Trips to Henderson

"Be delighted with the Lord. Then He will give you all your heart's desires" (Psalm 37:4 TLB).

A year ago last spring, I was reading "Our Daily Bread" (a 30-day devotional booklet) about a Furze flower, fragrant blossoms on bushes about four-feet tall, often used as a fence. The dark green leaves hid vicious spines, sharp, strong as steel needles under each leaf about 1/2- inch apart, alternating from one side of the stem to the other. The plants grow wild in Texas. I had a strong desire to see a photo of this flower. Surely it would be in my coffee table book, "Wildflowers Across America" by Lady Bird Johnson! No! Not even mentioned. It was written up in the World Book and Compton's Encyclopedias, but not illustrated. I tore the page from "Our Daily Bread" booklet, planning to stop by the library some day in search of this unusual flower. That was about 16 months ago. Tonight, I have no idea what happened to the article.

I get lonesome to see my brother whom we call "Son," the second of us nine siblings.

I called my youngest brother, Jerry, pastor of Farrington Baptist Church, to go with me to Son's ranch in Henderson, Texas, 390 miles away. We left Monday morning, July 18, 2005 . We passed a roadside business, "Honey for Sale." I said, "We must stop there on our way home."

Near Son's ranch is a big peach orchard. They have the sweetest peaches in the world! The freestones will be ripe. Another stop on the way back.

We had a wonderful visit with our brother. We sat out on a small patio shaded by apple and pear trees; reminisced childhood memories; then the War. Son flew supplies and ammuni- tion to our troops on Pacific islands. After the war, he had his own private plane. He asked Jerry, "Remember when I took you for a ride in it?"

"I sure do!" Jerry replied. "I didn't want to go up with you. I didn't feel safe in that little plane. Then when you buzzed the homestead, I thought we'd die for sure the way you tilted the plane making circles over our home!" Oh, how they laughed!

The week before our arrival, Henderson had a terrible electrical storm. Son took us to his back yard. "Look where the lightning struck this tall pine tree at the top, coming downward, jumped along the barb-wire fence, just two feet from the butane tank which is about 15 feet from my bedroom where I was sleeping!"

"Praise God! Thank You!" I exclaimed. If the butane tank exploded, Son would die.

Son said, "Let's jump in my pickup and I'll take you to see where lightning struck the gas storage tank causing a humongous explosion!" His truck was so high off the ground, I didn't think I'd ever get in. I pulled myself up onto the floorboard and then into the seat! I said, "Next time I come up here, I want you to have a box for my short legs to step on so I can get into your truck." We rode out to the gas wells where three huge storage tanks had been erected side by side, each about 15 feet high and perhaps 10 feet in diameter. Lightning struck the middle one, ripping it open, hurling it into the air and over the adjacent structure where it landed on its side. Unbelievable! Son said within 15 minutes, those woods were swarming with fire trucks and firemen from all over the area. Fortunately none of the gas wells caught afire. The boys were out of the truck, scouting around the area. Jerry took pictures. I desperately yearned to join them; but it was too much of a struggle climbing into the pickup. Dangerous for my heart.

We rode down to the river. Near the bank was a hedge of bushes bearing beautiful bright blue flowers. "What kind of flowers are those?" I asked. Son replied, "Trash. That's what I call them." I said, "You don't see many blue flowers. I'd like to have a couple of stems of them."

They left me in the truck and walked along the river bank. They spent about twenty minutes, walking and talking. Then I saw them breaking stems to bring me a bouquet of flowers! What a beautiful scene -- my brothers gathering flowers for me. I loved it! They seemed to be having difficulties and reached in their pockets for knives to cut the stems. When they returned, Jerry said, "I've put the flowers in the truck bed. You can't hold them. They have the darnedest thorns! You can't even see them; but they're everywhere, up and down the stems. My fingers are bleeding."

"Gee, I'm so sorry," I said. "I had no idea they were torturous! They looked so pretty and harmless." Back at the ranch house, I carefully gathered the flowers up in brown wrapping paper and saw the vicious thorns under every leaf and flower--just like the description in "Our Daily Bread." I wonder what Scripture was applied. It could be on deceit! The Bible says a lot about it. Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Verse 10 tells us that God cannot be deceived: "I the Lord search the heart; I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."

We left the next morning with figs and blueberries picked from Son's trees. We bought blackberries as big as golf balls and scrumptious peaches from the orchard nearby. Halfway to Houston, we stopped for the honey. There was an abandoned house 50 feet away from a small 6'x8' storeroom just a car's parking length from the highway. The elderly man selling the honey, once lived in the house, but has moved to a nearby town. He explained much about bees and honey, which I really enjoyed. The little storeroom had facilities to separate the honey from hives. It was most interesting, especially to me since I had been reading about honey bees for a story for the children I write to each month. I was seeing first hand the things I read about.

God is good. I felt so blessed to have made this trip. He was with us, giving us precious time with our brother. Some days, Son drifts into the past. He will call me and ask, "What's Daddy doing?" I'll say, "I don't know. I haven't seen him today. He's either playing dominoes with his friends, or calling them to get up a game." We laugh. When we hang up the phone, I cry. Daddy died in 1984. The last time I talked to Son about two months ago, I told him I'd be there when the peaches and figs were ripe. But there hasn't been enough rain for good crops this year. I don't think I could stand it if Son should forget who I am. His wife Willie Mae died August 11, 2000. That next summer I went to see him. He said, "I sold 50 head of cattle." Then, dejectedly, added, shrugging his shoulders, "So what?" The sale would have been exciting only if Willie Mae were there. I felt the ache of his loneliness, even though his son Ed and family live there on the ranch and help him. Cathleen makes sure he is well fed.

A few months ago, Son disappeared. After Ed was assured Son was no where close by, he called for help. The whole community joined in the search…some on horseback; some on cycles. He was found walking in the woods about a mile from the ranch house. His neighbor asked, "Hi, Son! What are you doing way out here?" Son replied, "I was just asking myself that same question!" "Well, hop on and we'll ride back to the ranch."

We always have a prayer together before I leave him. I'll keep the precious memory of him getting me a bouquet of blue Furze flowers.

I recently read a poem by Grace E. Easley which touched my heart:

Every day I live, I see

How great the world God made for me…

The ever-changing seas and skies,

The birds and all the butterflies.

The rainbows high above the trees,

And just to think, God gave me these!

He made the rows of yellow corn,

The sunrise on a Winter morn,

Frosty windowpanes that glow,

Reflecting light upon the snow.

Spider webs outlined in dew,

The dear Lord even made these, too!

The world is full of everything

Man needs to cause his heart to sing,

And every day I live, I find

Beauty of a different kind.

For God, it's very plain to see,

Outdid Himself for you and me!

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