Heat Waves, Hurricanes and the Red Dirt Road

Waiting, such a difficult word to follow at times. You wait for your turn, you wait for a loved one to call, you wait for the doctor to give you the news, you wait for the prodigal child to return. YOU WAIT.

He will give you strength. He will shield you. He will give you courage. He will guard and strengthen your heart. He will protect you. He will ward off evil. How do you wait with peace? You do this by faith. Seeking the Lord and his words to give you the peace He has promised you. You pray, you call out, seek Him, praise Him and stand strong in your faith. Psalms 27:14 Wait patiently for the LORD; be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the LORD!

I can not believe it has been five years, since mom was diagnosed with cancer. Our last visit with her doctor was an eye opener. The doctor’s greetings was Mrs. Creel you keep showing back up. Your prognosis was only 18 months with this type of cancer, not five years. Immediately out of mom’s mouth was her faith and God’s healing power.

The initial shock of someone being diagnosed with any illness is a test of faith. Allowing God to work in your life, with His healing powers and the support of your medical team and family is a testimony in itself of your faith. Knowing he has a purpose for you and He will give you the strength to carry on. It is easy to throw in the towel and just give up. I am not going to go in to grave details of her journey, but I am going to let you know how God is working in her life and mine.

The initial surgery was extensive and during the surgery they accidentally cut her ureter. This is the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. so needless to say a urologist was called in during the surgery to repair this. They placed a stint and recovery began. This was a long 6 weeks in a nursing home, far away from her family and friends. We called and visited as often as we could. I can not imagine the waiting she was having to do on her own. As I write this tears are coming and going. Not being able to “fix” or be with her everyday was difficult, but our life kept going with our children and jobs. Mom’s life was turned upside down. All she had with her was her faith and a cell phone.

If you know my mom, she is one of the strongest and giving woman I know. Her life was spent raising us in a Chrisitan home and ensuring we had the foundation of God’s word and love in our life. She wasn’t a single parent, but during a time in our life dad lived in another city and was dealing with his own demons; alcohol and the loss of his dad. I have written about Dad and how God brought him back to mom and his family for the end of his life. Back to mom ….

Mom made it home and our weekly phone calls were about how she was progressing, healing, having set backs and the stint was causing pain, leaking and not healing. She had her chemo treatments, tests to see if the stint was healing and when will it come out. This went on for months. I was in church one Sunday and we had a visiting preacher from Arkansas. He closed the sermon with prayer. He then said, “I need to pray for someone who has trouble with their bladder or kidneys.” I hit Kenny in the side and said, “You think this is for mom?”

Well someone went to the alter before me and I thought well it’s not her kidney or bladder. He prayed for this person and said again there is one more. With tears in my eyes I walked to the front. He told his wife to put her hands on my lower back. I stopped him and told him no, this is not me. It’s my mom. He put his hands on my shoulders and his wife gave me a tissue to hold in my hand. He then said this is not the kidneys or bladder, this is the tubings of the kidney and bladder. He began to pray for healing.

I took the tissue to dry my eyes and the preacher’s wife quickly told me no this tissue is for your mom, not you. Get her this tissue.

I called mom later in the week to find out how her doctor appointments went. I could hear it in her voice. Something had changed. Her voice was strong, cheerful and excited. She started out by telling me she had given a full urine sample to her doctor. This was huge for her. She then proceeded to tell me she was able “hold it” between doctor appointments, again another huge step to recovery. I told her about the prayer we had in church for her. God was working on her healing.

Her next urologist appointment came later this week. The doctor walked in and told mom he couldn’t explain it. He was at the point in her treatment to replace the stint and search alternative ways to void. Instead he told her the stint is healed, it’s not leaking and it is time to remove it. Mom told him of our prayer and he agreed with her, this is definitely not my doings, but of a higher power.

Five years, not eighteen months and your life is not over. She is waiting. Waiting in pain, waiting in solitude,waiting with family and friends, waiting with faith. Learning to live each day as God gives you. Knowing God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28. She is fighting the good fight, she is finishing the race, she is keeping the faith. She is continuing to take vacations with her grandkids in between treatments. She is still in chemo treatments every three weeks. But with great news, her cancer markers are coming down quickly, like they did in the beginning.

