Gratitude is a Gift where Hope Dwells

It has been a long time since I posted a blog–December 1, 2017. So much has happened. On  December 7, I was evacuated from my home to escape the path of the Lilac fire. As the fire was at the end of my driveway, I did not expect my home to survive. By the grace of God, I was able to return to my home. Several houses near me were in the path of the fire. These fires really do create their own climate, their own path. They are truly wild. They are a terror. I am grateful that our children were all evacuated safely and our schools escaped.

 

Christmas followed with the celebration of the greatest gift–the birth of Jesus Christ and the wonderful sounds and sights that herald Emmanuel. The knowledge that God is always with us. 

 

Hope and gratitude filled my heart when I saw Dr. Carson say a prayer at the beginning of President’s Trump’s Cabinet meeting. God and the idea of Divine Guidance at our founding and the necessity for it now are back in our public discourse. I am hopeful when I see more and more people willing to promote the values inherent in our Christian Heritage.

 

I am grateful and hopeful when I see and hear more support for our founding principles and founding documents. I am sad that disdain remains in the hearts and behavior of some. As a veteran and proud citizen patriot, I hope to see total respect for my flag and my national anthem, your flag and your national anthem. 

 

It is with great hope for my republic and the world that we are willing to talk about the exceptionality of America . In that exceptionality lies great good.

 

If you find an error that I missed editing in the blog, know that my macular degeneration continues to progress. Know too, that I am grateful for what I can see, rather than miserable about what I can’t. There is great hope in gratitude.   

 

 

Rainbows on My Ceiling

           What a joy it is to walk out of my bedroom in the morning expecting the sun to shine and the gentle breezes to blow when I open my door to a California morning, and I am treated to rainbows on the ceiling in my living and dining room.  I have a crystal cross in my east windown and also a little hanging ornament of crystal snow flakes. As the sun rises to greet me, it shines on these beautiful crystal pieces and the array of rainbows on my ceilings is beautiful.

          As I stand in the hallway and gaze and smile at what greets me, I marvel at the message. Every facet of the crystal cross sends its message in God’s promise of the rainbow. The storm is over; look with joy on the landscape. Be grateful for the promise. There is a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow. I know that’s just an old wive’s tale; but if you could see my ceiling filled with those many messages of hope and gaith, you would agree. There is a pot of gold, of joy, of beauty in each little rainbow. I could take a quick look and miss the gold. I could think it’s pretty and miss the message. We tell one another to stop and smell the roses. I would say, stop and collect the gold at the end of your rainbows.

 

         

God’s Marvelous Creations

            What a beautiful day. The walk to the end of the driveway is always an adventure. It is one I take everyday in my trek around the house. While it is the same driveway, the walk is always different. The blossoms are at a different state in their journey. The birds and their songs are different at different hours; their flight patterns vary with the tasks of the hour. The palm fronds are greeting the sky in different ways as they meet the morning breezes. The sun greets me at a different angle. The shadows cast their magic with the path of the sun. The breezes say hello with a gentle brush across my face.

            The sky is its own study each morning. This morning it is a blue dome with white, fleecy clouds covering it like a white lace covering a blue tablecloth. Yesterday it was a beautiful, clear, blue dome. The silhouette of the palm fronds against the blue is an impressive piece of nature’s artistry. The mountains across the valley stand majestically as they lend their beauty to the horizon.

            The yellow iris proudly present themselves as they add their beauty to the scene; it seems each is proclaiming it is the perfect blossom. The  bronze day lilies vie for attention as they stand among the iris. Nature mixes in the red, pink, and rose colors of the geraniums that trail along the driveway and sometimes climb the palm trees. God’s artistry creates amazing pieces of art in nature.

            As I proceed around the house, I can smell the last vestiges of the perfume of the orange blossoms; they are rapidly pursuing their journey. In a few days there will be little green nubbins, the first sign of the next piece of their destiny. They, too, will soon mirror the mature fruit left on the trees. An orange tree, like so much of nature, is a beauty to behold. And how magical when you can see the evolution day by day. How can one not be grateful?

