Each Day Is A Gift...

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Just Fiddling ;)

Well... this is nowhere near what I want in the pages you keep asking about, Katie. *blushes* But since I needed a Blogger identity to post in Carm's blog, and since I couldn't remember my old one, and since I had to think up some sort of name anyway... *shrugs and blushes again*

Yours always in Jesus,

Grandma's Thoughts

She said, “Well, Billie tried to call me again today. But I didn’t accept it.” Billie was in jail (90 day for DWI) and called collect.

“Why does she always call you?” I wondered.

“Oh, she’s headed to de-tox.” Grandma answered, “And she’s scared and she wants to talk to Rob.” Rob was the guy Billie lived with, father of her two little kids. “But he won’t answer the phone. Or she can’t get a hold of him for some reason. So she wants me to. But I wasn’t going to get into that this morning. It just isn’t my business.”

“Yeah.” I said. Rob was an old boyfriend of Grandma’s ex-daughter-in-law, if that makes any sense to you.

Grandma was taking me to the dentist that morning. And a little farther down the road, past a sparkly half-swamp, half-lake and beyond the big Anderson Brothers Construction dirt pit and a small-town airport in an open, mowed field, she spoke again, “She doesn’t know how to do anything. Never had an education, you know. She has the two kids to take care of, and she shouldn’t be drinking all day. But she does.

“What a waste of life! I can’t imagine not even being able to help your kids with their reading and school. To not have any interest in it. Or learning. She just doesn’t want to do anything. Nothing. It’s a waste of life!

“Show you—good example of why you should get an education and pay attention and want to learn. Then you’ll have something to do.

“Like—like work, you know.”

Grandma’s voice stopped as she drove on, thinking, under a crystal blue fall sky. “I can’t imagine not wanting to learn so you could help you kids and stuff.” I said uncertainly.

“Yes, I don’t know.” Grandma went on. “Life would be so boring. Think about never reading a book. She misses out on so much fun. She can’t read or—what does she have to do? She doesn’t do a thing. Just drinks all day. Education really is good for you.”

I agreed in my mind and nodded with her. I liked to learn.

“But then,” Grandma said after some thinking and driving past more fancy lake homes, “there’s folks like Dale. I get irritated with him in some ways. He doesn’t like to do anything either. Just driving to be with friends. He always has to be with crowds of people and friends. That’s his entertainment, I guess.” She shrugged un-knowingly. “But what’ll he do when he’s retired? Doesn’t like to work and won’t get a hobby. Den tried to get him projects. Interested in stained glass or something. But he did one stained glass window and that’s all.

“And he used to be an art teacher. Went to college for it. You’d think he’d at least be interested in painting. Or drawing. Little sketches, or something, you know. But he isn’t.” Grandma shrugged again. This time because she couldn’t understand how Dale could be happy being lazy, but there was not a thing she could do about it.

“So I guess you can have an education and still be a bum too.” She chuckled and raised her eyebrows and made her eyes wide open. “Uneducated and lazy. Educated and the same way. It’s just what you make of your life.” she said.

I looked up, out at the sky. “Aim high!” I thought. :)

True Heart

I pray, Build up the great and highest wall
To keep away all wickedness from me.
Please wash me throughly from iniquity;

And hear today, and answer to my call.
May I still stand though every liar fall.

Preserve my soul in mine integrity.
And fervently may I have charity.

That I, as Paul, may swiftly run my race;
That I, as John, will serve in faithfulness;

That I, as Ruth, might wholly love in deed.
My Lord, I thank you for your gift of grace

And come to beg for that of righteousness.
O, may my heart be true—from my sin freed!

Mountain Dulcimer

In the tradition of folk music, the mountain dulcimer may cry with a simple, plucked string.

In the tradition of heart music, it may sound with the drone of Scottish pipes or the dance of an Irish fiddle.

In the tradition of stirring music, its strums will meet the rhythm of our stepping feet.

In the tradition of homeland music, it is made with the wood of American forests.

In the tradition of stringed instruments, its timbre is a “sweet song.”

In the tradition of loved instruments, it trembles beneath the player’s hand.

In the tradition of peculiar instruments, it shall be played particularly to individual tastes.

In the holy tradition of King David’s praising instruments, its voice is suited first to singing of God’s everlasting mercy and endless, unspeakable glory.

