Chasing Blueberries

Chasing Blueberries

When several blueberries meant for my cereal bowl rolled onto the kitchen floor, from my wheelchair I intentionally watched which way they dashed for several valid reasons: avoid the wheelchair’s tire-encounter, a relative or friend smashing one on their shoe-sole, or under the table could become a possibly-denied fruit when my g-dog might visit.  I chuckled about the evident comical scene of my whizzing and circling venture-bent to capture those blue/purple culprits. I was breathing a sigh of relief for locating and discarding the berries when a phone call beckoned me to wheel across the room.

“You’re out of breath” Mac said. “Yes! And I shared my morning pursuit.  They were amused, especially Eileen, acquainted with her own berry experiences. “Sounds like a good blog, Ruthie,” Mac surmised. “How would chasing blueberries be a blog subject?” I queried. Mac’s creative specialty in turning mundane efforts into motivational writings such as his Double-tying Shoelaces devotional, sprang into action. “Chasing could be applied to searching the scripture.” He suggested. “And it could also include discovering prayer techniques,” he added.” “Yes, that would be an interesting subject, Ruthie,” Eileen chimed in.

Mac and Eileen’s encouragement catapulted me toward developing Chasing Blueberries. I decided to start from the beginning of my personal experience when at 14½, having just invited Jesus into my confused life, one month after Dad’s shocking desertion. All the elements--diligence, searching, patience, understanding, reaching goals and perseverance--would be covered, and how that endeavor has continued for 73 years.  With excited anticipated compulsion, I sat down at my computer to transfer the “whizzing” and swirling ideas.

Naturally, Dad’s leaving changed our lives considerably. Within days, while still in the rented farmhouse, Mom casually instituted family devotions using a little black book that I didn’t know she had. As we took turns reading the brief selections, I remember feeling rather strange doing this in a family setting with brothers that I had previously scrapped with. Mom didn’t summarize after the readings or explain what we were going to do. I was aware that Mom lived and spoke a God-honoring life. We knew she listened to sermons on the radio and sang hymns as she worked around the house.  We all just felt kind of numb, not knowing what we’d do or where we’d live. Why he left, no one knew. I wondered why he didn’t take me with him. There was no problem with their relationship, no arguments. Dad travelled two-three weeks at a time. Mom was quietly in charge; we trusted her explicitly and didn’t ask questions. All we knew was her brother, Fred and his wife, Lurabelle, on vacation from work in a foreign country, had come to comfort and advise her. I sensed that there was something different about them. Coming in from school one day and seeing mom across the room I detected an aura of sorts around her--peacefulness. I didn’t even know that word aura, but what I saw was vivid and remains a special memory.

Two weeks later on a bitterly cold January afternoon, four of us—age 6-17 and Mom moved into our maternal grandmother’s three-room rental ‘shack’ that was actually scheduled to be torn down. There was no running water except in buckets from a well next door, and consequently an outhouse. We went to church the next day riding with Mom’s sister, Aunt Hazel and Uncle Royal, who lived close by. We had no car, phone or money, but since mother didn’t complain, neither did we.

Aunt Lurabelle and Uncle Freddie explained to Jane (18) and John (17) how to have a personal relationship with Christ. Later that night Jane and John shared what they’d experienced with Mac and me, urging us to invite Jesus into our hearts. I said “ok, why not”?  Evidently, that satisfied the Lord, because the next morning I felt amazingly peaceful. Aunt Lurabelle provided bible study books, bibles and coached on having daily devotions, emphasizing that God wanted us to ask him for whatever we needed.   Even though I’d attended Sunday School, I knew nothing about the Bible. I listened but didn’t understand.  I was excited to begin learning this new way of life. From the index of my first personal brand-new Bible from Aunt Lurabelle, I found the page number for the Gospel of John.

So, like my determined searching for the small blueberries, I began to read the bible with expectancy. As Aunt Lurabelle advised, I memorized John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. (KJV). When I got to chapter 15, ’I set up camp’. I was fascinated that Jesus had said to his followers, “I call you friends” --that’s all I needed to know at that point, because I desperately needed a friend since the one person who I thought valued me, Dad, had left me. I was fresh out of friends. Having Jesus for my friend was good news. I memorized the entire chapter.

Without complaint or criticism of Dad, Mom found work. We all got jobs. The neighbors were considerate in hiring me for babysitting, cleaning, washing and ironing. I didn’t particularly like babysitting or cleaning, but I considered them answers to prayer for provisions so worked hard, was dependable and discovered I was in demand. But the pay was low and only covered school supplies and shoes. A need occurred for something that I couldn’t afford so I entered it as a prayer request --a bride’s maid gown for Jane’s June wedding—and wondered how God would provide a dress.

When I was visiting with Aunt Violet, Mom’s older sister, and she asked how things were going, I decided since she was a churchgoer, I would tell her that I was praying for a bride’s maid gown. She didn’t applaud my praying faith but said “God helps those who help themselves”, which baffled and disappointed me. Maybe, praying for a dress isn’t what God meant when he said, ‘ask me for anything’.  But I still kept praying.

On a beautiful May afternoon as I was walking home from school, I stopped to chat with our next-door neighbor, who asked how our family was doing and I excitedly told her that sister, Janie, was getting married in June and that I was going to be her bride’s maid. She asked whether it was formal or informal. “I will need a long gown.”  “Would you be interested in looking at Monabelle’s formals? There’s a whole closet full. She’ll never wear them, again.” I followed her upstairs and was amazed at the selection and in my size. I chose a lilac gown. “You may have it”, she said. I was choked up emotionally, and when I tearfully said, “This dress is an answer to prayer”, she was moved.

Walking home from school was requiring too much time for making an afterschool babysitting job, so John suggested I get a bicycle. I could ride the boys’ bikes but spokes and 1950’s full swishy circle skirts were not modest nor friendly. A girl’s bike became my next prayer request.  After a few days, John brought a girl’s bike home that he found for sale for $8. Did I want it? Absolutely! even though it was very ugly with one black tire and the other one orange. A good lesson in humility. I paid John. Fortunately, he also knew how to fix bikes and when I could afford it, he put on a black tire.

Our spiritual growth was augmented by the Tyler EUB Church teachers, church leaders and Rev. Tuttle, the pastor, who all especially embraced the youth and our family as we quickly became a significant part, taking advantage of Bible studies, spiritual enrichment classes and singing in the choir. My three brothers and I were all led into pastoral ministry. Our sister Jane became a foreign missionary with husband, Dick Reed. Sister Shirley and husband were active in Church. We are very thankful for all who encouraged us.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…I Pet. 2:2 (NIV). But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. II Pet.3:18 (NIV).  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. …Phil. 4:6 (NIV).

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be given unto you as well. Matt 6:33. (NIV).