Hot Dogs, Ivory Soap and the Red Dirt Road

Can you hear me?  Are you listening? Did you hear what I said? Raise your hand if you heard me.

As a child we are told what to do all the time.  We do not fully understand good, bad, danger, safety, love or hate.  These feelings and situations we must learn.  Someone must teach us.

Your three-year-old is reaching out to touch the candle you have lit on the table.  You tell him or her STOP! It is hot.  It’s an owie. 

There are two choices that can happen here.  Your child listens and goes on to playing and discovering the rest of the world around them or they reach out and touch the fire anyway.

When we are younger the words, actions, and guidance of our parents and adults in our lives influence us daily. We are eager to learn and grow. 

As we grow up and become more independent and mature, we begin to think we have it all figured out.  I know each of you probably went through the stage of life thinking your parent didn’t know what they were talking about.

Your friends, social media, and the clutter of information from the world begins to influence you.  Having parents or adults who teach you the love of God, His kindness, faith and salvation is one of the best gifts a child can receive.

Understanding you are not alone in this world and you have a heavenly Father who is wanting a relationship with you.  He is available 24/7.  He wants to show you your purpose, your gifts, and His love for you and your life, are you listening?  Can you hear Him?

The first step to hearing the word of God is to know him. You must accept that you have sinned and made mistakes. You then must believe that Jesus is God’s son and He died on the cross for you and rose on the third day. You must confess your believe of Jesus as the Lord of your life and commit yourself to following Him and serving others. John 3:16, Romans 3:23 John 1:10

This starts the beginning of knowing your heavenly father. 

To hear His word or voice you must nourish and grow in your relationship with him.  This is done by you reading and hearing the book of Life, the Bible.  This is your toolbox. 

God’s plan for your life is to not harm you, but to help you prosper.  He is wanting to give you a future and hope. 

He wants you to call upon Him and pray and He will listen.  He wants you to seek Him and you will find Him, when you search for Him with all your heart. Jeremiah 29-12-13

Learning the scriptures is one way to know how God is wanting you to live your life. Taking time each day to read and meditate over a scripture allows for you to learn, be still, listen to your thoughts and hear from God. 

It might not be a vision or an out loud word, it may come from your thoughts, your heart, your gut feeling. 

 When you find yourself in a situation or prayer time where you are not sure what to do.  Pray for God to give you direction or wisdom.  Review your situation and determine if it lines up with the scripture. 

Ask yourself is this wise, does it bring me peace, am I doing this for God’s purpose.

Proverbs 8 tells you about the excellence of wisdom.  Listening and accepting instructions, wisdom and knowledge are key to growing in life and your maturity with Christ. These are more precious than rubies, silver and gold. (32-35) Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, for blessed are those who keep my way. Listen to instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at the posts of my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains the favor of the LORD.

When you are waiting God wants you to continue to be at peace and to serve.  He wants you to imitate Him, give thanks and put others first. Ephesians 5.

Seeking and searching, listening and waiting.  These two pair of tasks should be easy but are difficult when you are wanting to go swimming now, and your Dad has said to wait.  Even as a child, teenager, or adult, at times, we have that attitude of I want this now. Who has time to wait for Dad to finish baiting the trout lines? Plus, He left us with PawPaw chomping on his wet cigar trying to fish with soap. Really?

We had been skipping rocks across Village Creek while we waited. This was no little creek like was behind Granny’s house.  This creek looked more like a river.  Across the creek was the ultimate sandbar.  It was a large white sand bank that glistened like diamonds when the sun and water hit it just right.

I wanted to get that sandbar and explore the woods beyond it.  It was just like the banks of an old pirate movie, there had to be treasures yet to be discovered. Dad had promised he was taking us across.

 We, being my sister and brother.  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. 

This summer day we were not exploring the woods and red dirt road.  We were in the middle of the Big Thicket, halfway to our cousins house in the city.  Pawpaw’s camp house was nestled in the Big Thicket of East Texas.

 Dad had been teaching us how to throw flat rocks across Village Creek.  Brother was in the lead with the most skips.  He had thrown a rock that had skipped 9 times before it disappeared below the murky water. 

Sister and I had tried to beat his solid 9 for the last thirty minutes. This was getting boring and to be honest my arm was getting tired.  I had to save my arm strength for swimming, because Dad was taking us across the creek in the canoe to the sandbar when he returned from baiting the trout lines. We were going to get to swim in the waters by the magical, beautiful sandbar we had only seen from afar.

“Let’s go.” I told them.

“Where?” Sister asked.

“To the camp house. Let’s see what snacks Dad brought.” I responded.

We traipsed up the small hill to the tall camp house.  It was the darkest most uninviting house we had ever seen.  It sat high into the pines and oaks on stilts wrapped in tar paper, with no electricity or water.  In every corner there was a spider lurking with so many dead bugs who had become dinner.

The floors where covered with pine straw, dirt and leaves. Old iron beds sat with feather downed black and white striped mattress with no sheets. When we jumped up onto the beds you could see the dust dancing in the sunlight like fairy dust.

