“Listen and hear My voice; pay attention to what I say.” Isaiah 28:23

Being profound or saying something of importance, is a hard thing to pull off. Especially for those of us who write and/or blog. Lots of us think we are arm-chair pundits or philosophers. Most of us fail miserably at it. But the overriding theme is that we just want to be heard. Everyone has an opinion, based on their learned experiences, personality, and outlook. Many of us base our responses and verbiage on our faith, and our interpretation of our faith. And there are many among us who spout off and say horrible things to one another, because of those experiences we have had, or perhaps a mental condition. There are many who are ill from a variety of reasons.

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me.

John 10:27

Trying to be Christ-like to others all the time is exhausting. I know we have all met people who seem to have an aura of peace around them. They are a pleasure to be around. Their presence lightens the room and our spirits feel filled. We also know those who drain the life out of us every moment spent in their presence. Quite often, just being in public where I am called upon to interact with others, can drain the life out of me. I love people and those who know me know I love to gab. As I have gotten older, and am alone more often than not, I have come to relish the solitude and quiet. And it takes a lot out of me to socialize.

And the crux of this post is experiencing the voices of others, and discerning import, and dross. And also, I do long for my couple of close girlfriends and our long chats at my table. I miss those days so much. Hubby works from home most of the time, so I try to leave him alone and not bother him. It makes for quiet days. And I understand why my dad, with his delusions, is so lonely for the voice of others, especially those he loves. I am not as angry or short-tempered with him as I once was. It was a steep learning curve! Being Christ-like can rip the energy out of me, but it also gives me profound peace. I love to imagine Christ smiling when I get along better with my dad, and others I have a hard time with. It is making me stretch as a person. So funny it’s taken 65 years! (No laughing).

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

James 1:19

Conversations these days are so guarded. We have to tip-toe around those who believe differently than we do because tempers seem to flare so easily. I have never understood why those who lean towards the left seem to be so angry. And there are so many self-righteous people who lean more conservatively, as well. It is a dance. Some days I just want to sit it out. Getting your voice into the miasma that is social media is not easy. I am happy to have made some internet friends who think more like I do than my own children, and who are “popular” or known in the conservative arena. They take the time to chat and reinforce my beliefs. It is like a safe kiddie pool to get into, rather than the raging seas of media exchanges. And even the times I miss with friends would not be repeatable these days because I am far more into all these odd theories than they are! I am sure they think I am a little nuts. And that is okay. We meander around the issues and stick to what we know – our kids, grandkids, recipes, gardening, husbands. LOL. The problem, as I see it (again, wanting to share my opinion and get my voice out there) is that the world is not getting better. We are going to have to pinch a lot of pennies to enjoy our upcoming camping trip – the gas alone is gonna kill us! It may turn out to be our only foray in our camper this year. The grocery bills are becoming daunting. Our savings are shrinking. And most of the pundits, even those on the left and even bankers, are warning us this is the lull before the big storm. What is a small voice like mine to do?

But whosoever listens to Me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.

Proverbs 1:33

I must put my cares upon the Lord. Only He knows what is best for me. And God wins. The war is won, although we are facing many battles ahead of us. With prayers on my lips, I can drown out the cacophony of noise that surrounds us these days. I can turn off media. I can listen only to Christian music, that will uplift me and give me courage. I can read only written works that speak to my spirit. I can rely on the many promises of God to protect his flock. In all of that, I can also put my hands to the plow and not look back, only forward, towards my Lord. (“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.'” Luke 9:62). We can each come out of this on the other side, better people than when these trials began.

And do not be fooled – the times we are in are just the beginning. We should all be prepared. We all should stock up on water and food, enough for months. We should start growing things to sustain us. We need to know where our food comes from – meet your local farmers. Get involved in food security groups. Plan ahead in case our freedoms are severely hampered or even compromised. Just like you plan with natural disasters – have safe places to meet up. Learn to communicate using radios and other methods. Be secure in your home. Know your neighbors. Be discreet in your preparations. But also prepare to help those who never thought bad things would happen.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age…

