"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
December 28, 2016
This week, I'd like to share a story with you that has been on my mind quite a bit here lately. Only being 9 years old when it happened, I was pretty vague regarding some of the details, so asked my sisters to help fill in the blanks. We're not sure that we have all the facts exact, but as close as we can remember, this is what happened and are guessing that this would be about the year that it occurred. Not having Daddy with us any longer, we can't ask him, but this should be close enough for you to get the gist of what took place.
I was raised in the country, in the hills and hollers (city folk would call it "hollows") of southwest Missouri. Our family home sat on top of a hill, surrounded by tree-covered hollers on three sides of the property. There was an old road, that my parents had long ago used to get water from a spring that ran along the bottom of the holler, before we had a cistern behind the house.
In the summer of 1974, when I was 9 year old, my mom and I had gone somewhere together -- for some reason, I think I had a dentist appointment that she had taken me to, but I'm not positive about that. Some of my other sisters had gone shopping. My sister, Janie, remembers that she had a summer job, so had done some early Christmas shopping, since she was working and had some money. She had bought Daddy a red shirt for Christmas that day. Daddy and my oldest brother-in-law were cutting wood down in the bottom of the holler and up a ways onto the next hillside. They were using an old white horse, that Daddy had, to drag the logs out of the woods to where they had better access, to cut them up or whatever it was that they were doing with them. The horse got tangled in some vines or underbrush, which scared it, and my dad bent down to get it loose. When Daddy bent over to help the horse, it kicked him, really hard, on one side of his forehead.
My brother-in-law had to leave my dad lying down there, run out of the steep holler and up to the house, to try and get help. He started yelling when he got to the top of the hill, and a cousin, who lived at the end of our dirt road, heard him and jumped into his old truck to come help. Robert was scared that Daddy would get up and try to walk out by himself, or start moving around, or get confused and head the wrong way in the woods, so when he saw that our cousin had heard him and was coming down the road to help, he started running back down the road to get to Daddy.
My cousin picked him up and gave him a ride to the bottom of the holler.... and his truck brakes weren't working, but somehow they got stopped. I'm not sure if perhaps my cousin's wife called her father-in-law (my mom's brother) for help or exactly what happened, but my oldest sister and brother-in-law vaguely remember there being 3-4 guys who carried Daddy out of the woods to the truck. Daddy wasn't a lightweight man. He was a hard worker and very muscular.
While they were getting Daddy out of the woods and back up to the house, Mama and I turned down the dirt road towards home, when my cousin's wife stopped us and told Mama that Daddy had been hurt.
There was no ambulance service or EMTs in that area. The men loaded Daddy up in the backseat of our car, with his head laying in Mama's lap, and our cousin drove them to the hospital; with my oldest sister riding up front with him.
They took him to the hospital in Springfield, MO, which was probably 60 miles away. Back in those days, it was a 2-lane road between Lampe and Springfield, and was very curvy and hilly. Daddy was in and out of consciousness on the drive there. I'm sure our cousin felt responsible for getting them to the hospital as quickly as possible, and was scared that Daddy could possibly die. Later Mama and Joyce said that he was driving so fast, that they were pretty frightened. And that was back when no one ever wore seat-belts!
Surgery was done on Daddy that day. We really can't remember what the surgeons had to do; but they either had to put a metal plate in his head, or had to wire his skull back together where he had been kicked, or possibly both. He was in the hospital for several days. Remember, this all happened back in the 1970's. I'm sure that medically there was not as much known about head injuries, as what research and doctors know today.
After Daddy was released from the hospital, he would get dizzy easily. I don't know if it was the summer that this happened, or the year after, that our family had gone to an outdoor gospel singing in Arkansas. We girls had spent that Saturday night in a hotel, but our parents drove home afterwards. Early the next morning, a man came to the house to ask Daddy something. For quite a while after the accident, if he jumped up too quickly, he would get dizzy. When the man knocked on the door, it woke Daddy and he jumped up, threw his pants on, and went to the door. When he opened the door, he passed out and hit his head on the concrete porch; which was pretty alarming for the man standing there.
He was also very cranky, for quite a while!! I'm not sure how long his full recovery took, but to my sisters and me (and likely to our mom), it seemed to take a year. He would get so aggravated at us and say, "You all just follow me around everywhere I go! You even have the dog following me!" I'm sure that Mama was concerned and did try to keep an eye on him, worried that he would get dizzy and fall and hurt himself. Perhaps the doctor had told her to keep an eye on him. I don't remember if she would ask us girls to go check on him, but we probably did follow him around, and it apparently got on his nerves and annoyed him! I don't particularly remember him not being able to drive or being off work for a long period of time; but if that same type of injury had of happened today, the person probably wouldn't be allowed to drive or work for quite some time.
For some reason, this incident has been on my mind for the past several days. As I've been thinking about it, I've realized that God gave us a miracle in protecting Daddy and giving him a complete recovery. For some reason, that never really occurred to me, until now. From him being left alone while my brother-in-law ran for help; being carried and loaded into a truck, with no brakes, to be driven out of the holler; being driven by car, 60 so miles away to the hospital, while speeding on curvy and hilly roads; making it through a major head injury and surgery without any ongoing repercussions; to coming through it all to live a full and healthy life for another 30-plus years; God did a great miracle in protecting and healing Daddy, totally and completely!
This happened when he was 45 years old, so he was a young man. Mama had already been diagnosed with cancer, a year or so prior to this happening. She probably had already been through at least one major surgery. She would have been around 41 years old. My mom's nephew, who drove them to the hospital, was only 26 or so, at that time.
As I was just now writing this, the reality of God's protection and everything that had happened, really hit home, and I found myself crying. Wow!! I never had stopped to think how truly young everyone involved would have been, when this occurred. It never really hit home how blessed we were to have Daddy with us for many more years, and that he made a complete and full recovery from this horrible head injury.
