I’m enjoying time with Don and dear friends from the other side of our beautiful country.
Friday, on a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark in Kentucky!
Saturday, in Branson, MO watching a marvelous and incredibly well-done performance of a musical of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection. It didn’t hit me emotionally as I anticipated, until the Resurrection – and then I welled up. “That’s my God!”
More to come on all that. Here are a few photos of trip memories so far.
With our friends Fritz and Frank Buschman, their daughter Kim, and her adorable three children aged five, eight, and ten, we took our own boat ride up the Ohio River in Cincinnati.
Roebling Bridge, prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge, during the day … and at night.
And, below, the home of Daniel Carter Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts.
We have so much history in this beautiful country of ours, and seeing more of it is a joy and privilege.
Do you have a favorite state, or meaningful site, from your travels within America?
I write, because teachers, both in person and online, taught me the joy of reading and writing. Mrs. Goolsby taught me to love history in the eighth grade. From the South, she often broke into the Charleston right there in class–and received long-stem red roses from another teacher on Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Regardless of your opinions about the Civil War, she transmitted a passion for the human side of history.
Mrs. Goolsby also took time to talk with me after I got a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ on a test (I don’t recall which). She knew that was not my norm and we talked through how I answered the True/False questions. Together we figured out that, instead of ‘x-ing’ the correct answer, I ‘x-ed’ the wrong answer, leaving the right one clean. When she re-graded my test with that understanding, I did well.
A senior high teacher whose name I can’t recall, taught me to love literature and writing. My favorite was an essay on the psychological background of Lady MacBeth (“out, damn spot!”). There’s actually quite a bit of information on the subject and I enjoyed synthesizing it and putting it into an “A” essay.
In the hospital, both for my own surgeries and with my first husband, I’ve encountered kind, effective doctors and nurses who went beyond just doing their job. They checked on me as well as Jerry. They encouraged me during very difficult days. When they knew they couldn’t restore him to life, one helped me choose the most natural way for him to transition into glory.
My father and my current husband, Don, were both contractors, working hard with their heads and hands to design and build quality homes and structures that would stand.
My parents taught my brothers and me a strong work ethic, which exists to this day.
My brothers–a retired GI physician; a retired Head of a college’s Psychology department; and a police officer and expert on blood spatter analysis–all have worked hard throughout their adult lives, and continue to give to their families, churches and communities.
I’m thankful for each of these who labored in their field, performing quality work with passion and intention.
I’m thankful for colleagues at Intel who worked in the Human Resources field, and for what each brought to their business and to the team.
I’m thankful for fire fighters, gardeners, tradespeople, salespersons (well, not on the phone!), waste disposal technicians, soldiers, veterinarians, and so very many others who toil, day after day. Some love their work. There were seasons in my HR work when I thought “And I get paid to do this!” (Other times, not so much–smile).
Others work because of their need to be productive and care for their families, and trudge home at the end of a long day, having kept their commitmnets and done their best.
On this Labor Day weekend I am thankful for each of these.
Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.
Colossians 3:23, MSG
I wish you a happy celebration of Labor Day as you remember and are thankful for these individuals who impacted your view of work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Is that real?” she asked.
“It is. It belonged to a dear friend who died about seven years ago.”
“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.”
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.
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!
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.
Our niece, Janae and her two-year old son joined us for dinner Thursday. Titus is an adorable, all boy moving wonder! After dinner we took them on a golf cart ride through The Villages, especially along the golf course. We crossed the street to reach the pond with ducks, geese and frogs. Titus was fascinated. We stopped, and he and Janae got out of the cart and walked toward three bullfrogs sitting on the lawn. The first two, flip, leaped into the pond as soon as Titus headed for them. The third held his ground, didn’t move, and eyeballed Titus from about 12-18″ apart. Then, as Titus’ little hands reached for him, he jumped. What great fun!
Soon after, our decades-long friend Susan Jones spent the weekend with us. So lovely to catch up face to face, to share our hearts and pray together.
And early yesterday morning Don’s grandson and his wife gave us our second great-grandson, Michael James. We are thrilled that all are doing well and look forward to meeting the newest Loewen.
A few days after Janae and TItus were here, I called his grandmother, my sister-in-law Sheila. We talked about upcoming plans for a family reunion and Titus insisted on getting on the line.
“Hi Aunt Cayo, Unca Don.”
“How it going?”
“It’s going well thanks. How’s it going for you?”
“Remember the frogs we saw last week?”
“Yeah, froggies in the water. Crocodiles in water.”
Sheila spoke up. “I don’t think they have crocodiles in their water, Titus.”
“No, we don’t have crocodiles. But honey, the ducks just had babies! They’re so little.”
“Babies just like me.”
“Yeah. Just like you. Isn’t that great?”
“Yes. Bye Unca Don, Aunt Cayo.”
Now if that conversation isn’t a blessing I don’t know what is!
God, give me a grateful heart. It’s so easy to focus on the things I don’t like, from family conflict to poverty to national conflict. But God has given me this day, this week, and for that I am thankful. He has richly blessed me in family, in two wonderful marriages, and with deep friendships. So teach my heart to praise, to give thanks, to look for the positive and the blessings in life rather than getting wrapped up in the negatives.
“A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick.Laughter is a good medicine …”
Proverbs 17:22, TLB
For what are you thankful this week? What little or big blessings have you experienced? I find It’s often the little blessings that we miss most when someone is gone from our lives; the loving smile or hug of spouse or parent, the ability to talk through issues and make joint decisions, the fun of laughing at each other and at ourselves. Each of these is a blessing not to be missed.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.