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

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lest Any Man Should Boast - Spending Time - II

“If you don’t believe the dead come back to life, you should be around here at quitting time.”  I don’t know who said it.  It was a poster on the wall where I used to work.  I wrote about it in my blog a while back. Reading that specific post in my series, Spending Time – Tying Shoes, will probably aid in a better understanding of what that silly quote meant in regard to the company where I worked and what I want to say about Richard.

Richard was a man I worked with long ago.  He was a family man, and he was a Christian. He was an extremely diligent employee. He was also a tad arrogant.  Not sure that is the right word - I guess he wasn’t really arrogant; he was a quiet man, and he never really called attention to himself. I guess I hate to call him “prideful”, but in reality, I think pride is what it was that bothered me the most about Richard.  You know the type: the ones that are prideful of their supposed humility; prideful of their Christian walk; prideful of their knowledge. I know we have all come into contact with them from time to time… the kind of people that are so proud of where they stand in their Christian faith, that it is almost a stench in the nostrils of those around them.  I’m sorry, I understand that sounds harsh; but surely we all have experienced these types of people – probably we have even been that way ourselves at times. One thing is for sure, those that are vain in their knowledge, (or self-perceived knowledge) of the Bible, and boast in themselves, rather than boasting in the Gospel of Jesus as Scripture tells us, are simply no fun to be around. Sometimes, these days, (though I’m sure it has always been so) the church just seems to be full of them.

Ok, that’s the yucky part. The funny part is how accurately the above quote related to my past place of employment.  The factory where I worked was located in a highly congested area, and it was not the most pleasant of environments.  Needless to say, when quitting time came, people wanted out of there just as fast they could get out. If one wasted too much time, one would only be prolonging their wait in traffic on the highway in front of the building. People literally ran from that building at quitting time, and though I hate to admit it, I was one of them.

On this particular day, I was making my mad dash, and there was Richard in the parking lot with the hood up on his car. He usually always beat me out of the building, but not on this day. He was understandably frustrated and a bit agitated – after all, who wouldn’t be; his car wouldn’t start.  When he looked up and saw me, his sour look suddenly turned to a care-free smile.  I knew it wasn’t sincere; the newly-found smile was merely for my benefit. Actually it was for his benefit; Richard didn’t want another Christian to see him in a state when he wasn’t “rejoicing”.

“Praise the Lord!” he exclaimed with a big smile as I approached him. “God is good all the time!”

“Do you need some help, Richard?” and as I asked, I really did try not to sound disgusted at his comments, because I was really thinking: WHATEVER!!

I don’t mean for that to sound disrespectful of our Lord and His teachings. I really don’t. We are to rejoice in all things and God IS good all the time. But sometimes I just grow so weary of Christians performing for other Christians.  I’m sure we have all done it.  We put on our best face for Sunday morning, or while in the presence of others of like faith. Sometimes we smile, when we really want to cry! We answer, “I’m fine; doing just great”, when we really want to say, “I’m not doing so well, today.” Why can’t we simply share our true feelings with other Christians?

I wanted to say to Richard, “It’s ok; I get discouraged, too. I’ve been known to throw a wrench, or two, in my day. It doesn’t matter what I saw.  I do it, too!” But I said nothing; I simply played along.

Richard had a sincere desire to witness, to share his faith and bring others to the Lord. But I always wondered; why in the world did he have to seem so arrogant about it.

A good friend of mine that also worked with us at the time was raised as a Catholic. She had a new found faith, and born again experience.  She attended church with me often and was really enjoying it. It wasn’t long before Richard found out; but he also knew she still attended her Catholic home church, as well.

Richard stopped me in the hall one afternoon. “Jan, I gave Brenda a book about Catholicism. I want her to know how wrong it is. I really felt the Lord prompted me to do it.”

“Yes, I know, Richard. Brenda told me about it. She told me she read just a few chapters before she threw it across the room.”

Yeah, I really did tell him that, because it was the truth…I don’t know, maybe the Lord “prompted” me to tell him. Do you think? Richard stormed off; though I’m sure I said it more kindly than it sounds here…or not.

I don’t know; I just think we have to be careful of acting like some how we are more holy; we know more; or like we somehow have a better “in” with God. We definitely shouldn’t boast in the things that we do; and we certainly can’t boast of our righteousness – it is as filthy rags. It is only because of what Jesus did for us…I think we have to be careful when we are proud of what we do for Him.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith;…not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2: 8- 9

Richard was always difficult for me to be around. Though we were brother and sister in Christ, we were only co-workers, never friends. I think of him often; usually when I see that specific attitude. It still bothers me, and I don’t think I handle it any differently now, than I did back then. I may think about it differently. Sometimes now, I question myself, “What am I doing that causes that person to feel he has to behave that way in front of me?”  Or: “Why can’t she just be herself? Why can’t I be myself?  Why must your gifts be mine? Do we remember from where we came?”

