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Here’s a Little Hope

It was the beginning of spring. 1972 I believe. I was living in Lawton, OK. Not by myself. Lol. I would have been seven years old at that time. It was early spring, so some days it was still a little chilly. But this day was sunny and warm – it was fantastic! I remember playing kickball at recess, and that we had chocolate cake for desert at lunch. I don’t know why, but school lunch chocolate cake is always the best thing ever!

When school got out, I met my best friend Bill, and we started the long walk home. If I remember right, and I do, it was about 3/4 mile from the school to my house. Bill only lived two houses down from me – a sweet, pretty little girl that I suspected would never be my girlfriend (her name was Sunny) lived right between us – but his house was closer. So the last 50 yards or so of walking was all me.

Let me just tell you, the walk home sucked. It was uphill all the way. I’m not just saying that because I’m old and that’s what old people remember about how hard things were when they were kids. I used to love riding my bike to school because my bike had a speedometer on it and I could get up to 30 mph going down those steep hills on the way! That was fast for a seven year old. And it was both scary and exhilarating! But to have to ride a bike back up those hills was a pure beat-down.

On this early spring day that had been awesome so far, we were walking and talking trash and joking around and nearing home and all of a sudden the weirdest thing happened. It started to rain. It was warm, the sun was out, and here it was raining. I remember Bill and I were on opposite sides of the street. We had been walking and every now and then one or the other of us would bend down and pick up a rock and hurl it at something – a mailbox, a dog, or each other. Then it started to rain.

The weird thing about this rain was, it was only raining on my side of the street! I was getting soaked by rain on a sunny day and Bill was dry as a bone. He looked at me and laughed – it was a nervous kinda laugh. I think he was wondering if I might get hit by lightning in a minute. Then he looked concerned, and he asked “hey are you ok?” And to this day I remember every word of my answer – “yeah. That’s just life man.” And on we walked in silence.

That’s just life. Pretty profound for a seven year old. But not many had lived the life I had lived. Not many, by the age of seven had already been abandoned by parents who just didn’t even care – left alone for over a week in a house with very little to eat, with a little sister four years younger to look after. Not many had been rolled up in a rug and propped up in a corner so he wouldn’t bother his parents or get into anything while they shot dope into their veins. Not many had been disciplined by being injected with that same substance for throwing mud up against the house, or for crying when he was hungry. Or for any other minor infraction.

Just about two years before I got rained on, I was waiting outside another school for my mother to show up and walk me home. It was about 3/4 of a mile. A long way for a five year old to walk alone. A long way on a very busy street. She never showed up. I waited what seemed like a whole lifetime. It was getting dark, and there weren’t even any teachers left. The school was locked. So I walked home. Somewhere along the way I started crying, and I don’t remember why.

When I got home, the door was unlocked but nobody was there, except my little sister and she was crying, too. I suspected she was hungry so I made us both some toast. Three days later the bread was all gone, so we ate sticks of butter and drank the rest of the milk. In between that, we ate cold spaghetti from a can and some stewed tomatoes. We even ate the dented in can of lima beans that was at the back of pantry. Then there was nothing left.

I don’t remember how long we were actually there alone. It was a long time and we were hungry and people kept knocking on the door and then they would go away after a while. I didn’t know who they were so I didn’t answer.

After a really long time though, I heard a familiar sound. It was an old VW bug. The kind my aunt and uncle drove – and I looked through the window and it was a red VW just like theirs! And it was them getting out of the car, so I opened the door and ran out and jumped into their arms and just cried and cried. It wasn’t like normal crying. I have only cried like that once since. There were no tears. Only deep, anguished sobs. All the fear and pain and anger I had locked away for days came out all at once. And they held me until I was done.

They rescued me that day. They saved me. They took me from an impossible, horrible place and put me in a new one. Life changed for me. It went from dark to light in an instant. But I will never forget where I came from. Sometimes I still think that I’m that little abandoned kid. Even though I know better – even though I’m walking in the sun, every once in a while, when the rain comes, I feel like it’s only raining on me, and that I’m getting what I deserve, because…I don’t know – because I’ve been bad, and it rains on bad people. Because if you’re a good person, your parent’s don’t just leave and never come back. Because bad things happen to bad people.

