Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

2
Jul

God’s Been Good & I Have Been Blessed

   Posted by: Mel   in Life

My Mom holding me, the day I came home from the hospital

My Mom holding me, the day I came home from the hospital

Today is my 38th Birthday. In 38 years I have only spent one birthday apart from my Mom. While most Mom’s may tend to tell their kids the birth story of how they came into the world. My Mom would tell me the story of my name. This is the first year I won’t hear that story from her. And sadly with all the technology at hand, I don’t have it on video.

Every year on my birthday Mom would let me sleep late. She’d start singing Happy Birthday to me the second she heard me coming down the hall. She’d be sitting in her chair, grinning at me. “Happy Birthday Melody!”

While this year is not what I had planned, nor what I had hoped for or prayed for. I would have never thought I would be where I am in life at this age. And that is not a sad statement. God has blessed me abundantly above anything I could ever ask for.

Dad, Melody & Mom

I had wonderful Parents. I could not have asked for better people to raise me, love me unconditionally and show me who Christ was. I was given amazing siblings who have each loved me, cared for me and stepped in when needed, whether asked or not. A lot of times putting me first during hard times to make sure I was ok, their first priority after their own family. I’ll never forget those times.

I have been blessed in my 38 years to have some pretty amazing friends. Friends who made themselves my family by choice and consider me blood. And have made me feel extremely special in ways I can’t express. I am forever grateful that God chose to put them in my life.

I am thankful for 38 years on this earth. For all the blessings of God. For life more abundantly. I don’t know what this next year will bring or even the next few months. But I know without any doubt, that whatever happens, God will be my constant.

Story of my Name:

A few years before I was born, my Parents had two babies a couple years apart that died at birth. When my Mom got pregnant with me, she wanted to name me June (June would be a blessing in my life years later). No real explanation was ever given, other than she just really liked the name. As it got closer to my birth, Mom started pulling away from the name. She said that because they had two babies die within a few years apart, God knew they needed a Melody in their life, so He gave them me. As much as that has went to my head over the years. It was them that God gave to me. I am eternally grateful.

“God’s been good in my life, I’ve been blessed beyond my wildest dreams as I go to sleep each night, Sure I’ve had my share of hard times, by my side He’s always stood, Through it all, God’s been good!”

Coates Family

Thomas & Clora Mae Coates Family

10
May

Love

   Posted by: Mel   in Life, Mom's Life Story

Clora Mae Coates

Clora Mae Coates

Today is Mother’s Day 2015. Today is also my Mother’s 79th Birthday. We celebrated her birthday on March 3rd this year, because we knew there was a chance she would not be here on her birthday. I am thankful we had made plans to do that the day after she came home. The day before we would celebrate, I would be told she only had 3-5 days to live. Yesterday was two months since she passed. Many probably would say celebrating her birthday early was bitter sweet. I haven’t yet found the sweetness of it. Extremely grateful to those closest to our family, who could be there to help us celebrate our Mom. My Mom. My heart.

I had said when my Mom passed away that I didn’t have much to say, because anything that needed to be said, I had said to her. There was nothing left unsaid between her and I. She knew me inside and out and I her. There was nothing about my Mother I didn’t know. I had the honor and extreme joy of taking care of her during her last 16 years on this earth. I would not trade one second for the time I got to spend with my Mom. I wouldn’t change it and would have gladly did it for the rest of my life. God had other plans for both of us. Until my Mom took her last breath, I still believed God would heal her here. Nothing that anyone could say or do would have changed my mind. There is something to be said when it literally takes God to change your mind about something you feel so strongly about. Unwavering faith, it should be taught on more often. But no matter how much faith we have, sometimes God says no.

I am the youngest of 10 children to my parents. My oldest sister passed away in 2009, my brother and sister just older than I passed away at birth. So there is seven of us left, spread from California to Illinois. Today I thought I would post something for them to read and hopefully it will make them smile, maybe even laugh (I hope none of you are in public reading this).

