God Leads Us Along

By O’Ceallaigh

“WHETHER I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.”

That’s the way Dickens begins his book, “David Copperfield” or so Bartleby.com tells us, and I believe it because that’s the way I remember it.  Well, I wasn’t there, but I read the original and that’s the way it was written when I do remember it.

I, too, was born. 60166562110727yA I remember that, too, and, like Dickens, I remember it because someone told me.  Not, however, in quite so much detail.  And, this treatise will not be a book because I have learned to compress my stories.  So, let’s begin!

This, I shall tell you in the beginning:  God, not I, turns out to be the hero of my life, such as that life is.

For the first 16 years of my life I was on a farm in Western New YorkDan.  Due to a major tiff with my father in 1956 I bolted and left the protections of home.  It was difficult making a living on my own but I had the benefit of being a student in a Christian Boarding School graduating, barely, in 1958. I say barely not because I was somehow impaired, not scholastically or mentally, but because I was a rebel and had my mind on other things. College was not a high priority but I did enter a Christian College in New England.  I successfully remained there for one semester until the school authorities discovered that I was wasting their time and my money.

I worked the remainder of that winter, spring and summer and, since I was still wasting my time and spending all that I earned working, I supposed that it would be a good thing to volunteer for the Military Draft. scan0012-A

Two years and three months later I discovered, for the first time, that God was leading in my affairs for, when I was finished fulfilling my military obligation, the “scuffle”  known as “Vietnam” was just beginning.  Had my life been normal until that time, I would have been right in the thick of it.  More than 58,000 lives were lost on our side alone and mine could well have been one of them.

During this era, I had bailed out on the church of my youth and lived a somewhat profligate life.  Fortunately I married a sweet wife who was willing to tolerate my foolishness, for the most part, and we had a Son.  That little guy was the joy of my life and looking at him I realized that I had nothing to offer him.  I began taking him to church. He began learning in the Children’s division and after two weeks, I began teaching in the adult division, still living with some of my old developed habits.  They soon dropped off and I ceased my support of Anheuser -Busch.

I wanted Lance, as we had named my son, to attend my High School Alma Mater and enrolled him in his 9th year.18401211  This was  1980 and my income, as usual was minimal.  I was earning about 11,000 dollars per year.  His tuition, room and board was $8,300.  You may do the math if you wish.  I did and quickly learned that I was under water.

I stopped at my friend Randy’s house one day during my travels for work as an insurance Investigator/adjuster and laid my soul bare with him.  Randy immediately said, “We need to pray!”  We did.

It was two weeks later that God intervened.

I had been asked, after our prayer, by two different organizations whether I would be interested in managing an adjusting office if they were to buy Chautauqua Claim Service, Inc. I had assured them that I would indeed be interested.  However, when one thing led to another, neither offer came to fruition and I was left , once again, foundering.  Until, the thought came to me, most assuredly from the Comforting entity called the Holy Spirit, to go directly to the man who was trying to sell his rather successful business.

I had  heard, by way of the grapevine, that Dick O’Connor was intending to simply close down the company, leave and relocate to Florida for his retirement.  His partner had left the business and there was no one else in the wings to take over the operation.  In our initial conversation, I suggested that he slot me to manage the business allowing him to leave for Florida and still receive the profits from the business!  I thought that was a win/win!  He didn’t!

His retort to my suggestion was, “Why don’t you buy it?”

I laughed!  O’Connor obviously knew nothing of my meager finances, so, being honest and forthright, I told him, “I have no money!”    “Well, he said, “Pay me $100 a week from the proceeds for five years and it will be yours.”

I suggested that I would discuss it with my wife.  He said, “Look, you want to do it, I want to do it, let’s do it!”  We shook hands and I left his office the owner  of the business and with a salary increase of 300 per cent.  You do know who arranged all that, don’t you?  I thought you did!  It was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the God of the universe who sees us and knows us and is always fully apprised of our needs.

Inasmuch as this is longer that I had first intended, I will compress even further.

Laura, my daughter was born a little later later and if Lance was the Joy of my life, she was the light of my life!  Kathy and I simply doted on these two children – we still do.  Both of them finished  school and College and both became Registered Respiratory Therapists.  It was then that I said to the Lord. If you want to have this business that you gave me, it’s OK.  That week three guys came in and offered to buy it for four times what I had paid for it thirteen years before.

