The River Analogy

My father grew up on a farm and was a hard worker. As a young man, he employed his wiry strength several summers by working for river guides, until eventually he became one himself. We have seen the unbelievable pictures taken of him, a buff, sun-tanned specimen of manhood. He ran the Colorado River, the Yampa, the Green and the Snake River. One summer he was the guide and cook on the Colorado River for a group of scientists who documented and took pictures of what would soon be covered by the Glenn Canyon Dam, creating Lake Powell.

In my youth, several times, my father took a large group of us from our church on 4-6 day river rafting trips. There was never any question, I always wanted to go in my dad’s boat. None of the other boats, even the bigger ones with more men, could maneuver as well to both catch the greatest thrill the rapids had to offer and to keep everyone and everything in the boat at the same time. Often, even the bigger boats would get swamped or loose people and things over-board. Never my dad’s boat – ever! Even though sometimes there were more people and there was more action on some of the other boats, I never wanted to be on another – especially going through the rapids. My dad would always scout out the bigger rapids with the other men before running them. Though it rarely happened on our trips, if the river was running in a dangerous way, he would encourage only the most skilled to navigate the boats through while the rest of us walked around. When people didn’t take his advice, they always paid a heavy price – though thankfully never in lives lost. In truth it terrified me to think of going through the rapids with anyone else; while at the same time I felt great anticipation at the prospect of going through each of the ones that we did with my dad. I have great memories of shooting mammoth waves in roller coaster fashion with him at the helm.

These are the roots of the river analogy I’ve been using. As you can see, I learned something else from these experiences. I learned about being able to trust an all-wise, powerful, loving Father God, because of my faithful father. It is easier to trust God to help me navigate whatever adventures He has planned for my life. I know I can enjoy all life has to offer without spiritual harm as long as I am in His boat. Nevertheless, I’d better admit that despite all I know about my Father and being in His boat, sometimes I let my focus wander to the threatening waves and grow fearful; or worse, I begin to glory in the fact that I am shooting the rapids in fine fashion, without acknowledging God at the helm and oars; and either way I forget how He told me to hang on; and I fall out of the boat in the rapids. At these times especially, I am glad for His unfailing love and grace. For usually as soon as I cry out, sometimes even before I do, though sometimes he lets me swim awhile, depending on my attitude; He will grab my hand to pull me back in. And there I am, glad to be back in the boat, once more safe and sound in the care of the Master, looking forward again to whatever He has for me; one day, one bend in the river at a time.


How to Drive Your Children Crazy (please do!)

The process for driving your children crazy is really very simple. All you have to do is be a parent.

Of course this might be a little too simplistic for some to appreciate, so I will elaborate. Here are easy steps you can follow:

First the child you want to antagonize must have reached the age of two or begun to develop a mind of their own. At the first indication that they are going to hurt themselves or someone else, tell them, “no,” or stop them from doing what they intend. This is all you have to do. It doesn’t matter that they would have drowned, or been run over by a car, or decapitated the cat. They will not see things from your point of view, so you might as well accept that you have just succeeded with minimal effort to begin to drive your child crazy. They will be sure that this is your goal for the next sixteen years. I will warn you that there might be what some would call golden years of reprieve, while your child age 4 to 8 will think you are pretty amazing and this might outweigh the fact that you are trying to drive them crazy.

The second major step to annoying your child can begin when your child reaches the ‘not fair’ stage. This usually happens when they are between the ages of 8 and 10. This is when you can wrap your child around the axle by telling her, “Trust me, it IS fair that your brother who is 16 can drive the family car and you cannot”; or “the baby isn’t a candidate yet for taking out the trash.” And if for some reason these kind of unreasonable observations don’t work or you really want to zing them, tell them, “Let me tell you what’s not fair – What’s not fair is that you are tampering with my evil plan to make you utterly miserable for the rest of your life!”

The third and probably most potent way to drive your child crazy, is for them to turn 13 or 14 (when the hormones kick in). That’s it! You don’t have to do anything else at all at this stage in your child’s life. You can just set ‘driving your child crazy’ on auto-pilot. Okay, I take it back – there is more you can do. You can smile at them or sing to them in the morning before they are fully awake. Even at this stage, again, I must warn you that you may experience failure despite all your efforts, especially if your children for whatever duration or reason, becomes convinced that you really do love them, even if they don’t believe that you know what you’re talking about.