To my Siblings:

Do you have any idea how much Mom loved you? She was extremely proud of each of you, your lives and what you had become. She prayed for you daily. Often times I would walk into the living room, she would be praying for you and your kids, grandkids, I have to admit, some of you she prayed for more often than others. I won’t mention any names (Mike). But she prayed. And she prayed deliberately for you and your soul. More than anything she wanted you all to serve Jesus. And live your eternity in Heaven.

About four days before Mom passed, she stopped talking. The day before she stopped, I came into the living room that morning. She was talking, eyes wide open. I thought she was mumbling. I touched her arm and asked her who she was talking to. No one was in the livingroom. She smiled, “Jesus. I was just thanking Him for all he has done for us. For all He has done for you kids. He’s so good to us.” Some of her last thoughts and words were about Jesus and her kids. That should tell us all something.

She was proud of each of you and all you had accomplished. She, better than anyone knew you were not perfect and had made mistakes along the way. But she knew the prayers she had prayed and knew Jesus had heard her. Therefore, you would be just fine as would your kids and grandkids.

I am not sure I can say anything to you on this day to ease the pain or discomfort this day has brought. Or the past few months for that matter. But if I could say anything that would give you some comfort I would hope it would be this. God knew who we would be long before the earth was formed. He knew the mistakes, the sin, the joy and the pain we would bring to a Mother from time to time. Though it is a cliche’, I believe it is true, He hand picked Mom just for us. He knew how long it would take her to get us all in line, how many times she would have to say no, yes or “you know better than that”. He knew the moments when we would need her most and He knew the times when we would be able to stand on our own two feet. But He knew we would only get there, with having the right Mom to lead us. That was our Mom.

No other Mom would have put up with all you people! Stealing watermelons, driving the Fiat through the fields, getting shot at, driving motorcycles off the side of the mountain, shooting at wild life with a shot gun! Mopping the floor with sponges on your feet and gallons of soap and water, not to mention all the times she waited by the door to flip the light on and off when it was time to come in. Only our Mom would have put up with all that, discipline you and then waited the appropriate amount of time before she would tell the story and laugh the whole way through it.

She loved being a Mom. But also loved being a Granny. And you guys did that for her. You made her a Granny, Great Granny and Great Great Granny many times over. And the way you raise your kids, also shows honor to her. She left a huge legacy, her family. But to her family she left the greatest legacy anyone could ever leave, she left us the Legacy of Jesus. What we do with that legacy is up to us. How we treat who mattered to her most (Jesus), is our choice. I pray your choice is clear on this day. As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord. Will you?

I will leave you with this. The last 11 days of Mom’s life, she began to tell those she loved, just how much she loved them, how much she appreciated them. Handshakes turned into lasting memories for those closest to us. And “I love you’s” seem to be said from deep within her heart. She wanted to leave no doubt to those who had chosen to be in her life, that she loved them and appreciated them. Some of our friends and family would have extremely special moments with her. Moments that I hope they remember for always. On this day, if I could have Mom back for just a few moments, I would once again tell her how much I loved her and how thankful I am that she is my Mom. As I am sure all of you would. But that isn’t possible, is it? So instead I present a challenge for you. I would like for you to take a page out of the last week of Mom’s life. Call or text (or however you choose to contact them) your family and close friends who mean the most to you, tell them just how much they mean to you. Do not wait for the moments Mom had, you may not get them. Tell them now and tell them from your heart. Leave no doubt as to how much you really love them. In the last days of Mom’s life, she let everything go that didn’t matter. And she chose to love and be loved by those who chose to accept it and give it. Why wait till your last days? Let it all go. And just love. It will change your life and the life of those you choose to love and be loved by.