There is nothing wrong with trying to improve our behavior, and trying to do that which we believe is right. We are to strive to become more Christ-like, but we shouldn’t do it just because some one else is watching.  There is always One watching. And that is most important of all. But also, why should we be prideful? We all came from the same condition, that same place – sin. Because of that, there should be no place for this type of pride.

All these years later, I am almost certain that Richard doesn’t carry that trait anymore.  He was as faithful and diligent in his Christianity as he was in his work. I am quite certain it was the exuberance of youth and his excitement at what he believed that caused him to come across the way he did.  Thirty years later, he has surely grown, and understood, and mellowed, as we all do with age.  I have no idea where he is, I no longer remember his last name, or anything about him, but I bet I will see him in Heaven some day. Maybe I will have a chance to say “I’m sorry” for telling him Brenda threw his book across the room!  And I am quite certain Richard, Brenda, and I will have a good laugh together about the dead coming back to life.

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  Galatians 6: 14

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

No Such Thing!

It’s haying time, again!  We are tackling the project a little later than usual this year, but that’s ok. It is as it should be with all the rain we have had this summer. Had we hayed any earlier, we would have had rain on our crop.  As it is, I believe everything will work out just perfectly; with the hay being cut today, it will be able to sit for the rest of the week so that we can bale this weekend.

It is such a relief!  I am always so thankful when the hay is done and in the barn.  I absolutely love the whole experience, but I can’t help but worry until it is all safely stored away for the winter.  I always thought I may be over the top with the way I worry about hay season. After all, farmers have been haying for generations and they always live through it. I was convinced I was a bit obsessive.  I worry about the weeds and whether we will get the fields sprayed on time to keep them contained.  I worry about the fertilizer, and how much rain we will have; and I wonder, are we getting too much sun? Will the wind come after the hay is cut and blow it all away before it is baled?  But most of all, when cutting time is here my biggest worry is whether or not we will choose the wrong week to cut, allowing the hay to get rained on as it sits drying in the field. 

This year, I got a good laugh at myself!  While at work, I heard a couple farmers express their worries and frustration over haying season. Their concerns were the same as mine and they were every bit as worried about battling the elements as I am. I heard it more than once by my customers and I realized I was not at all alone.  It was refreshing - if I may be allowed to call it that - to hear the lament of others.  ;-)

We did have our trials this year, that’s for sure.  As I said, the rainfall was higher than average. And our equipment is another year older.  Old Father Time seemed to be less available and less willing to provide us with our needs.  We finally had to give in and once again hire the cutting; we will do the baling.

I have to say, I don’t mind that at all.  It is much nicer having it done with a swather, (which we don’t have) so that the raking is all done at the same time.  It saves my husband hours and hours of time and work. It is well worth the additional expense.

Additionally, The Lord has blessed us with sunshine for the week that we need to have the job done.

While our hay was being cut in the field, I contemplated the trials and tribulations of the haying season this year. I can’t help but think about the words of those I talked to in order to hire the work done; the comments of my customers at work; and my own “worry” over this time of the year; a small thought understandably occurred to me:  Farmers surely pray - I am quite certain there is no such thing as a farmer who doesn’t pray. How else can they possibly get through this time of year? God bless ‘em!

But is it any wonder?  Why shouldn’t we want it done with the absolute best effort possible! After all, this is what it’s all about!----------->

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Already Home - Spending Treasure XVIII

“We’re going up home this week-end,” my mom told me as we snapped beans in the back yard. “You can ask her then.”

She was talking about her mama - my “Grandma P” - and “up home” was the home of her youth. As we sat under the shade of the big, old, locust tree, I contemplated what I would say. My thoughts had changed, now, from what I wanted to ask my grandma, to what I wanted to say to my mom.

I finally just blurted it out. “Mom, you shouldn’t call that your ‘home’ anymore. This is your home!” I told her adamantly.

I was probably 8 or 9 at the time; and for some reason it had always bothered me when Mom called her folks’ home, “home”.

A selfish thought; probably, yes.  But I wanted my mom to only speak of our home as her “home”. I understood the connection for her – Bonner’s was her childhood home and it would be forever in her heart. But for some reason, I didn’t like to hear her say it. Yeah, I know. It was very selfish of me.

I don’t believe she ever called her home town “home” in front of me again.

Regardless, we spent a lot of time “up home” in my youth.  Both my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandparents were from that little town near the northern border. Therefore, we took week-end trips there for as long as I can remember. I don’t believe I have any fonder memories than those of the time we spent at both sets of my grandparents homes at the northern-most county.