Another warning is that once your children have their own children, the secret will be out, and all your efforts will appear for what they were. Of course you can still drive your children crazy then by indicating in any way you’d like to see more of them and your grand-children.

This really is all there is to it. As you can see, it is not at all hard to drive your children crazy. I just wish more people would!

What Are You Waiting, er’ I Mean Writing For?

One of the main reasons I am in college again is to learn to be a better writer. Though I am able to recognize and appreciate good writing, I am not nearly as able to produce it. It generally requires a great deal of work and editing for me to get a ‘piece,’ or even sometimes a letter, ready for submission, or for sending, to someone. I would love for good writing to become more ‘natural’ or easy-flowing for me. I think if it were, I would look at this as one MAJOR step toward ‘success’ in writing. This aspect of writing, however, is only a means to what I feel would be a true end or true ‘success’ in writing.

Above all, I desire to be used of God, through His Spirit AND writing well, to encourage others in their walk with God or in their walk toward God. My own thoughts or opinions or feelings are not worth much in and of themselves unless they in some way point individuals towards the truth of God’s loving kindness and goodness towards them and toward all human kind and creation. God, or rather a false image of Him, has always gotten bad press in this world. It began in a garden, with a woman believing a serpent more than God. People still disbelieve God’s integrity, love and goodness. I would like to be a voice to help counter-balance this by sharing with a ‘new’ perspective who He ‘really’ is and has been to me and to many I love, and how He has ‘really’ blessed us and worked in our ‘real’ lives in ‘real’ ways.

So the journey to better writing begins, today with more practice in writing. A blog is good discipline, requiring that I write more often and regularly and thoughtfully. So for today, I will consider it a ‘success’ in writing that I have posted yet one more, hopefully readable, post on this blog.

What’s NOT New?

Each day this week, I have known even before dragging my sleep-deprived body out of the warm bed, I will be putting my boat into the river above rapids still – this rougher section of the river has not ended yet. Though I know a little of what’s ahead for the day, as things proceed, I continue alive in the awareness of my reliance on the help and the grace of God.

The homestead issue is much closer to being resolved (some relief); the spider bite is healed (thank you, God!); our son is already fully absorbed in college life, but he has still given us some glimpses of himself here and there anyway (joy!); our daughter and granddaughter leave our home today for Portland then early in the AM for New York City (big heart-tugs); The temp. job is over (for now); I’m still getting situated in regard to this ‘school’ thing, trying to balance it with my already existing ‘life’ thing (!); we are in love with our new Chinese friends/daughters (they are ‘stuck’ with us for good); with others helping, the exchange student living with us is registered for school and classes and attending McMinnville high school (a major hurdle behind us). So these are the things that are NOT new now, right? But what about the currents and whirlpools and even rocks they have brought into the stream of things?

For example: with our daughter and granddaughter leaving..

..comes a flow of others to see them before they leave, ALL our children and some friends taking breaks from their ‘other’ lives to be ‘home’ with them for a minute. Home is the hub.

..homestead issues and homework and other pressing or non-pressing ‘things’ end up in the back-eddies and keep getting left behind.

..there are some thrills with this ride as ALL our children and some dear friends are ‘flowing through’ (did I mention this already!?!); people are being hugged and loved and fed and seen and heard. Though things are crazy I know I wouldn’t take my boat out to walk around this rapid for ANYTHING! I know all too soon it will be over. Though I admit I do look forward to more peace and regularity in my life eventually, I wouldn’t change a thing here!

..even while a rock approaches. It looks daunting to even try to keep in touch over the miles and time sufficient to ease the unease of separation from these loved ones.

Meanwhile, school and all the other ‘old’ things and more continue in the midst of all this, to be in the mix of all this, each causing ‘new’ things to continue to come into my life; all making up part of the thrill and the turbulence and the danger of these rapids. All together creating the absolute need to hold firm to the boat and to trust the Master of it.

An audience with the King

Pretty much all of my life I have kept a diary or journal, as I mentioned in an earlier blog. Initially I simply liked to write in order to get my thoughts and feelings out where I could look at them and/or to get them sorted out a little. As I got older, I imagined that I was keeping a kind of record for posterity. Our church and family were interested in genealogy, for reasons I won’t go into here, and we appreciated the few journals which remained from our pioneer ancestors very much. We were encouraged to keep our own journals. Besides letters addressed to specific individuals, my first ‘real’ (smile), imagined audience was my ‘posterity.’

