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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Poor and didn't know it
Date Posted: January 3, 2021

I do lament today's throw-away society. So often we acquire a “pretty” and then something happens to mar the pretty and we throw it away. My dad never threw anything away. His shop out back was filled to the brim and the overflow surrounded it like undulating waves hitting the sides of a swimming pool. My dad, could fix just about anything which is why he kept everything.

He saw potential everywhere he looked. A roll of wire could tie down, hang up or hold together anything. Coca Cola was good for drinking on a hot day and cleaning battery tops. Nails that held boards together for years would hold other boards together if one just pulled them out properly and the boards could build a mighty fine fence and a gate.

When I was a kid, I never realized how poor we were. All our things looked brand new. We had a great house and a car and a truck. That’s not poor! But from what sacrifice did those blessings come? We didn’t see Dad all that much when we were kids. He would eat breakfast with us and then Mom insisted we wait dinner on him. Sometimes we wouldn't eat until 8 p.m. He worked six days a week and Mom worked, too. We didn’t know what latch-key kids were, but that's what we were. We never thought twice about it.

I never heard a single complaint from Dad. The only clue I had was after he retired and he was asked what time he wanted to rise in the morning to go do something, he’d always reply, “Nine is fine.”

When it came time for me and then my sister to go to college, Dad got extra jobs and said, holding out his work worn hands, “As long as I've got these two hands, my daughters will go to college without help from anyone.” That wasn't pride. That was determination born from the Great Depression and deep, deep poverty. He never had shoes in the summer and his pockets held a stick called Stick Boy instead of quarters and nickles. He carried around the same 33 cents in his pocket for six months. He knew the value of a penny, not just a dollar. However, we did not have a lot of extras like lavish vacations. We
camped at Lake Bruin, La. which is very close to Lake Yucatan where we lived in a tiny trailer when I was a baby.

We always had good things, though: Like our bicycles. I never knew until I was an adult that Dad rebuilt and refurbished our first bicycles. Green, mine. Blue, my sister’s. Gorgeous, sparking in the sun and looked like racing bikes, so beautiful, in fact that they went missing from behind our house. We never saw them again, but by then we were taking a bus to school and not having to ride our bikes.

Dad always wanted the best for us, always, which is why he worked such long hours and why he labored over those rusty bikes making them sparkling new again. The same thing was true about the house he built on Lake Bruin. They didn’t have a lot of money, but he labored for 25 years over a house to retire in. Imagine that. The patience that takes.

I won’t say how many years ago Dad built a biplane from scratch. Hours and hours he stretched and schelacked (sp?) the fabric on the wings and body. The Buker (that's supposed to be a u with 2 little dots over it), it was called. Dad invented a breather for the fuel system so that the engine would get the fuel even though the plane was not flying right side up. Many airshows and Fly-ins featured this plane and the pilot, Marion Cole. What times we had at those.

The land at Lake Yucatan was sold. The bicycles were stolen. The biplane was sold. The log house at Lake Bruin was sold. Other people enjoy the labors of my father and mother. Oh, but that isn’t what is imporant. My father and mother left a much better legacy than money could buy or labor could earn. He instilled in my sister and me a deep and abiding love for our heavenly Father. It was he that brought us to church and lived a life that reflected Jesus. Through him, we understood what a gentle and loving heavenly Father we had. Through his love and servanthood, we understood what God expected of us in our Christian walk. Oh, he wasn't perfect. He had some strange ideas at times. But, my Dad was a wonderful Christian man who always held out a helping hand no matter how few the coins in his pocket because he could always go out to the shop and find something to fix the problem and he always depended on God to guide him, teaching us to do the same.

He lives with the Lord now. How precious the thought that one day I will be with him again, but I am also a bit jealous of where he is. I’m looking forward to being there, too.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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