A Tale of Heartbreak and Ingenuity

When I was a girl, I would visit my grandparents at the farm in the summers.  There are so many things about it that are stamped on my memory and I want to share the story of the house and its origins.

The farm-house was old even then.  There is a romantic story of how it came to be.

The homesteader built a small two room house into the side of a tall hill.  It was snug and large enough for his needs with a dug out room in the back for storage.  He put a porch on the front, but most of his building skill went into the barn.  It was a magnificent building.  It had a set up for milking the cows and an ample haymow for storage in the winter.  The rest of the barn was set up with mangers for the horses and pens for the calves that he fed when he separated them from their mothers.  He had a separator that he set up and automated with greyhounds.  He would put the milk in and the hounds would go round and round so that the cream would be available to sell at market.  Eventually, he sold the homestead to an enterprising young man named Oscar.

In another location, a man busied himself building a wonderful two-story house.  He was preparing it for his mail-order bride.  He spent hours on the Victorian style building and had completed the basic part of the house.  He was decorating the eaves with intricate cut-outs and was nearly finished when the word came that his bride was arriving that week.  In order to have the surprise complete, he sent his brother on the anticipated day to fetch her.  He worked feverishly.  Night fall came and his brother had not returned with his bride, indeed, he never did return.  He took her for himself.  Broken, the man abandoned the house and became a hermit living in a cave.  Oscar also purchased this property.

With ingenuity that we no longer see, Oscar took the Victorian and moved it.  He used a team of oxen to manuever it to the top of the hill and carefully located it on the other house. As I looked at the property, I was in awe that it could have been accomplished.   He connected the two buildings with stairs, added a side porch and moved in.  Later he moved to town with his family.

First my parents and then my grandparents rented the farm.  This is where I spent many wonderful hours of my childhood.  There is a creek and seven cold springs on the place.  A deep canyon had been cut by one of the springs.  A log had fallen across the happy little  stream.  When I visited, I would go there and sit by the hour on that log, singing, dreaming, and talking to God.

In the house, my grandmother was a true homemaker.  Her tall  cabinets always shone with varnish and polish. The beautiful African rosewood clock sat atop them, faithfully chiming the hour.  The old oak table was often heavy with homemade food and fresh vegetables.  At night, after the dishes were done, we would all sit at the table and listen to the radio and play canasta.

Although it is long ago abandoned as a home, my grandparents still live there in my heart .  My dog, Stubby, waits outside the old screen door for us to come.  The chickens and other animals populate the landscape with the sounds of peace broken only by the guinea hens who don’t know how to be peaceful.  In here, in my heart, it is still alive and beautiful.

There is much more to tell, but I will cherish it in my heart until the time is right to share.

The Top Reason to Grow Old

Growing old makes no sense.  It is unreasonable.  I still feel like I am a happy, healthy thirty year old on the inside – so ‘whatsup’ with the change in the outside?  I look in the mirror and sometimes I see my Mother.  Sometimes, I see just an older version of me.  Sometimes I am shocked by the reflection and step outside of myself and consider the stranger that stares back at me.

Apart from the exterior, there are many things I like about being in my ‘encore’ time of life!  I like the freedom of relationships.  You don’t have to like me.  I know that I will survive your rejection.  I can tell a man of most any age that I love him and it just says, “I love you too.”  There are no innuendos and no concerns that he will suddenly want more than I meant.

I am thankful as I advance in years as not all people grow old and I believe that it affords us wonderful perspective.  .

I have time.  Time to reflect and play.  Time to sit and watch the clouds and feel the heat from the sun on my skin.  Time to listen to nature and to other people.  Time to write – love that!

My grandchildren amaze me with their abilities and thoughts.  My grown children are a source of pride in their accomplishments and character.  They live too far away – or I do.

My true friends are few but I value them and they value me.  We have walked past the ones that were for a season and those who are users.

I can travel if I want, but mostly I love being home and enjoying the peace and quiet companionship of my dear husband.

Everything is more intense.  The things that I have little or no control over seem to be moving at a more rapid pace including political divides, corporations like Monsanto that have high-jacked our food supply and led to the genetic modification of so many things, the patent office that made GMO possible, and so much more.  Our grandchildren have much to deal with and I fear our legacy isn’t a pretty one.  .  I still have a desire to impact things for good.

