Tag 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.

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

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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.

Dear Dad, Happy Father’s Day

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom

I sat on your lap at five years of age, watching the brilliant pinks and blues of the Northern Lights blaze across the expansive Manitoba sky. I felt terrified, yet completely safe, because my Daddy was holding me. Despite the storm lashing outside, I was secure, protected.

Once, when I was about four, our family went to see a Billy Graham film. Arnold, two years older than I, walked on the inside of the sidewalk beside me.

“Arnold.” Your quiet voice behind us carried the hint of a smile. “Don’t you know a gentleman always walks on the outside of a lady?” Arnold immediately moved to my left. I felt ten feet tall. You called me a lady.

The only daughter in our family, I was Daddy’s little girl. I knew you held me deep in your heart, and I adored you. Oh, you weren’t always easy. You punished me when I was disobedient. But my recollection is that, after spanking me, you held me on your lap and comforted me. You explained why you punished me and what you wanted me to learn through your discipline. You didn’t let me go until I stopped crying and we hugged. Between you and Mom and keeping short accounts, I grew up wanting to resolve conflict as soon as possible. I hated feeling distance between myself and anyone I loved. You lived out Paul’s challenge of Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”

At Sunday School picnics when I was a wee girl, there was always a competition to see who could hammer a railroad spike into a log in the fewest strokes. A builder by trade, you won hands-down every year. Three strokes and that six-inch spike was IN. One year I walked over, so proud of you, put my little arm around your calf and hugged your leg. Suddenly I heard your voice: “Carrie, I think you have the wrong Daddy.”

I looked up. Wrong daddy indeed! I was holding the leg of a man with bright red hair that, to this day, I still believe was a toupee. I was mortified.

You were handsome, striking, with your quiet, authoritative bearing, alert grey eyes, and the smile that so often lit your face. During my teen years you sometimes took me out for a coke, just the two of us. On those dates you helped teach me how I should expect to be treated by a man. You stopped hugging me as much, probably cautious about my developing womanhood. In college I took the initiative to start hugging again and you responded warmly. That barrier disappeared.

You and Mom visited me in the inner city of Los Angeles, where I ministered for ten years. Once, after you walked me out to my car, I discreetly parked and watched until you were safely back inside. That was my turf. I felt I knew the dangers, and I wanted to be sure you were safe. I couldn’t fool you; you knew I waited, and were annoyed that I was being protective of you when you wanted so much to protect me.

When I broke an engagement, I came home to tell you and Mom. Mom sat up late with me, listening as I talked and cried. The next day you and I visited one of your construction jobs. We talked rationally about why I had broken this commitment. I felt blessed to have both the emotional and the cerebral perspectives.

Single until I was thirty-six, I sometimes feared that you would die before I married. I so wanted you to walk me down the aisle toward my groom. When that day came, I walked down a curved staircase. From below, you watched me with a big smile creasing your face, love in your eyes. As I took your arm and we began walking down the aisle together, I whispered “Are you nervous?”

“A little. You?”

“Me too.”

On September 26th, 2002, a day after my birthday, you were diagnosed with acute leukemia. I walked into your hospital room after Mel and Mom told you the news. Your face was turned away from the door as you looked reflectively out the window. You turned to me, smiled, and said, “How beautiful heaven will be.” Oh, I sobbed that night.

One day you told Arnold, “I didn’t think it would take this long” (to die). You were at peace, ready to meet God. Two nights before Jesus took you home, Mom told you Jesus was preparing a mansion for you in heaven. Having been in construction almost all of your adult life, you responded “I’d like to see the blueprints.” And exactly one month after your diagnosis, you went home to be with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The morning before you passed into His presence, Mom, Bob and Sheila were with you. Your face was radiant, and you tried but were too weak to speak. Mom asked, “Do you see the angels?” You shook your head, “no.”

“Do you see Jesus?” “Yes!” was your heartfelt response.

You grounded and colored my life, Dad. Your love for Mom and for us kids; your discipline and your walk with Jesus Christ; your integrity–these are your legacy to me. Most important, you, my earthly Dad, helped me know my heavenly Father.

My husband Jerry, whom you loved, followed you into glory a short three years later. And the husband I have now is like you in his integrity, his quiet strength, his love for Jesus and me. At your memorial service your oldest son, Melvyn, said something that will always remain with me … “For fifty-seven years, Dad, you taught me how to live. And in the last month you taught me how to die.”

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you. But I eagerly await the day I see you again when I join you at Jesus’ feet.