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Archive for January, 2016

“I have a great confidence in the revelations which holidays [and anniversaries] bring forth.”
—Benjamin Disraeli

In my previous post, published on December 4 and titled “The South, Arkansas, and the Delta,” I noted that it would probably be the last post I would publish in 2015 (which it was) due to my advancing age and failing health.

However, although I continue to have to deal with those personal issues, three interesting events took place during the “holiday season” (including our fifty-third wedding anniversary on December 27) so I decided to try to put them together into a new year’s post.

Jimmy and Marion at our fiftieth wedding anniversary

Mari and me at our fiftieth wedding anniversary on December 27, 2012 (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Mari and Jimmy at their wedding on December 27, 1962

Mari and me at our wedding on December 27, 1962, at the First Baptist Church of McGehee, Arkansas (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Anecdote One:
Showing Hospitality to Strangers/
Entertaining Angels Unawares

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
—Hebrews 13:2 NIV

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
—Hebrews 13:2 KJV

In an earlier post titled “Follow-Up on Fall Updates and Tidbits” I used this opening quote of Hebrews 13:2 NIV in another personal anecdote. This one was from the mid-1970s and recounted my meeting with a Japanese-American woman who had been a detainee at the WWII Rohwer Japanese-American Incarceration Camp near our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas.

This lady was distraught because she lived in Chicago and had no one to take care of her mother’s grave at the Rohwer Memorial Cemetery. I later regretted that I had neglected to show proper “hospitality to strangers” by failing to offer to take care of the grave for her.

Japanese-American Memorial Cemetery at Rohwer, Arkansas

Japanese-American Memorial Cemetery at the WWII Japanese-American Incarceration Camp at Rohwer, Arkansas

In a somewhat similar anecdote titled “Have You Seen Any Angels This Christmas?” from an earlier Christmas post titled “My Après-Blog Post: Saving Mr. Peacock” I related how I felt that I had failed to show full hospitality to a poor single mother and her toddling son in the parking lot of a local drugstore when she asked for enough money for gas to get herself and her young child back home.

Now in a much less significant, but perhaps in a more relevant anecdote to the subject and the season, I was again reminded of this biblical admonition to “show hospitality” or to “entertain” strangers.

Grossly simplified, it related to my physical and emotional health which has virtually robbed me of most of my ability to carry on the ordinary activities of my former daily life.

The emotional aspect revolves around the feeling of being an invalid and more or less a burden to my wife and family rather than a blessing.

Since I was lying in the recliner at home bemoaning my limited movements and activities, naturally I was somewhat vexed when our older grandson Levi called to say he was coming over to visit us (which was fine) . . . and would like for a teenage friend to meet him here.

Our older grandson Levi

Earlier photo of our older grandson Levi (for an updated image, see the Christmas 2015 family photo at the end of this post)

I must admit that in my current state I did not feel at all disposed to “welcoming” and “entertaining” a strange teenage boy.

As I was bemoaning the obligations the visit would require of me, Levi called again to inform us that his friend was walking and was bringing his sister, who needed to go to the bathroom!

Naturally, I was even further disturbed at having to welcome and entertain not only the new boy but also the boy’s sister.

To top it off, while walking to our house the boy and his sister became lost so Levi had to try to give them directions by cell phone.

By the time the pair arrived, I was in a real state of nervousness and even physical pain.

When the doorbell finally rang, I responded with a groan.

Then Levi opened the door, and in walked the sister.

She was tiny and beautiful and sweet . . . an absolute doll . . . and she was four years old!

Immediately my entire attitude changed. I melted like a chocolate bar on a hot day! My pain and sickness vanished instantly and completely!

Mari was quickly dispatched to lead the innocent child down the hall to the bathroom while the little girl’s teenage brother visited with Levi and me.

The boy was refreshingly polite and well-mannered, a real joy to converse with in this age of the so-called “generation gap.”

Image how bad I felt about my former attitude toward the young pair before I had even met them.

After our brief visit, Mari decided the walk back to the kids’ grandmother’s house was far too great for the youngsters to undertake, so she put them into the car and drove them back home.

Meanwhile, I was left to squirm in my recliner and regret my immediate and somewhat less than hospitable attitude toward a couple of very nice kids whom I had never met.

I only hope that next time I can learn to do better at showing the Christmas/Christian spirit to strangers, especially during the Holy Seasons of the year.

After all, angels are not always the way we envision them. Sometimes they arrive in the form of teenage boys (like our two grandsons and their friends) . . . and sometimes they enter our lives as little four-year-old girls!

Anecdote Two:
Who Are Angels
And What Do They Do?

