A Second Letter to My Young Friends: Your Freedom is Slipping Away

Now that we’re back in the election season for 2020, we are again at work capturing the minds of the young. So much of the political jargon is used to accomplish this: cancel the college debt, free tuition, free healthcare, free housing, guaranteed job and income, or a check whether you work or not. All of these are the additions to political discourse to the young from 2012. The following excerpt is from a blog published in 2012.

“There is such a push in this political season to capture the vote of the young people. Of course, there is always a push to capture the minds of the young. And I chose the word capture very carefully. That is what I mean. If you can be indoctrinated to hear only one side of an issue, to think in only one direction, to believe the passionate message of a speech or presentation, and if your education does not help you to become an independent, critical thinker, the task of the politician becomes relatively easy. You are a life-long this or a life-long that.

Last night I heard soaring and passionate rhetoric about working hard, moving forward, not back, about opportunity and the American dream. I heard about love, compassion, grace, about health, and education. My goodness! The filing cabinet in my mind is full of this utopia that is yours with the right decision on your part when you vote.

This morning as I sat at the end of my driveway, I cleaned the files. I cannot push the save key when things don’t make sense. When I see the national debt at 16 trillion and I’m hearing about all the things my government must provide, I cringe. It seems like a ball hit out of the park when we talk about hard work; I call foul ball to all that jargon when I know that almost half the population of this great land is on welfare and the work requirement tied to a welfare check has been altered. And many continue to collect unemployment for weeks on end .

I definitely have to remove the files about honesty and integrity and promises kept. Promises broken are promises broken. Trust is gone; I do not know many young people who act like ostriches with heir heads in the sand. My young friends, do you trust your parents, your teachers, your friends if they lie to you?  Why would you trust politicians who have broken their promises?  Those broken promises are lies.

You may be young, but I know that being young does not prevent you from knowing truth from falsehoods, honesty from dishonesty, joy from anger, hope from despair, and a hand-up from a hand-out. Truth should be the currency of your politicians who become your leaders. You must not continue to elect people who are bankrupt–their  truth currency has all been spent.”

Today June 2019, the debt is much higher, the student debt is much higher, the push for free things is much higher (health, income, jobs, housing, etc.,), but the purpose is the same – capture the vote of the young. My real worry is that we are transforming a generation or two to believe that there is real potential of socialism. We are creating class envy; an entire youth culture of ungratefulness, entitlement, unfairness to the extent that they are experiencing nothing else. Our young do not experience our true history; many do not know about our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other founding documents. When it becomes all you hear, all you see, and all you experience, a diverse way of thinking is no one where in your life. The conversation is largely about the free things and the entitlements that are our rights – not even an addendum on responsibility to maintain our Great Republic. Unless we change, we will surely lose the Republic our founders gave us. I believe the transformation of the culture will be evident on the stage tonight in the first political debates.

My Field of Dreams

Watching a WNBA basketball game the other day brought back all kinds of memories. What fun it would have been when I was playing basketball in my high school and college days to have known that there was a career possible in the sport that I loved so much. And of course, my mind wander back to those early days in that small high school gymnasium in the basement of my high school in Lansing, Iowa.

My first games were played with the floor divided into three parts. Two players played guard in the back third, two played running center in the middle third, and two played forward in the front third. While I was still in high school, the rules changed and the court was divided into two parts. Three played guard in the back court, and three played forward in the front court. I tried to play with the boys sometimes because I loved having the whole court for play. And I loved being able to dribble on the whole court. We could only take one dribble. It was a challenge to see how far you could make that one dribble take you. But we played our one-dribble-two-court game with passion. We felt lucky in Iowa because not many states had girls basketball at all.

I loved basketball; I still do. I love to watch my granddaughters play. I loved playing enough to sneak out of the house for school the morning I woke up with a rash on my face and, of course, in other areas of my body. I knew something was amiss, but we had a game to play that Tuesday night, and I wasn’t going to miss it. Of course, I got no further than the first teacher I met at school, my coach. He saw me and recognized that I had measles. I really didn’t feel ill, but I obviously was sent home. My mother was not happy. I think probably she was more embarrassed because the teachers might think she sent me to school with the measles. She was pretty strict about right and wrong. Going to school with measles was wrong, but sneaking out was like lying. That was really bad.