Titus 2:11-12

Living upright and godly lives in this present age…oh my word, this present age! I never thought we would have pride month where even mayonnaise gets a rebranding and spelling! Or children are encouraged to attend parades and be exposed to kink? Are you serious? We need to take this country back in so many, many arenas. We need God back in every aspect of our lives. We need strong men and women to take their families back and to just say no to the programming and interference in the raising of future generations. Not everyone deserves a trophy. Not everyone should go to college. Every child deserves to be safe, and loved, surrounded by family. The time to act is now. Grab those kids, get them into church, get them digging in the dirt and planting food, get them off the electronic gadgetry that plagues them, surround them with extended family and friends who feel the same way. Support other families like yours. Plan where your dollars go, especially as they are valued less and less. And teach your children to listen for that still, small voice of God in the every day of life.

The Lord said, ‘Go stand out on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake. but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

1 Kings 19:11-13

We all expect big things from God. Enormous acts of fire and brimstone, ushering an age wherein the Glory of God will be shown. If you read Revelations with the end times in mind, you want to curl in a ball and hide. Those will be terrible times, to be sure. But we are living in pretty awful times as it is. I am not waiting for some Project Moonbeam holographic image in the sky from the deep state telling me it is the second coming of Christ. I will await that gentle whisper. Because God’s voice is unique – you will know when He speaks. His voice is what counts.

All the wicked of the earth You discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.

Psalm 119:119

The rest of the noise is dross…the extra that comes from smelting or purifying metal. There is no dross, no imperfection in the Word of God. So discernment is key. Planning is important. Treating others the way God would treat you. These are the important things. And our voices will be added together to form choirs, praising God, even among the chaos.

I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.

Psalm 34:2-3

“…a time for every matter under heaven..”

The days are getting longer, and much hotter. This past weekend we spent putting in all our starts into our raised beds. They did well the first day, but it got so hot, my baby lettuce is wilting. I have high hopes for the myriad of plants that are a little droopy! In Alaska, our days are so very long. Right now, it’s 75-degrees and not a cloud in sight. The sunlight today will be over 18 hours…

May 31, 2022

For new plants, that is a lot of light and heat, with an overnight low of 48-degrees. It is a rough time for those sprouting plants, but they will get the hang of it, and with that much sunshine, they grow massively fast and large.

There is a time and a season for everything under heaven: a time to be born, and time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Our lives are a rhythm and most of us who garden can really see those rhythms in the seeds, the little sprouts, the full grown plants, the harvest, and the autumn, when we uproot what is left over. As I have aged, I feel more and more like our time is speeding up. I recall thinking summers were endless as a kid, and longing to be back into the rhythm of school. And now, I wish the seasons would slow down a little bit more.

So me…

And as I come out of an intense weekend focusing on our plants and our yard, I am forever grateful for my husband. What a workhorse he has been. Never complaining, but just doing what needed to be done. In addition, gathering downed trees from a friend’s place to ensure we have enough wood this winter. I think he has about 3-4 cords. Up here, we try to plan for the worst and enjoy any extra that may bring us. I got sunburned and mosquito-bitten. He has scratches and cuts and bruises all over from hauling downed trees and then working on our raised beds. As our next door neighbor said on Sunday afternoon, “I see this and think that’s great, but man oh man, that is a lot of work. I’ll just buy my veggies from you!” And as we get older, it is a lot of work. Right now, we are still recovering from last winter’s dump on our yard, and trying to carve out a place for this summer’s activities and growth. It’s part of that life rhythm, to be sure, but this is the hard work part.

“…a time to tear down and a time to build…”

Ecclesiastes 3:5

Life is like that. We scurry around gathering knowledge and skills in order to make it in this world. We fall in love and get married. We begin families. We raise our kids. We mow lawns and go to little league games. We work and we work and we work some more. And then it sort of starts to slow down. The kids themselves begin their independent journeys and they move out and away. Letters from college. Letters from the military. Soon we are welcoming grandchildren and we wonder when this had time to happen. A friend just reminded me they had left CA where we were all friends, over 30 years ago. My word. She was in the delivery room when we had our middle son. He is married with 4 kids of his own. Time has flown by. And the cycle is continuing.