Mom’s prayer circle is large. She has a community and family that pray for her. This is the belief and faith Granny taught her, Mom taught us and I taught my children. James 5: 13-16 Is any one of you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders (the spiritual guides). And they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord’s name. And the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail.

As you wait, you pray. Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.  Romans 12:12

If you continue to read in James the very next verse is of Elijah and his faith and the power of prayer. He prayed for no rain and for three years, no rain. He then began to pray for rain and the rains began. My prayer and faith started in the fourth grade. Learning from Granny, Mom and our church. I am amazed how God is leading me to the scriptures that flows with the childhood stories I am writing. So, with Elijah came the drought and the rain leading me right into the summer of 1980.

Our three-bedroom, white wooden house- with red shutters, sat about 50 yards off the red dirt road.  You could smell the iron ore in the air, from the dust that blew into the unsealed windows. This small house had wooden and laminate floors. Wooden walls with peeling, cloth wall paper and paneling.   This wooden house sat on cinder blocks and was surrounded by towering cedars and oak trees and one beautiful mimosa tree, with a wisteria vine entwined in it.  The cedar trees were so large their limbs touched the ground.  Their limbs created a canopy of shade and wall of protection from the red dirt road.

The canopy of shade from the cedar tree, that was right by our bedroom window, allowed us to hand stuff in and out of the window without having to go through the screen door. This shade was a sanctuary for us, since the temperatures again was going into triple digits, per Granny. Today we were making cookies from all the little balls that fell from the cedar tree. They were very similar to chocolate chips. Sister was getting the spoons from Granny’s kitchen, for some reason we kept losing the ones we had. I was arranging the kitchen and club house we had created under our cedar tree playground. Brother he is the smallest, so he was in charge of picking up all those little gray balls or seeds on the ground, from the cedar tree.

I am the oldest.  My sister is the middle child and brother is the baby.  At this point of our life we were 5, 7, and 9 years old.  We moved in with Granny when I was entering the 4th grade. Granny’s house became home to us for 5 years. The red dirt road and surrounding woods was our playground. 

The sun was already climbing high in the sky. It would soon heat the dirt and the ground causing more cracks like an overbaked cake. Not yet noon, but we could still fell the heat on the top of our heads when we were not in the shade. Dust was rolling across the tops of the potatoes, watermelons, corn, peas and green bean stalks that were slowly shriveling up. It has not rained in awhile. When the log trucks and now the regular cars drove down our road the dust would blow and climb up into the air like fairy dust. It wasn’t magic though. It was a thick red cloud that would stick to the screens on the windows and doors. It covered our cars. The red dust clung to every tree branch, weed, and grass along the red dirt road and our yard. The red dirt road dust was painting the forests red and creating walls of redness along the sides of the road, like a long tunnel with a blue sunny sky light view.

Sister pulled open the branch of the cedar tree that was the door. The sign stayed! I was so happy. We had worked for hours on this sign. Well not really, we created the welcome sign quickly out of our treasures from the dump and from around the house. We had spelled out welcome on a piece of wood. The hours was really the waiting for the Elmer’s glue to dry. The waiting was hard. Going to check on it, touch it to see if it was dry and “shoot”; nope it moved, so we had to re-glue it and wait again.

Sister had brought us three new mixing bowls and spoons from Granny’s kitchen. We would hear about this later, but for now we cooked. Sister began digging up the dirt, I went and got water from the hose and brother was dividing up the “chocolate chips”. We each had our mixing bowls and we started mixing up our cookies. The mixing was the tricky part. You had to get the mud mixture thin enough to pour but not too thin, where it ran off the cookie sheet. We each had a cookie sheet we had made from the old sheet metal fence, from the pig pen. We scooped and poured out our cookies onto the cookie sheet. Then set them out in the sun to bake.

While the cookies were baking in the sun, we headed inside to soak up the cool AC. Granny’s window unit in the dining room hadn’t shut off for weeks. I was thankful the nights were not as hot as the days. Granny left open the dining room door that led to the bedrooms, but the cold AC never reached us. We had a box fan in our bedroom that moved around the hot air. This fan also turned into a great speaker when you sang into it. The normal lunch and dinner conversations lately had been about the heat, no rain and if our gardens would survive.