The girls played the first game of the evening and the boys games followed. We were always pleased when we could draw the crowd to our game. We had tournaments just like the boys. Boys and girls in our school had the same coach. Eddie Albertson was a special guy. He was not only my coach; he was a mentor, my math teacher who gave me advanced math books for the summer because we didn’t have the classes in our small high school, and he was my friend. We played “HORSE” after we finished practice. He believed in me; he never “let” me win. When I did, it was pure accomplishment. He helped me to understand my athletic and academic gifts. He pushed me to find my own “yellow brick road.”

So many memories. Harpers Ferry had the biggest pot-belly stove I have ever seen to heat their barn-like gym. It was nice and warm within fifteen or twenty feet of the stove. The rest of the gym was freezing as was the classroom where we changed our clothes. Wow. I can still feel that cold. Sometimes we would stop on our way home after games out of town to have a snack. Mother always managed to have a little change for me. We never ate out so these little restaurant visits were pretty special. Waterville had sisters who were amazing shooters; Gronna sisters, I think. I envied them because they had a basket on the side of their barn and they practiced all summer. I didn’t have a barn nor could I afford a basket or a basketball.

The coach helped me buy a pair of leather basketball shoes; it was such an amazing luxury. Do you know how proud a little girl can be of a pair of leather basketball shoes? We had a little shower in our locker room; some places we went did not. I earned letters all four years in basketball and kittenball (softball). Those letters meant I earned a great deal of respect from my peers, but more importantly, I knew I had been given great physical and mental gifts. In my small town, those gifts often languished into submission to mediocrity. As each year has passed, I realize how fortunate I was to have Eddie Albertson as my coach and to work for the Superintended who had a sign in his office that read: There’s always room at the top.

Those were the days of three-court basketball, short basketball pants, cold gyms, cold showers, getting to the game with very cold hands and feet after walking to the game and wondering if they would ever warm up. They were times of listening to the cheers, seeing the pride on your parents’ faces, getting the accolades of the teachers the next day, being elected captain of the team, and loving the coach. They were times of walking into a market and having the owner say, “Great game, Sylvia,” when normally they didn’t know I existed. And they were times when I had to walk home after practice and sometimes it was pretty scary. I could choose to walk through a pasture where there was a bull, or I could walk the road past the city dump. But my dad always told me I could run faster than anything chasing me.

They were times of expectation and happiness. I was very good at this game I loved. I learned there how to excel. I learned how to outthink my opponent. I learned the value of every minute; a game has only so many minutes. The importance of one minute on the outcome of the next, taught me life lessons. I would try to live my life like I played basketball. Give it my all, play fair, solve the problems at hand, listen to advice from those who cared about me, discard the criticism of those who envied or were trying to hurt me, play with passion, and learn from each experience. I learned that I  had been given by my Creator everything that I needed to play the game. Yes, I had been given gifts, but I knew that gifts unopened were of no value. They needed to be used, expanded, shared, and utilized to serve others.

Basketball was a field of dreams whether it was three or two courts. I was quick and very fast; I can only imagine the fun I would have had playing the whole court. But believe me, I play full court in all that I do at 98.

When I was a Little Girl: The Lessons I Learned

I walked to school in snow that was occasionally quite deep. When I got to school my feet were cold, my mittens were wet, and my hands were very cold. The schoolhouse was nice and warm, heated by the pot-bellied stove that the teacher had started a fire in much earlier. I don’t know what time the teacher had to get there.

Now, when I was your age or when I was a little girl are statements that can produce the closing of the ear passages. The words can bring a sigh or at least non-verbal behavior that indicates disinterest. Or it might even bring the statement, “Well, would you like to go back to those horse-and-buggy days?”

No, I don’t want to go back to freezing hands and feet. And I don’t want my grandchildren to have to walk in deep snow to school, or run behind a horse-drawn bus to keep warm, or sit on the cold wood seat with a bag of salt or a hot brick to moderate the cold just a wee bit.

However, I wouldn’t mind going back to some other things I learned.

