By Pastor Linda Skinner
Growing up on a farm taught me so many important life lessons. I didn’t appreciate it fully when I was a child, but as I have experienced more of life’s up and downs I have come to cherish the many lessons I learned. One lesson I learned is that worldly riches are very fleeting, but the richness of God’s Love and of family and friends is what is most important.
Farm life is full of “ups and downs.” Our product was eggs and chickens. At one time I remember my dad saying we had 2000 laying hens. Now that is a lot of egg production. However, chickens only lay eggs when they are healthy and happy. So our income depended on many conditions – no disease or sickness, good weather, and well fed and cared for chickens.
Now the care was under our control, but the disease and weather not so much. We lived in Citrus Heights, California, which is outside of Sacramento. If you know anything about that area, you know that summers get really hot. However, usually it cools off a bit at night. I remember one summer it was well over 100°F for days in a row and it at night it only cool by a few degrees. It was a heat wave. If there is one thing chickens don’t like, it is a heat wave. A picture I’ll never forget is my dad, hose in hand, spraying cold water on hundreds of chickens laying on the ground suffering from too much heat. Not many eggs that year. And several chickens didn’t make it.
As a child I didn’t understand all the implications of that heat wave, but my mom started working for JC Penney’s making custom curtains. She’d used remnants of those fabrics to make dresses for me for school. We ate more out of our garden and freezer than we did normally. It was lean times.
What amazes me as I think back on it, I never remember complaining or moaning about our bad luck or anyone playing the “blame” game. I just remember we adjusted. Mom would say, “This is what the Lord has for us this year.”
On the other hand, my fondest memories are from those times. I don’t remember many of the Christmas presents I received as a child, but I remember the gift I got that year. My mom made a big rag doll that stood about has high as I did. She put elastic straps on the bottom of her feet so I could strap her feet on top of mine and we could dance. And we danced and danced around for hours. I didn’t fully appreciate that gift of love. I didn’t know it came to me because we didn’t have the money to buy things from the store. I didn’t know how many sleepless nights mom must have spent on that doll between making curtains, housework and her farm chores. I just enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with a family I loved.
I look back and this I realize how fortunate I was growing up. My parents were never “rich” in worldly goods, but they were rich in love and generosity. There was always laughter and concern and care for others in our household. I learned that no matter how much or how little you have, to always be thankful and enjoy what you do have. My mom always told me, “God will provide” and I have always found that to be true.
My prayer for you is that wherever you find yourself, with much or little, that you can come to appreciate that God has provided what you have for your enjoyment. You are blessed.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19