My husband of thirty-two years is more precious to me every day.  He doesn’t say much but the silence is filled with love.

But the top reason for growing older is the closeness that I feel to my Creator and the love that I feel for everyone I meet.  I used to look at others and judge their clothes, their financial condition and their failures – now I feel an overwhelming love for them and find myself praying for complete strangers.

I am truly free and I love living!

Heart Valentine

I am 32 years into a second marriage and I have found the man of my dreams.  Wonder of wonders, it is my husband!  He is kind, generous, loving, courageous and true.  Now, I want you to know that I didn’t always feel this way, but then, I suppose that is true of any long-term relationship.  The secret to a relationship to being long-term is . . . are you ready?  Drum roll please . . . “Don’t leave!”

Since it is Valentine’s Day, it is a good time to reflect on love

First, I want to look at what true love is not!

  • It is not feelings though they add to the good stuff.  Feelings are fickle and subject to change.
  • It is not sex like the television producers want us to believe – it is a perk in a committed relationship.
  • It is not staying in a relationship where you or your children are being abused or terrorized.
  • It is not being in “love with love” and having unrealistic expectations of another.
  • It is avoiding strife and contention at all costs while not avoiding the issue!

What is true love?

  • First and foremost, it is commitment to not turn and run in the difficult times.
  • It is treating the loved one like you want to be treated.
  • It is using a soft answer when the other is angry.
  • It is serving the other.
  • It is recognizing that this one person is not responsible for meeting all your needs.

I will end with this:

To Joe:  I promise to love you all of our days, To be grateful for who you are and the gentle kindness of your personality, To love you even when I am disappointed, hurt and sad,  To trust you when I don’t understand your thought process, To serve you even when I would rather do something else, To laugh with you and cry with you, To choose to do what you want to do, To understand that you and I are broken and that we don’t complete the broken-ness in each other, To trust the One who created us to fix us.  I promise not to try to fix you.  Thank you for your love and patience with me.  Thank you for not running away in the early days of our marriage.  Thank you for becoming the man of my dreams!

What is $1 million worth to me?

Have you considered what you would do if a million bucks fell into your lap.  Many people bet several dollars every week in the lottery with the dream of winning a vast sum of money.  We know from history that winners of the lottery don’t usually fare too well.  Many of them are good-hearted and share the wealth with family and friends . . . and then new friends come along with their hands open and stretched out to receive some of their windfall.  Thinking it will last forever, since it is such a vast sum, they continue to buy things they don’t need and to dispense cash to loved ones and “hangers-on.” (Is that a word?)

This brings me to the pensive thought for today’s writing.  What would I do with a million dollars?  And by default, what would you do with all that money?

Of course, there are the obligatory taxes which I just learned would be over $300,000 depending on my base income.  This reduces my problem somewhat.  Now I have $700,000 to spend.  The next out-lay would be to tithe $100,000, and make some gifts to my favorite ministries which would be at least another $150,000.

With a more manageable balance of $450,000, I would invest $100,000 in precious metals and a safe hiding place to keep it.  Now I have about $350,000.

This is a list of incidentals that would be nice to have:

  • Update and enlarge the kitchen and bathrooms and change the door on the walk in closet to a slider on the washroom wall to gain more wall space in the master bedroom.
  • Add a bathroom and increase the size of the guest bedroom.
  • Update the washer and dryer.
  • Have the carpet cleaned.
  • Have the deck rebuilt with pretend wood that will never rot.  :0)
  • Get Joe a new car.
  • Joe and I take a trip to Israel.
  • Have some light landscaping done.
  • Add a fireplace.
  • Get a generator.
  • Put new siding on the house.
  • Lay in a supply of dried food for emergencies and other essentials.

How much is left?  Now I am down to about $200,000.

It is possible that I would gift our children the amount allowed without incurring taxes – about $20,000 each from each or us – so if my surmising is correct, that would leave about $120,000.  With the decline of the dollar, it is possible that I would find a way to invest some of it in people and ministries that I trust.

