Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Bottom of the Barrel

A writing prompt at my ladies writing group yesterday transported me back to this day in the early sixties in Alaska when my parents pastored a small missions church in Seward (From Pelican to Seward):
The Cousarts & Personeuses at our church in Seward
(The author is fifth from left)

My dad lugged a huge box covered in postage and stickers into the dining room. "A missionary barrel!" he announced.

Occasionally, we received a "missionary barrel" from ladies groups in churches "Outside" (Alaskans' reference to the south 48 States).

Previous barrels had contained colorful handmade quilts and crocheted afghans, which warmed our beds for many years, sheets and carefully embroidered pillow cases, or toys and gifts.

Eagerly, we all gathered around. "What's in it?"

My dad cut the twine, and my mother began to lift out the contents, one item at a time:

Used clothing more suitable for Africa than Alaska's cold climate. Our smiles faded.

A packet of used tea bags with a note attached: "We sacrificed our second cup of tea for you."

My dad snorted. "What a waste! Why didn't they just send us the money they spent for shipping? We could have bought a whole case of new tea bags."

The last item in the box was a drab, moth-eaten wool coat with a fur collar attached. My mother examined it carefully. "This collar looks nice. Maybe I can find another coat to wear it with."

My dad stuffed everything but the collar back into the box and carted it off to the dump. Shoulders drooping, we slumped away to finish our chores.

A few weeks later, my folks had to drive the 120 miles to Anchorage on business. While there, they stopped at a furrier to have the fur collar evaluated.

"What a beautiful silver fox!" the furrier said. "It's worth about $75.00" (in the early sixties).

My dad insisted she buy a new coat for that silver fox collar.

How elegant she looked in her new red wool coat with that fur collar which kept her warm during many Alaskan winters!

The Cousart Family a few years later.
Mother wearing the red coat with the fur collar 
Have you noticed that in life when God leads us through difficult trials, He often rewards us at the end? The reward may not be tangible, but when we keep a good attitude, we look back and see that we have grown in grace.

God often places a nice surprise at the bottom of the barrel.

I'd love to hear about a "bottom of the barrel" experience you've had.

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