Heart of a Child
 
Oh we're going to the zoo zoo zoo... How about you you you?
Actually, we already went and now I will tell you about the recent zoo trip where I saw a  very familiar place in a whole new way. 
 
 
The Memphis Zoo has kind of turned into the birthday place  for me and my sons through the years. Last Spring, when my sons turned 30 and 18, we went once again on the week of their birthdays. Even though it rained us out we still had fun.
 
Sunday was my birthday, a milestone in my life I guess; I turned 50.  My son who is thirty wanted to take me to the zoo for my birthday.  Even though we have gone over and over with his four boys, I said yes, and off we all  went to the zoo zoo zoo Saturday.
 
The kids and I sang all the way there about Noah's arky arky , a Sunday School song the boys love. It's all about animals, which we were on our way to see, so it seemed to fit just right.
 
As we all stood in line to go in, I looked around at all the people. In the next line was this man who was so happy to be there.  Another guy, probably his care giver bought his ticket.  The man jumped up and down, just like a child, and thanked the other guy for bringing him.  He hugged him really tight. He had the heart of a child.  He was talking really loud. He asked, " Can we see the tigers, can we, can we?"  The other man told him sure they could. Then the man with the child like mannerisms, and thinking, said, "I am the happiest I have ever been in my whoooooole life." 
 
As I heard him I began to cry.  Here I was with my son who had grown into a strong healthy man, and  my four grandsons who are healthy and growing in mind and body every single day; and there was this man fully grown in body, but still had the mind, and as I said the heart of a child.  I wasn't really crying for sorrow for him, because even though he had some type of mental challenges, he was obviously filled with joy.  I was really crying because I so often forget all the things I should be continually thanking God for. I should be continually filled with joy.
 
The man went on in ahead of us and I didn't see him anymore. But later by the pandas, I saw something else that once again made me cry.  There was a young boy in a wheel chair who could barely hold his head up to see the animals. His parents pushed him along with so much  patience, telling him about each animal as if he had total understanding. He showed no emotion or reaction, but the parents displayed a love for him that was much like the love the man at the gate had for his friend who had brought him to the zoo.
 
Even though I had seen each exhibit over and over so many times through the years, I began to look at them in a whole new way.  How exciting it was to see all the animals that God created, even the snakes that I never cared to look at before.  I thought about the arky arky song.  God took the time to make sure each animal was on the ark out of the muddy muddy.  If he hadn't done that, the animals wouldn't have been there for any of us to get to see today. God chose to save Noah and his family from the floody floody.  If he hadn't done that, none of us would have been here to see the animals or anything else  I suppose all the ark talk sounds kind of like a very childish revelation. But I believe it is a very important revelation we as adults may need to have every now and then.
 
Why it is that God chose to let the man's mind be so underdeveloped that he was happier to be at the zoo than anywhere he had ever been, or why it is He chose to let the young boy have to be pushed in the chair, not really even knowing where he was, is not for me or anyone to know I don't think.
 
I just know when God let me see those two, it made me appreciate the zoo, my kids, my life in a whole new way.
Perhaps we should all try to look  at this world with the eyes of child from time to time. Perhaps we should all love with the heart of a child at all times.  Now that sounds like a revelation worth having to me.
 
A  Bunch of Junk
 
This morning I left my house bright and early. I decided to go along for a ride to a junk yard with my husband to pick up some car parts. We left at six and traveled down the Natchez Trace. I didn't really feel like going, but once I saw the beautiful picture God had painted with a multi colored paint pallet I was glad to be up early riding to a junk yard.  
There were yellows and golds, reds and oranges, tans and browns and of course in the middle of it all some green remained. The pines and cedars seemed to make a statement in the middle of all the fall colors. They spoke to me of things that were, that will come again.  You see, I thought of how all too soon, the beautiful golden leaves will fall and leave behind dead brown branches.  But beside those dead trees, the evergreens  will stand out and give hope in the cold winter of all the green and all the life that will return in the Spring. 
As we drove along I noticed a tree dead, probably struck by lightning in the past, but still standing in the middle of it all. I wondered if the tree could speak what tales it could tell to the other trees of all the beauty it once held on its branches in the Fall and of course in the Spring.  I wondered what bird or squirrel might have seen the tree and recognized it to be the place that was once called home.  The tree that I believe was once full of life, was now dead and empty, with no hope of life returning. Was there anything in that dead tree that could remind anyone of all the beauty it once held?
I thought of humans and compared them to the trees. I thought of myself and compared me to the trees.
We spend our lives, season after season, change after change, and continue to stand. In seasons of beauty we enjoy every day. When we experience seasons of loss, we continue to stand our ground because of the hope we have of things to come in new seasons.  We know life and beauty will return once more to our lives. But what about that dead tree that is ignored by many? What will become of us when lightning strikes?  Will others remember all the beauty that was once in our lives? 
I believe the tree left behind a testimony for all to hear if we take the time to listen. The tree stood tall season to season. It was home, a friend to many. It produced beautiful leaves of green that turned into a beautiful multi colored painting in the Fall that gave much joy to all who looked upon its leaves. Now it stood in the middle of all the beauty, seemingly with nothing to offer.
I thought again of what I will leave behind one day.  The tree  lived a long life and I believe produced seeds that made new trees, probably some of the very trees surrounding it sprouted up because of the tree that is no longer living. 
As I rode along I prayed to have a testimony like the tree.
May I leave behind something that will produce beauty long after I am gone.  May I plant seeds of hope in someone that will grow and mature and produce beauty, the kind of beauty that only God can give. May I in some small way show someone that in the middle of things ending there is always hope of new beginnings, just like the evergreens that remain green even in the winter.
And by the way, in the middle of riding to or through a bunch of junk sometimes, there is always beauty if you get up early and take the time to look, even when you don't feel like it.
 