Besides the week-end trips, there were holidays, and summer vacations, and even a time of work.  Every summer when I was little my sister and I would spend a week at Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  I treasured those times and I still do. I always will.

I am now well past the age my mom was when I told her “Don’t say ‘home’.” But I have long found that far northern county often times calling to me - that little town of Bonner’s Ferry still beckons me “home”.  And today I find myself fondly referring to my parents’ home town as “home”.  It’s my roots.  It’s that simple; and the roots are deep and they are wide, firmly buried deep in the dark, rich soil – tilled up now and then so that the old growth of memories can spring forth anew.

Today, my sister gets called “home” a little more often than I do.  She goes home almost weekly. I am not able to do that, but periodically she will give me a call and say, “I’m headed north; you wanna ride along?”

So it was, this week.  I was ready to head to town, complete with my list of errands to accomplish while in the city. I was almost out the door, when my phone beeped.  I checked the text. It was from my nephew. “Going to Bonners. Wanna ride along.”

Yep! I do. Change of plans; without a second thought.

The drive was beautiful, as it always is. We reminisced as we drove; talked religion and politics (woops); and checked out the progress of the road construction on the highway and at the bridge.

Once arriving in Bonners, I knew what our agenda would be.  There would be a stop at the local Safeway to shop, now at a different location than when we were kids. Doesn’t seem anywhere near the same, but it hasn’t seemed the same for some time, as changes had been made long ago to the store at the old location. That’s ok; we also like the new store at the top of the hill.

Lunch would be at the Panhandle Café - the only café in town, that remains almost entirely the same as it was back when we were kids.

There would be a Post Office run.  Oh, the memories that wonderful old building holds. Walks with Grandpa to get the mail, one of the most treasured memories I hold. That building still holds Grandpa’s hand. He climbed those stairs daily. I know his hand held that railing as the years passed and he grew weaker with age. I’m sure the deep, dark mahogany door caressed his shoulder from time to time as he entered the building to slip the key into 124. The boxes are the same boxes that were there 100 years ago.  

“Mornin’ POP!” I hear the postman say – echoes from the past reverberating in my heart. Grandpa was loved and respected everywhere he went. Make sure you don’t forget Nuffy, Grandpa!

If we planned it right, on this day, we would hear the noon whistle before we entered the café for lunch.  Oh my goodness! That whistle is not one tone different than the one we heard daily, back when we were visiting Grandma’s house on those hot days of summer vacation. Does anyone even remember when the home towns across America would blow the noon whistle daily? The people of Bonner’s Ferry do. Back then, it meant Grandpa would be home for lunch momentarily. And “lunch” would mean a complete dinner; complete with lemon or apple pie.

On this summer day, as we did then, we would walk the sidewalks, simply to be in town. For me, I seem to absorb strength from the memories. I don’t mean for that to sound strange or “New Age”. That is the last thing I would ever believe. But I do believe there is strength in memories, strength in history.  I glanced at the court house. It is more beautiful than ever. My great uncle had been Chief of Police there; forever it seemed. Of course it was not forever, but rather only a brief time in this town’s life span.

We walked down to the fire station.  A new monument had caught my eye when we entered town today. “Let’s take a picture of it!” I exclaimed to my sister.  My son’s newly found interest in a career as a fire fighter since becoming a volunteer at our local station was the catalyst for my interest.  But also, another great uncle had been a volunteer at this station years and years ago.

Wow! We struck gold! There was his name on the first line of a tribute to firemen with more than 10 years of service to this community. The first line!! Number 6 of the tribute! He was there at the very beginnings of this little city. Roots! Deep and rich and treasured!

Finally, on this summer day, we took a drive up to the river (just a couple blocks away) to check out the levels.  “How high’s the water, mama?” Too high for what sis wants to do on this day.

“Wanna cruise the fairgrounds?” sis asked.

“Yep!  Always!”

“Coming to the fair this year?”


Remember when Uncle Wayne walked us over here that time he came to visit Grandma? Yes, I remember. I didn’t ask this time, but it’s a memory that is always there when I think of this county’s fairgrounds.

“Remember the drive to the dump in Grandpa’s old, red International?” This, I did ask; simply to reminisce.

“Yes!” sissie answered. “It used to seem so far!” It seemed like such an excursion back then.  I don’t believe it is even a mile down the West Side Road.

Well, that’s about all for this time.  This doesn’t even begin to tell of the memories, to explain the roots, to reveal the ties, or express the love. I want to live here some day.  I will be buried at Grandview. The little town calls me and comforts me.  I understand her past and hear voices echoing across the years.

