Sunday, September 30, 2018

Be What?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  Deuteronomy 31:6

I’m not a Bible scholar. Far from it. I’ve only read the Bible, cover-to-cover, twice and am a third the way through my third time. But even I can see a theme when it jumps out in front of me.

“Be strong and courageous,” Deuteronomy 31:7

“Be strong and courageous,” Deuteronomy 31:23

 “Be strong and courageous,” Joshua 1:6

 “Be strong and very courageous.” Joshua 1:7

 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.” Joshua 1:9 (I think you most certainly have commanded us.)  

“Only be strong and courageous!” Joshua 1:18 (Only? Only be strong and courageous?)

“Be strong and courageous.” Joshua 10:25

“Be strong and courageous.” 1 Chronicles 22:13

But, how Lord, do we remain strong and courageous when we are bombarded with so much in our daily lives – stress, fatigue, bad news, illness, disease, war and threats of war, death? This is how we remain strong and courageous: we look to You, our Lord God, our Rock, our Strength and Courage.

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:20

And one last time:

“Be strong and courageous.” 2 Chronicles 32:7

(This picture, which of course, God chose for this post and not me, reminds me of a long stretch of strength and courage in my life. I’ve blogged about it before, and I’m sure I will again. One day.)

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Field - Flashback Friday

 I’ve been sitting here all night, doing random things on the computer, some productive, some mind-numbingly wasteful, telling myself the entire time, “I have to write a blog post for tomorrow”. Here it is, 8:30 Thursday night, and I still haven’t quite decided what to write about. I didn’t write anything for Wednesday’s blog, so I really feel the pressure to share something – anything – on Friday.

 I guess Flashback Friday is as good as it’s going to get.  

 I went through my old pictures, looking for one with beautifully colored trees in the fall. This is the one which surfaced. It was taken in 1976 in the field across the road from the house where I grew up.
 Back around the time I was born, after Grandpa was gone and there would be no more farming to be done in the field, Mom and Dad planted Norway pines. One day, these trees would provide a little income. But no matter how tall those trees grew, that 20 acre patch would  always be the “field.”
 When my sister Pat and I were little, we had all sorts of adventures in the field, under the growing pine trees. We gathered hay to use as bedding for our rabbits. We sled down this hill in the winter. It doesn’t look like much in the picture taken last year. How can a hill shrink in forty years?
 Then there was the rock pile, all those boulders gathered from the field so Grandpa could use the land. I sat on the round rock on the right, while Pat straddled the one on the left, and we’d do something – funny how I can’t remember what we did perched on those rocks. I tell my husband if we ever sell that land, that I want to find someone to move those two boulders to our yard. The problem with that is what will I do if we sell our house and move. Of course, I’d want to take those rocks with me. How much do you think they weigh?
 This year, our logger has been harvesting the timber from the field. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same. 
 And because every girl needs a dog to share her adventures. . . .

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ah-ha Moments

2a Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
4 His splendor was like the sunrise;
    rays flashed from his hand,
    where his power was hidden.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

(Habakkuk, chapter 3, verses 2a, 4 and 19, New International Version)

 Last weekend, as you may already know, I was at a writer’s retreat for Christian women. I felt so blessed, surrounded by caring, like-minded women, enveloped in their love and encouragement, filled with God’s peace. I finished editing one novel, wrote two chapters on a new novel, and received invaluable advice.  

 I had hoped to write here today about my aha moment from the retreat. That single defining moment when something amazing clicked for me, I had an epiphany or felt the Hand of God typing my words. Was there that one single aha moment? No, of course not.

 Instead there were the ah moments.
 Lots of them.

 And the ha moments.
  I’m so blessed. The aha moments fill my every waking moment. Whether at a serene Bible Camp living for three days in a bubble or stumbling through the thousand and one mundane minutes which make up my life, I am blanketed by God’s grace.   

Lord, Father God, thank You so very much for everything You have put on this earth for us to enjoy. All glory goes to You. Amen.   

Friday, September 21, 2018

2018 Camping Post #5 - A Short Day and a Memory

I am finally posting about the last full day of our camping trip in July. It was a slow leisurely day. Not usual for us, but maybe we are finally realizing that vacation should be about sitting around the camp fire instead of running around as much as we do at home.  
 After lunch, we took a ride to find some waterfalls. All we did find were rapids and dams. But they 
are still fun to visit.
 But here’s the thing, heading to each of these three spots, we discovered something else new and note-worthy.
 On the way to the first one, we saw what I thought was a beautiful, clear-cut field, with just enough lone trees to make it picturesque.
 On the highway just above where the second falls was supposed to be was a sign about the location where Father Menard was killed.
 And along the road to the third, we found a monument to the men who were killed in the worst mining accident in Michigan history as well as the church and remains of the town of Mansfield.
 See what you find when you get off the beaten path.
 After we got back to camp, I headed out to walk around the entire campground. I found the site where my sister Pat and I camped back in 1980, site number 65. I think it was, anyway, because I remember debating about that site or the one across the road and the one across the road actually looked more familiar, but I am positive ours was on the right side of the road. That was 38 years ago, so how much are these trees really going to look the same? But whatever the case, wherever we were, I sat down on the picnic table and tried talking to her. I think because she is in heaven, with Mom, Dad, Aunt Helen and everyone else, she can’t communicate with us. I think that only non-believers really think they can talk to the dead. If you are in heaven you are in such a good place – I can’t think of a way of saying it without sounding like people are jerks once they get to heaven. But really, I don’t think they have any connection anymore with us left down here on earth alive. I think once you are in the arms of Jesus, everything you left behind on earth, all your loved ones, maybe even all your memories evaporate. I think it is all a fresh start in heaven. But we will still all be there together one day. But sometimes it would be nice to just be able to be with Pat, feel her presence, hear her voice, sense that attitude, that grit, that spunk. But I do feel it all the time. It is still what keeps me going a lot of the time, in times when I just want to give up and I think to myself, “what would Pat do?”

