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