Saturday, November 28, 2015

Arguing with Myself

Discussion with self:

Inspiration part of me (IS):  You need to post to your blog.

Argumentative part of me (AS):  I know, but I have so little to write at the moment.

IS:      People will wonder where you are.
AS:    I've thought of that; but I still don't have much to write   
           about just now.
IS:     Maybe you should just visit other bloggers; 
          see what's going on in their lives.
AS:    Now that's a guilt trip, if ever there was one.
IS:     No.  It's just a reminder that you miss the many 
          you've come to know & love.
AS:   Well that's true, but I feel so unmotivated.
IS:    What's that all about?
AS:   Lazy.
IS:    You probably need to work on that.

It's likely nothing will change before the end of 2015, at least not where blogging or writing is concerned; the conflict will continue. I had fully intended when this year began to minimize the amount of time I spent here, but I had no intention of the minimum being so minimal a minimum.  Already I'm thinking about some changes for 2016, all the while hoping my Inspired Self will win out.  

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ditching Doubt & Dodging Death

When I was fifteen and a freshman in high school, I met Marilyn (Photo: me left, Marilyn right). She and I would become lifelong friends, though at the time we were totally clueless about the assortment of dramas we'd face (sometimes we actually created them) ~ some wonderful, some hurtful, some downright terrifying.  I could fill up a journal of our escapades, the bulk of which were the simple doings of silly teen girls as well as the equally silly doings of young women attempting to grow up.     

Two years ago I got a call late at night from Marilyn's husband.  He wanted me to know she'd suffered a major stroke; that the base of her brain was pooled in blood and, quite likely, she'd not make it more than a few days.

At dawn I drove to the hospital.  Through the tearful meandering among memories and prayer, I made my way to bid farewell to one of the few people on this good earth to harbor my history, and me hers. A lifetime of laughter and memory-making can seem a mere flash at such times. 

Marilyn, who had gone to a different grade school than me was a childhood chum to my husband. It was at a football game early in our sophomore year that she introduced the two of us.  Several weeks later I introduced her to one of my own childhood friends and shortly the four of us were inseparable. (Photo: Don & Marilyn, me & Terry)

As life is prone to do, the trajectory of those dating days took jigs and jags, leading us forward into the unknowns of adulthood. And as high school came to an end I would go on to marry my beau; she and hers would part company.  

The intervening years were largely kind in my case and largely cruel in hers.  


We were both married (Photo: Marilyn with her first husband, the father of her children); had children;  raised little ones & took family vacations. What's more, we faced many a storm tethered together at life's mast.   
  (Photo: Marilyn with our oldest children in 1970; her Jeff, my Brad)

There are a myriad reasons Marilyn's life experience differed from mine; reasons I need not elaborate upon here. Suffice it to say, her present battle for her life was not her first such engagement.  On many levels she navigated life one breath from a battle at all times.

I was deeply saddened when I entered her hospital room to find Marilyn hooked up to tubes & devices ~ a very clinical, Extra Terrestrial-like appearance.  A symphony of her labored breathing coupled with clicks & hums against stainless steel made it all seem surreal.

When I sat to take her hand she stirred but didn't waken.  She couldn't waken. She had been placed in a medically induced coma while the medical team did all they could to alleviate her brain bleed and the pressure it was causing.  A pinkish liquid filled the tube that ran from her head to the plastic bag colony beside her bed.  

(Photo left: at lunch in 2010 with Marilyn at the right and another lifelong BFF, Mary Jo)

I sat for a long, long time just holding her hand and watching her ~ no thoughts, no words.  I felt as blank as she looked. But at some point I began to pray, and pray aloud.  I scarcely recall the whole of those prayers, but I do remember thanking God for Marilyn, asking that He visit her in the depths of her being to let her know He was there with her.  

A few days passed and her husband called again to let me know the doctors had begun bringing out of the coma.  She was wakeful, though very disoriented. There was little hope for her recovery, but "little" seemed a huge step up from "no" hope just a few days prior.  

The next day and for two weeks following I visited.  I talked to her as though she were awake and could hear me.  I prayed aloud.  Occasionally she'd push my hand away, or call out my name. And, when she was awake enough to actually eat food, I bossed her around until she agreed to try it. I roared when she actually, through garbled, halted but recognizable speech refused her lunch, telling the dumbfound nurse holding her tray:  "No ... it tastes like s_ _ _!"  I took it as a good sign. Marilyn could be sharp and combative in the best of health.  She was much worse in this condition.  