I lament that my life is in its sundown phase. It happened in the blink of an eye. I have 6 grandchildren and an empty nest. We spent Memorial Weekend in our garden… just us two. Kids off doing their thing. Simple days in the sun and dirt, quietly reigning in this acreage. Once I remind myself to ignore the sun and look at my watch, we will come inside and prepare a meal. Then we watch our TV shows and eat our dinner and climb into bed, totally spent. (Usually it’s a Gordon Ramsay show and we always discuss the contestants and some of the techniques, and even recipes! Can’t believe I have a man who enjoys it with me!!). The days are simpler, more direct, if you understand that. And still, this is an ordained pattern, a part of this rhythm.

“…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain; a time to search and a time to give up; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to mend; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”

ecclesiastes 3: 5-8

And so as I keep an eye on my garden, and as I played with my grandchildren today, I think of these things, these rhythms, and I trust in the Lord. All time is His. My time is His. And He will be the voice I listen to, who guides me home.

New strawberries under our window and a bird cover….

A time for every purpose under heaven…

Today’s forecast…

Of course, I do live in Alaska. And c’mon, we can’t expect flowers and sunshine when snow is still haunting the shadows and the temps are chilly. There is another meme I have about Spring in Alaska. And it sums up most of our attitudes…

Spring? Nope!

And that’s kinda the mood I am in today – hunkered down in sweats and slippers. I have spent the past 3 days – literally entire days – going through our memory stuff. Totes upon totes worth of the past 37 years of married life with kids – and then some. As I went through – seriously – every, single photo we own and wrote on the back of it, or tossed it, my hand began to ache. I went from 6 totes of loose photos down to three. I am proud of myself.

Organizing old photos…

As I made my way through these boxes and albums, I came to realize that I am the sole storage for most of my family’s histories. And I inherited my grandparents on both sides’ photos – why? Weirdly enough, both of my parents are only children. And I have just 1 brother – who does not like old things. So I got the collective memories from 4 families. And it was daunting. My heart swelled in thanks when something was written on the back. But I have this one album, complete with black pages, and lots of fading photos from one end to the other, with not a single name. I recognized familial traits, so I could narrow it down to my mother’s mother’s maiden name side. Sigh. But that is all. No one person stood out to me. And these photos are from the late 1880s. I did recognize a house my grandmother lived in as a child, so I know for sure it is her side of the family. because I have a mounted photo with names on it, and she is one of the people named. But they are all in New Zealand, no less. There is no one alive I can consult about them, who I know about in the greater familial ties, or even know where to look for them, or a last name to try! And that made me sad. I could not get rid of it. I love history too much. I even saved a couple of photos of people I have no way to identify, but the photos are so awesome. All in sepia and mounted on cardboard with lovely borders. I just could not bring myself to toss them out.

Old photos…

One of the reasons I am doing this is because I am in purge mode. We have too much stuff in our garage. We have hauled the same boxes, unopened, through three states. One of the things we did was go through all our saved, recorded, VHS tapes. We inherited my grandma’s old VHS player and it works! So we plopped in tapes with no labels, understood why no one wrote on them, and tossed them out. LOL! One is from an old family friend, with her narrating, old black and white videos from her family. Not a single video of my family. Not sure why we had it but it is no longer in my video tote! We only kept about 6 VHS tapes. And we watched our wedding video. We both shed a tear at the same song. Isn’t that cool!! We are going to ask my brother-in-law to put these on CDs for us. Isn’t it funny how things become so outdated, you don’t have the machine to play them or view them on??

VHS…oh, the memories!

Another revelation is that our photo records pretty much stopped, or certainly slowed to a trickle, when our oldest son hit high school. And I realized it was because we all went digital. And in a weird way, it made me sort of sad. It is like when I reluctantly transitioned from books you hold and touch and smell to an e-reader. I went kicking and screaming and now my kindle is with me all the time. I marveled at how the first time I traveled with it, I was carrying 600 books in my purse (yeah, I love books). And as this purge went, we also downsized by a lot. We took 6 totes the the local thrift store, full of books. Most of them were great reads, but I had to admit to myself I probably would not read them again, and if I chose to do so, would use my kindle to do it. I gave up my original Twilight series, the Divergent series, a series I bought in college about the Civil War (all 8 volumes of it), some very large books I dove into with relish like Ruska and Peter the Great… but I know I won’t read them again. I did save books my kids read and they are boxed up and ready for them to get in the mail.