But that’s just plain wrong. The sun shines on the evil and the good. And the rain comes regardless of who you are or what you’ve done.

Do you want hope? I have some to give. Reach out and take it – it’s for you! Life wasn’t meant to be lived in fear, or loneliness or regret. It was meant to be lived in the light. Take one step in faith – and there is a Savior who will take you into his arms and bear all your burdens and heal all your wounds. He’ll show you a Father who is incapable of abandoning His children. He’ll show you what a good father is like. You may never forget your ugly, rainy days – but instead of holding you back, those memories will drive you forward. They will be a part of the bedrock of a truly blessed life – a life of peace and joy.

So – that’s my story. What’s yours? It’ll be whatever you decide – it’s your life after all. You can do whatever you want.

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The Flower In My Yard

Flower in my yardWe moved into the house we live in now about 11 years ago. It was just me and Cheryl and Trinity back then, and we had plenty of room for all of our stuff – my books and tools, Cheryl’s piano, Trinity’s toys and baby bed.

I love doing yard work, and this yard was a challenge from day one. It was a combination of Bermuda and St. Augustine grass, with a few weeds thrown in for good measure. So I had a choice – do I used the yellow bag of weed and feed, and kill the St. Aug, or do I use the purple bag and kill the Bermuda? Purple bag it is –

For the first 3 years, it was an unholy struggle. I was out yanking weeds almost every day, all spring and summer. Yanking, pulling, digging, patching in new sod, watering, fertilizing, spraying. And in the 4th year, our yard was amazing! We had a four inch covering of thick beautiful grass, front and back, and I was so happy!

Except for one little thing – no matter how much I sprayed or pulled or dug, this one stupid little white flowery weed always came up in the yard, every year, always in the same spot. I used to tell Trinity to go pull it, and she did, then one year she thought it was pretty so we left it. I mowed around it once a week, and when it got hot in the summer it would go away.

11 years I’ve been hating that stupid white flowery weed.

And now we are selling our house. We’ve been cleaning and painting and patching and throwing stuff out and hauling other stuff to storage for weeks, maybe even months. And about a week ago, that stupid white flowery weed came up in the yard. I saw it and sat down and cried like a baby.

Our first daughter was barely 6 months old when we moved here. It’s really not much of a house, and we actually couldn’t afford it at first, but we made it work. This place has seen the best and the worst of each of us. 5 years in, and little Zoey showed up. It was a tough pregnancy on Cheryl. Right about the time she was supposed to deliver, I got a kidney stone and missed almost a month of work with it – long story – and at the same time, the church we had been planting shut down.

I’ve had 5 different jobs since we moved here, Cheryl’s had 4. We had to declare bankruptcy about four years ago – another long story – ¬†and almost lost it all. It was so bad that winter, within about a 3 week period, our lights were shut off, our water was shut off and Cheryl’s car was repossessed. But we made it through.

We have been happy here, we have been depressed here, we have recovered here, we have been set free here. This is not just a house, it’s a home.

Don’t get me wrong – I want to move. It’s too small for the four of us. And I’ve never lived in one place this long. It’s an old, small house, and in spite of our past, our present is awesome, and our future, although unknown, is so bright we have to wear shades. We have faith in a great God who has brought us here, who is propelling us into a destiny that he set up for us before he even created a thing. He is steadfast even when we can’t be. He’s the rock, and often we are like the weeds.

So, in spite of the things that happened today (taxes, toilet overflow, missing work to stay home with a sick kid, spilling paint on the floor, and about a dozen other things), we are moving on. And we won’t look back. There’s no time for that, but I may look down every now and then – on the foundation that was built while we were in this place, and for that stupid white flowering weed…I cry every time I think about it. I will never forget it. Not as long as I live.

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Zephaniah 3:17

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morning has come