Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Rather Ugly Reminder of a Beautiful Thing

I know what you're thinking! "What in the world is that??" And you have every right to surmise that I have lost my mind.

Do you wash your rags that you use for nasty jobs like washing the floor, washing the car, changing the oil, etc. etc.? DC keeps a large supply in the basement and every once in awhile, he plops them in the laundry room for a fresh start. In these rags are old t-shirts, used up towels, and other odds and ends.

This week when I did the chore of washing and drying the rags for him, I noticed this really gross old towel. I realized that it has been in my life for over 40 years. Isn't that ridiculous? But I am glad it is still here, because it made me think of where it came from, and the story that goes with it.

I had just graduated from high school and was looking forward with tremendous anticipation to leaving for college. I had been a serious student and just assumed that would be my next step. I had made a trip to the campus of choice and fallen in love with the place and the people.

I don't even remember applying for admission - I don't know when that took place. I wasn't able to get a job that summer, so was spending my time going to camps as a counselor and as a kitchen worker, probably working in VBS, and other fun things. Paying for college was the last thing on my mind, though it should have been front and center, since I was from a pastor's family with 5 kids and not a lot of income.

I remember as if it were last night - I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep. All of a sudden, reality had hit and it was only a short time till I had to leave for school. I had dragged a huge box into my room and was packing for the adventure. My dad told me I needed to use smaller boxes because we'd never be able to lift it.

I don't know what was going on in his mind at that point, but as I lay awake unable to sleep that night, I began to think of money, or rather the lack of it. I don't know why we were all so naive. I don't know why my folks never mentioned it before. I need to ask them that question. But I heard them talking down the hall in their room.

I could not get to sleep no matter what I tried, so I decided to get up and see what was keeping them awake. Surprise surprise - they were talking about how in the world I was going to get to go to college, financially. We talked for quite awhile. One idea they presented was that I could stay home and work for a year (where?) and go to college with a stash of cash. I didn't like that idea, because my sister was a year behind me and I didn't want to be freshmen the same year. They indicated that she may have to do the same thing the next year. I was not happy thinking this way.

I went back to bed and of course, did not go to sleep. I began crying and praying. I know it was God who began to bring these thoughts into my mind. I realized that not only did I not have any money for tuition, room, and board - I didn't have any of the supplies I needed - towels, sheets, toiletries, a decent winter coat, clothes, ironing board and iron (yes, we still ironed in those days), and many other things - all came buzzing into my consciousness. All I had was a set of red luggage that I had won for having a good Tupperware party. I had thought I was set!

As these thoughts plagued me, I began to relax and feel God's presence. I began to think of how, if I did stay home and get a job (where?), I could actually have some nice clothes, and I could buy all these things I needed. I wonder if I thought of applying for scholarships - financial aid from the federal government was not a common thing back in the 60s, at least not that I knew of. I went to a small school with not much in the way of counseling, obviously.

As the night rolled into morning, I had relinquished my stubborn will to God's. I told Him that if He wanted me home another year, I would not only accept it, but would make the best of it.

I got up the next morning and heard my mom talking on the phone. It seems that someone in the church had been having some of the same thoughts - they were asking if they could give me a "college shower," to help me get some of the things I needed. The next thing I knew, my brother and his best friend (who was like a 4th brother to us), and who had jobs that summer, had come up with the idea of getting me a winter coat and some towels.

Yes - towels - those blue and white polka dotted towels. The face towels and wash clothes were pink and white with the same dots. The church shower provided so many things, including an ironing board and iron. What a faith-building time this was in my life.

A few weeks later, my brother, sister, the same friend/brother, and I went to western Nebraska to hold a service for the church in Ainsworth. We had been singing as a quartet for the two years I lived there, and we had so much fun doing it. I'm not sure why we were asked to do this, but I know it was something God planned. I was the designated "preacher" for the morning. I shared this incredible experience with the congregation that morning and used the passage from Matthew 6 - I am sharing the King James Version, because that's how I learned it and I love the last sentence so much better than any other version - "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

25 Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink,; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek); for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

That last verse became my life verse, and I need to remind myself of it often. The next four years were one miracle after another as God supplied every need, sometimes in very strange ways.

I'm glad I found that ugly old towel this week - it brought back such wonderful memories.


Tiffany said...

Oh what a neat story! Thank you for sharing it - I needed to hear that today.

Glenda said...