Over the years I would occasionally go back and read some of my past journal entries. I was increasingly embarrassed by the pure self-centeredness and the lack of content in my writing. Even after the life-changing experience of my conversion to Christ, most of my journaling still wasn’t something I wanted anyone else reading. After my husband and I actually began to have progeny, this became even more true.

I can’t remember the exact turning point in my journal writing. It was after we as a family had finalized our exodus out of the L.D.S. religion and were in fellowship with people who held Bible studies. It was through several Bible study books which also required journaling I learned about a ‘new and improved’ audience. I began to write to the LORD, in praise and gratitude and to encourage the church or body of Christ. This new ‘audience’ has made all the difference in my writing. I wouldn’t be nearly as embarrassed were someone to read these journals. The only embarrassment might be that I still write informally and don’t often consider my grammar or sentence structure when writing directly from my heart onto paper in this way. If in some imaginary future era ‘the church’ or my children ever wanted to publish these journals, they would have their work cut out for them to make them ‘legible,’ but at least some of the content might be of worth to some real audience or individual.

“A River Runs Through It”

I’m jumping into this boat at age 55, as a new-old-freshman-transfer-student at George Fox University.

But somehow, I feel like I have put my canoe into the river just above a set of rapids.

Just before my school term begins..

..All the usual household and car things breaking down, getting dirty, needing repair or cleaning. Then we become aware of a new, unusual, huge homestead ‘thing’ needing immediate attention..
..Taking care of homestead issues, a Hobo spider bites me. Our dog and my dad have both had bites. The dog’s hamburgered nose recovered with nerve damage – his sense of smell diminished. After four months and four inches of necrotized skin, my dad is still in recovery, still often in great pain. What will best heal this? Or Who? Jesus. Thank you friends and family for your prayers, and the doctor for the 2nd round of antibiotics after one severe allergic reaction. The bite blister, big as a golf ball, is beginning to heal after 3 weeks..
..The last of our 5 children is gearing up to live at the university in the dorms and to leave home ‘for good’ this fall, after 18+ years of close fellowship, including homeschooling. A new and bittersweet thing..
..Another one of our 5 children is preparing to move to New York with our only grandchild. They are visiting and staying with us before their departure. Another new and bittersweet thing..
..I begin a temp. job – the first ‘real’ job I’ve had since leaving the U.S. for Germany many years ago, before our first child was born. I’ve ‘only’ been a wife and mother, a homeschool teacher, self-employed, a volunteer, and a homemaker – but not an employee – in the years between. Things have changed a lot in the work world; and there are lots of new adjustments to make at home..
..This ‘real’ job requires me to be a student at the university. I was accepted at G.F.U. the year before – but 2 weddings and more changed my plans. Suddenly, I find myself working on financial aid and registering for a full load of classes. Everything’s on-line and ethereal. Nothing seems solid or even connected. Things have changed a lot in the world of education too..
..Meanwhile, since one of my husband’s and my ministries is hospitality, a thing we love, we are signed up to host a couple of Chinese students in our home during their week-long orientation at the university before all the new freshmen arrive and before they move into permanent homes or apartments. Through this we find that we have two new friends/daughters to thoroughly enjoy..
..And we are signed up to be first-time host parents for a high school foreign exchange student from Brazil; attending meetings; doing paperwork; meeting her at the airport and finding that we have yet one more new friend/daughter, whom we will get to know very well, which we hope and trust all of us will enjoy.

Each of these is a big thing to me.

Then there’s a turn in the river. The first week of school begins. A whole new vista opens up and a whole new set of rapids is before me! Now I am wholly overwhelmed. There is no calm water in sight. I am already not keeping up with all the ‘new’ things in my life – though I am a veteran of change.

Nevertheless, I remain in the tippy canoe. No, it hasn’t capsized. Yes, I still have my paddles, and my gear is still intact. I know my own skill, strength and oarsmanship are not up to any of this yet. I have a slight suspicion that God has something to do with my keeping upright instead of being instantly drowned.

So, until we are back in calmer waters, where I can believe I am in control again; I will keep looking to the maker of the river and of the scenery and of my companions and of me, to see where He will take us and what He will make of us, if we will let Him. And I hope maybe by then I will be a little more in the habit of trusting Him in ALL waters and a little less in the habit of believing I ever have been or ever should be in control.