Wall of White

joann lake editedLook out the window, what do you see?
A wall of white, thick as can be.
The endless sky, the morning dew,
Come together to create something new.
A faint shadow begins to appear;
Slowly the shoreline begins to come near.
With each passing moment, there is more to see;
This morning fog will soon be a mere memory.
The mist gives birth to a forest of trees
As the dock begins to sway in the breeze.
The early light was small and diffused
Until the sun poked through to illuminate the view.
The most beautiful moment is about to appear…
Oh, my friend, I wish you were here!
Lighter mists rise and land grows broader
While denser tufts still float on the water.
Sea, clouds, mountains, fog
I simply must put this fog on a blog!

Joann Husted, September 2019

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Mary Moments

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The glitter of diamonds, the crash of waves against the shoreline, the gentle breeze creating ripples on the surface of the water, the green hills all around me…these are a few of my favorite things. I am blessed to find them each morning, courtesy of a couple who had a vision for their family over 50 years ago.

When I sit on this dock and revel in the beauty of the lake and hills before me, it is hard to remember all that is wrong with the world. As God and I enjoy a cup of coffee together and bask in this glorious setting, I feel whole and complete, beyond grateful, and this is all I need. These mornings are my Mary moments.

In Luke 10, Jesus goes to visit a pair of sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha bustles around preparing for company, while Mary just sits and listens to Jesus. When Martha gets upset at Mary’s “laziness,” Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen what is better.

I was born a Martha, and I spend most of my time as a Martha. I do my darndest to make people feel comfortable and cared for when they come to see me. I get so busy being a good hostess that I sometimes forget to enjoy my guests. But here, under the rising sun floating upon the blue water, I have no one to entertain or prepare for. Jesus has been waiting for me to arrive and just listen. This morning, I will be Mary first. Today, I am fulfilling that couple’s vision for their family. Today is a glorious day.

By Joan Husted

 

Snowbirds

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Like a seasoned surgeon and scrub nurse team, no words are necessary when it comes to preparing our motorhome for a road trip. It’s just as well since my husband is hard of hearing and we couldn’t hear each other over the diesel engine of our motorhome anyway. We wordlessly connect all the cables between the motorhome and the “toad” (aka tow car), check that all the lights work, and make sure that the “toad” rolls freely.

We used to use walkie-talkies when backing the motorhome into a campsite.  After all, we had to be sure to miss any obstacles and have enough room for the slides to come out without hitting tree limbs. We also had to be sure our hoses could reach the water, sewer and the power cord could reach the 50 amp power.

Now we just use hand signals since the walkie-talkies lost their batteries long ago and brought frustration anyway.

“Keep coming straight back, you’re doing fine. Hey! Why are you pulling forward again to take yet another run at it? I said you were doing fine! . . . Is this thing on?”

With hand signals only, my husband doesn’t get to hear my exasperated outbursts as he seems to ignore my hand motions and go wherever he wants.

Once we are safely in the campsite, it’s time to drop the jacks, put out the slides, and try to remember which processes need keys in which position. Before turning on the hot water heaters, we run cold and hot water in all the sinks and turn the propane on. So many things to remember!  So many things that could go wrong!

It’s amazing to me that owning a motorhome is often an old person’s hobby. Aren’t they the same folks that often forget things and are not known for their stellar driving in a car, let alone a 40 foot behemoth towing said car behind them? Yet, every winter, the snowbird migration happens again.

This year, we are joining the flock. When are we coming back? Who knows. Probably when we are assured that winter is over at home.

by Diane Morissette

Aligning Our Path with His

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“Yikes! Oh my goodness!” I sucked in my breath and tightened my stomach. Stepping off the last ladder rung into the cool water my mind bravely chattered, this is good for me…this is good for me…this is good for me! By the look on my face, I think the lifeguards at the pool knew what was really going through my mind.

The pool, kept at a temperature inhumane for most but perfect for the college swim team, was always the toughest part for me. I never liked to be cold. However, after doing some water stretches and a couple of quick duck dives I warmed enough to begin my thirty minutes of lap swimming.