Your Favorite Little Sister,

Melody

Clora Mae Coates Tribute Video

9
May

The Three Faces of my Mother

   Posted by: Mel   in Life

My Mother, Clora Mae Coates

I was born late in life to my parents, Thomas & Clora Mae Coates. I was the youngest of the ten of their children. I often tell my siblings, “They finally got it right!” My earliest memory of what my Mom looked like is the picture above. As far back as I can remember, this is what she looked like. Really did not change much over the years. Hair got a bit grayer. Few wrinkles here and there. I did not know as a kid that my Mom was over weight. I never noticed, till she lost so much weight that I could see a difference. She was “Mama” and that was all I needed to know. So for most of my life when I closed my eyes or heard people ask about my Mom. This is the face I would see. This is the face I still see, even when I see her now.

My Parents: Thomas Sr. & Clora Mae Coates

Thomas Sr. & Clora Mae Coates

When I was about 15 years old, I was going through my Mom’s box of pictures (I still do this at least once every six weeks). I ran across the picture above. I had never seen (that I knew of) a picture of my parents when they were younger. My Mom told me it was her and my Dad. “You were so pretty!” I remember telling her. She replied with “What happened huh?” I told her that she was still a beautiful woman. At this time my Mom still looked like she did in the picture at the top of this page. The picture of my parents when they were younger was their wedding day. March 14, 1953. So now I had two faces to my Mother. The one I knew here and now. And the one that married my Dad at just 16 years of age.

I really did not know much about my Mother when I was younger. Just the average stuff a kid knows. Birthday (May 10, 1936), Where she was born (Broken Bow, Oklahoma), Her family (The Taylors) and her famous cake she baked for almost all of the church bake sales, Milkway Cake. But I really did not know details of her. Her hopes, dreams, what made her marry my Dad at such a young age. But as the years went on, I began to learn more and more about my Mom. After the passing of my Dad we got very close. And since that time, we have gotten extremely close. There is absolutely nothing that I can not tell my Mother. Though I do not always share everything with her. The freedom is there should I want to do so. There is no shame, judgement or disappointment in anything I might share with her. That is a true gift to any daughter from their Mother.

Clora & Matt <br>Great Grandson

Clora & Matt (Her Great Grandson)

So this brings me to the face of my Mom, now. Still amazingly beautiful. But now I see my Mom in a different light. I don’t just see the beauty when I look into her eyes. I see the 78 years that she has lived on this earth. I see a young girl with joy for the future, marrying a man eight years older than she was, at the age of 16. Giving birth to her first child at 17, the day before her own birthday. Giving birth to the second daughter 11 months later, to the day! I see a disciplined woman who raised 8 children (7 girls, one boy) in the house of the Lord, there was no excuse for not attending church. Who was not afraid to put a little thunder in the diaper when needed. But had soft arms that not one of us could resist laying on, curdled up talking about our hopes and dreams. I also see a Mother who has endured more grief than any one person should go through,  who buried two children just a few years apart from each other (RIP Thomas Jr. & Veronica), who I have never once seen her shed a tear over. I see a wife that lost her husband the day before their 46th wedding anniversary. Though I seen and heard many tears, she bravely went on about her life. She is a Gold Star Granny (RIP Pfc. Matthew W. Wilson). And buried her oldest child just two short months after Matt’s death.

But among all the heartache, the dreams, the joy and the loss. I see “Granny”. What she loves for her grand kids and great grand kids and great great grand kids to call her. I see the lady who has went through all of that to become the woman she is today. Though most days she is tired, finds it difficult to stay awake, hard to remember most things and can no longer walk without the aide of something or someone. Her mouth drawn just slightly because of the stroke. Her face has indeed changed with age and with health issues. But this same face that tells the story of her life, is the same face that lights up any time one of her great grand kids or great great grand kids crawls up into her lap. Her eyes smile without even trying. And it is then when I notice it. It’s the same face that my Mother had when I was born. The same face I seen through out my life, the same face that I never realized was getting older. It is the face of unconditional love, at its finest.

2
May

Weeding a Garden

   Posted by: Mel   in Life

There comes a time in every gardeners life that you must weed your garden. Now this is a rather easy task, if you stay on top of it. See one weed come up, quickly pull it. Lay down some compost. Plastic. Whatever it is that you use to keep the weeds down.

