"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Monday, February 18, 2019

Inspired Onward

I have had an ongoing feud with someone for a couple of years now. I am not sure "feud" is the right word. Nor is the word "battle" the right word. It isn't my battle. I don't even know the woman and she doesn't know me. "Feud" according to Webster is defined as "a protracted quarrel; vendetta". It isn't my quarrel, and I don't have a vendetta against her, but maybe she has one against me. "Vendetta" - a hereditary blood battle between two families." Nope. That isn't it. Certainly, no family here....just bad blood.

What it is, I guess, is harassment. A couple years ago, a woman started attacking my husband in the local newspaper. She was saying things in letters to the editor that were not true. She was doing things in the community with obvious lies behind them. When her attacks and lies hit the local paper, I corrected them. I tried to do so politely, as I believe that is always the best way. It became very ugly. Her lies were destructive and mean. My corrections only antagonized her more. What I pointed out was true. She didn't like that and became even more vengeful.

This went on for a few months. Now, over 2 years later, I have to be very careful of this woman. We both follow the same community page on Facebook. I cannot comment on this page without her bringing an attack. She has called me a liar, without character and integrity, and honestly I don't remember everything she has said there. Each time, I defend myself. It is in my nature. It is who I am. I do not let untruths stand. I never have.

Yesterday, the attacks from this woman started again. It had to do with a post of which I was concerned on this local page. I hadn't posted any comments on this page for sometime, due to the fact that I knew this woman, no matter what I would say, would come back at me. She could be in agreement with  me over an issue, but she would still attack. So it was simply easier to "follow" the local news, without commenting.

But the post a few days ago, was important to me. I carefully checked and she had not been there with a "like" or a comment. It had been a couple days since the original post had been made. I thought it might be safe. I thought that maybe it had been long enough that she would feel silly to attack me now. I was wrong. I posted a couple comments and I felt I was having a good discussion with a few of the locals. I tried to be positive and constructive with my comments. The next day, I used the pronoun "we" in one of my posts to express community agreement and involvement over the issue we were discussing. And then BAM all of a sudden she was there!

"You are nothing but a liar, [insert my full name here]." (Something to that effect. I wish I would have "print-screened" the conversation.) "You have done nothing to help this situation and there you are taking credit for all of it. You have no character or integrity."

I responded of course; politely, but telling this woman to leave me and my family alone. I told her, I stay away from her posts and comments and I expected the same respect from her. I told her she didn't even know me or anything that I had done over the years to support my community, even if I hadn't been involved with this particular issue one on one. In my opinion, bringing any awareness at all, is to help. I politely told her that.

Back she came, with something like "You are a liar. And there is no one I know in [insert name of state] with less integrity than you." Again not a direct quote, but the essence of her statement.

 "Where have I lied, D?" I responded. "Please tell me and everyone reading here exactly where I have lied."
She didn't answer my question. Instead she edited her previous post to look less like an accusation and like it fit better into the conversation with her new edit.

I wasn't surprised. This woman had done that before in my dealings with her. She is above nothing to make me look bad and herself look righteous. She is constantly attacking and belittling people - not just me, but anyone who she perceives as someone who is opposed to her. It doesn't even have to be someone who disagrees. We actually hold the same opinion on the issue. At least her stated opinion, but her actions actually show otherwise. It is like she is working for the good of the opposing side with her actions. Often times, her attacks on others are condescending and mocking. She likes to appear superior.

As a side note, she seems to me to be well versed in how to publicly attack someone. She knows exactly how to distort the truth, change the answer of the one responding into something that isn't true, and then take everything off the original topic. I have watched her do it time and time again. It is a learned skill. It is a common practice done by those in politics and media to distort and confuse people and the issue. She does it with practiced perfection. I recognized it immediately with any of her dealings. She is akin to a professional antagonizer. It is my belief, she has learned this skill to perfection. Saul Alinsky tactics at work. But back to the issue at hand.

I commented one more time, and actually right now, I can't remember what I said. I think it was another warning for her to leave me and my family alone. I remember, I added something like "You would do well to stay away from me and my family -  in Christian love, of course."

