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Published on February 2, 2021

Chasing the Creator

My ‘do-over’ list includes Edith for changing my life

By Shirley Prihoda
The Bulletin

Her name was Edith Cazaurang, and she was an amazing woman.

She’s with the Lord, and how I long for one more chance to tell how much she meant to me. She was there at a time in my life when hope seemed like only four letters standing side-by-side simply out of necessity.

There are many things in my life where I would be grateful for another chance to do it better. The obvious, and a given, would be all the mistakes I made raising my children. At the time, it seemed like I was using sound judgment, but the view from the rear-view mirror is quite different now. There may be parents who postulate they don’t need, a “Do-Over” button, but frankly, I don’t believe them.

Everyone’s “Do-Over” list would be different, but the first one on mine, after the one about children noted above, would be for a light that would come on when the Lord has placed a person in my life as a special gift.

That’s not to say they weren’t appreciated at the time. It’s just that I realized too late that I didn’t take full advantage of the message. And that “Do-Over” would be Edith. She taught second grade when my children were young and had a gift for not only teaching, which is amazing, but also the unique insightful ability to reach inside and touch the hearts of hurting students.

I desperately wanted her for my son’s teacher, for reasons better left to memories. I diligently prayed all summer long for him to be placed in her class.

Registration night came, and my heart and my faith felt certain it would be so. It wasn’t. What do you do when all that is left of your hope is four letters standing next to each other out of necessity? I felt abandoned by the Lord that I was just learning to trust.

What do you do when, three days after heartbreak, it’s Sunday? You hide your brokenness and go to church. As luck would have it - it was the Lord since we’re looking in the rear-view mirror, and my vision has improved tremendously - Edith and I attended the same church. After the service, I wept in her arms for my son, my shattered hope and a weakened faith that felt it didn’t have a leg to stand on.

She listened without comment as I poured out my heartbreak. She looked intently into my face - and with a depth of compassion, I later learned came from many years of long, stormy roads - spoke to my hurting heart, just as she did to her students.

She told me the Lord sees beyond the present and knew what was best for my son, and he didn’t need to be in her class. Her voice fell as softly as raindrops on parched ground, and she changed my heart that day. Her thoughtful counsel opened my eyes to many things: I was not alone in my brokenness and that most people struggle with the same emotions and feel certain they are facing these challenges alone.

Another surprise was the commonality that my fear of being different from others and labeled as a prime example of being dropped on my head at birth, or soon thereafter, was also widespread. Truly, a lot of time and energy has been wasted on my journey to maturity.

Modern life says we should multi-task: work, church and family activities, friends, and community service, while seamlessly walking this journey. Of course, for ratings, we must do this while making it look completely effortless.

It’s sort of like holding sheetrock with your head so your husband can get the cordless screwdriver button flipped from counterclockwise to clockwise and attach the sheetrock to the ceiling - as mentioned in a previous column. Yeah, that’s basically how effortless that mantra of “I’ve got this” really is.

In the fall of 1977, Edith was planning a training session for Sunday School teachers. To visualize their importance, I wrote this poem and attached it to a bare tree with one hanging leaf. Edith saw beyond this first attempt at writing and spoke to my deeply buried dream to express my heart in writing. There are many ways to save a life, and Edith changed the direction of mine.

What do you see when you look at me?
What I am, or what I could be?
Where is the life that could run in my veins?
In the shadow of my branches, peace could reign.
Too late for all these, you see.
For they have already fallen from my tree.
Now, only one small leaf on my branches does hold.
Does not this leaf have a right to be told?
There’s a place for him in his Father’s heart?
Who can God send as the days come to an end?
As we wait for this last leaf to fall,
Do we remember, our Father gave us His all?

My friend Sharon Danford lives in Brazoria and bakes the most wonderful gifts. This cake was our Christmas gift 20 years ago, and I still remember her grace and kindness every time I bake it.

Oatmeal Cake
1 ¼ Cup Boiling Water
1 Cup Quick Cooking Oats
1 Stick Butter
Combine in a mixing bowl and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
In a separate bowl combine:
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 ½ Cups Flour
Mix well and add to the oat mixture. Mix by hand and pour into well-greased and floured 13x9 pan. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.

Topping
1 Stick Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Milk
Combine in saucepan and cook until thickened. Add to the thickened topping mixture:
1 Cup Chopped Nuts
1 Cup Coconut
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Mix well and spread over the hot cake.
Change the oven to broil and lightly brown.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)