Just Stop and Say THANKS! The simple word thanks, that small message on our lips and spoken often would provide a wonderful change from the griping, complaining and harshness that is enveloping us as we view protesters who seem ungrateful and … Continue reading
No Victory Without a Struggle
Who else can join me in saying I am happy and thankful to look back over my life with joy and anticipation about what the future holds? It will not be in the realm of our world situation. That is changing every day and we will only see uncertainty if we try to count on tomorrow. But today I feel as though I am looking down from the tip of K2, the famous mountain in the Himalayas. We could see its tip when we lived in Pakistan. I am remembering the Persian New Year celebration, the Vernal Equinox, the Jewish history of Iran where I taught in an International School. I am feeling the warm sand brushing my flip flops as I walked across the desert in the UAE.
My life took on all those changes when I chose to follow Christ. For my birthday celebration in February my pastor son and his wife had a display table recounting the ten decades of change, the 1920s, my birth decade, to the present, 2018. I have had the joy of seventy four years given to God for His will.
I am among those often discounted because they are “elderly” but the God of the Bible has given us a place with rights and privileges. I did not know what God had planned for me when I first began this walk of faith. I had the King James Version of the Bible to guide my path. I began to read about God’s promises to King David in the Psalms, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go. I will guide thee with My Eye” (Psalm 32:8.) I latched on, laid claim to the promises believing them mine because they express the character of God and His child. I am one of His children by faith in Christ.
I uncovered God’s words to Jeremiah about His people Israel when I read, “I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an expected end…” (29:11.) I dared to believe I could trust God. I was a self-willed child who became His captive, wanting to be obedient to His calling. The NASV translates this verse, “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope.” The NIV Student Bible’s translation says “plans to prosper you and not harm you.” Both are true, good, but had I read that translation in my early years, it might have left me thinking of material prosperity, maybe even with worldly goods. I am thankful I have always had enough but no great excess.
I soon found walking the path God was laying out would not always be easy or clear. A blind man has to depend on a guide. So it was with my faith in Christ. I often had to wait for light. My Shepherd has led me in paths not unlike those He Himself set as a pattern when he trod the earth. When the sheep follow the shepherd, they will travel uphill and down, experience the thorns of the bushes, the cuts in their feet, the desire for a cool drink, the need for rest. They must learn to trust the shepherd. My Shepherd who had come from Heaven’s glory walked in paths of sadness and rejection while He was on earth. He was misunderstood. In human form like us, He faced some terrible tragic moments of a human’s life. One of His last promises was “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you…” He is willing to walk beside us.
I met with a metaphor this week which describes what I have felt. Several years ago I had a small circle of earth in my front lawn with a clematis vine in the center, tulips around it. It could not withstand the stormy winds, was often blown over. I decided to get rid of the circle. I dug up the vine and replanted the bulbs. I thought I had gotten all of them but each year a few tulip leaves would show up and be removed by the mower. We had an early Spring this year. I saw two leaves popping out. They had struggled to stay alive, unable to grow and bloom. I decided to dig them out and give them a new chance to grow and bloom, sometime in the future.
The incident tells my story. My children had a big 90th birthday party for me in February, over 150 attendees. I am very thankful to still be active, but I learned long ago there is never a victory without a struggle. My Christian life has sometimes been blown over by a strong wind and I was cut down. It was then God took me out of the darkness of earth where I was not able to grow as He planned and replanted me so I could bloom for His glory. For that I give Him praise from my whole heart.
I am still loving the ministry God has given me, writing, teaching a Sunday School Class and a Bible study with the elderly in a residential facility and visiting in a rehab facility, gardening, visitation and helping by prayer.
Myrtle Virginia Thompson, Ret. Missionary, TEAM, Wheaton, IL, 1950-’89, Pakistan, Iran, the UAE and the USA.