            I never cease to be amazed as I turn the corner. I leave the fragrance of the orange blossoms; I know in just a few feet the roses will start  to share their varied perfumes. They have to share their beauty with the vastness of the view across the valley. As I look across the valley, the avocado trees in the foreground add the incredible greenness of their foliage to the scene. But in a few more steps, the roses send out their calling cards. A rose is something special. And each of the many that I have sends its individual greeting card. The beauty of the buds, the fullness of the blossom, the attempt of each petal to last as long as possible–all magic. The colors an variety are unbelievable.

            And that’s just some of the plants. Now add the glory of a hawk, the pride pace of a road-runner, the scamper of a ground squirrel. or the tail of a rabbit scurrying away. The sound of the music from the many birds that love their nests in my palm trees, add the symphony to the scene. Even the crows add their base notes to the sound.

                 How could I not be grateful enough to understand that tomorrow my walk will be looking at another artistic rendering of God’s magnificent creations? I hope your grateful walk today was as beautiful as mine.

           

                       

World War II Memorials–Hostage to Political Games

This morning I watched the news as  U.S. veterans of  World War II stood outside the locked gates of the Normandy Beach Memorial in France. A couple days ago, I watched veterans in front of barricades at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The sign posted told them it was closed due to the “shutdown of the government.” In France, some walked the hallowed beaches where thousands of American military men died. Perhaps they could find another way to storm the Memorial. In our nation’s capital, I watched World War II veterans in wheel chairs and some walking with canes, and others still walking tall, stand in front of specially erected barricades in front of their monument.   If this does not tug at the pangs of reason, anger,  and sadness at this sight,  not much will.

This monstrous act of pettiness and politics is beyond comprehension. This is about the next election. The game is: Who can we hurt the most? Who will shoulder the most  blame? What nasty things can we conjure up about the other political party? What can we close that will get us the most news coverage? It is political calculation at its worst.

I do know one thing: The Commander in Chief could honor his troops and veterans by keeping their places of honor open. He is skilled at issuing executive orders. This would be a good one to issue. Or perhaps hecould rescind any order from the administration to close these hallowed places where the echoes of the sacrifices of those who lie there fill the air or the names on the marble cry out for the justice and honor they deserve.

The election is more than a year away. Veterans stand at these gates and memorial sites every day. I am a veteran of World War II. I lived with the news of the cost of the island battles in the Pacific. I had friends who flew the fighters and bombers over Europe. I lived with the fear of my husband battling in the Pacific. I know first-hand from a friend what he experienced on the Bataan death march. I know first-hand from a friend who flew flight after flight in a B-17 over Europe what it was like to come home “on a wing and a prayer.”

What do veterans feel while standing in front of a memorial built in their honor that is closed? Particularly one that has no gate and special barriers had to be erected to keep them out.. I want to take an Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial. It better not be closed because those who are elected to serve us are playing political games.

France may seem as distant as the next election. The honor earned by those who lie there is not distant. The pictures of the thousands storming the beaches and the pictures of those who died there live in our hearts and in our memories. You cannot lock those gates or erect barriers to remove the acts of bravery, sacrifice, selflessness, and the willingness to give all for freedom that these dead voices proclaim.

A family member just returned from one of the Honor Flights to visit the World War II Memorial. As he stood at the site that names the battles in the Pacific Islands, his daughter who accompanied him, learned of the battles in which he fought. Island after island after island. Yes, she said, “Many cried.” They could still name the comrades they had lost. We are all old now. But we remember. We ask you to remember. These sites are worthy of the honor they deserve for the very high price these veterans paid. The spirits of those who earned these honors rest in peace when honored, and writhe in agony when used for political games.

 

 

The Clothesline–A Memory

Lo and Behold! A wonderful sight to cause floods of memories appeared on my facebook this morning. It was a great picture of an old-fashioned clothesline, replete with clothes hanging as if they were happy with the breezes sent to dry them. Marilyn wanted to know if anyone had seen such a sight. You know you have entered into a kind of time capsule when you can say: Yes, I used clotheslines like that. Other answers attested to the presence of these relics with their ancestors. They knew there were such contraptions.