Last night four and a half inches of snow had joined the twenty inches accumulation on my roof. Surely, some exercise would take my mind off the inclement weather and resulting cabin fever. The five minute drive to the college on slushy roads had been a breeze. A few laps into my scheduled swim I could finally say that I was glad I made the effort.

Years of teaching others to swim made this form of exercise quite effortless for me. My body was actively enjoying the velvet smooth feeling of gliding through the water. Was my brain inactive, lost in the repetition of strokes? Not so! Biweekly lap swims turned out to be a tranquil thinking time. Foggy goggles and plugged ears shut out people and noise. The only concern (hitting my head on the side) was handled easily by watching for the black underwater marks near the ends of the lane. Lap after lap I followed the lane lines visible on the pool’s bottom. Thoughts floated through my mind as my body enjoyed its buoyancy.

Sweet moments of God’s faithfulness and direction drifted through my head crowding out my daily “to-do lists.” Earlier in the week, I remarked to a friend of my gratefulness for God’s constant guidance through my Bible study, prayer, and godly friends like her. Everyday decisions called for His answers to my questions regarding relationships, parenting, and scheduling for my family. Everywhere I turned He faithfully responded with kind promptings and solutions for some difficult circumstances.

“Yep, His faithfulness and direction sure seems to be His theme for me in this cold month of January. It brings great comfort, like being wrapped up in a toasty quilt.” I told her. Knowing my situations well, she agreed.

Rolling onto my back for an interlude of restful backstroke laps I felt like God’s arms cradled me. As usual, I lined up my body with the ceiling tiles to keep me in the center of my swim lane, avoiding the natural wandering toward the ropes on either side. One lap, two…then His truth dawned on me, clear and complete with visual aids!

In this gray season with its limitations, it is easy to get off track, to drift into the ropes of life and get hung up. His desire is that I seek His counsel daily, aligning my decisions with His will and purpose. It must be a habit as natural as putting on my clothes each day, preparing meals and climbing into bed at night.

Intermingled with rippling water flowing over me, His quiet voice assured me of this one thing: if I continue to align myself with His daily purposes, I will stay in the center of His will and out of the entanglements of life. Looking to Him I will have clarity, strength and wisdom in the center. Again, I was overwhelmed with His concern for me and willingness to direct my path.

Bolstered by our sweet connection, I rolled back over at the lane’s end, pushed off into my most challenging stroke, swimming triumphantly to the other end. It was time to leave my watery sanctuary. Climbing up the ladder, in a grateful whisper I proclaimed: “You are good to me…You are good to me…You are so good to me!

The Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.   Psalm 100:5      

The Lord shall guide you continually…   Is. 58:11

By Gail Justesen

 

My Love/Hate Relationship with Willows

Willows

I look out at ‘my’ river with a smile, curious to see what the ducks and geese are up to today. Then I turn my gaze slightly downriver and my smile fades a bit. A local map describes this section as island-forming. The many willow trees are doing the forming and I wish they would stop. I fear that the invasive, fast-growing willows may someday block much more of my river view.

However, in the winter, when the entire landscape is a black and white photograph, the willows stand out, the color of ripe persimmons. A local moose family lives in the willow islands part of the year, occasionally coming upriver to see what landscaped feast we have laid out for them. The bull moose terrifies me with his massive size but he is also magnificent.

Each spring the red wing blackbirds return and soon I see the dominant male fly to new growth at the top of the largest willow tree and call his buzzy call, announcing that he is “king of the willows”. The sun shines intermittently between the spring showers and scattered clouds and sets the tops of the willow trees aglow. They are beginning to leaf out, trading in their winter rusty orange for the tender green color of new life.

In the summer it’s always a thrill to kayak the narrow, shallow waterways between the willows to discover afresh the beavers’ massive lodge. I have to admit that I appreciate the willow islands providing a wetland habitat for so many creatures.

Gazing downstream, I smile in spite of myself. I suppose it would be OK to let the willows claim a little more of my view for themselves after all.