The fat skink lay quietly in the sun, not wanting to be disturbed. She had dug a hole in the yard where the sidewalk from the garage to the front door turns the corner, under the azalea bush which was in bloom. It was where I planned to work, dig up the area and put down mulch. I am sure it was a she, getting so fat because she was ready to lay her eggs. She was brown. Her babies would first be blue. I tried to get her to move but she didn’t want to go. Finally, I used the shovel and gave her a gentle nudge. She slowly moved further away, under the golden euonymus bush, hidden from my view. Very soon after, the baby skinks were on their own, running through the garden. They have sometimes startled me as I have startled them. What amazing creatures God has put on earth!
I found this creature devouring my parsley. He ate the whole plant, then disappeared. They have to form a chrysalis, but return in a “resurrected” form. Later in the summer, I saw a butterly of his kind (a Monarch?) and wondered if it was from this caterpillar.If it were not for the butterfly, we wouldn’t have much appreciation for this guy!
I planted a tiny garden in my “matchbox” size backyard, just to prove it could be done. We had early peas and lettuce, then squash, onions, cucumbers and potatoes,.in limited quantities, of course. When the potatoes in my kitchen sprouted, I decided to plant them. We got quite a few,but we also got some oddities, strange ones with all kinds of protrusions. Also,something underground had nibbled on them. I planted beets in the window box. They need more room or may need to be planted at a different time. For some reason, the tomatoes did not produce like our grandson’s did, He brought us lots of jars of foods they had canned this past summer. they had prepared this past summer, including spaghetti sauce and soup.
A couple weeks ago when I looked at the little gingko tree in my back yard, the leaves were green. Almost within a week, they began to turn, first with a lovely golden edge around them. Later, they all began turning a beautiful shade of yellow, This afternoon, I see they have all fallen off and are lying in a heap at the bottom of the tree. I have pictures but have not been successful in importing them. Maybe next time.
In my book, Gingko trees are in a class by themselves. Like few other trees, there is a male and a female I got mine when it was just a stick with a couple leaves on top but I could recognize it. It had been a reject at a plant sale, looked unappealing and had no tag to tell people its name. I was willing to pay $5.00 for it. As it took root I saw three stems emerging. I don’t know if I have a male or female tree, but if a female, it is likely whoever lives here when I am gone will want to destroy it. I understand the female bears a fruit that has a rotten smell. In the years I have left, I will enjoy that velvety touch, its unusual shaped leaves and the beautiful yellow announcing Fall and Winter have arrived.
Seems like there is something in this that should remind us of our lives. If you have an answer, why not share it?
Let’s stay in touch. Myrtle Virginia Thompson
My name is Myrtle Virginia Thompson, sometimes aka Jenny Thompson. It’s a long story for another time. I am a retired missionary, have seen more than 8 decades come and go in my life and now it is time to reminisce about some of those bygone years. I have lived in four countries, if we count the US, and visited extensively in some others. Always, always it was the flowers that brought sunshine into my life.
Richard, beloved husband of 63 years, also loves flowers, but not working in them. That’s okay; our ideas would probably clash. He did help me once when we were clearing out brush around our new little log cabin in western NC. It was a very warm day. In one hour, 6 ticks descended on any bare spot of skin they could find on him, so I sent him inside. I don’t think they liked my sweat; only one bothered to try it.
I love a garden and gardening. I think I got that from my earthly father who likely got it from his Heavenly Father. Daddy was a “green thumb” man. Why did God choose to start life on planet Earth in a garden? I don’t know; I wasn’t there to ask. I do know that for me, gardening is therapeutic. It helps me physically, mentally, spiritually and even emotionally. Almost everybody has heard about the Garden of Eden. God closed it to man after sin entered the world. Not many people know about the garden in the city of Sodom before Sodom was destroyed. It was said to be comparable to the Garden of Eden. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Waiting for seeds to germinate, watching as fat “cats”–caterpillars–chew every leaf of my parsley and a praying mantis helping me get rid of the aphids brings on a wonder of God’s creative powers. Butterflies, large and small, fly silently above my head without making noise. Lizards or skinks take a sun bath but slither away when I disturb their naptime. I think they are the same ones that turn from brown to a beautiful blue. It is incredible what I have seen in my little gardening areas in each country.