Little by little over the course of those two weeks Marilyn went from near-death to recovered-enough to be sent to a nursing facility for rehabilitation.  My visits continued there and I watched her learn to form sentences, get in and out of bed on her own, and use a walker or wheel chair.  And always, just before leaving, I'd say to her as I had for so many long weeks:  "Let me pray for you."  I'm not sure which of us was the more greatly blessed at those times knowing as we did that, short of God's healing hand, I'd be visiting her grave-site instead.  

After two months she was released to go home, where she continues to defy the odds of her "no hope" stroke.  

I recall this today because I need to.  

How could I have known back in 1962 when Marilyn & I first formed a friendship that it would lead to a bedside vigil such as this one?  How could either of us have predicted the route our life's journey would require of us, or how many of our choices would impact our steps along that way?  How could I have known the things God would use in my life and hers to lead us?  Who knew the span from 14 to 70 to be so very short?   

God did.  God does. 

I would have lost heart unless 
believed that I would see 
the goodness of the Lord 
in the land of the living.
Psalm 27:13

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On Being Disowned

Until this Spring I had no idea my mother had been disowned by her parents.

My mother, Helen, was born 7th of eight children. One sibling was a year older and another four years younger when death claimed them in infancy. Those losses meant she would forever be the family's baby, the littlest of the remaining six children. She was, as were all the Grinnell children, much loved.

(Photo at left:  1) My mother's father, Fred with granddaughter Maxine, & 2) the family barn.  Photo on the right:  My mother's mother, Etta holding granddaughter Bernice).

On a wheat farm in South Dakota mother spent her childhood.  There she would follow her father & brothers from field-to-barn and back again.  She would develop her love of flowers & gardening, master riding the little Welsh pony no one else could, and
haul herself high on the silos when no one else was brave enough to do so.  It was her brother, Wayne, that garnered her greatest affection. They would become fast friends for life. (Photo on left:  Mother and her brother Wayne)

It was also in South Dakota where mother attended school, graduating from Wessington High School in 1926, and going onto Secretarial School for two years before embarking upon her world adventures. 

(Photo right: Mother as a freshman in high school, with her BFF Drusilla Wright)

It delights me to look through the notes & photos from those years and to witness firsthand mother's mindset at the time. She was a lovely girl, full of life & sassiness.  It is no surprise to learn of her early engagement to a local boy, Jim Bunting (Photo at left: Mother & him), when she was but 19 years old.  Her writings refer to him as her "very, very dear friend"; and among the memorabilia stuffed into her "Girl Graduate's Journal" are hints and photos of that dazzling chapter in her life.

It was on her 21st birthday she undertook a fairly notable adventure uncommon for a girl in those days. She would travel with a married couple as chaperones and her intended, Jim, to Aberdeen, Washington. From there she bid farewell to all three, traveling onward alone to Spokane on the far side of the state, then onto Pateros (30 miles from my present home), where she went to work for the American Fruit Growers.  

It was in Pateros that her beloved brother Wayne resided and worked as an orchardist; and where she'd feel connected to the familiar, sibling contentment between them.  It was also there that a fateful pivot in her life took place; a pivot that altered her course forever. There she met my Father.

We know by Christmastime that year she had returned to her South Dakota home, perhaps to gather more of her belongings, or to visit an ailing father, or ~ most likely ~ to end her engagement to Jim Bunting before advancing her relationship with that other Jim, my Dad.  It was on the backside of a dance card (above right) among mother's keepsakes that I read Jim Bunting's heartfelt recognition of that sad day.  My mother had exited his life for all time.

And so she returned to Pateros; to her job and, as we now know, to my father.  Over the next several months they courted and, by New Year's Eve 1929/30 she was smitten. I cherish the sweet entries in her journal as she describes their budding romance. At some point they decided to marry, and on June 4, 1930 their wedding took place.

What I don't know is when, exactly, the disowning took place. Sometime between her visit home in December of 1928 and her marriage 18 months later, my mother must have shared with her family that my father was a Catholic, and that she intended to marry him.  They took great umbrage to not only that, but also with her decision to become Catholic herself. They were decidedly Protestant and could scarcely abide so great a defection.  There would be no parental blessing for her plans.