Flat Rate!

When people die, they leave behind relished trinkets and photos, slips of cloth, programs from events, ticket stubs, even toys and saved bits of clothing. Some people collect their whole lives and leave stacks and stacks and stacks of stuff. And someone has to go through all that and dispose of it. Sorting through things after someone passes away is a rough task. When my mother-in-law passed away, it was a monumental task. Lots of feelings come out when you go through another person’s things. Especially if they were a collector. When my grandmother passed away, she had been staying with me about 6 months. But I still had to get back to her place and dispose of everything. I did it alone, with the help of my 2 younger boys, schlepping things to the dumpster, the car, and to the local thrift shop in her senior complex. That thrift shop was a sad place, because every single thing in there was only there because someone died. Other seniors would come and go through the things and take what they needed, at no charge to them. It felt good to help others like that, but it also grieved me even more. Grandma had been parsed down to a few boxes. And she was almost 100 years old. It was hard enough caring for her as she died, let alone clearing out all her things. These past few days, I mourned the passing of my family all over again. And I mourned the passing of my life – it has gone by in the wink of an eye.

Time flew past so quickly…

And today I am just tired. So much went through my brain this weekend. So many people I no longer see or even know where they are. Lots of friends and family who are no longer with us. I was watching a VHS tape and started to cry because I realized everyone in the movie, except for my immediate family, are all dead. It happened so quickly. Now I see my children, and their families, fully engaged in their own lives. And so very busy. Pretty soon they will be where I am now – standing outside and watching their own children move along this racing timeline. It caused me to stop and think. And I realized, too, I am one of those old folks that sit on the sidelines, watching the young people. So so weird.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to cast away; a time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
A time for everything…

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” John Muir

The photo above is of Mt. Susitna, or “Sleeping Lady.” It is here, in Alaska. And the story about her is one of my favorite traditional folk tales from the Alaska native peoples.

Utqiagvik

My son is heading to Barrow for at least a week for work. It is the northernmost city populated year round, and within the USA. The city has changed its name back to its original name, Utqiaġvik. It is pronounced, “oot — kay-ahg — vik.” Up there is where they have total darkness for the winter part of the year, and total sunshine for the summer part of the year. Life there, for the original native population, is not one many of us could have survived, back in ancient times. Even today, life there is much harder than the normal suburban housewife could handle. Prices for simple things like milk and cereal are insane. A gallon of milk is $10 and a box of Fruit Loops is $9.73. It’s almost impossible to imagine those sorts of prices. But the people survive. And it is what I look to when I want to see an example of strength and the ability to survive. History has not shared the full tale, but I know it is magnificent, if just known by its folklore. I cannot wait to hear my son’s stories when he gets back home. I am so excited he gets to see and stay in such a remarkable place.

Mt. Denali

I have been noticing that I am drawn more and more to the simple, the quiet, the serene, the natural. I would much prefer a mountain vista with a lake or stream than a high rise and traffic. I have no desire to uproot myself from the heaven-on-earth I live in to explore elsewhere. One of the reasons is because I have allowed myself to find my comfort zone, and to be comfortable there.

When we first relocated here, almost 10 years ago now, I was incessantly trying to get my friends from the lower 48 to see what I saw. To enjoy what I enjoy. Most everyone who has not taken to where I choose to live, have pretty much the same list of their reasons why not to live here:

  1. Too cold
  2. Too remote
  3. Too expensive
  4. Too rural
  5. Too frontier and not civilized enough

And you know what? I can see that. I really can. I was more than ready for summer after a pretty cold winter. This summer is not impressing me – we are having a few sunny days but most are overcast and in the 50s. This entire week we expect rain and 50s daily. I want sun! And this week is my grandson’s All Star tournament – every day – baseball in rain. Fun.