 
I Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him
 
Ouch
 
Today I went to the end of my long gravel driveway to take my trash.  There are three families who live down this long drive and a dumpster for each one's trash.  Dogs I assume, or some type of animal, had knocked the dumpsters over and trash was everywhere.  Even though the trash wasn't mine I began to pick it up. There was a lot of it.  I worked a plan out in my mind as to what was the quickest way to accomplish this feat.  I was going to start with the trash closest to the drive and then work my way on down the hill into the woods where the dogs had dragged all kinds of garbage. I remember wondering what I would do if i should see a snake under something I picked  up.  I don't think I ever came up with a plan if that event should occur.  I just remember the moment that I thought it had happened.  You see there was this wooden board that contained not one, but two long rusty nails.  My shoe met the board with the nails and they went through the shoe into the bottom of my foot and out through the top.  There was a big ouch and I just knew a snake had bitten me.  
 
Anyway this huge sacrifice I was making for my little world ended with blood, pain a trip to the ER. and someone who always has a plan how to do things quickly lying in bed thinking of things I wish I could do slowly or quickly. 
 
At the ER I wondered why.  I prayed a lot because it really did hurt. As I prayed, I thought of the nails that went through my foot from bottom to top and thought of nails so much bigger than this that went through Jesus.  I thought of all the pain He experienced for me. Think of all the garbage  He took on for each of us. None of it was His. He just loved us.
 
I forgot to mention the garbage i was picking up when I stepped on the board didn't belong to  someone I didn't know that well  who live on this road. One family who lives  here is my sister and her husband. The other house here belongs to my son, his wife, and their children.  So I wasn't doing a favor for a stranger but for part of my own family who share not only this land, but their lives with me.  I asked  myself would I have done this for just anyone?  I answered, "No."  
 
Jesus took the nails,  and the pain, shed His blood, took on our trash, while we were yet sinners. We had never sat down and talked with Him and given our lives to Him yet.  He had a plan, actually He was the plan, God's plan, to give us a chance to be part of His family. The nails weren't an accident. There was no trip to see a doctor to remove them,   to stop the bleeding,  to receive medicine for infection, and shots for pain.    He came, He lived a garbage free, sin free life. He died, so all the world through the painful sacrifice of His blood might be saved
 
And one more thing I thought about  after He took on the nails of the  wooden cross and died.  He did step on a snake. He bruised satans head with his heal. He retrieved the keys to death, hell and the grave and rose to live forever more and made it possible for us to do the same. 
 
Romans 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen
 
My family told me they were sorry they didn't pick up the trash. Each one  said, "
I should have picked that trash up." I told them no, accidents happen and I would have hated for that nail to go through one of the children's feet instead of mine. I again thought of Jesus and how much He loves me! This accident made me appreciate and understand His sacrifice in a whole new way.   
 
 
I Chronicles 15:16  Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy
 
Rebounding-Resounding- Redounding
 
My grandsons were out playing early this morning when I looked outside. I asked them why they weren't in school.  They happily chanted in unison, "It's Columbus Day!"  Now whether they actually know what Columbus Day is, or I guess I should say who Columbus was and what he discovered, I really don't know.   They were just happy they were at home,  discovering new joys jumping on the trampoline, instead of discovering new math problems at school.
 
Christopher Columbus lived and died a long time ago.  Yet, he is remembered all these years later because of things he accomplished while he was living. There is some controversy as to whether he actually discovered North America.   It was already inhabited, therefore already discovered by someone obviously. Nevertheless, Columbus' expedition was unique and important in that it resulted in the first intertwining of Europe with the Americas, resulting in the first permanent European colonies in the New World.  And more important to my grandchildren and a lot of children today, this journey way back in 1492,  resulted in a day out of school  in the New World in 2008.
 
i suppose Columbus went through a lot to finally reach his destination.  There were probably a lot of ups and downs, ships sinking, money problems, sickness, death, trials, tribulations, battles,   but he persevered and accomplished what he set out to accomplish. I believe there was some joy and maybe even some singing when he made his "discovery."
 
