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We had the opportunity to visit with our daughter at our house this past weekend, who will soon be having a daughter of her very own. While she was here we happened to come across an old box with some of her papers from when she was younger that had something I had written about her when she was only about 3 or 4 years old. Here is the original paper I had hand written those so many years ago.
“She came into our lives as a blessing from above. So tiny, so beautiful. GOD blessed us with our little bundle of love. At first she barely crawled, and now look at her run. At first she could hardly talk. Now look at her; she hardly stops talking! Each day we grow to love her more. Thank you LORD for our little blessing. Thank you LORD for Valerie. Brown eyes, brown hair, and that special warm caring smile.
Each time I look at her, I hear GOD whispering in my ear. Be good to her, and raise her to learn of me. Teach her love, patience, kindness, goodness, mercy, forgiveness, and train her in the way she should go. Teach her right from wrong. Teach her to love others, to give unto others. Look at her now how big she is growing, changing every day. Thank you LORD for our gift from heaven above. May we love her and show her your ways each day. Thank you LORD for our Valerie.”
The picture above is of our daughter Valerie and her own grandfather, my wife’s dad. His name was “Papa” I can’t wait to have a photo taken with my own granddaughter. I know people say it often, but it does seem like only yesterday when our daughter was this age. As a matter of fact, it still seems like only yesterday that I was carrying her to her first bed to lay in after being born in the hospital. As the days pass, I pray that I will be able to be the grandfather that my granddaughter deserves me to be. I pray that I will be able to show her the right road to take too, and that we will have many good years together. If we are together, they can’t help but be good!
I promise again LORD that I will teach her just like I taught her own mother. I will teach her the road to take, right from wrong, to love others, and to give unto others….. and I promise you I will love her every single day!
Remember that often adversity is a blessing in disguise and is certainly the greatest character builder.
The shadow casts a glance
It’s really not just happenstance
They come and see me every now and then
Wish I could touch them again
They leave me a flower or two
There’s nothing I can do
Some live life to die
Others die to live life
Oh; the shadow is cast in the end
For you see, life doesn’t let you pretend
The days, they come and go
Like the wind, the rain, and snow
Footprints in the sand
Oh, they sure don’t last long
In the heart; that’s where they’ll stand
So shine your light while you can
May the shadow guide your fellow man
Some die and live
Some live and die
The shadow never questions why
When I visited the Fort Gibson National Cemetery this morning where my step-father is buried, these are the thoughts that came to my mind. Yes, the light we have within us does cast a shadow that will long be remembered when we are gone. The shadow is cast from the light within and remains. A shadow is not made up of just darkness, but emanates from the source within. May your light shine bright and may those who follow behind know the legacy of your shadow and the light you leave with them.
A few days ago I took a drive up to a local convenience store by my house to buy a soft drink and a bag of Doritos. I don’t know what it is, but every now and then I just have this craving for a Pepsi and a bag of Spicy Nacho Doritos. There is just something about that combination that I really like. Maybe it’s all that salt, caffeine, and sugar that keeps me coming back. Why do they have to place all those Doritos bags on the end of the aisles where they are constantly whispering my name the second I walk in the door anyway? Just like they place all those toys for the Happy Meals at McDonald’s right at the kids eye level to try to entice them to scream at their parents until they get what they want. I usually sit in the car as soon as I make my purchase, eat the whole bag of Doritos and gulp down a 32 oz Pepsi. It is like a special treat since we usually don’t keep that type of so-called junk food around the Smith house.
This time I had my car parked up near the front of the store just outside a Red Box movie location when two guys walked up close to my car with scummy looking backpacks on. I didn’t think much of it at first until I happened to glance up after polishing off my last Dorito and I see a young man who looked to be about 16 years old waving to me with his left hand and trying to talk to me. I had the windows rolled up so I couldn’t hear what he was saying and to tell you the truth, I was really just trying to ignore him because I pretty much figured he was homeless and he was trying to ask me for some money. This kid looked pretty clean-cut but the older guy he was with looked real dirty, had a long stringy tangled up beard, and his clothes were pretty well disheveled and wrecked out just like the baseball cap on his head.