I would always save about $50,000 in CD’s and savings because now our home and Joe’s car are worth more than they were.  Our property taxes and insurance would have gone up and if we haven’t planned carefully, we’ll potentially have issues.

So, what gain would we have from this spending spree?  It would have been fun blessing others, taking our dream trip, and touching up things around the house.  If we remained sane and planned wisely, we could live financially secure ever after.

I wonder if I would really do it this way.

What would you do?  I know there are more creative ways to spend $1 million!   Please  share your ideas.  Come dream  with me.

They Said What?

Everyone has an opinion and everyone feels that it is necessary to share it with everyone.  Today, you cannot open up yahoo without finding out what this celebrity said or that politician declared.  Sometimes I wonder why we care.  These are people that we will never meet and often they have more influence than the people that we live with.  Whatsup with that?

Consider the people who give the news – – now those people have opinions.  They talk about a lot of things no one cares about and a few important things that we do.  The weather is always good to know.  An update on the local bad news is obligatory.  Some knowledge of the wars we are engaged in and the status is good.  A brief look at the unending political contest would be a relief.  But for heaven’s sake, who cares about the sex life of some celebrity?

This got me thinking.  Who has an opinion that matters to me?  This was more difficult than figuring out whose opinion didn’t matter.

My husband’s opinions are of great importance to me.  We had a pastor’s wife that said,”If both of you agree in a marriage, one of you is not necessary.”  We are both absolutely essential to one another.  We keep each other examining new concepts and ideas.

I care deeply about what my children are interested in.  They are interesting and engaged adults.  My daughter home schools four children and could win the “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” show with no problem.  She is capable, intelligent, articulate, and a great cook!  My son is a Kindergarten teacher.  He has lived in Taiwan, Croatia and Wisconsin and traveled the world.  He has seen and done things that I only dream of doing.  He has developed his own view of the world that is quite different from mine.  I learn something from him every time I talk to him.

My Mom turned 95 on Christmas Eve and her mind is clear.  She lives seven hours away and wants me to come visit often.  She loves me and cares what I think and that makes it good!  She attacks life with enthusiasm.  She married her second husband at 91 when he was 64!  They will be married four years this February.  She loves life and isn’t afraid to live.

My sister is awesome.  She has always loved me and as the big sister, in our early years, I was often too busy and distracted to notice.  As we have grown older, I have found her to be charming, funny, thoughtful, and not only my sister, but one of my very best friends.  Her opinions are uniquely her own and her mind is sharp and clear.  She has had many challenges in her life and has walked through them with grace.  She is very special.

I have a few friends, some old and some new, with whom I love to share time.  Their insights into the world, the culture, our mutual interests, and discussions about our Lord Jesus are stimulating and challenging.

The question for this week is whose opinion matters to you?  Please reply.

After Christmas Glow

We spent the holiday with our families.  They are all so important in our lives.

When we had time to sit and talk to our grown children, we realize what awesome people they are.  Now I am not saying that my kids are perfect, but they are fine people.  They definitely have their own ideas and opinions.  Sometimes that is difficult when I think I know something that they have arrived at in a different way.  I am learning to yield to them and most of the time, I keep my mouth shut!!

We can see that they are going through things that we once went through and we would like to save them from the pain but they have to find their own way.  I know that each of them will work it through.  I know this because I did.  My parents didn’t think I would ever make it!  When I was fleeing to New York to get a job and move away from the issues in my life, Dad told me that I was a failure and that by now, I should have gotten it together!  But, within a year, I had met and married my husband and everything in my life has gone up from there.

Christmas reminds me that we all go through our own challenges and our own issues in our own ways.  My children have had many experiences that I can only imagine.  They have proved that they are capable and competent.  They know how to make good choices. 

Christmas was homemade this year.  It meant a lot to me to receive wonderful created gifts that I knew had taken thought and time.  The books that I did for the grandchildren required hours of thinking of them.  I know the things that they did for us, gave them time to think of us as well.  These are real gifts and while they didn’t increase the economy much, the gifts warmed our hearts.

My heart is full this year with the overwhelming love that I feel for my family and the gratitude for each of them.