REJECTION

The memories of years gone by are not always good ones.  As the smallest student in the class I was the last one chosen for the baseball team, or the soccer team or any other team activity. (But I could run like the wind an do great cart-wheels.)

There is a learning experience to that kind of rejection and one that can even haunt you as you get older.

An incident yesterday took me way, way back.  I saw someone in a Supermarket that obviously was uncomfortable at having run into me.  She was not happy with a decision I had made about twenty-five years ago and it sticks out all over her when we bump into each other. She quickly made an about-turn and disappeared up another aisle.

Then today I went to comfort someone and as I reached for her hand she pulled it back and said she didn’t want anyone praying for her.  This was a lady I had often hugged.  Wow was I stunned.  But Jesus had stood where I stood.  Rejected!

The incident hurt me terribly but I am no longer twelve years old. I’ve grown up.  Life has dealt me some blows but I have gained a lot more confidence and a lot more Faith…and it has truly sustained me.

At twenty I worked in an office where the Mail Clerk decided he could harass me…not physically, but with tiny word-jabs that obviously made him feel like the cat’s meow but made me feel like a numbskull.  I was moved up in the office a month or two later and he remained as the Mail Clerk.  Being mean never got him anywhere.

I believe that being kind reflects the love of God more than anything else.  At that matter it was what attracted me to my husband.

I think we probably unknowing hurt people but doing it on purpose is a terrible sin in my books. But it happens sometimes.  We all make mistakes without realizing it…but I pray I’m not knowingly being unkind…that would grieve God’s Spirit and would certainly grieve mine.

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OF ILLUMINATION AND MATCHES

We once opened a supermarket.  After years of running a corner grocery store it was a challenging experience.  We did love the corner store.  It was where our girls honed their skills at cleaning parking lots, cleaning shelves and finally running a till.  And it was where I learned about washing floors without getting down on your knees.

The large pail on runners was first filled, then, the enormous mop dunked and squeezed gently with a metal device that you pulled on.  It didn’t take long to get the hang of it.  Then the fun began.  The whole store floor had to be sloshed first, then washed with soapy water, then rinsed clean.  This was all done at 10:00 p.m. after the store closed.

Our parking lot was gravel so you can appreciate the job was a messy one.

The move to the supermarket changed all that and instead I found myself helping a bit in the bakery and cleaning out freezers that malfunctioned.

The variety of things in a supermarket boggles the mind.  One day I nearly fainted when one of the match boxes I was gently placing on the shelf, fell to the floor and burst into flames.  I have been very careful with matches ever since. I store mine in a glass jar.

People don’t use matches very much anymore but I use them to light the candles on the birthday cakes for my Bible Study group.  Yes, we celebrate birthdays and of course there is cake.  We are Presbyterians and we love to eat.  Any event is a picnic.

As I lit the candle on the cake I thought about the match and how it can’t accomplish its objectives until it is struck against something rough.  Otherwise it just sits in its container…immobile and unproductive.

I wonder if that’s why we are often brought closer to God when times are rough.  Maybe we have been sitting in our comfortable container for too long.

I don’t believe God sends us trouble but I sure do know that He is there when trouble comes our way.  So, if you are having a rough time right now, remember that there often is illumination after those rough patches.   God can make even the troubles of today work into blessing for tomorrow.

THE CHANGING TIMES

Where I grew up, in the Fraser Valley of B.C., most young people spent their summers picking strawberries.  It was an age before allowances and picking berries and baby-sitting were the main sources for earning a few dollars.

I don’t remember the going rate for baby-sitting , but I do know when I scrubbed my neighbours floors on Saturday morning, she paid me 50 cents.

Picking berries meant getting up early and getting a ride in an old truck at 8:00 a.m. or pedaling your bike if you lived close enough.  It was a long, hot day in the sun on your hands and knees and your fingers were stained for weeks afterwards.

Before the Japanese berry farmers were moved into Alberta (I believe) during the war years, they operated the most magnificent berry farms in the Valley.