I remember that part of my statement because I intentionally wanted to bring this up. This woman had previously claimed to be a Christian. I guess this statement was a dig at her of sorts. Probably shouldn't have done that, but neither did I want her to be able to use anything I said as a threat. Because I knew she would run with that if she could. This was my final comment. I posted a total of 3 comments. She, of course, had to have the last word.

I honestly don't think I have ever dealt with a more unhappy person. I don't think I have ever had anyone hate me so much or throw about so many baseless and public lies about me. For the most part, things like this are usually like water on a ducks back for me...it runs off and doesn't bother me.

This time, I suppose it was a little different. It had been constant defamation for over 2 years. I had tried to stay away from her. Purposefully never commenting on our local page due to the expectation of her attacks - simply by precedent. I was growing weary of it. And no one came to my defense. No one got involved. No little "likes" to encourage one way or the other. No action from the Administrator or the Moderator of the page. Nothing. Just lies and attacks left to stand.

Eventually the comments were removed by the Administrator of the page, and the complete post removed as well. This is why I no longer have access to the conversation. The woman had upset at least 3 or 4 other people with her attacks on their opinions as well. For some, it had resorted in name calling. I finally privately complained to the Administrator which is why the post was eventually removed. At first the Administrator told me just to "block" this person and that she would block her too. I didn't believe that would happen. Something just didn't feel right in that statement. When I told her that I didn't want to block this person, because then this person would be free to say anything at all about me and my family without my knowledge, the Administrator instead blocked me from the page. Small community. Maybe they are friends; I don't know. I knew I was taking a risk by reporting it. "I don't want any drama", the administrator had said. OK, right. This woman is attacking people left and right, but I am the one bringing drama cause I reported it. No big deal. I can live without this page.

Now, I know when one comments in the public realm, one should expect rude attacks. Sadly, that is what happens in this day and age. (No, I don't think it used to be this bad.) But this was a local page. Surely someone I knew saw the comments. Or even if no one I knew saw the comments, isn't there anyone that would correct her? Interject an opinion about her rude behavior? Maybe say something like "Everyone is entitled to their opinion." Anything?

When I see someone being attacked unfairly, I usually speak up. A polite caution. or maybe only a "like" just to encourage the one in the heat of the battle. That is who I am. I am thankful for that. I never want to be the silent one. The motto on my Facebook page is "It isn't words that kill, it is silence." Elie Wiesel - a Jewish man who had lived through the Holocaust. That says everything to me. Never Again!  

Anyway, I decided to write about this today. I guess it bothered me enough, I wanted to express why....maybe not even for the reader, but just for myself. Why did this get to me this time? But in truth, this isn't about me - or at least, shouldn't be. Sadly, this is what we have become.

It's President's Day. Think of our President! He endures this kind of treatment day after day, after day; multiple times a day! Think of that! Think of how exhausting that must be! Those who oppose him were calling for his impeachment before he ever even took the oath of office. Ponder that, please! A constant barrage of lies and threats! "Yes, I have thought of blowing up the White House," from a well known singer. A mock likeness of a decapitated head from a famous comedian. On and on it goes. How does he endure that? His family has been attacked, his wife, his kids; anyone who has shown any support for him has to endure attempts to be brought down. How does anyone not respond to that? I suppose it is the ones that do speak up, that keep him encouraged. It must be a deeply held belief that one is in the absolute right to be able to face the stage and the drama day in and day out and still stay the course.

I don't think the Bible teaches silence. Yes, there were times Jesus was silent and we are to be like Him. "Like a lamb to the slaughter." His willingness to go to the Cross and even actually crawled to get there. His refusal to speak out against those who came for Him. He knew the reason. It was for a purpose. It was for the good of all mankind. Let us NEVER compare ourselves to that! Thank God for that kind of Love!!! We must always seek the full counsel of the Word of God. In the here and now, we are never to let evil succeed, as we sit back in apathy and silence.

We are neck deep in evil today. The slaughter of innocent babies; human trafficking and the refusal to do what needs to be done to correct that situation; the attacks on the Christian faith; the legalization of dangerous drugs; the disrespect for the rule of law; the attack of innocent people; the disruption of truth; the acceptance of moral decadence; the attack on marriage and families; the ignorance of our Constitution...on and on it goes.