My mom's nephew was a young man and was probably scared spit-less, knowing that he was responsible for getting my dad to the hospital. He was a little younger than three of my youngest nephews! My dad would have been about a year younger than Jon is now. Mama was the age of one of my older nephews; she would have been about 10 years younger than I now am. I had never really put this all into perspective, prior to this.
Daddy and Mama were a young couple in their early to mid 40's; had five daughters, with their baby being 9 years old (I have great-nieces and great-nephews that age), and had 2-3 small grandsons. When this occurred, they had already dealt with Mama's diagnosis of cancer and her going through a major surgery. I'm sure Mama was scared, thinking that she could lose her husband and knowing that she, herself, had colon cancer; and worried about her daughters and what would happen to us, if we should lose both parents.
But God gave our family a miracle! We got to have Mama with us for another 7 years. Daddy fully recovered and was healthy and strong for many more years. God blessed our family and chose to allow us to have both parents with us for a while longer. Wow! What a blessing!!
Many times, it's easy to focus on the negative and hardship and dire circumstances, so that we fail to see the blessing and miracles that God does give to us. Granted, I was only about 9 years old when this happened, but it has taken me over 40 years to really understand and realize what God did for our family. I never really saw that God blessed our family with the miracle of having our parents with us for as long as we did. Many don't survive colon cancer for 8 years, yet we had Mama with us for that long after her diagnosis. Many don't survive a horrible head injury, and heal completely with no side affects or repercussions; living an additional 30-plus years, being strong and healthy with no health issues and rarely being sick.
Mama was 48 when she went to Heaven, and Daddy was 78 when he went to be reunited with her. There will come a day when my sisters and I, as well as our spouses, and my parents grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- most of whom Mama never got to meet, and many of the great-grandchildren who were born after my dad's death -- will be reunited as a family for all eternity. What a day!
I've read and heard comments from people saying that they're glad that this year is over, because it wasn't a good year for them. Granted, some years do seem easier and more blessed than others. In fact, some years just seem kind of stinky! But the truth is, we can always find things to be thankful for, if we will but look for them. God protects and provides for us in numerous ways. He protects and provides for our family. He grants peace and joy, even in the direst of circumstances; when we focus on Him. He forgives and forgets our sins over and over again, each time we repent and ask Him to do so. His mercies are new every morning! We have a roof over our head and food on our table. We have the love of family and friends. Overall, even when life seems stinky, God is still good to us, loves us, and takes care of us. Furthermore, God gives us miracles, even when we don't always recognize that He is doing so and it takes us over 40 years to tell Him thanks! That's a good Father!!
As 2016 comes to an end, I don't want to focus on the negative and what all has gone wrong, because we can always find those things to dwell on. But I want to start recognizing and focusing on the positive -- the blessings and miracles of God. Many times, God answers more prayers and does so much more in our lives than we give Him credit or thanks for. I want to live my life with a grateful heart, and be aware of all the things that God does for me -- the small, as well as the big.
I heard a good story many years ago, but don't remember the details well. So, I'll strip it down to just the part I remember for sure.
A man had gone through several tragedies as an old man. One of those was that the cow, he and his wife depended on for milk, died. The last tragedy was his own death. He spoke with his guardian angel afterward, and asked about each tragedy. Each time, the guardian angel wasn't ignoring the man or his needs. He said that when the cow died, the angel of death had come to take his wife, but the guardian angel stopped him. "I know that you must take a life, so take their cow, and give them another year together." So the angel of death took the cow instead, and gave the couple another year together.
I had basically forgotten this story completely till my brother-in-law told us more about my sister, Gayla's, illness a few months ago. I didn't realize till yesterday that her doctors weren't all that sure she would survive. My brother-in-law, Stuart, relied on God, and prayed. He didn't tell my mother (his mother-in-law) all the details because there wasn't much need for her to worry, just to pray. He was scared enough for all of us. So we didn't know all the details either.
When he went home after my sister was stable, and safe, he found their dog dead. He prayed for the dog's healing, because with all that was going on already, he wasn't sure they could all deal with a loss, even if it was just a dog. God healed their dog. It had had problems with seizures since then till they found medication that works. Gayla had had seizures before that, and the doctors suspected she wouldn't survive.
So, it reminded me of that old story. It might be one of those things I'll want to ask about when I'm in heaven, too.
Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole
Sausage and/or Bacon
6 cups of toasted Bread, cubed
3 cups Milk
2 cups Cheddar Cheese
Salt & Pepper
Cook sausage and/or bacon; crumble. Toast bread and cube. Spray a 9x13 pan. Layer half of the bread crumbs in the bottom; layer shredded cheese on top; then layer breakfast meat. Repeat layers. In a bowl, whip together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour evenly over the top of the layers. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours. When ready to cook, bake at 325 for 1 hour or until eggs are set. Cut into squares and serve.
***You can also add sliced mushrooms, chopped green or red peppers, olives, etc. to the layers, if desired.
Sometimes we may say something one time, but it sticks and is remembered for many years; as if it were said numerous time.
When Jon was a little boy, his Aunt Jan asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he replied, "An offiter". When asked what that was, he said that he wanted to take things off. That story has been repeated many times the past forty or so years, as if he had said it over and over again; but he actually only said that one time.
My sister Janie and I were visiting on the phone many, many years ago when she and her husband were pastoring in Washington. Something was said and instead of replying, "It'll all come out in the wash," I slipped up and said, "It'll all come out in the washing machine." That saying has stuck and we've repeated it numerous times to one another throughout the years.
When you try to control what you can't, you get anxious.
When you give it to God, you get peace. - Life Church
We love you!
Loretta & Jon