I remember at the end of the day, hauling my berries to the collection area and there the Japanese owner would weigh them and count out my earnings on a strange little board called an Abacus.  It had strings of beads and he would swiftly move them from one side to the other, coming up with an amount that was satisfying to both of us.

Needless to say, but strawberries are not my most favorite fruit!

When I think of that Abacus and the methods of computing now a days, I realize that life has certainly changed….at that matter I wonder at times if I have inadvertently stepped off earth onto another planet.  I love all these new things that are available to us nowadays.  There is so much hope, excitement and challenge in this new world.  But I must admit, that I am glad I lived through quieter times too…they are great memories and I can drift back into them at any time and feel a peace and contentment fill my soul.

I am so glad that my faith background grew from seeds planted way back when, in quieter times.  I still love the old songs I learned in Daily Vacation Bible School and they spin like a CD in my head.  I was surprised a few years ago at a High School Graduation to hear the whole class sing…”This little light of mine” as its theme song.  There is still a lot of Christian gold in the mines of yesteryear.

A recent movie I saw was about an elderly man trying to come to grips with the new “praise” music.  I admit it is not my favorite kind of church music.  The movie ends with him accepting the new music but asking for some old hymns to be sung too.  I can sure relate to that.

Things change…abacuses are no longer used as an accounting aid and I guess the old hymns I love may someday be replaced by the “praise” choruses of tomorrow but I am glad I was a participant in both the old ways and the new…living is such a fascinating adventure!

GIFTS GALORE

I can’t recall the book or the story, but somewhere I read about a rather ugly tiny baby, who would certainly not have received “the prettiest baby in  town” award, but  simply could not be ignored as he had such a pitiful cry that it turned the hearts of those who heard it.

God grants everyone a special gifts (or gifts, if they are especially blessed.)

My dog-friend “Drew”, who is gone now, didn’t care if I was short or tall, but when he heard me call, he would run across the grass to visit me.  He didn’t care if my hair was a mess or if my shoes did not match…and I did NOT feed him, but he knew he would get a great welcome and a lot of petting. He gave me the gift of unconditional love.

In Job 38:17, it says that the ostrich is a rotten mother, deprived of wisdom, yet can outrun a horse and rider.  I think God has a great sense of humor.

A while back, my bible study ladies discussed our gifts…many refused to acknowledge theirs and I maybe embarrassed them, but they are the recipients of so many gifts.  My house will never look as tidy as Anne’s, she is a marvelous housekeeper, and my birthday cakes will never match Ruth’s.  When I am sad, I know there is compassion and understanding if I call Lois, and if I need to hear laughter I just have to listen to Dawn.  Marion is my gracious chauffeur…and the list goes on.  God is not stingy.

During the summer, it is just coffee and conversation and we chat about everything.  We talk about national concerns too.  I laughingly said “Let’s march on Ottawa…I will organize it!” I think the sight of 12 little white haired ladies, marching up the steps to the Parliament Building, might bring some attention to our concerns…but alas, we live in Northern Alberta and the trip is too long for all of us.

We celebrate birthdays as they arrive, usually with cake and a Happy Birthday song.  The gift of song will always be in my soul, long after the voice to produce it is gone.  So I sing along.  Don’t be self-conscious about the gift God gave you.  Use it or lose it!

Many years back Aunt Thea said to me…”Pat, you can write…now write for the Lord.”  And here I am doing just that!

 

A GUESSING GAME

Today, I emailed a friend who was having a birthday.  I had already bought her a gift but I asked her to guess what it was.  The only clue I gave is that it would cover up a lot of mistakes.

Her answers were interesting…prayer, white-out, erasers?  Nope, I replied then finally said “give up?”  I am waiting for her reply.

What do you think I bought her?  It is something that can be used over and over again.  It can be fancy or plain, but it fulfills a purpose.  It is useful.  No answers?  I found it in the grocery store, although it is not edible.  Well, I guess I’d best tell you before you just decide you are not having any fun playing this game.

Of course, I bought her and apron!!!  She just loves to cook and all the spills that eventually follow can be found on the apron wrapped around her…and yes, it can be used over and over again.