I appreciated the heat because I knew the cold. I appreciated the snow and the warm summer days because I knew both. I appreciated the teacher who went early to light the fires for her kids; I never heard her say it wasn’t in her contract or that her day started fifteen minutes before the kids arrived. I never heard one of my teachers say she had to go home when I wanted to stay and read a book; she knew I didn’t have books at home. She would just put more wood in the stove.

I learned character from my family and from the great stories with a message in my readers. I wasn’t separated from the concepts of our Founders that have made a great nation because of the “establishment clause.”  I read about our history as it really happened. I learned about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They were there to guarantee the freedoms that people fought and died for. It was presented as the lasting document that it must remain if we are to survive as a republic. No one suggested modernization to “fit the culture and the times.”  I learned from the writings of the Founders that they sought Divine Guidance in their work.

Yes, I learned to appreciate, to be grateful for the opportunities, to love my country and understand what has made it great. And I didn’t expect anyone to shovel a path in the snow to make my trek easier. In the process of it all, I learned to serve, to shovel paths that make it easier for those who follow.

 

Refusing to Let the Negatives Enter Body, Mind or Soul – Modeling a Non-Stick Pan

I marvel at my non-stick frying pans. For years I have heard the praises of Pam. Spray it on a casserole dish and the clean-up is so easy. Spray it on a cookie sheet–no more residue on the cookie sheet when you remove the cookies. Pretty easy way to not have to get rid of what you didn’t want to happen in the first place.

There is a great lesson in the can of Pam or the non-stick pan that makes even the use of Pam unnecessary.  Prevent unwanted things from happening. Prevent unwanted words from cluttering your mind. Prevent negative stuff from sticking to your psyche, your soul, your mind, or your heart.

When you get up in the morning, step in the shower, let the water cover you with a non-stick film. Let the Pam mentality in. Let it clothe you with non-stick potential. When the negative comments come, when the top 100 reasons are given why something can’t be done or won’t work, don’t worry; your personal non-stick covering will shed it all. And when someone assures you that the sun didn’t come up, stand in their shadow for just a second. When someone tells you the day is horrible and their bubble of negativity is reaching to engulf you, rest assured; your non-stick bubble will be secure.

When I was in high school, I was called a “hay seed.” That was meant to be a derogatory remark about farm kids from some of the town kids. I’m not certain when or how I became clothed in non-stick material. Pam wasn’t around as a model; non-stick pans certainly were not available. But somehow I knew that I could not allow myself to spend time trying not to be what someone called me, or tried to make me be. I was embarking on my own path, the one that was mine alone. Somehow I knew that each one of us had a path. If this were not so, why were we each created to look different? No two alike unless it was my twin cousins. But knowing two could look alike didn’t dissuade me from seeing the evidence before me that we are all different. Knowing this, I had to spend my time on my own path, not trying to stay off of someone else’s path, or a path someone else had created for me.

I would avoid the brambles of doubt and the rough terrain of fear and envy. My non-stick coating would repel any waves of negativity that tried to wash gullies in my path. I believe that I was created with a path that is mine; there may be other travelers on the same path. I welcome them.

Others who are not sure of their own path seem to be the most prone to suggest new roads, detours, or alternate routes for mine. But my path was designed by greater powers. My path is as individual as my being. And I will follow it.

Celebrating 98- Almost a Century of Birthdays

What is almost a century of birthdays?

June 13th, 2019 is a unique and profound day in my life; I realized, almost suddenly that I am looking at life from almost a century of perspective. 98, this birthday was filled with gratitude, excitement, love and intermingled with incredible family happenings – a graduation, a wedding and a whole bunch of important activities. My youngest granddaughter graduated from high school and we were involved in all the attendant activities of such a major event in a young life. Today, June 15th, my oldest granddaughter is getting married in her very own awesome, unique Kera Tucker way. She and her soul mate are rock climbers, love the outdoors and are getting married at the base of the mountains where there is no cell phone or Wi-Fi service. I’m just so sorry I will not be able to attend.

On June 9th, I celebrated my coming birthday with my church family. It was filled with the love, faith and friends that I treasure. We shared cake, memories, prayers and reminded each other of how much our community of a Christian gathering means to all of us. It was very special. That afternoon was filled with celebration of Cassidy, our new graduates graduation party. Her graduation date was June 5th. On Wednesday June 12th, Cassidy had her Senior Presents of the National Charity League. The young ladies are honored for all of their service and community work from junior high to their senior year.

