Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunrise to Sunset - Day Three

Oh goodness. What a lovely day it's been as we wandered aimlessly along every inch of the tree lined lanes of lakes Couer d'Alene, Liberty, Newman and Houser. Yesterday's snow gave way to today's drizzle and fog, with temps warming all the way up to 40 degrees!

What a perfect setting for dreaming; something we've been known to do when we feel a close coming to one chapter of living, and as a new one is yet to unfold. Adventures are made of this stuff. Though we are not quite ready to hang up our pistols & spurs (we're still in cowboy country), we have begun to think in terms of a summer or retirement retreat. We don't yet know where that'll be, but it's the theme of our drive-about.

Tomorrow we'll trek further west, back into the clan land of my forebearers in the Okanogan Valley. We'll pause awhile to connect with family before heading further into apple growing country in the Wenatchee and Yakima Valleys.
As I put a wrap on this day I pause to reflect on something I saw this morning. It stirred my thoughts the entire day and will, no doubt, surface again and again.
On the billboard of small church was this message: Godisnowhere. Just like that ... all one word. I don't think it was intentional, just a cramming together of letters to make it all fit in the small spaced alotted. Immediately I sorted it out to read: "God is now here". Beautiful.
Then I saw it differently - as so many do - to read: "God is nowhere". How bleak.
It's all in how you see it. .

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sunrise to Sunset - Day Two

From the chilled winds of Pocatello to the snowy mountain passes that run adjacent to the Clark Fork River - from Missoula to just East of Couer d'Alene - our day can best be described as dervish. Not the whirling sort ... but pertinere! (Remember, we're in cowboy country now).
Along these cold & snowy country roads the scenary was spectacular, but not nearly so much so as the vivid recall of days gone by. The wooded climes take me, often without bidding, to reflections.
The first such was a New Year's holiday we spent in a cabin on White Pass with our youngest son and his wife, and their 11 month old baby - our grandson. No one had adequately warned me of the depths of love a grandparent feels, nor of how easily a grandchild attaches him/herself to nearly every memory since the day of their birth (or of learning of their conception). But log cabins and fireplaces have done just that ... so it was while whiffing the sweet, pungent aroma of alder smoke that I remember that holiday, that occasion, when a very special little boy was bundled beneath layers - nearly obscured - as he experienced his first snow. That little boy is about to turn 13.
The second such reflection was similar. On December 12 just 12 years ago our first granddaughter was born to our own daughter - on HER birthday! Thus December 12 dots next week's horizon as the chilly mountain air sweeps me back to that other 12th, and even to the one preceding it, when in both 1970 and in 1996 girls were delivered into our arms, and our arms would be forever changed.
So it was then, with Silent Night being sung in the background, that I wept swolen tears of joy & gratitude as we crossed the Continental Divide. Yes, it was the babes that captured my conciousness rememberings, but it was THE babe that captured the deeper part of me.
For the remainder of today's trek I stared in wide-eyed wonder. Nowhere is God's touch more visible than in these lands and upon these mountains. Wild, rugged, powerful, poignant ... they shout His mastery over all things grand & noble, simple & dear. I wept often today. Somehow breathing seemed a prayer.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sunrise to Sunset - Day One

Long before sunrise we snuck away from home for the first leg of K & Ts Big Adventure. We made our way north out Phoenix's back door, leaving behind all our care and woe (a thimblefull) to begin day one of our cathartic drive-about.
In Australia the indigenous tenants are known to have their walk-abouts - a temporary return to traditional Aboriginal life, taken especially between periods of work or residence in white society and usually involving a period of travel through the bush. Such a grand concept must have a four wheel counterpart, or at least that's why we opted for tires versus toes. .

All day we traveled this road and that, winding our way along amazing mountain highways and through the painted desert, then along scenic plateaus. Across valleys and plains, up steep grades and through a smattering of snow we were most definitely about.
Between thoughts of indians and pioneers, or the singing of a particular Christmas song (oh how I love the velvety renditioin of "Let There Be Peace on Earth" by Vince Gill), our conversations were dotted with hopes and dreams for tomorrow, or reflections and joys of yesteryear. .