These lines were strung between two trees or between poles that were placed where the clothes could blow freely in the breeze to dry and not touch any building or other impediments. In the picture that Marilyn sent, the clothesline was complete with the tall pole fashioned for the middle of the line; this pole would be lifted to make certain that the clothes would not touch the ground as the line became heavier with the wet items. In town where space was more limited, lines were strung from a pole or tree away from the house with a pulley and line attached to the house. Clothes were hung on the line and the rope was pulled to let the clothes hang free. This was even done with the pulley close to a window.  Yes, I have used them both. They were my clothes dryers.

As a kid, I often wondered whether there was something magic about the breezes and wind factors on Monday. It was laundry day. Certainly there must have been some magic worked on that day. But over the years I learned the answer: No magic! Often the clothes never moved from the way you hung them on the line. They hung limp, longing for the breeze that never came. It wasn’t just the clothes that wanted the breeze. You wanted the clothes to shake and tumble with the  strong urging of the winds. You hoped they might even be lashed a bit until they gathered the scent of everything fresh in the air around them. They didn’t smell anything like the air fresheners that try to mimic the fragrance of nature.

Imagine climbing into bed at night with the lingering freshness of outdoors. That is a memory for me that I have tried to replicate even when I have had a clothes dryer in my laundry room. Until just a few years ago, I had a clothes reel, a series of clothes lines that formed a square around a post that was placed in a receptacle in the ground. I hung my sheets out for many years to capture the wonderful fragrance of the outdoors. I wanted to climb into bed at night with the freshness of nature about me. I must say, I put my towels in the dryer; they were softer than when hung outside.

But I want to share one of the nightmares of those wonderful outdoor clotheslines–at least if you lived in a cold climate in the winter. Funny thing. Mondays came around in the winter just the way they did in the summer. When the clothes were hung on the line in the winter when the days were really cold, they froze stiff rapidly. Sometimes it took fast work to get the clothespin on before the clothes froze. Putting them on the line, and even more so when you took them off the line, you felt like you were doing a dance with the frozen stiff garment. One result was certain from that experience; you really appreciated hanging out clothes in warm weather.

I don’t have a clothes reel anymore. The last time it was used, the grandchildren put a blanket over it to make a tent. But I guess nostalgia has flooded my senses and I’ll hang my sheets over one of my railings to dry to see if I can capture just one more  time the freshness that I remember. It’s December, but theCalifornia sun and breezes will avert a dance with frozen sheets.

Yes, Marilyn I have seen one of those old clotheslines. Your picture brought back memories of some good-old-days. But they were not so good that I’m giving up my clothes dryer.

 

Clear Blue Skies

As I sat at the end of the driveway this morning, a life lesson became clear. Many mornings the sky is filled with clouds of various kinds: light and dark; large and small; cumulos and cirrus; red and gray; one of this kind and one of that kind; all the same kind; varied and sundry; ominous or friendly; some in the distance and some close; some in the east and none in the west. God’s universe is magnificently the same and creatively different. This morning was one of those “there’s not a cloud in the sky” days. I have two grandchildren with “sky blue eyes.” Now I know why they are described that way. There it was all around me from horizon to horizon. A cloudless, clear, blue sky.

I didn’t feel cloudless or even sense the potential until I looked up. There it was. This magnificent expanse created without a cloud in my vision. I could manufacture clouds in my mind just like the clouds that already cluttered my mind, or I could look for the sunshine that shines there just as it does in the cloudless  sky. I suddenly felt relieved because for this day I did not need clouds. Without the clouds, the hills and the valleys were distinct. The roads were clear ribbons that meander throughout my countryside.  The driveway was half shadows and half sunshine. I could choose to talk in either one.

There was the great lesson. I was given enough shadows to appreciate the sun and enough sun to appreciate the shadows. Wow! And I could choose the cool air in the shadows, or I could walk in the sun and feel the cool breeze grow warm as the sun skirted across the sky. At some point today, the driveway will be all sun, and sometime today it will be all shade. But for the moment when I started down the driveway, I had a choice ; I could walk in the sun or I could walk in the shade.