Cassidy and Hailey decided they wanted to celebrate my birthday by having breakfast before they left for Kera’s wedding, June 15th. Colin made a surprise visit from Palm Springs that morning to have breakfast with us and then left immediately afterward to go back to Palm Springs for work. But I was grateful that he could join us. Hailey and Cassidy and Hailey’s friends Luke departed for Kera’s wedding afterward. Much of the day was filled with greetings, cards and the enjoyment of many beautiful flower bouquets. Kim and Bob and I had a birthday dinner that evening. That finished the birthday celebrations.

They left Friday morning for the wedding near Bishop, California. Now they are all getting ready today for the big event, Kera and Nick’s wedding. Kera’s something old will be the same dime that I wore in my shoe at my wedding. I’ll wait for word of the wedding later on this afternoon when they can communicate with me. And the flurry of important events of family and friends will be complete.

It is Saturday, June 15th and I am looking in the rearview mirror of almost a century of birthday’s past. The June gloom cleared away fast this morning. The sky is blue. The birds are out and the trees are swaying gently in the breeze. My California easel is ready to paint the rest of the day. My easel as always is ready for whatever I choose to fill it with. I will continue to paint with the vivid colors that have represented the joy, excitement and happiness of my life and the silver and gold of gratitude and faith. Just think! I have been given 98 birthday easels on which to paint new scenes. I will continue to serve my Creator with gratitude, faith, love and all of the gifts of the spirit given to me. With love and thanks to all who created and helped me celebrate number 98, almost a century of incredible, amazing, awesome opportunities…

Now I want to share the words I wrote on birthdays 92 and 93. They are just as applicable and true at 98.

Birthday 92

Ninety-two and counting is a great place to be.

There are so many beautiful memories, so many lessons learned, such opportunity to grow, and the accumulated treasure of family, friends, and faith. What a privilege to watch my America for 92 years. And at 92 what is a birthday like? Do you have pictures of a granny sitting in a rocking chair, rocking the hours away or worse yet, not even able to sit in a rocking chair? Or of a grey-haired figure just staring into space? If so, you really sell us short?

The sun is up early on these days, these long, beautiful days in June. I imagine my mother was up early in her last days of pregnancy hoping that this would be the day when she would be able to “see her feet again,” and when she would know whether  her daughter, Esther, would have a sister or a brother. And it was June 13, 1921, when Peter and Alvina Boltz welcomed their little girl into this world. It was a beautiful, not-quite-yet-summer day in Iowa.

And 92 years later? What was it like on June 13, 2013, in Bonsall, California? The sun was true to form–it was up early. It was a bright day when the flowers showed their true colors with not even a little distortion from a cloud. The birds were in fine fettle; their songs filled the air with the joyous harmony of the many in the bird choir. I took my usual walk to the end of the driveway. The gratefulness of the scene was overwhelming. My prayers were those of gratitude. The good fortune of where I have the privilege of living, the quick parade of memories of 92 years, and the day before me that would end in a School Board meeting in the evening were all things to be viewed with an attitude of gratitude.

The day was filled with calls, cards, flowers, e-mail greetings and ice-cream cake.

Getting an electronic greeting card from my multi-faceted diamond friend brought the technology advances over the years into sharp images. The  notes and cards were much as they have been through the years. The telephone calls much the same in content, but the instruments and technology were vastly different.

As I was finishing the e-card, I received a call from my oldest granddaughter, Kera. She is the one in the family who is always asking me what it was like when I was a little girl. After singing Happy Birthday and giving all the well wishes, the conversation turned to canning. She is getting ready to start graduate school and plans to have a garden at the home she is renting. Did I help my mother can, she queried? She wanted to can the excess fresh vegetables, and she wanted to know how to make watermelon pickles; sounded strange, she said  That may have been the last question in the world that I expected in 2013 on my 92nd birthday.

Flowers are always welcome visitors in my home. The bouquet from Britt and Diane in Oregon  is beautiful–filled with flowers that I love. Fewer things and more flowers are appreciated at 92, particularly when your home is filled with beautiful things they have given you over the years.

