Sunday, January 27, 2013

Boomerang Prayer

This week I have again struggled with being gracious to those who are inconsiderate and hurtful, not to mention thinking bad thoughts and stressing over world issues. I've allowed myself to get worked up into knots again. Sometimes it is not easy to escape the vortex of emotion when insulted, accused of wrong doing and observing atrocities happening in so  many places to so many people. Sometimes the anger just boils up and takes a long time to settle back down.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Swayed By the Wind

Resilience. Adaptability. Tolerance. Capacity for change. All good virtues, right? Except when they go too far and allow for too much tolerance for the wrong kind of changes. It seems we are more easily influenced by negativity or wrong doing than good. At least it seems the wrong things tend to spread more quickly than the good. Bad news, or gossip will circumvent the world faster than a good word or deed, unless it borders on the fantastical.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gosh Awfuls, Jackalopes and Other Tall Tales

I grew up in what is known as the Oregon Outback, Eastern Oregon. My dad is a retired logger, and my childhood was spent in the woods, camped a few miles from where he was working at the time. Most often we were next to a lake or a creek - a wonderful way to spend childhood summers, except for my dad's tall tales.

Not only did we groan at the puns, my sister and I were often the stars of the tale.

One of these occasions we were camped about a thirty minute drive from the town of Silver Lake, up in the Gearheart Wilderness area. My father announced we were going to town for a Tube Steak dinner. All excited we loaded into the pickup truck and headed down the mountain. We never noticed the twinkle in his eyes, or the wink he gave the waitress when he placed our order. We waited impatiently for our Tube Steaks to arrive, totally unaware we were being duped.

 The waitress finally returned with plates piled high with French fries and something familiar looking in a bun. I looked at my sister and she looked at me. We shrugged, made faces at our dad and ate our steaks and fries.We notched this tale right up there with his stories of Jackalopes and Gosh Awfuls.

Oregon Jackalope
Now the Gosh Awful is a horrible creature who lives in the woods and preys on unsuspecting girls walking alone along any of the trails, night or day. In an unguarded moment  he sprubgs from his hiding place and does Gosh Awful things, like tickling, or Indian hair rubs, or simply saying, "BOO", and causing said girls to run screaming.

And, added to this, all of my dad's tall stories started out with, "When I was a little girl...." Even at a very early age, we knew better.

Then of course, there were the road trips. My dad read the road signs and made comments.

"Slow Children must go to the Slow School."

"Speed [for] 50 miles"

"It is very likely we will drive through the town of Likely."

In Death Valley. "250 feet below sea level. Better hold your breath."

At the Grand Canyon. "Golly what a gully."

There were many more, but I can't recall all of them (or have space to write them). 

Then, there were the mosquito stories like the poor logger unmercifully attacked at a local sawmill. He raced for cover in an unused metal sawdust burner. In their zeal to get the man, the mosquitoes drove their proboscis right through the metal. Finding a discarded hammer, the man pounded their snouts flat like nails. There were so many mosquitoes, they flew off the with the building and the man. He was never seen again. 

There are a lot of mosquitoes in the area. The town of Paisley has a Mosquito festival every year. (I'm not kidding.)

There were also Poodle cookies and Mongrel cookies. Poodle cookies don't shed, but the Mongrels do.

While driving through Goldfield, Nevada we stopped at the Green Frog grocery for  cookies. I was a little worried when I had to blow the dust off the packages in order to read the labels. My dad assured us a little age would only enhance their flavor, like good wine. My sister and I were a little skeptical, but agreed to buy both Poodle and Mongrel cookies. After all we didn't want to discriminate. 

My dad suggested we stop at the diner for pie, and save the cookies for later. It was the first time I had seen blueberry pie snap back together when I tried to cut it. My dad agreed  the pie, and the waitress might have both been left over from the 1880 Gold Rush. 

Jokes aside, I've stood in virgin timber, watched sunrises over lakes and creeks, and sunsets from mountain tops with a sea of unbroken forest stretching from horizon to horizon. I've been to every national park and historical site from the Pacific Ocean to Tennessee. I learned to love nature, books, and history. All thanks to my father, sick puns, practical jokes, and all. 

Thus Far He Has Helped Us

Although there is nothing magical about January 1, as it is only a man made date on a calendar, we have over the centuries attributed it to new beginnings.  We make new resolutions, we plan, and we hope.

With so many changes in our world and our society, this new year brings more anxiety and I struggle with hope. The escalating tragedies, the fiscal cliff, the threat of higher taxes, another personal financial blow, uncertainty with my job (still working in a temp position), and on and on goes the list.

Then, I opened Streams in the Desert for December 31.

"Thus far the Lord has helped us. (Samuel 7:12.)  

The Lord who "thus far" has helped you
Will help you all your journey through. 

And He has. I can look back not only over last year, but the year before and the year before that and back as far as I can remember. He has helped me. Comforted during the hard times, always offering hope for a brighter tomorrow. The hard times were only for a time, not a lifetime. This blog has many, many posts describing miracles and Divine interventions. Why would I believe He would stop helping me now? 

I fall into this trap when I take my eyes off Him and look at my circumstances. Like Peter walking to the Lord on the water, when I take my eyes off Him, I see only the impossibility of my circumstances. I become afraid and begin to sink under their burdens. Our compassionate God reaches down, grasps my hand, and encourages me to look up. 

And so, instead of a single word for this New Year, I prefer a scriptural quote: "Thus far the Lord has helped us." And, I can take that to the bank, literally.