Category Archive: Family

Family, Majesty, the Faith of a Child, and a Gold Coin

Last week I wrote about the first three days of our road trip.

On Sunday, we left Eagle, ID for Yellowstone, again driving through quite a bit of smoke and watching the topography change around us.

We arrived at our hotel just outside the West Gate of Yellowstone, checked in, and joined Bob and Sheila to drive into the campsite where their sons and families were staying. What a fun evening of reconnecting, of setting out our chairs by the fire, of watching nine cousins (from 5-12) who adore each other and delight in being together.

Following are some highlights of our stay.

FAMILY

Our nieces and nephews took turns cooking for Bob, Sheila, Don and me. What great coordination, what serving love. We ‘older generation’ brought desserts, brownies, s’mores fixin’s, makings for birthday cupcakes, etc. We delighted in seeing different sights in Yellowstone, especially through the eyes of the children! We started at Old Faithful on Monday morning. Each evening we gathered in our circled chairs to talk and enjoy hanging out together. Our oldest grand-niece present, Makenna, was wonderful with the littler ones, always checking whether they needed to go to the bathroom, wanted to walk down to the lake, etc. (where we found leeches–kinda creepy!).

And Don and I felt cared for as some of our nephews and nieces would walk more slowly with us (the altitude was a bit tough on us), or suggest a shorter way that we could walk back to a meeting place while they hiked three times the miles that we did!

One night we had a time of prayer and laying on hands for one of our family who was facing surgery. “Thank you that we can celebrate ‘X’s’ surgery,” one prayed. While we chuckled at her choice of words, we realized we are grateful that the problem was identified so that surgery could be an option! We joined with the little children in asking God’s hand to be on the situation.

MAJESTY

Elk – some resting right off the boardwalk near Old Faithful.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, where at a certain time of day the mist reflects rainbow colors at the bottom of a beautiful waterfall.

A large herd of bison crossing a river. We saw one turn back to check on her babies, behind her. How amazing that the God who created us for community also put into these huge beasts a nurturing instinct. Beautiful! And the one that walked within five feet of the car, ignoring us all as he meandered between the cars.

Deer and a stunning buck with a huge rack.

WORSHIP

Nephew Josiah led us in a time of family worship one night. He shared scriptures about the majesty of God’s creation and had chosen several songs for us to sing along with a speaker. As I looked at his six-year-old daughter, I saw the beauty of holiness as she sat, arms on the chair arms, eyes closed, face lifted in praise to God. O for the faith of a little child!

A GOLD COIN

I followed the four littlest girls to a log where they sat huddled together. The “Princess Crew,” they call themselves along with one cousin a bit older–because they all love Disney Princesses. As I snapped pictures, the girls started asking questions. One noticed the coin pendant I wore.

The Princess Crew and MomMom in front of Old Faithful Inn

“Is that real?” she asked.

“It is. It belonged to a dear friend who died about seven years ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok, honey. She’s with Jesus.”

Our outgoing one jumped in with “But she’s with God. And she’s in your heart.”

“That’s right.”

A younger cousin, five, spoke up.

“I don’t want to die. I just want to live here on this earth.”

“I understand, sweetie. But God will take care of us.”

Just then the older cousin appeared.

“And the best thing about being a Christian is that you know you’ll see here again.”

Moments like these are priceless treasures to be stored in my memory bank for joyous recollection.

I felt expansive, filled up with the majesty of our God, grateful for the beauty of this earth, for these enormous creatures who walk by without incident, for children who are being raised to love God through his Son, Jesus Christ.

New Horizons, Renewed Connections!

Twenty-eight hundred miles later and four pounds lighter, Don and I returned from our road trip, filled with the love, majesty and grace we experienced along the way!

We spent our first night out in Imlay, NV, a one-exit, two-church town (Catholic, Baptist) whose only food is the Taco Bell inside the truck stop. A local couple built three small, one-room cabins in October of last year that have been filled ever since since! We stayed in the “Wyatt Earp” cabin (on left in photo).

Our room was tiny. We shared a one-person restroom with other guests in the other cabins, and the kitchen in another. The cabins and yard were very cute and everything was spotless. We played bean bag toss (both got two out of four in the hole), chatted with the owner about the gold mining in this area, and drove two miles down the road to a rustic cafe filled with cowboy memorabilia, signed dollar bills stapled all around the counter posts. Guess they’re doing well enough they don’t need those! It was fun to be in a local diner, with a group celebrating three birthdays next to us, and a man at the bar talking about being born in San Jose.

We wakened at 6 am to a loud train whistle. And the passage of a 100-150 car train rumbling down the rails just behind the property. And baby, we felt the earth move! All in all, great fun.

Despite smoky grey skies from our Northwest fires, mountains hazy in the distance, we saw so much of God’s creative beauty along the way. Forests, rivers, mountains, volcanic ash. And gracious people wherever we stopped.

