Saturday, June 24, 2017

God's Gifts

I love books - and I love to read them, I love the way they look on the shelf and I love to hold a book and read what's written inside. My love of books came from my dear, little mother. She was a librarian for a few years before she traveled from California to Seattle, Washington to attend a tiny Bible Institute where she met my father! Her love for books has always been obvious. Even when she went to Heaven her home was still filled with books - gorgeous, old vintage books with exquisite covers, rare vintage books that are falling apart from much use, complete sets of books by her favorite old authors and newer books that inspire and bless the soul. She read to me from the time I was too young to remember and trips to the local library were a regular event as I grew older. I began to collect books - and I still love books! I love to snoop through the book section of thrift stores and I'm always drawn to books at garage sales. Once in a while I find a book that calls to me and I know I need to add it to my list of books to read. That happened recently in the back corner of a Goodwill near Palm Springs, California! I found a book - just one - that had to come home with me. And I'm enjoying every word!

One of my current favorite fiction authors is Debbie Macomber. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, as do I, and her stories are often set in cities I know. It seems to add something special when I can visualize the setting. While Debbie usually writes fiction, she has written a few non-fiction books that are a great read - and very soul-stirring. I picked up one of those books at the Goodwill when we were traveling through California recently. The opening pages spoke deeply to my soul. She shared a parable that made me think. And search my heart. I'd like to share it with you. She wrote:

"There's a story that goes something like this:
"A woman arrived at the gates of Heaven to be met by St. Peter.
"'You may first want to join the others at the throne,' he said to her, 'and then greet those you loved on earth. But when you are ready, I'll take you on a tour of Heaven.'
"When the time came for her tour, she could hardly take it all in. It reminded her a little of her earthly home, but she could see that earth had only been a pale shadow of what she was seeing now. They explored every nook and cranny of Heaven - waterfalls, fields of flowers, exquisite buildings, and streets of gold.
"As the tour drew to an end, she noticed one massive door they had not yet explored. A gold padlock secured it. 'What's in that room?' she asked.
"You don't want to see that room,' St. Peter said, steering her away from it. 'It's only a storeroom.'
"But I do. May I see inside? I want to see every bit of Heaven.'
"St. Peter didn't answer. Instead he took a large key out of his pocket, put it in the lock, and turned it. The tumblers clicked and the padlock opened. He took the lock off and opened the door. The woman had to blink several times to take it all in. Inside the cavernous room were stacks and stacks of gifts, wrapped in all the colors of the rainbow and tied with all the colors of Heaven.
"She clapped her hands with delight. 'Is this where you store presents for everyone in Heaven?'
 "'No. These gifts are not for Heaven, they were meant for earth.'
"What do you mean were?' She walked through the stacks and came to a pile marked with her name.
'Look, these gifts are for me.' She fingered the paper and ribbons. 'May I open them?'
"No. You don't need them now.' St. Peter put a hand on her shoulder, guiding her toward the door.
"'But if I don't need them now, does that mean I needed them on earth?' She couldn't take her eyes off the pile. To think she would never get to enjoy all those beautifully wrapped gifts.
"He nodded his head. 'Yes, you needed them on earth.'
"She looked around the room, realizing that there must have been millions of gifts. Maybe more, since she couldn't see an end to the room. 'Why weren't my gifts sent to me on earth?' As she looked closer, she could read names on all the gifts. 'Not just my gifts, why haven't any of these gifts around the room been sent?'
"St. Peter sighed. 'You don't understand. Every one of them was sent.' Moving his arm in an arc that encompassed the whole room, he said, 'All of these and more. These are the ones that were returned unopened.' He moved her toward the door. 'Many people on earth don't recognize God's gifts and fail to open them.'"

Debbie goes on to say:

"I love gifts - both giving and receiving. When I first heard this story, I wondered if there was any truth to the parable. Had God sent gifts to me that I hadn't opened? When I get to Heaven, I don't want to discover that I failed to recognize the gifts God sent into my life. I don't want to miss a single one.
"Unfortunately, in real life God's presents don't always come gaily gift-wrapped, and they are not always easily recognized. Some even initially come looking like challenges. And often these gifts are people shaped."
(From 'God's Guest List: Welcoming Those Who Influence Our Lives' written by Debbie Macomber)

Perhaps the reason this parable touches me so deeply is because I watched my dear, little mother embrace the gifts - the people - God sent her way. She was good at that. Very good. Her life made a difference in the lives of many people along her journey here on earth. Perhaps it's because she is so newly arrived in Heaven and, looking back, when all is said and done, I want my life to make a difference. The way she did! I don't want to miss the gifts God sends to me.