And the dinner of my choice for my birthday from Bob, Kim, Hailey and Cassidy who live next door, had to be delayed until Saturday since the School Board meeting was scheduled for the same day as my birthday.

The School Board meeting was  filled with issues, concerns and the joy that comes with the end of the school year. The normal concern that comes while dealing with important issues was mitigated by the gratitude that I felt that my community just elected me to serve a fifth four-year term. It doesn’t get better than that. The fact that I have been given the privilege of serving on three boards at 92, one corporate, one church, one education, deserves my utmost gratitude to my Creator. The love of family and friends continues to fill my days with joy.

My day ended with a call from my grandson, Colin, who is in Oregon for the summer working at a golf club in Bend, Oregon. It was late when I got home from the Board meeting; Colin’s sunny voice on the recording machine brought a smile to my face. It was too late to call him back. When I call him back tomorrow, the sunny voice will just extend my birthday greetings to another day.

Ninety-two and counting is a great place to be.

Birthday 93

Yesterday was number 93. I found out that like everyday of my life, the next day would be tomorrow and the day before was yesterday. ‘

I found each time I have breakfast with friends that the day has a good beginning. Thank you, Terry and Tom. Friends are such fragile, strong, beautiful, colorful threads in the tapestry of one’s life.

I found that the words of my grandchildren were precious golden bricks on my yellow brick road. “Grandma, thank you for teaching me compassion, strength, faith, and grace. You have touched my life in countless ways.” “You have taught me so much. I will remember all you taught me and use it in my life.” And on the front of one card is a quote from Marcus Aurelius: When you arise in the morning, think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. “I know you already do this every day. Thank you for reminding those around you to do the same. We are lucky to have such a wonderful, loving, and wise soma in our lives.” “I love you” are magic words. What wonderful, golden bricks!

Yes, I believe we all have a yellow brick road that is our very own. And yes, I believe we are given everything we need to make the journey. The roadmap is there at our birth; so are the detours if we miss a sign or fail to heed a warning signal. Just to reach 93 carries its own gratefulness. To be given so many years to follow dreams, to wake up in the morning with more opportunities to make a difference to someone is quite a privilege. It gets sweeter every year. The bricks become brighter.

Yesterday the dome above me was so blue. The breezes were so gentle. The palm fronds graced the sky with special beauty. The flowers were especially bright and welcoming. The music that filled the air from the birds that love my place as much as I do, was special. They must have known it was my birthday.

I found you only know the sky is blue if you look at it. I found you only know the birds are singing if you listen. I found  you only appreciate the miracles God places in your path if you acknowledge the wonders of nature. You only know how much the little green nubbins on the orange trees have grown if you looked at them yesterday or the day before. And if you have forgotten that they came from the fragrance of the orange blossoms that graced your path earlier, you have forgotten too much.

I found the lovely voices of my nieces were as welcoming and beautiful as they have always been. They transmitted the same love and joy as they always have. I found that my gratefulness increases very year.

I found the well-wishes and love of friends grows sweeter very year.

I found the voice of my sons saying, “Happy Birthday, Mom,” filled with the memories of the same greeting over the years. I found the memory bank filled with the tiny voices of excited children with a special present for Mommy, to the changing voices of teen-agers. young men, and now the gentle voices of those watching over their Mom.

       It’s great to have the privilege of living, loving, sharing, and anticipating at 93. Thank you, Lord for  being by my side and for letting such wonderful people inhabit my path.

 

At the End of the Driveway: The Blackberry Bush and the Red-Tailed Hawk

I took my grateful walk this morning; as usual, I stopped at the end of the driveway to contemplate my blessings. The breeze was blowing gently and the palms responded, swaying with gentle precision to the commands of the breeze. The shadows appeared and disappeared as expected. I was struck with the beauty of it all and the calm and natural way the things happened.

I looked through the gate at the mammoth blackberry bush just outside, sprawling and spreading itself at will. This volunteer blackberry plant, the gift of my bird family, apparently knows more about itself than I do. You see, I planted several blackberry vines in another “appropriate place” only to find them never quite happy there. But this vine, now eight or ten feet in diameter, has carved out its own destiny. The berries are almost ready.