Now, being free from the day-to-day responsibilities I connected with a CAT (Catastrophe) Adjuster in Florida and was immediately called into service working during hurricane “Charlie.”  Immediately following , “Francis,” “Ivan” and  “Jeannie’ invaded the state.   Kathy and I worked together as a well oiled machine and went home after two months with $53,000.  On the way home, I looked at her and said, “This, is our retirement!!  We can work two or three months out of the year and do the things we want to the remainder of the year!”

That was rather selfish, wasn’t it?

In the meantime, I had been asked by the Conference President to read a Scripture passage at a special meeting in New York.  The morning of the meeting I arose from bed and realized something was wrong.  I looked in the mirror and my  right eye was closed.  I put my finger on the lid and pushed it open.  –  I let go – it dropped back down.  “Hmm,”  I thought, “what’s going on?”

I drove the 45 miles to the meeting with the eye still drooping and with my finger stuck on the lid to hold it up.  And, wouldn’t you know it, they changed the text that I had practiced so diligently!!  The service was lightened up substantially when I playfully chastised the President for changing the text on me that last minute and causing me to read a brand new text while drastically impaired  with only one eye!

I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis.

With appropriate medication I was able to cope but worked with limitations.  Stress exacerbated the condition.

I was called to work “Katrina” that year and we spent a month in Louisiana among the snakes, mosquitoes and Love Bugs.  It was not a good experience!  But, when we were nearly finished with our assignments, we were called to Fort Lauderdale to work “Wilma!”

Stress?  Did I say stress?  Fort Lauderdale was a dark experience. The people there1prayer
generally were different from the other areas we had worked and we found them to be very demanding and difficult to satisfy.  My eyes were deteriorating and Kathy had to do all the driving.

Now, Kathy hates driving in heavy traffic.  She, self-admittedly, is directionally challenged.  All the street signs were down and we had no such thing as a GPS at that time.  We could not tell the difference from Maple Blvd, Maple Ave, Maple Street, Maple drive or Maple court to say nothing of all the other Maples we had to contend with.

Half way through the assignment, my double vision, another symptom of Myasthenia Gravis, became worse.  I tried so hard to tough it out, but it simply became unbearable.

One night after a particularly trying day, while bending over my computer, back and neck hurting, trying to differentiate between the two imaged I was seeing, I leaned back , closed my lap-top and said, “I’m all done!”

At that point, I had given up!  I had realized that my “Retirement” that we had looked forward to was not what God had in mind.  He was saying to me, “You want retirement?  I’ll give you retirement!  From now on, I want you to depend on me !”

So, now I find myself nearly totally dependent on others for everything.  The lesson has finally been learned.  After a lifetime of being arrogant,  self-sufficient and independent, I have become dependent for almost everything.  But, I have learned to trust God for whatever I need.

So, like Charles Dickens, the question of whom shall be the hero of my life  has been answered.  His position is the hero, I cannot recall how it worked out but, it is not myself.  I know that the hero of my life is not “I but but Christ” the Creator God who made the promises and who has come through in just about every instance.

There is a song that my mother used to sing at the old piano on the farm.  Jennifer LaMountain  recorded it a few years ago and now, whenever she knows I am in the audience, she dedicates it to me. It’s called, God Leads Us Along: (here)

He truly does lead us along, and, I am truly thankful.

Advertisements
Posted in Genreal Musings/Stories | Leave a comment

Random Thoughts on Galatians

By – O’Ceallaigh

the_holy_bible

We reviewed Paul’s letter to the Galatians  last Quarter in our church’s study and recently I discovered the following notes I had scribbled down very early one morning while musing in my recliner.

I read them again this morning.  These thoughts are quite profound, I think.  Not because I wrote them, but because of the beauty of the Word of God, whether in Galatians or Job, or in the Psalms.  It is all inspired, which in turn, inspires us – if, we will read – and understand.

 

“The Law was written (added) to show us the way to live: Love to God, Love to man. If that law was breached, we would come under its condemnation and sentence, death.

Moses’ law, given to him by God, was put in place to make accommodation, not for the sin, but for the sinner, by virtue of the system of sacrifices foreshadowing the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah.  1Slide153

That law was a “Protector” a “Guardian” against the condemnation of the Decalogue.