And we don't feel it is right to speak up? I don't understand that.

Anyway, I am a tough girl. I know what I am in for when I speak publicly my opinions. I know I will be attacked. It's all good. But I guess I just didn't know I would never be defended.
On a personal level, I guess that's what this is about for me. But on the deeper level, I am tired. I am tired of the silence. I am tired of the acceptance - the defeatist attitude that nothing can be done so why try. I am tired of the attacks on that which is good and the acceptance of evil. I am tired of an upside down world. I don't want to be a part of that. I don't want to fall into an acceptance of that. I want to speak. Please, Lord, never be let it said of me that I didn't try.

Out of this - this incredibly ugly woman (yes, I mean that, sorry) - I guess I am inspired, at least I want to be. I hope I will always defend the defenseless and speak about that which is wrong. She will not silence me. She, for me, is the representative image - the exact incarnation-  of that which the world has become and what I want to fight against. That image inspires me to keep the battle and never give up.

Bring on the arrows. I am continuing onward.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

An Awareness of Life

I had gone to bed early, tired from working all day, but mostly I was bored with television and wanted to read. Try as I might, I couldn't stay awake even to get through one chapter.

I slept soundly, but about 1:00 am the bedroom door opened allowing light to pierce the darkness. But it was mostly the concerned voice that wakened me.

"Come help, there's a horse in the pasture."  

I found my mental bearings, realizing the light was nothing to fear and it was only my husband at the door. But we had a small emergency. Well, maybe not an emergency, but something that needed attention before it would become one.

Arly Blue
We have a rule at our house that if something happens at night which takes the other outside or away from home, one will alert the other for safety's sake. We started that when I had elderly parents with frequent nightly emergency runs. So I was glad my husband woke me. He had been up watching a movie, when he saw a strange shadow that didn't belong pass in front of the big picture window, he later told me.

I grabbed my robe, leaving my slippers behind, and followed my husband down the hall.

He was already dressed with boots and jacket on and he wasn't about to wait for me. Arly followed him out the door. By the time I got my jacket, gloves and boots on he was already at the pasture gate. Arly was pacing the fence line to the barn with Juliee (my mare) prancing along side him. Only the fence came between them.

I walked down the would-be path, now covered in drifts of new snow and actually no longer a path at all. The snow was falling in rapid, small flakes. It was a dry snow...the kind that won't make even a small snowball. The sky was eerily bright. It was actually very beautiful, with enough light that I could see it was indeed our Misty in the hay pasture. She was not liking being separated from the pasture in which she belongs, her barn, and most of all her best buddy, Juliee.  She ran up and down the fence-line pausing periodically at the gate to rear and buck a little each time to show Sam her disdain for the situation.

Not being a clear headed night riser, I chose to go around to the other gate in an attempt to join them. Sam had simply stepped over the fence. As I ran toward the gate, I suddenly fell flat on my face. My back arched to a degree that I thought surely I had broken it.

"Aurggh", I yelled, or something to that effect anyway.

My foot had hit a frozen snow bank in front of the gate that would take me to not the hay pasture, but the pasture where Misty should be. Then I would work my way over to the hay pasture where Misty and Sam now were. Sam had piled snow in front of this gate - Misty's gate - long ago, making a clear space for the horses while also making a path to the barn for me.

Fortunately there was a nice cushion of new snow on top of the icy bank, softening my fall.

I slowly tried to get up, still not certain my back wasn't broke. The frozen bank I had fallen into, actually made the getting up off the ground easier. I wasn't so far down as I would have been. Nope...no broken bones. Ha! Maybe I jarred something back into place. I think I now stood straighter.

Through all of this, Sam had still not been able to open the gate to the hay pasture. "Grab the shovel," he yelled to me. "It's in the barn."

Back at the barn, I turned on the little battery light we had strategically placed inside the barn door and easily found the shovel. I was tempted to stop and grab some hay or grain for Juliee as she was following my every step with excited expectancy. But I quickly realized instead, that I should indulge her a bit later.