At last the light of day ran out long before our childlike eagerness did. From Arizona to Utah, from Utah to Idaho. Bush travel, indeed!
Sleep comes slow in chilly Pocatello as I lay awake wondering why night falls and day breaks. Why not the other way around?

Sweet, sweet slumber at nightbreak.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blessings of Another Sort

When I read this piece, a recurring thought ran parallel to it: One man's curse is another man's blessing.
Perspective is key ... to everything!
I reflected awhile on the conditions of this country's Great Depression, recalling how my own parents joined other survivalists in making the most of - the best of - those years of strife. Fact is, Mother and Dad met and fell in love in 1929, and married in 1930. The are gone now, but were they here today they'd tell of the incredible ways God sustained them during the depression's blight. They would like what Walter Stroiber has to say, and so do I.
The Great Depression, as I Remember
By Walter Stoiber
(emphasis mine)

The Great Depression began on Thursday, Oct. 24th, 1929. It would become known as “Black Thursday,” and rightfully so. The stock market crashed, and a record 13 million shares were traded that day. Some of the larger banks tried to help by buying shares at above the quoted prices. It didn’t work. After five days, banks began to close. Most depositors were left “holding the bag,” and an empty one at that!
We were an average blue-collar family in Altoona, Pa. My father worked at the silk mill, as a shipping clerk and later as a supervisor. As businesses in Altoona cut back and then closed entirely, the silk mill did too. My father had a backup career, giving piano lessons and playing in a five-piece band for weddings and other events. As the Depression got worse, though, those things were no longer affordable. He took a job as an insurance agent. But people didn’t have the money to buy more insurance.
I was in the sixth grade in 1929. I got a job at our grocery store, stocking shelves for 25 or 50 cents a day, plus a bag of penny candy. My sister, Charlotte, who was in the third grade, helped Mother with chores and meals and made her own doll clothes out of odds and ends. Mother was a great cook. She got vegetables from other families in our neighborhood and made soup. Our butcher would give us soup bones (leaving a little meat on it), free of charge. He remembered that we were good customers in good times.
We couldn’t go to the movies on Saturdays anymore. But we kids had no trouble finding fun things to do. We had a makeshift baseball diamond in the city park. There were eight or 10 of us, and not everyone had a glove. So we would just keep swapping. A ball lasted us a long time. When the cover came off, we would get black friction tape and wrap the ball with it. Eventually we would all have to contribute the pennies we had saved to buy a new ball.
We also had a favorite swimming hole about 10 miles away. We would ride there on our bicycles. Somehow everybody managed to have their own bike. My father’s friend had an old bike gathering dust in his basement, so he gave it to me. We had to work on it, but it lasted me a long time. We also made our own scooters. We’d get a wooden soap box from the grocery store, a three-foot piece of 2×4, and a pair of old roller skates. Soon we were set to go.
Things didn’t get easier for a long time, but we managed. My last two years in high school, I got two part time jobs — ushering at the State Theater, for 25 cents an hour, and delivering special-delivery letters and small packages on my bike for the Altoona Post Office. I was paid a percentage of the postage, and sometimes I made $4 on a weekend! When my father was no longer with us, we couldn’t afford the $35 a month to stay in our home. Luckily, we got an apartment across from the Dutch Kitchen, where my mother got a waitress job. My mother liked her job and made good tips. On a good day, she would make as much as $10.
We got through it. In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected our 32nd president and brought with him a number of wonderful programs and signs of recovery. I graduated from high school in1935 and went to work as a meter reader for Penn Edison. Charlotte graduated three years later and got a job as a secretary. Things just seemed to get better as time went on.
So now it’s 2008. We’re now in the midst of another financial crisis — this one global — brought about presumably by “the powers that be” on Wall Street and in the upper echelons of the federal government. A classic display of selfishness, greed, and politics. I’m 91 years old, and I sure don’t want to see another Great Depression. But I wouldn’t part with the experience I had 80 years ago. I learned that we could do without things that we thought we had to have. I learned how to “stretch” a dollar. And I learned that the words on the back of the dollar bill, “In God We Trust,” have merit. Hoping and praying isn’t all we need to do, but it helps.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Are We There Yet?