Monday, May 29, 2017

In Memory

Happy Memorial Day!

With gratitude to those who gave so we can live in freedom.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Adventures On The Road

My sweetheart and I have been traveling and seeing sights we've dreamed of seeing for a long time. I didn't have much consistent internet access in most places so I wasn't able to check in here and let you know what we were doing. I had a mobile hot spot so I could stay connected and it worked great - as long as we weren't parked at the bottom of a hill or somewhere between high cliffs that surrounded the campground or so deep into the woods that no signal could reach us! So, I wasn't able to share our trip with you until now unless you've been following me on Facebook or Instagram. It was rather strange that I usually was able to post on Facebook or send text messages in areas where I didn't have enough cell signal to make phone calls or go online. We were on the road with our home-away-from home for almost two months and I took about a million photos of places we've been.  You can imagine that I have some serious sorting and editing to do but I have a few photos to share with you now. Most of them were taken with my cell phone or tablet. Some were taken from the passenger seat of our pickup so there may be reflections from the windshield that couldn't be avoided. There's so much to share about our trip soon when I have a chance to edit my photos. Until then, just a peek here and there will have to do.

We left home on a Sunday afternoon and we traveled a lot of miles before we returned home again yesterday. We made a big circle from home, through four states and back home again. 

We camped in the beauty of Southern Oregon. . .
Crossed the border from Oregon. . .
Into California.
We drove past snow-covered mountains. . . 
Camped beside a lake at a beautiful campground. . .
And spent time at the home of a very dear blog friend (and did a bit of thrifting and antiquing, too).
We spent several days with my father's family.  That included talking almost nonstop to catch up after too much time apart, meals together and a very special Easter Sunday that included church and a very large family gathering.
We spent three days in the land of many palms. . .
Before we crossed the border into Arizona. While we were in Arizona we walked on the desert. . .
Drove  up a mountain and hiked a ways to see the sights below. . .
 Visited National Monuments where we discovered ancient ruins. . .
And explored a quaint, little mining town high in the mountains.
This is just part of our adventures - there's so much more to share but that will have to wait for another day. Long-anticipated adventures became reality. There will be time to tell you all about it soon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We're Gone!

Things have changed a lot since I shared the post about the old pickup and my sweetheart’s new-to-us truck!  We’ve run away from home – well, we didn’t really run away - we’re just not there.  My sweetheart hooked up our cabin-on-wheels (trailer) and we put the dog in the car – and headed off for an adventure of a lifetime. Our plans included time with a very dear blog friend along the way and some long-overdue time with family, too.  We plan to go places we’ve never been and before it's over a childhood dream of mine will finally come true.

We left home over a week ago for a dream trip – a trip we’ve dreamed of for a long time. It’s the first of many we have planned.  I have limited internet access right now so I can’t share many photos until we get to a place with more access. Then I’ll show you where we’ve been and tell you all about our trip.  If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen some of the places we’ve landed along the way. We are having a great time – and it has only just begun.  We have many miles to go before we get home again!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He is Risen - Risen indeed!

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Dream Of A Truck

My sweetheart has been dreaming and planning to buy a new pickup.  He has shopped online and with dealers.  He has talked a lot to folks about what they know about pickups.  He had to check them all out so he would be ready when the time came to buy the right one.  Awhile back, as we drove by a 'classic' car lot, I found what I thought was the perfect truck for him.  I thought it was the perfect truck for him but I didn't quite convince him that it was the one for him.  Since he had successfully restored my vintage trailer I thought, perhaps, he wouldn't mind doing the work needed on this one.
This old truck had such character. Why wouldn't he want a truck with old wooden sides that had stood the test of time?
Everything about this truck was intrigued me. It was an old Willys truck from the nineteen twenties. Family owned by the same family since it was new. Now it was time to pass it on to someone else.
Imagine cranking the engine before you got in to drive off down the road.
I loved the details and tried to imagine how wonderful they must have seemed back in the day.  A headlight. . .
The old windshield. . .
And the steering wheel.
The door handle on the outside. . .
And the handle on the inside.
Running boards that had seen better days. . .
And a rear view mirror.
A turn signal operated from inside the cab so you could stay dry on rainy days.
The muffler just outside the cab. . .
And a fire extinguisher on the inside. A fire extinguisher? Really? That's not a comforting thought!
Everything about this old truck was fascinating.
A thought came to mind. I thought my sweetheart might agree - he could buy this wonderful, old truck and restore it for me!  Wouldn't it be a conversation piece going down the road while towing Daffodil?  A vintage truck with a vintage trailer!  Hmmm. . .I liked that idea!