But if you do not stay on top of it, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble. That one weed you failed to pull, it is now a tree, over night. You heard the saying, “Growing like a weed!”. That’s no joke. A weed can literally double and sometimes triple in size, over night. It really doesn’t need any water. It doesn’t need fertilizer or anything else your veggies need to survive. Just dirt. And maybe some sun.

Now usually if you have one weed that grows, that you have failed to pick out of your garden, you find yourself within a week or so with a whole bed/row full of weeds. Now you’ve really got yourself into a pickle! Because what could have taken just a few minutes, has turned into an all day event. Those weeds now have thorns on them, not easily gotten, even with gloves. Roots that were only an inch deep, now are a foot or more down into the ground. And the real problem, now some of the weeds roots are entangled around your veggie roots.  And you know that when you reach in to grab it, two things are going to happen.

1. You are going to get poked with the thorns, even with your gloves on.

2. Some of your veggies are going to come up with the weeds, because they are entangled. The least that will happen, you will disturb the vegetables growth.

So what do you do? Well first things first. Water the area where the weeds are. This will loosen the ground around the roots and do the least damage to the vegetables. Because if a veggie starts to go sideways, because the ground is wet, you can easily build up the dirt around it. You may stunt the growth of the vegetable a little. But it will recover nicely, you’ll still get a harvest, just might not happen when you wanted it to. But it will happen.

Next you will want to make sure that when you are grabbing for weeds, you don’t mistaken a very small vegetable plant (one that isn’t as grown as the others) as a weed. So grab carefully. Letting your eyes guide your hands before you do any grabbing of the weeds.

Now for those weeds with the thorns. There are several ways you can get rid of them. But here is the most efficient way of doing it. Grab from the bottom. As close to the dirt as possible. Make sure the leaves come up a bit, use them for a covering over the thorns. Grab firm, but not so firm as to let the thorns pierce your skin. Now pull straight up. You may have to turn loose a couple of times and get a better grip. You may have to apply a little more water and soak it. But using this technique will work eventually. While pulling up be sure to pull slowly, don’t get impatient. As you are pulling slowly, you will feel each root as it gives way. Till that final huge root is set free.

Now, as careful as you are, you may still get a poke from a thorn, you may pull out a veggie that wasn’t quite as big as the others or you may disturb the growth of one that is well established. But all is not lost. When you see that you have been wounded by the thorn, apply a triple antibiotic as quickly as possible. If you pulled a veggie you didn’t intend to, check to make sure it can’t be replanted. If it can not, see if you can use it some where else (soups, compost pile etc). And lastly the plant you disturbed, unintentionally.

First build up some soil around it. Make sure it’s watered well, check on it daily. Apply water, fertilizer and whatever else you think it needs, don’t baby it. It will never be able to thrive if you do. It will rely only on you to get it through. But most of all, talk to it. Every living thing, whether in dirt, walking around or disturbed likes to be talked to. You’ll be surprised how far this step will get you! Especially if done in love!

So whether you are literally weeding out your garden bed. Or maybe the garden bed of your life. Be gentle, stay on top of it, don’t let it get away from you. But if you do, get on top of it as quickly as possible. Applying the steps above, however they need to be applied.

Here’s to a great harvest season!

“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” - Galatians 6:9-10 MSG

24
Mar

Out of the Garbage

   Posted by: Mel   in Life

Out of the Garbage

Out of the Garbage

Compost: decayed organic material (garbage from your kitchen) used as a plant fertilizer.

Garbage: wasted or spoiled food and other refuse, as from a kitchen or household.

The above two words often go together when referring to a garden. The wasted kitchen scraps are put into a bin of sorts, turned with a shovel or by hand once a day. The wasted material begins to break down, often times within a few days. Sometimes it’s a few months. Within 6 months to a year you will have compost! Garden Gold! There is no other material (dirt or otherwise) that will grow you fantastic fruits and veggies. But it must first be broken down.