In Washington State resides the incredible monolith, Mount Rainier. Rising nearly 14,000 feet, it is the subject of dreamers and schemers; of tales of adventure and tales of intrigue. UFO sightings are common, and Sasquatch too. But they're no match for the sightings of high mountain lakes, glaciers, wildflowers, waterfalls, bear and elk.
I grew up in her shadow.
Thus it is impossible for me to think of my childhood without reaching far, far back into the memory stores to pluck images and thoughts of Rainier's pivotal placement in my life.
From the breakfast nook of the family home we could see her towering peak - though little else below it. It captivated my father who, as a young man, would both climb the peak and help build additions to the Longmire Lodge in the 1920s.
A day trip to Mt. Rainier was such an exciting adventure. The anticipation alone was cause enough to rob me of sleep the night before - like Christmas Eve. The day of the trek, Mother would scurry to prepare all things necessary for a picnic (chicken, potato salad, apple pie), while Dad ensured the car was packed & gassed. Mostly I hung around both camps prompting them to "hurry up!".
Eventually we'd be off, me thinking I'd ruled the day, when in fact we took not one step until my parents were certain that everything was in order.
I'm not sure where my whining began, but at some point I grew weary of the long, high, precipitous mountain roads that revealed little more than dense alpine forest. The drive lasted some two hours, and while family ooh'd and aah'd, my grumbling took the form or rhetorical questions:
... When are we gonna get there?
... How much longer?
... What's to eat?
... Are we there yet?
This is a long, round-about route to another topic; though it's not at all dis-similar. For the Bible-believing sort, it's the segue to my (our) life journey. In fact, with it comes the promise that there is a generation that will not die; one that actually is alive during that incredibly unimaginable day that sees Jesus return.
I think of it often these days ... not as some fanatical, chicken-little sort with a sandwich board proclaiming doom and gloom, but as a sojourner navigating the dense beauty and winding road of life. I can't yet see the summit, but I know it's there. Sometimes I get weary, or hungry, or distracted - but never do I consider NOT reaching the summit. That doesn't mean I'm not tempted periodically to whine:
"are we there yet?"
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep,
but we will all be changed— in a flash,
in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound,
the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with
the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality,
then the saying that is written will come true:
"Death has been swallowed up in victory."
1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A New Hero

Westin Dietz
Who is this lively little charmer? Is he my grandson? Is he a special lad from my church or neighborhood? Is he the poster child for playfulness?
He is none of the above, but he's all of the above.
Westin lives in the rural mountains of Virginia among family and friends that cherish him. He has stolen hearts and inspired all who know him.
Westin has been and continues to wage the fight of his life, literally.
I do not know Westin. I do not know his parents or grandparents. I've never been to Virginia. Nor have I ever personally stood watch helplessly while a beloved child or grandchild peered into death's portal. Westin's story and a plea for prayer comes to me from another blogger. It's a cyberspace saga, but it's as real as real can be.
This is a story that gripped me from the start. Westin is one little guy among many, and representative of all that's precious and rich about our children. His is the header story emblazoned in today's headline - a worthy tale of a worthy child. Who could possibly care about geo-politics, the economy, global warming or what CNN has to say when one stands vigilant alongside a warrior like this one?
If you want to know more you can read all about it at the Caring Bridge (link below) website. And whether or not you dig deeper, I would ask that you pray for Westin and his family. His options are not pleasant, nor are they certain.
Westin is a true hero.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Peep Collection

A Thankful Gathering of
Home Team Peeps

Whatta gang ... Gary, Toni, Nancy, Gary, Jane, Ralph, Kim, Greg, Darrel, Diane, Chris, Pam, Karen, Dave, Judi, Dan, Van, Claudette, Jerry, Jackie, Frances, Nick, Gay ... (sorry some couldn't be there for this feast).
And can this bunch ever cook!
Why is it the men are always gathered around the food looking so innocent?