My sweetheart did buy a truck. Not this one. He seemed to think he wanted something a bit more modern.  So, a few days ago, after a long search, this is what my sweetheart brought home.  Just what he wanted. The perfect truck for him!
The new truck is part of the new season of our lives - and some long-awaited adventures. I'll share more soon.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My (Grand) Father’s Clocks

If you are of a certain generation you may have sung an old song during music class in the early years of your school experience. It goes like this:
My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
The song goes on to recount how the clock knew all the ups and downs of the grandfather’s life – but it stopped short – never to go again – when the old man died. While I always sang it with gusto during music class I thought the song was sad and a bit morbid – and I often wondered the purpose it served in our elementary school song books.  I didn’t think of it often until many years later, shortly after my own father passed away.  My grandfather didn’t have clocks that I remember – but my dad loved clocks, and he was a ‘grand’ father!  He would have had a house, or a museum, full of clocks if his budget had allowed that pursuit.  I don’t think he ever saw a clock he didn’t like.  He had more clocks in his home than most people I know but they were special clocks and very well displayed. There was a story behind most all of his clocks.  I’d like to share a few of my dad’s clocks and a bit of their story with you.  No, they didn’t stop the day he died - all are still keeping time quite nicely except for one that needs a bit of repair.  I’ll tell you about that one, too, because it has special memories for me.

A gorgeous ‘Victorian Gingerbread Clock’ stood on my mom and dad’s mantel for many years.  Right after I graduated from high school I had a job at a local azalea nursery where I met a young, married woman.  As we became acquainted she told me about her home and husband and children.  One day she told me about an antique clock she wanted to sell.  Immediately I knew my father might be interested in the clock so a day or two later he and I went to her home to look at it.  He bought the clock and proudly took it home where it stood on the mantel of his new home.  Over the years the clock chimed on the hour and the half-hour until one day it stopped chiming on the hour.  It also stopped chiming on the half-hour – but it did chime at twenty-five minutes after each hour.  Many times my dear mother would be somewhere in the house when the clock chimed and she would say, ‘It’s twenty-five minutes after something!’  It worked that way until after my father passed away.  One day my sweet mother met a clock repair man who cleaned and repaired the clock so it would chime at the right time again.  It sat on her mantel over the past years and was always a conversation piece when someone stopped to visit her for the first time.  This beautiful clock has found its way to my home now and it almost always brings a smile to my face when the chimes ring out through my home.
You may remember the days of S&H Green Stamps.  Many things in my parents’ home were the result of my mother saving Green Stamps over the years.  She spent countless hours looking through the Green Stamp Redemption Catalog as she carefully planned what she would get the next time we were near a redemption center.  This clock was one of many things that became a favorite in our home.  It has hung for many years in the closet of a bedroom that Mom and Dad turned into an office/library room.  They took the doors off the closet and used that space to add room for more of my mother’s vintage book collection.  This clock has also found a new home at my house.  It now hangs on the wall of a bedroom my sweetheart and I turned into our office and my creative space/sewing room.
The purchase of one of my father’s clocks was the cause of ‘discussion’ between my parents.  My father was the pastor of a church in a small town in the Cascade Mountains of Central Oregon.  We often drove to ‘the valley’ for conferences and meetings.  It was one such day after a meeting in the valley that we stopped at a jeweler’s shop before we left the city to head across the mountains toward home.  I don’t remember the purpose of our stop at the jeweler’s shop, but I will never forget that day – or that clock!  I  still remember how it hung on a wall that was filled with all kinds of clocks.  I don’t remember why we went to that little shop but I do remember that almost the minute my dad walked in a cuckoo clock that hung in the center of the wall caught his attention.  And his heart.  By the time we walked out of the shop that clock had been paid for, removed from the wall, carefully wrapped and placed in a box that was handed to my father.  My memories of the trip home are vivid.  It’s as if I’m still that little dark-haired, dark-eyed girl in the backseat of the car as I listen to my parents discussion in the front seat - they were discussing the clock! It must have been sometime around early May because my father bought the clock for my mother - for Mother’s Day.  The problem?  She didn’t want a cuckoo clock for Mother’s Day.  Her heart was set on a beautiful teakettle she had hinted about many, many times.  In her disappointment, somewhere in her heart she devised a plan.  It shouldn’t have been a surprise when a month later she gave my father that beautiful teakettle for Father’s Day!  I have no memory of the teakettle but I know they both laughed a lot about it through the years and the truth was that my mother absolutely loved her cuckoo clock.  She loved it so much that when it stopped because a handmade, wooden gear inside had worn out she kept it on her kitchen wall and lovingly told the story of ‘her’ clock.  She wanted to have it repaired but she couldn’t find anyone nearby who could repair or replace the worn gear.  This is the clock doesn’t needs some repair.  It works, but not quite right!  It runs, it keeps time and the little cuckoo bird comes out at the proper time but he seems very confused and tired.  He comes out and begins his ‘chirp’ but he never finishes what he starts.  He says ‘cuck’ but can’t seem to find his voice to finish and add the ‘oo’ so he just sits there until someone lovingly reminds him with a slight push of their finger that it’s time for him to go back inside and close the door. 
This clock will soon move to my home, too.  My sweetheart wants to have it repaired or he may try to hand-carve the cog and repair it himself.  He's good at things like that!  We are all very happy  that these clocks are still at home with our family.  I know my dear mother would be pleased – and I’m sure my ‘grand’ father must smile with pleasure to see our joy as we recall our memories of his dear clocks.

