God’s Creations Revisited

I want to share with you a document I wrote when I had nearly-full sight and had the mobility to walk greater distances. Now I cannot see some of the things I talk about in the article below; I do not take the extensive walks I used to take, but as I reread about God’s creations and the magic palate, I found that I was just as grateful now with the memories as I was when I first experienced them. Now let me share with you what I experienced in May 2014. The beauty is the same; I see it differently.

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.

Keeping the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

It behooves us to understand what is going on around us. I know the news gets really monotonous and totally confusing if you change from channel to channel Where is the truth?  It’s not fun to watch violent protests. It’s annoying to see demonstrated how little our people know about their Christian beginnings in this great nation. It is disconcerting to see our young indoctrinated away from most conservative and Christian values and principles in our schools at all levels.

I believe if we are to survive we must embrace our successes without apology. We must restore our founding values and principles in our people, particularly the young. We need to restore personal responsibility, self-reliance, work ethics, true compassion for others, integrity, honesty, joy, tolerance, self-respect and respect for others. These are gifts of the Spirit.  Our laws were time-tested through the ages before they were ever put into our legal structure. Sharia law or any other attempt at law must not be tolerated as substitutes for our legal system. Other legal systems must not be tolerated in the name of religious tolerance. Our very founding depended on these time-tested ideas for living together in peace and harmony.

Recently I heard a commentator say that America First was a racist slogan. I do not know how that is even possible as a concept, even semantically. I  believe President Trump feels that wanting American to be First Again is founded on the humble idea that when America is First, it has more to share. It’s light casts a broader and brighter spectrum. It is a better model for people who need hope; it is a better friend to those in need. Only if we grow arrogant, forget the Divine guidance we received at our founding, and think we did it ourselves, can it be otherwise. I believe that we have the choice of  being America First, Again, or not being the republic that our Founders gave us.

We must ask ourselves if we are willing to fight tyranny with the same commitment that our Founders made. They gave us documents to follow and guide us. We must not allow them to become transitional, situational, or modernized.

I love America. I have traveled the world. I did not find any place on any continent where I wanted to live. I found beauty, uniqueness, discovery, celebration, wonder, respect, protest, war, compassion, and love. But each time I stepped back on American soil, I found my home–land of the free and home of the brave.

My flag flies proudly every day; I see it wave gently in the soft and gentle breezes. I see it hanging like a wet noodle, limp and its beautiful stars and stripes not visible. Some times it seems to be sending me messages about how it is being viewed by many. I have seen it tattered and torn as it survives the storms. I am reminded of those brave men who looked for it “over the ramparts” that fateful morning. It was flying just as my flag made it through the storm. I gently take it down, and I replace it with a new one made in the U.S.A.

God is first in my life, and my America is first in my heart. As long as my heart pumps, I will do what I can to make America First, Again. As long as I can speak or see to write, I will share the importance of Christian Heritage of America.

Our Founders knew.

We must know and teach our children to know.

We the people must know. We the people must be the lamps in the dark corners of tyranny; we the people must protest the squandering of our taxes; we the people are all we have to keep this incredible experiment, our republic — the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Excerpt from America First, Again Second Edition – Chapter titled “Trumped 2017”

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.

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.

 

Freedom Requires Vigilance, Courage, and Action–Lessons from Pioneer Ladies

Watching the political happenings lately, I was drawn back to some very courageous pioneer ladies who lived in Yoncalla, Oregon.

In 1920, the gentlemen of Yoncalla had a “gentlemen’s agreement” tnat the incumbents would not hold an election for any of the town offices. They would just skip the formality of an election.

The women of the town decided, “No, No.” They took matters into their own hands and produced a an all-female slate for all the city offices. The slate included Jennie Lasswell who was the wife of the mayor. Can you imagine the conversations at the breakfast table and other places in the Lasswell household when the mayor became aware of the election?

It seems that enough folks in the town agreed with the ladies. The entire slate was elected. Mary Goodall Burt became the town’s first female mayor. Mary was a Pacific University graduate and a former teacher. Teachers played a prominent part. Council members were: Jennie Lasswell, also a former teacher; Bernice Wilson, a teacher; Nettie Hanan, a community activist; and Edith Thompson, active in women’s organizations and community work.

I wanted to name them for you because so many pioneer women remain nameless in the history books. I’m hoping someone who reads this  will carry a name or know someone who might know the area or a name. These ladies stepped forward just a year before I was born. And it was a big step. But they knew it was not right not to have an election. They were living in the struggle for equal rights and the difficult movement to gain the vote. This was just not a Yoncalla Affair. These wonderful women were ordinary women living a pioneer life in Eastern Oregon who stepped up to do what was right.

I am grateful that the baby girl born in New Albin, Iowa a year after this successful campaign is able to tell the story. It is one of the wonderful stories of pioneer women of the northwest that I honor in “Pioneer Women of the Northwest.”

When I think of these women, I don’t dare say or think that I cannot make a difference. I am one, but I am one who has had the opportunity to follow incredibly brave, courageous, and strong women. I hope that I have helped to clear some brambles from the path of those following me. It is still a journey that requires courage. But I am determined to do what I can to make it better for my granddaughters and my grandsons. Freedom always has and always will require vigilance, courage, and action.

The Iris and the Hawk – Lessons from Nature

My walk to the end of the driveway always is amazing. The lessons abound with every step. The mysteries of faith pop out at me. Or perhaps they aren’t so mysterious. Perhaps they are so simple we just don’t bother with them.

As I looked across the valley, the foggy sky obscured the twin peaks and the hills they occupy. My first lesson on faith. Even though I could not see them, I knew that they were there. I knew that the houses on the hills that I see on those hills every clear morning were still there. I had faith.