Most of the shadows we have in our lives are created because we stand in our own sunshine. We choose to walk in the shade.

 

At the End of the Driveway

The walk to the end of my driveway is one of my exercise paths. But it is more than that. It has become a part of my grateful walk. I can sit at the end and see so many things for which I am so grateful. Picture endless skies in the cool air of the morning. The tall palms that line the driveway are amazing. They shelter so many different species of birds that fly in and out as they pursue their natural ways. Amazing sounds emanate from the air as they fly their routes and claim their space with songs. The harmony of the sound is stunning. Only when you stop to be grateful do you notice.

Sometimes I think being grateful is a lost art. We even have folks who question whether or not Thanksgiving is necessary. It is only when we are grateful for what we have rather than complain about what we don’t have that we truly understand the abundance of our universe. Everything that we need is available to us but only if we ask. Availability is not a pie that has to be parceled out; if you take half then only half is available for me. No! The universe is more like the sand of the beach or the waters of the oceans. Plentiful.

But you have to ask to receive and you have to knock on doors if you want to have them open for you. And most certainly you cannot find anything if you do not search for it. What you believe you will see. Believing is seeing rather than seeing is believing should be our motto. The rest of the motto should be to receive with gratitude.

It is with that attitude of gratitude that I walk to the end of my driveway. As I look around and view my surroundings with gratitude  a wave of fear engulfs my being. The questions come in quick succession.

What will be left for my grandchildren? Will the entitlement culture devour their opportunities like the ravenous beast that it is? Will the people who believe that the government is their benefactor contribute less and less and require more and more from those who strive, who work, who believe they have an obligation to use their God-given talents? Will the entitlement culture drain the energy from the well of responsibility and the air from the atmosphere of self-reliance?

Those questions and more compelled me to write America First, Again. It is why at 91 I want to invite anyone of any age who is sitting around thinking things are OK to get out of their rocking chairs, or off their playground of complacency because things are not OK . We are losing our republic.  The lights are being dimmed on “A Shining City on a Hill.”

A Seed and the Tree of Liberty

As I sat at the end of my driveway this morning, I contemplated the beauty of the scene before me. I take this grateful walk each morning to make certain that I am grateful for the blessing that I have before I ask for any more. It helps me to remember that I have seen given another day to make a difference because I have that day to serve.

But as I thought about the beauty and blessing of my surroundings, I found my thoughts mingled with the happenings of yesterday. My day was mixed with Scripture, Olympic games, and political rallies and announcements.  Hope and faith were prevalent and prominent. I always find hope, faith and joy in the Scriptures. Certainly hope, faith, and joy were prominent in the faces and beings of the athletes of the world in the closing ceremonies. And I heard a political candidate or two say that this great country, my republic, was built on an idea: our rights come from our Creator, not the government.

When we relate the true history of our beginning, we find this truth in our founding documents. Our Founders were very clear about the government they created. The Liberty Tree that this idea created is filled with the shining ornaments of freedom. These are not ornaments or adornments that lose their luster with time. The more we practice freedom and the liberties given to us in our founding documents, the more precious and priceless they become.

Their was purpose and meaning in every word in our Constitution. That great document is not just language that does not fit with the times. Our Founders chose and fought for every word. Every phrase was purposeful. Every sentence was meant to secure and guarantee these freedoms for the future.  We do not have a situational constitution. We have a Constitution of theUnited States of America. We are the lucky ones born in the country of this noble experiment in government, an experiment that was never tried before nor since our founding anywhere else in the world.

Take the time today to read this great document. Then say no to those who believe that it is a “living document” that should be changed to ”fit our modern times.”  Don’t let anyone tarnish the ornaments on the liberty tree created for you and your posterity. I intend to polish those ornaments every day that I am given, so that my childdren and  my grandchildren may enjoy  the fruit of the liberty tree created by our Founders.

The Rocking Chair

Picture this.