What I do know, and what would forever cast a shadow on my mother's & father's wedding day was the death of her father on that very day!  Instead of a honeymoon, they traveled to South Dakota to attend his funeral.  Two years later her mother would be gone as well. My mother was left to live out her life never having reconciled with her parents.  (Photo on left: mother's father, Fred, at the family home)

I'd never given much thought about the deficit of details pertaining to my maternal grandparents until now.  Mother rarely spoke of them and since they'd been long gone before I arrived in 1948 that didn't seem odd.  She did share stories of her days as a child on the farm, of riding her pony, of besting her brothers in bravery, and the like. It seemed sufficient until this Spring when I began to weigh in the balance the hurt my mother had endured.  And because of her shunning, I would never know her parents ~ whether in life or through stories. They not only hammered shut the door to my mother, but to me as well.  

My mother cherished her faith to the day of her death. She and my father never missed Sunday church or their bedtime prayers, kneeling together beside their bed as they did every night.  In her later years she would treasure her Bible and devotions, as well as the teachings of Billy Graham.  Various Psalms touched her deeply.  At her very core, my mother knew this powerful and comforting truth:

Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
The Lord will receive me.
~ Psalm 27:10

I think Fred and Etta would have been proud of the godly, noble and industrious woman that was their baby daughter, and my mother.   I like to think that the reconciliation that ought to have happened long ago is now accomplished; that my grandparents and mother are forever one in Him.  

I pray for those who will believe in Me ...
that all of them may be one, Father, 
just as You are in Me and I am in You... 
Father, I want those You have given me 
to be with Me where I am, and 
to see My glory
~ John 17:20-21, 24 

P.S.  The Spring revelation I speak of her came about as the result of my older sisters.  Fifteen and thirteen years older than me, mother had shared with them about her having been disowned.  In the course of sharing stories of our childhood as we often do this long obscured detail was passed to me.

P.S.S.  I can conceive of no choice, no behavior that would have caused my mother to disown one of her daughters.  God knows, I certainly tested her plenty, even opting to be a Protestant versus Catholic.  And we, her daughters, would consider no such option for one of our own children.  We have families chocked full of diversity ~ Christians (Catholic & Protestant), Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, even a grandson who calls himself an Anarchist (don't you just love today's youth?). All are welcome.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I'm Not Lost, Thank You.

Do you suppose everyone has quirks?  You know what I mean; the uncommon and peculiar or eccentric patterns unique to the person? 

Whether they (or you) do or don't, I confess I do. More than one actually.  The worst (or the best, depending on one's take) of them is wanderlust.  I've never seen a place I didn't want to visit.  In fact, I've seen very few places I wouldn't want to reside given the opportunity.  In 49 years of marriage, we have made our home in 17 different places.  It would be 25 or 30 or 50 places were jobs or bank accounts not to have impeded us.  

Between jobs and vacations, we have had many an opportunity to visit distant lands:  Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Belize and many locations right here in the U.S. It's with great affection I recall a few of them:  Fishing forays into Alaska where we competed with the eagles for a catch; or the Plumeria-scented breezes in Hawaii; or the pungent Pine of Colorado's Rockies.  Not to mention the rivers, valleys, mountains, plains and plateaus of the place we call "home", Washington State.  So, so many to recount!  Yes, I have my favorites.  But I'm always considering "where next?".   

To some it might seem I'm afflicted with discontent; not happy with where I am.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I cherish the places and people of home turf even as I'm beckoned to discover new ones. I think Christopher Colombus, Edmund Hillary or Sacajawea felt the same.  

Now that we're living in the backside of 60, my latest dream involves a travel trailer.  We don't have one. But if we did I can see us loading up again-and-again to make our way across Canada, or to spend Fall in New England, or to sniff Magnolias in the Carolinas. I can even envision meeting some of you on such sojourns.

For now, I fuel my quirk with photos.  From them & memories of days gone by, or from the virtual internet travels that act as fuel to spark my wanderlust, I dream.  I scheme.  I wander the plains of the Serengeti.  I hike along the Appalachian Trail. I break bread with new friends.  It's as if eternity itself insists upon it.

It is with great intention that I get lost.  On purpose.

All that is gold does not glitter;
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither;
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken;
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken;
The crownless again shall be king.
~ J.R.R. Tolkein

He has made everything beautiful
in its time. He has also set eternity
in the human heart; yet no one
can fathom what God has done
from beginning to end.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

Monday, September 14, 2015

Must Grandmothers be Gnarly?