Most of the time the left over scraps are pieces of food that couldn’t be used in a recipe, ends of tomatoes, cucumbers, leaves from the celery or outer lettuce heads. This is placed in a bowl usually on the counter, airtight. Once a day or when it gets full, the gardener will take it out to the compost bin, drop it in. Now in order to get great compost, one must add a few essential items. Carbon being one of them. Used toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Old newspapers or shredded paper - Trash. Trash and Wasted Food becomes garden gold.

Once this has been turned over and over, enough heat (it can often be in the 100’s in the center of the compost pile), enough water has been added, it breaks down into very fine what looks like dirt. But there is no dirt in the compost. Gardeners put this in their garden, adding it all at once or a little at a time, spreading it out nice and even, veggies begin to grow. Flourishing, often times in places that they were not intended to thrive. The compost, if added in heavy amounts and done right, will keep weeds from growing. It smothers out what doesn’t belong.

While turning my compost pile today I noticed a green leafed plant coming from the back towards the front. Stopping to follow it, I found it was coming from inside my compost pile. It is a thriving tomato plant. A vine that I put in at the end of last year to break down. A plant that, when I put it in had NO life. It was indeed dead. It is now thriving.

It is a reminder to me today that out of the garbage of our lives, the decayed, the refuse, the wasted, the trash, the broken down, in the right hands of a Master Gardener, life begins to grow. What was once dead, now not only lives, but is producing life. Life that will feed others.

No matter where you are today, if you know the Master Gardener, let him take the decayed, the refuse, the wasted, the trash, the broken down, and the dead things in your life (hopes, dreams and love) and let him call them back to life. Out of the Garbage of your life, new can begin again.

Isaiah 43:19 MSG

This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.

13
Mar

15 Years Later

   Posted by: Mel   in Life

March 14, 1953

Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Coates Sr. - March 14, 1953

Dear Daddy,

At the time of your death I did not understand why you had to leave. Life was good. Life was really good. So much I wanted to say to you, but time was so short after trying to reach everyone to tell them “it won’t be long”. By the time I made it back, you really were gone. I thought life was over. And it was as far as I knew life to be. I grew up very fast. There were bills to be paid.

15 years later I can say that life did go on. Not the same way. And what I wouldn’t give to have you here. Mom sure would be happier. She misses you so much these days. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I feel she will be with you and her Savior before long. I did not come visit your grave today. I knew that is the last place you would want me. Instead I spent the day with your great grandkids, their last day here before Texas (who knew they’d end up in your home state - I love Texas, but I don’t like this, hate goodbyes). We played in the park, went to the Zoo. And spent time with a great friend.

I don’t know whether you can see down here. I’d like to believe you have better things to do than to stalk me day in and day out. But if by chance you can, I’d like for you to know what you taught me. At the age of 36 (almost 37) I can say I am not the same person I was when you were here. I have matured greatly. And I now know who I am. I had no clue when you were here. So below are things you taught me, either by example or by telling me.

Let God Pick Your Friends
You never picked friends. They seemed to always pick you. Most of your friends were Pastors. Or least ‘good Christian folk’. You surrounded yourself with people who didn’t lie to you. Judge you. Or talk about you behind your back. Instead you surrounded yourself, Mom and our family with people who first and foremost prayed for you. Upheld you. There when you needed them most (and always returned the favor). You’ll be glad to know I have finally found this life lesson to be true. I indeed have allowed God to pick my friends. And have surrounded myself with people who treat me well. The ones I can really count on do not talk about me behind my back. Judge me or lie to me. And they pray for me probably more than I pray for myself.

No Excuse Not To Go To Church
“Unless you are on your death bed, you will go to church. And if you are on your death bed we will wheel you in and pray that God will raise you from the dead!” I heard this on more than one occasion. While I use caution and smarts when I am sick. I find the desire to go to Church stronger than ever before. I always thought you went to church and “made” us go because “it was the right thing to do”. But what makes a man who is in his old age, who still works 9 hours a day in his 70’s, raised 10 kids get up every Sunday morning and go to the house of the Lord? Surely didn’t have anything to prove at that point. At 36 I get it. You really loved God. It wasn’t about going to church. It was about being in God’s presence. And devoting those few hours a week to him, completely to Him. Thank you for that.