“Here’s the bag of food.” Brother told us.

Sister came in smiling from ear to ear.  “We are going to pull a Mama!” She squealed with delight.

We all knew what that meant.  We could have as many cokes as we could drink.  There was no limit today.  Pawpaw wouldn’t come check on us. 

We each opened our own coke.  No sharing with Brother today.  We always made him share with Mama.  We did not want to have to deal with his back wash you could see floating in the bottle of coke.

We were all sitting on the floor eating cold hot dog wieners, Cheetos and drinking our own Coke.  Our orange stained fingers were cleaned off by the cold wiener, so we really had a Cheeto hotdog.

“Look what I made.” Sister said.

She was a genius.  She had stuck a Cheeto into the hotdog, so we not only had a cheese tasting hotdog, but we had the crunch. 

We had started on our second hotdog when we heard Dad holler for us. We ran to the window and waved to him. 

“What are ya’ll doing up there?” he asked.

Since, I was the oldest and thought I was always in charge I responded, “We are eating lunch.  You want a hotdog.”

“That’s not your lunch.  I have peanut butter and jelly for ya’ll. Those hotdogs wieners are the bait for fishing.”  He replied.

“Fishing bait? What about worms?” Brother asked. 

“Ya’ll get down here and bring the wieners.” Dad told us.

Brother grabbed the wieners; Sister grabbed the Cheetos and I grabbed our cokes.

We traipsed back down the hill to find Pawpaw still sitting in his green lawn chair fishing with his Ivory soap. 

Dad handed Pawpaw a hot-dog.  This is one of the few times you would see him without that soggy cigar.  He put his cigar in his shirt pocket, (he rarely lit the thing), bit off the end of the hot-dog and spit it out into his hand.

  We all three stared at him waiting to see what he was going to do with the hot-dog. He shocked us all.  Well, we shouldn’t be shocked, since he originally was fishing with soap.  He put that piece of wiener on his fishhook and started chomping on the rest of the wiener, just like his cigar.

He dropped his line down into the water.  We all watched the hotdog float with the current bobbing and weaving with the tug of his pole.

Then in amazement we saw a catfish grab the wiener.

He pulled in his fish.  “They want the wieners, not the soap today.” was Pawpaw’s response.

We grabbed us a wiener and baited our cane poles. While we were fishing Dad took off in the canoe to check his trout lines.

We could see him on the sandbar we wanted to get to. We waited as patiently as we could for him to return. Once he returned, he told his Dad to get in the boat if he wanted to go across.  PawPaw was sleeping and just grunted at him. Guess he’s not going.

Dad then instructed us to get in the water. Sister questioned him, “Why aren’t we getting in the canoe?”

Dad told us, “Ya’ll want to swim in the creek, you have to show me ya’ll can swim first. You are going to swim to the sandbar and I am going to follow ya’ll.”

I’m thinking oh sweet Jesus, we have only had one month of swimming lessons. My last thought of swimming lessons was I had to jump off the high dive to graduate out of the minnows class. How are we going to make that long swim?  It was longer than a football field. We just wanted to swim and play on the sandbar, not compete in an Olympic swim.

Dad didn’t ease my thinking any.  He told us, “Ya’ll can do this, it’s only about the length of a football field.”

Brother had already jumped in and was ready to go.  Sister and I stood up, but had not yet stepped into the water.

“I’m going to be with you all the way.  I have the lifejackets; you will be ok.” He told us.

Brothers hollering at us to hurry up.  So we both stepped into the water.  All the waiting and this was not the plan I had created in my mind.  I had wanted to ride in the canoe to the glittering diamond dusted sandbar and play in the water. I did not want to swim across.

Dad had other plans for us.  His instructions were simple, stay together, it is not a race.  I must be able to get to all three of you from the canoe.

Thank goodness the first thing we learned in swimming lessons was to tread water. Treading water though was not going to get me very far, but it would save my life.  I took a deep breath, began trusting that Dad knew what he was doing and thinking of the new adventures of the unexplored sandbar that was waiting for me.

We all three took off swimming.  The sun was beating down on the tops of our cotton topped heads and I could see Brother in front of the canoe, Sister right behind him and I was lined up with the back of the canoe.

I heard, “Cheryl Lynn keep moving! You are doing good.”

This was all I needed to know I was going to make it across.  Dad was there for us.

We got to the sandbar out of breath and full of excitement, laughing and hollering.

“Look how far we swam!” Sister yelled.

I looked back across at our sandbar and saw Pawpaw sleeping in his chair.  I also saw our sandbar was beautiful. It glittered and sparkled like diamond dust under the hot Texas sun.  It looked just like the sandbar I had wanted to get to.

We all have plans and dreams. Knowing your heavenly Father has your plans made and will create the way He needs you to go allows for you to live in peace and joy.  The waiting is hard, but it is worth it.  Love, serve, nurture and live each day with what and who you have in your life. It’s not always better on the other side.

People plan their paths, but the Lord secures their steps. Proverbs 16:9.   

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