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I have been thinking about the many “FIRSTS” we’ve had in our lives lately. In August we welcomed our FIRST grand-daughter, Gracyn Elizabeth, into our family, and last week Lauren had her FIRST child, Thomas Cooper. Now those two weren’t our FIRST grand-children by far, for we now have a total of six of our very own FIRST EDITIONS, for truly each child is like no other; they’re really FIRST EDITIONS every one!
Their personalities, interests, attributes, and looks are one of a kind. Although we may look at them and pick out the things that remind us of others, their eyes, a dimple, the smile, or maybe curly hair, no child is a duplicate of anyone else in the family. Thank goodness there will never ever be another Margaret Anne Bowden Thomas running around – one of me was plenty for the world! When you look at Austin, the three-year-old, you may see Leroy or PeeWee in his physical features, and if you see him pitch a fit, you may say, “Oh my, he is his “BaPa” PeeWee, for those fits are of the bow-legged variety full of thunder and lightning bolts, but the rest of the time he is like the calm before the storm!
No, I’m joking, he is a dear, sweet, little boy who can have a temper like the rest of us after all; his grandmother has a set of dishes and some pots and pans in the lake in front of the house! Also, if you watch Jacob, the oldest who is almost eight, you will actually see the gears turning in his brain as he ponders things, builds things, and approaches a lot of life in the manner of his father, Tyson! It is really hysterical when Tyson calls and says, “Do you know what Jacob just said or did? He said blah, blah, blah…” And, I will reply, “Yes, I used to know that same little boy!” Or, Anna will call and tell me something Ryan has done and I’m constantly reminded of DooLittle Baker telling me that I would now start paying for my raising when we showed him our FIRST child.
I had absolutely no clue what he meant by that mystic statement, but I certainly learned! When Anna calls, I will say, “Oh, Anna, that is so YOU!” Anna will reply, “I know Mama, I know!” Yep, paying for her raising, she is! Then there’s Grant – he is the most athletic and most inquisitive, qualities he gets from his mama (followed closely by Ryan) of the six grandkids THUSFAR, because we have to wait and see how Gracyn and Cooper fit in this mixture.
Somehow I picture Gracyn with ponytails and angel kisses all over her face, dressed in pink camouflage with patches on her seat, not only keeping up with, but surpassing ALL of the boys, no matter the challenge. And although Cooper’s only a week old, I foresee in the near future that Adam will get Cooper his FIRST pony which means all the Nashville kids will come to the mountain to visit so they can ride too! We may have to have the FIRST horse farm on Littell Lake, of course they’d have to be miniature horses!!
In life we have many FIRST-time experiences – some we remember fondly, others serve as lessons that offer us various paths from which we may choose to follow. Do I drink and drive? You’d think that’s a NO-BRAINER, yet some people still make a wrong choice. Here’s one for all of us. Do I text and drive? THE ANSWER IS NO!!! Do I take drugs to get through my problems? Do I let someone else raise my children while I “search for myself?” Do I work for a living instead of allowing everyone else to work so that I get a check? Ah, you see, it is all about choices. I’ve actually taught children who wanted to know WHY do I need to know this stuff? I’m not gonna use it. I’m gonna get a check when I grow up! WRONG! One child told me her favorite time of the month was when everyone in her family got their checks, and sometimes they’d decide where to go for a vacation!! Uh-oh, I’ll get down off the soap box now, and get back on task, whew, I got a wee bit distracted there, didn’t I!
Life is never as simple as just following a yellow brick road to get from point A to point B – to get from our birth to our death – to get from here to heaven. There are a myriad of choices we make daily, even hourly, and not all choices are easily made, nor are we always immediately assured that we have made the right choice – sometimes we may have to back up and try it again. Young Jacob had his even younger brother Grant running along the seat of the couch and jumping into his waiting arms but, Jacob got distracted for a second and failed to catch his little brother who promptly plowed up the hardwood floor. Jacob responded by saying, “Huh, that not work!” Well, our favorite saying now for anything that goes wrong is, “That not work!”
