Saturday, September 25, 2010

Some More Randomness

Wow, this week has flown and I see that it will take me a long time to catch up with all of the posts that I've missed! I hope I can get to them today.

Today I am 63. How can it be? I know it's all relative - some of you will say that's still young. My mother-in-law is 93 in another few days and she keeps telling me how young I am. I tell her that it's just amazing to me that I'm this age as it is to her that she's her age.

It is a beautiful autumn day. I would like to make it up to the mountains to see the glorious golden aspens embedded in with the green pines, but there will be so many up there on a Saturday that I don't know if we'll brave the crowds or not. We are celebrating very lightly this week-end since we leave for Maine a week from today. Can't wait!!

The week started well with our church service in the park. We had a wonderful time of fellowship in a lovely setting - we were told we couldn't have a sound system, so Pastor Brian supplied the accompaniment with his lone guitar. Turns out we could have had a sound system - they are protecting the neighbors from rock bands in the park, and of course nobody listened to the reason we wanted it. Oh, well, it was fine. And the view to the west was lovely (well, not counting the power lines and poles).

One of the highlights of the morning was the dedication of a brand new baby boy - his great grandfather was privileged to do the honors.

We had a wonderful dinner together after the service. One woman was riding her bike through the park, on the way to the river where she typically has her own personal church service, after having been hurt by a church situation. She heard the Word of God being spoken and decided to join us. That's what it was all about.

Monday - Ann arrived. This was such a huge event for us, since we've been trying to make this trip happen for years. The connection among my sister, Ann, and me is amazing, since we haven't actually seen each other that often over the span of our lives. We are definitely kindred spirits, as "Anne with an e" would say.

I didn't get many pictures - too busy talking! Even on the trip to Estes Park on Tuesday I forgot my camera. Ann took many to show her husband, who's never been west of the Mississippi River. We hope he can come next time. I did remember my camera the day we visited the park full of sculptures.

She fell in love with the twins, and was thrilled to win them over. She was singing an old song that I haven't heard in years - "Jewels" - anybody remember it?

When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning,
His brightness adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

Little children, little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning,
His brightness adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

I learned so much I never knew about Ann, her life, and her mom especially. My Aunt Gen lived through a difficult childhood and youth to become a missionary. God definitely had a plan for her life, which was carried out in an amazing way. Even when she was a high school girl, running around with a fairly rough crowd, she would tell those friends that she was going to be a missionary someday. I don't even know how she knew that word, since her home was totally godless.

It was hard to say good-bye and know it will be 3 years before there is a possibility of getting together again. But I am so thankful for e-mail!

I have a new schedule of child care. Kristen has a new job that requires us to have the kids overnight on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. This means I'll have lots more time to myself in the daytime, but get the "thrill" of bedtime and getting ready for school and church. But they do get to go home on Saturday for most of the day.

The tooth fairy has been kept very busy lately keeping track of the "jack o lantern" named Care Bear. She had to check in with mommy to tell her of the middle-of-the-night loss of another top tooth. The crooked glasses are a result of an errant softball in a game with Grandpa. She zigged when the ball zagged.

The tooth fairy got a bit confused and once again, forgot to come. (Actually she went out to the car to get the money out of her purse, forgot why she was in the car, and didn't realize it until this morning when the sad little girl came in at 6:45 to inform us the fairy forgot - again!) I told her I think the fairy has way too many kids to cover these days and has gotten old and needs help. Her assistant must have gotten confused and maybe put the money under somebody else's pillow. She got a twinkle in her eye, said "Scavenger Hunt!" and proceeded to check all the pillows - finding the stash under Feisty's pillow. Whew! Crisis diverted!

One final picture - what has these two sitting so still for??

Have a wonderful week-end! And I hope to visit you today!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cousin is Comin'!

Thank you so much for all of your care and prayer. It is deeply felt and appreciated. It is such a privilege to "know" all of you. The road will be long and tiresome, but two good things have happened, and we know we'll persevere and make it through.

The picture of the dahlia the other day didn't do it justice - it continued to get more beautiful, so I had to update you -

My only rose bush produces the most lovely blooms all summer and into the fall - and they all look a bit different. So gorgeous.

We thought our two hibiscus plants were gone, but the white one came back and bloomed, and the red one is coming up, too - just not in time to bloom this year.

When I went to the Annual Trial Flower Garden, we spotted flowers like these - I can't recall the name, but they feel like paper. I came home and discovered we had some in our yard. Anybody know what they are?

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my cousin who is a missionary in Mali, Africa will be coming to visit - Monday. It will be her first visit to Colorado ever. We've been trying to coordinate this visit for many years of furloughs (now called home leave).

If you've been with me since the beginning of blog time, you may remember this story and these pictures. I can't find the earlier post, or I would just re-run it. Ann grew up in Africa, the daughter of my uncle who just died in July. We only saw our cousins every four years, but it never seemed like that much time had elapsed when they came home. We usually didn't get to see them very much during their year home, because we lived far away from Minnesota, where they always stayed. Christmas was always very special at Grandma Swanson's house.