But driving was fun and, after only four hours’ sleep that night, I was grateful to be awake and alert to drive as we listened to a book on tape.

We drove to Star, Idaho on Friday, where we met Don’s niece Karen and her husband John, who had invited us to stay with them. Karen just got out of the hospital that morning so John ordered mouth-watering Italian take-out. Don’s son Victor joined us for dinner and got to know his adult cousins better, who moved to the area just recently.

The following day we took dear friend Anne Marie Ritchie, whom many of you know from Peninsula Bible Church or Menlo Church, out to breakfast. We enjoyed wonderful fellowship with Anne Marie’s thankful, rejoicing heart! She loves the Eagle/Boise area where they had moved shortly before her beloved Ron’s passing a year ago, and where she has two sons.

We continued packing our schedule with a lovely lunch on the river with Shelly and Bob Mincy, California friends who have just moved to Eagle and are enjoying the beginning of their retirement! What a delight to spend time and see the house they are having built!

That evening we hung out with Victor and his family. The foliage on his yard reminded me of Camp Arnes on Lake Winnipeg (Canada), where I received Christ as my Savior. Enjoyed the time together!

Nathaniel, Gabrielle, Jess, Noah

Three days of wonderful renewing of relationships, valuing of family and friends, enjoying different scenery, and thanking God for the gifts of each. Sunday morning we left for Yellowstone…to be continued.

Seventy times Seven

Our granddaughter, Gabrielle and her boyfriend, Weston spent four days with us this week. What a delight. We cherish the time we spent together. This picture was taken at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Floating $2 bill

We learned to know Gabrielle again after not seeing her for a few years. Learned to love Weston. The four of us laughed and talked as we prepared three appetizers for a larger get-together, each one doing his or her part in seamless completion of a task that would have taken me several hours longer on my own. We went to the beach (one day, fog; the next sunshine), enjoyed a few magic tricks, talked through some issues, shared our faith journeys with them. These are precious memories we carry forward.

I could go on writing about the ways God answered prayer this week, about times of laughter, but life isn’t one-sided. It is filled with joy and with sorrow, as most of us have learned by now.

I felt the barbs this week … again. You’d think after years of passive hostility I’d be used to it. We don’t see each other often but when we do it’s like I don’t exist. She moves away as soon as I enter the space where she is.

“I want to hate her,” I told Don, “but I can’t. That would not be Christlike.” (And that’s a choice, not a feeling.) And I don’t. But how do you or I respond when a hurt feels repeated deliberately, year after year. Somehow I don’t think I’m alone in this.

jesus saves neon signage
Photo by Patricia McCarty on Pexels.com

Jesus tells us to forgive seventy times seven. But forgiveness isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come cheap. It costs the forgiver, requiring letting go of the right to hurt back, releasing the sense of self-righteousness that can come with unwarranted animosity.

Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily happen immediately. It may take a period of time, of praying and talking and working through the issue with God’s help. Forgiveness is also a choice, not a feeling. And the choice may need to be repeated until it becomes reality. For me, the process starts with the God who tells me to:

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many

Hebrews 12:14-15 NLT
gray trunk green leaf tree beside body of water
Photo by Daniel Watson on Pexels.com

Bitterness hurts me more than it does anyone else. It blocks the free-flowing channel of communication between God and me. And then it transmits to others around us, just as these roots are spreading out beyond the base of the tree.

I think of the man I read about whose wife was murdered in cold blood. He was later able to forgive the murderer, and even to share God’s love with him. That is possible only by the power of God!

And I know my Father wants me to let this go–again. He has forgiven me for the times I’ve walked my own way. We’re told to confess our sins and be healed, so I requested prayer after church this morning. My sin was holding onto the hurt and, in the process, hurting my beloved husband. I’m still working through this one, but by God’s grace it is coming. And I realize I may have misread some of her actions this week. I hope so.

Who’s a difficult person in your life and how do you deal with him or her?

So … a week with precious memories and some hurt. Which will I allow to rule my thoughts and life? Hmmm … Amazingly, while on the Cross, Jesus prayed for his persecutors. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NLT) I know what choice he wants me to make. And after almost a week of struggle, I choose to obey.

Tea, Breakfast, and a Falcon

I walked into Lisa’s Tea Treasures at 11:02 to see my sister-in-law, my niece, and two grandnieces I hadn’t seen in about two years. Makenna and Bailey, the two youngest, still wore their “tea” hats. Bailey jumped out of her chair and ran to hug me. Makenna, becoming a young lady, stood and hugged me.

We enjoyed fresh scones and Devonshire double cream, gingerbread cookies with lemon curd, cucumber sandwiches, and salad. Sandwiches were cut in squares, triangles, a heart shape. Crocheted tea cozies covered the pots of steeping tea. The wallpaper had pretty pink roses below the chair-rail. Our cups and saucers were of finest china. Sweet music played in the background as we caught up with each other, then said goodbye until a much-anticipated reunion in Yellowstone next month.