Pronunciation: ˈ-bi-kän
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin Rubicon
Rubico, river of northern Italy forming part of the boundary
between Cisalpine Gaul and Italy whose crossing
by Julius Caesar in 49 b.c. was regarded by the Senate as an act of war
Date: 1626
A bounding or limiting line; especially one that when
crossed commits a person irrevocably.
I'll just bet you've crossed a few Rubicons in your life. I know I have. It's a word and a concept that you rarely hear of, though certainly it's a dynamic that plays out on both small and large scales every day; possibly every second of every day.
The word itself has a rather magical ring to it - like some sort of Matrix-like game one might play in cyberspace, or a mysterious plot woven into a Narnia tale. But on close inspection, it's anything but magical, even though it could certainly be mysterious. It goes hand-in-hand with the cause & effect quotient, or the reaping & sowing principle. I'd like to say it has an up-side as well as a down-side, but the fact that it's associated with an act of war tells me the down-side is probably the apt connotation.
Today my heart is heavy for the Rubicon burden I believe our country has taken on. I won't even attempt to put flesh on the bones of that thought, but suffice it to say that not all change is good change. We got what we wanted amidst a lot that we didn't, crossing a line I can almost see and feel. I can't help but wonder if that line is a Rubicon extraordinaire.
So much for my pondering and prognosticating. I'm not very good at mystery writing anyway. Therefore I'm headed back to Merriam's place to grab another word I've grown quite fond of in recent days - jeepers (look it up ... you'll be as shocked as I was when I learned what euphemism it stands for!).
Then again, we all know the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even that might well be a Rubicon.
P.S. Though my heart is indeed heavy - it is not fearful or worrisome. It's just plain heavy. The best is truly yet to come, regardless of conditions on the ground!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Penny Saved ... Penny Earned

Every year about this time I wait eagerly and expectantly for my new Entertainment Book. With no little fanfare I peruse their offerings, marking my favorites with a sticky note. I haul that book just about everywhere with me!

Then again, most Sundays you can find me - scissors & coffee in hand - exercising clipping prowess as I snip grocer coupons. Come Wednesday, when the new grocery ads are published, I sit down with a pen & pad in one hand, and coupons in the other. In my first pass I spy out the ads to select those items I also have coupons for. I then go through the "must haves". Sometimes the two match up, but never do I purchase an item that isn't on ad, or that I don't have a coupon for.

It tickles me no end when the clerk rings up my purchases, and then deducts my double or triple coupons for a huge savings! I don't cheer, nor do I skip out of the store, but I want to. It's so fun saving both pennies and dollars - sometimes LOTS of them!

There's somethiing quite satisfying about a good value.

When I run across a good resource online I tuck it away for future use. Today I've decided you might be as penny conscious as am I.

Check them out.
Are there some money-saving sites you frequent?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Sure House

In the past several days I have heard on more than one occasion, and from a variety of sources, a scripture that has often blessed and baffled me simultaneously. From Psalm 22 we learn that: "God inhabits the praises of His people."
Inhabits? Really?
Short. Sweet. Powerful. Poignant. Mysterious. Marvelous.

How timely and appropriate for days such as these. Confusion, doubt, fear and no little concern about America's future plagues so many. It's as if our worldly habitations - literally and figuratively - are crumbling at their foundations. Some are living on life's ragged edges.
The habitation of praise isn't politically or economically linked and, therefore, not subject to the drama and blight that swoops upon the world like the plagues of old. It's invincible, safe, spacious - and completely paid for.

I have many thoughts and equally many questions about this subject. But this I know: He comes so very near when I acknowledge Him. Whether it's His holiness, or His majesty, or His might, or His mercy, of His love, or His ____ (fill in the blank with the thousands of like-attributes), it matters not. When once I turn my heart in the direction of praise, it runs hard after Him, after His habitations. It is quietest when every room is filled.

I found the following summary in cyberspace. I've now tethered it to my other thoughts on this subject, though the referenced questions will have to go on, and on, and on ... at least for now.
Praising God - Why? The reasons are countless.