The young kid kept motioning to me and I pretended not to see him as I kept my head down, put my truck in reverse and pulled out of the parking lot. I am not sure why I pulled out so fast without even offering him a single dollar, but I did. Maybe I wasn’t sure of what he would do, or maybe I was not sure what the other guy with him might do but I left anyway and headed back to my house which was only about a block or so away. As I drove down the street to my house, the Holy Spirit started dealing with me, and asking me why I didn’t help those two guys when I had a chance. I only had ten dollars with me at the time, but I could have given them at least a few dollars. I stopped before I got home, turned my car around and went back to the Red Box location to see if the homeless guys were still there and they had already left.
Yesterday while I was on the way to an office store I pulled up to a red light just before the freeway on ramp and there she was. The sun was shining bright and I had the music turned up loud. All I wanted to do was to get to the store and get back home. I couldn’t avoid her though since I was at the front of the line and she was standing only about 15 feet from me. Her hair was long, grey, and a total mess as it blew haphazardly in the wind. Her clothes were dirty and crumpled all over. In her withered, rough hands she held a cardboard sign that read “Homeless and Hungry Please Help – GOD BLESS YOU”. She looked to be about sixty years old. My windows were rolled up again. I opened my wallet and pulled out a five dollar bill, turned down the radio, rolled down the car window and motioned for her to come over with my hand hanging over the edge of the door.
She approached the car and we just stared at each other for a few seconds without saying anything as I gave her the five dollars. I broke the silence and asked her if she was okay. “What an ignorant question to ask someone who is homeless?” I thought after I had already blurted out my stupidity. She stared back at me deep into my eyes and with a mouth full of missing teeth said ” I don’t have a home now and I was beat up”. I grabbed her rough hand, held it in mine and said, “What’s your name?” “Donna”, she said. I replied – “Donna I’m sorry, I will pray for you.” “Thank you so much”, she said. And with that she walked back over to her position she was in where she was pleading with her sign for people to help her. I rolled up the window since the light was getting ready to change and she glanced over at me. Just then I could see her mouth say the words – “Thank you”, as I put my foot on the gas and pulled off.
I made it to the Staples Office store which was only a few blocks from where Donna was standing and pulled into the parking lot. With tear drops wetting my eyes I bowed my head down on the steering wheel and prayed for Donna. I realized in that moment that it could be me or anyone for that matter. We are all only just a few paychecks or sicknesses away from standing on a street corner just like Donna. I know I should have done more. So many times in the past I’ve driven on by the homeless and tried to ignore them as if they were invisible. Thank you LORD for making me see those I have made invisible with my own eyes and for giving me another opportunity to help those in need. All we have belongs to you anyway GOD and we are just managing what you give us.
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also himself shall cry, and not be heard.
Proverbs 21:13 KJV
A week ago I had to travel to Ringling, Oklahoma to attend the funeral of my great-aunt. She was married to my uncle for more than fifty years and lived in Ringling most of her life. I have many family members that still live either in Ringling or little towns nearby.
Ringling is a small town with a population at last count of 1037. The main industry in Ringling is cattle ranching with the secondary industry being gas and oil. Ringling was named after John Ringling who was the founder of Ringling Brothers Circus. John was one of seven Ringling brothers and was the fifth of the seven sons. Five of the brothers eventually merged with Barnum & Bailey Circus. Ringling Brothers Circus first started in 1870 and the first show cost the grand total of one penny for a ticket. Ringling Brothers spent some of the winter months in the town of Ringling and often gave away free tickets to the townspeople.
Probably one of the biggest places to hang out in Ringling is Moore Drug. There just isn’t a lot to do in the small town of Ringling. My mom said that back in the day when she was a little girl that she and her relatives used to come to town and just hang on the street to visit with each other – just to have something to do.
Ringling is located about thirty miles north of the Texas border and thirty miles to the west of Ardmore, Oklahoma. It is situated just to the north of US Highway 70 and State Highway 89.