So I understand the objections. I was born and raised in Southern California. I know hot. And I know beach (born in Santa Monica). I know crowds, smog, and traffic, too. High taxes. Insane real estate prices. Yeah. I know SoCal. I miss my family and friends, but not the place. And I realized that my comfort zone does not include hot weather. I’d rather put on a jacket to get warmer than suffer in sweltering heat, relying on my A/C in the house or the car. And learning to get comfortable with who you are is such a hard step to take. I don’t much care for what others think of me anymore. I am here to please (1) my God, (2) my husband, and (3) my family. Friends are the flowers we carry through life. They are the extras we are blessed with to enjoy this journey.

Three Ladies in the Rain

I am blessed with some friends who I have had for decades. We shared marrying, and birthing and raising our kids, soccer, baseball, pizza parties, vacations and holidays, losing our parents, date nights, card playing, shopping, and tea times. We have gone through a lot together, holding each other’s hands when we needed to and celebrating when we were able to. And those friends will be with me until my last breath. And I am a blessed woman.

When we moved here, making connections was more difficult. People who choose to live here are a different bunch. They are hard-scrabble, as my grandma would say. I have met some friends here who have challenged me and who have changed me. For the better, I think. I am not as dependent in some ways, and more so in others. I have learned the importance of my community. I have learned more about infrastructure and supply chain dynamics than I thought I needed to know. And it has informed my conscious and has made both my husband and I change things in our daily lives. And realizing the things I thought I needed, I have no real need of. I can go all day without turning on the TV. I love walking through my garden, barefooted, battling weeds and swatting at mosquitoes. I love hanging out with my husband and he and I planning and enjoying our plans come to life. It is a good life. I am content. I am happy. I am where I am supposed to be. And I am making connections along the way. It is good.

The infamous sars virus that invaded our lives made us change, too. Smaller circle of friends, more prepared for disasters. Disappointed in how our local and state and federal government handled this. And deeply disappointed in how the Church handled it (so much for trusting in God over some man-made disease). Our faith has become more personal, and I actually think that is a bonus we can take from all this. And we have taken a look at how we live in relationship to the services we can use from local agencies. One of the changes we are in the midst of making is changing from a pretty, flick-a-switch-on-the-wall gas fireplace to a real, honest-to-goodness, cast-iron wood stove. My only requirement? It had to be pretty. And boy, is it gorgeous. I cannot wait for the construction to be over and to be able to light it up! We are also surrounding it with fossil rock. As an anthropology major, getting the opportunity to have real fossils, from Alaska, on my fireplace walls, is beyond exciting. The stove is brown-enameled cast iron and it is shiny and pretty and I am so excited. And I can take the pretty top off and cook on it, if I need to! Pretty and practical – I’d call that a win-win!

Cast Iron Humidifier

My stove will look like the cute humidifier I got for it. Gorgeous brown enamel. You fill it with water and set it on the stove and it humidifies the house! So simple and so elegant looking, at the same time. So far all I do with it is dust it! Soon it will have its home on our wood stove – and it is a perfect match!

Why would we pull out a gas fireplace? Well, when we had the big earthquake a couple of years ago, we lost power. We could actually get the fireplace to start, but the electric blowers did not work. The heat stayed right by the fireplace. We had no lights and no way to run our appliances. We were not bad off in comparison to others, but it made us think. We also rushed to the store that day and even though things were all over the floors, the store was open, workers were there, and water was selling out. It made us realize we needed to be more independent of stores, electric and gas companies, and water suppliers. We have since looked at where our food comes from. We now buy local – we try to source everything we can locally. Keeping our small economy running.

One of our raised beds

We also started to take care of our own food supply. There are so many ways we can all be more independent. This is one way. Control your own food. Plant only what you like to eat, that will grow where you live. You can grow enough at a townhouse or apartment, if you want to. Container gardening is almost easier than a full-on acre garden like we have. We also have a greenhouse with our tomatoes, peppers, and dill, keeping them nice and warm.

If a disaster should strike, and food becomes scarce, where will you find enough to eat? You can store canned and freeze-dried food (but you need water to eat freeze dried) and you can also store water. About 1/2 gallon per person, per day. You need about a week’s worth of supplies, at least. If power grids fail, if gas lines rupture, if water pipes burst…what are you going to do? If violence erupts and stores close, are you supplied? What if there is another lockdown? Do you have what you need? What if the computer system crashes and we can’t use ATMs or our debit cards at places like gas stations and grocery stores? What will you have to trade or bargain with? Cash on hand? Politics control most of our lives and the powers-that-be are moving into our food supply (artificial shortages). Have you priced simple lumber these days? Artificial shortage. Research it. The government mandating farmers not farm? Research it.