By Diane Morissette

Brilliance vs. Commercialism

At Christmas I love to drive or walk around neighborhoods looking at lights.

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Jesus and Santa

Santas, sleighs and reindeer abound: on the rooftops, decorating lawns, and strung between trees and housetops. Some even have the illusion of moving.

Then, those that commemorate the coming of Messiah: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and angels appear everywhere, too. Some are wooden and painted, some shimmer brightly from within. Though I haven’t seen Jesus’ manger dancing on the roofs, I do notice there are a lot of stars hitched to houses, trees, poles, and all kinds of places.

Contemplating

Then I go home to admire the glimmer of my tree and decorations. Dusk is the best time to sit quietly to bask in the subdued lighting. It’s a time to consider the Light of the World as He entered into a dark world to bring His Light. At this twilight time, the muted glow looks like magic as the sky darkens and the lights grow brighter inside. Just as this Light of the World grows brighter inside us and glows on the outside.

Staring at my decorated tree, I remember that I read somewhere that the Christmas tree foreshadows the purpose for this celebration. For now, we hang lights on our trees so they will brighten up our living rooms in the darkness of winter. In just a few months, we will celebrate that the Light of the World did hang on a tree to take away the darkness of the world and bring a flame to our souls.

Brilliance and Commercialism

I delight in all the Christmas brilliance. I love the colors, the cheesy movies, the yummy goodies. It’s cheerful at a dismal time of winter—when the days are short and if you blink, you miss them!

Let them talk about commercialism. I don’t dispute it. But when I see Christmas lights, I remember that God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to save us from the depths of darkness forever. Let us celebrate! He is worthy of our praise! Hallelujah, Joy to the World!

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King!”  …a carol of Christmas.

By Linda Jo Reed

The Man in My Way

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The curved banquet table lay before my searching eyes. Every delicious and colorful food imaginable was displayed in graduating levels, a cornucopia of delights! What my eyes missed, a brief inhale caught. The wonderful aromas evoked memories of family reunions, church potlucks and restaurant smorgasbords. My mind raced with choices, my mouth was ready to consume any dish my eyes coveted.

So mesmerized by the scents and anticipation of taste, I hardly noticed the man quietly standing behind the table until he called my name, indicating my turn. Surprised by his personal acknowledgment, my thoughts were in a quandary. His voice seemed familiar, so open and beckoning, but his face I couldn’t place. I stepped forward to begin. My eyes danced between the abundant display of food and the curious man in front of me.

As I reached for the plate his hand also reached for it and gently he asked, “Gail, can I assist you?”

My immediate thought was to grab the plate first, ignore his request and begin loading it with my favorites, bypassing the recipes I disliked.

Instead, I flashed a quick, patronizing smile and answered with a curt, “No thank you, I can manage this myself.”

I caught a slight wince across his face and wished I hadn’t sounded so independent. After all I reasoned—I AM an adult! I scolded myself, come on, he had only wanted to help…but how could he know what I craved and brought ultimate satisfaction to me?

We stood motionless looking at one another across the table. His willing offer continued to ring in my ears. I was captured by his compassionate eyes that seemed to say, I want to help you, I’ve waited for this moment.

I glanced at the array of food before us and began to protest, but one glance back to his face indicated I would bring him displeasure if I didn’t allow his request. I wrestled with thoughts of, this is ridiculous—I’m in my forties! I know what I want and what I like! It’s MY life, who is this guy anyway? Yet every time my eyes connected with his kind face, those autonomous thoughts weakened. He waited patiently, seeming to search my heart as I resolved my inward struggle.

When my hand withdrew from the plate, his face glowed. With enthusiasm he spooned portions of this and that on to my plate. I interjected my requests with persistence. Some he eagerly agreed with, others he only commented,

“No Gail that would not be good for you.”

“And you think that is good for me?” I complained, disputing his choice. He simply handed the plate back to me with a steady look of concern. My head bowed with embarrassment, “I’m sorry, sir. It just has been so long that I’ve run things my way.”