I looked for the iris blossom that was partially open yesterday. I knew that it would be open more today. That’s what flowers do unless eaten by bugs or otherwise destroyed. They are on a mission to grow and become what they were meant to be. I knew there wouldn’t be a daffodil or a rose on an iris plant. I have faith in that process. Sure enough. When I came to the plant in question, it had two fully opened blooms. The path of the iris is a model of faith expressed.

There was another lesson on the way. About halfway down the driveway was a fully-opened iris blossom even bigger than those I had so diligently been watching. There it stood–a single gorgeous, large blossom that reminded me of the great diversity of growth and development within one species. Such an obvious encounter should help me understand the human conditions surrounding the everlasting premise that the Creator is the ultimate purveyor of faith in the created–whether iris or person.

As I sat to ponder the lessons of faith I had experienced on my walk to the end of the driveway, I was treated to a special scene. I have watched the red-tailed hawks swoop to the earth to catch their prey with deadly accuracy. I have watched them soar to heights against a clear blue sky or duck behind a low-hanging cloud. When they just glide across the sky they are especially fascinating and beautiful. Just a little tip of a wing or the tail and the change of direction or altitude is accomplished. Amazing birds, these red-tailed hawks.

But about the treat. As I was piecing together my lesson on faith from the walk, a red-tailed hawk flew into the tall palm nearest me. Wow!! Of course. It had to have a home somewhere. Now I felt I had a different relationship with one hawk. I knew where it lived. As I sat with a big smile on my face and gratitude for the special moment, the hawk flew away and pursued its diving and soaring and doing what hawks do. It too, was being fully faithful to its place in the universal patterns of being a red-tailed hawk.

As I continued my walk, I knew that what the fog obscured in the west, or east, or south would be there when it cleared. Surely I can have as much faith as the bird that sings before the dawn breaks because it knows that the dawn is coming. By the time I continued around the house and back to the end of the driveway, I could see the outlines of the twin peaks. In just another few minutes, the hills and the peaks were clearly visible, outlined by the fleecy white clouds and the blue sky behind them.

Thank you nature. And special thanks to the iris and the red-tailed hawk. Surely I can take the timelessness of their lessons and be grateful that they are present to teach me. Yes, I will use the talents that I have been given to me to make a difference, to serve and grow. Almost 98 years of living should be a good place for new beginnings. New measures of faith should grow well in a soil of gratitude, love, curiosity, and joy.

The Figures in the Clouds

As I view the beautiful California sky, it’s easy to be a little girl in Iowa again.The clouds that grace the blue sky are perfect for me to recognize shapes and figures. The clouds are so accommodating; the lion gradually morphs into a giraffe that becomes a ship with sails.   And I can travel to far places where the animals live.  Clouds are wonderful reminders that they move and change and follow the path they were created to follow. I’m so glad I haven’t forgotten how to see more in the clouds than people tried to teach me to see. Just think, if I could remember only what I learned in science about clouds, how much less I would enjoy my skies.

As I see my hawks, hummingbirds, the white heron, and all the others, I’m so glad I believe they are like Jonathan Livingston Seagull. They are all seeking to be the most that they were created to be. Jonathan was never happy with the scraps on the beach; he could see the horizon and the ships. He would risk the wrath of those who tried to make him just like all the other seagulls to fly toward the horizon.

And so it is with me as I sit at the end of the driveway. I have another day to become all I was created to be. I have been so blessed to have so many who have helped me on my journey. They have allowed me to grow. They have challenged me. They have questioned my path and sometimes suggested detours. Yes, there were those who tried to tell me that they knew more about my path than I did. But there was always that third ear, that sound of the silent soul, the still small voice of self, and the rudder of faith to guide me. I would even risk the wrath of those who tried to keep me on the beach eating scraps.  

I have never been satisfied with the scraps on the beach. I can still see the horizon and the ships in the clouds to get me there. I hope I never lose my capacity to see what I could see as a little girl in Iowa, born with everything that she needed to become all that she could be.

That’s why I take a grateful walk everyday. I cannot appreciate the next step until I am grateful for the one that I have just taken. I cannot see the horizon if I do not look in that direction. I want my grandchildren (and all children) to see me looking toward the horizon each day that God gives me breath. Go Colin, Kera, Hailey, and Cassidy. You have everything that you need to be all that you can be.

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.   

 

 

The Discrimination of Privilege

Every day there’s a new scandal. The news is so scintillating because it is about sex. Now sexual harassment is on the front edge of texts and tongues. It is horrendous. It is evil. It is prevalent and it certainly is not new. Much of it is new to our ears now. But it has been going on in large and small circles. It is dominant in the news now, and we ask ourselves the question: Why didn’t these women come forward before?

I believe the answer is a simple one: Privilege possesses power. The price to expose power and privilege is  often a price too high to pay. For many who have worked years, sometimes their lifetime, to acquire jobs, achieve positions of prominence, or perhaps have achieved their dreams or goals, to stand alone against power and privilege may seem futile. How does a young woman rebuff the advances of the most powerful in their industry or institution? How does a career woman rebuff a Senator or President? Name any uneven relationship relative to power and privilege and the price of exposure of harassment and sexual abuse is often turned on the abused. When women see what has happened to other women who have said “no, they are reluctant to enter that dominion.

When you witness discrimination without privilege and secrecy it is heartbreaking. When you have been witness to blatant gender discrimination and you have experienced it yourself, it is much easier to understand what the addition of privilege and power add to the situation.

Power and privilege are like a secret club; they have their own protectors and protection.