“Palmer, the kids are coming home today! The pie is in the oven, the chicken is on the stove. I’m going to ask the grandkids to sing “How Great Thou Art”!

“Here they are, Del! They are already home.”

Historical Building - USPO
The Church our Paternal Grandpa Pastored

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rich Memories and Rich Moments - Spending Treasure XVII

Summer is finally here! It seemed to take forever! The temperatures finally reached the 90’s.  I will NEVER complain!  I love it!!

I’ve rearranged my schedule somewhat because of it, though.  Yesterday I waited for the temperatures to cool down toward evening before I cleaned the horses’ stalls.  I’m smart enough to not try to tackle that in the heat of the day.  I waited long enough, that it was almost dark by the time I finished.  I have to say, I absolutely loved it.  The cool evening, the horses following me around like they loved me or something; and a bright, although waning, full moon. 

As I was finishing up my duties, the little light my husband attached to the side of the barn caught my attention.  He bought a set of 8 solar lights last week.  He lined the side walk with 4 of them, and decided to attach one to the side of the barn.  I love them.  The one on the barn creates such a cute atmosphere around the stalls.  It’s amazing how something so small can make a not-so-nice job such as cleaning stalls a little more pleasant.  Actually, this “not-so-nice” job is one I really enjoy.

It was nothing but peaceful as I worked; so quiet and with perfect temperatures. I couldn’t help but reminisce days of my childhood once again.  This summer evening reminded me of a summer evening that I spent with a friend about 45 years ago or so. She was my best friend in Jr. High.  We loved to spend the night sleeping outside at each other’s homes during our summer vacation from school.  Her home was at the base of the mountain. Her family owned property on the mountain as well as a wooded area at the base. Her family was one of the wealthier families in our area at the time, and I always felt a little like Trixie Belden (She was Honey Wheeler) when I visited her at her childhood home, complete with stables and all the things that Honey had in the Trixie Belden book series that I loved to read while growing up.

On one evening, my friend and I got brave deciding to make a little tent and setting up camp in the woods as far away from her house as we dare. There we spent the night. What I remember most about that sleep-over is waking up to morning – relieved a bear hadn’t found us in the night.

But on this evening as I cleaned stalls, I was reliving a memory when she had spent the night at my house. We slept in my backyard under the big locust tree that held my brother’s tree fort. Normally there was not as much excitement at my house as hers, but this time we decided we should create some.

The next door neighbors had recently acquired some new horses. I don’t remember for sure who those neighbors were at this time; owners had changed a few times in that beautiful, old, turn-of-the-century home.  I don’t know if the horses belonged to the owners that lived there at the time, or if perhaps someone was boarding their horses there. But regardless, that’s the point; we knew absolutely nothing about these horses!

Though my friend’s family had horses, and her and I had ample opportunity to ride together (and did) for some reason on this evening we decided we needed to ride those new horses next door!  Lapse of judgment, yes! But remember we were 13! However, don’t try this at home!

We snuck down the gravel road in front of our house, and entered the pasture from the east side, thus requiring us to only go through one fence. My friend easily caught one of the horses and before I knew it she was mounted. 

“Come on!” she exclaimed. “Get up here behind me.”

So I did.  I don’t remember how we mounted; no bridle, no halter, and of course no saddle. Not the smartest thing I have ever done. The horses could have been green for all we knew. The only thing I remember is riding that horse around in the moonlight, on that warm summer eve.  The horse seemed to go everywhere we wanted, though I do remember at one moment having to duck as we went under the branch of a big old locust tree.

It’s all just a vague memory after all these years, but a treasured memory just the same. Yes! I know we shouldn’t have done it for a number of reasons. The reason stated above for one; and respect for someone’s property for another!  But it is a treasured memory just the same.

I don’t know if our folks ever found out.  I almost remember telling my mom about it.  I know we had plans to do it again, but those plans were never brought to fruition.  Why in the world we wanted to ride someone else’s horses when we had our own, I will never know. Why in the world we didn’t think about it possibly not being a safe horse to ride, I will never know, either! I guess it was one of those times of just being caught up in the moment. Maybe it was simply something we thought Trixie and Honey would do while solving the latest mystery. I don’t know.

The only thing I know is my life on this evening brought me back to a moment in time that seems like lifetimes ago (Yes, it feels like lifetimeS!) and I like being there…albeit, just temporarily. The memory makes me smile and I like it - almost as much as I like cleaning stalls on a warm, summer evening with horses nuzzling me with love…ok, they probably only wanted a treat. But for a moment I was again a character in that Trixie Belden series, only this time I was Honey – the richest kid around. 

Oh, that's right. Honey wouldn't have had to clean the stalls...maybe I'm Trixie, after all. ;-)