This time, I didn't try to go through the gate to Misty's home pasture. The snow had piled up in front of the fence line enough that I could easily step over the fence as Sam had. He was calming Misty now as he waited for me.

That girl! I thought to myself. She has the most loving, vulnerable side to her that I just always want to protect...but what the heck? Why tonight on the worst storm of the year did she decide to go gallivanting about?

A Few Drifts
Using his hands and feet, Sam had cleared a good portion of the snow away by the time I got there with the shovel. But the shovel would help him get the rest of it that sat on a layer of ice which was in fact, the thing that was preventing the gate from opening. The gate was frozen solid in the ice keeping it from being even slightly moved. As Sam chipped away with the shovel, this time Misty waited patiently. She was calmed by my voice and my presence. I could tell it. She knows Sam, but she loves me best. ;-) She trusts me.

We both knew that once that gate opened we had better stand back, because she was going to wildly bolt through it back to the security of her home. I was relieved when the gate finally broke loose. I did not want her to stay through the night in weather like this away from all facets of her security.

When the gate finally broke loose, it opened easily and we both got our of her way. I laughed as she ran straight to her little shelter.

"Let's get them some hay and grain", I said to my husband. "That will calm them both and keep them in their shelters out of the weather as they eat."
So I got Juliee's meal first, as I always do. Mainly just to get her out of my way, but she had been waiting patiently, too, in all of this excitement.

Shake It Off
I then handed some hay and grain to Sam who had stayed on Misty's side of the fence. We keep the horses separated with a fence of barb free wire. Because as much as Misty does love Juliee (and she does), she picks on her if they are not separated with a barrier.

I stopped a moment to listen to the horses munching their grain. I looked up at the sky. Truly it was a beautiful night, and the biting cold we had had the last few days was now covered with the warmth of a blanket of snowy clouds. As I walked back to the house, I walked slowly, looking about and wondering why in the world I didn't get up periodically in the middle of the night to go for a walk. Or at least just come sit outside to enjoy it. Despite the storm, it was so peaceful! So beautiful! Wow. This is why we live here, I thought. This is why we do what we do. This, right here, was the best night of the winter. What is it, about that? How does a jarring call in the night turn into a moment of  "There is nothing I would rather do," and one of my favorite moments of the new year?

The Next Day - But Storms Still Coming In
Caring for something you love is the biggest part of it, I guess. But slowing down to think about the creation of God, sometimes has to come out of the things one might initially think of as difficult.
Sounds cliché, I know. And it seems like such a little, unimportant thing to blog....really no big deal. But it's my life..."We do not remember days, we remember moments"...and it is moments like these that I treasure most.

Here's to stormy nights, frightened horses, sudden falls and the momentary awareness of life.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

She Saw The Mountains

The sky was a clear and brilliant blue; the January sun sparkled on the lingering snow. The mountains, cloaked in a cover of white, stood strongly, miles beyond the prairie that I so love. They stand surrounding the prairie like the walls of a protective fortress. My husband and I drove without conversation, only listening to Ronnie Dunn on the radio. It wasn't the influence of his lyrics that impacted my reflection today, though I am sure they contributed in part. Unexpectedly, quiet tears began to fall down my face.

I had driven this drive many, many times over the years. My love of the prairie goes to the deepest recesses of my youth with memories that are always ready to come to the surface, should I allow them.

Today, those memories were of my mama. It was without fail that she commented on this very same scene every single time we drove it. "Look at those mountains!" she would exclaim without fail. "Oh, those mountains are so beautiful, today."

She loved the mountains. She was a North Idaho girl from birth. She was raised in the majestic beauty of the North Country. Never did it leave her soul.

"Yes, but look at the prairie!" I would answer. I loved the expanse of it, the blue grass (or whatever, later, might be growing) which seemed to spread for miles before reaching the base of any of our mountains. The scent of mint, or freshly cut hay; the swish, swish, swish of irrigation sprinklers as crops were watered in summertime. It was all of those things that simply exaggerated the emotion that was heightened by all of my 5 senses every time I passed this way.