Letter of Thankfulness

Home, Minnesota, USA
March 2001

Dear Mom and Dad, I want to thank you for our trip to see the President of the United States. We had a wonderful time, and I am so glad we got to go! We all smiled, even Dad at the corners of his mouth, though he furrowed his forehead trying to look ornery. Standing in a line of thousands of people, as we did, watching some creep forward along the edge till those who had been behind us were ten feet ahead was interesting. In a funny way . Dad said he “could have punched every other person he saw.” But he didn’t. Not a single one . Though Mom had to hold Abigail for those three hours, and she and Leah and Jonathan froze their toes in the melting snow, they were all so good. Abigail only cried once.

Then it was so nice to sit in the warm arena, way up where our eyes saw everything and we could rest. Leah watched a police dog sniffing around. We got nervous when five o’clock was coming closer every time Josh checked his watch, and the band played “God Blessed Texas”—“This one is for the President.” they said—and Mom with Leah and Abigail were still waiting in line for the restroom for forty minutes.

Those last ten minutes before 5:20 p.m., when the President was to come were tensious in the prospect. If a marching band quit one song, twelve thousand people were quieted, anticipating “Hail to the Chief.” The last little while we all must have mostly stood, and Mom got her camera ready. The police, Secret Servicemen, and news people with huge camera lenses scurried around the floor and among the people. Finally, North Dakota’s governor spoke graciously and introduced—

Dear President George W. Bush, It was from the wells of my heart that came the desire to stand and clap when you entered. I suppose the whole arena filled with thankfulness.

Our President is everything he speaks: hope and freedom and “vision for the future.” We saw his heart for the people.

He said, “America is the greatest nation on earth.” I thought about that. What of Israel, God’s chosen people? But I couldn’t live in Israel today. Sometimes the news tries to make Japan or European nations seem as prosperous and wonderful as our United States. But they do not have our freedom, justice, or heritage. And in so many other countries there is purposelessly poverty, and filth, and fighting. We haven’t had war in our land for over one hundred years; now the battlefields are pretty places with green grass and flowers. Walking down Emmanuel’s road the other day it came to me that if I were in Israel, Yugoslavia, or Chechnya, or somewhere in Africa (or any number of places), the beautiful road might have been ruined by fighting, or close to the hiding place of guerillas. So I am thankful for America, the greatest nation on earth.

During the speech the applause was so loud that Jonathan put his hands over his ears. The speech even made Dad clap once for the trust the President has in small businessmen and entrepreneurs, and his understanding of them. Mom wanted so badly to have the best photo of him as he spoke for the military that she leaned through a railing and was reprimanded by a Secret Serviceman. When Abigail was convinced that “W. Bush”  truly was speaking right there in front of us, she clapped and clapped her little hands.

After that was over, and all we could see was our President George W. Bush’s striking red tie surrounded by Secret Servicemen among the crowd, how high were our hearts! And when we passed near Air Force One, lighted and huge…

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for letting us be blessed so.


Friday, October 22, 2004

If I Had Only...

If I only had tonight, tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday left to see with my eyes I would stay up a little longer tonight. I’d like to go stand outside and look at the clear winter sky. It’s cold out there, cold enough to keep me wide-awake. And whenever I felt that cold later I’d remember what the sky looked like. The far-back blackness that would have been deep blue if it were day. The stars that clutter up each other so you can hardly tell the constellation Orion from the Littlest Star blinking back a lilting light. But then Orion would jump out from all the others, and his belt show steady and firm.

For better than those, I would watch the northern sky. So big, and wide, and wild. I could see the Great Bear and laugh at his sparkling nose. Imagine that star was the sun glinting off his wet shiny nose as he fished for salmon in an Alaskan river! I’d try to find the North Star. If I did, I’d stare at it until I got dizzy. Until it looked like pictures of the North Star, circles of white around that one large, twinkling star.

Hopefully, the northern lights would play. I’d like to see them when they start low down in the sky above the trees. And see them stretch out and jump and dance. The LORD maybe would have them change colors--red, and green, and the usual white--the way they were once when Dad saw them. Would they swirl a time or two? I’d remember forever the magnificence of it. The way God manifests his glory in the sky. Those lights “running wild!”