 (The photos of each of these clocks were taken when the clocks were in my dear, little mother's home.  The photo of the mantel clock was taken when her mantel was decorated for Christmas.)

song: 'Grandfather's Clock' written by Henry Clay Work (1876)

Friday, February 17, 2017

If You Give A Moose A Muffin

I have a book on my 'grandma' bookshelf - it's been a favorite of more than one of my grandkids. Maybe you've read it, too!
If you don't know the story, it goes like this: If you give a moose a muffin, then he wants jam to go with it. When he's finished he will want another. . .and another. . . until they are all gone.  Then he wants more so you go to the grocery store to buy muffin mix - and he goes with you, but he's chilly so he asks to borrow a sweater. Once he puts your sweater on he notices a button is missing so he asks for a needle and thread. While sewing he remembers the puppets his grandmother used to make so he asks for some old socks to make sock puppets.  The story goes on and on with the moose asking for things to make backgrounds for his puppet show. He keeps asking for things until he finds himself outside your house where he sees your mother's blackberry bushes. That reminds him of the blackberry jam - and if you give him the jam he will want a muffin to go with it!

That's kind of like what's happening at my house these days.  No, we don't have a resident moose and we aren't baking muffins.  Instead, we are beginning to deal with my dear, little mother's home and the many things she treasured through the years.  Easy, you say?  Not so!  It's like the moose in the book.  We have chosen some things that will move to our home.  We need a utility trailer to move a few big things. That's not a problem because my sweetheart owns a little utility trailer for such things.  So, what's the problem?  A few months ago we had some big trees removed from my mother's yard. In the process there was wood for our fireplace - more wood than our little wood shed could hold. Over the past few months the wood has stayed in the utility trailer that was parked in the back corner of our yard. So, here's the problem:

My sweetheart decided to enlarge our little woodshed so he can store the wood where it will be dry.  In the process he discovered that the fence behind the little woodshed has leaned and slumped and is affecting the roof of the woodshed.  He can't just add to the little woodshed without dealing with the fence situation.  So, he is outside fixing the fence.  He's replacing two tired and worn fenceposts, resetting the sagging gate and stabilizing things.  Then he can build the addition on the side of the shed and unload the wood from the little trailer and then we can start to move things from my mother's house.  Whew, that makes me tired just thinking about it.

Good thing we don't have a moose!  Or, do we?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Different Sort of Birthday

Today is my dear, little mother's ninety-fourth birthday!  We are celebrating it in a different sort of way this year.  We are celebrating without her.  On the other hand, we're sure she is having a celebration in Heaven that we can't even begin to imagine!  The day has been filled with hard spots throughout the day, phones call to check in with me, hugs and text messages to and from family and many, many memories we cherish.  Just a year ago today we had a wonderful lunch with her and some of our family.
My mother lived a long, full life and she left a legacy that money can't buy. Here's what I wrote for her memorial service.  It was hard to put ninety-three years into a small space but this is her story.

Carol was born February 12, 1923 in Lompoc, California. Her parents were Clifford and Mildred (Hooker) Cooper.  She committed her life to the Lord when she was 15 years old. Following graduation from high school she worked as assistant librarian at the Lompoc library for two years. She attended Simpson Bible Institute in Seattle from 1943-45, where she studied Christian Education. While at Simpson she met the love of her life, James (Jim) Thompson. They were married on June 24, 1945.