When we were all in high school, my sister and I had a great time getting better acquainted with Ann. Someone had sent her a subscription for Co-Ed Magazine way over there in Africa. Does anybody remember this magazine? I remember getting it through home ec. class and really enjoying it. Ann had written a letter to the editor, asking for some fashion advice for her year in America. She wanted to fit in at school. Unbelievably, they met her at the airport in NYC and did a makeover and did lovely story about her for the September, 1965 issue. I loved showing it off at school!

I think you'll be able to read the article and see the pictures better if you double click.

After this furlough, we rather lost touch with each other. I'm not sure why - we all went to college, got married, had kids, and got very involved in our adult lives. We never did correspond by mail for some reason, and that didn't change, unfortunately. It must have been about 15 years ago when Vicki and I took a trip to Minnesota to visit her while she was home, and to meet her husband and children. It was amazing how at home we felt with each other - as if we had seen each other regularly over these many years.

We finally began keeping in touch at least once in awhile, by e-mail of course. Then she got a good phone plan and we talked over the many miles and it sounded as if she were next door. We still didn't get together often, but we felt so close. We had things in common, not specifically, but generally - the fact that we had children going through rough stuff.

I shared recently about our time together in Minnesota after her dad's funeral. We sat in Chili's eating and talking, totally oblivious to the fact that we were in the path of a tornado - until we looked up and saw the rain going horizontally outside the restaurant window. Our families had been frantically trying to reach us, but we didn't hear our phones ringing in our purses. When it settled down outside, we asked a waitress to take our picture, then we headed for our respective places - she took me to her brother's house, where I was staying, and she headed to her apartment, home for the few months she's in the U.S.

Ann and her husband, Larry, are out most week-ends sharing their message with churches all over the country. We feel so privileged that she has carved out some time for us. I'll let you know what we did after I know!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random Rambling

The sun has risen on yet another chapter in our lives - not an easy one - again. I often read II Corinthians 1:3-4 (The Message) "All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us." And then I tend to ask God why we have to have so many areas in which we can help someone else!

I do not feel like I can share this latest situation, but would appreciate your prayers for our "unspoken request." You have all prayed us through so much.

When I was living in southeast Kansas, teaching school and very lonely, I found this verse in Philippians and took it as mine, very literally - meaning the "state of Kansas." Yesterday for some reason it came to me again, and I have adopted it as my verse for this chapter of our lives, with the "state" being "state of being."

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11, King James Version.

Perseverance and Resilience

Remember my dahlia that we planted this summer? It was doing well and had its first flower when a gust of wind snapped it off at the base. I was sad, because I had chosen it for its beautiful deep burgundy color. Imagine my delight when I saw it coming back to life. It has taken all summer, but here it is - a bloom and many more to come - I just hope the weather lasts long enough to enjoy more. Such a life lesson!

There is so much on my mind, that rambling is a less than adequate word for this post. I should call it "brain dump," as my good blog friend, Becky, does. Hang on, and I hope I don't lose you part of the way through.

My sister introduced me to a new writer this week and I am so grateful that she did. Her name is Elizabeth Musser and the book I read this week is The Swan House.

This morning I was reading as I exercised on the elliptical at the gym. Then I was wiping tears from my eyes and sniffing as I came to the end of this amazing book. I was also listening to my Ipod, which I purchased so that I could cover up the music they choose and listen to my kind of music (after much difficulty figuring out how it works). Just at that moment, Alan Asbury began to sing "I Need Thee Every Hour." My goodness, I had my own little worship service right there in the gym - wondering if anyone was noticing and what they might be wondering! As I finished the book today, I was wishing it was a series, not a stand-alone. Then I found out - it is! There is at least one more. I can hardly wait to read it.

Hot Times in Colorado

On Labor Day, when we were heading home from our week-end at camp, we saw huge plumes of smoke over the mountains. We hadn't heard any news all week-end (glorious!), but when we got home we learned that there was a raging wildfire south and west of us in the Boulder area. The end result was 166 homes and other buildings were destroyed, plus many many acres of growing things.

Last Sunday when we got home from church, we learned that there was a fire burning just 8 miles west of us. We decided to go take some pictures - these I took from the road, looking west.

Then we decided to go up to the beautiful golf course in the western part of our town to get a better view.

I learned later that afternoon that a family in our church had been affected - the house just above the "7" belongs to the dad of some of our college students.

It was very close, as you can see, but it was saved. I read this morning that the fire was 35% contained, with a bit of concern about wind tonight. Only two houses have been lost (not "only" for the owners, for sure). Most of the fires are caused by human stupidity and/or carelessness. Sad.

Some Random Shots of the Kiddoes
Any suggested titles??

