Your Hometown

It’s time for school to start in Vinita, Oklahoma, and many other towns, but Vinita is probably one of the few towns that lets school out for the rodeo parade. This year will be the 81st annual Will Rogers Memorial Day Rodeo.
Will Rogers came to Vinita in 1935 to visit his buddies from school days at Worchester Academy and he told them, “If you’ll have a rodeo next year, I’ll come back.” However he and Wiley Post died in a plane crash that year, so in 1936 Vinita held the first Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo in his honor.
Vinita is known for the rodeo, the railroad crossings, Clanton’s Café, and Eastern State Hospital which was replaced by Oklahoma Forensic Center. I’ve lived in Vinita almost all my life, except 7 years when I moved away for college. Vinita was always still home. I used to joke that I drove back to Vinita every two weeks, no matter what.
Do you ever go back home? Jesus did. He visited home several times during his ministry, even held a revival there.  “Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him.  And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.” Mark 6:1-6 New King James Version.
Sometimes we must go home, even if only in our heart. There’s an old saying that you can’t go home again, but it’s not true. No, things are never the same, but home will always be there for you. Home isn’t always where your relatives are, or where you were born.
Some people haven’t had a wonderful home life, or good experiences. Some might not have had good parents, or they had no parents at all. Some might have had bad experiences in school or with prejudice, but God has promised to be with you through it all.
 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. John 14:23 NKJV.
Home is where Jesus is.
 

Coming Up Bull Creek

The home where I grew up was across the alley from Bull Creek. Bull Creek was a very shallow and lazy creek, but no boats ever floated our section of the creek. Never one time in my life did I see a boat on Bull Creek. Even if someone had tried to float a boat on the creek, they wouldn’t have been able to float under the low bridge on Tahlequah Street.
That’s what made the saying so strange, “When our ship comes in.”
I often wondered when I was a child what it really meant when someone said, “When our ship comes in.”  Oh, I knew it meant that they expected the ship to bring their fortune, to bring them money, but how or why, I didn’t know.
Then in history classes I learned about the early settlers of America and how they depended on ships from England to bring them supplies, so I figured it out. That’s what it meant when they said, “When our ship comes in.” The early-day settlers had to carefully watch what they used and use things from nature in their new home in America to make do until the next ship came from England with supplies from home.
Mama would even make a joke about it. Our ship couldn’t make it up Bull Creek. The absurdity of that idea of an ocean vessel trying to come up Bull Creek would make us all laugh.
Mama taught us all to work hard. We all had to work in the garden out behind our house. That garden was the biggest one on the block, and yielded the best green beans, corn, tomatoes, beets. Mama canned them all in Mason jars to feed us kids during the winter.
She taught us to give to the church, to give to others who were in need, and help out our neighbors and friends when they needed a hand. Mama also taught us to believe in God to supply our needs and not some make-believe ship coming in.  

King David said, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37:25.

Wishing Your Life Away

“I can hardly wait till the weekend.” “I wish my vacation would hurry up and get here.” “When these kids are grown…” “When I retire…” The old-timers used to say you were wishing your life away.

“In the morning you shall say, Would that it were evening! And at evening you shall say, Would that it were morning!”  Deuteronomy 28:76. King James Version.

This is one of the curses that God said would come upon the Israelites when they disobeyed God. God was not the one cursing them; they were bringing it upon themselves because of their disobedience. Their sins took them out from under the umbrella of the blessings of God and opened them up to the cursing.

God could not bless them because of their attitude of rebellion, which showed in the way they talked. At one point they said, “We wish we had died in the wilderness rather than live like this,” so God told Moses, “They shall have what they say. This generation shall wander around until they are all dead in the wilderness, then the next generation will go into the promised land.”

Don’t waste your life; don’t waste all those precious moments. You can live in the ‘promised land’ now. Live each day to the fullest, savoring every moment. Treasure the days of your life. Love your kids, from the first day of diapers, through school, Little League, piano lessons, junior high, proms, graduation.

Value your moments together. Tell them you love them every day. Make each day count. The day will finally come when the kids will be grown and gone, you’ll be retired, and you may find yourself wishing for the past.