A knowing smile accompanied his outstretched hand and I handed the plate back to him with a promise to not take it again. More portions were heaped on my plate than I ever thought possible as we walked along the banquet table!

The alarm clock buzzed waking me with a start! Aromas of delectable dishes were quick to dissipate as my eyes adjusted to the light. What a curious dream, I thought and my stomach echoed its memory with a growl of hunger. I slowly replayed the dream in my mind and wondered about its meaning.

I plodded into the bathroom and headed for the shower. The hot spray massaged my slow-to-awake muscles. A gentle voice, barely heard above the splattering stream of water, said,

“About the dream Gail, the smorgasbord is your life.”

Suddenly, no longer sleepy, I quickly pushed in the shower knob, grabbed my towel and I stood motionless, stunned by the clear interpretation.

The voice continued, “Will you ask me before making choices? My plans for you long ago have been for good and I really do know what is best. Let me dish up your life. I have an abundance of delights for you. Keep that in mind, always.” The room grew quiet.

“That voice, it’s the same one in my dream—inviting, patient and reassuring,” I whispered in awe. “The man at the banquet table was my Lord Jesus! Now I understand why that face showed such kindness and welcome,” I blurted!

My thoughts ran together and assured my heart. He was right. I had made quite a mess of my life with choices based on common sense, cravings and whims. It was now time to consult Him to hear His direction and to obey Him. How foolish and stubborn I had been.

In surrender, within the cloistered shower stall, I called to Him, “I submit to Your plans for me dear Lord. It is You and only You I want to please.”

My promise to Him echoed in the porcelain room then, and continues to through the many years since I let Him serve at His banquet of daily blessings. I have been challenged and surprised, but never disappointed.

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

By Gail Justesen

 

Driving Advice Not Required

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My husband took the driver’s seat for the first four decades of our marriage. He drove and I took the co-pilot position. I wouldn’t say my strengths included navigation. My attempts to read a map or follow a friend’s directions failed to satisfy my spouse. Let’s just say that navigators should not be directionally-challenged. My only specialty in this area was getting us lost. Even with GPS we found ourselves taking the long way around.

Besides this co-pilot duty, I felt compelled to give him insightful suggestions on his driving skills. Again, this was not helpful nor desired on his part. Despite my possession of a “backseat driver’s license,” he did not appreciate my comments.

Little did I anticipate this arrangement would change and as a senior citizen, he would choose me to become his chauffeur. You guessed it, the duties of a co-pilot also switched, including the less than helpful observations on my driving skills.

He would say, “You should have turned back there. Didn’t you see it? Now we’ll have to turn around.”

“Yes Dear,” I sighed.

“Where are you going? You need to go back.”

My hubby never fit the category of a laid-back individual, so I would jump in fright when he yelled, “Look out. . . curb!”

Hitting the curb, in my humble opinion, would be preferable to the jerking of the wheel reaction his voice had produced. My cautious hesitations might result in a fender bender, whereas his more aggressive style could require replacing the car.

I admit that he did save us from a wreck on occasion when my mind wandered to the point that I forgot ‘red’ means ‘stop.’ Let’s face it, neither of us was a spring chicken and the mileage we’d seen eventually reduces defensive driving.

The good habits I’d acquired included no texting or phone calls while driving plus a fairly diligent following of the speed limits. These were outweighed by his opinion of my bad habits.

He’d say “Dianna, you follow too closely. You make me nervous!”

To which I responded “Well, the reason I’m driving close is because he’s just not driving fast enough.” I don’t think he bought that argument (nor would a policeman.)

All those years of backseat driving caught up with me. He had to put up with it for 40-plus years. As it turns out, I didn’t have an equal amount of payback.

My favorite days while on excursions were when he chose to call someone and became totally absorbed in the conversation. While he was occupied, I could feel free to drive unsupervised.

After all, driving advice was not required.

 

 

 

 

 

Hearts Around the Campfire

by Gail M. Justesen

 

Gary and I, hoody-clad in our comfy lawn chairs sipped our cocoa and held the skewered marshmallows over the red-hot coals.