“What are the angels, then? They are spirits who serve God
and are sent by him to help those who are to receive salvation.”
—Hebrews 1:14 GNT

“Are not all angels ministering spirits
sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
—Hebrews 1:14 NIV

In an earlier post titled “Inspiration Infusion: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood” I described the regular procedure that Mari and I must follow when we visit the blood center of a Tulsa hospital for treatment of my blood disorder. Often this procedure includes infusions of blood.

In that post I noted:

Because of my other health issues, those regular blood infusions usually consist of two units of blood administered in separate sessions over a two-day period.

During each of those procedures I must spend three to four hours sitting in a recliner hooked up to an IV while Mari sits beside me [or in front of me] in a straight chair in a cold and rather stark and sterile room. Although the nurses in the blood center are wonderfully warm and attentive, responding instantly and graciously to our every need and desire, there is no way they or anyone else can speed up the procedures.” (italics mine)

Mari standing behind me as I rest in my recliner on an IV at the blood center

Mari standing behind me as I rest in my recliner wearing my Arkansas Razorback cap while attached to an IV in the blood center (to enlarge, click on the photo)

It was during the recent “holiday season” that the second “angelic” incident occurred, this one at the blood center.

Late in the afternoon while I still had a couple of hours or more to go before the infusion would be complete and I could be released from the IV to which I was attached, Mari received a call on her cell phone from our older grandson Levi, fifteen.

It seems that Levi and his brother Ben, thirteen, had come to our neighborhood to play football with some friends. Since he was in the area Levi decided to visit us to see if we were all right.

Unfortunately, when he discovered that we were not home he also discovered that the garage door through which he had gained entrance to the house would not close.

So he called Mari to ask about us and what to do about the open garage door. He was concerned because he knew that the house directly across the street had recently been burgled and that he had to leave our house to go with a group of friends to another town.

So Mari had to leave me alone in the blood center while she drove home (a forty-five-minute drive) in darkening, rush-hour holiday traffic to close the garage door before we lost everything in the house, especially the numerous presents under the Christmas tree!

While Mari was gone on that hour-and-a-half round trip I was on pins and needles, especially since I could not reach her on my cell phone. All I received each time was a message: “Your call did not go through.”

To make matters worse, Mari was not calling me on her cell phone. So given my fertile imagination and my neurotic nature, I was quickly becoming panicky.

Finally after an hour and a half, the time when Mari should have returned to the blood center safe and sound, I could stand the suspense no longer.

So I asked the kindly nurse attending me to please try to call Mari for me since I was having no luck reaching her.

Just as the obliging nurse did so, she learned that Mari was only a mile from the hospital, and would be there in a matter of minutes.

I was so relieved, but still I waited anxiously to learn what had happened at the house during her absence.

As it turned out, when Mari finally returned to the blood center she told me that Ben had taken matters in hand and had gone to the home of the city policeman who lives two doors down the street and told him:

“The garage door on my grandmother’s house won’t close, and she is coming from the hospital in Tulsa to close it. Can you come watch the house until she gets here?”

Our younger grandson Ben

Earlier photo of our younger grandson Ben (for an updated image, see the Christmas 2015 family photo at the end of this post)

Fortunately, the policeman was home and agreed to Ben’s request so that when Mari arrived the policeman was out in front of the house protecting it personally.

So some angels appear not only as teenage boys and as four-year-old girls, but also as nurses in scrubs and policemen in uniform.

Note: Later on, Mari hand–delivered a homemade coffee cake to the policeman down the street with a word of thanks for his watching over our house and belongings. Then on our Christmas Eve visit to the blood center Mari expressed our gratitude to the nurses at the center by taking them cookies and other holiday treats. Finally, Mari provided treats of appreciation for the valet parking attendants who render us and the other blood center patients such a wonderful service so that we never have to search for a parking place or walk long distances, especially during inclement weather. These and so many others in our daily lives—most of whom we take for granted—are indeed “angels,” God’s “ministering spirits” on our behalf. God bless them, every one!

Holiday/Anniversary Anecdote Three:
“Angels Unawares” and “Angels Awares”

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”
“Endymion,” a poem written by John Keats

“A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life. . . .

“Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.’”
—Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-29 NIV

Earlier in this post I mentioned the nurses at the blood center and how “wonderfully warm and attentive” they are and how diligent they are in “responding instantly and graciously to our every need and desire.”

Thus it is clear that I include them (and indeed all nurses, especially those who have cared for me in my many health issues) on my list of God’s angels, His “ministering spirits.”

In essence, along with other “public servants” (such as policemen and even the young people who serve as valet parking attendants at the blood center), I hold them in high esteem and great appreciation.

I have thus included them and so many others in our daily lives as “angels unawares.”

But there are others whom I consider “angels awares.”

Mari (first from left) as a blond-haired high-school Christmas angel in the McGehee, Arkansas, Nativity Scene at Christmas in 1957.