You Need To Know More Than Just How To Wash Dishes
You taught me to change spark plugs. Change my own oil. How to change a tire. How to plant a garden. And so much more than most girls my age knew how to do. I can and still do these things when needed. It has saved me money. Gotten me out of jams. And for the most part when I have no one else to rely on to do these things. I can do them myself without too much effort.

Independence
“You don’t have to be like everyone else”. Whether in the way I dressed. Ate. Wore my hair. You taught me it was ok to be who I was. And those people who were my true friends would love me for it. It was ok to be independent from all the others.

Don’t Settle
Whether in marriage, relationships with friends, church or work. You taught me to not settle for the first thing that came along. Just as you didn’t. You kept striving, kept looking till you found what you wanted. Then pray and ask God to give you the desires of your heart. Mom says this is how you ended up with her. Which leads me to the next thing you taught me.

How To Take Care Of Mom
You were very stuck in your ways at times. But no one loved Mom or took better care of her than you did. I told you 15 years ago today I would take care of her whether anyone else did or not. I have kept my promise and will continue to do so. But I could not have done it without knowing how to do it from you. By watching you both together through the years. Thank you for letting God pick Mom for you. And thank you for marrying her. I suppose you could have carried on like many do today. But you stepped up and you made the commitment to her before God. You did it God’s way from start to finish. I can not tell you how much pride I have knowing my parents weren’t like everyone else’s.

Giving God What Was His Already
You taught me to pay my tithes. First. Not last. And not give ‘whatever I had to give after bills were paid’. But to pay 10% of my income or whatever God blessed me with first. Even if it looked like there was too much month at the end of the money. God would always supply because I had done what is right. It wasn’t giving money to the Pastor. It wasn’t giving it to a church. It was giving it back to God. Giving money back to Him that already belonged to Him. But you didn’t just teach me tithing. You taught me to go above my tithes. Give in offerings. Give of my time and talent. One of the greatest lessons you ever taught me.

Above All Be A Servant
You were first and foremost a child of God. But second to that, no one I knew had more of a servant’s heart than you did. We were the first ones to church, last ones to leave. And the only ones who ever had mail sent to the church in our name (people thought we lived there). You served God and our local church no matter how you felt. I often felt that “someone else could do that just this once”. I now know better. You taught me to be first in the door, last in line and stay as long as I needed too. To be helpful anywhere I was asked to be. And nothing, absolutely NOTHING was below my qualifications when it came to the house of the Lord. I watched you scrub toilets on Saturdays. Vacuum the church and mow lawns. And then lead service Sunday morning. Teach Sunday School Class. But in the middle of church if you were needed to run unclog a toilet. You rolled up your sleeves and got the job done. All in your Sunday best. And now as I write this I smile knowing you are sitting at the feet of Jesus, the greatest servant of all mankind. Worshipping Him. And probably wondering when He’s going to let you help build a mansion. Always a Servant.

Keep Your Reputation Right Between You and God
“If you keep your reputation right between you and God. Then your reputation will be right between you an man. And you will never have to defend yourself. Others will rise up to defend you” - I found this to be true time and time again. Thank you for not only telling me this. But leading my example.

I love you Daddy. Miss you more than ever this week. I long to be in Heaven. And knowing you are there makes me want to live my life that much more for Christ. He is enough to make me wanna go. But you make Heaven a little sweeter. Thank you for everything you taught me. You taught me so much more than what is here. But these life lessons are what have helped me through a lot of tough times over the past 15 years. I am in no way perfect in all of these areas. But I strive daily to be the friend to others as you were all your years. I will never forget my last moments with you. But I hang onto the life long moments, they are what keep me striving.