Sleeping Lady

And all this leads me to why I wrote about the mountains – and for me, that is Alaska. I fled the chaos for the serenity of a quieter life; a life closer to most of my kids (there’s one who is moving even further away, but at least he’ll be out of CA); a more purposeful life…and a life near mountains. All around me in Alaska are mountains. I get all 4 seasons. (I do get more winter than fall, more summer than spring, but they all appear). I am now exerting myself into more control of my life, rather than relying on the system. Living “closer to the dirt,” as the saying goes. Off grid? Not hardly. But I know people who live that way and I sort of envy them. (I am spoiled in that I require running water, and a water heater). I’m not that brave. But I can strive for more than who I was and what I was capable of doing.

And so I have decided to get another tattoo…this one will be of Sleeping Lady, much like what is above. I love the mountains, they truly call me, and I love the story of Sleeping Lady.

For a brief overview, the Sleeping Lady story is about a race of giants. It is about a girl named Susitna and boy named Nekatla. They were deeply in love. It is about war and faith, community and life, and remaining steadfast. All of the story is filled with honorable traits of having a good character. The story says that when there is peace again on the earth, Susitna will awaken. It inspires me (look up the full folk tale for yourself – it is beautiful). And it fulfills my love of ancient cultures, and the mountains. And one day I hope the truth of the history of these ancient peoples comes to light. Perhaps then, Susitna will awaken.

Squirrel!

You know how they made fun of the dog in that movie, “Up,” where he would get so distracted by the simplest things? He was “Dug the Dog.” Kind of a perfect name for a dog. Sometimes we are like Dug the Dog, we are working and moving along just fine and then – boom! – distraction! Squirrel!

Dug the Dog

Grief is just so weird. Because in my rational, scientific mind, I KNOW my mom is better off. I know she is no longer suffering. I know, that with Alzheimer’s, there really is no quality of life. She existed, yes; but mom was not really living. She had small joys and the home in which she lived was perfect for her. She was happy. But she also was not herself. She had lost herself inside the disease. Certainly not the woman who had borne and raised me. So I KNOW all this, and yet I still miss her deeply, knowing I can never get a mom hug again. She gave good hugs. And I also KNOW that life goes on. It totally does. Laundry needs to be washed, meals prepared, gardens planted, etc. Life moves fast, and if you don’t keep up, it passes you by.

Raised Beds

For my husband and myself, our world has been focused on creating raised beds in our yard, In getting our vegetable starts going indoors. Trying to be as independent as we can be. But homesteading, or making your yard into a sustainable food production process, is exhausting. Truly tiring. My husband was on a tractor for 3 days this weekend. I was repotting our starts into bigger pots. We had a central focus, and it was all we were thinking about. And then we realized we needed to make time to attend Church. Which we did.

The Mass was wonderful. We had a guest priest from Kenai. He was amazing. His homily about the Holy Trinity just hit me center-beam. And I fell apart. I could not stop crying. I kept thinking about my mom. It had been 1 week since she had died. And as I listened to the priest talk about the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” I related to the Blessed Mother, Who carried the Trinity within Her. (Of course, as a mother, I related to Her pregnancy, not that my children are the Trinity. Far from it). But I thought about how it would have been to be that close to my mom. I was once inside of her, and she loved me deeply. Her disease took that relationship from me. And for that, I really hate Alzheimer’s. But my point is that simple words from a priest were “squirrel” for me. I was suddenly off into a world of grief. And all throughout Sunday, little squirrel moments kept happening. I would see something and think of my mom and cry. Sigh. Grief hits at the oddest times and it can be so very strong.

Seedlings under a grow light

There is something cathartic about helping plants grow from seeds to a meal on your plate. I laugh because my little plants get their greeting from me every morning and a goodnight every evening. It now takes about 45 minutes to water my starters. We have plans to move more of them out into our raised beds this evening. We have the blessing of daylight until rather late! Our sunrise was at 4:33 today and our sunset will be 11:23 this evening. It’s a long day and it will only get longer as summer wears on. Life is moving fast. My little seedlings went from seed to plant to having fruit on them in a matter of weeks. Harvest will be quite soon. The squirrel in that scenario would be a random storm or frost.