Mari (first on left) as a blond-haired high-school Christmas angel in the McGehee, Arkansas, Nativity Scene at Christmas time in 1957 (to enlarge, click on the photo)

For example, during the “holiday season” I was nearing the end of my second infusion of blood and was looking forward to being released by the nurses.

As I have noted, during those long hours at the blood center I am confined to a recliner and attached to an IV while Mari has to sit in a straight chair either beside me or in front of me where she passes the time crocheting afghans, prayer shawls, baby blankets, and other lovely and useful items for others.

On this occasion, she was sitting in front of me dressed in her brightest holiday sweater and dangling earrings, with her blond hair glowing like spun gold from the light on her head as she labored diligently and quietly, waiting patiently for the moment when we could be dismissed.

Mari in her Christmas sweater and dangly earrings

Mari in her Christmas sweater and dangling earrings (with me and Levi reflected in the mirror)

However, for some reason my blood pressure (which the nurses check three times every hour) was extremely high—so high in fact that the nurses would not allow me to leave.

In an instant there were three of them around my chair giving me advice on how to bring it down.

One was saying, “Just relax!”

Another was urging me, “Take deep breaths!”

The third was more specific when she advised me, “Just think of the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to you in your life!”

“That’s easy,” I replied instantly. “I’m looking at her right now!”

Mari as "the most beautiful thing that ever happened in my life"!

Mari as “the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me in my life”! (to enlarge, click on the photo)

Mari (second from left directly in front of the queen) as a senior maid (beauty) in the McGehee High School Homecoming parade

Mari (second from left rear, seated directly in front of the queen) as a Senior Homecoming maid (“a thing of beauty”) in the McGehee High School Homecoming Parade (to enlarge, click on the photo)

In response to that “sweet remark,” the nurses were so impressed that (although my blood pressure was still a bit high) they allowed us to leave.

So we did so, with me leaning on my cane with my right hand and holding onto to Mari’s right arm with my left hand: a posture that we have followed physically for the past two years of my illness, and symbolically for the fifty-three years of our marriage.

So I am well aware of at least one of the “angels” (“ministering spirits,” “things of beauty”) whom God has placed in my life and who has served me so well for more half a century.

Is there any wonder that I praise her and her lasting beauty and undying devotion, saying (and writing):  “Mari, many women do noble things,  but you surpass them all. Happy Anniversary!”

So angels sometimes appear not only as teenage boys and four-year-old girls, as nurses in scrubs and policemen in uniform, and even as valet parking attendants . . . but also as our own life’s partner . . . and family members!

Marion with her 2015 Christmas sweater and dangly earrings and family

Mari in her 2015 Christmas sweater and dangling earrings with her family (l to r): grandson Ben, Mari, son Keiron, grandson Levi, husband Jimmy (to enlarge, click on the photo)

For more information and photos of Mari throughout her life as an “angel” and “a thing of beauty,” click here.

Conclusion

“Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.”
—Psalm 103:20-21 NIV

“For he [God] will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.”
—Psalm 91:11 NIV

As noted in my introduction to this post, I had not intended to publish a new post on this subject of angels. However, since these events involving angels occurred during the “holiday/anniversary season” I decided to try to put them together in this post.

Unfortunately, due to my health and the season’s activities I was not able to publish it earlier during that season.

I hope the delay does not detract from its message and appeal.

The truth is that I had planned to try to put together and publish another very different post during the first week of January.

However, my health and family obligations simply would not allow that rather difficult and complicated undertaking. Perhaps I can compose and publish it later also as a belated message.

Meanwhile, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers that God will continue to send His angels, who do His bidding and obey His Word and His will, to guard and keep me and my family in all our ways.

That is my prayer for you and for everyone else who reads this post and others on my blog. Those readers must be fairly numerous since the blog is now approaching 95,000 visits.

Thanks to you!

Sources

The earlier blog post titled “Follow-Up on Fall Updates and Tidbits” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/follow-up-on-fall-updates-and-tidbits/

The earlier blog post titled “My Après-Blog Post: Saving Mr. Peacock” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/my-apres-blog-post-saving-mr-peacock/

The earlier blog post titled “Infusion Inspiration: Memory Flood at the Center for Blood” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/infusion-inspiration-memory-flood-at-the-center-for-blood/

The words to the poem “Endymion” by John Keats were taken from:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endymion_(poem)

All Scriptures were taken from the Bible Gateway online service at:
https://www.biblegateway.com/

Scriptures marked KJV were quoted from the King James Version of the Bible which is in public domain.

Scriptures marked NIV were quoted from The New International Version of the Bible:
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scriptures marked GNT were quoted from the Good News Translation of the Bible:
Good News Translation (GNT)
Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

The earlier post on my blog titled “Facts about Marion Williams Peacock” with more information and photos about Mari as an “angel” and “a thing of beauty” can be accessed at:
https://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/facts-about-marion-williams-peacock/

 

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