First, God deserves to be praised and He is worthy to receive our praise:

"For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods" (Psalm 96:4).
"Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom" (Psalm 145:3).
"I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies" (2 Samuel 22:4).
"You are worthy, our LORD and God, to receive glory
and honor and power, for you created all things, and
by your will they were created and have their being"
(Revelation 4:11).
Second, praising God is useful and favorable for us. By praising God, we are reminded of the greatness of God! His power and presence in our lives is reinforced in our understanding.
"Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise
to his name, for that is pleasant" (Psalm 135:3).
Third, praise discharges strength in faith, which causes God to move on our behalf.
"From the lips of children and infants you have
ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence
the foe and the avenger" (Psalm 8:2).

Fourth, Praising God also transforms the spiritual environment that we have.
"The trumpeters and singers joined in unison,
as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to
the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals
and other instruments, they raised their voices
in praise to the LORD and sang: 'He is good; his
love endures forever.' Then the temple of the LORD
was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not
perform their service because of the cloud, for the
glory of the LORD filled the temple of God."
Fifth, God inhabits the atmosphere of praise.
Which brings us around full circle to that enigmatic marvel: God inhabits the praises of His people!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alone on a Bike Before Dawn

Someday I'll learn to listen ...

Yesterday morning I decided to go for a bike ride before heading to my office. Usually I walk in the morning, but now that it's dark until 6:30 or 7:00 AM, I'm not real keen about heading out unless Terry accompanies me.

So far, so good.

Terry wasn't interested in walking, so I quickly developed Plan B: I'd ride my bike. My thinking about riding versus walking went something like this ...

... If I walk in the dark and come across a critter (we have coyotes and cougar here in AZ), or some ill-intentioned human (don't know that we have any in our quiet community), I'd be easy prey. But if I were to ride my bike, I'd be too fast for them to get me...

Big, brave sort am I! So far, so good.

When I turned up in my riding helmet to let Terry know I was headed out he gave me this quizzical look before saying: "You have to be kidding! It's pitch dark out there and you could be hit by a car". With feigned offense over his lack of confidence in my riding ability I told him I planned to ride the sidewalks and side streets. I'd take my cell phone. I'd be hunky punky.

So far, so good.

What an incredible morning it was to be out riding. The night sky was filled with stars and the air was scented with newly mowed lawn from the nearby golf course. I stuck to familiar routes as I made my way downhill (we live at the top of a hill). I'd been out maybe ten minutes when I turned down a particularly dark side street. By now my momentum had picked up and I was traveling pretty fast (for a sassy granny, anyway), and I just didn't see the mound of rock & gravel that reached out and stopped me like a brick fist.

Not so good.

In a flash both me and the bike went down went from upright to downright. It's a good thing I was wearing my helmet, because it was the 2nd part of my body to hit the ground just after my right arm did.

My bad.

For several minutes I sat there in the road looking like Eeyore and feeling like Rocky after a bad boxing bout. Befuddled, I began assessing the damage. It's a wonder I didn't knock myself completely out, but oh did my arm and posterior hurt!

Definitely not good.

It took awhile to catch my breath, determine nothing was broken or loose, and get up enough courage to stand up. Momentarily I held my cell phone as I considered whether I'd need to call Terry or an ambulance. Thank God a call wouldn't be necessary. The only serious damage was to my stubborn streak, albeit I hurt from tip-to-toe by now.

So far, really not good.

It took me awhile to make my way back home, all the while chatting with myself about why I hadn't taken Terry's quizzical look as the cue to put away Plan A, and forget about a Plan B. I could have spared myself a whole lotta pain had I done so. Then again, it was and is an age-old affliction I deal with here.

Get this: whether I like it or not, and whether I agree or not, God has given me a protector in Terry. It's the gift embedded in the dynamic of marriage. When I heed his cautions and respect his wishes (be they major or mundane), my life - for some inexplicable reason - runs smoother. We might just joist awhile about that, but in the end I know where the joisting would leave me.

Today I'm black and blue and swollen in places visible and invisible. Eeyore says it well: "They're funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you're having them."

Well, one thing's for sure. I hear a lot better today.

So far, so good.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Huge but Simple Act

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beneath the vast, starlit beauty of Phoenix skies, Pastor Greg baptizes Terry and Dan while Judy and I, along with our Home Team of 22 look on with stirred hearts.