Ringling does have a pretty good football team with state champion teams in 89, 92, 03, and 2012. I suppose football gives the locals something to cheer about on those lonesome Friday nights when you want to get away from those oil derricks and cattle farms.
I had an opportunity while I was in Ringling to visit with some family members who I had not seen in more than forty years. A lot can change in forty years. I was able to spend some time with some of my cousins prior to the funeral and to just generally catch up on life. One of my cousins asked me if I had a family and what I had been doing with my life. I told her what I was doing career wise and a little about my family who she had never seen or met. I asked her about hers. It really made me stop and think about life, as funerals do sometimes. We step out of our day-to-day routines and look not at life in the present, but at the conclusion, or the summation. The preacher tries to say all the good things about a person’s life during a memorial service, where they’ve lived, how many children they had, grand-children, and great-grand children. Maybe they say something about where they worked or the things they liked to do for hobbies, or what church they attended. They might even try to get those in attendance to laugh by saying something funny about you.
I wonder how it will be at the end of it all for me? I don’t mean what the pastor will say or what other’s will say about what I did in my life. Sure that would be kind of fun to attend my own funeral just to see what happens – like Mark Twain wrote of Tom Sawyer in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”.
What I really want to know is, what GOD will say about me at the end of it all. Did I do the things he wanted me to do in life while I was living in the body he gave to me? What did I do in relationship to what I knew to be right or wrong in life? Did I do his will? Could I have done more? Could I have served him more? What about you?
This old church used to be a Baptist church and is the one I first started going to when I was a kid in Oklahoma City. Every now and then my brother Tim, and I would invite a few neighbor kids to go with us. One Sunday morning we invited a friend named Lawrence who had never been to church before. At the time I was in seventh grade and Lawrence was in the third grade.
That Sunday we sat in our normal seats which was about fifteen aisles from the front. Lawrence sat between Dad and I, and Tim sat next to me on the outside seat. Lawrence spent most of his time fidgeting and drawing snowmen on scrap pieces of paper with a pencil he found in a round holder in front of him. He stopped drawing and moving around in his seat at the very end of the service when the pastor gave the altar call. If you are not familiar with a Baptist church, most Baptist preachers in a Baptist church give an altar call and ask if anyone wants to come down to the front to be saved. It is not just once in a while. The altar call is every service.
The preacher started the altar call and asked if anyone wanted the LORD to save them and to come on down to the front if they felt led by the LORD. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Lawrence got up out of his seat and walked to the front where the preacher was standing all alone. When he got up to the front our preacher bent over to have Lawrence whisper in his ear. The pastor was about six feet six inches tall so he had to lean over a good distance to get down to Lawrence’s mouth to hear what he had to say.
After hearing what he had to say, the preacher just leaned back up, smiled, and then pointed his long skinny index finger to the right hand set of wooden double doors which Lawrence quickly walked to and through to the other side. The preacher continued on talking to wrap up the altar call and soon Lawrence emerged from the double door area and returned to his seat next to mine. I wasn’t quite sure what he did up there so I leaned over and whispered in his ear , “What happened up there?” Lawrence just looked back at me with a puzzled face and said, “I asked him where the bathroom was.”
At the end of the altar call the preacher said, “Folks we didn’t have anyone who found the LORD today, but we did have one who found out where the restroom was.” Have a great week!
I am excited to let everyone know that my new book “Life is Life” is now available on Amazon for pre-ordering and will be published on September 3rd. This new book will also be available soon at Barnes and Noble and other online stores.
Your faith will be bolstered as you read of these stories of divine intervention, letters from heaven, and answered prayers. Life propels us forward from the day we are born. Every day is an opportunity to clinch on to hope and hold on as tight as we can. Each day gives us a chance to learn something amazing and life-changing from the greatest teacher in the world called life. I hope you will enjoy this inspirational collection of stories and poems that will lift you up and encourage, inspire and strengthen your walk in this life.
Check out the link below.