We however have other talents, love, and work to offer from our generation. My main concern is, are we impacting the next generation to do the same? Or are we leaving a gap in which the knowledge for survival, the building of faith, and the passion for real life is engulfed never to be seen by our children and future generations? I know many of my peers have arrived at this bridge already, and are doing a great job of transferring the grit to their own. I am pleased with the work ethics my husband passed on to our children. What do I hope my legacy to be? I’m sad to say I can’t express that in a line or two. There’s so much I want for the future generations to experience that schools, computers, modern philosophy and such just can’t take care of. We’ve been so busy grabbing onto the new and improved, that we’ve possibly dropped the fundamentals. “He has shown you, oh man what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Thank you Mama, Fannie Sue, Hilda Mae, Johnnie Bell, and all the others before and like you for your encouragement, instruction, and examples. What gentle giants you are.
I am now going out to walk through my garden.
Remember when you ran to change into pj’s, brush your teeth and wash your face while the tape was re-winding? I did that tonight. Again. Thanks to Chad Ward, who knew I wanted a VCR to watch old movies we have. He bought one at an auction (at this time I will say a sarcastic thank you to whoever put their tape-eating VCR out there for sale, and it was worth the $3.00 we paid to throw away your stuff); HOWEVER, it was a good thing. Those cables that were labeled (a sincere thank you this time) with silk tape and hand printed ‘video out’, ‘right’, ‘left’, etc, kept telling me something. So, I tried again to connect our old (very very old) VCR to a little Magnavox TV we bought in 2004 to use in the camper. Remember those fine 10 months of camper living? Yes, well I digress…. So, connecting the way the cables were labeled, I have a functioning VCR that I had been meaning to throw away. Never once did I consider selling or unloading my junk on….never mind. Anyway, I am thrilled and so thankful to my son for finding the cables that directed my success! Tonight I watched Stargate. Two nights ago I watched Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Next, I plan to start on our Back to the Future set. I am a child at heart for sure.
Back to this very old VCR. It is an Emerson that was owned, if my memory serves me, in 1980’s by my Uncle Wade Holley. Sometime in the 1990 era, maybe even before (Jan Middleton, do you recall?) it left Tenn and we came to have it in our possession, through my mother, I think. Next, it left Kentucky, going with our daughter Steffy when she left home and moved to Illinois. After she became modernized to DVDs it came back to us where we did occasionally use it. But then we also moved into the convenience of no re-wind, and I decided to move the VCR to an end table-slash-video center. I had it pictured – TV monitor on top, VCR beneath on a shelf, remote in the drawer – like the teachers used to roll around the room, to the classes’ dread or delight. For several years now I thought it coincidentally malfunctioned at that time, because when I connected the TV cables to it, nothing. Nothing. The color coded cables looked like it was hooked up right. So, the TV went back into the closet, and the VCR has been sitting first, under an entertainment center; then under a bed; and finally on a straight chair in the garage. Each time I looked at it to throw it away, I felt a melancholy plink on my heart-strings. Because it was Uncle Wade’s, and because it had been a family member for so long, moving around with us. Now I think that little plink was an inner voice that doubted the assumed death of our device. And who has time to mess with malfunctioning equipment anyway? I call our Dish selling agent anytime our TV even bats an eye, and either he or our internet carrier has to tell me (AGAIN) to just unplug it. That resets everything and life is back on track. How often do we unplug from our problems so that we can be reconnected to life?
Thinking about those properly labeled cables, I was reminded of how often we go about life thinking we are connected to God, but for some reason, we just aren’t “getting anything out of it”. As the saying goes, “the lights are on but nobody’s home” when it comes to faith. I don’t claim to be an expert on faith, but I do know I’ve grown as I’ve studied God’s Word, and the growing has been good beyond description. I’m thinking I, and many others like me, just needed to adjust the cables. Following our own way, or the world’s suggestions, it may look like the plugs are in the right ports, but would likely leave us with a screen of dancing geometric designs and an ear full of static. Reading God’s instructions, like the labels on the cables, makes all the difference in our connection. I’ve always said that I know God didn’t just make us, wind us up, and then turn us loose to go hither-skither without direction or purpose. He gave us a manual, and in many cases, an instructional video. “Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly. Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” (Proverb 15:21-22) At times, I still have to recheck the connection. My cables may pull loose if I move too far away from God’s Word for a bit. My cables could become frayed if I let the waves of life knock me around too fiercely because I wasn’t keeping my eyes on the Lighthouse. “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6) If I forgot to tap into His power with daily prayer my cables would surely lose their connection. “Pray without ceasing.”(I Thessalonians 5:17) Clearly, if I want the big picture, I need proper connection.
Connecting the VCR to the television screen, there were three separate plugs on each end of a single unified cable. I saw those three standing for prayer (audio output), studying the word of God (video input) and sharing the wonderful message of His love made perfect in Christ (video output). Using these allows us to enjoy the connection God intended us to have, giving us the most magnificent view of life as it happens.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Of course, I could also see those three plugs as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all making up the single unified Godhead. But that would be for another blogging day.
Meanwhile, I shall enjoy returning now and then to a piece of the past; reliving some great times when our kids were young and one of their favorite weekend activities was to go to the video store, rent a VCR and pick out a couple of movies to take home. As long as we stayed in the sections rated PG we felt pretty safe about what we’d see or hear on those movies. How I wish that were the case today! Wouldn’t it be sadly ironic if I got so wrapped up in watching old movies that I stole time away from my studies in God’s word? I promise I’ll try to keep my cables straight.
If I don’t close and get some sleep, it will take more than a pot of coffee to get me going in the morning! May we go to God, the source of our faith, to plug into His power through his word, daily study and meditation, and prayer. Dear Father, please bless these words to bring glory to You, and bless any who read this, to be fully connected to You through Jesus Your Son. In His name, amen.