Oh, Dawn, what a wonderful story of God's provision and care! And what a priceless lesson you learned early in your life! I think I'd stash that towel away somewhere away from hubby's reach; it has such a special meaning!

nannykim said...

First of all you should frame the towel! and put the verse with it!

Verse 33 was the verse given me at my Baptism. So this passage has always meant a lot to me also!

Midlife Mom said...

I'm reading a book about miracles in our local area. This story could have been right in there with them! What a wonderful way in which God works in our lives when we give control over to Him! So glad that you found that towel so that you could tell us this part of your life!

Do hope that Kev is feeling better! I wonder if the altitude difference makes it worse for him? I know I had to get used to it when I was in Colorado Springs a couple of times.

It's VERY hot and humid here this week. I wanted to work out in my garden today but it was just too hot. When we walked tonight I was soaked with sweat by the time I got home. I did get a lot of paper work done for the Humane Society so the day wasn't a complete loss.

Poor Kristen! That sounds very painful to get a thorn in ones heel!

Love the picture of you and D! You have done so well losing the weight! I'm trying to figure out what I am going to do for exercise this winter, probably back to swimming although that isn't a cardio workout. The walking this summer has really been good for me.

Well must get around and visit a few more people. I just haven't been a good blogger this summer with so much to do outside. Hope to do better this winter!

Linda said...

I have just come from Linds'and her uplifting post and now this one Dawn. It is so encouraging to read about how the Father works in our lives - about faith and learning to trust in the One who is so trustworthy
I'd hang on to that towel if I were you!

Maine Mom said...

I'm so glad you came across the towel, which brought back this great memory. I love how you gave your own will over to the Lord and decided to do His will. It always works out the best for us when we do that. :-)

nancygrayce said...

Great reminder that God is in control all the time! I, too, needed that one today!

Edith said...

Neat story...and beautiful reminder. Thanks for sharing. It is something I will share with my boy who is a senior this year and called into the ministry. (I also came by from Linds' blog).

Have a blessed day.

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Is it not amazing what things stir up memories?

Susan said...

Funny how our memory can get triggered. Yes, we have a box of "rags" in the garage we use for all those various jobs.

Needled Mom said...

What a fabulous story, Dawn. It is always great to look back and see how life was lived through HIM.

Edith said...

Thanks for your visit to my blog and your comment. I have visited you before but not commented I think. Anyway...I was an MK in East Africa - graduated from RVA in Kenya. We were with SIM and worked closely with AIM in Kenya. How long was your DIL in Kenya?

I will look forward to getting to know you more as well.

Gigi said...

What a beautiful memory of God's infinite wisdom and grace! I agree you should frame that towel with this story for future generations to read and be encouraged by!! Look how you've encouraged us here on your blog by sharing this story with us!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,
It has been like forever since I have done any blog reading. I hope to get back to that more this winter. You look fantastic! Retirement must agree with you; however, it sounds like you are just as busy as ever. Isn't that the way it goes? I wonder how I ever worked and did anything else. God Bless you, my friend. V from Idaho

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

What a treasure you are to us bloggers!!! This is one of the best. I swear get us each and every time. This was amazing.

A Hint of Home said...

What a great story and example of God's provision for us.
Reminds me of examples putting our girls through College and how the Lord provided.

groovyoldlady said...

Awesome as always, dawn. I am starting to clear things out and pare down the "stuff" in our house. Some things go without a pang. Others, though worn and weary, bring beautiful memories of God's providence - and are hard to part with. Thanks for sharing your story!

Sharon Lynne said...

And God will continue to supply your needs today and tomorrow.

At a young age, you were truly growing in the Lord...being able to give your will over to him.

I wish I could see this in my college kids...but I'm praying for them...

Midlife Mom said...

Thanks for stopping by. So glad that Kev is feeling better! I will be praying for him tomorrow night as he gives his testimony!!

This is my second comment but I wanted to reply to yours on my post.

Sammy said...

What a wonderful story! I'd treasure that towel if I were you!

We just got back from Montana a couple of days ago. We had a layover in Colorado and I thought of you! (Denver) It was a great vacation, but it's also nice to be home!

Let's catch up soon!

# 4 said...

I don't know what to say. Those were wonderful times and I miss them. It is so beautifully written and invokes memories of a better time despite all our financial difficulties. There was an innocence about the time to which I wish we could all return. I too have some towels from two years later which have never been used no matter how desperate I ever was for clean towels--I was always afraid that the memories would wash off. NOW I CAN USE THEM! You have made me realize that the memories will never be washed off.