Do you remember the FIRST time you rode your bicycle, alone, with no one holding on helping you keep your balance? Do you remember your FIRST kiss – mine was in FIRST grade and Eddie Wilkerson and I leaned across the table and smooched! Do you remember the FIRST time you drove a car, or baked a cake, or shot a gun? I remember our first colored T.V. My FIRST microwave was a box about 4’ long that took up a whole lot of space! I remember the FIRST time Kenneth and I used a Fax machine. We were sending an important bid on a building, and after we faxed the message we looked at each other and said, “Now, how do we actually know they got it? So, we called and very meekly asked, “Did you really get it?” Naïve weren’t we, but it is still something that I look at and wonder how in the world DO all of those letters and numbers travel from here to there over a phone line! Amazing really.
Remember your FIRST day of school? What about your FIRST day of High School? We were all scared of the Freshman Initiation. I don’t know if they still have that, but as it turned out it was not as bad as the fear that went beforehand. Kenneth remembers their FIRST phone – now that is OLD. I remember my FIRST time in an outhouse. I thought the Sears & Roebuck catalog was for READING! There’s my naivety again!
I remember when we became parents for the FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD time! Those were the best of times for I had the best of kids. I know every crow thinks theirs is the blackest, but I can only say good things about my children, and that is that!
Then, there are the really important FIRSTS – the FIRST and only time I was BAPTISED. It was at Tracy City First Baptist Church, and I was pregnant with Tyson. Then, there was the FIRST time I asked GOD to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me, take me in His hand and walk with me, and thanked Him for His Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior. That happened at Tracy City First United Methodist Church. Now, please don’t get me wrong and think that I was not serious when I was baptized, and don’t infer that I didn’t go to church again for 34 years either! I was extremely serious when I asked GOD to forgive me, and I got baptized. But, I also lived a lot of life from the time I was pregnant with Tyson in 1974 and I started going to church in 2008 at Tracy City First United Methodist Church.
Both churches are spiritual, led by Holy men, filled with believers, so it has nothing to do with the church I attended, for it is I who strayed and made my own choices in life, and followed my own path instead of GOD’s, but I have always had a reputation as a “good” person. I never drank alcohol or did drugs, but I have made a lot of mistakes that everyday “good” people make, said a lot of things that everyday “good” people say, and acted in a lot of ways that everyday “good” people act which were most likely not pleasing to GOD. After all – BEING “GOOD” WON’T GET YOU INTO HEAVEN!
I sincerely believe that there are a lot of “GOOD” people in every facet of life, the churches are filled with them, too, but it’s the CHRISTIAN concept that makes the difference. When others look at me what do they see? Do they see me the CHRISTIAN, or me the GOOD person? I pray they are seeing Margaret the CHRISTIAN, because that means I am living my life as GOD would have me live it, however, if I am just being a GOOD person, then I may cause someone to see no reason to reach out to GOD and accept Jesus as his/her savior. It’s really bad when you’re only GOOD!
It is so easy to think things, or say things to others or about others that are unkind, but it does not make you a good person. What it makes you is a sinner. You can apologize to the person you have wronged and they may or may not accept your apology, that’s up to them. But, only when you make that confession to GOD and ask His forgiveness, and quit doing, saying, or acting as you have in the past will you be able to move on in your life. That’s what happened with me when I turned my life over to Christ this time. I truly want to be Christ-like in my life – GOOD is not good enough anymore; it is a constant battle, one about which I have to talk to the Lord FIRST every day.
As I said, life does have many FIRSTS. In 2008 Kenneth had lung cancer for the FIRST and prayerfully LAST time. This all powerful knee bender brought my whole family closer to the Lord for the FIRST time as a whole family. When you are in control of nothing, you realize that GOD IS in control of EVERYTHING! Out of something so absolutely horrible came something totally wonderful. It is amazing how GOD works that way!
I don’t know what FIRSTS you are experiencing right now, but I am here to tell you that the FIRST thing any of us needs is GOD. With Him all things are possible. Amen and Amen!
If you are a GOOD person, please become a better person by believing in JESUS FIRST. If you believe in Jesus, then please put Him FIRST in your life. How you act in public at ballgames, in church, or even driving your car says a lot to others about whether you are a CHRISTIAN or just an everyday GOOD person. I’d like to invite you to join us for church at Tracy City First United Methodist Church. Why not put GOD FIRST?