Janae, Sheila, Makenna, and Bailey
With my niece and grandnieces

The girls’ father came to our home for breakfast the next morning. A pastor in Virginia, he was in town to officiate at a wedding. Over Don’s delicious pancakes and fresh fruit, we also caught up. We talked about the church, families, and some difficult emotions we’ve both experienced in the past year–and what’s helped us through that. Counseling, support from a loving few, and medication were all helpful to both of us and we are again functioning as we’d like. Drew quoted someone (sorry, don’t recall the name) who said, “Medication doesn’t change who you are; it frees you to be who you are.” I’ve certainly found that to be true.

Yesterday I needed to prepare for our granddaughter and her boyfriend coming to visit for five days. We haven’t seen Gabrielle in several years and eagerly look forward to this time together.

Outside Petco I met a woman who is a licensed falconer! (She’s also a licensed hawk trainer.) The colorful American Kestrel Falcon on her gloved hand was only seven weeks old and at this point, goes everywhere with her. This is the smallest of the falcons. I learned a bit about training a falcon to hunt for its prey; how many falconers there are in the United States; and that women are becoming more prominent in the field than they used to be.

Wonderful gifts from God, each of these experiences, as well as the brief conversation we had with a homeless man on the side of the road. When my eyes are open to see the joy of interacting with others again–particularly family, but also strangers who have something to teach us–I recognize …

  • The goodness and glory of the God who has led our family in varying paths, to different locations, for His purposes.
  • The privilege of occasionally helping someone in need, and
  • The creativity of the God who holds all things in His hands, including this beautiful falcon.

I wish you and yours a celebratory, joyful Independence Day enjoying the goodness and grace of God!

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. …

Psalm 145:1-3

Dads’ Day

Happy Father’s Day!

What’s your favorite memory of your father?

I was blessed, through nothing but the grace of God, with a loving Father.

I have friends who had unhappy childhoods. Abuse, sexual trauma, fear. I can understand why they sometimes have difficulty trusting God as Father.

My father loved me unconditionally. Even when he corrected me, he did it with firmness, with strength, and with an explanation of what he wanted me to learn through this lesson. His discipline usually ended with a mutual hug.

He taught me about Jesus. He wakened early to spend time at his desk, designing homes he would build; spending time reading the Bible and praying. He focused on his relationship with God, modeling that for us children.

Dad had integrity. I don’t think he ever lied to anyone.

And when someone he cared about did something that was against God’s standard, I saw Dad’s pain. Not pain for an offense against him, but for an offense against God.

One of my favorite memories is when, as a child, I sat on my Daddy’s lap in Winnipeg, Canada. Together we watched the Northern Lights flicker across the sky. While the awesome power of those brilliant, floating colored lights terrified me, I felt safe in my father’s arms.

Dad with my two older brothers, Melvyn and Arnold

He also taught me to act like a lady, and my brothers as gentlemen. Once, walking along the street, one of my brothers walked on the inside of the sidewalk. I was on the outside. We may have been four and six at the time.

“Arnold,” Dad said quietly from behind us, “don’t you know a gentleman always walks on the outside of a lady?” And I felt ten feet tall.

Yes, some of those old manners are no longer in style and it’s ok – we’re not walking under windows where garbage might be tossed out onto the street at any time. But Dad modeled his love for Mom, and for us, clearly and openly. And I think at least partly because of that, I now have three adult brothers whom I love dearly. They’ve walked with me through a difficult move away from a legalistic ministry; through the death of one husband and into marriage to another; and continue to be a significant part of my life.

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad’s been in heaven almost 19 years already, Mom one.

When I broke an engagement, Mom stayed up ’til all hours while I cried and told her what had happened. The next day Dad took me to one of his job sites. He and I had a very different interaction. Calm, logical, no tears. I needed both a female and a male perspective. I felt supported having both of them listen and feed back regarding this major decision I’d made.

When I married at age 36, my father teased me about making up for lost time by having quintuplets (which I never did!). He loved going out to lunch with my first husband because Jerry encouraged him to enjoy desserts (which Mom didn’t always approve). And Jerry passed away three years after my father did. Both losses left enormous gaps in my life.

I wish Dad could have met Don, my second husband. Don shares many qualities with Dad.

  • His integrity
  • His love for God and his family
  • His graciousness.
  • His ability to fix anything around the house
  • His love of color and making the yard beautiful
  • Their mutual experiences in construction, and
  • Don’s great love for me.

You may not have been blessed with a good father. But God promises to be a “father to the fatherless, a husband to widows.” Perhaps you need to change the word “father” to “friend”, if “father” carries a negative connotation. But as we learn to know the Father better through his Word and prayer, we understand more of his love and correction in our lives, his Father-care.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,

    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Psalm 68:4-6, NIV

Thanks for listening to my memories. I’d love to hear some of yours.