Perfect love sometimes does not come
until the first grandchild.
~ Welsh Proverb

Born late in life as I was, my mother being 42 and father 46 at the time, my exposure to grandparents was next to nil. In fact, my mother's father passed away long before my birth, actually dying on the day my parents were married.  Her mother followed him two years later.  My father's father died at a fairly young age, so all all three of these were gone long before my birth. (*)

So it was but one grandmother, my father's mother Annie Clare that was left for me to discover.  Truth be told:  I did not like her.  But that's a story for another day.  Suffice it to say, she probably didn't deserve my critical view given the fact that she died when I was but eight; & that I'd seen her maybe three times that I can even recall.   

Thus I came to my present grandmother status quite blind. Not having role models after which to pattern my particular brand of grandmothering I have, more-or-less, made it up as I go. My husband tells the family that I am the Sugarplum Fairy.  I think that's a compliment.

In assessing my particular grandmotherness, I sometimes come up short of my own expectations (Isn't that always the way of high ideals?).  

I've longed to be THAT Grandma ~ You know her ~ the pioneer-spirited, apron-wearing, afghan-producing, kitchen-wizardry working wonder lady that always has an ear & a flour-dusted hug for you; who is scented with Eau de Maple Syrup, and stands at least one foot taller than everyone else in her grandchild's mind, never mind that she's shrunk from 5'5" to barely 5'2". 

I am not fond of Maple Syrup.

Coming up short in my own mind as I often do, I am left to assess what remains.  Most days it brings me great joy and a sense of pride; days when I relive the epochs of cookie baking, birthday celebrating, treasure hunting (aka shopping), park walking, hide-n-seek playing & Lion King-viewing.  I treasure photos & cherish memories even as I endeavor to take & make new ones.  

Other days I wonder what more I could have done, or could have been than I have or am?  Silly me.

There are nine of them, my grands.   From the oldest at 22 to the youngest at 5, they are a diverse lot.  I could, as any worthy grandmother would, provide a litany of their individual charms, talents & accomplishments.  Each one of them embodies a unique blend of them all.  

Actually, several of them have faced some hard things & made both good and not-so-good choices.  They've crafted their own views & opinions ~ sometimes diametrically opposite my own.  It is then that I realize the true power of the grandparent; power that doesn't include afghans or aprons. It's the stuff of unconditional love and of knees; the stuff of prayerfulness.  

Certainly I could speak truth and love into their young lives, and I sometimes do.  I could warn them of the dangers they're bound to face given their short-sightedness.  I could quote any number of good scriptures that would validate my wisdom.  Or, as I'm often reminded I can be still and know, affirming them as people.  I can free them to make their own way & their own choices, & I can stand closely by to love & nurture them should that way get hard.

"We should all have one person who knows
how to bless us despite the evidence.  
Grandmother was that person to me."
Phyllis Theroux

For me, the hard way lead to The Way, the Truth and the Life.  I would spare no one that journey; that discovery!  God does indeed work all things for good to those of us called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) While I don't recommend the route I often chose to take, I strongly affirm the destination. It's the place of beauty & safety that I pray each of my beloveds discovers in His time & theirs.  And whenever an opportunity presents itself, I am glad to share how the Lord became & remains my worthy Shepherd, my Lord.

"Only take care, and keep your soul 
diligently, lest you forget the things 
that your eyes have seen, and lest they
depart from your heart all the days of
your life.  Make them known to your 
children and your children's children ..."
Deuteronomy 4:9

No one, certainly not my grandparents, and to some extent not even my parents could prepare me for the steep slopes, crags & crevasses that would be my way at times, be it by choice or by chance.  They couldn't see around the corners or beyond the horizon, nor could they know what God had in store for me. Neither could I.  Perhaps it's why I have often thought Hannah Hurnard wrote "Hinds Feet in High Places" must for me.  

So it is, as I muse upon grandmotherliness in general and my own in particular, I realize there is no perfect model, no tried & true formula, and no guarantees. I've no yarn or thread to tidy, no root cellar to fill, no vapors to overcome.  I've no one to compete with and no Finish Line to cross.  

What I do have is an apron.  Go figure!  But I also have a heart bent in that direction, their direction; one filled with a love much more vast & patient than the one that nurtured their parents.  They will probably not apprehend these things until long after I am gone ~ perhaps not until they are grandparents themselves one day and the "Aha!" lightbulb flashes.  