But today, I remembered Mama. I could see her in my mind, riding shotgun next to me as I drove - to town, to doctor appointment; to coffee or lunch - wherever it was, we might be going. I could hear her soft, gentle voice, as she commented on the mountain view that she loved. Soft, yet pleased; always ready to enjoy whatever moment it was that she was then experiencing.

I have thought of these moments many times over the years and smiled at our differing point of reference. It was the exact same scene, but viewed through a different lens, a different heart. And yet, somehow it was the same. She saw the mountains, I saw the prairie. But yet it was the exact same landscape. What was different was the focal point of our attention; what was the same, was a panorama of beauty bringing the joy of creation, and appreciation of the area in which we live. Same view, different perspective. Truly, one is enhanced by the splendor of the other. Seems like there might be a lesson in that.
But today, things were just a bit different for me, thus the tears. Today, I realized that perhaps just enjoying the moment, (which I am guilty of not doing well enough) is something I should do more of - just like Mama. In this moment, I was missing every part of who she was.
And in all of that, on this day, it was very, very important for me to simply see the mountains.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Things That Call Us Home

Christmas was a bit different for us this year. It wasn't bad; quite the contrary. It turned out to be extremely special, but it was different. It was the kids' turn to go to the other set of parents this year, so this would be my first Christmas without Matt. With both my folks being gone now, truthfully, I wanted something different. I wanted solitude. I'm not sure why, but in retrospect, it was more than that. It actually seemed like I was being called "home".  

Maybe it was just that the Lord knew that was where my heart was this year. I don't know. But we went "home". And it was a series of God Winks that made the day very, very special.

Bonners had never been the home where I had actually lived. But my Mom always called it "home" while my siblings and I were growing up, so in my heart that is the place that most feels like home to me. A sense of roots, I guess. It was wear she grew up. And it's a place where I only have happy memories. Truthfully, I can't think of a bad recollection there. I am not going to try too hard, because I have made a storybook of memories in my mind, that I do not want to invade or encroach with something anything less than positive.

In some ways, our visit was planned; in some ways, it was purely happenstance. We fed both sets of animals and while on the last set, I told my husband..."Let's go to Bonners in time to hear the noon whistle."

"Ok, well we better get going, then". Not even a second thought from him. That was the first God Wink among many that would take place on this day.

So I quickly showered and dressed - excited for the day. He was ready before me and waiting patiently, having all necessary errands completed.

"Should I take the Poinsettia?" I asked him. Several day ago, we had bought a beautiful two shaded Poinsettia to take to my parents grave in the event we were able to go around Christmas. "It will probably just go to waste," my practical side suddenly appeared. "I hadn't thought about it, but it will probably freeze the first night."

"Yes, it will. But whatever you want to do." More agreement - Yikes!

I left the Poinsettia on the table, but we weren't far down the road when I regretted it. "Maybe if Super One is open we will stop and see if there is a wreathe or something there."

 "They'll be open. They always are," he amicably responded.
The drive up was beautiful. The sky mostly blue and the trees snow covered. There were only a few snow flurries from time to time. Just enough to make it feel like Christmas and the road only snow covered in a few places. I had worried a bit about the weather and the roads. "You know," I reminisced aloud, "I don't think I ever remember my folks considering the weather or roads. Back then, we just went."

I probably wouldn't have driven myself, but my husband had been a professional driver for years. I didn't need to worry about his capability to get us there and back safely.

Another thought came to me. This was probably the first time I had been north on Christmas in probably 40 or more years. It felt like we were entering a Winter Wonderland. A Christmas card view at every turn. It was all cathartic, and restful with unexpected joy.
I realized we would be pushing it to make it in time for the noon whistle. But I really wanted to stop and look for a wreathe or something to bring to my parents' graves. I could ask my husband to go down to listen to the whistle first and come back up the hill to the store after we spent some time downtown. But I really didn't want to take advantage of his good nature thus far.

Super One looked deserted, we pulled in anyway. I got out to read the sign in order to be certain. "Closed Christmas day." Oh well nothing could dampen my spirits today.  I jumped into the car, and a1/4 mile later, I exclaimed, "Oh, look Safeway is open! Turn in!"