 I returned to our campsite, and the next morning, by six am to beat the rain, we packed up camp and headed home.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

2018 Camping Post #4 - A Long Day

So, back to our July vacation . . .

On Wednesday of the week of our camping trip, the plan was to take a ride up to the Keweenaw and make some purchases from our friends the monks at the Jampot. My planning led me to believe it was a two hour drive up there, so even with making a few stops we should be there by 11 or 12. Well, I was sure wrong about that.
Our first surprise stop was Van Riper State Park.
They have this Warrior Water Island thingy, water obstacle course out in the lake.
Way cool, but you have to swim out there, plus they charge by the hour to use it.  
I was pleased to find Sacred Heart cemetery practically next door.
Wandering around a cemetery is much more my kind of thing.
Took way too many pictures there. Of course.
Then we ran into this.
And this.
And this.
So it was after one o’clock before we got to McLain State Park, where we ate lunch. But the Jampot was still waiting for us when we got there.
I had hoped to drive around more of the Keweenaw, but the road work and other delays had gotten the best of me. After one more look at Lake Superior, we were ready to head back to camp.
I showered and cooked supper. We were just sitting down outside trying to decide if we wanted to make a campfire when we heard a strange noise. The hubby was befuddled by it, but I knew right away what it was.
The brightest spot in a somewhat tiring day.

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Charmed Life

I was at a Christian Women’s Writing Retreat this weekend and came home all excited to tell everyone about it. (They didn’t have very good WiFi at the retreat center, which is why I haven’t blogged since Wednesday.) I’ve also wanted to finish up telling you about our camping trip to Michigan this past July. But as usual, life got in the way, and there is something more pressing that I need to share.

Last Monday, when I got home from work, Hubby asked when I last saw our cat Fred. Just the day before he had been laying in the rocks on the back side of the house. He actually was laying so still, on his side rather stretched out, that I checked to be sure he was breathing. He was, so I didn’t think any more about it.

He didn’t materialize all week. Hubby was sure that he had met his demise, hopefully from old age (though he had only just turned 14), and not from some tragic accident where suffering was involved. I held out hope that he would show up. Fred and two of our other cats stay outside most of the time, and on occasion one of them will go on what we call a “walk-about”. They might wander off for a few days or a week or two and then return home like a gallant warrior.

Eight years ago, I blogged about the death of my favorite cat, Bam-Bam (you can read about that by clicking here). The discovery of Fred’s body last night wasn’t too much different, but I won’t go into detail. I can tell you that he didn’t appear to have suffered.

That’s all I got. Except for these.  
 Fred with Betty and Ches. What a trio of babies.

 I had an adorable picture of him as a kitten, sitting in Hubby's slipper, but I just couldn't find it. I'll share it when it turns up.

 Ches, Fred and Betty, being babies again. So much for being outside cats, right?
 You've seen those videos of cats being afraid of cucumbers? Apparently zucchini is only boring. Yes, Fred is yawning.

 Cats being lazy. I guess that's what they are good at.
 Last picture I have of Fred (with Ches) taken the end of July.
 Just so that you don’t get all, “oh, poor Chris, so sorry for your loss”, Fred was a pain. He was messed up in the head. If I haven’t already told you that, I’m not going to go elaborate here. You just have to trust me. Yes, I will miss him, things will be different without him, but, really, I'm totally fine with this. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2018 Camping Post #3 - A Sad Story

 Last Friday I told you about the first half of our second day of camping, when we visited the Iron County Historical Museum in Caspian, Michigan. From there, we drove to one of the saddest places I’ve ever been to.

 Chicagon Lake and Pentoga Park.
 Without rewriting the entire story, I’ll tell you just that this is the site of ancient Indian burial grounds. In 1891, the chief sold the land when he and his tribe moved. The county ended up with it in 1924 and decided to make a park there on the banks of beautiful Chicagon Lake..
 Not only does that seem disgraceful to the Ojibway members buried there and to their descendants -
 But can you imagine pulling up to your campsite with your RV, ready to set up your camp for the night and you see all these graves right behind your site?
 Very morbid I think. I grew very sad at this place. Sad for the Ojibway tribe and for all the other Native tribes who have suffered at the hands of the White Man.
 Driving down a back road after leaving Pentoga Park, this momma and her babies graced us with their presence.
 I guess maybe it is always about the Circle of Life.
 Speaking of life, this little town of Alpha didn’t have much.
  Even in its mining heyday, it’s hard to believe that the area needed this big of a high school.
  Or maybe they did just for the basketball team.
 What do you think, Dino? Ready to get back among the living?