And you know what's even more important?  Perhaps one day they, in settling into their own grandparentness, will pray as I do now: 

And I pray that you, being rooted and 
established in love, may have power,
together with all the Lord's holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high 
and deep is the love of Christ, and to 
know this love that surpasses knowledge
that you may be filled to the measure of 
all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19


The Sugarplum Fairy

*An interesting fact:  Both of my grandfathers died fairly young from complications related to oral abscesses.   James Elmer Wells, my paternal grandfather was 57; Fred Elisha Grinnell, my maternal grandfather was 62.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Putting Passions to Work ~ Introducing Patti Wheeler

Passion.  Do you have any?  On some level we all do. But just what do we do with it (or them)?  

Well ... scratch your head (or bang it against the wall) no more.  Patti has arrived! Patti Wheeler, that is.

I'll waste no time explaining her unique and passionate perspectives.  I'll let you discover both Patti and those for yourself.  So please drop by her Blog, Passion with Purpose and welcome her to our world.  You know how treasured are the comments from our early audiences.  You also know how precious are the long term relationships many of us have made in just such a way.

The happiness of a man in this life
does not consist in the absence but in
the mastery of his passions.
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

Click on the link above or here to go directly to Patti's new blog:  Passion with Purpose

P.S.  Patti is a girl after my own heart since she resided nearby for many years, making her an Okanogan Valley cowgirl. She's a friend of a close friend, and a new friend to me. I've been blessed in getting to know her, and I promise you'll be charmed.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Stillness, Standing and Stability

Moses answered the people,
"Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you
will see the deliverance the Lord will bring 
you today.  The Egyptians you see today you
will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you;
you need only to be still." 
Exodus 14:13-14

Stand.  Be still.  Have courage.

Not hard to do when all is calm, but add a dram of drama to life
and the temptation to tumble grows great.  As I say often: "It's easy to have faith when you don't need it."

Now that I've arrived at the ripening age of 67, I can honestly say my life is largely drama free.  Funny how that happens when you learn to make better choices or choose to follow paths that run along the high ground.  Even so, there are those things in life that are outside of one's control that threaten the most steadfast resolve.  In America today I am greatly disturbed & disgusted by much of what the media, the body politic, and the entertainment industry deems worthy, much less normal.  I'm equally saddened by the worldly compromises that abide in the Church.

In recent weeks we've witnessed the havoc wrecked by wild fire.  We live in that northeastern part of Washington State where hundreds of thousands of acres have been consumed by the advancing inferno. The term "scorched earth" has new meaning. Thankfully we were spared personal loss, but many were not.  The danger for us is now passed, and we rejoice to witness the refreshing onset of Fall instead.

Like the wildfires that visited here, many people are living in the direct path of danger.  Be it a foreign or domestic threat, a personal tragedy or loss, a natural disaster, or even political folly, many are one heartbeat away from that which would insist upon a stumble, if not a perilous plummet.

Standing firm on God's promises and upon His word is a tactic not for sissies.  Even so, it is the only sure way of maintaining equilibrium when unsettled events descend.  

Witnessing the ways in which He fights for us is the stuff of inspiration and courage.

The battle belongs to the Lord.


Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith,
act like men, be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

 Put on the full armor of God, 
so that you will
be able to stand firm against
the schemes of the devil. 
Ephesians 6:11

Only conduct yourselves in a manner
worthy of the Gospel of Christ, 
so that whether I come and see you 
or remain absent, I will hear of you 
that you are standing firm in one spirit, 
with one mind striving together 
for the faith of the Gospel.
Philippians 4:1

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Live and Let Live

It's a trap.  "It" being just about everything with which I disagree these days. 

You name it, the things that ensnare me.  From feelings of annoyance to outright anger; from frustration to discouragement the list goes on and on: 
  • Television programming; political rancor and all things politically expedient 
  • morality, or the lack thereof 
  • jabber jaw media commentary 
  • violence in our land (child abuse ranking at the top, followed by the abortion of over 53 million babies in the U.S. alone) 
  • disrespect for authority (with the military and police being recipients of the worst of it) 
  • an anti-Christian sentiment as juxtaposed with an enchantment with all things worldly or vile ... 

Well, you get my drift.

Nearly every day I have to tune out or turn off, and then return to ground zero, reminding myself that mortals do not have the final say.  Peace between God and man is rooted in the bloody soil beneath the cross, while forgiveness and hope gush from a thorn-pierced brow.  He alone is the truth; and He alone is the way and the life. 