It sort of reminded me of my faith.  The Lord has wrapped himself right around me, knowing I would be messing up down the road and needed protection.  Much the same as the pot on the stove, spouting off steam etc, He knew that I would get verbal at times and mess up.  Generally the intention is to make something good and edible but often my words are like sour grapes, looking good until bitten into.

Even the best cooks need protection from their enthusiasm and from the ingredients. My life is much the same, with the best intentions falling on barren ground and just making a mess.

But God forgives, and even those days when you try and try and still mess up, He says “Go with the strength you have, I will go with you.”  Sometimes we just have to trust a lot more than we do.  A new friend told me that sometimes we just have to stop trying so hard and get out of God’s way and let him do his will.  I never thought of it that way.  But it is good advice.

So today, put on God’s apron of Faith and carry on.  He is with you all the way.

 

WEATHER WARNINGS

This morning I wasn’t feeling that well.  Luckily I had put the big coffee pot on the counter the night before and the cups on a tray.  All was pretty well set for the Bible Study gang.  They get together for coffee and conversation during the summer, so no pressure to preach (or read from Max Lucando’s books).  So the girls wandered in, (all over 70 years…some over 80…but they are my girls), headed for the coffee and began the conversation part of the morning.  I just sat and smiled.  They are all dear to me and being in their presence brings me joy.

When they left I dumped the last few cups of coffee, ate some soup and decided to just sit in my easy chair for the afternoon.  I hate those illusive feelings of not being completely well so I prayed, drank fluids and ate a bit.  I tend to graze when I don’t feel well.

I looked out the window and black clouds were sailing by.  I emailed my daughter and mentioned that it looked like there might be a storm…then went back to my chair and put my microwaved ‘beany’ bag on my lap.  Like a small kitten, there is comfort to something warm on your lap.   I was content, waiting for the afternoon to slip by with the hope that by evening I would feel better.

Then the phone rang.   “Did you know there was a tornado watch?” questioned my neighbour.  I replied in the negative.  My world had just become my living room for the afternoon and what was going on beyond it had not concerned me.  A glance outside showed grey sky and no sign of danger. I guess it had passed.

I thought of the many times in the past God had been looking after rather scary things that could have harmed me.  I recalled a trip to Trinidad when we were going down a highway. At the bend of the road a tanker truck had veered off and become a ball of fire.  If we had been there five minutes earlier we could have been blown up with it.  God was merciful.

I think if we could see a movie of what could have been, without the intervention of a loving God, we would be in awe of his mercy and loving-kindness.

So today, I thank him for sparing us from a tornado and for sparing me from worrying about it.

I guess he knew that I didn’t need that on my plate today. So I just keep praying that I will feel better soon.  As always He will be there loving and caring for me.

GAINS AND LOSSES

I have lost a good friend.  Actually I have been losing her for a few years. When I finally questioned her she admitted I had said something many years ago that had upset her.  Somehow, like yeast in dough, it had grown larger until it consumed what we had once had…a deep caring for each other.  Then finally she said to me, “You’ve  changed.”

And yes, I had. I had found the treasure in the field and have in a sense sold everything to buy it.

She didn’t understand this new personal relationship I was expressing.  Her faith was on a different foundation and filled her needs.  I had always had mine on a more personal level and found it enriched when after my husband died, I needed an “Abba” type of God, who would wipe my copious tears.

We were both widows but I had had five years of in depth care-giving while cancer claimed my husband, inch by inch.  I was a shadow of my former self but Jesus answered when I asked for illumination.  He spoke through my grief and our relationship became more personal and precious. Like a rose bud, I opened in the light of God’s love.

I shared this depth of feeling with some new friends and started a bible study class.  We sometimes stumble in our struggle to know God better.   But He knows we are sincere  in our search.

So I share my enriched faith where I can. My old friend helped build some of the foundations my faith rests on, and that is a blessing from her.  I keep in touch with her by phone and she holds a very special place in my heart and my memories …and she always will.  We have both mellowed through the years.  Although some of my insights may be a bit different than hers, I believe that these new changes have made my relationship with God richer and more rewarding.

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….The new summer copy of PC Connections is available and you might like to read my article  “Finding my Home” on page 25