Entertaining at the grocery store

Random Pet Peeves

1. IMHO, one of the worst inventions EVER - text messaging.

2. Drivers who pull out in front of me - has happened virtually every day this week - taking my life in their hands - the lives of my grandkids - and strangely enough, their own!

Best Moment of the Week

Feisty, age 6, as the "Belly Fat" commercial was on t.v." "Grandma, you're skinny."

Me: "Thanks, Feisty."

Feisty: "Your shirt is too big."

What fun for her to notice!

A Beautiful Farewell

The eastern sky as the sun set in the west.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Memories Old and New

I have written before of my love for camp. Don't confuse this with "camping", as in sleeping in a tent or trailer, cooking outside, and roughing it. I'm talking about church camp, where I went every summer from 3rd grade through high school. Then I was privileged to be a counselor when I was a teacher and had summers free. Then I sent my kids, and now my grandkids.

At our beautiful campground here in Colorado, I spent many years going to missions retreats in October, when it was the most beautiful time of the year up there. It was always hard to head back down that mountain into the valley and "real life" after so much inspiration.

This past week-end was a true mountain-top experience for DC and me as we spent the week-end at Family Camp with my sister and her husband. (Don't you love the hair??)

We really needed a getaway, and didn't know until the last few minutes if it was going to work out or not. But about 4:30 Friday afternoon, we headed down the highway, hoping that we didn't get into too much of a traffic jam with the masses heading for Labor Day fun.

We were not even 15 miles from home, thankfully in the right lane (DC is a very even-tempered, non-competitive driver and doesn't change lanes often). Suddenly the left lane exploded into a disaster - at least 5 cars crashed into each other's trunks, with burning rubber pungent in the air and tires screeching. It was horrific, but we were going fast enough that we have no idea what carnage ended up destroying those families' holiday week-end. We thanked God for protection and continued on our way.

We had no problem getting through Denver, but close to Colorado Springs, the highway narrows into two lanes, and we did maybe 30 mph for an hour until the third lane resumed. In the meantime, it was getting closer and closer to the time of the first chapel service. One of the main reasons we wanted to go was because the speaker is probably our favorite preacher we've ever heard - and believe me, that's saying a lot for two p.k.'s like us!

We arrived at 8:00, one half hour late for the beginning of the service, just in time to hear the end of his introduction of himself to the audience. It is without a doubt that we were there for a reason, because every message, every song were just what we needed. (This is the view we used to see as we sat in chapel services - now they have turned it around so that this view is to your back - probably for a very good reason! Who could concentrate when you could see this??)

There were many young families, large families, diverse families and it was fun to watch them having fun. The four of us went there with one agenda - do nothing but relax, read, walk, rest. And that's what we did. There were so many activities available, but we availed ourselves of only one - the two guys played horseshoes for the first time in a very long time. See the horseshoe at the top of the picture? I love this shot - especially since DC is playing left handed, and he does everything else with his right.

They came very close to winning - lost by 1 point actually. This is our esteemed speaker who was a terrific sport and ended up playing the rest of the afternoon - he was surprised to keep winning.

The accommodations are definitely not 5 star - it IS a camp, after all. The mattress was about six inches of foam on a plywood base - it is somewhat akin to sleeping on the floor. My back just about did me in. But everything else was wonderful.

I'll bet you can't guess what I'm doing here!!

The aspens were starting to change already.

The mornings are so serene - with tiny wisps of cloud --

In the afternoons, the clouds tend to build up. We didn't have any rain, though.

We did a lot of walking around the awesome property --

There were many beautiful areas of wild flowers - these looked like miniature snapdragons to me.

Next summer we're going to have a family reunion in this beautiful facility.

Saturday afternoon the four of us took a little side trip over to Victor, Colorado - a former mining town. It was originally designed to accommodate 50,000 people. Now there is a permanent population of approximately 500. We enjoyed their annual art show at the historic, very old, Elks Hall. If you look one direction, you see the leavings of the mining - not a pretty sight.

The other direction was as lovely as the view from the campground. The buildings were built very artistically, and it appears that the town is working very hard to restore them to their original beauty. Most of them had the year 1899 displayed somewhere.

These old mining carts filled with wild flowers were all over the sidewalks.

The night sky was so amazing - it has been a long time since I've been so close to the stars, and had such darkness to see them so well. This came from a devotional book that I read on Sunday morning:

"When the sun set at the end of Adam's first day, did he know it would rise again? Lying wide-eyed on Eden's grassy carpet, did he stare into the twinkling void, stunned by the glory above? Did he invent song to express the wonder of being alive in such a world? I see Adam, in Charles Wesley's words, 'lost in wonder, love, and praise.'

"David must have spent some nights considering the heavens. Could the God of such vast beauty be mindful of one lowly person, let alone care for her or him? The scale of God's concern beggars comparison." (Duane Brush)

Psalm 8:

3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.