How the Lord rejoices at the obedience demonstrated by this simple, humble act.

... don't you know that all of us who were baptized
into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
We were therefore buried with him through baptism
into death in order that, just as Christ was raised
from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:3-4

Friday, November 14, 2008

Would You Believe That!

November 1966

Though it's been 42 years, I cannot look at these photos without remembering the event and the thrill of it all. Though the parents are now deceased, and those darling babes now grown with families of their own, this day stands still in my heart. All is as it was - timeless - when the heart wraps itself around a precious memory.

The years would be both kind and cruel to Terry and me, so it is with utter amazement, gratitude and pride that we cheer our 42nd year of marriage!!

Life is good. God is better.
And the best is always yet to come!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Victims of Inhumanity

Is there anything good about war?
Surely these babes in the Congo would prefer being nestled in their mother's arms instead of bearing the title of war orphans.
Thank you Julie & Mark, Jen & Dustin, and all the others that have reached beyond continents to rescue such as these!
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not
keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself
and his religion is worthless.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:26-28

145 Years Later

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Not in a Million Years? Think Again!

'Why Believe in a God?'
Ad Campaign Launches on D.C. Buses

That's among today's boldest headlines. A news story about how God ( or should I say god ... little g ?) is not all He's cracked up to be! Never mind that the Bible is still the #1 book of all time, outselling every other. Never mind the changed lives that found hope and meaning by way of God's mysterious yet undeniable work in them. Never mind the value and richness given life because of God's high esteem for us. Nope ... best that man forget all that rubbish and take on the pond-scum mantle of the pagan (call it whatever you want, but atheism is not new!!).

Well, the illustrious Madeline Murray O'Hare would be proud. Her efforts managed to have prayer eradicated from public schools - no doubt the outcome of her prodigious legal background, coupled with her outspoken bent towards Socialism and Atheism. She was not alone. She is not alone. Her voice is among the many today that clamor to remove, once and for all, any religious connotation in this once predominantly Christian nation - unless, that is, it profits them economically or politically. Never have they been freer to clamor than now - their freedom bought by the blood of many a godly Veteran to boot!

I know, I know ... I'm not being nice. I'm sure Madeline and all her followers are wonderful people that just want we fanatical idiots that believe in God to shut up and go away.


This newest effort in the way of an ad campaign is not the beginning of some slippery-slope descent. It is long past mid-way and gaining momentum. I hope people understand what lies ahead, and what it means to get what they want in the way of a godless, religulous nation. History can explain it far better than I can.

So much for my soapbox. Snarl.

"Shout and be glad, O Daugher of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the Lord. "Many nations will be joined to the Lord in that day and will become my people." Zechariah 2:10-11