In my life, the squirrel, or off-setting moment, was mom’s death. I walk around all day and I am just fine. I hold something of hers and I just cry. It’s been only two weeks, and it seems like forever. This morning, I threw away some flowers that had been sent to me in recognition/sympathy for mom’s passing. I spent a few minutes washing the container, just crying at how quickly it passed. The time since she has been gone. Life moves so fast. I am getting all this Medicare stuff in the mail because of my upcoming birthday, and it is a reminder to me that I am not guaranteed my next breath. Life is gaining speed. My seedlings are ready to go out into the big world and live their little lifetimes in our raised beds. Mom was 91 years old and her Alzheimer’s too advanced for us to bring her over here. Once she moved out, she was never back here. I wish she could have seen my first, little Tom-Tom tomato. She would have liked that.

Micro Tom Tom

“expecting different results…”

 

Fireweed lake

(Fireweed blooming in Alaska)

I adore the summertime weather up here. Yesterday, it was actually 98-degrees about 4:00 pm.  For this part of Alaska, that is just over-the-top-hot! I was melting. It’s so hard to explain to those who have not travelled or lived this far north, but the sun is very different. When it is on you, you definitely feel it. And the sun is not in the place I would expect it to be when I look up, having lived south most of my life, at the times I look for it. 9:30-10:00 pm look much like 2:00 pm back in Southern California. It is still weird to wear sunglasses at 11:00 pm.

 

Midnight sun AK

(Midnight sun in AK)

Today I have been puttering in my yard. It amazes me how fast things grow with all this sunshine. We have just experienced a week of gloomy, rainy weather and the grass got so tall. The amazing thing, too, is that after we have no rain for a day or two, our plants are falling over, dying. So today I have been pulling off the dead leaves and flowers and soaking everything. My basil was so pretty about a week ago, but today its’ amazing purple blooms were just sagging and I thought I might have lost it. But I pruned away and soaked it, then put it in a sunnier spot, and after the past few hours of sun-worship, it looks amazing. Whew. And I sit here, after playing with our vegetables, in a completely different outfit, with hair dripping wet. Me and the hose had an altercation. It did not want to stay where I wanted it to, pointing where I wanted it to point, watering what I wanted it to water! We argued, it soaked me, but I finally balanced it so it is watering almost our entire raised bed vegetable garden.

yard sprinkler

(My 1950s era sprinkler head!)

I was determined to win! It is an old fashioned way to spray water on your garden, but you know what? It works amazingly well. There is something to be said for the old and true ways of doing things. Our ancestors spent eons thinking this stuff up and we are constantly trying to “improve” on their ideas, when sometimes the original was amazing and perfect, and still works the best.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 2and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20. This quote is also known as the “Great Commission” wherein Christ instructs His Apostles to take what He has taught them, and to teach others. And to make disciples of “all” nations. This was the original request Christ made to his Apostles, and they in turn have requested that we, too, do the same. It dates back to Biblical times and it is still true today, perhaps even more so.

Runner-Bean-Flowers

(Pole beans in bloom)

As I played with our pole beans, which are flowering and reaching for places to climb, I wove them along the wires my husband strung around our garden for them. I had to be extremely gentle with them, as when they are in this phase of growing, they are so fragile. And I thought of me and how I have guided my children, in all their growth-phases and when they were their most fragile, and their strongest. And I know, deep in my soul, that my heart was in the right place. I want to spend eternity surrounded by the Grace of God, and being with family and friends who also chose to follow Christ and His Word in our lives. However, if I am being honest, I know there have been opportunities where I have missed sharing my faith, and where I have perhaps not lead my children as well as I could have. And it weighs on me.