Granny always began with prayer before we ate. Her prayers on this hot dry summer day was asking God to bless us with rain, thanking him for the food on our table and to let the food nourish our body. I told Granny about my dream of it raining while we had our sandwiches and Cheetos. Granny’s response, “If you dream that three nights in a row it will happen.” Oh, this is new. I didn’t know about that.

After lunch we went to check on our cookies. They were perfect crispy little cookies. We picked them up and put them on the platter we had found in the dump. We were always surprised when we found un broken china and gadgets. We always wondered why people would throw out perfectly good stuff. We set the table with our finest china and each got our glass of water from the hose. Sister and I were having tea and cookies in our make-believe world. Creating a conversation of adult topics concerning the weather, the heat, the lack of rain and how delicious these cookies were. We were lost in our own conversations when we heard Brother spitting and gagging.

We both stopped and looked at Brother. His mouth and face was covered in dirt. He had spit dripping from his mouth, with little cedar berries stuck on the corner of his lip. Oh heavens, we probably killed him if these berries are poisonous.

“Why did you eat those cookies?” Sister yelled.

“I thought that’s why we made them.” Brother argued.

“Oh goodness, no Brother. Did you not see me and Sister acting like we were eating them.” I told him.

“No, but your cookies are disappearing and they aren’t on the ground or your plate. So I figured ya’ll must have eaten them.” Brother told us.

We cleaned him up and went to look up cedar berries in Granny’s reader digest encyclopedia’s. We couldn’t find anything. We waited.

Time seemed to stand still while we were waiting for Brother to get sick or in our minds die. We prayed and thanked Jesus Brother didn’t get sick or die. We can play again tomorrow.

The next morning I ran into the kitchen so excited to share with Granny my rain dream again. I found her drinking her coffee and working on her crossword puzzles. I told her it was not the same, but it was raining. Granny said a quick prayer for rain and began making her famous and our favorite pancakes. We sure did miss the milk we used to get from town. Granny had started using powdered milk, since this dreaded heat wave was on us. The milk was always sour by time she drove all the way home. It is ok though, we had her pancakes and the small cans of pineapple juice.

Day two turned into day three. It had been months since we had seen rain. The heat was staying in triple digits and it was getting harder to stay outside for long periods of time without the water hose. We weren’t allowed to play in the water hose alot during this summer. Something about the water table running low. This glorious morning I woke up with delight and joy because this was day three and I had another rain dream. I couldn’t wait to tell Granny.

She was drinking her coffee and smoking, while doing her crossword puzzle. When I told her about the dream, she again said a prayer for rain. We went about another hot and dusty day. We traipsed in and out of the house for most of the day. Out of the house because we were bored and then back in because we were drenched in sweat and hot. We could drew tattoos of hearts and flowers on our legs from the dust that clung to us with our sweat. We finally washed off and called it a day.

During dinner Granny said her prayer for rain. I told her, “It’s going to rain Granny.”

Dad asked, “How do you know?”

” I have had the same dream about rain three nights in a row and Granny’s praying for rain everyday.” was my response.

“Hmm. Will see.” Dad remarked. “The only thing that may help us is that storm moving in, Darrell.”

As we sat eating our dinner the kitchen soon became a little darker, like the sun was going down. It was too early for the sun to go down. I jumped up to look out the window.

“It’s raining!” I screamed.

We all jumped up and ran outside to watch the heavens send the rain down. Granny even in her moomoo, was dancing a jig and praising God, as we all danced around in the rain.

This tropical storm brought in 17 inches of rain. Enough rain to raise the water table again and give us access to our water hose to cool off on these hot summer days.

Make sure that no one repays evil for evil. Always pursue what is good for one another and for all people.… Rejoice at all times.… Pray without ceasing.… Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not extinguish the Spirit.… Hold fast to what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19, 21 Remain alert. Keep standing firm in your faith. Keep on being courageous and strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 This is how you wait.

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