I have told you about my red-tailed hawk that has made its home in the palm at the end of the driveway. It comes to visit occasionally. The most amazing visit was a few nights ago when I was sitting on my patio with a friend having a wonderful chat. All of a sudden we were both silent, staring at each other with a look that comes only with special wonderment about an event, sight, or sound.

A red-tailed hawk swooped down to the top of the umbrella pole at the table where we were sitting, picked up its prey and was gone with unimaginable swiftness. What poor rodent, at least my friend said it had a tail like a rat, made the mistake of hiding in the top of the umbrella, we’re not certain.   But the stunning silence of the approach and the quickness of the snatch completely astonished us. It came and went with its prey clutched tightly and we never heard a sound. We both agreed we had never experienced such an amazingly successful hunting expedition. I am stunned daily as I watch them  hunt, soar, and glide across my sky, But as I thought about it at the end of my driveway this morning, I was hoping the hawk would do a fly-over so I could thank it for the untold joy it brings. My friend and I will always be saying to each other,  “Remember the evening that the hawk…”

And there are so many more things at the end of my driveway besides the blackberry bush and the hawk. The most important things that are always in my gratitude walk are my family, especially my incredible four grandchildren, (Colin, Kera, Hailey, and Cassidy), my faith, my friends, and my love of my country that I fight every day to preserve for those I love.

A Walk to Remind Us of Our Christian Heritage – The Capitol Part 2

We enter the rotunda of the Capitol. One of the great moments in American History paintings is of Reverend John Robinson’s prayer meeting aboard the Mayflower before the ship sailed for America. Another is De Soto and the discovery of the Mississippi River with a monk beside him in prayer placing a crucifix in the ground. And there are others such as Columbus and the baptism of Pocahontas. In the chapel is a stained glass window depicting George Washington in prayer with the inscription of in God We Trust above it. The Christian influences are all about. Our Founders were certain about their Divine Guidance and the need for it.

So when the President stands in the Chamber to deliver the State of the Union address, above and just behind the President are the words, In God We Trust. They are there as a reminder to every Senator, Representative, and all the others present. Above the gallery door is a relief statue of Moses. The east entrance to the Senate Chamber has the Latin inscription meaning, God has favored our understanding. And you will find more times when we reiterate In God We Trust.

As we exit the grand edifice that graces the east end of the capital mall, we stop a moment on the steps.  And it is here the President places a hand on the Bible, the Christian Bible, the Bible of our God in whom we place our trust, and pledged to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and to serve this nation.

We are what we are: we are a nation that was founded to attain religious freedom. a nation that recognized the role of Divine Guidance in its creation, and the need to trust in that Divine Guidance.

We walk toward the White House, where we started our walk together. When we reach the White House, the people’s house, our footprints will have made a Christian cross.

A Walk to Remind us of Our Christian Heritage – The Capitol Part 1

We leave the magic of the Tidal Basin in cherry blossom time and head for the Capitol. The significance of the three “greats” we have just visited in our walk, Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson, will be even greater as we see the home of the Legislative Branch of our government. This branch was created to make certain that we remained “We the People.”  I thought about the arguments that were present as our Founders struggled and argued passionately about creating a government that would ensure a legacy of freedom. What was needed to insure the continuation of this great experiment in self-government?

They had no pattern; this was not a cookie-cutter government. They had no former path to follow. They knew that power had to always rest with the people; they knew that they had to have checks and balances. They also had to have a branch that adjudicated when differences could be settle no other way. They created our republic. They created this “shining city on a hill.”

They fought; they struggled; they died to create a new birth of freedom under God with justice for all, with the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. They declared their independence from tyranny and abused power. They created this government where the Executive Branch, the president, is one leg, but only one leg of three. The Capitol building we see ahead houses another one of the legs.  The arguments about this branch were vigorous and passionate. Some wanted a strong central government and others wanted the power to be decentralized.

The Founders finally decided on having two groups: to create equality between the small and large states, each state would have two senators; the second group would be based on the population of the state, the representatives.

Our next part of the walk is to explore the art in the Capitol that depicts our Christian heritage.