I will meet you at the rivers bend, where the tree hangs out over the river, some sweet day. Until then…

“Farther along we’ll know all about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why,
Cheer up my brother, Live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it, all by and by”

Love always,
Smiley Dolly

16
Jan

What Happens When You Have A Clear Mind

   Posted by: Mel   in Life

A young priest during the 1800’s traveling from town to town hearing confessions found himself using a jail cell with a blanket between him and those confessing their sins. He heard the confession of one older man, “I have a problem with drinking. I drink but only when I get lonely. My wife died a few years back and now I find myself lonely. No one is my friend, never ask how I am, what I did for a living. I’m just so lonely.” The man took out his bottle to get and drink and dropped it on the hard floor, busting and spilling it everywhere. Embarrassed he ran out of the jail. The priest bowed his head, unsure what to do and feeling a bit sorry for the older man.

Later on the priest found himself doubting God, after hearing so many confessions that day of broken dreams, loneliness and despair and even burying a nine year old boy who had died after falling from a wagon. He took off his priest robe and began to search for a job in town. He decided he would make some money, enough to go home on. There he would work with his Dad in the family business. He found nothing, over and over again he was told no. A man came up and said,  “I’m looking for someone at my place, wash dishes, serve the customer and clean up at closing,”  The priest said, “what place of business do you own?” The man smiled proudly and pointed toward the saloon, “That’s my place of business right there.” The priest swallowed hard knowing he stood against everything the saloon stood for. “You won’t find any other work in town kid, everyone is feeling the pinch. Take it or you’ll have to go to the next town.” Knowing he had no money, no way of getting to the next town and desperately needing money to live off of now that he was no longer a Father. He bowed his head, breathed deep and said “What time do I start?”

That night an older man came in, ordering drink after drink. He recognized the man not only by the loneliness in his voice but by the way the man stayed around even after the saloon was long since closed. The priest, who was now going by the name of Joe, brought him a cup of coffee. The older man asked, “What are you trying to do kill me?” Joe smiled, “No sir, I’m trying to get you sober so you can make it home tonight.” The man got up slurring his words, “I can make it home just fine without your help.” Joe smiled again, grabbed his mop and started mopping. “I know, but I thought we could talk, just until I get done mopping. What did you do for a living?” Surprised by the interest he began to tell Joe, “I worked on the railroad for 30 years. When I could no longer hold the hammer without my hands hurting I retired to this place. I was one of the original founders of this town, myself and two other men.” Joe kept mopping, “And what do you do for fun, besides drink?” The man looked up at him, “Well I like to play chess. I was one of the best chess players from this state. Chess players from other states would run me down just to play a game with me.” He put his head down, “well they did till I started drinking.” Joe looked at him, “I play chess myself.” The man looked up and grinned, “Someday will you play a game with me Joe, huh? Huh? Will you?” Joe grinned as he walked the old fellow to the door, “Sure, John someday I’ll play chess with you.”

The next night John came in, this time sitting at the end of the bar with a chess set. Joe would make his move in between serving drinks, washing glasses and fulfilling his job at the saloon. Joe making his last move for the night, “Checkmate.” John got upset as any one loosing would, “Dagnabbit Joe, how do you win so much.” Joe looked the old-timer in the eyes, “There’s only one difference between the way you play and the way I play.” Joe picked up Johns whiskey glass and held it in front of his face, “I’ve got a sober mind.” Joe put the glass down and went to get his mop to start cleanup. John picked up his glass and put it to his lips, smelled it, mumbled something towards Joe and then put the glass down.