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pierre & Marie

Exactly 528 years ago - in 1480 - my ancestor Pierre Grenelle was born in Champagne, Dordogne, Aquitaine, France. His was a brief life of 29 years, during which time he met and married Marie Perrier ( ??? maybe I'm an heir to the Perrier Water fortunes??? ).
I can only imagine their lives together in the Aquitaine, and no doubt they were as overjoyed as any young couple when they first discovered they were pregnant. That joy was to be short-lived.
To gain a better sense of my French roots, I did a little research into Dordogne's history. Quiet and tranquil now, the Dordogne has had a tumultuous past. It's legacy has left deep marks all over the region. It is a land and a people rich in culture and heritage ... the stuff of caves and castles, damsels and warriors. It is where my Protestant ancestors (on my mother's side) fought hard against the oppression of my Catholic ancestors (on my father's side). Sort of the Hatfields & McCoys of their day!
Starting from the earliest inhabitants thousands of years ago the caves in the region have been decked with artwork that has attracted tourists down through the ages, and to this very day. The region was first invaded by the Celts who were dislodged when the Romans, in turn, invaded them. Eventually the Romans were routed as well, and strife in the region became more of an internal struggle.
.During the Middle Ages, the Dordogne was overrun with the 100 Years War. During that time there were numerous famous battles, including the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The war was all but lost for the French, and it was agreed that Henry V was the heir to the French throne. But then Henry V died unexpectedly, leaving only a baby as his heir.
Soon after the young Joan of Arc appeared on the scene and remotivated the French king - now Charles VII - and his armies. It was in 1451 at the Battle of Castillon the English were finally defeated (a battle now spectacularly recreated each year for the enjoyment of tourists).
Simultaneously, in the year 1492 and on an entirely different continent - when the young Pierre Grenelle was but 12 years old - Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. He wrote in his Captain's Log: "At two hours after midnight, sailor Rodrigo de Triana spotted the outline of land. We fell to one knee and gave our thanks to God.". We know he bent that knee many times as he paved the way for others to the new world that would, one day, become home to Pierre and Marie's descendants. They would bend their own knees on the shores of New York.
A contemporary of the Grenelle's was Martin Luther. Luther was born in 1483 in Germany, where at a young age he entered the priesthood. History tells us of Luther's struggles and strife; strife that lead straightaway to religious reforms in Germany and elsewhere.
In the next century, followers of John Calvin (1509–1564) instigated the Reformation in France. Several massacres of entire towns took place, and much of the earlier heritage of the Dordogne was destroyed. French Protestants, called Huguenots, were brutally suppressed, with the latter decades of the century occupied by civil war between Protestant and Catholic groups. The warring ceased when, at long last, the 1598 Edict of Nantes granted Protestants freedom of worship under Henry IV who was originally a Huguenot himself.
Combined, this was the era and the culture into which Pierre and Marie were born, and lived, and died - Pierre in 1509, and Marie at some unknown, later date.

A son, Charles was born to the Grenelle's in 1510 - the year following Pierre's death - with obvious implications. Marie lived out her pregnancy and delivery without the comforts of her beloved spouse. Whether she lived a long life, married again, or had other children my search does not reveal. But I do know the son of Pierre & Marie went on to beget Gratien, who begot Gratien of Piemont, who begot Matthew (who changed the spelling to Grinnell), who begot Daniel, who begot Jonathon I, who begot Jonathon II, who begot Nathaniel, who begot John, who begot Thomas, who begot Elisha, who begot Fred, who begot Helen Evelyn - my mother - in 1907.

(Fred Grinnell/far left, holding infant;
Elisha Grinnell/mid-right, holding youth;
Helen Evelyn/pre-teen, standing to the left of Elisha)
It was Matthew, five generations removed from Pierre's own, that brought the Grenelle's to America in the mid-1600s. It was then & there that the name changed to it's present spelling, Grinnell - no doubt his Americanization effort while he made his way through Ellis Island.
Matthew's sons and grandsons remained on Rhode Island turf until Nathaniel's day. He settled in Farmington, New York, and for the next several generations New York was home to his descendants. They remained there until Elisha's day, when the westward trail lead him briefly to Wisconsin, and from Wisconsin to South Dakota where eventually my own mother was born.
It's safe to say that I am both charmed and proud of these, my grandfathers and great-great ancestors. Their names alone connote a Biblical reference-point. My heart longs to believe that these adventurous men and women knew to pray for me ... a generational addition that would be added as a limb - far, far from the family tree's trunk.
I'm not a die-hard ancestry buff, but I have been dabbling. It's lead me this way and that, and I must admit my imagination has been stirred along any number of themes. How fun it would be to pluck one of my ancestors from a prior century to write a fanciful saga of their life. The "Perrier" connection could make for some aristocratic connections. Then again, Pierre's untimely death might fuel intrigues about the how of his demise. Was he ill? Did he fall prey to a heart attack while farming the family lands? Was he among the Protestant martyrs? Was he scripted in war and left on some faraway battlefield? Was he murdered by some ne'er do well attempting to steal from him? The possibilities are endless!
An unexpected by-product of my genealogical bent has been to meet several distant cousins by way of the website. They are doing the same thing I am, and it's been with some sense of forensic serendipity that we embrace in cyberspace. Their heritage and mine are blended. Our blood runs kindred - and a deep red on the soils of Aquitaine.
Pierre and Marie have left us a rich heritage and equally rich speculations on the drama that was their lives. Fact is, the facts themselves are already a darn good story story!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Pound or a Pinch

Nearly everyone I know has read Tom Brokaw's amazing tribute: The Greatest Generation. I couldn't put the book down, primarily because I saw my Mom & Dad, my Uncle Elmer, neighbors Adrian Luchino, Vance Wanchina and Stan Stemp (among others) in the pages of Brokaw's book. They were and are the Salt of the Earth.

