Freedom and My Grandfather

I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom these days. When you farm or have a ranch, I think it is clear that all sorts of regulations curtail your activity. You cannot do what you want with your land and your crops. I am not judging the value or nuisance of all the curtailments/regulations that exist; I am just saying they are there. But as I look back, I wonder how so much could have happened in my lifetime. How did we lose so much freedom? I remember my grandfather refusing to take/follow a government program that required  him not to plant anything on many acres of his farm. He could be paid for not growing anything on that land. I was just a little girl, but I remember my grandfather’s anger at the government; it could tell him what he must do with his land. My grandfather had come from Germany with nothing to come to the “land of the free.”

He was experiencing the American Dream that brought him to this country. He worked hard, acquired land, tilled the land, built a home and farm buildings, acquired more land, and became a very successful farmer in Iowa. His barns were full of hay, the cribs were full of corn, and  another building we called the grainey, was full  of wheat, oats, and barley. And my grandfather had so many cattle and hogs to sell each year that he was allowed to ride in the caboose of the train that took the animals to the Chicago stockyards.

My grandfather was one of those immigrants we keep talking about when we declare that we are a nation of immigrants.  He was proud, courageous, entrepreneurial, stern, generous: a man of faith. He raised a large family, was tutor to many, and was one of the most industrious people I have known. He lived past eighty. He never gave us money, but he always provided opportunities for us to earn money. He was quiet but far from mute when it mattered. He was a great teacher when we desired to be students. George Meyer was an amazing man.

I was in high school when he passed away. But the image of my grandfather is clear in my memory bank. So are all of the things that he taught me–not so much with words, but by who he was. He built a very large three-family home on his beloved farm. My first four years of life were spent in the “big house.” The attic was full of treasures. The farm was full of adventure. I had many wonderful questions to ask, and so many incredible opportunities to learn, to test the boundaries, and learn the parameters of faith–in others, and more importantly, in myself. My grandfather was my early model.

Grandpa didn’t say it so many words, but I think he taught me that only the God-given fruit of the Spirit are free–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  (Galatians 5:22)

Catching Up

It has been some time since I published a blog. My son, Britt, spent nearly a month with me, helping me do all manner of things. When you have macular degeneration and are 95, you appreciate the company and the help. It is great to get up to the aroma of a fresh pot of coffee, the smell of bacon, and the thought that Britt makes wonderful omelets.

A wonderful family Christmas is history. But the memories of the whole family being together are etched in the memory bank. When you have one granddaughter in college, one granddaughter in Colorado, a grandson in Palm Desert, a son and daughter-in-law who live in Portland, Oregon, a son and family next door, to be sharing Christmas together is pretty special. The late December days were filled with seizing as much family time together as we could. And then it’s December 31.

Yes, Christmas is past, but the memory film of the wonderful church services I have attended on Christmas Eve is precious. It is a film I could try to edit but would never be able to say, “Cut.” The crunch of the snow in Iowa as we made our way to the church, the Christmas program where every child had a “piece” to recite, the bag that each child got in church with the prize of an orange in the bag.  Then you watch your children become a part of the scene, and then your grandchildren become a part of the Christmas Eve Service, the service to teach us all about the greatest gift ever in our lives–the gift that keeps on giving, the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

And then it’s January 1, 2017. You stayed up to watch the New Year celebrated around the world. It is a new beginning for all of God’s creatures. It’s very late for a New Year’s resolution but here is mine: Joy and the good things of life emanate from gratitude; therefore, I will focus on being grateful for the positive things that happen every day, some so very simple, and I will be grateful for what I can do and not what I can no longer do. I will always thank my Creator for the gifts that are mine if I have the faith to see and grasp them.

January flew by, and now we are in February. Wow. The days are getting longer, we have had some much needed rain, I have my first daffodils proclaiming spring, and the beautiful winter blooming jade bushes are starting to give way to the spring flowers. And so the year moves on, and I am grateful to get the first blog on in a very long time.