Emily Sue Harvey: My Oasis

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“Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it.”
– Eliza Tabor Stephenson

Emily Sue author photoI have to say that in the decades my husband and I have been married, rarely has he refused me anything I wanted, within reason. But a few years ago, my husband did just that. He made a decision to build three houses on a five-acre land tract we’d purchased at a ridiculously low price. It was, he said, a great business investment, one that would quadruple our investment.

Only thing was my heart had already claimed that tract of land as mine. In my romantic mind, it had become my oasis.The lovely triangle had once, decades ago, served as the village park where our local mill workers congregated for ballgames, civic events, award ceremonies, picnics and anything resembling legitimate assemblies. And up until the day we signed closing papers, Tucapau Baptist Church ventured, in warm, pleasant weather, onto the site for evening services there, each bringing his own lawn chair. The park was a unique, enchanted entity to me, tethering me forever to bygone childhood, adolescent, and young adulthood days.

Ahh, what a beautiful sight to behold. The lush grass carpet evolved from emerald in spring and summer to buff during fall and winter seasons. The artistry used in creating the ambience boggled my mind each time I stood on the lot’s upper corner and surveyed my magical domain. My vantage was from the tiny porch of an ancient Scout Cabin. The simple log structure was a landmark beloved by scores of males who, as Boy Scouts, sought refuge and learned the ways of noble manhood within her rustic walls. At times, standing before the mammoth fireplace set in stone, I fancied I could hear the testosterone bustle and young, changing voices from the past as I stood before the mammoth fireplace set in stone.

Outside, amid strategically placed smooth square embedded stones, meandered a path through white oaks, maples and spruce trees. They beckoned to me to linger beneath their shade and rest on the silvery weathered benches. Surely I had stumbled upon the pot at rainbow’s end. Oh, how I wanted it to be mine.

“Please,” I said to my usually indulgent husband, “let me have it. I want to build here.” I used my most winsome entreaties, heart in hand. But for once, my Leland was adamant in his decision. He’d already looked into cutting the tract into smaller building lots. His financial savvy overrode his heart each time I broached the subject.

“Honey,” he said with regret in his voice, “I bought this as an investment. We need the return we’ll get from the sale of the three houses I’ll build here.”

Within days, with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat, I watched my oasis crumble before my eyes. Lee decided, without consulting me, that a big oak I loved had to go to make room for the future structure.

So, with one swift decision and a few strong men, the tree was gone. Lee’s calm and reassuring attitude did not help. All I knew was that every time I went to the park now, all I could see was the gaping hole and marred green carpet during the first foundation birth.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it and before long found myself in a royal snit. I had tunnel vision on what no longer was. I failed to appreciate the bigger picture taking place. The first Cape-Cod-style house, then the second beside it began to take on a life of its own as the fresh ambience began to sparkle of new life.

But, distracted by what I no longer had, I was blinded to what I did have. The enemy loves to get us to focus on the little that’s wrong so we miss the big picture of all that’s right.

And then, one day I read Lamentations chapter 3 verses 19-23. It gave me a new tactic. I noted how the writer’s gloomy outlook turns around when he purposely calls better things to mind:

“Remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” (RSV)

That turned my thinking around. “His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning….” Each day is a new beginning.” I reminded myself, too, that to get myself through many disappointments, I’d simply said to myself, “In a hundred years, this won’t matter.”

So now, rather than getting into a snit over disappointments, I try to focus on the things that are right. My husband didn’t give me the land to use as I pleased, BUT he was being my family’s protector and provider. One who cares. One that I can trust. And he did save one lot for me, where the Scout Cabin sits.

Yes, my oasis is gone.

Sort of.

You see, when I wrote the novel, Unto These Hills, I rewrote history. In the book, Sunny gets her oasis and it sits exactly where mine was. So, I’m blessed that I can write my own endings.

Today is a new day with new possibilities. And I’m learning to look through spiritual lens and see all God’s blessings and mercies. With the right focus, the ending is always happy!



Emily Sue Harvey is the author of the recent Story Plant title Cocoon, as well as five other Story Plant books. You can read more about her here.


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On January 10, 2013
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