A few days later while playing Joe again, drinking his glass of milk John asked, (not knowing Joe’s past as a priest) “are you a very religious man Joe?” Joe moved uncomfortably in his seat, “I believe in God, Why you ask?” John made a move on the board, “Well I slept really good last night, first time since my wife died. And I woke up to this beautiful day; I knew I was coming here tonight to play chess with you and I knew I needed a clear head you see, to play chess. So I fought the temptation of taking that drink. Fought it real hard and I don’t mind telling you Joe, it was tough! But I started going through some of my wife’s things. I found her Bible you see. I started remembering how she and I use to read it together every day and I’d forgot what a great book that is Joe. I started reading where it says we’re all his children. I kind of like that, thinking about being a child of God.” Joe shifted uncomfortably in his chair, “Your move John.” John reached for the piece and moved it, jumping out of his seat his did the 1800’s version of the happy dance. Dancing around chanting checkmate, checkmate, I finally did it. I beat you!” Joe started laughing, “Yes you did, yes you sure did.”

Joe knew in that moment he could no longer work there, maybe God had meant for him to be there for this old-timer. Maybe it had been meant to be in a different way, but because of Joe’s lack of faith he had ended up in this saloon. “Satan’s breeding ground.” Joe mumbled as he got his stuff together.

Knowing he wouldn’t be back to the town for several months for confession he decided to do one last mass before leaving town. The township still not knowing he had been the priest they lined up to confess their sins in the jail. “Bless me Father for I have sinned” Joe recognized the voice, it was John. Joe’s face changed, thinking that John had slipped and was drinking again. “But I stopped a few days ago Father.” Joe grinned. “You see I met this feller and he started talking to me, interested in me and my life. We played Chess together every night for the past couple of weeks. I haven’t had a drink in four days Father. And now some of the other fellers in town, especially these young folks they been coming to me, they want me to teach them how to play.” Joe grinned; knowing he had a part in this man’s recovery. “And Father, I been reading the Bible every day again. It’s such a great book; there are so many wonderful stories in there. “John shuffled his feet towards the door, “Well I won’t take up too much of your time, I just wanted you to know, I’m on the right road now.” Joe smiled and looked toward heaven, folding his hands together, “thank you.”

Does not matter what your religion is. The point of this story is not about the priest finding redemption with God. It’s about a man who needed a friend, a friend that cared. Who will you be Jesus to?

2
Jul

32 Things I’ve Learned In 32 Years

   Posted by: Mel   in Life

In no particular order.

1. If you allow Him, God will always be in control.
2. Just because someone says they are your friend, doesn’t mean it’s true.
3. Some people in your life will one day rise to the occasion and show what a wonderful person they are.
4. If you show yourself friendly, people will want to be your friend.
5. If you prefer others over your own needs, others will prefer you over their own needs.
6. There really are good people in the world.
7. Saying you are sorry is easy. Forgiving is the hard part.
8. True feelings are more often than not locked deep in the heart.
9. Not very many people will let you see the deepest part of their heart.
10. Sometimes things happen and you have no control over them.
11. There is something to be learned everyday.
12. There is no better feeling of accomplishment than a long day of hard work, seeing the results.
13. If you give to God what is His already, he will give back to you more thant you could ever expect.
14. Nothing that is on TV is as good as tv from the 50’s.
15. Instead of waiting till you don’t know what else to do but pray. Pray first. Everything else will fall into place.
16. If you have a great church, as I do. When you need someone the most, they will be there.
17. Don’t judge people. You don’t know what they’ve been through.
18. The price of freedom is not free.
19. Saying thank you to a vet will bring him to tears in the middle of walmart.
20. When in doubt, ask God to guide you.
21. What you do and say really does affect people.
22. When life hits you the hardest, you can arise from the ashes and rebuild.
23. I have an awesome family.
24. Money isn’t everything. But it does help.
25. When you have a passion for something, you work and do a much better job of it.
26. God always has a plan.
27. My parents raised good kids, their mistakes are no reflection of my parents. Including mine.
28. I don’t know everything.
29. Sometimes a smile can make another persons day complete.
30. God is the most important thing/person in my life.
31. After 10 years of not having my Dad around on my birthday. I miss him as if it was the first.
32. Mom & Daddy were right……about everything.

My Dad & I - I was dressed as Raggedy Ann for Halloween

My Dad and I