God, the Author & Finisher, the Alpha & Omega offers the attendant blessings or curses of man's choices.  I can put away my thumping tool, cease & desist from scolding the TV, and give up any notion of arguing with those who mock the biblical worldview upon which this country & its laws was founded.   
It is difficult for this often self-righteous mortal to live and let live, and to leave the results up to God.   

For now, I'm taking lots of deep breaths and reminding myself that people ~ all people ~  get to choose what and who they believe.  It falls to me to love them and, should God grant the opportunity, give them a reason for the hope that is in me.  Leaving it there is the trap.

For we do not wrestle against flesh 
and blood, but against the rulers, 
against the authorities, against the 
cosmic powers over this present 
darkness, against the spiritual forces 
of evil in the heavenly places. 
Therefore take up the whole 
armor of God, that you may be 
able to withstand in the evil day, 
and having done all, to stand firm.  
~ Ephesians 6:12-13

"...the whole world lies under the sway
of the wicked one." 
~ John 5:19

" not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.... Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
Romans 12:2, 9

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." 
~ 1 John 2:15-17

 "If you were of the world, the world 
would love its own. 
Yet because you are not of the world, 
but I chose you out of the world, 
therefore the world hates you." 
~ John 15:19-20

"Friendship with the world is 
enmity to God." 
~ James 4:4

"...the light has come into the world, 
and men loved darkness 
rather than light, because their 
deeds were evil. 
For everyone practicing evil hates 
the light and does not come tthe light, 
lest his deeds should be exposed." 
~ John 3:19-20

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lessons from the Apple Orchard

Just a year ago, when first we settled here in the Okanogan Valley, this place was altogether foreign to me.  It's the apple orchard that runs adjacent to one of the cherry orchards that surround our home.  The trees are quite old ~ thick, gnarled branches firmly fixed to their sap-saturated trunks.     

When we began introducing our puppy, Maizie, to her surroundings, I began walking her along the perimeter of the property, all the while telling her:  "This is where your roaming ends, Miss Furball." Back then she was small enough to slip through the fence grates so I always kept her tightly leashed. Thankfully that was short-lived (she's now 75-80 pounds).  

It wasn't until Fall that I begin walking the far away fence lines.  It quickly became one of our favorite destinations.  There Maizie would make earth shattering discoveries:  moles & mice, a doe & fawn grazing, bird feathers, the hind quarter of a small deer, coyote droppings, and the like.  It was also where a Mule Deer doe was cruelly cornered by a pack of coyotes in the dead of Winter, and eaten. Blood stained snow told of that tragic episode, but so did my recollection of a disturbed sleep when awakened by the coyotes unmistakable yip-howls the night prior.  The apple orchard, you see, is not fenced.

The other day, while talking to the orchard manager ~ the "master gardener", if you will ~ I was told this will be the last season for this particular apple habitat. The variety grown there, Golden Delicious, are no longer in demand.  The trees will be felled and cherry trees planted in their stead.  Then he'll fence it, too.

It made me sort of sad.

These old, productive, fruit-bearing trees aren't aware they'll be gone by this time next year.  They've done nothing wrong.  They're vigorous and alive, doing just what they've been created to do, full of luscious fruit; loaded, actually.  But it's the wrong kind of fruit for an apple eating audience.

There's any number of life lessons here, but the one that strikes me powerfully in this portrait is how fickle are the tastes of mortals.  What was once good for their bones (and souls) no longer appeals to their appetite.  

Maizie and I grieve the loss of this very special domain. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Surely It's Not a Weed?

All around me life is teaming.  There's the usual prairie-fare on the valley floor below; alfalfa, barley, corn.  On the hillsides high above are flower-like thingies appearing in profusion with each uptick in the thermometer.

It's all just so spectacular.

What strikes me in these scenes is how lovely are the weeds; sometimes more lovely, even, than their non-weed soil companions.  They're referred to as noxious in these parts, which is to say they're harmful or poisonous.  They've been known to completely destroy a crop meant for market.  From the unskilled eye it's hard to distinguish them from the unharmful plants ~ plants like the lovely wild Lupine, Snap Dragons, Violets or Sunflowers.