Don’t wish your life away.

 

The God of Peace

I lost my peace this week. Grumbling and complaining. Trying to do too much. Getting bent out of shape over little details. It wasn’t pretty.

My mind was bombarded all week with little things. Silly little things. I accidentally jerked a pitcher of water off the counter. It was only water, clear water, so it didn’t really make much of a mess, but I had to stop what I was doing and mop up the floor. I couldn’t find the regular mop, so I had to use towels, so now I had an extra load of laundry to do later.
I struggle with having too many things to do, so the last couple years I have tried to cut back on activities that aren’t important to me, and use my time and energy to do what I find meaningful. I find that when I am over-committed, and try to do too much, that’s when I tend to get “out of sorts,” as Mama used to say.
The issue is not the problems I have faced. This issue is the way I have reacted to everything that happened. In fact, I should have acted and not reacted. When I react, I am letting circumstances manipulate me and I become the victim. When I act with the knowledge that God is in control of circumstances of my life and He is the God of peace, I have assurance of a peaceful outcome.
Who has the control over my life? Do I have control? Do circumstances have control? Or does God have control? If I have given God full control over my life, whatever comes my way, I can have peace, peace in the midst of the storm.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 KJV.
Peace from God is not dependent on circumstances of life. You can have peace in your heart when everything around you is going wrong. Today I will say, “I trust you, Lord. I will keep my mind stayed on you.”

Thy Word

Wild Wild West Wanted by God
Wild Wild West Wanted by God

Vacation Bible School has been going on at different churches  in our town the last few weeks. Some of my fondest childhood memories of summertime were from Bible school.

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.” We started Bible school every day with that song, the pledge to the US flag, and the pledge to the Christian flag. We memorized Bible verses such as “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalms 119:105 King James Version.

We watched a Bible story on flannelgraph, a technique where the teacher placed cut-out figures on a flannel bulletin board as she told the Bible story. We drank red Koolaid and ate cookies, made by the Kinder Cookie Factory, located next door to Luginbuel’s Funeral home. Simple games like tag and red rover burned energy so we could sit quietly during our lessons.

What joy it was to stand on the stage with all my friends to sing our songs and quote our Bible verses to our parents and the church family.

I loved to memorize Bible verses. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalms 119:11. How do you hide God’s word in your heart? The simple way is like we did as children, by repeating it over and over. As an adult, I don’t do that. It doesn’t work for me anymore, although many people memorize that way.

I memorize by studying the scripture. I take it apart, study the sentence like we did in English class, sometimes even diagram it. I look up each word in the Strong’s Concordance, and study the shades of meanings. I compare the different versions of that scripture and write it out in my own words.

“I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.” Psalms 119:93.

The Word of God I have learned has become part of me, hidden in my heart, stuck in my memory, as I live out the Word of God in my everyday life.

 

 

Your Voice

Okay, so you caught me. I screen my phone calls. When the phone rings, if it’s a number I don’t know, I don’t answer it. When the answering machine cuts in, I wait to hear if someone will leave a message. Remember when we were happy to get a phone call? Do you remember before answering machines and caller id, when we wanted to actually talk to the caller?

The other day, my home phone rang, and the caller id showed unknown, so I let it go to the answering machine which kicked in and I heard a voice call my name. The voice was staticky, but I recognized my friend’s voice so I picked up the phone. We talked a few minutes and had a nice visit.

I recognize many of my friends and all my family by their voices. One voice I love to hear is one that speaks often in my heart. I don’t hear this voice with my physical ears, although some people have, but I recognize Jesus’ voice when He speaks to me. When I say, “The Lord told me…….” I usually mean I heard something in my heart.

Let me tell you how I recognize His voice. I spend time with Jesus’ reading the Bible, praying, and just thinking about what He would do or say. Also I am familiar with what Jesus would say now, because I’ve read what Jesus said while on earth. I have known Jesus for many years, since I am now 69 years old and met Him when I was about 8.

Jesus said, “And when he [the Shepherd] brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers…. I am the good shepherd. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:4-5, 27. New King James.

Think about the Bible when you are reading, and listen inside for His voice. He’ll speak to you too.