Tag Archive: Family

post by carolnl | | Closed

Meaningful Days

I looked out the back window as our car pulled into the Fresno parking lot Saturday after a three-hour drive. A lovely, white-haired woman in a striking blue outfit walked toward the buildings behind us.

“That’s Judy,” I told Don. “Now we know where to go.”

Golden Grads

My 50th college reunion should have been two years ago. However, due to Covid, it has been postponed two years, so this luncheon included my class and the two following.

We were greeted by Glen. He looked familiar.

“Do I know you?” I asked. “Were we in the same class? I was in ’70.”

Can you tell we enjoyed being together again?

“Oh no.” He chuckled. “I was in the 1990s.”

Embarrassed, I apologized! But I expected folks from my college years–and Glen has lovely white hair, as does my husband.

Later my thoughts melded. Glen had mentioned his older brother Mark. He and my younger brother Bob were close friends. Not only that, Glen was in the church high school youth group when Bob and Sheila were advisors. So, we found our history, and I think he forgave me for initially thinking him significantly older than he is.

Two of my best college buds, Judy and Shirley, were present, along with Pat, Shirley’s husband Jim, and a few others I recognized or reconnected with. One I dated when I was fourteen (chuckle) and his wife.

As the “Golden Grads” introduced themselves, I delighted in hearing how my Fresno Pacific University colleagues have been used by God, and seen him at work, over the years.

Pastoring, teaching, mission work, farming, and human resources have filled these years for most, along with training their children to walk in God’s ways. More recently, my colleagues continue to contribute to the Kingdom through volunteering in a variety of charities and service agencies, serving on boards, organizing a group to tutor children, and writing.

It was heartwarming to be in the company of these long-time and dear friends, and we hated to say goodbye.

Family Visits

From the reunion Don and I drove to a Little League park where my brother Mel’s grandson had a game. By the time we got there the game was over, but we sat at a picnic table and talked, with Mel, Marcy and Bryan and their children, Avery and Asher; and Gail. While Bryan took the worn-out children home, Marcy and Gail stayed and visited with Mel, Don and me.

Last, we met Don’s nephew and niece for dinner. While the sound in the restaurant was loud, the food was great–Don and I shared shish-ke-babs with very tender beef. We hadn’t seen John and Norma in several years and enjoyed catching up with them.

Receiving, and Finding, Blessings

As we enjoyed the three-hour drive back home, I reminisced about the friends I’d seen, the memories they evoked, the warmth of reuniting with them, Mel and part of his family, and John and Norma.

What a blessing to have the foundation of a Christian home, college, family, and long-term friends.

If you’re missing some of that blessing, I encourage you to find a group–or to reconnect with one–with whom you can share God stories, hear echoes of his faithfulness, pray for and support each other.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

That group may be among your co-workers.

It may be within your church or parish.

It may be people you’ve known for a long time.

The triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are a community of three in one. We are created in his image, therefore, we are meant to be in community for support, encouragement, healing, challenge.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

Mother’s Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I miss my sweet, gracious Mom. But she and my dear Dad are in heaven, rejoicing and worshipping our Creator, the Lover of our Souls.

I have not borne children. And yet God has gifted me, not only with Don’s family, but also daughters in faith. My God gave me love for others and I received several Mother’s Day notes that touched my heart. You know who you are, and I love you and pray God will continue the good work he started in each of you (Philippians 1:6).

Pakistani child amid rubble Department for International Development_Russell Watkins. License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

My heart is full this weekend. And yet I ache for those mothers around the world who have lost or been separated from their children, are refugees, are trying to feed their children. In our thankfulness, let’s not forget to pray for them!

So, my gratitude goes out, not only to my own mother, but to all the good mothers in the world who love, train, correct, protect, and guide their children while caring for a myriad of other tasks in or outside the home.

“My mother was my role model before I even knew what that word was.” 

Lisa Leslie
Photo by Squiggle; License, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Do you recall special moments with your mother? Or with old friends? I’d love to hear about them.

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.

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

post by carolnl | | Closed

Ways to Build Your Marriage

How do you build your spouse and invest in your marriage? While this blog is written to men, most of it applies equally to women. I am often wedded to my laptop in the evenings – ok sometimes, especially if Don and I are both checking emails or doing work online. However, when I put the laptop away to focus on him, my choice means as much to Don as his asking if he can pray for me about a specific need.

http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/relationships/4-phrases-every-man-should-tell-his-wife-no-questions-asked.html

One of the most important ways to be an effective mother (or father) is to love one’s spouse. My parents modeled that for me. Would love to hear your thoughts after reading this.

Blessings, and Happy Mother’s Day!

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad's been in heaven twelve years already.

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad’s been in heaven twelve years already.