At the same time, it was a teaching tool, a Sandbox Illustration, to show us Faith that should come in the “seed” of the woman, the “seed” of Abraham.  This was The Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God, the Promise to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:15), Abram and all the people (All Nations).  When “That Faith” – the reality of “The Faith” – Jesus,Galatians 3:25 came, the “Schoolmaster”, the “Guardian”, the “Prison Warden”, lost his job!

Justification by Grace, through Faith, – the Righteousness of God through Jesus Christ, was reinstated.

“If any man be in Christ he is a New Creature (Creation) Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Bird House

That is all Good News!”

Posted in Genreal Musings/Stories | Leave a comment

“We’re Going To Campmeeting”

 

–By O’Ceallaigh

 

World War II had dragged on for what seemed an eternity!  Of course, to me, a 6 year old kid, it was an eternity.  It was my entire life!  But, in the winter of 1945 it was finally over and there was the prospect of prosperity once again.

Acad Barn(Thanks to DCS)

We lived on the farm in Bemus Point, New York and had worked very hard to make the dairy a prosperous operation.  No matter what we did, however, we were always about three dollars short of the budget.  It was time for drastic action! 

My uncle Alvin raised chickens and had a prosperous egg business.  Dad talked to him and received several pointers on how to make it work and then made a decision: sell the cattle and buy 1,000 chickens!

Box-of-Chicks(Courtesy motherearthnews)

We ordered the 10,000 chickens from Sears and Roebuck and they were delivered by mail!  Old Cassius Hazzard, our mailman, didn’t deliver them, but he did bring us a notice that they were ready to be picked up. Dad went to the post office that January day and brought all those card-board crates of tiny little yellow chicks home with him.  What a marvel!

We had several galvanized brooders stationed about the barn with lights in each one to provide heat for the baby chicks.  We then distributed about 200 hundred chicks to each brooder.  Finally, all those 10 crates were empty and the chicks were all comfortable in their new home peeping loudly! 

What a difference in the farm! I would walk into the barn where there were now only two cows which we kept for our own use and then,  all those chickens!  Part of my job was to distribute mash to those little beggars!  It was a total joy to see them so apparently appreciative of the gift we were giving them.

All went well for the first few weeks and months.  The chicks grew fast. Winter turned to spring as it always does and summer was approaching.   ——–

I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist and one of the things that was especially precious to us was Campmeeting in the month of June.  These meetings had been going on since the mid 1800’s as a spin-off from the old Chautauqua Tents.  People would come from far and near gathering at Union Springs, New York like so many gypsies with their goods packed in their cars – and on their cars – ready to set up housekeeping it the rented tents lined up in rows. I can’t tell you of the sight, the sounds and the smells of that campground experience!  What a thing to anticipate!

During the war, few people could go to Campmeeting for some of the obvious reasons. But now, it seemed like everyone who was anyone was going and Mom and Dad decided that we would go, too.  We had made arrangements for a neighbor to come in to care for the Chickens and began looking forward to the experience.

Then it happened.

It was probably about two weeks before campmeeting was to begin that Dad went to the barn one morning to do the usual chores.  There he found 3 or 4 dead chickens. 

Well, 3 or 4 out of 1,000 was not a bad mortality rate so he thought little of it.  But, the next, morning there were about 15!  And, the next morning, there were about 30 – 35 more! 

Now Dad was beginning to get a little worried.  What’s going through the flock of chickens?  We were having great success until we had decided to go to Campmeeting!  Mom and dad had several conversations about “The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan” and concluded that we were being assailed by the enemy of Jesus and he was trying to keep us away from Campmeeting.  That night there was a lot of prayer in our house.

The next morning Dad went into the barn and began picking up dead chickens.  He came out with two or three wheelbarrow loads and dumped them in the driveway.  Then he walked away, discouraged. 

ChickensThe next day, with only a week to go before Campmeeting, there were some 320 dead chickens lying in the driveway after the walk through the barn.  We were all standing there along with our neighbor, Scotty.  Dad stood there with a downcast look on his face and his hands on his hips. There was talk about “Coccidiosis” a disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by the Coccidian protozoa but no one really knew what was causing the high rate of mortality.

Finally, Dad threw up his hands and said, “I don’t care if we lose every one of these chickens!  We’re going to Campmeeting!!” 

I saw a worried look on my Mother’s face.  Scotty just stood there and shook his head. 

From that day forward, we never lost another chicken!

We, all but Dad, walked away from the pile of dead chickens.  He stayed by to clean up the mess.