A 91 year old grandma sitting on the front porch in the proverbial rocking chair rocking away the time. Or perhaps in California or Arizona or Florida. She’s sitting in a comfortable swing on a patio overlooking the countryside.

Wow! What a waste.

Well, I don’t have a rocking chair. I do have a swing on a patio overlooking the countryside in a beautiful small town in almost bankrupt southern California. This state is a model of finance not to follow. We spend far more than we take in. I have watched the politicians try all the tricks in the book to make this work.

O citizen, we’re doing it for you, they proclaim. You may be doing it for all those people who think it works, or perhaps for those who don’t work. But you are not doing it for me. I learned a long time ago that when I have a penny I can choose to spend it or save it, but I never have been able to make it into two pennies or three unless I invest it.

I know I’m old-fashioned. But old or not, I am a student of my surroundings.  I know I don’t like what I see happening in my state and in my nation. Just today I see ads telling me about all the wonderful things available to me free in the new health care provisions. I see invitations to check my eligibility for food stamps. I could go on. Yes, it’s my tax money and yours telling us about all the free stuff.

I must protest. It didn’t feel free when I sent my check to the IRS.

A New Beginning at 91

At 91, creating a web site to get your ideas out is quite an adventure.

You are accustomed to seeing the ideas of others on the web and various other forms of technology.  Texting, twittering, face-booking, e-mailing, and other “ings” are common. But for my generation, these are not common. When friends and folks see me texting, they often exclaim, “You’re texting!” Some don’t even have computers, and are adamant about never having one.

I learned to text and do the other stuff on a touch-screen phone because I wanted to keep in touch with my grandchildren who range in age from 27 to 11. I did not want to be cut off from those precious encounters. Yes, we still talk on the phone and one of them still loves to get letters. No, we haven’t forgotten how to write and speak in more ordinary ways. But I have found over the years  that learning something new doesn’t have to wipe away any good thing that I already know. There are plenty of neurons to go around.

When I wrote America First, Again, I wanted to share my enthusiasm for the exceptionality of this great country. Nowhere else in the world do they have the two great freedoms we have in our United States of America. We were created as a republic with the concept of Divine Guidance as one base, and with documents to guide us that guaranteed the rights and liberty of every individual.

Two great freedoms–Freedom from our Creator to be all that we can be, and documents from our founders that guarantee our rights to pursue the first freedom. These are our legacy.

I wanted to share some history that I had neglected, history that is no longer taught in our schools. I hoped to remind us of our precious heritage. I wanted to refresh our memory about our founders, these founders who have become mere notes in our history books or not even mentioned at all.

I am saddened by much of the news. One in seven Americans on food stamps. The social security disability rolls are swollen beyond belief. The weight of our national debt is staggering. The regulations and edicts frighten me. You hear the stories, too. You hear the loud, shrill voices declaring their rights, but you hear nothing about responsibilities from these same voices.

I want to remind us of our responsibilities. I want to point out the values, attitudes, efforts, and commitment of those who gave us this great experiment in government. I want to remind us that some of us haven’t lost those values and precepts left to us. We remember in spite of all the efforts of “the transformers” to make us believe that “hope and change” lie in a government that takes care of us. Creating an entitlement culture is not my idea of caring for me or my children or grandchildren.

Our freedoms, I believe, are on a steep slope downward at the moment. They are disappearing every day before our eyes. They are sliding into the abyss of entitlement. That abyss swallows up the energy of self-reliance, individual responsibility, and gradually kills the human spirit. The dragons of the abyss breathe fire on our freedoms and torch the documents that declare and protect those freedoms.

I hope to share my joys, my concerns, and my historical perspective on what’s happening around us. I have been so blessed over these 91 years that I cannot sit silently by and watch those blessings disappear. These are the blessings of freedom that several generations have been privileged to enjoy as a result of their predecessors. Now the generation of entitlement is throwing the republic away.

Children of this generation and those of the future will labor under the mountain of debt, the paucity of freedom, and the lack of opportunity they have been left by the entitlement generation.

If I can become a blogger at 91, what can you do to make America First, Again?