This year has been a year of a lot of ups and downs, ships sinking, or I guess maybe not coming in I should say.  Yes, there have been money problems, sickness, death, trials, tribulations and many battles.  i know I, as all, must persevere and continue on to accomplish what God wants  accomplished in this life.  In the end there will be a lot of joy and celebration when we reach the final destination.
 
In II Chronicles after David (someone else we remember who accomplished much who lived a long time ago) had finally defeated the Philistines, he built a house, a resting place for the ark of the covenant of God.  He painstakingly made sure he planned every bit of the ceremony in the proper order as to how God would want it to take place. Everyone had to be sanctified who carried the ark and entered in. He appointed singers to praise God with resounding joy  Resounding-impressively thorough and complete.  In other words, IT IS FINISHED!!!  The battles are over, the mistakes are in the past,  the ark of the covenant is at rest. No more rebounding, looking back or going back, only moving forward with resounding joy.
 
Of course we all realize every single battle David went through was for a specific purpose. Today we  can look back on David's life and discover so many things we each must do in order to live a pure and holy life pleasing to God.  Through David's life, even through mistakes he made,  we see God's grace, mercy, forgiveness and restoration demonstrated.  Through David's songs we find God's peace and strength to carry on when the journey seems long and hard. 
 
There is a verse in II Corinthians that speaks of how ALL THINGS we go through are intended to bring glory to God.  When victory comes, when we bounce back, rebound and move forward, thanksgiving perhaps resounding songs I suppose, REDOUND to the glory of God.  Redound- to contribute to  a result; to come back or reflect upon a person as to honor
 
All things we go through that lead to the discovery of the joy, strength, peace and victory found housed only in God will bring honor to Him. These things will bring the thanksgiving of many which in turn will bring glory to His holy name.  

II Corinthians 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
 
 
 
Feeding While Being Fed
 

Once upon a time there was a little dog who lived on a busy street corner.  In the cold winter, in the hot Summer, she was always there. She watched every car that stopped at the traffic light.  I passed that corner often, almost everyday. The times the red light caught me, I would often roll my window down and have a nice chat with the 'homeless" dog who lived on the corner. Sometime I would share my breakfast with her. She always wagged her tail and said thank you.  One night I saw Gypsy running down the street in the pouring rain. I thought she might have been running home, but found she was only running to a nearby factory to  find shelter  under an awning there.    Time passed and Gypsy left that corner and moved to another corner further down the busy highway.  This corner was a little nicer in hot weather. There was  a shade tree where Gypsy often found rest.  Sometime a friend would join her there. Cars stopped and  people shared  smiles and food with Gypsy.  People stopped and put dog food out in plastic containers daily. Gypsy always sheared with her friends.  I often wondered if Gypsy had once had a home and someone abandoned her there. i guess she was  always watching for her master to return and take her  back home.
 
Last Wednesday as I approached Gypsy's corner, the light was red. I stopped but didn't see Gypsy.  In her usual place I saw two ladies standing with a camera. I looked past them and saw flowers attached to a huge white dog bone on a stand. It was a wreath. I pulled off the road and got out.  The ladies were standing by a fresh grave.  I asked what had happened. The ladies worked at a veterinary clinic down the road. They said someone ran over Gypsy the day before and brought her into the clinic.  They couldn't save her.  Beside the grave were dishes filled with dog food people had left the night before.  There was a big sign bidding farewell to Gypsy. 
 
Gypsy was just a homeless dog, just a forgotten mutt left behind.  Yet Gypsy made a difference in her corner of the world.  She caused many strangers to share a smile, a kind word, and some food with her every day. I know in my life there were many days I didn't really feel like smiling ,but when I saw Gypsy manning her post, wagging her tail, and smiling a doggy smile; it made me smile.  Now Gypsy wasn't a sheep obviously, she might have had a little sheep dog in her, but she was fed very well. The thing is while she was being fed she was also feeding others.   Her aloneness in this world caused many people to share, care, and feed.  She brought joy just by being.  How many of us humans, who God did command to feed His sheep can say that?   Do we bring joy into others lives just by being.  While we are waiting for our Master to come take us home, are we making a difference in the lives of others? Are we simply being fed, or are we also feeding?
 
On days when we feel all alone and left behind,  feeling tired and hungry, we should lift up our heads and look around to see who we can feed.
Feeding others brings fullness and joy.
 
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep John 21:17