Campmeeting(Boards Ancestry.com)

Campmeeting was wonderful!  We all learned so much!  And, we all looked forward to returning the following year.

And, we all had a great story to tell about how God won the battle back there in our driveway in June of 1946.All it took was a determined commitment on our part and once that was demonstrated, God did the rest; the part that we could NOT do.

 

Posted in Genreal Musings/Stories | Leave a comment

It’s A Beautiful Morning

 

By O’Ceallaigh

Silhouette-of-woman-in-wh-007
Good Morning, Lord!  It’s a beautiful morning! – If only these aches and pains would subside!

But, because of sin in this world You had to take away the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden.  What would we have done with immortality?  Look what we’ve done with what You’ve given us in our brief three-score and ten years!

After 6,000 years we are still totally selfish.  Even when we claim to be ‘working’ for You!  Even then, we spin Your work to our own selfish ends.  We take what You have done through us and add to our pride by touting that it’s what we have done. 

Oh, we still give cursory credit to You, but it is our pride that is stroked!  It is our success that we display for the world to see!  You get buried in or corporate self acclaim!

Why do You bless our efforts at all?

Is it to show Your love for us?  For them?  Those for whom we perform our ‘Good Deeds’? Is it because of Your very nature of Love?  Yes, I suppose it is.jesus-help-me

But in a larger sense,  I’m beginning to see that it is because of the idea of ‘Theodicy’; a Defense of You, God, against the malignant innuendo and outright lies that have been rendered against You and Your rule – Your system of government – impugning your very nature and character for millennia!

1prayer
I’m beginning to see that Your plan to salvage Your government extends far beyond just saving us, the miserable wretches who sucked up the lies in the first case, way back in Eden.  But, it reaches all the way down to this end of Time’s spectrum to where we live. We, the very same miserable wretches whom You will use to demonstrate just how far Your Grace extends!

1 universe
All the way to the security of the entire Universe!

Yes, Lord, God of the Universe, Creator of all things, It is a beautiful morning!

Keep on working with us!

Posted in Genreal Musings/Stories | Leave a comment

The National Anthem Dialog

By O’Caellaigh –

Colin Kaepernick chose not to stand for the National Anthem a couple of weeks ago and it caused an uproar throughout the world.

The way I read the First Amendment he has the God given right to exercise this choice.  “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech….” the-first-amendment-protects-offensive-speech
That seems simple enough.

Now, being an old softie when it comes to warm feelings about the flag, the national history and apple pie, I will have to say that I don’t agree with Kaepernick because I get a lump in my throat every time I hear the song properly sung. I recall arriving in New York Harbor on a troop ship after serving 2 years in Europe and catching my first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.  I and about two thousand other guys were almost brought to tears at the sight.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to not be encumbered with the malady of looking at the world with ethnic or shaded glasses.  Nevertheless, it is of interest to me that intersecting the time frame of Kaepernick’s life episode there was a multiplicity of posts here and there on the social media providing critical analyses of the Star Spangled Banner, from a poem originally titled, “Defence of Fort M’Henry” by Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Baltimore.

The poem depicts the battle between the fledgling America and the formidable England who “rule(d) the waves.” The Fort, manned by troops and housing families came under bombardment by the British war fleet on the night of September 14, 1814.  Scott Key
The battle lasted through the night and there are conflicting accounts of the number and severity of casualties. But, that’s a story for another day.

What has struck me with all these posts  in recent days is that some have denigrated the song and the author as racist, based on the third verse of the poem which is not included in the Anthem.  So, not being familiar with the much analyzed verse, I just had to look it up and read it.

“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

 

With the context of the war and understanding that Britain had hired warriors and used slaves for “warriors” as well,(more than 3,000 of them)  and we recognize that the Brits were not Francis Scott Key’s favorite people and this is reflected in the poem. Americans also allowed some enslaved and free Blacks to enlist in the military.  Canada, too, had many Black enlistees during the period.See here.  Britain sen 4,500 of their men to North Point where about 300 lost their lives.

The first two lines of the third verse refer to the “band” who swore that “we”, the Americans, would have a country no more!  He then refers to their own blood as having  washed out their “foul footsteps’ pollution.”

The next two lines,

“No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave…”

reveal the inability of the hired warriors and slave to find quarter or escape the terror or the gloom of the grave brought about by the American “Victory” on that fateful night.