Preparing the cabin for summer required lots of raking, cleaning and set-up. The gentle breeze from the lake, moist and cool, refreshed our over-worked bodies. As the sun set, its reflection mirrored on the surface resembled a dark piece of corrugated cardboard with a splash of fiery red.

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Crackles and sparks from our campfire on the water’s edge added to the blessing of respite. Bowling ball-sized rocks encircled it and made nice foot-warmers as the day gave way to night. Motors in the distance echoed and signaled fishermen headed out for the evening catch. Flotillas of mallards and geese quietly made their way to the nesting area among the reeds. Occasionally, a muffled quack or honk eked out from the leader for directions on the silvery water or perhaps, from the one in the rear trying to keep up with the flock.

Hearts concerned

Still, in all the beauty before us we couldn’t help wondering, where was Seth, our 17-year old son?

“He said he would come here after he got off work,” I reminded my husband who quickly looked at the vacant chair by the campfire and then his watch.

“That was an hour ago! It’s only a thirty-five mile stretch of highway to here, honey. I’m concerned.”

Just then sirens in the distance cut through the night air, and through our hearts.

“Oh God, please keep him safe,” we prayed simultaneously, the concern on our faces highlighted by the flickering fire.

Another forty-five minutes passed. An owl made its presence known with a somber, “Whoo-whoo.”

Gary insisted, “I’m going to take the car, drive toward town and look for him. He could be in a ditch somewhere.”

Just as we rose from our chairs we saw the headlights of his truck turn toward the driveway. Our son had finally arrived.

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Hearts relieved

We met him near the cabin and impatiently asked, “What happened? Are you okay?”

“I’m good, everything is okay. There was an accident and traffic was re-routed. I drove on dusty roads wondering where I was and if I’d ever get back to the highway!”

We walked back to the campfire arm in arm. He flopped into the resin chair, sighed and by the firelight told us every detail of his detoured adventure. His face revealed his relief that he was back with his family.

The ambiance of an evening campfire on the lakeshore seemed to let raw emotions bubble up and out. We were quieted by a renewed awareness of the fragility of life. Under a canopy of brilliant stars, we basked in the warmth not so much of the campfire, but of a family reunited in thankfulness and love.

What About Barbie?

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Who could ever forget that impossibly curvaceous icon of toys? The sassy blonde ponytail whipping around in the hands of young admirers! And the black and white swimsuit she arrived in—now THAT was ugly, wasn’t it?

Mine was more special than most! My Barbie sported a red headed bubble cut. I heard they were rare and therefore more valuable. I liked to think so.

Barbie was an undisputed clothes horse. Her available wardrobe included suits, dresses, pants, shorts, shirts, jackets, hats and even wedgies for her dainty little misshapen feet! Full apparel sets could be found at all the stores. I even had a carrying case for Barbie and her gear.

While Barbie represented the impossible ideal of womanhood (who could EVER get a waist as tiny as hers—or … uh … as large as her other equipment?), she was more than just a favorite toy for me.

My friend, Gloria, lived down the street and we little girls adored our Barbies together. I loved my friend Gloria.

We collected packing boxes and made houses for our Barbies. I have learned since that we weren’t the only little girls to do that. We painted the boxes, made curtains and furniture so our Barbies could visit each other in style.

I think Gloria’s houses were fancier than mine. She figured out how to section off the

rooms and she was an artist. My Barbie had to keep up with her neighbor and Gloria helped me fashion a lovely home for my Barbie, too. We carried our handmade houses with our fancy dolls and paraphernalia to each other’s real life homes endlessly.

It’s many years later now. Gloria and I live far apart, but we still keep in touch. We’ve had families (that’s REAL people in REAL houses, folks!) and lived our lives.

So no matter how Barbie is denounced as the menace to young womanhood these days, I remember her with great fondness because of her part in my friendship with Gloria. (It’s time for another root beer float when you are in town, my friend!)

And—I still have my Barbie AND her wardrobe!

 

By Linda Jo Reed