Posted by: Jim E | April 12, 2011

Life…A Dilly Bar…A Book…And A Dairy Queen…

We have four boys…well, grown up now…but still our boys…three of them are married and have children…12 grandchildren in all…it still gives us extreme pleasure to think about all of them…you know the feeling when you had your children…or when you see a new baby now…the parents are so excited and are happy as can be…I remember that feeling and the feeling when our grandchildren were born…it is such a wonderful time…

And it never really goes away…and though our children faced and now our grandchildren as they grow, all have to face the growing up years and the accompanying challenges…and the parents the responsibility of raising their children…it is not an easy task…everyone must face problems along the way and face them with resolve…there are no easy answers…but as we live life, most find, as I have…life is hard, but life is good…life dishes out problems, we face them with God’s grace, mercy and compassion…heavens, since they are new every morning, see Lamentations 4:22-23, let’s use them…so we need to embrace our troubles and uncertainties…that reveals Jesus in us…and God holding us up, protecting us from being consumed…

I have just finished a book by Susan Gregg Gilmore...”Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen”…I can’t believe I really picked it up and read it…written by a southern author…I thought, “A Chick flick” sort of book…and it probably is…but I enjoyed it…but enjoyed it more because it made me think of my grandchildren…no matter their age, they are all having growing pains…how do I know???…because everyone does!!!…

The book is about a girl growing up in the small southern town of Ringgold, Georgia…(by the way, I will not give away anything of the story, so you can still read and enjoy it)…the girl, Catherine Grace Cline is growing up in the 1970’s…the daughter of the only preacher in town…a third generation Baptist preacher, not unknown here in the south…Catherine Grace Cline is smart, quick tongued and dying to escape this small town life…she sits at the Dairy Queen every Saturday night, with her sister, eating Dilly Bars and planning to leave town as soon as she can…it becomes her dream…and as that dream begins to live itself out…a series of events happen to change Catherine Grace Cline…

Catherine Grace Cline, not unlike many of us, had a dream…it may not be exactly the same as the heroine in this book…but we had plans…good plans…and why, oh why, did they not turn out that way and right now…and when things finally start to turn around for us…we hit a snag in life and everything is out of kilter…we can’t find our footing…and it seems like the ground is moving under our feet…and we will never find our way again…been there???…well, the truth being told, all of us have been there or are there now…well, Catherine Grace Cline was there too…but was God there???…He seemed to be missing in action…Let me give you a brief view of how she saw her life…

She hated Ringgold, Georgia…she wanted to see the bright lights, new life…and that would probably be found in Atlanta…but what she had, was being the daughter of a preacher…and going to church every Sunday…one day the governor came town…he was there only a few minutes…he was handsome, in his suit and big car…she wanted to be his daughter…she wanted to go with him so bad…that night she got down on her knees and begged the Lord to make her the governor’s daughter…“But he didn’t bother to answer that prayer either, not that I really thought He would.”

When she was six her mother died…“I begged and begged Jesus to bring my mama back to me, but He didn’t answer that prayer either.”…and all the years in between those very young years and then her graduating from high school, just went along, with her hating the town and wanting to go away and see the lights and where things were really happening…finally, she got to leave her small town…got a job and things turned for her…“…I got down on my knees and thanked the Lord for…my new job…I figured I was going to need the Almighty on my side. To tell the truth, talking to the Lord was coming a whole lot easier these days…what with Him finally listening and all.”…and from her sister, “I agree, the Lord is listening to you now!”…

And in talking about a girl back home, “She always had everything, everything I didn’t…pretty clothes, pretty hair…I know life’s not fair, Daddy said it all the time. But for some people, it just seemed to be so much better.”…and about working in Atlanta over Christmas, “When I was little, I never thought God was listening to me. I never thought He got it, how badly I wanted this. Turns out, the Lord was listening all  along, and when the Lord is showing you the door, Daddy always said you better walk through it.”…

And when life tossed a curve ball to Catherine Grace Cline…“Either way, all I know was that I had spent my life begging the Lord to hear me out, to let me know He was out there somewhere, actually caring about what happened to Catherine Grace Cline. Turns out, I think He was talking to me all along, I just never bothered to listen to what he had to say.”

And when things narrowed down…“Maybe. But dreams are a funny thing. Not so long ago, I was consumed with my dream, so consumed that I saw any other possibility as a disappointment. I was convinced that the Lord didn’t ‘giveth’ much of anything. I was convinced that He just spent all His time taking away, especially from Catherine Grace Cline…Daddy said that Jesus talked in parables because people have a tendency to hear but not listen. They look but don’t see. I guess I was no different than anybody else. I looked and looked for that dad-gum golden egg, and I finally saw it, just like Daddy said I would. Funny thing is, I didn’t want it anymore.”…Catherine Grace Cline was growing up…

Life is hard but life is good, I always say, so embrace the good…we think we know how it should go…and what the time parameters are…it should happen in that particular time…and in that particular way…Catherine Grace Cline found that even the best laid plans can come to naught…and contentment is found where you are, not where you wish you were…it’s one step at a time…holding on to the good…and resting in that truth…embracing it…Proverbs 16:3…”As we commit our lives to the Lord, He will make our plans agreeable with His will.”…they will be established…

I want that for all my kids and grandkids…for yours too…His will…His plan…His place…and He has one, it’s real and it’s right around the corner for those willing to follow…Catherine Grace Cline found it to be true…(enjoy the book)… 

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