Is there poetic license reflected here?  Most assuredly!  But when seen in this light it is the Brits that Key was denigrating not the hirelings or the slaves.  If anything he was, in this case, defending the defenseless slaves and hirelings.

I believe many of the race baiters and, perhaps, Kaepernick (and other football heroes) could be well advised to recognize the patriotism – the love of country – revealed in the poem including, but not limited to the much-maligned third verse.

Happy Labor Day!

 

Posted in Genreal Musings/Stories | 1 Comment

Lost In The Woods

By O’Ceallaigh –

Don was an avid outdoorsman.20160510_084029413_29_orig

At every opportunity Continue reading

Posted in Genreal Musings/Stories | Leave a comment

The Snow Apple Tree

By O’Ceallaigh –

We had an orchard behind our house on Maple Grove Road in Bemus Point.  There were several apple trees, a pear tree, two peach trees and a couple of cherry trees.  By the time we arrived on the farm most of these trees were overgrown with suckers and my Dad was so busy trying to make the farm profitable that he didn’t think there was enough time to care for that old orchard.

In the far corner, that would be the Southeast corner of the orchard, there was one tree that still produced some pretty good apples. From time to time we would walk across the front yard, climb over the “woven wire fence” into the Calf Pasture, our new nomenclature for the orchard, and make our way to the old apple tree.  From the fruit of our labor, Mom would make two delicious apple pies.Moms-Apple-Pie1
I can almost taste them now.  They were nothing like you buy in the stores, believe me! These were good!  No, they were “Scrumptious!! I just had to learn to make them myself!  But, I was only 4 or 5 years old at the time. What was I to do? So, I dreamed of the day when I would be able to make my own apple pies.

Back in the mid ‘70’s I used to go hunting deer every fall.  The weather always varied in Western New York; sometimes winter came early – sometimes late.  But it was usually cool and crisp in the woods. I would walk through pasture land, swamp land and hardwoods trying to scare up the trail of a large Buck. Often there would be signs of deer in various places but the lithe, great antlered critters were difficult to find. I learned to search out various apple trees on my treks through the woods because deer like apples.

With all that walking, it seems I was always hungry.  I would think about the lunch I was carrying but, one does not want to eat his only lunch at 9:00 in the morning!  He might starve before noon!

wild-apple-tree-9
So, I would resort to an apple or two from one of the many wild trees I encountered.  Most of them were yellow pie apples, knobby and stung and the tell-tale “sawdust” emanating from a small hole giving me the assurance of a worm somewhere on the interior of the apple. But, not to worry!  He would always leave enough of the apple to share with his two legged friends.

North spy crop
My favorite was the wild Northern Spy.  They were tart and made my jaw cramp up when I would take my first bite into that cold, crisp fruit.  It would always make me think of the Snow Apple Tree.

The Snow Apple Tree was on our farm too, but it was a wild tree, well on the way to the twenty-nine and a half acre pasture.  Mom, my sister and I would leave the house, cross the 10 acre field, walk down the “Dugway” and across the creek.  Just a few more steps and we would pass by the Ravine Spring.  After a quick drink from the spring, we would climb the knoll, walk through the “Poplar Grove” and descend the gradual hill on the road leading past the Snow Apple Tree.

SnowSweet_Apple_Page_11
Yes, they were called “Snow Apples.  And, they were delicious.  Better than the ones on the Southeast corner of our orchard!  These were sweet, crisp, tart and almost syrupy with juice.  Do you know what kind of pies these apples would make?  Well, I’m so sorry that you don’t know because I just can’t describe them either!  Even the word “Scrumptious” somehow just doesn’t suffice to explain them.

They were good!  You get the idea.

Jo and I and Mom would pick a bushel of those luscious apples, split them up in three gunny-sacks and carry them back up the road, through the “Poplar Grove” down off the knoll and past the Ravine Spring.  We would always stop to rest by the spring and hear Mom’s counsel regarding how important that spring would be to us during “The Time of Trouble.”

We would listen, wide eyed.

101_1012Then, we would head across the creek, up the “Dugway” and across the 10 acre field and home.

I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the reasons we went through all this was that, had we not, we would have had little to eat for supper that night. But, with the ever present potatoes, a few string beans and tomatoes from the garden and  a couple of pieces of that pie, made from crisp, delicious Snow Apples, we ate like Kings, and never knew we were poor!

“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?”  (Matthew 6:27)

 

Posted in Genreal Musings/Stories | 2 Comments