"Just let me out at the door. I think I have time to grab something and still make it in time for the whistle." I ran (yes, literally) down to the floral section and my eye landed on the cutest little, most perfect little Christmas tree anywhere complete with a weather-worthy Christmas North Star. 50% off! Wink, right back at Ya, dear God! Thank you!

"50% off," I explained to my husband as I got in the car. But he seemed as excited about the little tree as I was. I read the little tag." Bring inside when temps get lower than 15 degrees." The little tree would be just fine....maybe a deer snack...but it wasn't going to freeze, tonight or even this week.

"We still have 6 minutes! Drive down Main Street and park in front of the little park. I want to sit on the bench and listen and take it all in." I suggested/ordered/pleaded. lol

He obliged without hesitation.

The street was empty, of course, but the little park was festively decorated and I had time to snap a few pictures. Suddenly I stopped...there it was. What is it about that whistle?! It literally brought tears to my eyes. I hit record on my camera and caught it from beginning to end. "Grandma, it's noon!" And I am here for Christmas once again.

Thankful my husband pretended not to see my tears, I lingered just a bit longer before saying "Let's go up to the cemetery now."

"Here kitty, kitty, kitty!" There was a deer in the famous spot today. She looked up at us, but showed no fear. "You don't have to stop." I didn't want to worry about the car getting started again on the snowy hill, but actually the height had never seemed so minimal. Why did I always think this was so steep? I wondered to myself.

All the gates were open, the road plowed. We took our time - took photos and enjoyed the views. My husband wiped off the headstone and we placed the hearty little pine tree there. Against the pure, white snow, the stone never looked so blue and I was so thankful we had chosen that color of stone. Truly beautiful and fitting. We wandered a bit, snapped more photos and enjoyed the beautiful, peaceful setting.

"I'm starved! Let's eat!"

 There was room for us at "The Inn" as it has come to be known to locals. "Where would you like to sit" the hostess asked us. "Oh we get to choose? By the window, please!" Mama and Daddy would have loved this. We got the best seat in the house.
"What can I bring you to drink?" she asked us.

 "Myrtle Creek! And coffee!" Aahhhh, Myrtle Creek.

There were only 3 things on the menu - all traditional for Christmas. But that was perfectly ok. Because that is what we wanted  - a traditional Christmas dinner. My husband chose the turkey and ham, but I simply wanted the ham. We both ignored the prime rib...for another time. Both dinners came complete with all the trimmings. It was delicious.

One more God Wink before I end. And I might love this one the best...So funny, soooooo God.

I had felt somewhat guilty and sorry for the people that had to work Christmas Day. I had remembered my paternal grandpa who would not ever shop on Sunday or a holiday, because he would then be contributing to the fact that he was a part of making these people work on the Sabbath. I have always been way more lax about shopping on Sundays. Never giving it much thought, even having to work that day myself. God's grace is bigger than that, (Grandpa knew that well) but I understand and respect my Grandpa's convictions. Truth is, I really did not want to think about making someone work on Christmas, either. People should be home with their families.

When our waitress brought our meal I was surprised to hear my husband apologizing that she had to work on Christmas Day.

"Oh, I don't mind," she laughed. "I'm Jewish! And I already celebrated Hannukah a few days ago." And I could not help but laugh with her, and acknowledge a bit of a G-d Wink. This one Jewish. ;-)

The service could NOT have been better or the day more perfect.

"I hope I am not going to die." I jokingly said to my husband. "I can't imagine why He did this for me. Everything just fell into place."

We finished our meal, but took our time. We enjoyed the view and some pumpkin pie and I reminisced Christmases and summers and family and love.

After we left The Inn, we drove through the old fashioned little town again, and went up on the dike road to look at the river. "How high's the water, Mama?" I took a few more photos, before getting back into the car to drive down the road to Grandma and Grandpa's. It doesn't look the same of course, but it was the action of it I needed to do.

We circled back under the little railroad bridge and I told my husband the day was perfect, we could head back in order to be home before dark. It was but a few hours we spent, all wrapped up was the gift of a life time and the things that call us home.