Decoration Day

Mama worked in the yard when we were kids, growing perennial flowers and a big vegetable garden all the way across the backyard. She had snowball bushes, rose-of-sharon bushes, and  two types of roses (one was a miniature wild rose.) Mama grew daylilies which she called “flags” and honeysuckle grew untended everywhere.
She fought a battle every summer against honeysuckle, one flowering vine I can remember digging up and planting in the flower bed by my front porch at my home in Okmulgee. Oh, I loved the smell of honeysuckle and the way it spread up over the porch pillars and across the porch roof. The first year was heavenly, but then it became a pest.
The snowball bushes had big balls of tiny individual flowers and she loved to remind us that hese were snowballs, not hydrangeas. She picked giant white snowballs and roses, the pink ones that were so common but so lovely, armsful of roses to decorate graves for “Decoration Day,” which was what her family called Memorial Day.
Mother was dedicated to Decoration Day. Usually I left it up to my sister to take her to the cemeteries to decorate graves while I did other things. It was nice when we all went to the cemetery but I was busy with life so it didn’t seem as important. After all, our loved ones aren’t there, only their bodies. Our loved ones are with the Lord.
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV.
In the last 10 years, I started taking her. One year she told us, “You girls go on without me,” so we did, then showed her pictures, but it was still about Mother and Memorial Day.
Last year Mother passed away and is buried by Daddy in the same cemetery where most of her family are buried—her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and cousins.
Somehow with the passing of our mother, decorating graves and honoring our deceased loved ones has taken on new importance. This year and last, my sister and I decorated all the graves at Bluejacket cemetery.
We have taken over the loving task of decorating graves from our mother.

Mothers of America

America loves mom, baseball, and apple pie. America was formed at mother’s knee. Proudly standing beside their husbands, they helped tame the Old West; labored in the factories during World War II, prayed for the troops on foreign soil  who were fighting for freedom.
Mothers have made America what it is today. Have you ever noticed that when the media interview a football star after the game, he usually waves at the camera and says, “Hi, mom,” never “Hi, dad.”
Which of us can name the mother of Billy Graham? What is she known for? I’m sure she was a worker in her church, probably teaching Sunday School, but did she have a career? Did she make a name for herself in Southern society? Did she make her mark in history by running for the state senate?  Not that we know of. As far as we know, the greatest thing Billy Graham’s mother ever did was raise her children to serve God.
It should make us mothers humble to realize that we hold the future of our country in our hands. We cannot do this formidable task of raising our children without divine help.
My 98-year-old mother went to be with Jesus last year. She went to work as a housekeeper and caring for children when she was a teenager, and then during World War II she worked in the Army base laundry. When   her children were young, she took in washings and ironings, then went to work at the school cafeteria until she retired.
Mother was well known as a woman of prayer. She prayed for her children, as well as other people. People frequently visited our home to ask for her counsel and prayer. In her last years, she said, “I wonder why the Lord is leaving me here so long,” to which I usually replied, “Your grandchildren and great grandchildren need you to pray for them.” She lived every day of her life in service to the Lord and taught her children to love and serve Him too. Her children and grandchildren are proud to be descendants of such a woman of God.
“Her children praise her, and with great pride her husband says, ‘There are many good women, but you are the best!’  Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away, but a woman who honors the Lord deserves to be praised. Show her respect—praise her in public for what she has done.”  Proverbs 31:28-31 CEV.

Get up early this next Sunday morning and take your children to church. Give your children to God and ask Him to teach you how to raise these children for Him. At bedtime, kneel down with your children and teach them how to pray. No career, no amount of money, nothing else you do in life is as important as this.

Got Your Back

Two girls were discussing the night out with other girls at a club. One of the girls was having a fuss with another girl, and her friend told her, “Don’t worry. I’ve got your back.” She meant she would cover her and protect her if the situation got out of hand. Sometimes you’ll hear someone say, “I’ve got your 6.”
In the old West movies, when the hero says, “Cover me,” the others start shooting while the hero runs to a better position to get the bad guy.
Sometimes we have a problem and need someone to have our back. Maybe we need someone to vouch for us or witness for us in a legal situation. In some cases, we might need a friend to help us in a serious situation, like when in the hospital, or taking care of children when we have an important appointment. That person can be considered as having our back or being our backup.
The back is a very vulnerable spot on the body. You can’t see your back. When attacked from the back, your elbows or feet are just about all you can use defensively. In the old West, shooting someone in the back was about as low as an outlaw could stoop.
“The glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call and the Lord shall answer; You shall cry and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” Isaiah 58:8-9.
In the army the rearguard covers the back of the troops, protecting them from an enemy attack in the rear. God is covering our back. When we call out to the Lord, He will hear us and provide an answer. He might have someone speak up for us, or provide something we need, or pray for us.
God will protect our back like the rearguard.


Jesus Died

One thing can be said about Jesus–He died. He died a horrible death. Millions of people have watched a reenactment of his death in movies and millions have been visibly touched to see exactly what all He went through when he was crucified at Golgotha.

He died a sacrificial death. He didn’t die for any crime that He had committed. He lived a perfect life, never committed any sin. In fact He alone was the sinless sacrifice.

He died by laying down His life. No one killed Jesus; He gave Himself to die. In the Garden He prayed, “Father, if there be any way, let this cup pass from me. But nevertheless, Thy will be done.” He laid down His life in prayer first. The people who carried out the crucifixion were merely instruments of His death. They were doing exactly what the Father God wanted them to do.

He died for you, me, and the whole world. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV.

He died in our place, so we wouldn’t have to. The Bible says, “The soul that sins, it shall die.” Even though, some day our physical bodies will die, we will live forever with the Lord, because of His sacrifice.

Many great leaders of other religions died too. Buddha died. Mohammed died. Many of their followers visit their tombs and mourn their death. However, Jesus not only died, but He rose again from the grave.

During Jesus’ ministry on earth, He raised many people from the dead, but they eventually died again. When Jesus rose from the grave, He was in a new glorified body that will never die. Then He ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father God, Creator of the Universe.

And that is the difference.