You know, I’d never make it up early enough to see any sunrise. But certainly before the shadows left the tall, leaning pine, because I love how they look. The branches reflect the brown bark down the tree trunk and onto the snow. The dying green pine needles always flash slightly in the sunshine. Chickadees like that tree. Nuthatches don’t climb it often, but I could watch them in the willow where the birdfeeder is. They squint their Chinese eyes and toddle towards the ground upside down. Probably I could see blue jays flapping about. They act like the “police of the forest,” we used to call them. I think I’d like it if some Canadian jays would come.

Josh might take me over to Pug where we could go out on the ice and slip through the tamaracks. We could stand under the wide heron nests and smile, and laugh, and he’d show me something silly. The LORD is very good, and he’d bless my eyes that day, making me see him in it all.

Would Grandpa take me ice fishing? It would be wonderful to see him bundled up. Wrapped like a new baby from the wind and cold. And to look below at the green Lost Lake water with the yellow-green and blaze orange wooden bobber shaking. Bobbers look tip-top when they’re swimming along after a sunny. I’d like it if mine would do that and I could see a little, scaly fish with it’s standing-up back fin, night-colored eyes, and day-colored belly. I’d like to have Grandpa go into the spear house and spear a long musky, or a northern if he had to; then watch Lillie hop trying to get it from him, because she’s jealous when something else makes Grandpa happy. Makes the winter blue sky in his eyes stand out to you, and makes him smile Grandpa’s handsome, young-man smile.

I’d sit still by the window to watch the sunset. It could be any sort of sunset. I wouldn’t care. Sunsets are magnificent sunsets whether they’re red, orange, purple, pink, or blue.

We would eat a pretty supper, I’m sure. Something I could cook and watch in the pan. It would be nice, all of us together, while we eat. The faces of everyone would stay with me forever. I would look at them, and wouldn’t we all thank God for beautiful Minnesota people, strong and brown… and not much tall?

On Saturday I’d be in time for the sun coming up. Probably in the cold it would be pink and white.

Dad and we would go for a drive. To see the trees whiz by down our road. To see the Wood Tick Trail and know beforehand the bumps Dad would drive over. If we stopped to get out, he’d put a hat on. And it would be his old orange one that flopped around! White snow can hurt in your eyes and back far in your head when the big, round sun is high. The snow gets bright. Almost brighter than a million stars lying at your feet. Dad would pick some up. So, I could watch snowballs fly, see what Leah looked like with snow across her face and Jonathan laughing making a snow angel. We’d be gone all day, because sometimes before it got so busy we used to drive all day. That night I could watch the sun set from the road.

Saturday late and Sunday morning I bet I’d read more of the Bible than other days. There’s nothing like reading God’s Word, seeing it in front of your eyes. Something I don’t feel would be the same reading the way blind people must have to read.

Church would be full of seeing people and hearing the Word.

After a quick lunch of cookies, we would go to Duluth. Dad would buy skittles, and Mom would hand them out. Handfuls of the rainbow at a time!

That is a goodly-to-look-upon road to follow, the way to Duluth is. The first half is skinny widths with tons of trees and round, long swamps beside it. There aren’t hordes of houses along that way like there are in most places. There aren’t a whole lot of people either. Except quite a few semis drive those roads compared to our road. Great big trucks, most of them shined up and clean. Sparkling aqua blue, forest green, and bright purple, and black. The dirty ones are nice too. They look like they have spent good time working hard.

I’d like to see Duluth from the hilltop. See the filthy, matching houses on our way down the hill, and the brick buildings. Most of them have neat old names and one-hundred-year-old dates. We maybe could go down and up a couple of the one-way streets between the hospitals that have big signs above them: “St. Luke’s” and “St. Mary’s.” I could for sure see Lake Superior from there. Lake Superior is a long ways across. On a clear, cold day you can look and nearly see Wisconsin on the other side, but I would hope Sunday would be hazy. The sky would look like God was going to open the windows of heaven to let out snow for us. Which means we’d see only halfway across.

At the bottom of the hills we’d go to where the ships come through. Mom would smile. She has a laughing, always-smiling smile. And so she’d laugh and put Jonathan’s and Leah’s coats on to keep them from freezing. Then we’d walk along the trails looking at everything, watching it move and stay still. Seeing the little bits of blue around the lake plus all of the calm, thick white and gray.

We would drive home during a snowstorm that would turn into a blizzard. I’d see the flakes coming down in the car lights.

And make sure I remembered well.

~ from our 1997-1998 School Year