Jim and Carol moved to Salem, Oregon where he began his ministry as assistant pastor at the Christian & Missionary alliance Church. Through the years, she served as a very active minister's wife in the churches where her husband was the pastor in Granite Falls and Everett (Pinehurst), Washington, as well as in Bend, Springfield and Milwaukie, Oregon.

In 1963 they moved to Canby. Jim and Carol traveled extensively through the U.S. and Canada for 15 years to conduct evangelistic meetings, Bible camps and Kids' Crusades in churches of various denominations. They organized a new Alliance Church in Ketchikan, Alaska and served on staff at Canby Grove Conference Center. They were honored by the Christian & Missionary Alliance for 50 years of service.

For several years, Carol served as secretary to the director of Love Your Neighbor Ministries, a Gresham (Oregon) based chaplain ministry to nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Carol was a woman of deep faith and prayer. When she prayed, God answered. She touched the lives of people wherever she went. She led countless children, teens and adults to the Lord during her lifetime. She led a ladies' Bible Study in her home until recently and she was a spiritual mentor to many people of all ages.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

If We Could See Beyond Today

This song has been on my heart over the past few days.  My dear mother and father often sang it as a duet through my growing up years. The words touch my heart again.

If we could see beyond today
As God can see,
If all the clouds should roll away,
The shadows flee;
O'er present griefs we would not fret
Each sorrow we would soon forget,
For many joys are waiting yet,
For you and me.

If we could know beyond today
As God doth know,
Why dearest treasures pass away,
And tears must flow;
And why the darkness leads to light
Why dreary days will soon grow bright,
Some day life's wrong will be made right,
Faith tells us so.

If we could see, if we could know,
We often say.
But God in love a veil doth throw
Across our way.
We cannot see what lies before,
And so we cling to Him the more
He leads us till this life is o'er,
Trust and obey.

You can hear it sung by George Beverly Shea (soloist for Billy Graham Crusades) here.

copyright 1943 in "Word of Life Melodies #1" by Norman J. Clayton

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Home At Last

I have been absent from my blog over the past few weeks. I had some wonderful things to share through the holiday season and I planned to be here often but life didn't allow me to do that.  My dear, little mother's situation required much more attention than it had in the past and we were aware that she was declining more every day.  Our attention turned to meeting her needs and making the holiday season the best it could be because we knew this would be the last one we spent with her. And it was!

My sweet mama quietly slipped into the presence of Jesus late on the evening of January ninth.  We had planned to move her from her home this month because her needs were increasing so quickly that we knew we could no longer carry the full load in the best way possible for her - but she moved up instead!  She is in Heaven with Jesus and with my father and my baby brother who died at birth. Mom didn't want to move from her home. Her heart longed to stay in her earthly home until she moved to her Heavenly home.  When that day came she wanted to be surrounded by those who were dearest to her on earth.  And that's exactly what happened! 

My sweetheart and I stayed with her twenty-four-seven through the last weeks of her life. That brought such comfort to her and to us.  It was very hard but we will always treasure those days with her. She was placed on Hospice for the last two weeks of her life so we had their incredible staff to help. Our daughter is a medical assistant with training and experience in elder and memory care.  She has worked closely with Hospice groups through the past years.  She took a leave of absence from her job in order to spend the last week of her Nana's life with her and to help us with the day-and-night care required.  I honestly don't know what we would have done without her.  Our son was there often, as was his sweet wife and, at times, some of our grandchildren.  Our son and our daughter and my sweetheart and I were beside her when she walked through Heaven's gates.  She was home at last!

Last Saturday we had a beautiful service to celebrate her life and ministry.  It was a time to shed tears, pay tribute to a long life well-lived, share her favorite Scriptures and sing her favorite hymns. And there was laughter as we recalled memories of her fun, loving, creative spirit.  We were surrounded and loved and hugged and prayed for by family and friends from near and far.

I am just beginning to process the loss of my dear mother. I have good days and I have days filled with poignant memories and many tears.  My sweetheart and I are at the Oregon Coast for a week with our home-on-wheels and our little dog.  We're taking time away to rest and begin to heal. We're parked above the crashing winter waves that sound like thunder when they hit the beach below.  At night a string of lights line the dark horizon as crab boats brave winter seas to work their craft while we rest and sleep.  As I write this post a pod of seals is floating on the surface just below the bluff where we are parked. God has a way of sending special things just when we need them most!