Success sharing faith

Just now, I had to go back outside to move the sprinkler so I could get the end row of our vegetables. I argued with that darn sprinkler, but I got it to water just the plants I wanted it to water. I got a little wet, but I approached it smarter this time! The plants back there are the ones who also see the least sunshine during our long days. But I am determined, that through working with them, weeding, watering, and paying attention to their needs, that I will reap a harvest. This is just such a perfect analogy for our struggles in life, and with those who we love who do not walk the same path we walk. We can look around us and see those who we know are struggling to survive in this crazy world. Some get no light given to them at all, walking through life in relative darkness. Some are not tended to regularly, nor do they receive adequate watering. But having struggled with my sprinkler of choice (my chosen faith expression) I know sort of how the sprinkler works, what I can expect from it, and how to approach it to make it work the best for my garden. We who claim to have faith in Christ all know this. We struggle, we wrestle, we sometimes get soaking wet and have to change and start over. But we learn and know more or less what to expect.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

This quote is broadly credited as having been said by Albert Einstein. And the man would have experienced this in his quest for scientific knowledge! Today it aptly applied to my struggle with my sprinkler. I could not approach it as I had at first, or nothing would be watered but me! My hair is still wet and it helps remind me of failing, but learning from that failure, and not repeating it. I have tried and failed, but got back up again over and over again in the past 31 years of parenting. Raising children, and witnessing our faith to them, is more about how we live our lives, rather than memorizing religious dogma or facts. Don’t get me wrong, we used the Baltimore Catechism with our kids. However, I truly believe that our children are sponges. They soak up everything about our lives as a family, while growing up. They see how we treat them and their siblings, and how my husband and I treat each other. They see how we interact with others. Right now, one of our adult children and family have neighbors with lots of children. These neighbor kids are constantly looking over the fence or coming over, and they are parroting things that are obviously being said by their parents. These neighbor children have asked my adult children if they are Catholic, and then asked why they don’t go to church. And that’s from their 8-year-old! They question and say things that are not from a child’s mind. Their parents purport to be very strong in their faith, and they homeschool, and they attend Church very regularly – all the hallmarks of good kids. But what they are teaching their children by their actions and their words are completely undoing all that homeschooling and church-going. And it is a horrible example to my family, who struggle mightily with everything to do with faith, most especially those who act all holy and perfect, but are far from it. It does nothing but make my adult kids less likely to pursue church attendance, nor to teach their own children about the faith.

neighbor fence

I have learned, over the years, that approach and first impressions are so very important. If we crash and burn when trying to share our faith with others, well, we need to get back in there and repeat, repeat, repeat. We cannot give up or stop, but we can repeat in a myriad of ways, too. I leaned today how to maneuver my hose so that I could control water flow, and the position of that darned sprinkler. I had to get soaking wet, first, though. But in the end, the Lord controls the harvest. I have to eventually trust in Him to touch the souls of those I lead to Him. My children are making adult choices these days. I can no longer claim responsibility for their choices. They are on their own in this world, and before God. The majority have children of their own they are raising. Our youngest is almost 18 and is starting to make choices – he is planning his future and making decisions about his career path, as well as friends and socializing opportunities. Yes, sometimes I am a nervous wreck. But that being said, I have also shared my faith with him by living it out in front of him. I have struggled and he has witnessed that struggle and we have talked about it at length. He shares his view on things and so I am really loosening up on those motherly apron-strings. I pray that I have shared what he needs to hear and see and learn with him, before he goes out among the wolves of this world. But all I can do, as a parent, is pray. “God has got this!” as Mark Hart the Bible Geek would say.

Chipmonks

We jokingly say in our family that the eldest plowed the road, the middle one paved it, and the youngest is just skating on through. Those can be seen as stages in how we learn, as well. Sometimes we struggle, but hopefully we grow and learn. We may, in the middle of life, back slide and slip up, but getting back on track and cruising along again is a good thing. We learned a lot from raising our kids. We got wet so often…we moved that sprinkler over and over again….we had to keep moving it and re-arranging it as the years went by. But now, we have a garden that is reaping an amazing harvest of wonderful grandchildren we adore, we have some pretty awesome adult kids, and the future is still ahead of us.  We are blessed, but we are not sitting back and just allowing the weeds to take over – even if our children are adults. We still wrestle with that sprinkler! We live our faith, we strive to be good examples, and we constantly pray and nurture those we love. God has blessed our efforts and we pray our family tree keeps growing, resting in the love of God.

family gathering