While my own parents did not live long into old age (my father succumbing to leukemia while a young man of 62, and my mother dying of a stroke at 69), many - if not most - of the greatest generation lived well into their 80s and 90s. A few remain - and these among a generation that ate butter!
Brokaw's book gives lots of clues as to the reason for their longevity, not to mention their decades-long marriages, their affinity for faith & family, their patriotic fervor for the great land of America, and their unmatched work ethic. It's no accident they are so often referred to as the Salt of the Earth, especially when you consider the attributes of salt:

... it adds flavor
... it heals wounds
... it creates thirst
... it preserves
... it prevents decay
... it melts cold/ice
... it kills unwanted growth

I wonder what happens when a generation of the great sort are no longer among us? It's a rhetorical question, actually ... so no need to answer. Certainly there are always those noble characters that grace every generation, yet when an entire generation of character-laden lives pass, so too the saltiness of those very lives. Methinks the implications are obvious.

We need only look to today's heroes to see what's happening with the salt in our midst. Yes, there are noble heroes among us - great men and women that leave a mark on their world, be it subtle or significant. But those wearing that title that hail from less-than-noble enterprises ought to give us pause. They are NOT a greatest generation; not even a good generation. Yet they are often the ones our young people look to for cues.

I don't mean this to be an indictment of all that ails our land, or even of the generations that now steer it. Mostly I'm hoping to leave more than a pinch of salt as a heritage for my children and grandchildren. I trust them to affect their own generation as salt. A few grains are powerful.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Faith Hill

While it's not quite yet time to ponder the imponderable, I ponder it still. Everything has changed.


Teenage girl, much too young
Unprepared for what’s to come
A baby changes everything

Not a ring
On her hand
All her dreams and all her plans
A baby changes everything (x2)

The man she loves she’s never touched
How will she Keep his trust
A baby changes everything (x2)

And she cries, oh she cries

She has to leave, go far away
Heaven knows she can’t stay
A baby changes everything

She can feel it’s coming soon
There’s no place, there’s no room
A baby changes everything (x2)

And she cries and she cries O she cries

Shepherds own they got their …
Star shines down…

Choir of Angels say
Glory to the newborn king
A baby changes everything (x2) everything, everything, every day
Hallelujah x4

My whole life is turned around
I was lost and now I’m found
A baby changes everything

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nana's Applause

Sharon, my cyberspace buddy and fellow granny (and quite a sassy one, at that), graced me with these lovely gifts.
Pay her a visit. I promise you'll laugh and cry, ponder and peruse, and finally know what, exactly is a Techno Nana!

Trinket Treasures

For my treasure-troving friends, I simply must share a wonderful resource, especially with Christmas on the horizon.

I heard of it by way of Elaine's blog (, and found myself wandering around Lisa Leonard's website with a shopping list in mind.

Check it out:

And, if you read Elaine's post first, you can claim a 20% discount when ordering a Lisa Leonard design. How cool is that! In fact, you can even custom design your piece, adding whatever script suits you.

Myself, I'm thinking maybe I need a "Sassy Granny" trinket.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Snoopy's View

Some days are like that...
But when you've got good friends,
who cares?
Where morning dawns and evening fades,
You call forth songs of joy. Ps 76:8

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Dynamics ala Church Staff


BUT ...




With camera in hand, I spent the morning capturing candid snaps of post-voting pastors and pros at the office. We all agree: No worries!
Pictured: Greg, Julie, Lori/Mrs. Greg, Adrienne/Mrs. Ryan, Julie, Christina, Daniel, Darius Paul, Ryan, Derrick, Jeremiah, Bob, Jillayne, Nancy, Sean, Dennis, Daniel, Kathleen/Moi, Lisa and Marge.
Missing: Brent, Art, Josh, Adam, Michelle, Beki