All that to say, the noxious & obnoxious here makes it's much easier to comprehend the Lord's teachings on sowing & reaping, tares & wheat, or sheep & goats when considering their polar opposites.  It would seem there's little difference  between right & wrong, holy & vile, pure & polluted.  Sin often (always) is dressed all up in finery and fancy.  Only later do we see the rash (or worse) it's produced in us.  What's more, we don't recognize its stealth in choking out the genuine, healthy, truly lovely blooms alongside it.

"He who hunts flowers will find flowers;
and he who hunts for weeds will find weeds."
~ Henry Ward Beecher 

I realize this is not popular subject matter.  More's the pity.  It surely ought to be. Not the hellfire & brimstone iteration, but the exposing of those things that may tantalize today and torment tomorrow. Rather than cozy up to what the world says is OK (the list is endless) when we know it is not, we choose to embrace & live according to His higher, better standard.  

First we have to recognize what is & 
isn't a weed.  

It is true:  "Sin will take you farther, keep you longer and cost your more than ever you intended to pay." (Unknown)

Roses are red;
Violets are blue;
But they don't get around
Like the dandelions do.
~ Slim Acres

"Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste."
~ William Shakespeare
Don't water your weeds. ~ Proverb

"A man's nature runs either to herbs, or to weeds; therefore let him seasonably water the one 
and destroy the other."
~ Frances Bacon

The kingdom of heaven
may be compared to a man who sowed
good seed in his field, but while his
men were sleeping, his enemy came in 
and sowed weeds among the wheat and
went away.  So when the plants came
up and bore grains, then the weeds 
appeared also.  And the servants of the 
mast of house came in and said to him,
'Master, did you not sow good seed in
your field?  How then does it have 
weeds?'  He said to them, 'An enemy has
done this.'  So the servants said to him, 
'Then do you want us to go and gather them?'
But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the 
weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
Let them both grow together until the
harvest, and at the harvest time I will appear
and tell the reapers, 'Gather the weeds first and 
bind them in bundles to be burned,
but gather the wheat into my barn.' "
~ Matthew 13:24-30

Photos:  Taken in the hillsides and orchards adjacent to my home just last week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Remembering to Remember

Every time I think life cannot get any better, it does.
Many times when I thought life could not get any worse, it did.

These thoughts come to mind today as I walk alongside several people who are really struggling at the moment.  Through no fault of their own, life has visited upon them hurts and hurdles that threaten to rob them of hope and joy.  It is little wonder people face despair.  I know I have.  

The years, my years are mounting; one upon the other; layer upon layer.  Time, like a glacier, has a way of moving under its own weight, often accompanied by the stress that shifting weight creates.  And yet ... that very shifting creates the glory & beauty that is the very life of a glacier or, in my case and yours, the life of the life.  Moraine fields are stunning though born in a crush.

I don't understand why some people appear to lead charmed lives; lives seemingly free of heartache or obstacles.  I've known a few such.  But mostly I've known of the other sort ... the lives with peaks and valleys; sunny slopes and shadows of death; songs of rejoicing and dirges of sorrow.  These things are no respecter of persons ~ they visit indiscriminately.

So I remind myself that the best is always yet to come.  Wherever I am today ~ high or low or in-between ~ the promise of better, greater things is as sure as sunrise.  Truly we must remember to remember that.

So we do not lost heart. 
Though our outer self is wasting away, 
our inner self is being renewed day by day.  
For this light momentary affliction is 
preparing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison, as we look not to the 
things that are seen but to the things 
that are unseen.  
For the things that are seen are transient, 
but the things that are not seen are eternal.  
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother on My Mind

I stood there looking at heaven's rays
Thinking I might just grab a gaze
Of her brown eyes or gnarled hands
Where she now lives in heaven's lands.

I held my breath & willed a prayer
As if she might descend a stair;
Coming near with tender touch ~
I longed to see her, oh so much

The years have ripened since she went;
My own life nearly all but spent.
My hands now gnarled; my eyes now dim,
At heart I am her child again.

I stood there long at heaven's rays
Knowing she has caught a gaze
Of her wee lass who'll come her way
Because she was a mom who'd pray.

I cannot see her from this place.
So I must, I will run out my race.
Then one day I will climb that ray
Upon the route of heaven's way.

I love you, Mom; I'm glad you wait
For me to join you through that gate.
And until then I'll long to see 
Your tender eyes look back at me.  

~ Me

In loving memory of the
amazing lady known as
Helen Evelyn Grinnell Wells

My Mother